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Hyundai joins the plug-in club with the


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22 | Advancing BMS systems Linear Technology launches its fourth-generation battery stack monitor

28 | Direct contact


Gigavac’s new PCB-mounted contactors

current events 10 Volkswagen Group to boost investments in EV tech by €100M

Researchers develop sodium-ion battery in 18650 format

11 Hitachi demonstrates thermally durable solid-state Li-ion battery 12 Fraunhofer’s modular battery makes it easy to isolate defective cells

DOE programs offer EV-related R&D funding for small businesses

13 Navigant Research crowns LG Chem as the Li-ion leader


15 Navitas to develop second-gen Li-ion batteries for military vehicles 16 ARPA-E awards $6.6 million to two projects for solid-state electrolytes 17 Tesla is tracking 60 battery development efforts around the world 18 Nissan and Eaton collaborate on second-life EV battery applications


Tesla wants to design drive units that never wear out

19 XG Sciences and Boston-Power to develop Si-graphene anode 21 New chip offers precise picture of battery health


44 | Sonata PHEV Hyundai joins the plug-in club

56 | The independent road


EV Fleet’s CEO on the huge potential and challenges of starting an EV company

current events 34 Ford reveals $4.5 billion electrification plans

Proterra electric buses to add Mobileye collision avoidance system

35 Karma announces supply agreement with BMW 36 Faraday Future offers a peek under its veil


37 US rules to require running sounds for EVs delayed again 38 Porsche Mission E EV gets a green light for production 39 VW teases long-distance electric Microbus concept for 2016 CES debut

UCLA study: HOV access for plug-in cars drives sales

40 New York Times: Car dealers holding back EV sales 41 Formula E announces new race series for driverless electric cars


42 Carlos Ghosn: Nissan will concentrate on mass market EVs

Norwegian postal service orders 240 electric Renault Kangoos

43 Over 550 Nissan electric taxis in service on European roads

Volvo’s new S90 sedan will offer plug-in hybrid version

IDENTIFICATION STATEMENT CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine (USPS PP 46) November/December 2015, Issue # 22 is published bi-monthly by Electric Vehicles Magazine LLC, 4121 52nd Ave S, Saint Petersburg, FL 33711-4735. Application to Mail at Periodicals Postage Prices is Pending at Saint Petersburg, FL and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine, Electric Vehicles Magazine LLC at 4121 52nd Ave S, Saint Petersburg, FL 33711-4735.


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78 | Charge network roaming

The ROEV Association brings together major players to promote charging network interoperability

86 | Level 2 vs DC fast charging

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62 EV Connect launches Charging as a Service

BMW and EVgo expand ChargeNow program with 500 CCS chargers

63 ABB adds credit card option to its DC fast charger

Renault installs 90 charging stations in Paris for climate summit

64 Daimler uses smart EV battery packs in electricity balancing market


Ford C-MAX Energi buyers get free charging in California and Maryland

65 Fastned to build five DC fast charging stations in The Hague

Efacec licenses Qualcomm’s Halo wireless charging system

66 EVgo partners with UC San Diego on vehicle-to-grid projects

Hyundai taps AeroVironment to provide dealer charging stations

67 Scandinavian charging network CLEVER expands to Germany

ChargePoint Places lets businesses offer special promotions


Publisher’s Note A year of reveals

For the EV industry, 2015 is ending in much the same way it opened, with automakers unveiling electric concept vehicles with heavy fanfare. From affordable EVs for the masses to new luxury choices for the elite, the year was full of glimpses at new plug-in vehicles that automakers seem serious about producing. Here are a few of the concepts most likely to hit the road in the coming years, and some that have already received a green light for production. Chevrolet Bolt EV The year started with GM’s surprise unveiling of the Chevrolet Bolt EV concept - with a range of over 200 miles and a price tag of about $30,000. Throughout the year GM execs have been hammering the message of the EV for Everyman, while pushing the Bolt through the pipeline at an impressive speed. By December, spy photographers had taken some shots of the production version, which is scheduled to go on sale as a 2017 model. Porsche Mission E Reports have surfaced over the past few years indicating that, of all the automakers, the top brass at Porsche were the most in awe of/threatened by the performance and luxuriousness of Tesla’s Model S. Porsche’s Mission E - a four-door 600 hp EV to be launched by the end of the decade - is clearly the German automaker’s response to the California startup. “Even in a greatly changing motoring world, Porsche will maintain its front-row position with this fascinating sports car,” said Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, Chairman of the Supervisory Board. Audi e-tron quattro Similar to Porsche’s response to the Model S, Audi’s e-tron quattro all-electric SUV - due out in 2018 - is looking to merge into the same lane as the recently launched Tesla Model X. “Our number-one thing is not to build a compliance car but to build a cool, desirable car, because that’s what’s going to help our brand, and our customers are going to like it,” said Audi of America President Scott Keogh. Hyundai, Volvo, VW, Aston Martin and others Other automakers gave us more vague looks at their near-term electric plans. Hyundai released sketches of the 2017 Ioniq, which it said will come in hybrid, PHEV and EV versions. Volvo put out a press release saying it will introduce PHEVs across its entire range, and bring a pure EV to market by 2019. Volkswagen, desperate for an image makeover, announced plans to boost investment in electric drive tech, and teased a new EV concept to be debuted in January. Aston Martin’s CEO told Automotive News that the company plans to produce an electric version of its four-door Rapide within two years. And we could go on. Start-ups There are also a few very well-funded EV startups that came out from shadows this year. Faraday Future, Atieva and NextEV all poked up from underground, and are expected to give us a clearer idea of their electric visions in 2016. 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 Contributing Photographers Alexander AlUS Sounder Bruce Norsk Elbilforening Mark Mastropietro Windell Oskay Cover Image Courtesy of Hyundai Motor America Special Thanks to Kelly Ruoff Sebastien Bourgeois For Letters to the Editor, Article Submissions, & Advertising Inquiries Contact



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Researchers develop sodium-ion battery in 18650 format

As the Volkswagen Group works to control the damage from its emissions cheating scam, it plans to cut planned investments in property, plant and equipment for next year by about €1 billion. One area, however, will see an increase. VW plans to boost spending on electrification technologies by €100 million, continuing its development of electric drive systems for the Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche brands. Most of the capital expenditure will go for new products, as well as continuing improvements to the modular toolkits, including the modular electric toolkit (MEB). However, at least one item on EV fans’ wish list will be postponed: the electric version of the Phaeton luxury sedan. “We are operating in uncertain and volatile times and are responding to this,” said Chairman of the Board Matthias Müller. “We will strictly prioritize all planned investments and expenditures. Anything that is not absolutely necessary will be canceled or postponed. We are not going to make the mistake of economizing on our future. For this reason we are planning to further increase spending on the development of e-mobility and digitalization.”


Image courtesy of Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group to boost investments in EV tech by €100M

Jules Verne recognized the potential of sodium batteries in 1869 – they powered the futuristic submarine of Captain Nemo, who found their “electro-motor strength” to be twice that of zinc batteries. Now scientists at the French research network RS2E have brought sodium batteries into the 21st century, producing the first sodium-ion battery in the industry-standard 18650 format (a cylindrical format used in consumer electronics and Tesla automobiles). Several other labs are also working on Na-ion batteries, but RS2E is the first to announce the development of an 18650 prototype. Na-ion batteries could offer lower cost thanks to the abundance of sodium, and the prototype shows promising performance. The energy density of the new Naion cell is 90 Wh/kg, comparable with that of the first lithium-ion batteries. Its lifespan exceeds 2,000 charge/ discharge cycles, and it is capable of charging and discharging rapidly. The next step is to optimize and increase the reliability of the cell with a view to future commercialization. “The first application, the most obvious, would be grid storage: storing renewable energy. We are talking about a market as big as the EV market,” said Jean-Marie Tarascon, a professor at the Collège de France and one of the heads of the RS2E network.


Hitachi researchers demonstrate thermally durable solid-state Li-ion battery A research team sponsored by Hitachi and Tohoku University’s Advanced Institute for Material Research (AIMR) has demonstrated technology that reduces the internal resistance of all-solid-state Li-ion batteries through the use of LiBH4-based complex hydrides as solid electrolytes. A conventional Li-ion battery uses a volatile organic electrolyte solution with a maximum operating temperature around 60˚ C. Automotive batteries need to operate in higher ambient temperatures, which is why they generally require some sort of cooling system. While non-volatile solid electrolytes have been developed for use in high-temperature environments, their lithium ion conductivity is lower than that of an organic electrolyte. Thus, the key to making an all-solid-state Li-ion battery

commercially viable is reducing its internal resistance. Professor Shin-ich Orimo and his colleagues have been conducting research on LiBH4-based complex hydrides as novel solid electrolytes, and have confirmed fast lithium-ion conductivity from room temperature to 150˚ C. They were able to reduce the cell’s internal resistance, improving charge/discharge performance. The team’s batteries have a capacity of 2 mAh, density of 30 Wh/L, and a discharge capacity of 90% of theoretical value. This technology could allow the thermally durable Liion battery to be used in a wider variety of applications. Because it does not require the cooling system common in conventional batteries, Hitachi expects it to lead to the development of more compact systems, reducing costs.

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Researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute have developed a modular battery system that could offer lower cost and improved range by making it easier to replace defective cells. In theory, all the individual cells of a battery can store the same amount of energy. In practice, however, their capacities vary, and because the cells are connected in series, the entire battery is only as strong as its weakest cell. For this reason, manufacturers pre-sort the cells, and install cells of similar capacity into a battery, a process that adds costs. Furthermore, a single defective cell can cause the entire battery to stop functioning. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation in Stuttgart have now created an alternative. “Our modular battery system solves these problems,” says Group Manager Dr. Kai Pfeiffer. Each cell has its own built-in microcontroller that records physical parameters such as the temperature and the state of charge of the cell. The cells can exchange information with each other via the existing power wiring between cells. An on-board computer uses the data from the cells to calculate the current state of charge. If a cell is empty, it simply decouples from the cluster, while the others continue to deliver energy. “Depending on the cell quality, we can therefore increase the range by at least four percent,” explains Pfeiffer. “Over time, this effect is amplified: in the case of an old battery, and if the empty cells are replaced, it is conceivable that a range up to ten percent higher can be achieved.” The researchers have developed a prototype, and are now working to miniaturize the electronics and embed them into cells. “We want it to cost less than a euro,” Pfeiffer says.

The DOE has announced a new batch of topics for the 2016 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs. Under the SBIR and STTR programs, federal agencies set aside portions of their R&D budgets for small businesses. Companies that win awards keep the rights to any technology developed, and are encouraged to commercialize it. The DOE issued the full Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) on November 30, 2015. Some of the fields of research that are eligible for awards in this round: EV batteries. The DOE is always interested in technologies that improve performance and reduce cost of batteries for electrified vehicles. Specific improvements include, but are not limited to: new low-cost materials; high-voltage and high-temperature non-carbonate electrolytes; improvements in manufacturing processes, speed, or yield; novel SEI stabilization techniques for silicon anodes; improved cell/pack design minimizing inactive material; significant improvement in energy density and safety. SiC MOSFETs for EV power electronics. According to the DOE, silicon carbide (SiC) devices are approaching cost parity with silicon (Si) power devices, and it is interested in devices for vehicle inverters that can take advantage of SiC epitaxial wafers, SiC switches and Schottky diodes. While lower-current (<50 A) SiC switches have already penetrated the solar and computer power supply markets, the ability to handle currents over 100 A remains a key threshold for automotive applications. This topic seeks to demonstrate production of switches rated at over 100 A and 600 V with either built-in Schottky diodes (lower cost) or external Schottky diodes suitable for use in EV motor inverters. Other topics of interest include electrocatalysts for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell applications, and safety sensors for hydrogen infrastructure applications.


Image courtesy of Fraunhofer Institute

Fraunhofer’s modular battery makes it easy to isolate defective cells

The DOE’s SBIR/STTR programs offer EV-related R&D funding for small businesses


Image courtesy of LG Chem

Navigant Research crowns LG Chem as the Li-ion leader A recent Leaderboard Report from Navigant Research examines the strategy and execution of eight leading EV battery manufacturers. Navigant puts LG Chem in first place, followed closely by Panasonic and Samsung SDI. A rung below these “Leaders” are what Navigant calls “Contenders,” including AESC, BYD, Johnson Controls and A123. Navigant projects the global market for automotive Li-ion batteries will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 32% from 2015 to 2020. Due to their larger battery packs, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) will account for 72% of demand. Navigant foresees the emergence of two separate market segments, one focused on large-capacity packs for

the premium vehicle sector, and one focused on smaller, lower-cost packs for shorter-range vehicles.

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Denise Gray

Kurt Kelty

Craig Rigby

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Image by Charged EVs

Navitas to develop second-gen Li-ion batteries for military vehicles Navitas Systems, a provider of energy storage products and power electronics, has won a $7.2-million contract to develop next-generation lithium-ion batteries for military vehicles. As new power-hungry electronics proliferate, the US Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) has been working with Navitas to develop prototype 24 V lithium-ion batteries in the 6T form factor to replace the current lead-acid technology. Under this new award, Navitas will develop beta versions of second-gen lithium-ion 6T batteries. The goal of the program is to deliver an improved 120 Ah battery product with higher cold cranking capability than today’s lead-acid batteries, and a weight savings of 70%. The battery is expected to deliver up to 100%

improvement in energy capacity over both lead-acid and first-generation lithium-ion, so one lithium-ion 6T battery will be able to replace two lead-acid 6Ts. Navitas will focus on optimizing cell chemistry and mechanical design to improve service life, energy density and low temperature power capability. Cell design will be tuned to maximize the use of currently available technologies, and cycle life will be improved through materials optimization. In-vehicle integration and testing will be conducted by Wisconsin firm Oshkosh.

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The DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) has awarded $125 million to 41 energy-related R&D projects under its 2015 OPEN funding program. Two of these have to do with ceramic electrolytes for solid-state EV batteries. A consortium led by the University of Michigan won $3.5 million for a project called “Transitioning Advanced Ceramic Electrolytes into Manufacturable Solid-State EV Batteries,” which aims to develop new electrode structures and manufacturing techniques to incorporate lithium-conducting ceramic electrolytes into solid-state batteries. Project leader Jeff Sakamoto has been exploring solid-state batteries for some time. While many researchers feel that new electrolytes must be developed to meet the conductivity threshold required for a breakthrough, Sakamoto believes that existing materials are fine, and what’s really needed is a groundbreaking design and manufacturing process. “Super-ionic conducting oxide (SCO) electrolytes are a unique subset of ceramic electrolytes that offer numerous benefits in the development of solid-state battery technology,” wrote Sakamoto in his Handbook of Solid State Batteries. “Interestingly, it is not the lack of available state-of-the-art SCOs, rather it is the numerous processing, scaling and integration challenges that have limited the advancement of bulk-scale solid-state battery technology.” “For example, most oxide ceramics require high temperature processing to bond or sinter components together,” explains Sakamoto. “How the high temperature processing affects reactions with electrodes is a considerable issue. Similarly, maintaining adequate electrolyte/


electrode contact area without amplifying chemical reactions is challenging and requires novel cell stack designs and fabrication techniques. In bonding and operating monolithic batteries, mechanical properties are of particular importance because most ceramics are relatively brittle. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, identifying SCOs with inherent stability against Li or developing technology to enable the use of state-of-the-art SCOs is the key.” A second award of $3.1 million will go to the glass and ceramic wizards at Corning. In a project titled “Roll-toRoll Processing Ceramic Battery Electrolyte,” Corning researchers will develop manufacturing techniques to produce thin ceramic electrolytes, with the goal of enabling solid-state batteries to be produced economically and at high volumes.

