ELECTRIC VEHICLES MAGAZINE
ISSUE 33 | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 | CHARGEDEVS.COM
TESLA MODEL Will this machine kill the Oil Age? P. 48
A CLOSER LOOK AT WIRE IN EVS
MAKING A MOTOR
THE FUTURE OF US EMISSIONS REGULATIONS
ADAPTIVE LOAD MANAGEMENT
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THE TECH CONTENTS
24 A closer look at wire in EVs
A surprising amount of technology and engineering goes into making, selecting and using wire
30 Making a motor Automakers are relying heavily on third parties to help design their manufacturing lines. Q&A with the motor-winding experts at Odawara Engineering
36 Industrial auxiliary power
Bel Power Solutions sees strong growth in industrial electrification
current events 12
Leclanché to supply batteries for Skoda Electric e-buses
Continental introduces innovative wheel and braking concept for EVs MIT-led study suggests route to improving solid-state batteries
Report: Battery demand for EVs and storage surpasses electronics in 2017
Ricardo’s new model-based BMS enables next-generation cell chemistries Littelfuse’s switching thyristor is optimized for EV charge applications
18 BorgWarner to acquire Sevcon for $200 million 19 Molecular pulley leads to silicon anode breakthrough 20 AKASOL Li-ion packs powering Medatech’s mining equipment
Nouveau Monde and Shinzoom form JV to market anode material
22 US Army partners with Brown University to study SEI on silicon anodes
Critical Materials Institute manufactures an all-American rare-earth magnet
THE VEHICLES CONTENTS
48 Model 3
Will this machine kill the Oil Age?
62 US emissions regulations Q&A with emissions standards expert Michael Steel of the law firm Morrison & Foerster
90 Is the demise of diesel good news for EVs?
current events 40 BYD delivers first of 20 electric buses to Albuquerque Rapid Transit
Faraday Future leases new California factory
41 Startup with former Tesla execs to introduce a commercial electric truck 42 Mercedes-Benz factory transitions to producing batteries and EV parts
Royal Mail orders 100 Peugeot electric delivery vans
44 Los Angeles buys 95 electric buses, plans emissions-free fleet by 2030
Hyundai announces plans for 8 EVs and 3 fuel cell vehicles
45 Daimler starts production of Fuso eCanter electric light-duty truck 47 Mazda exec reiterates lack of interest in EVs IDENTIFICATION STATEMENT CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine (ISSN: 24742341) September/October 2017, Issue #33 is published bi-monthly by Electric Vehicles Magazine LLC, 4121 52nd Ave S, Saint Petersburg, FL 33711-4735. Periodicals Postage Paid 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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76 Universal charging Continental says its AllCharge system will provide maximum power, no matter the charging station
82 Adaptive load management
PowerFlex says its new technology is the best way to balance the growing new grid load
68 ChargePoint expands US presence with new Arizona office
London street lamps retrofitted as EV chargers
69 BP may install more EV chargers at gas stations
EVgo lists its 10 most charged cities in the US
70 Trans-Canada Highway to get 34 new fast charging stations
ChargePoint Services orders 50 rapid chargers from EVTronic
72 Study: V2G may not degrade EV battery life - it might actually extend it 73 NewMotion expands charging network in France 74 Tritium raises $8 million to triple production
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Let’s assume the third part of Tesla’s master plan works perfectly. The Model 3 is a gigantic success and every car buyer in the world is convinced that EVs are better cars to own and drive. There will still be one huge obstacle to the swift proliferation of EVs that is arguably larger than all the other challenges combined: automotive design cycles. We often fret about attacks from the oil lobby, resistance from the auto dealers associations, charging infrastructure availability and misconceptions about what kind of charging is needed where. Fortunately, there are a lot of very smart and devoted people fighting those fights. On the other hand, I rarely hear anyone talk about the challenge of designing new vehicle platforms. Cars take forever to design, test and ramp up manufacturing. The conventional wisdom is 3 to 5 years for a new vehicle platform from drawing board to commercialization. That’s a big problem when you’re trying to transform an industry. Even if Tesla (or others) provides a perfect roadmap for EV success, this makes it very difficult to quickly replicate, or quickly learn from mistakes with EVs that fail.
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Pundits outside the automotive world often compare EVs to the internet or iPhone revolutions, but they fail to realize the design cycle challenge. The first iPhone was introduced 10 years ago this June. It’s amazing to think about how quickly every phone maker copied the concept, and, in a blink of an eye, billions of us couldn’t live without a smartphone. Not so simple when it takes 3 years to design a car, a year to test it, and another year to build a manufacturing line. Tesla itself is a good example of the problem. Pencils were down on the final design of Model 3 well over a year ago and they have only now begun deliveries of the first few dozen vehicles. And many experts doubted Tesla’s ability to get to production this quickly and to scale in the coming months. In other words, Tesla is delivering at breakneck speed, pushing everything to the limit in a make-or-break situation for the company, and it’s still taking a very long time compared to other consumer goods. Don’t get me wrong - the design cycle is long for good reasons. Validation, safety and reliability are critically important in cars, and the manufacturing lines are gigantic and complex. However, we should still strive for design cycle innovation if we want EVs to rule the roads sooner rather than later. What are the biggest challenges to significantly reducing the design cycle of EVs? How can the industry work together to make it happen? We hope to hear more discussion about these challenges in the coming years. Drop me a line (Chris@ChargedEVs.com) if you know of any good ideas that need more exposure.
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EVs are here. Try to keep up.
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Publisher Christian Ruoff Associate Publisher Laurel Zimmer Senior Editor Charles Morris Associate Editor Markkus Rovito Account Executive Jeremy Ewald
Contributing Writers Michael Alba Tom Ewing Jeffrey Jenkins Charles Morris Christian Ruoff
For Letters to the Editor, Article Submissions, & Advertising Inquiries Contact: Info@ChargedEVs.com
Contributing Photographers Steve Jurvetson Nicolas Raymond Christian Ruoff Carla Wosniak
Technology Editor Jeffrey Jenkins Cover Image Courtesy of Tesla Graphic Designers Mary Rose Robinson Tome Vrdoljak Andy Windy
Special Thanks to Kelly Ruoff Sebastien Bourgeois
ETHICS STATEMENT AND COVERAGE POLICY AS THE LEADING EV INDUSTRY PUBLICATION, CHARGED ELECTRIC VEHICLES MAGAZINE OFTEN COVERS, AND ACCEPTS CONTRIBUTIONS FROM, COMPANIES THAT ADVERTISE IN OUR MEDIA PORTFOLIO. HOWEVER, THE CONTENT WE CHOOSE TO PUBLISH PASSES ONLY TWO TESTS: (1) TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE THE INFORMATION IS ACCURATE, AND (2) IT MEETS THE INTERESTS OF OUR READERSHIP. WE DO NOT ACCEPT PAYMENT FOR EDITORIAL CONTENT, AND THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY OUR EDITORS AND WRITERS ARE IN NO WAY AFFECTED BY A COMPANY’S PAST, CURRENT, OR POTENTIAL ADVERTISEMENTS. FURTHERMORE, WE OFTEN ACCEPT ARTICLES AUTHORED BY “INDUSTRY INSIDERS,” IN WHICH CASE THE AUTHOR’S CURRENT EMPLOYMENT, OR RELATIONSHIP TO THE EV INDUSTRY, IS CLEARLY CITED. IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ANY OPINION EXPRESSED IN THE CHARGED MEDIA PORTFOLIO AND/OR WISH TO WRITE ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR VIEW OF THE INDUSTRY, PLEASE CONTACT US AT CONTENT@CHARGEDEVS. COM. REPRINTING IN WHOLE OR PART IS FORBIDDEN EXPECT BY PERMISSION OF CHARGED ELECTRIC VEHICLES MAGAZINE.
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Report: Battery demand for transportation and storage will surpass consumer electronics by next year Consumer electronics have traditionally driven the demand for energy storage devices, but transportation and stationary applications will soon become the largest storage markets, according to Lux Research. By 2025 the energy storage market will top $100 billion, with applications in transportation alone reaching $69 billion, Lux forecasts. The highest growth rate will be in stationary storage for electrical grid applications, which will reach $19 billion in 2025. Transportation applications are already the largest source of energy storage demand - they are expected to reach 46 GWh in 2017, compared to 27 GWh for consumer electronics. Within the transportation market, the applications that will drive the highest revenues are those using the largest battery packs: passenger EVs and electric buses. Passenger EVs will be worth $32 billion in 2025, according to Lux. Electric buses will see a faster rate of adoption, but with fewer total vehicles sold, will remain the second-largest market segment, growing to a $9.7-billion opportunity in 2025. Lux expects plug-in vehicles to face volatile sales as global subsidies expire, while 48 V hybrids will emerge as a winning technology for automakers. Eventually, the transportation and stationary sectors will converge as new opportunities emerge in vehicle-to-X (V2X) concepts.
Leclanché to supply batteries for Skoda Electric e-buses
Photo courtesy of Leclanché
Swiss battery-maker Leclanché and Skoda Electric, a maker of electric drives and traction motors for trolley and electric buses, have signed a Joint Development Agreement under which Leclanché will provide Skoda Electric with battery solutions for its electric bus expansion strategy. Leclanché will provide Skoda Electric with high-energy batteries (larger G/NMC batteries for overnight charging) and ultra-fast power batteries (smaller LTO battery packs for more regular charging, such as at bus stations during the day) for Skoda’s e-buses. Its solutions will be modular, enabling Skoda to build e-buses from 6 to 26 meters in length. The agreement also covers battery systems for a range of uses, from passenger vehicles to off-road equipment. “In 2015 Leclanché unveiled its first all-electric bus in Belgium,” said Anil Srivastava, CEO of Leclanché. “Now the European e-bus industry is at a watershed moment as proven battery technology and tighter environmental legislation make electric buses economically competitive with diesel.” “Leclanché is unique in that it is fully integrated, has long-life-cycle technology across both high-energy and ultra-fast-charging power batteries, and a production facility in Europe,” said Jaromír Šilhánek, CEO of Skoda Electric. “Leclanché’s solutions give us ultimate flexibility and scalability, making the company the ideal partner for us to deliver our European electric bus strategy.”
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Continental introduces innovative wheel and braking concept for EVs
Photo courtesy of Continental
MIT-led study suggests route to improving solid-state batteries
Automotive supply giant Continental has developing a new type of wheel and braking system to meet the specific requirements of electrified vehicles. The New Wheel Concept is based on a new division between the wheel and the axle. The wheel consists of two parts: the aluminum carrier star, which remains permanently bolted to the wheel hub; and the rim well, which is bolted to the star. The wheel brake is fastened to the wheel carrier of the axle and engages from the inside with an aluminum brake disk, which in turn is bolted to the carrier star. In contrast to conventional wheel brakes, the New Wheel Concept brake engages the disk from the inside, allowing it to have a particularly large diameter, which improves braking performance. Unlike cast-iron disks, the aluminum disk is not subject to wear, and will not rust. The concept also reduces the weight of the assembly, and makes wheel and brake pad changes easier. “Electromobility needs new solutions for braking technology too,” says Matthias Matic, Head of Continental’s Hydraulic Brake Systems Business Unit. “Using conventional brakes is not very effective in this case. The New Wheel Concept meets all the demands that electric driving places on the brake.” “In EVs, it’s crucial that the driver expends as little energy as possible on the friction brake,” says Paul Linhoff, Head of Brake Pre-Development in Continental’s Chassis & Safety Business Unit. “Drivers want to be able to rely on a consistent braking effect - and too much rust on the brake disk in particular can really make this difficult.”
Replacing a liquid electrolyte with a solid electrolyte could offer major advantages for both safety and energy storage capacity, but so far, attempts to develop a practical solid-state cell have run into major obstacles. Liquid electrolytes can be flammable, and are also prone to the formation of dendrites - thin, fingerlike projections of metal that build up from one electrode and can eventually create a short circuit. Researchers have tried to get around these problems by using an electrolyte made out of solid materials, such as ceramics, but these materials tend to perform erratically and are prone to short circuits. A new paper suggests that the problem may be an incorrect interpretation of how such batteries fail. In “Mechanism of Lithium Metal Penetration through Inorganic Solid Electrolytes,” published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials, MIT Professor Yet-Ming Chiang and several colleagues report new findings that could open up new avenues for developing solid-state batteries. “The formation of dendrites, leading to eventual short-circuit failures, has been the main reason that lithium-metal rechargeable batteries have not been possible,” Chiang explains. The problem of dendrite formation in lithium rechargeable batteries was first recognized in the early 1970s, “and 45 years later that problem has still not been solved. But the goal is still tantalizing.” The prevailing idea is that a material’s shear modulus (firmness or squishiness) determines whether dendrites can penetrate into the electrolyte. But the new analysis showed that it’s the smoothness of the surface that matters most. Microscopic nicks and scratches on the electrolyte’s surface can provide a toehold for the metallic deposits to force their way in. This suggests, Chiang says, that simply focusing on achieving smoother surfaces could greatly reduce the problem of dendrite formation. These materials are “very sensitive to the number and size of surface defects, not to the bulk properties” of the material, Chiang says. “It’s the crack propagation that leads to failure. What we should be focusing on more is the quality of the surfaces, on how smooth and defect-free we can make these solid electrolyte films.”
Photo courtesy of Ricardo
Photo courtesy of Littelfuse
Ricardo’s new modelbased BMS enables nextgeneration cell chemistries UK engineering firm Ricardo has developed a new Battery Management System (BMS) that uses model-based control methods to optimize the performance of both existing and next-generation cell chemistries. According to Ricardo, the more affordable and lighter-weight cell chemistries of the future are likely to require a more intensive level of model-based management and control than today’s technology, delivered through a much more sophisticated BMS. Ricardo’s new BMS provides a scalable increase in processing power from approximately 90 to 800 million instructions per second, compared to its predecessor. This increase in capacity enables the adoption of model-based battery management and control, enabling (for example) the BMS to estimate the state of the cells based on parameters that might be impractical or impossible to measure, such as instantaneous internal cell temperature. “The new Ricardo BMS demonstrates our commitment to taking on some of the toughest challenges in electric vehicle development,” said Martin Tolliday, Ricardo’s Managing Director of Hybrid and Electric Systems. “This new high-performance Ricardo BMS will enable us to help bring forward the deployment of next-generation battery cell chemistries.”
