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Thursday
Mar152007

Think Verde - Part 9

Colonel lets continue with batteries...or ES as you call it.

Q - A proper ES system is of crucial importance.

A - No kidding! Ideally this ES system stores enough energy to have a 500klms range, and a durability of 200,000 klms.

Q - Those are ambitious parameters?

A - Today's ICE/FF vehicles have a range of 500 klms on a tank of gas, and have a engine durability of at least 200,000 klms and probably much more. The average consumer is used to these parameters. They might be ambitious for an EM/ES combination, but perfectly normal to a consumer.

Q - The early adopters might be willing to compromise.

A - They might be prepared to compromise when it comes to an electric vehicle. How many people drive around with an exotic? The early electric vehicles are comparable to exotics.

Q - How did you get to exotics?

A - Simple, exotics have technology that pushes the envelope, the batteries (ES) of electric vehicles will push the envelope. Are exotics the mainstay of the transportation on this planet? We know very well they are not, although they garner a lot of media attention. Price and money is not on the agenda at this point.

Q - You are saying that we need mainstream electric vehicles?

A - Precisely, that is the reason I see electric vehicles as a commuter vehicle that appeals to a large segment of the potential customer base, that makes economic sense, that offers benefits to this customer segment. The well being of our planet is also a factor.

Q - Why a commuter vehicle?

A - This is only my opinion, if I want to have fun with a car it will take some time before an electric vehicle will provide the fun factor of an ICE/FF combination. To commute its a different situation.

From a different perspective the 5 best selling cars in Canada in 2006 were: Honda Civic 70,028 - Toyota Corolla/Matrix 67,718 - Mazda 3 47,933 - Toyota Yaris 34,202 - Chevrolet Cobalt 31,729 this ads up to 251,610 at some point and time can these vehicles be converted from ICE/FF to EM/ES...or is it wishful thinking?

Q - Are you implying that they are commuter vehicles?

A - No, but they are not large vehicles, which should make it easier to "electrify". It also creates the landscape of how reliable the EM/ES combination has to be to appeal to these potential customers.

Q - The cost of the batteries always surfaces as being expensive, would it make better sense to have EM/ES in more expensive vehicles.

A - Yes from a cost perspective. No from a saving the planet perspective.

 

Wednesday
Mar142007

Think Verde - Part 8

We tracked down The Colonel...we will engage him to discuss batteries.

Q - Colonel, we have been talking about batteries for the past few days, and all the technology that is involved.

A - There seems to be a lot of technical talk regarding batteries as it relates to electric vehicles, and it seems that every player is using the batteries as some sort of competitive advantage. The premise being "Mine is better than yours".

Q - You would do the same thing...use the batteries as an advantage.

A - My gas tank is better than your gas tank? Is that what you mean? Gas tanks are a big feature of vehicles, and consumers really relate to the various feature of gas tanks. Sorry if I seem a little harsh.

Q - You seem to be oversimplifying a very complex issue.

A - Perhaps I am...I can appreciate the technical challenge involved in developing an energy source that not only makes sense, that is accepted by consumers, and meets durability expectations. This is not an easy task, or undertaking.

Q - You agree that its a complex issue?

A - The actual science of developing a battery / energy source is very complex, the application is quite simple EM (Electric Motor) / ES (Electric Storage). We are going from ICE/FF to EM/ES people will compare and make their own decisions.

Q - What do you mean?

A - To attract the average consumer the EM/ES combination has to be as good as the ICE/FF combination, lets not kid ourselves the ICE/FF of today are extremely reliable, with good longevity, with limited maintenance. The EM/ES has to come across has being environmentally responsible, and just as good. If not why change?

Q - You said that electric vehicles are the way of the future.

A - Yes, absolutely...you can have electric vehicles for the sake of having electric vehicles on a limited scale, and the contribution will be limited. Or we need to have electric vehicles on a larger scale to really make a substantial contribution.

Tomorrow...

 

Tuesday
Mar132007

Think Verde - Part 7

Batteries are the major hurdle in the development of electric vehicles.

With our current ICE / FF vehicles, the motor and transmission are complex, the energy source (gas tank and fossil fuel) is quite simple. Electric vehicles the motor is relatively simple, the energy storage (what we understand as the gas tank) is very complex and challenging.

Unleaded gasoline is the locked in energy source at present. Electric vehicles are gravitating towards lithium batteries as the energy storage medium of choice.

General Motors yesterday invited the media and bloggers to visit their battery research centre, take a look from the GM Blog.

This gives you an idea of what Oshkosh is doing with military trucks.

We are tracking down The Colonel to get his opinion on batteries, stay tuned.

 

Monday
Mar122007

Think Verde - Part 6

We have been conversing with The Colonel for the past few days, on preserving the planet, emissions, and we gravitated in the direction of electric vehicles to commute.

We found The Colonel comments interesting, and in some instances fascinating especially when he makes comparisons. The Colonel seems to enjoy referring to the past to create a vision of the future. Its clear that he has an inclination towards electric vehicles, we should ask him why in our next segment. 

