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contents the vehicles

46 Smith’s

Long Haul

CEO Brian Hansel on the electric truck company’s long-term growth strategy

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Q&A with Samit Ghosh

P3 North America CEO on the market, the stakeholders, and commercial fleets


82 Lightning Motorcycles

The solar-powered record setters

current events




Drayson Racing first to sign up for Formula E EPA certifies Fusion Energi’s 21-mile range


VW introduces a plug-in diesel SUV concept

2013 LEAF will start at $28,800 MSRP


BYD delivers 500 e6 cars to Shenzhen Police

Judge dismisses MA auto dealers’ suit against Tesla

contents the tech 24

Cell balancing

A key feature in modern battery management system design


40 Standards


Intertek’s Rich Byczek on delayed battery overheating events and stranded energy

66 Phase change

AllCell Technologies’ new thermal management material


90 Predictive power management

Eaton and NREL are developing an electronic horizon for hybrids

current events


TIAX introduces short circuit prevention sensor

Ford battery test simulates 10 years of use in 10 months


“World-record” Li–sulfur battery performance reported


Study finds aluminum can reduce EV costs



contents the infrastructure 30 What’s

up with wireless


Wireless charging: Why? How? and When?

56 Workplace charging

Charging industry experts on the maze of workplace charging issues


72 Mobile charging intelligence

German start-up ubitricity wants to make public charging deployment more efficient

current events

72 20

Pike Research ranks EVSE vendors


US Army base uses EVs as microgrid storage devices



Retroactive EVSE federal tax credit now available

VW and Eaton unveil CCS Quick Charger

Publisher’s Note Happy birthday to us

Charged is one year old, with six issues under its belt. No small task, believe me. The response from the industry has been overwhelmingly great. Countless readers have approached me at trade show after trade show with keep-up-the-good-work sentiments. Last summer I received a priceless e-mail from one clumsy fan of the magazine: “I dropped my cherished June/July 2012 copy of your great mag into the drink from my sailboat. How can I get a second copy? Please advise.” -Don Y. He even attached a photo to prove it. (Maybe he dropped it in the toilet and made up the sailboat bit, but in any event he really wanted another copy.) These encouragements are what keeps the fire burning into the late hours of the night, while I’m hunched over the keyboard drinking yet another cup of coffee. The ironic truth I often joke about is that I originally went to engineering school because I hated reading assignments and book reports (and I found that I could repeatedly ace math exams with only a few hours of cramming). Well, as it turns out, running a magazine is like a book report that never ends. I do enjoy this, though. I suppose the trick is reading and reporting on topics that I care about. A friend of mine recently told me that in the EV industry “we’re like a bunch of blind people with our hands on an elephant. We can’t fully understand what is in front of us until we start talking to each other.” That is where Charged comes in, as your portal to the rest of the industry. The technology is evolving quickly, and one small innovation or good idea could blow the doors wide open. I speak to many people form around the world who are working on new solutions, and I hear the term “game changer” almost every day. Sooner or later, one of them is going to be right. When they are, we’ll bring you their story. In the meantime, tell us about the view from your corner of the industry. Drop me a line at EVs are here. Try to keep up. Christian Ruoff Publisher


Christian Ruoff Publisher Laurel Zimmer Associate Publisher Charlie Morris Senior Editor Markkus Rovito Associate Editor Brian Noto Account Executive Jeffrey Jenkins Technology Editor Joey Stetter Contributing Editor Nick Sirotich Illustrator & Designer Nate Greco Contributing Artist Contributing Writers David Herron Jeffrey Jenkins Michael Kent Charlie Morris Murat Ozkan Markkus Rovito Contributing Photographers Ricardo Diaz Andrew Hudgins Mark Mastropietro AJ Mueller Alex Nunez Pete Souza Cover Image Courtesy of PepsiCo Special Thanks to Kelly Ruoff Sebestien Bourgeois For Letters to the Editor, Article Submissions, & Advertising Inquiries Contact









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It’s FREE for industry insiders

Announcing the 13th International


advanced automotive battery conference AABC has established itself as the premier international venue for technical and business exchange between large energy-storage users and developers. Join us in Pasadena for AABC 2013.

February 4 – 8, 2013 Pasadena Convention Center, California





Large Lithium Ion Battery Technology and Application (LLIBTA) Two Symposia in Parallel - February 5 and 6

LLIBTA Track A: Materials & Chemistry

LLIBTA Track B: Engineering & Application

With dedicated sessions on:

With dedicated sessions on:

� Active materials � Inactive materials and electrode technology � Beyond Lithium Ion

� Cell and pack mechanical and thermal designs � Battery life testing and simulation � Battery safety and abuse tolerance

Automotive-Application-Focused Symposium (AABTAM) - February 6 - 8 International automakers and their energy-storage suppliers will discuss the latest technological progress and market direction for advanced vehicles and the batteries that will power them with dedicated session on: � Market direction � HEV batteries � EV & PHEV batteries � � Pack technology and integration � Battery charging and infrastructure �

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Assessing the Future of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles: The xEV Industry Insider Report A comprehensive analysis of the plans of major automakers and regional market conditions worldwide, set against the cost benefit ratios of emerging vehicles and battery technologies. Based on private onsite interviews with leading technologists and executives Key findings available November 2012 Tel: 1 (530) 692 0140 • Fax: 1 (530) 692 0142 • AABC is organized by Advanced Automotive Batteries

SPONSORED EVENTS Advanced Automotive Battery Conference February 4–8, 2013

Pasadena, California

SAE Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium February 19-21, 2013

Anaheim, California

SAE World Congress April 16-18, 2013

Detroit, Michigan

Next Generation Batteries Apil 30-May 1, 2013

Boston, Massachusetts

World Electric Vehicles Summit May 14-16, 2013

Lillestrom, Oslo, Norway

For more information on industry events visit

CURRENT events EPA certifies Fusion Energi’s 21-mile range

Drayson Racing first to sign up for Formula E

According to the EPA, Ford’s new Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid has a range of 21 miles in electriconly mode, and a 620-mile range using gas. With a 100 MPGe combined fuel economy rating, there’s no doubt that the new sedan is a gas saver. In fact, Ford is making fuel economy a centerpiece of its strategy these days. Fusion Energi is the brand’s fifth electrified vehicle to launch in the past year, and its hybrid models are racking up impressive sales. The company sold a record 19,554 hybrid vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Drayson plans to field two drivers, and will run the new Formula E customer racing car that is currently being developed by Spark and McLaren. In 2015, the team plans to be racing its own car, with a new drivetrain developed from the DRT 4X2640 electric system featured in the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV car that set a new electric record this summer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

We believe that FIA Formula E has very significant commercial potential, it will attract new fans and new sponsors to motorsport, and is on track to become the world’s leading environmentally sustainable global sporting event. Lord Drayson, Team Principal


Photo courtesy of Ford

Photo courtesy of Drayson Racing

Drayson Racing Technologies announced at this week’s Low Carbon Racing Conference that its team intends to race in the inaugural season of the Formula E Championship in 2014. The FIA-sanctioned event will feature cars racing on the streets of 10 of “the world’s greatest cities,” powered exclusively by renewable electric energy.

Ford’s press releases make much of the fact that its new PHEVs beat Toyota’s Prius Plug-in Hybrid in most of the important specs, from electric range to fuel economy to top electric-only speed to total horsepower. Of course, the Ford C-MAX hatchback makes a better comparison to the Prius. The Fusion Energi sedan might more logically be compared to the Chevy Volt (or it might not - the Fusion is a tad bigger, and has a bigger gas engine). Ford has announced a starting price for the Fusion Energi of $39,495, which is pretty close to the Volt’s starting price of $39,145. Note that, while the Volt is eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit, the Fusion has a smaller battery, meaning that it will only qualify for a $3,750 credit (estimated).

vehicles the vehicles

2013 LEAF will start at $28,800 MSRP

VW introduces a plug-in diesel SUV concept

Nissan - now building LEAFs in Smyrna, Tennessee - has introduced a more affordable S grade, and expects to eke out a little better range than the 2012 model’s 73 miles, thanks to improvements in aerodynamics, regenerative braking, and energy management.

Photos courtesy of Volkswagen

Photo courtesy of Nissan

The CrossBlue concept is a midsize crossover SUV that Volkswagen developed for the North American market. Under the hood, she’s a plug-in hybrid with a diesel engine, two electric motors, and an allwheel-drive system. The CrossBlue is based on Volkswagen’s new Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) components set, which it says could underpin a future generation of

SUVs. New components include the suspension, the 190-horsepower TDI Clean Diesel engine from the new EA288 family, and a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 9.8 kWh lithium-ion battery, which is located in the center tunnel, and the 54 hp front and 114 hp rear electric motors, are also made by Volkswagen.

The powerful powertrain can put out a total 305 hp and 516 pound-feet of torque, taking the CrossBlue from 0 to 60 mph in an estimated 7.2 seconds. Range is 14 miles in all-electric mode. Volkswagen’s estimated fuel economy rating is 89 MPGe combined in electric mode and 35 MPG as a hybrid.

Pricing for the three available trim levels has been announced: The LEAF S (MSRP $28,800) comes with a 3.6 kW onboard charger and a respectable list of standard goodies, including Push Button Start, Bluetooth phone system, power door locks, CD/MP3 player, and a 12 V power outlet. One puzzling omission is cruise control, which is an essential hypermiling tool for EV drivers. Nissan boasts that available federal and state incentives can bring the price down to less than $19,000. The LEAF SV ($31,820) adds cruise control, a 6.6 kW onboard charger, a more energy-efficient heating system, a better sound system, a 7-inch color LCD display, navigation system with CARWINGS telematics, and 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Nissan says the 2013 LEAF SV represents a $3,380 savings over a similar 2012 model. The top-of-the-line LEAF SL ($34,840) also has a DC 480 V fast charge port, photovoltaic solar panel rear spoiler, leather seats, and 17-inch spoke alloy wheels. All for a $2,410 savings over a similar 2012 model, according to Nissan. All models are eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit, and some states, cities, and even a few ultragreen employers offer additional incentives.

JAN/FEB 2013 13


the vehicles

Judge dismisses MA auto dealers’ suit against Tesla

A Massachusetts Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit that the Massachusetts Automobile Dealers Association had filed against the company, based upon the auto dealers’ lack of standing and failure to state a claim. Tesla plans to build its own network of stores, rather than using independent dealers as other US automakers do, the main reason being, as CEO Elon

BYD delivers 500 e6 cars to Shenzhen Police

Photo courtesy of BYD

Chinese automaker BYD delivered 500 pure electric e6 police vehicles to the Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau this week. The local cops love the “virtually silent engine,” according to the company. The five-seat e6 has a top speed of around 87 mph, and a range of around 186 miles. It features a 75 kW motor and a proprietary lithium iron phosphate battery.

Some 300 BYD e6 taxis have been in service in Shenzhen for several years, and have racked up over 24 million miles. The city of Shenzhen also operates 200 of BYD’s 40-foot electric buses and, according to BYD, is planning to deploy 500 more. Last October, the company inked a deal to deliver 50 e6 taxis to a London minicab company, starting in the second quarter of 2013. BYD has been talking about introducing the e6 to the US since 2009, but the launch has been delayed several times. The company’s website has only vague hints that the car may someday be available in the US.


Musk put it, “franchise dealers have a fundamental conflict of interest between selling gasoline cars, which constitute the vast majority of their business, and selling the new technology of electric cars.” Several groups representing auto dealers have cried foul, claiming that this violates franchise laws. In most states, it’s illegal for automakers to own dealerships, and Tesla’s claim that its stores won’t be dealerships, because cars won’t actually be sold onsite, is “an outright scam,” according to a spokesman for the Massachusetts association. Apparently, the Massachusetts judge did not agree, but this isn’t the end of the matter. The Massachusetts association has filed a separate, related lawsuit, and a dealer group in New York also has a suit pending.

We are confident that other states will also come to this same conclusion and look forward to following through on our commitment to introduce consumers to electric vehicle technology in an open, friendly, nopressure environment. Elon Musk, Tesla CEO

Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure. Enabling drivers, empowering business.

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the tech the tech

Ford battery test simulates 10 years of use in 10 months TIAX introduces shortcircuit prevention sensor

Lithium-ion battery technology has been a great boon to portable electronic devices such as smart phones and tablets, and to electric vehicles. Detecting internal shorts in lithiumion cells before they lead to safety hazards has been elusive until now, and has been described as the “holy grail” of lithium-ion battery safety enhancements. TIAX is very proud to have developed the breakthrough sensor system, that can enable effective measures to mitigate the until-now-unpredictable field failures and thus accelerate the expansion of this very critical industry by lessening the need for expensive hazard mitigation mechanisms and regulations. Dr. Kenan Sahin, President of TIAX


Photos courtesy of Ford

TIAX, a developer of technologies and materials for batteries, announced a new lithium-ion battery safety sensor system for detecting and preempting short circuits inside a cell, which can lead to fire and explosions. The sensor system, which provides early warning of developing hazardous conditions, is based on a “proven” sensing technology that TIAX has had on the market for years in a different application, employing sensors in combination with proprietary signal processing algorithms. The company says its patent-pending technology works for any lithium-ion battery chemistry, is effective over a wide range of temperatures and duty cycles, is low-cost and reliable, and does not require changes in cell design. In other words, it’s easy and cheap to incorporate it into battery systems.

Out of some 50 million nickel-metal-hydride battery cells that Ford has produced for vehicles such as the Escape Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid, it says that only six have failed to date. The five electrified vehicles in Ford’s 2013 lineup all use a new generation of lithium-ion batteries, and to ensure that the new batteries work as well as the old ones did, the company has designed a new testing regime. The Key Life Test lets engineers simulate 10 years and 150,000 miles of wear and tear in a lab setting in less than a year. Testers can put batteries through Phoenix-style 140-degree heat and Manitoba’s minus 40-degree chill, and can even simulate factors such as the location of a battery within a vehicle, and the various kinds of acceleration and braking that different drivers would apply. The system draws on 20 years of real-world data on how hybrid vehicles are driven.

