Obama Should Kill the Combustion Engine - MemeBox's Garry Golden on The Takeaway

November 13 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 13 Hot

MemeBox’s Garry Golden, Editor of The Energy Roadmap, just meme-blasted the minds of morning commuters across the country with his analysis of the near-term future of transportation and suggestions for our new President-elect. [Podcast of Interview]

Appearing on PRI’s The Takeaway with John Hockenberry, Golden was asked how he would advise Congress and the upcoming Obama administration on the proposed U.S. multi-billion dollar auto industry bailout. He responded by unequivocally advocating the avoidance of “any further investments into the old combustion engine model” arguing that the country needs to quickly move past hybrids by leap-frogging “to an all-electric platform.”

Garry pointed out that “the electric vehicle is … going global quickly”, thus opening a market window to countries like China who are developing competencies in areas such as battery production. So it’s now incumbent upon U.S. companies like GM to successfully adapt to the new conditions, possibly by building out the new electrically powered chassis that will serve as platform for new transport structures.

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Detroit to World: Nobody has Killed the Electric Car

September 24 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2010   Rating: 11 Hot

It is a great time to be a professional futurist working in the automobile sector!! We see clearly how quickly change can happen- and how the public’s most deeply held assumptions about the future can be revised in only a few years.

The recent string of announcements coming from Detroit, Japan, China and the rest of the automotive sector suggest big changes ahead. Yes, it will take years to unfold, but the shift toward the electrification of the world’s transportation sector has begun.

Between 2010-12 consumers can expect to see first generation all-electric vehicles from nearly every major automobile manufacturer. The monopoly era of liquid fuels and the combustion engine has started its descent. By 2025 the industry might be in a position abandon this 19th century propulsion platform and begin a new era of electric propulsion with the help of batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors.

What happened? Accelerating change happened. We are now adjusting our outlook to reflect a convergence of new market conditions, shifts in the regulatory environment and new consumer expectations for positive change. And of course, materials science technology changed.

Detroit (and others) seem to be saying – “Nobody Killed the Electric Car, but would someone Please Kill the Combustion Engine!!

Last week General Motors released production model details for its all-electric extended range Volt. GM now seems to believe that the internal combustion engine might best be used to power the battery not the vehicle itself..

Yesterday Chrysler announced its plans for a full lineup of electric vehicles beginning with a production model in 2010

Who else has made statements about planned electric models for 2010-12? How about Toyota, Renault, BYD (China), Tata (India) and Mitsubishi?! And what about start ups like Tesla, Fisker, Zap, and Morgan.

And that doesn’t include all the aspiring vehicle makers in China and India who might see profits ahead around leap frogging into electric power train systems. Or visionaries in Ohio and Michigan who realize that electric vehicles could be a very good thing for revitalizing the ‘Rust Belt’ around high value added manufacturing. Now we have a green light for politicians to speak confidently about electric cars. The stigma is gone.

Yes, things will take time to change. But the public tends to focus on the new growth rather than the old technologies that fade away slowly. Adoption rates for electric vehicles might surprise us!

And I don’t expect to see Who Killed the Electric Car Part Two.

[Continue—- How Nissan’s Ghosn flip-flopped, what drives the shift towards electrification, and what about hydrogen fuel cells?]

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1.7 Million GM Cars Will Be Equipped With OnStar's "Stolen Vehicle Slowdown" Software in 2009

October 23 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Security   Year: 2009   Rating: 9 Hot

General Motors (GM) and OnStar have successfully demonstrated a prototype technology called Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, which does exactly that – it allows OnStar advisors working with law enforcement to send a signal to a subscriber’s stolen vehicle to reduce engine power, slowing the vehicle down gradually.

The exact process for Stolen Vehicle Slowdown (at right) goes as follows:

- Once the vehicle has been reported stolen to law enforcement, the subscriber can call OnStar and request Stolen Vehicle Assistance. OnStar will confirm the subscriber has not opted out of the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service.

- OnStar uses real-time GPS technology to attempt to pinpoint the exact location of the stolen vehicle and provide this information to law enforcement to help them recover the vehicle.

- When law enforcement has established a clear line of sight of the stolen vehicle, law enforcement may request OnStar to slow it down remotely.

