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GM’s top electrification engineers on designing the all-new, secondgeneration Chevrolet Volt p. 48

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22 | A closer look at


torque ripple

Q&A with Dr. Nir Vaks, CTO at Continuous Solutions

30 | Tesla tweaks its

battery chemistry

Adding silicon to graphite anodes


current events 10 BorgWarner to buy Remy International for $950 million in cash

24M introduces semisolid lithium-ion cell

11 Lux Research: China’s energy storage market to quadruple by 2025 12 DOE report examines opportunities for US battery manufacturers 13 Chinese and US agencies work together on standards 15 French chemical giant and utility join to create energy storage lab


16 BRUSA’s new DTSP1 motor/gearbox combo

Skeleton’s new ultracapacitors target heavy transportation market

17 DOE offers funding for medium- and heavy-duty EV projects 18 MobileBattery can boost EV range and provide home back-up power


Continental develops integrated powertrain for the Chinese market

19 New device reduces offset error in DC current measurement 21 Voltabox inaugurates battery pack assembly line in Austin, Texas


48 | 2016 Chevy Volt


GM’s top electrification engineers on designing the all-new, second-generation Volt

60 | The EV operating system

With its all-electric powertrain, Silicon Valley’s Motiv helps electrify heavy-duty trucks, shuttles and buses

current events


38 Tesla trims projected production

New independent EV builder makes the scene

39 Chevy Bolt EV on its way to the masses – not the elite 40 Two more California cities order Proterra electric buses

Volkswagen brings new plug-in Passat to Europe

41 BYD sells 50 e6 EVs to San Diego ride-sharing fleet


43 Kandi makes $89-million deal as Chinese auto market moves online

New report from Germany assesses over 500 EV models

44 CARB chief: Automakers need to end production of ICEs around 2030 45 Automotive engineers don’t expect CAFE standards to be lowered 46 Tesla to raise about $650 million with new stock offering

Report: Marine hybrid propulsion market to reach $4.46 billion by 2022


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78 | Workplace charging

and demand response EVSE LLC, Greenlots and Southern California Edison control peak charging demand


84 | Connected charging

Siemens introduces VersiCharge SG, a WiFi-enabled, cloud-based residential charging station

90 | Supercharger experience

Results from PlugInsights’ latest survey of Tesla Model S drivers


68 Chinese auto parts giant invests $1.6 million in Evatran

Tesla reveals prototype of snakelike automatic charger

70 California orders 11 portable solar EV charging stations

Electric Highway links Western Australia with fast charging stations

71 ClipperCreek launches HCS-50 EV charging station 72 EV charging and distributed energy sources meet in the cloud


BRUSA licenses Qualcomm Halo wireless charging tech

73 South Korean plan turns ordinary 220 V outlets into charging stations 74 France moves to unify charging networks

Oregon state employees must pay for workplace charging

75 Volkswagen working on automated DC charging 77 BMW pilot pays drivers to delay charging, helping to stabilize the grid

Manhattan parking garages installing Tesla chargers


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Publisher’s Note Global growth Plug-in vehicle sales in the US have been in a holding pattern this year, with total sales likely to fall short of last year’s. Some attribute the lack of growth to low gas prices, while others point to the fact that we’re nearing the end of the product life cycle for the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF - the two highestvolume plug-ins - and buyers are likely waiting for the new and improved updates just around the corner. Worldwide sales, however, are a different story. Details for some markets are hard to find, and sales figures from different sources don’t necessarily agree, but a strong growth trend is clear. According to InsideEVs’ estimates, worldwide monthly sales for the first half of 2015 were up to 202,741 vehicles - a 48% increase over the same period last year. The latest report from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association shows that, for the first six months of 2015, 52,889 plug-in vehicles were sold in the EU, an increase of 78.4% over 2014. New EV registrations represented 0.7% of the total vehicle market. Hybrid sales are also up by 22%. The fastest electrification is happening in the UK, where 14,838 units were sold, up 262%. France (with 10,427 units, up 110%) and Germany (9,653 units, up 66%) are also growing quickly. Non-EU member Norway posted the largest number of new sales: 16,990 units, up 66%. The mix of models varies greatly from one market to the next. The Tesla Model S rules in Norway, while the Brits and the Dutch love the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and the French are buying the homegrown Renault Zoe. In July, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn noted that the alliance’s global EV sales were up 15% through May. Figures out of China - the world’s largest auto market - tend to vary the most, and low-speed NEVs are often lumped in with passenger vehicles and then inaccurately compared to sales in other regions. However, all sources we’ve seen show sharp growth. The China Passenger Car Association, for example, reports that deliveries of Chinese-made high-speed passenger plug-in vehicles reached 50,627 in the first half of 2015 - an increase of about 200% from 2014. EVs are here. Try to keep up. Christian Ruoff Publisher


Christian Ruoff Publisher Laurel Zimmer Associate Publisher Charles Morris Senior Editor Markkus Rovito Associate Editor Jeffrey Jenkins Technology Editor Erik Fries Contributing Editor Nick Sirotich Illustrator & Designer Tome Vrdoljak Graphic Designer Contributing Writers Michael Kent Charles Morris Markkus Rovito Christian Ruoff Joey Stetter Contributing Photographers Danny Abriel Abdullah AlBargan Werner Hillebrand-Hansen Mark Mastropietro Nicolas Raymond Tony Webster Cover Image Courtesy of GM Special Thanks to Kelly Ruoff Sebastien Bourgeois For Letters to the Editor, Article Submissions, & Advertising Inquiries Contact

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Global auto parts supplier BorgWarner (NYSE: BWA) has agreed to buy motor manufacturer Remy International (NASDAQ: REMY) for about $950 million in cash. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2015. Both companies have histories in the EV scene. BorgWarner, which specializes in transmissions and turbocharging technology, supplied the single-speed gearbox for the Tesla Roadster. Indiana-based Remy boasts the largest hybrid motor production and testing facility in North America. It also supplies motors for several aftermarket EV builders, including VIA Motors and Quantum Fuel Systems. “This transaction…provides an opportunity to market our products to a much broader and diverse group of original equipment manufacturers,” said Remy International Chairman John H. Weber. “The product and technology synergies are obvious, resulting from each company’s historical focus on separate areas of the global powertrain market.” “Our products and capabilities should complement BorgWarner very well and support growing vehicle electrification trends. We are confident our customers and channel partners will benefit from the strategic fit, as it brings together two long-standing industry leaders,” added CEO Jay Pittas.


Image courtesy of VIA Motors

BorgWarner to buy Remy International for $950 million in cash

Startup 24M has emerged from stealth mode to introduce its semisolid lithium-ion cell, which the company claims will deliver improved performance at half the cost of current Li-ion batteries. “The lithium-ion battery is a brilliant, enabling technology, but its economics are flawed. It’s prohibitively expensive; it’s cumbersome and inefficient to make; and today’s version is approaching the limits of its cost reductions,” said Dr. Yet-Ming Chiang, 24M’s Chief Scientist. “24M has fixed the flaws. We’ve made the world’s favorite battery better, fundamentally changing its cost curve by designing a more elegant and simpler cell and then making the batteries the right way – the way they should have been made from day one.” 24M’s cell design is based on a semisolid thick electrode that Dr. Chiang and his colleagues developed at MIT. Conventional Li-ion battery cells have a large proportion of inactive, non-charge carrying materials – supporting metals and plastics that are layered within a cell’s casing. The semisolid thick electrode allows 24M to eliminate more than 80% of these materials and increase the active layer thickness by up to five times. The simplicity of the cell design allows a simplified manufacturing process that requires no binding, drying, solvent recovery or calendaring. According to 24M, its cells can be built in a fifth of the time of conventional cells and, thanks to the solvent-free manufacturing platform, are the most easily recycled lithium-ion cells ever made. “We give the architects of our energy future everything they love about lithium-ion at a cost they love too,” said Throop Wilder, 24M’s CEO. “Together, our inventions achieve what lithium-ion has yet to do – meet the ultra-low cost targets of the grid and transportation industries. By 2020 our battery costs will be less than $100 per kWh.” Since its founding in 2010, 24M has raised $50 million in private capital, and received a $4.5 million grant from the DOE. 24M’s cells are currently undergoing customer trials with integrators of power systems for the grid.

Image courtesy of 24M

24M introduces semisolid lithium-ion cell


Photo © ChargedEVs

Lux Research: China’s energy storage market to quadruple by 2025 The Chinese government is pushing electrified vehicles and renewable energy in a big way, and driving huge growth in the energy storage market, which will be worth $8.7 billion in 2025, more than four times the current $1.7 billion, according to a new report from Lux Research. In “Clearing the Haze: Demystifying Energy Storage Opportunities in China,” Lux predicts that transport applications will dominate the storage scene with an 85% share of revenues, while stationary applications will account for the rest. Revenues will grow more slowly than volumes, because of continually falling battery prices. Total demand for energy storage will grow to 31 GWh per year in 2025, Lux predicts. Transportation’s share of the market will be 29 GWh. The stationary market, at 2.3 GWh, will be smaller, but will grow at a faster 30% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Following a surge in sales of new energy vehicles in

2014, Lux expects this sector to slow down, held back by inadequate charging infrastructure. Still, it predicts that the market will grow at a 19% CAGR, reaching 500,000 units in 2025, including passenger and heavy vehicles. “Besides understanding the market dynamics and producing cost-competitive products, most players in these markets will require strong partnerships to succeed,” said Lux Research Associate Lilia Xie. “Early leaders such as BYD will try their best to hold onto their positions, but the diversification of the market will gradually create promising opportunities for those who operate with patience and savvy.”


Asia currently dominates automotive lithium-ion cell production – it controls around 79% of the market. However, a recent report by the DOE’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center (CEMAC) found that the US has a growing opportunity in the industry, which is expected to swell from the current $9 billion to $14.3 billion by 2020. The CEMAC analysis found that competitive opportunities for automotive lithium-ion battery (LIB) cell manufacturing are mostly created, and are not inherent to specific regions. However, established LIB competitors have a huge advantage due to production expertise, supply chain optimization, and Even though prices under the Mexico scenario below Japan and China Tier 2 scenarios) are of 8.3% appears possible for U.S. companies existing partnerships. remain difficult to match, future U.S. pricing aggressive, it is possible that these conditions engaged in the battery sector. Japan, Korea, and China benefit from a significant “US cell producers appear to be disadvantaged in faces could possibly be competitive with current could be met at some point in the future. Nonetheless, U.S.-based manufacturing minimum sustainable pricing from low-cost Regarding cost of capital assumptions, for difficult challenges given its disadvantages in population of key suppliers (for electrodes, separators, the current market, but the United States could beproducer nations such as Korea and China. example, using two established U.S.-based various cost categories and the current relative While the assumptions required to create the battery manufacturers (JCI and Energizer) immaturity of the U.S. supply chain and electrolytes, etc.), while the US has a relatively immature come competitive in parts of the value chain with high competitive U.S. Future case (with MSPs at or as comparables suggests an average WACC market participants. supply chain, and most US cell and battery plant operapotential value,” reads the report. “Cells represent 27% tors are relatively new to the industry. of the value added in complete automotive LIB packs, LIB cell manufacturing in the US currently amounts but 34% of the value added comes from electrodes and to around 3,770 MWh, or 7.3% of the global total. Howother processed materials, an area where the United ever, there is another 1,200 MWh under construction States could possibly compete. The United States already and 35,000 MWh (Tesla’s Gigafactory) announced. If all assembles cells into battery packs for EVs manufactured this capacity is fully realized, the US will have a total of domestically, which comprises 39% of total LIB pack 39,970 MWh, or 32% of the global market. value.” In all regions, automotive LIB capacity far exceeds The report notes that technological advancements production – global average utilization is estimated at currently under development by the DOE and its 22% as of the beginning of 2014. However, if moderate private-sector partners have a lot of potential to boost demand estimates are met, supply and demand should automotive LIB manufacturing in the US by reducing come roughly into balance around 2017-2018. battery cost, enabling more people to purchase EVs.


Image courtesy of DOE’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center

DOE report examines opportunities for US battery manufacturers


Image courtesy of American National Standards Institute

Chinese and US agencies work together on standards Some 75 experts from China and the US recently convened to discuss their work on standardization programs related to EVs. The focus of the workshop was cooperation on standards, conformance, and training programs among industry and government players. The workshop was organized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC). Participants included the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and Underwriters Laboratories (UL). CATARC gave a presentation on its development of a standardization plan for EVs, and ANSI representatives spoke about the agency’s Standardization Roadmap for Electric Vehicles (May 2013) and subsequent Progress Report (November 2014). Speakers addressed topics including vehicle and battery safety, charging infrastructure safety and interop-

erability, wireless charging, and fire protection and emergency response. Noting that both countries have made substantial investments in promoting the EV market, ANSI President Joe Bhatia said the goal was “to work together to adopt and use common, globally accepted standards and conformance programs that will facilitate market access and trade for US companies exporting to China, and Chinese companies entering the US market. We must work collaboratively to avoid coming up with conflicting solutions that increase costs for industry, costs which ultimately are passed on to the consumer.”

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French chemical giant and utility join to create energy storage R&D lab Arkema, a global chemical company, and SCE France, a subsidiary of Canadian electricity producer HydroQuébec, plan to create a joint laboratory that will focus on developing a new generation of materials for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, in particular new electrolytes (solvents, lithium salts) and conduction agents (carbon nanotubes, conductive polymers). Arkema’s Kynar polyvinylidene fluoride resins are currently used in lithium-ion batteries. These polymers can be used as a microporous separator or as a cathode binder. Hydro-Québec, which invests some $100 million in research per year, formed SCE France in February to develop new battery technologies, including lithiumiron-phosphate-based batteries. “It is in line with Arkema’s strategy to offer ultra-high-

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Swiss power electronics supplier BRUSA Elektronik has introduced a new electric drivetrain unit that combines a motor and gearbox. The DTSP1 “is optimal for use in sports cars and vans as well as light commercial vehicles, due to its low weight and high power density.” BRUSA’s HSM1-10.18.22 motor offers continuous power output of 145 kW (194 hp) and maximum output of 220 kW (295 hp), with up to 460 Nm (339 lb-ft) peak torque. The gearbox is water-cooled and optionally equipped with a parking lock. The DTSP1 unit can be used as an axle or four-wheel drivetrain set. “By using the differential on the axles, powerful yet weight-optimized drives can be realized,” says BRUSA. “With the adjustment of the axle differential, every application can be achieved with the right ratio.” A similar BRUSA motor/gearbox powers the Electric Sprinter commercial transporter made by Kreisel Electric, which has a 3.5-ton payload and a range of up to 350 km.