Image courtesy of International Information Program (IIP)

ARPA-E awards $6.6 million to two projects for solidstate battery electrolytes

THE TECH Elon Musk: Tesla is tracking 60 battery development efforts around the world

Working across the supply chain

Image by Charged EVs

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In a recent interview, investment icon Ron Baron asked Elon Musk about Tesla’s battery chemistry. How can we be sure that the batteries that the company is investing so much to build at the Gigafactory won’t be made obsolete, leapfrogged by some other industry player? Not to worry, says Musk. “I think we have quite a good understanding of all the battery technologies in the world. There could be some small laboratory that’s being super-secret, but generally what people inventing battery technologies try to do is, they approach Tesla first and foremost, because we’re the biggest lithium-ion consumer in the world. We’d be their biggest customer.” “We track right now about 60 different efforts around the world to develop and improve batteries, and some of them hold some long-term promise, but we rate all of them from 1 to 5, where 5 is ‘we should be doing business with them,’ and 1 is complete B.S.” “How many 5s are there?” asks Baron, hopeful, as any EV pundit must be, that a bodacious battery breakthrough is right around the corner. Alas, Musk dashes our hopes. “There’s no 5s,” unfortunately, or even any 4s at this point. There are some 3s, and a few that might rise from a 3 to a 4, at which point Tesla would be interested in preliminary discussions. Asked if there will be some super-duper 1,000-mile battery in 10 years, Musk says he doubts there will be quite that much of an improvement. He points out (as he has before) that Tesla could build a 500-mile car today, but the trade-offs in terms of weight and space wouldn’t be worth it.

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Nissan and Eaton have announced a partnership that will use their respective expertise in lithium-ion batteries and power electronics to create commercially viable energy storage and control centers that offer a productive second life for Nissan’s EV batteries after their days on the road. The two companies will deploy a module that combines retired LEAF batteries with Eaton’s uninterruptable power supply (UPS) technology and solar PV to create a stand-alone energy storage and control package that can be used connected to, or independent of, the grid. A recent DOE analysis found that repurposing used EV batteries for stationary storage can offset the costs of recycling vehicles, and Navigant Research predicts that second-life batteries will represent a $3 billion business by 2035. “These systems will really facilitate the wider adoption and deployment of renewable generation, giving people greater control over their energy supply and consumption,” said Eaton VP of Marketing Cyrille Brisson. “The benefits of such a unit include continuity of supply, increased grid stability and efficiency, avoidance of peak energy tariffs and reduced reliance on expensive fuels like diesel in no-grid or poor-grid situations.”


Image courtesy of Nissan

Nissan and Eaton collaborate on second-life EV battery applications

Consumer Reports’ recent finding that the Model S’s reliability is only mediocre was a black eye for Tesla, but Elon Musk says that, while early drive units had a range of problems, most of these have now been fixed. During a conference call in November, Musk assured stock analysts that the powertrains now rolling off the line are “excellent.” “We are very happy with the quality of the drive unit,” said Musk. “We changed the goal of the drive unit endurance from being approximately 200,000 miles to being a million miles – basically we want drive units that just never wear out. That’s our goal. I think we made really good progress in that direction.” For example: “We transitioned to automatic grease injection into the spline of the large drive unit - we had variation in how much grease was put into the spline and if not enough grease was put into the spline, it would have premature wear.” Meanwhile, Mercedes has recalled its B-class EV due to a software problem with the Tesla-built powertrain. “In rare cases,” Daimler says, “the powertrain gateway control unit might send an incorrect signal…regarding the status of the high voltage contactor…temporarily immobilizing the vehicle.” Unlike Tesla, Daimler does not offer any way to perform over-the-air updates, so owners will have to bring their vehicles to a dealership for a software fix.

Image courtesy of Windell Oskay (CC BY 2.0)

Tesla wants to design drive units that never wear out


Image courtesy of AlexanderAlUS (CC BY 3.0)

XG Sciences and Boston-Power join to develop silicon-graphene anode material XG Sciences and Boston-Power have announced a joint development program aimed at customizing XG Sciences’ silicon-graphene anode materials for use in Boston-Power’s lithium-ion battery cell products. The program will focus on optimizing electrochemical and microstructural electrode performance, as well as developing electrode and battery manufacturing techniques using the two companies’ proprietary materials. “Silicon has very high storage capacity but has traditionally struggled to deliver the many charge cycles demanded in next-generation electronics and automotive applications,” said XG Sciences’ VP of Energy Markets, Rob Privette. “We see real synergy between Boston-Power’s battery engineering and design capabilities and our new XG-SiG anode materials. Boston-Power has the ability to design and manufacture the battery, while XG Sciences has the ability to customize our anode materials

to best fit the Boston-Power system.” “Given Boston-Power’s primary focus on electric vehicles, being able to squeeze more energy into the same physical space is certainly important for achieving longer drive distances,” said Boston-Power CTO Rick Chamberlain. “But higher energy density is an equally if not more important contributor to reducing the overall cost of electric vehicles, which will drive their adoption over the next 5 years. Our collaboration with XG Sciences is a valuable step in using silicon technology to achieve our product goals.”





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Image courtesy of Rachid Yazami et al

New chip offers precise picture of battery health Scientists from Nanyang Technological University have developed a smart chip that they say provides a more precise picture of battery health than current warning systems, many of which only alert users when the battery is already overheating. Developed by Professor Rachid Yazami of the Energy Research Institute at NTU, the new chip is small enough to be embedded in almost any battery. “Although the risk of a battery failing and catching fire is very low, with the billions of lithium-ion batteries being produced yearly, even a one-in-a-million chance would mean over a thousand failures,” said Professor Yazami. “This poses a serious risk for electric vehicles, as big battery packs have hundreds of cells or more bundled together.” The chip uses a proprietary algorithm based on electrochemical thermodynamics measurements. In contrast to monitoring systems that only show voltage and estimated state of charge, Professor Yazami’s algorithm can display both the state of health and the state of charge on a 3-dimensional chart. “In addition to knowing the degradation of batteries, our technology can also tell the exact state of charge of the battery, and thus optimize charging so the battery can be maintained in its best condition while being charged faster,” added Yazami. “My vision for the future is that every battery will have this chip, which will reduce the risk of battery fires in

electronic devices and electric vehicles while extending their life span.” NTU’s commercialization arm is helping to develop the chip into a series of products, and expects to make the technology available for licensing by chipmakers and battery manufacturers before the end of 2016.



Linear Technology launches its fourthgeneration battery stack monitor



Image courtesy of Linear Technology

By Christian Ruoff

ngineers use battery management systems (BMS) to prevent problems that occur in Li-ion batteries when they are over-charged or over-discharged, including premature capacity loss and thermal events. A BMS ensures precise control and keeps the individual cells balanced, which is critical to extracting the most useful energy from a pack. Fortunately for EV systems designers, the state of the battery control art continues to advance, increasing in accuracy and efficiency at lower costs.


A BMS failure could be very costly (if not catastrophic) for a vehicle manufacturer, so the OEMs put a fair amount of pressure on parts suppliers to deliver robust control hardware. As a result, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen a constant flow of new products from integrated circuit companies over the past few years. The latest is Linear Technologyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s LTC6811 - its fourth-generation multi-cell battery monitor. The California-based company specializes in highperformance analog integrated circuits and has a lot of experience in the Li-ion BMS field. Linear

NOV/DEC 2015


Failure is not an option Like all the products in this Technology’s third-gen battery monitor chip (part family, the LTC6811 is designed for the automotive number LTC6804) is a popular part, used by high-volenvironment. As just one example, the LTC6811 inume EV makers in many well-known plug-in models. cludes a dedicated deep buried Zener reference to avoid Also among Linear’s family of high-voltage battery ICs measurement error that often creeps into a circuit after is what it calls a “high efficiency bidirectional multimechanical stress from PCB assembly, thermal variacell active balancer” (part number LTC3300) - which tions, humidity, or just plain aging. The buried Zener Charged discussed in detail back in Issue 7. reference has well-established long-term stability and accuracy. The new LTC6811 battery monitor features Chip history extensive fault coverage to ensure that costly problems Linear’s first-generation chip, intended for precision don’t occur - including a redundant voltage reference, battery management in hybrid/electric vehicles, was logic test circuitry, cross-channel testing, open wire released in 2008. The LTC6802 was a multi-cell batdetection capability, a watchdog timer and packet error tery stack monitor that can measure up to 12 Li-ion checking on the serial interface. cells. Many LTC6802 ICs could be connected in series “If a customer says, ‘We’re going to rely on your to enable the simultaneous monitoring of every cell of part to make sure we don’t overcharge the batteries,’ a long, high-voltage battery string. In 2010, the comthey need to know that they can rely on it,” said Zimpany released the LTC6803, mer. “So we have a lot of adding many incremental self-test features, crossfeature improvements, checking and redundancy including advanced noise show that if a problem If a customer says, ‘We’re going to filtering. Then in 2013, occurs, this is how it would Linear launched a totally be handled. Our previous to rely on your part to make new architecture with the generation battery monisure we don’t overcharge the tors had redundancy and LTC6804, with a focus on improving accuracy and but we batteries,’ they need to know cross-checking, noise immunity. have continuously imBecause the LTC6804 is that they can rely on it. proved and refined these


Images courtesy of Linear Technology

Basic functional overview of the LTC6811

a popular part, used in production vehicles and slated for several new programs, Linear decided the fourth generation needed to be a drop-in replacement (meaning the LTC6811 is pin compatible and software compatible to the previous generation). “It takes a very long time to design new parts into systems,” Greg Zimmer, Senior Product Marketing Engineer at Linear, told Charged. “Our customers have invested a lot of effort into their LTC6804 designs, so it’s critical that they can drop this part in while improving and adding new features.


The primary benefit for balancing over a long period is to minimize the thermal requirements of the electronics.

features. We’re always looking to see how the system designer can build their BMS and have confidence that our part is up to the challenge.”

Balancing act Designers are keenly interested in ensuring consistent state of charge (SOC) among the individual battery cells, since this will increase the useful life of the battery pack. The problem is that a stack of cells in series is ultimately limited by the weakest cell. Because they’re all in series, they all receive the same charge and load current. During charging, if one cell reaches its upper limit first, you have to stop charging the whole stack - even though the other cells could hold more energy - because issues can occur when lithiumion cells are overcharged. Likewise, when you’re discharging, the weakest cell will reach its “can’t-go-anylower” point (or it will lose capacity), and discharging stops, even though the other cells have additional useful energy. So, maintaining an equal SOC throughout the stack is highly beneficial in both directions. To keep the cells on par with one another, engineers employ battery balancing systems of two basic types: passive and active. During the charge process, not all cells in a stack may reach full charge at the same time. One reason that this can happen is due to differences in capacity between cells. The smaller capacity (“weaker”) cells will reach a fully charged state first. In a passive system, when a cell reaches its maximum SOC before the other cells in the stack, the battery balancer can discharge them by switching in a resistive element across the cell. This effectively loses the energy that would be

forced into this weaker cell, but allows the other cells to continue accepting more energy during a charging event. In an active system, energy is shuttled from the weaker cells to the stronger cells. This creates a more energy-efficient battery pack, but it requires a more complex and robust topology. Linear’s new LTC6811 acts as the hub for controlling active and passive balancing and boasts new control features for both techniques. The chip includes internal passive balancing FETs that can discharge individual cells, or directly control higher-power external FETs. One new control feature is the ability to discharge cells while in a low-power state, such as when the battery pack is at rest. “Passive discharging is only useful during the charge cycle,” explained Zimmer. “However, vehicles are typically charged when the car is parked and the systems are at rest. During this state, designers would like the BMS processor to be powered down. With passive balancing timers, the processor can initiate passive balancing for each cell, up to two hours, and enter a low-power standby mode.” “The primary benefit for balancing over a long period is to minimize the thermal requirements of the electronics. By increasing the balancing time, the balancing current can be reduced. The internal FETs in the LTC6811 can handle 50 mA of current for passive balancing to dissipate energy across a resistor. Larger discharge current requires external FETs - the more current, the larger and more expensive the FETs. Also, discharging generates heat - the more heat, the more complex and expensive the thermal design (such as adding heat sinking).” For active balancing controls, the LTC6811’s balancing pins can be operated as a serial interface to control Linear’s LT8584 active balance circuit. The LT8584 is a monolithic flyback DC/DC converter that allows for greater than 99% capacity recovery in stacks of mismatched cells. The LT8584 supports uni-direc-

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tional operation, allowing for charge to be transferred from each individual cell to the top of the stack. The LTC6811 can also interface to Linear’s SPI-based active balancing IC - the LTC3300 - a fault-protected controller IC for bidirectional active balancing. Like the LT8584, the LTC3300 can transfer charge from each individual cell to the stack, but it can also transfer from the stack to each individual cell. In this way, the LTC3300 can directly compensate for a cell that is reaching its low SOC limit.

The specs The LTC6811 incorporates an ultra-stable voltage reference, high-voltage multiplexers, 16-bit delta-sigma ADCs, and a 1 Mbps isolated serial interface. It can measure up to 12 series-connected battery cells with better than 0.04% accuracy. Linear says it provides “outstanding noise reduction” with 8 programmable 3rd-order low-pass filter settings, and cell measurements within 290 μsec in the fastest ADC mode. Multiple chips can be interconnected and operated simultaneously, using Linear’s proprietary 2-wire isoSPI interface. Integrated into every LTC6811, the isoSPI interface provides high RF noise immunity up to 1 Mbps and up to 100 meters of cable, using only twisted pair. Two communication options are available: with the LTC6811-1, multiple devices are connected in a daisy chain with one host processor connection for all devices; with the LTC6811-2, multiple devices are connected in parallel to the host processor and each device is individually addressed. The LTC6811 is fully specified for operation from -40° to 125° C, and has been designed for ISO 26262


Passive vs active balancing in production vehicles Most, if not all, production vehicles employ a passive balancing technique because of the OEMs’ sensitivity to costs. “Active balancing is not used in any production vehicle that I’m aware of,” said Zimmer. “Everyone is exploring and testing it, but it’s a lot cheaper to go with passive. Efficient active balancing requires transformers, and bi-directional operation requires additional transformers. All of this can be a few dollars per channel multiplied by dozens, or hundreds, of channels depending on how many cells are in the system.” So where is active balancing used today? Zimmer explains that it works great for battery pack applications that have challenges dissipating the thermal loads generated by passive balancing. Passive systems turn excess energy into heat, whereas active systems attempt to save as much useful energy as possible. Also, active balancing is used for applications that need the highest possible energy density. “It could become more mainstream in production vehicles,” said Zimmer, “as the price continues to come down and if the OEMs are more incentivized to use every little bit of energy in the battery pack.”

