EV News Roundup

In electric vehicle news this week Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, tweeted that Tesla will likely be repaying its US Department of Energy loan on Wednesday, almost 9 years ahead of schedule. Tesla is also planning to raise more capital through a new stock offering of 2,703,027 common shares (Source: Business Insider).

Infiniti will be getting a new electric vehicle model based on the Nissan Leaf platform, but with a different interior and exterior.  In addition, the new vehicle will feature inductive charging which does away with cables all together. No word yet on when such a model would launch (Source: Autocar.co.uk).

Plug-in America, an electric vehicle non-profit, estimates that as of this week over 100,000 plug-in electric vehicles have been sold in the US in just over two years. While electric vehicles are still fraction of overall new vehicles sales in raw numbers, the Plug-In America press release highlights some interesting statistics:

(Source: Plug-in America)

Tesla Model S is outselling its competition

Tesla Model S is outselling its competition according to Plug-In America (Image: Tesla Motors)

Nissan Leaf warranty to now include battery capacity loss

Nissan USA announced yesterday that all existing and future Nissan Leaf’s sold in the US will have the battery covered under warranty for capacity loss for the first five years, or 60,000 miles of ownership. That is, if the battery capacity declines by over 30% (providing less than 9 out of the available 12 bars on the gauge), the battery will be fixed or replaced under warranty.  Nissan is the first electric vehicle manufacturer to offer such a warranty and could be a game changer.

Nissan Leaf owners to gain warranty coverage for battery capacity loss

Nissan Leaf owners to gain warranty coverage for battery capacity loss

The longevity of the battery contained within electric vehicles has been a concern for some consumers and could have a negative impact on purchases.  Like the batteries powering today’s smart phones and laptops, over time the capacity of the battery will decline due to the nature of the battery technology itself.  This is a common occurrence and depends on a number of factors include but not limited to type of use, extreme temperatures and the number of charge cycles.

While replacing a mobile phone or laptop battery can be expensive, it’s no where near the cost of replacing the battery powering an electric vehicle which makes up a significant amount of the cost of the vehicle itself.   By offering this warranty Nissan is differentiating itself in the electric vehicle market.

Time will tell how much impact this will have on the sales of the Leaf, which to date have not lived up to initial expectations. That being said one could argue the initial expectations for all electric vehicles sales over the short term were exaggerated to begin with.

It will also be interesting to see if any other electric vehicle manufacturer will follow Nissan’s lead and start covering battery capacity loss under the warranty of the vehicle. The Nissan announcement did not include any information on how much this new warranty coverage will cost the company.

Further details on the new Nissan warranty coverage will be communicated in the new year.

Read the original announcement

Source: Automotive News, MyNissanLEAF.com

The Ups and Downs of Electric Vehicle Prices

News recently that Tesla will soon be increasing the price for their Motor Trend Car of the Year, the Model S.  No information on how much more the Model S will cost, but if you are in the market for one you may wish to lay down your cash soon before it goes up. It appears current reservation holders won’t be affected by the increase.  The price increase will also impact the options package with some features currently considered standard equipment becoming an added cost option in the future.

Tesla Model S is getting a yet to be announced price increase.

On a related note, the Nissan Leaf will be getting a price reduction along with a increase in range.  The price and range adjustments will initially be for the Japanese version of the all electric vehicle, however, the changes are expected to follow for the US version in 2013.  The new model will be able to travel up to 15% further.  The current range of the Leaf is approximately 160 kms (100 miles), but can vary depending weather conditions and use of climate control.

The Japanese version of the Nissan Leaf is getting a price decrease and range increase. Changes to the US model are expected to follow.

Stretched Nissan Leaf All Electric Vehicle

How’s this for a riding in style with no-tailpipe emissions to boot?

The Tennessean recently reported a local hotel has acquired a modified all electric Nissan Leaf to shuttle guests around town.  It took seven weeks to modify the vehicle which can now accommodate 8 passengers (up from 5) and operates on the stock battery.

As part of the job mirrors, plush leather and cedar paneling were all added to the vehicle.

It’s a novel way to attract customers to your hotel.

Stretched Nissan Leaf. Photo source: Nissan.

It should be noted the North American head offices of Nissan, maker of the Leaf, is less than a mile away from the hotel.

Vehicle to Home Charging

How a vehicle to home system works

One aspect of electric vehicle adoption that isn’t always covered in the press is energy security.  This relates to reduced dependence on foreign oil, but also includes mobile power.  For example, in the aftermath of last year’s earthquake in Japan, or the 2003 blackout that hit the North Eastern United States and Eastern Canada imagine having thousands of electric vehicles that could feed power back into people’s homes providing crucial energy for heating, communications equipment or other necessary equipment.

While the electric vehicles on road today don’t have that capability yet, they soon could. Major automobile manufacturers are aware of this potential and are starting to take steps to make this happen.

Toyota Motor Corporation announced recently they have developed a vehicle to home system (V2H) for mutual sharing of electricity between electric vehicles (including plug-in hybrids and full battery electric vehicles) and buildings.  A fully charged plug-in Prius with a full tank of gasoline could theoretically supply power for an average Japanese home for four days (approximately 10 kWh).

The V2H system will be tested in Japan in approximately ten households at the end of 2012 as part of the Toyota City Project. Nissan is also working on a similar system for their electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf. While it may be a number of years before a system such as this would be commercially available, however, this is potentially one more benefit to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

Saab 9-3 Reincarnated as an Electric Vehicle?


News today that Saab design and production facilities have been purchased by a group of Japanese and Chinese investors and will produce an electric version of the Saab 9-3 sedan.

Whether the newly reborn Saab will be able to make a profit on electric vehicles, which require high R&D costs and typically make little, if any, profit will yet to be seen.

Originally an aircraft maker, GM bought a significant stake in Saab in 1989 and gained full control in 2000. As part of its restructuring during the recent financial crisis GM divested itself of Saab. With recent ownership changes and failure to secure financing, Saab was in real danger of disappearing.

Interesting to note that the deal does not include the Saab brand. Whether that is a formality and will be announced later is unknown at this time.

Tesla Model S – Sherway Gardens Toronto

For those readers in the Greater Toronto Area here’s your chance to see a Tesla Model S up close and personal.

The Model S is a full-sized battery electric sedan developed by Tesla Motors. The base model will have a range of 160 miles (260 km) when fully charged, and a 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) acceleration of 6.5 seconds (4.4 seconds with an upgraded battery ) all with zero tailpipe emissions. Pricing of the Model S starts at $50,000 USD (which includes the $7,500 US Federal Tax Credit).

A beta version of the Model S is currently parked at Sherway Gardens mall in Etobicoke from today until Sunday. The beta version is a 90% production intent prototype of the Model S. Tesla Model SThe viewing hours as as follows:

Wednesday – Friday: 10AM – 9PM
Saturday: 9:30AM – 6PM
Sunday: 11AM – 6PM

In related news Tesla announced today that the first customer deliveries of the Model S to pre-registered buyers will begin on June 22nd, 2012.

Model S

What is a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle?

With all the press recently around Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), one technology that has perhaps been overlooked is fuel cells. Vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells are actually a type of electric vehicle. Instead of carrying around a lot of heavy batteries to draw electricity from, it creates its own electricity from a chemical reaction. This article provides a good overview of the technology. Major automobile manufacturers are still investing in fuel cell technology, such as Mercedes Benz, Hyundai, and GM.

While vehicle powered by fuel cells won’t be mass produced for a number of years, and there are still a number of significant barriers to overcome, they have the potential to become a very attractive alternative fuel vehicle.