Image courtesy of BRUSA Elektronik

BRUSA’s new DTSP1 motor/gearbox combo

Skeleton Technologies has launched a new range of cylindrical ultracapacitors that offer specific power performance of up to 111 kW/kg, specific energy up to 9.6 Wh/kg, and capacitance up to 4,500 farads. Skeleton hopes that the high energy density achieved by the SkelCap 4500 series will be a good fit for the heavy transportation market, in which weight and space are at a premium. The European Space Agency recently announced plans to use Skeleton Technologies ultracapacitors, which it expects to lead to significant cost savings by reducing the volume of heavy batteries required for energy storage. Skeleton uses a patented material synthesized from inorganic compounds that has curved graphene layers, allowing better conductivity and higher surface area. “Graphene has long been heralded as a wonder material for a range of applications, including energy storage. However, a mass-market, graphene-based product has been slow to materialize. Our ultracapacitors will be that market breakthrough,” says Skeleton CEO Taavi Madiberk. “The ultracapacitor market is dominated by organic precursor carbon from coconut shell. It is the successful development of a graphene-based carbon that is allowing us to set new records for product performance,” says Chief Technology Officer Volker Dudek. “We have set ourselves an ambitious technology development target of 20 Wh/kg by 2020, which is comparable with batterylevel energy density. With the launch of the SkelCap 4500 range we are already halfway towards that goal.” Skeleton Technologies recently secured €9.8 million in Series B financing from a strategic investor.

Image courtesy of Skeleton Technologies

Skeleton Technologies’ new ultracapacitors target heavy transportation market


Image courtesy of International Information Program (IIP)

DOE offers funding for medium- and heavy-duty powertrain electrification projects If you are working on a plug-in hybrid powertrain for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, you may be eligible for a grant from the DOE. The agency plans to issue a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (DEFOA-0001349) titled “Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicle Powertrain Electrification and Dual Fuel Fleet Demonstration.” DOE anticipates releasing the FOA in August 2015 with an estimated total program funding of $11 million. The DOE will encourage cooperative arrangements that involve an electric transportation technology developer, a vehicle manufacturer, and a fleet operator. The objective of the Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicle Powertrain Electrification area of interest is “to research, develop, and demonstrate electric-drive powertrain technologies for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles with an end goal of reducing fuel consumption by at least

50%, when compared to an equivalent vehicle with a conventional internal combustion engine powertrain.” The vehicles must be commercially available – not experimental, pre-production, or planned for further development.

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Germany-based Nomadic Power has received a €2-million grant from the European Commission for its MobileBattery system, which features a trailer-mounted battery pack that can be towed behind an EV to boost range, and also serve as a residential back-up power source when stationary. The Nomad mobile battery comes in several sizes, with capacities from 40 to 85 kWh. According to the company, an 85 kWh Nomad can add about 373 miles of range to a small electric car. The Nomad battery, or Mobile Energy System, is controlled by an energy management software system that can also interface with a home photovoltaic installation. All system components are connected to the Nomadic Power Secure Cloud Platform, which connects the smart energy managers in the home and the Nomad, and allows 4G/LTE access from the user and/or Nomadic Power’s service team. “Nomadic Power has developed a simple and efficient solution to extend the range of battery-powered electric vehicles,” said CEO Dr. Manfred Baumgaertner. “We see a strong future in electricity-powered mobility and an increasing use of renewable energy, photovoltaic power in particular. Our mobile batteries have great potential in these markets that recently got a significant shot in the arm by Tesla’s announcements.”


Image courtesy of Nomadic Power

MobileBattery can boost EV range and provide home back-up power

Auto parts giant Continental has developed a new electric powertrain especially for the Chinese market. The new powertrain combines the electric motor, transmission, and power electronics in a single unit, eliminating many components such as connectors, cables, and hydraulic connections. Continental says it was able to achieve considerable cost savings and also reduce the weight of the drive by around 15 percent. The compact system is scalable from around 60 to 120 kW, and can be used in a wide range of vehicles. It is available in two motor variants: an asynchronous machine (ASM) and a permanent-magnet synchronous machine (PSM). Most hybrid and electric vehicles use three-phase machines, in which the stator generates a rotating magnetic field that sets the rotor in motion. These may be ASM, or one of two types of synchronous machines: PSM, which have magnets on their rotors; and externally excited synchronous machines, in which the rotor carries electromagnets in the form of excitation winding that is not magnetized until a flow of current is applied. The ASM is suited primarily to smaller EVs due to its simple design. The compact and powerful PSM is preferred for use in larger EVs, as well as in plug-in hybrids. “With the new, compact electric drive, we now have innovative solutions in our portfolio for all three motor technologies and can offer competitive tailor-made electrification for every vehicle type and every market,” explains Dr. Bernd Mahr, head of Continental’s Hybrid Electric Vehicle business unit. “Customers can assemble the best technology and output in accordance with the modular principle. The modular structure of the machine means that only the rotor and length vary depending on requirements.”

Image courtesy of Continental

Continental develops integrated powertrain for the Chinese market

THE TECH New device dynamically reduces offset error in DC current measurement New York-based battery management specialist Sendyne has obtained a patent for an invention that dynamically reduces offset error in shunt-based DC current measurement systems. Offset error – an erroneous value read by the measurement system when the actual current is zero – has a significant impact when Coulomb counting information is utilized for State-of-Charge (SOC) determination. The impact of offset error can be pronounced during repeated charge-discharge cycles such as the ones experienced by hybrid car batteries, resulting in battery operation significantly outside the SOC limits set by cell manufacturers. As offset error changes dynamically with temperature, it cannot be corrected through a single calibration. The Sendyne invention enables dynamic calibration during

all stages of battery operation, reducing error to less than 7 mA in a full scale measurement of 500 A. Reducing the offset error to near zero enables the use of small-resistance shunts with low output voltages for precisely measuring a wide dynamic range of currents while producing minimal waste heat. Sendyne’s invention also allows the use of proper EMI filters, completely zeroing out their contribution to offset error. Because current measurement systems are used in noisy environments, such as power systems that convert electrical energy, the ability to use EMI filters can be important. This invention is used in Sendyne’s SFP family of current, voltage and temperature measurement ICs and modules, which provide this level of accuracy over a temperature range of -40° to 125° C.


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Images courtesy of Voltabox

Voltabox inaugurates battery pack assembly line in Austin, Texas Since a 1996 breakthrough at the University of Texas, Austin has been something of a center for rechargeable battery technology. One of the many companies in the area is Voltabox, a subsidiary of German automotive supplier paragon AG, which chose Austin for its US headquarters in 2014 (and was profiled in the August 2014 issue of Charged). In July, Voltabox of Texas celebrated the official opening of its new plant in the suburb of Cedar Park. The 22,000-square-foot facility was christened in proper Austin style, complete with speechifying politicians, a live band and plenty of hogs on the grill. Voltabox is now operating an automated assembly line

for battery packs, with further lines set to follow. Some of Voltabox’s German partners will also be sharing the space. “Nine months after the groundbreaking ceremony we are now ready for operations with our own plant in Texas,” said Klaus Dieter Frers, founder and CEO of paragon AG. “What has emerged is a modern building and a real showroom for the company. We are particularly glad to have brought our German partners on board.” Most of Voltabox’s battery packs are heading to customers in the growing municipal bus market. In 2014, Voltabox of Texas obtained certification that over 60% of its value creation is based in the US – a necessary step to qualify as a supplier to US public-sector institutions. “We have already successfully acquired several promising orders on the spot, confirming our decision to come to the US,” added Frers.


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TORQUE RIPPLE Q&A with Dr. Nir Vaks, Co-founder and CTO at Continuous Solutions

2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Motor

By Christian Ruoff


Dr. Nir Vaks


he Switched Reluctance Motor, or SRM, is often discussed as a prime choice for the next-generation EV traction motor. It is simple, robust, and arguably the least expensive of all motor types to manufacture. However, SRMs are notoriously difficult to control, and prone to emitting significant amounts of vibration and acoustic noise. The good news is that the disadvantages are not insurmountable. The demands of precise current control and accurate rotor position prediction are being met by computational-intensive control strategies and high-power microcontroller ICs. At the same time, much research is underway to tackle the vibration and acoustic noise problems. Dr. Nir Vaks, co-founder and CTO at Continuous Solu-


Switched Reluctance Motor 6 Pole Stator

Phase Windings

4 Pole Rotor

Photo © ChargedEVs

Figure 1: A typical SRM “6/4” design

Minimization of torque ripple is important for motors in many applications, because it is one of the main causes of vibration. tions LLC, is one of those researchers. Dr. Vaks and his colleagues are working on a number of R&D projects, including an in-wheel-hub motor design, a high-efficiency gen set, and a novel approach to torque ripple mitigation (recently funded by a US Department of Defense grant). Minimization of torque ripple is important for motors in many applications, because it is one of the main causes of vibration that leads to premature wear on the drivetrain components and that pesky acoustic noise that plagues SRMs. Charged recently caught up with Dr. Vaks to take a closer look at torque ripple in electric machines and his novel approach to active mitigation.

The physical principles behind the reluctance motor are fairly simple. The first is that the magnetic analog of current, called flux, wants to travel the path of least magnetic resistance, called reluctance. The second is that low-reluctance materials like iron and its alloys, nickel, cobalt, etc. tend to strongly align to an incident magnetic field. Thus, a reluctance motor merely has a rotor with alternating regions of high and low reluctance on it, and a stator with several electromagnets that when energized in sequence (and regardless of polarity!) will pull the low reluctance regions, or poles, along. This is quite a bit different from the way more familiar motors like series DC or AC induction work; in both of those motors, torque is produced from the interaction of two separate magnetic fields (with both an attraction and repulsion component), while in the reluctance motor torque is strictly from magnetic attraction. Figure 1 shows a typical SRM design (called “6/4,” for the number of stator and rotor poles, respectively) that would be appropriate for traction applications. You can see that the stator has six windings spaced equidistantly while the rotor has four “salient poles,” which is an engineering term for areas of higher magnetic flux concentration. In this case, the salient poles are those parts of the rotor that are closest to the stator and are formed by simply cutting away parts of the rotor.

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The rotor and stator are never perfectly round, and if the tolerances are not tight enough it could cause significant vibration. 24

Photo Š ChargedEVs

Various Rotor Assemblies From Kienle+Spiess

THE TECH Charged: What exactly is torque ripple, and how does it differ in various types of electric motors? Dr. Nir Vaks: Torque ripple is created by harmonics in the electromagnetic torque, which exist in all electric machines regardless of type or design. The harmonics are created by non-idealities in the electromagnetic fields produced by the rotor and stator interaction. It is an issue with all motors, but there are differences. For example, if you take an induction machine and deenergize it - meaning you just have it sitting on the shelf - then grab the rotor and turn it, the only friction is the bearing friction and the momentum of the rotor’s mass. But with a permanent magnet machine, the magnets on the rotor are attracted to the steel on the stator. If you turn the rotor of a de-energized PM machine you will feel cogging, or an attraction between its stator tooth and the magnets. So with a PM machine you have a torque ripple regardless of whether it’s energized or not. And often the ripple in PM machines is much more significant than in induction machines, DC machines, or wound-rotor synchronous machines (like alternators). Charged: How do you measure and quantify torque ripple? Dr. Nir Vaks: There are two sources of vibrations in motors. The first is mechanical - if the components are not fully balanced, if the air gap is not uniform, if the bearings aren’t equally lubricated. The rotor and stator are never perfectly round, and if the tolerances are not tight enough it could cause significant vibration. But even if we assume near-perfect manufacturability - within one-thousandth of a millimeter accuracy - there is another source of vibration from the electromagnetic field, like the cogging torque or irregularities in the distribution of the electromagnetic field (which is never totally uniform). To measure it, you kind of need to work in reverse. You take a motor and connect the shaft to a certain load with a torque sensor. Also attached is a sensor that can measure the vibration on the shaft. That will give you the vibrational profile of the machine, and then you can calculate the percentage of torque ripple compared to the average torque. Say you have a motor with 100 Nm of torque that’s moving a vehicle forward. But on top of that 100 Nm direct quantity, you have this alternating output quan-

Two-Pole Permanent Magnet Machine

You can calculate the percentage of torque ripple compared to the average torque. tity, which is the torque ripple. So basically, you want the motor to rotate and move you forward, but it’s also moving slightly to the right, left, up and down. There is nothing beneficial in the torque ripple, it’s just vibration. Charged: Is there a percentage of torque ripple that’s considered to be generally acceptable? Dr. Nir Vaks: Anything below 1% is considered to be very good. So if you have a motor with 100 Nm of average torque, you would want the torque ripple to be ±1 Nm. But it really depends on the application. If you look at some less-expensive PM machines, like the ones used in electric bicycles or scooters, you will see that the torque ripple is often very significant - I’ve seen motors with over 20% torque ripple. And it gets really interesting when you look at the application dependence. If we’re looking at the vibration of the electric motor itself, that’s one thing. But once you put

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Toyota Prius Hybrid Motor Cutaway Display

Charged: So by the time a motor is used in a production vehicle from a major OEM, can we assume the torque ripple has been engineered down to under 1%? Dr. Nir Vaks: No, not necessarily. It’s been a big issue for a lot of OEMs. The Japanese manufacturers, in general, have become very good at manufacturing PM machines, and they do it well. But if you look at motors made elsewhere, a lot of times that torque ripple quantity is much higher. If you look under the hood of a typical hybrid vehicle, instead of putting millions of dollars into engineering

A good value is considered anything below


torque ripple


Dr. Nir Vaks has seen motors with over

20% torque ripple

a very low torque ripple motor, they build mechanics around it in such a way that it will mitigate those vibrations. Motors often sit on a very complicated vibrationmitigation plate - it’s basically a damping system to compensate for the torque ripple. The systems are improving. If you compare a 2004 Toyota Prius and a 2014 Toyota Prius, you will see that the amount of suspension used for vibration-mitigation has been greatly reduced. That’s because they are designing less vibratory motors. Everyone is now trying to attack the problem at its source, which is the vibrations coming from the electric machine itself. Charged: What techniques do engineers use to design a system with less torque ripple? Dr. Nir Vaks: Torque ripple reduction methods can be broken into two categories: 1) modification of the physical geometry and design of the motor; and 2) mitigation via control of the current excitation waveform. Physical modification of the motor has been shown to

Photo courtesy of Abdullah AlBargan (CC BY-ND 2.0)

it underneath the hood of a car, then you get a different vibratory profile because there is all this other stuff that is connected around it. You can take a motor that has a 1% torque ripple and then connect to something, and those vibrations are amplified by other components.

If you compare a 2004 and a 2014 Toyota Prius, you will see that the amount of suspension used for vibration-mitigation has been greatly reduced.