Everyone is exploring and testing it, but it’s a lot cheaper to go with passive. (ASIL) compliant systems. It is designed to operate at the most critical location in the battery system, directly connected to the battery cells. In this position, between the BMS microprocessor and peripheral devices, the LTC6811 can monitor battery sensors such as current or temperature, and closely correlate these values to cell measurements.

Images courtesy of Linear Technology

Real world cell measurement error budget


12-cell battery module with active balancing

Controlling the future For whatever reason, battery control electronics do not receive nearly as much media attention as new developments in cell chemistry. However, it’s hard to overstate the critical role the BMS has played in the long-term success of EVs. Continually creating better electronics translates into maximizing operating range, lifetime, safety and reliability, while minimizing cost, size and weight. Linear’s fourthgeneration battery stack monitor is the latest example of clear progress: more performance, features and efficiency at a lower cost.


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Gigavac launches new PCB-mounted contactors to meet automakersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; push for better packaging in EV systems By Michael Kent


Image courtesy of Gigavac




t’s a common theme across the EV industry: Today many OEMs are designing their second- and third-generation EV platforms, and there is a strong push to increase packaging efficiency across the board, driving out every possible bit of cost. In the past few months, we’ve written about GM’s decision to attach the power electronics directly in a cavity on the transmission of the new Volt - eliminating the orange three-phase cables completely by connecting to the motors through connection studs; Siemens’ new integrated motor and inverter drive unit - Sivetec MSA

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Closing the circuit Contactors, or electrically controlled switches, are similar to relays except that they carry much higher currents. Contactors switch an electrical power circuit on and off using a control circuit of much lower power than the switched circuit. They are used in many different applications (lighting, heating, capacitor banks, thermal evaporators, photovoltaic systems, etc) and range from having a breaking current of several amps to thousands of amps and from 24 V DC to many kilovolts. In an EV system, the “main contactor” is used to make and break the power supply line running from the battery pack to the power electronics, isolating the highvoltage circuit whenever the vehicle is off. The main contactor also has emergency interrupt capabilities and serves a critical safety role. In the event of an accident the contactor will disconnect the main batteries very quickly - similar to the speed of an airbag deployment. So, in automotive applications it’s important to use a robust contactor that can withstand vibration, the shock of an impact and the harsh environmental wear of the road. EPIC advancements Gigavac was launched in 2002 by a small group of founders with decades of experience in sealed switching products. Its first product line was a range of highvoltage relays, and in 2006 the company expanded into contactors based on its patented Extended Performance Impervious Ceramic (EPIC) sealing technology. Gigavac says its EPIC technology is “a major breakthrough in low-cost, high-quality sealing of relays and contactors.” The company explains that other relay and contactor manufacturers use all-ceramic envelopes (which can be expensive), glass-to-metal seals (which can break down over long periods of time), or epoxy and plastic seals (which do not provide the high temperature ratings or the micro-sealing needed to use high-performance backfill gases). Gigavac, on the other hand, uses a unique ceramic-to-metal seal that


EPIC Sealing Tech Contactor cutaway side view

Contactor cutaway 90° side view

THE EPIC CERAMIC-TOMETAL SEAL ALSO ALLOWS YOU TO FILL THE CHAMBER WITH “VIRTUALLY ANY GAS” AS A DIELECTRIC. it claims is “equal to or less than the cost of open-air or lesser quality epoxy and plastic semi-sealed contac-

Images courtesy of Gigavac

3300 - which offers a plug-and-play option for OEMs; and the new high-force press-fit solderless interconnects by Interplex that significantly shorten current paths and overall inductance for inverter power modules. Not to be left out, Gigavac, the California-based sealed switching expert, has recently launched new versions of its popular contactors that are designed to integrate directly with printed circuit boards (PCBs).

THE TECH Gigavac's MiniTACTOR series

WE CAN DO A LOT MORE IN TERMS OF CURRENT AND VOLTAGE IN A SMALLER PACKAGE. tors” and superior in quality, so it will work in almost any environment - even underwater. Sealing is critical for contactors to prevent contaminants from polluting the internal parts of the compartment that contains the switching contacts. The EPIC ceramic-to-metal seal also allows you to fill the chamber with “virtually any gas” as a dielectric - which determines the precise control of the internal switch environment. The particular choice of dielectric is based on product design and the intended application. For example, Gigavac’s MX EPIC contactors use nitrogen as a dielectric, which allows for higher inrush and overload currents at lower voltages. For higher-voltage applications, GX EPIC contactors use hydrogen as a dielectric. The company also provides custom gas mixes for special applications. Gigavac says this technology has been very successful since it was launched, and has fueled dramatic growth in what it calls its Power Products. “Our ceramic-to-metal seal gives us a lot of competitive

Manual disconnect Gigavac also offers a hermetically sealed version of its manual disconnect aimed at the automotive industry. It calls its HBD series of sealed switches “the first truly hermetic high-power manual disconnect.” The idea was to design a battery disconnect product that can be mounted anywhere on a vehicle. Other non-sealed products are typically located somewhere inside the vehicle interior, because they cannot withstand the harsh environment under the hood. So, a sealed switch can eliminate the extra cable length required to run inside the cabin. “The sealing technology is great for use on battery disconnects in fleet vehicles that have regular maintenance schedules,” explained Jim Lanum. “Things like delivery fleets, armored truck fleets, or military vehicles. Instead of going under the hood with a wrench to pull the negative line off the battery, they use a manual switch. Our HBD series is a great option because it has an operating voltage of 12 to 1,200 VDC, and can mount right next to the battery no matter where it’s located.”

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New PCB-mounted version of Gigavac's GX series contactor

GENERALLY, PCB-MOUNTED CONTACTORS ARE AT LEAST 25% CHEAPER AT HIGH VOLUMES advantages,” Jim Lanum, Gigavac’s VP of Business Development, told Charged. “It has a very wide temperature range, and is incredibly durable and more compact because of the sealed chamber and controlled dielectric. We can do a lot more in terms of current and voltage in a smaller package.”


Images courtesy of Gigavac

Gigavac's GX series contactor with standard packaging

THE TECH Gigavac’s line of EPIC-enabled products now includes GX Industrial Contactors, MX High Reliability Contactors, and Sensing Contactors - all manufactured in the company’s 40,000-square-foot factory and headquarters outside of Santa Barbara.

Driving out costs The exploding EV industry has been a clear boost to the company. Gigavac now supplies products for EVs of all shapes and sizes - from motorcycles and passenger cars to buses, trains and ships - and also to charging station manufacturers. Working with one its highestvolume customers - an EV builder that the company declined to name - Gigavac has developed the stripped-down PCB version of its contactors, which it says offers significant cost savings. “Generally, it is at least 25% cheaper at high volumes,” said Markus Beck, VP of Power Products. “For that reason, we’re now seeing a lot of customers starting to board-mount contactors in the larger-volume automotive space.” Contactors are bulky parts relative to most components mounted on PCBs, and they’re not cheap either - depending on current and voltage requirements, they can run more than $100 per part. While the individual part costs are lower for the PCB-mount version, Beck explains that the biggest savings are realized when you consider space and assembly saving. “From an ease-of-assembly point of view, it’s significantly simpler,” he says. “Instead of mounting the full switch somewhere and running busses or cables with connectors, this integrates into the BMS system or the high-voltage junction box of the vehicle.

“Then connections can be designed in many different ways, basically whatever type the customer wants, as long as it can carry the current. Some use the threaded connection in the contactor to sandwich to a board and buss, others insert pluggable contacts.” Gigavac now offers PCB-mounted versions of its MiniTACTOR, GV, GX, and MX series contactors.

Proven semiconductor technology.

Trust the Power of Fuji Electric.

For the past several months, we EV newshounds have suspected that Ford had plans for a new generation of plug-ins up its sleeve. Now the #2 US automaker is beginning to reveal its answer to electric rivals GM, Nissan, VW, et al. In December, Ford announced plans to invest a record $4.5 billion in electric tech over the next five years, adding 13 new electrified vehicles to its lineup by 2020. By that time, some 40 percent of the company’s global nameplates will be offered in electrified versions. (Note: the term “electrified” refers to many different forms of advanced energy storage in vehicles, from stop-start micro-hybrids all the way up to fully electric vehicles.) A new Focus Electric, featuring DC fast-charging capability and a projected 100-mile range, is scheduled to go into production late next year. Ford has also hinted that it will unveil a new plug-in vehicle at January’s Detroit Auto show. Pictures posted to Twitter by the WSJ’s John Stoll show a vehicle under wraps that has the general outline of a Fusion. An update of the Energi PHEV? A fully electric Fusion? Ford has been bulking up on battery R&D – it has hired 120 new EV engineers in Dearborn, and is expanding its network of research facilities in Europe and China. “Batteries are the life force of any EV, and we have been committed to growing our leadership in battery research and development for more than 15 years,” said Kevin Layden, Director, Ford Electrification Programs. “Battery technology has evolved rapidly since we launched our first volume electrified product, the Ford Escape Hybrid, in 2004, and we look forward to developing even better vehicle battery technology for our customers.”

Mobileye Aftermarket has announced that electric bus maker Proterra will offer factory installation of Mobileye’s collision avoidance solution in its 2016 models. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 93% of accidents are due to human error. The Mobileye Aftermarket system is designed to give a distracted driver the opportunity to avoid a collision or mitigate its severity. The factory-installed option integrates the Mobileye system with the LCD cluster in the dashboard, providing clear visibility for the driver, and also integrates tactile feedback into the steering wheel. Mobileye’s system offers not only forward collision warning, but also pedestrian and cyclist detection, headway monitoring to avoid tailgating, lane departure warning to help avoid drifting, and speed limit indication. “Improving road safety for our customers and their communities is central to enhancing the performance of our vehicles,” said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra. “Enhanced features like the Mobileye Aftermarket system provide drivers with a valuable tool to help mitigate accidents, which is critical for a bus full of passengers.” Israel-based Mobileye is also a supplier for Tesla’s recently released Autopilot. CEO Ziv Aviram recently hinted that the company’s next-generation hardware suite could enable a wider range of autonomous features and maybe even completely autonomous driving. “The appetite of the OEMs we work with is growing, and the first application is going to be much wider than what we planned,” said Aviram. “We see acceleration of the development and needs of our customers to present much more sophisticated systems.”


Image courtesy of Ford

Ford reveals $4.5 billion electrification plans

Proterra electric buses to add Mobileye collision avoidance system

Image courtesy of Proterra



Image courtesy of Karma Automotive

Karma announces supply agreement with BMW Karma Automotive (formerly Fisker) has announced that BMW will supply a wide range of hybrid and EV components, including high-voltage battery charging systems, for Karma’s new vehicle that’s now in development. Karma will integrate BMW components into its flagship PHEV, which it plans to re-launch in 2016. The company says it already has a next generation of vehicles in development, which will utilize even more of BMW’s powertrain technology. “The Wanxiang Group is giving Karma Automotive the opportunity to bring a stunning car back to the market, and the partnership with BMW and their outstanding track record is a great fit for the future,” said Karma’s CEO Tom Corcoran. “We will continue to develop beautiful cars with the latest cutting-edge hybrid and EV technology.”

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The California-based EV startup Faraday Future (FF) has presented innovative ideas and assembled a talented team, raiding the ranks of such companies as Tesla, BMW, Audi, Apple, SpaceX, and Hulu. So far however, it has offered few details about its organization or its strategy. More is sure to be revealed soon. The company will participate in the Consumer Electronics Show in January, and has announced plans to invest a billion bucks in its first manufacturing facility in Nevada. The Verge’s Tamara Warren recently scored a tour of FF’s Los Angeles facility and interviews with senior execs, adding a few brushstrokes to the sketch of this secretive startup. Senior VP Nick Sampson, an alumnus of Jaguar, Lotus and Tesla, told Ms. Warren that Faraday was born from a conversation. “Three people sitting around in an office, discussing the future of the car and what people’s mobility would be in the future. Eighteen months later, we’ve got over 400 people working from all over the world.” He expects that number to double within a year. Faraday’s role models are to be found far from Detroit. “Many people look at Tesla and think they’ve done it differently than the traditional auto industry, and they have. But there’s other ways and other things we can capitalize on,” said Sampson. “We reached out into the aerospace industries, the medical device industries, into the internet and technology industries to pull together a group of people with a diverse range of skills that could build a product that’s new and different.” Sampson and company clearly grasp the fourfold trend that will soon reshape the automotive industry: electrification, connectivity, automation and new ownership models. “As soon as you get in your car, you lose that level of connectivity,” said Sampson. “Today’s cars aren’t meeting the needs of today’s people, let alone generations yet to come. The kids of tomorrow will be wanting to be connected all the time.”


“If I plan my journey, the car should know the places I want to visit along the way, because it knows my preferences,” he continued. “The car should begin to learn my desires, and not just me as owner or user, but the people who are with me. It should be a much more social event to be in the car.” “Uber is a new way of getting about,” said Sampson. “Some people are considering not even having a car. The cars of the future have got to meet those needs.” He envisions specialized vehicles that can be rented as needed. “I don’t have to buy one compromise vehicle, I can just have use of the perfect model when I need it, like a subscription service.” Faraday has spoken of building a vehicle by 2017. “We already have a test vehicle running - testing the electrical system, the battery, powertrain. We’re well through the design process for production. We’re already releasing data and information to start having parts made for real vehicles in the future.” Should such a revolutionary vehicle even be called a car anymore? “It’s a car to some degree,” said Chief Designer Richard Kim. “It’s a mobility device, and when people interact with cars, there is of course the irrational desire to have it. The car is still going to be beautiful, as traditional car designers want to have.”

