ELECTRIC VEHICLES MAGAZINE
ISSUE 37 | MAY/JUNE 2018 | CHARGEDEVS.COM
BOLLINGER MOTORS p. 52
Robert Bollinger is building unique EVs, and a one-of-a-kind EV company
A CLOSER LOOK AT FILM CAPACITORS
TOP BATTERY PACK CIRCUIT PROTECTION REQUIREMENTS
HAIRPIN STATOR WINDINGS
HUBER+SUHNER COOLS THE CORD
p. 24 p. 28
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THE TECH CONTENTS
24 A closer look at film capacitors Connections to foils made by end caps
Plastic film dielectric
Metallized film Metal end-spray
30 Battery pack circuit protection requirements Littelfuse helps the auto industry navigate new electrical engineering challenges
36 Hairpin stator windings
Tecnomatic designs specialty assembly processes for advanced stator technologies
current events 12
nanoFluidX models lubrication flow to reduce drivetrain drag losses
KULR Technology to manufacture NREL-developed battery safety testing device DOE selects EDI to provide drivetrains for electric school buses
15 Johnson Controls considers selling its automotive battery business 16 Industry stakeholders partner to establish maritime Li-ion standards 17 Gamma Technologies acquires battery modeling software from EC Power 18 Neutron imaging improves battery filling process 19 Chinese companies increasing their pursuit of lithium resources 20 Goodyear unveils new EV-optimized tire technology
UK lithium sulfur battery firm OXIS secures funding to expand to Brazil
Akasol to supply battery systems for EvoBus Citaro electric bus
22 NREL scientists discover new approach for magnesium-metal batteries
PNNL research finds that optimal salt concentration increases battery life
THE VEHICLES CONTENTS
52 Bollinger Motors Robert Bollinger is building unique EVs, and a one-of-a-kind EV company
42 SF Motors teases two new EVs, to begin production this year 44 VW secures battery supplies to support major EV expansion
JCB electric digger gets the job done with no noise and no emissions
46 FlixBus tests electric buses on long-distance European routes
VW electric racer to compete in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
47 Workhorse reports 2017 earnings, receives $7-million electric truck order 48 Buick announces new PHEV, BEV models for China
Fourth London bus route goes electric with Alexander Dennis/BYD e-buses
49 Ontario adds price cap to EV incentive program 50 New Flyer commissions electric bus simulator
Costa Rican government deploys fleet of Mitsubishi plug-in vehicles
Automakers and state governments cooperate on ad campaign for EVs
IDENTIFICATION STATEMENT CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine (ISSN: 24742341) May/June 2018, Issue #37 is published bi-monthly by Electric Vehicles Magazine LLC, 2260 5th Ave S, STE 10, Saint Petersburg, FL 33712-1259. 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 2260 5th Ave S, STE 10, Saint Petersburg, FL 33712-1259.
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70 HUBER+SUHNER cools the cord
76 US regulators issue new storage rule
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues a new energy storage rule with important implications for EVs
64 ClipperCreek releases 64 Amp EVSE for home and commercial use
Porsche plans to profit from charging
66 Autochargers and eMotorWerks open EVSE manufacturing facility in Ontario
Ekoenergetyka provides 300 kW chargers for MalmĂś electric buses
67 Mercedes Wallbox home charger adds more power and fleet-friendly features
Heliox fast chargers to power fleet of 100 electric buses in Amsterdam
68 ABBâ€™s new AC wallbox chargers are simple but feature-rich
EO charging installs 40 smart chargers for London logistics firm
69 Zap-Map lets EV owners share their charging stations
Hawaiian Electric Companies release strategic electrification roadmap
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For those of us who hope to hasten the transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy and electromobility, there’s been plenty of bad news over the last year, specifically on the US political scene. We have a president who ridicules climate change, shows little interest in learning the details of complicated policy decisions and has appointed a pack of oil-industry lobbyist foxes to guard the environmental hen-house. Over the past couple of months, however, there’s been some welcome good news. In the tax bill passed at the end of last year, Congress preserved existing tax credits for EV purchases and renewable energy, and actually reinstated a credit for EVSE that had lapsed. In February, the administration submitted a budget that would have decimated the EPA, and eliminated several agencies, including ARPA-E, that support advanced energy research. Fortunately, the final budget passed by Congress contained no such draconian cuts. In fact, some agencies may actually see their research budgets increase. The important thing about all these decisions is that they were bipartisan ones. It’s now clear that there is substantial support for the new energy economy on both sides of the aisle. This is also true at the state level - several red states have successful pro-EV policies in place. At Charged, we have always believed that EVs and renewable energy are for everyone, regardless of politics. The environmental benefits may mainly be of interest to lefties, but many conservative voters understand that these new technologies promote US energy independence, improve our military readiness and preserve our competitive edge in a growing global market. And lawmakers of all political stripes value the manufacturing jobs generated by these symbiotic industries. Even the recent decision to revisit the 2022-2025 CAFE standards may not be an unmitigated disaster. It’s only the future standards that are in danger of being rolled back - current standards remain in place. Automakers claim that they still want to keep improving fuel efficiency - they just want more time to meet the goals. Some even believe that reversing the trend toward more fuel-efficient ICE vehicles could work in favor of pure EVs. The Electric Drive Transportation Association put a brave face on the news, saying that “the announcement regarding proposed revisions to vehicle emissions standards acknowledges that electrification is transportation’s future.” Of course, it’s disappointing to see the automakers lobbying to water down the rules in the first place (furthermore, in last year’s budget battle, with the exception of GM and VW, they showed zero interest in retaining the EV tax credit). Clearly the automakers are still not committed to the electromobility revolution. However, we know that there are pro- and anti-EV factions at all these firms, and their policies could change quickly. The enemies of the EV are strong, and they’re getting organized. However, recent events have confirmed that they can’t count on monolithic support from Republican politicians. That’s good news for the growing industry, and for our republic.
Christian Ruoff | Publisher
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 Technology Editor Jeffrey Jenkins Graphic Designers Chris Cox Pam Moses Oktane Media
Contributing Writers Paul Beck Tom Ewing Jeffrey Jenkins Michael Kent Charles Morris Christian Ruoff
For Letters to the Editor, Article Submissions, & Advertising Inquiries Contact: Info@ChargedEVs.com
Contributing Photographers Michael Kent John Frenzl Nicolas Raymond Wolfgang Weydanz Cover Image Courtesy of Bollinger Motors 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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UK lithium sulfur battery firm OXIS secures funding to expand to Brazil
Image courtesy of OXIS Energy
nanoFluidX models lubrication flow to reduce drivetrain drag losses
UK battery technology company OXIS Energy will receive a £3.7-million investment from the Brazilian private equity fund Aerotec, paving the way for OXIS to open a subsidiary in Brazil. The agreement provides for a Brazilian team to be trained at OXIS Energy’s headquarters in Oxford, as well as the creation of an R&D center in Belo Horizonte. OXIS will focus on commercial expansion throughout Latin America, and plans to explore lithium deposits in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. The company is evaluating the lithium-sulfur (Li-S) chemistry of the graphene products available in the state. OXIS was established in 2005, and is based at the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, where the original lithium-ion batteries were first developed. The company has developed its technology around sulfurbased cathode materials, stable electrolyte systems, and anodes made of lithium metal and intercalation materials. It claims that its Li-S battery chemistry achieves considerably higher energy density than lithium-ion alternatives, and that it is more eco-friendly, as it contains no rare earth metals.
Engineering consultancy Drive System Design (DSD) has partnered with software specialists Altair and FluiDyna to develop and enhance nanoFluidX, a computer modelling technique that is used to analyze lubrication flow. DSD uses nanoFluidX to reduce drivetrain drag losses, which the company says represent the largest energy draw on the battery pack at speeds up to 50 mph – even greater than a vehicle’s aerodynamic drag. “Bearing, gear and seal losses are well understood by the industry; the interaction between rotating components and the transmission lubricant, however, has been too complex to explore within a typical project time scale,” explained Matt Hole, DSD’s Head of Design Engineering. “Practical tests using transparent casings have some value, but it is difficult to visualize what is going on deep within the rotating components. The hardware lead times can also be prolonged; Finite Volume CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) analysis typically involves extensive run times, with each test point requiring several weeks’ computing just to generate a couple of seconds of real-time data.” Working alongside Altair and FluiDyna, DSD says it has overcome these difficulties, enhancing the software to enable it to solve drag and fluid visualization problems in transmission applications. In a recent project, DSD used nanoFluidX to optimize an EV planetary transmission design. “Using nanoFluidX enabled us to accurately visualize and analyze the behavior of the transmission lubricant and its interaction with the rotating assemblies,” said Hole. “The improved understanding meant we could develop a highly optimized, passive lubrication system, iterating the design with specifically targeted improvements. In all, we reduced drag losses by almost 30 percent while maintaining satisfactory lubrication of all the transmission elements.”
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KULR Technology to manufacture NREL-developed DOE selects EDI to provide battery safety testing device drivetrains for electric school buses KULR Technology has reached an agreement with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to be the exclusive manufacturing and distribution partner for the patented Internal Short Circuit (ISC) device. The device, which was developed in 2015 by NREL and NASA researchers, creates cell failures in predictable conditions, allowing for improved research into safer battery technologies. The first shipments of the ISC and ISC trigger cells will begin in October 2018. Previous lithium-ion cell testing methods such as mechanical (crush, nail penetration), thermal (heat to vent, thermal cycling) and electrical (overcharge, offlimits cycling) were all “not relevant to the latent-defectinduced field failure,” according to a 2015 NASA and NREL presentation. KULR is working with University College London to watch failures in real time using synchrotron imaging, which helps battery manufacturers to develop new safety measures for battery systems. One promising solution discovered by NASA using the ISC is KULR Technology’s thermal runaway shield (TRS), a thin, lightweight heat shield that has been proven to stop thermal runaway by insulating lithium-ion cells adjacent to those experiencing failure, keeping their temperature low and stable during catastrophic events. “The ISC is a major step towards making battery technologies safer,” said NREL Senior Energy Storage Engineer Matt Keyser. “For the first time, we could trigger cells to fail at a known location and time. We have been able to use synchrotron imaging to watch failures in real time, which allows us to design solutions.”
Image courtesy of EDI
Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI) has been selected as the electric drivetrain provider for a $4.4-million DOE program that aims to accelerate the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles. School buses are the largest mass transit segment in the country, carrying twice the number of passengers as the entire US transit and rail segments. As part of the program, EDI will supply its EDI PowerDrive 7000ev electric drivetrain and its EDI Power2E exportable power solution to a leading school bus OEM to develop a fleet of electric buses with Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) capabilities. The bus offers over 100 miles of range, delivers power performance equivalent to its traditional diesel counterpart, and requires no changes in driver behavior to operate. Fleet managers will have access to real-time fleet tracking and vehicle diagnostics featuring location, state of charge and other information, using EDI’s PowerTracker telematics system. EDI has already collaborated with several OEMs to electrify buses. In the US, the EDI PowerDrive 7000ev has been integrated into both Type C and D school bus formats. “We are continuing to see an influx of requests from the industry related to the electrification of school buses in the US,” said EDI CEO Joerg Ferchau. “Having successfully deployed our system in leading Type C and D OEM platforms, EDI is well positioned with a portfolio that helps bus manufacturers deploy electrified vehicle solutions into their product offerings rapidly.”
Johnson Controls considers selling its automotive battery business Conglomerate Johnson Controls has announced that it may sell its Power Solutions division, which provides batteries to the automotive sector. “Creating shareholder value is our top priority,” said CEO George Oliver. “Our focus is on improving operational execution, realizing merger synergy and productivity benefits, and optimizing the business portfolio. Given the differing dynamics of [Johnson’s different divisions], we are evaluating strategic alternatives for Power Solutions.” “Over the years our team has built Power Solutions into an incredible business with a high-margin aftermarket model that has delivered consistent growth through business cycles,” Oliver continued. “These strong fundamentals, as well as recently issued provisions of US tax reform, will be taken into account as we…assess which option creates…the most value for shareholders.” Any divestment could have a noticeable impact on the EV industry, considering that Power Solutions manufactures battery technology for virtually every type of vehicle. In fiscal year 2017, Power Solutions generated $7.3 billion in revenue and $1.6 billion in earnings.
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Shipping industry stakeholders partner to establish standards for maritime use of lithium-ion batteries
More than a dozen shipping-related organizations, including flag states, research institutions, battery and propulsion suppliers, fire extinguishing system providers and ship operators, have formed a joint development project to advance the understanding of the use of lithium-ion batteries in the shipping industry. The new project aims to create a deep pool of expertise from different perspectives, in order to better understand the challenges of expanding the use of batteries in the maritime realm. “Including batteries in ships, whether as a hybrid or fully electric system, offers the industry the opportunity
to improve fuel economy, reliability and operational costs,” says Geir Dugstad, a spokesman for DNV GL, a marine registrar and classification society that is one of the project partners. “For this technology to fully take hold, however, knowledge and requirements must be in place to ensure that we have products and a safety regime that address the concerns of all stakeholders.” “With the new advances in alternative fuels, it’s our ambition to actively partner with the maritime industry and contribute to solutions that satisfy vessel safety and environmental impact, while also taking the industry’s commercial needs into consideration,” says Olav Akselsen, Director General of the Norwegian Maritime Authority. “We put a great deal of effort into ensuring the safety of these new alternative systems, but the cost of the present safety and approval methodology is cumbersome,” said Rasmus Nielsen, Naval Architect and Officer at ferry owner Scandlines.