Littelfuse’s new switching thyristor is optimized for on-board EV charge applications Circuit protection specialist Littelfuse has introduced a series of 16 A silicon-controlled rectifier (SCR) switching thyristors developed especially for EV on-board charge (EVOBC) applications. Littelfuse’s S8016xA Series thyristors are designed to offer excellent AC handling capability and surge robustness, allowing them to handle Level 1 charging up to 16 ARMS at 120 V, and Level 2 charging up to 16 ARMS at 240 V at 100° C and up to 25 ARMS at 80° C. According to Littelfuse, its S8016xA Series is the first line of SCR switching thyristors capable of handling such high current levels in TO-220R and TO-263 packages that are also AEC-Q101-qualified and capable of supporting the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP). Typical applications are input rectification of AC line inputs for on-board and off-board EV chargers. With a maximum repetitive off-stage voltage of 800 V, the S8016xA Series can handle AC inputs of up to 250 VRMS. With a high peak non-repetitive blocking voltage (VDSM) of 1,300 V and a non-repetitive peak surge current (IPP) of 2,400 A, they can survive a 6 kV surge when used with an automotive-qualified metal oxide varistor such as the Littelfuse AUMOV Series. “The compact TO-220R and TO-263 packages in which S8016xA Series SCR switching thyristors are provided help circuit designers minimize the size of their charging circuitry,” said Koichiro Yoshimoto, Business Development Manager for the Littelfuse product line. “As AEC-Q101 qualified devices that are capable of supporting PPAP, they’re ideal for use in EVOBC applications.”
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Auto supply giant BorgWarner plans to acquire Sevcon, a manufacturer of controls and battery chargers for electric and hybrid vehicles. Subject to shareholders’ approval, BorgWarner will acquire all of Sevcon’s common stock for $22 per share in cash, for an expected total price of $200 million. Sevcon’s products control on- and off-road vehicle speed and movement, integrate specialized functions, optimize energy consumption and help reduce air pollution. Sevcon’s Bassi division produces battery chargers for EVs, as well as electronic instrumentation for battery laboratories. “The proposed merger with BorgWarner provides substantial value to our stockholders and the chance for
Photo courtesy of Sevcon
BorgWarner to acquire Sevcon for $200 million
Sevcon to maximize previous growth investments and capitalize on greater opportunities as a part of a much larger organization with significant market presence,” said Sevcon CEO Matt Boyle.
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Molecular pulley leads to silicon anode breakthrough
bonds. The long fundamental study is now expanding Silicon anodes are receiving a great deal of attention, as in an unexpected direction that addresses long-standing they can enable batteries to deliver 3 to 5 times higher challenges in battery technology.” capacities compared with current graphite anodes. The authors are currently collaborating with a major A research team from the Korea Advanced Institute of battery maker to get their molecular pulleys integrated Science & Technology (KAIST) described a molecular into real battery products. pulley binder for high-capacity silicon anodes in the journal Science in July. Professors Jang Wook Choi and Ali Coskun and colleagues integrated molecular pulleys, called polyrotaxanes, into a battery electrode binder, a polymer included in battery electrodes to attach the electrodes onto metallic substrates. In a polyrotaxane, rings are threaded into a polymer backbone, and can freely move along the backbone. The free movement of the rings can follow the volume changes of the silicon particles. The rings’ sliding motion can hold Si particles without disintegration during their continuous volume change. Existing binders (usually simple Safety for vehicles linear polymers) with limited elasticity are not capable of holdBender’s ground fault detector, the ISOMETER® IR155-3204 and ing pulverized particles firmly. iso165C, provide safety in hybrid and electric vehicles as well as Previous binders allowed pulverin Formula 1. ized particles to scatter, degrading Safety for vehicles Safety for vehicles the silicon electrode and reducing The IR155-3204 and iso165C monitor the its capacity. Bender’s ground fault detector, Bender’s theground ISOMETER® fault detector, IR155-3204 the ISOMETER® and IR155-3204 and complete vehicle electrical drive system and The authors said, “This is a t iso165C, provide safety iniso165C, hybrid and provide electric safety vehicles in hybrid as well andaselectric vehicles assuwell ppoasr provide effective protection against electric good example of showing the We la in Formula 1. in Formula 1. ormu importance of fundamental shocks and fire hazards. the F ms id Tea research. Polyrotaxane received a The IR155-3204 and iso165C The IR155-3204 monitor theand iso165C monitor the Hybr Nobel Prize last year, based on the vehicle electrical complete complete drive system vehicle and electrical drive system and port port concept called mechanicalprovide bond. effective protection e sup electric e sup provide against effective electricprotectionWagainst W a l mula The ‘mechanical bond’ is ashocks newlyand fire hazards. shocks and fire hazards. ormu e For h the F t s m ms identified concept, and can be id Tea Safety © id Tea r r The Power in Electrical www.bender.org b b y y H H added to classical chemical bonds in chemistry, such as covalent, ionic, coordination, and metallic The Power in Electrical Safety The ©Powerwww.bender.org in Electrical Safety ©
AKASOL Li-ion battery packs powering Medatech’s mining equipment
Emissions in underground mining are not only a hazard to workers’ health - they are expensive to mitigate. Exhaust gases from diesel-powered equipment must be removed by large and costly ventilation units - a problem that EVs can eliminate. Ontario-based Medatech, a provider of sustainable drive systems for the mining industry, now incorporates AKASOL’s AKASystem AKM NANO lithium-ion battery systems into its designs for electrically powered equipment and drives. Medatech will equip everything from drilling and anchoring machines to heavy transport vehicles with the systems in order to meet the high performance requirements of open-cast and underground mines. “We were looking for a liquid-cooled battery with built-in temperature management that would work consistently and reliably in a robust and safe housing,” says Medatech Business Development Manager David F. Lyon. “We also wanted to see evidence of practical experience and operating data.” AKASOL’s batteries are now used in an anchoring machine produced by Canadian mining equipment manufacturer MacLean. The machine is fitted with the AKASOL liquid-cooled battery system, which has a storage capacity of 30.6 kWh at a nominal voltage level of 666 V, enabling it to reach 77 kW on average (peak: 406 kW/10 s). It can operate at ambient temperatures between -25° and 45° C, and comes equipped with overload and overvoltage protection.
Photo courtesy of Nouveau Monde
Photo courtesy of AKASOL
Nouveau Monde and Shinzoom form JV to market anode material Nouveau Monde Graphite has signed a letter of intent with Chinese anode producer Hunan Zhongke Shinzoom to market Shinzoom’s anode materials to battery manufacturers in North America. The two companies will form a distribution joint venture, and if the results are satisfactory after 18 months, will evaluate the feasibility of manufacturing Shinzoom’s anode material products (natural, artificial and composite graphite) in the Province of Quebec. “Shinzoom is a well-respected and established anode material producer in Asia,” said Éric Desaulniers, CEO of Nouveau Monde. “The collaboration would provide North American battery makers with much needed high-quality and competitively-priced anode materials. This strategy would allow Nouveau Monde to become more vertically integrated and initiate a dialogue with customers. Our graphite project is not covered in the non-binding LOI, but anodes require graphite, and in the event of potential manufacturing of Shinzoom’s anode material products in Quebec it would obviously be beneficial for Nouveau Monde’s graphite products.” “The North American market has tremendous growth potential for Shinzoom and we are ready to penetrate this market with our leading-edge anode material products,” said Mr. Tao Pi, General Manager of Shinzoom. “We believe that Nouveau Monde has good connections with major North American battery manufacturers and we sincerely hope that our collaboration with Nouveau Monde will immediately increase our sales in North America.”
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THE TECH Photo courtesy of Critical Materials Institute
US Army partners with Brown University to study SEI on silicon anodes The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and Brown University researchers have teamed up to study the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) layer that forms on the anodes of lithium-ion batteries, with particular emphasis on experimental silicon anodes. The Army is working to replace its alkaline and nickel-metal hydride field batteries with Li-ion batteries. “The Army is developing hybrid vehicles for use on the battlefield, and that means they will also use Li-ion batteries,” said ARL researcher Dr. Arthur von Wald Cresce. Under the research agreement, Brown University will provide expertise in atomic force microscopy (AFM) data analysis, as well as synthetic tools and raw materials for making the silicon nanowires and other deposited structures to be analyzed. ARL will provide electrolytes for the in-situ portion of the atomic force microscopy studies, as well as expertise in the preparation of in-situ AFM samples and other types of surface analysis. The researchers hope to learn more about the SEI that forms on the surface of silicon and tin anodes, which change their dimensions significantly as a battery charges and discharges. In those cases, the SEI must “breathe” and move with the electrode surface - otherwise it will crack and fail as a protecting layer. ARL has had a few key successes, including SEI-modifying additives and an aqueous-based electrolyte system that relies on a lithium fluoride SEI. “Our water-based Li-ion electrolyte is almost entirely dependent on the formation of an impenetrable lithium fluoride SEI layer to function,” says Dr. Cresce. “The advantage of a water-based electrolyte is that such a Li-ion battery would not be flammable, eliminating the concern about battery fires. In the case of the water-based electrolyte, we are working hard to fully characterize the SEI layer, and we are in a race to discover how to make this layer on certain electrodes like carbon or lithium metal that would allow us to have a 4+ volt aqueous lithium-ion battery. The idea is not to sacrifice performance for safety - such a battery would be just as good as a high-end commercial Li-ion battery today, and that battery would never catch fire.”
Critical Materials Institute manufactures an allAmerican rare-earth magnet As rare-earth magnets are used in an increasing number of modern technologies, the ability to produce them domestically could be important for national security. Now the Critical Materials Institute, a DOE Innovation Hub, has fabricated a batch of magnets entirely from domestically sourced and refined rare-earth metals. The Idaho National Laboratory sourced the raw materials and refined the oxides, Infinium produced metal ingots from those oxides, and Ames Laboratory processed the ingots into magnets. The small gray magnet samples are nothing remarkable to look at - they are just typical NdFeB magnets. The process used to make them is similar to the techniques used elsewhere (except for some significant advances in a couple of crucial steps). What’s special about these magnets is that they are made from US-mined ores, which were domestically processed and domestically manufactured into magnets. “This was a stretch goal of the Critical Materials Institute, to demonstrate that rare-earth magnets could be produced from mine to manufacturer, here in the United States,” said CMI scientist Ikenna Nlebedim. “Rare earths are the gold standard of this generation, because they are a part of so many of our existing and developing technologies. Any future discovery that requires them can create the possibility of increased demand and supply shortages.” “We were asked if it was still possible to make these magnets entirely within the US, now that magnet manufacturing has very largely moved overseas,” said CMI Director Alex King. “This proves that we can apply advanced tools and technologies developed in the US to get the job done - do it quickly, and do it rather more efficiently than it is being done elsewhere.”
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A CLOSER LOOK AT
IN EVS 24
By Jeffrey Jenkins
ire is not the most glamorous of components, but it is the enabler of our modern society - especially of our even more modern mode of transport, the EV - and a surprising amount of technology and engineering goes into making, selecting and using wire.
How wire is made The modern method of manufacturing copper electrical wire is a continuous casting process, usually with feedstock that has been refined electrolytically either to at least 99.965% purity (this is standard electrical-grade copper, also called â€œelectrolytic tough pitch,â€? or ETP) or to better than 99.9935% purity (which is called ETP1). In electrolytic refining, the anode is a casting of raw or recycled copper, the electrolyte is a solution of copper sulfate in
diluted sulfuric acid, and the cathode is a plate of pure copper. A current in the range of 200-300 A per square meter at a potential of just 0.2-0.3 V is passed through the electrolytic cell, and this transfers copper from the anode over to the cathode, leaving the impurities in the anode casting behind. A single pass through an electrolytic cell produces copper of 99.99% purity, which is sufficient for almost all electrical applications; if higher purity is needed, then the cathode from the first refining operation can become the anode in a second pass (in a fresh tank of electrolyte, as some impurities can come from it as well as from the anode). Bare wire might have been okay for telegraph and telephone lines back in the late 1800s, but the vast majority of electrical wire made today is insulated, usually with a plastic or rubber coating of some sort. Magnet wire so-called because it is used in devices such as motors, transformers, inductors and, yes, electromagnets - has a very thin insulating coating which is usually a plastic like polyurethane, polyimide (kapton), etc. The coating is applied to the bare wire by dipping (horizontally) or wiping (vertically), then it is cured by baking. Up to four coats can be applied to make heavier “builds” of insulation, which increases the dielectric strength and better insures against pinhole failures. While magnet wire insulation is often called “enamel,” it is not a brittle,
Magnet wire - so-called because it is used in devices such as motors, transformers, inductors and, yes, electromagnets - has a very thin insulating coating.
glass-like coating as is characteristic of a true enamel. The insulation on most other wires is considerably thicker and even more flexible than the thin coatings of magnet wire; this insulation usually has a much lower temperature rating as well. A common type of magnet wire insulation is good for continuous operation at 130° C, and insulation rated for 180° C doesn’t cost much more. In contrast, most types of general-purpose wire have a PVC insulation rated for 85° C or 90° C, and types rated for 105° C do tend to cost considerably more. The thicker insulation is usually applied by pulling the wire through a heated extrusion die while pellets of plastic or rubber (or a combination of both) are also screw-fed into the die under immense pressure. The pellets melt in the die and flow around the bare wire, resulting in a precise, consistent and relatively thick coating of insulation.
The use and abuse of wire The wire sold in the electrical department of hardware or automotive stores in the US is typically specified by the type of insulation (for example, GPT is commonly used in automotive applications), the diameter in American Wire Gauge (or just gauge), and the amperage rating (or ampacity). The term ampacity is a gross oversimplification, because it is a function not only of the wire diameter (or, more specifically, its cross-sectional area), but also of the ambient temperature, whether the wire is in free air or in a conduit, whether it is alone or bundled together with other current-carrying conduc-
Two other potential sources of heating in wires that carry AC are skin and proximity effects - both are the result of induced circulating (or eddy) currents. tors, the length of the wire run, the temperature rating of the insulation, and even the frequency of the current, if it is AC. For example, the National Electrical Code specifies that a #14 copper wire in free air at a 30° C ambient temperature and with 90° C rated insulation can carry 35 A continuously; with 150° C insulation the ampacity jumps up to 46 A. The fusing current for a bare #14 copper wire is in the range of 150 A to 200 A, so the difference between what the bare wire can carry - theoretically, anyway - and what the NEC allows is mainly due to the properties of the insulation. Another factor to consider, however, is voltage drop. A #14 wire with hightemperature insulation may be able to tolerate passing 46 A, but the load may not appreciate the lower voltage; induction motors are notoriously intolerant of too low a voltage, as this causes them to run at a higher slip, and losses are roughly the same as the slip percentage.