Image courtesy of Faraday Future

Faraday Future offers a peek under its veil


Image by Charged EVs

US rules to require running sounds for EVs delayed again Silence is often noted as a nifty feature of EVs. But the danger to pedestrians has led government regulators to discuss requiring the vehicles to make an artificial noise when traveling at low speeds. The federal Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act was signed into law in 2011, but there is still no requirement for EVs to have sound generators. NHTSA said in July that the regulations would be finalized this year. However, the agency said in a recent government filing that it will not be able to meet this timetable, and that the new rules will be delayed until at least March 2016. The National Federation of the Blind has led the push for regulations, but the blind are not the only ones in danger. According to NHTSA, studies have shown that EVs and hybrids are 20 to 100 percent more likely to hit a pedestrian than are legacy vehicles. The agency esti-

mates that if running sounds were required, it might lead to 2,800 fewer pedestrian and bicyclist injuries per year. It said in 2013 that complying with the rules would cost the auto industry about $23 million in the first year.


Is that an electrically powered Porsche approaching in the distance? The German sports car maker has given the green light for a project called Mission E, with the aim of launching a new EV by the end of the decade. Porsche also announced a major program of expansion and upgrades at its Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen plant, which includes expanding the existing engine factory for the production of electric motors. The Mission E concept, which debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, is a four-door car with a system power output of 600 hp (440 kW). It features a floor-mounted battery pack and a range of over 500 km. Porsche developed an 800 V charger especially for the vehicle, and also demonstrated a wireless charging system. “With Mission E, we are making a clear statement about the future of the brand,” said Dr Wolfgang Porsche, Chairman of the Supervisory Board. “Even in a greatly changing motoring world, Porsche will maintain its front-row position with this fascinating sports car.” “We are resolutely taking on the challenge of electric mobility,” said Chairman of the Executive Board Dr Oliver Blume. “Even with solely battery-powered sports cars, Porsche is remaining true to its philosophy and offering our customers the sportiest and technologically most sophisticated model in this market segment.”


Images courtesy of Porsche

Porsche Mission E EV gets a green light for production


What is Volkswagen’s vision for the electric future? Attendees at CES in January in Las Vegas will get to hear VW Chairman of the Board Herbert Diess’s thoughts on the subject. Diess will deliver a keynote address in which he plans to announce a new electric concept. Rumor has it that the concept will be an electric version of the beloved VW Microbus, featuring a new electric drive system and the latest connectivity technologies. Autocar reports that VW plans to produce a version of the e-bus in 2017, and the company released a teaser image of the concept. In a press release, VW said it “will present a completely new concept car at the CES, to illustrate the major changes that the car is set to go through in the next few years. First and foremost the world premiere marks the beginning of a new era of affordable long-distance electromobility.” “CES is a celebration of diverse ideas. Our stage is open to those who bring innovation and can showcase how technology is changing the world, even those who bring controversy,” said Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of event organizer CTA. “When we agreed to a Volkswagen keynote earlier this year we, along with the world, did not know much about emissions testing, but after talking with Dr. Diess I felt the CES audience would be interested in his vision and curious about his plans for a new type of sustainable car.” Automotive technology is becoming a bigger part of CES – over 115 automotive tech companies and nine automakers will present at the 2016 show, a 25 percent increase over last year.

Image courtesy of Volkswagen

VW teases long-distance electric Microbus concept for 2016 CES debut

One of the goodies that many governments offer to encourage EV sales is access to special highway lanes. In California at least, it seems that such policies are very effective. A new study conducted by UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, with funding from the California Air Resources Board, has found that state legislation that opened carpool lanes to plug-in drivers has had a significant impact on sales. The study linked auto sales with thousands of census tracts in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco. It found that the privilege of using high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes – a big time-saver on California’s congested freeways – prompted the purchase of about 24,000 plug-ins and hybrids in the four urban areas from 2010 to 2013, or 40% of total electrified vehicle sales. The conclusion is important, because the legislature granted HOV access on the condition that it would increase sales. The law will come up for review in 2019. The state offers an unlimited number of white HOV access stickers for zero-emission EVs, but only a maximum of 85,000 green stickers for plug-in hybrids. “We had a Prius and had lost our HOV privileges,” Long Beach resident Cheryl Downey told the Los Angeles Times. “We liked the Volt and realized it would get my husband back into the carpool lanes. It has cut his commute time in half.”

NOV/DEC 2015


Image courtesy of SounderBruce (CC BY-SA 2.0)

UCLA study: HOV access for plug-in cars drives sales


Car dealers are a conservative lot, and many have shown themselves to be highly skeptical about EVs. This topic, which the EV press has been discussing for some time (including a feature article in the June/July 2014 issue of Charged), has now broken through to the mainstream press, as the New York Times reports that car dealers “are showing little enthusiasm for putting consumers into electric cars.” Would-be EV buyers told the Times that dealers try to talk them into legacy gas cars instead, and that salespeople often know little about how EVs work. Eric Cahill, who wrote a dissertation on EV sales for the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, found that retailers are a “bottleneck,” and “may have very good reasons for steering a potential buyer away from an EV.” According to some industry insiders, those reasons include the greater amount of time required to explain a new technology to buyers, and the fact that EVs need less maintenance, cutting into dealers’ biggest source of profits. Some EV shoppers feel as if they’re the ones doing the selling. Utahan Chelsea Dell told the Times that a local Chevrolet dealer did everything to dissuade her from the used Volt she wanted. “I was ready to pull the trigger, and they were trying to muscle me into a Chevy Sonic,” said Ms. Dell. “The thing I was baffled at was that the Volt was a lot more expensive.” Charge Across Town, a California nonprofit, organizes events to introduce consumers to dealers, but has had trouble getting dealers to show up. At one event, Kyle Gray, a BMW salesman, said he was personally enthusiastic about EVs, but listed several reasons that dealers may not be: Salespeople who have spent years


understanding combustion cars don’t have time to learn about a technology that represents a fraction of overall sales, and the sales process takes more time because the technology is new, cutting into commissions. A salesperson “can sell two gas burners in less than it takes to sell a LEAF,” Marc Deutsch, Nissan’s Business Development Manager for EVs, told the Times. “There’s nothing much to go wrong [with an EV]. There’s no transmission to go bad.” Jared Allen, a spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), said that EVs have not been proven to require less maintenance, but acknowledged that service was crucial to dealer profits. According to NADA, dealers on average make three times as much profit from service as they do from new car sales. Robert Kast, who leased a VW e-Golf from a local dealer, told the Times that the salesman offered him a $15-per-month maintenance package that included oil changes, belt repair and water pumps. “I knew a whole lot more about the car than anyone in the building,” said Kast.

Image courtesy of eventcoverage (CC BY-SA 2.0)

New York Times: Car dealers holding back EV sales

THE VEHICLES Formula E announces new race series for driverless electric cars Formula E, the all-electric racing championship that is spreading awareness of electric drivetrain technology around the world, has announced another auto-racing first: a global race series for driverless electric cars, in partnership with investment company Kinetik. The mission of Roborace is to provide a competitive platform for the autonomous driving solutions that are now being developed by automotive and tech companies and universities. Roborace will be part of the support package for the FIA Formula E Championship – the driverless race will take place prior to each Formula E event, using the same racecourse. The first Roborace is scheduled for the 20162017 season. Ten teams, each with two driverless cars, will compete in one-hour races over the full championship season. All teams will use the same cars, and will compete using real-time computing algorithms and AI technologies.

One of the race teams will be a crowd-sourced community team, open to software and technology experts. “We passionately believe that, in the future, all of the world’s vehicles will be assisted by AI and powered by electricity, thus improving the environment and road safety,” said Kinetik founder Denis Sverdlov. “Roborace is a global platform to show that robotic technologies and AI can co-exist with us in real life. Thus, anyone who is at the edge of this transformation now has a platform to show the advantages of their driverless solutions, and this shall push the development of the technology.” Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said, “Roborace is an open challenge to the most innovative scientific and technology-focused companies in the world. It is very exciting to create a platform for them to showcase what they are capable of, and I believe there is great potential for us to unearth the next big idea through the unique crowd-sourced contest.”

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Norwegian postal service orders 240 electric Renault Kangoos

Carlos Ghosn: Nissan will concentrate on mass-market EVs


EV sales in Norway have grown to 20% of all new vehicle sales, stimulated by generous government incentives, including exemptions from VAT, road taxes, parking fees and tolls.

Image courtesy of Renault

Image courtesy of Norsk Elbilforening (CC BY 2.0)

Much of the press coverage about EVs these days concerns European automakers’ putative plans to produce luxury sedans and SUVs to compete with Tesla. However, the world’s leader in EV sales has other ideas. Asked by a journalist at the recent Tokyo Motor Show if Renault-Nissan planned to build a large luxury EV to compete with the Model S, CEO Carlos Ghosn said, “No, you’re not going to see that. Frankly we are concentrated on the mass market, the core market. We think that going niche is very small volume, and there is already somebody doing a good job there, so why go after the segment?” “Most of the market is in the mid-size sedan and the family sedan [segments],” Ghosn continued. “If we want to move somewhere, we’ll be moving to crossovers, which as you know are becoming much more popular everywhere. In Europe it’s booming. In China it’s booming.” It seems that the on-again-off-again Infiniti EV is off again. “I don’t think you’re going to see us soon in premium electric cars,” said Ghosn. “It may happen one day… this is not our priority.”

Posten, the Norwegian postal service, has ordered 240 Renault Kangoo Maxi Z.E.s. The red Renaults will join the company’s existing fleet of 900 EVs (cars, bikes, quadricycles and trailers). The electric version of the Kangoo light-duty commercial van has a typical range of 80-125 km. Posten’s Kangoos will mostly be used in high-density urban areas. Posten has set a goal of reducing its CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020, a substantial move considering that the company, with its large vehicle fleet, accounts for no less than 1% of Norway’s total emissions.

THE VEHICLES Volvo’s new S90 sedan will offer plug-in hybrid version

Over 550 Nissan electric taxis in service on European roads

The top e-taxi countries in Europe are the Netherlands, with 27 LEAFs and 167 e-NV200s, and the UK, with 124 LEAFs and 10 e-NV200s.

Image courtesy of Nissan

EVs are slowly making inroads into taxi fleets, especially in Europe. Visitors to Amsterdam enjoy the Tesla taxis that serve the airport, but the continent’s leading manufacturer of e-cabs is Nissan, with more than 550 electric taxis on European roads (including both the LEAF and the e-NV200 commercial van). The company delivered over 100 EVs to taxi companies across Europe in 2015, including 65 LEAFs to Green Lite Taxi in Budapest, and 8 to the Smart Taxi Company in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius. In Estonia, taxi company Elektritakso reports that one of its LEAFs has logged more than 135,000 miles on its original battery pack.

The ERAD propels the S90 in electric mode, provides extra torque during acceleration and performs brake energy recuperation. The C-ISG charges the battery, starts the legacy engine, and can provide electric boost power. “With the launch of the XC90 we made a clear statement of intent,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group. “We are now clearly and firmly in the game. With $11 billion of investment over the past five years, we have not only reimagined what Volvo Cars can be, we are now delivering on our promise of a resurgent and relevant Volvo Cars brand.”

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Image courtesy of Volvo

Volvo will unveil its new S90 premium sedan at the Detroit auto show (NAIAS) in January. One of the powertrain options will be a T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid. Thus, the S90 will be the second Volvo to offer a plug-in powertrain using the SPA modular chassis system (the XC90 T8 Twin Engine PHEV went on sale in the US in August). The S90 T8 uses essentially the same powertrain as the XC90: a T6 2.0-liter gas engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission, a crankshaft-mounted Integrated Starter-Generator (C-ISG), a 65 kW Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD), and a 9.2 kWh (6.7 kWh usable) Li-ion battery pack.

Hyundai joins the plug-in club.

PLU Image courtesy of Hyundai






By Charles Morris



California where hydrogen-refueling infrastructure permits. The company also recently revealed some ambitious electrification plans - trickling out a few details of a Prius-fighting five-door hatchback called the Hyundai Ioniq. With an official unveiling set for early 2016, Hyundai has already said the Ioniq lineup will include hybrid, PHEV, and battery-electric variants. Sonata in E The first member of Hyundai’s plug-in portfolio is the 2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. For details about the new arrival, Charged spoke with Michael O’Brien, Hyundai’s President of Product Planning, and John Shon, Product Manager for the Sonata PHEV. US deliveries of the Sonata PHEV began in Novem-

Images courtesy of Hyundai

round the world, automakers are facing ever-tightening emissions regulations, and they understand very well that improving the efficiency of their internal-combustion engines isn’t going to be enough to bring them into compliance. Each OEM has crafted its own strategy to reduce the average emissions of its fleet. Hyundai has opted for an “all-in strategy,” developing a number of different powertrain and fuel types. It has been selling hybrids since 2011, and is developing EVs, PHEVs, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and, in some non-US markets, CNG vehicles. By 2018, Hyundai and sister company Kia plan to have nine separate advanced powertrain models on sale. In June 2014, Hyundai delivered the first Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle in the US and continues to offer it in


BIGGER IS ALWAYS BETTER FOR US CUSTOMERS. ber - it is officially being offered only in the ZEV states (California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont), but Michael O’Brien told us that it’s actually available for order anywhere in the US. “Any dealer that we distribute to, in the 50 United States, is free to order as many plug-in vehicles as they wish. So, whether you’re in Maryland or Florida or Georgia or Alabama, any dealer can order a plug-in vehicle and sell it to their customers. We’re not limiting the sales of the vehicles in any way, we’re just promoting them in areas where we know there’s going to be more natural demand.” Creeping electrification The Sonata was a natural choice for hybridization, as it’s the company’s second-best-selling model, after the smaller Elantra. “Bigger is always better for US customers,” said O’Brien. “While some of our competitors

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27 9.8

miles of electric range

kWh battery pack

Images courtesy of Hyundai

focused more on the compact category, which is Elantra or Corolla or Ford Focus or Prius, we wanted to focus on a mid-sized car. The closest competitor would maybe be the Ford Fusion Energi.” The first Sonata hybrid was launched in 2011. In 2013, and again in 2016, it was upgraded with a larger battery and a more powerful electric motor. “With our brand-new Sonata, we went from a 35 kW motor up to a 38 kW motor,” said O’Brien. “It was basically a complete re-engineering of the vehicle. Of course, the drivability went up - we did that partially through re-engineering of the electrified portion of the powertrain.” The gas engine has been downsized from a 2.4 multi-point, fuel-injected engine to a 2 liter, gasoline direct-injected engine. “The plug-in hybrid has the same basic powertrain architecture, but we go from a 38 kW electric motor to a 50 kW electric motor, and the battery capacity goes from 1.62 to 9.8 kWh.” Unlike the Prius and others that have largely favored nickel-metal hydride batteries, Hyundai’s hybrids have always used lithium-ion batteries. The Sonata PHEV uses cells from LG Chem, which has quickly become the preferred battery supplier for many automakers’ plug-in vehicles. Both the plug-in and the conventional hybrid have a


Specs and pricing

THEY CAN OPERATE IN EV MODE DURING THEIR NORMAL COMMUTE. WHEN THEY WANT TO TAKE ROAD TRIPS, THEY HAVE A 600MILE RANGE. lifetime warranty that covers failure of the battery, but not capacity loss. Hyundai’s engineers are confident that capacity loss should be reasonable. “After simulating 230,000 miles in testing, the capacity loss on these lithium-ion polymer batteries is less than 10%,” said Shon. Fast, practical, electric Drivers have noted that the PHEV has a bit more acceleration than the standard hybrid. “One of the main reasons for that is that it has a more powerful electric motor,” said Shon. “It’s a higher initial torque, and of course, the power output to the electric motor at start makes the car feel faster. Also, if you’re looking at combined system horsepower, with the 154 horsepower gasoline engine, combined with the electric motor, the Sonata hybrid is at 193 combined horsepower, whereas the plug-in hybrid is at 202.”