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Gamma Technologies acquires battery modeling software from EC Power
Gamma Technologies has acquired the battery modeling software package AutoLion from EC Power. AutoLion, a predictive, physics-based simulation software that models the internal electrochemical processes of Li-ion batteries, will augment GT-SUITE, Gamma Technologies’ multi-physics automotive-related CAE system simulation tool. Battery suppliers and OEMs use AutoLion for 1D and 3D battery analysis and design. It includes a
• Evaluation of different battery chemistries (including mixed chemistries) and cell designs under a range of conditions • Modeling of chemistry-specific degradation mechanisms • Prediction of battery aging over a wide range of operating conditions • Safety simulation (resistance to abuse) AutoLion will now be integrated into Gamma’s GT-SUITE and GT-DRIVE+ products. This allows the battery models to be used as an integral part of vehicle system simulations for battery performance and thermal modeling and to predict battery life. The technology can be used for modeling electrification concepts such as hybrids, battery EVs and fuel cell vehicles.
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Neutron imaging improves battery filling process
Images courtesy of Wolfgang Weydanz / Bosch / TUM
Researchers from Bosch, the Technical University of Munich, and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg are using neutron imaging to analyze the filling of lithium-ion batteries with electrolytes. Since very few neutrons are absorbed by the metal battery housing, they are ideal for analyzing batteries. In “Visualization of electrolyte filling process and influence of vacuum during filling for hard case prismatic lithium ion cells by neutron imaging to optimize the production process,” published in the Journal of Power Sources, W.J. Weydanz and colleagues explain how they confirmed that electrodes are wetted twice as fast when the filling process is performed under a vacuum. Their tests showed that in a vacuum, the electrodes were wetted completely in just over 50 minutes, while under normal pressure, it took around 100 minutes. This occurs because the liquid spreads evenly in the battery cell from all four sides, from the outside in. These findings have the potential to greatly reduce battery manufacturing times, as filling lithium cells with electrolyte fluid is one of the most critical and time-consuming processes in battery production. Manufacturers often fill the cells in a vacuum, monitoring the process indirectly using resistance measurements. “To make sure that all the pores of the electrodes are filled with the electrolyte, manufacturers build in large safety margins,” says Bosch developer Dr. Wolfgang Weydanz. “That costs time and money.”
Chinese companies increasing their pursuit of lithium resources A recent report from metals and minerals research firm Roskill details how China is quickly working to increase its control of the lithium supply chain to support the rapid growth of its lithium-ion battery industry. The report provides examples of several major players who have recently announced or completed acquisitions. CATL, one of China’s largest battery manufacturers, has acquired North American Lithium, including the Quebec Lithium mine and lithium carbonate conversion plant. CATL has been importing spodumene (lithium aluminum inosilicate) concentrate from Quebec since 2017. One of CATL’s competitors, Shaanxi J&R Optimum Energy, has been in discussions with Altura Mining of Australia regarding a potential transaction in which Optimum would take control of Altura, along with its Pilgangoora project.
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Another acquisition announcement involves Nextview New Energy and Lithium X Energy. Through that merger, Nextview takes control of the Sal de los Angeles and Arizaro lithium brine projects, and consolidates Lithium X’s Clayton Valley holdings with those held by Pure Energy, giving Nextview approximately 19% of Pure Energy’s shares. In closing, the report mentioned one stumbling block for China – Chile’s minerals development agency, Corfo, has asked antitrust regulators to block the sale of a 32% stake in the Chilean chemical company, SQM, to Tianqi Lithium on the grounds of creating unfair competition.
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Goodyear unveils new EV-optimized tire technology
Goodyear presented a prototype of a new tire design optimized for EVs at the recent Geneva International Motor Show. The EfficientGrip Performance with Electric Drive Technology is to go on sale in Europe by 2019. Goodyear’s testing has revealed that traditional tires can wear out up to 30% faster on EVs, due to the powerful instant torque of electric motors and the additional weight of heavy battery packs. Automakers are also pressing for lower rolling resistance on EVs as a result of consumer demand for increased range. Ride noise and comfort resulting from tires is another consideration, as EVs generate as little as half the amount of noise as traditional vehicles at lower speeds. Goodyear’s new tire design offers improved performance in all of these areas through three main design features. First, extended mileage is achieved through the use of thinner sipes (small channels), which allow more rubber to contact the road surface than traditional radial grooves do. The tread design also prevents sound waves from entering its grooves, reducing interior and exterior tire noise. Second, the tire cavity shape has been altered to support the increased weight of EVs. Lastly, the material properties of the tread compound have been tuned for ultra-low rolling resistance to extend vehicle range while coping with high levels of torque. Also, the sidewall has been redesigned to reduce aerodynamic drag, and the profile yields less rotating mass, resulting in reduced energy consumption.
Akasol to supply battery systems for EvoBus Citaro electric bus
Image courtesy of Akasol
Image courtesy of Goodyear
Akasol, based in Darmstadt, Germany, is now manufacturing lithium-ion battery systems for Daimler subsidiary EvoBus, which plans to launch its new Citaro electric bus at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in September, and begin series manufacturing this year. Each bus will be fitted with between six and ten of Akasol’s AKASYSTEM OEM battery packs (maximum capacity 243 kWh), some on the roof and some in the rear, in the space that was once used by the diesel engine. The electric Citaro bus will have an operating range of 150 km. Akasol opened a production plant for commercial vehicle battery systems in Langen, Germany, in 2017. The facility has a yearly capacity of up to 300 MWh, enough to supply up to 1,500 electric buses or up to 6,000 commercial vehicles, depending on battery size. Akasol plans to expand capacity to 600 MWh by 2020. “We’re working on this together with Akasol’s experts,” said Gustav Tuschen, Head of Product Engineering for Daimler Buses. “Based on the specifications we have developed together, they manufacture battery systems for us with cells from Samsung. The batteries are being tempered at about 25° C. With this we expect maximum charging capacity, performance and lifetime.” “The key factor for meeting our client’s demands on lifetime is our efficient water cooling,” said Akasol Managing Director Sven Schulz. “Tempering has been shown to work efficiently and reliably both in winter tests in the north of Sweden, where it was incredibly cold, as well as on summer drives in the dry desert heat in southern Spain.”
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NREL scientists discover new approach for magnesiummetal batteries Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have pioneered a method that enables reversible chemistry of magnesium metal in noncorrosive carbonate-based electrolytes. The technology has several potential advantages over lithium-ion batteries, including higher energy density, improved stability and lower cost. Magnesium batteries can theoretically store almost twice as much energy by volume as lithium-ion batteries. Furthermore, magnesium-metal batteries do not experience the growth of dendrites. Unfortunately, previous research encountered a major obstacle: the conventional carbonate electrolyte created a barrier on the magnesium surface that prevented the battery from recharging. Magnesium ions could flow in a reverse direction through a highly corrosive liquid electrolyte, but that barred the possibility of a successful high-voltage magnesium battery. To overcome these roadblocks, the NREL researchers developed an artificial solid-electrolyte interphase from polyacrylonitrile and magnesium-ion salt that protected the surface of the magnesium anode. This protected anode demonstrated markedly improved performance, beyond anything achieved previously. The prototype cell with the protected Mg anode also delivered more energy than the cell without the protection, and continued to do so during repeated cycles.
Image courtesy of PNNL
Illustration courtesy of John Frenzl / NREL
PNNL research finds that optimal salt concentration increases battery life Researchers at the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have discovered that the “special sauce” of batteries is all about the salt concentration. By getting the right amount of salt right where they want it, they’ve demonstrated that a lithium-metal battery can undergo about seven times more charge/discharge cycles than batteries with conventional electrolytes. Finding an electrolyte solution that doesn’t corrode the electrodes in a lithium-metal battery is a challenge, but PNNL’s approach, described in a recent paper published in Advanced Materials, creates a protective layer around the electrodes. The new design is not without drawbacks, however. The first is the high cost of lithium salt. The high concentration also increases viscosity and lowers conductivity of the ions through the electrolyte. “We were trying to preserve the advantage of the high concentration of salt, but offset the disadvantages,” said PNNL Senior Battery Researcher Ji-Guang Zhang. “By combining a fluorine-based solvent to dilute the high-concentration electrolyte, our team was able to significantly lower the total lithium salt concentration, yet keep its benefits.” PNNL tested its patent-pending electrolyte on an experimental battery cell similar in size to a watch battery. It was able to retain 80 percent of its initial charge after 700 charge/discharge cycles, which is an improvement over standard electrolytes by approximately 600 cycles. The next steps are to scale up testing to pouch batteries and to evaluate performance with sodium-metal batteries and other metal batteries.
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A CLOSER LOOK AT FILM CAPACITORS By Jeffrey Jenkins
lastic film capacitors relentlessly continue to take over many of the duties in EV power electronics that were once performed by the venerable aluminum electrolytic type, mainly because film capacitors exhibit much lower losses and have a much longer operational lifespan, especially at ambient temperatures in the 75-85Â° C range. The tradeoff is that film capacitors pack a much lower amount of capacitance into a given volume, but this is rarely a disadvantage in an EV because the energy source is already DC as it comes from the traction battery, and a battery acts very much like a high-value capacitor. That isnâ€™t to say there are no downsides to film capacitors; indeed, there is one exceptionally insidious issue which will be addressed herein. All capacitors essentially store electric charge be-
tween two conductive plates that are separated by an insulator (called the dielectric, in capacitor terminology). Capacitance is proportional to the total area of the plates connected to one terminal which face the plates of the other terminal, as well as a multiplier, k, which is specific to the type of dielectric. For example, k is 1 for a vacuum (and slightly more than 1 for air),
All capacitors essentially store electric charge between two conductive plates that are separated by an insulator.
Figure 1: Stacked and rolled film capacitor construction
end-spray nd/or tin/zinc opage)
Metal end-spray zinc and/or tin/zinc (schoopage)
Connections to foils made by end caps Metallized film Metal end-spray
The two most common ways of constructing film capacitors are stacking many plates together in a box or rolling one very long pair of plates into a cylinder.
