Electric Car Sales Pass Gas Stations For The First Time

By Jo Borrás – Special to JBS News

A Lot of EVs

EV milestones are coming hard and fast these days, with records falling, new companies showing up, and others shutting down before they really ever got going. There are highlights, however, and as electric cars sales boom, the “there are now more electric cars than …” comparisons are starting, as well. This week, the number of electric cars reportedly passed the number of gas stations in the US! (Of course, there are already hundreds of times more charging “stations” than gas stations — makes you wonder if gasmobile drivers don’t get range anxiety.)

You can check out the new numbers and get more details about recent electric car sales in the full article, which originally appeared on Gas 2, below. Enjoy!

It’s a Good News Day: There Are Now More Electric Cars than Gas Stations

More Electric Cars than Gas Stations

It’s another good news day here at Gas 2, as the total number of electric cars in the US of A has passed the number of gas stations for the first time since- Um … Since let’s say 1920.

120,000 to 119,000! WHOO-HOO!!

Now, of course, there are a few asterisks involved – chief among them is the car that can be seen in the photo, above. That Chevy Volt? It’s a plug-in hybrid as opposed to a “pure” electric car, but its numbers are included in the figuring, which also happens to use the 2007 numbers for gas stations (those are the most recent numbers available from the census, but most industry analysts expect that number to have dropped since getting the financing required to buy a gas station became significantly harder to get and keep after 2008.

With plug-in hybrid and electric car sales currently booming, we’re not too far away from the day when the annual sales of electric/plug-in cars exceeds that 119,000 figure. From there, we start talking about the tipping point for EVs to become the mainstream choice, because that day is coming, too. Even Bob “Maximum” Lutz thinks so.

Stay tuned.

Sources | Photos: US Census, Green Car Reports.

This article, Electric Car Sales Pass Gas Stations For The First Time, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

I’ve been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

 

Ford Could Save America Billions (if it got rid of side mirrors)

by Jo Borrás — Special to JBS News

F-150
Lowering the Ford F-150 pickup truck, replacing the side mirrors with webcams and other minor alterations, could add 1 MPG to each truck. Doing so would save 22 million gallons of gasoline annually, just in the U.S.A.

What if a company had the ability with a few minor changes on just one product line — to save its customers over a billion dollars on gasoline, and reduce America’s fuel use by an almost unbelievable 22.6 million gallons of gasoline per year, every year? Would that make you want to buy that product? The article, below, first published on Gas 2, suggests a few changes that Ford might make to its F-series trucks.

What do you think? Would these changes be enough to get you into a Ford dealer?

Learning From Elon: What if Ford Went Mirrorless to Save the World?

A few days ago, Gas 2 editor Chris DeMorro shared Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s plans to take his cars “mirrorless” in the near future, cutting back on the car’s aerodynamic drag by a significant percentage and dramatically improving range – especially at highway speeds. Elon Musk isn’t always right (example: he missed the chance to call his Hyperloop concept “the Musk Tube”), but I think he’s dead-on here, and it got me thinking: what if Ford went mirrorless?

I chose Ford for a few reasons. First, their F-150 pickup is the best-selling vehicle in the US, so any changes that improve MPG for that vehicle would have the largest overall repercussions in regards to America’s fossil fuels usage. Second, the Ford F-150 Tremor article we ran a while back was hugely popular, so I’m guessing you guys like Ford trucks. Third, I may have overly harassed Ford’s main PR/social media dude at June’s Further With Ford trends conference, so saying some nice stuff about their latest and greatest truck product is probably the least I could do to make it up to the guy, you know?

Let’s get started, then!

My first move was to make a rendering of what a Ford F-150 Tremor, with just a few minor, MPG-enhancing changes might look like. I’ve included that, below …

Click to Enlarge

… along with a few notes on my thinking behind the changes.

  • Lower the truck. For ‘work’ trucks, hauling, etc. a higher truck allows for a softer suspension and a nicer ride, but it also cuts back on fuel economy by increasing frontal area on the tires and by pushing more air over the trucks’ un-aerodynamic underbellies. Something reasonable, like “crossover height” should be a good compromise, with airbag suspension on high-end models making up the difference in ride quality.
  • Replace the side mirrors with webcams, using shrouded covers that can shade the small “webcams” and keep them functional in direct light/glare.
  • Cover the tubular running boards with a composite cover to clean up the airflow there. I’d say something about using plant-based plastics here, but Ford’s already doing that.
  • There’s a large air intake at the front bumper of the F-150s that doesn’t need to be there for most (read: empty-bed) driving. I’ve drawn in a plastic flap to cover this and cleanup the airflow at the front of the truck. Ford has a few options on how to implement this, and could go the Chevy Cruze Eco route of making this flap mechanical, or it could just make it an ultra-cheap manual flap. Bonus: getting engine oil up to temp. in winter would be a lot easier with this simple feature in place.
  • There are two large tow-hooks on the front bumper of the F-150 which could easily be covered by inexpensive plastic covers that could be “popped off” on those rare occasions when the tow hooks are needed.
  • Finally, I removed the round foglight cut-outs because it’s not 1987 anymore and they look ridiculous.