Gas engine: 2.0 liters Electric motor: 50 kW Total system power: 202 hp Battery capacity: 9.8 kWh Charging: 3.3 kWh Electric range: 27 miles EPA estimated 40 mpg combined in charge sustaining mode (Hybrid operation) Cargo capacity: 9.9 cu ft (Sonata Hybrid has 13.3 cu ft) The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid comes in two trim levels. The base model already has a pretty generous list of features, including hands-free Smart Trunk, 8-inch touchscreen navigation and Blind Spot Detection System with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. MSRP is $34,600, plus a freight charge of $835. The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Limited adds more safety technologies, including Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic High Beam Assist and rear parking sensors, as well as a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats and some other goodies. MSRP is $38,600, plus the $835 freight charge. Both versions are eligible for a $4,919 federal tax credit, and additional state and local incentives may be available. The Blue Link smartphone app includes a threeyear complimentary trial to Blue Link Connected Care with Charge Management. It allows drivers to manage charging options remotely, including setting charging times to take advantage of off-peak electric rates.

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First drives Car and Driver “The aero measures contributing to its improved fuel efficiency include a unique front fascia and rear diffuser as well as ‘eco-spoke’ aluminum wheels, and they combine with acoustic glass and additional sound deadening to make this interior as hushed as just about anything that rolls, including those from Rolls. Pure electric power gets the Sonata off the line briskly, and the transition to internal-combustion propulsion is all but imperceptible.” Motor Trend “The drivetrain steps back and forth between electric and gas propulsion with little more than audible cues. Meanwhile, its six-speed automatic provides the sort of very familiar, stepped-acceleration experience that drivers new to hybrids might find comforting. On the road, it drives like a normal car, not only with zero ‘motor-boating’ oddness, but a close-to-natural regen brake pedal feel and an otherwise quiet cabin.” Left Lane News “Steering has been firmed up to give more road feel, without the numb, dead spot that tends to live on center. We found a normal tip-in that didn’t make us feel that we were putting all our foot into the accelerator before we were able to get underway.” “Most plug-in hybrids today seem to function like glorified replicas of standard hybrids with larger batteries and charge ports, but a driving experience and feel that is basically identical. However, the Sonata PHEV is the first plug-in I’ve driven that functions as if it takes the EV portion of its name seriously. The PHEV does a terrific job transitioning between gas and electric driving.”


Automobile “The Sonata PHEV was easy to keep in EV mode without the gas engine kicking in and provided adequate, if not exciting, acceleration from the electric motor. The cabin remains quiet in around-town driving, but on the freeway road noise begins to encroach a little. The ride is composed and comfortable, though the electric power steering - never a Hyundai strong suit - lacks much road feel.” Jalopnik “Totally silent, totally efficient.” “The brakes definitely feel improved and this is not that easy to do for regenerative setups, as hybrids including the Sonata before have felt less progressive. We can’t tell you the PHEV’s engine note during suburban driving because it went all 28.2 miles of the first stretch in EV mode without the engine kicking on once.” AutoblogGreen “The 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder gas engine kicks in far too often, even when the battery has plenty of charge. An engine sort of ruins the EV experience, but this should not in any way be considered a deal-breaker in this package. PHEVs are the very definition of a compromise between pure electric and gas-powered vehicles, but they can offer exactly the right balance of fossil fuel and electric mobility to a wide audience.” Green Car Reports “Electric Mode doesn’t necessarily mean that the powertrain is going to stay all-electric. There’s simply no way to lock out the gasoline engine. You hear about Chevy Volt drivers going months without the gasoline engine starting, but that won’t be the case here, as just taking off a little too quickly from a stoplight or facing an uphill that’s a little too steep will be cause for the four-cylinder engine to fire up.”

Images courtesy of Hyundai

Everyone praised the Sonata’s smooth and exceptionally silent ride, but there was disagreement about driving in electric mode - the traditional car mags were impressed, while some of the EV-oriented outlets complained that the dinosaur burner kicked in too often.


The Sonata PHEV’s drag coefficient is impressively low: 0.24, tied with the Tesla Model S, which contributes to a respectable electric range of 27 miles. That is better than that of any other current PHEVs except the Volt, the Cadillac ELR and the new Audi A3 E-Tron. “On a lot of people’s commute, if they have charging infrastructure at their workplace, it could very well be they don’t use any gasoline during their daily commute,” said Shon. “It really is a no-compromise situation to a lot of people. They can operate in EV mode during their normal commute. When they want to take road trips, they have a 600-mile range. For the EVcurious, it’s an easy way for them to not change their driving patterns altogether, and still enjoy the benefits of driving in electric mode the majority of the time.” “It’s important to note that most people in the United States can’t afford an extra vehicle in their household,” said O’Brien. “Also, most people in the United States buy a vehicle not because of their daily commute, but for their dream. They’re going to go on vacation, they’re going to take their kids somewhere, they’re going to go visit their Aunt Agnes two states

THE SONATA PHEV’S DRAG COEFFICIENT IS IMPRESSIVELY LOW: 0.24, TIED WITH THE TESLA MODEL S. away. A lot of alternative powertrain vehicles out there today can satisfy the daily commute, but they cannot satisfy the dream.” “And I think that’s why the plug-in hybrid has such an important role to play. It can be the only vehicle in the household fleet, and it’s a no-compromise vehicle. So, during the week, I can drive carbon-free, and if I want to take a family vacation or go off somewhere for the weekend, I can do that without any restrictions.” O’Brien mentioned recent research by the California Air Resources Board, which found that, surprisingly,

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Images courtesy of Hyundai

THE VEHICLES the number of electric miles driven in PHEVs is higher than the number driven in pure EVs. “The current structure, in terms of tax credits, strongly favors pure EVs,” O’Brien pointed out. “I believe that the state of California is looking at restructuring the credits to reflect the fact that more carbon reduction appears to be happening with plug-in hybrids.” Protecting pedestrians US auto industry regulators have been talking about requiring electrified vehicles to have sound generators for the safety of pedestrians for a few years, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently said that the new rules will be delayed until at least March 2016. Hyundai is ahead of the game - the Sonata PHEV comes with a Virtual Engine Sound System. “When you’re operating in EV mode, it’s called hybrid creep - I think we’ve all experienced it before in parking lots,” said Shon. “All you hear are the tires on the road. The Sonata PHEV has a speaker that is located on the lower right part of the front grille area, that [produces] a sound any time the vehicle is operating in EV mode. The driver doesn’t hear it inside the cabin.” “It’s not an engine noise, per se, it’s more of like an engine noise at idle, instead of an engine noise when accelerating. That’s a feature that we’ve been offering since our first Sonata hybrid launch back in 2011.” If you build it, will they sell it? There’s a growing awareness that local dealers are one of the weak links in automakers’ efforts to sell plug-in vehicles. Industry observers agree that OEMs need to do much more to get their dealers excited about pushing plug-ins. We asked Shon about Hyundai’s dealer training programs. “All of our dealers are required to take the Sonata hybrid service and sales training, along with the Sonata plug-in hybrid training,” said Shon. “We require all of our dealers to be knowledgeable on the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, in regards to sales and service ability.” “In those states where we think there will probably be more interest, we have encouraged, but not required, our dealers to install chargers,” said O’Brien. “We’ve asked them to install a couple of them, but it’s up to the dealer’s individual vision. Obviously, some dealers are going to sell a bunch of these cars, and they’re going to actively make sure they can support them. Other dealers may not be quite as active.”

High hopes for hydrogen The Sonata PHEV is today’s hot topic, but Michael O’Brien told us that Hyundai sees hydrogen as the fuel of the future. “We put a special emphasis on hydrogen for a number of reasons,” he said. “Our top management realized more than fifteen years ago that, when you think about all the attributes required to convert an entire motor vehicle fleet from one fuel to another, there’s got to be a wide range of attributes that allow customers to change and manufacturers to create the technology and make that happen. Hydrogen is a fuel that can be scaled to any vehicle size. A Class A over-the-road truck can be powered by hydrogen just as effectively as a small, A-Class vehicle. Powertrain scaling is virtually the same as gasoline, in terms of the mass and space that the powertrain takes up for a given output requirement, as well as the energy storage.” The ability to scale to large vehicles is particularly relevant for Hyundai, because its Hyundai Heavy Industries division is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of heavy-duty trucks all the way up to Class A, especially in Europe, Africa and Asia. “Our fondness for hydrogen is that we’re not limited to specific, smaller vehicle classes, but instead, we can offer it across our entire vehicle range,” O’Brien continued. “And, of course, the fueling time, the vehicle range, the power delivery - all those attributes are virtually the same as a gasoline-powered vehicle, so customers don’t have to compromise. Of course, the thing we have no control over is the infrastructure. That’s the thing that needs to develop over time, and become widely available.” Hyundai currently offers the Tucson FCV in California, and its second-generation hydrogen vehicle is well into development.

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“We’ve worked out an arrangement with Aerovironment,” said O’Brien. “We’re using their EVSE RS Level 2 30 Amp charger. So, dealers are typically placing one in the sales area of their store, and then one in the service area in the back of their store. We worked out a special arrangement to make this very attractive to our dealers, so they’d be very willing to add the chargers. They get a preferential price and extra support that goes with it.” The Sonata PHEV comes with a 120-volt cable as part of the vehicle base price. A Level 2 home charger is available as an extra.

in our January/February 2015 issue) was planned as a low-volume model, but customer demand has been strong. In 2012, there were reports that suggested the

Image courtesy of Hyundai

Sibling rivalry Hyundai’s sister company, Kia, has been selling the Ray EV in Korea since 2012, and released the Soul EV in the US in mid-2015. The Soul EV (which we profiled



THE VEHICLES two companies planned a division of labor in which Hyundai would develop PHEV and hydrogen fuel cell models, and Kia would focus on pure EVs. However, O’Brien told us that there is no firm policy to that effect. “Our companies, from a North American perspective, run completely separately - we don’t talk to people at Kia, nor do Kia folks speak with us. They do their own thing, and we do our own thing. Now, it is true that we share R&D, mostly in South Korea. However, each individual sales region in the world does their own work in terms of product development.” “It was our decision to promote and lead with the sale of hydrogen vehicles. That’s not to say that Kia would never sell a hydrogen vehicle. Kia said that they would lead in the sale of pure battery electric vehicles, but we’re going to sell battery EVs as well. We just felt it was most efficient, in terms of our sales activities, that we promote one as our lead vehicle, and they promote another as their lead vehicle. But, in the end, we’ll be selling a number of different vehicles.” Some of the underlying technologies are shared between the two makes, but there will be “significant engineering differences for each brand, based on what customers are looking for, so the specifications could be quite different.” Going all the way The Sonata PHEV is only the beginning of Hyundai’s electrification strategy. “Kia is selling the Soul EV, so obviously we have the technology nailed down,” said O’Brien. “Our plan is to sell a dedicated

body series of vehicles that will offer a number of different powertrains, and one of them will be battery EV.” The Ioniq - Hyundai’s next step in electrification will have its global debut in South Korea, followed by appearances at the Geneva Motor Show in March and the New York Auto Show in April.

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There are a lot of great opportunities for companies building EVs for niche markets, but getting an independent automotive startup off the ground is anything but easy. By Michael Kent


EV Fleet CEO Brooks Agnew on the huge potential, regulatory challenges and clearing the final hurdles 56

practical vehicle buyer - the fleet manager - there are still not many options, particularly in the popular segment of small to mid-size vans and trucks. If a commercial application can’t be fulfilled with a passenger plug-in vehicle - like a LEAF or Volt - there are few other choices for a fleet buyer who is looking to reap the cash savings from driving on electronics. Some major automakers have offerings for the commercial market, like Nissan’s e-NV200 van and, in Europe, Renault’s Kangoo Z.E. But for the most part, the large OEMs see the commercial market for small trucks and vans as too small relative to passenger cars. So when automakers decide to spend billions on electrification technology development, they’re focused on creating the next Prius-style

Images courtesy of EV Fleet

EVs can be very practical from a financial point of view. So it’s a bit of a shame that for the world’s most


success story. It will probably take another decade for the EV technology currently being developed for high-volume consumer EVs to trickle down to widely-available commercial trucks and vans of many shapes and sizes. A few companies look at this reality and see a huge opportunity. For example, Charlotte, North Carolina-based EV Fleet, which has designed a highway-capable light-duty all-electric truck called the Condor, with a variety of bed options to meet the needs of many commercial customers. The company has spent the past few years using early prototypes to quietly build interest among commercial and municipal fleet operators, and it reports enough commitments to max out production for years to come. Charged

recently connected with CEO Brooks Agnew to learn more about the potential market and the last obstacles the company needs to clear before starting full production. Q Charged: Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen quite a few independent

companies that have launched EVs in the medium- to heavy-duty commercial space. What led EV Fleet to choose the light-duty market? A Brooks Agnew: Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been in the auto manufacturing

business my whole career, about 23 years, and in 2007 I decided to look into starting an EV business. Around that time I began to notice that all the small trucks (like the

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Toyota Tundra, Chevy S10 and Ford Ranger) were being discontinued by the automakers. And these were the trucks largely used in commercial fleets (carpenters, plumbers, electricians, delivery, municipalities and service vehicles of all types). Light trucks were very popular commercially because they’re more economical on fuel, cheaper to acquire and still very versatile. And yet, one by one those models went out of production and the car companies moved that customer base up to mid- or full-sized trucks. As Detroit and Japan backed out of that market, I looked at it and thought, “Now there is a good operational model into which electric pickup trucks would fit perfectly.” And after two and a half years of test-driving our vehicles with all kinds of different potential customers, this is exactly what we’ve found. We listened to the voice of the customer and designed a truck that drives exactly like a gas-powered truck, and they’re very interested. The Condor was designed by our customers. Q Charged: Can you tell us about the design and

specifications of the Condor?