approximately 2 for polypropylene (the most common plastic used in power film capacitors), in the range of 8-10 for aluminum oxide (formed as an “anodized” coating directly on the aluminum in an aluminum-electrolytic capacitor), and around 10,000 for so-called to foils “high-k” materialsConnections like barium titanateAluminum foil Connections to foils Epoxy dip made by end caps (which might sound exotic but Aluminum is actuallyfoil Pla Epoxy dip by end capsbillions of the cheapused inmade billions upon est ceramic capacitors made). Conversely, Plastic film Metallized film the voltage that a capacitor can withstand is Metallized film Metal end-spray proportional to the thickness of its dielectric (and, of course, the dielectric itself), so Metal end-spray Lead increasing the voltage rating automatically decreases the capacitance, if volume and dielectric remain the same. Lead Figure 1 shows the two most common ways of constructing film capacitors: stacking many plates together in a box or rolling one very long pair of plates into a cylinder. Note that the stacked construction requires offsetting every plate from the centerline in alternating fashion so that the plates protrude just slightly past the dielectric film to be able to connect all of the odd plates to one external terminal and the even plates to the other. This connection is most commonly made by what is called the schoopage, or end-spray metallization. As the latter phrase implies, a low-melting point metal is vaporized and sprayed directly on the exposed plate edges (and the plastic film as well) to join all the plates together and provide a flat surface for the end termination. The end termination Aluminum foil can be made in a variety of ways depending Plastic film dielectric on cost, current level, to what extent stray Aluminum foil inductance must be minimized, etc., but the two most common are via a simple pressure contact or by ultrasonically welding a metal
There will still be just as much reflected ripple from the power converter whether it is supplied by a battery or the rectified mains, and so the ESR of the input filter capacitor will become the prime consideration. wire or strip directly to the schoopage. The two plates in the roll construction do not have to be offset from the lengthwise centerline to connect them to their external termination - a wire or strip can be welded directly to each plate - but doing so affords the same benefits of drastically reduced stray inductance and greatly increased current rating (and is the method shown in Figure 1). Before the rise of Evs, the vast majority of power electronic components were intended for use with the AC mains. In these applications, AC is typically first rectified to DC, which has significant low-frequency ripple that needs to be smoothed out, especially with singlephase mains. This is a perfect application for aluminum electrolytic capacitors, because they pack the most capacitance*voltage rating into a given volume, even though their ESR (equivalent series resistance) is rather high, and their AC losses higher still. There is also a component of ripple that is produced by the inverter (or other switchmode power converter) as a result of it drawing pulses of current from the supply every time a semiconductor switch turns on. This pulsating current interacts with all of the stray resistances and inductances present in the supply, the wiring and the filter capacitors to create triangular-shaped high frequency ripple that reflects from the converter/ inverter back to the supply. While this reflected ripple is by no means insignificant, far more capacitance is needed to smooth out the mains frequency ripple, because the amount of capacitance to achieve a certain reduction in ripple is inversely proportional to ripple frequency and reflected ripple is a product of the inverter/converter switching, which tends to be much higher than the mains frequency. The traction battery in an EV supplies pure DC, of course, so the naive engineer might think that only a small amount of input filter capacitance is therefore needed in the inverter, DC-DC converter, etc. to deal
with the purely high-frequency ripple that remains. While that is technically true, there will still be just as much reflected ripple from the power converter whether it is supplied by a battery or the rectified mains, and so the ESR of the input filter capacitor will become the prime consideration. As aluminum electrolytics tend to have a much higher ESR for a given volume and capacitance value, choosing one that just meets the capacitance requirement for, say, an EV inverter - rather than also considering the required ripple current rating - is sure to end in disaster (quite literally: the capacitors will explode from excessive internal heating, spraying corrosive electrolyte all over). Thus, electrolytics need to be grossly oversized in capacitance value when used in an EV just to handle the ripple current. Conversely, film capacitors tend to have very low ESR, and some dielectrics like polypropylene (PP), polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) and PTFE (aka Teflon) also exhibit extremely low AC losses. One other dielectric commonly used in film capacitors is polyester (PET), which has about a 50% higher dielectric constant (k) than polypropylene (and so packs more capacitance into the same volume), but its AC losses are also higher than polypropylene by about 25 times! In fact, most power film capacitors use polypropylene as the dielectric, because it combines low cost, excellent electrical performance and a reasonably high temperature rating of 85° C maximum continuous (although some select parts are rated for 105° C). At this point it might seem that film capacitors are all puppies and rainbows, with only the relatively low capacitance per unit volume as a downside; however, there is indeed a dark side to them, and it is somewhat perverse/paradoxical that the very qualities that make them such an excellent choice in switchmode power converters - very low ESR and AC losses - can actually result in the outright destruction of themselves or other components. The root of the problem is that film capacitors form very high-quality (“Q”) resonant networks with the stray inductance of the supply wir-
Electrolytics need to be grossly oversized in capacitance value when used in an EV just to handle the ripple current.
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ing, and since every wire has inductance, whether it is wanted or not (approximately 10 nH/cm for a conductor in free space), this problem is difficult to avoid (and even more difficult to mitigate). A resonant tank stores electrical energy by bouncing it back and forth between the capacitor and the inductor with a frequency, Fr, that is inversely proportional to the square root of L*C, and a characteristic impedance, Z, that is proportional to the square root of L/C. If the ratio of circuit resistance over tank impedance, Z/R, (aka Q) is 1 or greater then oscillations will occur, and if Q is much greater than 1 then oscillations will persist for many dozens of cycles and reach a high amplitude. Since the typical tank formed between an input filter capacitor and the supply wiring consists of a relatively high capacitance and a very low inductance, it will generate high peak current (conversely, a tank formed from low capacitance and high inductance will generate high peak voltage). These high circulating currents do no useful work, of course; instead, they heat up the supply wiring and the capacitors, as well as radiating electromagnetic noise that can wreak havoc in nearby circuits (and pretty much guarantee the device will fail its EMC certification test). The magnitude of these currents can be staggering: a locomotive drive system that the author designed experienced circulating currents on its DC bus in the range of 6 kA before mitigation techniques were employed, and this issue was first discovered when 4/0 cables used as a temporary bus overheated so badly that the insulation charred, then shorted out (exciting times!). As may be inferred from the equation for Q above, the enemy of resonance is resistance, because it dampens out the current sloshing back and forth between the capacitor and inductor (that is, lowers the Q), and so the lowly aluminum electrolytic capacitor with its “too high” ESR is actually all but immune to forming resonant networks with the stray inductance of the traction battery wiring. It is actually possible to reduce or eliminate resonant ringing on the supply bus by merely adding some electrolytic capacitors to the mix. Of course, that negates one of the principle advantages of film capacitors: their much longer operational life. Another mitigation technique is to purposely insert resistance in series with some of the film capacitors, mimicking
the high ESR of aluminum electrolytics; this idea may be simple in concept, but it is anything but simple to execute. A more sophisticated approach is a second-order modulation of the inverter/converter PWM duty cycle to cancel out oscillation on the bus (that is, shifting the turnon time for the switches to coincide with the peaks of the oscillation); this is also quite difficult to pull off, especially if there are multiple high-power switchmode converters on the same bus. Other approaches are a â€œshunt active filterâ€? (costly, as it basically requires another converterâ€™s worth of parts) and merely inserting a diode in series with the DC bus to each device (which precludes the possibility of bidirectional operation, such as regeneration in an inverter, but is guaranteed to work). Film capacitors offer such compelling advantages in switchmode power converters, however - especially at the high power level of an EV inverter that they are here to stay. As more experience is gained in their use, better approaches to mitigating destructive oscillations will no doubt be found. In the meantime, there is definitely promising masters/doctoral thesis material here, so get cracking on those solutions, EEs-oftomorrow!
Littelfuse helps the auto industry navigate new electrical engineering challenges
By Michael Kent
TOP CIRCUIT PROTECTION REQUIREMENTS TO CONSIDER WHEN DESIGNING AN AUTOMOTIVE BATTERY PACK
hen engineers design a battery pack, they tend to focus first on its core functionality and value proposition. For a high-end energy storage device, those core attributes are typically things like total pack energy density, cost minimization, packaging efficiency, peak power and state-of-the-art thermal management. It’s human nature to first narrow in on many of those design choices, and then, down the road, start to think more about compliance and circuit protection issues such as electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), electrostatic discharge (ESD), transient voltage and overcurrent protection requirements. In the automotive world, where reliability and compliance requirements are very strict, many of these complex electrical engineering issues have recently become stumbling blocks for design teams. The fact is that this level of electrical expertise is practically brand-new in automotive - only about a decade old, as opposed to the various mechanical engineering specialties which have been around for a hundred years. Jim Colby, Senior Business Development Manager at Littelfuse, has a front-row seat to the changing tide. Littelfuse has been providing circuit protection products to the automotive industry since the 1930s, and there is no one who can better describe the challenges of the transition to battery power. “If we look at the bigger picture, we can see exactly what customers are challenged with as automotive changes from internal combustion cars to EVs,” Colby told Charged. “Everything is changing from mechanical/electrical-based systems to ones that are much more electronic in nature. So, the automakers’ internal expertise on the electrical side needs to expand to understand all the complex circuit protection concerns related to advanced electronic circuits and systems (microcontrollers, microprocessors, sensors, etc.). Our auto customers have a lot of questions about what to take into account, what kind of products can be used in different situations, for things like overcurrent, transient voltage and ESD. In some ways, now we’re acting a bit like a consulting business, which is similar to our normal sales process but now with more technical advice for automotive than for other industries.”
If you think about how a battery pack is similar to a gas tank, it helps to illustrate these new challenges. The pack brings in energy, stores it, then delivers it to the propulsion system. But because it’s electronic, it needs to be connected to the main processor so the vehicle’s brain can communicate with the pack. This means that problems that originate somewhere else can affect the pack, or vice versa. Transient voltage In vehicles, the leading communication architectures are the legacy systems CAN bus and LIN bus, which communicate with the main processor in the car. “Every time you turn a motor on - like the windshield wiper or a window lift - there’s an inrush of current,” said Colby. “When you turn it off, you’re breaking an inductive load, so there’s a release of energy that shows up as transient voltages.”
Image courtesy of Littelfuse
The Littelfuse AQ1003 Series diodes can safely absorb repetitive ESD strikes at ±30 kV (contact discharge, IEC 61000-4-2) without performance degradation. Each diode can safely dissipate 7 A of 8/20 μs surge current (IEC 61000-4-5 2nd edition) with very low clamping voltages.
All the way down to the cell level, engineers need to design protection systems to be able to survive all the transient voltage events.
These transient voltages could be tens of volts or hundreds of volts. It’s not a lot of energy, but it will show up in every single system of the car that’s connected to the power rail or the CAN bus and LIN bus communication lines. At the cell level, for example, you have sensor communication lines that connect each cell in a string to local processors that can control the cells. All the way down to that level, engineers need to design protection systems to be able to survive all the transient voltage events. Additionally, in hybrid-electric vehicles, an event that is called “Load Dump” can occur if the battery leads from the alternator are broken, causing large amounts of energy to be dumped into the vehicle’s power system. This is another type of transient event that needs to be taken into account at the power input to the electronic modules that are found in a growing number of locations around the vehicle. ESD Static electricity has been known to cause problems at every stage of manufacturing and assembly. “If a factory is not well designed for mitigation of static electricity, you can see ESD problems on a circuit board when it’s first plugged in, well before it gets out of the manufacturing facility,” said Colby. In addition to ESD damage during manufacturing, any systems that the vehicle’s passengers have access to, like USB ports, need to be protected from static electricity. “Basically, what you’re trying to protect are the ICs,” explained Colby. “All of these chips will have some level of on-chip ESD protection, because they need to go to the wafer fabrication and then back into assembly, but usually it’s just for a few hundred volts. You need higher ESD protection in the field for things like the CAN bus transceiver, for example, to protect it from being damaged or destroyed. ESD will cause problems like oxide punch-through on the chip, or the actual traces in the IC that connect everything together can open up like a fuse. Then the chip is either immediately destroyed, or you have a walking wounded situation, with a shorter lifetime than usual.” Obviously, this is a huge concern for the OEMs, because CAN bus and LIN bus are considered part of the core safety architecture of
Image courtesy of Littelfuse
The Littelfuse 441A series AECQ-compliant fuses are specifically tested to cater to secondary circuit protection needs of compact auto-electronics applications.
any vehicle, whether it’s electric or ICE-powered. So much so that automakers will essentially mandate that there’s ESD protection on both of those buses. Colby explained that this protection is typically provided by a single small device. “CAN bus is a twowire system, for example, so we have a SOT-23 3-lead device that connects to both lines and a reference ground nearby to shunt any ESD through the device to ground.” Overcurrent Modern automotive battery packs contain anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand individual cells. If there is an accident and the battery pack gets deformed or punctured, there could be the opportunity for a low-voltage line connecting a string of cells to come in contact with the high-voltage line that’s nearby. So the cells need to be disconnected as soon as possible, which typically means that every single one of those lines is protected by a fuse. Also, the main pack itself has to have some way to disconnect, so there are typically high-voltage, highcurrent fuses - as well as a high-voltage TVS diode to protect the entire pack against transient voltages, Colby explained. Change is the only constant As the market for EVs develops, battery capacities continue to grow. Therefore, charging levels are
increasing as well, so that charging times can be decreased and driving distances increased. To that end, many automakers have indicated an inevitable switch from battery packs operating at about 450 volts to 800 volts and above. We can see the effects rippling out to the electronics - for example, there is a flurry of activity around silicon carbide products (another EV technology that Littelfuse has been heavily investing in). One of the reasons many are looking to switch from standard silicon IGBT modules to silicon carbide is that the latter is more optimized for high voltage - it can switch more quickly, and it’s a more efficient power conversion device. In terms of circuit protection, higher-voltage packs mean that all the R&D that Littelfuse and others have been doing to produce new automotive-grade protection products will surely continue. Because of the strict reliability requirements of the automakers, developing some of these relatively simple devices has been a ground-up endeavor. “If you look at a transient-voltage-suppression (TVS) diode, for example, it’s a fairly straightforward PN-junction device that goes in the DC circuits,” said Colby. “Billions per year are manufactured that are commercial-grade. But to bring that into the automotive-grade world, we had to start from the ground up. While the design is fairly simple - a copper lead frame, the die itself, the leads and then the molding compound - literally every single one of those components had to be redesigned for us to meet automotive standards. So in our factory we actually have one set of production lines for the commercialgrade TVS diodes and another set of lines to produce automotive-grade units that include more automation and tighter reliability concerns.” “The transition from the era of internal combustion vehicles to the developing e-mobility will bring with it design challenges at all levels - from the core powertrain and energy storage systems to the components that support and protect them,” continued Colby. “It is an exciting time to be involved in this evolving market. Companies like Littelfuse will continue to provide improved protection and power control products to the OEM and Tier 1 companies as they look to bring out more-efficient vehicles that meet the demanding reliability requirements that have been set over the previous hundred-plus years.”
