If you’ve been wondering just how real the new Chevy Volt that gets 230 mpg in city driving is, well just take a look for yourself. Here’s what the brainiacs at General Motors sent the premier EV car conference on the West Coast.
You’ve just got to take it on faith from the OG who snuffed out their last electric effort with extreme prejudice and who have showed the good judgment to run their company into bankruptcy and to bring Bob the Putz Lutz (“Global warming is a crock of shit!”) back from the dead and back on board for one more round of Paula Abdul level-crazy soundbites on what he knows about the 21st century marketplace.
At least GM did a Disney display. Ford and whatever it is they call Chrysler this week didn’t even bother to show up. Luckily no one was really at Plug-In 2009 to hear the Three Car Stooges at this point, they don’t have any pleasant surprises in store for us. But what did surprise this reporter was the absence of Honda, Toyota, BYD, and a lot of the other players listed on the Plug-In America car tracker.
While GM blows smoke and continues to crank out POS cars that look DOA, Mitsubishi has had their MiEV car here since January getting tested on real roads by SCE. It’s in fleet lease use in Japan already and I have confidence they’ll be producing them and selling them to actual people. Lots of luck getting the Chevy Dolt to that point in the marketplace.
I like the way the MiEV looks and feels. It’s got sex appeal for me and for younger buyers. It has a distinctive style and unlike the Chevy doesn’t look like every rental car you’ve ever seen a dweeby out-of-town conventioneer drive to the Holiday Inn Express from the airport.
Some truth of engineers who have actually talked to real drivers is in evidence with the BMW Mini-E. Too bad BMW isn’t planning on building and selling this car for real. They’ve just put it together for the test and the credit they get from it.
In 10 months they’ll be scooping their cars back up and taking them back home on a big boat never to be seen again… Bummer.
Fortunately there are companies at the Plug-In Conference who exceed expectations and one of them is Coulomb Technologies out of Campbell, California. Coulomb offers a family of products and services that provide a plug-in vehicle charging infrastructure. They own and built the ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations which range in capability from 120V 15A to 240V 80A AC charging to future 120kW DC charging.
Coulomb takes a networking approach and applies that technology to the job of charging electric vehicles. Their goal is nothing short of fueling the electric transportation industry.
Coulomb’s ChargePoint Network www.mychargepoint.net addresses the needs of drivers, utilities, governments, and parking space owners. They will own a big part of this future because they were first and their model is brilliant.
At the 2008 Plug-In Conference in San Jose, Coulomb had the charging game all to themselves, but they were one of half a dozen charging players at this year’s show. One of the most impressive newcomers to the show, but by no means to the technology is another California company famous for innovation and genius level talent. AeroVironment.
You may know them from their unmanned aircraft, drone planes that the military uses, but they’re legendary in Clean Technology Solutions game. Their new charging infrastructure builds on their expertise in fast charge systems for existing industrial electric vehicles.
GridPoint’s electric vehicle management software works with EV charging infrastructure (as seen below) to adaptively manage the flow of energy to a wide range of electric transportation endpoints – from vehicles to charging stations.
Gridpoint makes the software that ties all the infrastructure together and makes V2G not only possible but easy to do and effective. I’ll be writing a more in-depth review of their product in an upcoming post. The eBox above from AC Propulsion is sending power to and from the grid right there on the Long Beach Convention Center floor. V2G isn’t something for the future – it’s happening right now.
Another thing happening right now is the Plug-In movement addressing fleet vehicles. Fleet vehicles typically get crappy mileage and cost the fleet owners too much money in fuel and maintenance. There were at least four exhibitors at this year’s conference directly addressing the fleet market. The folks who blew me away were the ones from Bright Automotive. They’re building their new Bright IDEA from scratch and they’re building it with a very non-GM mindset.
Here’s a video the Bright folks have produced that tells the beginning of their story. Their CEO, John Waters is both dynamic and inspirational. He was the lead guy on the EV1 battery team and now he’s the head honcho of Bright. I’ll be writing a separate post going into detail on the Bright approach. But I’ll tell you right now, these guys are winners and I’m betting on them to succeed at their mission.