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be effective at reducing torque ripple, however, it comes with financial costs and power trade-offs. The modifications may include things like redesigning the position of the permanent magnets or altering the stator teeth in a certain geometry so that the vibration being produced by the machine will be naturally below 1%. The problem is that these are very intricate changes that often require significant engineering time, materials that are a bit more expensive, and high-precision manufacturing. So as you’re reducing the torque ripple, the cost increases. Not only that but, as you’re reducing the torque ripple, you’re also reducing your average torque. So, effectively, you get less bang for your buck. If you take a 100 kW machine with 10% torque ripple and make a lot of intricate changes to engineer it down to 1% (that’s if you’re good), then you now have around 85 to 92 kW overall power, because the changes also reduce overall torque. That’s definitely an issue. So, we’re focusing on the second method - controlbased torque ripple mitigation algorithms which are based on shaping the current waveforms. Our approach, in concept, is similar to the active noise cancellation technology used in headphones. Those systems use a microphone to listen to the surrounding noise (which is vibration) and then takes exactly the same frequency to create a noise-cancelling wave that is 180° out of phase. We do the same thing. When the motor wants to jerk to the right, we control it in such a way that it also jerks to the left. In essence what happens is you get zero jerk - no vibration. In other words, the electronics adjusts the currents delivered to the motor so as to produce a torque ripple wave that is 180° out of phase when compared to the original “parasitic” torque ripple. Hence, cancellation of the parasitic torque is achieved. It’s a tricky problem because you can’t just say, “give me torque.” It’s the current that produces the torque. So, you need to alter the three-phase current so that it will create a torque that will counteract the parasitic ripple. Charged: What is novel about the control-based approach you’re developing at Continuous Solutions? Dr. Nir Vaks: We’re developing a closed-loop torque ripple mitigation controller using a relatively inexpensive piezoelectric polymer for sensing torque ripple-induced vibrations. If you put voltage across a piezoelectric material it expands a little bit, but it’s also bidirectional, so you can press on it and a small voltage will be induced. We take this material and put it underneath, or beside, the


2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Drive Unit

Active closed-loop algorithms have been shown to mitigate over

99.8% of torque ripple

motor mount. The vibration taps on the material to create a voltage profile that is proportional to this vibration. This allows us to measure the instantaneous torque ripple, and that vibration profile is fed into a computational device to change the three-phase excitation of the motor and create a vibration that is exactly the opposite. The system continuously adjusts until there is very little or no vibration. One of the biggest advantages of this approach is that piezoelectric material is very inexpensive, so it could be a cost-effective solution deployed in all production vehicles. Let’s say you have a motor that has a torque ripple profile of 5%. You don’t want to redesign it because it will cost a lot of money and it’s already integrated into your platform. All you would have to do is place the piezoelectric sensor somewhere near the motor and feed that signal into the controller that you already have. Then, in the power electronics control algorithm, you add another section of code to do the mitigation. Of course, as you’re doing any kind of active control or current harmonics, there is a reduction in the machine output. So it will use a little bit more energy to do active cancellation, but the beauty of it is that it’s up to the user. Let’s say you are trying to pass a car on the highway and you put

THE TECH with this sort of active control of the motor you can drive it in such a way that there is very little vibration. Then if you’re in a situation where you need full power, you can turn it off. That’s an extreme example, but it shows the advantages of active control. Another advantage is that things change over time with all machines because of heat, wear and tear, etc. You can buy an off-the-shelf motor that has a torque ripple profile below 1%, but that doesn’t mean a year from now it will be that low. There is a good chance it will be higher because things deform and change. But with active control, the way you control the machine depends on the feedback. So, if the torque ripple goes up, it becomes more and more aggressive with the control method.

Photo © ChargedEVs

Charged: What are the next steps in the development of these closed-loop systems?

Our approach, in concept, is similar to the active noise cancellation technology used in headphones. the pedal to the floor, you can program the controller to know that when this occurs you don’t care about vibration or audible noise for the next 3, 5 or 10 seconds. During that time the computer will know to disable the torque ripple mitigation and deliver the highest possible performance. Once you ease off the accelerator pedal, the computer can turn on the torque ripple mitigation again, which uses a little bit more available energy to cancel vibrations. This is why the military and other high-performance applications are interested in this approach. A nuclear submarine, for example, is basically an electric vehicle. And the most popular way to detect the presence of a submarine is by its acoustic profile - you can listen for it with sensors. So if a submarine doesn’t want to be detected,

Dr. Nir Vaks: This research is a continuation of my PhD work at Purdue University, where I was able to prove the approach both in simulations and in hardware. I was able to mitigate over 99.8% of the torque ripple that is created in a permanent-magnet synchronous machine. It started at around 5% torque ripple, and the active control was able to mitigate it to around 0.05%. The Department of Defense funding allows us develop the same approach for SRMs. Even though they don’t have permanent magnets, SRMs have a lot of vibration, which is why you don’t see them in high-performance applications like hybrids and EVs. Right now we’re in the IP development stage. We’ve already proved the concept for PM machines and now we need to prove the concept in SRMs. Hopefully, a year from now we’ll be entering phase two with some serious hardware tests for the military, and then phase three is commercialization. The biggest advantage for SRMs is that they are cheap, and the biggest problem is that they are cheap. Because of the low-cost manufacturing techniques, you get a lot of vibration. Again, you could mitigate the vibration through design, but then they wouldn’t be cheap anymore, or as powerful. SRMs are commercially available for some applications, but the vibration issue really limits their introduction into a lot of applications. We want to proliferate this technology and make it commercialized. I definitely hope this will be another tool in the toolbox of fighting vibration and acoustic noise, and a very cost-effective one. So much so, I think it could really revolutionize the industry.

JUL/AUG 2015



By Christian Ruoff

Photos © ChargedEVs


We’re shifting the cell chemistry for the upgraded pack to partially use silicon in the anode.

n mid-July, Tesla Motors made a trio of Model S update announcements. The new options included a 70 kWh rearwheel-drive base model, an upgrade for the high-end battery pack from 85 to 90 kWh (providing about a 6% increase in range), and Ludicrous mode, which offers a 10% improvement in the car’s 0 to 60 mph time, to 2.8 seconds. The media was most enamored with the extra fraction of a second of acceleration in Model S’s new Ludicrous mode, and they should be. As many outlets pointed out, the new top of the line P90D accelerates from 0 to 60 mph faster than many gas-powered “supercars” that cost more than $1 million from the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, McLaren, and Porsche. Very few cars are faster than the newest Model S, and none of them are 4-door sedans. In addition to the awesome engineering achievements that push the power limits to new heights, CEO Elon Musk revealed a bit more about the increase in energy density of the cells in the new 90 kWh pack. During a conference call, Musk told reporters that “it is, actually, as a result of improved


JUL/AUG 2015


cell chemistry. We’re shifting the cell chemistry for the upgraded pack to partially use silicon in the anode. This is just sort of a baby step in the direction of using silicon in the anode. We’re still primarily using synthetic graphite, but over time we’ll be using increasing amounts of silicon in the anode.” Introducing silicon into automotive-grade lithiumion cells represents a huge milestone for the EV industry. Silicon is widely considered to be the next big thing in anode technology, because it has a theoretical charge capacity ten times higher than that of typical graphite anodes. “It’s a race among the battery makers to get more and more silicon in,” Jeff Dahn, the prominent battery researcher who will begin an exclusive partnership with Tesla in June 2016, recently told Fortune. However, further advances in silicon anode technology will not come easily.

Silicon versus graphite Replacing the graphite in a cell with silicon means that you can use less anode material and fill up that extra

Dr. Jeff Dahn and Tesla CTO JB Straubel signing research agreements


It’s a race among the battery makers to get more and more silicon in. space with more cathode material - effectively increasing the overall energy that is contained within the same volume. This is due to a fundamental difference in the way that silicon “stores” lithium. The layered graphite structure absorbs the lithium ions through a process called intercalation. It is essentially sheets of graphene where lithium ions can be stored between the layers. Silicon, on the other hand, can absorb more lithium ions, because the two materials form an alloy with a theoretical specific capacity much higher than that of graphite. Silicon’s challenges, however, arise from the same


Image by Rees Rankin, Argonne National Laboratory

Silicon undergoes a large volume expansion as it soaks up lithium like a sponge

Silicon can absorb more lithium ions because the two materials form an alloy.

silicon increases volume by about

Photo by Danny Abriel, Dalhousie University

300% when it absorbs lithium ions


compared to about

expansion observed in graphite

attributes that make it attractive. Unlike the porous graphite material that has specific sites open and waiting for ions, when the lithium-silicon alloy forms, the structure of the anode changes, resulting in large volumetric fluctuations. For example, if a particle of silicon absorbs as much lithium as thermodynamically possible, its volume increases by about 300%. That compares to about 7% expansion observed in the intercalation of lithium into graphite. The problem with the current state of silicon anodes is that the repeated expansion and contraction during charging and discharging leads to drastically reduced cycle life.

Failure mechanisms To get a better idea of the challenges of silicon and what researchers are doing to overcome them, Charged talked to our go-to battery R&D experts at Wildcat Discovery Technologies. Dee Strand, Chief Scientific Officer at Wildcat, explained that when you add a lot of silicon to anodes there are two big failure mechanisms: problems with the electrode itself and with the solid electrolyte interface (SEI) layer. “The electrode is a whole bunch of particles glued together,” said Strand. “When you have particles that change dimensions so dramatically with every cycle, they tend to fall apart. The particles themselves pulver-

JUL/AUG 2015


Dee Strand, Chief Scientific Officer at Wildcat

About Wildcat Discovery Technologies Wildcat Discovery Technologies uses proprietary methods to rapidly synthesize, test and evaluate energy storage materials up to 100 times faster than standard labs. The venture-backed start-up, based in San Diego, uses parallel development capabilities similar to the way discoveries are made in life sciences, such as pharmaceuticals. In the area of batteries, however, Wildcat is one of the only organizations that can synthesize useful storage materials in bulk form and then screen those materials very quickly to find out how useful they are.

When you start using more and more silicon, it’s much harder to keep that electrode and SEI layer bonded together. ize. They crack. The glue comes undone. And your cycle life is very short.” The SEI layer is what enables the battery to operate in an efficient and reversible manner. It’s a film composed of electrolyte reduction products that start forming on the surface of the anode during the initial battery charge. It functions as an ionic conductor that enables lithium to migrate through the film during charging and discharging. Under typical operating conditions, it also serves as an electronic insulator that prevents further electrolyte reduction on the anode. “With silicon anodes, a nice passivation layer is formed on the particles,” explained Strand. “But as the silicon expands and contracts, it essentially cracks apart that layer and then makes more. Over time it ends up with a very thick resistive film on the anode, which causes it to lose both capacity and power. So that’s the other mechanism that causes the cell to fade very fast.”


The company uses its unique skills in collaborative research projects with many different chemical companies, cell manufacturers and even electronics and vehicle OEMs. Wildcat recently celebrated its 100th research project, having worked with over 60 companies since its inception in late 2006. It also funds its own internal projects when a new material seems particularly promising.

Little by little So how have Tesla and others been able to add silicon to cells that are now commercially available? Strand explains that, to date, the only way battery developers have been able to achieve long cycle life is not to use very much silicon. The porosity within the graphite matrix provides room for a small amount of silicon particles to expand and contract without disrupting things too much. “When you start using more and more silicon, it’s much harder to keep that electrode and SEI layer bonded together,” said Strand. The cells that contain silicon today - including those used in consumer electronics that have been on the market for a few years - contain such a small amount that it’s not really changing the equation. It’s a small percentage of the anode material, and the majority of capacity is still coming from the graphite. However, battery-makers clearly intend to find ways to overcome the challenges,

THE TECH and add more silicon. As Musk said in July’s announcement, Tesla “expects to increase pack capacity by roughly 5% per year” (although not all of those increases will be solely due to adding more silicon). According to Strand, making incremental additions to the amount of silicon will “require better binders that hold the electrode material together, and better electrolytes that form more mechanically robust SEI layers on those particles.” The good news is that there are a lot of potential fixes for both failure mechanisms - it’s just a matter of tweaking, testing and repeating, until formulations are found that work well together (a process that Wildcat is particularly good at).

Better materials One solution to the SEI layer problem might be found in a DOE-funded project that Wildcat has underway to develop better electrolytes and additives for silicon anodes. Wildcat says the project, named EM4, has been very successful at making more mechanically and electrochemically robust SEI layers on the anode. So as volume

Using silicon anodes introduces another level of complexity because we’re applying a new constraint changes occur, the SEI layer doesn’t crack. “The electrolyte formulations that are used in today’s batteries are fairly complex, with a lot of different solvents, salts, and additives,” explained Strand. “Using silicon anodes introduces another level of complexity because we’re applying a new constraint - that is, the ability to expand and contract with the silicon. But that’s really where the power of Wildcat’s high-throughput R&D processes shines, and in less than two years we’ve been able to develop fundamentally different electrolytes that don’t have the typical solvents in them.”

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Most electrolyte formulations today contain ethylene carbonate (EC) - a cyclic carbonate molecule - and a linear carbonate molecule blended together. One helps solubilize the salt and one reduces the viscosity and makes sure that you have high enough conductivity. Strand explained that with silicon anodes, people tend to add a lot of fluorinated ethylene carbonate (FEC), because it appears to make a more stable SEI layer than EC. However, it’s still that not great, and you have to put in fairly high levels of FEC, around 10-30%. So, Wildcat decided to develop a new class of electrolytes that contain no EC, and only a small amount of FEC - around 2%. “That really opens up the door to a lot of different chemistries that you can consider to make that SEI layer more mechanically robust,” said Strand. “We now have non-carbonate formulations that give us 300 cycles to 80% capacity, and perform equivalently, or better, to carbonate-based solvents. Because of our ability to look at many different chemistry families and many different combinations, we will continue to make further improvements upon those 300 cycles. There are lots and lots of additives that we currently have in an optimization phase that look very promising.”

Musk said in July that Tesla “expects to increase pack capacity by roughly 5% per year.” The other piece of the puzzle Even with the perfectly formulated electrolyte for silicon, there is still the problem of the electrode falling apart. Although Wildcat has lots of experience developing new complex electrode materials, it’s not currently working specifically on silicon anodes. But rest assured, many others are.

THE TECH For example, last year the DOE launched six applied battery research projects as part of its Vehicle Technologies portfolio - all using some form of silicon-based material for the anode. That included teams led by the Argonne National Laboratory, TAIX, 3M, Envia, Penn State/University of Texas at Austin, and Farasis Energy. Charged has also previously covered a variety of private companies working away to solve silicon’s problems, including CALEB Technology, CalBattery, Amprius, EnerG2, and others. As Strand explained to us, preventing a silicon anode from pulverization during cycling is just as complex a development problem as finding a stable electrolyte, because, again, there are so many variables. “For example, many people are developing nanoparticles because they can manage the mechanical stresses and they don’t crack,” she continued, “but with those high surface-area materials, it’s much harder to find binders that will effectively hold everything together. That issue is also intertwined with the electrolyte because now you need to worry about making a robust SEI layer on a high-surface-area anode material.” In spite of the complex challenges, the sheer number of groups working to solve the problem is very promising. The market for advanced battery technology continues to grow rapidly as prices drop and energy density increases. Unlocking the potential of silicon could give a company the edge needed to become an early leader in the gigantic new industry. So it’s no surprise that, as Jeff Dahn told Fortune, “the number of researchers around the world working on silicon for lithiumion cells is mind-boggling.”

The number of researchers around the world working on silicon for lithium-ion cells is mind-boggling.