Recent studies show consumers are keeping their vehicles longer, and regulations in some regions now require batteries to carry warranties for greater distances. Fortunately, our tests take into account distances and conditions that go way beyond those normal requirements. Kevin Layden, Ford’s Director of Electrification Programs

“World-record” Li-sulfur battery performance reported A team of researchers from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, led by Associate Professor Yi Cui, have reported a world record for energy storage, using a sulfur-TiO2 “yolk-shell” cathode design. As reported in Nature Communications, the sulfur cathode stores five times more energy than is possible with today’s commercial technology (with an initial specific capacity of 1,030 mAh g-1 at 0.5 C and Coulombic efficiency of 98.4 percent over 1,000 cycles). The cells reportedly maintain a high level of performance after 1,000 charge/discharge cycles (with decay as small as 0.033 percent per cycle), which the team claims is the “best performance for long-cycle lithium-sulfur batteries so far.” SLAC News Center described the breakthrough cathode material as “made of nanoparticles, each a tiny sulfur nugget surrounded by a hard shell of porous titanium dioxide, like an egg yolk in an eggshell. Between the yolk and shell, where the egg white would be, is an empty space into which the sulfur can expand. During

discharge, lithium ions pass through the shell and bind to the sulfur, which expands to fill the void but not so much as to break the shell. The shell, meanwhile, protects the sulfur-lithium intermediate compound from electrolyte solvent that would dissolve it. Each cathode particle is only 800 nanometers (billionths of a meter) in diameter, about one-hundredth the diameter of a human hair.”

It basically worked the first time we tried it. The sulfur cathode stored up to five times more energy per sulfur weight than today’s commercial materials. After 1,000 charge/discharge cycles, our yolk-shell sulfur cathode had retained about 70 percent of its energy-storage capacity. This is the highest performing sulfur cathode in the world, as far as we know. Even without optimizing the design, this cathode cycle life is already on par with commercial performance. This is a very important achievement for the future of rechargeable batteries. Yi Cui, Stanford Associate Professor

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the tech the tech

Study finds aluminum can reduce EV costs to be available in 2015), making the aluminum EV a total of 187 kg (412 lbs) lighter than the steel vehicle. FKA calculated that, at a production volume of 100,000 vehicles per year, the aluminum vehicle would cost €1,015 ($1,324) more than the steel. Assuming battery system costs of €500/kWh ($652/kWh), the reduction in total battery system cost is €1,650 ($2,152). A life-cycle analysis found that the aluminum EV would emit 1.5 tons less greenhouse gases over its complete factory-to-junkyard life cycle, including production, a driving distance of 150,000 km, and recycling. Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

A German research institute called FKA has done a new study, at the behest of a pair of aluminum trade groups, and has found that an aluminum EV (like Tesla’s Model S, pictured right) can cost up to €635 ($829) less than a steel counterpart, despite the higher cost of aluminum, given equivalent range. According to the study, the higher cost of building a car with aluminum is more than offset by the cost savings on the battery pack, as a lighter car needs less battery capacity to drive the same distance. The FKA team converted a VW Golf with a steel unibody into an EV, then replaced the steel with an aluminum frame. The aluminum vehicle was required to meet the same crash standards as the steel vehicle. They were able to reduce the weight of the body by 162 kg (357 lbs) compared to the steel reference vehicle. The battery system capacity could now be reduced by 3.3 kWh while maintaining a driving range of 200 km (124 miles). The smaller battery is 25 kg (55 lbs) lighter (the team made some assumptions about battery technology projected


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the infras the infrastructure

Photo courtesy of DBT USA

Pike’s new report evaluates 14 EVSE manufacturers, all of whom sell both residential and commercial Level 2 chargers. It ranks ChargePoint and DBT as the market leaders, thanks to their “range of feature-rich EVSE offerings, current market share, geographic reach, and vision for competing successfully in the


next phase of the EVSE market.” The report goes on to rank most of the other companies “as Contenders, including the major multinationals that have not yet reached significant market share but are well positioned to refine their EVSE offerings and potentially capture greater market share as the ESVE market increases.” Top 10 Vendors: 1. ChargePoint 2. DBT 3. Chargemaster 4. Schneider Electric 5. General Electric

6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

ECOtality ClipperCreek AeroVironment Siemens Efacec

The report uses 12 criteria: strategy and execution (including vision) go-to-market strategy, partners, production strategy and roadmap, technical innovation, geographic reach, market share, sales and marketing, product performance and features, product portfolio and ecosystem, pricing, and staying power. “Using Pike Research’s proprietary Pike Pulse methodology, vendors are profiled, rated, and ranked with the goal of providing industry participants with an objective assessment of these companies’ relative strengths and weaknesses in the growing global EVSE market.”

Photo courtesy of ECOtality

The EVSE market is expected to rise from just less than 200,000 units sold in 2012 to almost 2.4 million in 2020. The market is also entering a new phase where it will be less dependent on government-funded deployments and thus required to present an attractive return on investment for potential EVSE operators.

Photo courtesy of Schneider Electric

The market for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) is expected to grow tenfold in the next eight years, according to a new study by market research firm Pike Research. EVSE makers have certainly been doing lively business of late, helped along by policymakers in local governments all over the world, many of whom are convinced that widely available public charging is a key to EV adoption. However, Pike expects this gravy train to slow down:

Photo courtesy of ChargePoint

Pike Research ranks EVSE vendors

structure US Army base uses EVs as microgrid storage devices


The goal for the SwRI portion of this 18-month effort is to demonstrate the ability of electric vehicles to serve as energy storage devices... and provide grid ancillary services, such as peak shaving and demand response, during non-microgrid operation. Sean Mitchem, SwRI Project Manager


The program, called the Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS), is intended to make military installations more energy-efficient and secure. SwRI will develop specialized software to manage a fleet of electric vehicles as energy storage devices, and develop interfaces between the vehicles and their charging equipment based on the new SAE J1772 DC Combo Connector standard. Photo courtesy of USACEpublicaffairs (flickr)

The US Army Corps of Engineers has awarded $7 million to a team that includes the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Missouri-based Burns and McDonnell Engineering, to demonstrate the integration of electric vehicles, generators, and solar arrays to supply emergency power for Fort Carson, Colorado. The team will build a microgrid out of existing infrastructure, integrating a 2-megawatt photovoltaic array, diesel generator sets and EVs to provide a self-contained, energysustainable capability during electrical grid disruptions.

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




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the infras the infrastructure

As part of the agreement that slammed on the brakes just short of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the federal government reinstated a tax credit for EV charging stations that had expired at the end of 2011. The credit allows businesses and consumers to claim 30 percent of the cost of both hardware and installation. The tax incentive is capped at $30,000 per property for businesses, and $1,000 for individuals. The best news of all? It’s retroactive, so if you installed a charging station in 2012, you can get a nice little windfall on this year’s taxes. This goodie does not specifically target electric vehicles. It also applies to “fueling equipment for natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, E85, or diesel fuel blends containing a minimum of 20 percent biodiesel” - apparently anything other than plain old gas and diesel.

For property of a character subject to an allowance for depreciation (business/ investment use property), the credit for all property placed in service at each location is generally the smaller of 30 percent of the property’s cost or $30,000. For property of a character not subject to an allowance for depreciation placed in service at your main home (personal use property), the credit for all property placed in service at your main home is generally the smaller of 30 percent of the property’s cost or $1,000. Form 8911 (2011) - Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service


VW and Eaton unveil CCS Quick Charger Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. and Eaton debuted what they are calling “one of the country’s first” single-port Combined Charging System (CCS) chargers at the Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Belmont, California. The CCS charge point meets the approved Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standard for plug-in electric vehicles. The system utilizes a single port, and integrates one-phase AC charging, fast three-phase AC charging, DC charging at home and ultra-fast DC charging at public stations. Capable of recharging most electric vehicles with compatible systems in as little as 30 minutes, the installation of the new charger is the beginning of the new CCS-compliant single-port fast charging infrastructure development in the United States and Europe. Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen have agreed to support the harmonized single-port fast charging approach.

In comparison to other charging standards, CCS offers advantages because it requires only one cut out in the vehicle body, thus reducing costs and making it easier for customers to handle charging. Moreover, CCS enables optimal data communication and can be quickly adapted to potential smart grid concepts in the future. With the ability to handle up to 86 kW, CCS is the most powerful charging system available. Dr. Volkmar Tanneberger, Head of Electrics/ Electronics Development, Volkswagen AG

Photo courtesy of Society of Automotive Engineers

Retroactive EVSE federal tax credit now available

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the tech

Cell Balancing A key feature in modern battery management system design By Murat Ozkan - Senior Design Engineer for Nuvation, Charged technical contributor, and professional Coulomb counter


attery technology is an everchanging, ever-improving field that has gained a great deal of momentum in recent years. With improved energy density, power density, and cost comes a huge variety of new and exciting applications in a wide range of industries. The future looks bright. But the future won’t be enabled solely by advances in chemistry and manufacturing processes. To get the full benefit out of modern battery technology, individual cells must be grouped together into packs, and the packs must be monitored for safety, maintained for performance, and given intelligence to connect with the outside world. All of these functions fall under the responsibility of a Bat-


tery Management System, or BMS. Building a BMS that unlocks the potential of modern battery technology is no small task, and there are many challenges to overcome along the way. The challenge of implementing a cell balancing solution, for example, is multi-faceted and highly systemdependent.

Balancing act

The level of “balance” (or “imbalance”) of a pack refers to the difference in state of charge (SOC) between cells in the pack. With any battery pack made up of more than one cell, the usable SOC of the whole pack is only as high as the cell with the least energy. A good BMS will

balance cells accurately and quickly, improving the usable capacity of the pack. When designing a multi-cell battery pack, two questions quickly arise when considering the BMS: Does it need balancing? And if so, what method should be employed to ensure that the pack remains balanced? As with any good engineering analysis, attempting to answer these will raise complicated issues that need to be carefully examined. There are many factors that affect the level of imbalance one can expect in a given system. The causes of imbalance can be divided into two categories. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll call them “intrinsic” and “dynamic” sources.

Photo by Andrew Hudgins, NREL 17070

...individual cells must be grouped together into packs, and the packs must be monitored for safety, maintained for performance, and given intelligence to connect with the outside world.

Intrinsic imbalance

Intrinsic causes of imbalance are inherent to a given battery pack and will always behave the same way. For example, if one cell within a pack of 100 cells has a 5 percent lower capacity than the next lowest capacity cell,

it will always discharge to empty first, and always charge to full first. And there is no BMS remedy. For these kinds of battery packs, cell balancing is less likely to be a cost-effective approach to overcoming intrinsic causes of imbalance. Conceivably, a

Engineering Notes Common sources of cell imbalance Intrinsic sources

• Process variation affecting internal impedance • Process variation affecting capacity • Process variation affecting rate of degradation • Differing age of cells

Dynamic sources

• Differing rates of self-discharge (uneven heating) • Differing rates of energy efficiency (uneven heating) • Differing leakage currents (BMS) • Resistance mismatch during charge/discharge (pack design)

balancing circuit could be designed that matched the maximum charge and discharge rates of a pack, nullifying the effects of intrinsic causes of imbalance, but this would undoubtedly be too costly and too complex to be practical. If these intrinsic characteristics are the dominant sources of imbalance in a given pack, then there will be little benefit to balancing. In other words, the answer to the original question of whether balancing is necessary is, probably not. Intrinsic imbalance is best addressed through careful pack design and manufacturing (i.e., selecting well-matched cells, designing in well-matched pack components such as bus bars and cabling, and ensuring even heating/cooling).

JAN/FEB 2013 25

the tech Dynamic imbalance

Dynamic sources of imbalance create a random distribution of cells that differ in SOC change between charge/discharge cycles. This kind of imbalance can be mitigated through the use of a BMS, resulting in a pack that reaches its maximum possible capacity cycle after cycle, over its usable life.


There are two main classes of balancing circuit design: passive and active.


Passive balancing is fairly straightforward: energy from cells with a high SOC is dissipated as heat through a resistive shunt or load. Typically, this kind of balancing is only done during charging since the imbalance is removed by throwing away the excess energy.


Active balancing refers to the process of moving energy from cells with higher SOC to cells with lower SOC. This is done either in bulk, by taking energy from a group of cells and transferring it to a single lower cell, or by shuttling energy between adjacent cells until it gets to the desired cell. Active balancing can be used

At first glance, active balancing seems more attractive. Why throw energy away when it can be redistributed within the battery? 26

during discharge as well as charge conditions. At first glance, active balancing seems more attractive. Why throw energy away when it can be redistributed within the battery? Some further analysis, however, shows that this decision isn’t quite as straightforward. The key difference between active and passive balancing topologies is complexity, and by extension, cost, size, and robustness.


Component count is one measure of complexity. Passive balancing requires one switch (typically a MOSFET) and one power resistor for each cell to balance. By comparison, active topologies require one to two switches per cell to manage the energy in and out, and at least one major energy storage element (with the exception of the single capacitor topology). Some of the more complex topologies also require lowlatency feedback control to manage the energy transfer in a controlled way (e.g., power converter type

topologies), which often requires an additional processor or control IC.


Another important metric for evaluating balancing topologies is performance. The most significant performance indicator is the time it takes to balance a pack. With passive balancing, the balance rate is a function of the resistance of the shunt and the duty cycle with which the shunt is switched across a cell. There is often a balance-rate-versus-powerdissipation trade-off with passive balancing since the energy from high-SOC cells is removed entirely as heat. Some active balancing topologies, such as the switched capacitor and switched inductor, have decaying charge/discharge profiles, resulting in a more limited balance time. This, of course, depends on the size of the capacitors/inductors selected, and how much of the energy storage capacity is used during the balancing procedure. These are typically the slowest topologies. The fastest of the active

Engineering Notes Common cell balancing methods Passive balancing

Fixed shunt resistor Variable shunt resistor/PWM

Active balancing Switched Capacitor Inductive

Power Converter

Single capacitor Capacitor per cell Switched inductor Single wound transformer/coupled inductor Multiple tap transformer Buck Buck/Boost Flyback Cuk

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the tech balancing topologies tends to be the power converter-based designs, however, they also tend to be the most expensive solutions.


There are many ways to evaluate cost, because different systems will be sensitive to different cost drivers. Some useful cost metrics for battery systems are: • BMS cost per cell - Compare the cost of each cell to the cost per monitoring channel. • BMS cost versus system cost - What does the BMS cost in relation to all of the system components combined (cells, power switches, cabling, housing, thermal management, etc.)? • BMS cost over the lifespan of the system - A well-designed BMS will last the lifetime of a battery system. Cells within a system may need to be replaced individually or system-wide as they age. Extend the cost-per-cell metric to all cells the system is expected to consume over its lifetime. • BMS cost as a function of cell cost offset - A high-performance BMS may enable the use of cheaper cells (e.g., high-power active charge may allow for lower tolerances for matching cells across a pack). Consider the cost savings in using cheaper cells against the increased cost of a better-performing BMS. Which topology is best? That, of course, depends on the application. There are cases in which the high costs of the better-performing active topologies are negated, as in systems that employ specialized cells with low cycle life. Fast-charge ap-

plications may also benefit from the costlier active topologies, since cell mismatches are exaggerated at high rates of charge. In applications where the pack design is thermally limited, it may be impossible to use passive balancing. Typically there is not a single reason for choosing a balancing topology - rather, it is a combination of multiple design constraints that dictates the approach taken. The tools and techniques available to BMS engineers are changing as rapidly and dynamically as battery technology itself. Understanding the processes and trade-offs involved in each of the BMS design features is vital to selecting the right solution for a given system.