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WINDINGS Tecnomatic helps automakers design specialty assembly processes for advanced stator technologies By Michael Kent
Images courtesy of Tecnomatic
here seems to be an endless array of electric motor topologies, architectures, and configurations. Among the many design choices that engineers face is the shape of copper wire that is wound in the stator. In a new paper published in the IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications1, researchers compared using flat wire hairpin winding and stranded round wire in some of the most common motor technologies found in EVs: induction, synchronous permanent magnet and wound field machine topologies. The research showed what many in the motor
industry have been claiming for decades: there are significant advantages to using flat wire hairpin windings in some types of motors. â€œThe advantage of flat wire winding associated with a parallel slot configuration is a much higher copper slot fill factor,â€? write the authors. Cramming more copper into the available area has been shown to create a shorter end-turn space, reducing heat and improving torque and power density - which ultimately can reduce the motor size for a given application. Hairpin winding schemes can make it easier to strengthen the construction of critical connections between conductors. The
Popescu, Mircea & Goss, James & A. Staton, Dave & Hawkins, D & Boglietti, A & Chong, Yew Chuan. (2018). Electrical Vehicles - Practical Solutions for Power Traction Motor Systems. IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications. PP. 1-1. 10.1109/TIA.2018.2792459. 1
THE TECH windings are also well-suited to liquid cooling, which further enhances performance and reliability. One example given in the paper showed that, when one particular induction motor design used a hairpin winding configuration, maintaining the same slot area, â€œthe maximum starting continuous torque increases by 44% from 180 Nm to 260 Nm, while the maximum continuous power sees an increase of 17% from 135 kW to 158 kW.â€? Itâ€™s no wonder that many automakers design motors that implement hairpin stator winding for EV traction applications. One Italian company, Tecnomatic, has built its entire business around helping automakers with design manufacturing processes for hairpin stator systems. Charged recently chatted with Maurilio Micucci, Project Manager at Tecnomatic, to learn more about the company and its technology. Q Charged: How long has Tecnomatic been develop-
ing specialized hairpin stator assembly systems?
Images courtesy of Tecnomatic
A Maurilio Micucci: Tecnomatic was founded in
1973, so we have more than 40 years of experience. The company was founded for the design and development of special machines for stator winding and motor assembly. And then in the last 20 years, we focused on hairpin technology, beginning with things like automotive starters and alternators in 1999. Since then we have developed a very long history with hairpin stator technology, and today we develop a fully-automatic system for manufacturing hairpin stator systems. The first project we worked on related to traction motor applications began over 10 years ago with Delco Remy. We started to develop that process around 2003, then we finalized the design, and those motors were used in GM hybrid vehicles like the Yukon and Tahoe. Today we design special hairpin machines for lots of different stators - they range from lower-voltage applications like starters and alternators to bigger applications like traction motors - so from 14 V to 600-700 V or more. In the end, the process to manufacture them is similar, no matter the size or voltage. What changes sometimes is the specific materials like lamination steels, copper and insulation.
Image courtesy of Tecnomatic
Q Charged: Are the manufacturing systems and
processes you design for hairpin stators changing a lot as EV development projects are taking off? A Maurilio Micucci: Yes - nearly all of our custom-
Q Charged: Do you help automakers with the stator
design, or just the manufacturing process?
A Maurilio Micucci: Both. Typically, a customer
comes to us with an initial design, and we will help them with the process and then sell them the manufacturing equipment that we specially design for them. At the same time, we will provide recommendations for the stator design based on our experience and knowledge base. So feedback may include things like a method to modify something to achieve better manufacturing results, because we are very familiar with what’s possible on the machines. We’ll recommend things like the winding pattern, winding connections or overall dimensions of the stator. In any case, we’ll take our customer’s design - maybe it will change somewhat, maybe not - then we will develop a prototype, and finally a fully automatic production system. For the prototyping stage, we think it’s very important to make prototypes that are ready for the process, and not to make prototypes by hand. So we’ve developed a specific department at Tecnomatic with a dedicated team for prototyping according to the product design of our customers. The focus is to link the prototype of the design to the actual manufacturing process. The tooling that we will be using for the prototype is 99% similar, if not identical, to the tooling that is necessary for manufacturing. The target is to provide a sample assembled part to the customer as a prototype that is more or less industrialized. Of course, at that stage, there can also be some additional optimization of the stator.
ers are in the automotive industry. When I began at the company over 20 years ago, we also made systems and process for round wire, but decided to work with flat hairpin conductor applications specifically because of the advantages it offers for automotive, because we really believed that it is the future for these specific high-volume applications. There are several reasons why engineers are choosing hairpin stators. Of course, to be very clear, they are best suited for some specific motor applications like automotive traction motors. Not everything can be made with hairpin technology. We continuously conduct a tremendous amount of R&D. Our current portfolio is about 200 patents related to products and process for hairpin flat conductor applications. In the last year alone, we’ve had many more patent applications. The ultimate goal is to protect our customers’ investments. So we’re researching things like connection technologies, advanced materials, winding schemes, etc. We are moving very fast to increase the number of conductors per slot, which increases the possible applications of stators with hairpin technology. This is because it offers more design options for the number of conductors, size of connectors, number of turns, etc. In the last two years, we’ve developed processes to go from using two conductors per slot to four, six and eight conductors per slot. Also, we are involved in a lot of regional, national, and European research projects that are dedicated to new innovation in e-mobility, and one project in particular that is in agriculture applications for electric motors. Also, we have a great partnership with the Department of Industrial and Information Engineering and Economics (DIIIE) at the University of L’Aquila - which is very close to Corropoli, where we’re based. They have a very important research department for electric motors, and we work with them when we need some specific research into motor winding theory.
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After two years in stealth mode, Santa Clara-based SF Motors recently announced details of two upcoming EVs, the SF5 and the SF7. The SF5 will be available for pre-order by the end of 2018 and is scheduled to hit the road in 2019. The company plans to begin vehicle production this year at its facilities in the US and China, aiming for a total capacity of 200,000 units per year. SF Motors is a strong believer in building critical components in-house. It has partnered with suppliers including Dürr, Siemens, AFT, Bosch, Infineon, Samsung SDI and LGC to create a proprietary powertrain that includes custom motors, gearboxes, and electronic controllers. The company has even developed its own proprietary battery cells and a patented liquidcooled battery pack. SF has devised a flexible motor system that allows it to design vehicles using one, two, three, or four motors. At the top end, its powerful four-motor system will deliver over 1,000 hp, launching its vehicles from 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds. The company’s motors, motor controllers, and gearboxes are integral to this performance, with peak power ranging from 100 to 400 kW. SF’s electronic controllers, all developed in-house, enable instantaneous all-wheel-drive torque vectoring. In 2016, the company acquired a factory near South Bend, Indiana and retooled it for EV production (poetic justice department: the former AM General plant used to build Hummers). The company is investing heavily in automation, and says it has body shops and process
Images courtesy of SF Motors
SF Motors teases two new EVs, to begin production this year
quality control centers that are 100 percent automated. “We consider our US plant in Indiana and our China facility in Chongqing to be among the most automated plants in the world, with partners that are the world’s foremost leaders in manufacturing,” said Chief Production Officer Jim Finn. “My team and I come from automotive backgrounds rich in tradition, and have designed and built cars for some of the most exclusive high-end US and European automakers,” said Chief Engineer Thomas Fritz. “We believe what we’re designing today honors those roots, while enabling us to bring forward a new vision of mobility.” “Our mission is to transform human mobility – and perhaps our planet – through intelligent EVs,” said founder and CEO John Zhang. “To do this, we can’t follow the same path as every other EV company. We aim to be the company that shares integrated technology solutions and provides the manufacturing expertise to make more EVs a reality. We believe everyone wins with the wider adoption of EV technology.”
Learn about our precision steel lamination capabilities for a variety automotive electric motor applications at charged.etempel.com.
Image courtesy of VW
VW secures battery supplies to support major EV expansion Volkswagen says it has lined up 20 billion euros ($25 billion) worth of battery supplies to support a significant increase in EV production over the next few years. The world’s largest automaker will equip 16 factories to produce EVs by the end of 2022, compared with the three it has today. VW says it plans to build as many as 3 million plugin vehicles per year by 2025. Starting later this year, the 12 brands of the Volkswagen Group will roll out a new battery-powered model “virtually every month,” CEO Matthias Mueller said at the company’s annual press conference. “This is how we intend to offer the largest fleet of electric vehicles in the world.” The recently announced agreements with suppliers including Samsung SDI, LG Chem and Contemporary Amperex are meant to secure a supply of batteries for the European and Chinese markets. A deal for North America is expected to follow shortly. In total, VW says it plans to purchase about 50 billion euros worth of batteries as part of its EV strategy. However, Bloomberg believes that the company’s power-supply issues are far from over. VW has struggled to secure sources of cobalt, and says it’s working on ways to reduce the amount of the element needed for its battery packs. Access to the strategic metal remains a long-term issue for the whole industry, Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter told Bloomberg TV.
JCB electric digger gets the job done with no noise and no emissions
Image courtesy of JCB
In response to customer demands for a yellow machine that can work indoors, underground and close to people in urban areas, UK-based heavy equipment manufacturer JCB has developed its first electric excavator (a “digger” to our British mates). The 19C-1 E-Tec mini-excavator not only delivers zero emissions, it is five times quieter than its diesel-powered counterpart – external noise is 7 dBA lower. This means contractors can work after normal hours in urban streets without disturbing residents, and operate in noise-sensitive environments such as near hospitals and schools. The e-digger delivers the same power as a diesel machine, and with no daily checks of coolant and engine oil levels required, it can get to work quicker. The 19C-1 E-Tec has three lithium-ion battery packs with total energy capacity of 15 kWh. The rugged battery housing is designed for off-road construction use. The on-board charger can recharge in 6 hours at 230 V. An optional fast charging system will be available at launch, allowing a full charge in 2.5 hours. Using a 48 V electrical system, the electric motor delivers instant, greater torque than the standard machine’s diesel engine. The motor drives a Bosch Rexroth load-sensing hydraulic system, delivering the same digging performance as JCB’s standard 1.9ton excavator. The efficiency of this electric-hydraulic combination means a considerably lower cooling requirement – only a small hydraulic cooler with a small thermostatic electric fan and no engine radiator – contributing to longer battery life and a lower noise level. The 19C-1 E-TEC is equipped with the same adjustable undercarriage and choice of digging equipment as the diesel model. The new digger is to go on sale at the end of this year.
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Module and pack level testing CAN, I2C SMBus capable Drive cycle simulation Import drive cycle from table of values Battery power is recycled to AC grid in discharge Utilizes Maccor’s standard battery test software suite No system power limit, up to 900 KW
Image courtesy of FlixBus
Image courtesy of VW
FlixBus tests electric buses on long-distance European routes
FlixBus, which operates a network of long-distance buses in Europe, plans to test electric buses on some of its routes. Beginning in April, the first Flix-E-Bus will begin pilot operations on the route between Paris and Amiens, France. A second Flix-E-Bus will hit the road between Hessen and Baden-Württemberg, Germany, this summer. Long-distance buses are a comparatively environmentally-friendly transportation choice even when powered by dirty diesel - taking the bus instead of driving your own (gas-powered) car can reduce the CO2 emissions on a long trip by 80 percent, according to FlixBus. “Although e-buses are currently much more expensive to buy, we are convinced that this will be a worthwhile investment in the long run, for our company, our customers and the environment,” said André Schwämmlein, founder and CEO of FlixBus. “As a provider, we are demonstrating that this is a potential turning point in mobility. Likewise, the first all-electric long-distance bus is a signal to bus manufacturers to drive innovation and develop alternatives to pure diesel vehicles.” “The current trend is moving away from private car travel and towards shared mobility options such as buses,” added Schwämmlein. “FlixBus is proud to be a pioneer in helping to propel this change by providing some of the most climate-friendly mobility options in Europe.”
VW electric racer to compete in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
The annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, also known as the Race to the Clouds, is a demanding race has become something of a showplace for electric racing – several EV startups have distinguished themselves there, including Lightning Motorcycles, Rimac and Faraday Future. Last October, Volkswagen announced that it was developing an electric race car for the next Hill Climb, which will take place in June 2018. The company has named its electric four-wheel-drive prototype racing car the I.D. R Pikes Peak, highlighting its upcoming I.D. family of EVs. The first model of the I.D. family is scheduled to go into production at the end of 2019, the first of more than 20 pure EVs that VW plans to offer by 2025. “We want to be at the forefront of electromobility with Volkswagen and the I.D. family,” says Volkswagen Board Member Dr. Frank Welsch. “Competing in the most famous hill climb in the world with the I.D. R Pikes Peak is a valuable test for the general development of electric cars.” “Pikes Peak is without question the most iconic hill climb in the world,” said Board Member Jürgen Stackmann. The I.D. R represents VW’s return to Pikes Peak after a long absence – the German automaker last competed on the hill in 1987 with a dual-engine Golf, which narrowly missed a podium finish. The record in the electric prototype class currently stands at 8:57 minutes, set in 2016 by New Zealand’s Rhys Millen.
