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November 29th, 2012

EVCO Presents Cheque to Canada Science and Technology Museum

In September, EVCO acted as a matchmaker between Sun Country Highways and the Canada Science and Technology Museum to install a high-capacity Level 2 charging station (EVSE = Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment). EVCO also agreed to help fund the installation, and today I presented the cheque to the museum on behalf of EVCO.

EVCO presents cheque to Canada Science and Technology Museum

Also present at the event today were 2 Tesla Roadster electric cars, and one Tesla Model S.

Three Tesla electric cars at Canada Science and Technology Museum

July 16, 2012

High School Students Electric Go-Kart Project

Per the YouTube blurb: "The electric go kart was a University of Hawaii at Manoa Mechanical Engineering and NanoTechnology Lab project for prospective high school students. Lab space provided by the engineering department, parts provided by Pacific Mechanical Technology LLC

YouTube video of University of Hawaii go-kart project

That would make a really cool project for most high schools, in my opinion. Hands-on experience, acquire knowledge of electric drive technology, and end up with a cool hi-pro electric go-kart at the end. You know there has to be a competition at the end of the school year for these teams and their creations.

July 9, 2012

Firefly Electric Boat

There's a lot to like about this little e-boat. It's solar charged. It carries a reasonable battery pack. It matches the dock. It's affordable, a DIY project, and wood is a renewable resource and good workable, construction material. Even the solar panel that doubles as a roof to provide shade is homemade. I'm especially fond of the 2-motor approach, doing away with the need for a rudder, although I might have still gone with a couple of trolling motors myself.

Firefly Electric Boat at Ecochunk

June 29, 2012

Five Forgotten Electric Cars

Green Car Reports asks if you remember 5 specific electric vehicles (one of them is actually a truck) from the 1980s and 90s in this article titled Five Forgotten Electric Cars: Do YOU Remember Them?

Of course, there are far more than five electric vehicles in our automotive history. You can learn about most of them at the Econogics EV History pages.

June 28, 2012

Is Hydrogen's Future as a Transport Fuel on the Water?

I have long had a weak spot in my heart for the canal barge, especially since electric versions started appearing in the 1970s and 1980s in Europe and the UK. Quiet, reliable electric drive seems such a natural combination with the calm, sedate travel associated with canal barges.

Apparently, this less demanding application is now attracting the attention of hydrogen fuel cell proponents.

Article at the Guardian's website

June 27, 2012

Renault Announces Battery-Optional Fluence Z.E. for Australia

Now that electric cars are on sale in most developed countries from major automakers, we seem to be getting past the consumer perception that they don't work, they're all glorified golf cars, they don't go fast enough, they don't go far enough, they're weird-looking, and now they want to haggle on price. The lament, new, limited production EVs cost more than a 10-year-old gasoline beater. The message they don't absorb (yet) is that the price premium for a new EV is frequently the large-capacity, advanced battery inside it. Most drivers don't think about their transportation energy costs beyond the next fill-up. Therefore, it is difficult to get them to understand that the $10,000 battery purchase premium should be compared to the total gasoline bill they will be paying over the next decade, likely in the order of $30,000 (e.g., 20,000 km x 10 years @ 10 km/litre x $1.50 per litre).

So Renault, along with Better Place, are planning to sell the Fluence ZE electric car using the gasoline consumption business model. Buy the car without the battery to get the sticker price down, then pay a monthly lease that mimics the practice of buying gasoline on your credit card and paying that bill once a month.

Article at caradvice.com

June 26, 2012

Colorado passes law allowing companies to install EV chargers and resell electricity

If other jurisdictions enact similar legislation, it will be a game-changer for the installation of charging stations. Currently, in Ontario, no one may sell electricity on a retail basis unless you are an approved local distribution company (LDC) like Hydro Ottawa or a mandated provincial agency like Hydro One.

Article at Hybrid-EV.com

June 22, 2012

Colorado passes law allowing companies to install EV chargers and resell electricity

U.S. Secretary Steven Chu spoke at the government’s “EV-Everywhere Grand Challenge Kick-Off” conference in Michigan. The program is part of the DOE’s “Clean Energy Grand Challenges” created earlier in 2012. Chu was quoted as saying, “Realistically, we think a plug-in hybrid at 340-50 miles, or a car at double the (Nissan) Leaf range can satisfy a lot of needs. And there, we think, the price point of $25,000 is a very real price that we can maybe achieve in a decade.”

Article at Michigan Live

June 15, 2012

The National Post Misunderstands Marcelo

While I continue to be impressed by the sheer personal energy and resolve of Marcelo da Luz, it seems the National Post does not share my respect. I gather the article author has not met Marcelo, or had the privilege of spending time with him. Marcelo wrote the following to me on Thursday, and I thought I should share it.

Ola Darryl and JP, There was this article on the National post yesterday, I thought you would like to read and share this article with EVCO and DEVA members.

Darryl, I left a comment and placed a plug to your book.

[Web page removed by the National Post: http://life.nationalpost.com/2012/06/14/68913]

Stay beautiful,

Marcelo da Luz
The Power of One, solar car project
Ph. (416) 465 9459
E-Mail: mdaluz@xof1.com
Website: www.xof1.com

"inspired by the sun, motivated by the environment"

June 14, 2012

BionX Hits the Water

BionX is one of those little-known Canadian electric vehicle success stories. Gizmag has recently discovered the BionX Seascape, a human-electric hybrid 2-seater recreational boat that I reported on here in November 2011.

Pricing appears to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $6,000. For now, it appears the closest dealer to Ottawa is about 300 km away in Haliburton, though you might also be able to see one at the production facility in Aurora, Ontario. For something available closer to home, and also built here in Canada, [site no longer exists: http://spincraftboats.com] SpinCraft Electric Boats has been making electric and hybrid boats for a couple of decades.

If you are looking for a do-it-yourself project, electric boats present some great opportunities. For example, check out this article on the conversion of a Glastron runabout using LiFePO4 batteries.

June 13, 2012

Electric Vehicle History Presentation Video

As some of you are aware, in addition to some other things I do, I am the Historian for the Electric Auto Association. As a result, I do presentations on EV history from time to time. In January 2010, I did one for the Friends of CRC. This event is memorable for me because Dr. Fred Green worked there for many years - introducing an EV - the Marathon C-150 - to their operations. Fred was a long-time and very active member of the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa (EVCO). While Fred was looking forward to this particular presentation, when the day came, he was not feeling sufficiently well to attend. Sadly, he passed away a short time later.

The Friends of the CRC recorded this session, and were kind enough to provide me with a copy. In the course of organizing and digitizing a number of EV-related videos, I happened across this again, and thought someone out there might think it is worth watching. If you have about an hour (51 minutes) and a media player that can view .RM files (e.g., RealPlayer, FinalPlayer, etc.), you can give it a look. Enjoy!

June 12, 2012

New Soneil Charger for 48-volt e-bike & scooter market

It's been a while coming, but now that I have seen it, I think I wanted it even earlier. Soneil has introduced a new charger in a proven package - the 4807SR. An intelligent charger in a compact, light package, it delivers up to 3 amps into a 48-volt lead-acid pack. Should work well with any pack from 12 to 40 amp-hour capacity.


What should make this really attractive is the Econogics price on this unit (quantity 1), just $93. (You can even order on-line.)

For an additional $6, we'll put on the IEC C13 (female) connector that so many e-bikes and e-scooters seem to use now. (Other connectors also available, just check out the 'Connectors' link. If you don't see what you want, just e-mail with what you need, and we'll see what we can do for you.)

June 11, 2012

Naysayer U-Turn on Hybrids

While the all-electric models are stealing the headlines at auto shows in the past year, the hybrids are proliferating, maturing, increasing in electric capability and sprouting charging ports. While GM charged in from the skunk works with their Volt plug-in hybrid car, Toyota has been slowly ramping up the electric capabilities in the Prius and Camry lines until they finally had to produce the Prius PHV - the Toyota hybrid with a plug.