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Two other potential sources of heating in wires that carry AC are skin and proximity effects. Both of these effects are the result of induced circulating (or eddy) currents that arise whenever alternating current flows. Skin effect occurs when the eddy currents induced in a wire oppose the flow of electrons in the center of the wire and add to the flow around its perimeter. Proximity effect, as the name implies, is the result of eddy currents induced in nearby conductors, which will concentrate the main current flow in each conductor closer together if they are of opposite polarity, or push the current flows apart if they are of the same polarity. The former situation occurs in, say, the run from a traction battery to an inverter, or from an inverter to a motor, where the forward and return wires are close together and there is a significant AC component to the current present; the latter situation occurs in multiturn windings such as those found in transformers, motors, etc, and can be a vexing problem to deal with in high-frequency magnetic components. Skin effect is also proportional to frequency, and is usually inconsequential at the AC mains frequencies of 50 or 60 Hz; AC current will penetrate to a depth of 8.5 mm at 60 Hz, so only conductors larger than 17 mm will begin to experience increased AC resistance as a result of skin effect. The high currents in EV traction motor circuits may very well require conductors of this size, however, and many inverters employ some type of thirdharmonic injection scheme to better utilize the battery voltage, which means skin effect canâ€™t necessarily be dismissed out of hand. Proximity effect is a much more complicated loss mechanism, especially when more than two conductors are present and/or the conductors are wound in layers. It can also reinforce or oppose the skin effect; if all of the conductors are carrying current in the same direction (again, the best examples are the windings in motors and transformers) then the proximity effect will tend to force the main current back into the center of each wire (at least in those wires surrounded by other wires - the wires at the periphery will instead have their current flows pushed to their outsides), partially counteracting the skin effect.
Alternative wire technologies Aluminum wiring is widely used in the US today, but only for higher-current circuits. In the 60s and early 70s, though, entire houses were wired with aluminum, and that lead to a dramatic increase in fires. The Con-
Large cable with stranded aluminum wires Photo courtesy of CMBJ (CC-BY-SA 3.0)
Being cheaper and lighter are two very compelling attributes when it comes to vehicles, especially EVs. sumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) eventually determined that poor interconnects between aluminum wiring and outlets, receptacles and such were to blame. In fact, the CPSC found that the risk of fire went up by 55 times if solid aluminum wire was used for branch wiring, and consequently many insurers will deny or void coverage if there is a single solid aluminum wire between the circuit breaker panel and an outlet or other branch load. So it would seem odd that some automotive suppliers are once again pitching the use of aluminum wire, but now in vehicles. Letâ€™s start with aluminumâ€™s negatives: it has a higher thermal coefficient of expansion than copper, which tends to loosen connections over time; it creeps, or cold
THE TECH flows, when compressed, more than copper does, which lug very quickly and without heating up the surroundalso results in loose connections - particularly ones that ing area. In fact, aluminum has been used for starter rely on clamping, such as crimps or the screw terminals and battery cables in ICE vehicles since the early 2000s, on an outlet; aluminum oxide is a good insulator, and mainly in Europe, but if Delphi and other automoforms almost immediately when aluminum is exposed tive component suppliers have their way, much of the to air, whereas the oxides of copper are conductive and high-current wiring in EVs will soon be made entirely of don’t form nearly as easily; it is fairly electronegative on aluminum as well. the galvanic series, so will also readily corrode when in contact with metals that are more positive by at least 0.15 V than it on the series; it has a fatigue life limit while copper does not, so aluminum cannot withstand as much flexing or vibration. And now aluminum’s positives: it is lighter for the same ampacity as copper, and it is far cheaper than copper on an equivalent ampacity basis as well. That’s it. However, being cheaper and lighter are two very compelling attributes when it comes to vehicles, especially EVs. Aluminum’s downsides can be sidestepped - or at least minimized - through suitable application and termination techniques. For example, aluminum is a good choice for higher-current wires such as those between the traction battery, inverter and motor, whereas it is a terrible choice for low-current or signal-level wires, because of the difficulty of making a good termination and fatigue cracking from vibration/ movement. The termination technique of choice for aluminum wire is welding, but conventional processes like GMAW (aka TIG) are too expensive and/or time-consuming to be employed on an automobile assembly line. Ultrasonic and DC-DC converters and Rare earth and other friction welding techniques on-board chargers ferrite magnets in industry-leading for high-efficiency can break through the oxide film small size motors without the use of messy flux or expensive shielding gas, joining Aluminum electrolytic Pressure sensors and capacitors and TMR angle and motion aluminum wire to a compatible
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MAKING A Q&A WITH CHRIS SPEJNA OF ODAWARA ENGINEERING Photo courtesy of Odawara Engineering
As the number of electric motors in vehicles grows, many automakers are relying heavily on third parties to help design their manufacturing lines - a great opportunity for the motor-winding experts at Odawara Engineering. By Michael Alba
A MOTOR E
Now [automakers] are investing heavily to rebuild their electric motor competency, especially in the EV-HEV traction motor area.
lectric motors are everywhere: in household appliances, in hand tools, in buildings, in consumer electronics, and increasingly in automobiles. Motors are used in windshield wipers, power windows, throttle controllers, and, more and more, in the drivetrains of electrified vehicles. Electric motors abound, and Odawara Engineering knows how to make them. Charged spoke with Odawara’s Chris Spejna about the design of electric motor manufacturing lines and how automakers may adapt to the new technological landscape in the years to come. Q Charged: Why do the automakers need help from
companies like Odawara? Don’t they employ an enormous number of engineers?
A Chris Spejna: If you go back 30 years ago, Ford, GM,
Chrysler, made most of their own motors - wiper motors, window lifts, HVAC, Cooling fans, etc - but as they got into the 1980s, they realized they couldn’t make affordable motors anymore, mainly due to the increase in labor costs at the time. So the OEMs started to outsource to Tier 2 or 3 suppliers. Over the years, through attrition they lost a significant amount of engineering expertise, and now they are investing heavily to rebuild their electric motor competency,
THE TECH especially in the EV-HEV Traction Motor area. At this point, however, they rely on us and other very competent suppliers. At this time, EV traction motors are not a commodity item. Maybe in 10 or 20 years they’ll be a commodity item, much like a blower motor for a vacuum cleaner. I can go online and see probably 30 or 40 different suppliers of winding equipment for vacuum cleaner motors. You can’t do that right now for electric vehicle traction motors.
They farm out seats, they farm out tires, they farm out glass, but what’s the one thing they all have in common? They make their engines, transmissions, drivetrain and frame. It’s an integral part of the whole system. Q Charged: Do you think in 10 to 20 years that major
automakers will all have in-house teams to do what you do? A Spejna: They may not make their own winding
systems, but they will have much deeper motor design and manufacturing teams to support motor manufacturing as a core competency. If you look at the OEMs, they farm out seats, they farm out tires, they farm out glass, but what’s the one thing they all have in common? They make their engines, transmissions, drivetrain and frame. It’s an integral part of the whole system. I think it’s inevitable that they all invest heavily in the EV and HEV areas. In addition, there are large Tier 1 suppliers that will follow suit and invest in this traction motor area, companies like ZF, Continental, Magnum and Bosch. Some of these suppliers will develop competent teams in-house and work closely with the OEMs. Q Charged: How many major EV and HEV projects
has Odawara worked on?
A Spejna: Our parent company was fortunate enough
to work with Toyota to provide the winding systems for the electric motor and generator for the original Prius
Photos courtesy of Odawara Engineering
The long-term evolution is to get the systems to have a higher per-hour throughput with fewer operators on the line for greater efficiency and quality. 20 years ago. Since then, we’ve worked on numerous automation systems, probably in the neighborhood of 29 or more, for the new drivetrain motors for electric and hybrid vehicles. I’ve been with Odawara since 1980. We were originally a small family-owned company called OTT-A-MATIC. In 1986, we were purchased by Odawara Engineering of Japan. In our early years, we concentrated on winding systems for appliances and power tools, and some automotive motors. Primarily universal commutated motors for power tools, gear motors and vacuums. But also a lot of PMDC [Permanent Magnet Direct Current motors] for cooling fans, HVAC for cars, wiper motors, window lifts, seat movers. For the EV and HEV motors, Odawara focuses on the stator line, the stationary part of the motor. A customer will provide us a design and ask, can you quote a winding system? And we’ll look at it and offer suggestions to make it manufacturable, and then also quote the entire winding system, from start to finish. Then we design the equipment, manufacture, install, and then train the customer’s employees to operate it. Q Charged: What are the key metrics that you’re trying to opti-
mize for when designing a line?
A Spejna: First is speed and labor - working to lower the labor
content. The more automation we can provide does this. Of course, it raises the capital cost, but as we get better at making these systems some of the cost should come down. And anytime you have a person on the line, there’s a variable. They can make mistakes or forget to do a process. The long-term evolution is to get the systems to have a higher per-hour throughput with fewer operators on the line for greater efficiency and quality. Then there is a range of more technical goals like slot fill efficiency. We work a lot with distributive wound motors, which is what Nikola Tesla developed over 100 years ago. It’s round wire, and we take multiple wires in hand, and we wind them around tooling arbors without twisting the wires and insert the coils for maximum slot fill. I think we’ve got the best technology that’s available to achieve maximum slot fill at a high production rate and manufacturing efficiency. I’m talking about maybe 85% or more for slot fill. Say you need to put 5 pounds in a 5-pound bag - at a certain point the bag’s going to want to rip or tear and you’ll have rework. You’ve got to tape it up
Photos courtesy of Odawara Engineering
These systems are large. And in addition to designing the equipment, we also work very closely with our customers to improve manufacturability. when you’re done. And many designers, they just say, well we’re going to fill the slot of the stator with wire. And then at the end of the line, you’ve got some operator trying to salvage what didn’t get in there correctly. And that’s just a waste of time, money, and effort. What we do is, if you’ve got a 5-pound bag, we can get in 4.9 pounds efficiently. And we can do it all the time. That’s the expertise we bring to the party. Q Charged: What are the basic stages of your stator assembly lines? A Spejna: For a distributive wound motor, you start
with a stator stack and a lamination stack. And then you have to put slot liners in it, insulation, because you have to insulate your lamination core or stator from your lamination wire. If it shorts out, you got nothing. And then we wind wire, insert the wire, then drift or form the wire to get it out of the way. Typically these 3-phase distributive wound motors require 3 insertion passes. We call them the U, W, and V phases. So you insert U, drift it out of the way, insert W, drift it out of the way, [then] insert V. And then you do a final blocking and form, lace the end turns and fuse the connecting terminals. After a detailed electrical test, it is then trickle-coated with a varnish so it’s one solid mass. These are pretty standard processes.
Typical Insertion Line Structure Q Charged: Are large traction motors typically more difficult to manufacture than smaller-scale motors? A Spejna: Everything’s related to the physical size, so the equipment gets much bigger. For example, we’ve done winders for little components for cell phones, and you almost need a magnifying glass to see them. And then, for vibrators in cell phones and stuff like that, it’s a little motor about the size of the tip of an eraser. But, typically, the drive motors for an electric vehicle might weigh over 150 pounds, with the rotor and housing and all. So, we’re talking from a traditional fractional horsepower motor being a few pounds if not ounces, to a traction stator that may be close to 100 pounds. So the physical size of the equipment, the complexity of the equipment, and the cost of the equipment, is significantly higher. Q Charged: Does that mean automotive is becoming one of the biggest parts of your business? A Spejna: It definitely is. These systems are large. And in addition to designing the equipment, we also work very closely with our customers to improve manufacturability. Everyone wants these systems to work at 99.9%, and, you know, not everything that looks right on the CAD works right in reality. So that’s what’s great about our very knowledgeable staff. We’re probably in the neighborhood of 1,000 years of engineering experience, if you add up all the people who’ve been working on these systems at the company.
POWER By Michael Alba
Bel Power Solutions sees strong growth in industrial electrification great news for its auxiliary power products
hen many people think of electric vehicles, they imagine sleek passenger EVs like the near-quintessential Tesla Model S. However, EVs are by no means restricted to consumer use. As more and more industries move towards electrification, more and more industrial EV solutions will be needed. Bel Power Solutions is a power conversion product provider that fully embraces this trend, operating a specialized eMobility unit dedicated to providing power components for industrial EVs. According to Frank Vondenhoff, Bel Power’s eMobility business development manager, the strong growth of both consumer and industrial EVs signifies an important shift in electrification. “In the past few years there was a lot of seeding and missionary work, but now we see that there is real momentum, and that companies are really moving forward in electrifying their existing vehicles.”
Photos courtesy of Bel Power Solutions
In the past few years there was a lot of seeding and missionary work, but now we see that there is real momentum, and that companies are really moving forward in electrifying their existing vehicles.
Photos courtesy of Bel Power Solutions
Inverters and converters Bel Power’s eMobility products are designed to power auxiliaries and are all galvanically isolated. Though these products are standardized, they can be modified to reflect the needs of different customers, says Vondenhoff. “Of course, every customer is unique, so if they want a different output voltage, for example, then we create what we call a modified solution.” Perhaps the most popular of the eMobility products is the inverter-charger, which provides the dual functions of battery charging and powering loads. “The inverter-charger can either charge your lithiumion batteries, or it can export the power to your hotel loads, all the 120 or 240 V AC peripherals like fridges, lighting, microwave ovens, even air conditioning units,” says Vondenhoff. “The inverter-charger is a 15 kW bidirectional unit that is very famous in the marine industry. Because when you’re in the marina, you use your shore power to charge all your batteries, and then when you’re at sea, you use that inverter-charger to power all your loads.” The DC-DC converter is a unidirectional converter that, for example, enables DC power to be delivered to the instrumentation on an EV’s dashboard. “We supplied products for a roller coaster project where, for instance, you have twenty carts on a roller coaster, and the customer was interested in using our DC-DC converter to make sure that all the DC equipment is powered,” says Vondenhoff.
When you’re in the marina, you use your shore power to charge all your batteries, and then when you’re at sea, you use that inverter-charger to power all your loads.