At the Geneva Auto Show the majority of manufacturers are telling the media of their awareness that something has to be done to ensure the future of the planet. There are different visions, different strategies, and different manufacturers.

Most conversation about electric vehicles gravitate to batteries, and what is usually called Lithium Ion batteries. Its not a couple of batteries, its a battery pack that is used as the energy source for the electric vehicle.

Its an innovative company A123 Systems that is developing battery packs, if you spend a bit of time visiting their site you will acquire additional insight on energy sources for electric motors.

This year's TED (Technology - Entertainement - Design) Conference was focusing on "Green Technology".

The Colonel mentioned that he had an A Sticker that was used during WWII for gasoline rationing, we did a bit of sleuthing here is the sticker.

A Sticker.jpg

 

The Colonel told us it was at the top of the windshield of his car, in the centre. We will do addtional sleuthing on the details of the car, and what was under the hood of that car.

We will continue...

 

Friday
Mar092007

Think Verde - Part 5

Q - Its nice that you would drive an electric car to commute, there is a lot of skepticism towards electric cars.

A - I agree with you...when motorcars were in their infancy the horse and buggy was the "locked in" mode of transportation. There must have been a ton of skepticism towards those newfangled toys of the rich folks that were scaring the horses.

ICE / FF is locked in, and numerous electric car projects crashed and burned through the years which augments the level of skepticism.

Q - Precisely, will people get out of a comfortable "locked in" situation.

A - If we all agree that we cannot continue in our comfortable "locked in" ICE / FF situation. If we all agree that the levels of horsepower that we are experiencing are on their their way out. If we all agree that we need to be socially responsible to protect our climate and planet.

Clearly we all need to change how we commute, and what sort of motor we use to go from A to B.

Q - Its easy to talk about change, and to talk about concepts.

A - Yes its very easy, at some point we have to start evolving from the tell me to the show me stage. There is a heightened level of awareness that we need to protect our climate, and the planet. Its probably the first time in many years that most of the talk is in the same direction. Its quite an accomplishment that different stakeholders, and interest groups are sharing the same vision...we need to protect and nurture our planet.

Q - Are you saying that its finally starting to resonate?

A - It would seem that its gaining momentum, or some sort of critical mass. Yes...there will always be skeptics, and people with divergent views.

Q - What do you mean by divergent views?

A - A simple example: As you probably know the Honda F1 car will not have sponsors name, but a photo of the earth, and the possibility to put your name on the car.

View 1: Its exciting, its different, it will raise a level of awareness about our planet.

View 2: They concocted this scheme because they could not get sponsors, if they really want to show that they care, they should give up on their fancy hospitality buses.

This is the paint scheme on two F1 cars! Imagine altering on a massive scale the "locked in" ICE / FF situation.

 

 

Thursday
Mar082007

Think Verde - Part 4

We resume our conversation....

Q - Electric, as in electric cars?

A - Precisely, electric cars...or primarily electric cars with a small ICE to give them the autonomy they will need.

Q - People have been fooling around with electric vehicles for years.

A - Agreed...the challenge has always been the batteries...the other challenge is the climate (batteries don't like cold). The batteries are constantly improving, and the climate is probably a little up in the air when it comes to dealing with cold weather.

Q - Electric power for cars seems very distant in the horizon.

A - I am not an expert on electric power, but I don't think its that distant, the desire to break out of the "locked in" situation is probably more distant, than electric power. Imagine for a moment if people would start saying "we don't want ICE / FF combination in a commuter vehicle"

Take a 3 lane highway allow a space of 8.5m per vehicle in 1 kilometer there are 115 vehicles (we are rounding off figures) in 3 lanes there are 345 vehicles per kilometer idling away or barely crawling at 20 kph. What sort of carbon emissions are going in the atmosphere? Can we keep on doing this indefinitely?

Q - You make a valid point.

A - I would speculate that society acknowledges that the ICE / FF combination is no longer acceptable to commute. For a multitude of reasons public transit is not the solution. For another multitude of reasons sharing a vehicle is not the ideal solution either. We might not like the commute, but we love our independence.

Q - From what you are saying, everyone should be commuting in an electric vehicle.

A - Yes, everyone should have an electric vehicle to commute.

Q - Colonel, do you think the general population prepared to commute in an electric vehicle.

A - It should not make a difference, that one commutes with an ICE / FF combination, or an electric motor / battery combination. The individual commuting wants to go from A to B, in a fashion that is the least damaging to the planet.

Q - Would you commute in an electric vehicle?

A - Absolutely...it would be fun, enjoyable, and responsible.

To be continued...

 

Wednesday
Mar072007

Think Verde - Part 3

We are here with The Colonel, exchanging thoughts / opinions...

Q - What do you mean by "break out"?

A - We need to start evolving ourselves out of ICE / FF mode into something else which will be more socially responsible, and climate friendly for the long term.

Q - There seem to be so many alternatives or options?

