Tesla, Fiat, Fisker, and more for Week in Review, Jan 6, 2013

Several good milestones were reached in the world of Tesla Motors.  The first expansion of the Supercharger network began with construction of stations on the East Coast.  That’s a good milestone, however the company seems to be behind original projections for the network in California.

That the lawsuit from the Automobile Dealers Association was dismissed will be important over the long term.  The challenge to Tesla was the “old guard” traditional form of automobile sales objecting to a different model proposed by a new automobile manufacturer.  The question Tesla is asking is, why does car sales have to be done in the traditional model.  While we might make fun of car salesmen and car dealerships, there are some interesting bits to the system.  For example, the right or ability to have your car serviced by anybody or even by yourself.  A part of Tesla’s model is for Tesla to own the service arrangement, sales experience, and much more.  Is this a good idea?  Or will Tesla eventually become an evil automaker using the controlling position to gouge their customers?

Tesla Supercharger network construction begins on the East Coast



Tesla Model S Owner Drives Coast To Coast Electrically (Again)


By now, regular readers will be familiar with long-distance electric car trips. While range may cause anxiety to some, for others it’s merely a temporary limit, with forward planning and steely resolve allowing some electric vehicle drivers to continue long after others have given up. One recent electric car is more suitable than most, for such.. …

How would the demise of the 18650 cell affect Tesla?

Hi guys,Just been talking to some people about the Microsoft Surface and how many now agree that because they added a keyboard and kickstand, they have just made the standard bulky old laptop obsolete. I can see the MS Surface working great for students and business people on the go. Only those needing a lot of computing power will need the bulky old laptop going forward it seems, and that is a very small minority. You can bet Apple will be copyi …


Tesla Motors Wins Lawsuit Against Auto Dealers in Massachusetts

Tesla Motors won dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association claiming Tesla was in violation of Massachusetts law by conducting sales within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A Superior Court judge …

The long-awaited Fiat 500e is getting closer to its launch.  The production amount, and sales territory, might cause some to dismiss it as a “compliance car,” meaning that Fiat is making it solely to satisfy compliance with California’s ZEV regulations.  However, they also made an extremely efficient car.  And, we can expect the 500e to be very stylish, going by the other members of the 500 family.

Meaning, it’ll be a stylish compliance EV with an excellent drive train?

EPA rates Fiat 500EV highest efficiency longest range of non-luxury electric cars


EPA rates Fiat 500e at 122 MPGe city, 108 MPGe highway, 116 MPGe combined, 87-mile range

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rated the battery-electric Fiat 500e’s (earlier post) highway-cycle performance at 108 MPGe (equivalent to 2.18 l/100km)-the highest highway cycle efficiency of any EV currently on the US market. The city-cycle rating is 122 MPGe (1.92 l/100km-equiv.), with 116-MPGe (2.03 l/100km-equiv.) combined.(Although the 500e takes the lead in highway efficiency, the 2013 Scion iQ EV edges it out in the city …


Fiat 500e electric vehicle’s mileage rated at 116 MPG-equivalent

Miles per gallon equivalent, or MPGe, is a rating devised by the EPA to illustrate how a vehicle compares with a gasoline-powered one. It measures how many miles an electric vehicles can travel on a quantity of battery-generated electricity that has …See all stories on this topic …

Fisker’s woes are continuing.  The story has been that Fiskers’ repeated delays in getting the Karma into production meant the company missed business development milestones required by the Dept. of Energy.  That forced the DoE into freezing the ATVM loans to Fisker Automotive.  At the same time A123 Systems was providing defective battery packs to Fisker.  Even though the company has raised over $1 billion from investors, they’re seeking further partners and having trouble paying their bills.

Fisker Automotive Seeks Financial Partner – WMDT 47 News …

It appears Fisker Automotive’s future in Delaware is looking extremely doubtful. After a number of setbacks and challenges, the company reports they are now …www.wmdt.com/…/fisker-automotive-seeks-financial-partne …


Delaware taxpayers paying Fisker’s power bill


Fisker sues insurance company over 338 cars, $33M, lost in Sandy

Electric car startup Fisker Automotive has filed a lawsuit charging insurance company XL Insurance America with breach of contract for denying coverage of its claim after 338 of its Karma cars were destroyed due to flooding in Superstorm Sandy. The …See all stories on this topic »GigaO …

Speaking of A123 Systems, that company went into Bankruptcy in October and in December sold itself to the highest bidder.  That highest bidder is a Chinese autoparts maker.  This sale is being opposed to a political lobbying group made of former military and government leaders.

Strategic Materials Advisory Council opposes A123 Systems sale to Wanxiang America


One of my long-term questions is — is it even a good idea to continue the car-dominated transportation system?  My trips to Europe have shown that urban pattern to be a very enjoyable context in which to, well, visit.  I’ve never lived in that sort of urban context, but it’s very nice to visit.