For Tesla, a quarterly earnings announcement often triggers a drop in the stock price, because nothing less than spectacular success can justify the company’s skyhigh valuation. For Q2 2015, the Seers of Silicon Valley really did disappoint, saying they expect to deliver “50,000 to 55,000” vehicles this year, backing off an earlier target of 55,000. Punishment was swift – TSLA dropped about 10% in the days that followed. In a conference call with reporters, Elon Musk said that Model X testing is going well, but warned that production targets can always be derailed by delays. “The Model X is a particularly challenging car to build, maybe the hardest car to build in the world. It’s a complex product, with thousands of suppliers.” “The pace of progress is really dependent on which supplier is the slowest and least lucky,” said Musk. A one-week delay could reduce quarterly production by 800 units. And because the X and the S are built on the same assembly line, a misstep by a Model X supplier could slow production of both vehicles. For those who can look past the missed targets and warnings of delays, there was plenty of good news. Demand for the company’s new energy storage products is “really crazy,” with firm orders “well in excess of a billion dollars’ worth of Powerpacks and Powerwalls…we are sold out of what we could make in 2016 at this point.” A new suite of autopilot features for highway driving and parking is on track to be released to “early-access customers” in August, and depending on what issues come up, wide release will be one to two months after that. This being Tesla, there had to be a hint of some cool secret plan to disrupt yet another industry. This was provided by Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley, who asked about Steve Jurvetson’s now-famous anecdote about Uber’s intense interest in Tesla self-driving cars. Is this a sales opportunity for Tesla, or could the company cut out the middleman and sell its own ride-sharing services, using autopilot-enabled vehicles? Musk says that this is “an insightful question,” but one that he doesn’t think he should answer.


The difficulty of starting up a car company, and the unlikelihood of anyone duplicating Tesla’s success, are so well known as to require no repetition here. Suffice it to say that Faraday Future’s recent colorfully-worded announcement that it intends to bring a new EV to the market has been greeted with predictable skepticism. However, the amount of figurative salt heaped upon this new dish has been limited by the illustrious names among the company’s 200 employees. Nick Sampson, reportedly one of Faraday’s co-founders, was Director of Vehicle and Chassis Engineering at Tesla from 2010 to 2012, and spent 10 years with Lotus before that. The company’s roster includes several other erstwhile senior Teslans, plus such luminaries as Richard Kim, who helped design BMW’s i3 and i8; Silva Hiti, a multiple patent-holder who worked on the Chevy Volt; Pontus Fontaeus, former Volvo Director of Interior Design; and Porter Harris, a former Energy Storage Engineer at SpaceX. Faraday Future was named for Michael Faraday, whom many consider to be the father of the electromagnetic motor and electrochemical batteries. Currently residing in a former Nissan testing center in Gardena, California, the company told Venture Beat that it’s shopping for a production facility. It claims to be “well-funded,” and is not in the market for capital at the moment. Details about the planned vehicle are few. FF says it will launch in 2017, and will be “100% electric, zeroemission, fully-connected and personalized in ways you’ve never even considered possible.” Its batteries will (of course) offer the highest energy density and specific energy on the market. FF says its battery pack will have 15 percent higher specific energy than a Tesla Model S 85 kWh pack. That should work out to a 98 kWh pack, offering at least 300 miles of range.

Image courtesy of Faraday Future

Tesla trims projected production

New independent EV builder makes the scene


Photo by Mark Mastropietro

Chevy Bolt EV on its way to the masses – not the elite True to its namesake, the Chevy Bolt EV seems to be moving through the pipeline at an impressive speed, at least by auto-industry standards. The company recently revealed that it has built 55 pre-production Bolts, which are handily delivering the desired 200 miles of range. GM also announced that it will invest $245 million and add 300 new jobs at the Orion Assembly plant where the Bolt EV will be built – however, most of that pot of money is apparently for a mysterious new vehicle, which Motor Trend reports will be a fossil-powered Cadillac crossover that may share some elements of the Gamma platform with the Bolt. A few months ago, GM announced $160 million of investment in the plant to tool up for the Bolt. Rumor has it that production will start next year, and that the new EV will go on sale in 2017. GM wants to make it clear that the Bolt is a car for the Average Joe and Jane. “Making technology attainable also extends to electric vehicles,” said CEO Mary Barra

at the recent unveiling of the 2016 Cruze. “To make the biggest impact, it takes an engineering organization with the scale and the expertise to build electric vehicles for everyone, not just the elite.” Executive Chief Engineer for Electric Vehicles Pam Fletcher echoed that egalitarian sentiment, saying that GM will make “electric cars approachable to all, not just the elite,” and that the Bolt will be “available to the masses.” A 200-mile EV, she said, need not be “a $100,000 car.” Some see veiled allusions to Tesla, that purveyor of vehicles to the wealthy one percent, in these speeches. In fact, Green Car Reports quoted an unnamed GM source as saying, “It’s Chevy vs Tesla and it’s on!”

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CURRENTevents Volkswagen brings new plug-in Passat to Europe


Volkswagen is expanding its stable of plug-in vehicles with the new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid. The VW Group now offers no less than ten plug-ins: the Audi A3 e-tron, Q7 e-tron and R8 e-tron; the Porsche Cayenne and Panamera S E-Hybrids; the Golf and Passat GTE plug-ins, the low-volume XL1, and the battery-electric e-up! and e-Golf. The Passat GTE sedan and Passat GTE Variant wagon are scheduled to hit European streets this fall, and advance sales have already begun in a few countries. The new PHEV will be launched in Asia later this year. The front-wheel-drive Passat GTE has a total system output of 160 kW, and electric range of up to 50 km. It sports a four-cylinder turbocharged gas engine (1.4 TSI) with maximum torque of 250 Nm (184 lb-ft), and an 85 kW three-phase permanent magnet synchronous electric motor with maximum torque of 330 Nm (243 lb-ft). The electric motor, 6-speed gearbox and disengagement clutch are all integrated into one unit. When possible, the disengagement clutch disengages the powertrain from the driven front axle, allowing the car to coast. The liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery is comprised of eight modules of twelve cells each, adding up to a rated voltage of 353 V and 9.9 kWh total capacity (8.7 kWh usable). It comes with a warranty for eight years or 160,000 km. Level 2 charging happens at 3.6 kW. Time-delayed charging and cabin pre-heating/cooling can be controlled via the infotainment system or the Car-Net e-Remote app, which is free for the first year. The Passat GTE offers four driving modes: E-Mode, Hybrid, Battery Charge and the sporty GTE Mode.

Image courtesy of Volkswagen

More California cities are electrifying their transit fleets. Stockton and Porterville recently placed orders with Proterra for two of its new Catalyst battery-electric buses, with funding from the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District. Electric bus-maker Proterra says its Catalyst is the most efficient 40-foot transit bus on the market – at 22 MPGe, it’s nearly six times more efficient than the diesel buses it will replace. With these latest orders, Proterra now has firm orders for 110 units on its books, as well as 323 more on option. “As the first transit agency in Northern California to have operated fully-electric buses, we’re grateful for the District’s funding and the opportunity to expand our electric bus fleet with Proterra,” said Donna DeMartino, CEO of the San Joaquin Regional Transit District. “With perpetual air quality challenges in the Valley, we’re grateful for the funding provided by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, and pleased to integrate Proterra’s zero-emission buses into our transit system,” said Richard Tree, Transit Manager for Porterville Transit. “With California representing nearly half of the US bus market and the Air Resource Board setting a goal of operating 100% zero-emission bus fleets by 2040, the state is inaugurating a quiet electric vehicle market transformation,” said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra.

Images courtesy of Proterra

Two more California cities order Proterra electric buses


Image courtesy of nzcarfreak (CC BY 2.0)

BYD sells 50 e6 EVs to San Diego ride-sharing fleet San Diego-based ride-sharing service Opoli has agreed to buy 50 e6 EVs from China’s BYD Motors. The e6 electric crossover will join Opoli’s natural gas-powered airport shuttles later this summer. Opoli, which launched its service in the San Diego area just a few weeks ago, is the first ride-share service permitted at the San Diego International Airport. It uses a name-your-price model, and allows rides to be booked on demand via a smartphone app. The BYD e6 features a 75 kW motor and a 61.4 kWh BYD-developed lithium iron-phosphate battery, and has an EPA-estimated range of 27 miles. BYD says that more than 800 are in operation as taxis worldwide, and have logged over 45 million miles. “At Opoli we continue to seek out and provide an affordable solution to the transportation problems that plague metropolitan areas,” said Opoli founder and

CEO Rattan Joea. “Teaming up with BYD provides riders not only cost-effective solutions, but a green alternative in San Diego.” “Our company was built on innovation, and unlike most auto manufacturers we are excited for the future of the shared-use economy and pioneers such as Opoli,” said BYD Motors President Stella Li.

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THE VEHICLES New report from Germany assesses over 500 EV models

Kandi makes $89-million deal as Chinese auto market moves online Kandi Technologies Group (NASDAQ: KNDI), a Chinese EV-maker and car-sharing operator, has announced a new sale that will not only significantly expand its volume, but also explore the potential of online EV sales. Kandi Electric Vehicles Group, a joint venture with automaker Geely, has signed a sales contract with Zhejiang Shi Kong Electric Vehicle for 4,000 vehicles – 1,500 of the Kandi K11 Panda and 2,500 of the Kandi K10 Mini. Deliveries are expected to be completed this year. The $89-million deal is a big one for Kandi, which logged sales of $30.6 million in the first quarter of this year, representing 1,670 “EV products.” The Chinese EV market is growing quickly – 10,856 domestically produced high-speed plug-in cars were sold in China in May – including 700 Geely-Kandi Pandas, according to Meanwhile, several firms are venturing into online auto sales. The Internet shopping giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) has reportedly formed a strategic partnership with Lifan Auto for the latter to build a small EV for the online platform, while the two cooperate in car financing and services. Other Chinese internet players, including Baidu, and Tencent, are also dabbling in the auto market. In announcing the latest deal, Kandi said that “Zhejiang Shi Kong is dedicated to deepening the penetration of new energy vehicles (NEVs) through the Internet Plus concept.” “The Internet Plus concept is widely recommended to facilitate the adoption of NEVs in China,” said Kandi CEO Hu Xiaoming. “The 4,000-unit sales contract marks Kandi’s entrance into this innovative field, and will further enhance our leadership position in China’s EV market.”

A new study from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), in partnership with the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, aims to present a comprehensive picture of current progress in electromobility, and to assess the position of German companies in the rapidly developing market. The DLR scientists developed a database of every known electric passenger vehicle, including production models, prototypes and research vehicles. They counted over 500 concepts built worldwide between 2000 and 2013, and analyzed each one down to the component level. A total of 87 new plug-in production models were introduced around the world between 2006 and 2013. Japan and the US are pioneering the development of marketable electric vehicles. Some 210,000 plug-in vehicles were sold worldwide in 2013, roughly half of them in the US. The study found that Germany is falling behind in R&D of key technologies, especially power electronics. “Power electronics are crucial to electric cars; these components control and direct the flow of energy within the vehicle, and are therefore important elements in any further optimization of the powertrain. This is why enhanced research into components and materials used in power electronics needs more support here in Germany,” said the study’s Project Coordinator Matthias Klötzke. Germany does have several advantages – it is strong in assembly and packaging technology as well as systems integration. The electromobility sector in Germany also enjoys close cooperation among research institutions, manufacturers and suppliers. Germany already shows the highest levels of investment in electromobility R&D in Europe. The report sounds a warning about future shortages of key materials such as lithium and rare earth elements. “To expand electromobility, we need to consider alternative motor designs and recycling methods for particularly scarce raw materials, and we have to search for alternative materials,” says Matthias Klötzke.

JUL/AUG 2015



The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is one of the world’s most important promoters of electromobility. The agency’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate requires that 2.7 percent of new cars sold in the state this year be plug-in (or fuel cell) vehicles. That percentage is scheduled to increase every year, reaching 22 percent in 2025. The ultimate goal is to force automakers to phase out legacy ICE vehicles entirely, at least according to a recent Bloomberg profile of ARB chief Mary Nichols. “If we’re going to get our transportation system off petroleum,” says Nichols, “we’ve got to get people used to a zeroemissions world, not just a little-bitbetter version of the world they have now.” Governor Jerry Brown has set a goal to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Meeting that goal will require dinosaur burners to be off the road by that time, and given modern cars’ long lifespans, that means they need to start disappearing from showrooms around 2030. Needless to say, the ZEV regulations are under more or less constant attack by the automakers, although few of them are willing to criticize them in public (with the notable exception of Fiat Chrysler, whose CEO, Sergio Marchionne, has asked consumers not to buy his company’s Fiat 500e EV). “There’s a reason Chrysler is the perennial number three of the Big Three,” Nichols told Bloomberg.


Nichols, who first joined ARB in 1975, isn’t intimidated by auto executives and their dire predictions about new technology. Catalytic converters, seat belts and airbags are just a few of the government-mandated improvements that automakers have fought against tooth and nail. ARB’s policies have influence far beyond California. Nine other states have adopted the ZEV standards, and Nichols is currently advising the Chinese government about how best to implement its pro-electromobility policies. “There are only a handful of people who’ve had the impact on clean air Mary has had,” says former EPA head Lisa Jackson. “She’s implemented policies that are models for the world.”

Image courtesy of California Air Resources Board (CC BY 2.0)

California Air Resources Board chief: Automakers need to end production of ICEs around 2030

THE VEHICLES Survey: Automotive engineers don’t expect CAFE standards to be lowered US automakers remain on track to meet the EPA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard, which will mandate average fuel economy of 35.5 mpg by 2016, and 54.5 mpg by 2025. However, average fuel efficiency is in danger of slipping, as WardsAuto reports, not because carmakers aren’t building gas-sipping vehicles, but because US consumers aren’t buying them. Predictably, the drop in fuel prices has caused a run on big trucks and SUVs (in July, light truck sales were up 12.3% from July 2014), while sales of hybrids and plug-ins have plateaued. A midterm review of the CAFE regulations is coming up, beginning with a report for public comment by June 2016, and some observers have predicted that the EPA will consider watering down the standards. However, a recent WardsAuto survey found that auto-

motive engineers and designers don’t share that fear (or hope). Out of 900 respondents, about 87% predict that the CAFE goal for 2025 will stay the same, or become even stricter. Lightweighting and increased engine efficiency are the two top strategies that automakers are using to rise to the challenge. However, electrification is in third place and becoming ever more important. “Electrification, which saw one of the largest increases in mentions [by the survey respondents] this year, is fast becoming another universal strategy,” said Jeff Sternberg, Technology Director at DuPont Automotive. “Light electrification, such as stop/start, regenerative braking systems and transmissions and engine controls, is expanding across the light-vehicle fleet.”