Over the years, I had come to the conclusion that AJAC members (Automotive Journalists Association of Canada) would continue to shower all EVs and hybrids with their withering disdain until all the gassers had passed into the dinosaur status which provides their go-juice.

However, now that hybrids come in a variety of flavours from many auto manufacturers, and provide both superior performance or superior fuel economy - often in the same package, even one AJAC type has noted that the green premium for hybrid-lite vehicles is diminishing to possibly acceptable levels in this article titled The Day the Excuses Died.

If you want to know what consumers are really buying - watch the television car and truck ads and their never-ending purchase incentives. The thing to note is which vehicles don't qualify for the 0-interest financing, or add-on chrome packages or employee-pricing promotions or cash-back incentives. Those would be the hybrids, plug-in hybrids and real electric cars - because those are selling as fast as the manufacturers can produce them - without those manufacturer or dealer incentives.

June 8, 2012

There is a new bike gang in Vanier

The local EMC weekly paper ran an article in yesterday's edition titled [Webpage has been removed: http://www.emcottawasouth.ca/20120607/news/Electric+riders+in+Ottawa%27s+east+end] Electric riders in Ottawa's east end

From the article:
William Leisham, owner of Scooteretti, which sells e-bikes, said he would like to participate in a larger discussion with the city about the need to educate drivers and cyclists and e-bikers to learn to share the road.
"There needs to be education on both sides of the issue," Leisham said.
"And we need to work with the city to make this happen."

In another e-bike story, in case the rules weren't confusing enough, how about this case of an e-biker getting charged with DUI.

Sounds like the federal Criminal Code is not aligned with the Transport Canada definition of a Power Assisted Bicycle (e-bike). But I'm sure the lawyers will sort it all out.

June 7, 2012

Honda to Deliver a Real EV? (2013 Fit)

Hmmm, this sounds like a story we've heard before. An EV available only via lease (not for actual sale), in limited quantities, and only in California. Yup, sounds a lot like the CARB ZEV mandate of the late 1990s.

Still, for the car company that seemed least likely to produce a real battery EV or plug-in hybrid, and clinging hardest to natural gas and hydrogen cars, even this tentative step into a market I thought they had already ceded to Nissan and Ford comes as a welcome surprise.

June 6, 2012

Tesla S To Start Deliveries June 22nd, Top Model Already Sold Out

I spoke with a few people at the Rideau Centre last month when the Tesla S prototype was on display there. Unlike so many other people I encounter, these people were not repeating the same old mantra - electric cars cost too much. Instead, they could appreciate the value of a high-end, 7-passenger car that will never, ever stop at a gas pump.

It is a pleasure to see two Tesla news items today that put the boots to the naysayers again.

1) The Tesla Model S will start deliveries later this month - ahead of schedule. In fact, one has already been delivered. (Time for the naysayers to change headlines.)

2) The top of the line version (Signature) is already sold out.

June 5, 2012

Canadian Government Recycles - ecoTechnology for Vehicles (again)

How many times can you repackage the same old non-news and flog it out to the media and public? Well, in the case of Transport Canada and its excuse for a clean-air vehicle program, apparently it's always at least one more time.

When a government is steam-rolling objections and evidence, giving billions to the tar sands in subsidies and environmental exemptions and has already announced it will gut its own review process to ensure the bitument pipelines are plunked down through the Rockies on an aggressive timeline, somehow the promise of paying out up to $7,600,000 a year for a national program to address greenhouse gas emissions seems a little on the timid side.

For those of you that thought this was too much emphasis on climate change by this government, I'm sure you will take some solace in knowing that the program won't actually take any real initiatives on the alleged objectives, but instead will "focus on aligning Canadian regulations with those in the United States and with international standards".

June 4, 2012

Quebec Premier Unveils the 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan

From the press release:
Two-thirds of revenues flowing from the action plan will fund transportation measures such as public and alternative transit. These investments will enable GHG emission reductions in this industry, which accounts for 43% of all GHG emissions in Québec. Québec’s GHG emissions hit a historic peak in 2003, reaching 6.8% above 1990 levels before subsequently declining by 8.7% and, in 2009, sinking to 2.5% below 1990 levels.

Presumably, 'alternative transit' will include EVs and plug-in hybrids. At least, Fisker Automotive seems to think so.

June 1, 2012

California Pulls the Plug on Hydrogen Highway Filling Stations

Seems the Schwarzenegger Hydrogen Highway legacy has hit another speed bump. The multi-million dollar process for awarding taxpayer money to multi-national mega-corporations - shockingly (not!) - got skewed so that local companies got squeezed out.

System for doling out 'hydrogen highway' grants is polluted

California Energy Commission cancels dubious hydrogen fueling station grants

[Webpage has bit-rotted: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/articles/hydrogen-116335-highway-commission.html] Hydrogen Highway Fails Smell Test

If we stop providing these sweet-heart deals to energy and other multi-national corporations already making historic profits, or start removing the other subsidies taxpayers keep funding to support them in Canada and the U.S. (despite signing international agreements to stop doing so), how will they ever stay in business? Oh right, by gouging us at the fuel pumps, and funding their carbon capture mega-project fantasies, and tax holidays, and exemptions from meeting environmental regulations, and letting them repatriate assets from countries where they have been found liable for damages by the legal system in those countries, and 'streamlined' environmental review processes and ... Never mind.

May 31, 2012

Will Electric Cars Ever Sell in Volume?

In my discussions with consumers and electrical utilities, once we get past the "how fast, how far, how much?", and "won't they crash the grid?" questions, and "they cost too much" issue, we usually get to the "will they succeed in the market place?" question (which usually means, can I get parts and service and charging away from home, and do we need to upgrade the last mile distribution infrastructure?).

The reality is that most people really don't know much about the cars and trucks they drive. It is a small proportion of people who do their own maintenance. Many people I speak with that drive a car or truck daily don't even know they should be checking tire pressure at least monthly. So it is no wonder that a lot of people don't know that even a handful of electric and plug-in hybrid cars are actually available for sale. It takes time for this information to permeate into the showrooms, let alone into the public mind-space. More time to dispel myths and actually get people to understand what the new 'thing' is and does. Then, there is the turnover of the privately-owned on-road fleet - roughly 20 years from manufacture to retirement from service. The automatic transmission became widely available for about 60 years now, and there are still a lot of manual transmissions sold.

For something really new to actually get a real foothold within a decade of introduction is almost unheard of in the automotive world. That's why it is so remarkable to see this news item. After just 12 years since the original introduction of the Mark 1 Prius to the North American automarket in very limited quantities, in the first quarter of 2012, the highest-selling car in the world is the Toyota Prius hybrid! Ahead of the perennial past winner - the Corolla.

With Toyota expanding the Prius line to include a plug-in hybrid this year, and other major manufactures expanding their hybrid and plug-in hybrid offerings, and introducing all-electric cars, it seems pretty clear to me that electric cars will indeed sell in volume in the years to come.

May 30, 2012

Why Electric Cars Should Not Have Noisemakers (Again)

I was enjoying that vague place between sleep and wakefulness this morning, knowing that my alarm was not set as I was treating myself to a bit of sleep-in after several hectic weeks of EVents and work commitments. There was a gentle, but variable cool breeze coming in through the window, combined with the half-light of early morning with the sun low in the sky and barely filtering past leaves on the trees in the yard. Unfortunately, a bit before 6 a.m., the tranquility was destroyed by the roar of a neighbour starting their poorly muffled motorcycle, followed by about ten minutes of the torturous sound that can only be produced by a gasoline engine with the idle set incorrectly.

Today, that is why I would like to see my neighbours driving electric vehicles.

Back in the 1980s, when I was commuting with my second electric car, my typical work day began early. That vehicle was equipped with a reversing alarm (noisemaker) as a safety device. My neighbours asked me to disable it, so their morning sleep would not be interrupted. I complied. However, it looks like the U.S. oil lobby will succeed in denying that opportunity to the neighbours of future EV owners in the U.S. and Canada.