The idea is called “Walkability” meaning an urban fabric of shops and housing integrated well enough you can walk to the corner store or have a nearby shopping and restaurant district to hang out in.

How retrofitting a California suburb for walkability is spurring economic development

Kaid Benfield, Director, Sustainable Communities, Washington, DC A terrific street redesign is assisting economic development in a southern California community that has suffered from changing economic conditions but is nevertheless seeing significant population growth. This is a story of municipal foresight, excellent recent planning, and green ambition.Lancaster is a fast-growing city of a little over 150,000 in far northern L …THE BLVD, Lancaster, CA, at holiday season (courtesy of THE BLVD)


Electric car owners will eventually be expected to pay their fair share of expenses for maintaining the highway system.  The question is:  “How?”

Washington State is imposing a flat tax of $100 per year.  Oregon is proposing to adopt a per-mile tax, but it’s unclear how they’ll measure the mileage driven.

Washington State electric car tax going into effect in 2013


Oregon considering per-mile road use tax on electric car owners


Ore. to consider per-mile tax for electric vehicle users

A Toyota Prius Hybrid charges during the unveiling of the Blink electric vehicle charging station that will charge up vehicles in Portland and other key metropolitan areas Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010, in Portland, Ore. ((AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)). SALEM, Ore.See all stories on this topic …

The issues between Better Place and Renault are continuing.  This time it’s that Better Place Australia is not up and running, leading Renault to delay launch of the Fluence Z.E.

Renault Z.E. launch delayed in Australia due to Better Place delays and stumbles


Renault Delays Launch of Fluence Z.E. Electric Sedan Due to Lack of Battery Swap Stations

The battery swapping saga continues to develop as French automaker Renault announced it will delay the launch of the Fluence Z.E. electric sedan in Australia indefinitely. According to Renault, partner Better Place is not on track with its promise to establish abroad and practical battery swapping network in Australia. Therefore, the automaker will put a [… …

The 2013 U.S. Nissan Leaf has not yet started production, even though the goal was to start it in 2012. It appears Nissan will be starting U.S.-based production of the Leaf shortly, just a little bit behind schedule.  An unveiling will occur at the NAIAS.

US Production Of Nissan LEAF Not Started In December. 2013 Model To Debut At NAIAS

It is only a short delay, but for the longest time, almost since the US production had been announced for the LEAF, Nissan has been saying that domestic production of the Japanese all-electric car would begin in December of 2012. Didn’t quite happen. Checking the calendar, it is now 2013; and having spoke to people familiar [… …


US Nissan Leaf not in production, unveiling at NAIAS

Audi has a number of EV projects underway and an on-again-off-again interest in bringing them to market.

Audi r8 e-tron electric sports car may not be dead after all


What’s the best sort of vehicle to electrify?  A small one that’s already extremely fuel efficient?  Or a big inefficient SUV that could stand to have higher fuel efficiency?  We see above the Fiat 500e, an example of the former, a tiny already fuel efficient car made even more efficient with an electric drive train.  The  Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is an example of an SUV with electrification.

The question is – where do you get the biggest bang for the buck with vehicle electrification?  Is there a greater percentage gain in electrifying a small efficient car?  Or is the bigger gain in electrifying a large SUV?

Either way, I’m glad to see a PHEV SUV coming on the market.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Sales to Commence in Japan in January

Mitsubishi Motors has had a rough time of it lately, and the Japanese automaker needs a big hit to remain a viable contender in the car market. Their trump card is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle), which goes on sale in Japan on January 24.The propulsion system consists of two 60 kW (60 kW = 80 HP) electric motors powered by a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery bank, and a 2.0 litre, 4 cylinder MIVEC gasoline engine.Each of …


That said, Ford’s PHEV’s are an interesting group of vehicles.  Ford is reporting some early success with their electrified vehicles.  Ford is in this for business reasons, not altruism, to gain market share against Toyota and Honda.

Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid sedan EPA-rated at 108 MPGe city, 92 MPGe highway and 100 MPGe combined; Ford projects best hybrid sales quarter ever

13FusionEnergi_042013 Fusion Energi. Click to enlarge.The US Environmental Protection Agency has rated the new Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid (earlier post) at up to 108 MPGe city, 92 MPGe highway and 100 MPGe combined (2.2, 2.6 and 2.4 l/100km-equivalent, respectively).Fusion Energi is the Ford brand’s fifth electrified vehicle to launch in the past year-and its second plug-in hybrid after the C-MAX Energi. Ford expects the Fusion Energi to accelerate its record …


Battery research continues onward and eventually I’m confident that new battery technology will eclipse today’s lithium-ion batteries.  This particular avenue is Sodium-Air, that has been demonstrated with energy efficiency much higher than lithium-ion but far below the theoretical maximum of lithium-air.  The difference from it and lithium-air is that Sodium is an abundant element, and that it should support much higher power density.  However in its current form Sodium-Air degrades very quickly.