Workhorse reports 2017 earnings, receives $7-million electric truck order Workhorse Group (NASDAQ: WKHS) has received a $7-million repeat order for all-electric delivery trucks, to be deployed by “a major delivery company in the San Diego area.” Workhorse all-electric trucks are powered by Panasonic batteries, and deliver a 100-mile range. According to Workhorse, its e-trucks can improve fuel efficiency from an average of 5.5 MPG to more than 30 MPGe, while significantly lowering the cost of fleet maintenance. “We have entered an exciting new phase of our production operations,” said Duane Hughes, Workhorse President and COO. “We see this gross marginpositive $7-million order as the first of many more electric truck orders to come.” The company announced its 2017 results. Workhorse delivered 245 units during the year, including 121 units to UPS, completing the fourth order from the delivery giant. Workhorse is collaborating with UPS to design a custom-built electric delivery truck that it says will be comparable in acquisition cost to conventional-fueled trucks without subsidies. “The fourth quarter was a solid finish to a transformational year for our company,” said Workhorse CEO Steve Burns. “Financially,
we grew our topline by 81% for the quarter and nearly 70% for the year thanks to our increasing production capacity and continued demand from new and existing customers. We’ve grown our backlog to a record $12 million, putting us at a pace that already exceeds our total sales in 2017.”
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Buick announces new PHEV, BEV models for China
Image courtesy of Buick
Buick plans to add two new models to its offerings in China: the Velite 6 PHEV and the Velite 6 EV. China is by far the world’s largest market for the Buick brand, supposedly because former Emperor Pu Yi owned one (one expert on the Chinese automotive market told Charged that this story is apocryphal). In April 2017, Buick introduced the Velite 5, a rebadged version of the Chevrolet Volt, to the Chinese market.
GM has provided no launch date, specs or other details of the new models, saying only that they include “Buick’s newest eMotion electric propulsion technology,” and are based on the Velite Concept new energy vehicle that was unveiled in November 2016.
Fourth London bus route goes electric with Alexander Dennis/BYD e-buses
Image courtesy of BYD
London’s world-famous red buses are steadily going electric. Route 153 serves many of the City of London’s most congested streets, between Finsbury Park in the north and Moorgate in the heart of the financial district. This route will be the fourth in the capital to go fully electric, with a new fleet consisting of eleven 10.8-meter single-deck Enviro200EV electric buses, jointly built by China-based BYD and Scotland-based Alexander Dennis. The depot will be served by charging points manufactured by BYD. Buses provided by the BYD/Alexander Dennis partnership have already accumulated over a million miles of emissions-free operation in London, Liverpool and Nottingham. “We are delighted to make another significant step in the electrification of London’s bus routes and to be in the vanguard of the transformation,” said Richard Harrington, Engineering Director of Go-Ahead London, which operates the route on behalf of Transport for London. “At Go-Ahead we have developed considerable practical knowledge of electric bus operation, gained over six years, and are well positioned to contribute further to the improvement of the capital’s air quality.” “The smooth switch-on of our electric buses to operate another intensive London route is a testament to the strength of our overall offering – not just the proven and reliable buses themselves but the back-up and support of our partners in planning and installing the necessary equipment to make electric bus operation successful from day one,” said Frank Thorpe, UK Country Manager for BYD UK.
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Ontario adds price cap to EV incentive program The Canadian province of Ontario has made changes to its Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (EVIP), which has been renamed the Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Incentive Program: • Incentives of up to $14,000 Canadian ($11,000 US) will be provided for eligible hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. • Incentives for EVs and PHEVs are now determined based on each vehicle’s electric range and seating capacity. The updated incentives vary from $5,000 ($3,900 US) to $14,000. • Incentives will no longer be provided for EVs or PHEVs with an MSRP of $75,000 ($58,500 US) or more. • Incentives will no longer be provided for vehicles leased for less than three years. The EVIP Eligible Vehicle and Incentives List offers a listing of updated incentive values. The Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Incentive Program Guide provides full details about the various incentives available.
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New Flyer commissions electric bus simulator Bus manufacturer New Flyer is steadily electrifying its lineup – among other projects, it is delivering 525 hybrid buses to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. To help operators get used to the new technology, the company has commissioned an e-bus simulator at its Vehicle Innovation Center in Anniston, Alabama. The Xcelsior CHARGE Bus Simulator, designed and installed by simulation training specialist FAAC, uses full-scale OEM components. Drivers will experience a bus environment with hardware operating just as it would in a New Flyer Xcelsior CHARGE electric transit bus, including a working door and ramp, lights, mirrors, air-brake system, and adjustable driver’s seat. “The simulator features an 8-foot-tall screen with a 180-degree field of view, the largest screen FAAC has ever installed,” said Derek Fulk, Senior Project Manager at FAAC. “The screen was critical in providing a realistic experience for the bus operator, and delivering a learning experience complete with audio, visual, and tactile details.” The display system projects 4K (high-definition) resolution onto a cylindrical screen through ultra-shortthrow lenses, creating a realistic driving experience. The system even delivers tactile sensations to simulate curb and roadside jostling. The simulator’s main objective is to train drivers in the use of regenerative braking, which can extend range, lower energy consumption, and reduce brake system maintenance. “A skilled driver of an electric bus can have as much as a 15% impact on the energy use, so critical skills training of this type can dramatically reduce transit authorities’ operating costs,” said New Flyer President Wayne Joseph.
Costa Rican government deploys fleet of Mitsubishi plug-in vehicles
Photos courtesy of Mitsubishi
Photo courtesy of New Flyer
The government of Japan has delivered a fleet of 20 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs and 29 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs to the government of Costa Rica, as part of the Overseas Development Agreement between the two countries. The new vehicles will be used by 15 government agencies and universities. Costa Rica is a land of rugged terrain and many unpaved roads - SUVs and trucks with high ground clearance dominate the vehicle market. The Outlanders are sure to be a hit, but it’s difficult to imagine a less suitable environment for the tiny i-MiEV city car.
On the other hand, Costa Rica has long been a world leader in sustainability efforts, and has set a goal of becoming the world’s first “carbon-neutral” country by 2021. The Costa Rican Legislative Assembly recently considered legislation that would greatly expand the nation’s EV charging infrastructure. “We are very pleased to be able to support the Costa Rican government’s efforts to embrace cleaner automotive technologies,” said Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko. “We hope these vehicles will contribute to Costa Rica’s transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.”
Automakers and state governments cooperate on ad campaign for EVs A lack of advertising is often cited as a main reason for the slow pace of EV adoption, so it’s welcome news that a consortium of automakers and Northeast states intends to cooperate on an EV ad campaign. The Drive Change Drive Electric campaign, launched at the recent New York International Auto Show, will focus on advancing consumer awareness of EVs in the region, and will publicize the growing variety of electric models, available tax and purchase incentives and the economic benefits for drivers. The program’s web site includes information about the different types of plug-in vehicles and their benefits, as well as a list of available models with links to manufacturer’s sites. Marketing materials for the program say that it will include advertising, social media, strategic partnerships, events and other content efforts.
Automaker members of the consortium (not all of which currently offer electric models in the US market) include BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. State partners include New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey. “Automakers offer over 40 high-quality electric cars in almost every vehicle segment and many more are coming over the next few years,” said Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “However, transforming mobility requires more than large numbers of high-quality cars. Customers must be aware of and comfortable with the new technology and understand how it benefits them and their family.” “This campaign highlights the importance of government and industry collaboration. To achieve our shared goal of building a market for electric cars, you need to use all of the tools in the toolbox,” said John Bozzella, CEO of the Association of Global Automakers.
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Bollinger Motors takes the road less traveled Robert Bollinger is building unique EVs, and a one-of-a-kind EV company By Charles Morris
Photo courtesy of Bollinger Motors
Robert Bollinger, CEO of Bollinger Motors
ollinger Motors is not following the typical EV startup formula. Instead of building a luxury sedan, it’s building a rough and ready work truck. It has no strategy to evolve into a mass-market automaker, but intends to find a niche as a low-volume brand. As far as we know, the company has no former Tesla executives and no deep-pocketed Chinese investors - two common components of most recent EV startups. What it does have is a working prototype of a “no-nonsense back-to-basics all-electric sport utility truck” that fills a glaring gap in the current EV market. The B1 claims to seat four passengers comfortably and some will find it stylish, in a retro safari kind of way, but it’s built for the farm or job site, not for the suburban soccer set. It’s designed to haul large, heavy objects, and plenty of them. The yawning rear opening can accommodate 4x8 boards - up to 72 sheets of half-inch plywood. A unique pass-through arrange-
ment makes it easy to haul really long items (up to 24 2x4s) - there’s a front liftgate, and the rear seats fold up and out of the way. The B1 is also suitable for off-road adventure, with AWD, a hydraulic winch and a ground clearance of up to 15.5 inches. For Robert Bollinger, the company is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. He studied industrial design in college, and planned to be an automotive designer. However, he went on to have a successful career in marketing and design, outside of the automotive field. Later he helped to build a business, and sold it at a profit, giving him the funds to revive his childhood dream and start up Bollinger Motors. “It was kind of like a long crazy journey to get here,” Bollinger says, “but I wouldn’t change a thing, so here we are.” Charged chatted with Bollinger about the vehicle, the company and the business plan, and we present his comments here in his own words, lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
Photos courtesy of Bollinger Motors
Everything was intended from the very beginning as production-ready. Q Charged: Are you solely self-funded? And what’s
the plan for the future? Are you going to be raising money? A Robert Bollinger: Yeah, we’re solely self-funded
right now, and we’re covered for a couple more years. Our business plan as we have it right now is that we’ll take deposits from the first customers, and that’ll fund us also. At some point, we’ll be doing the investor thing, probably. Right now, what’s good is that we can concentrate on the engineering and not have to really answer to anybody. We’re just doing our own thing, and we have a plan where that can work out for a while. Q Charged: Are the parts that you used to build the
B1 prototype intended to be the production parts, or are those things you’re going to source out in the future? A Robert Bollinger: From the very beginning, be-
cause we always wanted to be working in an efficient way, and not have to go back, our goal was to make the
whole truck, from the ground up, exactly the way we wanted it. Through CAD, everything’s engineered to every single micron. There are parts that we wanted to engineer ourselves, and design to our own specs, like the gearboxes, the chassis and the body. Then, things like headlights and turn lights, and stuff like that, are off the shelf, from vendors. So, everything was intended from the very beginning as production-ready. Our first prototype, which is the one you see in all the videos, is a fully working proof of concept. Our new partner in the Detroit area, Optimal, is an engineering firm that does tons of simulation, lightweighting, benchmarking, all this kind of stuff. So through them, we now take it to the next step. There’ll be a number of changes to improve it, like wherever we can save weight, and make things stronger, and more efficient...then we’ll have another prototype later. But yeah, the idea from the beginning was always to make it exactly how it would be produced. So we didn’t just hand-craft something together and say, “We’ll figure it out later.” We figured it out as we went.
THE VEHICLES Photos courtesy of Bollinger Motors
switching them out, but the way our battery packs will be - on the bottom’s a popular way to do it - we’ll be able to take off that battery pack, and [update it] with the new kind of battery cells that come along. Q Charged: So what about the EV-specific stuff?
The battery cells, the motor and the motor controller? Are those things that could change in the future as well? A Robert Bollinger: Yeah. For this prototype, we have
battery cells from one vendor, but we’re changing our vendor for the production version, for a more powerdense battery cell. Like pretty much all EV makers, we buy our battery cells from a third-party company. Our IP, our own design of how we put them together, how we write the software to control those battery cells, what size we want the battery pack to be, all that kind of stuff, we’re creating. So in the next iteration, we’re going for a 120 kWh pack, which is really big. There’s really nothing out on the road that’s that size right now. That’s a lot of mass. That’s a lot of stuff to control. That’s a lot of work. But that’s what we want to have for range, and for the ability to use the truck in all the different ways that we want it to be used. Say 10 years from now battery chemistry changes dramatically. We can update that. It’s not as simple as
Q Charged: Do you mean you’ll update customer’s
A Robert Bollinger: We’ll have to see what kind of
thing happens in the future. Say 10 years from now batteries are half as expensive and half as heavy, but twice as powerful. We’ll definitely have customers that’ll be like, “Hey, we want one of those!” So I’m sure we’ll do some kind of battery pack upgrade that you can buy. The idea is that, this truck being aluminum, and really well protected with paint against corrosion of any type, you buy the B1 and keep it for the rest of your life. So if you have it for 20 years, 30 years, hopefully the batteries just keep chugging along, you don’t need to do anything with them. But if there’s any major breakthrough, we can deal with it. Q Charged: It seems like a super-unique approach
to building an automotive company. Is there some model that you can point to and say, “It worked for them?” Is there another car company that has the volume and the approach that you’re looking to emulate?