MAY/JUN 2015



With the transition to Model X production and a long list of other projects gobbling up cash, Tesla announced a plan to raise $500 million by issuing additional shares of common stock. Then, a couple days later, the company increased that amount to around $650 million due to strong support from shareholders. Elon Musk plans to purchase $20 million worth for himself. Once again, Tesla has chosen to lead an expedition through the Valley of Death, that arid and unforgiving region where huge capital expenditures are required, but there is no product revenue until you get to the other side. The company says it burned up $1.12 billion in the first half of this year, bringing cash reserves down to around $1 billion. The potential revenue is there and waiting. Musk says demand for Tesla’s energy storage products is “really crazy,” with firm orders “well in excess of a billion dollars,” and more than 20,000 prospective buyers have put down deposits for a Model X. While the Gigafactory seems to be coming along, the new ESUV has been plagued by delays. Production is to start in September, but many observers believe that the line won’t crank up to full volume for another couple of months. Musk has promised the X will be a tour de force, with its unique falcon doors, towing capability, and groovy seats. “Our biggest challenges are with the second row seat, which is an amazing seat, like a sculptural work of art, but a very tricky thing to get right,” he said.


A new market study from Transparency Market Research (TMR) projects that global revenue from the marine hybrid propulsion market will grow from $2.24 billion in 2013 to $4.46 billion in 2022. In Marine Hybrid Propulsion Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2014-2022, TMR finds that tightening environmental restrictions and fluctuating fuel prices are driving shipping companies to increase their R&D in marine hybrid propulsion systems. The report finds that ferry operators are the major adopters of hybrid systems. Most ferries operate in coastal areas and inland waterways, where emissions standards are stricter than on the high seas. Ferry operators, particularly in Europe, are investing substantial amounts in hybrid tech, so this segment is likely to grow extensively during the forecast period. TMR predicts that tugboats and offshore support vessels will be one of the most lucrative segments. These vessels operate at low engine load most of the time, and hybrid propulsion systems can take advantage of the duty cycle variability to improve fuel efficiency. Luxury yachts and small tourist boats are also beginning to adopt hybrid systems, and several yacht and boat designers are developing new hybrid models. Some of the major companies operating in the marine hybrid propulsion market are Siemens, General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Caterpillar, Aspin Kemp and the SCHOTTEL Group.

Images courtesy of Tony Webster (CC BY 2.0)

New report: Marine Tesla to raise about $650 hybrid propulsion market million with new stock to reach $4.46 billion by offering 2022


‘‘The ultimate Road Race’’

October 16 to 22, 2015 The 7 day, Mexico’s legendary race, as a challenge for 2 electric-drive ‘classics’ piloted by the all female racing team: Ana Gabriela PERALTA & Montserrat OLIVER. Running for the PINK cause...

Montserrat & Ana Gabriela pics by Christian Besson,. Make-up by Eduardo Arias.

Contact: Víctor Juárez G.

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS “Nothing beats early detection”


GM’s top electrification engineers on designing the all-new, second-generation Photo courtesy of Mark Mastropietro





By Charles Morris

their Volt as an EV. By June 2014, Volts had logged more than half a billion miles in North America, and 63% of those miles were driven in EV mode. The top improvement drivers asked for was increased electric range. They also wanted improved performance, with power on demand regardless of whether the vehicle is operating in electric or range-extended mode. GM took a blank-sheet approach to designing the second-generation system. An R&D team examined more than 50 types of electric and hybrid propulsion systems, and used proprietary simulation software to conduct extensive modeling, before developing the latest Voltec powertrain. The new system is fundamentally different, with two electric motors and a larger gas engine, that work together in new ways to maximize efficiency. There are also dozens of smaller improvements, including upgrades to the power electronics and on-board charger, as well as more integration of components. All contribute to more range, better performance and lower cost. GM engineers revealed a wealth of details on the technology of the second-generation Voltec propulsion system in a set of five papers presented to the SAE (which are available to the public on the SAE website). To get the

Images courtesy of GM


hen the Chevrolet Volt was launched at the end of 2010, I must confess that I gave it little chance of success. It seemed like an awkward compromise - buyers who wanted to go electric would surely prefer a pure EV, and buyers who weren’t ready to take that plunge had every reason to stick with a hybrid like the Toyota Prius, which cost far less than the Volt and had comparable gas mileage. I also thought GM’s designation of the Volt as an Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) was a presumptuous marketing gimmick - why not just call it a plug-in hybrid (PHEV)? Well, I was completely and indisputably wrong. Five model years later, over 93,000 buyers have chosen the Volt (and its European twin, the Ampera), making it the second-best selling plug-in vehicle in the world, after the Nissan LEAF (which has sold over 177,000 worldwide). Buyer satisfaction ratings are sky-high. And, in the light of real-world driving behavior, the Volt really is a different animal from other PHEVs, so coining a new category for it no longer seems unreasonable. The second-generation Volt, which will go on sale in the US this fall, is not just an incremental improvement. GM took the vehicle apart and redesigned it from the ground up, guided by the huge amount of knowledge and data, including customer feedback, gained from the first-generation Volt. Perhaps the most important thing GM learned from its intense analysis of vehicle data was that drivers think of


Volts traveled more than

averaging more than

500 63

million miles by June 2014


of driving in EV mode

stories behind the facts and figures, Charged spoke with Andrew Farah, 2016 Volt Chief Engineer, and Larry Nitz, head of Hybrid and Electric Powertrain Engineering.

More range, lighter pack At the top of the list of improvements is a better battery. The Volt’s lithium-ion battery pack has been completely redesigned, and its capacity increased from 17.1 kWh to 18.4 kWh. EPA testing has confirmed the Volt’s greatly increased range: 53 miles, compared to 38 miles for the outgoing model. Fuel efficiency is rated at 106 mpge, and 42 mpg when running on gasoline alone. The new battery pack looks pretty much the same as the old, but inside, it has been completely redesigned.

Andrew Farah: It’s still a T-shaped battery pack that’s loaded from the bottom and goes down the middle of the car and underneath the rear seats. The new generation is similar in volume and general dimensions, but it’s about 20 pounds lighter than the gen-1 pack, and it has a little bit lower profile. Reworking the general size of the cells allowed us to have a car that has a little bit more internal room. The system is still liquid-cooled, just like gen 1. Larry Nitz: If you put the two battery packs next to each other from 100 feet away you couldn’t tell the difference. But when you get up close, every single part inside the battery pack has changed. The first-gen Volt had three 15.5 Ah cells in parallel, and then 93 sets of those three in series, for a total of 388 cells in the pack. Each cell touches a cooling fin, and each cell touches a foam compression device that allows the cells to operate with face pressure for technical reasons like charging and discharging stability. The second gen is similar, but uses two 26 Ah cells in parallel. The pairs of two are put 96 in series. It has the same voltage overall, but only 192 cells in the pack.

We’ve packed more energy inside the pack through cell optimization and reduction of the overhead parts JUL/AUG 2015


Larry Nitz, head of Hybrid and Electric Powertrain Engineering

Andrew Farah, 2016 Volt Chief Engineer

The new battery pack also uses a larger envelope of available power. Larry: In the first-gen Volt we used about 110 kW. In the second-gen Volt we’re using about 120 kW. So you have a little more power, but when you drive the second-gen Volt, the thing that you feel is the 20% increase in low-speed launch characteristics, from basically a 0.4 g to about a 0.5 g launch, and you can really feel that difference. Andrew: We’ve also done overall lightweighting, so when you combine that improved power coming out of the tractive effort with the overall weight reduction, it really makes a difference in what the customer feels when they’re sitting behind the wheel.

Two motors are better The first-generation Voltec drive system used a 111 kW main traction motor and a 55 kW generator motor.


In the second-generation system, two smaller motors share both roles, and there is a larger gas engine that’s clutched to the drivetrain more often than in the first generation. The split of EV propulsion between the two motors allows the gas engine to be started using torque from an electronically-controlled motor, making the starts smoother, quieter, and more efficient than using a slipping clutch or a conventional starter. It also eliminates a certain amount of hardware that isn’t needed for electric driving. The paired motors operate in two electric driving modes to increase efficiency. Two-motor mode provides peak torque at low speed, while one-motor mode kicks in under low-torque conditions, such as cruising down the highway. Because both motors can propel the vehicle, GM engineers were able to reduce the torque and power requirements for each motor, so the motors and their bearings could be substantially reduced in size, while actually improving performance. Compared to gen 1, the gen-2 motor system is 20% smaller and 40% lighter. At the same time, performance at low speeds (0-30 mph) has been improved by about 20%, with an overall improvement of about 7% from 0-60 mph. Larry: In the first-gen Volt we had a large motor that basically provided all the driving tractive effort for the most part. The other motor was mostly used as a generator with the engine. In the second-gen Volt, we were

Images courtesy of GM

That means the number of cooling fins is reduced, the number of separators is reduced, and the number of modules to connect them is reduced. So we’ve packed more energy inside the pack through cell optimization and reduction of the overhead parts. This allows the pack to be lighter and yet more energy-dense, which helps us get additional range.

THE VEHICLES Chevrolet Volt

Gen 1 and Gen 2 Voltec drive systems

2016 Chevy Volt Voltec Drive Unit and Range Extender

Both motors can drive the wheels together, and when the engine starts, it operates differently than gen one, it is more connected kinematically.

Gen 1 (2015 Volt)

Gen 2 (2016 Volt)


17.1 kWh

18.4 kWh

Motor A peak torque/power

186 N·m/55 kW

118 N·m/48 kW

Motor A type

Concentrated winding NdFeB magnet

Distributed bar wound Ferrite magnet

Motor B peak torque/power

370 N·m/111 kW

280 N·m/87 kW

Motor B type

Distributed bar wound NdFeB magnet

Distributed bar wound NdFeB magnet

Gas engine

1.4 liter, 63 kW (84 hp)

1.5 liter

Modes, engine on



Drive arrangement

Parallel axis gear reduction

Chain transfer and planetary gear


1 engine-driven 1 motor-driven

1 motor-driven

Electric range

38 miles

53 miles

2016 Chevy Volt Voltec Drive Unit

able to reduce the overall size of the two of them and yet improve performance. Both motors can drive the wheels together, and when the engine starts, it operates differently than gen one, it is more connected kinematically. But from a customer perspective, it behaves very similar to the first-gen Volt in its electric drive character. The engine is larger and more powerful, and that is useful not only for efficiency, but also noise and vibration. We can keep the engine more in the background than we could in the first-gen Volt. Overall it’s better in multiple ways. More efficient, more powerful, quieter, and it uses regular fuel - the first-gen used premium fuel.

Earth, rare Most EV traction motors depend on rare earth (RE) elements - costly materials prized for their magnetic properties. In the new Volt, GM engineers found ways to greatly reduce the amount of RE materials used.

JUL/AUG 2015



Larry Nitz: We can’t really control the price of these reluctance torque. We were able to use both the ferrite REs, and I’m not sure they’re really market-priced magnets and the reluctance torque to make that motor anyway because they’re largely controlled by a Chinese do what it needs to do. monopoly. So we wanted to reduce the amount of deIt’s a good tradeoff between the two. The ferrite pendency. There are two different kinds of REs. There magnet motor has a little bit less torque needed in it, so is the lighter kind we use in consumer goods like ear we were able to do it with these less expensive magbuds and a lot of other devices. They work great. They netics. Ferrite magnet motors have very good highhave great magnetic characteristics, but they don’t temperature magnetism characteristics. Their challenge operate very well at higher temperatures like those is actually demagnetizing at low temperature, not high. seen in automobiles. Then we have the heavier REs, Neodymium magnets want to demagnetize at higher like dysprosium. It’s very expensive and it has better temps. So, it’s a different kind of problem that we had to temperature characteristics. solve. It’s lower cost, but certainly there is more design Our objective in the gen-2 Volt was to become less complexity to doing a ferrite motor. I think we’re the dependent, especially on the heavier REs that can first OEM to bring out a traction motor of any kind that only be commercially found in China. So we use uses ferrite magnets. We feel pretty good about leading a mix of the light and heavy, reducing the amount the industry away from a commodity that’s subject to of heavy REs (such as dysprosium and terbium) by price fluctuations. 80% - using only one-fifth the amount - and a 50% reduction overall in the lighter rare earths such as Bigger engine, slimmer packaging neodymium and praseodymium. It may seem counterintuitive, but the new Volt’s 1.5-liter Also, one of the motors uses no RE magnets at all. four-cylinder gas engine is larger than in the previous We were able to do that model. As GM explained in by using a ferrite magnet, its SAE presentation, “Opwhich has less magnetic eration of a range extender strength. When you create differs from that of a typical Our objective in the genan electric motor, some hybrid or conventional enof the torque comes from gine in that the level of avail2 Volt was to become less the magnets themselves able battery power allows dependent, especially on the considerably more flexibility and some of the torque comes from the geometry allows the system to heavier REs that can only be [and] of the field that is formed operate the engine closer in the motor - we call that commercially found in China. to peak efficiency points.


Images courtesy of GM

2016 Chevrolet Volt Voltec Electric Motor

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We decided to attach the electronics directly in a cavity on the transmission - almost, if you will, in the drive unit. While it may seem at first glance that the ideal choice for engine efficiency would be to minimize displacement... it was actually found that a larger normally aspirated engine provided advantages in both efficiency and EV drive character.” Other advances have to do with packaging: integration of components and design improvements that reduce the amount of connectors can save on volume, weight and costs, especially in the power electronics.


It saves a lot of complex routing of those big orange three-phase cables. It saves the connectors. It saves the shielding. It saves the interface. tach. It took a lot of finite-element work, a lot of testing to correlate the models and the math back to the parts themselves. And then testing, testing, testing, to make sure that we had a robust connection. Another story to be told about the next generation Volt is its higher proportion of US-made components. Larry: We’ve gone from about 50% North American content to over 70% North American content - and a lot of that content has also gone from Mexico back to the US. The electronic modules, for example, are now made in Indiana versus Japan. The electric motors are now made in Kentucky versus Japan. The final assem-

Images courtesy of GM

Larry: If you open the hood of the first-gen Volt, you’ll see orange cables all over the place. And those cables are highly engineered. They’re complicated. They’re not inexpensive. And they weigh a lot - they’re full of copper and other shielding materials. We decided to attach the electronics directly in a cavity on the transmission - almost, if you will, in the drive unit. It eliminated those three-phase cables completely by connecting the motors through connection studs down into the drive system. This has been done in electric vehicles, but it is not commonly done in vehicles with an engine attached that has engine vibration inputs. The challenge there is to harden the electronics to the vibrations that you would see in a powertrain-mounted configuration. Some of our competitors have used rubberized mounts and shock absorbers - not as efficient a mounting setup as being able to harden the electronics to the vibration. We have a structural mount of the electronics right to the drive unit itself and the bolting down of that - the sandwich construction of the electronics - is very robust in the direction of highest vibration. It saves a lot of complex routing of those big orange three-phase cables. It saves the connectors. It saves the shielding. It saves the interface. It saves a lot of complexity. You basically have to beef up, or smartly engineer, the structure of the electronics and the mounting interfaces of the electronics to the powertrain, so that we don’t have a nodal point where the electronics at-

bly of the drive system is done in Warren, Michigan versus Mexico. These electronics assemblies are very hands-off type of assembly, with a lot of automation, so we can cost-effectively do them in the US. GM chose to modularize the Voltec powertrain so that it can be mated with different engines and used in a hybrid or an extended-range EV with minimal changes to the electric drive. This strategy lowers GM’s investment, and increases scale for it and its suppliers, making the whole electrification proposition more cost-effective. The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu will be offered in a hybrid version that shares most of its powertrain with the 2016 Volt. One major difference however, is the battery, which has a rather different job to do in a hybrid, as opposed to an EREV. Larry: The Malibu hybrid also uses lithium-ion, but it’s a power battery and completely different than the Volt battery, which is an energy battery. The power battery is about 1.5 kWh, versus 18.4 kWh in the Volt. It’s a very different formula. The Malibu cells are from Hitachi [and the Volt cells are from LG Chem]. Both battery packs are designed and built by GM. We have a strategy to buy cells and largely make our own packs. The Malibu hybrid is actually the first power battery pack that we’ve produced. On the Malibu hybrid we have a larger and more powerful engine, because we don’t have the really big battery. It delivers less than one-third the power that the Volt battery can deliver. Inside the electric drive unit, about half a dozen parts are changed, including one of the motors, which is optimized differently for a hybrid. The Malibu Hybrid will get 47 mpg combined - if that’s not the best, it’s right up there with the best D-segment hybrid in the world. We can do it with this same electric drive system. Most of our competitors would have something more dedicated for that size vehicle.