started doing gas-to-electric conversions. We thought it would be best if we could find someone to sell us gliders a fully operational automotive frame with no engine or gas components at all. However, I found it nearly impossible to find a supplier. There were some options for importing them, but that was a time-consuming and expensive process, thanks to some EPA regulations. The only option for upgrading ICE chassis to pure electric drives was buy a new vehicle, strip it out, and turn it into electric. We quickly determined that the financial model wasn’t there for that type of operation. Instead, we gathered the best racing minds together and started to design the Condor from the ground up as an electric truck. I’m pretty familiar with just about every major aspect of automotive manufacturing - I have been through the APQP process with many platforms. I became a Six Sigma Master Black Belt and coupled that with Lean Manufacturing skills over a 10-year period to develop a systemic approach from the beginning. In 2013, we started by designing our own lightweight, high-strength steel frame. It has a 127-inch wheelbase, and is designed to protect the batteries in case of a collision, which makes the truck extremely strong. Also, one of the reasons small trucks went out of production is that the de-


I looked at it and thought, “Now there is a good operational model into which electric pickup trucks would fit perfectly.” sign was fundamentally unsafe. If there is no weight in the back of the truck, the vehicles had a tendency to oversteer - actually have the rear wheels lose traction at freeway speeds in wet conditions. Our design solved that inherent safety flaw, because we distributed the battery pack along the frame, so it maintains traction even when it’s empty. The Condor may be the safest small truck in America, partly because of its low center of gravity, so it will resist rolling over, and its evenly distributed weight, so it won’t get stuck, even in icy conditions. The Condor has a fully independent suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes, and a minimum of 8 inches ground clearance. The clearance can also be adjusted up two inches by the owner if you have something like an off-road application. The drivetrain has 70 hp to the wheels and a 5-speed transmission. If you need to tow something, or climb a hill, you’ve got the torque to be able to do that, or if you

Images courtesy of EV Fleet

A Agnew: Like many other new EV companies, we

THE VEHICLES want to do freeway driving up to 85 MPH, you’ve got the gearing to do that - all in the optimum torque band of the motor, which helps extend the range. The first thing drivers notice is that the acceleration is better than a gaspowered truck. I often say that we have a device that holds you in the seat - it’s called the motor. We have two battery options: a 50 kWh pack for $49,900 and a 30 kWh pack for $46,500 (before tax savings). In our urban tests with continuous driving over 45 mph, we’re getting 120-135 miles per charge on the 50 kWh pack. That’s on what we would call normal city streets. For the 30 kWh pack, we’re seeing a consistent 60-70 miles per charge. The excellent range is due to the smooth body design that slips through the wind with drag coefficients more like a sports car. The patent-pending drive system is tough and extremely low on mechanical drag, making the coast-down numbers the best in its class. Once you reach the posted speed, it takes surprisingly little energy to maintain that speed. For companies that do a lot of short trips, like car parts or flower delivery, utilizing a charger back at the depot for opportunity charging, the 30 kWh pack is a great option to reduce the upfront costs without compromising the performance at all. Since they’re never more than 25 miles from the shop, it works out perfectly. The vehicles come standard with a 3 kW onboard charger for Level 1 or 2 J1772 charging, or we can upgrade it to 5 kW. All Condors come with both 120 V and J1772 ports so they can recharge anywhere. They are even equipped with built-in solar recharging, to keep the batteries topped off even when they’re not plugged in. The cargo cooler version with solar power stays cold all day, supported by free energy from the sun. We can also enable the vehicles to work with DC fast charging, however after years of test drives and talking to customers, we’ve never had someone interested in anything over Level 2. No one in the light truck fleet market seems to care about rapid charging. They’re happy not to be deep cycling the pack, and to use opportunity charging 4 or 5 times during the day in combination with overnight charging. That fits their operations model. The Condor also has the ability to transfer energy to another Condor in case of emergency. We’re working with multiple suppliers for the batteries and the charging systems. Part of our design criteria was to create a generic battery space, so that we can fill it with the best battery technology at any time. That sort of competition makes sure the customer has the best available technology. We’re now using a state-of-the-art lithium iron phosphate battery that has great watt density. They’re

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designed to last about a decade in the vehicle and then be sold to the second-life market, recovering some of the customer’s investment in batteries. And our nearly bulletproof motors are from a supplier in Chicago that builds them to our specs. With less than a dozen moving parts, the Condor may last a lifetime requiring very little maintenance. It uses no oil, water, or fuel. That’s why we say, “No grease, just lightning.” Q Charged: Will the Condor be eligible for the $7,500

federal tax credit when it goes on sale?

A Agnew: Yes, as soon as it receives approval from the

Q Charged: At what stage is the Condor in the FMVSS

and crash-testing process?

A Agnew: We finished crash-testing the vehicle structure

in January of 2015. So, the truck is completely crash-worthy - rollover, side impact, rear impact, frontal impact. It was an iterative process. We crashed the truck, then made improvements and crashed it again until we had a good margin of safety. The cab has an integral steel roll cage that is far stronger and safer than any small truck ever built. Our last step is to design and test the smart airbags in the two front passenger areas and side curtains. We were working with an airbag company that encountered a major recall part of the way through the process, so we had to change companies. That has definitely been a setback in terms of timeframe and costs. The price of airbag development essentially doubled when we switched suppliers, from about $4 million to almost $9 million. So, right now the only thing between our factory floor and customer deliveries is finishing airbag design and testing - a process that takes between nine and twelve months.


We had to design a truck that could compete dollar-for-dollar. Airbag design happens in three phases. First the bags are designed electronically, that takes about two months. Then prototypes are physically sewn together and put into one of our cabs, which is bolted to a sled. At that point it’s not crashed but reverse accelerated at a very high rate, so the bags are deployed. That happens over and over again inside the cab with high-speed cameras recording, so the controller can be programed to unfold the bags in the optimal way for each test dummy style and position. Once that programming is done, which usually takes about 4 months, the finished truck is physically crashed containing the airbags. If the physical crash meets the simulation, then it’s considered compliant. They rarely have to do the full crash more than once for each approach, because the initial design steps are so comprehensive. So we’ve already contracted the new airbag supplier, and we’re currently working on a new round of financing to cover the additional costs. Q Charged: Are there other regulatory hurdles, beyond

crash testing, that are particularly challenging for a startup EV company?

Images courtesy of EV Fleet

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) it will qualify for the $7,500 federal credit. The credit is based on a minimum battery size - which the Condor meets and exceeds - and only applies to vehicles that are capable of highway speeds - no problem for us with a top speed of 85 MPH. Also, when designing the vehicle, we thought that sooner or later Washington would lose its appetite for this tax credit system and it would go away. So, we had to design a truck that could compete dollar-for-dollar (without tax incentives) in a 36-month period with a gas-powered truck. And that’s why we targeted $49,900 for the 50 kWh truck.

THE VEHICLES A Agnew: There are several agencies involved, not the

least of which is the EPA. You could ask yourself, why in the world would the EPA be involved in electric cars? It’s not really their space since there are no emissions, but, believe it or not, they still do the exact same testing as they would with a gas-powered vehicle - except they don’t have a tailpipe to stick the testing probe in. The EPA has created a Fuel Economy Label for EVs that contains 14 indices that I think are meaningless to consumers, which is why they naturally ignore them. The label is expensive and takes months to obtain, because the EPA has only one testing station in the entire country. The application process was created for ICE vehicles, and has no provision for EVs. They don’t claim to know how to drive an EV, nor will they shift gears during their dyno testing process. And if they get it wrong and report a much lower range than the manufacturer claims, there is no appeal process. In fact, one could say we already have a “fuel economy label” that’s very simple to understand, and tens of millions of Americans are already familiar with it. Every time you buy an electric appliance there is a yellow label on it that says, “This appliance costs approximately X dollars per year to operate.” And that’s the fuel economy label we have on our truck window, and it’s one everyone understands. We are actually talking to Congress on a regular basis to try to correct the EPA process and hope the other EV producers will join us in trying to lift some of the misguided regulations that have prevented EVs from reaching a hungry consumer market. I would estimate that together, EV producers represent about 20,000 jobs that are badly needed in places like Charlotte. Q Charged: Can you describe how you see the Condor

fitting into the commercial fleet buying process?

A Agnew: The way most fleets work is that they replace a

certain amount of vehicles every year. As the trucks get a little over 5 years in age they look at the maintenance record and the mileage, and then send them off to the auction block, where they don’t get very much money back. Then they buy new vehicles. These are the customers we’re talking to about getting our vehicles on the replacement schedule. Small orders at first: 5 to 10 trucks. Then, as they see those succeed at the application, during the next purchase cycle - usually six to nine months later - they’ll be more inclined to purchase more electric trucks: around 10 to 20. These numbers are

Electric trucks can clearly be compelling for a lot of fleet applications, and we can outfit the vehicle backend with a lot of different options for any use case based on the fleet operators that we’ve been working with to put together a 5-year schedule. We asked them, assuming success with the truck and a good service relationship, what amount of your gasoline fleet would you replace with a successful electric fleet? And the response has been incredible for a company our size. We’ve found very real interest both in terms of writing us checks and giving us letters of interest to reserve their spot in line. We did a study with one national supply company that wanted to know the fuel cost reduction if they replaced 6,000 vehicles with electric trucks - that’s only a portion of their fleet - and it was in the neighborhood of $30 million in annual savings. So, electric trucks can clearly be compelling for a lot of fleet applications, and we can outfit the vehicle backend with a lot of different options for any use case - a box truck, refrigerator, freezer, flatbed, storage, etc. Q Charged: Do you have any advice for other people

who are thinking about starting an independent EV-related business?

A Agnew: One of the hardest things to do in life is start a

company, whether you’re starting a restaurant or a manufacturing business. The access to capital is as hard for one person as it is for another, and fundraising can be almost as hard as designing the products. However, this is an exciting time for the EV industry. This is where the industry begins to break away from the restraints placed upon it by incumbent interests. If you think about it, the major automakers don’t care whether EVs come or don’t come. They’re still selling with the same tire smoking, sideways drifting car ads. If a major automaker sells you an EV, it just replaces an ICE car they already make. What keeps them dabbling in the market is the fear of missing out on the next big trend, and that trend is here.

NOV/DEC 2015



Charging solution provider EV Connect has launched what it calls “EV Charging-as-a-Service” (EV CaaS), which is designed to transform the installation of EVSE from a capital expenditure to an operating expense. The EV CaaS program starts at $99 per month per charge station port (not including installation). It includes GE’s WattStation and DuraStation EV charging stations, and EV Connect’s base management software and service. EV Connect handles installation and permitting, and manages all aspects of ongoing maintenance, including driver support, station management and usage reporting. “The single biggest hesitation facility owners have when considering EV charging station installation is up-front cost,” said EV Connect President Jordan Ramer. “The EV CaaS program, in collaboration with SparkFund and GE, offers a pay-as-you-go alternative to capital purchases, and greatly simplifies the decision-making process.” “The industry is increasingly looking for a simplified, cost-effective and efficient approach to building an EV charging infrastructure, which includes ongoing service for this equipment,” said GE’s Seth Cutler. Also this week, EV Connect announced that it has completed a $2.7 million equity financing round, and has formed a collaboration with Hilton Worldwide to provide Hilton properties with hospitality-focused EV charging solutions.


As part of its ChargeNow DC Fast program, BMW of North America is supporting EVgo’s installation of an additional 500 DC Fast Combo chargers. The first phase of ChargeNow DC Fast saw the installation of 100 EVgo DC fast charging stations throughout California, which BMW i3 owners can access for free with their ChargeNow cards. With BMW’s continued support, EVgo plans to install 500 more fast chargers in 25 US markets by the end of 2018. Customers in ChargeNow DC Fast markets who purchase or lease the BMW i3 receive unlimited free charging at EVgo Stations (limited to 30 minutes for DC fast charging, and one hour for Level 2) for 24 months from their date of enrollment. “With ChargeNow DC Fast, BMW i3 owners can experience ‘range confidence’ resulting from convenient, quicker DC Fast charging on the go, making longer EV trips more practical,” said Robert Healey, Head of EV Infrastructure for BMW of North America. “The no-cost charging sessions will become even more valuable as more of these DC Fast Combo chargers become available.”

Image by Charged EVs

EV Connect launches Charging as a Service

BMW and EVgo expand ChargeNow program with 500 CCS DC fast chargers


Electronics giant ABB has announced a credit card payment option that can be added to new or existing Terra 53 DC fast charging stations. In addition to RFID-enabled membership cards and PIN code authorization methods, drivers can now simply use a major credit card to pay for charging when roaming outside their local region. The credit card reader terminal hardware is designed to be easily mounted and secured on the Terra 53. Contactless payment options and smartphone platforms such as Apple Pay and Android Pay are also supported. ABB’s web modules offer owner/operators real-time info on charger activity, payments and remote management. “Membership-based payment systems have distinct advantages for local EV drivers,” said ABB’s Andy Bartosh. “However, as vehicle batteries get bigger, and charging options grow, more drivers will be roaming into different geographies. A credit card or smartphone payment system offers peace of mind that drivers can use a charging station when they need it, regardless of who is managing the network.” “There are some parallels for EV charging and the early mobile phone industry,” noted Bartosh. “Privacy, coverage and security issues were very frustrating for users who traveled outside of their home region. Developing better roaming solutions helped spur growth of mobile device use.” “The global demand for the most basic, common payment method continues to grow,” added ABB’s Joost Van Abeelen. “ABB has dozens of charging stations with credit card payment terminals around the world that are heavily used.”

Image courtesy of ABB

ABB adds credit card option to its DC fast charger

Renault, in partnership with electric utility EDF and others, installed 90 new EV charge spots in and around Paris for the COP21 global summit on climate change. The charging stations, several of which were donated by Schneider Electric, were used to charge 200 EVs serving as VIP shuttles for conference attendees. The COP21 charging stations use electricity with a minimal carbon footprint. The French power grid is already comparatively clean: according to Renault-Nissan, average CO2 emissions were less than 40 g per kWh in 2014, compared to the European average of 325 g per kWh. Renewable energy accounts for about 19% of France’s electricity. EDF offset the remaining CO2 emissions through UN-certified carbon credits, so the COP21 EV fleet was charged with fully “decarbonized” electricity. Fourteen of the 27 quick chargers installed for COP21 remain in place following the conference and are now available to the public. “COP21 is a call to action to reduce the impact of climate change, including global warming resulting from personal transportation,” said Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. “Electric vehicles are the only existing, practical and affordable transportation solution to our planet’s environmental challenges – and they are available today. Expanding the EV infrastructure is mandatory for any city or state that’s serious about environmental stewardship.” “EDF supports the development of electric mobility, which is a cornerstone of countries’ efforts to minimize urban pollution. EDF produces extremely low-carbon electricity in France, which reinforces the favorable ecological footprint of this new generation of transport,” said EDF Chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Levy.

