Lincvolt, the 1959 Lincoln Continental Electro-Cruiser, took DH Lovelife and I on a trip the other day to celebrate 55,000 miles on electric power.
Lincvolt was built to show that electric transportation is a viable path forward. Lincvolt gets 55 MPGE, generated onboard
by cellulosic ethanol, a clean fuel from waste of feed production that provides a reduction of 80 percent in Greenhouse gas emissions.
55 mpge with an 80 percent reduction in GHG per gallon compared to gasoline. The 6200 lb Lincoln originally got under 10 miles per gallon.
There is a Shakey Pictures Series in the works right now in Canada telling the life story of Lincvolt and her conversion to electric power.
This scene was so beautiful that we decided to stop and take a picture of it. Video by DH Lovelife.
Lincvolt is alive and well folks. 40,000+ miles of traveling around America and Canada so far! 55mpge NTSB rating! Check out the video and enjoy the ride in the Lincvolt Electro-Cruiser. I love my car.
Neil and the Lincvolt team thank you for your support.
The Alberta oilsands debate is a major part of the world environmental stage, with its excessive CO2 and the politically charged nature of Canada's broken treaties. Most of the Lincvolt project revolves around a solution to replacing fossil fuel as the primary transportation fuel. This solution, "The Bio-Electric Transportation Model," was developed with these core ideas:
Fleet adaption for proof of concept
Standardized battery sizes for vehicles.
A leasing model for batteries to dramatically lower the cost of electric vehicles.
Utility Companies storing renewable Energy with leased batteries at end of life for vehicles, yet still very powerful for storage of renewable energy.
Exhausted batteries recycled into the leasing model.
This diagram represents a Fleet application
The Bio-Electric Transportation Model is based on established studies revealing that majority of cars travel approximately 35 miles per day. If those were electric cars with generators (or without), they would never use fuel to extend range on an average day. Cars that do exceed that distance are a very small part of the total and can have their range extended by biomass based second-generation Bio fuels with a super low CO2 footprint in onboard generators. The diagram above is dedicated to phase 1, fleets, as a proof of concept. Phase 2 would require a government-regulated presence of bio fuels in the delivery chain, ie, roadside fueling stations and inevitable carbon taxes.
"USE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY TO SOLVE SOCIETAL ISSUES" STAN OVSHINSKY
in defense of his company's electric car, has taken to the Web against in reaction to fallout over a video showing a Model S that caught on fire.
Musk's reaction comes as Tesla shares fell during the week after the video started receiving thousands of page views. After the video came to light, shares fell from $190 to a low near $168. But then they started to recover, rising $7.67 Friday to close at $180.98.
Musk's bottom line is the accident outside Seattle that caused the Model S sedan and its battery pack to go up in smoke would have been far worse had it been a conventional gasoline-powered car.
"Had a conventional gasoline car encountered the same object on the highway, the result could have been far worse," Musk, who is also CEO of rocket maker SpaceX, writes on Tesla blog.
With the following information from Alberta it seems expansion of the tar sands operations would be ill-conceived, but that's not stopping the Big Oil companies and the Canadian government, as they continue raping Alberta's Boreal Forests, killing everything in their way. Canada seems to have lost its conscience.
EDMONTON - Alberta's energy industry has found that cleaning up tar sands tailings is much harder than it thought.
The province's energy regulator says all tar sands companies affected by tailings reduction rules missed what were supposed to be legally binding targets -- some by wide margins. All were given extra years to meet reductions that should have been done by now.
"It's tougher than they thought," Terry Abel of the Energy Resources Conservation Board said Tuesday. "It's tougher than we thought, too."
On my recent trip to Fort Mac in Alberta, I drove Lincvolt about 1800 miles from San Francisco running on Cellulosic Ethanol fuel. I have chosen to use Ethanol, a much cleaner fuel created from plants nourished by the sun and rain and grown by farmers rather than run on gasoline, which has a carbon footprint of 19.5 LBS (pump to tailpipe) per gallon or 28 LBS CO2 per gallon (earth to tailpipe) according to the Mass Institute of Technology.
Although E 85 is hard to find in some parts of the USA, it is much cleaner than gasoline and since I am a believer in Climate Chaos as a result of Global Warming, I have chosen this greener fuel. On the trip back from Fort Mac, I ran out of fuel in Red Deer Alberta after searching in vain for an E 85 or pure ethanol fuel source in CANADA. In Red Deer Alberta we were told by Husky Oil reps that they had “never heard of E 85”. Lincvolt does not run on gasoline by design.
In Canada, where the dirtiest oil on the planet is extracted from the Alberta Tar sands at an immeasurable human cost to the First Nations people, and disease statistics reflect 30% increase in some fatal diseases, there is no freedom to choose an alternative to gasoline at the pump. This is un-Canadian.
As a proud Canadian, I cannot let this go by without a fight. Canadians deserve Freedom to Choose the Fuel they use. Canadians should have a fuel choice at the pump that considers Future Generations. Canadians should have the freedom to express themselves through the choices they make, not have those choices made for them by a government that is too close to industry and over concerned with money and petro dollar value. We do not have to be spoon fed by the Big Oil Companies. Stand with me for Future Generations and Bring Light to the conditions In Canada as we move forward on this mission.
As time passes, you will see what we are up to. If you believe in Freedom of Choice for Canadians, you will have a voice in this with us. It will be your chance to stand up.
Lincvolt is living proof. The big car has a lot to say. An 86% reduction in Greenhouse Gases per gallon of fossil fuel if you burn next-generation bio fuel instead of gasoline. That is the future. Cellulosic ethanol. Canada should be ashamed of the Alberta Tar Pits.
-- Neil Young.
"The tar sands have impacted First Nations so badly. I am 85 years old and us old people are having such a hard time today because this is not what we knew growing up. We used to drink the water straight from the streams and creeks, and now no one can do that. We don't know what is in the water now. I eat very little of the food I grew up on, moose, caribou, fish... it is all sick. We don't even eat the berries and medicines anymore because there is too much pollution in the air and the land. When I was growing up people just died of old age, now there are so many sicknesses that were never here before."
Don't believe the oil company propaganda you are subsidizing? Do something.
Because we want to show that big cars can be clean cars, because in fact there are many viable alternatives to fossil fueled carbon pollution destroying our planet’s climate balance, we want to show what a big clean car can do and why you should actively oppose the forces of Climate Chaos that are attacking the world we live in. You can make a difference by not giving up.
The fuel we use, POET cellulosic ethanol, is one of many new types of fuel made from waste and biomass, with one important difference; it is being made in a Pilot plant with the goal of commercial application by POET Ethanol.
Cellulosic Ethanol has an 86% reduction in GHG emissions per gallon compared to gasoline, according to figures from the US Department of Energy and will soon enable us to save enough carbon emissions to equal the weight of Lincvolt, a 6000 LB or 3 TON 1959 Lincoln Continental converted to a series hybrid electric drive, recharged on the go by a biomass powered generator. We are now closing in on our target of saving planet Earth from 3 tons of CO2 emissions. As we drive Lincvolt around the continent, updating and comparing our car’s emissions to a new “best in class” gasoline powered vehicle of the same size and weight, we are tracking our progress with an onboard app. You can see by this recent screen shot from Lincvolt’s dashboard that we are very close to our goal.
New cars could use this fuel easily, as well as gasoline, if the car companies made it possible. The Lincvolt motor was built entirely by FORD motors in America and cleanly burns 100% cellulosic ethanol and could conceivably burn any similar fuel type. It was originally made for the Ford Escape Hybrid. The Lincvolt series hybrid long-range electric car is limited only by the amount of fuel it can carry onboard, just like a conventional car. So far the average highway mileage we have attained over our 6000-mile trip is 30 MPGE.
Bio Fuels need the help of your government. These new fuels need to be regulated and quality characteristics and specifications defined so that engine manufacturers can make engines to run on the fuels correctly, as an alternative to fossil based carbon-polluting fuels. Every fuel has its drawbacks. Do not be mis-lead by negative information about bio fuels. They can all be cleaner than gasoline by a substantial amount and can help in the war against carbon abuse. Information about food chain disruption by bio-fuels is misleading. Despite promises of a green future with bio-fuels and solar energy, the Obama administration has not yet lived up to this promise over its 6 years in power. Engine manufacturers have no clear direction on the specifications of various bio fuels. Please communicate this need to your representatives and friends so Americans can be free to choose the fuel they use. Freedom of Choice is something we all deserve and the fossil fuel monopoly is decidedly un-American.
Thanks for following us here and on Facebook. We will keep you posted as we get closer and closer to attaining our goal. Try to imagine what you can do to fight fossil fuel abuse and end carbon waste. Join the movement to protect Planet Earth from Climate Chaos by doing something yourself to help any way you can. Peace.
Lincvolt has returned to Camilleri Auto Works for final fitting of doors and windows, along with a few touch ups to paint. The interior seats have already been lowered, the heater and air system installed and working nicely. Audio and instrument control panels are installed. Software is being written for the calculations yielding real time greenhouse gas emissions savings compared to a gasoline automobile. Tests continue to show at least a 70% reduction in GHG on the highway when Lincvolt is compared to best in class fossil fuel vehicles of the same type.
Although a common comparison in the weight class might be a Cadillac Escalade, we have not yet directly compared the GHG emissions of Lincvolt to a new Escalade as of this date. Results of that comparison will be made public shortly. We intend to show that a bio-electric Escalade SUV could conceivably be one of the cleanest cars ever manufactured, (if GM manufactured it that way) with no loss in performance.
Escalade Comparison Test.
We will do that in an actual Escalade with the Escalade following Lincvolt on a long distance run through all traffic conditions. We will fuel up both cars and stop after 100 miles for refueling. Then we will continue on a trip of 3 to 400 miles. At that point we will compare the results of both the short run and the total run.
POET and DSM to make advanced biofuels a reality by 2013
Joint venture to commercialize and license cellulosic bio-ethanol
Monday, January 23, 2012 - Project LIBERTY/Cellulosic Ethanol
POET, LLC, one of the world’s largest ethanol producers, and Royal DSM, the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, today announce a joint venture to commercially demonstrate and license cellulosic bio-ethanol, the next step in the development of biofuels, based on their proprietary and complementary technologies. POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, is scheduled to start production in the second half of 2013 at one of the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants in the United States.
This is the fuel Lincvolt uses to attain giant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. During our trip across the USA we will be demonstrating the viability of this fuel on American and Canadian highways. Lincvolt, a series hybrid Bio-Electro Cruiser is the first of its kind and plans visits to Washington DC, Detroit and other centers to show that a big car can be very clean, economical and efficient. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter as we cross the USA.
Unplugged and beginning with a full charge, Lincvolt traveled through Orange County streets and onto the Interstate where traffic was moving at a moderate rate of speed. With the shifter set at "D" (City charge-sustaining mode), and a little under 50 miles traveled, the state of charge was approaching 20% when the Auxiliary Power Unit automatically started to maintain the battery pack at that level. When traffic thinned out about an hour later, highway speed increased to between 65 and 70 MPH. At that point, moving the shifter to "L" (Highway charge-sustaining mode) boosted the charge to 50%, and sustained it there, providing Lincvolt with a big reserve of power for mountains and high-speed travel. Seventy miles down the road, when we decided to stop for breakfast the shifter was moved to "D" and the APU shut off providing totally silent running on 50% state of charge. We entered Ventura and met some friends for breakfast. A small crowd gathered around as Lincvolt silently slipped into a parking area in front of the Vagabond Motor hotel.
We traveled four hundred and ninety miles total on our trip through California from Orange County to the San Francisco Bay area. We experienced the unequaled feeling of electric propulsion, averaging about the speed limit, with one stop in Central California to get out and stretch our legs. We added some of the cellulosic ethanol we were carrying, mixed with 15% gasoline. No range anxiety for us. Lincvolt pressed on. The beauty of our surroundings was breathtaking as we silently swept across the grassy heart of California on the majestic "Airline Highway."
After sundown the wind was cold as it rushed by and we had no heater. We stopped for a moment in Hollister to warm up and have dinner before we disappeared into the night and the last eighty miles into the Santa Cruz Mountains. Lincvolt performed unbelievably well; the 6000 pound series hybrid bio electro-cruiser seemed ready for anything as it flew along with emissions totaling less than 30% of the "best in class" gasoline powered car of the same size. We were living the dream. Imagine if every car was as capable as Lincvolt.
Traveling North on California 101 Friday February 22nd, we will be heading first towards Lincvolt Garage and then to Brizio Street Rods for some final fit and finish items, including windshield wipers, heater, rubber refitting, door setting, and electric window tuning.
In late March we ready ourselves for our journey towards the nation's capital. Then, as the debate over allowing the Keystone Pipeline heats up and tests the president's resolve, we will be proving that large cars many Americans like can be exceptionally clean on domestic fuel and don't require huge amounts to run. Our fuel for Lincvolt during these trips will be E 85 derived from 85% cellulosic ethanol and 15% gasoline.
Please join us on our mission to be environmentally responsible.
We have been waiting for five years to experience what we felt in the past few days driving Lincvolt to and from various activities in the Los Angeles area. We have had the opportunity to demonstrate the Pono Music player to artists from around the world and America’s largest maker of automobiles. The Pono Music player that is standard equipment in our 1959 Lincoln Continental, now upgraded to a series hybrid, is a full and enveloping audio experience, the best sound ever heard in a car. The combination of that experience coupled with the near silence at 70 mph is awesome and sweet. We continue at AVL to refine and tune the performance with Bruce Falls and his team so that when Lincvolt returns to Northern California for added finishing and detailing at Brizio Street Rods, it will be all it can be; exhilarating, satisfying, comfortable, safe, powerful, environmentally responsible, agile, beautiful, and a pleasure to drive. We look forward to sharing this car with you on our first trip across the USA.
An article under this title ran in the New York Times recently. It underscores the problems with electric cars. The article easily makes the points about electric car range anxiety and “your mileage may vary”. That is old news to us. Lincvolt has a very simple solution to range-anxiety . There is none. We don’t have that. We have a car with lots of battery power and a generator to back it up. Lincvolt burns a fuel with emissions reduced by 86% compared to gasoline. The range of Lincvolt is easily over 400 miles and can be extended with a simple stop at an E85 pump or even a gasoline station (the worst case), when our fuel of choice, cellulosic ethanol, is not available. Electric range is between 40 and 55 miles, depending on varying weather, road, and driver conditions. The 50-mile range is easily achievable in favorable conditions. But Lincvolt protects the driver from range anxiety and retains the far superior control and performance of a 200KW prime mover, even in this 6000 lb car.
I think the point here is, don’t turn against electric cars. These stories and others like them put a bad slant on electric powered transportation. It is the future, providing for solar power instead of fossil fuel by allowing use of electricity and bio based fuel blends together. Lincvolt, with its superior electric performance, is capable of 55MPG and 86% reduction in greenhouse gases and has zero range anxiety. We need that.
Lincvolt is back at AVL US in Orange County for final calibrating and some work on the instrument panel to show the state of charge and real time use of power. This is the last phase before Lincvolt hits the road with Shakey Pictures for a shakedown cruise. We are all eagerly anticipating this moment that has evaded us for so long. There may be a surprise showing of Lincvolt at an upcoming musical event, demonstrating the breakthrough sound of PONO 21st Century Digital from a PONO system that is now installed in the car. Thanks for staying with us. As you can see by the recent history of the webcam, the car is looking great. We will have the webcam up again soon at AVL for you to view the progress.
Canadian researchers have used the mud at the bottom of lakes like a time machine to show that tar sands oil production in Alberta, Canada, is polluting remote regional lakes as far as 50 miles from the operations.
An increasingly large share of U.S. oil comes from Canada's tar sands. There are environmental consequences of this development, but until recently, Canadian regional and federal governments left it to the industry to monitor these effects.
A new study follows other recent rigorous scientific studies that have found ecological effects that had been missed by the industry's monitoring.
The forested part of Western Canada, where tar sands oil is produced, is so rich with the thick, asphalt-like stuff that you can actually see it coming out of the ground all over the place. That's made it easy for industry to claim that contaminants in waterways could have gotten there naturally.
To try to get at the truth, researchers had to find a way to go back in time.
"Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, mud is accumulating at the bottom of a lake," says John Smol, a biology professor at Queens University in Ontario. "It's like a history book. The deeper you, go the older it is."
Smol and scientists from Canada's federal environment agency analyzed mud from the bottom of several lakes. They saw that the level of contaminants increased after the 1960s and 1970s, when tar sands development started. Then it rose sharply in recent years when tar sands production spiked.
Thanks to Roy Brizio Street Rods, Bruce Falls and AVLNA, Sid Chavers' Fine Auto Upholstery, UQM, A123 Systems, Budnick Wheels, Ford Motors, POET Ethanol, Camillerri Auto Works, our friends at Shakey Pictures and Upstream Multi-Media, Phil Denslow our Lincvolt.com webmaster, Hard Rock, SEMA, and all of you faithful and interested viewers who have supported us throughout this great year. We have accomplished a lot together. Happy New Year to you all!
With US setting higher mileage goals for all cars over the coming years, we are attempting to lower our carbon output and enhance National Security. The problem with this approach is that it does not address the main issue. For survival of the Planet and our way of life as Human Beings, we need to drastically reduce our carbon output. The approach being taken does not do that.
A direct approach, which calls for lower Carbon emissions over time, regardless of fuel, will have a better effect by encouraging the development of domestic bio fuels blended with or eliminating fossil fuels, as well as development of cleaner running engines to use those fuels.
The real goal is clean cars with energy independence. Electric cars with low carbon emitting generators and sufficient electric only ranges for commuting are an inevitable part of the future for the Planet Earth. The latest regulations and standards being floated will not attain the goal of slowing and stopping global warming. We must move away from high carbon fossil fuels now and we need laws that encourage and reward American ingenuity to do that.
The government must step away from the cozy relationships with Oil producing companies and start to see the future of America is low carbon fuels and machines to use them. Our government is not addressing the needs of our planet by simply mandating that we use less gasoline.
It is clear that we are not going to be able to survive a constant barrage of "Sandy"-like Global Warming Super Storms. By the time we finish rebuilding from one there will be another and another. We need to address the cause with reasonable laws that encourage change and responsibility.
In the world at large, we must begin to trade down with high carbon producing countries like China and India and move manufacturing back to America. We need to tie trade to Carbon. Now we are just supporting carbon growth elsewhere while we enact insufficient laws to stop it here in the US.
It's time to get real on Carbon.
The standards -- which mandate an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year -- will increase the pressure on auto manufacturers to step up development of electrified vehicles as well as sharply improve the mileage of their mass-market models through techniques like more efficient engines and lighter car bodies.
Current rules for the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, program mandate an average of about 29 miles per gallon, with gradual increases to 35.5 m.p.g. by 2016.
The new rules represent a victory for environmentalists and advocates of fuel conservation, but were attacked by opponents, including the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, as too costly for consumers.
Every day, the average commuter in the USA drives 24 miles, and the average mpg of a new car is 22 mpg. So every work-day every commuter uses approximately one gallon. That doesn't seem like much does it?
The problem is every gallon of gasoline emits 20 LBs of CO2 when it's burned in a car. That means every car puts 20 LBs of CO2 in the air every commute day. If you consider that CO2 is causing Global Warming Super Storms (GWSS) like "Sandy" and or "Katrina", then you can imagine what is coming, or you can ignore it. We think its time to start imagining what you can do to make a difference. Lincvolt reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 86% and that number is climbing toward 100%. Wouldn't it be nice if every car could do what a 1959 Lincoln Continental can do? Imagine that.
Custom seating for team member Ben Young is under construction at Sid Chavers' Fine Auto Upholstery. Ben Young is a quadriplegic who travels in a wheelchair and has accompanied the Lincvolt project on many road tests. Usually he is cradled in the arms of Dave "Snowbear" Toms, aka the passenger, but now with his new custom seating, Ben is independent. As the project's spiritual leader, Ben Young has been a guiding light over the years, showing us that anything is possible and reminding us that we just have to keep trying.
Ben's custom seating includes inserts to assist him and keep him safely in place and good posture. The inserts can be simply removed and stowed in the trunk so that any passenger without special needs can easily slip into the coveted shotgun seat. Ben Young recently approved the design of his new seating by viewing the picture you see here. The seat will be finished by Sid Chavers in matching Continental colors to complete the Lincvolt interior.
Electric-car-battery manufacturer A123 Systems Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday with a plan to sell its auto-business assets to an American rival, Johnson Controls Inc., scrapping a proposed rescue by a Chinese company.
The filing by the recipient of nearly $250 million in federal-government grants and $358 million in start-up funding scuttled a previously announced plan to sell an 80% stake to Chinese auto-parts maker Wanxiang Group Corp. That deal had encountered opposition from lawmakers concerned about the transfer of American taxpayer dollars and technology to China.
Lincvolt moves to Sid Chavers' Fine Auto Upholstery today and has left Brizio's shop for approximately 3 weeks. When Lincvolt returns to Brizio's with a complete interior, looking like a finished car, a visiting Bruce Falls will place and connect the battery pack. Instrumentation and touchscreen integration will then be completed. System tuning and road testing will follow. We are getting closer and the excitement is building.
We plan to be going back up live on the internet with our Ustream page active for some of the final work and those of you who have been watching us for years and have interacted with us in the past are all invited back to join us for this big moment. We will all share this together. Streamland, Mileage Quest, Snap and Crackle will be on hand. Of course, we will miss Pops, but he will be with us all in spirit.
By Matthew L. Wald, New York Times, November 13, 2012
WASHINGTON -- For years, scientists and engineers have been juggling various combinations of acids, steam, bacteria, catalysts and the digestive juices of microorganisms to convert agricultural waste and even household garbage into motor fuel.
So far, such alternative fuels have not moved beyond small pilot plants, despite federal incentives to encourage companies to develop them.
But that could be about to change.