Contributions by Eliot Barker and Bernard Smit For a more in-depth analysis of the performance and trade-offs for each BMS topology, consult our sources: [1] P. Ramadass, B. Haran, R. White and B. N. Popov, “Capacity fade of Sony 18650 cells cycled at elevated temperatures,” Journal of Power Sources, no. 112, pp. 606-613, 2002. [2] R. P. Ramasamy, R. E. White and B. N. Popov, “Calendar life performance of pouch lithium-ion cells,” Journal of Power Sources, no. 141, pp. 298-306, 2004. [3] M. Daowd, N. Omar, P. Van Den Bossche and J. Van Mierlo, “A Review of Passive and Active Battery Balancing based on MATLAB/Simulink,” International Review of Electrical Engineering (I.R.E.E.), 2011.

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What’s up with

B y Ch

ar li e

M or

r is

less W

ireless charging is one of the hottest topics in the EV world these days. Several companies have systems on the path to commercial availability. Evatran has plans to sell aftermarket systems that will work with popular plug-in models such as the LEAF and the Volt. Qualcomm is using its London trial as a test bed for its Halo wireless EV charging (WEVC). Momentum Dynamics is developing a system aimed at fleet operators. And Infiniti has incorporated wireless charging into its LE Concept electric sedan, which it says will be ready for the market in 2014. Meanwhile, many more companies are researching wireless applications of various kinds over 40 organizations are involved in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) committee that’s working on a set of wireless standards. The casual observer might think of wireless charging as simply offering a little added convenience, and wonder why it’s worth developing a whole new technology. After all, don’t EV boosters insist that charging is already quick and easy? Is picking up a cable from a stand every evening and plugging it into your car really such an onerous task? Why go wireless?

the infrastructure In fact, convenience is only one of several reasons to cut the cable, although it is a powerful one. Rebecca Hough, CEO and CoFounder of Evatran, says, “It affords the customer convenience similar to an automatic garage door opener - taking steps out of the user’s daily routine. Further, wireless charging ensures that every time the vehicle is parked in its parking space, it is recharging. This ensures that the battery is charged consistently - a feature that automotive manufacturers are very interested in.” Joe Barrett of Qualcomm says, “Never underestimate how far people will go to simplify their lives. Charging needs to be effortless and simple, without any complex or expensive alignment systems - that has been at the heart of our WEVC design.” Most of us already have quite enough cables, plugs, adapters, and dongles to deal with, and they seem to be multiplying ever faster, as tablets proliferate. If we don’t stop their breeding soon, they may take over. Phones and other gadgets are beginning to move to wireless charging, and consumers will expect no less from their vehicles. Cars are coming with more hightech convenience features all the time (automated lift gates, keyless entry, etc), with EVs at the forefront of that trend, it’s only logical that wireless charging will soon join the list of options.

Little and often charging

Plugging in at home seems convenient enough, but plugging in at work or at the mall could get old after a while, especially in immoderate weather. As far as plugging in for just a few minutes, as you might at


Photo courtesy of Infiniti


Infiniti’s LE Concept four-door electric sedan

a drug store, it hardly seems worth the effort. However, this idea leads into a whole new possibility that Joe Barrett of Qualcomm calls “little and often charging.” The easier it is to charge, the more practical it becomes to top up a little here and there in the course of a day. “With wireless you can charge anywhere, any time: at home, work, the mall, the doctor’s, and eventually even at traffic lights or on a freeway,” says Barrett. Obviously, this kind of

thing would be totally impractical with wired charging. “Little and often charging means there is the potential to reduce the size of the battery, which would reduce the cost of the EV.”

Fleet savings

For route-based fleet vehicles, like city buses, airport shuttles, and delivery vehicles, the concept of little and often charging could mean longer routes at lower costs.

In November, Utah State University and WAVE Inc. unveiled a prototype wirelessly charged public transit bus. The people mover sports a 25 kW wireless charging system that is intended to recharge the pack at numerous stops along the daily route, minimizing the required battery capacity (and vehicle weight), and making the electric bus’s upfront cost competitive with diesel-powered models. In China, the company Microvast and the State Grid utility have been operating over 100 electric buses for more than a year with a similar little and often charging model (see indepth coverage in our Aug/Sep 2012 issue, available at However, while the Chinese group uses high-power conductive chargers, the Utah team sees numerous advantages to a wireless system, including “greater reliability due to no moving parts or cords, added convenience through the elimination of plug-in charging, safety insurance by eradicating the risk of electrocution, and aesthetically pleasing devices as a result of no visible wiring.” By mid-2013, in cooperation with the Utah Transit Authority, WAVE Inc. plans to launch the first commercially operational 40-foot transit bus on the University of Utah’s campus, with an upgraded power transfer rate of 50 kW. Not ready to unplug your electric buses or delivery vehicles yet? Then here’s the kicker: one company predicts that going wireless with your fleet won’t cost any more, and may even be cheaper. Andrew Daga, principal founder and CEO of Momentum Dynamics, claims that its wireless charging system can offer the same power levels as Level 3 fast charging at far C


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3:20 PM Photo courtesy of Utah State University

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JAN/FEB 2013 33

the infrastructure

Photo courtesy of Qualcomm

lower cost. The chargers that Momentum Dynamics are developing cost around five or six thousand bucks per ground unit, much less than a typical DC fast charger, which can cost between fifty and seventy thousand. One reason for the lower cost is that the electronics that are embedded in a wireless charging station do a lot of the work that a vehicle’s onboard charging equipment does. It’s possible to deliver Level 3 DC current to a vehicle without having to transform it on the vehicle again (also, Momentum says that its proprietary circuit topology doesn’t require the expensive iron core transformers of traditional power conversion units). Qualcomm’s wirelessly charged prototype vehicle

Owners and operators

Photo courtesy of Evatran

For charging station owners and operators, wireless offers several practical advantages. A wired charger pretty much requires a box on a pole, but a wireless charger could be entirely contained in a small unit on the pavement, or even embedded under it. In fact, it could be completely invisible to the naked eye, and almost impossible for careless users or vandals to damage. A wireless charger has fewer moving parts, so it should last longer and require little maintenance. Cables that are used by all and sundry are bound to need replacing every couple of years, and it’s not hard to imagine someone tripping over a cable - you can bet the insurance companies can envision such scenarios very well.


Evatran’s wireless charging stations


All these advantages in convenience, practicality, and safety come with only a modest trade-off in terms of efficiency. In general, wireless charging is only slightly less efficient than

In general, wireless charging is only slightly less efficient than conductive charging. conductive charging. Utah State’s bus claims more than 90% efficiency over an air gap of 6 inches, versus 95% for a typical wired system. Momentum Dynamics says that its wireless system is 92% efficient from power source to battery. Qualcomm’s Joe Barrett says its Halo power transfer efficiency is “comparable to plug-in cabled charging systems, even with misalignment of the charging pads.”

Design challenges and undetermined standards

So, how does it work, and what needs to happen to make cables go away? Many of the existing systems work by resonant magnetic induction, which requires three steps: 1. create a high frequency AC current; 2. pass it through an inductor to create a magnetic field; 3. couple it with a receiving inductor, which transforms it back to electrical current. The receiver needs to resonate at the same frequency as the transmitter in order to concentrate and amplify its power, like two singers in harmony. The receiving and transmitting units also need to exchange data in order to stay in tune and make any necessary adjustments. So, a standard operating frequency is crucial. “Different pad topologies can work together, circular pads with

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the infrastructure our Double ‘D’ pads etc., but they all must work to the same frequency,” says Qualcomm’s Joe Barrett. There will also need to be a standard protocol for passing data between the transmitting and receiving units. When it comes to the physical characteristics of the hardware, standards will need to allow for a lot of flexibility. Wireless charging needs to accommodate all types of vehicles, from tiny smart cars to VIA Motors’ full-size vans. As is the case with battery pack design, different manufacturers use different approaches to balance performance, weight, and cost, so it’s probably unrealistic to expect automakers (OEMs) to incorporate wireless receivers into their

vehicles in exactly the same way. The SAE has formed a committee that is now working on the full range of issues having to do with wireless power transfer (WPT). The J2954 Task Force (what a grandiose name!) includes most of the makers of wireless charging equipment, as well as all the major automakers, electric bus maker Proterra, several parts suppliers, energy provider NRG, battery-swap pioneer Better Place, and of course the DOE, DOT and the rest of the US alphabet soup, as well as a couple of groups from Japan and Korea. Momentum Dynamics’ Andrew Daga is a member of the Task Force, and he sees a high level of commit-

ment: “Everyone realizes they need to be more involved than they were on the J1772 [wired charging] standard.” He notes that the major OEMs seem to be unable (or unwilling) to develop an induction charging system internally, and are relying on smaller companies, because they see the need to be swift and agile. The Task Force is working to develop standards in several areas. The top priority seems to be the need to settle on a common frequency, and to have the FCC reserve it for wireless charging. The group has issued a request for information on interference frequencies (automotive, communications, implantable medical devices, clock,

Photo courtesy of Evatran

Photo courtesy of Momentum Dynamics

The top priority seems to be the need to settle on a common frequency, and to have the FCC reserve it for wireless charging.

Evatran’s residential wireless charging station


Momentum Dynamics’ transmitter pad

Receiver Electronics

Output Power

Magnetic Field

Input Power

Transmitter Electronics

Different pad topologies can work together, circular pads with our Double ‘D’ pads etc., but they all must work to the same frequency.

Photo courtesy of Evatran

Evatran’s vehicle receiver equipped on a Nissan LEAF

etc.), in order to determine which frequencies are open for wireless charging. “Determining a common center operating frequency and means of magnetic interoperability and alignment are critical for the wide-scale success of WPT. The frequency and magnetic coupling are essentially equivalent to the conductive charging ‘plug,’ so that a vehicle can go from its charging station in the garage to work or shopping mall with the same charging ability without any action on behalf of the customer except confirming correct parking,” said Task Force Chair Jesse Schneider. The Task Force envisions three categories of charging: WPT1 (Home) at a power level of 3.6 kW; WPT2 (Fast Charge) at either 10 or 19.2 kW; and a special power level for buses, WPT3, which would operate at 150 kW. Communications for wireless charging will use Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), a set of channels and protocols that was specifically designed for automotive use, and is currently used in a few locations for electronic toll collection. At the moment, Europe, Japan, and the US have separate, incompatible DSRC systems. Any system that’s practical for automotive use will have to be fairly tolerant of misalignment between transmitter and receiver. Different cars have different amounts of ground clearance, and drivers would surely become frustrated with a system that required them to park perfectly every time (on the other hand, a welcome side effect of the electric revolution could be an end to sloppy parking jobs). However, transmitter and receiver do need to be in

JAN/FEB 2013 37

the infrastructure

Dynamic charging

Looking down the road a few years, wireless charging could develop into what the industry calls dynamic or in-road charging - topping up a battery while a vehicle is in traffic, without having to stop at all. If and when this becomes practical, it could also have applications beyond charging.

Since the charging coils would be embedded in the center of the lane, they could provide precise positioning at no extra cost.

Photo courtesy of Qualcomm

the general vicinity of each other, so presumably all vehicles will need to have receivers placed in a standard location. There will need to be some kind of alignment feedback system to alert drivers when they aren’t lined up correctly, and some way to detect foreign objects such as an aluminum foil wrapper, coins (which could heat up during charging), or a snoozing cat on the garage floor between the car and the charger. The SAE Task Force is investigating three proposed alignment methods: triangulated RFID positioning; magnetic coupling positioning; and a combination of the two. RFID positioning uses signal strength among multiple RFID readers and tags to triangulate a vehicle’s position. Magnetic coupling positioning sounds more colorful - it sends out a magnetic “ping” to find the “sweet spot” for perfect alignment. Combination positioning uses RFID to determine vehicle proximity or relative position, and magnetic coupling to help determine the magnetic “sweet spot.” However, Qualcomm’s Joe Barrett suggests that wireless charging does not need precise alignment methods if the system has enough tolerance to misalignment. The Task Force is expected to vote on the first draft of a standard early in 2013.

Wireless dynamic charging illustration

For one thing, it might assist GPS navigation of driverless cars. Since the charging coils would be embedded in the center of the lane, they could provide precise positioning at no extra cost. The SAE Task Force is considering “On-Site Static” charging (for locations such as stoplights and bus stops), but not “On-Road Dynamic” charging, although it says that this may be included in future revisions. FP7, a research funding program operated by the European Union, has requested proposals on wireless charging, including dynamic. One of the groups it has funded is called UNPLUGGED, and includes Transport for London, Fiat, Volvo, and several universities and parts suppliers. Its project involves building two inductive charging systems that will “go beyond the current state of the art in terms of high power transfer, allowing for smart communication between the vehicle and the grid,” and will also include a feasibility study and economic model for dy-

namic en-route inductive charging. A Stanford University research team has designed a system using computer models that can transfer 10 kW of power over a distance of 6.5 feet, enough to charge a car moving at highway speeds, and plans to build a prototype. “Our vision is that you’ll be able to drive onto any highway and charge your car,” said Professor Shanhui Fan. “Large-scale deployment would involve revamping the entire highway system and could even have applications beyond transportation.” The time scale for dynamic wireless is not clear. Qualcomm’s Joe Barrett estimates that it’s at least five years away, and maybe even closer to 10. Evatran’s Rebecca Hough thinks dynamic wireless is technically feasible, and believes prototypes could be in field testing before the end of the decade. “It’s an area that’s getting a lot of interest recently as it could be completely revolutionary for the way we travel.”