What kind of a difference will changes like this really make? With a reduction in frontal area and drag of around 10%, I think a 1 MPG difference on the combined rating is a fairly conservative estimate. Given that the average 2013 F-150 gets 18 MPG. Given, also, that Ford sold 645,316 F-series trucks last year, and that each one of those is driven about 12,000 miles/year, we can get a pretty good idea of how many gallons of gas that might save American drivers.

By my numbers, the figure is a staggering 22.6 million gallons of gas. More than 400,000 55-gallon “barrels” in other words, just from getting 1 more MPG out of the F-150. Don’t take my word for it, though: check the math.

Keep in mind, that’s 22.6 million gallons saved, PER MODEL YEAR. If Ford did something like this for 5 years in a row, they’d save their customers more than 330 million gallons of fuel. At $4/gallon, that’s well over a billion dollars. They’d improve air quality. They’d improve their customers’ health. They’d play a big part in helping America achieve energy independence. All from a few simple changes.

How likely are minor changes like these to get that 1 MPG out of the F-150? Gas 2 commenter and all-around smart dude Neil Blanchard did the math for us in that Tesla article’s comments thread. Here it is, for your enjoyment.

Replacing the optical mirrors with video mirrors reduces the aerodynamic drag two ways: it reduces the frontal area (about 1 square foot?) and also by reducing the coefficient of drag (Cd) because the shape is sleeker and generates less turbulence. The Model S has a Cd of 0.24 – and I’ll make a WAG on the frontal area; say 27 sq ft.

If that is the case, the CdA is 27 x 0.24 = 6.48 sq ft.

Early on, they (Tesla) mentioned a Cd of 0.22 for the Model S, and this may also be from smoother wheels, let’s say for the sake of argument that using video mirrors would yield a Cd of 0.23.

The revised frontal area is 26 sq ft and the revised CdA is 5.98 sq ft. which is a bit over 7.5% reduction.

I’ve been using video mirrors for more than four years, and I have been averaging more than 46MPG all year – it’s a Scion xA and the EPA Combined is 30MPG, so that is a 50%+ improvement.

Original Content and Images: Gas 2.

About the Author

I’ve been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

This article, Ford Could Save America Billions (if it got rid of side mirrors), is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.
banner-400x150-1a Still paying a service

Chevy Spark EV Test Drive (Video)

By Adam Johnston — Special to JBS News

This article was first published on EV Obsession.

With EV sales increasing, more affordable models are starting to come into the marketplace. GM, in a bid to cash in on this market, recently released the Chevy Spark EV.

In limited release, in California and Oregon, the five door compact car (after federal and state tax incentives) goes for $19,995 in California, and $17,795 in Oregon.

Equipped with a Lithium-ion battery, Sirius XM Radio, fog lamps, and the BringGo app for navigation, the folks at Engadget decided to take it out for a spin on the streets of Portland, Oregon.

Engadget had this to say about the Spark EV’s overall performance:

Overall, we enjoyed driving the Spark EV. It’s a zippy car that’s smoother and more powerful than anything else in its class. Sports mode is particularly entertaining thanks to a revised throttle mapping — it feels downright fast. Handling is sharp and dynamic, as we already mentioned, but Chevy’s also done an excellent job with the ride, which is compliant without being soft — this despite a rather simple torsion beam rear suspension. As is often the case with electric power steering, the setup could benefit from more feedback and precision, but it’s not a deal breaker. The computer modulated brakes could definitely use some tuning, however: there’s a slight delay between pedal application and caliper response at very low speeds which is a little unsettling when you’re accustomed to a more responsive setup. Still, we appreciated the inclusion of a “low gear” which increases the amount of regenerative braking on throttle lift-off.

Engadget is not the only one that has heaped praise on the vehicle. Consumer Reports last month gave it thumbs up, suggesting it’s a “fun, punchy, zippy fun little roundabout,” outperforming its cousin, the Chevy Spark gasmobile.