- OnStar then sends a remote signal to the vehicle that interacts with the Powertrain system to reduce engine power which will slow the vehicle down gradually.

Worried that the wrong car might be targeted? OnStar insists that “Safeguards will be in place to ensure that the correct vehicle is slowed down.”

Stolen Vehicle Slowdown comes along just as more people are installing automobile kill switches to protect their property, bring down insurance rates and protect innocent bystanders in the event of a high speed chase.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, about 30,000 police chases occur yearly and approximately 300 deaths occur as a result of those chases. Kill switches could have a major impact on these casualties.

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Electric vehicle industry going global as Asia invests in energy storage

October 27 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2011   Rating: 9 Hot

Want to think about a tough pill to swallow? Electric cars are not likely to make countries more energy independent. The US and Europe are likely to trade ‘foreign’ oil, for ‘foreign’ energy storage systems! And this might not be a bad thing. If we expect to transform the largest industries in the world (energy and transportation) it will have to be a global effort.

Key to Electric Vehicles – Asia & Energy Storage
If we look closely at recent announcements around electric vehicles, the future is looking very globally integrated and interdependent. Even as the US tries to grow its manufacturing base around ‘cleantech’ industries, Korea, China, and India are making strategic investments in the future of energy storage systems (batteries, fuel cells and capacitors) to power electric vehicles.

In the last few weeks Warren Buffet placed a $233 million bet on China’s BYD, a US firm purchased a Koren battery maker, India’s Tata announced plans to sell electric cars in Europe, and GM picked the unit of Korea’s LG Chem to supply batteries of its Volt electric car.

Today, Green Car Congress picked up a Reuters report that Korea’s number one refiner SK Energy is in talks with major automakers such as Daimler and Ford on the joint development of next-generation batteries used in electric cars. SK Energy is looking to leverage ‘separator’ components for lithium ion batteries that prevent overheating. SK joins the crowd of Exxon, Chevron and Toshiba who are getting involved in battery materials.

Selling a new message: The Eco benefits of being Global
In the months and year ahead leaders in the US and Europe might have to change their simplistic and nationalistic message of independence to reflect the complexities of the energy industry and the future. It will likely be globally integrated.

If the US and Europe expect to kill the combustion engine, and end the monopoly era of liquid fuels, they will need Asia and the rest of the world to join in the effort. This new message might better reflect the brutal facts of the global economy and fate of the planet – we’re all in it together whether we are talking energy finance, energy resources, energy emissions, energy software or energy storage.

The solar industry is growing globally. The wind industry is growing globally. Why not electric vehicles? Could that be an easier pill to swallow and a better image of the future?

Related posts:
Could China help the world move beyond the combustion engine
CBS Video on Future of Electric Car
Detroit to World-Nobody Killed the Electric Car
GM picks Korean battery company for Volt

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10 Sweet Future of Transportation Links

March 06 2008 / by memebox / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: General   Rating: 7

  • Virgin Plans Commercial Space Travel by 2010 — bbc.co.uk
  • Toyota Pledges Plug-in Prius for 2010 — ecogeek.org
  • Images and Video of Motorized Skateboards — wired.com

How Fuel-Efficient Will Cars Become By 2013?

July 29 2008 / by jvarden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: 2013   Rating: 7 Hot

With fuel prices rising with no end in sight, both consumers and automobile companies have become more and more concerned with fuel-consumption. While drivers attempt to cut down their gasoline usage, automobile companies are researching and producing more fuel-efficient cars, some to come out as early as next year.

Solutions range from hybrids, fuel-efficient engines, pure electric, plug-ins, solar panels, and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Even with all these seemingly promising solutions, will we have fuel efficient cars available for consumers at an affordable price by 2013?

To help us imagine just what the market has in store for us over the next 5 years here’s a timeline based on the self-reported release dates of various major auto manufacturers (visual first, followed by extensive text):



2009 Vehicles:

- Released by General Motors late 2008, early 2009, is the Saturn Vue 2-Mode hybrid. Touted as the world’s most fuel-efficient V-6 SUV, the Vue 2-Mode hybrid has up to a 50% fuel economy increase for urban driving and an overall 30% increase through the use technology such as low-speed, electric only propulsion and regenerative breaking. It will be classified as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle.