JAN/FEB 2013 39

STANDARDS Intertek’s Rich Byczek on delayed battery overheating events and stranded energy

GAPS Rich Byczek

By Michael Kent

the tech


he EV industry is young and evolving quickly - too quickly, in some cases, for the standards community to keep up. The competing charging standards provide the most obvious example. There are a few EVs on the road that use the SAE J1772 standard, a few that use both the SAE J1772 and the CHAdeMO standard, and two Tesla models that use neither. (And soon we’ll see the secondgeneration SAE J1772 standard combo plug, which is capable of DC Fast Charging, and is backwards-compatible with the first-generation SAE J1772 standard, but not compatible with CHAdeMO or Tesla’s connectors. What a headache!) While interoperability is a challenge that will shake out in time, there are also a handful of safety standards that need to be addressed post-haste. Charged caught up with Intertek’s Rich Byczek to discuss some of the more pressing concerns. Among Byczek’s long list of product development and testing credentials is a seat on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Electric Vehicles Standards Panel (EVSP) - assembled in 2011 to “periodically update a strategic roadmap of the standards and conformity assessment programs needed to facilitate the widespread acceptance and deployment of electric vehicles.” Translation: find and attempt to fill EV standards gaps. Not surprisingly, two of the biggest safety concerns, identified by ANSI as standards gaps, are centered around batteries.

Delayed battery overheating events

The first safety concern is known as a delayed battery overheating event. It is well known that damaged battery packs have the risk of overheating, smoldering, and causing fires. But in some instances, the rise in temperature can take days or even weeks. This was seen, for example, in the case of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crashtested Chevrolet Volt. That vehicle was crashed and then rolled over a couple times per the testing protocol. About

the battery management system was in place, but the vehicle was crashtested and presumably disabled. It was a dead car in most respects, except the battery cells were still there reacting with each other

three weeks later, a liquid coolant leak caused a battery short, and smoldering occurred. These delayed events present a particularly tricky problem, because the existing test methods look for failure modes that occur in “real time,” within minutes of a crash test, or a few hours at most. The question is: How do you test for failures that could happen at any time in the future? There are two issues that are not currently well addressed in the test standards: first, establishing that certain areas or cells in the battery pack are generating more heat than others; then, identifying methods to mitigate the hazard if it's found. Vehicles that are disabled after a crash test are one part of the problem. “In the case of the Volt,” Byczek explains, “the battery management system was in place, but the vehicle was crash-tested and presumably disabled. It was a dead car in most respects, except the battery cells were still there reacting with each other.” There is also concern about vehicles in the field that haven't gone through any such dramatic event. The EVSP has identified the possibility of “stray currents occurring in sub-sections of a pack that...can evolve and generate excessive temperatures,” and otherwise appear to be functioning normally. How would you then make sure that battery is self-regulating under normal conditions?

JAN/FEB 2013 41

Engineering Notes Stray currents There are several ways for a stray current condition to occur in a battery pack. Two that may be more probable: 1. Leaked coolant or other conductive fluid enters the battery pack and causes current flow between cells or modules. Since it is not a “hard short,” or enough to blow a fuse, this current flow will slowly build up heat, or increase over time. 2. A damaged module may allow for the shorting of two or more cells. Again, since the connection may not be electrically strong (such as a broken shard of metal that is just barely contacting a cell terminal) the resulting current flow is much less than in a hard short condition. Since these currents are lower than the threshold of a fuse, they can continue for as long as the battery has available charge. This may slowly heat the battery until triggering a thermal runaway, or generate enough heat to burn nearby combustible material.


Possible solution One proposed solution is to include some sort of additional method, within the battery pack, to measure a temperature spike in certain areas. Sensing and reacting to a localized temperature increase in an active pack seems like a relatively easy fix. When the system notices irregularities, it could increase cooling efforts (turning on fans or pumps), and disable the car until the pack is serviced. However, designing a system that will still function in a disabled car - say, one sitting in a junkyard for weeks or months - is a bigger challenge. “We’ve seen some issues where [a delayed battery overheating event] takes place in a disabled vehicle, where there is nothing actively running to monitor that to help prevent or warn of an issue. If you get a hot spot, you need to find a way to prevent it from getting hotter. And then somehow cause a self-discharge, or dissipate the energy that is available in that pack. So, we’re looking at ways to sense for that specifically. Also, how do we address that in the testing requirements, or evaluate for those types of conditions?” Which brings us to another, closely related, standards gap.

Photos courtesy of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

the tech

Stranded energy

NHTSA and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are taking a close look at an issue known as stranded energy. Even though fuses break, or contactors open, to isolate the battery pack from the vehicle in the event of a crash, the battery still contains large amounts of stored energy, which poses a potential shock or fire hazard. In a gasoline vehicle it is very easy, by protocol, to drain the tank and relieve the pressure in the fuel system, so it doesn't cause a secondary issue after a crash. You can think of the battery as a small gas tank that is left full. Currently, there is no standardized method for emergency personnel to access that battery pack and cause it to drain down to a zero percent state of charge (SOC) in order to render it relatively inert. “That's a concern for the first and second responders,” says Byczek. “Not so much the EMS people that arrive on the scene, but the tow truck operators and storage location - the dealers or shops that are going to try to either repair or disassemble and scrap the vehicle. How can they handle the fact that there is a live battery inside? Maybe they can't connect to the diagnostics. Maybe they can't easily access the internals of the battery and safely discharge it.” Hence the term stranded energy. There are a handful of companies that make tools to safely discharge packs and cells, such as Midtronics, but the connectors and communications are not standardized. How do you interface (activate, communicate, and connect to high voltage) with different vehicles? By design, current vehicles are made so that high voltage cannot connect to anything else after a crash event. And again, because it is already damaged, you may not have a functioning

Currently, there is no standardized method for emergency personnel to access that battery pack and cause it to drain down to a zero percent state of charge in order to render it relatively inert.

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common communications port (CAN bus) to talk to the battery and verify its SOC.

Possible solutions There are two common schools of thought to address stranded energy. One is the “suitcase” solution. First, create a standard for both a physical connection to the

high-voltage pack and for communication. Then, equip every tow truck operator with a discharge tool that could easily plug into a port, verify the status of the battery, and discharge it to a safe level. The other possible solution would be to create a secondary system of the internal safety circuits in the battery pack. The idea here would be similar to an airbag system.

Are EVs more dangerous in crash events than ICEs? The short answer, at the moment, is yes. But not because of some inherent danger with battery technology. The danger exists because of a lack of knowledge about how to respond to a crashed EV. For example, most suppressants that firefighters bring with them to an accident are aqueous. They contain water, so the shock hazard is immense. We asked LithFire-X’s President Ron Butler, a 20-year Detroit Fire Department officer, Fire Cadet Program instructor, and lithium-ion battery fire training and process design expert, what suppressants should be used on EVs? “According to the NFPA’s Fire Research Foundation, though lithium-ion batteries contain lithium and other Class D combustible metals, fire events shouldn’t be treated as Class D fires. This expands the pool from which suppressing agents may be chosen.” “The prime consideration for suppressants in an EV or hybrid is shock hazard. Suppressants that conduct


electricity should be avoided. Nonaqueous liquids, dry agents, and inert gases fill the gap nicely. If the concern is not conductivity (i.e. non-energetic) as is the case with stored or shipped batteries, then the suppressant choices increase.” Butler also believes that the Ron Butler long-term safety hazard of EVs is no greater than that of gas vehicles, once first responders are adequately trained. “We drive around in mobile bombs every day and don’t think about it. From a firefighter's perspective the response protocol for internal combustion vehicles and EVs is the same. There are different issues, obviously, but both are very dangerous. In Detroit we do about 20 vehicle fire calls a day.” The biggest safety problem for EVs is a knowledge gap for how to respond in emergencies.

Photo courtesy of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

the tech

When a crash is detected and the airbags are deployed, is the SAE Battery Field Discharge and Disconnect Comthere are several other systems in the vehicle that are also mittee. triggered. For example, the fuel pump is disabled, and in While their intention is to promptly find solutions, we the case of EVs, the high voltage connection is opened can only expect committees to move so quickly. As the between the battery and the rest of the vehicle. So, any conversation evolves, Charged will keep you posted on event that causes the pack to go into what is known as any expected new standards. “safe shutdown mode� would also cause a discharge. After the contactors open to disconnect the high voltage, then it would initiate this discharge internal to the battery. It would have to be at a slow rate, because of the heat generated, but the idea is that a small amount of heat would be safer than leaving the stranded energy. This solution could also solve the problem of delayed thermal events, because damaged vehicles would not be stored, for any amount of time, with charged cells that could react with their surroundings. There are a few concerns with the internal safety circuit concept. Is it feasible to implement, and at what cost? Just like any safety system, it would have to be designed robust enough to function as intended after severe crash condiPUT YOUR TESTING IN HIGH GEAR tions. That could get expensive. Also, if the battery has been damFor more than 20 years, Arbin Instruments has aged, would it further comprobeen developing industry-leading testing mise safety to initiate energy flow solutions for the battery, supercapacitor, and fuel cell markets. Arbin systems deliver extremely within the pack? Would it be safer accurate results at unmatched data collection to leave it stranded? speeds. From low-power, single-cell testers to These are tough problems that regenerative EV systems capable of thousands of need to be solved as soon as Amps, Arbin products are meeting the needs of possible. In addition to the ANSI companies around the world. panel, the standards community With more than 3000 systems running in more gathers groups of experts into than 50 countries, Arbin has established itself as smaller committees to concentrate the global leader in battery testing equipment for on individual issues. The SAE every application. International Battery Steering Committee is focusing on delayed Contact Arbin today to see how our systems can battery overheating events. For help bring your testing up to speed. the issue of stranded energy, there

ARBIN INSTRUMENTS +1.979.690.2751





Short End


of the

Smith Electric Vehicles sees a bright future in electric trucks on the horizon, but must wade through a sea of speculation to get there

Haul Photos by Alex Nunez


By Markkus Rovito ll Smith Electric Vehicles Corp. wanted was a long-term growth strategy that would let the company scale up production of its all-electric, zero-emission medium-duty trucks at the same time that it beefed up its services and value to its growing base of delivery and transit fleet customers. Is that so wrong? Of course no one’s perfect, but Smith, which purchased Smith Electric UK in 2011, found itself in the unfortunate position of being an American clean tech company in the midst of a US presidential election cycle. When Smith announced in September of 2012 that it intended to go public on the NASDAQ exchange, and then just days later withdrew the plan, a miniature firestorm of bad press (bad as in negative and also inexcusably lax) swept over the Kansas City, Missouri-based company.

Rumors of Smith’s impending bankruptcy flitted about the pages, websites, and TV sets of certain media outlets, where slightly sloppy comparisons of Smith to Solyndra hardly concealed the hackneyed attempts to associate struggling clean tech companies with a failure for the Obama administration, whose Department of Energy had supported them. Rumors of Smith’s impending bankruptcy flitted about the pages, websites, and TV sets of certain media outlets, where slightly sloppy comparisons of Smith to Solyndra hardly concealed the hackneyed attempts to associate struggling clean tech companies with a failure for the Obama administration, whose Department of Energy had supported them. It was the same old story we’ve heard at various stages


about Tesla, Fisker, A123, the Chevy Volt, and others. The clean tech sector and EV industry in particular was being used as a backdrop to paint the DOE’s stimulus grants and guaranteed loans for such companies as a failure of government meddling with free enterprise. Could this unrelenting correlation, whether deserved or not, actually do more harm to the EV industry than the administration’s supportive policies

could help? Meanwhile, the seemingly eternal election campaign mercifully ended, and Smith had moved on to the important work of scaling up its business to attain profitability. By late November, it was making headlines again, this time for its announcement of a new factory in Chicago that would produce an estimated 100 new jobs and 1,200 electric trucks a year.

the vehicles Shouting fire in a crowded theater

Among the slurry of Smith doom and gloom reports that erupted in September, was the Washington Examiner article ‘Staggering Smith Electric may be next Solyndra-like clean energy flop’ by Richard Pollock. In the midst of declaring the company all but bankrupt (and mentioning Obama six times), Pollock “reported” that Smith admits to having trucks that caught fire - a la battery explosions: The SEC filing contained other damaging revelations. The firm said that its truck’s lithium-ion battery cells “have been observed to catch fire or vent smoke and flames,” and their warranty reserves may be insufficient to cover future warranty claims. There is one itty-bitty problem with that: It’s not exactly what the SEC filing states. It says: Our commercial electric vehicles make use of lithium-ion battery cells, which, if not appropriately managed and controlled, on rare occasions have been observed to catch fire or vent smoke and flames. Here, the S-1 form is addressing the possibility of lithium-ion battery fires (notice the term “if”). Smith was informing potential investors of all future problems within the realm of possibility, the prudent (and legally required) thing to do when issuing an IPO. In the same way an S-1 filing from a startup company that produced conventional ICE vehicles should read “our cars burn gasoline, which is known to occasionally cause fires.”

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Growing pains

In an interview with Bryan L. Hansel, CEO and Chairman of Smith Electric Vehicles, he told us that the IPO process, which started with the company’s first SEC filing in November, 2011, was originally an attempt to gain the capital necessary to scale up its operations from hundreds of trucks a year to thousands. If the rumors of Smith’s financial straits

were actually true, then of course it would still be indicative of a CEO to paint a rosy picture even as the ship sank. But Hansel explained that because Smith was not profitable, the IPO, which sought to raise $76 million, would have come in with a company valuation that Hansel felt was too low, which would be bad for Smith’s existing investors. Instead, he hit the pavement seeking another round of private financing, with the plan of reaching profitability before revisiting a public offering. “We made the strategic decision to stay private,” Hansel said. “A lot of companies in this space have not been in that position. If we could have gone public it was an opportunity to accelerate our access to capital and grow at a pace. So we took our shot. We got a tremendous response. Everyone loved the customer base, but ultimately as a

business we were early. We were pre-profitability. I think a lot of that was less about Smith and more about clean tech, because a lot of clean tech companies have struggled getting over that line of profitability. So we’ve chosen to get over that line, and then we’ll have a lot of flexibility. In the future, because of the scale of transportation and the size of industry we’re trying to serve, I think it’ll ultimately be best if we’re public.” While the post-IPO-withdrawal rumors of Smith’s demise now appear to have been premature at best, how does such an event really affect a company’s long-term image? “Obviously, pulling the IPO left some investors interested in the electric vehicle space scratching their heads as to what’s actually going on,” said John Licata, chief energy strategist at the Blue Phoenix research firm. Licata frequently speaks on TV

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the vehicles and at conferences on new energy opportunities and electric mobility. “I certainly believe that Smith is very viable,” Licata continued. “Look at Facebook. How many times did Facebook say they were going public, and then they changed their mind? But Smith needs to seriously execute and deliver on the promises to potential investors and clients, because everyone’s watching. This company needs to not misstep right now, because the industry will be unforgiving if they do.”

Smith needs to seriously execute and deliver on the promises to potential investors and clients, because everyone’s watching.