With the option of charging the vehicle for only twenty minutes (with a special accessory), and strong torque power, the Chevy Spark EV should give consumers who are looking for a a lower cost EV a viable choice.

Will the Chevy Spark EV see similar success like the Chevy Volt, and Nissan Leaf in the near future once available in wider distribution? Only time will tell.

TO VIEW THE 7:06 MINUTE VIDEO, CLICK HERE.

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This article, Chevy Spark Gets Taken For A Test Drive (Video), is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

Auto companies choose sustainability as a Core Value

by John Brian Shannon

Automakers embedding Sustainability As A Core Value

An international team of Volkswagen executives at the LEED Platinum certified VW Chattanooga plant, following the ‘Think Blue’ five-year (2012-2018) global sustainability initiative, have developed a comprehensive, four-stage Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology that now serves as the template for its manufacturing facilities worldwide.

Baseline references in four key performance indicators (KPI’s) – energy, water, waste, CO2 and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) have been established to mark progress.

With Think Blue, Volkswagen management aims to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste, and (VOC’s) at its manufacturing facilities another 25 percent by 2018. Information courtesy of cleantechnica.com

BMW to power Leipzig factory by wind energy

In addition to winning many prestigious awards for sustainable production practices, BMW is powering its Leipzig factory with four massive wind turbines located near the facility, which assembles more than 200,000 cars per year. See; BMW Group Dow Jones Sustainability Index Leader for 8th consecutive year.

Mercedes too, has upped the ante on sustainable production practices — and now boasts the largest selection of electric vehicles in the world.

Not all Electric Vehicles are boring, perhaps this little blue number will pique your interest…

2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive
2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive

Mercedes says the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive will hit 62 mph in 3.9 seconds and a moment later, you will find that it is electronically limited to 155 miles per hour.

AMG’s latest supercar comes with 740 of the quietest horsepower you will ever own and can be recharged in 3 hours.

The automakers have responded to calls for sustainability in their production facilities and vehicle materials with passion, and continue to post huge gains in those areas.

But who would have thought that they could make sustainability so much fun for consumers? I’m getting on the bandwagon all over again!

JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

To follow John Brian Shannon on social media – place a check-mark beside your choice of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn: FullyFollowMe/johnbrianshannon

How to Buy a Car and get Free Fuel

by John Brian Shannon

What if you could buy a car and (except for the normal taxes, insurance, maintenance and parking stall fees, etc.) you could drive it around for free? What I’m talking about is fuel, which for most people is a major cost these days.

Steve: In Los Angeles, the gas price is hovering around $4.00 per gallon. At that price, ‘Steve’ uses about $21.00 of gas (5.3 gallons) to travel 96 miles every weekday. He is likely to spend $106. per week in mixed driving, totalling about $425. per month.

The question is; What would ‘Steve’ rather do with $5100. per year?

If you want an easy way to calculate vehicle fuel costs, miles per dollar (MPD) works as good as anything – and for this hypothetical SUV it costs about $0.22 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc.… not included in these figures.)

Suzy: HerHybrid Prius also does a lot of stop and go city driving. Her EPA sticker says she should get 48 MPG city driving and 45 MPG highway driving. At $4.00 per gallon for gas, she uses $8.00 of gas (2 gallons) to travel 96 miles. Her cost per mile? Suzy’s Prius costs about $0.08 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc.… not included in these figures.)

Ken: He drives a Nissan LEAF, which doesn’t even have a gas tank — because it is an electric vehicle, but the EPA sticker on the car when it was new advertised an equivalent of 95 MPG, which is expressed as 95 MPG-e.

Scenario A) If Ken charges his car’s battery pack at home, he pays for the electricity to charge it resulting in an electricity cost of $0.04 per mile. Depending on how Ken drives and his electricity rate, each $1.00 of stored electricity could get him up to 25 miles.

Scenario B) If Ken uses the many available and free fast-chargers placed around the city to recharge his EV battery pack, he doesn’t pay anything per mile — as most 30 minute fast-chargers for electric vehicles are free to use in the U.S.A. In which case, his cost is $0.00 per mile. Buy the car, drive it for free! (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc.… not included in these figures.)

It may interest you to know that there are over 11,500 EV chargers in the U.S.A. as of Jan 2013, with more are being added every month. They are easily located via smartphone app and are conveniently located in almost every U.S. city.

Now, what to do with that extra $5100. each and every year?

These numbers are hypothetical examples, your costs and/or savings will be determined by your city’s gas prices and your vehicle mileage. Your electricity rate only matters if you choose to charge your EV at home — instead of at a 30 minute fast-charging station, where you can fully charge it for free!

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