Officials at two companies that have built multimillion-dollar factories say they are very close to beginning large-scale, commercial production of these so-called cellulosic biofuels, and others are predicting success in the months to come.
In Columbus, Miss., KiOR has spent more than $200 million on a plant that is supposed to mix shredded wood waste with a patented catalyst, powdered to talcumlike consistency. Its process does in a few seconds what takes nature millions of years: removes the oxygen from the biomass and converts the other main ingredients, hydrogen and carbon, into molecules that can then be processed into gasoline and diesel fuel.
KiOR aims to turn out 13 million gallons of fuel a year and has already lined up three companies to buy its output, including FedEx and a joint venture of Weyerhauser and Chevron. KiOR said on Thursday that it had begun producing what it called "renewable crude" and intended to refine that into gasoline and diesel that it would begin shipping by the end of the month.
And Ineos, a European oil and chemical company, is putting the final touches on a plant in Vero Beach, Fla., that would cook wood and woody garbage until they broke down into tiny molecules of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Those molecules would be pumped into a giant steel tank, where bacteria would eat them and excrete ethanol. The company has spent $130 million on the plant, which is supposed to make eight million gallons a year, about 1 percent of Florida's ethanol demand. The plant is next to a county landfill, and executives covet the incoming garbage.
Both plants are far smaller than typical oil refineries, but commercial production at either one -- or at any of several of the plants that are a step behind them -- would be a major milestone in renewable energy.
At such plants, the goal is sometimes to make ethanol and sometimes gasoline or diesel fuel or their ingredients. The pathways to make the biofuels are varied. But the feedstocks have something in common: they are derived from plants and trees, but not from food crops like corn kernels, which are the basis of most of the biofuel currently made in the United States.
Often, the raw ingredients for the cellulosic biofuels are the wastes of farms, paper mills or households, with a value that is low or even negative, meaning people will pay the fuel producers to dispose of them. And the companies developing the new fuels say that their products produce far fewer carbon emissions than petroleum-based gasoline and diesel.
The Lincvolt shooting schedule continues in December and January. Stay tuned for more updates.
Shakey Pictures continues shooting the Lincvolt saga, a history of the electrification of a 1959 Continental convertible, tracing the tale from inception to completion. Involving life and death, success and failure, joy and sorrow, and a lot of love, it promises much more than just a car story.
In a world where cars talk, but people can’t hear them, an automotive future is at stake along with the history of mankind. Power and greed, energy and need come together as the odyssey unfolds.
A Cambridge company is developing cheap batteries that can store power from wind turbines and solar panels.
By Kevin Bullis, MIT Technology Review, April 23, 2012
The workspace at Liquid Metal Battery's small basement headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, looks more like a machine shop than a high-tech lab you might expect from a spin-off from MIT.
In the place of vacuum chambers and rows of sealed glove boxes sit a large bandsaw, a drill press, and a simple welding station. In another corner sits an ordinary kiln like you might find in a pottery studio. Although the company's technology is based on advanced chemistry, the batteries look rudimentary: thick-walled steel cans that the researchers fill with powder scooped from large buckets and barrels.
The simplicity is by design. The company's goal is to make batteries so inexpensive that they can cheaply store wind power generated at night when it is often windy but power demand is low, for use during times of peak demand during the day. It has attracted millions of dollars in early-stage investments from Bill Gates, the French oil company Total, and the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy.
Liquid Metal, which was founded in 2010 but only started operating in earnest last fall when it expanded from seven to 17 employees, is one of several new companies hoping to learn from the challenges faced by an earlier wave of clean-energy startups. Clean-energy companies have struggled in part because incumbent technologies--such as fossil-fuel power plants, gas-powered cars, and even conventional solar cells--are so cheap, and because utilities favor established technologies.
The picture you see here is the generator system we have come to after 5 years of experimenting. It was recommended by AVL in Orange County, an electric car design and prototype world leader, involved with many of today's electric cars from the beginning. Lincvolt's generator system wasn't always as beautiful as this, or as efficient and powerful.
We had some large conceptual physics and math problems wrong in the beginning and spent years working on an underpowered solution. Starting with the idea of a small bio diesel engine turning a 75KW UQM electric motor, we quickly moved to a Mazda rotary engine to replace the diesel. We had thoughts of using an alternative fuel source, hydroxy gas, created by using electricity and water. This concept took about a year or more of our time and we experimented with no success.
Then we changed the fuel source to natural gas. T. Boone Pickens was giving the fuel a lot of exposure and we bought the story that natural gas could be the answer, so we changed to it. We ran the Rotary on compressed natural gas and it actually worked but it was so noisy, dirty and inefficient that we abandoned it in favor of a more environmentally safer fuel. The methods of extracting the natural gas fuel from the earth were not responsible in our opinion and we did not want to support the fuel.
We then experimented with a mixture of Ethanol and steam in the rotary and that was a failure that we dropped after a few months of testing. Ethanol was a fuel that was interesting to us though because it was readily available and domestic, reduced national security risks, created jobs, and was better for the environment than gasoline or other fossil fuels.
At that point we evolved to a Turbine to turn the 75KW UQM electric motor we were still using. The turbine ran on gasoline but burned it very cleanly, reducing GHG. We were about to evolve to bio diesel fuel in the turbine when disaster struck our project. A team member was charging the car with an unproven charger. A grave human error occurred when the car was left alone overnight with the unproven charging system left on. The system failed to shut off when the car was fully charged. The resulting fire was completely avoidable had normal safety standards been adhered to. It was not the fault of the car, or electric cars in general but the result of human error. The car should have never been left alone in that state with an unproven system engaged. The car was destroyed.
We rebuilt the car from the ground up with the help of Brizio Street Rods and AVL. AVL supplied the power train design. Ford Motors came to our aid with a Ford Atkinson 4 cylinder motor specially tuned to run on cellulosic ethanol. A 123 Batteries supplied us with a state of the art 23KWH battery pack made in the USA. Our previous batteries had been Thunder Sky, made in China. Every aspect of the new system was designed and implemented by AVL to the highest standards. We replaced the underpowered UQM 75KW electric motor with a 145 KW model. The Ford Atkinson turns the UQM 145 to give us enough power to create more than Lincvolt uses at speeds in excess of 80mph. We learned that the UQM 75 KW we had been using to that point would be adequate to power a Mini Cooper, not a Lincoln Continental built in 1959. That is how far off we were with our original calculations.
We stayed with it. We worked and stayed focused on success, trying to make a big car fast, clean and responsible. We did this because big cars are here for quite a while, as are pick-up trucks. They need to be more environmentally responsible, create jobs, and not be a threat to national security. The world needs a lot of energy and we can't just go on the way we are, burning fossil fuel. A transition to clean energy is imperative for future generations. By 2050, the world will need 17 Terra Watts more energy than it is now using. This energy must be clean or it will ruin our environment. The sun is our best source of energy and that is where we need to place our bets for the future.
Plants are batteries that store solar energy. Converting plants to fuel makes sense. Capturing Solar energy directly from the Sun makes sense. Biofuels are part of the future. That is why we have partnered with POET Ethanol, a forward-looking American company that has developed a pilot plant for producing Cellulosic Ethanol from biomass. The POET pilot plant is right next to a conventional POET Ethanol plant and uses the waste from the conventional plant as biomass to make Cellulosic Ethanol. The process of creating this new fuel in the pilot plant creates a gas that is re-circulated back to the nearby conventional plant, where it replaces natural gas as a fuel. This process has an effect on the Carbon output of the fuel that has not yet been calculated or validated by our normal references, but this endless cycle is the reason why POET Cellulosic Ethanol is our fuel of choice in Lincvolt's Ford Atkinson motor. We are generating electricity to charge Lincvolt's batteries with this fuel of the future, making Lincvolt one of the cleanest cars in the world, regardless of size.
Yesterday, Lincvolt left AVL and headed home to Brizio Street Rods for the final assembly. This is the last mile. Lincvolt will be on the road in December, fulfilling a dream that is now in its sixth year.
Yesterday, I was in Costa Mesa talking with folks about this economic downturn we're in -- a downturn that's hitting this state as much as any. One in ten Californians are out of work and actively looking for jobs. And the foreclosure crisis has had a devastating impact on Southern California in particular. But Californians aren't just bearing the brunt of this crisis -- you're doing what needs to be done to overcome it.
This workshop is a perfect example of that. Day by day, test by test, trial by painstaking trial; the scientists, engineers, and workers at this site are developing the ideas and innovations that our future depend upon. It is your ingenuity that will help create the new jobs and new industries of tomorrow.
It isn't easy. There are days, I'm sure, when progress seems fleeting, and days when it feels like you're making no progress at all. But often, our greatest discoveries are born not in a flash of brilliance, but in the crucible of a deliberate effort over time. And often, they take something more than imagination and dedication alone -- often they take an investment from government. That's how we sent a man to the moon. That's how we were able to launch a world wide web. And it's how we'll build the clean energy economy that's the key to our competitiveness in the 21st century.
We'll do this because we know that the nation that leads on energy will be the nation that leads the world in the 21st century. That's why, around the world, nations are racing to lead in these industries of the future. Germany is leading the world in solar power. Spain generates almost 30 percent of its power by harnessing the wind, while we manage less than one percent. And Japan is producing the batteries that currently power American hybrid cars.
So the problem isn't a lack of technology. You're producing the technology right here. The problem is that, for decades, we have avoided doing what must be done as a nation to turn challenge into opportunity. As a consequence, we import more oil today than we did on 9/11. The 1908 Model T earned better gas mileage than a typical SUV sold in 2008. And even as our economy has been transformed by new forms of technology, our electric grid looks largely the same as it did half a century ago.
So we have a choice to make. We can remain one of the world's leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that will allow us to become the world's leading exporter of renewable energy. We can let climate change continue to go unchecked, or we can help stem it. We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs right here in America and lay the foundation for our lasting prosperity.
That is what my recovery plan does. It will create or save 3.5 million jobs -- nearly 400,000 of them right here in California -- in part by making investments in areas critical to our long-term growth.
And that is the forward-thinking purpose of the budget I have submitted to Congress. It's a budget that makes hard choices about where to save and where to spend; that makes overdue investments in education, health care, and yes, energy -- investments that will catalyze innovation and industry, creating green jobs and launching clean, renewable energy companies right here in California.
In the next three years, we will double this nation's supply of renewable energy. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history -- an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in science and technology.
We will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks that are built right here in America.
We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. We will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills, just like you've done in California for decades. And we will put one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on America's roads by 2015.
Because these cars of tomorrow require the batteries of tomorrow, I am announcing that the Department of Energy is launching a $2 billion competitive grant program under the Recovery Act that will spark the manufacturing of the batteries and parts that run these cars, build or upgrade the factories that will produce them, and in the process, create thousands of jobs right here in America.
Show us that your idea or your company is best-suited to meet America's challenges, and we will give you a chance to prove it. And just because I'm here today doesn't exempt all of you from that challenge -- every company that wants a shot at these tax dollars has to prove their worth.
We are also making a $400 million down-payment on the infrastructure necessary to get these cars on the road; and because these cars won't leave the showroom unless consumers buy them, the Recovery Act includes a new tax credit of $7,500 to encourage Americans to plug one in at home.
True to form, California has already forged ahead with its own plans rather than wait for Washington. It's fitting that the state home to the first freeway and the first gas station is already at work devising the next freeway and the next gas station. This "green freeway" you're planning with Oregon and Washington would link your states with a network of rest stops that allow you to do more than just grab a cup of coffee; but also charge your car, refuel it with hydrogen or biofuels, or swap out a battery in the time it takes to fill a gas tank. Charging stations have begun to pop up around downtown San Francisco, and that city has joined with San Jose and Oakland with the vision of becoming the "electric vehicle capital of the United States."
Here at Southern California Edison, and all across the country, in factories and laboratories, at the Big Three and at small startups, these innovations are taking place right now. In Michigan, and Ohio, and right here in California, we are seeing exciting developments in this field as hardworking men and women are already laying the groundwork for this new industry. Even as our American automakers are undergoing a painful recalibration, they are retooling and reimagining themselves into an industry that can compete and win, because millions of jobs depend on it.
This is the critical work you're doing. But it's just one component of what must be a comprehensive energy plan. That's why we are making an $11 billion investment in upgrading our power grid, so that it can carry renewable energy from the far-flung places that harness or produce it to the cities that use it. That's why we will create jobs retrofitting millions of homes and cutting energy use in federal buildings by one quarter, saving the American taxpayer $1.5 billion each year.
These are challenging times, but we know we can do this. It won't come without cost, nor will it be easy. We've got 240 million cars already on the road. We've got to upgrade the world's largest energy grid while it's already in use. And other countries aren't standing around and waiting for us; they are forging ahead with their own bold energy plans.
But we have faced tough challenges before. And at our best, we have never relied on hope and chance alone. Time and again, we have tapped those great American resources: industriousness and ingenuity. That, after all, is what California is all about. This is a state that has always drawn people who've had their eyes set on the horizon; who've always dreamed of a future that others thought beyond reach. That is the spirit that you are reclaiming here at the Electric Vehicle Test Center, and that is the spirit we need to reclaim all across this country. Thank you.
Lincvolt has now returned to AVL in Orange County for the final installation and testing of a brand new power train including A123 batteries, 200 KW UQM prime mover, a 145 KW UQM generator motor and a custom tuned Ford Atkinson 4 cylinder engine fueled by POET Cellulosic Ethanol. The Ford engine is used to turn the generator motor.
The car will be at AVL a little less than a month according to our plans. At that time Lincvolt will then be returned to Brizio Street Rods in South San Francisco for final finish and interior installation. We are targeting December for completion and a trip down to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida and then possibly north to Washington DC.
As followers of the Lincvolt project know, we have never made a schedule before. This may be our last chance!
Driving an electric Renault Fluence ZE around London's leafy Wimbledon is not merely a serene experience - it is also a sign of things to come.
Already, electric cars such as the Fluence ZE are charged mainly at night, which means their drivers are freed from the time-consuming burden of stopping for fuel.
But in future, electric car drivers may not even have to plug their cars in.
Renault, together with Formula 1 car designer Delta Motorsport, have signed up to a trial of wireless charging technology that could offer drivers an alluring sensation - or rather illusion - of perpetual motion.
"We can effectively get a car with unlimited range," says Anthony Thomson, vice president of business development at Qualcomm, the company behind so-called inductive charging technology.
The process involves the transfer of energy from an electrically wired pad on the ground to a matching pad under the car via an electromagnetic field.
The car's pad is wired to the car battery, which is automatically charged whenever the vehicle is parked or driven over a pad on the ground.
Several technology companies are working on similar ideas, where every time the car stops it receives a top-up charge, whether at home in the garage, outside a supermarket or even at traffic lights.
In time, the hope is that pads could be installed along roads to charge cars while they are moving.
The concept could change the way the car industry thinks about electric motoring.
For years, carmakers and their technology partners have sought to make batteries that extend the range of electric vehicles. Indeed, range anxiety - the fear that the battery might run flat while driving - is often cited as the most important reason why many are reluctant to buy electric cars.
With inductive charging, the focus changes. Rather than merely designing cars that can drive far on a single charge, the industry is now preparing to make vehicles with smaller, lighter and cheaper batteries that are recharged frequently.
I have an electric car and I have spent 5 years building it. I think it represents the future. Not because it is big and 50s stylish; not because it sets a good example, but because it is a great performing car that does not do more harm than good. Recently I learned that the company that makes the batteries in my car was sold to China. Like any company, A123 needed money to survive and American consumers are not supporting electric cars to the extent required to sustain the costs of running A123. Chinese investors stepped in and bought A123, our flagship company that was supposed to show that we would not trade reliance on foreign oil for reliance on foreign batteries. Big business periodicals wrote articles criticizing our government for spending money supporting things that the people do not want. Truly, the US had given millions to A123, betting on the future of electric cars.
The tidal wave of electric transportation has not arrived. Consumers here in the USA are not there yet. The first wave was just a ripple on the shore. But it was just the opening ripple. Like anything big, there is always a small indicator that something will happen before it actually does. So Chinese consumers will drive mass electric cars before American ones do; that is the way it is playing out. I still have my batteries and the company that made them while no longer a solely American company, is stronger for its global ownership. Politicians are decrying the sale to China for security reasons while they say it was a bad idea for the US to fund the company in the first place. Phrases like "the government can't mandate change" are popular and they are true, at least here in America.
Chinese consumers are going electric while we talk about what went wrong in the USA. Change is happening elsewhere in the world as countries slowly turn the tide towards the future. I am doing this electric car project myself with a small team of committed people because I believe in it. It means something to me to show it can be done.
I don't owe success or failure to a government, or a political party. I owe it to my friends, who like me, believe in what we are doing. I think the Obama administration saw the future and tried to show the way. Now future vision is a political football. National Security, the environment, jobs created by new companies to support green energy, all play second fiddle to election politics while China plays the part of the visionary, buying American ideas that were supposed to come to fruition in Detroit.
I am just one person and I am thankful for my freedom and happy to be able to follow my own dream right here in the USA. I thought it would be good to use American companies to show what could be done, but global companies are the future.
I still believe that America, with its big people, freeways built like stretching ribbons of from coast to coast, fields of fuel, and strong yearning for independence, could use clean automobiles of all sizes powered domestically from our own resources and jobs.
A123 GOES CHINESE -- WILL WASHINGTON LEARN IT CAN'T MANDATE A MARKET?
by Bob Lutz, Forbes, August 8, 2012
A Chinese auto parts company, Wanxiang, has come to the rescue of cash-strapped A123 Systems, an American high-tech lithium-ion battery maker and centerpiece of the Obama administration's "green jobs" revolution. Wanxiang can acquire up to an 80% of the company in return for an investment of up to $450 million.
The recipient of a $249 million "green technology" grant from our federal government, A123, believing their own (and everyone else's) hype about the millions of electric vehicles that would soon be filling the nation's highways (it will happen, but not soon) set about proving an old adage: stupidity and waste increase with the amount of money available. Production capacity was set at a level that was way overly optimistic, and the headquarters complex, with its magnificent office suites and marbled lobbies, was something only a company with tons of money would dream of. But I'm sure the risk seemed low: After all, the "green revolution" was upon us. Even Nancy Pelosi said it was so!
But, as always in this vexing, over-regulated, over-taxed but still-twitching private enterprise system of ours, the marketplace overwhelmingly voted for the speed, range and lower price of conventional cars, even at $4 per gallon. It's another example of a government-directed "green jobs" initiative which, while environmentally praiseworthy (especially if you believe in manmade global warming), was economically idiotic: when capital is spent on a product for which there is insufficient demand, negative economic value is created and jobs, green or otherwise, are lost. To make matters worse, not only is the capital lost, but, had it not been squandered on green "hope and change," that same capital could have been spent productively, creating something that the public actually wants and needs.
That's the real crime of the "green jobs" initiative: it destroys capital that is so badly needed elsewhere to revitalize our economy.
But, thanks to a Chinese white knight, all is well. Superior battery chemistry, which was to be a U.S. competitive advantage, is now theirs. But why are we surprised? The Chinese have all the money in the world, and if they ever called the loans they have out to the U.S., the global economy would stop, and our nation would be in foreclosure. The Chinese are intelligent, industrious, products of a superior, disciplined education system. They are, despite the occasional misleading "Commie" rhetoric, old-fashioned capitalists, producers, investors, traders, designers and engineers. They are a lot like we used to be.
If the U.S. can't find a way back to self-accountability, to the abnegation of the "entitlement" philosophy, to hard work, to a focus on exports, an emphasis on value-added production rather than import-driving consumption, the A123 example will be repeated many times. If we can't get our act together soon, the country will "go Chinese" company by company, institution by institution, industry after industry. There will be no need for a military conflict against an overwhelmingly superior force: the Chinese will simply buy the country, a little piece at a time. And we seem happy to let them do it!
CHINESE INVESTMENT IN BATTERY MAKER A123 SPARKS CONTROVERSY
By Steve Hargreaves, CNN Money, August 9, 2012
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. battery maker A123 Systems said Wednesday it is receiving up to $450 million from a Chinese firm, the latest controversial foreign investment in an American company in the electric car space.
If completed, the deal would give China's Wanxiang Group Corporation an 80% percent stake in a company that many held up as America's answer to Asian dominance of the battery market.
The deal is also drawing fire from some lawmakers. A123 has contracts with the Pentagon, and some are leery of such a large foreign presence in a sensitive company.
A123 had a high-flying debut on the U.S. stock market in 2009, but has since struggled as the recession and relatively lower oil prices slowed demand for electric vehicles.
The company's stock, once valued at over $20 a share, has collapsed to around 50 cents.
"Today's announcement is the first step toward solidifying a strategic agreement that we believe would remove the uncertainty regarding A123's financial situation," David Vieau, the company's CEO, said in a statement.
Boston-Power leaving for China
A123 (AONE) sprang out of research labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001 and was founded with $100,000 in seed money from the U.S. government.
More recently it received a $250 million federal stimulus grant to open factories in Michigan, which now complement its manufacturing facilities in Asia.
The Michigan factories and jobs do not appear in danger from the Chinese deal. In fact, the deal may end up saving them.
In addition to vehicle batteries, the company also makes energy storage devices for the electric grid and other commercial applications.
It also has over $20 million in contracts with the U.S. military, which could prove a hurdle to getting the deal OK'd by U.S. and Chinese governments, which is required by law.
The military uses electric power in everything from soldiers' gear to weapons systems on vehicles and aircraft. It is increasingly turning to electric power to reduce its dependence on vulnerable oil supply lines.
Already some lawmakers spoke out against the deal.
"Once again it appears the Department of Energy and the Obama Administration have failed to secure sensitive taxpayer funded intellectual property from being transferred to a foreign adversary," Florida Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns said in a statement.
The White House did not directly address Stearns' worry, but said the government money A123 received cannot be used to send U.S. jobs or facilities abroad.
Earlier this year another American battery maker, Ener1, was bought out of bankruptcy by a Russian investor.