Sodium-air battery research shows promise compared to Lithium-air research

Polk Research put out a study on the best cities for electrified cars.  I couldn’t find the study itself, but this piece took an interesting angle on the study.  The worst cities for electrified cars are those places deep in the agriculture belt that are dominated by pickup trucks and conservative values.  The best places for electrified vehicles are in California.


Tulsa receives worst hybrid, electric car ranking in US by Forbes

TULSA – A report published Friday about the nation’s electric car usage did not look too favorably on Tulsa. The Forbes article ranked the city dead last among U.S. cities in percentage of hybrid and electric vehicles. According to the publication …See all stories on this topic »kjrh.co …


The monthly sales contest shows the Volt out ahead again.  But in the long term view, electrified vehicle sales will become a big thing.

The Chevy Volt pounds the Nissan Leaf one last time in December 2012, claims sales title


Worldwide Electric Vehicle Sales to Reach 3.8 Million Annually by 2020

Since the launch of the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, in late 2010, plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) have become more widely available. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which first appeared a decade earlier, are now selling steadily. According to a …See all stories on this topic …


A big news item over the last month was “The Fiscal Cliff” which was to be a self-inflicted wound upon the U.S. economy.  It’s an example of Congress at its worse, the partisan divide in Congress is so deep that they cannot cooperate on something like fiscal responsibility.

If the Republicans are so much about fiscal responsibility, why do they so desperately want to drive the country into a brick wall?

In any case a last minute negotiation resulted in a piece of legislation that kept Congress from driving the country off a cliff.

A part of that legislation contained continuations of a slew of tax breaks, some of which are for clean energy and clean vehicle programs.

Fiscal cliff bill preserves electric motorcycle and other tax credits


Fiscal cliff bill preserves electric motorcycle and other tax credits

This affects Brammo and Zero Motorcycles, both of whom are selling electric motorcycles with top speeds over 100 miles/hr, as well as several smaller electric motorcycle and scooter manufacturers. Extension or reinstatement of tax credits for biodiesel …See all stories on this topic »Torque New …


Green Energy Wins In Last-Minute U.S. ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Bill

It wasn’t until 2 am yesterday morning that the U.S. Senate voted 89 to 8 to approve a bill to avert the “fiscal cliff” that took effect on New Year’s Day. The House of Representatives then took an entire day of political wrangling before voting 257-167 to approve the Senate bill late yesterday. But the final measure turns out to contain some good.. …


Government Tax Credit Extension for 2-Wheel Electric Vehicles …

2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Brammo, Inc., a leading developer of electric vehicle technology … when purchasing the Enertia Plus, Empulse and Empulse R models …


Another bit of research (getting back to energy storage) is in Graphene.  Some researchers recently announced Graphene could be used in Supercapacitors.  As I said above, lots of research is going on into alternatives to lithium-ion batteries, and this is one of them.  It could be cool.

The Super Supercapacitor | Graphene Supercapacitors


Here, I do some prognostication on electric vehicle racing in 2013.

Electric racing (TTXGP, ZERCUP, Formula E, etc) predictions for 2013


The BMW i3 seems slated to be sold with a tiny gasoline motor that’s much smaller than typically used on PHEV’s.  The idea is to have an auxilliary power unit that provides a “limp home” mode in case the battery pack runs low.  The California Air Resources Board has carved out a new class of vehicle that gets a different accounting for ZEV credits.  The BMW i3 is at this time the only vehicle that qualifies.

The CARB ZEV loophole big enough to drive a BMW i3 through


Honda’s Accord PHEV will be their first plug-in vehicle since the mandate era.  As is part of Honda’s mystique of leadership in selling ultra-clean automobiles, their PHEV will be the first to meed a new CARB standard.

2014 Honda Accord PHEV is California’s first ultra-clean car


Say there’s a car accident (they happen all the time) and emergency workers don’t recognize that there’s an electric vehicle in the pile-up.  They start cutting into things with jaws of life or chainsaws, and end up getting electrocuted because of the 400 volt battery pack.

That’s the fear some people have.

There’s a proposal to require labels on vehicles so that emergency workers have a better idea of the situation as they approach a wreck.  Additionally there will be training for emergency workers to know what to do.

As a former tow truck driver (hence emergency worker) I find this to be extremely sensible.  But I’ve seen other coverage of this story present it as “electric cars are dangerous for emergency workers.”  Sigh.

Electric car labels to improve emergency worker safety


Coda Automotive is struggling and has had to cut staff drastically in a bid to survive.

Coda Automotive furloughs more employees to bolster finances


Coda Automotive does have actual automotive industry experience in senior management


About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.
Bookmark and Share

Leave a Reply