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The idea is that, this truck being aluminum, and really well protected with paint against corrosion of any type, you buy the B1 and keep it for the rest of your life. A Robert Bollinger: At first, I had really big volume numbers, vehicles
per year [in mind]. But as I learned more and more, I’m like, the main goal is to get it made, right? What helps us get it made? What volume? How many different kinds of options? So, really, ultra-low-volume manufacturers is the world that we’re in with. It’s kind of like how Tesla first came out with the Roadster, how they only made a few thousand of those at first. Q Charged: Do you envision a time when you will want to take a leap
into a higher volume?
A Robert Bollinger: It’s funny...I don’t know why Tesla wanted to rush
into the $35,000 range, which is very hard for them to make that car for and make a profit. No, we’re not looking up to 50,000 or 100,000, anything like that. We definitely want to stay at low volume. The plan for the next five years of production is to ramp up very slowly, and be very cautious about it. Q Charged: Is success for you creating cool cars and a community
that loves them? Is that a vision?
A Robert Bollinger: Right. Yeah. There’s a lot of things I love about old
Internationals, Defender 90s, and stuff like that, which kind of comes across in the look of our truck. But the Internationals were always super-low-volume compared to Ford [and] Chevy. At first, long ago, they were like the number-three truck maker. And then the other ones just took them over. I don’t think they intended to be low-volume, but I like the road of low-volume, especially with trucks - you’re doing something that the penny-pinchers aren’t going to let you do. I don’t ever want to be in that kind of camp - it’d be cool to always come up with something different. Q Charged: So it’s a totally different business model than anyone
else that you can think of.
A Robert Bollinger: Yeah. Up here in the Catskills, where we created
this whole thing, is such a community of craftsmanship - of craftsmen,
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THE VEHICLES Photos courtesy of Bollinger Motors
We’re not looking up to 50,000 or 100,000, anything like that. We definitely want to stay at low volume.
and potters, and painters, and all that kind of stuff, so I can’t help but think it’s like we’re somewhere in between manufacturing and handcrafting, you know? Q Charged: The idea of creating a low-volume car
company seems very difficult, mostly because of the cost of regulations, warranties, service, etc. How do you plan to solve those challenges? A Robert Bollinger: We looked at the kit car thing
early on, because we were wondering exactly the same thing. Where do we fit in the world of federal motor
vehicle safety standards? And where we landed was a Class 3 truck, for many reasons. One is for the future trucks that we want to make off the same platform. Basically, what we want the B1 to be is, like the way Tesla made electric sexy, we’re making electric strong. This off-road truck has great ground clearance, can hold 5,000 pounds, all this kind of stuff. So, as a Class 3 truck, it lends itself to the kind of vehicles we want to make off of this in the future. But also, the regulations for Class 3 trucks don’t require air bags, and they don’t require physical crash testing. So, we’re doing simulated crash testing, and meeting all the regulations of a Class 3 truck. I think the reason the federal government has this variation in the regulations is that the Class 3 truck is kind of a low-volume world. And also, when you’re a Class 3 truck, you’re the strong one on the road. You’re safe in your truck, and it’s basically the small passenger cars that need the highly engineered crumple zones, to put it bluntly. So we’ve been doing our own due diligence, our own safety standards, but we are fully compliant with all federal regulations for safety standards for this truck. Class 3 is 10,001 to 14,999 pound gross vehicle weight rating. Other Class 3 examples would be a Ford F-350 or Chevy 3500. Basically, what you’re doing is engineering the entire truck to handle 10,001 pounds. Our truck is going to end up being 5,000 pounds, probably, after all the batteries are in there. And so, you’ll be able to put 5,000 pounds in it, and it’ll still operate, and still adjust its suspension and handle, everything. And do all the braking regulations, in a certain amount of distance and all that kind of stuff. Towing is also a gear ratio thing, so towing capacity will probably be more than 5,000 pounds when we’re done. In terms of warranty, the batteries will come with an eight-year warranty from the vendor. So we’ll have warranties from the people who supply us components. And we’re going to have to figure out our exact policy for the final warranty. But it will come with a pretty standard warranty for the industry.
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The way Tesla made electric sexy, we’re making electric strong. We’re talking to third-party providers for service. There’s a lot of different ways to go there. You can go with a brand that has shops around - there’s a lot of them out there. There’s also this growing network of mom-and-pop corner shops that fix cars, that can get certified for electric. I really like that idea, because if it’s someone that you know, that you take your truck to already, in your town, if you could also take them the B1, that would be so cool. Q Charged: What about your sales plan? Are you go-
ing to try to go through dealers?
A Robert Bollinger: No. We’ll be so low-volume that
it’ll be direct to the customer, like the Tesla model and some of the GoFundMe sites out there, where you pre-order stuff. And then we can deliver straight to the client, hopefully. That’s our plan - to ship it straight to you. Half of all EVs sell in California, so we’ll probably have an early presence there, a couple of stores or service centers. Q Charged: The design is super-minimalized, partic-
ularly inside. What’s purposely not there that you’re used to finding in normal cars? A Robert Bollinger: Well, what’s purposely not there
is a big computer screen that you are finding a lot in EVs. Our thing is, it’s a hands-on truck. You go offroad, you go do your work, throw your lumber in it, all that kind of thing. We’ll have air conditioning, we’ll have a radio, we’ll have comfortable seats, cup holders - that’ll be necessary. But the idea is that we’re bringing the truck back into it. A lot of SUVs start out as utility vehicles, but they’re really high-riding luxury sedans. But what if you want something rugged, that you can actually use? There aren’t that many options. And especially in electric, there’s none.
Photos courtesy of Bollinger Motors
We’re purposely going anti-luxury. It’s not in a Spartan way, like it’s uncomfortable, but really just to go back to my aesthetic of what I like, which is just simple, straightforward. When I was doing the dashboard, I was like...completely flat across, and people were like, “Really?” And I was like, “Yeah, it’s going to be totally cool.” It has the screws right on there you can see, and you can unscrew it and take off your dashboard, and put in your own gauges if you want. If you trick the truck out with extra LED lights, you can put your switches right in there, so it’s customizable that way. We wanted to make it so it’s left-hand or right-hand drive capable on the production line. To keep everything as simple as possible is the main idea. Q Charged: At what point do you think you’ll have
an estimated MSRP?
A Robert Bollinger: I’m really hoping to have our
four-door prototype finished for a show this summer, and then announce pricing. But as we keep engineering it, we keep improving on it, and changing vendors here and there, so it’s hard to come up with your final price point. And if you announce that too soon, and you’re wrong, you could really mess yourself up, so we’re being very cautious. Q Charged: Are you designing to a price point, or the
A Robert Bollinger: We’re doing it the opposite way.
What do we want in this vehicle? What would be the coolest truck? What are all the things we want in here? Dual motors, 120 kWh pack to give us at least a 200-
THE SPECS The Bollinger B1 is currently a prototype, so all specs are subject to change in the production version.
mile range, and four-wheel gear hubs for the ground clearance, it’s going to add up. So we’re definitely doing it for the features, not the cost. We made the two-door prototype first, but what we’re going to do for production is make just the four-door, so that’s the one we’re concentrating on now. It incorporates the bigger battery pack. We think that if we put it out there, 85% to 90% of customers would order the four-door, so we made the decision to make the four-door first and get it out there. Then we’ll come back with the two-door, then, hopefully, the right-hand drive version of those two, and then other models after that.
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Q Charged: Do you think the next models will be
drastically different platforms, or will they be derivations of what you’re building now? A Robert Bollinger: I’d like to base it off the same
chassis layout and the same structure. What is our DNA? We have to be different. Things like the pass-
Photos courtesy of Bollinger Motors
I want us to do this ourselves, be right there, hands on, with the final quality and the final craftsmanship. So we’re going to assemble them ourselves.
through and the Class 3 strength are part of our DNA now. So we can make more vehicles off of that same DNA. If we ever worry about pennies, and bring down the cost, and take out that kind of stuff, then we’re so similar to other stuff that’s going to be out there, it’s not really worth it. We should really just stay as different as possible. Q Charged: What do you think is a best-case scenario for first deliveries? A Robert Bollinger: Early 2020. We’re going to start production in fourth quarter 2019. Our idea is to have a fully engineered, optimized four-door CAD model this year, as we line up our vendors, of course. And then, tooling, ordering, all in the first half of next year. And it all starts to come together in the second half of 2019, then we send them out in early 2020. Q Charged: What do you think is the biggest challenge to meet that deadline? A Robert Bollinger: It’s an aggressive timeline. Because when
THE VEHICLES we debuted our vehicle last July, that was a fully working prototype, and we figured out an awful lot of stuff. But there’s so much to do from that point, and we’ve been on it like crazy since then. I think the biggest challenge would be finalizing our vendors. We’ve had a lot of great vendor support from the beginning, but it’s really just lining them up and learning that whole sequence. I’ve hired a number of people who have a lot of experience with that, to help me, so we’ll get there. But that’s the thing that’s scariest to me.
We’ll probably hire about 10 more people this year. And then as we ramp up for production, we’re going to be having vendors make major parts for us. The chassis, the body and lights and stuff like that, will come from vendors in the Detroit area who have done that for OEMs for decades. So they’ll make our bodies for us, and major components will come in and we’ll assemble it ourselves. So that whole assembly line, that’ll be 50 to 70 people there. But that’ll be towards the end of next year.
Q Charged: What can you tell us about your team?
Q Charged: You hired Optimal to help you with the
A Robert Bollinger: Well, I always want to talk about
my engineering team: Chief Engineer Karl Hacken, Powertrain Engineer CJ Winegar, HV Engineer John Hutchison, and LV Engineer Dan Aliberti. It’s incredible what I’ve learned from them, and how they’ve been able to just jump on this, and bring what they know. And then what they don’t know, they go and figure it out and find the right guys. It’s really all about the team.
final bit of engineering and reliability studies, and then you plan to build your own plant?
A Robert Bollinger: We want to assemble it ourselves
now, because we’re lower-volume than we were originally planning. Our first thought was that we would go for higher volume and third-party manufacturing. But I want us to do this ourselves, be right there, hands on, with the final quality and the final craftsmanship. So we’re going to assemble them ourselves.
ClipperCreek releases 64 Amp EVSE for home and commercial use
Photo courtesy of ClipperCreek
ClipperCreek’s latest addition to its HCS line of charging stations is aimed at EV drivers and fleet operators who want to “future-proof ” their charging infrastructure. The new HCS-80 is a 64-Amp Level 2 charger that delivers up to 15.4 kW of power. The trend of increasing battery size and driving range continues. “As electric vehicle range increases, the vehicle’s ability to accept power at a higher rate is increasing as well,” said Will Barrett, Director of Sales at ClipperCreek. “The HCS-80 offers users more power to get vehicles charged and back on the road faster.” The HCS-80 is rated for both indoor and outdoor use. It comes with a 3-year warranty, a fully sealed NEMA 4 station enclosure and 25 feet of charge cable. The HCS80 is available for purchase directly from ClipperCreek, starting at $969. For customers desiring access control, ClipperCreek offers ChargeGuard, a key-based access control solution, as a $78 option. For customers desiring circuit sharing, ClipperCreek offers Share2, which allows two HCS-80 stations to share the power from one 80 A circuit, as a $184 option. “There has been an increasing demand for durable, reliable, high-powered stations, especially from our fleet customers,” said Jason France, founder and President of ClipperCreek. “A 64-Amp charging station strikes a great balance between station capacity and electrical infrastructure requirements to deliver our customers highspeed charging at the best possible value.”
Porsche plans to profit from charging, says Tesla Supercharger model is not sustainable When Tesla introduced its Supercharger network, not only was it the most powerful charging system available, but it was free for Tesla drivers. Free charging was a sort of teaser offer to overcome new buyers’ range anxiety, and Tesla later added fees. However, the company aims to keep the cost of charging below that of gasoline, and has said that it will never make the Supercharger network a profit center. Porsche apparently disagrees with this approach – Board Member Lutz Meschke recently told journalists that his company hopes to make a profit from selling electricity to drivers. When GearBrain asked if Porsche planned to operate chargers as profit centers, Meschke laughed and said, “Yes, we want to earn money with the new products and services. Of course.” In regards to Tesla’s Supercharger network, Meschke said, “It was only free for a while. You cannot run things like this, you have to earn money from these services.” Unlike Tesla, Porsche plans to bill drivers from day one. “We can invest in the beginning but after two or three years you have to be profitable with the new services, of course.” Meschke added that the price of electricity from Porsche chargers will be similar to that of gas. Grain of salt department: Porsche is expected to start delivering EVs by late 2019 at the earliest, and whatever Mr. Meschke may say, it’s not clear how much control Porsche will have over charging rates at that time. The brand is a member of the Ionity charging network, a consortium that includes several other automakers. In the US, electric Porsche drivers will have access to the Electrify America initiative, which is controlled by Porsche’s parent company Volkswagen. The EV charging industry is in its infancy, but it’s already a crowded space, with governments, utilities, automakers and third-party startups all getting into the act. However, it’s unclear whether it will be possible – or desirable – to make charging a profit center.