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It’s not just the big trucks or the small trucks. It’s a whole variety. So you name it, we’ll do it. “And at Zurich airport,” he continues, “we’ve implemented the DC-DC converter in a mobile ground power unit to power the airplanes. When the airplane is at the gate, the auxiliary power unit normally gets powered from a diesel generator. We took out the diesel generator and replaced it with a battery pack of 300 V DC nominal. And then we charge the auxiliary power unit via the batteries instead of using diesel.” Industrial EVs Bel Power’s eMobility unit operates around the globe, with design centers in Switzerland, China, and the US. eMobility products are designed for medium- to heavy-duty vehicles - the company eschews passenger EVs to focus on solutions for the higher-power market. According to Vondenhoff, Bel Power’s power conversion products are used in industrial EVs of all kinds, including buses, garbage trucks, delivery trucks, fire trucks, yachts, boats, tow tractors at airports, mining trucks, forklifts, excavators, Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs), and more. “It’s not just the big trucks or the small trucks,” says Vondenhoff, “it’s a whole variety. So you name it, we’ll do it.” The growth of medium- to heavy-duty EVs is often supported by legislation, as is the case for what Vondenhoff sees as the fastest growing sector of the heavy-duty EV market: electric buses. “Most of the growth we see now is in buses and in trucks, and mostly in buses,” he says. “Here in Europe, for example, there’s a lot of legislation in place where a lot of municipals require clean buses. So no diesel buses anymore, or petrol buses. Many other countries are adopting that as well. And they say that by 2023, 2025, they want all diesel buses to be [replaced by] fully electric buses. So yes, buses are the biggest at the moment.” The next biggest, according to Vondenhoff, is the growth in electric UTVs (i.e., off-road vehicles like those used by the military). After UTVs, pleasure boats and ferries represent another large area of EV growth. “In Amsterdam, for example, all the canal boats will be fully electric in the next four years,” says Vondenhoff. “We’ve also developed DC-DC converters, inverters, inverter chargers, and on-board battery chargers for heavyduty electric vehicles.”
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BYD delivers first of 20 electric buses to Albuquerque Rapid Transit
BYD has announced the delivery of an electric 60-ft articulated transit bus to the city of Albuquerque. The new e-bus, which will be a part of the city’s new bus rapid transit line, Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART), is the first of 20 to be delivered by the end of 2017. According to BYD, its buses will save the city of Albuquerque 50% on fuel and maintenance costs - $9.8 million in operational savings over the lifetime of the buses. Transit agency ABQ RIDE estimates that the e-buses will reduce its carbon footprint by more than 21,780 metric tons, the equivalent of removing 4,601 passenger vehicles from the road. “Careful deliberation has gone into the selection process, and it was found that these buses are the best fit with the most dynamic benefits for the City of Albuquerque and the ART project,” said Mayor Richard Berry. “ART will not only have a lasting positive impact on improving transit options in Albuquerque, but with the selection of electric buses, it will also increase environmental efficiency and cost savings.”
Faraday Future leases new California factory Faraday Future (FF) has signed a lease on a new manufacturing facility, and begun preparing the site for the installation of manufacturing equipment. The millionsquare-foot facility is in Hanford, California, strategically located between the country’s two largest EV markets, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. The current tenants will move out in late November, and FF expects to begin moving in in earnest in early 2018. It says the new plant will eventually employ up to 1,300 workers, over 3 shifts. “Our new production facility is the latest demonstration of our commitment to getting FF 91 on the road by the end of 2018,” said Dag Reckhorn, VP of Global Manufacturing. “Despite significant headwinds on the path ahead of us, we are laser-focused on that one key milestone.” “We know there is a lot of work and risks ahead, but this event represents a major step forward for the company,” said Stefan Krause, COO/CFO. “As we begin this next phase in our company’s history, our efforts to build out strong corporate leadership will bring a new focus to Faraday Future and deliver on our commitments to employees, investors, suppliers, and future users, who have shown exceptional patience and resilience through the company’s difficult times.”
Photo courtesy of Faraday Future
Photo courtesy of BYD
California-based Chanje has assembled a team of execs with impressive experience in the EV industry. President Ian Gardner is an alumnus of the Boston Consulting Group, Duke Energy and the Los Angeles Clean Tech Incubator. COO Joerg Sommer has been a Senior VP at Volkswagen, Daimler and Renault. VP and General Counsel James Chen has held positions at Tesla, the EPA, and two DC law firms. VP of Manufacturing Jeff Robinson served at Tesla, Ford, Mazda and GM. Chanje’s co-founding partner is Hong Kong-based FDG Electric Vehicle, a manufacturer of EVs and batteries. The two companies co-created a commercial panel van with a cargo capacity of up to 6,000 pounds and, along with other partners, have invested nearly $1 billion to bring it to market. Chanje claims to already have volume orders for the electric truck, which it will deliver later this year. Chanje says its vehicle will incorporate autonomous driving technology and vehicle connectivity, including real-time data reporting and vehicle enhancements via remote software updates. Fleet management specialist Ryder System (NYSE: R) has announced that it will be Chanje’s exclusive sales channel partner and service provider. The company plans to work with large fleet customers to provide renewable energy and charging capabilities as a turnkey service. It envisions a microgrid depot solution that includes renewable energy, charging infrastructure, energy storage and grid services. Chanje is in the process of selecting a site for a US assembly facility - it says the search includes “multiple states near port facilities west of the Mississippi.” “We have an opportunity to meaningfully overhaul the last-mile industry and completely revolutionize how that facet of transportation impacts the environment,” said Chanje CEO Bryan Hansel. “Medium-duty electric trucks offer the biggest emissions saving potential of all vehicles because our products fit best where they are needed the most - in highly populated, dense urban centers where noise and air quality are a major concern.”
Photo courtesy of Chanje
Startup with former Tesla execs to introduce a commercial electric truck
Mercedes-Benz factory transitions to producing batteries and electric powertrain components
The Mercedes-Benz plant at Untertürkheim, Germany, the home of Daimler headquarters, will make a transition from producing legacy engines, transmissions and axles to producing powertrain components for EVs. This will include new battery production, and the assembly of electric modules for front and rear axles. The Untertürkheim plant, which was built in 1904 and currently has 19,000 employees, will become the fourth battery production factory in Mercedes’ global network, along with two in Germany and one in Beijing. In the future, the Untertürkheim plant will supply batteries for vehicles in the EQ sub-brand that will be assembled at the passenger car plant in Sindelfingen. Mercedes-Benz expects pure EVs to account for between 15 and 25 percent of its total sales by 2025. “In the coming years, we plan to produce a rising number of powertrains for conventional and hybrid vehicles,” said Mercedes Divisional Board Member Markus Schäfer. “At the same time, we are creating competitive conditions in our plants with regard to electric mobility. With this further development, Untertürkheim will continue to be the lead plant in the global powertrain production network.”
Photo courtesy of Peugeot
Photo courtesy of Daimler
Royal Mail orders 100 Peugeot electric delivery vans
The UK’s Royal Mail has agreed to purchase 100 Peugeot Partner L2 Electric vans, to be used as delivery vehicles. The vans will go into service from December 2017 at delivery offices around the UK, supported by a rollout of charging infrastructure. This is the first major fleet order for the Partner L2 Electric, which was launched in February. The Partner L2 Electric has a gross payload of 552 kg (1,217 lbs). The 22.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is fitted under the load floor - Peugeot says there is no loss of load space compared with legacy Partner L2 models. Range is 106 miles (on the NEDC cycle). A permanent-magnet synchronous motor produces 49 kW (67 hp) at 4,000 rpm, and maximum torque of 200 N·m. The front wheels are driven through a speed reducer and single-ratio gearbox. “With electric vehicles firmly on the agenda this week, there couldn’t be a better time to announce this landmark deal with the Royal Mail,” says PSA Group Fleet Director Martin Gurney. “The order was won after Royal Mail carried out trials with the Partner Electric.” “Our research has shown that electric vans are a good operational fit with our business, and we are delighted to be ordering such a large volume to use in our daily operations,” said Paul Gatti, Royal Mail Fleet Director. “Emissions are an important issue for us at Royal Mail and we are continuously looking at new and innovative ways to reduce our carbon footprint and our impact on air quality.”
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Los Angeles buys 95 electric buses, plans emissions-free fleet by 2030
Photo courtesy of BYD
In the first step towards a new goal of eliminating tailpipe emissions by 2030, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority has agreed to spend $138 million to buy 95 electric buses from New Flyer and BYD. The new e-buses will make up less than 5% of Metro’s fleet, but the purchase will at least double the number of electric buses in use in California, according to the agency. Metro’s board voted unanimously to deploy the battery-powered buses, but some in the organization still have reservations about their range. In a recent report, Metro employees said that electric buses as they exist today pose “significant risks to service and operation.” Metro’s first electric buses will be deployed on lines where their range won’t be a problem: on the Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley and in the 29mile Silver Line carpool lane along the Harbor and San Bernardino freeways. Both routes will have charging stations. The Orange Line will have 35 electric buses from New Flyer, and should be fully electric by 2020. The Silver Line will feature 60 buses from BYD, which are to be operational by 2021. “As the federal government moves backward, here in Los Angeles, we are moving forward,” said Los Angeles City Councilman and Metro Director Mike Bonin. “They are moving us into a dark past. We are moving into a bright future.”
Hyundai announces plans for 8 EVs and 3 fuel cell vehicles Hyundai has announced that it will place EVs at the center of its product strategy. Its plans include 8 battery EVs and 3 fuel cell vehicles. The company is developing its first dedicated EV platform, which will allow it to produce multiple models with longer ranges. The South Korean automaker is planning to launch an electric sedan with a range of 310 miles under its high-end Genesis brand in 2021. It will also introduce an electric version of its Kona small SUV with a range of 240 miles in the first half of next year. Sister company Kia said it will add 3 plug-in vehicles to its stable. Hyundai recently unveiled a near-production version of its new fuel cell SUV, which will be launched in Korea early next year, followed by US and European markets. A fuel cell electric bus is to be unveiled late this year, and a fuel cell sedan is also planned. Hyundai launched the Tucson Fuel Cell in 2013, and has sold about 862 since its 2013 launch, while Toyota has sold some 3,700 Mirai fuel cell vehicles since its 2014 launch. Analysts noted that gaining traction with fuel cells will be “a long hard slog,” partly due to a lack of charging infrastructure. Korea has 10 fuel cell charging stations, and Japan has 100, according to Hyundai. “Hyundai will achieve economies of scale for fuel cell cars by 2035 at the earliest,” said Lee Hang-koo, a Senior Research Fellow at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade. “Before that, Hyundai has no choice but to rely on battery cars.”
Photo courtesy of Daimler
Daimler starts European production of Fuso eCanter electric light-duty truck
Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC) has started production of the Fuso eCanter electric light-duty truck in Tramagal, Portugal. Production of the eCanter in Japan began in July. The Fuso eCanter is produced on the same production line as the legacy Canter truck at the Tramagal plant - the electric powertrain components are installed at separate stations along the line. MFTBC has already announced its first commercial customer in the Japanese market: Seven-Eleven will add 25 eCanters to its fleet by the end of this year. The vehicles coming from Portugal will be handed over to customers in Europe and the US within the next month.
The eCanter has a range of 62 miles and a load capacity of two to three tons, depending on body and usage. The vehicle’s electric powertrain contains six 420 V, 13.8 kWh lithium-ion battery packs, built by Daimler subsidiary Accumotive in Kamenz, Germany. According to MFTBC, the eCanter offers operating cost savings of up to €1,000 per 10,000 kilometers, compared to a legacy diesel truck. “With today’s start of production of the eCanter, we become the first global manufacturer to produce an all-electric truck in series,” said Mitsubishi Fuso CEO Marc Llistosella. “We already received the first customer orders and will mark the global launch of this truck in New York this September.”
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Mazda exec reiterates lack of interest in EVs
Mazda is one of the few major automakers that currently makes no plug-in vehicles, although it has indicated that it would offer an EV in 2019 to meet ZEV regulations. A Mazda exec defended the company’s status-quo strategy at a recent Michigan trade group convention, saying that the “impending death of the internal combustion engine is overrated.” “Take the $7,500 EV credit off the table,” suggested Robert Davis, Senior VP in charge of Special Assignments for North America. “At the same time, you take the EV mandate off the table. Let the government keep the $7,500 and let the industry find the best way to meet the clean air standard. Make it CO2, make it grams per mile, fuel economy - whatever feels best, but don’t mandate the particular powertrain.” Davis went on to list his objections to EVs, some of which rested on dubious factual ground. As Electrek put it, “his comments read like a summary of Koch misinformation campaign talking points.” His assertion that the auto industry could find the best way to meet clean air standards on its own rings hollow in light of the industry’s continued efforts to have those standards watered down, both in the US and in China. Davis claimed that EV batteries cannot be easily recycled. Electrek points out that lead-acid batteries, which are extremely dangerous if not disposed of properly, are currently recycled at a rate of over 99%. Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, are generally not considered hazardous waste, and most of the elements within are considered safe for incinerators and landfills. Furthermore, programs to recycle them are already being developed by Nissan, Tesla and other EV-makers. Speaking of recycling, Davis also trotted out the tired old “long tailpipe” argument (“We need to consider that this is not zero emissions. This is remote emissions, or displaced emissions.”), which has been discredited by study after study. Since Davis made his comments, Nikkei Asian Review reported that Toyota and Mazda were planning a capital partnership deal that would “possibly” include “joint development of key electric vehicle technologies.” According to Nikkei, Mazda plans to launch an unspecified electrified vehicle in 2019. No other details were provided. The Toyota/Mazda deal may also include a joint venture to build a new plant in the American South that would produce up to 300,000 (gas-powered) SUVs per year. Whatever the companies’ EV plans may be, it’s plain that they don’t see their main profit center changing any time soon. “The internal combustion engine has a strong future role in transportation,” Davis said. We’ll see.
t’s hard to overestimate the importance of the Tesla Model 3 (although the media has been doing its best). There’s no question that it’s a momentous motorcar on (at least) three levels. First, Model 3’s success is widely assumed to be an existential issue for the company - if it fails to deliver on its promise, or even if it delivers too slowly, TSLA stock will take a tumble (to say the least). Second, the head-turning new EV’s market debut is, or should be, a wake-up call for other automakers - Model 3 seems certain to start stealing customers from luxury brands in the small sedan segment, as Model S has done in the large luxury market. And finally, many see the advent of a long-range, mass-market EV as a day of reckoning for oil-based transportation. Model 3, together with the Chevy Bolt and the upcoming second-generation Nissan LEAF, delivers the range/price combination that has long been considered the tipping point for EVs. If the 200-mile/$35k sweet spot is truly the Holy Grail that the pundits have been hailing, then the transition from ICE vehicles should now be unstoppable (or to put it another way, if consumers don’t start buying EVs now, they never will).