So far, Ford is not imposing this penalty on the owners of their 2011 Focus Electrics and their neighbours. However, it may be a short-lived victory for those of us that like to turn down the volume on the urban and suburban soundscape. Pity. In years to come, I think our descendants will see this as one of those 'what were they thinking?' moments.

May 29, 2012

Marcelo da Luz at May EVCO Meeting

Last night, many had the opportunity to get an up-close-and-personal look at the Xof1 Project solar car at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. This was followed by an engaging and inspiring presentation by the man behind the building of the car, and for the past month, in front of it - pulling it from Toronto to Ottawa.

It was an honour for EVCO to serve as the unofficial end for Marcelo's Pull for the Environment, which reached its official end at Parliament Hill at mid-day.

Some of the recent media coverage:

Ottawa Citizen Canada.com version [Link has bit-rotted: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Forbidden+drive+activist+pulls/6693311/story.html] Vancouver Sun version


[Link has bit-rotted: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2012/05/28/ottawa-solar-powered-car-pulled-by-toronto-man-for-environment.html] CBC

Metro News Second item

Canada Newswire

Brockville Recorder and Times

[Link has bit-rotted: http://transitionbrockville.com/2012/05/08/solar-car-pulling-into-town/] Transition Brockville

Ganonoque Reporter

[Link has bit-rotted: http://www.hybridcars.com/news/solar-car-being-pulled-over-295-miles-46340.html] Hybridcars.com


Northumberland News

Northumberland Today

EV World

Well, you get the idea. Our world needs more Marcelos.

May 28, 2012

Tenth Annual Solar Cup Solar Electric Boat School Competition

Sun, water, boats, students, competition and good clean power - sounds like fun! (Shhhhh - don't tell them it's educational.)

[Link has bit-rotted: http://www.mwdh2o.com/mwdh2o/pages/education/solar_cup/solar_cup_01.html] Solar Cup website

La Cañada High's solar boat deemed 'Hottest Looking'

Anaheim Beats Temecula in Solar Cup

Starting Friday (May 18), Student Teams from 39 Southland High Schools to Harness the Sun at Metropolitan's Solar Cup(TM)

2012 Solar Cup Final Scores

May 26, 2012

Ottawa Schools Solar Sprints

The sun truly smiled down upon the Ottawa School Solar Sprints, 2012 edition. Roughly 30 teams from 3 schools (sadly one school with 9 more teams was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict) put their sun-powered creations through their paces. Clearly, last minute adjustments were being made to try to squeeze out some small advantage that could mean the difference between coming first and defeat on the miniature head-to-head drag-racing format. The heat of competition clearly took its toll on some of the racers, who occasionally left power switches in the off position at the start line, or failed to hook up the guidewires properly, or just cast a shadow over the solar panel of their vehicles, starving them of the needed photons.

Video of a Solar Sprint Heat (mp4)

Video of a second Solar Sprint Heat (mp4)

Video of a third Solar Sprint Heat (mp4)

The small solar cars were joined for an hour or so by the Xof1 Project solar car, and Sparky the electric pickup truck.

Xof1 Project Solar Car open

Xof1 Project Solar Car and Sparky electric truck

May 24, 2012

Hold the Presses! Globe & Mail Positive on EVs??

I had to read it twice to believe it! The Globe and Mail quoted General Motors public relations material about the Volt at length, and even acknowledged there are people out there misrepresenting 'facts' about EVs that cast them in a poor light.

Truly a seismic shift in reporting on EVs in Canada. The article quotes GM in saying that Volts have now travelled over 40 million electric miles, saving over 2 million gallons of gasoline. Not bad for a relatively small fleet that is still new to the market.

Still, for me, the fact that the Globe and Mail has had anything positive to say about EVs is the big news here for the Canadian EV scene. (By contrast, check out their Gwyn Morgan piece from December 2010, including my response which was not accepted for publication.)

May 23, 2012

Power of One - Pulling for the Environment - Today, Ringside

Who knew the best seat in the house isn't in a house, but is behind the steering wheel of the support vehicle? That's one of the things I learned today.

Marcelo approaching pulling solar car
Marcelo approaching pulling his solar electric car today

I also learned that a day with Marcelo is not just about following him. It also involves pulling ahead, scouting for scenery, using a video camera and digital still camera, keeping an eye to the rear looking for approaching vehicles and talking with scores of people who are completely fascinated by the apparition the see moving down the road.

Marcelo pulling away with solar car behind
Marcelo pulling away with his solar car in tow

Spend some time with Marcelo, and you will even learn the reasons why he is pulling the solar car instead of driving (and no, it is not because the car is broken).

If you can't arrange to meet Marcelo en route, we hope to get him to the [Site no longer exists: http://ottawaschoolssolarsprint.com/] Solar Sprints in Kanata this coming Saturday (9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), and he will be presenting to a special open EVCO meeting on Monday evening, May 28th. (7:30 p.m. at the Canada Science and Technology Museum)

May 22, 2012

EcoCars in Gumball 2012 Rally

Sometimes you just do an activity to show the flag where it isn't expected. I figure the request from Karta Healey to bring EVs out to the various stops for the 2012 Gumball 3000 Rally falls into that category. Given there are some performance EVs with long range capabilities and some plug-in hybrids available now from OEMs, along with hi-pro machines from enthusiasts, why not invite the eco-fleet to come out and play?

Besides, this year the first stop is in Canada, so if you are near Toronto this coming Friday (May 25th), why not come down and see the spectacle (and bring your EV or PHEV)?

Karta wrote:

I want to extend our invitation to all local EV owners to display their cars at each check point and join us long the route:

  • Times Square grid on 24th of May
  • 25th depart for Toronto
  • 26th/27th at the Indy500!
  • 28th in Kansas City
  • 29th Santa Fe
  • 30th Las Vegas
  • 31st Hollywood
  • We will be doing a profile of each car and its driver and ideally interview you for the film. Owners and their guests can take part in whichever or all aspects, including the glamorous parties hosted each night. As long as your batteries are charged for the next day!

    And of course, if they really want to get involved, they can fill a slot in the actual relay between New York and Los Angeles. Quite the logistics, timing is everything, so please get in touch as soon as possible.

    Pass this around, and have any and all email me with a photo of their beloved Tesla and we will be sure to get you involved in every way possible.

    May 18, 2012

    IEA Study of Early Adopter EV Cities

    The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a 75-page snapshot summary of about 10 cities that have adopted EVs in a significant way. Even with hundreds of EVs in use, no reports of grid failures due to charging demand. Might be of interest to Canadian municipalities and utilities which have no such experience base. Keep in mind, these are early days, and the number of EVs will increase in the near future, even in these cities with reasonable size fleets operating now.

    May 17, 2012

    Busting the EV Mythology

    The mainstream media still isn't delivering the message (none showed up for our EV Expo, or requested interviews in response to our media release this year). So, it is up to us to continue educating the public. In that vein, here's a piece from Epic EV you might want to share with your friends - remember repetition is key to learning.

    May 16, 2012

    Joel's Christmas Train

    This is one of those heart-warming stories that just happens to have an EV in the middle of it - unsung, simply chugging away (thanks to the electronic sound effects) getting the job done, reliably, day after day.

    Visit Joel's Holiday Express Wordpress page and in particular, check out the video.

    It's not a story about another hypothetical EV, or a corporate press release, just a nice niche application for electric drive.

    Good on you, Joel!

    May 15, 2012

    Ford Delivers a Winner - the Focus Electric

    Thanks to Ford Canada, today I had the distinct pleasure of taking one of their Focus Electric cars out for a quick spin on city streets. The acceleration was smooth and authoritative, the handling crisp and responsive and the drive was quiet. I drove with the windows down just to check this out. When others have used an existing body style, the quiet one expects from an electric drive train is often lost in translation. Based on my experience today, Ford gets it, and got it right in this car. This is not an EV that will evoke images of golf cars or wedge-nose EVs of the past; this is a car you will see in your everyday life, that happens to be electric.