Newtonian physics

While Smith’s IPO was shelved for now, the company did enact the first phase of its plan to scale up in 2012, which was to launch the Series 2000 of its Newton truck platform. Smith also produces the light-duty Edison truck in its Newcastle, UK facility, but the medium-duty Newton is the only platform produced in the US. This platform is a common set of chassis, rails, axles, and drive system that can be configured into a stake bed truck, school bus, step van, refrigerated box, or other applications. It has a modular lithium-ion phosphate battery pack that comes in 40, 60, 80, 100, or 120 kWh sizes, for a range of up to 150 miles per charge. In the previous Newton iteration, Smith worked with third parties such as Enova for the drive system and Valence for the battery modules and management system. However, for the Series 2000 Newton, Smith integrated new proprietary core drive train and battery management systems so that everything runs on common communication software, as well as real-time telemetry. “Every five seconds we pull down data off of every vehicle on the road, and we can


see over 1,500 operating parameters and real-time diagnose the entire vehicle,” Hansel said. A second key advantage to the Series 2000 Newton comes by way of scalability. With the integrated design of the Series 2000 Newton, Smith can work on pushing it into a mainstream supply chain. “Up

until now, in any given month, the number of units we shipped was not based on how many orders we had,” Hansel said, “it was based on how many of a given component we could get.” Hansel says Smith will now be able to deliver as many trucks as its customers want “It’s a triple benefit by migrating to more mainstream

Photo courtesy of Smith Electric Vehicles

suppliers,” he says. “They give you capacity to build thousands instead of hundreds, higher quality because their processes are more mature, and they’re more cost-effective.” With the ability to produce more trucks comes another big challenge for Smith: becoming a truly turnkey solution to its customers for the

entire Newton product, which would include infrastructure, all the interactions with utilities, and full implementation of the vehicle, beyond simply its production. Up until now, such things have been left to the customer, with Smith offering vendor suggestions, as well as training for the drivers and service

techs. But as Smith’s Fortune 500 customers, such as Frito Lay, FedEx, Coca-Cola, Staples, and others, think about moving from a couple of hundred electric trucks to 1,000 or more, they want Smith to take ownership of the logistics. “We’re stepping into a new role,” Hansel said. “[Customers] had to

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the vehicles

find their own local contractors and get their charge points in place. But now they’re saying, ‘guys, this is not added overhead we’re going to become experts at.’ Most big fleet people are not facilities people. So that’s the next phase for us. If they buy a truck, it’s got to be easy. Everything’s got to be taken care of. We see that as a critical next step to allow this to go to scale.”

Chicago bearish or bullish?

Smith’s November announcement of a Chicago manufacturing facility came just about one year after a similar announcement in November, 2011 of a plant in the South Bronx of New York City. Along with Kansas City, that will be three American factories for Smith. Hansel told us the South Bronx plant is just now coming online, and the prognosis is that Chicago will be churning out Newtons by the end of the second quarter of 2013. These multiple smallish facilities fit into Hansel’s plan for Smith’s steady, but unpredictable, growth. “Our core strategy is decentralized manufacturing assembly,” Hansel said. “We have relatively small facilities in local environments, where we can actually produce the product where there is demand. By being local we can accomplish both the up-front manufacturing as well as the long-term service and parts support of the vehicle.” Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the announcements for both Smith’s NYC and Chicago factories coincided with announcements from local government officials of incentives programs for companies to convert commercial vehicles to electric. In New York last

year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a multi-year plan for vouchers for buyers of electric trucks worth up to $20,000 each, with $10 million committed in the first year. With the announcement of Smith’s Chicago facility, Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled a $15 million incentive plan for rewarding fleets that convert from diesel to electric vehicles, on a progressive scale that gives bigger incentives according to the size of the EV’s battery. Both cities’ incentives programs

The beauty of our model is we can bring on manufacturing capacity in a new geographic market very quickly.

are incentives available. It certainly accelerates the conversation and makes the map even easier, because you are getting an incremental incentive if you go to those geographic regions. But these big national fleets can put trucks anywhere, and they’re more likely to put them where they’re going to get a financial benefit for doing so.” Lincata sees the synergy between Chicago’s new CMAQ incentives and Smith’s new plant as an excellent proving ground for Smith’s localization strategy. “I think they need to show that the opportunity they have in Chicago can work in other cities,” he said, “and use that as a template to grow their business. The proof is in the pudding. They need to show execution in Chicago. I think that will help them tremendously.” As far as Hansel is concerned, Chicago is still only the beginning. “The beauty of our model is we can bring on manufacturing capacity in a new geographic market very quickly,” he said. “It’s inexpensive; you’re talking 90 to 120 days, and we can have additional capacity brought online in a new market. We sized our manufacturing strategy so at hundreds of vehicles we can be profitable at a location, and then we can add locations as demand grows. And quite honestly, it’s really hard to predict growth, so we have a model that gives us the flexibility to react to it. It’s kind of counterintuitive, because traditional automotive is: Build a big, huge facility, and when I cross that x number of tens of thousands of vehicles, then I start making money.”

are funded with CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation Air Quality) money, a federal program. Smith has never taken federal loans, but any critics looking to wag a finger at the e-truck company for having its hand out could point to the $32 million total in DOE grants that Smith and its customers have utilized since 2009 and the company’s propensity for placing factories where federal money is subsidizing electric trucks. Of course, the latter sounds like nothing if not a shrewd business decision. “We’re economically competitive with diesel anywhere you want to put a truck,” Hansel said, “but we do see concentrations where there

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the vehicles

The bottom line


Where we can declare victory is in convincing people that it’s reliable, good technology. We’re millions of miles into it.

Smith CEO Brian Hansel

miles into it. We’ve got hundreds of vehicles. We’re over that hurdle. You talk to our key customers, and there are no worries about the truck anymore. The truck works.” Hansel believes the Newton makes sense to any fleet operator who runs the numbers. Going by a purchase price of $65,000 for a comparable ICE cab and chassis, the $75,000 Newton tacks on an up-front premium but offers maintenance savings, fuel savings, and longevity. From there, you select a battery size appropriate for the truck’s daily route. Smith suggests a 20 percent cushion to account for extra power drawn at certain times. “If you have

substantially more than that,” Hansel said, “then you’re not utilizing the asset of the battery and it impacts your economics.” Other than that, if you look at the price of the battery on a six-year payment structure plus electricity, Hansel expects a monthone savings on fuel. Just like with VIA Motors, whom we profiled last year, Smith has an advantage over boutique electric car companies in that its single-shift fleet customers fit the profile of an EV buyer: hey have predictable daily driving needs and they are motivated by lower costs. They take the time to do the math. “If you think about a big corporate

Photos courtesy of Smith Electric Vehicles

“Last year I wrote a white paper about how 2012 is the year that EVs hit puberty,” Lincata said. “And I think that in 2013, there’s still a growing phase we’re going to see.” Lincata spoke of the entire EV industry there, but his point applies quite well to Smith’s particular situation. In 2012, Smith completed a key component to its development, which was the Series 2000 Newton truck fully integrated with Smith proprietary technology. Now in 2013, Smith focuses on turning a gross profit in the second half by reaching a mass production scale. “Our 2013 is about profitability, and we’re going to get there,” Hansel said. Objectively, the pieces do seem to be falling into place for Smith, as long as the financing can hold out long enough. They have a more cost-effective and higher-capacity supply chain so that each Newton sale will bring in a higher margin, new production facilities to begin to produce thousands of trucks per year, new regional customers such as Duane Reed and Fresh Direct in New York, and a proven product - there are about 700 Newtons currently on the road, which have logged millions of miles. The missing piece - thousands of new e-truck orders - shouldn’t have Hansel reaching for Ambien tablets, as he thinks the Newton practically sells itself. “We’ve always told our customers that buying an electric truck isn’t about doing something that’s right for society,” Hansel said, “it’s about making a great business decision. Where we can declare victory is in convincing people that it’s reliable, good technology. We’re millions of

Our truck will save you about 80 percent operating cost every mile you drive...

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environment, and energy efficiency as an opportunity, I don’t see an electric truck as meaningfully different than LED lighting,” Hansel said. “You’ve got an asset that works today in a fluorescent light. You add LED lighting because it’s meaningfully more efficient, and over time, you’re going to save a lot of money. Our truck will save you about 80 percent operating cost every mile you drive, so you just have to look at it and decide if you want to take advantage of those efficiencies. I think most people do, because it’s doing the same job that the incumbent product does, just more efficiently. Why wouldn’t you take advantage?” We’ll leave that last hypothetical question open for some other media outlet to answer.


Photo courtesy of ColumbusCameraOp (flickr)



fter charging an EV at home, the workplace is the next logical locale to “fill ‘er up.” It’s a place where vehicles generally spend long hours parked. It’s a predictable daily route. And with access to charging at work, an employee’s daily electric range can essentially be doubled. Multiple EVSE vendors have told Charged that they’re seeing an encouraging amount of interest from employers of all sizes in offering charging options for their employees. “Employers are starting to see a number of advantages in making the investment, whether it’s a first step towards LEED certification or an effort to attract and retain a new generation of environmentally conscious employees,” says Liberty Access Technologies’ Forest Williams. ChargePoint CEO Pat Romano reports widespread workplace charging activity, outside of the established eco-minded corporations. “We’re pleasantly surprised at some large companies not located in Silicon Valley, and

We’re pleasantly surprised at some large companies not located in Silicon Valley, and not traditional trailblazing hightech companies, that are going headlong into this.



Photo courtesy of ChargePoint

By Michael Kent

Googler Rolf Schreiber plugging in on the search giant’s campus

not traditional trailblazing high-tech companies, that are going headlong into this. We’re pretty encouraged. Basically every place that you would park for an hour or more eventually has to support EV charging. We’re seeing that in our business. That’s not a goal, that’s how it’s manifesting.” Large employers in the smoggiest region of the US - also known as the Los Angeles metro area - have an extra incentive to encourage electric commuters: South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) Rule

2202. The law is intended to “provide employers with a menu of options to reduce mobile source emissions generated from employee commutes,” and mandates that employers with a staff of 250 or more at a single site take meaningful steps to reduce smog from their employees’ commutes. These steps include encouraging the use of public transit, carpooling, shuttles, augmented work schedules (like four 10-hour days), and...EV driving. But employers face a maze of is-

sues when they consider offering EV charging for employees. There are more questions than Which charger? How much does it cost? and Where should I put it? “The truth is, EV charging is a business decision. It’s not a piece of gear,” explains John Kalb of EV Charging Pros. “If they look at it like a piece of gear, then their decision making falls apart. Because they don’t know how to charge for it, what the business model may be, and how to handle it operationally.”

the infrastructure Level 1 or 2

The first question employers face is whether to offer Level 1 or Level 2 charging - perhaps the easiest to answer. If the majority of your employees work full time (eight-hour days) and commute around 25 miles or less one-way, then Level 1 charging is probably more than adequate. If a large portion of your employees work part-time, or often travel in and out of the office (for meetings, deliveries, or service calls for example), then you may want to offer Level 2 charging. “On the Level 1 side, we’re starting to see a lot of RFPs, and there is probably going to be some funding activity for workplace that is Level 1 focused,” says Daniel Shanahan of EVSE LLC, a subsidiary of Control Module, Inc. “It’s simpler. You don’t have to upgrade the panel. It doesn’t work in every case, but we believe that Level 1 is a workable solution for many locations.”

Fee or free

Photo courtesy of DDOTDC (flickr)

The next question is whether or not to charge employees for using electricity. Here is where it begins to get tricky.

An amenity

So you want to provide electricity for free to employees, and maybe even to visitors, as an amenity or complimentary service? You won’t need a billing system, but you will need a way to track usage. Surely the IRS will eventually catch up to the trend and make EV charging at work a taxable fringe benefit that must be reported. Also, by giving electricity away you run the risk of a gasser uprising over an employee equity issue. “If you let them plug in, then where is my free gas card?”


John Kalb doesn’t find the free versus fee debate to be a big hurdle. “The sticking point is: Are we even going to make it available in the first place? Most are not charging for the electricity. It doesn’t seem to be a big enough number for anyone to really worry about. The only issue comes from other employees.”

It doesn’t work in every case, but we believe that Level 1 is a workable solution for many locations.

Most are not charging for the electricity. It doesn’t seem to be a big enough number for anyone to really worry about. The only issue comes from other employees.


When a company chooses to charge a fee, it will need an EVSE solution with a payment system and access control. For government agencies considering installing EVSE, a clear path to recouping all costs (installation and electricity) must be in place to avoid

entering into “gift of public funds” territory - a heavily regulated minefield that most experts recommend avoiding. In this case, it’s important to keep installation costs low, so that you don’t have to charge high fees to recover them, which could discourage use.

Networked vs non-networked

Then there is the networking question: Do I want to pay a monthly fee to have a charging network service provider handle the management and administration of the EVSE? Well, the network providers surely think you should. “First of all, ChargePoint brings

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the infrastructure

in customers,” says CEO Pat Romano. “Once we put you on our map, people looking for parking will prefer that parking garage over one that doesn’t have EV charging. Nonnetworked systems aren’t going to do that.” For semi-public parking areas shared by employees and potential customers, networked EVSE could be a big benefit.


There is also the issue of charger availability. ECOtality VP Colin Read explains that “whenever you have a situation that requires access restrictions, you need a networked, smart-charging station. This allows drivers to locate charging stations on a map, find directions, and see if those charging stations are available. Without this, parking garages

are running the risk that drivers will assume the charging station will be available, only to arrive and find it in use. Ultimately, it is about enhancing the customer experience to allow for ease of access.” These are good features, but at what cost? If a parking lot operator or government facility wants to recover costs, are the monthly fees

and authentication, and a super high-functionality charger and a limited-functionality charger don’t

we provide 24/7 customer support, so the receptionist in the workplace is not the support person for EV charging

Photos courtesy of ECotality

For semipublic parking areas shared by employees and potential customers, networked EVSE could be a big benefit. of a fully networked solution costprohibitive? Romano says, no way. In fact, he insists ChargePoint will save you money in the long run. “The network fees are super low relative to if a workplace wanted to roll out their own. Frankly, if you’re any workplace at all you have to have some sort of network for access control

have any cost difference, because it’s all software.” “If someone wanted to roll their own system, and do all that manual administration, they would spend far more money. And we provide 24/7 customer support, so the receptionist in the workplace is not the support person for EV charging. They call us.”

Spot reserved for...