A promise kept Elon Musk has been talking about Tesla’s third-generation vehicle since the founding of the company, but until it was well into development, he (perhaps wisely) didn’t offer any details. He stated several times that it would have a range of at least 200 miles, would sell for around half the price of Model S, and would hit the market by 2017. He also promised that it would not suck. And that was about it. As far as styling, features, and so forth, the company issued no word until the March 2016 unveiling. That event, at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, California, was a theatrical sound-and-light show in the style that’s now become a Tesla trademark. Elon Musk reiterated Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to a sustainable transportation system, and his not-sosecret three-step plan to bring EVs to the masses. He graciously thanked buyers of the existing Models S and X for financing the development of “the final step in the master plan: a mass-market affordable car.” Finally, to cries of “You did it!” the first 3 Threes rolled onto the stage. Leading up to the event, many in the media, skeptical that Tesla would be able to hit the “magic number” of $35,000, had predicted that the company would pull a bait-and-switch by presenting a $35k base model that
3 THE VEHICLES
MODEL 3 Will this machine kill the Oil Age?
Photo courtesy of Tesla
By Charles Morris
lacked the amenities everyone wants. But a true knight does no such things. The Iron Man assured us that every Model 3 would come with the main features that make a Tesla a Tesla: 5-star safety ratings; a 0-60 time of less than 6 seconds; a range of at least 215 miles; standard Autopilot hardware and Autopilot safety features; plenty of passenger and cargo space; and Supercharging capability. The reservation list opened the morning of the show, and by the time Musk finished his presentation, 115,000 people had plunked down their $1,000 deposits. By the time deliveries began a year later, that number had grown to half a million. Even if all goes as planned, Tesla won’t be producing that many cars per year until the end of 2018, so the waiting list is obviously going to remain a long one for the foreseeable future. For this reason, Tesla has been “antiselling” Model 3, trying to convince prospective customers to order a Model S instead, and put some money in the bank right now. Tesla’s web site includes a chart that compares the two models, making it quite clear that Model S is the premium vehicle: “Model S is our flagship, premium sedan with more range, acceleration, displays and customization options...Model 3 is a smaller, simpler, more affordable electric car. Although it is our newest vehicle, Model 3 is not ‘Version 3’ or the most advanced Tesla.” Admitting that a particular model has drawbacks is surely yet another first for an automaker. Car companies’ promotional materials tend to accentuate the positive and ignore the negative, often to a ridiculous extent. Tesla, however, hammers home the point that Model 3 is a lesser model - and not only that, but you’ll have to wait (oh no!). Consider this wording, which violates every principle of conventional marketing wisdom:
Model S: “New Model S inventory cars are available for delivery in approximately 7 days while custom orders are delivered in 30-60 days.” Model 3: “As we ramp up production, deliveries for Model 3 reservations placed today are not expected to be delivered until mid 2018.” In February 2017, Tesla began building preproduction units at its California assembly plant. In April, Reuters reported that Tesla planned to streamline the process of building the Model 3 production line by cutting out a step that was previously considered standard procedure. Automakers typically test a new production line by building vehicles with relatively cheap prototype equipment that can be modified to address problems, then discarding the temporary tools once production is running smoothly - a process known as “soft tooling.” Tesla skipped that step, and installed permanent equipment on the line from the beginning. Musk told a group of investors that “advanced analytical techniques” (computer simulations) would help Tesla to advance directly to production tooling. Some observers called it a risky move. Production equipment designed to produce millions of cars is expensive to repair or replace if it doesn’t work. However, lowergrade temporary equipment may have been part of the problem with the long-delayed Model X in 2015. According to an anonymous source cited by Reuters, Tesla had no time to incorporate lessons learned from soft tooling, making its value negligible: “Soft tooling did very little for the program and arguably hurt things.” Tesla has also learned to better modify production tools, and its 2015 purchase of Michigan tool and die manufacturer Riviera Tool means it can make equipment faster and more cheaply than before.
Photo courtesy of Tesla
Tesla plans to build
500,000 cars (all 3 models combined) in 2018.
For once, Tesla was not the first to try a new way of doing things. Audi recently launched production at a plant in Mexico using computer simulations of the entire assembly line and factory, and the company said this allowed the plant to launch production 30 percent faster than usual. An Audi executive involved in the Mexican plant launch, Peter Hochholdinger, is now Tesla’s VP of Production. Limited production of Model 3 began in July, right on schedule (much to the chagrin of pundits who had been insisting for months that Tesla would be late). Replaying a scene that took place during Model S development, TSLA stock soared as it became apparent that Tesla would deliver the game-changing vehicle on time. The first production Model 3, destined for Elon Musk’s personal stable, rolled off the line without fanfare in July. The big party took place at the end of the month, when the first 30 customers received their vehicles, and the configuration tool, which lets reservation holders choose their colors and options, went live. Once again, Musk told the Tesla story, took some wellearned bows, and thanked his team, as well as everyone who has bought a Model S or X. “You make the 3 possible. The money that we make [on an S or X] all goes into
Photo courtesy of Steve Jurvetson/Flcikr
As we ramp up production, deliveries for Model 3 reservations placed today are not expected to be delivered until mid 2018. building Model 3.” Perhaps not what the Wall Street types who are impatient for Tesla to start posting profits want to hear, but strong stuff for true believers. With uncharacteristic understatement, Musk said, “The thing that’s going to be the major challenge for us over the next 6-9 months is, How do we build a huge number of cars?” Then he dropped his formal pose and said, “Frankly, we’re going to be in production hell. Welcome to production hell!” Tesla plans to ramp production to 5,000 units per week by the end of 2017, and to build 500,000 cars (all 3 models combined) in 2018.
Brave new features For now, there are only two variants: the $35,000 Standard model has 220 miles of range (EPA estimated); a 0-60 mph time of 5.6 seconds; and all the hardware necessary for full autonomy. The optional Long Range Battery ($9,000)
The cars will be increasingly autonomous. so you won’t really need to look at an instrument panel all that often. divided into hatchbacks and sedans. Loading large and/or heavy objects is easy with a hatchback like Model S (or the Toyota Prius or Honda Fit), but it can be almost impossible with a sedan-style trunk. Model 3 has a sort of cross between a hatchback and a trunk, with a wide opening that can supposedly accommodate a bicycle or surfboard. As with Model S, once the car has the necessary sensors and control hardware, adding other Autopilot features, including new ones yet to be developed, is just a matter of pushing out a software update, so the sky (or perhaps a buyer’s bank account) is the limit. The greatest benefits of vehicle autonomy (smoother traffic flow, fewer parking lots) will be realized when most or all vehicles are autonomous, so the new technology will surely trickle down to even the lowest-priced cars eventually. We’re sure that Tesla envisions a future in which every Model 3 can get around on its own. More speed will also probably be available in time. Tesla has assured us that “there will be versions that go much faster” than the 5.6 seconds of the Standard Model 3. In answer to questions from Tesla fans on Twitter, Elon Musk said that Model 3 will “of course” offer Ludicrous mode as an option. Other future options are likely to include dual-motor all-wheel drive (expected around the beginning of 2018 at a cost of about $5,000), an air suspension feature that can dynamically adjust ride height, a towing hitch and a vegan interior (no leather).
Photo courtesy of Tesla
boosts the range to 310 miles (and shaves half a second off the 0-60 time). Enhanced Autopilot adds limited self-driving capabilities, including self-parking, for $5,000. Full Self-Driving Capability will be available in the future for another $3,000, but it will be “dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary by jurisdiction.” Tesla is determined to make its vehicles the safest on the road. At the launch event, Musk presented a video showing a side crash test being performed on Model 3 and the venerated Volvo S60, which he called “arguably the second-safest car in the world.” As expected, Model 3’s interior is spare and clean, with nothing to break up the dashboard but a touchscreen. “The cars will be increasingly autonomous,” said Musk, “so you won’t really need to look at an instrument panel all that often. You’ll be able to do whatever you want… watch a movie, talk to friends, go to sleep.” Yes, there is a cupholder. Many reviewers have been impressed by the spacious, open feel. Although Model 3 is smaller than Model S, it actually has more headroom in the back, thanks to the fact that it is not a hatchback. Several other features add to the perception of roominess, including the large window in the back, the absence of a transmission tunnel, and the smooth, instrument-cluster-free dashboard. Model 3’s cargo-carrying capacity is respectable, although naturally it is substantially less than that of the larger S. The back seats fold completely horizontal, and between the rear space and the frunk, Model 3 has 15 cubic feet of cargo space - more than almost any other car in its class (the BMW 4 Series and Jaguar XE each beat it by a single cubic foot). However, the utility of cargo space isn’t just about cubic feet, but about accessibility - that’s why the auto world is
THE VEHICLES Who knows what other nifty options may be in the pipeline? Many in the financial press believe that Tesla is counting on high-margin options to make Model 3 profitable.
Charging for charging Tesla’s Supercharger network is one of the brand’s greatest assets - a valuable benefit for customers and a strong selling point against the (so far, mostly theoretical) competition. When Tesla introduced Model S, free Supercharging reassured prospective buyers who were worried about running out of juice, but the company can’t (and shouldn’t) continue to offer free unlimited Supercharging once it starts delivering vehicles in large volumes. Shortly after the first Model 3 launch party, Tesla replaced the “free unlimited” policy with a new one that it believes is fair to both existing and future owners (it is, however, a bit complex, and we will make no attempt to summarize it here). All Model 3 have the capability for Supercharging, and although it will not be free, “it will still be very cheap, and far cheaper than gasoline, to drive long-distance with the
Model 3,” Musk has promised. While some Tesla fans have cried foul, most experienced EV drivers seem to agree that offering free-for-all charging be a bad idea for all concerned. Some of the most popular Supercharger locations are already congested, and adding half a million Model 3 drivers to the user base could turn a quick and hassle-free charging experience into a nightmare. We value what we pay for, and services that are free tend to get abused. Even a nominal charge will encourage drivers to use the Superchargers when they really need them, and possibly to take better care of them. Drivers who can afford a $35,000 new car aren’t likely to mind paying ten or fifteen bucks if they get convenient access to a fast charge when they need one.
A new platform Outwardly, Model 3 looks pretty much like a smaller version of Model S, but in fact it represents a new platform, and there are important technical differences. CTO JB Straubel confirmed that in 2015, during a talk at the University of Nevada, saying that the Model 3 would be built
Photos courtesy of Tesla
on an entirely new “third generation” platform. “For better or worse, most of Model 3 has to be new,” said Straubel. “With the X, we were able to build with a lot of common components with S, but with the Model 3 we can’t do that. We are inventing a whole new platform... It’s a new battery architecture. It’s a new motor technology [and] a brand new vehicle structure.” As Straubel succinctly predicted back in 2015, Tesla (with partner Panasonic) developed a new battery cell for Model 3, designed a new motor that reportedly uses permanent magnets, and incorporated more steel into the frame and body panels.
Bigger cells, better chemistry Since Model 3 was announced, most Tesla-watchers have agreed that, in order to deliver a 200-mile EV at the desired price point, Tesla would have to develop a better and/or cheaper battery pack. Thus, there has always been an essential link between the Model 3 and the Gigafactory, where Tesla expects that economies of scale and new production techniques will enable it to reduce battery pack costs by over 30%. The enormous edifice, now called Gigafactory 1, started producing battery cells in January. Tesla and Panasonic expect to have 6,500 full-time employees at Gigafactory 1 by 2018. Tesla is now forecasting a production capacity of 35 GWh of battery cells in 2018, and three times that amount when full production begins around 2020.
At first, Tesla was cagey about the actual capacities of the Model 3 battery packs. Model S and Model X use a naming scheme that specifies each variant’s battery capacity: a Model S 75 has a 75 kWh battery pack, a Model S 85 has an 85 kWh pack, and so on. Tesla seems to have abandoned that scheme - perhaps it was thought to be too nerdy? Whatever the reason, Model 3 currently offers only two battery options: Standard, with 220 miles of range, and Long Range, with 310 miles. The lack of specifics led at least one writer of an analytical bent, Electrek’s Fred Lambert, to extrapolate the pack capacities from the vehicle’s EPA certification documents. Finally, Elon Musk explained that the Standard pack has a capacity of “just over 50 kWh,” while the Long Range pack has “about 75 kWh.” This is important information, as it offers a clue to the cost of Tesla’s battery packs, which directly affect the company’s gross margins, and its position vis a vis competitors (should any appear). Like any automaker, Tesla refuses to disclose its exact battery costs, but Musk has said that he will be “disappointed” if the company can’t bring the cost below $100 per kWh by 2020. Model 3 uses next-generation cells, co-designed by Tesla
THE VEHICLES The specs
Fundamentally, the chemistry of what’s inside is what really defines the cost position. and Panasonic, that feature improvements to the chemistry as well as the geometry of the cell. During a recent earnings call, Musk and JB Straubel explained how the new cell design is expected to deliver “an energy density improvement and, of course, a significant cost improvement.” “The cathode and anode materials themselves are nextgeneration,” said Straubel. “We’re seeing improvements on the 10-15% range on the chemistry itself in terms of energy density.” Tesla will not disclose the exact formula that it uses to produce its world-class cells, but in 2015 Musk said that it was one of the first to introduce silicon in automotivegrade lithium-ion batteries. “We’re shifting the cell chemistry for the upgraded pack to partially use silicon in the anode,” he explained. “This is just sort of a baby step in the direction of using silicon in the anode. We’re still primarily using synthetic graphite, but over time we’ll be using increasing amounts of silicon in the anode.” Silicon is widely considered to be the next big thing in anode technology, because it has a theoretical charge capacity ten times higher than that of typical graphite anodes. Jeff Dahn, the prominent battery expert and exclusive research partner of Tesla, described “a race among the battery makers to get more and more silicon in.” So, it’s safe to assume Tesla continued down the Silicon alley
~50 kWh (Standard)/ ~75 kWh (Long Range)
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with the Model 3 cells. The company also customized the cell’s shape and size to further improve the cost and packaging efficiency. The new “2170” cells are 21 mm in diameter and 70 mm long, slightly larger than the “18650” (18 mm in diameter and 65 mm long) used in Model S and Model X. “We’ve done a lot of modeling to try to figure out what is the optimal cell size,” explained Musk. “And it’s not a lot different from [what we’re using in S and X], we’re sort of 10% more diameter, maybe 10% more height. But it’s a cubic function, so it effectively ends up being, from a geometry standpoint, maybe one-third more energy per cell. Then the actual energy density per unit mass increases.” “Fundamentally, the chemistry of what’s inside is what really defines the cost position though,” added Straubel. “It’s often debated what shape and size, but at this point we’re developing what we feel is the optimal shape and size for the best [cost efficiency]. A Model 3 battery pack contains only 4 modules, compared to 16 modules in a 100 kWh Model S pack. The Standard 50 kWh Model 3 battery pack contains 2,976 cells in groups of 31 cells per brick - there are 2 modules of 23 bricks and 2 modules of 25 bricks. The Long Range 74 kWh pack (the one currently in production), consists of
4,416 cells in groups of 46 cells per brick. The new battery packs exhibit several other differences from the Model S/X packs (as revealed by technical documents published by Electrek). Unlike the Model S and Model X battery packs, the Model 3 pack is not made to be easily swappable. This would seem to be the final nail in the coffin of the battery-swapping idea. Some have speculated that Model 3 would feature an external highvoltage connector on the vehicle’s underside (in addition to the normal charging port), which would be used by an autonomous charging gadget that patent applications revealed the company has been working on. Such a port is not visible on the Model 3 technical documents, so it seems Tesla has abandoned that idea as well (although it surely has plans for some kind of autonomous charging system, perhaps the snake charger Tesla teased in a 2015 YouTube video). Overall, the Model 3 battery pack design looks like a much more compact, streamlined package. The charger, fast-charge contactors, and DC-DC converter are all integrated into the pack, saving weight and cost, and simplifying the assembly of the vehicle. Tesla also eliminated the external battery pack heater - the new pack can be heated when necessary using only waste heat from the powertrain, even when the car is parked.