Driving and learning The 2014 Cadillac ELR is a good example of how the study of advanced electric powertrains leads to better vehicles. The low-volume luxury model debuted using exactly the same hardware as the first-gen Volt, but offered more power from the same components. GM’s engineers attribute the power gains to new software and a better understanding of the powertrain’s limits in the real world. Larry: The ELR’s performance was improved through better understanding of what that cell chemistry can actually do. We had conservative sizing of some of the components - a lot of them are sized for worst-case temperature conditions. In the next-gen Volt, we took all that learning and re-optimized everything to reduce mass, size, and cost. For example, the electric drive system, which includes the motors, gearing, drive unit and the electronics, is 100 pounds lighter. It’s smaller, it’s more efficient. We learned how far we could push some of these components. There were things that we didn’t know when we started off on the first-gen Volt and now we know very well. And there were things that we theorized about in the first-gen Volt that turned out to be true, so we continued them in the second gen. For example, the liquid-cooled battery - every cell touches an active cooling plate, and that has been key to the first-gen Volt’s battery pack reliability and performance.

JUL/AUG 2015


We’re thrilled with that configuration, so we’ve kept that, optimized it and improved it, but essentially kept that for the second-gen Volt.

Data on real-world usage also inspired improvements to the Volt’s on-board charger. Larry: We’ve learned a lot about charging behaviors and chargers. The charger on the next-gen Volt is 8-10% more efficient. That means that more of the power that you’re taking from the wall goes to charge the battery. The charge times are almost the same as the first-gen Volt even though we store more energy, because the charger is slightly larger and more efficient. The magnetic circuit inside the charger is a point of great development over the last five years, and now delivers really high-efficiency charging - over 90% efficient. As early adopters of a revolutionary new technology, Volt owners are an invaluable resource that GM continues to take advantage of to guide the vehicle’s development. Andrew: Every single one of these technical upgrades had to turn into a customer benefit. We’re very careful to make sure that we’re not just working on technology for technology’s sake. We’ve got a great group of about 77,000 owners out in the field right now with the gen-1


The charge times are almost the same as the first-gen Volt even though we store more energy, because the charger is slightly larger and more efficient. vehicle. They’re very vocal about what they like and they’re also not shy about things they would like to see improved. We’ve been listening very carefully to both of those messages and we think we’re going to deliver on both. They wanted more electric range and we’ve given them more. They really enjoyed how fun to drive the vehicle is and I think we’ve achieved that in the way that the car handles - it’s more sporty, more nimble. And they also wanted it to be more efficient overall. With the increased range and increased fuel economy of over 40 mpg, we’re able to offer exactly what they’re looking for. Larry: This is a journey, and we’re just at the very beginning. What’s super-encouraging to us who work on this is that our customers love it. You can look at independent surveys and see all the awards, and when we talk to our customers, they love their automobiles. We’re going to deliver even better for them and also make the car more appealing to a broader base of customers in the future.

Images courtesy of GM

Andrew: With the ELR, we were able to use the gen-1 Voltec parts and components, to create a vehicle that had more performance. With the gen-2 Volt, what we really went after is more range as opposed to more acceleration. We actually got both, but we were really focused on trying to get to that 50-mile number. We’ve learned where we can stress our components a little more appropriately and get more performance, whether that be acceleration or range or both. We’re continuing to move down that learning curve.

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OPERATING SYSTEM With its all-electric powertrain, Silicon Valley's Motiv helps electrify heavy-duty trucks, shuttles and buses. By Markkus Rovito


Images courtesy of Motiv Power Systems



JUL/AUG 2015


Jim Castelaz, Motiv Power Systems CEO


As we were working in the heavier vehicle space, we realized every application is different, and heavy vehicles are a very fractured business. heavier vehicle space, we realized every application is different, and heavy vehicles are a very fractured business,” he said. “There’s a little bit of reinventing the wheel with every vehicle type, and the opportunity I saw was to build an operating system for heavy electric vehicles that can easily integrate many different configurations of batteries, electric motors and accessories. By providing the software and controllers, we make it easy for truck builders - who are very good at mechanical integration onto truck chassis - to have the support they need to make electric versions with our operating system.” That operating system is at the heart of Motiv’s AllElectric Powertrain, which combines commercially available battery packs and motors with Motiv’s software and controllers to make all-electric trucks and buses with

Images courtesy of Motiv Power Systems


ometimes kids can’t wait to be grown-ups, but growth takes time. An acorn doesn’t become an oak tree overnight. Electric vehicles are a growth industry, and many people in that industry would like to see explosive expansion, rather than the slow and steady gains that have characterized the market for years. Yet even slow progress has a habit of creeping up and surprising you. When you’re walking up a mountain, the peak may seem far out of reach, but look back and you’ll be amazed how far up you are. For Motiv Power Systems of Foster City, California, the top of the mountain is still a distant goal, yet the company has grown by leaps and bounds. It’s been six years since Motiv CEO Jim Castelaz took a leave of absence from his Stanford electrical engineering Ph.D. program to found his electric powertrain company. “I’m actually still on that leave of absence,” Castelaz told Charged. “I got the entrepreneurship bug, and our initial mission was to free trucks and buses from fossil fuel. That’s what we’ve spent the last six years doing.” It’s easy now to forget just how dire the economic outlook was in 2009 when Castelaz started Motiv out of his living room as an engineering consultancy for new EV development. It was a time of mass layoffs and general despair after the 2008 crash. Yet Castelaz soon saw a niche opportunity in the market. “As we were working in the


Each one is typically made by a different company, so it’s up to our operating system to make all these disparate components work and play nice together. typically made by a different company, so it’s up to our operating system to make all these disparate components work and play nice together.” the same chassis and bodies as the fossil-fueled versions. These all-electric trucks and buses are ideal for fleet vehicles such as box trucks, flat-bed trucks, refrigerated trucks, service trucks, shuttle buses, school buses, delivery vehicles and garbage trucks. “Like on a computer when you plug in a new keyboard or printer, you need a software driver, and all that software resides on a common administrative layer,” Castelaz said. “On a vehicle like a school bus, we have the drive motor that drives the wheels, and the air conditioning and heating system; we have hydraulics for steering and braking, and we have to keep the 12 V battery charged for all the smaller accessories. Then we have 4-6 different battery packs on the vehicle, so it’s different from my Nissan LEAF. In the truck world, everything’s built on frame rails, so usually there are multiple smaller battery packs, which is good for configuration and allows you to put just the amount of energy storage per vehicle that’s needed. But that means there needs to be coordinated control of the different batteries, motors and chargers. There ends up being a lot of power sources and power loads on the vehicle that all need to be coordinated. Each one is

Revving up Motiv estimates that about one third of the eight million diesel trucks and buses in the US are ideal for electrification, because they drive planned routes of less than 100 miles a day and park in depots at night that are wired for high voltage. So far, the number of those vehicles on the road with Motiv’s All-Electric Powertrain is seven. They have more vehicles currently in the works (about a dozen according to Castelaz) than on the road; in fact, at press time Motiv had more job postings on its website than vehicles on the road, and that speaks to the early growth stage that Motiv still occupies. The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. Motiv has taken several steps already, and with its building momentum, it could soon be off to the races. Several important company milestones have been reached with the help of grants from the California Energy Commission (CEC), which recently awarded funds to develop a Class C electric school bus and new generation of electric garbage trucks. This builds upon Motiv’s first All-Electric school bus, which hit the road in California’s Central Valley, and their All-Electric garbage truck deployed in Chicago. Both were the first all-electric vehicles of their

JUL/AUG 2015


A Google-funded electric shuttle bus powered by Motiv


Motiv reports reducing operating costs by

Its new manufacturing facility will produce

when compared to diesel

powertrains annually

87% 480

Heavy sales duties Now that Motiv has established a track record and a production plant, it can get down to the business of satisfying what Castelaz says is growing demand for electric trucks in markets with good government incentives for them, including California, New York and the Chicago area. “Incentives are critical today, because they bring the payback period for going electric down substantially,” Castelaz said. “There is a lot of demand for these vehicles, both from fleets who are interested in sustainability and saving money, and from a lot of other stakeholders who like the idea of emissions reduction around sensitive populations, like school kids.” Motiv seeks out end-user fleets that may be interested in electric trucks and buses, and works with them to specify and configure what they would need in such vehicles. However, the fleets aren’t technically Motiv’s

Images courtesy of Motiv Power Systems

kinds in North America, and so far, Motiv reports that these zero-emission vehicles show reduced operating costs of up to 87% compared to diesel vehicles. Launching the ePCS was also enough to turn heads at Popular Science, which bestowed on Motiv one of its Best of What’s New Awards in 2014. This year, Motiv’s progress has snowballed. In January, four Motiv-powered electric shuttle buses began servicing Mountain View, California residents in a two-year pilot project funded in part by Google and the CEC, which to date has made over 40,000 passenger-trips. In March, Motiv announced a new chassis option for its electric powertrain, the Ford F59 commercial stripped chassis, with a range of up to 100 miles at a GVWR of 22,000 pounds. It is Motiv’s third chassis option, and it came with an order for ten walk-in vans for the 126-yearold linen and uniform company AmeriPride in Vernon, California. At the end of May, Motiv opened its new manufacturing facility in Hayward, California, just across the San Francisco Bay from its headquarters. When it reaches full capacity, the facility will be able to produce 480 allelectric powertrains annually. Motiv now builds all of its smaller electronics - battery controllers, motor controllers, powertrain controllers, chargers and accessory drives - in Hayward, and then ships them to a subcontractor in the Midwest to install them onto vehicle chassis. The Hayward facility was partially funded by another $2.2 million in grant funding from the CEC.


We can get the vehicle charging at reasonably fast charge rates with minimal infrastructure costs.

customers. If the fleet operator makes a purchase, it will purchase from a final vehicle builder, such as Trans Tech Bus in New York, who then purchases the All-Electric Powertrains from Motiv for assembly in the final vehicle. Motiv currently has five final vehicle builder partners in its network. It’s open to adding more, but also tries to maximize its existing partnerships, just as it has to get the most out of its three current chassis models. In addition to the Class 6 Ford F59 chassis that it added in March, Motiv has powertrain kits for the Class 4 Ford E450 cutaway chassis and the Class 8 heavy-duty Crane Carrier COE2 chassis. Castelaz said Motiv currently won’t add more than about one chassis type per year, because it’s quite labor-intensive to do so. “Even though it’s not difficult engineering, each chassis has slightly different dimensions and requires new mounting brackets and new cables - a lot of new parts,” he said. Motiv hasn’t done the packaging study for a full-size school bus chassis yet, but Castelaz thinks that it could be in Motiv’s future. “Large school buses could be a good fit for electric, and having these smaller school buses lets us get a lot of data about how the buses are used and how school districts think about their vehicles, which will be useful in the future when we do partner up with a larger school bus builder.” The data collection Castelaz mentioned is a big part of the remote telematics built into Motiv’s system.

The company uses it to retrieve a variety of data from the vehicles. The data sets are useful for maintenance and also for reconfigurations by pushing data and/or software updates back onto the vehicle. “We can remotely log into the vehicle to run diagnostic tests to figure out what’s wrong, which saves time and reduces vehicle downtime,” Castelaz said. Specific things Motiv can do remotely include adjusting for more or less regenerative braking, making the acceleration more or less aggressive, etc.

Juiced up for junk collection Every Motiv-powered vehicle also works with the Motiv Universal Fast Charger. This proprietary creation offers higher power than a standard Level 2 charger, but is not

THE VEHICLES The City of Chicago purchsed 20 electric garbage trucks


Hiring Times At press time, Motiv had 10 job openings and two internships listed on its Hiring page at Most of them were engineering positions of the mechanical, electrical and software varieties. We’ve heard of companies in the EV space having problems finding great engineering talent, so we asked Castelaz about that. “Recruiting is a very important part of what we do as we grow,” he said. “Some positions have been harder to fill than others, but I don’t know that we have any particular shortages. I think we sit at the intersection of automotive, so we want people who understand automotive best practices and take the knowledge sets of automotive and apply them in a very new and different way to electrification and electric systems. Being able to think of this new space that’s emerging is always an interesting engineering challenge. So we’re actively recruiting the right matches.”

means you have a system that’s net energy producing. It looks very similar to Chicago’s other 600 garbage trucks that drive by your house at 6 am and wake you up sitting there with their idling engines, except that ours is completely quiet and doesn’t have a smokestack or a fuel tank on its side. Instead it has batteries behind the cab.”

Images courtesy of Motiv Power Systems

as expensive as a DC fast charging station. It uses threephase power rather than single-phase, and “that allows us to go from your standard 6 kW Level 2 charge up to 25 kW,” Castelaz said. “It still uses Level 2 protocols, but using three-phase charging, you get kind of the same amount of power you would with a DC fast charger. It’s a $3,000 station, instead of a $30,000-50,000 fast charger. We can work with whatever power is at your facility, whether 208 V or 440 V, and we can get reasonably fast charge rates with minimal infrastructure costs. That’s a big value add for fleet operators.” Motiv’s garbage truck, or what it calls its electric refuse vehicle (ERV), uses the company’s largest chassis, the Class 8 Crane Carrier. It has 212 kWh of energy in 10 battery packs and a range of 60 miles with a payload capacity of 9 tons, which makes it capable of being used anywhere in Chicago. With Motiv’s Universal Fast Charger at threephase 440 V, it can charge at up to 50 kW and be fully charged in 8 hours. For those reasons and more, Castelaz sees enormous upside to electric garbage trucks. Particularly, the Motiv ERV has returned operating costs of about a tenth of those of a diesel truck; it meets the gross vehicle weight rating (at least for Chicago) and it reduces maintenance costs substantially. “You really have no fluids to change, and even brake wear is substantially reduced,” he said. “You have no exhaust system to worry about, so you have a better experience for the drivers and sanitation workers being next to that engine all day. And if it delivers trash to a wasteto-energy power plant, one truckload of trash produces enough electricity to power that truck for 40 days. That

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Evatran, the developer of the Plugless wireless Level 2 charging system, has received a strategic investment of $1.6 million from Zhejiang VIE, a Chinese Tier 1 auto parts supplier. The investment is the first phase of a partnership between the two companies to introduce wireless charging to China, potentially the world’s largest EV market. Evatran began selling its Plugless systems to EV owners in the US and Canada in March of 2014. Plugless currently supports 3.3 kW charging for the Volt, the LEAF and the Cadillac ELR. A 6.6 kW system that supports Tesla and BMW EVs is scheduled for launch later this year. Navigant Research expects the global EV charging market to grow to $2.9 billion by 2025.