It’s pretty clear that EV drivers are drawn to lots with charging options that appear on cell phone apps and navigation systems. But in the private parking world, where each space is paid for and reserved for one particular person, lot operators aren’t interested in being found on the map. In that case, why not install standard 120 V outlets and allow drivers to use their own cord sets? Give them a window sticker and charge a flat monthly fee for the electricity. Sure, that’s the simplest option, if you’re not interested in any usage data or access control. But what about parking lot operators that would like more control? They don’t necessarily need a full network. They need something local that integrates with their existing systems - a “network lite.” Well, they’re in luck, because there are also EVSE solution providers

that will integrate with the parking industry’s gate and billing systems, like Liberty Access Technologies and Control Module. “Many charging stations force the operator to use the EVSE’s credit card system, when many parking lots and garages already have a payment processor and billing service in place,” explains Daniel Shanahan of Control Module. “Adding another merchant service account is redundant, and has double fees. Instead of telling a multi-million-dollar parking industry that you’re going to adapt to our charging station, to our networks and payment, we are taking the position that the EVSE needs to become an integrated function of the garage.” “If I’m the garage owner,” says Liberty’s Forest Williams, “I’m willing to put some chargers up on my tab. But I don’t want to have to pay the expense of a fully networked charger, and I don’t need someone to service the plug. If it breaks, I can send my own electrician out to fix it.” Both companies will build systems that piggyback on a parking garage’s existing assets. For example, when someone drives into the garage they get a ticket at the gate. They can use that ticket to turn on a charger (via a magnetic swipe or a code system). When they drive out, they pay for parking and charging. If employees use an RFID badge to enter the garage and open doors, that same badge can activate the charger. Parking lot owners can also use a pay-by-phone (PBP) system, eliminating the need for a payment kiosk. Parking meters around the world are adopting PBP technology, so why not charging stations? (Standard credit card processing fees will apply.) Catering specifically to the parking industry could prove to be a shrewd

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the infrastructure

...we are taking the position that the EVSE needs to become an integrated function of the garage.

Manufacturer offerings

Charged talked to Eaton, AeroVironment, DBT, and Schneider Electric about their product offerings for workplace-specific applications. They all echoed the same sentiment: Much like every other aspect of the EV charging industry, workplace charging is complicated. There is no one-size-fits-all product solution. “Workplace is obviously a broad umbrella, there are so many types of environments where people work,” AeroVironment’s Frank Wong told

us. “So, the applications for charging vary just as widely.” Which is why we see so many different options from the ESVE makers. For example, DBT recently announced its new “four in one” portfolio, which provides four stages of charging intelligence. There ia a “dumb charger” for free access and free charging; a controlled-access, no-fee charger; a controlled-access, paid charger; and a build-your-ownnetwork solution. They can also retrofit the “dumb charger” if you want upgrade the features in the future. Eaton offers chargers with a variety of billing and access control options. You can purchase the Pow-R-Station connected to Eaton’s own billing and maintenance network, a ChargePoint

In the US alone, [the parking industry is] estimated to generate $25-30 billion in gross parking revenues with more than 100 million commercial parking spaces.


compatible unit, a USA Technologies ePort credit card reader, or Liberty’s Synchronous Codes non-network secure access system. Other EVSE manufacturers are following suit

Photo courtesy of frankfarm (flickr)

long-term strategy. In the US alone, it’s estimated to generate $25-30 billion in gross parking revenues, with more than 100 million commercial parking spaces.

Photo courtesy of Photolifer (flickr)

Cables, cables everywhere

EVSE LLC has a unique cable retraction system designed for parking garages and curbside applications. These chargers clear up cord clutter by keeping the cable off the ground. Each charger activates by local or remote control, and automatically lowers the charging connector to the ADA required height. “For public safety and ADA compliance keeping cables off the ground is a must,” says Daniel Shanahan. “Cables on the ground increase the risk of tripping accidents, which increases risk for property owners. And anything over 1/4 inch is an ADA violation - EV charging cables are typically 5/8 inch or more. Cables left on the ground in snow, ice, rain or sleet will prove to be a negative experience for the general public. [Our system] completely retracts the cable when not in use and keeps the cable off the ground when connected to the vehicle.”

and giving customers similar access control and billing options.


When the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), a Xerox company, began to look into EV charging for their facilities, it started by speaking to a couple of equipment vendors. But that only left PARC with more questions, so it turned to EV Charging Pros. “I worked with them over the past six months to develop the workplace plan,” said John Kalb. “We started by running a survey of all of their employees. Do they have EVs? Are they interested in EVs? If they had EV charging, would that in fact influence future EV purchases? How far are their commutes? Then we surveyed the physical site and power available.” PARC is now in the process of installing four Level 2 chargers in its visitor parking lot, and 8 Level 1 chargers in the employee lot (with enough capacity to scale to 16 Level 1

chargers in the future). The company has made a big commitment, and is upgrading transformers. “The project is not a three- or five-thousanddollar project; it’s six figures,” said Kalb. “They’re basically putting in the infrastructure today to serve their needs tomorrow.” The company is offering charging at no cost to employees, and already has an alternative transportation program that provides benefits for things like taking the bus, or riding motorcycles. So it can easily institute an EV driver part of that program.

Westport Train Station

Just east of New York City is the Westport, Connecticut Train Station, with a parking lot that is home to a couple of hundred cars a day. Commuters pre-pay for the spots and typically leave their vehicles there from eight to 14 hours a day. When they approached EVSE LLC about offering charging to commuters, they were originally thinking

about a Level 2 networked solution. “We suggested that if people are parking that long, they should consider Level 1,” said Daniel Shanahan. “And since they already have the customers in their database, why not mail them RFID cards and charge them a flat fee every year?” In the end, EVSE LLC designed a dual Level 1 pedestal for them, with RFID access control and a network that tracks who’s charging and when. “Because Level 1 demands less power, all the chargers are powered by new solar panels on the station roof - a totally off-grid solution that makes sense,” says Shanahan.

County of Los Angeles

The County of Los Angeles has over 2,600 government buildings, 101,000 employees, and a fleet of 14,000 vehicles (which uses 14 million gallons of fuel a year). On top of the fleet’s fuel consumption, the average employee commutes 24 miles each way, accounting for 32 percent of the

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power. elegance.

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

county’s greenhouse gas emissions, second only to that produced by the county buildings. “We’re currently looking at EVSE as a compliance strategy for Rule AQMD 2202,” said Rick Teebay of the county’s Office of Sustainability. The county government was one of 23 agencies in the state that recently received a grant from the California Energy Commission to install 315 EVSEs, 48 of which will go up in the County of Los Angeles. As one of the lead agencies, the county solicited bids for a Master Purchasing Agreement. It received submissions from 13 different firms representing 13 different EVSE manufacturers, with wildly differing cost proposals. The hardware alone ranged from $1,250 for a simple wall mount, all the way up to $12,000 for a heavily ruggedized unit that looks like it could withstand an IED blast. The county won’t need to recover its capital costs, but it will need to recover its operational costs, to avoid a “gift of public funds” situation. It has also asked for proposals for software and back-end systems. “We’re looking for something that’s open, so everyone can use it. Each of the networks has different RFIDs, which we don’t want. We want something that doesn’t require people/employees to join memberships.” Teebay says they’re currently considering two solutions that offer the “openness” they desire.

Learning their language

John Kalb of EV Charging Pros thinks the charging market is suffering from a bit of a language barrier, with regard to the real estate industry. “There is a real difference between the real estate industry perspective

The issue is: how do we get workplaces and commercial property owners to prioritize EV charging?

and the EV industry perspective. We need to learn how to speak the language of real estate.” When a CFO of a commercial property is thinking about installing EV chargers, it’s going to come out of the capital budget. But the capital budget has many other pressures - a new chiller, energy-efficient lighting, marble in the lobby. “I’ve got $100,000 to spend this year on making my property better, what do I do, what are my priorities? The issue is: how do we get workplaces and commercial property owners to prioritize EV charging?” For the most part,

EV chargers fall under that intangible category, with the possibility of charging a fee for use and making some money over time. To help CFOs see the big picture, Kalb presents a model of capital cost, maintenance cost, and yearly operating cost against potential utilization over a five-year period. “CFOs are looking at the modified internal rate of return. My spreadsheet calculates the return for an EVSE project over a period of time, which allows them to compare apples to apples. That’s one method that they use to prioritize projects.”

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Photo courtesy of Ricardo Diaz (flickr)

the infrastructure

the tech



AllCell Technologies’ new thermal management material



hermal runaway


Image courtesy of AllCell Technologies


If you have spent time at any of the EV industry trade shows, you’ve probably heard the term thermal runaway. It refers to a chain reaction in which an increase in temperature causes further increases in temperature and uncontrollable release of energy. It’s the technical way that engineers like to say “explode.” Lithium batteries are particularly susceptible to these thermal runaway events for a few different reasons, including their high energy content and their propensity to self-heat once the electrolyte reaches a certain temperature (anywhere from 70° to 130° C, depending on the chemistry). This makes the thermal management of an EV battery pack extremely important. Engineers who set out to design energy-dense packs have to employ robust cooling systems, often using liquid cooling loops with hundreds of channels. The complexity of these systems adds cost - somewhere around 10-20 percent of the overall cost of the battery pack. The Chicago-based firm AllCell Technologies thinks it may have a better solution: phase-change material (PCM). A PCM is a substance that is good at absorbing large amounts of heat energy while melting from solid to liquid, and then releasing the energy while freezing back into a solid. There are a lot of other industries that use PCM for thermal management. You will find it in everything from aeronautical to building applications. As of October 2012, AllCell

There are a lot of other industries that use PCM for thermal management. You will find it in everything from aeronautical to building applications. holds the applications patent for PCM use in thermal management of lithium-ion batteries, ultracapacitors, and fuel cells.

How it works

The company’s PCM of choice is a graphite composite material - basically a combination of wax and the same stuff that’s inside pencils. A battery cell is surrounded by the PCM, and as it heats up, the waxy material softens, absorbing the heat. When the cell cools off, the PCM hardens, releasing the heat into the atmosphere. The key to using it in packs with a large number of individual cells is the material’s thermal conductivity. If you have an individual cell that has a problem, such as an internal short circuit or nail penetration, that cell will create more heat than others. When you have a big thermal runaway, the problem starts with a single cell, and then spreads quickly through the entire pack. This material can quickly move the heat away from the problematic cell and absorb it to prevent a chain reaction.

Massively passive

AllCell is now producing battery packs with its PCM technology for light EVs like bikes and scooters. “Currently, in bikes and scooters there are no active cooling systems, so this is the only thermal management system that we believe is currently in that market,” says Jake Edie, AllCell’s VP of Business Development. Thermal management systems that use fans and pumps add cost and weight, and take up precious physical space that light EVs can’t spare. AllCell’s PCM has a big advantage here, because it mainly occupies the space between the cells, previously filled with air. “[Current light EV battery packs] are suffering in cycle life and in energy density in a lot of situations, because the more energy density packed into a small space, the more heat is generated in that small space,” Edie explains. “So a lot of manufacturers are shying away from the highenergy-density cells [for light EVs], and they’re limiting the discharge rates, because high rates create more

As of October 2012, AllCell holds the applications patent for PCM use in thermal management of lithium-ion batteries, ultracapacitors, and fuel cells.

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the tech

Engineering Notes Cell Temperature

Heating without PCM

Heating with PCM Melting Point Temperature remains constant during melting


By how much can PCM reduce the operating temperature?

There are a variety of different lithium chemistries on the market, and they have different temperatures at which they start to have more rapid breakdown. For the types of chemistries seen in automotive batteries, those temperatures generally range between 40° and 60° C. The commonly used iron phosphate-based chemistries don’t generate as much heat, but they are also less tolerant of higher temperatures. So, they tend to be maintained around a 40° C maximum temperature, while some of the higher energy-density chemistries can get closer to 60° C. When comparing a traditional active cooling system to one that uses PCM, you will not likely see a difference in operating temperature, because both of them have to be designed to stop the cells from getting too hot. However, AllCell says that when you look at a pack with no thermal management versus a pack encased in PCM, the operating temperature is reduced by 10° C or more.

General specifications for AllCell’s range of phase change material products Melting point (°C) Melting range (Δ°C) Density (kg/m3)

PCM48 48

PCM55 General 55 0 – 70

4 4 6 <5 ~925




Latent heat (kJ/kg)





Specific heat capacity (kJ/kg.K)





Heat conductivity,





Heat conductivity,

3 3 3 ~3

perpendicular to compaction direction (W/m.K) parallel to compaction direction (W/m.K)


PCM37 37

When they first came to us they had a different battery supplier using the same battery case, ...using high-energy-density cells with our thermal management PCM, we took that from 30 to 55 km. Image courtesy of AllCell Technologies

heat as well. We’re able to solve these problems and also increase the safety.” AllCell supplies battery packs for the French scooter maker Matra, which designed a novel electric scooter as a delivery vehicle mainly for fleet applications, with manually swappable batteries. “When they first came to us they had a different battery supplier using the same battery case, and they could only get 30 km of driving range. We designed and manufactured a pack using highenergy-density cells with our thermal management PCM, and we took that from 30 to 55 km.” AllCell’s redesigned pack offered

a significant range increase for the same physical space. The key was “passive” thermal management - no fans, no pumps, no energy consumption, only the addition of the heatabsorbing PCM.

Automotive moves

Earlier this year, the company formed AllCell Automotive with Townsend Ventures in an attempt to enter the heavier electric vehicle space. Townsend is an investment firm heavily focused on energy, with interests in battery-related companies like Dow Kokam and Energy Power Systems, to name a couple. It’s hard to get a new technology

The engineers we talk to understand the benefits and are really interested.

into a car company, so it will likely take some time and hard work before AllCell’s PCM sees production with a major OEM. But Edie tells us the right conversations have started in a few places. “The engineers we talk to understand the benefits and are really interested.” The potential benefits of incorporating PCM into automotive battery pack design are quite appealing, so we can imagine that the automakers will take a close look at the technology. For one thing, it offers the possibility of removing liquid from battery systems. Liquid coolant has the tendency to leak - the likely culprit in some highly publicized smoldering Chevy Volt cells (after they took a beating in federal crash tests).