Ener1 also held U.S. military contracts and received government grants, and its purchase by a Russian was also criticized by some lawmakers and commentators.
Both Ener1 and A123 are seen as having some of the best American battery technology in a field largely dominated by Asian firms.
With the anticipated growth of electric cars, there's a saying in the industry that United States may trade its dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on Asian batteries.
By Andrew Maykuth, Philadelphia Inquirer, August 2, 2012
A California company, infused with millions of federal dollars, is offering to install free charging stations in the homes of some Philadelphia-area owners of electric vehicles.
In return, it wants your data.
ECOtality Inc. announced Wednesday that it was expanding its federally funded EV Project to Philadelphia, as well as Atlanta and Chicago. The two-year-old project, which is now in seven states, is aimed at developing the infrastructure to support the electric-vehicle market, while also gathering data on how EVs are being used and recharged.
Each program participant gets a free, wall-mounted charger valued at $1,500 and a $400 credit toward installation. It's available only to owners of Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts, because those vehicles are equipped with communications equipment that transmits driving data to the company.
"Now, people interested in electric transportation in the Philadelphia region can join the EV Project and help us build a nationwide network of electric-vehicle-charging stations," said Don Karner, chief innovation officer of ECOtality, which is based in San Francisco. It also is recruiting commercial partners to host the charging stations.
ECOtality received $115 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants in 2009 and 2010, part of the Obama administration's push to stimulate green-energy projects. The grants finance about half the EV Project's cost.
ECOtality's federal funding has become the target of Mitt Romney's campaign, which has likened it to Obama's support of solar-manufacturer Solyndra before it went bankrupt.
The negative publicity has not helped ECOtality's stock price, which closed Wednesday in NASDAQ trading at 49 cents a share, down 92 percent since it went public last year at $6.40 a share.
Karner said the company was being unfairly tarnished during the "political silly season" and maintained that the "project is viable and vibrant."
The rollout of charging infrastructure is one of the obstacles holding back the EV market, along with the cost of the vehicles and their limited range.
There is no shortage of competitors to ECOtality that are building out networks: General Electric; Coulomb Technologies; Better Place; and NRG Energy of Princeton, which operates the eVgo Network. Philadelphia entrepreneur Norman Zarwin also is building out a local network under the U-Go brand name.
ECOtality calls its system the Blink Network, which is connected to the Internet and allows customers to remotely schedule charging via mobile devices. In areas where hourly electric rates are in effect - next year for Peco Co. customers - the charger can also determine the best times and rates available for charging.
Customers who get the free ECOtality residential-recharging stations will have the option to join the Blink Network and pay a fee to use the company's high-speed public charging stations, which are now limited in Philadelphia to two Center City parking garages and Temple University.
In other parts of the country, ECOtality has established partnerships with businesses such as Best Buy, Ikea, Macy's, Sears, and Wal-Mart to host its chargers.
For more information on the program, visit www.theEVproject.com or contact ECOtality's Blink Network at 1-888-998-2546.
ON THE ROAD WITH CELLULOSIC ETHANOL
POET and Neil Young cruise toward a cleaner future
By Marcella Prokop, Vital Magazine, July 19, 2012
"Long May You Run," was written well before Neil Young started his alternative fuel project dubbed "LincVolt," but it's an apt descriptor nonetheless for the role POET's cellulosic ethanol has played in solving range issues for the eco-friendly car.
Neil Young, musician and champion of innovation, has converted a 1959 Lincoln Continental into a clean car that uses an electric and ethanol-based propulsion system.
The crew is planning a cross-country tour and film to "inspire a generation," according the project's mission.
"The battery on the vehicle is a high-voltage DC pack that was designed for vehicle use," says Andrew Roberts of UQM Technologies, whose electric motors have been used in the car. "Electric systems can be up to 95% efficient, but the problem of battery capacity dictates that there must be an alternative energy source on board in order to ensure a livable driving range. Using biofuels as an alternative energy source represents a cleaner and more energy-independent alternative to traditional gas or diesel range extenders."
That's where POET comes in. Cellulosic ethanol from the POET Research Center in Scotland, S.D. will be providing that alternative energy source.
Young said the project is a way to reconcile two of his passions in life.
"I've always had a love for older cars and bigger cars, but I've also always had a love for the environment," he said. "I felt conflicted about that, but I thought there must be a solution."
So he looked into his options.
"I did some research into different fuels and thought that cellulosic could be a long-term solution for the environment."
Young and his crew update the process regularly on The LincVolt Gazette, his blog about the project.
"... [T]his fuel is different," Young writes. "It is made from the waste of farming, the waste of conventional ethanol production, and it has by-products: ... gas for replacing the natural gas used in the processing of conventional ethanol."
"The great thing about cellulose is that it's coming from an unused raw material," says Dave Bushong, General Manager of the POET Research Center in Scotland, S.D. "Currently, when we talk about corn stover we talk about something that's just left to decompose on the soil. Being able to use that product is both an economically and environmentally viable alternative to petroleum."
A History of Being Part of the Solution
Young, whose music spans decades and genres, is an advocate of rural America. In the 80s, when farmers suffered from drought, high interest rates on loans and failing crops, Young teamed with other musicians to create Farm Aid, a concert that brought in nearly 10 million dollars for farm relief in its first year alone.
Knowing that American farmers didn't want a government handout or pity, the musicians behind Farm Aid wanted to raise awareness of the situation in the Midwest and find a solution to the problems.
More than 25 years later, Young is again working with like-minded organizations to solve a problem: fossil fuel and its detrimental effects.
Johnathan Goodwin of H-Line Conversions in Wichita, Kansas is a collaborator on the project.
"[Young] and his long-time friend Larry Johnson showed up at my door with the Lincoln, and what looked like a hundred water bottles on the floor of the car," says Goodwin of his initial introduction to the vehicle. "They looked like they'd been on the road for about six months, you know, driving this old Lincoln out to Wichita."
He and Goodwin worked on the car together, dreaming of 100+ miles of fuel efficiency. Initially they were running water and ethanol through a rotary motor but couldn't get the propulsion they needed for the 19-foot, 5,000 pound vehicle. Then one day Goodwin came up with another idea.
"I said to him, 'I have this crazy idea of a hybrid that wouldn't be limited on range. It would be electric, but you'd have a generator on board that could charge the batteries using a clean fuel'."
Young, Goodwin says, was "all in."
Idea to Reality
With that, work began in earnest. Young and his crew filmed the process for a documentary that will bring viewers behind the scenes and to the forefront of his dream. They plan a cross-country road trip to Washington, D.C. to discuss with legislators energy and job issues that challenge America. And then Young patented Goodwin's design for eventual commercialization. This kind of ambition is what Young is known for, and his sense of pride in American work and creativity underlies this project.
"I'd never been around big, old cars until I met Neil and saw the collection at his ranch," Goodwin says. "He's very adamant about the pride and craftsmanship in American cars from back then. The whole thing he was inspired about is having an electric car you don't have to stop to refuel."
Bushong sees this work ethic and ingenuity as something that also drives today's ethanol producers and researchers.
"We're a company dedicated to innovation, in the starch and cellulose ethanol business as well as the biochemical business," he says. "POET is dedicated to making cellulose ethanol a competitive-priced fuel for the consumer. The world will continually see escalating fuel costs, and historically we've brought down the price of ethanol to the consumer. I think the same will be true for cellulose ethanol."
One of the goals behind this project and the work at POET is a solution to the many problems around oil use. As it is now, the collaborators are headed in the right direction.
HOW THE ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING MIRACLE CAR WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
And save the world.
By Steven Kopits, Foreign Policy, June 8, 2012
Electric cars have been competing with the internal combustion engine for more than a century, and they have never won. Batteries are more expensive, have less range, and require more time to recharge than it takes to fill a gas tank. In late 2010, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu himself articulated the challenge, stating that battery companies have to develop units that last 15 years, improve energy storage capacity by a factor of five to seven, and cut costs by about a factor of three in order for electric cars to be comparable to cars that run on gasoline and diesel.
U.S. energy policy has tried to address these challenges. The Energy Department and other agencies have supported the development of battery and recharging technology. In addition, the U.S. government has provided financial support to Nissan, General Motors, Tesla, and Fisker to develop and manufacture commercial electric vehicles (EVs). The government hopes such investment can spur economies of scale, thereby reducing unit costs and making new technologies viable.
So far, though, these efforts have failed to produce any game-changing breakthroughs. Battery range remains strictly limited, and electric vehicles remain disproportionately expensive, with batteries alone costing as much as $15,000. The plug-in, hybrid electric Chevy Volt retails for $40,000 before a $7,500 federal tax credit, and the all-electric Nissan Leaf starts at $27,700 after the tax credit. These vehicles are also less capable than their gasoline-powered counterparts, prompting Johan de Nysschen, president of Audi of America, to observe in 2011, "No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a [Toyota] Corolla."
He has been proved right. In 2011, the Leaf sold only 9,700 units in the United States, and Chevy sold only 7,700 Volts. There were 13 million vehicles sold in the United States last year, meaning that electric vehicles comprised a meager 0.1 percent of the market.
It is hard not to be pessimistic about the future of electric cars, especially given that government funding is unlikely to increase. Not only has austerity become an economic reality, but electric vehicle funding has become something of a political liability. With the best of intentions, the government is subsidizing second cars for the very richest members of society. Both the Tesla (which has the body of a Lotus) and the gorgeous Fisker Karma sports car (created by BMW-designer Henrik Fiskar and assembled in Finland) retail for more than $100,000. These are not products for the top 1 percent; these are products for the top 0.1 percent.
The demographics for the Volt and the Leaf are only marginally better. According to Nissan, Leaf buyers are college-educated and have household incomes of $140,000 per year. According to General Motors CEO Daniel Akerson, the average Volt purchaser earns $170,000 annually. In short, electric car policy is helping precisely those who should not be subsidized by the government, and as a result, sustaining and increasing such funding will prove challenging.
Is the electric car then history? Will the Leaf and the Volt go the way of the ill-fated EV1, General Motors' electric car from the 1990s? If the status quo persists, they very well might. There are, however, reasons to believe that electric cars might find a viable niche after all -- if we use them in the right way.
For the last several years, Google has been testing self-driving cars, primarily in California and Nevada. Its vehicles use lasers, radars, and other sensors to establish their position and identify objects around them. This data is interpreted by artificial intelligence software that enables the vehicle to drive itself. Google's vehicles have now proved themselves in hundreds of thousands of miles on the road. And Google's not the only game in town. Bosch is also developing the technology, and Cadillac has promised to have a car capable of driving autonomously on the highway by 2015. Self-driving technology is gradually moving to commercialization, and when it does, it will liberate the car from its driver, enabling a vehicle to serve more users.
According to the Transportation Department, the average U.S. vehicle is used less than one hour per day -- a utilization rate of about 5 percent. Many Americans only drive their cars to work, park, and leave them until they drive home at night, making them essentially unavailable for use by others for most of the day. But if the car could drive itself, it could return home to take the children to school, members of the family shopping, and seniors to visit friends or keep appointments. If the vehicle served even one additional passenger, its utilization rate would double, and its capital cost per user would fall by half.
This is exactly the solution needed to remedy the poor economics that currently stymie electric vehicles. Even if better or cheaper batteries are not developed, electric cars could still be economically viable if their utilization rates were double those of today's gasoline-powered vehicles.
The viability of electric vehicles would be further enhanced if they were used as a service, rather than purchased as assets. For example, electric cars could be employed as driverless taxis. In some places, like New York City, taxis are ubiquitous because keeping a private vehicle is prohibitively expensive and inconvenient to park. In other parts of the country, taxis are scarce and expensive. In the town of Princeton, New Jersey, for example, taxis are found only at the train station, and the brief round trip from there to downtown Princeton costs approximately $40. Of this, only $5 represents vehicle-related costs; the remainder is attributable to the driver. At usage rates rivaling that of taxis -- perhaps 100 miles per day -- electric cars are quite competitive because of their lower operating costs. Thus a self-driving electric car could also make the same round trip at a cost of only $5. For a twice-daily, off-peak user, the monthly cost of vehicle access could be less than $300 -- much less than the cost of car ownership.
Consuming transportation as a service would also help compensate for three noneconomic weaknesses of electric vehicles: limited size and capacity, limited range, and extended recharging time. Most regular cars can seat four or five, be driven 300 miles, and carry a trunk full of goods. On most days, however, the typical driver uses only a fraction of these capabilities. As most households can only afford one car per driver, the consumer buys more vehicle than is strictly required for daily commuting in order to preserve the option of traveling greater distances with a large load and several people. General Motors has attempted to sell the Volt on just this limited-use basis, that most people drive less than 40 miles per day. True enough, but most consumers will buy a vehicle that they can use for all their activities, not just those on a typical day.
If transportation could be purchased as a service, however, this constraint would be lifted. Localities could have a fleet of electric vehicles on call for local trips, allowing EVs to operate within short distances only -- just as the typical taxi does. This would permit electric vehicles to find a successful niche without fundamental improvements in range or load. As such, an EV would not replace every car for every driver, but it could fulfill a key role in local transportation and reduce the number of vehicles per household or allow marginal users, like senior citizens, to maintain a high level of local mobility without having to own a car.
Purchasing transportation as a service would also reduce recharging requirements. Recharging technology is improving, but it remains to be seen whether EVs will ever be able to recharge as quickly as a gasoline tank can be filled. If transportation can be purchased as a service, then not every EV must be fully recharged at the same time, nor must each vehicle be fully recharged prior to use -- something that would present risk to an owner entirely dependent on a single EV. Thus, while faster charging is better, self-driving EVs -- used as a fleet -- would be able to function effectively even in the absence of superfast recharging.
In short, self-drive technology offers the promise of electric vehicles with economic and functional viability even in the absence of major technological improvements.
The market for self-driving technology is large -- my firm estimates it at $25 billion per year. The key customers would be senior citizens who do not wish to drive or are looking for more economical transportation; soccer moms, who often spend hours per day chauffeuring children back and forth from school and activities; and executives lured by the ability of the vehicle to drop them off and go park itself. Indeed, once the idea of sending the car to park itself takes hold, it is almost irresistible. Self-driving cars would be the biggest time-saving breakthrough since the washing machine.
Moreover, they offer an economical alternative to mass transit. Traveling by train is often touted as the wave of the future. In truth, Amtrak's prices don't compete with the cost of automobiles today, and they are horribly uncompetitive vis-a-vis intercity buses. Would hugely expensive bullet train infrastructure reduce the cost of a train ticket? It seems unlikely.
Nor are buses a realistic alternative for daily commuting for most people. A recent USA Today article recounts the story of a university employee in Arizona who lost her car to an accident and decided to take the bus instead. Her daily commute increased from 20 minutes to one hour each way. Do the math, and her monthly commuting time increased by the equivalent of three working days. Increasing the working month by three days is not social progress -- it is a social and economic catastrophe. By contrast, self-driving electric vehicles offer a more flexible and lower-cost solution that combines the custom experience of a car with the environmental and economic benefits of public transport. Think of self-driving EVs as customized public transportation.
Self-driving electric vehicles will also help compensate for a lack of oil. The oil supply has not increased materially for the past seven years, even as Chinese demand has soared. As a result, the Chinese are bidding away U.S. oil consumption, which has dropped 16 percent per capita since 2005. If we want to maintain our physical mobility, we will have to turn to other sources of energy. Self-driving electric cars will not dominate the future -- given a choice, consumers have time and again shown a preference for gasoline- and diesel-powered cars -- but they should find a viable niche in local transport, which constitutes the bulk of daily driving in the United States. By 2025, they could comprise 15 to 20 percent of vehicle sales. Thus, the road transportation system, which has been entirely dependent on oil-based fuels, will become more diversified. Road transport will come to look more like the power system, with oil, natural gas, and battery power all playing a role and filling different niches in different ownership structures. Relatively few people may own self-driving electric cars, but many people may rely on them for daily transportation.
Interestingly, neither the Republican Party nor Democratic Party has embraced self-driving technology. Either of them could. For Democrats, self-driving technology promises to be the enabler of electric vehicles, in which the party has vested so much emotion and prestige. On the other hand, Democrats seem viscerally incapable of proposing alternatives to oil that are economically viable or increase individual consumption. Will gee-whiz automobile technology find a home with the left?
For Republicans, anything to do with green technology carries a stigma. On the right, batteries and green technologies are the stuff of rent-seeking, bureaucratic-meddling, dead-end wastes of money. And self-driving technology could vindicate the left's investment in electric vehicles. On the other hand, self-driving technology could be good business and requires only a proper legislative framework, not an endless stream of subsidies.
Thus, both the left and the right have reasons to embrace or reject self-driving technology. But the technology will continue to develop and, bit by bit, be deployed commercially. It promises a brighter future, where technology once again helps improve lives and make the world a better place. For a country beset by economic stress and uncertainty, self-driving technology offers a vision of a better tomorrow, a more optimistic world. We should embrace it.
READY FOR BRIZIO'S
June 2, 2012
Monday our friends from Brizio Street Rods will install the suspension and wheels of LV so that the electro cruiser can roll onto a travel trailer for its return to Brizio Street Rods and the next stages of re-assembly. On Tuesday the vehicle will be transported and arrive back in South San Francisco.
May 31, 2012
Today the Lincvolt Electro Cruiser returns to Camilleri's in Sacramento with new glass. A windshield from the donor car "Miss Pegi," a thoughtful gift to me from my wonderful wife, will be installed, as well as a new "breezeway window." The breezeway window is a verticle rear window that is electric, enabling the electrocruiser to take in fresh air through the back of the raised convertible top. Of course, there are no petro fumes to spoil the effect.
BACK TO BRIZIO'S
May 29, 2012
Lincvolt will be heading back to Brizio Street Rods to begin re-assembly. This could happen in the very early days of June. The first job will be adding the suspension, already fit at AVL and ready now for a simple bolt in procedure. The new suspension and ABS system will make LV ride safer and stronger than ever in the history of a 1959 Lincoln. Brakes were one of the few weaknesses of the original Lincoln Continental Design when it made its debut in 1958.
Next the car will be measured for a new interior and numerous pieces will be readied for re-application. Shortly after that is done the Electro Cruiser will return to AVL in Southern California to have the drive train re-installed. Every part was tested on the AVL dynamometer cell when it was designed and first installed so the Electro Cruiser may not need to be tested on the cell again. When the vehicle returns to Brizio Street Rods from AVL the final assembly will take place.
THE ORIGINAL COLOR
May 21, 2012
Lincvolt has been prepared and is ready to be painted beginning this week at Camillerri Auto Works in Sacramento. The color will be identical to the original color and then Lincvolt will return to Brizio's to begin re-assembly.
SECURITY AND JOBS ARE GOOD FOR AMERICA
May 15, 2012
Today we often hear radical conservatives being negative about electric cars for political purposes. Whose side are these people on anyway? Lincvolt is an electric car that takes advantage of the great skills of American companies producing electric motors, batteries, power train designs, and fuel. It is an example of what can be done here in the USA when we put our hearts and minds into an endeavor, knowing we are going in early and need to do a lot of things for the first time. We need to show ingenuity and guts. That is what this country is good at.
UQM from Colorado makes the two electric motors in Lincvolt. One is for the power train and one acts as a generator to charge the batteries. Both of these reliable military grade motors were designed and built in the USA by hard working Americans with families to feed.
A123 Systems from Detroit Michigan makes powerful batteries that move our big SUV/Truck-weighted car for over 50 miles without a charge. That is 15 more daily miles than the average USA commute. The power to go that far every day costs about $2.50 for the electricity in California and that is more expensive than the majority of states. That makes good sense. And some months Lincvolt will not need liquid fuel at all. Only if we go on a long trip will we need to fill up.
When we do fill up, guess what? We use domestic fuel from POET Ethanol in South Dakota. They have a new plant there being built by American workers where hundreds will have jobs making America's future strong with good clean fuel from the land. Just like Henry Ford wanted it when he started out dreaming of ethanol powered cars, and electric cars with his friend Edison. But this fuel is different. It is made from the waste of farming, the waste of conventional ethanol production, and it has by-products: food for animals and gas for replacing the Natural gas used in the processing of conventional ethanol. That's why American farmers like this idea. Because its good for America's independence. It's what America needs; Independence and jobs for security. It's not from Canada's oil sands, where the dirtiest fuel on earth is found. It's made from waste, biomass, right here in the USA and it is part of the future. It's called POET Cellulosic Ethanol. And by the way, it has 86% less greenhouse gases than gasoline. Even if you don't believe in global warming and thousands of scientists there is nothing wrong with efficiency. POET Ethanol is good for America.
From Detroit Michigan, under the hood is a powerful 4 cylinder custom-made Ford engine, adapted by Ford Motors to turn an electric generator and charge the A123 batteries while burning POET Cellulosic Ethanol. It won't run on gasoline. It doesn't want to and it doesn't have to. It can use E 85 if cellulosic or conventional ethanol is not available. This is an American motor made by American workers to make the country stronger, more efficient, cleaner and most importantly, safer. All of this is accomplished while employing hard working Americans who have families to feed.
So Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and the rest of you, whose side are you on when you criticize and exaggerate and mislead the public about problems with American made electric cars? Why do you attack the Chevy Volt and the workers who take pride in building it? Do you have no vision? No guts? Are you never going to look ahead to the future? Have you forgotten that being first means taking chances? Do we do nothing because we are afraid to fail? What about ingenuity? Do you want America to stand by while China succeeds at this? What do you stand for? Whose side are you on?
For all of those who have followed and supported our project, we thank you. Stay tuned for more news as we close in on our goal.
JUST PASSING THROUGH
April 21, 2012
Lincvolt is enjoying a lot of attention at Brizio Street Rods these days, but she is just passing through. Soon the car will be taken to Camilleri Auto Works in Sacramento to be painted in its original ivory color and chrome work will be done restoring Lincvolt's massive bumpers and trim. Work will continue at Brizio Street Rods on details preparing for the return.