    By the end of the test drive, I knew this was an EV I wanted to have my wife get into and take for a real test drive, because I want to drive this electric car.

    By the time John Bardwell finished talking about how the Ford Focus Electric fits into the Ford vehicle line and philosophy, I didn't just want the car, I wanted a job at Ford finding ways to put thousands of these cars into the hands of Canadian drivers.

    Ford - nice job!

    Ford Focus Electric car Ford Focus Electric car Ford Focus Electric car

    Metro Ottawa's coverage of the event today

    May 13, 2012

    Tesla Model S

    Just to add to the EV fever in Ottawa in recent days, Tesla Motors has put a Model S prototype on display in a major local shopping centre. On Sunday, (Mother's Day) my wife and I finally managed to find time to go have a look.

    One look and a minute in the driver's seat was about all it took for my wife to fall in love with this car. What's not to love? It is sleek, well-finished and appointed and this sedan can seat up to seven, although the sticker price may give some pause. While the Model S may not make the economy car segment, for those paying hundreds of dollars a month for gasoline, it might well be worth a studied analysis of full life costs for your vehicle.

    Tesla Model S electric sedan
    Tesla Model S electric sedan

    May 12, 2012

    2012 Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa (EVCO) EV Expo

    The big day has arrived, with the sun shining bright, and nary a cloud on the horizon. A 180-degree turn from the weather we endured in 2011. Mother Nature's smile upon us brought out the smiles amongst our exhibitors and attendees.

    While the fine weather may have enticed some of our potential audience away to other fair-weather activities on a Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the questions and apparent level of knowledge about electric vehicles within the visitors to the event. We're no longer getting the 'is that really an electric car?' question, but rather the 'how can this work for me?' question - a huge advance in understanding within the public.

    EVCO members and others brought out their vehicles and projects. I snapped a few photos, and a tiny sample is shown below.

    EVCO electric conversion demonstration trailer side view
    Side view of the EVCO electric conversion demonstration trailer

    EVCO electric conversion demonstration trailer under hood
    Under the hood of the EVCO electric conversion demonstration trailer

    Dymon Telsa Roadster electric sports car
    The Dymon Storage Tesla Roadster 2.5 electric sports car. I took the picture from this angle because unless you get to see the car sitting still at our event, this may be the only angle from which you will recognize it - briefly. It's not like you will hear it coming up behind you!

    Red Tesla Roadster electric sports car
    Same idea, only this time in red. (There are also orange and green Tesla Roadsters in the Ottawa area).

    Ecology Ottawa banner and table
    We were pleased to welcome some of our local ENGOs to the event this year, such as Ecology Ottawa. However, even the dedicated volunteers for these organizations found much of interest to see at the show, so occasionally the booths looked vacant. Never fear, once they saw someone nearby, they hastened back.

    EnviroCentre BikeMobile
    EnviroCentre's BikeMobile promoting Bike to Work month (OK, enough ENGO booth shots, but note the motorcycle-mimic e-bike in the background - top right).

    3-wheeler electric velomobile
    This 3-wheeler electric provides a measure of protection from the elements, while remaining true to its bicycle roots.

    Go One electric conversion enclosed trike
    This Go One 3-wheeler enclosed bike has been modified to include an electric drive system with advanced lithium batteries, making it a human-electric hybrid.

    Electric Mobility Canada Prius V
    Electric Mobility Canada (EMC) brought a Prius V hybrid vehicle from Mississauga.

    Nissan Leaf gets charged up
    Ricardo came by and found a source of electrons, proving that 'charging stations' are all around us, if you take the time to look for them. It was nice of Ricardo to drop by ...

    Nissan Leaf
    as it gave us our Nissan Leaf 1-2 punch. Ricardo and Darren have the first 2 Nissan Leafs sold in Canada. Ottawa is definitely EV country.

    City of Ottawa Volt
    Speaking of multiples of vehicles, we were pleased to have the City of Ottawa bring out their Volt for our show ...

    Hydro Ottawa Volt
    where it joined the Volt used by Hydro Ottawa, and a privately owned Volt (black).

    Sparky - Ford Ranger pickup truck electric conversion
    We had a nice selection of converted cars as well, including Sparky, sporting lithium batteries for the first time.

    VW New Beetle electric conversion
    Also showing off lithium in a bright red wrapper, this conversion of a VW New Beetle.

    VW Jetta electric car conversion
    Just to show that the fun is not just for Beetles, this Jetta conversion also sports a lithium battery pack.

    Ford Fiesta electric car conversion
    Another recent local conversion is this Ford Fiesta.

    Solectria Force electric car
    This Solectria Force is an EV Expo veteran, and still going strong as a daily driver.

    Electric assist bicycles
    As in years past, since EVCO worked to make electric-assist bicycles legal in Ontario (2006 and 2009), we reaped the harvest of that work with numerous e-bikes on display.

    Electric assist bicycles Electric assist bicycles Electric assist bicycles Electric assist bicycles Electric assist bicycles

    I know this photo gallery isn't complete, and apologies to those I have left out.

    More images available at the EVCO website (courtesy of Peter Chaloner).

    May 11, 2012

    Electric Cars on the Sparks Street Pedestrian Mall

    EV enthusiasts, buckle your seatbelts, because you are in for some kind of virtual EV ride this week. Time to get your EV Grin on!

    On behalf of EVCO, I helped the Ontario Electrical League round up a bunch of electric vehicles for their trade show day at the Marriott Hotel.

    Rob with electric bike - no sweat
    Rob stands beside his electric steed, Miss Anne, making the point that with an e-bike, one can arrive at work fresh and without breaking a sweat.

    Blair's VW Jetta electric conversion
    A peak under the hood of Blair's VW Jetta, now using LiFePO4 batteries.

    Hydro Ottawa Limited Chevrolet Volt hybrid electric car
    Hydro Ottawa Limited's Chevrolet Volt dressed in a fetching green, with EVCO member Bob in his personal EV.

    Darren's 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car
    Darren's 2011 Nissan Leaf (second delivered in Canada) showing what's under the hood.

    City of Ottawa Chevrolet Volt hybrid electric car
    The City of Ottawa's Chevrolet Volt, which is being tested in multiple municipal government roles, with a view to expanding their electric fleet.

    Dymon's Tesla Roadster 2.5 electric sports car
    Dymon's Tesla Roadster 2.5 all-electric sports car would turn heads, even if it wasn't bright yellow.

    Eaton's Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car
    Eaton brought out their Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car to showcase their charging station.

    Schneider's Nissan Leaf with charging station
    Lorne models Schneider's Level 2 charging station (aka EVSE=Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) and their Nissan Leaf.

    Stay tuned - tomorrow, the annual EVCO EV Expo!

    May 10, 2012

    Ontario Electrical League EV Display

    If you happen to be somewhere near downtown Ottawa on Friday afternoon (May 11th), come down to the Sparks Street Mall by the Marriott Hotel (near Kent Street) and check out some electric vehicles.

    EVCO and local EV owners are showing some electric cars. OEL includes a lot of electrical contractors among its members - the people who will be installing charging stations. Looking forward to plugging EVs and making some connections.

    May 9, 2012

    Toyota Disappoints

    After a lot of fanfare last year regarding Toyota's support for Ontario's Electric Vehicle Incentive Progam with their announcement that their new RAV4 EV would be built in Woodstock, Ontario, today's news from Toyota comes as a punch to the gut. While the Toyota EVs will be built in Ontario, they will only be available in parts of California. And they will only build 2,600 in total over 3 years. That's less than 2.5 EVs a day over that period.

    Come on Toyota, you can do better than this. We're still waiting for your Prius PHV plug-in vehicle, while your competitors are producing real EVs. The market, and those that want to get away from gas pump piracy are not going to wait for you forever, when other attractive plug-in vehicle options are available for purchase.

