Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

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Reflections on All Things EV

Hey all! Sorry for the extended absence from my blog posts. The last 2 years working at ChargePoint have flown by and helped keep me at the forefront of the electric vehicle industry and especially EV charging. In past blog-posts, I’ve covered topics related to EV’s – mostly Tesla – and events in the State of Georgia. Today I want to share my reflections on the state of the electric vehicle industry and where I see it headed over the next 2-5 years. So here goes. Opinions are my own.

What’s Happening with car based EV’s?

EV’s are Still “Fixin’ to Get Ready” to be a Major Force in Light Duty Transportation. While EV’s are breaking the 2% of vehicle sales barrier, they have a very long way to go to become the dominant form of light duty transportation. Why? Because the mass market automotive OEMs (GM, Ford, Fiat, Nissan/Renault) continue to offer niche EV’s in declining car segments in North America and Europe. While the high end lux vehicles are going ‘all in on electric’ (Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Volvo) they are still too small to effect a mass scale shift to electrified vehicles. And that leaves Tesla with it’s expensive and relatively narrow line of all electric vehicles to lead the industry and there are not enough cars coming out of Fremont (or Reno in the future) to make that happen.

What About Light Duty Trucks?

What will change all of this in North America? Light Duty Trucks! America is still the land of pick up and light duty trucks. After conducting training meetings in states like Texas and Florida, I got the attention of my audience when I showed a slide of the planned electric pick ups from Ford and GM and new entries from Michigan based Rivian. You start talking to a man about his truck and you are going to get his attention. Light duty trucks are perfect for electrification: remove the engine, drive train, gas tank and install one super large battery (think 150-250 kWh battery pack) and powerful electric motors at each of the four wheels, maintain towing capacity and luxo truck comfort and pricing ($70,000+) and you have the makings of a successful electric light duty truck offering. Fortunately, these vehicles are in the 12-24 month launch time horizon. Light duty trucks: game changer for electrified transportation.

What Role will Commercial Duty EV’s Play? A tremendous one!

A segment of the transportation industry that gets little notice but has a huge impact is commercial fleets. Think over the road tractor trailer trucks and municipal buses. Right now Tesla is in development testing of its Class 8 over the road semi truck with 400 all electric range at 100,000 pounds of payload, UPS is developing its own fleet of electrified delivery trucks. Add to that all electric buses offered by BYD and New Flyer that municipalities nationwide are purchasing for delivery in 6-24 months. Once the public starts seeing medium and heavy duty electric vehicles on the road they might start to be convinced that their much lighter vehicle could be an electric after all. And the charging infrastructure being developed for these vehicles will be massive and have a halo effect on light duty charging station installation growth.

What About Autonomous Driving?

Much digital ink is being spilled over the topic of autonomous driving. From where I sit (behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S Gen 1 MobilEye AutoPilot system in use since October 2015), US roads have a very long way to go to handle Fully Autonomous Driving (Level 5). While Alphabet and Tesla are at the forefront of Autonomous Driving vehicle technology, it is my considered opinion that it is not vehicle technology that limits Autonomous Driving. It is our ever deteriorating road beds, unpredictable weather and roadway lighting conditions, road construction and pedestrians that impede the progress of full self driving. It’s almost as if we’d be better served to create autonomous driving lanes than to try to create technology that can handle trillions of road conditions real time. I fully believe in driver assisted autonomous driving and absolutely love even my basic AP1 features but I am behind the wheel and can take over at a split seconds’ notice.

Will There Ever Be Enough Charging Stations to avoid Range Anxiety?

The answer depends on where and how far you drive. If you have a home charger installed in your garage and you have access to chargers at work or at retail locations where you drive, you will have plenty of charging stations to support your driving needs. With either the ChargePoint or PlugShare Apps you will find thousands of level 2 charging stations in the US and a rapidly growing number in Canada. With home charging, you can always leave your house in the morning on a full charge!

If you are driving between cities and states, then charging becomes more of a challenge and your trip planning skills will be fully used! If you own a Tesla part of the reason you bought it was to access their nationwide network of ‘superchargers’ (120-250kW output stations) or their ‘urban chargers‘ (72kW output) and other than California, you can usually get on a Tesla supercharger. Tesla has also installed ‘destination’ chargers at hundreds of hotels providing level 2 (full charge overnight).

If you own another make/model of EV, you will need to access to DC-Fast Charge networks across the US including: ChargePoint, EVGO, Electrify America, and Greenlots (Shell). You will need an account and network access card for each of these networks and need to know which DC Plug comes with your EV: Asian cars are CHAdeMO and NA/EU cars are CCS (combines a set of DC pins below the AC adapter). Charging session costs vary depending on DC fast charge station local and whether the station owner can charge for electricity (e.g. California) or only by time (e.g. Georgia). Your trip planning skills will be honed finely as you plan your route through DC fast chargers.

That wraps up my reflections on the state of the electric vehicle industry. Have a question or comment, use our comment form at the bottom of this post.