One more trip back to AVL in Orange County is planned to finally install all of the power train that was developed there. Lincvolt will then be under electric power with a cellulosic ethanol generator. An electric-only range of 50 miles with the additional ability to recharge under way will make it possible for Lincvolt to travel unlimited distances under electric power.
Anyone who has driven a powerful electric vehicle knows that this is the superior way to travel. Control is absolute and responsive at all speeds. Response is instant, seamless and smooth with no transmission and plenty of torque for quiet, efficient motoring. An electric car is like no other. It is the future.
After AVL, it's back to Brizio Street Rods for the final assembly, marking the completion of a very memorable 5 year journey and the beginning of a new life on the road for this 1959 Lincoln Continental convertible, spreading the news around the country about the benefits of clean powerful electric transportation.
Shakey Pictures will continue the filming of this story as we cruise the interstates and back roads of North America. A live video feed from Lincvolt will be streamed from Lincvolt.com. Stay tuned.
Thanks for your support.
THE LONG RUN
March 13, 2012
If you are one of the folks who has been following this project, thank you for your interest and support. It means a lot to our team to have you with us.
Our goal is to build a big electric American car that can commute with no gasoline and take long journeys at anytime using domestic green fuel to power a generator. We are doing it. We are succeeding. We are building our dream, which means repowering the American dream itself. As you know, we have had a lot to overcome. We have learned a lot and we have never hesitated or wavered in our endeavor.
Now we are so close. We have seen our car, Lincvolt, cruising with its new series hybrid power train by AVL. What a great feeling to see Lincvolt rolling again, almost a year and a half after a fire that required the car to be totally rebuilt! It was that fire that changed our direction and gave us a chance to begin anew. Today the 1959 Lincoln Continental convertible is almost ready for the big road. Looking at the car and knowing its history of setbacks and changes, we are still totally engaged! That is what a big dream is all about.
We have recently added ABS brakes at AVL and upgraded our suspension to handle the tremendous forces encountered using regenerative braking with a 6000-pound vehicle. Because of what we learned watching our vehicle under extreme regenerative braking on the AVL dynamometer cell, we have adapted Lincvolt to accept the road proven suspension of a VW Touareg, a 6000-pound SUV. The results present a very solid and safe ride.
We want to show that large SUVs can be electric long-range vehicles, utilizing planet friendly fuels for power generation. We are almost there. POET, an American ethanol company pioneering the production of cellulosic ethanol for consumers, will be supplying our domestic green fuel. This fuel is the lowest carbon footprint of any fuel we have ever seen. It presents a 86% reduction in GHG emissions over gasoline.
If this concept can be done with a car this size, it can be done with any type of car or truck. We are extremely close to our goal and we want to thank you for being there with us for the long run. We will soon be on the road traveling around America, demonstrating this green transportation technology and completing our film. It's going to be a fun summer.
Stay tuned for more updates as we finish the project and head for the road to demonstrate the unlimited possibilities of electric transportation in a big car or truck.
February 6, 2012
Initial results from the AVL dynamometer are complete.
Lincvolt's custom "Ford Built" ethanol generator is capable of charging the battery pack fully in 40 minutes.
Lincvolt has an all electric range of close to 50 miles, more than enough for all electric daily commuting after either an overnight charge or a quick and convenient "green charge" from Lincvolt's generator.
Lincvolt's POET Cellulosic ethanol fuel creates 86% less GHG compared to gasoline and Lincvolt uses a little less than 2 gallons to charge fully depleted batteries.
At 80 MPH, Lincvolt's 145 KW generator is still charging the battery pack. This makes long range traveling comfortable, clean and safe with none of the range anxiety sometimes associated with electric vehicles.
ABS BRAKING SYSTEM
Lincvolt is now being fitted with an ABS braking system for maximum braking safety. ABS brakes add to the safety of the regeneration system by ensuring that regeneration does not lock up the wheels in extreme conditions. The brake conversion at AVL will take approximately 5 weeks.
Lincvolt will return to Northern California and exterior painting will be done at Camilleri Auto Works in Sacramento. Then the instrument panel, restored and modified by Classic Instruments and programmed by Paul Perrone of Perrone Robotics, will be installed and final fitting of the leather interior, convertible top, and finish will be completed at Brizio Street Rods in South San Francisco.
January 13, 2012
Lincvolt is outside now on a vast parking lot near AVL in Orange County Ca. Testing has been ongoing for 2 days and the next phase will see Lincvolt on the AVL Dynamometer cell, an amazing piece of technology that the industry leading developer of electric car technology uses to test its ideas and prototypes. This device is a huge driving condition simulator that the car is attached to and then is tested for all road conditions, severe stopping, turning at high speeds, energy consumption, regeneration, to name just a few. We will have limited footage of this exclusive AVL device available on our web site and in our film. Car manufacturers from around the world have used this legendary AVL technology and Lincvolt is very fortunate to be able to use it as well.
We are testing a new type of electric car, the long-range electro cruiser. Lincvolt is designed to be economical and clean on commutes, using only electric power. Lincvolt, a series hybrid, always uses electric power turning an electric traction motor because the onboard generator is capable of delivering more electricity than the car uses at highway speeds. GM’s Chevy Volt is not a series hybrid because it uses gasoline to directly drive the wheels when the battery completely loses energy. The Fisker Karma is the only series hybrid car on the market with a similar approach to ours, but it burns gasoline and provides no other option for cleaner fuel, while Lincvolt burns cellulosic ethanol, a fuel that has a 86% reduction in GHG compared to gasoline. This new fuel is domestically produced from the waste that is left when regular ethanol is created. Lincvolt can also use gasoline or any blend of gasoline and regular ethanol.
Testing will continue next week at AVL and we anticipate the car will return to Brizio Street Rods in South San Francisco next weekend. Some work will be done at Brizio Street Rods before Lincvolt goes to Sacramento for painting. Then Lincvolt will return to Brizio Street Rods for assembly of interior, controls and final trim detail.
Stay tuned for this exciting part of our journey, then follow us around the country with our live webcam and video updates as we visit cities and towns found on North American highways in Lincvolt, one of the cleanest running cars ever made. This promises to be fun and we will try to make following our trip as entertaining and informative for you as we can.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
December 31, 2011
Thanks for being with us. We are now in our fifth year and will have completed five years in September of 2012. As most of you long termers know, we have had to be persistent in overcoming many setbacks. We are a few months away now from having Lincvolt back and better than ever before. Our experiences with this project have led us to the conclusion that a series hybrid propulsion system fueled by bio fuel is the cleanest way to move around our big car. Our Poet Cellulosic Ethanol Fuel source provides an 86% reduction in green house gases compared to gasoline. We can drive over 40 miles on a charge. Our generator is cleaner than the grid. Plugging in is an option, but not the cleanest one. Our car's range is limited only by fuel capacity and availability in the USA. Lincvolt at 75 mph is recharging while driving.
We plan on touring the USA and going to Washington to lobby for Green fuel support with our friends in the government. We want the USA to regulate Bio Fuels so engine manufacturers can build engines for green cars, knowing what the fuel is going to be. We want states like California to wake up to alternative fuels and make laws supporting their use, not inhibiting their use.
Our 1959 Lincoln Continental is the American dream of old, running on the fuel that was Henry Ford's vision for America. Did you know that the USA's second largest supply of fuel is ethanol, produced right in the USA by American workers? Did you know that Petro fuel is now the largest export of the USA? Did you know that laws exist to stop citizens in California from using pure ethanol in their cars? Did you know that laws exist to stop conversion of cars from gasoline to Ethanol? Did you know that the amount of corn America uses for food has flat-lined for decades, making the argument that ethanol takes food from our tables completely false and misleading? Do you know who is behind this misleading information? We want to show you what we have learned on our journey. Stay tuned this year as we tour the USA and Canada telling our story.
Happy New Year from the Lincvolt Team!
POET SUPPLIES FUEL!
December 3, 2011
POET is the clean, green, high tech and homegrown fuel company for the future. Cellulosic ethanol is this future. In the coming years we will be dispelling the myths of negativity around ethanol that have been spun by the oil giants and their friends. We will be making an example of how America can have its own fuel, independent and free. Stay tuned.
It has been over more than four years since the Lincvolt project began. We have been continuously searching for a way to make people aware of electric transportation as a vehicle for change. With the new Lincvolt generator fuel, Cellulosic ethanol, we have a combination of electricity and bio-fuel generation that is very clean, so clean that it actually has a 86% reduction in carbon emissions when compared to gasoline. Regular Ethanol has a 59% reduction. We want our fuel to come from the first American plant that creates it and is itself powered by renewable fuel. We will be reaching out to the manufacturer, POET during the coming days and will keep you posted on our progress. We want to make Lincvolt the poster child for Cellulosic ethanol, a fuel made from waste. We have a lot of waste that is largely unused. This is the opportunity we have been searching for.
Today Lincvolt leaves Brizio Street Rods and moves south in a carrier to AVL in Orange county. At AVL the high voltage systems will be installed and tested. We will be bringing you all the news from AVL as it happens.
The Lincvolt Team thanks you for your support.
November 20, 2011
Lincvolt is at the alignment shop being balanced over the weekend and will return Monday for a couple more days of work before getting on a carrier and going south to AVL in Orange county. After Thanksgiving, Bruce Falls at AVL will install the High Voltage system and test it on the AVL Dyno between Christmas and New Year's day. When Lincvolt returns to Brizio Street Rods it will only be for a short time. During that time the car will be made ready to paint at Camilleri Body Works in Sacramento. Paint and chrome will be done there, and then Lincvolt will be ready to re-install the new High Voltage system for the last time, either at Brizio or AVL, depending on AVL's decision.
We are getting closer to the goal. Seeing Lincvolt roll out of Brizio's shop last week, a full year after thermal runaway, is a testimony to the enduring energy behind this project. Better and stronger than ever before, Lincvolt will soon be ready to take to the highways of North America. We will all be there with the car on the journey with live streams from across the country on Lincvolt.com
We will keep you posted!
The Lincvolt team thanks you for your support. Hold on, its going to be good!
November 5, 2011
Lincvolt will be going South to AVL in a carrier and return with a fully functioning power train by the end of the year. AVL will be doing the installation of the batteries and charging systems, and testing Lincvolt as a series hybrid. Before Lincvolt leaves Brizio Street Rods in 10 days for the trip to AVL in Southern California, final preparations will be made here to the body to make it totally ready for the installation. At the point the car returns to Brizio Street Rods, it will be ready for painting. When the painting is done, final assembly will begin, including interior and instrument panels, final finish. This will take an amount of time that is unknown at this point, but will be an exciting, focused and energetic push to get Lincvolt back on the road again. At that time, final testing will be done and our trip around the USA will begin. This process will be a rewarding one, with much effort and care taken. We look forward to these next stages!
Filming and Post Production of the Lincvolt movie continues at Shakey Pictures.
Thanks for your support. - The Lincvolt team.
REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR
October 23, 2011
A new documentary by Chris Paine, is playing in theaters.
Learn more about the film and view a trailer here.
LINCVOLT AND THE FORD LEGACY
July 20, 2011
Back in the early 1900s Henry Ford was thinking about the future and receptive to building electric cars.
As time passed, news reports had Ford's EV coming in 1915, then 1916. Details varied: It would cost somewhere between $500 and $750 (between $10,000 and $15,712 today) and would go somewhere between 50 and 100 miles on a charge.
Thomas Edison, Henry Ford's partner and friend, in an interview with Automobile Topics in May 1914, divulged no details and made his best "It's coming, just be patient" speech. "Mr. Henry Ford is making plans for the tools, special machinery, factory buildings and equipment for the production of this new electric. There is so much special work to be done that no date can be fixed now as to when the new electric can be put on the market. But Mr. Ford is working steadily on the details, and he knows his business so it will not be long."
Edison also said "I believe that ultimately the electric motor will be universally used for trucking in all large cities, and that the electric automobile will be the family carriage of the future. All trucking must come to electricity. I am convinced that it will not be long before all the trucking in New York City will be electric."
Edison was himself no stranger to electric cars. He built a battery-powered front-wheel-drive electric car in 1895, and the famous industrialist owned some of the very expensive electric cars then in production.
Like many of the great ideas in history these dreams and plans were not to be, at least not at that time.
Henry Ford also wanted to build ethanol-powered cars, envisioning ethanol as the fuel of the future for the USA. John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil had muscled petro-fuels into the market place. President Theodore Roosevelt had pushed through legislation that greatly reduced the power of financiers like Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan by outlawing monopolies, but gasoline stations were springing up everywhere and the Oil business was firmly entrenched in American life.
A vigorous debate of the pros and cons of alcohol-based fuels vs. gasoline raged on the pages of the New York Times and the country's leading newspapers. Much of the same arguments we are hearing today were being voiced back then. Henry Ford had a love affair with country life and the farmers of America. His vision of America's fuel of the future still lives today, further empowered by the political and economic problems we face and new scientific methods of deriving bio-fuel.
New technologies are making ethanol fuel production from cellulose and biomass feasible and a real possibility for the future of America. Some of these abundantly sourced fuels will come from biomass: waste of industry, waste of food production and waste of consumption, and will not displace food production from our agricultural land. Other sources will come directly from science and new development. The latest government regulations call for a transition away from ethanol derived from corn to ethanol derived from Biomass. This is America's target for the future of Bio-fuel. Blended with other fuels, or as a stand-alone fuel, Bio fuel has an ever-increasing part to play in the future of the world.
We will never know how Henry Ford's vision of the future would have turned out if his dreams of bio-fuel powered cars had come true in the early 20th Century. However, today we are seeing that we must change and do something other than consume costly and environmentally damaging oil from foreign sources. What would it have been like if we had not powered our cars with gasoline? A classic Lincoln Continental convertible originally produced by Ford Motors in 1959 may just give us a glimpse. Re-powered as a series hybrid with a 200KW prime mover and a Ford Hybrid 2.5L Atkinson engine as a generator, Lincvolt may be like Henry Ford's dream car of the future. Lincvolt's 2.5L is fueled by E 100 Ethanol or E 85 ethanol, both originating from biomass. An A123 Battery pack stores the power for silent running up to 40 miles. The Lincvolt Electro-Cruiser, built with American components, will be on the road in late 2011, living many aspects of Henry Ford's dream.
The innovation will not end there. Building on the tradition of user-friendly technology, Lincvolt will feature the world's best sounding audio system, PureTone. Taking full advantage of Cloud based libraries of recordings by your favorite artists, Lincvolt will simply sound like no other car on earth. Lincvolt passengers will enjoy PureTone "Studio Quality Sound," the actual sound heard by the artists and producers when they created the original recordings, making Lincvolt audio sound superior in quality and digital resolution to any music ever heard in a car.
A film of the making of Lincvolt and the car's trip around North America is already in production. The many twists and turns will make this quite a story.
Parts of this article were derived from the writings of Bill Kovarik, Ph.D., who wrote a defining paper on the subject "Fuel of the Future" (1998).
CAPSTONE AND LINCVOLT
June 30, 2011
Capstone Turbine Corporation and team Lincvolt will be working together gathering data from Lincvolt’s travels for analysis by Capstone. With the goal of designing a microturbine engine specifically for long-range hybrid electric vehicles, the collaboration will involve thousands of miles of data generated by Lincvolt while traveling on freeways, highways, back roads and main streets throughout the USA in 2012.
While electric vehicles are perfect for commuting and are more efficient in energy use than conventional vehicles, there is a need for cars to be able to go long distances without stopping to recharge. Quite simply, people want electric vehicles without the limitations in range associated with pure electric vehicles. The perfect solution is a car that is clean and economical for daily commuting while being able to travel an unlimited distance at a moments notice.
At highway speeds, a significant amount of energy is consumed and the need for an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) is well known in the electric car development field. The inherent clean burning available in a Capstone MicroTurbine® engine makes it one of the natural solutions for a next generation APU in electric vehicles.
The power required under different circumstances, the fuel type, and the technology utilized to keep the energy as clean and efficient as possible will all be gathered as part of the Capstone Lincvolt project. This input will be analyzed by Capstone’s team of developers and ultimately used to help define the next generation of small and efficient Capstone microturbines designed specifically for electric car APUs.
Lincvolt has logged thousands of clean, vibration-free miles with the Capstone C30 microturbine APU. It is truly an amazing source of smooth vibration-free power and has been a unique pleasure to drive Lincvolt with microturbine power. Now, with a new APU of higher power output, we will be able to overcome the obstacle of limited range and truly be limited only by fuel capacity, enabling Lincvolt to travel coast to coast without ever stopping to recharge. During our journey, Lincvolt’s computers will be logging parameters, sharing with Capstone, and broadcasting to the internet.
Lincvolt thanks Capstone for their continued support in this new program.
A GHOST FROM THE PAST
April 21, 2011
Lincvolt is a constantly evolving vehicle. We have just announced our new A123 Battery system, far superior in every respect to the previous battery pack. We have made many more changes in design and we will be announcing them as the weeks unfold. The work will be done in California, home of the greatest hot rods on earth, both in Northern California and Southern California. We will be telling you more about that too.
Here at Lincvolt.com, you have seen Lincvolt at Brizio Street Rods In South San Francisco for the last couple of weeks. A bare metal body, painstakingly restored at Camilleri’s in Sacramento, is now covered with primer and ready for the rebuild. What you can’t see is that the suspension and parts of the power train have been put in place or prepared for placement under Lincvolt’s massive and beautiful uni-body during the last weeks.
Lincvolt has been redesigned in and out. When all of the new components are installed and tested, as a final stage, an aerodynamic covering will shroud the underbody, reducing drag and allowing Lincvolt to cut through the air more efficiently than ever before at high speeds. As an example of the forces encountered at high speeds, Lincvolt uses 29 KWs to travel at 65mph and 40 KWs to travel 70mph. That is 11 KW more for a 5mph increase at high speed. We expect the under-shrouding to have more of an effect the faster the car travels. These measurements allow us to see how much energy is consumed for highway cruising. A typical 400-500 mile day at highway speeds of 70 mph or more on changing terrain is nothing for a Continental, so she has to be ready for that challenge. Many of the changes we are about to announce are designed to make long trips at highway speeds a reality. This is what the Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln Continental was designed for, not just arriving in style like a 50s dream. That is why Lincvolt is destined to be a Continental Electro Cruiser like the world has never seen, like a ghost from the past, arriving smoothly and silently at every destination.
Stay tuned for more news. We appreciate your support.
The project Lincvolt team
A123 - THE BATTERY OF CHOICE FOR LINCVOLT II
April 18, 2011
We have completed our search and decided on A123 batteries for Lincvolt II. A123 is a US based company. A123 Systems delivers advanced batteries and complete energy storage systems. With breakthrough technology, A123's robust systems integration capabilities and demonstrated products in the field were deciding factors in our choice.
A123 has built and deployed more lithium ion hybrid systems for transit buses than any other lithium ion battery manufacturer in the world, with units on the road since 2007. A123 systems have been put to the test in real world conditions, meeting and exceeding performance requirements with the most rigorous duty cycles. That experience was very important to us.
A123's advanced lithium ion energy storage solutions enable higher performance and increased efficiency. Proven engineering expertise and extensive knowledge of electric drive-train technologies allow us to work with a company that we have total confidence in. A123's consistent power over a wide State of charge range allows longer driving range and that is one of our big demands for project Lincvolt.
Our friends associated with Fisker automotive introduced us to A123. They told us that "Fisker Automotive selected A123 because of the company's ability to meet our performance needs. Fisker is committed to developing environmentally friendly cars that don't sacrifice style or performance. A123's technology will ensure the Karma delivers." We liked that a lot!
Thank you Fisker and A123!
-- The Project Lincvolt Team.
LINCVOLT BATTERY SEARCH
March 4, 2011
Batteries store energy used to power Lincvolt. This energy is originally generated by Lincvolt's Capstone C30 Micro-Turbine generator or captured from the USA Power Grid before it is stored in the battery pack. When the stored energy is introduced to Lincvolt's UQM 200 KW prime mover, turning the wheels and moving Lincvolt down the road, the feeling of exhilaration and clean raw power is unbeatable. Flying down the road in this big convertible with nothing but the sound of wind and tires is an amazing experience! What a ride.
The average commute in the USA is about 35 miles. On a trip of more than approximately 50 miles, the battery pack's energy storage eventually is depleted. This condition causes Lincvolt's Intelligent Dashboard to start up the micro-turbine and introduce more power to the battery pack. Cleanest power is generated when the Micro-Turbine burns bio-diesel or another renewable fuel and least expensive generation is directly from the Grid.
Battery efficiency is an extremely important part of any series hybrid system like Lincvolt's. Whether the power originates from the grid or the turbine, it must be efficiently stored. Some batteries can store a lot of power but do not like to get anywhere near totally depleted, resulting in a total of less usable power compared to the capacity. Some batteries can be almost depleted before a recharge is essential, yielding more usable power by using most of the battery capacity. All of these factors must be evaluated. Weight of the batteries is very important. So the lightest batteries with the most usable power are desirable, but safety is a consideration that supersedes all others.
We have been talking to numerous battery manufacturers, and our search is almost over. We will be ready to announce our new battery manufacturer soon. We have been researching and talking to companies from around the world to locate the best battery system for Lincvolt. Reliability, efficiency and safety are key ingredients for the Lincvolt choice.
Stay tuned. We will be announcing soon!
Thanks for your support - The Project Lincvolt Team.
PROJECT LINCVOLT PROGRESS 2011-LV2
February 27, 2011
The disastrous fire that almost destroyed LV1 has offered us an unbelievable opportunity to make improvements throughout the car in the LV2 version. These improvements will allow LV2 to boast superior performance and be even cleaner than LV1.
January and February have been busy months for the LincVolt project. We are restoring the body of LincVolt by carefully and selectively replacing damaged body parts in the original car. A 1958 donor car (a gift from my wife) with many identical parts is parked alongside LincVolt. Under the direction of famed California hot rod builder Roy Brizio (Brizio Street Rods) LincVolt's 1959 body is being painstakingly restored at Camilleri's Auto Works back to its original condition.