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THE ROADMAP 11 PROGRAM IS ORGANIZED AROUND FOUR TRACKS: CARS. The cars track will focus on the accelerating adoption of electric cars and other electric vehicles; new forms of shared and autonomous mobility; the emergence of electric vehicles in new market segments, such as transit; and public-private marketing strategies. CHARGING. This track will explore how to make charging easier, faster, and more commonplace; the Electrify America plan to invest $2 billion over the next 10 years; and ways that electric utilities and the grid are gaining from transportation electrification. COMMUNITY. The community track will focus on the broader “ecosystem” needed for the market to expand. Sessions will highlight programs designed to bring electric mobility benefits to underserved communities, leading “smart city” efforts, and new policy developments. CUTTING EDGE. New this year, the “cutting edge” track will feature “Ignite” style talks of 5-7 minutes, hands-on workshops, and emerging topics. Learn more about tomorrow’s news today.
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Smart-grid EV charging specialist eMotorWerks, an Enel company, has partnered with Canadian EVSE manufacturer Autochargers to open a new manufacturing facility in Ontario. At maximum capacity, the new plant will produce 40,000 eMotorWerks JuiceBox charging stations per year for the Canadian market. eMotorWerks’ JuiceBox charging hardware and Wi-Fi and cloud-connected JuiceNet software platform allow EV drivers to tap into periods of maximum solar and wind generation to charge their EVs. In some areas, drivers can also receive smart grid incentives for scheduled charging. Regional utilities can also benefit by using the smart-grid charging stations to shift EV charging load to off-peak times. “Today marks a significant milestone in our partnership with Autochargers,” said Valery Miftakhov, founder and CEO of eMotorWerks. “Together, we are offering Canadians the best smart-charging products to power the impressive EV growth across the country and establishing skilled labor jobs for the people of greater Toronto.” “The addition of Autochargers’ manufacturing facility, combined with Ontario’s world-class electric vehicle incentive program and the world’s first Electric Vehicle Discovery Centre, further strengthens Ontario’s position as a North American leader in the electric vehicle industry,” said Cara Clairman, CEO of the EV advocacy group Plug’n Drive.
Ekoenergetyka provides 300 kW chargers for Malmö electric buses
Photo courtesy of Ekoenergetyka
Autochargers and eMotorWerks open EVSE manufacturing facility in Ontario
Photo courtesy of eMotorWerks
The City of Malmö, Sweden has ordered three 300 kW quickPOINT City Chargers from Poland-based Ekoenergetyka. The OppCharge-based chargers, equipped with inverted pantographs, will go into service this fall, providing quick top-ups to 13 Volvo e-buses that will go into operation at the end of the year. The devices will be connected to an external monitoring system that will gather data about charging in real time. They follow the international charging protocol ISO 15118. The project is part of Malmö’s drive to become climate-neutral by 2020. Ekoenergetyka has over 150 e-bus chargers deployed in cities across Europe, including two other Swedish cities, Vasteras and Lulea, as well as Barcelona, Berlin and Tampere, Finland. “This project will be the first one in which Ekoenergetyka will charge electric buses from Volvo, and it will bring the total of electric bus brands that we have charged to over 10. It shows our chargers are interoperable across the board,” said Maciej Wojeński, Vice President of Ekoenergetyka-Polska. “Giving our clients full flexibility when it comes to charging interfaces, shapes of chargers and their power is one of our priorities. Our chargers can be integrated with both Combo 2 plugs, bus-mounted pantographs and, as we show with this project, also OppCharge top-down pantographs.”
Mercedes-Benz has added more power and new features to its Wallbox home charging station. The new version offers up to 22 kW of power, and makes it possible to control various functions from a smartphone, including charging control, user management and consumption overview. The new Wallbox comes in three versions: the basic Wallbox Home, the internetcapable Wallbox Advanced and the Wallbox Twin for charging two vehicles at once. It will be available in Europe from summer 2018, and in “more than 40 other markets” later. The Advanced and Twin Wallboxes are internet-capable, and include built-in electricity meters and RFID access control. This makes it possible to manage several vehicles for different users, a handy feature for fleets, as well as for office communities or apartment buildings. Local load management enables intelligent sharing of charging power by up to 14 additional Wallboxes, alleviating the need for expensive upgrades to existing power connections.
Photos courtesy of Heliox
Photos courtesy of Daimler
Mercedes Wallbox home charger adds more power and fleet-friendly features
Heliox fast chargers to power fleet of 100 electric buses at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport
Dutch fleet charging specialist Heliox has supplied 109 fast chargers to power a fleet of 100 battery-electric buses for Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. The articulated VDL Citeas e-buses will operate on a 24/7 basis on 6 lines in the environs of the airport, and are expected to drive a total of 30,000 km per day. Heliox has deployed 23 of its OC 450 kW chargers at four opportunity charging points. These chargers use a roof-mounted pantograph system, and can top up the battery in 2-4 minutes as passengers board and exit. There will also be 84 Heliox Fast DC dual 30 kW chargers for overnight charging at two depots in Amsterdam and Amstelveen. Heliox’s fast chargers are designed to communicate with any OCCP 1.6 back-office system a customer may choose. “Our collaboration with Heliox has been a success,” said Ard Romers, Director of VDL Bus & Coach Netherlands. “We have gathered a lot of know-how from various zero-emission bus transport projects where maximum availability has been guaranteed. Thanks to these experiences, we have now also succeeded in contributing to the transition within the Amstelland-Meerlanden concession.” “The Amsterdam airport area is crowded with heavy traffic moving thousands of passengers every day,” said Mark Smidt, Heliox’s Director of Business Development. “When we started working on this large-scale implementation, we understood the impact this project would have on the Schiphol Airport area, so we are excited to see how the community will appreciate the benefits of e-mobility through using e-buses every day.”
ABB’s new AC wallbox chargers are simple but feature-rich
The Swiss electronics giant ABB offers a prodigious portfolio of charging products – its latest addition is a range of AC wallboxes that are designed to provide a simple, easy-to-install solution for homes and businesses. The new AC wallboxes come in no less than 52 different versions. All feature a compact design (50 x 25 cm) and an all-weather enclosure for indoor and outdoor use. Different versions support 4.6 kW, 11 kW and 22 kW 3-phase AC charging. The new chargers, available for European markets, are compatible with the industry standard Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). They offer a range of connector types, including type 2 socket, type 2 socket with shutter and type 1 and type 2 cable. For locations where wall mounting is difficult, a range of single- and dual-mount pedestals are available. Optional features include energy metering, load balancing, back-office integration, 3G modem, RFID and key authorization, SIM card, communication interface for smart charging, and web tools for statistics, configuration and access management. “Charging should not be an interruption to the day, which is why we have extended our portfolio with the AC wallbox, which is simple to install and use at home or work,” said Frank Mühlon, Head of ABB’s Global Business for Electric Vehicle Charging. “Customers can now benefit from charging solutions that are connected to their building infrastructure.”
EO Charging installs 40 smart chargers for London logistics firm
Photo courtesy of EO Charging
Photo courtesy of ABB
UK-based EVSE manufacturer EO Charging has completed the installation of 40 EO smart chargers for London-based logistics firm Gnewt Cargo. Gnewt Cargo, a last-mile city logistics operator that has its main depot in the Bow area of London, has commissioned a total of 63 EO smart chargers, connected by two eoHUBs, to keep its 100% electric fleet of around 100 vehicles on the road. Gnewt Cargo worked with the Mayor of London’s office to develop a successful bid to Innovate UK, which provided a million pounds in funding for the new chargers. As part of the project, EO Charging unveiled a number of innovations for its charging solutions, including load management, priority charging and demand-side response. “Whilst the Gnewt Cargo fleet is currently unique, we know that this size of EV fleets will become commonplace in cities over the next few years,” said EO founder Charlie Jardine. “We’re fully aligned to [Mayor] Sadiq Khan’s vision of a cleaner, greener London and know that drastic action is required if we are to reduce poisonous emissions by more than half, by 2025, across the city.” “Gnewt has been through a rapid growth phase, which in turn has put greater focus on the way in which our ever-increasing electric fleet recharges,” said Sam Clarke, founder and Head of Business Development at Gnewt Cargo. “I was impressed by how EO tackled this unique challenge and how the innovative yet cost-effective solution was presented.”
Hawaiian Electric Companies release Electrification of Transportation Strategic Roadmap
Zap-Map lets EV owners share their charging stations The UK firm Zap-Map has launched two peer-to-peer EV charging networks - Zap-Home and Zap-Work designed to allow charging station owners to share their devices with other EV drivers. According to Zap-Map surveys, almost 50% of EV drivers are willing to share their home chargers with other users. This means around 60,000 charge points could potentially be added to the Zap-Home network. Points on the Zap-Home network will be displayed on Zap-Map, but only registered users will see contact details. Those wishing to use a Zap-Home point can then contact the unit owner directly to arrange a charge. Zap-Home gives charge station owners the possibility of earning income - having registered their charge point on Zap-Home, owners can charge a fee if they wish, collecting from users via PayPal. Zap-Work is a similar network aimed at small business owners. Zap-Work locations have the potential to provide regular charging options to EV owners that don’t have access to off-street parking. Workplace charge point owners could recover the costs of installation faster by charging non-company users for the amount of electricity used. “Of our 60,000 monthly userbase, we know that around half are willing to share their home point with other Zap-Map users,” said Zap-Map CTO Dr. Ben Lane. “Businesses are particularly proactive, with 5% of workplace charging points already being shared, either for employee use or as part of improving customer service.”
The Hawaiian Electric Companies have released an Electrification of Transportation Strategic Roadmap, which forecasts that by 2045, most personal vehicles in Hawaii will be powered by electricity generated from renewable sources. Hawaii already has the second highest rate of EV adoption in the US. According to the plan, replacing fossil fuels with electricity for transportation could provide $60 million in benefits to Hawaiian Electric customers over the next 27 years, whether or not they own EVs. Including savings on fuel and maintenance costs, the total benefit to O’ahu’s economy could be as much as $200 million over the same period. The plan includes the following near-term recommendations: • Boost EV adoption by working with automakers, dealerships and advocates to lower purchase prices and educate customers. • Partner with third-party charging providers to facilitate the buildout of charging infrastructure, especially in workplaces and multi-unit dwellings. • Support customers to transition to electric buses by reducing up-front costs and providing practical charging options. • Create grid service opportunities with incentives for demand response participation and charging aligned with grid needs. “This is a global movement that is transforming the way individuals, families and businesses use vehicles, and we have to be ready,” said Brennon Morioka, Hawaiian Electric’s General Manager of Electrification of Transportation. “This roadmap lays out the steps for meeting the changing needs of our customers and communities and adapting to the new technologies we know are coming.”
HUBER+SUHNER COOLS THE CORD WITH THE RADOX HIGH POWER CHARGING SYSTEM By Paul Beck
hen it comes to electrical devices, there are two things at the forefront of every consumerâ€™s mind: how long will my battery last, and how long will it take me to charge it? This mentality goes double for EVs. A lot of attention is being put into extending EV battery range, but decreasing EV charging time is another useful way to combat the perennial problem of range anxiety. Faster charging means higher power, and equipment manufacturers are already preparing for the future charging needs that industry observers believe are just around the corner. One company working to enable higher power is HUBER+SUHNER, which started looking into fast charging solutions when car manufacturers turned to the company for its connectivity experience.
The second option for a faster charging cable avoids the need to increase the cable size by instead managing the temperature of the copper wire at high currents.
THE INFRASTRUCTURE Photo courtesy of HUBER+SUHNER
Even with this high power, because of its built-in cooling system, the RADOX has a cross-sectional area of only 25 mm2. Go big or go cold To build a faster charging cable, there are two options. The first is simply to increase the size of the cable by increasing the cross-sectional area of copper wire. The bigger this area, the more current the cable can handle without overheating. Unfortunately, for the 400 or so amps of current required for next-gen fast charging, you’d need a cross-sectional area of 180 mm2 or more, which is simply too big and unwieldy for consumer applications.