A - It can get confusing, every second day someone makes an announcement that they have just adopted some new fangled technology that will solve all the problems. Most people remain skeptical, I don't blame them.

Q - Where is it headed? What seems the most enduring?

A - Which vision will be the most enduring? The ICE / FF is locked in with a numerous groups developing and presenting a variety of concepts. Skepticism sets in, which one will fly?....and so on.

ICE / FF will be around for many years to come...I still want an ICE / FF combination for my Sunday driver...it will no longer be the combination of choice or demand.

Hybrids are an interim solution on the way to something else...

Who remembers the early days of automatic transmissions? There were numerous versions with a variety of names, with different philosophies of doing the same thing. The objective was to "break out" of manual transmissions. We used to call them slush boxes, you could not get a real high performance engine to work with an automatic, and so on...

It goes back to "If you throw enough on a wall some will stick"....

The stuff that seems to be the stickiest is ELECTRIC.

Tomorrow...

 

Tuesday
Mar062007

Think Verde - Part 2

We continue...

Q - Can we remain in our "locked in" mode for the next 60 years?

A - There is a level of discomfort in our "locked in" ICE / FF situation...we understand cars with ICE, we relate to ICE...we have our favorite ICE's...we are in the golden age of massive horsepower in many vehicles. At the same time we are probably a little uncomfortable.

Q - Why uncomfortable?

A - The people that have been around remember, and experienced muscle cars (another age of horsepower), unleaded gasoline, the catalytic converter, and the lowering of compression ratios quickly diminished horsepower. Thirty odd years later we can buy incredible horsepower, and we are at a cross road again. Its probably the last time in history that we experience vehicles with ICE's with this level of power. Yes...we better take advantage of it, we better enjoy it, while your gut tells you that its not coming back.

Q - Perhaps its just a process of evolution like we have seen many times.

A - We would be fooling ourselves to subscribe to such a thought process. How many times can anyone evolve in a "locked in" situation of ICE / FF? For our own future well being we need to "break out" of our ICE / FF situation.

Q - It sounds dramatic?

A - Its is dramatic! The gear head that grew up with V8's will need to make some serious adjustments...the individual that was captivated by high horsepower will need to adjust. We will all need to "break out" of our present locked in situation, and adjust to a new one.

Tomorrow...

 

Monday
Mar052007

Think Verde - Part 1

We continue our conversation with The Colonel...

Q - There is nothing really new, except an heightened sense of awareness towards climate change.

A - I agree with you that perhaps there is not much new at the moment. Can we continue in the direction that we are embarked on?

Q - What do you mean?

A - In North America we have enjoyed the golden age of the automobile, we adopted, and embraced automobility to the full extent. I am certain that we are aware of our collective experiences and usage of automobiles...we grew up with them...need we say more. Within our experiences with automobility, gasoline (fossil fuels) is the locked in energy source.

Q - Are you saying that when it comes to automobility we would have some sort of responsibility?

A - If collectively we have been the biggest consumers of fossil fuels, and have made a contribution towards climate change...we should exert the same influence to initiate a change of direction.

Q - This topic has been discussed and reviewed on numerous occasions, its nothing new.

A - Its not a new topic, what is new is the increased sense of urgency that change must be initiated, change must start sooner than later.

Q - Everybody is talking about change, with a concept here, another there, and for whatever reason the locked in energy source remains the same.

A - For the last 60 years (after WWII) in North America we have been using vehicles with ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) as the "locked in" power source, and FF (Fossil Fuels) as the "locked in" energy source. Can we continue in this fashion for the next 60 years? Is it socially responsible?

To be continued...

Sunday
Mar042007

Think Verde..!

What is Think Verde?

We could have said Think Green...same thing...from our perspective Verde is a different way of saying the same thing.

Are we embracing the Green movement, or jumping on the Green bandwagon...no...and its the reason we did not use Green.

Lets ask The Colonel a few questions regarding Think Verde, and see what he has to say, he's been around for a few years.

Q - Why Think Verde?

A - It might sound foolish, when I was a kid I often used to wonder what would happen when the planet would run out of gas. It might have been a selfish thought process, that I wanted to be certain that there would be gas left so that I could drive a car.

Q - Are you saying that you have been thinking about gas for so many years?

A - Yes, and when I was going to university I had the A sticker on the windshield of my car (the A sticker was for gas rationing during WWII), must have been some subliminal thing about my childhood, gas, having a car, having gas to drive.

Q - We are not running out of gas (fossil fuel), or do you know something that we don't know.

A - It does not seem that we are running out of gas, but we are running out of the climate that we know on our planet, and we all know what happened to dinosaur.

Q - The climate is changing, the ozone is depleting, we are all aware of these changes.

A - I agree, we have been hearing, reading about these changes for years. People that have been on this planet for a few decades, went from "could it be that the climate is changing?" to "there must be some veracity to all this climate change stuff that we hear, I have never seen such crazy climatic conditions". The conclusion is that something is going on, the climate is changing.

To be continued...

 

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