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2016 Plug In EV Sales up 19% through June

2016 is turning into a boom year for plug in electric vehicles!  According to InsideEV’s monthly sales scorecard, electrified vehicle sales are up +19% (+10,455 units) vs. sales through mid-2015 reaching almost 65,000 in sales.  The month of June recorded the highest sales of any month on record breaking 15,000 in sales. InsideEVs Monthly Plug-In Sales Scorecard

Behind the EV resurgence are four factors:

1). Tesla. Combined sales of Model S and Model X have topped 19,000 units commanding just under 30% of the EV market.  Model X reached almost 7,000 units and Model S, refreshed in April, sold just over 12,000 new vehicles through June. The 373,000 Model III advance deposits provide a nice tailwind, as does the recent price reduction on the 2016 Model S (about $5,000 less than a comparably equipped 2015:  see our earlier post (New Tesla Model S 60: A good value?).

2). VOLT.  The all  new 2017 Chevrolet VOLT is outselling it’s Gen 1 model by 73% with sales just under 10,000 vehicles through mid-year.  Plug-In hybrid buyers know that the VOLT is their best option for daily electric commutes and the range to go the distance (400 miles).  Chevrolet dealers might be getting better at selling the new VOLT; or at least not ‘unselling’it to well educated PHEV buyers.

3). Ford. Ford’s Energi models (C-Max and Fusion) along with the Gen 1 Ford Focus Electric managed to grow unit sales +26%. Ford, through CEO Mark Fields, has committed to invest $4.5 Billion to electrify its product line and offer at least 13 electric models in the near future.  Watch the Blue Oval.

4). New EV offerings in total helped support Plug In growth. BMW X5 Drive40e, Audi A3 E-tron, Volvo XC90, VW eGolf and Hyundai Sonata plug in all have added just under 9,000 vehicles through mid-2016. Most of these models did not exist in early 2015.

Two EV have lost significant sales base in 2016: Nissan LEAF (under 6,000 units/-41%) and BMW i3 (under 3,000 units/-36%). Nissan needs to launch the GEN 2 LEAF as soon as possible and BMW may need to adjust the value equation for its i3. At $42-50,000 the 84-110 mile EV is crossing into Tesla territory.

What can we conclude from 2016 so far:  new product with longer range is driving market growth and the impact of ‘cheap’ gasoline appears to be part of the history of 2015 Plug In EV sales. Growing charging infrastructure is building confidence in EVs and is slowly chipping away at ‘range anxiety disease’. Major public utilities commitments to building out EV charging infrastructure, especially in California and in the Pacific Northwest is a harbinger of what can be expected across the US: public/private enterprise to support EV charging station build out.

Tesla inventories are reportedly a tad high and the Detroit and Asian Automakers always run ‘end of model year’ clearance sales. Now might just be your time to get into an EV metro Atlantans!


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Guest Post: I Got My Electric Car Home, Now What? By Tim Smith Modernize.com

Editors Note:  with all of the ‘ink’ over the last several months devoted to the Georgia EV tax credit, my friends at Modernize were very willing to provide something different and useful. 

To fight back against rising gas prices and a deteriorating environment, many have invested in electric cars that not only save the atmosphere from pollution but also save the driver countless dollars from filling up the tank. As with all major purchases, there is some required maintenance, but since electric cars are still out of the ordinary, that maintenance is not yet common knowledge. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources online that detail how to take care of your electric car. Here, we’ll look into how to properly outfit your home garage for your new car.

Garage Pic

Via Modernize.com

The first thing you need to know is whether your house has enough juice to actually power an electric car. Many older homes – as in, built in the 50s and 60s – are not outfitted to handle the electricity needs of an electric car. If this is the case, you are going to need to rewire your garage to handle a proper charge for your vehicle. For this, you’re going to need a 12-amp circuit, at least, to charge the car with enough time for the morning commute. This circuit is going to need to be separate from any other as you don’t want anything else leeching power from it.

If you’re in a new home, it still might be wise to rewire your place as even the outlets in new garages only handle up to 120 volts. Full electric cars like the Nissan LEAF take up to eight hours to charge on an outlet with twice the power, so you’re going to want a more powerful circuit if you don’t want to have to plan your life around your car’s battery. Thus, many recommend a 240 volt charging station dedicated to charging your electric car. 240 volts – sometimes known as level 2 charging – is enough to keep the LEAF running on eight hour charges every night. And those dedicated charging stations can be programmed to time their charge to lessen their load on the power grid and act more efficiently which, again, helps the environment and your wallet.

Connector Pic

Via CityofEvanston.org

These stations are properly called Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment or EVSE. The EVSE is the bridge between your home’s power and your car’s battery, controlling the electricity current and shutting down in case of a power surge, a software crash or an electrical short. If this sounds complicated, don’t fret, as fortunately many electric car manufacturers will send a certified electrician to your home to check if your garage can handle the electric load of a motor vehicle and advise you on any upgrades that are needed.