The second option for a faster charging cable avoids the need to increase the cable size by instead managing the temperature of the copper wire at high currents. To do this, it’s necessary to make a cable with a built-in cooling system. HUBER+SUHNER’s solution, the RADOX HPC High Power Charging System, supports up to 500 amps and 1,000 volts, for a total of 500 kilowatts. Even with this high power, because of its built-in cooling system, the RADOX has a cross-sectional area of only 25 mm2. The RADOX HPC To keep the cable cool during high-power charging, RADOX uses a non-conductive coolant combined with temperature sensors placed throughout the system. “We start cooling down the contacts at the connec-
Images courtesy of HUBER+SUHNER
tor,” HUBER+SUHNER Market Manager Max Göldi told Charged. “And then the cooling liquid goes back directly onto the power lines back to the charging station. In the charging station we have a small container with a pump. So the coolant is just pushed around this circle.” “The coolant itself is cooled with a ventilating system or heat exchanger at the option of the customer,” says Göldi. “The heat exchanger needs a cooling circuit with a central cooling unit and is only used for bigger charge parks.” Temperature sensors are placed throughout the cable to ensure that no part of it becomes dangerously hot. This is especially important for the handle and the outside of the cable, which can come into direct contact with human operators. “There are sensors on the pins at the connector, there’s sensors on the cooling, there’s sensors on the jacket material,” says Göldi. “The standards organizations are setting some [temperature] limitation guidelines. The handle and the cable cannot exceed a certain temperature, so that it’s no risk to use in daily life.” Though the official standards have not been enacted yet, a commonly sought power rating for fast charging cables is 400 amps and 1,000 volts DC for 400 kilowatts of power. The RADOX system meets and exceeds these figures, as it’s been tested for use up to 500 kilowatts. Preparing for the future of EVs Even though the EVs available today aren’t equipped to handle RADOX’s high power levels,
The target is to provide the car industry a corridor so they can charge their cars up to 500 kilowatts in the future. HUBER+SUHNER and other EVSE manufacturers recognize the need to plant seeds for the future. “The target is to provide the car industry a corridor so they can charge their cars up to 500 kilowatts in the future,” says Göldi. “So that’s the idea behind why people are already starting to put high-power charging systems on American highways and important roads. And the same thing in Europe, just a couple months behind.” The HUBER+SUHNER RADOX HPC system was approved by Intertek according to UL and IEC standards in April. The company now plans to sell the system - connectors, conductivity, cooling, and all - to charging station manufacturers. “We provide the cooling system, but the control and the safety and surveillance features are done by the charging manufacturer,” said Göldi. Göldi presented a prototype of the RADOX system at the 2017 Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo Europe. At this year’s expo, he’s excited to be able to show off the finished product. “Last year we announced it, this year we can show where we’re standing - that is, a real, operational, serial product.”
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US ENERGY REGULATORS ISSUE A NEW STORAGE RULE WITH IMPORTANT IMPLICATIONS FOR EVS I By Tom
n March, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a rule requiring regional electrical grid operators to revise their regulations pertaining to energy storage and how storage resources might participate in electricity markets. Okay, it sounds a bit wonky, but FERCâ€™s decision is an important policy shift that could have a big impact on EVs. Why? Two fundamental reasons: First, because the regional Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) set the policies that integrate a diverse
mix of power resources into the electrical grid. ISOs/ RTOs serve two thirds of US electricity consumers and more than half of Canadian customers. Second, in addition to moving people around town and across country, EVs can function as stored energy resources, especially when aggregated - deliberately linked via smart charging technology and software. With that functionality, EVs present grid operators with a cumulative asset capable of storing energy from the grid, then returning that energy when needed. EVs can also provide what are called ancillary services, for example, maintaining proper voltage and frequencies,
Going forward, FERC has ruled that the mix has to equitably allow storage resources to participate in ISO/RTO systems, and to be compensated. or load following, i.e. responding to the ups and downs of system demand. Note the reference to a mix of power resources. Going forward, FERC has ruled that the mix has to
equitably allow storage resources to participate in ISO/ RTO systems, and to be compensated. Storage has its own operational and technical characteristics. Many people have charged that existing market participation rules have not kept up with new technologies, and that participation remains biased towards older, more traditional resources. In an important way, FERC’s ruling modernizes electrical markets and operations. The ISOs/RTOs now must develop new “participation models” for storage within 270 days. After public review and comment, the rules must be implemented within one year. This final rule (the draft rule was proposed in November 2016) is not specific to EVs - it references many other types of storage, including batteries, flywheels, compressed air and pumped hydro. Because EVs are an energy resource unlike any other, EV advocates view FERC’s ruling as particularly important for EV adoption and expansion. It’s worth a closer look at some of the provisions within the rule. First, note the way the Commission defined storage: ‘‘A resource capable of receiving electric energy from
the grid and storing it for later injection of electric energy back to the grid.’’ That’s right in line with the way many people expect tens of thousands of EVs to eventually integrate with the grid. Second, the Commission says that storage can provide competition in energy markets, obviously something that’s important for all ratepayers. Third, storage can impact efficiencies, particularly how grid operators may dispatch energy. Finally, storage can make the grid more resilient, better able to withstand or bounce back from trouble. In sum, FERC ruled that storage presents a compilation of values that should not be overlooked; storage is seen as an asset that strengthens the grid’s operations and benefits its economics. FERC notes further that excluding storage holds this vital technical field back, since there’s no incentive to maximize storage capabilities if people and companies can’t get compensated for their work. The new rule very clearly requires compensation for all services provided by storage devices and systems eventually linked to the grid.
THE INFRASTRUCTURE Exactly how this potential energy give-and-take dynamic might work, however, is far from settled.
FERC directs the ISOs/RTOs to address four core issues: 1. Establishing eligibility for storage to provide energy services 2. Ensuring a wholesale market clearing price with transactions at the wholesale locational marginal price 3. Accounting for physical and operational characteristics of storage 4. Setting a minimum size participation requirement of 100 kW Minimum size is important; it can vary among regions. For example, California’s ISO has had a minimum resource size of 500 kW for its energy and ancillary services markets, meaning that smaller resources are automatically excluded (unless aggregation is allowed). New York’s ISO had rules that prevented resources of less than 2 MW from participating in certain programs.
EV-makers emphasize that smaller resources can provide services in the markets and should be allowed to do so. Many markets allow resources of 100 kW and up to participate. 100 kW has become the unofficial industry standard that balances the goal of allowing all resources into the market with the amount of work required for those numerous small resources to participate. Most EV charging stations are well under 100 kW (a typical Level 2 charger, for example, is 6.6 kW). Importantly, FERC’s new rule draws new attention to these critical aggregation questions. Within the rule, FERC announces that it will convene a technical conference in April to explore in detail how aggregated storage might best work. When it first came out as a draft, the storage rule contained proposed reforms related to “distributed energy resource aggregations.” Distributed energy refers to multiple generation sources in place throughout a network, in contrast to centralized generation, such as a single large-scale power plant. In the final rule, FERC breaks out this topic, placing distributed energy resource (DER) aggregation into its own official study and policy area. Consider 10,000 EVs parked during the workday, their batteries charging with cheap solar energy. Later, when it’s dark, and residential heating or cooling demands additional power, grid operators could tap the solar energy stored earlier in those 10,000 EVs to help meet system demand. (Researchers have found that privately owned cars - whether EVs or ICE vehicles are parked most of the time.) Exactly how this potential energy give-and-take dynamic might work, however, is far from settled. That’s why FERC’s upcoming technical conference is so important. Vehicle-to-grid integration (VGI) technology promises a wide range of electrical and energy benefits,
If an EV charges in Pittsburgh but then provides “ancillary services” in St. Louis, how is compensation decided?
but it’s still largely theoretical at this point or, as one expert put it, still in a “pre-commercial phase.” This person (who would only comment on background) pointed out that “none of the major vehicle manufacturers today allow energy to be discharged from their EV product,” although many automakers and suppliers are testing and studying the capability. FERC’s upcoming conference will surely help untangle this complicated subject. Again, it’s important that this is happening at the ISO/RTO level; that broad scope adds to regulatory efficiencies regarding subsequent moves by individual states and the utilities operating within the ISO/RTO regions. FERC’s technical conference will cover a range of tough issues. For example, one session will focus on how DERs in multiple locations (or nodes) can be compensated for energy and grid services. Unlike, say, a fixed storage project, EVs move around. They can be in different utility service areas daily. If an EV charges in Pittsburgh but then provides “ancillary services” in St. Louis, how is compensation decided? To parse this issue even further, it still needs to be clarified whether each small storage device can be counted as a “participant,” or whether that benefit just accrues to the service that actually aggregates, and delivers, the much more substantial level of power. Another major area for regulators: integrating new ISO/RTO storage proposals with the concerns of state public utility commissions. FERC’s conference includes seven technical panels, each one presented with multiple questions. 109 individuals, organizations and companies filed comments on FERC’s storage proposal. Generally, the comments show support for FERC’s idea that, storage does indeed present value that should be compensated.
There’s still a lot of difficult work ahead, though. Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) - a national business group whose work focuses on a secure, clean, and affordable global energy system - filed extensive comments with FERC. Overall, after reviewing FERC’s final rule, AEE’s team was pleased with the direction and content of FERC’s decision-making. Maria Robinson, AEE’s Director of Wholesale Markets, noted that while there is certainly plenty of “devil in the details” work to come, FERC’s final rule “gets this topic moving. It sets certainty for markets and gives a sense of certainty for investors.” She noted the value of FERC’s singular authority - without it, many of the difficult issues in the proposed rule might instead have to await policy and regulatory proceedings in multiple settings, perhaps even among the individual states. FERC’s move was progressive, in a wholesale kind of way. Jeff Dennis, AEE’s Counsel for Wholesale Markets and Regulatory Affairs, said the big advance with the storage rule was that FERC removes technical barriers; the rule establishes that “sources can provide services in different ways.” Dennis noted that FERC’s definition of storage - receiving and sending energy - creates “a pathway for other hardware changes.” Importantly, he added, these are changes “at scale,” affecting big territories, big enough to make a difference. Next steps will likely develop rather quickly. As noted, the ISOs/RTOs have to present their inclusive participation models in nine months. FERC’s technical conference and follow-up will be concurrent with that work. And there’s likely a third front ready to go: think of all the private-sector brain power doubling down on this now that people know they have a chance to get in the game.
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HOW CONVENIENT IS
Around here, not very. By Charles Morris here’s considerable disagreement in the EV industry about how much and what kind of public charging infrastructure will ultimately be needed. Uninformed observers tend to see the new technology through the lens of the old, and imagine that, like gas stations, public chargers will need to be located on every corner. Actual EV owners understand that most charging takes place at home or at work, and tend to see a more limited role for public chargers. Your favorite correspondent believes that public charging as we know it today is, to a certain extent, a transitional technology - someday, longer vehicle ranges, wireless charging and/or vehicle autonomy will make it less necessary. However, there are a few important exceptions - taking a long road trip in your EV is probably always going to require some form of public charging, and the problem of city dwellers with no assigned parking spaces is one that has yet to be addressed. As an EV driver, I have never encountered any actual need to use public charging (our LEAF is a second car, so when I need to take a longer drive, I settle for my Prius). On the other hand, as an EV journalist, I often patronize public plugs, just to get a feel for the experience. The first question my EV-curious friends ask is invariably about public charging, and I want to be able to tell them that it’s convenient and hassle-free. Sadly, I cannot. Here in St Petersburg, Florida, there is really no shortage of public chargers. Alas, many times when I have set out to use one, I’ve ended up frustrated and uncharged. Chargers are plentiful in The Burg’s downtown hipster habitat, but there is one centrally-located charger that’s been out of order, except for brief intervals, for almost two years. Reading the user comments on ChargePoint and PlugShare (two indispensable apps for the roaming EV driver), I gather that several of the others suffer from frequent outages as well. Tampa International Airport nominally has what seems to be an adequate number of chargers, located in the longterm, short-term and cell-phone parking lots. However, when I wanted to use the charger in the short-term lot (on two separate visits), surprise! The entire level where the chargers were located was closed, apparently due to construction. ChargePoint and PlugShare revealed that several drivers have had problems using these chargers, but there was no indication anywhere that they would be unavailable on these particular days. I encountered a particularly maddening problem at a popular museum in Tampa, which offers two chargers for
its visitors’ convenience. The chargers were occupied by a pair of Volts, and according to user comments on PlugShare, this is the case almost every weekday. The two Volt drivers apparently work in the area, and use the public facilities as their own private chargers. So, however much money the City of Tampa invested in this infrastructure, about all it has succeeded in doing is providing free workplace charging for two residents. If your charger of choice is working, and if the street isn’t closed for some reason, there’s still the possibility that it will be ICEd out (blocked by a clueless gas-burner), or will simply be in use by another EV driver, and there’s little that even a well-meaning infrastructure operator can do about that. In more EV-hip locales, chargers are doubtless more numerous and better maintained - as always, your mileage will vary. But when my friends ask me about public charging, I must reluctantly tell them that, while it may sometimes be convenient to use a public charger, one can never count on being able to use a particular station (Tesla’s Superchargers seem to be an exception - every time I’ve visited one, there has been a slot available). So, those are my complaints, now what are the solutions? First of all, infrastructure providers need to understand that maintenance is a major issue - it’s becoming apparent that this is something many operators have been underestimating. Network operators need to have remote diagnostics and 24/7 help lines in place. Second, at busy destination chargers, parking attendants or valets could mitigate many of the problems, unplugging from one EV when it’s finished charging and plugging in the next in the queue, and directing parking-hungry ICE drivers elsewhere (to the lake, perhaps). Reasonable people may differ about the role of public charging in the EV-dominated world of the future, but there’s no question that it will continue to be important in the medium term, and it needs to get a lot better.
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CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine - Issue 37 MAY/JUN 2018