NOV/DEC 2015


Image courtesy of Renault

Renault installs 90 charging stations in Paris for climate change summit


Daimler, together with partners The Mobility House and GETEC, has built what it says is the world’s largest second-life battery storage unit. The stationary storage unit is to go into service at the beginning of 2016 at the site of REMONDIS, a recycling, service and water company in the German town of Lünen. It uses battery systems from the second generation of smart electric drive vehicles, has a total capacity of 13 MWh, and will be marketed in the German electricity balancing market. The life of a plug-in vehicle’s battery doesn’t need to end when the car heads for the junkyard. Daimler generally warrants its EV batteries for up to ten years. After this point, they show low levels of power loss that are of minor importance for a stationary storage application. Daimler estimates a used battery pack can operate efficiently in a stationary installation for at least another ten years. The new project aims to demonstrate a complete sustainable lifecycle for automotive batteries. Manufactured by the Daimler subsidiary Accumotive, the battery systems will be used in Daimler plug-in vehicles, then repurposed as stationary storage units in the energy markets by The Mobility House and GETEC, and finally recycled by REMONDIS.”


Ford has partnered with charging network operator NRG EVgo in a program called EV 1-2-3 Charge, which offers three years of complimentary charging to California and Maryland customers who purchase or lease a 2016 Ford C-MAX Energi. EV 1-2-3 Charge provides unlimited charging sessions of four hours each at EVgo and partner public stations across the US. The MyFord Mobile app, which is integrated with the vehicle’s in-car infotainment system, will identify participating stations with a special pink icon. “EV 1-2-3 Charge is a great way for customers to get the most out of their C-MAX Energi,” said Stephanie Janczak, Ford Manager, Electrification and Infrastructure. “We’re coupling a fun, versatile, environmentally conscious car with a complimentary charge program that is easy to use and can reduce cost of ownership.”

Image courtesy of Ford

Daimler uses smart EV battery packs in German electricity balancing market

Ford offers three years of free charging to California and Maryland C-MAX Energi buyers


Efacec licenses Qualcomm’s Halo wireless charging system

EVSE manufacturer Efacec Electric Mobility has licensed Qualcomm’s Halo wireless charging technology. Portugal-based Efacec (profiled in the May/June 2015 issue of Charged) has installed over 600 DC fast chargers around the world. It plans to commercialize Qualcomm’s Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) systems and provide them to the EV Supply Equipment (EVSE) industry. Qualcomm’s Halo system features a BiPolar base pad architecture designed to allow efficient coupling to various vehicular pad architectures such as Circular, Solenoid, and Double D magnetics. “The simplicity and efficiency benefits of WEVC, for industry and ultimately for drivers, are obvious,” said Pedro Silva, Efacec Electric Mobility’s Managing Director. “We will commercialize WEVC infrastructure for our customers, offering smarter and cleaner ways to charge EVs, which complement the offer we have on conductive charging. We believe Qualcomm Halo delivers the most advanced and comprehensive WEVC technology available today.” “Our license agreement with Efacec further strengthens the Qualcomm Halo infrastructure supply network, offering EVSEs access to our advanced wireless charging inventions for EVs,” said Qualcomm VP Steve Pazol. “Qualcomm Halo licensees can commercialize highly efficient, fit-for-purpose WEVC systems, which allow convenient, effortless charging.”

NOV/DEC 2015


Image by Charged EVs

Dutch charging network operator Fastned has partnered with the municipality of The Hague to install five DC fast charging stations in the city in 2016, Fastned’s first installation in an urban location. The stations, which the company says can serve 150 cars per day, will be located along busy city streets. “Stations in the city make our network complete,” said Bart Lubbers, co-founder of Fastned. “Electric drivers want to charge their car where the battery is empty and that can be in the city as well as along the highway. In the Netherlands the majority of the people don’t have their own driveway. These people also want to drive electric, and that makes public fast charging stations essential. The Hague understands this well and is the first city in the Netherlands getting the fast charging stations.” “More and more people are switching to an electric car,” said Alderman Tom de Bruijn. “A positive development that The Hague stimulates as much as possible because electric transport is clean and cheap. The growth of electric cars also increases the need for good charging infrastructure.”

Image courtesy of Fastned

Fastned to build five DC fast charging stations in The Hague


Charging network operator NRG EVgo is leading two pilot projects at the University of California San Diego to study the potential of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. In the first project, EVgo has built a site to assess how owners of DC fast charging sites can use solar generation, battery storage and control systems to mitigate expensive utility demand charges and provide services to the grid. In the second project, EVgo will operate a fleet of Nissan and Honda EVs equipped with bidirectional charging capability. This initiative builds on an ongoing V2G project at the University of Delaware. The energy from both projects will feed into UC San Diego’s microgrid, an integrated system that includes solar panels, a fuel cell and energy storage, and generates more than 85 percent of the electricity used on campus. “Vehicle-to-grid technologies have the potential to reduce the total cost of owning a plug-in vehicle, while enabling higher concentrations of renewable energy on the grid,” said Honda VP Steven Center. “Nissan is researching ways to integrate the LEAF into homes, buildings and power grids to provide future benefits to customers, businesses and utility companies,” said Nissan’s Ken Srebnik. “With projects such as this, Nissan can gather valuable insights to ensure that our vehicles are ready when similar programs move beyond demonstration and are commercially deployed.”


Hyundai has selected AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV) as its preferred provider for charging system installation at its North American dealerships. Hyundai dealers will soon be plugging in the 2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, which sent on sale at selected dealerships in November. The AeroVironment 240 V TurboCord and the EVSE-RS charging station can charge the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid in less than three hours. Hyundai owners can purchase AeroVironment home chargers and installation together with their vehicles. AeroVironment-certified electricians perform on-site installation and services. “Having your own charging station right in your garage or driveway gives drivers a special kind of freedom. It makes charging a car as easy as charging a cell phone,” said AeroVironment Senior VP Ken Karklin. “AeroVironment’s portfolio of EV charging solutions gives the Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid and other EVs the benefits and convenience of faster charging and cleaner driving at home and on the road.”

Image courtesy of AeroVironment

EVgo partners with UC San Diego on vehicle-to-grid projects

Hyundai taps AeroVironment to provide dealer charging stations


The Danish firm CLEVER, which is owned by a group of electric utilities, has built a network of over 500 fast charging stations in Denmark, and is in the process of creating a similar network in Sweden. Now the company is expanding to the south, installing four new quick charge stations in northern Germany. The chargers offer 50 kW DC charging on both the CCS and CHAdeMO standards, as well as 43 kW Type 2 charging. CLEVER expects the new stations to be operational before the end of 2015, making it practical to drive an EV all the way from Stockholm to Hamburg. Charging will be free for the first three months. A smartphone app shows the location and status of all CLEVER chargers. “We found that there was a strong wish to get a faster and more convenient charging network among the Scandinavian EV drivers, and we have been working hard to fulfill that wish in Denmark and Sweden – and we are ready to transfer the successful business model to new markets in Europe,” said CLEVER CEO Casper Kirketerp-Møller. “82% of our customers wish to travel far and cross the borders to our neighboring countries in their EVs.”

Image courtesy of CLEVER

Scandinavian charging network CLEVER expands to Germany

Network operator ChargePoint has launched a new program that aims to help businesses attract affluent EV owners. ChargePoint Places allows retail and hospitality companies that offer EV charging to create exclusive offers that ChargePoint then promotes to its members. EV drivers are a coveted market segment – according to ChargePoint, 85 percent have higher than average household incomes. ChargePoint Places’ exclusive offers for EV drivers range from free or discounted charging to free food and drinks to reduced room rates. “By joining ChargePoint Places, businesses are attracting new customers who not only share their commitment to the environment but who also are a loyal customer demographic,” said Dimitrios Papadogonas, VP of Marketing with ChargePoint. “EV drivers strongly prefer businesses that offer EV charging. With Places, businesses find new customers and ChargePoint’s member drivers discover new companies that make them feel welcome.” “EV drivers prefer to stay where EV charging is easy and accessible,” said Michael Palmer, General Manager for The Meritage Resort and Spa. “ChargePoint Places connects EV drivers to a world-class experience and connects us to a world-class customer.” “We know EV drivers are great customers,” said Amanda Pier, Odette Estate Tasting Room Manager. “Joining Places will only help increase our exposure to this growing and loyal customer base.”

NOV/DEC 2015


Image by Charged EVs

ChargePoint Places lets businesses offer special promotions to EV drivers

Image courtesy of AeroVironment

By Michael Kent




TURBO DOCK AeroVironmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bluetooth-enabled answer for affordable and elegant workplace charging

NOV/DEC 2015



did an analysis of utility meter data, and found that the cost to maintain 10 charging stations per year accounts for less than 4 percent of the energy bill in an average 100,000-square-foot commercial office building. “The cost is so nominal that it does not even stand out when looking at a company’s energy bill,” explained Indran Ratnathicam, FirstFuel’s VP of Marketing and Strategy on “For those worried about the

The cost [of energy for workplace charing] is so nominal that it does not even stand out when looking at a company’s energy bill.

Images courtesy of AeroVironment


orkplace charging is growing quickly in popularity, and it’s encouraging more and more drivers to go electric. Survey data and reports continue to pile up affirming that pushing for more workplace charging is one of the most effective ways to accelerate widespread plug-in vehicle adoption. According to an August 2014 Department of Energy survey, employees of companies that offer charging stations are 20 times more likely to drive a plug-in vehicle. The study included more than 300 work sites across the US that provide charging access, and 90% reported that their stations are fully occupied at least five days a week. Many companies that begin to roll out charging spots are noticing a compounding demand - the more stations are installed, the more employees start driving EVs. So, from an industry growth perspective, it’s critical to ensure that providing more and more charging spots for employees is as pain-free and low-cost as possible. The building energy analytics firm FirstFuel recently


We found that most users in workplaces are not using all of the features that come with the expensive networked solutions. and the EVSE-RS station. Charged recently chatted with Jonah Teeter-Balin, Director of Product Marketing, to learn more about how the TurboDock was designed with the workplace in mind. Charged: There are many different ways to implement EV charging in commercial settings. Can you describe the driving principles behind the design of the TurboDock?

less than 4 percent increase in energy costs, they should also consider that the same average office building in the FirstFuel database is already wasting about twice that amount based on poor operations. A few low-cost lighting controls and tighter building HVAC start-stop times and set-point controls added to the EV charger setup expense could turn this investment into both a crowd-pleaser and a net financial gain in a matter of months.” With the cost of operation nearly negligible, the focus of streamlining workplace installations centers on reducing initial investment and administrative burdens. To that end, California-based AeroVironment recently launched the TurboDock modular commercial charging station. Controlled through a smartphone app via Bluetooth, the TurboDock charges at Level 1 (12 amps/120 volts), or Level 2 (16 amps/240 volts). AeroVironment is now the preferred home charging supplier for seven global automakers with a line of charging systems that also includes the 240 V TurboCord

Jonah Teeter-Balin: When we were developing the TurboDock, we looked at the market and saw a split between the expensive high-end networked workplace charging solutions and the very basic non-networked solutions (such as AeroVironment’s EVSE-RS products). After looking at many studies and talking to customers, we found that most users in workplaces are not using all of the features that come with the expensive networked solutions. However, they wanted more control than the basic stations offer, simply to prevent people who don’t work at the company from accessing the charger. That was a really important insight for us. We also thought a lot about the charging times. When you’re coming to work and charging, you really have around four to eight hours. A Level 2 16-amp charger, which the TurboDock is, will deliver about 12 miles per hour of charge. If you look at the Department of Transportation data, the typical one-way commute is about 20 miles or less for 77% of drivers. Some people go longer, obviously, and the TurboDock can provide about 48 miles of range in a four-hour period. This means that almost everyone will fully recharge from their commute, even many extreme commuters with more than 35 miles one way will be covered. We were able to validate the data by talking to one of our large customers who offered 30-amp Level 2 charging to employees. While the average amount of time people were plugged in at work was about 3.5 hours, the average amount of time they were actually charging was only an hour. The conclusion is that, clearly, workplaces should not

NOV/DEC 2015


Charged: Can you describe how the mobile app and Bluetooth connectivity work? Why did you decide to use Bluetooth, and not WiFi or cellular connectivity? Teeter-Balin: Most smart chargers are cellular connected. That enables a lot of features, but you have to pay a connection fee, or access fee, on a monthly or annual basis. That is a problem for a lot of customers. The great thing about Bluetooth is that you can have the accesscontrol features that a lot of people want, but without connectivity fees and cellular modem costs. Because we know that the vast majority of EV drivers have a smartphone, we can rely upon that connection to provide a


The great thing about Bluetooth is that you can have the accesscontrol features that a lot of people want, but without connectivity fees and cellular modem costs. communication out from the charger, and remove the need for cellular connection in the charger. We simply employ a mobile app to provide that access control and configuration. So, the app drives the setup and configuration of the charger. The admin will connect to each charger, and can choose from a few different options for access control. You can configure each charger individually and provide a unique password for each employee to charge, or you can provide one password for a larger group of people. So you can

Images courtesy of AeroVironment

be paying the additional costs of 30-amp hardware and infrastructure. Additionally, the TurboDock can also be configured for Level 1. You can do many ports on Level 1 and allow people to stay plugged in all day, or have a mix of Level 1 and Level 2 ports. This really helps to drive down installation costs, which are perhaps the biggest hurdle to adoption.


From an ease-of-use standpoint, having a standard password that you can put into the app and have it work on all the chargers is really great. up at our facilities at AeroVironment, one password for all employees. You can also disable access control on one or more ports for guests, or very easily turn off all passwords for some period of time to allow anyone to charge - during a weekend open house, for example. So, Bluetooth is a great option to enable simple and easy access control. We evaluated WiFi, and while I think there are some charging applications where it works well, in the commercial setting it’s problematic. To get and maintain access on the network often requires assistance from the company’s IT department, which adds another layer of complexity. And many times the parking lots are out of reach of the WiFi networks. In the end, we found that using the connection in the phone was the right way to go for the initial product launch. Charged: What are the installation options for the TurboDock? Each TurboDock can store up to

Pedestals can be configured with up to

different passwords

TurboDocks mounted



set the same password for all the chargers at the company, then easily change it if you need to at some point. Each charger can store up to 20 individual user profiles. That can be individual users, or 20 groups and subgroups. Basically, 20 different passwords. So if you have an employee who works in another building and they want to come charge, you can enable them to do so, or prevent it. From an ease-of-use standpoint, having a standard password that you can put into the app and have it work on all the chargers is really great. That’s how we have it set

Teeter-Balin: There are a variety of wall-mounted and pedestal-mounted options, all very simple. The pedestals can mount up to four different chargers, and they have some embedded features that enable easy installation by the electrical contractor at the workplace. AeroVironment’s installation team has done thousands of residential and commercial charging station installations over the years, so they are a really great asset for us when we are designing products. Their expertise really helps to identify all of the possible challenges that can be encountered when installing these in the workplace. Users also choose to configure the TurboDock as Level 1 or 2 at the time of installation, because the breaker needs to be sized for the operation of the charger. It’s one unit that can be either Level 1 or 2, which makes it really easy for our channel partners. Charged: Beyond the workplace, what other commercial settings do you think the TurboDock is well-suited for?