Image courtesy of Evatran

Chinese auto parts giant invests $1.6 million in wireless charging pioneer Evatran

On December 31, 2014, Elon Musk tweeted: “We are actually working on a charger that automatically moves out from the wall & connects like a solid metal snake. For realz. This can be used with all existing Model S cars, not just future ones.” Musk first mentioned the automatic charging idea in October 2014 at Tesla’s Dual Motor and Autopilot unveiling when he teased some driverless functionality as “exciting long term possibilities.” He said that Model S could soon park itself, and also come to you when summoned, even using your online calendar to determine where and when you need it. In August, the company released a video of a handsfree automatic charger prototype. The 37-second long clip shows an articulating arm finding its way to the charging port of a Model S. Musk added a caption on his Twitter feed: “Tesla Snakebot autocharger prototype. Does seem kinda wrong :).”

Image courtesy of Tesla

Tesla reveals prototype of snakelike automatic charger


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Electric Highway links Western Australia with fast charging stations

E - Station . RAC . Electric Highway |


Australia’s Royal Automobile Club (RAC) has unveiled a network of fast charging stations it calls the Electric Highway, which will connect Perth with Western Australia’s southwestern region. Twelve public fast charging stations will be installed along the route. The first six are located in Perth, Mandurah, Bunbury, Busselton, Margaret River and Augusta. Stations in Dunsborough, Nannup, Bridgetown, Donnybrook and Harvey will be installed before the end of the year. Each station offers both CHAdeMO and CCS Combo DC fast charging, and AC Level 2 charging. RAC purchased and is installing the stations. Ongoing maintenance will be the responsibility of local governments. RAC Executive General Manager Pat Walker said 6021, Australia Rd, Balcatta the Electric Highway will let 4/146 EV Balcatta drivers travelWAbetween P : +61 8 6102 1285 | F : +61 (0) 8 6311 7403 | E : | W : Perth and Augusta. “This is Australia’s first Electric Highway, and it builds on RAC’s history of opening up the state to new transport options. RAC was formed in 1905 when motor vehicles were very rare in Western Australia. Today we see the RAC Electric Highway as a positive and real contribution toward the growth of this new form of vehicle technology.” “Electric vehicle owners will be able to charge their cars for free until the end of 2015,” Walker continued. “This is part of our commitment to give back to the WA community and support sustainable transport options.” Image courtesy of Australia’s Royal Automobile Club

San Diego-based Envision Solar has secured a contract from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to supply state and local agencies with the company’s EV ARC portable solarpowered EV chargers. The first purchase order is for 11 units, to be delivered within the next 90 days for around $750,000. The EV ARC is a standalone solar-powered charging station that requires no foundation, trenching, or grid connection. It fits inside a standard parking space and generates enough renewable energy to provide an average of 150 electric miles each day, according to the company. The energy is stored in a 22 kWh on-board battery pack. A tracking system enables the solar array to follow the sun for more efficient generation. Envision has already provided units for the city of Shasta Lake and the San Diego Airport. “Caltrans is one of the biggest and most innovative departments of transportation in the world,” said Desmond Wheatley, CEO of Envision Solar. “We look forward to fulfilling many more orders in the coming months and are delighted to be off to such a promising start with the State of California.”

Image courtesy of Envision Solar

California DOT orders 11 portable solar EV charging stations from Envision Solar


Image courtesy of ClipperCreek

ClipperCreek launches HCS-50 EV charging station ClipperCreek has added a new charger to its product line. The HCS-50 is a Level 2 charging station that uses a standard 240 V, 50 amp outlet to deliver 40 amps to the vehicle. EVs capable of high-power charging can add approximately 30 miles of range per hour of charge. The HCS-50 is designed to be a rugged residential or commercial workhorse. “We used rubber over-molding to fully seal the connector’s head and increase the durability,” said Jason France, President and founder of ClipperCreek. “That’s critical in commercial and fleet environments. The rubber cable jacket increases lowtemperature flexibility of the cable, so it’s also a great station for colder climates.” The HCS-50 features a 3-year warranty, and 25 feet of charging cable with integrated cable wrap and a wallmount holster.

“The HCS-50’s rugged design and ample 25-foot charging cable make it a perfect solution for fleet and commercial applications,” said ClipperCreek Sales Manager Will Barrett. “As battery range increases, the vehicle’s ability to accept power is increasing, too, and the HCS-50 offers users extra power to get their vehicles charged up and back on the road fast.” The American-made HCS-50 is priced at $835 (or $859 for the HCS-50P plug-in version).


The Swiss Tier 1 power electronics supplier BRUSA Elektronik has licensed Qualcomm’s Halo wireless charging technology. BRUSA has already been working on wireless technology with its ICS wireless charging system. The company has developed its own rectangular coil geometry, which it calls FRAME. The integration of power electronics both in the vehicle and in the base plate enables a “onebox” system. BRUSA says that it will be working with “certain major automotive manufacturers” that have firm plans to introduce wireless charging in their vehicles in the near future. “Wireless charging will win, it will give e-mobility a big boost, it will set new, sustainable technology apart from old gasoline-based technology,” said BRUSA CEO Josef Brusa. “We are determined to make wireless charging a reality. We already offer technically sound and commercially viable systems to the market.” “Our license agreement with BRUSA expands and diversifies the Halo supplier network, giving automobile manufacturers another trusted source of our advanced inventions,” said Qualcomm VP Steve Pazol. “Qualcomm Halo licensees can bring to market highly efficient fit-for-purpose WEVC systems…including systems incorporating magnetics based on a circular coil structure.”


Images courtesy of Qualcomm

BRUSA licenses Qualcomm Halo wireless charging tech

EV charging solution provider eMotorWerks has incorporated OSIsoft’s PI System within its cloud-based Smart[Grid] charging platform. The collaboration aims to streamline data flows between EV charging networks and providers of energy resources on the grid. OSIsoft’s PI System aggregates data from electrical utilities, Independent Service Operators (ISOs) and Regional Transmission Operators (RTOs), while eMotorWerks’ JuiceNet platform provides sensor-based data from its network of JuiceBox charging stations. Together, the companies offer an overview of charging loads and real-time grid conditions. “The PI System is used as the data infrastructure at all ISOs and RTOs in the US, and is therefore a natural choice for us to leverage for delivering superior service,” said Valery Miftakhov, eMotorWerks’ founder. “Our Juicebox and JuiceNet solutions help grid operators and utilities manage large distributed EV charging loads, and help consumers be more efficient in their charging habits.” “As the distributed energy market begins to proliferate, we see eMotorWerks’ business model as the ideal way to optimize value for both customers and the electric grid,” said Patrick Kennedy, CEO at OSIsoft. “As all of the ISOs in the US are also our customers, it enables a seamless integration between distributed assets and energy markets.” “The Juicebox SmartGrid EVSE is a perfect example of how the Internet of Things is changing market dynamics in ways we could not have imagined” said Martin Otterson, Senior VP at OSIsoft.

Image courtesy of eMotorWerks

EV charging and distributed energy sources meet in the cloud

THE INFRASTRUCTURE South Korean plan turns ordinary 220 V outlets into charging stations Ironically, South Korea, home to some of the world’s leading producers of Li-ion batteries, including LG Chem and Samsung, still has a comparatively tiny EV market. Total plug-in sales in 2014 were 850, far below a tenth of 1% of total vehicle sales. Neighboring Japan has around 110,000 plug-in vehicles on the road, compared to around 1,800 in South Korea. This is despite fairly generous subsidies – the national government offers up to 15 million won ($13,900) for the purchase of a new EV, and residents of Seoul can be eligible for up to 20 million won ($18,245). In a recent blog post, Navigant Research describes the lack of charging infrastructure as a major constraining factor. A large proportion of South Koreans live in multi-unit dwellings, where home charging is difficult or impossible. Navigant estimates there are currently only about 100 public stations in Seoul.

With an eye to removing this roadblock, the city government in Seoul recently announced a plan to deploy 100,000 new charging stations. This may seem like an enormous undertaking, as a typical Level 2 public charger costs $2,500 and up, plus installation costs. However, the Seoul authorities have a much cheaper and more flexible strategy in mind: ordinary 220-volt outlets will be used as charging stations through the use of portable chargers. South Korean company Powercube manufactures the EV-Line 3.3 kW charger, which costs less than $1,000, and includes an RFID reader that allows Powercube to track electricity consumption, and even to keep track of the time of charging sessions, enabling drivers to take advantage of time-of-use rates. Another Korean firm, Kodi, is preparing to release its own 3.3 kW mobile charger, the MTC, which has similar specs.



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As more and more French drivers go electric, public charging stations are proliferating – the country currently has around 9,400 – but so are charging networks, each requiring its own subscription and payment method. Now the French government plans to make things easier for consumers by requiring network operators to unify some of their features before the end of this year, as reported by Les Echos. Several of the largest network operators – including Bolloré, Renault, and units of several electric utilities – have created the Afirev association to improve network interoperability. They will use a new platform called Gireve to exchange data and payments between networks, modeled on existing systems that allow bank cards to be used at other banks’ ATMs. The aim is to enable drivers to charge their EVs at any station in the country without having to belong to multiple networks.

Oregon’s Government Ethics Commission has ruled that the state cannot provide free or reduced-cost EV charging to state employees, unless it is counted as compensation. The Department of Administrative Services is developing a policy for EV charging stations across state government. “We have been working to develop a policy that will guide state agencies, and that work’s not done yet,” said spokesman Matt Shelby (via the East Oregonian). The agency estimates that a driver who plugs in 40 hours per week would cost the state approximately $15 per month in electricity usage. Once maintenance and administrative costs are added, state employees will be required to pay “at least $20 a month” for workplace charging, said Shelby. “We manage parking for the state on state property, so it kind of makes sense for us to be tasked with managing the charging stations as well,” Shelby said, adding that he pays a monthly fee for his parking spot.


Image courtesy of Werner Hillebrand-hansen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

France moves to unify charging networks

Oregon state employees must pay for workplace charging

Image courtesy of Nicolas Raymond (CC BY 2.0)



Volkswagen working on automated DC charging Volkswagen is predicting that its electric vehicles will have a range of more than 500 km “in the foreseeable future,” and to ensure that charging remains quick and convenient, the wizards of Wolfsburg are working on an automated DC charging system called e-smartConnect. VW anticipates that the next generation of highercapacity batteries will require charging levels of 80 to 150 kW, or even higher. “This can be achieved with rapid DC charging technology, but this approach also requires the use of thick cables,” the company tells us in a press release. “The weight and stiffness of such cables makes them difficult to handle. The research goal of the e-smartConnect project is therefore to automatically couple a DC connector to the vehicle…in conjunction with an automated parking feature.”

VW’s system uses a Kuka industrial robot to hook up the DC connector with the vehicle. “The electric vehicle transmits its profile data to the charging station, which then tells the vehicle’s automated parking system where it should park…The robot then removes the DC connector from the charging unit and inserts it into the outlet. After this is done, the robot is automatically transported via a conveyor system to the next electric vehicle that needs recharging.”



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BMW pilot pays drivers to delay charging, helping to stabilize the grid BMW has partnered with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) for an 18-month demand response pilot in the San Francisco Bay Area. The ChargeForward Program has two parts: the first is a managed charging program, in which 100 i3 owners will allow BMW to delay the charging of their vehicles by up to an hour, based on requests received from PG&E when grid loads are at their peak. The goal is to provide PG&E with up to 100 kW of capacity at any given time, regardless of how many EVs are charging. For each program “event,” when PG&E experiences peak load conditions, participants will receive a text message notifying them that their charging will be halted for up to one hour. Participants can choose to opt out of any request based on their driving needs. As an incentive for participating, drivers will receive $1,000, with a bonus of up to $540 based on their level of participation in demand response events. In the future, programs like this could reduce the total cost of EV ownership, as utilities provide drivers with cash incentives that offset the cost of installing a charging station. “One thing that we’ll be investigating with this pilot is understanding how people charge, how flexible they are with respect to when they charge, and how best to design future products in ways that benefit both customers and utilities,” noted Julia Sohnen, Advanced Technology Engineer – Sustainable Mobility. In the second part of the program, BMW is repurposing used MINI E batteries to build a stationary solarpowered electric storage system at the BMW office in Mountain View. A 240 kWh system built from eight used MINI E batteries will store energy and return it to the power grid. At the end of a vehicle’s life, these batteries still have at least 70% of their original storage capacity.

Manhattan parking garages installing Tesla chargers

Dense megacities should be excellent EV habitat – except for the pesky fact that most residents live in apartments, making it difficult or impossible to install their own charging stations. With a view to removing this roadblock, Tesla has partnered with some of New York’s well-known parking companies, as well as a few hotels, like the Waldorf Astoria, to install Level 2 chargers in their parking garages. Tesla’s Superchargers are located at strategic spots along major highways, providing DC fast charging for road trips. The more recently introduced Level 2 “destination chargers” are located at places like resort hotels, parks and restaurants. With these new urban chargers, Tesla rounds out the infrastructure picture. “We wanted to move to an urban charging network that meets the needs of those who live in apartments or commute into a big city,” said Alexis Georgeson, a Tesla spokeswoman. “Naturally, Manhattan was the place to try this for the first time.” Tesla owners will be able to park by the hour, day, week or month, and each garage owner will determine how much, if any, cost will be added to the normal parking fees. The first phase includes 24 Manhattan locations. The company plans to sign up several dozen more over the next few months.

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EVSE LLC, Greenlots and Southern California Edison control peak charging demand By Michael Kent

Images courtesy of EVSE LLC


lectric utilities around the world have been studying the potential impact of EVs on the grid. The largest pilot program with smart grid demand response (OpenADR 2.0b) that we’ve seen is an 80-unit deployment of EVSE LLC’s Level 2/Level 1 combo smart charging stations at multiple Southern California Edison (SCE) campus locations. SCE is one of the nation’s biggest electric utilities, and its goal is to study how dynamic pricing will influence charging behavior and reduce charging during peak demand period. In this project, Connecticut-based EVSE LLC’s hardware is controlled via back-end management from San Francisco’s Greenlots, and customers will be able to opt in to different tiers of demand response options. “On each campus there is an arrangement of EVSE with payment modules,” Daniel Shanahan, EVSE LLC’s Director of Sales and Marketing, explained to Charged. “Greenlots, the network manager, continuously sends the updated pricing - set by SCE - to our charging stations, where it’s displayed to drivers. The user then chooses between Level 1 or Level 2 and whether or not to participate in demand response events.” EVSE LLC’s hardware displays three options to drivers for demand response events. They can choose not to stop or reduce charging power at all - the highest-

The user then chooses between Level 1 or Level 2 and whether or not to participate in demand response events.