Motoring The EPA certification application also revealed what could be a big change at the other end of the powertrain. The document states that Model 3 uses a 3-phase permanent magnet motor, as opposed to the induction motor used in Models S and X. Tesla declined to comment on the exact motor topology, but we know that Tesla uses sophisticated computer simulations to evaluate different motor designs and optimize them for the desired parameters of a vehicle. These param-
Photo courtesy of Steve Jurvetson/Flcikr
This gives you a panoramic view of how each motor technology will perform. Then you go and pick the best. eters are different for Model 3 than they were for Models S and X, so it’s safe to assume that Tesla’s engineering team found that a PM motor design was the best fit for the new car. As Tesla’s Chief Motor Design Engineer, Konstantinos Laskaris, told Charged (in our March/April 2017 issue), “Understanding exactly what you want a motor to do is the number-one thing for optimizing. You need to know the exact constraints - precisely what you’re optimizing for. Once you know that, you can use advanced computer models to evaluate everything with the same objectives. This gives you a panoramic view of how each motor technology will perform. Then you go and pick the best.” Laskaris wouldn’t discuss exactly how Tesla went about selecting the optimal motor design for Model 3, but his comments yield some insight into how an automaker makes tradeoffs among various parameters, including performance, energy consumption, body design, quality, and costs. “All of these metrics are competing with each other in a way. Ideally, you want them to coexist, but given
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cost constraints, there need to be some compromises. How much driving range are you willing to trade for faster acceleration, for example? The electric car has additional challenges in that battery energy utilization is a very important consideration.” Laskaris explained that you can’t have everything both high efficiency and high performance, for example - but you can make intelligent choices between competing parameters. “This is the beauty of optimization. You can pick among all the options to get the best motor for the constraints. If we model everything properly, you can find the motor with the high-performance 0-60 constraint and the best possible highway efficiency.” There may also be historical reasons for a switch in motor technology. By many accounts, the reason Tesla went with an induction motor in the first place is because it inherited the design from AC Propulsion. The induction motor used in the Roadster actually had roots going all the way back to GM’s ill-fated EV1. The EV1’s motor was designed by Alan Cocconi, who based it on existing AC induction motor specs. Tesla licensed the AC motor design from Cocconi’s company, AC Propulsion. Marc Tarpenning told me in a 2013 interview that the Tesla team moved on from AC Propulsion’s motor pretty early in the game. “We redesigned it a year before we
We’ve got to be cost-effective. We can’t use aluminum for all the components. were in production...long before we were even into the engineering prototypes.” (The AC Propulsion guys, who didn’t get to ride the Tesla rocket to fame and fortune, insist that there is a lot of their DNA in the Roadster motor, but that’s another story.) The proud history of the induction motor notwithstanding, when Tesla designed Model 3, it started with a blank sheet of paper, and it had much expanded R&D capabilities, including advanced virtual modeling that probably wasn’t available back in the aughts, when the company designed Model S.
Steely Dan When Model S deliveries began in 2012, industry observers applauded its innovative use of aluminum body panels, but five years later, we can’t say that it really started
THE VEHICLES a trend. Today, aluminum is used extensively to improve the fuel efficiency of profitable pickups such as the Ford F-150, and in a few sport models from Audi, Jaguar and Range Rover. It is used to a certain extent to lighten EVs such as the LEAF, but it hasn’t displaced steel as a body material, thanks to its higher cost, plus concerns about its durability and ease of repair. As many Tesla owners have reported, aluminum body panels can be shockingly expensive to repair after even minor collisions. Aluminum’s big advantage, lighter weight, may soon be rendered moot by a new generation of high-strength steels that’s currently under development. Be all that as it may, it was probably price that led Tesla to use a hybrid steel/aluminum body for Model 3. “We’ve got to be cost-effective,” said Chris Porritt, Tesla’s VP of Engineering, back in 2014. “We can’t use aluminum for all the components.”
Model 3 has fewer than 100. Part of the reason for this is to streamline the production process, making it easier to quickly ramp up to mass-market volume. Another tidbit about Model 3: it could take the title of most American-made car. The Kogod School of Business issues an annual study that ranks cars according to how “made in America” they really are. At the moment,
On-Board, Off-Board, and Every Kilometer Along the Way.
Simple production, please One major difference between Model 3 and its predecessors: Tesla designed it to be “easy to produce.” One aspect of this is that the bells and whistles have been kept to a minimum, and the available options are few (although Elon has hinted that more will be available in future). “We got quite adventurous with the Model X,” said Musk in 2015. “We’re not going to go super-crazy with the initial version of the [Model 3]. There are things that we could do with the Model 3 platform that are really adventurous, but would put the schedule at risk.” Model S is currently available with 3 battery pack options, rear-wheel-drive or dual motor, 7 paint colors, 6 different interiors, 4 styles of wheels, two roof options, and more. It all adds up to more than 1,500 possible configurations.
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THE VEHICLES Top left, right courtesy of Steve Jurvetson/Flcikr. Bottom left, right courtesy of Tesla
Photo courtesy of Steve Jurvetson CC BY 2.0
according to Tesla, about 55% of Model S components are US- or Canadian-made. Model 3, with its Nevada-made 2170 battery cells, may be as much as 95% US-sourced, making it the “most American” car available. Tesla also plans to obtain much of the raw materials for those cells in the US. The company is believed to be developing a source of lithium at Silver Peak, not far from the Gigafactory, and Nevada lawmakers have proposed new tax incentives aimed at increasing lithium production in the state. Tesla and the “nauseatingly pro-American” Elon Musk have always celebrated their patriotic bona fides (and what could be more patriotic than employing over 25,000 Americans in a rapidly growing, future-oriented industry?), but of course, Tesla’s decisions to keep production close to home aren’t made only for patriotic reasons - they have to do with access to skilled workers, and keeping supply chains short.
Crashing the sedan scene Model S has ruled the large luxury sedan segment for a couple of years now, outselling the offerings of legacy automakers such as Audi, BMW, Lexus, Jaguar and
Mercedes. Will the Model 3 pull off a similar feat? Several media outlets have compared the new EV’s features and pricing to small and mid-size sedans from the popular luxury brands, and their conclusions do not bode well for the establishment. When it comes to acceleration off the line, Model 3 beats almost every other sedan in its price class. Elon Musk has promised that Model 3’s safety ratings will be second to none. Autopilot is probably already the equal of any of the driver assistance systems offered by its competitors, and will be continuously improved via over-theair updates. Model 3’s 8-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty is twice as long as that of many competitors. Standard features such as the giant touchscreen and standard internet access are either unavailable or optional on competing sedans. Several publications, including Bloomberg, Electrek, Electric Moose and CleanTechnica, have compiled
Image courtesy of Tesla
charts comparing Model 3 side-by-side with its similarly-priced rivals, and they leave no doubt that the Tesla is just a little (or a lot) better than any of them. And that’s before considering the savings on fuel and maintenance, or the EV’s ace in the hole: the driving experience that almost all reviewers agree is smoother, quieter and more pleasant in general. Perhaps it’s fortunate for the legacy brands that you can’t drive a Model 3 off the lot today. According to Tesla’s web site, if you place an order now, you can expect delivery in 12 to 18 months. And once the 3 starts hitting the streets in numbers, and the reviews start piling up, demand could far surpass Tesla’s 500,000-unit (if all goes well) annual capacity. The waiting list may grow longer. Will Model 3 prove to be the “wake-up call for the rest of the industry” that so many have predicted, or will the legacy OEMs hit the snooze button, as they have so many times before? Tesla’s mission has always been to get more people driving EVs, even if it’s not the one selling them. Elon Musk has said many times that he welcomes competition from the major automakers. Many reviewers, including this writer, have raved about the Chevy Bolt, and the next-gen Nissan LEAF is expected to be a contender as well. However, so far none of the majors has offered any real competition for Tesla. This has less to do with the quality of their EVs than with a fundamental difference of strategy. As regular Charged readers understand (but most mainstream media do not), the Big Three and their European and Asian counterparts have chosen to build just enough EVs to satisfy government regulators, and not to advertise them to the mass market. (This may be changing - GM has been taking out full-page ads for the Bolt in national newspapers and magazines, and there’s a rumor afoot that it plans to substantially increase production.) If the legacy automakers do stick to their low-volume EV strategy, the ironic result could be that Tesla gains a near-monopoly of a market that’s constricted by a supply bottleneck. Everyone may want an EV, but with Tesla producing a measly half-million cars per year (a fraction of the 18 million annual sales in the US alone), most buyers will end up settling for what automakers have on the lots. It’s hard to see how Model S can steal much market share from other OEMs as long as there’s an 18-month waiting list. At least one competitor has already tried to capitalize on that situation. Nissan responded to the flood of Model 3 reservations with ads that said, “No one should have any reservations about getting an electric car today. Why wait when you can drive an all-electric LEAF now?”.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH
US REGULATIONS? EMISSIONS By Charles Morris
Q&A with emissions standards expert Michael Steel of the law firm Morrison & Foerster or better or for worse, the proliferation of plug-in vehicles that has occurred over the past few years is largely the result of government regulation. Automakers are producing some excellent EVs, but (except for a certain California carmaker) to put it bluntly, their main reason for doing so is that governments around the world are forcing them to. There’s a complex web of national, state and local incentives for EVs and charging infrastructure. In the US, the two programs that are most responsible for encouraging the production of EVs are the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and the California Air Resources Board (CARB)’s emissions stan-
dards, which include the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, and are also followed by 13 other states. The current US administration, which flatly denies the existence of climate change, and has promised a wholesale rollback of regulations, has been zealously working to turn back the clock on emissions standards. While the bluster and bombast reported in the mainstream media may give the impression that the president can eliminate emissions standards with the stroke of a pen, in fact there is a process which, like anything to do with law and government, must move methodically through several stages (who would have thought governmental red tape could be a good thing?). Furthermore, while the auto industry does have a long
history of lobbying for emissions standards to be watered down, its current goal is not to eliminate them entirely, but only to extend the deadlines for them to be applied. Simply dropping current fuel economy standards would surely be counter-productive for automakers. They have already invested huge sums in meeting the current standards, which were proposed in 2012. They also seem to have no stomach for a legal battle between federal regulators and state agencies such as CARB. The US administration recently announced that the EPA will reopen the recently-completed mid-term review of vehicle efficiency standards, a move that the auto industry supports. However, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has suggested that it would prefer to keep
I think it’s difficult to go back and say, ‘Oh never mind, all that data is wrong.’ But you never know what’s going to happen. existing vehicle emission limits, but stretch out the timeline. Alliance President Mitch Bainwol recently said that the goals of increasing fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions are not in dispute. “There is a profound consensus perspective on fuel economy and greenhouse gases,” he wrote. “The only issue is the degree of the slope.” Charged spoke with Partner Michael Steel of the California law firm Morrison & Foerster about the likely timeline of any changes to the regulations. Steel is an environmental lawyer who advises companies on local and statewide pollution requirements, and has worked with both private-sector and California government entities on the implementation of the state’s climate change legislation. He has clients within the auto industry that are following the issue of the CAFE standards closely. back fuel economy standards, but that’s a multi-step process that will take some time. What’s the current state of play?
detailed analysis with a ton of information in it. I think it’s difficult to go back and say, ‘Oh never mind, all that data is wrong.’ But you never know what’s going to happen.
A Michael Steel: One thing that was agreed to at the
Q Charged: So nothing
Q Charged: The US administration wants to roll
time that these standards, which will apply until 2025, were adopted, was that there would be a mid-term review by EPA, and also by the state of California, to determine whether those standards were too onerous, whether they were working, and so forth. So EPA, right before the end of the Obama administration, issued its mid-term report, actually issued it early, and concluded that everything was fine - “These 2025 standards are great, let’s stay the course” - and California shortly thereafter issued a similar mid-term report. The EPA withdrew that report after the change of administration, said that it wanted to consider it further, and that it would issue the report sometime in 2018. That mid-term review, if revised, could provide a basis for revisiting these 2025 standards. I think it’s a tall order for EPA to come up with data that would change the midterm review. It’s a very comprehensive, highly technical,
changes right away, right? Nothing’s going to change until 2018 when they reissue that mid-term review. A Steel: At the soonest, and even then, it
may very well be that it comes out basically saying, leave things as they are. There’s an administrative process that people have to go through, and those rarely move faster than a year or two. So when you think about it, really the soonest that this could happen, if they were really motivated, would be towards the end of [Trump’s] first term. Q Charged: Is there anything that the federal govern-
ment can do to weaken the California ZEV mandate?