In LV2 the dashboard's original Lincoln Continental instrument cluster is being repurposed to monitor the functions of the new 200 KW electric drive and 30 KW Capstone Micro Turbine power generation systems. We found that the original Lincoln instrumentation layout was superior in user friendliness to the one we had installed in LV1. Now we have a chance to improve that.
We are also adding a midline control console in LV2 that runs between two new front bucket seats. The console will house an additional multi-purpose touch-screen control monitor.
We are in discussions with wall charger manufacturers. Soon we will be making our final choice. We are being very careful because the wall charger was most suspicious as a potential cause of the fire that destroyed LV1, although we are still awaiting more analysis to determine the exact cause. An identical charger was found responsible for the fire that destroyed a Canadian entry into the X-Prize.
Battery system technology has improved greatly during the last 4 years and continues to improve. We are dedicated to getting the best and safest batteries available today for LV2. We have found companies from the USA and Canada that offer battery packs that we think are superior to the Chinese batteries we utilized in LV1 and we expect a dramatic improvement.
The direction of our project remains the same. We believe it is more efficient to go with the flow than to go against the flow. People want big cars and will resist losing them as a choice. Re-powering the American Dream will not be an easy task. With each day that passes we are joined by more people who share our goal. We feel that new cars and the energy sources that power them should not just be aimed at "economy" and a "smaller is better" philosophy. North America is big and it needs big cars and pick-up trucks. These vehicles are on our roads everywhere and cannot just be written off as unrealistic. People need choice. People want big and small energy efficient cars and trucks as part of the American life style.
Fisker is one manufacturer going a long way in the direction we believe in. The GM Volt also represents a step forward for Detroit. Neither car offers freedom of choice in the fuel they run on like Lincvolt does, but we think they still are great cars even though they are powered by gasoline. When they are "plugged in" they provide cleaner transportation that costs less than a conventional car of the same size and they both have an electric range that meets today's average demands. Both the Volt and the Fisker have range extending generators that allow for long trips and eliminate electric car range anxiety. We think that is an important feature. It is one feature that many would find essential.
Where Lincvolt is unique, aside from the way the car looks, the emotions it stirs in the hearts of those who remember another time, or its immense size, is the choice of fuels it can burn to generate electricity. LV2 uses bio-diesel. It can use regular diesel or any blend of the two and burn the fuel cleanly in the onboard Capstone Micro Turbine. When the turbine burns Bio Diesel Lincvolt is twice as clean as the USA average grid per KW generated. This means LincVolt, an immense luxury cruiser from 1959, can run as clean as a 2011 Nissan Leaf and run further without "plug in" recharging.
We are planning to be on the road filming again with LV2 in late summer 2011. We will then complete our film, an immense 4 years in the making. Shakey Pictures post production and editing with Ben Johnson, son of the late Larry Johnson, original Project Lincvolt team member, has begun and the film is looking great. We have a story to tell.
To our sponsors and readers, thanks for your continued support.
-The Project LincVolt team.
December 11, 2010
Lincvolt Rebuild Underway
This is a long story about perseverance in the face of adversity. As Lincvolt rises Phoenix-like from the ashes, she still lives. The spirit of Lincvolt will not be stopped. The reason for Lincvolt's existence is still right in front of us and even more important with each passing day. We continue to compromise the earth's fragile defenses by building cars that are spewing Greenhouse gases.
Lincvolt will be the same car with new configuration of components, re-invigorated for the long road ahead.
This week Lincvolt will have the UQM prime mover and the Capstone Micro-Turbine removed and tested to make sure they are both in excellent shape. While the fire did not appear to harm either motor, both will be tested by their respective manufacturers while Lincvolt undergoes an extensive body rebuild in Sacramento California. Lincvolt's body will be completely straightened to new condition and primered before returning to Brizio Street Rods in South San Francisco in February, 2011. 475 hours of work are scheduled for this stage of the rebuild.
During this time, the other Lincvolt systems will be planned and purchased, many with improvements made possible by the extensive nature of the rebuild and the fresh start it provides. Every detail we have learned along the way will be taken into consideration while laying out the car's schematic. We will be openly sharing the schematic and its evolution here on the LV site.
We are now in discussion with a major Canadian Energy company to receive batteries for Lincvolt. The batteries, integrated with their new battery management system, will be mated with a Battery Charger by the manufacturer and delivered to us as a package. We will be announcing details and test results during these next 3 months.
The car interior will look different with a console running through the center and bucket seats for the driver and front passenger. The original Continental instrument cluster will be retained and customized to accommodate the electric instrumentation. This will retain the original look of the dashboard and controls.
One of the great things about this rebuild is the fact that it will all be done under the direction of Brizio Street Rods. Everything is being planned in advance. The wealth of our experiences, good and bad, will be applied in every way possible.
Driving tests are anticipated for the summer of 2011.
Stay Tuned for updates. Our web camera will be back.
Thank you from the Lincvolt team.
For Immediate Release
NEIL YOUNG'S LINCVOLT SURVIVES WAREHOUSE FIRE
November 16, 2010 -- (Burbank, CA) - Reprise recording artist Neil Young releases this statement to the media today: We are thankful that no one was hurt in the fire at our warehouse last week. My wife Pegi and I would like to thank the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Dept for doing such an exemplary job. A lot of archival items were threatened and the fire department did a first class job protecting them. We are lucky to have these professionals in our area. Rest assured that we have the very best fire rescue and protection with the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Dept.
However LincVolt suffered a disastrous accidental fire stemming from human error. The car was plugged in to charge and left unattended. The wall charging system was not completely tested and had never been left unattended. A mistake was made. It was not the fault of the car.
So now we pick up the pieces.
We are rebuilding. The reason we started this project has not changed. As a nation we are still excessively burning fossil fuels, doing damage to our planet that will hurt our children's lives and future generations as well. Our project is to demonstrate alternative energies for transportation that are clean. We're still in a race against time. On a project like this, setbacks happen for a reason and we can see that very well from here. "Barn's burnt down. Now I can see the moon".
LincVolt was presented well at SEMA less than a week before the fire. We are glad we have a film of that to share.
Now she's back in her staging area and pieces are being assembled. We have done this before and know much more now. Our accumulated knowledge will help this process. We have a solid committed team. This is an opportunity.
Our rebuilding LincVolt at Brizio's is beginning now. We have already started the preparation process.
Cleaning LV continues in preparation for bead blasting her down to bare metal. Once that is done we will be ready to begin the build. LV will be built using parts from two other Lincoln Continentals.
My lovely wife gave me a parts car just like LincVolt for my 65th birthday a couple of days ago. This donor car, which we have nicknamed "Miss Pegi" in her honor, will roll in and park alongside LincVolt today, at the staging area. Parts will be contributed from Miss Pegi and placed on trays for assemblage. Miss Pegi is a 1958 model with the same metal as a 1959 in the areas that need replacing. The Uni-Body construction will enable replacement of panels warped from the heat of the fire. Miss Pegi is in perfect shape to contribute these large body parts. Quarter panels will be removed and readied for re-introduction into LV's timeless form. Even as injured as LV appears, beauty shines through.
Another car, a 1959 model, will be used to harvest detail parts that are unique to LV. In this way, old forgotten cars get a chance to live again in the timeless beauty of LV, re-powered and ready for the future with "GREEN CHARGING."
We are in talks with a Canadian battery supplier and have most of the control components for the rest of the car in house or on order.
The Capstone Micro-Turbine and its engine compartment under the hood appear to be totally intact and undamaged. The UQM prime mover under the former rear seat also looks to be uninjured. Testing will be done to confirm this is correct. The underbody of the car appears to be essentially unchanged. The engines are both made in the USA. These are encouraging signs.
LV is ready for the next chapter, and the next ride. The mission unchanged.
Nov 16, 2010
For further Neil Young information, contact Rick Gershon at Warner Bros. Records Publicity 818-953-3473 / firstname.lastname@example.org
NEIL YOUNG DELIVERS KEYNOTE SPEECH AT SEMA SHOW IN LAS VEGAS
SEMA INVITES LEGENDARY ROCKER AND ACTIVIST TO PRESENT HIS ELECTRIC LINCVOLT CAR BUILT TO RUN ON CLEAN ENERGY
DATELINE -- Burbank, CA -- Neil Young attended the SEMA Show in Las Vegas this week to present his Lincvolt car and deliver the keynote speech about his green-minded ideas for automotive technology.
Lincvolt is the world's first Micro-Turbine powered Bio-Electro-Cruiser. Designed in 1959 to make long distance trips and local commutes in style and grace, this timeless, beautiful and spacious Electro-Turbine Series-Hybrid now draws its power from a multi-fueled Capstone Micro-turbine generator, a UQM 150KW prime mover and super-safe Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries.
In 2008, Young assembled a team to modify his 1959 Lincoln Continental to enable it to run on electricity. The goal was to inspire a generation by creating a clean automobile propulsion technology that serves the needs of the 21st century, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a new low while delivering performance that is a reflection of the driver's spirit. By creating and demonstrating this new clean power technology, Lincvolt hopes to show a way to reduce the demand for petro-fuels enough to eliminate the need for war over energy supplies, thereby enhancing the security of the USA and other nations throughout the world.
A few interesting facts about the Lincvolt:
Lincvolt, a 1959 Lincoln Continental Convertible weighing 6200 lbs, now converted to an electric series hybrid, can be cleaner than the cleanest hybrid.
Lincvolt's micro-turbine generator gives the driver "FREEDOM of CHOICE". Freedom to choose the fuel you use to charge the battery bank. You decide how green you want to be.
Choose from these sources :
-100% Bio Diesel in the turbine generator to charge (Green Charging)
-Plugging into the USA Electrical Grid to charge (Most Economical)
-Petro-Diesel fuel in the turbine generator to charge (Convenient)
-Any blend of the above.
The Pure Bio-Diesel Fuel choice, called "Green Charging" is the cleanest. "Green Charging" is even cleaner than plugging into the Grid.
Lincvolt, with a 50 mile all-electric commuting range and a 400-mile extended range, proves that a plug-in Electro-Turbine Series-Hybrid and "Green Charging" can deliver the driving spirit of a full size highway cruiser, while achieving lower emissions than the best hybrid in either long range or commuter range.
Lincvolt, as an all-electric commuter car, charging from the USA power grid, can be more economical than most conventional hybrid vehicles.
The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world, drawing more than 100,000 industry leaders from more than 100 countries for unlimited profit opportunities in the automotive, truck and SUV, and RV markets.
Young's keynote address was filmed and is available here: Lincvolt at SEMA (full length version).
Lincvolt Damaged in Warehouse Fire
My wife Pegi and I would like to thank the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Dept for doing such an exemplary job at our recent warehouse fire. A lot of archival items were threatened and the fire department did a first class job protecting them. We are lucky to have these professionals in our area.
We are thankful that no one was hurt in the fire. Rest assured that we have the very best fire rescue and protection in San Carlos and Belmont.
Lincvolt was severely damaged in the fire. We are still investigating the exact cause although it appears to be an operator error that occurred in an untested part of the charging system.
We do know that the car has been operating perfectly for almost 2 thousand miles and the system in question would not be in use while driving the car. We are investigating the components involved with plug-in charging.
It is interesting to note that all of the components except the battery systems in Lincvolt are made in the USA. The only components we could not get domestically were the batteries and battery associated systems. We are still looking for a domestic source.
There is a computer in Lincvolt. It may function like a "black box." It may be useful for gathering data. We will be removing it today and sending it to Lincvolt team member Perrone Robotics.
While this is a setback for us we are planning ways to continue. We will begin cleaning and inspecting Lincvolt today.
We had just returned from Las Vegas where we did a presentation of Lincvolt at SEMA. We made a 4-part film of the presentation there that was originally to be released on the day of the fire.
Part 1 is now available and parts 2, 3 and 4 will be posted in the next 24 hours.
For more about the Lincvolt, please visit www.lincvolt.com.
For further Neil Young information, contact Rick Gershon at Warner Bros. Records Publicity: 818-953-3473 / email@example.com
JUMPSTARTING THE REAL ELECTRIC CAR REVOLUTION
by Dr. Winfried Wilcke, IBM Research, huffingtonpost.com, October 24, 2010
GM's Volt. Tesla's Roadster. Nissan's Leaf. The era of the electric car is finally arriving, when we can depend on plentiful and cheap electricity to get us to where we want to go, rather than relying on increasingly expensive and scarce oil.
As exciting as this new auto age is, though, all you have to do is study the numbers to realize we're still taking baby steps. The Tesla Roadster gets around 200 miles between recharges, but it also costs $129,000. The Volt and Leaf are more affordable, but only get around 40 miles and 100 miles respectively per charge. For most Americans, these mileage and price limitations are deal breakers. Rather than a mass-market replacement for the family car, the first generation of electric cars is an interesting innovation for early adaptors.
The real electric car revolution won't happen until we solve questions about range, how to recharge them and make cars that everyone can afford.
At IBM, one way we're tackling these challenges is the ambitious Battery 500 Project. The goal? Develop lightweight, rechargeable batteries that can power cars for 500 miles without being recharged and that don't break the bank either.
With the Battery 500 Project, we're completely rethinking the power source for the electric car. The current generation of electric cars runs on lithium ion batteries, the kind of batteries that power laptops or iPhones.
Manufacturers are slowly improving the performance and reducing the costs of lithium ion batteries. But these batteries are still too heavy and expensive for electric vehicle cars to go mainstream. When it comes to energy density - the amount of power a battery can deliver for its size and weight - even lithium ion batteries are pipsqueaks compared to a tank of gasoline.
So researchers around the world are working on new chemistries such as Metal-air batteries. These batteries already power millions of very small devices. The challenge is to make them rechargeable and big enough for cars. Metal-air batteries have much higher energy densities than lithium-ion batteries -- which could translate into 500 miles of range per charge using a reasonably sized and hopefully affordable battery. But make no mistake, this may be as big a technical challenge as the moon landing once was. We are making good progress in our laboratories. This is only our second year of work on Lithium/Air batteries at IBM Research, yet we're getting cautiously optimistic and expect to show a large laboratory prototype within the next two years.
The pay-off, if successful, could transform economies and have major impact on our oil use because 70 percent of all oil used in the United States is burned in cars and trucks, whereas virtually no oil is being used in generating electricity.
Cheaper, lighter car batteries, though, are just one part of the equation. For electric vehicles to proliferate, we also have to have a system for charging them.
The good news is that a powerful 600 gigawatt electrical grid is already in place and for the next few years, the grid can easily handle electric cars. But the long term presents challenges.
The current model of gasoline cars, where one drives up to a station and leaves a few minutes later with enough gasoline aboard to drive several hundred miles, cannot be transferred to electric cars. It would take a huge, multi-megawatt power-line to do an equivalent feat for an electric car. But there is an alternative: 54 percent of all U.S. households have access to a garage where a slow, low-cost overnight charge is feasible. Combined with a long range battery, this will provide a user friendly experience, and the electric grid needs to be only mildly upgraded for at-home charging since the demand for electricity at night is so low.
For the remainder of the population it will be necessary to install new charging stations - at work, shopping malls and parking lots. But higher stress on the grid during the day could make this difficult, expensive and restrict driving ranges. Smarter management of grids will help to deal with these issues. Fortunately, time is on our side.
America pioneered the car culture, but it must change significantly over the next two decades. Now we have the opportunity to stake out a new future for the automobile that will improve our lives, create new industries, reduce dependency on oil and improve the lives of people around the world. It is one of the biggest opportunities of our lifetime - let's make good use of it.
SEMA PREVIEW: NEIL YOUNG'S LINCVOLT WILL BE READY FOR ITS CLOSE-UP
by Sebastian Blanco, green.autoblog.com, October 21, 2010
If you've been hankering to get a good look at Neil Young's LincVolt behemoth, you'd best make plans to get to SEMA in a few weeks. We got word today that the 1959 Lincoln Continental convertible with a brand new biodiesel and battery-based powertrain - and young Neil himself - will make an appearance at the specialty show. Young is scheduled to take part in a vehicle technology panel with Jim Campbell, vice president of General Motors Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, the Automotive X Prize's Peter Diamandis, Scott Atherton from the American Le Mans Series, Azhar Hussain from TTXGP eGrandPrix, Imtiaz Haque from Clemson University CU-ICAR, Patrick Reininger from R. L. Polk, and Bryan Krulikowski from Morpace.
It'll be interesting to see if Young and Diamandis talk about the past, considering that Young and his team dropped out of the X-Prize in mid-2009. It seemed to be an amicable split, since the LincVolt team said it was focused on the main goal of getting the car finished and didn't have the problems with the competition the way some others did. "We have always been in a race against Time," the LincVolt webpage said at the time, "not a race against other contestants to win a cash prize."
LINCVOLT VISITS FORD
October 5, 2010
An historic two days for Lincvolt began with a preliminary visit to the Wixom Plant, where Lincolns and Thunderbirds were manufactured for decades. With the help of our friends from FORD, we toured the exterior of the largest assembly plant built by world's biggest carmaker. Inside, demolition crews were at work for the Dec 15th deadline, removing and salvaging assembly line equipment for other uses at Ford, and preparing for the day when a new generation of manufacturing arrives at the envisioned Ford Energy Park. That is the day the rebuilding will begin.
We headed back to FORD headquarters where we met Henry Ford III, Jim Farley, Carl Spresser, and other executives. We were struck by the youth and energy of the FORD team, by the openness and spirit of their welcome. They enthusiastically congratulated us for our project and how we stuck with it and did not give up. Mr. Ford called Lincvolt an amazing project. Everyone was impressed with the power, smoothness and quiet operation of Lincvolt.
Later that day we returned to Wixom for a sunset shoot of the exterior. The next morning we were inside the plant with Lincvolt finally returning to the assembly line where she was built in 1959. The Ford crew was amazing. They gave us everything we needed and were very open to our ideas, while always watching out for our safety in the demolition zone. It was bittersweet. Some of these guys have been working here for 40 years. Gary Cooper, the boss, escorted us through the assembly line, riding shotgun in Lincvolt. It was an historic feeling; the last Lincoln, going down the line while demolition of the structures that built her continued. You could see it in the faces of the FORD crew, a very professional, proud and soulful group. History swept its way forward.
It is easy to see why FORD is number 1 in the USA. It gives us hope for the future. When the USA turns around, it will start in Michigan.
Lincvolt Chronicles #1
September 29, 2010
Why do we hear stories from the Gulf of Mexico that we have never heard on National TV news? Why do we hear about chemical dispersants from aircraft in the night? Why do we hear from citizens who are so upset? The ones living on the Gulf of Mexico shores who voted for president Barack Obama, believing in change?
Why do they tell these horror stories? WHY ARE THEY WORRIED SICK ABOUT WHAT IS ON THE OCEAN FLOOR? WHY ARE THEY SO SCARED about what is coming with the next hurricane? Why do they dread the streets of Mobile covered in oil? Why will they now not eat the fish from the Gulf of Mexico without very carefully inspecting each one? Why do they say they are so scared?
These are the haunting questions that come to us from our interviews in our visit to the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP oil disaster. Why do residents on the coast hate the BP commercials so strongly?
LINCVOLT ROCKS SEMINOLE HARD ROCK
September 25, 2010
As she loves to say on her Blog, LV is smart for a car. She was looking very good at the Seminole Hard Rock when the Hard Rock celebrated her "coming out" with a press conference on the Harvest moon, September 23. Many of our great sponsors were there. Hard Rock is the sole platinum sponsor, but we sure appreciate all the help we are getting from each one of our sponsors.
Next for LV is the Farmaid concert in Milwaukee on October 2. The car will be shown on the concourse. Then we plan to go to Detroit to visit the plant where Lincvolt was built in 1959 as a Lincoln Continental convertible. Following that LV will be trucked back to South San Francisco where refinements to the Capstone Turbine system will be implemented with a prototype water cooling system, allowing us to boost the output of the turbine by 10 KW. This work will be followed by the install of LV's new computer automated fuel management system, allowing an initial start-up on Petro-Diesel, quickly followed by an automated switch to Bio-Diesel as the main fuel as soon as the turbine is at running temperature. The Lincvolt Fuel Management System will heat fuel tanks and lines to enable LV to use renewable fuel in cold climates.
HARD ROCK SPONSORS LINCVOLT
September 7, 2010
Hard Rock Cafe is our newest and biggest sponsor and things are going great for the Lincvolt project. Thanks "Hard Rock"! Here is what we are doing now:
Paul Perrone and the Perrone Robotics team are at Brizio's this week to tune in the software for Lincvolt's trip along the Gulf of Mexico. Lincvolt is going for test-drives regularly as the departure date approaches. Today the electro-cruiser traveled 45 miles and still had lots of power left in the batteries. The car performed very well, running smoothly and quietly in commuter mode on battery power alone. This next week we will be testing the Capstone Micro Turbine generator while underway. The generator will allow us to extend range up to 400 miles.
Ben Young was onboard for a test-drive on Monday, and Pegi Young was onboard on Saturday as a navigator and data keeper. The whole Lincvolt family is beginning to taste success and all of our hard work over the last three years is finally beginning to pay off. Team member Will Mitchell has been onboard for every trip and is doing a great job for the project, monitoring the initial charge cycles and keeping data. It is getting down to the wire and the excitement is building.
We want to thank you for reading and following along on our many adventures and misadventures. We are sure that the many hard-core followers of Lincvolt are enjoying the ride.
Lincvolt continues to speak out in her blog. She is getting quite vocal and as she often says, she is smart for a car.
The Brizio's team has been doing an excellent job. They strive for success and perfection and never like to do anything twice. The energy of Steve Lord, Roy Brizio and the whole team at Brizio's for our project has been really inspirational and as the deadline approaches we see the quality of the workmanship paying off big time.