    May 8, 2012

    2012 EVCO EV Expo

    Sorry that things have been quiet here on the EV blog front. It has not been for lack of news, but lack of time as preparations for the 2012 edition of the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa (EVCO) annual EV Expo take up a lot of my time just now. The EV Expo takes place this coming Saturday, May 12th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

    One of the figurative hats I wear on a regular basis is that of President of EVCO. So, consider this my personal invitation to come and see a wide variety of electric and hybrid vehicles, if you are anywhere near Ottawa this coming Saturday.

    This event is open to the public. Free admission. Free parking. OC Transpo service will get you close to the front parking lot where we will be set up.

    If you have questions about electric or hybrid vehicles, why not come and ask real experts, the owners and drivers of electric vehicles - on-road and off-road? Some of our members have EVxperience going back more than 30 years!

    So far, even the weather forecast is co-operating, so we're looking forward to a great day of showing, talking and demonstrating EVs.

    (I'll try to get the blog back into regular action next week, after the show is over.)

    April 27, 2012

    Chrysler Still Behind and Losing Ground

    Remember Chrysler promising to deliver electric and hybrid vehicles as part of the deal to get government (U.S., Canada & Ontario) bailout money to survive? ( Dodge Circuit, Jeep Wrangler/Patriot EV, and Town & Country extended range EV minivan) While the Jeep and Dodge EVs seem to have evaporated, Chrysler is [Link has bit-rotted: http://www.autonet.ca/auto-news/eco-friendly-news/2012/04/25/chrysler-miniva-phevs/] delivering test versions prototypes of the minivan. There is also a new entry, a plug-in version of the RAM pick-up truck.

    Still no concrete sign of their much-hyped electric Fiat 500 on this continent, which they used in March 2010 announcements to justify ditching their ENVI program, despite commitments to developing hybrid and electric vehicles as part of the bailout deal.

    Chrysler is going to have to put a lot more e-rubber on the road if they want to be a contender in the automotive sector of the future.

    April 26, 2012

    Mitsubishi Free Half-Hour Charge Station in Ontario

    While Mitsubishi has given competitors a head-start into the Canadian market, it looks like they're going to make up for lost time. This week they unveiled a DC fast charger at their Mississauga location, where they will provide i-MiEV operators with a FREE fast charge - up to 80% (bulk charge phase) in 30 minutes. Given the low cost of the actual electricity, and the high costs associated with collecting fees for small value transactions, let us hope that others will emulate this model. After all, we will all benefit from cleaner air and water and less noise as all-electric vehicles are used in our urban environments.

    April 25, 2012

    ANSI Releases Standardization Roadmap Regarding Plug-in EVs

    The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has released a new roadmap document regarding the future for standards related to plug-in vehicles. I hope that the presence of credible organizations at the U.S. national level will help us to establish accepted standards across jurisdictions for vehicle classes, safety standards, infrastructure and protocols so that when specific jurisdictions use arbitrary reasons for erecting barriers to EV adoption, they can be challenged in a substantive way using free trade laws and restraint of trade laws in order to allow EVs to be permitted in areas that typically rely on such standards bodies.

    April 24, 2012

    Yet Another Gas-Out Farce

    It must be that time of year again. As the summer driving season approaches and the oil majors use that as an excuse to gouge us again (note recent price-fixing convictions in Canada), the usual response in the form of e-mail spam has been hitting my inbox with unfortunate regularity. (If you think this is off-topic for an EV blog, bear with me and read on.)

    Here's the content from the one I have seen a few times recently. Sorry, it's long, but it sets the scene for my response that follows.

    "Subject: FW: Gas War starts!
    GAS WAR STARTS MAY 1st 2012
    This was sent by a retired Coca Cola executive. It came from one of his engineer buddies who retired from Haliburton. If you are tired of the gas prices going up AND they will continue to rise this summer, take time to read this please.
    Phillip Hollsworth offered this good idea. This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas on a certain day" campaign that was going around last April or May! It's worth your consideration. Join the resistance!!!!
    I hear we are going to hit close to $ 1.50 a litre by this summer and it might go higher!! Want gasoline prices to come down?
    We need to take some intelligent, united action. The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by refusing to buy gas ...
    It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. BUT, whoever thought of this idea, has come up with a plan that can Really work. Please read on and join with us!
    By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $.99 is super cheap. Me too! It is currently $1.28 at SUNOCO and ESSO for regular unleaded in Hamilton and Ottawa and climbing every week.
    Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at $.87 to .99, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace..not sellers.
    With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take action.
    The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas! And, we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves.
    How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas.
    But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.
    Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), SUNOCO(PETRO CANADA) and ESSO.
    If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit.
    But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of SUNOCO(PETRO CANADA ) and ESSO gas buyers. It's really simple to do! Now, don't wimp out on me at this point...keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!
    I am sending this note to 30 people. If each of us send it to at least ten more a (30 x 10 = 300) ... and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000)... and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth group of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers .
    If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted!
    If it goes one level further, you guessed it..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!
    Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all!
    How long would all that take? If each of us sends this e-mail out to ten more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next 8 days!
    Acting together we can make a difference.
    If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on. I suggest that we not buy from SUNOCO(PETRO CANADA)/ESSO UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $.99 RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK.
    (why wait till then, get into the habit by starting now)

    Sorry about the length of that, I hope you're still with me for my response.

    First, please don't forward that e-mail content to others. It's horsefeathers. However, if you receive a version of it, I encourage you to send the following as a response to whomever sent you the original (or just this URL: http://www.econogics.com/ev/evblog.htm#GasPriceRealResponse)

    Econogics Response to "Gas War Starts"

    If it makes you feel better, go ahead and boycott a gas station chain. Just understand that it will have no effect on the major oil companies whatsoever.

    If this is really the thinking of Coca-Cola and Halliburton (an oil industry support company - consider the source) executives on how to reduce consumer prices for gasoline in Canada, that is sad.

    Why This Won't Work

    Imperial Oil (Esso) and Suncor/Sunoco/PetroCanada make most of their revenue from refining oil into consumer products (gasoline, propane, diesel fuel, heating oil, kerosene, etc.), and not from retail sales. They control the wholesale price charged to retailers (research 'crack spread'). Yes, they still have some corporate retail outlets, but for the most part they have franchised those out, so it is some small, local business owner that is going to get damaged by this action. We're not dealing with idiots at the major oil companies - they knew enough to insulate themselves from this type of action. Unless you are going to go to the trouble of figuring out which "PetroCanada", "Sunoco" and "Esso" gas stations are corporate and which are franchised in order to make your boycott effort hit home. That's way too much effort for the typical North American consumer.

    Now, consider where the small independents you might buy from instead get their product. From Imperial Oil and Suncor/PetroCanada. Seriously, have you ever seen a Canadian Tire oil refinery? So buying from these retailers still puts the same money in the pockets of the big oil companies you thought you were targetting.

    So long as you continue to buy the gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, etc., you're just playing their game and you can't win.

    Doing Something That Will Work

    Or, people could do something that actually would reduce their expenditures on gasoline.

    Start here:

    May 1 (May Day - the international Worker's Day) seems like a great date to embrace the warmer weather, park your gasser, and embrace walking, cycling or public transit for some of your transportation needs. Or, you could really go crazy and look at the potential for an electric (or hybrid) vehicle that uses no (or less) gasoline - like an electric bicycle! Personally, I telecommute a lot, and walk or use an e-bike for some of my errands. This did not happen overnight, it is the result of conscious approaches to my transportation requirements, choosing a job that did not require a regular physical commute (even though I have an electric car), and a bit of luck. If you want, and you are prepared to make some effort, you can reduce the amount of gasoline or diesel fuel or heating oil you buy significantly. I did. But, be very clear, it is up to you, and not the oil companies, to make those changes. Understand, they like things just the way they are.

    If we, as a nation of consumers, would reduce our gasoline and diesel consumption by 5% from May to September this year, you would see panic in the boardrooms of the major oil companies. Your call. Based on past experience, I'm personally betting that you won't take any real action. Go ahead and prove me wrong.