- In February, Shelby SuperCars will be releasing the Ultimate Aero EV, which will be the world’s fastest electric car. SSC is known for the EV’s predecessor, the Ultimate Aero, the world’s fastest gas-powered car. The Ultimate Aero EV will have twin 500 hp electric motors powered by a battery. Other details regarding its production have not been disclosed.

- Sometime in the Spring, the next generation of Toyota Prius will be released, equipped with solar panels that will provide a portion of the energy to run the air-conditioning unit. Toyota is planning on bringing 450,000 of these solar-power capable vehicles to the market.

- Audi will be bringing out their 2009 A2, a compact, fuel-efficient car that manages to feature more cabin space than Minis. The A2 will have 1.2 to 1.8 liter engines, as well as diesels and will have a lowered amount of CO2 emissions, due to the European CAFE regulations.

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India's Tata Motors will produce electric vehicle in 2009 (for Europeans!)

October 15 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2009   Rating: 6 Hot

Imagine standing in front of global auto executives in 1999 and presenting a forecast that within ten years an Indian Automaker would be planning to build and sell electric vehicles in Europe. You might have walked away with that negative ‘futurist’ stereotype of a fringe corporate strategic thinker thinking way too far ahead!

Now India’s Tata Motors has announced plans to build an electric vehicle for European markets in 2009.

The company’s UK subsidiary has acquired a 50.3% holding in Miljø Grenland/Innovasjon of Norway to advance solutions for electric vehicles. The move brings Tata closer to realizing its vision of building affordable, clean electric motor vehicles powered by a combination of batteries, fuel cells and capacitors.

The first generation of Miljø produced electric vehicles will use Electrovaya Lithium Ion SuperPolymer® batteries. Tata plans to launch Indica EV in Europe during 2009 as a 4 person vehicle with a predicted battery charge range of up to 200 km (125 miles) with an acceleration of 0-60 kmph (40 mph) in under 10 seconds.

Recent stories on electric vehicles:
- Could China help the world move beyond the combustion engine?
- Start up Better Place planning to build out Hawaii’s electric vehicle infrastructure
- Warren Buffet invests in Chinese battery & electric car maker
- Detroit to World: Nobody has Killed the Electric Car
- GM plans to kill Combustion Engine

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Self-Driving Robotic Cars Incredibly Hard to Make But Necessary

November 18 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2019   Rating: 6 Hot

Dr. Sebastian Thrun, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University where he directs the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, went over the steps his team has made in developing a self-driving vehicle at RoboDev in Santa Clara today. He showed some incredible video of cars smashing into obstacles (sometimes even seeking other cars out to smash into) but ended with videos of their latest vehicle successfully navigating slowly around other moving cars.

The great thing about his presentation was his appeal not to the side that wants self-driving cars, but to a side we can all agree with — saving energy, lives, and time.

Saving Energy

In saving energy, Dr. Thrun explained that 22% of the Nation’s energy consumption is used by cars. You also only use your car on average during about 10% of your day, making it useless the other 90%. If self-driving cars could be developed, one car could be used by multiple people. “You could be dropped off at work and then send the car back home to pick up your wife.” Added safety will also increase gas mileage since removing the extra weight of safety features (airbag, reinforced steel) would increase fuel efficiency by 30%. (It should also be noted that convoys reduce energy consumption by 11%-17%)

Saving Lives

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The Top 10 Energy Stories of 2008

December 16 2008 / by joelg
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 6 Hot

Top 10 Energy Stories of Year 2008 By Joel Greenberg and the Staff of The Energy Roadmap

2008 was a big year in energy and one that we could very well look back upon as the platform to the not so distant future of energy.  Much has happened.  To help you make sense of it all, we here at The Energy Roadmap have sifted through our bookmarks, Google Notebooks, back of the napkin lists, Twitter searches, interview transcripts, and RSS feeds to come up with the top 10 energy stories that will have an impact on our culture, society, and lives.