JAN/FEB 2013 69

the tech While the addition of PCM won’t likely remove the need for active cooling altogether, it could simplify things. During high discharge rates (heavy acceleration) the heat generation goes up exponentially. The PCM can absorb the spikes of heat, so engineers can size the active system to the average thermal load rather than the peak - potentially replacing flowing liquid between each cell with a couple of fans or a simpler, more isolated liquid loop. How is melted wax any safer? you ask. Well, so did we. Edie explained that it remains solid. “The wax is microencapsulated within the graphite matrix. When the wax melts there’s enough surface tension between the wax and a graphite matrix that it doesn’t leak out. You could heat the material up to 300° C, and it will become soft enough for a thumbprint, but it will remain solid.” What about the PCM’s electrical conductivity; isn’t that a problem? “The electrical conductivity is generally the biggest issue that our customers are worried about, but in the end it’s really not that complicated of a problem to solve. We have some very simple materials that can provide electrical isolation between the phase change material and the surface of the cell. We’ve implemented that in a wide variety of different design types. So, conductivity is the main challenge, but it’s certainly not an insurmountable one. A little bit of intelligent design can solve it.” Another major benefit of PCM’s peak-heat-absorbing properties is the potential to reduce the amount of kilowatt hours in the pack. In a lot of cases, battery designers oversize the pack to limit the peak heat generation, or to account for the electrical load needed for active cooling


systems. They underutilize the full potential of the cells, because it is really expensive to size an active system that can remove enough heat during peak events. So, adding PCM could potentially simplify the cooling system and simultaneously allow

engineers to right-size the pack.

How much?

While PCMs have been proven to remove a lot of heat, the real question is, can they remove cost? “It’s a costeffective solution,” says Edie. “[Using

PCM] adds a few percent to the cost of the entire battery system.” AllCell claims that in the light EV space, where there is typically no thermal management, they’ve seen the addition of PCM extend the cycle life of the cells by 50 percent or more, and sometimes up to 100 percent. That seems like a no-brainer, but in a vehicle that already has an active cooling system, it’s a different value proposition. It is difficult to get really accurate numbers on the cost of active cooling systems. Automotive companies are not quick to share their cost structures. However, 10 to 20 percent is the figure that gets thrown around a lot. AllCell believes it can “dramatically downsize this cost.” “We are targeting a cooling system, which may include an active component with PCM, that is significantly less than 10 percent of battery cost, depending on the battery pack’s application: start/stop, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or pure electric vehicle,” Edie explains. “A few percent of battery cost is roughly what we’re talking about for full-size EVs.” To go from 20 percent to a few percent is huge. The larger battery packs are in the $10,000-$15,000 range, so we’re talking about thousands of dollars in savings.

On the road

We are targeting a cooling system, which may include an active component with PCM, that is significantly less than 10 percent of battery cost, depending on the battery pack’s application

AllCell has worked with a few European OEMs on a co-development level - modeling and providing samples for prototypes - and is in the process of quoting for production quantities. So when could we see this promising new material on the road? Probably not for a few years. Edie says the company has its eye on “mid to late decade for vehicle production.”

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the infrastructure




German start-up ubitricity wants to make public charging deployment more efficient By Michael Kent


n a perfect EV world, every parking spot would be equipped with access to charging. Instead, we’ve seen charging points trickle into the public sphere, mainly in concentrated areas as part of publicly funded rollout programs. Within the industry, many believe that to effectively eliminate range anxiety, and encourage widespread EV adoption, access to charging should exist at a three-to-one ratio - three charging points for every vehicle. If that idea proves to be true, the industry has a big problem to overcome: installation cost. To put a million vehicles on the road in that scenario, we’d need approximately three million charging points. At $2,000-$3,000 a pop, plus installation costs, the infrastructure investment would approach $15 billion. That math is hard to swallow, and has prompted the German start-up ubitricity to rethink the charging kiosk. Co-founder Knut Hechtfischer explained to Charged that the implementation cost of the charging infrastructure is far too expensive based on existing technology.

One for you, one for me

The company plans to reduce rollout costs by removing the “intelligence” from the charging access point, because the intelligence - billing, metering, access control, cloud connection, etc. - is what makes charging points expensive. “The idea of ubitricity is to make use of abundantly, ubiquitously available electricity,” explains Hechtfischer. “To charge their vehicle, a person only needs a modified socket - that


Image courtesy of ubitricity

switchable, identifiable access point.” Instead of removing the functionality of smart charging, ubitricity wants to make the intelligence mobile, as part of the cord set (and eventually internal to the car). Moving that hardware into the mobile part of the equation allows the individual charge points to be greatly simplified. Take a simple outlet, put in a relay and some electronics to identify yourself and control the relay. ubitricity thinks that’s all that’s needed at the individual charge point. The rest of the intelligence for communication and data manipulation can be moved out of the stationary infrastructure. “If you take the intelligence with you,” says Hechtfischer, “everyone needs only one unit. This allows you to log in to a smart grid anywhere there is a modified socket. This makes charging extremely efficient, with the perfect logic ratio of one. One billing logic per user, no more. It is an intelligent interaction between cloud-based services, mobile electronics, and a smart but simple socket that only knows its name and has a control switching.”

Instead of removing the functionality of smart charging, ubitricity wants to make the intelligence mobile, as part of the cord set (and eventually internal to the car).

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the infrastructure

System Socket Prototype Single or three phase

Mobile Meter Prototype

Smart metering technology integrated into the charging cable

This technology delivers the same functionality at a fraction of the cost. With it, you automatically reduce the rollout cost for public and semi-public charging points.


“It is a great opportunity to remove cost,” explains Uwe Hauck, Director of Technology, Innovation and Battery Connectivity at TE Connectivity (TE), which teamed with ubitricity to develop the new charging system. “This technology delivers the same functionality at a fraction of the cost. With it, you automatically reduce the rollout cost for public and semi-public charging points.” By driving down the marginal cost on the infrastructure side, ubitricity hopes to enable the deployment of a dense charging access grid designed to allow more charge spots than there are users. Currently, TE and ubitricity are producing prototype “smart” cord sets, developed for trials and demonstrations. Even at these limited quantities, it claims major savings, around 30 percent below systems with competitive functionalities. “Even using the prototype cable and the prototype wall socket, you still end up paying much less than the price of current industrialized products that deliver the same functions,” says Hechtfischer. At scale, ubitricity believes it can offer a charging ecosystem with up to ten times more access points than conventional solutions for the same cost. “In Berlin, for example, there is a public project for around 800 charge spots,” says Hechtfischer, “and they have set aside five to seven million Euros for 800 charging spots. That is about 8,000 Euros on average per charging spot. For this price, we could deliver around seven to ten times more charging spots.”

Images courtesy of ubitricity

With the intelligence comes the cost

With the potential to reduce the overall investment in a charging ecosystem, the burden of charging intelligence cost is transferred to the consumer. Plug-in vehicles already carry a high price premium. Will potential car buyers accept a higher markup? ubitricity points to the proliferation of WiFi and the end of the phone booth era as indications that they will. “It’s a bit like WiFi in hotels,” says Hechtfischer, “Ten years ago it was the exception, and now it is abundant. There was one Internet-connected computer shared in the lobby, and now everyone brings their own device. Which means you have to have a little bit more functionality on the consumer side, but far less on the stationary side, and that allows efficient access.“ “We [also] like to use the analogy of the telephone booth. Once upon a time, there was one telephone booth for thousands of users. That was deemed to be sufficient. But then came mobile technology, allowing consumers to make calls wherever they are.”

Technology bridge

ubitricity wants to use its connected cord set as a bridge to moving the functionality into the vehicles. In the long run, the company sees a tremendously high cost savings by utilizing the components that are already built into the vehicles.

At scale, ubitricity believes they can offer a charging ecosystem with up to ten times more access points than conventional solutions for the same cost. JAN/FEB 2013 75

“You just need to use them differently,” says Hechtfischer. “Each EV or PHEV has a very precise energy management system, and communication functions are already there. The OEMs will have to bring them together to support the metering functionality. Then put communication protocols on top, via GSM or other communication capabilities of the car to deliver information to the cloud.” This is where teaming with TE comes into play. At this point TE’s end is mostly hardware - the connectors and cables. But it also brings long-standing relationships with automotive OEMs, charging infrastructure manufacturers, and the utilities. The energy and auto industries both extensively test new technologies before going public - it takes a while to introduce new technologies. So teaming with TE was a smart way to reach into its customer base and build on those relationships and their 800-million-dollar energy business. For the time being, ubitricity thinks the best way to help the OEMs see the big picture is to give them a cable that they have to use for conductive charging anyway. By putting the functionality in the plugs, the OEM sees no difference. Car buyers can use this cable wherever they would like to charge - at traditional charging spots or at ubitricity access points. It’s a backwards-compatible solution. On the other hand, a rollout of the outlets has to be pushed as well. “That is where we have heard very positive feedback, especially in the semi-public areas, with customers who are struggling with the rollout cost of infrastructure.”

Where can I get one?

By the end of 2013, ubitricity and TE will begin marketing their solution in Germany. “The idea is not to install our sockets and then sell cables,” explains Hechtfischer, “it’s more simultaneous. And in the adjacent market, employers who would like to give employees access to charging spots at work will need access control, maybe some smart grid functionality, metering, and billing service. We want to be their charging solution of choice.” With success in one area, ubitricity believes the concept of mobile charging intelligence will spread like wildfire. “All the major automakers are very much global, and as soon as one region experiences a positive operating system they will do their part to help market and rollout in other regions.” That, they can count on. This industry has a number of yet-to-be-answered tough questions, and access to charging is one of them. Any successful (read: profitable) model will surely be copied worldwide.


The energy and auto industries both extensively test new technologies before going public - it takes a while to introduce new technologies.

Image courtesy of ubitricity

the infrastructure

a few thousand dollars of installation cost is hard to justify

Do we really need a dense public charging grid?

There is a dirty little secret in the EV charging industry: real EV owners rarely use public charging. The folks at ubitricity and TE readily admit it. “There was a study in Germany that showed up to 95 percent of the charging events happen at home or at work,” said TE’s Director of Technology, Innovation and Battery Connectivity, Uwe Hauck. “Which means, from the logical perspective, there is not a reason to have a large-scale public charging infrastructure.” Despite this well-known truth, public charging access points serve an We’ve done important purpose. They are highthe thinking… visibility cures for range anxiety. They help people feel safe, like insurance or an AAA membership. In a way, a dense public charging grid is more of a solution for EV less adoption than it is a solution for EV weight smaller owners. less battery However, cities and utilities are cost battery’s struggling because of the high initial available energy investment cost. And in the semicharging driving = x public areas, like supermarkets, malls, instances range Vehicle’s energy and parking garages, a few thousand consumption dollars of installation cost is hard to justify (except for the occasional demeffortless more more onstration project). wireless driving charging charging range Hauck believes that with a lowerinstances cost alternative, semi-public areas could see a real business case. “If you’re going shopping and you get do the math. access to charging energy, after two hours of shopping your car can be recharged with you paying only a little amount of money when the retail Qualcomm Halo Wireless EV Charging location is sponsoring the charging changes the equation of owning an EV. spot. That is something ubitricity can make happen because their infraCharging little and often with financial resources and a long-term Qualcomm Halo technology is simple commitment. At Qualcomm we invest structure costs are only a fraction of and effortless. No plugs, no cables. in future technologies and appreciate traditional installation costs.” TM

Easier charging, more often has the potential to reduce the need for large expensive EV batteries so could lead to lower priced vehicles.

Bringing a new technology like wireless EV charging to market requires experience, vision, engineering and

the sustained effort that will be needed to make wireless EV charging a reality for all drivers. More and more we are moving to a wireless world – Qualcomm is helping to drive the transition.

JAN/FEB 2013 77

the vehicles

h wit


Samit Ghosh Dr. Samit Ghosh

Dr. Samit Ghosh is President and Chief Executive of P3 North America, a Michigan-based strategy consultancy and engineering solutions firm. Part of the global P3 Group, P3 North America specializes in the automotive and aviation industries, and works with OEMs and suppliers along the entire value chain, from strategic planning to aftersales and marketing.

Charged: Relatively low demand and missed 2012 sales targets have some industry watchers questioning the future of EVs worldwide. Do you think the future of electrification is in question? Dr. Samit Ghosh: No, this is not the end, and especially not in the US, where the fuel efficiency regulations and CAFE standards are so strict that OEMs need numerous technologies. Electric vehicles are not the only solution. One could argue about the sales potential of the market, but the demand for electric vehicles will not decline to nothing, and the technology will never go away. Perhaps there was too much initial hype, making it look now like consumers are not following the trend. Now that it has been labeled a dead technology, it will be interesting to see how the current sales volumes develop. In Europe especially, with smaller clusters of driving areas. However, the market in general is characterized by low customer demand and high cost of EV/HEV products. There needs to be a shift in focus away from pure production and sales number planning to start concentrating on how to make EV/HEV products more attractive for the end customer. This will entail looking at how to drive product and component costs down, but also looking overall at the challenges to create a total cost of ownership advantage for the end customer.


Charged: Who are the major stakeholders today, and how can they influence the future of the industry? SG: The electric vehicle industry needs to be looked at as a whole. The stakeholder landscape does not only comprise the vehicle manufacturer, but also the Tier One suppliers, as well as charging infrastructure manufacturers, cities, utilities, wireless network providers, and government and regulatory bodies. These stakeholders need to play together in a concerted way to make the total cost of ownership [TCO] of this technology more attainable to the end consumer. Ultimately, the person buying the vehicle has to put the money on the table to acquire and drive the vehicle. The key to driving the TCO down is to analyze the technical cost drivers. The cost of batteries and the main components, namely motor and inverter, are the ones that need dramatic improvement over the next few years. Partnerships and collaboration between OEMs and suppliers are also essential to revive the industry. The industry is still immature, and thus requires people across the value chain to cooperate and explore opportunities and improvements. The government, as another big stakeholder in this industry, needs to maintain its support, develop the necessary charging infrastructure, and build up financial incentives.

Perhaps there was too much initial hype, making it look now like consumers are not following the trend.

Charged: What is the weakest link in the development of vehicle electrification? SG: Cost efficiency in the EV/HEV industry is definitely problematic. If most of the EV/HEV products were within the $20,000-30,000 range, demand from the market would increase dramatically. Another weak link in the development of vehicle electrification is range anxiety. This depends largely on the common drive pattern, the availability of a charging infrastructure, and to a certain extent the income of the individual or family. A family with only one car is unlikely to go electric if they live in an area without a dense infrastructure to support their drive patterns, or to permit the occasional holiday trip. Geography plays a key role: for example, in Europe, longer trips can easily be made by rail. Charged: What is the real potential for commercial vehicle fleet electrification? SG: Electrification makes the most sense for a fleet operation or for vehicles that drive in the city. Consider the frequent use of stop-start by medium and light duty trucks with high utilization rates and defined routes and destinations. Parcel delivery companies like UPS,

FedEx, or mail services are perfect candidates. If MPG is increased, they would have a higher return of investment than in long-distance semi-trucks. However, the cost of electrification will be higher compared to the passenger vehicle market. Currently, electrification presents standards-driven solutions without being optimized for the individual application. In the next few years, electrification for commercial vehicles will be optimized with improved technologies, and the market will grow substantially. Charged: What segments of the EV industry do you think will see the strongest growth?