    If you have real questions - e-mail me (darryl@econogics.com). Don't e-mail me to tell me you HAVE to use a gas-burner for whatever rationalization provides you with comfort. I am only suggesting you find a way to cut your fuel consumption by 5% for the fair weather months, and I'm providing you with a bunch of ideas on how you can do it (and a lot more). If you choose not to do so, that is entirely up to you. But if that is the case, please, please, stop whining about your choice to pay the price of your transportation fuel.

    April 23, 2012

    Discounts for Insuring EVs?

    A hot-button topic for many of those that built or converted their own EVs in the past was obtaining insurance. Based on some recent correspondence, it still can be, and there have been reports of folks in Canada being told their existing insurance company would not insure their new EVs produced by major manufacturers. To be clear, in 30-plus years of driving EVs in Canada, I have never personally experienced this. In fact, my current insurer (Co-operators) already offers a discount for hybrids (the electric-assist, non-plug-in kind).

    Anyway, it was a pleasant surprise to see that at least one major automotive insurer in the U.S. is now being proactive on this issue now that OEM electrics are appearing on the roads in that country.

    (Now, if only insurance cover for EVents were this easy. [sigh])

    April 20, 2012

    Royal Caribbean Ships to Cut up to 20% of Energy, GHGs

    A lot of people don't realize that most modern cruise ships, including such notables as the QEII are actually electric drive hybrids. They use diesel generators and small battery banks to power huge electric drive motors to turn the props. In many cases, the drive units are housed in turnable pods (azipods) beneath the hull. Not only does this give them a reliable drive system, it provides a measure of steering control not possible with conventional stern-mounted fixed propellers. This allows them to dock in most situations without the aid of tug-boats.

    Royal Caribbean, a major cruise ship line, has announced it will be able to reduce fuel consumption on two ships going into service in 2014 and 2015 by 20%!

    A gain of 20% on the efficiency of these ships brings not only reduced fuel costs as prices are rising, but significant environmental benefits. It would be truly impressive if our land-based fleets could match the gains of leading edge ships (commercial and military) of recent years in terms of reduction of fuel and emissions reductions by embracing electric drive technology.

    April 19, 2012

    Union of Concerned Scientists on EV GHG Emissions

    If you are one of the few that still believe climate change is a hoax (have you been watching weather reports recently?), then you can ignore today's blog entry. It's not as though getting off foreign oil, reducing air, water, soil, thermal and noise pollution would interest you either.

    One of the persistent myths (thank you oil and coal lobbies) is that using electric vehicles does not provide any substantial greenhouse gas or pollution emissions reductions. That is despite multiple studies by various organizations over the years that say otherwise, and NO scientific evidence that actually supports that contention. Today, I'll just point you at one more study, this time by the U.S. Union of Concerned Scientists that provides yet more evidence that EVs are better for the environment than fossil-fueled vehicles, no matter what is used to generate power for the grid.

    The full report is a hefty 65 pages. The graph on page 5 indicates why Canada has a better EV environmental impact story to tell than the U.S. - we burn a lot less fossil fuel to generate electricity. (For some high level Canadian information, you could start with this backgrounder I wrote for Electric Mobility Canada a while back. I think the graphs pretty much tell the story.)

    April 18, 2012

    Ford to use all-electric pace car at Richmond NASCAR Event

    Other than the NEDRA (National ELECTRIC Drag Racing Association) visionaries, who really thought they would see the day that NASCAR would embrace electric vehicles?

    Can you feel the mind shift starting to happen in the North American population? Watch the price of gasoline to see how interest in EVs will increase within our driving public. And watch for fleet operators in urban areas (short haul operations) to figure it out soon as well.

    April 17, 2012

    How Not to Implement EV Charging Stations

    There are plenty of vested interest naysayers and just plain curmudgeons that delight in stories of how EVs can't work, or how they have to be subsidized, or just generally revel in stories of how alleged support gets fouled up.

    Another reminder of how these things get messed up. The public charging stations in California and Arizona installed in the 1990s based on proprietary standards were allowed to fail by their alleged supporters, and are now being ripped out rather than upgraded to support the standard that has emerged (J1772 and NEMA 5-20) since then, that could just be retrofitted to the existing wiring and conduit. Or Costco in the U.S., now ripping out their '90s era charging stations just in time to miss the opportunity of Leafs, Volts, i-MiEVs etc. now coming to market, and potentially parking at their stores. Ooops.

    If you are a municipal government or business looking to install charging stations, please talk to someone who understands the real requirements before spending tax dollars or your money on charging stations. EV owners do want the charging stations (watch for the "I don't shop where I can't charge" message to start popping up this year as gasoline prices rise through the summer driving season). However, we want them where we will use them, not in some back alley behind some municipal building that happens to have some under-utilized power circuits. Failing to plan = planning to fail.

    April 16, 2012

    A Vision for our Rideau Canal for Commuters?

    Each (diminishing) canal skating season, the local Ottawa media always pull out the 'commuting to work on the world's largest skating rink' chestnut.

    What if we could provide the same functionality for commuters in the warmer seasons? One option might be this kind of one/two seater electric commuter boat. We already have tie-ups downtown by the NAC, and multiple launch points southward along the canal. Or possibly a water bus with stops at Dow's Lake, Mooney's Bay and all the locks, and possibly other points. It would be nice to have one by the new Convention Centre, so the business/tourist market could take a ride as well. With the right vessel, it could be combined with sight-seeing or meal cruises. With shore-power to provide charging while tied-up, these craft could operate quietly (well, other than the joyful sounds from the operators) and emissions-free all day.

    Anybody interested in such an opportunity should be aware of one of Ottawa's best kept secrets: we have an electric boat builder right here in Ottawa, operating for over a decade. SpinCraft Electric Boats

    April 13, 2012

    Future of transportation: Electric push needs bigger boost

    OK, really, what other story was I going to cover today? Go look at the Financial Post article, then come back - I think you'll understand.

    Note the realities set out in this article. I am pictured at home with my EV, where I charge it. Ricardo is pictured with this EV at work, where he can charge it. The real key to acceptance of EVs hinges on 2 things:
    1) getting people to understand their real driving needs, and
    2) putting charging stations where people really need them.

    While I applaud businesses that want to put high capacity charging stations at the side of major inter-urban highways, I really need them at home, at work, and where I spend a chunk of time on a regular basis (arenas, movie theatres, other entertainment venues, sit-down restaurants, hospitals and doctors' offices (because they never take me on time).

    Then, once we have that mind-shift underway, we can get people to understand that they have other transportation options than strapping on a 2-tonne fire-breather, be it an electric-assist bicycle, an electric motorcycle, walking, cycling, transit, etc.

    April 12, 2012

    Best Buy to Carry Charging Stations for 2012 Ford Focus Electric

    While Ford Canada has not yet provided an availability date for their Focus Electric, they have set up a deal with Best Buy to sell and install home-based Class 2 (240-volt) charging station. Moving this sort of product from the custom find your own qualified and willing electrician category into the consumer applicance market signals a radical shift in how the support infrastructure for EVs is going to be delivered to market. Earlier reports last fall indicated the Leviton-based charging station would be sold quantity-one retail for under Cdn$1,600. Now, if we can only get someone to build a 'universal' version that will work equally well with Leafs, Volts, i-MiEVs, etc. Car Pages article.

    April 11, 2012

    E-Bikes Are Turning Dutch Market Upside Down

    The weather in the Netherlands is somewhat milder than in much of Canada, our wet coast, southern Ontario and some of the maritimes notwithstanding. Still, with record high temperatures in much of central and eastern Canada for almost 10 days last month, the cycling season is undoubtedly extending into more of the year here. So consider the implications of [Webpage has bit-rotted: http://www.bike-eu.com/news/e-bikes-are-turning-dutch-market-upside-down-5784.html] a report in the Netherlands - a cycling Nirvana - that e-bikes are breaking into younger age groups because they are seen a practical daily transportation. Combine that sort of revelation with the start of cycling season and forecasts of gasoline hitting $1.60 a litre this summer, and e-bikes just might be hard to come by in months to come. Glad mine is already sitting in my garage. Owners may want to invest in good locks to ensure their electric steeds are where they left them.