 

Top Energy Stories of 2008

#1  Story of the Year:
Electrification of the Passenger Car

#2   The Year of Scientific Breakthroughs

#3   The Obama Election

#4   From $147 to $50: The Price of Oil

#5   The Dying Gasp of Corn Ethanol

#6   The Clean Coal Lobby Breaks Through the Clutter...and Gets a Response

#7   Geeks Go Green

#8   The Rise of Local Initiatives

#9   Infrastructure Gains Attention

#10 Emerging Energy Missionaries & Visionaries

 

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Amazing Video of Car/Pod That Pivots on a Dime

March 20 2008 / by Accel Rose / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: 2008   Rating: 5

Check out this awesome car/pod prototype that carries up to three passengers and can pivot on a dime to change directions. I recall seeing concept drawings of this and thought it was still a year or two in the future, so I was surprised to come across this video of a functional, albeit slow, version of the product.


For the life of me, I can’t recall which company is behind this elegant weird new car. Does anyone know who’s producing this totally new approach to transport and when I’ll be able to rent one in NYC?

Better Place planning to build out Hawaii's electric vehicle infrastructure

October 05 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2011   Rating: 5 Hot

Hawaii might be the perfect market environment for transforming its vehicle fleet from liquid fueled combustion engine vehicles to electric cars powered by batteries and fuels cells. There is strong support for ‘green’ policies, most vehicles trips are over short distances, and the islands’ fixed boundaries make it easy to plan out the cost of infrastructure. There are a number of strong cleantech startups and state has aggressive plans to expand its own local renewable energy production from solar, wind, geothermal and bio energy so it could tap this locally produced energy into electricity or hydrogen to fuel electric vehicles. Now it appears to be planning new fueling infrastructure for the coming wave of electric vehicles.

Today, the Honolulu Advertiser is reporting that electric vehicle infrastructure builder Better Place (Palo Alto, CA) has plans to build a network of electric recharge units and battery ‘swap out’ stations to service Hawaii’s first wave of battery powered electric vehicles.

Is this good news? Yes.

Will it be easy? No.

The Good News
We appear to have taken the first step – getting the auto industry on board. Every major automobile company has announced plans to release its first generation electric vehicles between 2010-12 around lithium ion batteries. Automobile companies appear ready to leverage the manufacturing cost benefits of killing of the combustion engine and adopting more modular electric motors powered by lithium ion batteries, capacitors and hydrogen fuel cells. Auto engineers are now taking the next step towards integrating all systems- to make a viable electric propulsion platform for the 21st century. With this commitment we can expect other companies to start developing infrastructure. The problem? Overcoming the politics of utility power generation.

Forcing Change on Big Utilities
While this news might feel good, the saying “It’s not a revolution if nobody loses” is certainly relevant. Transforming how we fuel our vehicle fleets is not going to be easy or conflict free. But where might we anticipate pushback?

Common sense says ‘Big Oil’, but the real challenge in accelerating this shift towards electric vehicle infrastructure might be ‘Big Utilities’ who are now struggling to imagine their place in a world of fueling homes and vehicles.

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BMW releasing electric Mini Cooper in US market; Another effort to abandon combustion engine?

October 18 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

BMW will unveil its electric version of the Mini Cooper at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19 and 20, 2008. The company is claiming to be the world’s first manufacturer of premium automobiles to deploy a fleet of some 500 all-electric vehicles for private use in daily traffic. The MINI E will be powered by a 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor fed by a high-performance rechargeable lithium-ion battery, transferring its power to the front wheels without a sound. The MINI E is expected to accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.5 seconds. With its top speed electronically limited to 152 km/h (95 mph).

The battery technology will have a range of more than 240 kilometers, or 150 miles. Sales are expected to focus on private and corporate customers in pilot projects in California, New York and New Jersey.

Electric Motors vs Combustion Engine
BMW’s announcement follows along with recent industry plans to electrify the world’s auto fleet. We might interpret these announcements as a response to the ‘oil problem’ or ‘climate change’ regulations. But what if the real reason is based on a desire to abandon the design and manufacturing complexities of the combustion engine? Forward looking industry insiders hope that a new low cost manufacturing platform could emerge around the combination of wheel based electric motors, drive by wire systems, and the tight integration of batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors.

We have highlighted recent electric vehicle commitments of production vehicles (2009-2011) from automakers GM, Nissan, Tata Motors-, BYD, and Chevrolet.

We believe there is something happening in the auto industry that goes beyond oil and climate change The end game might be to change how we build and sell cars, not how we fuel them. If the real problem really is the combustion engine, and not oil, BMW’s plans might really be an effort to accelerate its shift to a new vehicle platform.

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