SCE’s project deployed

Navigant predicts

smart charging stations from EVSE LLC

thousand workplace units will be sold by 2020

priced option. They can choose to reduce charging power by 50% when SCE signals that a demand response event is occurring - the mid-priced option. Or, they can choose to completely stop charging when response events occur, and pay no fee during those times.

JUL/AUG 2015


Another key aspect of the project is the use of open standards, which really increases the opportunity to scale these solutions and reduce demands on the grid and buildings all over the country. SCE will periodically make adjustments in the pricing structure to evaluate the response and determine how pricing impacts their customer’s behaviors.

Flexibility and openness EVSE LLC’s smart charging station platform offers flexible charging options that can operate in two modes: Level 2 (208 V to 240 V AC, 30 A max) and simulated Level 1, which is delivered at the same voltage as Level 2 but at the typical power consumption of Level 1 (208 V to 240 V AC, approximately 7 A). So, rather than having both Level 1 equipment and Level 2 equipment, the hard-


Images courtesy of EVSE LLC

Workplace charging challenges Many in the EV industry have been pushing for an increase in the availability of EV charging at work. The DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge aims to “increase the convenience and affordability of driving electric by encouraging employers to provide charging access for employees.” Its goal is to achieve a tenfold increase in the number of employers offering workplace charging by 2018. According to Navigant Research, annual US sales for workplace charging stations are expected to surpass 63,000 by 2020. The problem for utilities and property managers, however, is that the employees often arrive at work around the same time, and will be charging during peak electricity use periods. As the number of EV drivers increases, the growing electrical load could stress the grid as well as building management systems. So, utilities and charging system integrators are looking for ways to manage those demands while providing EV drivers the benefits of charging at work.

THE INFRASTRUCTURE Each charger will be throttled in different ways based on what the user has selected. from different vendors to easily communicate with each other. Many networks and manufacturers around the world have adopted the protocol. “EVSE LLC began working with Greenlots via OCPP in 2011,” said Shanahan. “Greenlots’ ability to interface with the standard, OpenADR 2.0b, ensures seamless two-way communications between the smart grid and the chargers.” “By embracing workplace demand response programs, utilities gain new opportunities to engage their customers and avoid disintermediation by third parties,” said Brett Hauser, CEO of Greenlots. “More and more utilities are adopting applications that use open standards, which gives them the flexibility to scale their implementations ware can provide either level to the customer at the same without the risk of vendor lock-in from proprietary sysvoltage. More importantly, it meets the specifications of a tems.” large utility’s smart grid demand system, from a hardware In SCE’s pilot program, Greenlots’ network manageand software standpoint. ment system acts as the translator between the two com“Another key aspect of the project is the use of open munications standards. OpenADR 2.0b is the commustandards, which really increases the opportunity to nication protocol between Greenlots and the utility, and scale these solutions and reduce demands on the grid OCPP is the protocol between Greenlots and the charging and buildings all over the country,” said Shanahan. stations. The project uses two open standards to reduce friction When a customer opts in to scaling back the charging when deploying the charging stations: Open Automated power during a demand response event, the hardware Demand Response (OpenADR) and Open Charge Point provides signals to Greenlots regarding the station’s Protocol (OCPP). OpenADR is a standardized way for status. Then, when Greenlots receives information from electricity providers and system operators to communiSCE about a demand response event, it sends the approcate demand response signals priate command to slow or with each other and with stop charging to the statheir customers. It uses a tions. Each charger will be common language over any throttled in different ways More and more utilities are existing IP-based communibased on what the user has cations network. It’s the most adopting applications that use selected, and Greenlots is comprehensive standard for tasked with tracking and open standards, which gives demand response, and has commanding all of them received widespread supappropriately. them the flexibility to scale port throughout the utility “The other good thing their implementations without about Greenlots and OCPP industry. Similarly, OCPP is a stanthat you don’t need a prothe risk of vendor lock-in from isprietary dard that allows charging membership card stations and central systems proprietary systems. to use this charging sta-

JUL/AUG 2015


keep the cable off the ground and meet booth ADA and OSHA requirements. “We’ve done a lot of installations with state governments, municipalities, hospitals and universities,” said tion,” said Shanahan. “It makes it easier on the customer, Shanahan. “We think it’s important to adapt to systems ensuring that all they ever need is a credit card to start the that are already operational at our customer’s site to transaction.” reduce complexity and cost, so we offer a variety of payment options. Our stations can be controlled by RFID, Other dynamic applications credit cards, mobile phone apps, campus cashless card EVSE LLC is a subsidiary of Control Module Industries systems and parking access revenue control systems.” (CMI) - one of its three divisions. The company has a long Shanahan explains that future installations of dynamihistory of building electronic and electromechanical syscally priced demand response charging systems that tems for large-scale integrations with back-end enterprise are outside of SCE’s service area will require interest services. The company’s fleet management division has from utilities. However, the company is also working on been working with the largest rental car companies in interfacing the system with building management control North America for 25 years - tracking vehicles, fuel, and systems. Instead of using a utility’s smart grid demand people for millions of cars per day. CMI also has a worldresponse platform, buildings and property owners could wide deployment of workforce management solutions. use the same systems already in place to control temperaGiven its history, it’s no wonder that EVSE has largely ture, lighting, door access, etc. been focused on providing As plug-in vehicles charging station solutions increase market share that integrate easily into the throughout the world’s large enterprise world. Its fleet, centralized control charging activities began We think it’s important to adapt for enterprise chargin 2009 with NorthEast ing is going to become to systems that are already Utilities (which is now an important part of the Eversource Energy) when it puzzle. Distributed power operational at our customer’s installed the first and only smart-charging systems site to reduce complexity and patented ceiling-mounted are an economical answer garage overhead charger. to many of the questions cost, so we offer a variety of The unit has a retractable about the readiness of excord system designed to payment options. isting infrastructure.


Images courtesy of EVSE LLC





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CONNECTING TO THE BEST RATES Siemens introduces VersiCharge SG, a WiFi-enabled, cloud-based residential charging station By Michael Kent

Image courtesy of Siemens


here’s a new macro trend occurring with electricity rate structures. In an effort by utilities to match their real-time costs with pricing models, new variable rates are being tested and implemented. The problem is that the cost to generate and distribute power is extremely variable, and has a lot to do with what’s happening on the grid. So, there is a new focus on “capacity efficiency,” which is a measure of the grid’s capability to supply a given level of energy demand at any point in time. In recent years, the US has experienced a relative spike in energy abundance, and an ever-growing focus on creating more energy-efficient systems. The emphasis is now shifting towards being able to meet peaks in demand in more reliable ways by creating a grid that is capacity-efficient and flexible enough to react to sudden changes in load or generation.

JUL/AUG 2015


In July, the utility-funded Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) published a new report on this very subject. Capacity and Energy in the Integrated Grid reveals some key insights about the capacity challenges, showing that “in some regions of the US and other countries, peak system load is increasing at a faster rate than overall energy consumption.” The report also highlights some potential solutions, including efforts by the utilities to help educate residential customers about the challenges of capacity-related costs through the use of special time-of-use (TOU) pricing. Essentially, where they’re permitted by regulators, utility companies are saying to customers, “This is my true cost to meet the grid demand at the moment, so this is what I’m going to charge you for electricity.” However, as EPRI’s Senior Vice President of Research and Development Arshad Mansoor explained, complicated pricing structures are not likely to affect the energy consumption of the average consumer unless there is a high level of automation in the home. “Customers will never actively be managing their demand,” Mansoor recently told “That’s where the technology comes into play - understanding a building’s load profile, and charging and discharging storage at the right times to actively manage that building’s demand. That’s an active algorithmic challenge.” Enter plug-in vehicles and smart charging products - a perfect technological fit to meet the challenges of capacity efficiency. More than an outlet John DeBoer, Product Introduction Manager at Siemens, recently told Charged that the electric utility companies are now looking to his industry to support them with products that will make home automation easier for consumers. We discussed the emerging trends in electricity rates while Siemens was giving us an early look at its newest residential charging station. The VersiCharge SG is Siemens’ first home charging station that is WiFi-enabled, and one of the first in the industry to add connectivity. However, DeBoer believes that it won’t be the last. “I think it’s going to be within the next year or two that all of them will be [connected],” he said. “If you think about it from a cost savings perspective, you can recoup the value very quickly with just a few intelligent planning sessions and TOU, realtime pricing or special tier pricing.”


The direction we’re taking with this product is to help you as a consumer as new pricing models come out. DeBoer reports seeing teaser rates as low as 2 to 4 cents per kWh, which is the equivalent of paying about 20-50 cents per gallon for gasoline. More common TOU rate plans range from around 10 cents per kWh for nighttime off-peak to about 30 or 40 cents per kWh for peak times of day, depending on the time of year. Offering charging stations that can take control of syncing charging times with the special rate periods is a very attractive proposition for EV owners. It could change the equation for the payback period of the vehicle and accelerate the transition to subsidy-free EVs that have a lower cost of ownership than their gaspowered equivalents. DeBoer explains that the VersiCharge SG was designed with that in mind. “We’ve added a whole bunch of different scheduling features and functions that allow for both time management and power management. It’s more flexible than just delaying it for 2, 4, 6 or 8 hours. Now you can say things like, ‘Charge at half power when I first get home until 9 pm and then fill me up the rest of the way after midnight.’ So in case you have to go out right away you have an option. It puts a lot more flexibility and control in the hands of the EV owner.” The WiFi-enabled unit is cloud-connected, allowing it to interact with utilities to receive demand response and pricing signals. When the demand response functionality is enabled, utilities and energy aggregators can throttle EV charging as part of a distributed energy management strategy to increase capacity efficiency while minimizing peak demand. Today, however, the number of service areas in the country that offer a variable pricing structure is still low. Of course, Siemens touts other reasons why connecting its VersiCharge SG will be a win for customers. Awareness, readiness, reliability “The VersiCharge SG solves two of the longest-lasting challenges associated with EV ownership - the uncertainty around the actual power being consumed and


Image courtesy of Nest

the ability to easily control energy consumption,” said Barry Powell, head of Siemens Low Voltage & Products. “When you first buy an EV, you get it home and then wonder, ‘What is this doing to my monthly bill?’” said DeBoer. So, the VersiCharge SG has a revenue-accurate submeter built into it that will collect all that information and stream it to the cloud for viewing on all of the popular modern devices (Android/iOS apps and website access). Users can view past power consumption data, including usage and cost, in a graphical form. Ideally, as drivers start to use connected chargers and think more clearly about the costs of driving on electricity, transitioning them to use opt-in special pricing will have less friction. “The direction we’re taking with this product is to help you as a consumer as new pricing models come out,” said DeBoer. “We can say, ‘Hey, there is now a special deal from your utility and it’s only going to be a few cents per kWh if you’re willing to charge at these times. Are you interested?’ Then push that schedule to the charger for you.” The new WiFi model is part of Siemens’ VersiCharge portfolio, and offers the same 7.2 kW Level 2 functionality. It comes in plug-in and hardwire versions, with a 20-foot cord, and can be wall- or pedestal-mounted indoors or outdoors (now with a best-in-class NEMA 4 rating). Workplace Siemens believes that the new WiFi functionality combined with the ability to be installed outdoors will make the VersiCharge SG an ideal solution for workplace charging. “One thing that matters a lot for workplace is that in the commercial setting, demand charges are a very common part of the bill,” explained DeBoer. “Now [through the backend application and connected chargers] they’ll be able to manage a whole fleet of them, not just one charging station. For example, they can set it up to manage 10 or 12 stations. It’s built in already, specifically for workplace purposes, so you can increase the number of chargers you make available to your employees.” While the company does offer remotely-controlled hardware, it has stayed away from any payment system options. DeBoer told us that it’s been a conscious decision to focus on home and workplace charging.

Nest smart thermostat

If you now have a smart thermostat, pool pump, water heater, and EV charger - from a shape and shift perspective in terms of how you can balance energy you just became very relevant to electricity companies. Holistic house Inside the brain of the new VersiCharge SG is a little WiFi module that plugs in and switches it from a regular charging station to a smart communicating one. It’s a CEA 2045-compliant module, which means that it follows a new “modular communications interface” standard specifically designed for appliances. It’s the same one that’s used for programmable thermostats and any other residential device that the utilities are interested in incentivizing you to allow them to control via demand response protocols. “If you now have a smart thermostat, pool pump, water heater, and EV charger - from a shape and shift perspective in terms of how you can balance energy - you just became very relevant to electricity companies,” said DeBoer. “On a macro level, it allows them to do things to manage the utility a little bit more effectively.”

JUL/AUG 2015


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Tesla Supercharger esla’s Supercharger network is 100% free for Model S drivers, and now has more than 1,200 fast chargers at over 200 locations in the US, plus a presence in 17 other countries. EV research firm PlugInsights recently polled 367 US Model S driv­ers about their experience. Here’s what they found.



Total times used


1 to 7 times


8 to 20 times


21 to 40 times


40+ times

A Model S has a maximum driving range between 240 and 270 miles on a single charge.

9% report they’ve never used a Supercharger 85% get out and walk around while charging Most common activities: getting a bite to eat, hitting the rest room and grabbing a cup of coffee.

Top reasons for using a Supercharger “I’ve used it to connect distant points on a long trip.” “I’ve used it as a free alternative to charging at home at least once.”

95% 26%

Average length of a charging session


minutes Adding about 150 miles of range

Source: Data is from an in-depth study of Tesla Supercharger users conducted by PlugInsights Research in June, 2015. For more information, email

Electrification Evolution

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The automotive industry is changing fast. Only a few years ago, nearly every car used the same battery type and common starting and charging systems. That's all changing. The market is rapidly accelerating from only a few hybrid vehicles to broad electrification in several forms. From start-stop systems to full electric vehicles, the number of battery types and systems continue to evolve.

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With an engineering team dedicated to advanced technologies and our close working relationships with manufacturers, Midtronics is committed to anticipating and developing solutions to match the complexity of these new battery and electrical systems. Our superior technologies and advanced platforms enable Midtronics to offer products that match the needs and scale of transportation service markets worldwide.

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EVgo is a registered service mark of NRG EV Services LLC, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc. The plus signs and plus clusters are service marks of NRG Energy, Inc. © 2015 NRG EV Services LLC. All rights reserved.

CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine - Iss 20 JUL/AUG 2015  

CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine - Iss 20 JUL/AUG 2015