There needs to be a shift in focus away from pure production and sales number planning to start concentrating on how to make EV/HEV products more attractive for the end customer.

JAN/FEB 2013 79

the vehicles SG: This will largely depend on the regions. In China, sub-compacts and neighborhood EVs will have the strongest growth, mainly because of the driving patterns and distance from home to work, while in the US, mid-size sedans will be the largest focus of electrification, due to the customer’s preference in driving habits. Meanwhile, an electric or hybrid luxury segment may form its own niche in the US. In Europe, there are two schools of thought: one is that diesel hybrids will grow substantially, considering the current market penetration of diesel engines in Europe. The downside is that adding cost through electrification to the already higher-cost engine technology of diesel versus gasoline, may price it out of reach of the mainstream market, even if fuel efficiency could be improved. On the other hand, electrification of the less costly gasoline engine will increase fuel efficiency at a more favorable total cost for this combination.

in the market, and the level of technological complexity. Each activity should be laser-focused and on track in managing intricacy. Using the correct processes with quality management approaches in place, while having a precise and well-steered program management, will be the key to success. In the area of partnerships, strong program management and process development are required to ensure a structured, sustainable, and successful relationship. Charged: What are the key growth areas for the automotive industry in the next few years? SG: The automobile will become much more interactive to its user and the outside world. Connected cars will be the next big thing and the current technologies - infotainment systems, telematics systems and vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems, like distance or speed control - are just the beginning. The vehicle will eventually start to communicate with infrastructure like traffic lights, via the cloud between service providers and consumers, and will open a completely new experience of being online to its users. We are just at the beginning of a new wave of technology development.

The downside is that adding cost through electrification to the already higher-cost engine technology of diesel versus gasoline, may price it out of reach of the mainstream market, even if fuel efficiency could be improved.

Charged: How can EV suppliers reduce risk in today’s market? SG: Their biggest risk is cost and product functionality and quality. Cost risk can be mitigated with partnerships via cost-sharing. Product improvement must be secured through carefully managed product development. EV suppliers need to first establish how they can add more value to the OEMs. Instead of simply producing and supplying components, they need to start thinking about subsystem integration, system design and other ways to increase their value proposition to the OEMs. Finding a reliable and sustainable partnership among the OEMs or Tier Ones will assist in mutually supporting and developing business. Charged: How important are process development and quality management in an industry still trying to resolve technology and market issues? SG: This is relevant because of the level of complexity


Charged: How do you see the infotainment industry evolving over the next decade? SG: The industry will explode in the next three years. Telematics will become essential for all vehicles, even commercial fleets. Diagnostics and network communication will be the main drivers of this explosion. Underlying technology options will eventually find a dominant technology, with Bluetooth and wireless modules becoming part of one prevailing system that will work effectively across all arenas. The industry will be richer in features and more connected to home and to vehicles. In addition, perhaps the aftermarket will develop solutions for older vehicles, leading to a modularization of connectivity.





By David Herron

hat if the fastest production motorcycle in the world was powered by electricity? What if you could fuel a racing weekend using solar panels mounted on a trailer hauled behind a race van? Welcome to the world of Richard Hatfield, CEO of Lightning Motorcycles, whose multi-year quest into the field of electric motorcycle racing and manufacturing is beginning to come to fruition. Its run has been impressive, with wins in the TTXGP and e-Power race series, and a string of land speed records under the company’s belt. Lightning is based in San Carlos, California, which makes it a “Silicon Valley Startup,” one of several e-motorcycle companies in the area. The Lightning racing team has been at the leading edge of emotorcycle technology development for over four years, in the company of Brammo, MotoCzysz, Mission Motors, Mugen, Muench Racing, and Zongshen. During that time, their products have gone from being dismissed as two-wheeled golf carts to catching the attention of serious motorcyclists. The Lightning plan all along has been to use its racing activities for technology R&D to develop a reputation for high-end, high-performance motorcycles, and to leverage that goodwill and know-how to develop a line of consumer motorcycles. It’s not only about going fast on the track, but making reliable

Photo courtesy of Lightning Motorcycles

Photos courtesy of Lightning Motorcycles

the vehicles

efficient machines for daily riders on their commutes. At the moment, Lightning has three models in development and close to production: a street legal clone of the racing super bike; a “commuter bike” meant for typical aroundtown riding; and a scooter for urban travel. After years of building and racing prototype vehicles, the company is on the verge of delivering on its longterm plan. Electric evolution Hatfield’s journey began in the 1990s when he was brought in on a project to convert a Porsche into an electric race car. It was so exciting to drive that Hatfield was hooked, and he quickly began new projects racing both electric and cellulosic ethanol based vehicles. By the 2010 racing season, he launched Lightning Motorcycles and developed a powerful e-motorcycle built with “unobtanium” parts - including an electric motor rescued from a crushed GM EV1 (verified by the motor’s serial number), and A123 Systems cells that (at that time) were unavailable to the public. The Lightning team walked away with the 2010 TTXGP North America season, winning most races by large margins. It set the electric motorcycle land speed record of 173 mph at the BUB Motorcycle Speed Tri-


The Lightning team walked away with the 2010 TTXGP North America season, winning most races by large margins.

als on the Bonneville Salt Flats, beating the record set by Mission Motors the previous year. Lightning had built a fast bike, but not a manufacturable machine. In the beginning of the 2011 season, the unobtanium bike was relegated to a corner of the company’s shop in San Carlos (where it still sits today). Lightning decided to develop a completely custom e-motorcycle that was meant to raise the bar on performance and ultimately be manufacturable. Lightning’s 2011 and 2012 race bikes were built with a custom-designed frame, an electric motor from Remy, battery cells from EnerDel, and other parts (controllers and BMS) that could easily be manufactured in quantity. Everything on the bike has been tightly integrated and engineered to serve dual purposes, reducing the weight. The motor casing is the main stressed element of

the chassis. The swing arm mounts concentric with the motor, and the battery pack housing is a stressed-skin monocoque that attaches to the motor. The company has partnered with RaceTech to design the suspension system, using Brembo brakes and Marchesini magnesium race wheels. The motor is rated for over 120 kW and more than 250 Nm of torque, and it carries a 370 V, 12 kWh pack of EnerDel cells.

Guaranteed Residual Value Lightning’s bikes take advantage of EnerDel’s Guaranteed Residual Value (GRV) program, which offers up to a 25-percent credit toward the price of a replacement battery system after a predetermined period of service in the field. EnerDel’s GRV program is its attempt to improve the total cost of ownership, and take some of the sting out of the purchase price. Essentially, the company is offering to buy back battery packs after a certain number of charge cycles, supplying replacement packs at a discounted cost. EnerDel intends to repurpose bought-back packs in applications like grid storage, where they expect to get thousands more useful cycles out of the batteries.

Back to the track With the new superbike design, Lightning’s riders posted best lap times at both the 2011 and 2012 Laguna Seca races, close to or within the range of the 600 cc gas powered gas bikes racing that same weekend. A significant milestone, where e-motorcycles are starting to have speed parity with the gas powered superbikes. Land speed On the land speed record front, Lightning went to the SCTA’s Speed Week in 2011, on the Bonneville Salt Flats, and demolished its 2010 record. Normally, land speed racers feel good bumping their speed up by a few mph per year. Lightning crushed its 173 mph record, with 215 mph on the 2011 run. That’s more than 40 mph of improvement in one year of race bike development. Lightning’s 215 mph record was fast enough to beat all but four of the gas bikes at SCTA’s 2011 Bonneville event, including two 1350cc Suzukis, a 1000 cc Suzuki, and a 1000 cc Honda. In October 2012, Lightning attended an SCTA land speed event at the El Mirage dry lake bed. There it set a 183 mph record under a different race format than is used at Bonneville. (At Bonneville the speed is averaged over a one-mile distance within a much longer run, to

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Image courtesy of Lightning Motorcycles

the vehicles

Street Version Rendering

show that the vehicle can maintain a given speed for a significant distance. The El Mirage event covers a much shorter run, and the timing zone is also shorter, making for lower top speed calculations than at Bonneville.) Solar-powered speed Lightning took the sustainability angle of its racing activities to a higher level in 2012 when it began using solar arrays to power its superbikes at the racetrack. At many events the electricity supplied in the paddock area is insufficient for the fast charging required to cram in as much racing as possible. The team carries hardware capable of 10 kW charging, but only if the trackâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s power supply can handle that rate. At some tracks, the power outlets are NEMA 14-50 outlets (meant for RVs camping on-site), which provide


enough power for fast charging. However, at other tracks the electricity is supplied at 120 V outlets - insufficient for fast charging. And at races like Laguna Seca there is no electricity at all, because the paddock is in a parking lot. Pragmatism would suggest a mobile diesel generator, but that would undermine one of the main goals of electric racing: to demonstrate vehicles that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t skimp on performance or environmental friendliness. For both the 2012 e-Power/TTXGP race at Laguna Seca and the land speed event at El Mirage, Lightning used portable solar power arrays. And in typical racing fashion, the arrays had corporate sponsorship - Barracuda Networks (a security, networking and storage products company) in Laguna Seca and the SMA Group (a maker of inverters for solar arrays) at the El Mirage event.

The SMA Group’s solar array sported a 48 kWh battery pack and allowed Lightning to fast charge the superbike at a 9-10 kW charge rate. The sun power was enough to provide the juice for the bikes, and all the tools and cooking equipment as well. It also illustrated the sharp contrast in drivetrain technology. Production Last summer, Hatfield announced the production, streetlegal model of the superbike. The only difference between the race and street legal versions are the fairings - plastics, headlights, and turn-signals. Underneath, the chassis, motor, and battery systems are the same. The company calls it the “fastest production motorcycle in the world.” (Note: “motorcycle,” not “electric motorcycle.”) But while this phrase is deceptively simple, there are some details to consider. How do you define “fastest motorcycle,” for example? Is it measured in a 1/4-mile drag race? Or at a Bonneville-style land speed event? Or a multi-lap race? There is at least one other electric motorcycle that hit 200 mph in a drag race, but could that bike sustain top speeds for the 11 miles required at a Bonneville-style event? Lightning’s superbike is clearly the fastest in its weight class for land speed racing, and wickedly fast on the track. Lightning says it’s near production, which separates its superbike from the bikes specially built to set land speed records and racing. The street legal version will go for around $38,000. Lightning claims over 100 miles of range at “normal” speeds. In race conditions, it carries enough power for the 22-25 mile length of TTXGP/e-Power races. When Troy Siahaan of reviewed the bike, the video showed him screaming in ecstasy while riding through the mountains. “Brutally fast,” he said. “It does all the things a really fast and really good sport bike should do. So, to anyone who is doubting electric motorcycles, you really need to give this a look. It will change your mind real fast.” What Lightning calls its commuter bike is a typical street bike, targeted at the 250 cc to 450 cc performance range. It will be sold with three battery pack sizes with 50 miles, 70 miles, or 100 miles of riding range, and a 100 mph-plus top speed, starting around $10,000. The scooter is targeted at the 50 mph, 50-mile riding range genre, with styling similar to a Vespa, and the starting price is under $5,000.

What’s the competition like? In the e-motorcycle world, there really is no superbike competition for Lightning. The bike builders on the race circuit all have bikes of the same caliber, but no plans for production and sale. The bikes in production, by Brammo and Zero for example, are instead competitive with Lightning’s commuter bike. In the gas bike world, a competitive example, in terms of performance, is Confederate Motors’ X132 Hellcat Commander. It has a 2163 cc two-cylinder engine, produces 160 bhp of power, and 160 ft-lb of torque. At Bonneville it set a record of 172.2 mph, a speed Lightning broke through over two years ago. The price for a production model is $72,000, and Confederate had said it will build only 36 bikes of the gas-burners. If you’re tenacious enough to want one of Lightning’s record-setting speed machines, the company is accepting deposits now.

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There is a trend of “prediction” spreading through the auto industry. It’s a particularly active field of research that is known as road load management, or electronic horizon. The basic premise is that if a vehicle can accurately predict the driving conditions ahead, say 10 to 60 seconds in the future, it could manage energy consumption more efficiently. In August 2012, the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) awarded Eaton a research grant to develop a predictive system specifically suited for vehicles that blend gas and battery power - HEVs and PHEVs. Eaton has millions of miles worth of hybrid experience in the commercial vehicle sector (its transmission and motor/generator hybrid unit is pictured above), so it teamed up with National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to leverage its expertise in battery modeling and prognostics. “What’s interesting here is that we’re blending the predictive technology for batteries with the predictive technology of the vehicle itself, to optimize for both fuel and battery life,” Mihai Dorobantu, Eaton’s Director of Vehicle Technologies and Innovation, told Charged. “If the battery were to know what the demand is going to be in the future, and if the vehicle knew what constraints on the battery might occur in the future, there is a promise that we can manage the electrical power better and therefore get rid of some of the excess capacity.” Dorobantu thinks that because batteries are typically designed independent of the other hybrid systems, there is major capacity excess in today’s products. “We think the battery pack today is oversized by a factor of

AN EYE ON THE FUTURE four, because the battery is designed for the worst case scenarios,” he explains. Decreasing the battery size reduces cost and lowers vehicle weight, increasing payload, which is very important to commercial applications (Eaton’s specialty). “When we look at how our vehicles are being used versus how the battery is designed, we see a huge oversize factor,” says Dorobantu. Eaton is in the transmission and in the fuel-savings business, and has been working on other programs that are trying to anticipate the way trucks are going to be driven, based on geography, traffic congestion, and driver’s habits - potentially trying to correct some of the bad habits. Basically, the predictive technology is a data fusion based on the available sensors and real-time updates like GPS, radar, 3D maps, traffic flow, vehicle-to-vehicle, and vehicle-to-infrastructure info. By combining all of that data, the vehicle can predict what’s going to happen in the coming period of driving. At every point in time, a hybrid system has to decide how much of the power demand is filled by the batteries and how much is filled by the ICE. Dorobantu explains that once a vehicle can predict the future, it “will have a model that can be exercised in that future scenario.” From there, the vehicle chooses the combination of gas or electricity that will use the least energy but also minimize the stress on the battery, ensuring a long life. “What we’re trying to do is have a joint optimization of efficiency and battery life.” Eaton and NREL are in early stages of the project which is expected to last several years. They recently completed the first phase and are encouraged by the results where simulations have clearly shown the benefits of a system with predictive technology.

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CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine JAN/FEB 2013