NOV/DEC 2015



Teeter-Balin: We think it’s ideal for places like hotels, resorts, private parking lots, and airports. You can easily install it any place where you want to provide accesscontrolled or open-access chargers. For hotels and resorts, we see access control operating in a couple of different ways. One is to have an access code that they can hand out to guests and change it periodically. Then you can also have another access code that’s for more premium guests or staff that doesn’t change as much. So they’ll typically set up a couple of different passwords, update one regularly, and the other won’t change very often. The TurboDock is also great for airports, because in that use case, again, you’re not really concerned with the charge rate. You’re typically there for at least 24 hours, and a cost-effective Level 1 charger is going to work great there. We see a lot of airports installing Level 1. Some also install a combination of Level 1 and 2. And access control is less important in that kind of environment, because if you’re parking you’re already going through a toll collection system. Some have a premium for EV charging and others have a discount. Charged: So AeroVironment now has three product lines for different Level 2 solutions? Teeter-Balin: Yes, we have three different options and a number of different variants within them, when it comes to our Level 2 portfolio. The EVSE RS is our 30-amp Level 2 station, used for variety of residential, public and workplace applications. The TurboCord is our second-most recent product, launched about two years ago. It’s a great product to include in the vehicle because it gives immediate charging options to new EV buyers. When they come home they can charge immediately on Level 1, and if they have a 240 V outlet - or get one installed - then they have Level 2 charging with the same cord that came with the car - they


AeroVironment's TurboCord 16-amp dual voltage

just need to put on the adapter. It removes the added hassles and expense of buying another Level 2 charger, which delivers a better buying experience. And we definitely believe that the overall EV experience is better if you have Level 2 charging at home. It’s a necessity for BEV owners. We also see customers who like the added convenience of both a wall-mounted charger and a portable cord set. So TurboCord is a great value proposition. Then, with TurboDock we built upon a lot of the technology developed in TurboCord, like the safety features and the architectural design of dual voltage. We repackaged it for the commercial market and added Bluetooth access-control features. Charged: Some charging solutions now have advanced smart grid capabilities and the ability to throttle charging during demand peaks. What is AeroVironment’s position on these types of options? Are you looking at the possibility of pushing out more features for the TurboDock via app updates? Teeter-Balin: We’re certainly looking at more advanced charging features very closely, and we think

Images courtesy of AeroVironment

With TurboDock we built upon a lot of the technology developed in TurboCord, like the safety features and the architectural design of dual voltage.

AeroVironment's EVSE RS 30-amp Level 2 station

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Images courtesy of AeroVironment

We definitely believe that our technology is really just getting started, and we have a lot of other features that we can drive with this platform. there is value there. However, in doing our research, we found that there are not a substantial enough number of users currently looking for that kind of feature. We certainly think there are advancements that could be really important to the industry long-term. As you get broader and broader EV adoption, there will be a need to mitigate the demand charges at the workplace, for example. But, ultimately, that’s more of a coming problem. With TurboDock, we wanted to introduce a product to the market that serves an immediate need, that’s affordable and that meets the requirements for access control. But we definitely believe that our technology is really just getting started, and we have a lot of other features that we can drive with this platform.




16 Amps continuous@120VAC 16 Amps continuous@240VAC


20 Amps @120VAC 20 Amps @240/208VAC


20 ft/ 6.1 m


5.5 lbs (2.5 kg)


28.5 lbs (12.9 kg) – pedestal kit 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg) – wall mount



NOV/DEC 2015



Image courtesy of EVgo



Image by Charged EVs


The ROEV Association brings together major players to promote charging network interoperability By Charles Morris

any services that we enjoy in the modern world are provided by a patchwork of local or regional companies, and they depend on some sort of national or international network to provide a seamless experience for consumers. The classic examples are mobile phones and ATMs, but there are many other examples (long distance telephony, airlines, railroads, real estateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s multiple listing service, eBay and other online marketplaces, etc). In each case, the customer has a single account and a single bill, and an online clearinghouse, which may be operated by a coalition of participating companies, or by a third party, handles authorization and billing (and often generates a wealth of data about consumer behavior that may be used to improve the system, or for marketing).


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ROEV founders include

automakers (BMW and Nissan) and

Image courtesy of Blink Network

charging networks (CarCharging/Blink, ChargePoint, EVgo)

Image by Charged EVs

As EV charging networks proliferate, it’s only logical that such a system be established for EV roaming. Drivers need to be able to use a single account, a single card and a single smartphone app to locate chargers, initiate charging, and pay their bills. There have been a few attempts to build such a system, but so far none has developed into a comprehensive national system. In many areas, EV drivers who use public charging need to carry around multiple cards or key fob gadgets, and the situation is even worse when drivers take their EVs out of their local areas. In November, eleven partners announced the creation of the ROEV Association (“Roaming for EVs”), a non-profit trade association of industry stakeholders designed to support EV adoption by facilitating public charging network interoperability. Founded by BMW, CarCharging/Blink, ChargePoint, EVgo and Nissan, ROEV quickly grew to include Audi, Honda, Efacec, BTC Power, SemaConnect, and electric utility Portland General Electric. Prior to the November launch announcement, the five founding companies of ROEV had been working together on the project for well over a year. ROEV is focused on promoting a set of standards that network operators can use to make it easy for drivers to find and use charging stations on any network. Using their smartphone apps, drivers need to be able to see if a particular station is available or in use, and what fees, if any, apply. Charged spoke with Simon Lonsdale, ChargePoint’s Vice President of Business Development and the Chair of the ROEV Association. “In this fledgling industry that we’re in, the driver needs to have comfort in using their cars, and a big part of that is being able to charge anywhere,” said Lonsdale. “So the whole purpose of bringing together the different parties was to make that part simple for the driver. It encourages them to buy an EV, and to use it not just for one purpose - like commuting to work - but for their everyday driving.” Lonsdale is confident that ROEV will be more successful than previous efforts, “because it’s inclusive, because it’s neutral ground, because it’s not trying to be a profit center, and it’s not trying to be a technology company, either. Some of the other instances that we see around the world, or some of the earlier efforts here in the US, were trying to do too much at once. They were trying to be a clearinghouse - for example, for technology - and were not set up as a non-profit. And I think


Roaming Europe

In this fledgling industry that we’re in, the driver needs to have comfort in using their cars, and a big part of that is being able to charge anywhere. those aspects made it very difficult for everyone to come together to make it function properly.” The plan is to roll out ROEV in three phases over the coming year. “The first step is what we call the Directory,” said Lonsdale. “This means being able to show all of the charging stations on each of our mobile applications, so that it’s easy for a driver to see where the stations are and also, in real time, to see whether they’re in use or available, or if any may be broken. You’ll be able to use your Blink app

If the situation in the US is complex, in Europe it’s nothing short of chaotic, with dozens of different networks and various compatibility issues among different countries and regions. Hubject, a Berlin-based joint venture of several EV-related companies that we profiled in our August 2013 issue, is one organization that’s working to build a framework for the various players to cooperate. Charged spoke with Rami Syvari, Program Manager, International Expansion at Norwegian network operator Fortum Charge & Drive, about the efforts by Hubject and others to promote network interoperability in Europe. “The situation has started to develop nicely, so there are a handful of different platforms in Europe, Hubject being one of them,” said Syvari. “The EU Commission has now asked these platforms to operate [together], as well. So, what will happen is that, instead of having a couple of hundred different operators, and you would have to have their cards, now you would need like a handful of different cards. The target is that when you have a card, you’re able to travel throughout Europe. And at the moment [it is] developing towards that direction.” Fortum has joined the Hubject platform, so (as of early 2016), any Hubject partners’ end users can use Fortum’s charging network in the Nordics (Norway, Sweden and Finland), and Fortum members can travel to other European countries and charge at the locations of other Hubject partners. Unlike ROEV’s direct connection model, Hubject is a third-party application that sits between the participating networks, so to speak. “With Hubject, you connect to Hubject, and through the connection to Hubject, you have access to all the other partners who have a connection to Hubject,” explains Syvari. “What is technically happening is that they are handling the charge detail records (CDRs). That is basically the service they are providing in the middle.” However, Syvari says, “there is starting to be a movement that players do direct interconnect - direct roaming - so that they make an interface between the platforms directly, to avoid third parties in between.”

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Image by Charged EVs

or your ChargePoint app or your EVgo app. ROEV is trying to bring together all the parties. It’s not trying to take over any of the parties’ businesses.” Phase two will enable drivers to start a charging session at any participating station, and pay for it, through their existing accounts. “No account setup, no need to talk to anyone, no need to go through any extra steps. Phase two will be starting a session from your mobile phone - either by calling into your normal network number, or from the mobile app that you’re used to using for your home network.” The third phase will enable starting a session just by tapping a card. “I think you’re probably used to having a key fob card for your favorite network, and tapping that on the station to start a session,” said Lonsdale. “ROEV is also helping to move to a common standard for cards, bringing charging up to the same level of security that the credit card industry is in the process of moving to.” ROEV is not trying to create its own standards, but rather trying to make sure that everyone in the industry adopts the same standards. “The Technical Committee is working through that part of it,” explains Lonsdale, “working on getting each of the players to implement the same Directory standards, the same interoperability standards, and the same card standards. Then, the Certification Committee will make sure that we test the interoperability between the networks before we roll this out. I can’t give you an exact timeframe, but we’re talk-


ing about just a matter of months to move through each of these phases.” What about roaming fees? Most cell phone networks no longer charge roaming fees, but ATM networks certainly do - you can expect to pay a few bucks per transaction if you use an ATM that’s not a member of your bank’s network. EV drivers seem likely to resist any such fees. A particularly sticky situation could arise if a driver finds him- or herself paying a fee at a charger that’s free for members of its home network. Lonsdale believes that one of the reasons earlier attempts at a network failed was that, because they were set up as for-profit entities, they found it necessary to charge roaming fees. “One of the goals of ROEV is to minimize any such roaming fees,” he says. “While ROEV cannot mandate it as a trade association, definitely our goal is to minimize those roaming fees down to zero. The founding networks all come into this with the goal of having no roaming fee between our networks when we launch.” As it is based on a distributed model, ROEV does not have its own back-end system to harmonize the transactions. “It’s like an ATM card, in that you can use your existing RFID card at these stations,” explains Lonsdale. “But we’re implementing it technically much like the phone system, in that the networks work together directly. And that’s why we have these commonly agreed standards, so we work directly with point-to-point implementation, so ROEV does not need to be a transaction

Image courtesy of NRG EVgo

Image courtesy of Blink Network


Image courtesy of Blink Network

While ROEV cannot mandate it as a trade association, definitely our goal is to minimize those roaming fees down to zero.

engine or have its own infrastructure to try and centralize this.” ROEV’s distributed nature should also help to preserve the privacy of customer data between accounts, an issue that some members have expressed concern about. “In ROEV, because there is no clearinghouse, because it’s done by each of the networks, your data is always held just with your home network that you signed up for,” said Lonsdale. “The roaming transaction is done very much like a credit card pre-authorization, where a token about you goes across the other network, but there’s no personally identifiable information that you’d need to submit to the other networks.” While the goal of ROEV is to make things as simple as possible for users, behind the scenes there is much complex technical work to be done, to say nothing of the political maneuvering needed to bring together competing companies to get to a mutually beneficial outcome. The various charging networks use a variety of different hardware tokens that they issue to drivers. Some use key fobs, and some use standard RFID cards. Once ROEV is up and running, these are likely to be replaced with new cards that conform to a common standard. “The Technical Committee has to finalize this, but ROEV expects that there will be new common cards issued by the networks to the drivers,” said Lonsdale.

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DC FAST CHARGING he early days of government-backed public charging initiatives left us with quite a few underused stations installed in locations that seem to have been chosen by someone who never drove a plug-in vehicle. These days, however, charger rollout is happening in a much more measured and calculated way, and in markets that are rich with early adopters, public charging spots are anything but underused. EVgo recently released data from 10 EVgo Freedom Stations located at Whole Foods Markets in the San Francisco Bay Area that shows a 191% increase in charging over the last year. The busiest DC fast charger in EVgo’s national network, located at the Whole Foods in Fremont, California, showed 1,452 DC fast charge sessions in September 2015 alone - an average of about 45 sessions a day. Another interesting metric uncovered by the analysis is that drivers shows a significant preference for DC fast charging, 12-to-1 when compared to the number of Level 2 charging sessions also available at those locations. EVgo explained to Charged that the data is from a mixed customer base that includes NRG EVgo network subscribers, users of Nissan’s No Charge to Charge program, ChargeNow customers, and some drivers who simply pay per use. “Our philosophy from the beginning has been that DC fast charging is the standard,” EVgo Communications Director Jeremy Desel told us. “You want to provide Level 2 for the customers [without fast charging options on their car], but it was always kind of a theory that DC fast charging would be utilized significantly greater than Level 2. This charging data proves that.” So what does it all mean to the future of public


charging installations? From EVgo’s perspective, it means doubling down on its strategy to emphasize DC fast charging. In December, the company unveiled another location just down the road from its busiest charger. At Fremont’s Lucky Supermarket, EVgo debuted a fast charging site that it says can simultaneously charge more vehicles at once than any other site in the US (not including Tesla’s Supercharging sites, which only serve Tesla’s vehicles). This site hosts 4 dual-standard DC fast chargers (CHAdeMO and SAE CCS) that can charge from both ports at once, for a total of 8 vehicles - plus one Level 2 station. Is this a glimpse of the future for all public charging sites, when hosts will favor a bank of DC fast chargers - most likely coupled with stationary battery storage to help with the high loads? It’s a scenario that seems increasingly likely when you consider that future generations of EVs are being planned with fast charging capabilities much higher than today. Some European automakers and charging station manufacturers - including ABB, Audi, BMW, Daimler, Opel, Porsche and Volkswagen - recently announced the formation of the Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN) with the goal of making refueling EVs faster than today’s gas-powered vehicles. CharIN has its sights set on power levels as high as 350 kW - roughly 7 times faster than “fast charging” today’s Nissan LEAF. When this is possible, it will be hard to imagine taking the time to plug into a 10 kW Level 2 charger for 20 minutes while you run into the supermarket. But fear not, Level 2 EVSE manufacturers. In this vision of the electrified future, there is still a mountain of opportunity for Level 2 charging where vehicles sit for the majority of the day - at home, at work, and more.

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CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine - Iss 22 NOV/DEC 2015  

CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine - Iss 22 NOV/DEC 2015

CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine - Iss 22 NOV/DEC 2015  

CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine - Iss 22 NOV/DEC 2015