National Plug In Day this Sunday

Monday, September 17, 2012

This weekend is a big weekend for electric vehicles: Sunday,

September 23rd is National Plug In Day, organized by Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association

For example, the Chicago area EV enthusiasts are gathering at the Christian Community Church parking lot,1635 Emerson Lane in Naperville, IL at 2pm to open the doors of dozens of electric cars and electric conversions to community members who want to talk to EV drivers and learn more about the cars.

Seattle's event will have plug-in vehicle owners parking our cars at Seattle Center around the International Fountain at 1pm, where they will post signs saying how many electric miles they have driven in their vehicles, and be prepared to answer questions from passers-by.

There are more than 50 events across the country!  Find an event near you and check out some awesome cars and show your support for the electric vehicle!


The chips are on the table

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Tonight's second screening of Revenge of the Electric Car at the Tribeca Film Festival was followed by a 45-minute panel discussion with Dan Neil, Elon Musk, Chris Paine, Carlos Ghosn, and moderated by David Duchovny.  Actually, not just a panel discussion... a very vibrant, inspired, action-packed panel discussion.  Duchovny, a former electric Toyota RAV-4 owner and EV enthusiast, opened the talk by jumping right into the questions the audience members had on their minds after seeing the film.  What did they think of how they were portrayed?  What are Nissan's and Tesla's plans for the future and what has happened in EV development since the crew stopped filming?

Updates from the car makers were positive: Musk predicts Tesla will be paying off their Department of Energy loan ahead of schedule and sales of cars are up, while Ghosn claimed Nissan has a list of 250,000 people ready to buy the LEAF and his main problem now is that he can't build the cars fast enough to meet the high demand.  But auto journalist Dan Neil made sure to provide the checks and balances necessary to keep the car makers on their toes and into a heated conversation, not just a sales pitch for their cars, making them prove their claims with real facts, figures, and accurate projections.  At one point Neil said the battery technology is still at the bleeding edge of chemistry and engineering and that "you're not going to see EV semi-tractor trailers on the road any time soon."  To which Musk quickly replied, "yes you will."  The audience cheered.

Tonight's panel discussion illustrates what many EV enthusiasts have known for years- the technology isn't just coming, it's here, and electric cars in the mass market has a certain inevitability in the air.  What some audience members were most pleasantly surprised by would have to be the confidence of the car makers in electric vehicle technology.  The film follows these companies as they struggle to create the cars and take what most would call a huge gamble on the technology and the buying habits of the public.  But as Ghosn said in tonight's panel, "if you want to take a risk on something, this is a good one."

Solartaxi visits AeroVironment

Friday, November 21, 2008
This summer Swiss visionary Louis Palmer and his friendly team made several stops in Southern California on their global whirlwind tour with their spectacular Solartaxi Electric Vehicle.  One of the stops was at AeroVironment in Simi Valley. 

The Solartaxi is a realization of one of Louis' childhood dreams : to drive a zero emissions solar powered electric car around the world. He wants to show people that solutions already exist to resolve the Global Warming crisis.  Click here to read Solartaxi's mission statement

Towards this end, the Solartaxi is a promotional vehicle and not one that is suggested we all be driving. The Q-Cell solar panels mounted on the trailer towed behind the Solartaxi provide 50% of the electricity required for the journey. They're mainly along for the ride to demonstrate that photovoltaic solar technology is real and available today. They also help to ensure the vehicle can keep traveling even in remote sections of the world should they fail to find a plug for recharging.  The other 50% of the electricity required for the journey is obtained by plugging into the electrical grid en route.  In Switzerland, the Solartaxi team has created a stationary solar array to feed green power into the (global) electrical grid. Solartaxi just extracts that greenly produced electrical energy from the grid while touring the world. We should all support the installation of rooftop mounted PV solar to power our homes and our near-future plug-in electric vehicles. 

Solartaxi has two Swiss made 14kwhr Zebra batteries which are a molten-salt type battery that has an operating temperature window of 270-350degC (518-662degF). The battery is insulated in a thermos-style package to minimize heat loss and has a life of about 1000 charging cycles. Zebra batteries have an energy density of around 90Whr/kg. Solartaxi has one of these Zebra batteries in the car portion and a second is located along the axle of the photovoltaic solar panel trailer.  That gives a cummulative energy storage capacity of 28kWhrs. 

The Solartaxi electric drive motor powering the single rear wheel is rated at a peak of 13kW.  The Q-Cells PV solar modules produce upwards of 600 watts. To recharge the batteries solely from the rear trailer would take about 4 days. After admiring and discussing the Solartaxi for almost an hour, Solartaxi Tour Director Louis Palmer gave a fantastic 40 minute PowerPoint presentation on his mission and adventures.   As of this summer's SoCal visit, Louis had traveled two thirds of his journey around the world. The presentation was followed by an enthusiastic EV technology discussion along with real test drives of the Solartaxi - viewable in the video below.