Richard Hilleman, whose beautiful electro turbine car "Blackbird" has been a major and defining influence on our project, continues to supply unbelievable support and knowledge as we integrate the Capstone Microturbine.
Riding in Lincvolt today is like a dream. It has been a long time coming and we are making such huge progress! This is a really special car, bound to be an inspiration to all of those who see her. Maybe we can make a difference in helping to show the clean and green way for the future of big luxury cruisers and pick up trucks.
We look forward to meeting our newest and largest sponsors, "Hard Rock Cafe" in Florida and speaking about Lincvolt and all of our great sponsors, including Oracle and Capstone, at a special Lincvolt event at the Hard Rock in Hollywood Florida on September 23rd. We are so thankful for their encouragement and support. It has made all the difference. Stay tuned.
LINCVOLT VISITS CAPSTONE
Thursday August 26th Lincvolt will be visiting Capstone for a few days, attending a press event and being viewed by shareholders. At that time the Capstone Turbine will be started for the first time in Lincvolt. Testing will be done to ensure that the installation has been successful in all respects. Over the weekend, more testing of cooling systems will take place and late Sunday Lincvolt is scheduled to return to Brizio's in South San Francisco for drive testing, installation of more software, and refinement of the bio-fuel control system.
We will be keeping our web-cam active over the trip so look for us at Capstone tomorrow in Los Angeles. Thanks for your support. Stay tuned.
LINCVOLT THANKS CAPSTONE
August 18, 2010
Lincvolt's Capstone Turbine is the primary difference between Lincvolt technology and the Chevy Volt or Fisker technologies. While the GM car and the Fisker use gasoline and pollute the atmosphere just like any conventional car, the Capstone Turbine has been instrumental in helping us create a clean and green full sized car. Lincvolt is demonstrating that today's big pickup trucks and SUVs can actually be better for the environment than a Prius or similar hybrid on the road today. Through the use of our Capstone turbine generator, UQM 150 KW electric motor and Lithium Iron Oxide battery pack, we are proving that we are cleaner and greener, with less greenhouse gas emissions and NOX emissions than any gasoline powered car getting less than 80 mpg.
Capstone is one of our primary sponsors and we appreciate the support the company is making available to us. Capstone has seen the benefits of their turbines to the environment and views our use of the Capstone Turbine as a good example of the potential for those benefits in transportation.
We will be using biodiesel as the fuel in Lincvolt's Capstone Turbine. Biodiesel can help meet national goals for the net reduction of atmospheric carbon. As a renewable fuel derived from organic materials, biodiesel and blends of biodiesel reduce the net amount of carbon dioxide in the biosphere. A study by the US Department of Energy has found that biodiesel production and use, in comparison to petroleum diesel, produces 78.5% less CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide is "taken up" by the annual production of crops such as soybeans and then released when vegetable oil based biodiesel is combusted. This makes biodiesel the best fuel currently available for heavy-duty diesel applications to reduce atmospheric carbon.
Capstone's turbine design takes full advantage of the opportunity bio diesel provides and the clean burning Capstone C 30 Turbine also greatly reduces NOX in the atmosphere, reducing smog in the air we breath as well as greenhouse gases that threaten the stability of our way of life.
Come and see Lincvolt and the Capstone Turbine at SEMA in Las Vegas in November and at
FARMAID in Milwaukee in November. The Lincvolt team thanks Capstone Turbines for their support as we pursue
BAY AREA TO INSTALL OVER 5,000 EV CHARGING STATIONS
by Candace Lombardi, cnet.com, August 11, 2010
The San Francisco Bay Area is set to receive $5 million to install charging stations for electric vehicles throughout the area, the Department of Energy announced Wednesday.
The $5 million will cover the installation of 50 fast-charging EV stations along highways, 2,000 public stations for public parking lots and participating company-owned parking lots, and 3,000 residential charging stations.
Approval for the funds came through last week from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board of Directors, a panel that oversees air quality concerns for the nine counties that make up the Bay Area. The funds will be distributed as grant money as part of its "Spare the Air" program.
"In the Bay Area, the transportation sector accounts for more than 50 percent of air pollution. Significant emission reductions from the transportation sector will help the Bay Area attain and maintain state and national air quality standards," the board said in a statement.
The announcement is something of a milestone for the region when one considers that as recently as February 2009 it was big news that the city of San Francisco was installing just three EV charging stations as part of a pilot project.
But the infrastructure change does follow an ambition plan that was set forth two years ago by three area mayors.
In November 2008, the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose publicly announced that they were setting a goal to make the Bay Area the electric vehicle capital of the U.S.
Installing thousands of stations was not on the list at that point. Instead their nine-point plant toward reaching their EV capital vision included establishing EV station standards, and "identifying a roll-out plan" for those stations.
LINCVOLT COMMUNICATIONS TEST #1
July 25, 2010
Tonight we conducted the first test of some new communication technology that we hope to integrate into Lincvolt. Our test site was somewhere on the TransCanada Hwy, near the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border.
As predicted in a previous Gazette article, there were flaws and interruptions in our test. Perhaps some of you readers watched this in real-time on the Lincvolt Ustream channel.
This new technology is based on utilizing and optimizing cell networks and one thing we know that will be paramount to streaming data and video from Lincvolt is strong and constant cell coverage.
Unfortunately, during tonight's first run, our test vehicle was in an area of extremely poor coverage. Only one of the available cell providers in the area was passing traffic and it's capacity was severely restrained.
Perhaps ok if you were a traveller who needed to make a phone call, but virtually unusable if one required Web access.
Some backdoor adjustments finally got us on the air for a brief time under what turned out to be the most challenging of test environments.
Under the light of the full moon, viewers got a glimpse of the road passing beneath our wheels. We then concluded broadcasting for the night.
Expect more tests this week and further explanation of the technology at work. Look for announcements here and on the Lincvolt Facebook page for the times of the tests and live transmissions.
LINCVOLT COMMUNICATIONS TEST
July 21, 2010
We plan to test Lincvolt communications during the next few days from the road in Canada. This will be the first test of our new communications system. Communications and webcast tests will be from an alternate test vehicle in varying locations. Tests will be seen on our U-Stream Lincvolt channel. We will describe the technology during the tests.
We will keep you informed and updated on the times of the tests. Announcements will also be made on the Lincvolt Facebook page so all of LV's friends can come along for the ride. As usual, we will not be preparing in advance. That means you will be seeing a test, which may have flaws and interruptions. We will all see this test together and you can watch us improve our system over the next 2 months as we prepare for the Lincvolt North American Tour.
In a stroke of genius, we have decided not to announce the date of the Lincvolt North American Tour at this time because we have never met a deadline in our three-year history. Stay tuned.
WILL IT FIT?
July 16, 2010
Fitting the turbine into the engine compartment will be a big focus during this next week. We will try different approaches until we find the right one. Steve Lord of Brizio's is leading this effort.
I must admit, seeing that turbine in place today, hanging off the crane, was a real positive feeling. It just looked right. I think our long journey has come to a good place now: Clean emissions from the Capstone turbine and renewable domestic bio-fuel. The big question is "where are we going to put the turbine control package" It is big and we are going to be tight. Keep watching us, as we find a way./NY
STILL ON GASOLINE?
July 5, 2010
It seems impossible that a gallon of gasoline, which weighs about 6.3 pounds, could produce 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. However, most of the weight of the CO2 doesn't come from the gasoline itself, but the oxygen in the air.
When gasoline burns, the carbon and hydrogen separate. The hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water (H2O), and carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2).
A carbon atom has a weight of 12, and each oxygen atom has a weight of 16, giving each single molecule of CO2 an atomic weight of 44 (12 from carbon and 32 from oxygen).
Therefore, to calculate the amount of CO2 produced from a gallon of gasoline, the weight of the carbon in the gasoline is multiplied by 44/12 or 3.7.
Since gasoline is about 87% carbon and 13% hydrogen by weight, the carbon in a gallon of gasoline weighs 5.5 pounds (6.3 lbs. x .87).
We can then multiply the weight of the carbon (5.5 pounds) by 3.7, which equals 20 pounds of CO2! Source of this information: www.fueleconomy.gov
CO2 is the Greenhouse gas that is killing the planet slowly.
Still on Gasoline? Time to try another fuel folks.
July 2, 2010
Lincvolt will be back at Brizio Street Rods in South San Francisco on Tuesday for a month of installation and testing of the Capstone Turbine. All parts are in place and we will keep you posted.
Thanks for your support!
LINCVOLT CAR CARRIER MAKES UNEXPECTED DETOUR!
June 30, 2010
Minneapolis? Yes that's where LV is today. An unannounced and surprising detour to that city was discovered yesterday when the car carrier failed to arrive on time at Brizio's in South San Francisco. There were apparently brake problems with the carrier. The driver elected to go home and think it over for a few days. LV now expected Tuesday or Wednesday of next week in South San Francisco. Schedule has been adjusted.
Team not thrilled with this new development. Turbine to be delivered to Brizio's at the end of this week. Stay tuned.
THANK YOU VIRGINIA TEAM
June 27, 2010
Lincvolt would like to thank the folks in Virginia and other companies listed here for doing such a great job building a strong foundation for the future and making Lncvolt so intelligent and robust! Lincvolt is now on the way back to California for her turbine installation. We could not have done this on time and so well without your help! Thank you very much from the whole Lincvolt team!
Paul Perrone of Perrone Robotics managed and co-ordinated project activity in Virginia. He also designed the system architecture and software implementation of the LID system. Paul performed systems engineering work on UQM configuration. Thanks Paul!
Sean Nitchmann (EC Linc), performed all wiring activity, ruggedized wiring for LID components and installed new emergency switches and cabling. Thanks Sean for giving us all your energy and helping bring the job in on time.
Brian Geiger and Jim Ryan of Perrone Robotics provided LID hardware, software, and robotics/automation expertise. Thanks to both of you for helping us bring it in on time.
QNX, a company that provides real-time operating systems, provided their OS to LincVolt free of charge. Thanks very much QNX.
Atego provided a real-time Java virtual machine (a.k.a. "Perc") to run on QNX and also provided their Java system free of charge. Rhoda Quate helped us tremendously here. Thanks Rhoda!
Jonathon Tillack of Key-Square rapidly pulled together a fast booting embedded computer upon which we run our LincVolt control software processes and helped integrate the QNX and "Perc" solution onto an embedded computer providing us fast boot and reliability. Thanks for your great work. We appreciate it very much.
The Comtrol company provided us with an industrial Ethernet switch, industrial Ethernet-serial, and industrial Ethernet-USB devices for free! Thanks Comtrol for your generous contribution to the Lincvolt project.
Oracle/Sun Microsystems funded the software development time for creating the controller software based on their Java platform. Thank you for your continued support and sponsorship. Oracle/Sun Microsystems support has been behind the Lincvolt project for 2 years now. We really appreciate this vote of confidence!
The Lincvolt team thanks all of the above for supporting us and enabling us to stay on schedule to make our trip across the USA this Fall!
June 24, 2010
Yesterday in Virginia LV went out on a drive with Paul Perrone, testing the new regenerative braking for the first time. Lincvolt was first driven with mechanical brakes only in the rolling countryside near Paul's home shop. When that test was completed, the regenerative braking was introduced, with various levels of regenerative power available from the shifter. Drive, Drive1, and Low positions were utilized and tuning began.
All of this control of the motor's power regeneration was done with Lincvolt's new embedded computer. A totally safe and ruggedized installation has finally been completed! This is a huge step forward for Lincvolt's safety and a giant step towards completion. Now we have safe, robust, intelligent control of how much regenerative power is created during braking and coasting in the different "gear positions" on the shifter. Many other motion controls are now possible. This is a huge accomplishment for the project. Paul Perrone and his team are doing important work here. I only wish we were there with them to film and drive. I think that if Larry Johnson was still with us we would not have missed the opportunity to film this episode for the movie. However, we do have a live Ustream report from Paul Perrone and our team in Va. that we will be using instead. I saw it yesterday as some of you did as it went out live from our Ustream connection.
Lincvolt will be doing more testing at Perrone Robotics in Virginia for a couple of days and then return on a car carrier back to Brizio Street Rods in South San Francisco for the install of the Capstone Turbine generator. That generator will replace the rotary that we struggled with for 2 years and finally abandoned. That part of our effort was stressful and time consuming and revealed very little progress. It is rewarding to know that we are now finally succeeding at the goals we set in 2007 and 2008. The amount of work we have done is staggering and the end is finally in sight!
We plan to be testing Lincvolt on Interstate 10 in late August and into September, doing a tour of the Gulf of Mexico along the coastline devastated by the Deep Water Horizon Oil disaster. We will tour the area in a car that is cleaner than a plug-in electric in emissions and uses domestic green renewable biodiesel fuel!
While it is true that we never have attained our lofty goals of 100 mpg and we could not get a successful result with the water based fuel displacement theories we worked so hard on with Uli Kruger and Johnathon Goodwin, we feel absolutely great about our ultra low emissions and domestic fuel source, created by integrating our onboard computers, Capstone Turbine generator, Thunder Sky Battery pack and UQM electric motor.
Lincvolt, an electro-turbine series hybrid, will be clean with ultra low emissions as we make our way along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, visiting the devastating environmental disaster area caused by America's addiction to oil and seeing the damage up close. In fact, as we tour the Gulf Coast, Lincvolt will be cleaner, with lower well-to-tailpipe emissions, than any production plug-in electric car or internal combustion powered car made today. That is something to be very proud of.
Our future will include the continued filming of the Lincvolt story, taking it to its conclusion as we make our way up the East Coast towards Detroit, where Lincvolt was originally built, and continue home to California. Oil companies have launched an all out attack on the USA-leading green standards of that state, trying to get all of the environmental protection transportation laws cancelled and rolled back until the economy recovers back to a place where it may not be for years. This is the new frontier.
Stay tuned as we prepare again for our trip across the USA, where we plan to be broadcasting our mileage and emissions statistics and video feed live on the internet as we go. Watch for our new sponsors to emerge, helping us make the final miles. For those of you who have been with us since the beginning, and those of you who have recently joined us, the Lincvolt team sends gratitude and appreciation for your support.
NRG PLANS FLAT-RATE DEAL FOR UNLIMITED CHARGES FOR ELECTRIC CARS
by Elizabeth Souder, The Dallas Morning News, June 23, 2010
NRG Energy Inc. is about to offer Texans the first all-you-can-eat electric vehicle plan.
The power company, which owns Reliant Energy, will introduce an electric vehicle refueling service early next year. The service will include unlimited charges at home and at charging stations throughout Houston. It will cost around $60 to $80 a month.
By midyear, the company aims to offer the same service to drivers in Dallas, said Michael Harrigan, NRG's new vice president of electric vehicle services.
The idea is to offer electric vehicle buyers "a very clean, easy experience fueling the vehicle," Harrigan said after a Dallas Regional Chamber panel discussion Tuesday.
Harrigan said he wants to keep the cost of refueling an electric car below the cost for a gasoline car. And he hopes that by making refueling easy, he can expand the market for electric vehicles beyond environmental enthusiasts.
The monthly rate will include leasing and installing a home refueling station, charging at stations around town and emergency charging, in case a driver runs out of juice.
If a driver is within 25 miles of the city center, he will always be no more than five miles from a refueling station.
The stations will be at national retail chains, such as coffee shops and electronics stores, he said. At-home refueling will take a few hours, but charging at public stations will take about 15 minutes.
Service contracts will probably be around three years long, Harrigan said.
At first, electric vehicle customers would have to buy their household electricity from Reliant to get free vehicle charges at home.
Harrigan said NRG might negotiate deals with other retail electricity providers to offer the service.
NRG competitors are developing their own electric vehicle service offerings. TXU Energy will offer a service once Nissan and Chevy roll out their electric vehicles next year, said TXU's vice president for public affairs, Brian Tulloh.
Tulloh said he isn't ready to describe TXU's service. It will probably involve charging customers less to juice up at night than during the day. He said it's challenging to decide what service plan customers would prefer because people don't have the cars yet.
"It's one of those things it's tough to research with customers because they don't know what they want," he said.
TXU Energy is working with policymakers to eliminate issues that might deter customers. For example, he said TXU is urging local governments to adopt uniform, simple permitting for residential charging stations.
Expanding the consumer market for electric vehicles means more business for such services. It also means more demand for power. NRG is the second-largest power generator in Texas, and TXU's sister company, Luminant, is the largest.
The electric companies aim to grab market share from the oil companies. Harrigan said it's symbolic that NRG leased offices in Houston for the electric vehicle unit in a defunct Hummer dealership.
DEADLY EXPLOSION AT REALM INDUSTRIES
June 19, 2010
Tyson Larson, a young man who demonstrated a water fuel technology to the Lincvolt team about 2 years ago for the Lincvolt film (see article below: Review of an Earlier Goal) was killed when an explosion rocked the Realm Industries facility in Southern California.
(read news story here)
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Larson family. Realm Industries is on the cutting edge of water based fuel technology. Converting water to hydrogen gas through a process involving electricity is at the heart of the Realm Industries technology. The gas is then compressed and used to power an engine. It was during the transfer of the compressed Realm gas to a vehicle for testing that young Tyson was killed.
The Larson family has been committed to furthering this technology for humanitarian purposes for years now. We wish them all the best at this sad time.
FEDERAL STANDARDS FOR CHANGE
June 13, 2010
The need for a standard electric connection cannot be ignored. We agree with Business Week.
Also the need for federal regulations of biofuels is the biggest obstacle to their acceptance. It is one thing to have a biofuel-drinking electro turbine Lincvolt that has lower (well to pipe) emissions than a Prius, but that can't get any traction without the engine manufacturers recommending biofuels. They cannot do that until federal biofuel quality regulation takes place. Currently there is a wide variance in biofuels being sold. Some are so impure that they can harm an engine, while some are clean as a whistle. Because of the irregularities, no manufacturer can safely approve bio in an engine.
Again, standards and regulations are required before real change can take place. If Obama wants change, then the government must regulate the quality of alternative fuels and interface types for electric plug-ins. That will enable change and create new opportunities.
Lincvolt's Capstone Mini-Turbine running on bio-fuel charges the battery pack and puts out one third of the emissions as the CA grid (CNG) per KW. The US grid average emissions (coal) are 9 times higher than CA per KW. So Lincvolt will have considerably less emissions per KW than the grid across the USA. That is amazing.
Using a calculation of Lincvolt consuming 3 times the KWs of the Nissan Leaf to do the same job, LV will still be considerably cleaner than the Leaf and other plug-in electrics in the great majority of the USA. And equal in CA.
Of course Lincvolt, using bio or petro-fuel, costs more to drive because it uses more fuel. Big car owners accept that. That cost would be acceptable to a large car (truck) owner, especially if their large car is as clean or cleaner for the environment than the smaller pure electric plug-in car. Imagine that.
REVIEW OF AN EARLY GOAL
June 10, 2010
When the Lincvolt project started, we became aware of a small company in California that was able to idle a Land Rover engine on water. The water had been changed into a gas and then compressed.
In a demonstration at the company, when the Land Rover ran on gasoline, the familiar fumes emitted from the tailpipe. Then the fuel source was switched over to the compressed water gas. The water gas changed the sound of the engine into a quieter one and the fumes coming from the tailpipe had no odor. What appeared to be steam was emitting for the pipe. It seemed to be totally clean. We were very impressed that the Land Rover appeared to be running on water gas. We are still impressed by that.
We tried to strike a deal with this company to explore uses of the gas in Lincvolt. We never could reach a deal. They wanted us to make the engine accelerate and decelerate under load on the water gas. They were willing to pay us but not willing to share any of the technology. We wanted to use the gas in Lincvolt. We thought that we could achieve a steady state usage because the generator only ran at one RPM and did not need to accelerate or decelerate. This conflict of goals was never resolved. We researched and found that this idea was not new and that several others had indeed appeared to have tried this before.
We had an investor visit the company and when he heard the story of how the gas could power many different things, he asked why they were not powering their facility with it. There was no answer. The investor left unimpressed.
We decided to take our own approach to using water as a fuel source. We spent a couple of years developing a water gas generation device that could make gas from water as it was needed onboard the vehicle. That way we could eliminate the compressed gas tank, which we thought was cumbersome and dangerous. We made one that ran on 12 volts and one that ran on 24volts. Once during testing in Wichita, we achieved a run away effect where the engine, a Mazda rotary, took off just on the gas and we had to disconnect the fuel to stop the out of control RPMs from destroying the engine. That could never be duplicated again. The engine was slightly damaged and we repaired it and tried to get it back to the place where we could duplicate the run away effect but were not able to make it happen. That runaway effect demonstrated a lot of power from the water gas.
That was enough to kindle our interest though, and many hours and dollars were spent on the project. In the end, it was never proved. It was never really taken to a conclusion. Our engineers were always distracted by other parts of the car and we lost our focus and our money. So this is unfinished business. We still have all of the components and are trying to figure a way to complete this job. We are aware that it is considered borderline quackery, yet we still are fascinated by the concept. Perhaps that is one of the joys of ignorance. Perhaps not.
JOHNATHAN GOODWIN MOVES ON
June 3, 2010
It is with great appreciation that we wish Johnathan Goodwin well on his new projects in Wichita. Goodwin was the driving force for the first 2 years of the Lincvolt project. When the car moved to California to have a lot of components replaced and redesigned for safety and the long haul, Goodwin found himself unable to continue with the same intensity while commuting to California on a regular basis.
Goodwin pioneered the rotary generator concept along with Uli Kruger, focusing on water gas from electrolysis as a major displacement fuel source. The rotary generator project was never completed to our satisfaction, being too noisy and unreliable. The testing was not completed on either the rotary or the water gas concepts. We had to abandon that direction to get a reliable car that was clean and efficient. Those 2 goals were never met by the rotary concept. It is possible that had the work been completed there would have been success and a good use for the water gas. Johnathan Goodwin is continuing this direction on another project, possibly utilizing some of the Lincvolt technology. If he succeeds, we will then implement the displacement fuel source on the Capstone Turbine, should that prove to be feasible. We wish Johnathan the best.