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Whether the EPA will grant a new waiver for the period after 2025 remains to be seen. A Steel: California has special status under the federal
Clean Air Act that allows it to be a leader in the country. There are 13 other states, representing about 140 million people, who have adopted California’s more stringent emissions standards. That has led to those standards being more or less the national standard, because the automakers aren’t making cars for 14 states and then the other 36. They’re going to make one car, which is why California’s standards are so important. There was some discussion when Trump was elected that perhaps California’s authority might be rolled back by the EPA. When the EPA first threatened to withdraw California’s waiver, it and the other 13 states threatened to sue. There was concern that [the waiver] might be withdrawn, which would throw into question the pre-2025 standards, the current standards, [but] that seems to have calmed down. The EPA administrator announced that he is
not planning any current action with respect to California’s waiver status. Whether the EPA will grant a new waiver for the period after 2025 remains to be seen. Q Charged: The media tends to refer to fuel econo-
my standards and emissions standards as the same thing, but the CAFE standards regulate fuel economy, whereas the greenhouse gas (GHG) standards regulate emissions. How are the two types of regulations related? A Steel: The CAFE standards and the greenhouse gas
(GHG) standards are intertwined because you have to meet both. So the GHG standards basically inform the CAFE standards. The CAFE standards are corporate average fuel economy standards and the ZEV mandate counts towards your average fuel economy. You’re not using any fuel in an electric car, so you get credit for that, and California’s ZEV mandate goes a step further and says you need to [produce] a certain percentage of ZEVs, but you can also get credit if you get ahead of the CAFE standards. [If you] reduce your average fuel economy, you can take some credit for that towards your ZEV mandate. So there’s sort of a banking system [by which] the legacy manufacturers accumulate credits by exceeding the CAFE standards and can use those credits to count towards their ZEV mandate. Which means that, if you assume that they’re supposed to produce X percent ZEV vehicles, they can [use credits to] meet that X percentage without actually producing that many ZEV vehicles. They can also buy credits from ZEV manufacturers, like Tesla. So Tesla sells credits to the legacy makers, to help them meet their ZEV targets. Q Charged: Some have said that the ZEV program is
actually counter-productive, because it allows automakers to buy credits instead of producing ZEVs. A Steel: It hasn’t been as productive as it could be,
let’s say that. I’m not sure I would say it’s counter-productive, but California’s not meeting its targets for ZEVs, and in part that’s because of this credit program, which shifts the dynamic. One of the concerns is that the credit market is kind of saturated. There are too many credits out there, and that has slowed the pace of ZEV penetration into the market, because the legacy manufacturers are able to not make ZEVs, but still make their targets by using credits.
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Charging network operator ChargePoint has expanded its service and support operations by opening a new office in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Scottsdale office will serve as the company’s center of global customer service and quality operations, managing and deploying support for North America while administering European support operations with direct regional support deployed in each country. ChargePoint, which operates over 39,000 public charging locations, prides itself on its 24/7 phone-based support. EV drivers can call ChargePoint at any time for help finding a charging station, charging an EV or checking on their account. The company also provides support to the businesses that own its stations. “The shift to electric mobility generates many benefits: cost savings for drivers, new marketing tools for businesses and significant environmental savings,” said CEO Pasquale Romano. “The explosion of jobs related to electric mobility is too often overlooked, but our expansion in Arizona, Europe and around the world reflects that the transition to electric mobility is well underway and represents a massive opportunity to create jobs and revitalize communities.”
Photo courtesy of Ubitricity
ChargePoint expands US presence with new Arizona office
Photo courtesy of ChargePoint
London street lamps retrofitted as EV chargers The UK’s proposal to ban petrol cars by 2040 is controversial, but one thing everyone seems to agree on is that a lot more public chargers will be needed, particularly for flat-vdwellers who have no assigned parking spots. Street lamps could offer a partial solution. German firm Ubitricity is working to adapt some of London’s street lamps to offer EV charging, as well as replacing the bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs. Owners of plug-in cars can order a charging cable with a built-in electricity meter, which will allow them to charge their vehicles using lampposts in parts of the boroughs of Barnes, Hounslow, Twickenham, Kensington and Westminster. “Because the technology can be retrofitted into existing streetlights, we can avoid adding unnecessary street furniture to residential streets,” Greg Edwards, Transport Planner at the London Borough of Hounslow, told the Daily Mail. “And since we can connect to an existing electrical supply we also avoid any associated civils work, which subsequently reduces installation time and overall cost.”
Photo courtesy of Pcmanrules CC BY-SA 4.0
BP may install more EV chargers at gas stations
Major oil companies are beginning to explore the possibility of offering EV charging at their retail outlets. Shell has begun installing DC fast chargers at selected stations in the Netherlands and the UK. Now British Petroleum has begun talking to EV-makers about partnering on a network of charging stations. “We have discussions going on with a lot of the EV manufacturers to have a tie-up with our retail network for charging,” BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley told Reuters. Dudley has been an advocate of the oil industry’s need to participate in the move away from fossil fuels. A recent analysis by the company predicted that more than 100 million electric cars will be on the road by 2035. This isn’t BP’s first foray into EV charging. In 2010, it announced a pilot program that would equip 45 of its US stations with chargers (BP operates 11,000 fuel stations across the US). In 2011, it installed ABB fast chargers at stations in the Netherlands. “We’ll be ready for this world but we’re not going to dive in too deeply,” Dudley said, alluding to BP’s earlier unsuccessful ventures into wind and solar power. BP will make investments in future technologies, but these will consist of small stakes in other companies, or partnerships, he said. Dudley added that BP is also studying autonomous vehicles and the potential for combining natural gas with solar power generation.
Photo courtesy of EVgo
EVgo lists its 10 most charged cities in the US
Charging network EVgo has released a list of the 10 cities with the highest usage of its DC fast chargers in the country. The company now operates 950 fast chargers in 600 locations around the US. Unsurprisingly, all but two of the top 10 are in California. According to EVgo, more than 95 percent of the state’s residents have an EVgo fast charger within 35 miles of their home. EVgo’s chargingest city in the US is San Diego, whose residents log over 6,000 DC fast charging sessions in an average month, followed by Fremont, home to the Tesla factory, and San Francisco. Arlington, Virginia, part of the DC megalopolis, and Atlanta, which is said to boast the country’s worst gridlock, also made the top 10. Average Charge Sessions per Month 1. San Diego, CA 6,073 2. Fremont, CA 3,881 3. San Francisco, CA 2,941 4. San Jose, CA 2,570 5. Cupertino, CA 2,118 6. Berkeley, CA 1,511 7. Los Angeles, CA 1,348 8. Arlington, VA 1,288 9. Atlanta, GA 1,264 10. Daly City, CA 1,114 In the top 10 cities combined, EVgo powers almost 25,000 charging sessions per month. In an average week, EVgo charges up to 711,000 miles and saves 29,000 gallons of gas, according to the company. “Utilization of EVgo’s chargers is growing everywhere across the nation,” said EVgo VP Terry O’Day. “We’re currently seeing the number of charge sessions rise every month, and look forward to the continued growth of the EV market.”
Photo courtesy of ChargePoint Services
Trans-Canada Highway to get 34 new fast charging stations A consortium of three firms plans to install a network of 34 fast charging stations along the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH). Toronto-based eCAMION and the Swiss firm Leclanché are providers of energy storage solutions. SGEM is an independent power producer. The three companies will partner for the $13.6-million project, which is partially funded by a $6.2-million repayable contribution from Natural Resources Canada. eCAMION and Leclanché have formed a joint venture called FAST Charge to manage the TCH project. The new system being developed by FAST Charge includes an energy storage system, using large-format lithium-ion batteries, which acts as a buffer between the grid and the vehicle, allowing EVs to be charged rapidly from the batteries instead of directly from the grid. Each station will have the capability to charge three vehicles simultaneously. FAST Charge has already started work on demonstration units, and manufacturing is to begin in the first quarter of 2018. The project is scheduled for completion by the first quarter of 2019. The FAST Charge stations will be installed at 34 locations along the TCH connecting the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba - a total distance of about 1,860 miles - with the stations spaced approximately 62 miles apart.
ChargePoint Services orders 50 rapid chargers from EVTronic ChargePoint Services has placed a £1-million ($1.3 million) order with French EV hardware supplier EVTronic for fifty rapid chargers to expand its GeniePoint Network in the UK. The first of the new chargers is due for delivery by the end of August, and the rest will be installed over the next three months. The EVTronic charger offers a smart energy storage feature that allows it to store electricity when there is no or slow charging, then deliver it when a vehicle is connected for a rapid charging session. It’s designed to be fully scalable in order to keep pace with ever-larger vehicle batteries. Vincent Beudin, EVTronic VP of Business Development, said, “ChargePoint Services’s GeniePoint Platform back-office system integrates perfectly with our chargers to provide integrated functionality capable of providing rapid charging to the electric vehicles of today and tomorrow.” “Electric vehicle charging is now a critical public service,” said ChargePoint Services Managing Director Alex Bamberg. “With battery technology constantly being developed to improve capacity and reduce recharging time, the driving range of vehicles is increasing dramatically. To support this accelerating progress, EV charging equipment must incorporate the latest technologies, as well as being extremely reliable for public use. We have chosen EVTronic chargers due to their unique energy storage capability and robust reliability, their high level of functionality and total integration with our GeniePoint Platform.”
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New study: V2G may not degrade EV battery life - it might actually extend it Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology could turn the challenge of EVs’ power consumption into an opportunity, allowing vehicle batteries to help balance electrical grids and facilitate the use of renewable energy. Alas, a recent study from the University of Hawaii suggested that the additional cycling could harm battery performance. Now a study from the University of Warwick suggests that using a battery in a V2G scenario does not necessarily degrade its performance - in fact, it might conceivably improve it. After running simulations on a “comprehensive battery degradation model,” the researchers developed a V2G algorithm designed to minimize degradation. They also found that, under certain conditions, exchanging energy with the grid could actually extend battery life. “Extensive simulation results indicate that if a daily drive cycle consumes between 21% and 38% state of charge, then discharging 40%-8% of the batteries’ state of charge to the grid can reduce capacity fade by approximately 6% and power fade by 3% over a three-month period,” wrote the researchers. Smart-grid optimization was used to investigate a case study of the electricity demand for a representative university office building. Results suggest that the smart-grid formulation is able to reduce the EVs’ battery pack capacity fade by up to 9.1%, and power fade by up to 12.1%. So, V2G good, or V2G bad? The jury is still out - as an article in Vox notes, there are several pilot projects underway around the world. But if this study’s findings prove to be valid over the long term, V2G could turn out to be even more valuable than previously imagined. Currently, V2G is envisioned as a service to the grid for which utilities would pay EV owners. But if it were possible to improve a battery’s life by massaging it with just the right smart charging algorithm, payments might flow in the other direction.
Photo courtesy of NewMotion
Enhanced torque or improved fuel efficiency? Pick two.
NewMotion expands charging network in France Charging network operator NewMotion has expanded its network in France, bringing the total to over 3,500 public charge points. Since 2009, NewMotion has grown its public charging network to over 50,000 charge points in 22 countries. NewMotion offers a range of cloud-based smart charging services to individual and corporate customers. “It is important drivers have open access to charge on the go as well as a way to easily identify available public charge points,” said Sander van der Veen, UK Country Manager. “The expansion of our French network with 2,700 new charge points fits well with our ambition to become one of the largest European public charge networks.”
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Tritium raises $8 million to bring 3 new products to market, triple production
Photo courtesy of Tritium
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Tritium, the Brisbane-based EVSE manufacturer, has received 10 million Australian dollars ($8 million) in new capital from Queensland entrepreneur Brian Flannery. “I can see that a tipping point has been reached in this market,” said Flannery. “Tritium has been at the forefront of innovative development in the fast-charging sector and its sustained growth and future expansion program has convinced me that this is the right time to invest. Suppliers like Tritium, with good products, will lead the market. The fact that it is an Australian-designed product makes this investment even more attractive to my family investment company.” The company raised 5 million AUD in March 2017 and was recently awarded 2.5 million AUD from the Queensland Government’s Business Development Fund. Tritium’s Veefil DC fast chargers are operating in 22 countries, and the company recently expanded its market to the US, China, the UK and Germany. “Since our initial investment in Tritium in 2013, the company has experienced tremendous international growth, developing, manufacturing and marketing its Veefil range to an impressive customer base of international infrastructure providers, including ChargePoint, Stromnetz and Fortum Charge & Drive,” said Trevor St Baker, founder of the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund. “This latest investment will facilitate the delivery of our sales pipeline for three new products, the tripling of our manufacturing capability and the further development of our international expansion - particularly in the US and Europe,” says David Finn, Tritium’s CEO.
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Continental says its AllCharge system will provide maximum power, no matter the charging station
By Michael Alba
ontinental’s AllCharge is a technology that aims to provide a universal charging experience for EVs. The way it sets out to do this is simple, yet surprisingly unique: Instead of using purpose-built charging components, AllCharge makes use of the existing components of an EV’s electric powertrain to charge the vehicle. “Normally you have to swallow a bitter pill,” says Dr. Oliver Maiwald, Head of Powertrain Technology & Innovation at Continental. “When producing an electric vehicle, you have to define the main charging system, and maybe some optional charging systems.” The charging systems you define for your EV correspond to the three types of charging stations found in the wild: single-phase AC, three-phase AC, and DC. AC chargers are cheaper to build, but DC chargers offer the quickest charge. The bitter pill in this scenario is that some EVs will be incompatible with some types of charging, and even if an EV is compatible, it may not be able to charge at the maximum power available at the site. This could result in some frustratingly slow charging times. “For instance,” explains Maiwald, “in Germany, it takes some time, if you want to charge in your household power or plug socket with three kilowatts.”