    Let's suppose you use a car that gets 10 litres/100 km, and travel 30 km a day, 5 days a week. In six months (cycling season hereabouts for most folks), you will consume about $625 worth of gasoline, plus at least one, and likely two, oil changes, and some other maintenance, and probably pay for some parking. Call it $800 in round numbers. Now, go price some e-bikes. I think you will find $800 will go a long way to paying for your new ride, if not pay for it completely. Buy something that fits you and your needs, and buy quality so the machine will last with minimal problems.

    April 10, 2012

    How The Power Grid Is Blocking EV Adoption (And What To Do About It)

    When I speak with folks from local distribution companies (LDCs) in Canada and the U.S., I generally find they are not huge fans of electric vehicles joining the road fleet in large quantities. Instead of looking at the potential for increased revenue and the potential to level their loads, they focus on the possibility that EVs will charge up disproportionately at peak demand times, which could destabilize their local grid. [Site no longer exists: http://energy.aol.com/2012/04/06/how-the-power-grid-is-blocking-ev-adoption-and-what-to-do-about/] This posting speaks a bit to the issue. The concerns of the local electrical utilities are not without merit. For those of us that can remember back to August 2003, the consequences of significant power outages are not to be taken lightly.

    Still, with a bit of planning, and expectations of a gradual adoption of the technology (currently in the low thousands per month for all of North America), there is hardly any need to panic. We have the generating capacity, and embracing EVs will reduce electrical consumption in some other areas (oil refineries and pipelines are major electricity consumers).

    April 5, 2012

    The Day After the Future of Transportation Fuels Chat

    Yesterday, I participated in an on-line 'chat' hosted by the Financial Post, on the Future of Transportation Fuels. Also participating in the chat was Alicia Milner, president of the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance.

    While NG advocates are promoting their fuel as the future for road transportation, we noted that the fueling infrastructure that existed a decade ago for NG vehicles has now disappeared. Further, a regular consumer can't even buy a NG vehicle from a manufacturer anymore, and even the industry acknowledges that the cost of conversion and home fueling appliances are only attractive for those driving in excess of 40,000 km annually for the life of the vehicle. It's kind of like the EV story in reverse. Two years ago, you could not buy an OEM EV in Canada, and now you can.

    I was asked what I thought was the biggest misconception was around electric cars. My response: that we need to wait for publicly accessible, high current charging stations for EVs to be a success in Canada.

    April 4, 2012

    How High Do Gasoline Prices Have to Go for Drivers to Wake Up?

    The start of the day for many Ottawa drivers today was facing the big signs at gasoline stations showing over $1.40 a litre.

    Industry experts are forecasting over $1.60 a litre in some parts of Canada before the summer of 2012 is finished.

    'Man at the pump' interviews in the mainstream media show drivers complaining about the price increases, but resigned to them. 'What can I do?' they ask, assuming the answer is nothing but pay the posted price.

    If you want to do something, you can. But complacent sheep will go to the slaughter. Today, you have options, even here in the oil kingdom of Canada. You can buy an electric car (Nissan Leaf), or a plug-in hybrid (Chevrolet Volt), or a conventional hybrid (various manufacturers), or an electric motorcycle (Zero), or an e-bike (too many brands to mention), or cobble something together yourself.

    In short, if you want to do something you can. If you aren't prepared to make the effort, please stop complaining.

    April 3, 2012

    Ford Still Looking for 2012 Focus Electric Release

    This story from cars21.com caught my attention for two reasons.

    1) After a long silence, Ford reiterates their intention to introduce the 2012 Ford Focus Electric to market this year.

    2) They acknowledge they are shifting emphasis toward more EVs and hybrid vehicles, and away from natural gas (NG) vehicles. That's a quantum shift for a company that produced a lot of dual-fuel (NG/gasoline) and NG only vehicles in the past.

    April 2, 2012

    Azure Dynamics Hits a Speed Bump

    There were several reports late last week about the demise of Canadian EV and hybrid maker Azure Dynamics. ( one sample)

    It's tough enough trying to make electric vehicles in a world dominated by major automakers, let alone in a country ruled by oil-worshippers. Still, I would not count Azure Dynamics out just yet. It looks like they have some cash issues, but they are the ones putting together electric Transit Connect vans for Ford, they have some nice gear in their portfolio, and some genuinely smart and talented folks in their organization. Personally, I'm looking for this electric phoenix to rise from the ashes.

    (Disclosure: I have held shares in Azure Dynamics in the past, but currently do not. That doesn't mean I won't again in the future.)

    March 21, 2012

    Ottawa Has No Climate Change Plan

    I received an e-mail from Ecology Ottawa today with their current update. The lead item includes a story on how the City of Ottawa is cutting its Community Sustainability Department, and has closed down its Choosing Your Future website.

    The latter initiative included the development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure as its most popular idea in a poll of Ottawa citizens.

    If Ottawans want to see positive action on environmental issues and climate change, it appears they should not be looking to City Hall for leadership.

    March 20, 2012

    Unseasonable Weather

    Ottawa, and most of eastern Canada are basking in a week of summer weather as the calendar says winter is just giving way to spring. High temperature records are being shattered - in some cases by more than 10 degrees C over the previous marks.

    While weather maps show a jet stream that looks more like a roller coaster than the historic gentle waves typical of past years at this time, there is little to no mention of climate change in the mainstream media.

    One thing that this unexpected arrival of summer weather has done is provide Ottawans with the opportunity to bring out their zero-emissions bicycles and e-bikes much earlier in the year than is typical. Personally, I'm cleaning up the Solo antique I bought last year and getting it ready for service for local errands (like taking battery chargers to the post office.)

    March 19, 2012

    Hybrid Conversion Project for Waterborne Researchers

    This looks like a great re-use of a former Coast Guard vessel, although the conversion budget ($22,000,000) may be beyond the average DIY EV enthusiast. The University of Victoria (British Columbia) bought the vessel for $1, and is now tendering the modifications to turn it into a research ship.

    The ship is being extended and the power plant is being replaced with an electric drive system, supported by batteries, diesel generators and a hydrogen fuel cell. There are still some details to be worked out on the hydrogen fuel cell system, as Transport Canada will not permit the hydrogen to be stored below deck. The 22 kWh battery can also be recharged from shore power.

    [Link has bit-rotted: http://www.timescolonist.com/cars/Vessel+finds+life+UVic+research/6320912/story.html] Times Colonist Story

    I have only ever seen one update to this story (2012-07-11), A HREF="https://www.uvic.ca/news/topics/2012+green-research-ship-project-delayed+ring"> hydrogen delusions claimed another victim.

    Update (2017-06-13) The delusion continues. On a more positive note, they are now considering lithium batteries as a storage option, which is now proven marine technology around the world, with a couple of Canadian companies as flag-bearers for greeen marine drive systems.

    March 18, 2012

    Revenge of the Electric Car Screening in Wakefield

    This evening I had the pleasure of seeing this movie for the first time, and getting a first-hand look at the new Community Centre in Wakefield, and making some new acquaintances. After the movie, the hosts set up a small panel to answer questions, and it was great to meet and join Eric Leclair and Bob Milling in the 'hot seats'.

    Eric put the suggestion for improved EV charging infrastructure in the recent NCC / Ottawa / Gatineau, [site no longer exists: http://choosingourfuture.ca/get_involved/haveasay_results_en.html] hoosing our Future 'Have a Say' initiative, and is clearly an advocate for clean transportation and a more sustainable way of life.