Work we are doing now on Lincvolt at Roy Brizio Street Rods and Perrone Robotics, with the cooperation and support of Capstone Turbines, we think will result in a 1959 Lincoln Continental that has similar emissions to a Prius and operates quietly and efficiently while maintaining the power expected from a large luxury car.
Our goal is to illustrate that the large American car still preferred by many today can be clean and green while delivering the performance expected, with increased control and maneuverability.
Stay tuned for our live internet test drives.
LINCVOLT AT PERRONE ROBOTICS
May 29, 2010
Lincvolt continues her education at Perrone Robotics. Soon she will graduate from the orientation stage of autonomy 1, ready to learn more when the next session begins. After graduation, its going to be Regenerative Braking install and first tune, then back to Brizio Street Rods in California for the installation of the new Capstone Mini Turbine generator system.
Watch our webcam to see the work now being done at Perrone Robotics in Virginia.
May 20, 2010
Lincvolt is now in a car carrier on the way to Perrone Robotics in Virginia. There she will get an extensive software and wiring upgrade, laying the foundation for autonomy and internet connectivity. While at Perrone Robotics, Lincvolt will be fitted with sensors and computers that will be capable of real time responses to situations the car encounters. Safety is the number one priority. This process of laying a foundation for autonomy has been planned for 2 years. The implementation of this first stage will take a month or more with a crack team of 4 software programmers and wiring experts under the supervision of Lincvolt team member Paul Perrone.
Last week Lincvolt successfully completed what we loosely called a "Crash Test." There was some concern that the regenerative rear end was the only thing stopping Lincvolt, and that the brakes alone would not stop the 6300 pound 19.5 foot electro-cruiser should the power fail completely. Without power there is no regen. That means the mechanical brakes and steering would be the only control the driver would have in that emergency situation. To test this scenario we disabled regen completely and took Lincvolt out for a test drive. When the car was in a safe place the test began and Lincvolt screeched to a stop at 50 mph with mechanical brakes alone, completely debunking any theories that the car would not stop safely should power be interrupted for any reason while underway. This proved beyond any doubt that the mechanical braking system installed and designed by Brizio's was completely up to the task. Great appreciation goes to Roy Brizio, Steve Lord, Jack, and the whole team for an excellent job. Tequila was contemplated at that time but a decision was made to wait until more team members were present and even more work was behind us.
While at Perrone Robotics, a potentiometer will be introduced to the Lincvolt mechanical brakes and the regenerative braking system approach will be redesigned and adjusted for maximum regenerative power with less stress on drive train components. Prior to this, the regen was causing extreme wear to the differential and U-joints. This re-design is expected be more in line with the accepted implementation and use of regeneration, although we do have some new tricks up our sleeve. We expect that there will be similar efficiency results to our previous brute-force method, without the undue laboring of and damage to components in the drive train. Driver control will be much increased with this more elegant method and the ride will be decidedly more luxurious, as one would expect from an electro-cruiser.
Lincvolt is scheduled to return to Brizio Street Rods in South San Francisco as soon as the work is done at Perrone Robotics. The Capstone Mini-Turbine will then be installed by the great team at Brizio's. Also on hand to consult during this process will be Richard Hilleman, whose Blackbird electro turbine supercar has been a great influence on Lincvolt. Richard has been a friend of Lincvolt for a while now, consulting and doing hands on work over the last 3 months.
After the Turbine is installed, extensive chassis dynometer testing, short range and long range testing will begin.
BILL RANKIN, UQM CEO, VISITS THE LINCVOLT GARAGE
May 10, 2010
With Johnathan Goodwin back in Kansas and Paul Perrone still working on software in the Lincvolt Garage, the testing continues. Major concerns over regenerative braking were addressed during a visit with Bill Rankin, CEO of UQM, the designer/manufacturer of Lincvolt's 150 KW motor.
We learned a lot about problems we are experiencing on the Lincvolt drive components from regeneration and are in the process of developing solutions to this, now our biggest issue. Further evaluation of braking and suspension will be done in the coming days.
Thanks to Paul Perrone for his efforts on software. Major steps have been taken and Lincvolt now has functioning gauges for most of the controls. We did not do any work on the generator controls because next week we are pulling the rotary for the last time and beginning the installation of the Capstone turbine.
Thanks to Steve Gillette of Capstone for his support in scheduling the arrival of Lincvolt's new turbine. The support we are getting from Capstone is awesome.
Thanks to Bill Rankin for his helpful visit. It is really good to have had the continuing support and cooperation of UQM.
These two great American companies hold the keys to a bright future for automotive success in big American cars and trucks.
April 28, 2010
Johnathan Goodwin arrived from Kansas for testing and tuning Lincvolt's systems this week and next week. Lincvolt is going on short trips in the local area, checking the systems for any problems. Paul Perrone arrived again to fine tune the software for recharging. Goodwin and Perrone will be working together with Richard Hilleman on the charging systems. Richard's supercar "Blackbird" is the turbine electric car that the Lincvolt team has been influenced by, although it must be said that a turbine was always the alternative for a generator that the team wanted. Reviewing the old Shakey Pictures footage of Lincvolt in Kansas, we found the team talking about the eventual use of a turbine instead of the rotary. Hilleman was instrumental in making our connection with Capstone Micro Turbines.
After a few road tests, the LID (Lincvolt Intelligent Dashboard) is being installed and tested by Perrone and Goodwin. Lincvolt is waiting for final word on the arrival of the Capstone Turbine range extending system. This date will determine when Lincvolt resumes her trip around the USA and Canada. In the meantime the rotary generator is in use to test the complete system.
We anticipate some road filming on USTREAM and some time in a dyno shop before the next 2 weeks are over. But you know how we are with schedules.
PAUL PERRONE LEADS WIRING AND SOFTWARE PUSH
April 18, 2010
Paul Perrone, Lincvolt team member, has put together a crack team of electrical engineers that is working hard wiring and programming Lincvolt for the next stage. The goal is to make Lincvolt a complete and working EV by the end of this push.
Paul Perrone's company, Perrone Robotics, has already built a couple of cars that are totally autonomous. That is not the goal of Lincvolt at this stage but it is an eventual goal of the project to make Lincvolt capable of traveling on her own to a destination. Many cars today are starting to use robotic concepts and we want Lincvolt to be able to do some things that will make the project get a lot of attention, drawing notice to our important goals of clean green motoring.
Lincvolt will use renewable domestic fuel for charge sustaining while on the road with less pollution than a typical plug in EV (PHEV) creates when it plugs in to the grid and charges overnight. That will make Lincvolt the cleanest car on the road. The Capstone Turbine in Lincvolt will make this possible, but it takes a lot of engineering and people working together to make it happen. That is what Lincvolt is all about. It is with special thanks to Paul Perrone and new team member Kevin Deierling that we are making so much progress towards these new goals.
The next gazette article will focus on Richard Hilleman and the huge help he has provided to the Lincvolt project. His "Blackbird" turbine powered electric supercar has been a big influence on our new direction. Richard has aided us tirelessly with his hands on expertise and experience over the last few months.
For now, Lincvolt will still be using the old rotary generator for Aux power until the Capstone turbine arrives in 16 long weeks. We will be testing all the systems so that the car will be totally ready when the big moment comes and Lincvolt gets her new Turbine. At that point, all of the electrical and software preparation for controlling the generator will be already accomplished.
LINCVOLT MOVES UP TO CAPSTONE MICRO TURBINE GENERATOR
April 11, 2010
After 2 years working on a Rotary solution, we have elected to change direction and move up to a micro turbine. The Capstone 30 KW Micro Turbine is a clean and efficient solution to our needs that will yield reliability and the future promise of better fuel efficiency than the rotary.
One big reason we decided to lose the single rotor rotary is noise. It is an obnoxious sounding engine. Single rotor engines have been in use on aircraft for a long time and the efficiency and reliability had proven to be very good. The noise was another matter. No matter what solutions we tried, we could not get rid of that sound. For Lincvolt, the quiet running UQM 150 KW electric traction motor is a joy, but when the rotary came on to turn the UQM 75 KW generator it was truly the opposite! We found it unacceptable.
On the other hand, the Micro Turbine has a futuristic Jet engine sound that is vibration free and pleasant to hear, running at such high RPMs that the sound it makes is mostly out of human hearing range. The emissions from the turbine are lower than any other option we have seen and we are well below all of the emissions standards. The Capstone Micro Turbine is clean and mean, sounding much like the Batmobile, a sound which is completely harmonious with the post modern lines of Lincvolt.
While 30 KW Capstone Micro Turbine is less powerful than the 75 KW rotary powered UQM, the fuel economy is in line with our new goals with no compromise in the normal operating range of the car. We will be publishing a fuel economy finding in comparison to the Chevy Volt, using the same method GM used to get 230 mpg, as well as a more realistic EPA method of measurement. These results will appear on lincvolt.com and also be available in real time from Lincvolt when we hit the road this summer.
We are proud to be using a clean and efficient Capstone Micro Turbine as the charge sustaining power for Lincvolt. We anticipate 60 to 70 miles on an overnight grid battery charge before the Turbine fires up to sustain the charge as Lincvolt continues on longer journeys.
An overnight California grid charge will have a higher NOx emission than the charge from the Capstone Micro Turbine although the Turbine will cost more to completely charge the Lincvolt batteries. One of our goals is to find a fuel mixture that can ultimately make the turbine a lower cost than the grid. We have asked Capstone to help us with that research and hope to have some help from the company in the future. The Capstone Micro Turbine runs on a wide variety of conventional and renewable fuels.
When Lincvolt completes the Design Qualification Process set forth by Capstone, installation of the new Capstone Micro Turbine will be covered here on Lincvolt.com and brought to you live on USTREAM by Shakey Pictures. Stay tuned.
April 3, 2010
Driving an Electric Wave
Produced by Stefania Rousselle & Lawrence Ulrich, New York Times
They have identical cars but in two different settings. Tom Moloughney lives in the suburbs and Adam Moore in the city. They tell us all about driving the BMW Mini Electric Cooper.
This is the push towards completion. In this opening week, wiring of the High Voltage systems is finally under way. 75KW Generator and 150 KW traction motor controllers are the heart of the Lincvolt High Voltage system. 120 new 110 Amp-Hour Thunder Sky batteries arrive this week and 110 of them will be installed in the trunk area, with 10 allowed as spares. Battery Management and protection systems also will be installed, followed by the new dashboard instrumentation, which is custom designed to monitor all of Lincvolt's systems.
At that point, work will resume on the final tuning of the Lincvolt Rotary motor, which is uniquely configured for fuel economy. Located outside of the car for now, on its own dyno, this motor will ultimately be used to turn the 75KW UQM generator. This time fuel for the rotary motor will be a turbocharged mix of hydrogen, ethanol and water. The fuel mix will be further refined during this process. When the stage is completed, the ECU (engine control unit) and turbocharger will be moved to Lincvolt's engine compartment and installed on the rotary already under the hood. The 75KW UQM generator charges the batteries and is capable of performing this function whether Lincvolt is travelling or stationary.
Numerous safety systems will be installed, checked and re-checked.
The Lincvolt Intelligent Dashboard computers will be programmed and come online, monitoring all of the sensors and feeding information to the instrument panel and main screen located in the dash. This screen is tucked away in the former glove compartment unless needed when it slides out and is easily viewed from the driver and passenger seats. The Lincvolt Intelligent Dashboard will allow Lincvolt to broadcast a complete set of stats live to lincvolt.com and the Lincvolt App, allowing those interested in following Lincvolt's progress to be right with us when the car is being tested on a chassis dyno and following that, as we travel North America.
When this work is done, Lincvolt will begin Chassis dyno testing and further system checking and tuning. These systems will allow the 5700 LB Continental Electro-Cruiser to travel hundreds of miles without stopping for refueling or recharging. As always, we envision some delays for unknown reasons, although considerable preparation has gone into this stage of build.
Stay tuned. The Lincvolt team thanks you for your support.
V2G CONCEPT TAKING HOLD
by Karin Zeitvogel, AFP, February 19, 2010
SAN DIEGO, California - US researchers unveiled a vehicle Thursday that earns money for its driver instead of guzzling it up in gasoline and maintenance costs.
The converted Toyota Scion xB, shown at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science here, is the first electric car to be linked to a power grid and serve as a cash cow.
"This is the first vehicle that's ever been paid to participate in the grid -- the first proof of concept vehicle," Ken Huber, who oversees technological development at wholesale electricity coordinator PJM Interconnection, told AFP.
The presentation of the box-like, unassuming looking Scion was the researchers' way of introducing the "vehicle-to-grid" (V2G) concept as it begins to gain momentum in the United States and around the world.
V2G projects with hybrid cars that use electricity and gas to store energy in their batteries and feed it back into the power grid are up and running in the United States, and the drive now is to produce all electric vehicles to plug into the power grid.
"This makes the car useful not only when it's being driven, but also when it's parked, as long as you remember to plug it in," said Willett Kempton, who is leading a V2G project at the University of Delaware.
A V2G car is connected via an Internet-over-powerline connection that sends a signal from inside the car's computer to an aggregator's server.
The aggregator acts as the middleman between the car owner and power grid management companies, which are constantly trying to keep electricity output at a constant level.
When the grid needs more power due to a surge in demand, power companies usually draw from traditional power plants, which in the United States are often coal-fired and leave a large carbon footprint.
When V2G becomes more widespread, the power could be drawn from millions of vehicles plugged into sockets in home garages or from commercial fleets, such as the US Postal Service's vans, for a much smaller footprint than that of the power plants.
Grid management companies like PJM Interconnection currently pay around 30 dollars an hour when taking power from a car.
V2G is still a new concept, but it is gaining ground in the United States and Europe.
"Ten years ago, this was just a plan. Today, it's a real project and in 10 years, we'll be producing tens of megawatts of power this way," said Kempton, adding that V2G will readily find applications in countries that are rapidly ramping up reliance on wind and solar energy, such as Denmark and Britain.
Huber said he will be meeting in the coming weeks in Paris with heads of European grid management companies about V2G.
"We're going to try to determine how we can work together on this. It's a technology that is very good at meeting a need we have, and there's growing interest among auto companies to develop V2G vehicles," he added.
AC Propulsion of California has designed an electric drive system for V2G, and car manufacturers including Renault/Nissan, Mitsubishi and BMW are producing all-electric vehicles with an eye on the V2G market.
POETRY IN MOTION: WHY NEIL YOUNG'S LINCVOLT MATTERS
by Karen Barry, blogcritics.com, January 25, 2010
So I'm writing to you from behind the wheel of a car I've never seen. In person, anyway. But this car, she's beautiful. And smart. And completely irresistible. I've kind of fallen in love with her. I'm sitting here behind the wheel of Neil Young's LincVolt (in my mind), just drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, and thinking. I'm trying to figure out why she matters so much to me. LincVolt is a 1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV currently being converted to an eco-friendly vehicle that will achieve more than 100MPG with zero emissions.
She is the most unlikely eco-friendly vehicle you will ever see. At more than 2.5 tons and 19.5 feet long, she has been lovingly referred to by her owner as "The Flying Brick," an apt moniker. The '59 Lincoln, designed at a time when American cars were at the height of tail fin and heft absurdity, was chosen by Neil for that very reason: If this car can be earth-friendly, then surely yours can be too. That's cool, right? Move on. Right? I can't! I keep thinking about her. I'm in love! I had to find out why.
Maybe LV (that's what I call her) matters so much to me because I love Neil Young so much. Well, yeah, sure, that's part of it. Anyone who knows me would tell you I'm the Number One Fan of The Man From Tennessee, uh, Omemee. I'm pretty sure there's a wanted poster with my picture on it in his manager's mailroom. But it's more than that, somehow. Maybe it's Kevin's fault.
Kevin, my older brother and only sibling had one passion and one passion only: cars. I spent my childhood playing with not dolls but Matchbox cars, whiling away the warm September evenings not hand-in-hand with a boyfriend but trailing after my brother and best friend, trolling the lots of every car dealer in town, inspecting the new models the day they rolled off the trailer. Family road trips meant, for my brother and me, one of our two favorite games: Name That Car!
The year, make, and model of the other cars on the road shot out of our mouths as if our lives depended on it; if I could beat my brother to the punch on even one, I had won. The latest fashions in tail lights, tail fins, and bumpers were as familiar to me as the painter's pants, Earth shoes, and maxi skirts I tried to keep up with in the hallways of our big public school. (The other favorite game of ours, well, uh, his, was Car & Squirrel. You can imagine how that one went down. You know. Who played the car and who played the squirrel? Ugh. Sometimes it's hard to be the youngest.)
But I'm going off the road here. Maybe, maybe LV matters so much to me simply because I'm such a fan of The Earth and this is the world's coolest green vehicle? No, no, no. It's more. So much more. If I am ever to get to the bottom of this, I need to go back to the beginning, when Art and Science first shook hands, and became friends: The Age of Romanticism. Come with me.
During The Age of Romanticism, Wordsworth suggested that imagination was the faculty that not only allowed us to truly perceive the world around us, but also, to create it. To create it. Coleridge took it even farther, calling the imagination "intellecutal intuition," with the unique power to join reason and feeling. 
The Age of Romanticism was, of course, imagination's golden age. And LincVolt is, of course, its modern day, heavy metal embodiment, representing the most graceful intersection of art and science, where imagination invites reason to dance. Ah. And here is where I begin to unravel the mystery of LincVolt's place in my heart, I think; why this old-new car is more important to me, and to the world, than a passing fancy. By way of its very existence, LincVolt defies conventional wisdom, and leaps the guardrail of mainstream thinking. LincVolt's engagement of our imagination, with its unique alchemy of past, present, and future, moves us beyond thinking, all the way to feeling. Beyond understanding to knowing. To the place where all great scientific discovery, all revolution, really begins: the heart.
According to Gerald Holton, a Professor of Physics and Professor of The History of Science Emeritus at Harvard University, Albert Einstein believed wholeheartedly in the power of the imagination, and "intellectual intuition." In a famous speech of 1918, Einstein suggested that "the elusive, additional element needed for high achievement in science is a 'state of feeling' in the researcher, which he called 'akin to that of ... one who is in love.'"  Hmm. I know that feeling. Leave it to Einstein to hit the nail on the head. This is exactly what I am trying to get at with LincVolt. I'm drawn to her. I feel that something is very right here, but I am no scientist. I would be hard pressed to tell you exactly what. But the very sight of her fills me with wonder. Excitement! Hope. I can feel it.
Holton has well explored the art of the scientific imagination, and in fact talks much about how scientists "feel" something before they can prove it. How they just "know." About the scientist's "willing suspension of disbelief, analogous to that which Samuel Taylor Coleridge identified as the task of the poet, and not far from what John Keats referred to as the 'Negative Capability' of great authors (their ability of 'remaining content with half-knowledge.')"  In other words, just as poets feel something before they ever put pen to paper, so do scientists have a powerful feeling before they ever set out on their path of great discovery.
Remember that Einstein's theory of the expanding universe -- something that Einstein knew but could not prove more than 90 years ago -- was proven just three years ago, with Einstein long dead. In 2007, Gravity Probe B, one of NASA's most complicated satellites, confirmed to a precision of better than one percent that an object such as the Earth does indeed distort the fabric of space and time, the newly identified "dark energy," eerily resembling the "cosmological constant" which Einstein felt, but could not prove, existed.  In conversation Einstein often referred to his inner voice, and indeed seemed to rely more heavily on it than any facts that did or did not present themselves. Albert Einstein had a passionate belief in his own intellectual intuition.
Perhaps the same might be said of us all. That sometimes, important times, we just know something before we can explain or articulate it. This could be, should be one of those important times. Change is afoot. So far traditional methods to change the behaviors of the people and policy makers to bring about significant and necessary change to save our planet from imminent disaster haven't been working, last month's Copenhagen climate talks the most recent, most expansive, most disappointingly horrifying case in point. Things have to be done differently. We need more power. It's time for imagination and reason to start dancing again.
Scientist-philosophers are useful at a time like this, and scientist-philosopher Hans Christian Oersted has become a sort of hero of mine vis a vis this car, not only because of his unique relationship with electricity which laid the groundwork for the discovery of a useable electric current (LincVolt is currently part electric, and may wind up all electric before she's done), but also because in his time he was, to quote Gerald Holton, "a striking example of the fruitful interaction of science and the greater culture, which nowadays is rarely attended to but which is all around us." 
When science interacts with the greater culture (LincVolt), big things can happen (in Oersted's case, a useable electric current!); one thing leads to another. But unless science is interacting with the greater culture, as it did during the Age of Romanticism, The Age of Wonder, no such connections can be made, everyone is essentially working in a vacuum. Who knows what kind of idea and change LincVolt out there on the road may spark? It could, quite literally, ignite the fire that will change the world. LincVolt rolling across America with Neil Young behind the wheel is the practical application of the Romantic ideal: By connecting science and ideas to the world around us, and to popular culture, the marriage of imagination and reason is tantiilizingly tangible, and suddenly even greater than the sum of its parts.
I know I'm biased, being in love and all, but LincVolt is greater than the sum of her parts; she is no artist's folly. From the beginning, her development team has been focused on tackling two of the biggest challenges electric cars face, limited range and eventual battery replacement. Currently configured with powerful lithium ion iron phospate batteries and an efficient 75KW generator system to recharge those batteries while underway means that LincVolt is ready for the real world, able to take people on their daily commute or across the continent. As new technologies have become available and discoveries made, LincVolt has evolved, but her original design concept, the electric hybrid, has stood the test of time.
But now, after more than two years of development and many iterations (90 percent of her systems have been completely overhauled since the original proof of concept stage), it seems that LV is at a turning point; her team now weighs the pro's and con's of her current configuration against other possibilities, and their impact on the environment, one last time. Should she be all electric, with a range of 150 miles or so, or an electric hybrid with a back up generator enabling longer trips? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. But it's not only LincVolt that's at a turning point. The whole world is at a turning point, the environmental outlook is bleak; we're in dire need of change. This is the point of no return for us all; it's time for the world, too, to step back, and weigh the pro's and con's of its possibilities one last time, and then, to act. It's time to do things differently, and we need more people who think differently in order to do it.