When producing an electric vehicle, you have to define the main charging system, and maybe some optional charging systems. A better way to charge One way to address these problems would be to build some type of charging adapter - an EV dongle, if you will. “An easy option would be to install a monster charging device handling all these different charging types,” says Maiwald. “But this is incredibly expensive, because it’s an on-top device.” A better solution hinges on recognizing a simple fact: The functionality needed for EV charging is already present in the EV’s electric powertrain. The powertrain’s inverter is used to switch between AC and DC
Photo courtesy of Continental
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One of the biggest success stories of AllCharge was to put the charging guys and the driveline guys and the battery guys in one room. at different voltages, which is exactly what’s needed to charge an EV battery. So why not let it? “One of the biggest success stories of AllCharge was to put the charging guys and the driveline guys and the battery guys in one room,” says Maiwald, “to really figure out what can be used in terms of the components in common, and what components might be needed for a certain purpose.” This multi-disciplinary approach allowed the AllCharge team to design a charging solution with minimal modifications to the existing powertrain electronics. In fact, the only additional component in the system is a DC-DC converter, used to ensure optimal power flow to the battery. Apart from that, the increased usage of the powertrain components simply requires more durable electronics. “Of course, there are some minor changes in the system, which
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create some additional costs,” says Maiwald. “The complete system has to be slightly more robust for this higher usage. But we have to compare the overall system costs in the end. And here we definitely see a competitive advantage compared to the different devices you have to integrate, when you want to go to higher charging powers and [shorter] charging times.” The comparative simplicity of AllCharge belies its numerous advantages. First, AllCharge is compatible with all three types of charging stations - single-phase AC, three-phase AC, and DC. Furthermore, AllCharge will always allow for the maximum charging power, with an output rate of up to 800 V and 350 kW. “The main idea was to always have the maximum charging power, no matter which charging station you want to plug into,” explains Maiwald. “And this is one of the benefits for the car manufacturers. Plus, with AllCharge, they understand you have a really high flexibility, in terms of being well prepared when DC charging stations will pop up on highways or at shops in a massive way. The car is already ready to do DC charging without any additional components - so, it’s really ready for the future.” Another perk of the AllCharge system is that it will enable drivers to access 230 V of AC power for personal use. This means that your EV battery could be used to power anything from your phone to your laptop, electric power tools, or even a refrigerator.
The future of AllCharge So when will you get to see it in your EV? Although Continental has been working on AllCharge for two
The main idea was to always have the maximum charging power, no matter which charging station you want to plug into. years, the system is still in the prototype phase. “We have a running system now, and we’re doing more and more functions,” says Maiwald. “We’re testing high-powered charging in our R&D center in order to evaluate the different charging types in different scenarios. We plan to go into production for the next car generation. This is our target.” Though it may seem a long time until the early 2020s, Maiwald expects that AllCharge will be ready for whatever charging technology might emerge in that time. “With AllCharge, you have the systems already available in your drivetrain, so we do not see that there are any limitations. Not now, and also not in the future - because AllCharge, at least from what we know so far, is able to operate with any charging power and systems we foresee for the future as well.” The next steps for AllCharge are to make it bulletproof, according to Maiwald. This involves validating its capabilities. However, despite the work that still needs to be done, Maiwald says there’s already interest from automakers. “Unfortunately, or luckily really, we generated a lot of interest in the market,” jokes Maiwald. “Which is good, but on the other side, the team is now under pressure. There’s definitely a huge interest.”
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WHEN EVS ARE EVERYWHERE
PowerFlex says its Adaptive Load Management is the best technology to balance the growing new grid load By Michael Alba
his is the first truly new consumer device to be introduced in almost twenty years,” says Forest Williams, Director of Business and Channel Development at PowerFlex Systems. “Certainly this product will have the biggest impact on electrical systems and the grid since the advent of television in the 1950s.” Williams is referring, of course, to EVs. The rising popularity of plug-ins is exposing some less obvious but often ignored questions. How do you charge all of these new loads efficiently? What happens when hundreds of vehicles in a parking facility are plugged in at the same time? What happens when every parking lot has that many EVs? PowerFlex Systems is taking a unique approach to answering these questions with a technology that they’re calling Adaptive Load Management.
The charging problem - it’s a matter of timing The nature of the problem is easy to illustrate. Imagine a parking lot equipped with multiple EV chargers, and three different drivers who use the chargers at different times of the day (figure 1). Driver 1 arrives at 7:00 am and plugs in his EV. Two hours later, at 9:00 am, Driver 2 pulls up and plugs in her EV. An hour later, Driver 3
Figure 1. Standard Charging Scenario
arrives. The three drivers leave at 6:00 pm, 11:00 am, and 5:00 pm, respectively. For each EV, the chargers will automatically provide the maximum charging power for the entire time they’re plugged in. Although this may be good for the driver, it places a heavy burden on the electrical system (and the wallet of the property owner). Add several more EVs to the mix throughout the day, with drivers coming and going on different schedules, and you end up with peaks
Photo courtesy of PowerFlex
and valleys of system usage that reflect a very inefficient waste of system capacity. One solution to this inefficiency is a technique called load balancing, by which all the chargers are placed on a circuit and limited to a certain amount of current output. Let’s return to the example scenario to illustrate how load balancing works (figure 2). From 7:00 to 9:00 am, when EV 1 is the only car charging, it gets 100% of the available current. As soon as EV 2 arrives, the two vehicles each get half of the available current. From 10:00 to 11:00 am, when all three EVs are charging, each one gets a third of the available current. “Now, this solution will absolutely help keep the business owner or the property manager out of peak demand charge territory, but drivers aren’t going to be very happy,” says Williams. “What if I’ve got to leave early to take my kid to soccer practice?” PowerFlex says the problem is that load balancing makes no provision for drivers who require more energy or an earlier departure time. They are completely dependent on how many other EVs are also charging. With no way to specify their usage requirements or departure times, drivers can only cross their fingers and hope for the best.
This solution will absolutely help keep the business owner or the property manager out of peak demand charge territory, but drivers aren’t going to be very happy. Figure 2. Typical Load Balancing
THE INFRASTRUCTURE Adaptive Load Management PowerFlex believes a better solution is required to keep both drivers and property managers happy. The company’s Adaptive Load Management technology achieves this by incorporating driver inputs and real-time electrical load monitoring to determine who gets how much energy and when. “Drivers need to answer four questions: What charger are you at, which vehicle do you have, how many miles do you need, and when are you going to leave?” explains Williams. “We use this information to create a charging profile that is sent to our local load management controller (LMC) that has everybody else’s profile.” By probing the unique needs of each driver, the LMC can determine the most effective way of distributing power at any given time. To continue with our example (figure 3) when Driver 1 arrives at 7:00 am, he inputs his requirements (via a mobile app), telling the system he’ll leave around 6:00 pm. When Driver 2 arrives at 9:00 am, she tells the system she’ll be leaving in two hours, and when Driver 3 arrives at 10:00 am, he specifies he’ll leave at 5:00. Knowing that EV 1 and EV 3 have all day to charge, the load management controller can give EV 2 all the available power from 9:00 to 11:00, so that Driver 2 fulfills her charge requirements in the short time she’s there. Accounting for the needs of all drivers, the system can figure out who needs what by when, and distribute available energy accordingly. In addition to keeping track of every charging session, the load management controller also monitors the major electrical system loads, like lighting and air conditioning, as well as any additional energy supplies like solar or storage batteries. “Most electrical systems can supply substantial amounts of additional energy to the chargers because many of the sub-systems are either off or running below maximum capacity. Adaptive Load Management allows us to make use of this additional capacity.” The LMC updates these variables every 5 seconds to account for changing circumstances, ensuring it’s constantly outputting the optimal distribution of power. “Nobody’s power limits are exceeded, everybody’s getting the charge they want, and you probably just saved forty to sixty percent on the cost of the infrastructure and peak demand charges,” says Williams. The system uses a low-power, low-latency wireless mesh network to connect the chargers and the load management controller. According to Williams, this approach offers several advantages over traditional
Photo courtesy of PowerFlex
We use this information to create a charging profile that is sent to our local load management controller (LMC) that has everyone's profile. Figure 3. Adaptive Load Management
Wi-Fi, as it has lighter data packets and a more appropriate network topology. “A mesh network makes more sense in this type of application,” explains Williams. “It makes placement of the LMC less critical, and one controller can theoretically run about 100 chargers. You could have an LMC in the wiring closet of a four-story parking garage, and as long as one of the chargers can see a charger on the next floor it repeats all the messages throughout the whole network.”
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THE INFRASTRUCTURE Welcome to the Figure 4. Adaptive Load Management real world PowerFlex has done extensive testing to validate the performance of the Adaptive Load Management algorithms. “We’ve gotten to know the facilities directors at several large Silicon Valley tech firms, and last year one of them gave us the raw energy usage data for 71 of their chargers,” says Williams. “We applied our ALM algorithms, and you can see the results. It just shaved all those peaks out, moved them out to later in the day, and would have saved them 44% less power.” But it’s not all theoretical - PowerFlex Systems has rolled out several actual Adaptive Charging Network systems. One is located at the California Garage at Caltech in Pasadena where the basic algorithms were developed. The company installed 54 Level 2 EVSE, 20 Level 1 outlets and a DC Fast Charger in This isn’t just what we’d like early 2016 to act as a test bed for various system components and firmware. “The California Garage is one to do when we grow up. These of the largest deployments of EV chargers in a single are real installations, and we’re place on the West Coast besides Google and a couple other firms in Silicon Valley,” says Williams. To get a in the process of setting up a better feel for how the system works, you can check distribution channel. out a very detailed online dashboard for the California Garage (caltech.powerflexsystems.com) that represents what a system owner or administrator would see. The problem of how to manage the electrical loads PowerFlex has installed pilot systems at several of EVs will only become more pronounced as EVs and locations in California, including the Jet Propulsion PHEVs become more widespread. Solving this problem Laboratory in Pasadena, a Hilton Garden Inn, a luxury is a necessity, and as far as Williams sees it, Adaptive apartment building across the street from Facebook Load Management is the best option available. “Frankly, and several campuses in the Mountain View Los Altos it’s the only technology I am aware of that meets the School District. “This isn’t just what we’d like to do needs of drivers, property owners and the utilities. Anywhen we grow up,” jokes Williams. “These are real thing less will only disappoint one of these three groups installations, and we’re in the process of setting up a and retard the development of a viable and economically distribution channel.” sustainable EV charging infrastructure.”
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Is the demise of diesel
forced them to change the venue. The automakers’ works councils (the equivalent of our labor unions, but more powerful, with seats on company boards) are also uptight. Michael Brecht, head of Daimler’s By Charles Morris t appears that what we’ve been calling the “dirty works council, told Bloomberg that “workers are rightly diesel debacle” was just the tip of a larger iceberg horrified and angry.” Volkswagen’s works council said in a of deception. All five of the the major German statement that “trust in company leadership is dwindling auto brands are now under investigation by European more each day.” and US authorities, accused of participating in an illegal Also dwindling is the demand for diesel cars. The New cartel that suppressed competition and stifled innovation. York Times reports that, in the first half of 2017, sales of A lengthy article in Der Spiegel explains that the gaming diesels declined 10 percent in Britain, 9 percent in Germaof emissions testing systems was just one small part of a ny, and 7 percent in France. conspiracy in which Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and The scandal has become an issue in the upcoming GerPorsche colluded on almost every aspect of vehicle design. man elections. Chancellor Angela Merkel has long been a “The diesel scandal...is not the work of a few criminal champion of the auto industry, but she recently said that managers in the Volkswagen Group, but ultimately the British and French plans to phase out ICE vehicles repreresult of secret agreements within the entire German autosented “the right approach.” Others in her Christian Demomobile industry,” write Der Spiegel’s investigative reporters. cratic (CDU) party have recommended bold action. “We Executives of the firms are already jockeying to cooperate need to start getting rid of combustion technology in the with authorities in hopes of reducing their punishments. It’s short term,” Oliver Wittke, a CDU transport expert, told anybody’s guess how the tawdry tale, which will surely take Deutschlandfunk radio, adding that it was unacceptable to months or years to play out, will end, but it won’t be good let Britain lead the way while Germany fell behind. news for fans of the 125-year-old diesel engine. While the pressure to hold the companies accountable Diesels have long been the for their misdeeds is strong, centerpiece of the German so is their economic clout. carmakers’ strategies to Germany’s auto industry reduce emissions and meet provides a fifth of the counFrom a technical standpoint, mandatory clean-air targets. try’s exports and supports Those targets aren’t going around 800,000 jobs. Masthe automakers’ only logical away. In fact, there’s talk that sive fines or other penalties course is to embrace EVs. Of the EU may soon follow Britthat weaken the companies course, technical considerations ain and France in announcseem unthinkable. Ditching a date to phase out ICE ing diesel will be a painful seldom carry much weight with vehicles. From a technical proposition, but clinging political leaders. standpoint, the automakto the smoky old jalopy (or ers’ only logical course is to wandering down the blind embrace EVs. alley of hydrogen fuel cells, Of course, technical considerations seldom carry much as some have hinted at) will cause more economic woes in weight with political leaders. Governments will consider the long run. economic and political factors in deciding what’s to be done The carmakers’ cartel has not only damaged the free with the bad little boys of the motor trade. market system that Western democracies supposedly revere Naturally, the automakers are pushing for a business- the human victims include car buyers, shareholders, as-usual scenario - they’ll modify their software and their suppliers, taxpayers and breathers of air in cities around the anti-pollution devices to make the diesel powertrains a world. Whatever compensation they receive, if any, will be little cleaner, and continue cranking out diesel cars. “The up to German, EU and US courts. manufacturers will play their part to improve air quality However, there’s a chance that some good will come out in cities and make diesel fit for the future,” said Matthias of the oily mess, in the form of incentives (or mandates) Wissmann, head of the German auto lobby VDA. “Diesel for the automakers to do what they should have done two is enormously important for climate protection as well as decades ago - get serious about electrification. The Germans prosperity in Germany.” are not helpless turtles crossing the electric freeway - far This doesn’t sound like a likely future. The nascent Enerfrom it. Daimler has a subsidiary that’s building state-ofgiewende (energy transition) has strong political support in the-art batteries, VW is building a vast charging network Germany, as evidenced by the rapid proliferation of wind in the US, and Porsche has developed the world’s most powturbines and solar panels. German consumers are hopping erful DC charging system. All five brands have fine plug-in mad at the arrogant automakers. When executives met with vehicles either on the market or in the pipeline. There’s a government ministers in Berlin for what Bloomberg dehuge opportunity to be seized - all that’s needed is a heavier scribed as “a last-ditch play to save diesel,” angry protesters foot on the gas pedal - or rather, the accelerator.
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CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine - Issue 33 SEP/OCT 2017