    Bob Milling is a co-owner of the Wakefield Mill Hotel and Spa, which includes the Eco-Lodge addition, a LEED-certified building with a J1772 charging station for electric vehicles (free for guests). During the post-film session, we learned that Bob worked in the wind power industry in the 80s and 90s.

    The audience included one Nissan Leaf owner who drove his EV from Ottawa to the event.

    A lovely and stimulating event, and a refreshing air of optimism. Makes me proud that my solar electric boat is usually docked in the same municipality.

    March 15, 2012

    Revenge of the Electric Car at Wakefield International Film Festival

    Just 35 kilometres from Parliament Hill, this coming Sunday (March 18th), the [Page has bit-rotted: http://wakefieldfilmfestival.weebly.com/schedule.html] Wakefield International Film Festival is presenting Revenge of the Electric Car, the sequel to Who Killed the Electric Car?. 5:30 p.m. at the Theatre Wakefield, with a reception to follow sponsored by the Wakefield Mill - owner of a high-speed EV charging station. Tickets are available [Page has bit-rotted: http://wakefieldfilmfestival.weebly.com/tickets.html] on-line for $10 (plus $1 sales tax) each.

    March 14, 2012

    When Can an E-bike be Gas-Powered?

    Apparently when it is ridden in British Columbia. If 'authorities' in B.C. can't figure out that a gasoline engine is not within the definition of a power-assisted bicycle (electric), then why are they surprised that consumers are bewildered by the rules and terminology?!

    From the British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act, Section 1 (Definitions):
    '"motor assisted cycle" means a device
    (a) to which pedals or hand cranks are attached that will allow for the cycle to be propelled by human power,
    (b) on which a person may ride,
    (c) to which is attached a motor of a prescribed type that has an output not exceeding the prescribed output, and
    (d) that meets the other criteria prescribed under section 182.1 (3);'

    So you might think that section 182.1 would clear this up - let's have a look.
    'Motor assisted cycles
    182.1 (1) A person who is under the age of 16 years commits an offence if that person operates a motor assisted cycle on a highway.
    (2) A parent or guardian of a person under the age of 16 years commits an offence if the parent or guardian authorizes or knowingly permits the person to operate a motor assisted cycle on a highway.
    (3) The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia may make regulations respecting motor assisted cycles including, without limitation, regulations prescribing
    (a) the criteria that must be met by a device in order for it to qualify as a motor assisted cycle for the purposes of this Act,
    (b) the requirements that must be met in relation to operators of, and equipment attached to, motor assisted cycles, and
    (c) restrictions on what may be attached to or carried on a motor assisted cycle.'

    Clear as mud. So far, it's a bicycle, with a motor of a prescribed type attached, where that motor does not exceed the prescribed output. Prescribed? Prescribed where? Not in the Act. No, for that sort of information, we have to resort to the ICBC regulations.

    Insurance Corporation of British Columbia Deposited June 21, 2002 Motor Vehicle Act Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation says:
    1 (1) A motor assisted cycle must have no more than one motor for propulsion.
    (2) The motor of a motor assisted cycle must
    (a) be an electric motor,
    (b) have a continuous power output rating of not more than 500 watts, and
    (c) not be capable of propelling the motor assisted cycle at a speed greater than 32 km/hr on level ground.

    So, now we know it has to be an electric motor (not a gasoline-powered engine), only one motor, it cannot exceed an output rating of 500 watts (continuous), and cannot propel the bike to speeds above 32 km/h.

    So there you have it, for scofflaws, authorities and law enforcement officials in B.C., a gasser is not an e-bike (motor assisted cycle, or in federal jargon, power assisted bicycle).

    Actually, it looks like ICBC knew this was an issue - look at their on-line 'brochure' about Electric bikes. The first paragraph reads:
    'An electric bike, or motor-assisted cycle, is a two- or three-wheeled cycle with a seat, pedals and an electric motor (up to 500 watts). A motor assisted cycle (MAC) cannot be gas-powered.'

    March 13, 2012

    Obama Announces EV Everywhere Challenge

    It looks like oil is getting in the eyes of all Canadian policy makers, reducing their vision to a dark, blurry excuse for developing a forward looking energy strategy for the nation. By contrast, the U.S. is providing substantive leadership on multiple fronts, including the production and adoption of electric vehicles. Note that this is not an environmental initiative for the Obama administration, but an economic issue - creating jobs for Americans and reducing their reliance on imported energy sources (i.e., Canadian oil from the tar sands). Once again, we will hollow out our economic future on the altar of oilonomics. All hail bitumen!

    "The aggressive goal of this initiative is, by the year 2022, to enable companies in the United States to be the first in the world to produce a 5-passenger affordable American electric vehicle with a payback time of less than 5 years and sufficient range and fast-charging ability to enable average Americans everywhere to meet their daily transportation needs more conveniently and at lower cost."

    March 12, 2012

    6000 new EV users in first 100 days of car2go service in San Diego

    Amazing what can be accomplished with a bit of vision and infrastructure investment. Daimler ponied up 300 smart fortwo electric drive cars and put them into a car-share program in San Diego late in 2011. 2 months later, there are 6,000 members using the EVs 3,500 times a week.

    March 10, 2012

    E-bikes Battle for Legitimacy - One Jurisdiction at a Time

    Came across this story of an e-biker in Atlantic City who receives repeat tickets from municipal authorities because the state sees her transportation as a bicycle, but the city does not. So, multiple trips to court. Seems life would be simpler for everyone if state and provincial governments - who typically have jurisdiction over road and vehicle legislation, regulations and enforcement - to make a simple set of rules to clarify the matter for munipalities, law enforcement and citizens.

    March 9, 2012

    Electric Beer Boat

    As many of you probably know, Steam Whistle breweries won over my heart (and trade) with the introduction of their Retro Electro truck. However, the folks in Utrecht (Netherlands) have gone them one better - the Electric Beer Boat. In fact, the clean, quiet, emissions free boat has been such a success that Utrecht is [link has bit-rotted: http://www.civitas-initiative.org/index.php?id=138&news_id=1306] adding an electric garbage boat, and possibly another electric supply boat to provide delivery and pickup services for businesses that line the historic canal zone.

    March 7, 2012

    Electrathon meets E-bike at Extreme Makeover Weekend

    So, if you give a group of mechanically-minded geeks a box of electric vehicle and bicycle parts, a weekend to play and some expertise on hand with the prospect of actually getting aboard their creations and racing them on city streets, what kinds of merriment and mayhem might result? Well, some folks in San Francisco are conducting this experiment on the March 17-18, 2012 weekend. Move over St. Patrick, this is my kind of party! [Link has bit-rotted: http://sfbrightworks.org/grandprix/invitation/] Grand Prix de la Mayonnaise Invitation web page

    "What's an Electrathon?", you ask.
    1997 Queens University Great Electric Car Race
    [Dead link: http://www.cinereal.com/electric/] Pictures from the 1998-2001 EVCO Electrathons from the videographer (Cinereal)
    1998 EVCO Electrathon
    1999 EVCO Electrathon
    2000 EVCO Electrathon
    2001 EVCO Electrathon
    2002 EVCO Electrathon
    2003 EVCO Electrathon (Acclivity) 2003 EVCO Electrathon (SpeedAce)

    (I have been away from this venue for too long, putting most of my EV-related posts on the EVCO e-mail distribution list for the past year. This has generated a few comments from folks that used to read this blog, but were not interested in subscribing to the EVCO list. So, I'm going to try an experiment to see if I can satisfy both groups by posting here and sending a pointer to the current blog entry on the EVCO list. We'll see how that goes.)

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    Other Sources for EV News and Information

  • HybridCARS Web site
  • EV World

    About the Author:
    Darryl McMahon built his first electric car in 1978, and has had at least one electric vehicle EVer since. He was a founding member of the Electric Vehicle Association of Canada. He is the author of The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy and many articles about electric vehicles, related technology and history. He is currently a member of the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa, Electric Mobility Canada, Historian for the Electric Auto Association, and President of Econogics.

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