I know that Bill McKibben, American Environmentalist and Scholar-in-Residence at Middlebury College , shares this view of the world; he frequently writes about global warming and alternative energies, and has authored several books on the subject of the environment, including The End of Nature, published in 1989 and widely regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has worked tirelessly for years to impress upon us that "already we've passed the point where we can avoid serious change, and with it the need for a real re-thinking of how we're going to live on this planet." So I decided to ask him what he thought of all this. Did he think, as I do, that LincVolt, and projects like her, projects that represent the intersection of art and science, are criticial to the revolutionary kind of behavioral change our planet needs if it is going to surivive ecologically? It's inspirational, sure (hey, Neil Young's eco-friendly car is so cool! I want one!), but it's more somehow, I tried to explain. It speaks to me, I said. It creates in me something I can feel, rather than think. It speaks to my heart, as well as my brain, and therein lies its magic. All revolution begins in the heart, doesn't it?
McKibben was familiar with LincVolt, and he was intrigued ("What a good article to be writing!"), agreeing that indeed LincVolt matters: "I think in a celebrity culture it's important for celebrities to try and lend their particular talents to things that are already going on, as well as dream up their own things, like the LincVolt." Indeed. LincVolt might well consider becoming part of things that are already going on, like 350.org, the international climate campaign Bill McKibben founded, by, say, driving 350 miles on three gallons of natural fuel, or three charges, or some such, as a part of that organization's 2010 initiatives. Or, LincVolt might consider doing her own thing, perhaps an old-fashioned/new-fangled road trip, a Crossing The Continent in The Heavy Metal Continental Tour. After all, the nation's very first transcontinental highway, and very first named highway, was called the Lincoln Highway. Did Neil Young know that when he chose the Lincoln for this project? Maybe he felt it.
Bill McKibben went on to say that although generally he might worry about celebrity involvement in these issues because it runs the risk of trivializing everything, he didn't have that concern here: "Neil Young doesn't trivialize much!," he said. "He's the real deal. I'm glad he's hooked in." High praise for Neil Young and LincVolt from one of the world's leading minds on how we are going to save the planet for another day. Neil Young is indeed "the real deal," no argument here. And he is perhaps uniquely well qualified for this particular project -- there is a bit of the mad scientist in him. If you've ever seen him play the electric guitar live on a stage you will know what I mean; I don't think I am overstating it when I say that the man has a unique and intimate relationship with electricity, the likes of which you are not likely to experience anywhere else, ever.
We need people like Neil Young, and projects like LincVolt, things that are going to make people feel something, to push our environmental agenda forward. Things that are going to force people to think differently, things that are going to give people permission to abandon their safe haven of reason and rational thought and step into the unknown, to light a candle inside themselves and wander into the dark corners of their imaginations and their hearts. It's time to do things differently.
As author Richard Holmes puts it in his elegant new book Age of Wonder, "The old rigid debates and boundaries - science versus religion, science versus the arts, science versus traditional ethics - are no longer enough. We should be impatient with them. We need a wider, more generous, more imaginative perspective. Above all, perhaps, we need the three things that a scientific culture can sustain: the sense of individual wonder, the power of hope, and the vivid but questing belief in a future for the globe." 
To me, this is what LincVolt (and Neil Young) represent: Wonder. Hope. A questing belief in a future for the globe, and us all. It doesn't matter if the car gets 100 miles to the gallon or 150, if the car is all electric or a hybrid, if it crosses the continent on that old Lincoln Highway or just drives Neil Young to his next gig. What matters is that the car IS. An old car that can do new things. Whatever the limits of its abilities and technology in the end, it remains a wonder. A spark.
Artists have the spark that lights the fire that lights the world. LincVolt is a spark. You know, Camus said that a man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened. Maybe LincVolt is one of those rediscoveries, for me. When I look at her beautiful, ridiculous, two and a half ton, 19.5 foot long, heavy metal body, it tugs at my heart. When I look at her, I know that here, Neil Young's imagination asked reason to dance. And when I look under the hood, it's a comfort, somehow, such a comfort, to know that sometimes reason says yes.
1. A Guide to the Study of Literature: A Companion Text for Landmarks of Literature, Brooklyn College
2, 3. "The Art of The Scientific Imagination," Gerald Holton, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Professor of the History of Science, Emeritus, PhD 1948, Harvard University
4. "Einstein was right: space and time bend," Anushka Asthana and David Smith, The Observer, 15 April 2007
5. "Oersted and the Romantic influences on scientific achievement: Scientist-'Romantic' sparks interest," Alvin Powell, Harvard University Gazette, 2 May 2002
6. Bill McKibben
7. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, Richard Holmes, Pantheon, 2009
January 18, 2010
Well we're at a turning point now. Time has passed and things have changed. We've done lots of things, tried many ideas. Some even seemed to succeed, like natural gas as a fuel. We did well with it and seemed to get good mileage. But that fuel is not so clean really. If you burn it all it's clean, but if any escapes unburned its real dirty and hurts the world. It smells bad for a reason.
We have experimented with ethanol fuel and E 85, gasoline, biodiesel, hydrogen gas from water, and now we have come to a turning point. A friend says "if you need to go a long way, don't take a car. Take a plane or a train. Try to just use electricity because it is the cleanest." Yes, some of it comes from coal, some from Nuclear and some from Wind and the Sun. Electricity, unlike fossil fuels, is getting cleaner all the time with all the new sources of power being harnessed to make it.
So now we have to decide what is best for us going forward. Will it be just electricity with a range of 150 miles or so, or will it electricity with a lesser range and a back up generator to use if you run out on a long trip and aren't near a charging station? That's where we are now. We are doing the final tests. We have even created hydrogen from water and we will be seeing this week or so whether that method of creation took as much power to make the hydrogen as it produces from the hydrogen. We will find out and make our decision what to use now. What combination of fuels to use or maybe no fuels at all. Just electricity. Maybe that is what Lincvolt will be. Its all happening right now and we will know soon.
We will know whether the rotary generator will stay or go and be replaced by more batteries. The newest batteries are great and if you take your time and don't overcharge them, they can really last the life of the car.
The car is coming together for the last time. It is a safer and stronger car than it has ever been and after re-doing 90% of the "proof of concept" version she is now ready for the long haul. Stay with us. It will be a good trip.
WHAT WE ARE UP AGAINST
January 14, 2010
There is still a lot to overcome if electric cars are to become part of the clean future we need. We're up against a lot.... the entire middle-east, the U.S. Government, all 50 State governments, the entire auto industry, the oil industry.....
Today there are 162,000 gas stations in the U.S. The states take in about $30 billion in fuel taxes annually, the Federal Government about $25 billion annually. No politicians are talking about this issue and how to address it.
Never mind the oil industry. Most of the automakers' business plan is wrapped around a 50X markup on parts electric cars don't need. If the US taxpayer is paying to keep these companies going it is past time for them to change. No one said it was going to be easy.
The Lincvolt Development Team is targeting the biggest electric car problems. Limited range and eventual battery replacement worries are the two biggest hurdles that electric vehicles face in the consumer market.
Lincvolt will never run out of power and leave passengers stranded. Lincvolt's batteries will last for the life of the car. Powerful Lithium Ion Iron Phosphate batteries are one of Lincvolt's silver bullets. Lincvolt's efficient 75KW generator system will re-charge these batteries before they get near the limit and dramatically extend their life.
On long-range journeys the Lincvolt generator system will cycle on and off while the vehicle is underway, automatically making sure that Lincvolt is charged and ready for any power challenge.
On daily commutes, Lincvolt's 75-mile all electric range will allow zero tailpipe emissions. The electric grid is getting smarter and cleaner every day with renewable energy sources coming online. That is Lincvolt's nightly power source. Today that is wasted power that is generated all night long.
Last week the Pope chastised world leaders for not protecting God's Creation with bold action at their Climate Change summit in Copenhagen. It is going to take some hard choices for the change we believe in to become a reality. It is really time for world leaders to step up and act.
The future is in your hands too. Think twice the next time before you turn the key. Is your fuel renewable? Is your fuel domestic? Is your car clean running? Is it electric? Is it Hybrid? Is it efficient? Can you afford to change? Can you afford not to change?
RECHARGING AND OTHER CONCERNS KEEP ELECTRIC CARS FAR FROM MAINSTREAM
by Peter Whoriskey, Washington Post, December 24, 2009
It was dark and rainy, and the battery on his nifty Mini E electric car was almost gone.
Paul Heitmann rolled quietly through the suburban New Jersey gloom, peering through the rain on the windshield, not sure what he was looking for, anxiety turning into panic. He needed juice. He spotted a Lukoil gas station, which was closed, and beside the point, anyway. But beyond the pumps, there was a Coke machine, and it was lit up.
"I thought 'Finally!' because I knew if there was light, there would be electricity," he said. "I managed to find the outlet behind the Coke machine and plugged in."
As many of the auto companies tell it, next year may be the year that the massive U.S. auto industry really begins to go electric.
Timothy Gill juices up his Mini E. When it got cold, he found that the battery didn't last as long.
(photo: Helayne Seidman For The Washington Post)
The all-battery Leaf from Nissan is scheduled to go on sale in November. General Motors will begin selling the Chevy Volt, a primarily electric car (with a small auxiliary gasoline engine that kicks in to boost the car's range). Ford has plans to produce an electric commercial van. The Obama administration has doled out $2.4 billion to companies involved in producing batteries and other parts of electric cars.
"We have to get on with the electrification of our industry," William Clay Ford Jr., chairman of Ford, said during a visit to Washington on Monday.
"I know we have to have an electric car," GM Chairman Edward E. Whitacre Jr. told reporters last week.
But overshadowing prospects for the transition of the vast U.S. auto fleet to electric -- and the billions of dollars the automakers have invested in the switch -- is the question of whether anyone beyond a sliver of enthusiasts will soon embrace the newfangled cars, which force drivers to rethink their habits and expectations of convenience.
For now, the only major automaker with a fleet of new all-electric vehicles priced for mainstream consumers is BMW, with its 500 Mini E electrics in what the company describes as a test of the technology. To judge from interviews with drivers and more than a dozen of their blogs, it has also proved to be a test of consumer adaptability.
The electrics pose two primary challenges to convention: When fully charged, electric cars generally cannot travel even half the distance that a conventional car can go on a full tank. And once the battery is depleted, there are few places to recharge besides home, and the charging process can take hours.
Heitmann, for example, sat in the dark beside the Coke machine for one midnight hour to make sure he had enough charge to make it the four miles to his mother's house.
"I sat there looking at the gas pumps that said $2.45 a gallon," he recalled. "And I thought, 'What I wouldn't give to be able to use that.' Two and a half dollars, and I could have gotten another 25 miles."
Many of the Mini E drivers are rhapsodic about the car's performance and the promise of environmental benefits, as is Heitmann. They have been, after all, willing to join a select group that pays about $850 a month to lease the cars and have a recharging wall box installed at their homes. But when Mini E drivers get together, their talk often turns to the art of maximizing the number of miles they can get with a single charge.
Their tricks: They slow down -- driving fast takes more power per mile because of aerodynamics and other factors. So some poke along at 55 mph on the highway as other drivers zoom past. In a pinch, they turn off the heater or the air conditioner, tolerating a chill or a sweat to get another mile. And they have learned that in very cold weather, they must further restrict their travels. When temperatures dip, the normal 100-mile range can shrink to as little as 80.
"I was shocked," said Robert Hooper, 44, a computer manager from New Jersey, when he realized how much his range shrank in the cold. When he considers the prospects of the 70-mile trip to his fiancee's house in the cold, he said, "I'm nervous."
Timothy Gill, 59, a software engineer from Maplewood, N.J., learned the hard way.
With a round-trip daily commute of 85 miles, Gill figured he could easily live within the official 100-mile range of the Mini E. And he did, until the first cold snap.
His next blog entry tells the story: "Towed! After only 87.8 miles. . . . Sheesh!"
The car companies staking investments on electric cars argue that such difficulties will soon be minimized. They say that the cars, now pricey, will be manufactured more cheaply as they are produced in greater numbers. Battery innovations will provide greater range at lower cost. The problem of the cold will diminish as heating systems are better-developed.
Perhaps most critically, they say, public charging stations will become far more common.
There are about 117,000 gas stations in the United States.
By contrast, a database of public recharging stations maintained by Tom Dowling, an electric-car enthusiast in California, lists 734 public charging stations in the United States, with the vast majority in that state.
Dowling said the comparison to gas stations isn't completely apt because most charging can be done at home.
But the lack of public charging stations is a widely recognized hurdle for the electrification effort.
In conjunction with Nissan, a company called Ecotality has a $100 million federal grant to set up about 7,000 stations in five states.
Given these hurdles, some automakers and environmentalists have cast a wary eye on the enthusiasts.
"I would argue that the case for the electric car is not proven," said Jim O'Donnell, chairman and chief executive of BMW North America, which built the Mini E. "We're not quite sure people are willing to go for it. We're asking consumers to pay more and get less. Our view is: Proceed with caution."
John DeCicco, a University of Michigan lecturer and former senior fellow at the Environmental Defense Fund, said that the expectations for electric cars were similarly high in the '90s, after California passed a zero-emissions mandate.
"What they were saying about electric vehicles then is about what they're saying now," he said. "They were banking on battery breakthroughs then. They're still banking on them."
Nevertheless, the enthusiasts remain optimistic, many hoping to lead the way to weaning the U.S. from foreign oil and others concerned about the environment. By DeCicco's reckoning, the carbon footprint of the Mini E is about half that of the gas version of the Mini Cooper.
"The car is a joy," said Gill, the Mini E driver whose previous car was a '93 Toyota Corolla and who long ago began bringing cloth bags to the supermarket for environmental reasons. His new license plate says "WHY GAS."
"The range of the cars and the infrastructure has to improve," he said. "But that will happen."
December 19, 2009
In South San Francisco at Brizio Street Rods, the new Lincvolt Garage, work continues with the excellent team there as the holiday season begins. Installation of the new electrical components, addition of safety systems, wheel design and final installation will be done during the next few weeks. Early in January, we will be installing the new dashboard, which is fed from Lincvolt's computer, programmed by Paul Perrone.
When that work is done, Johnathon Goodwin will return to California to "tune the system in." At that point Lincvolt will be moving to a chassis dyno for more testing. Late in January or February, we hope to be driving Lincvolt again. It has been a long haul and the Lincvolt project is now in its third year, with new faces, reorganization, and new energy.
The Lincvolt Garage Auction is going well, providing much needed financial support for the project. Next year we will be opening our new sponsorship program. Watch the site for more details on that. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah!
HYBRID ELECTRIC SUPERCAR WITH MICROTURBINE TECHNOLOGY TO DEBUT AT LA AUTO SHOW
By Jason Hendler, allcarselectric.com, November 30, 2009
Capstone Turbine Corporation, producer of ultra low emissions micro-turbines, has embedded their micro turbine technology in a hybrid electric supercar, the CMT-380, which was designed by Electronic Arts Chief Creative Director Richard Hilleman. In the description below, it sounds very much like a series electric hybrid, or extended-range electric vehicle, like the Chevy Volt. No price or availability was provided, so I assume it is intended to demonstrate the potential for the use of micro turbines in HEV's.
Moller International has a competing product line of rotary and compound rotary engines with the same ultra low emissions benefits, which you can see here. (see next story)
CHATSWORTH, Calif., Nov. 30, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Capstone Turbine Corporation (www.capstoneturbine.com) (Nasdaq:CPST) is pushing traditional hybrid electric vehicle barriers with the introduction of the CMT-380, a high performance hybrid electric supercar powered by traditional batteries and an untraditional ultra low emission range extending microturbine, which is essentially like having an ultra-clean and quiet jet engine under the hood. The supercar, which is in the design and test phase, was developed in partnership with Electronic Arts Chief Creative Director Richard Hilleman.
The prototype hybrid electric supercar with microturbine technology will debut at the LA Auto Show Dec. 2-13.
"The sleek-looking, low to the ground, high-performance supercar definitely raises hybrid's cool factor on several levels," stated Jim Crouse, Capstone's Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "The CMT-380's design performance numbers speak for themselves: 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, 150 mph top speed, and an unheard-of driving range of up to 500 miles on a single tank of fuel, all with ultra-low exhaust emissions that rival any hybrid on the market today," added Crouse.
The concept for the high performance hybrid electric microturbine vehicle was developed by Electronic Arts Chief Creative Director Richard Hilleman, creator of popular video games, with support from Capstone Turbine, the world's leading clean technology manufacturer of microturbine energy systems.
Capstone and Hilleman's microturbine enabled hybrid supercar features a Capstone C30 (30-kilowatt) microturbine that runs on diesel or biodiesel, which is housed inside a sleek Factory Five Racing GTM body. The Capstone C30 microturbine is so clean it does not require any exhaust after treatment to meet stringent clean air requirements of the California Air Resources Board or EPA 2010.
The CMT-380 features lithium-polymer battery cells that can be charged at home or at a public recharging station. While driving, the sports car can operate on 100 percent battery power in zero emissions mode for a range of up to 80 miles. When the batteries reach a predetermined state of discharge, the Capstone C30 microturbine quietly fires up and recharges the batteries on the fly to extend the driving range up to 500 miles. The diesel fueled C30 microturbine requires less maintenance than traditional combustion engines and produces ultra-low exhaust emissions.
"Capstone's CMT-380 is just now finishing up the conceptual design and first article testing stage," said Darren Jamison, Capstone President and CEO. "We plan to finalize very soon a limited production plan, in part, based on interest received at the LA Auto Show. We anticipate customers will be a select group of individuals who appreciate its many innovative high-performance and high-technology driving characteristics, long driving range and ultra-low emissions," added Jamison.
Not only does this car look great and is fun to drive, but its low-maintenance, high-efficiency turbine engine makes it a stress-free, no compromise hybrid," said Richard Hilleman, CMT-380 co-creator. "The CMT-380 is perfect for people who want it all. These kinds of customers value a high level of driving performance but also are concerned about social issues such as reducing greenhouse emissions and limiting our country's dependence on foreign oil," added Hilleman.
Hybrid Electric Cars One of Many Applications of Microturbine Technology Worldwide
Capstone Turbine is the world's leading producer of clean-and-green, highly efficient and reliable microturbines. Capstone's 30-kilowatt microturbines have been installed in hybrid electric buses, trolleys and transit shuttles around the world, including hybrid buses operating today in U.S. cities like New York, Baltimore and Charlotte, and internationally in London, Tokyo, Paris, Rome and Auckland, reducing greenhouse emissions and extending the range of these state of the art hybrid electric vehicles.
"The vehicle market is not a new market for Capstone," Jamison said. "In fact hybrid electric vehicle applications have always been part of Capstone's vision since the company was founded back in 1988. The first microturbines Capstone designed and built were integrated into automotive applications. But like all new technologies, timing is everything and our initial hybrid design for cars was ahead of its time and the company turned to the more mature stationary power markets. Now, more than two decades later, hybrid electric vehicles are gaining interest in the market and people are taking another look at microturbines as electric vehicle battery chargers and for public charging stations," added Jamison.
Earlier this year, a C30 liquid-fueled microturbine was successfully integrated into a Ford S-Max people carrier in the United Kingdom by Langford Performance Engineering Ltd. You can see more information about the Langford Whisper hybrid electric microturbine vehicle at http://www.capstoneturbine.com/news/story.asp?id=512.
"The Capstone CMT-380 is a fun hybrid car with tremendous performance. Although it is not in Capstone's business plan to start manufacturing complete cars, the limited production CMT-380 and Langford Whisper hybrid demonstration vehicle are intended to showcase the technology and demonstrate value proposition of microturbines as electric vehicle range extenders," added Jamison. "Both Capstone and Langford have been in discussions with automotive industry companies, and these concept and demonstration vehicles help showcase the technology and generate public awareness of the benefits of microturbine technology."
Capstone has shipped over 5,000 microturbines worldwide which are able to produce energy ranging from 30 kilowatts up to 5 megawatts and are supplying power at sites around the world, including office buildings, hospitals, hotels, universities, oil and gas applications, landfills, waste water treatment plants, farm digesters, industrial manufacturing operations and others.
Capstone microturbines can run on a variety of fuels, including natural gas, waste methane from landfills, biodiesel, diesel, kerosene and propane. Microturbine efficiency increases when used in Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and Combined Cooling Heat and Power (CCHP) applications that utilize waste heat energy produced by the microturbines to recapture and heat water or buildings, or run through an absorption chiller to create air conditioning.
What is a Microturbine?
The CMT-380's 30-kilowatt microturbine features an electric generator and turbine components mounted on a single shaft, which is supported by air bearings -- so there are no liquids to lubricate or cool the microturbine. It uses a patented combustion system to achieve extremely low exhaust emissions that do not require expensive exhaust after treatment to meet stringent California Air Resources Board and EPA 2010 requirements. Even more efficiency comes from its patented recuperator (or air-to-air heat exchanger), which extracts energy from the exhaust stream and recycles it to preheat air coming into the combustion chamber, thus greatly increasing efficiency. Capstone microturbines are well-known for several reasons:
Air bearings support the entire rotating assembly. No oil or other lubricants are needed, so maintenance is extremely low and the need to dispose of hazardous materials is eliminated.
Capstone microturbines operate at extremely high speeds, up to 96,000 rpm, which results in a very high power to weight ratio.
Microturbines have a smaller footprint and lighter weight compared to traditional combustion engines.
Continuous combustion and lean premix operation allows for extremely low exhaust emissions.
FOR THE VOLT, HOW'S LIFE AFTER 40 (MILES)?
by Lindsay Brooke, New York Times, November 19, 2009
SITTING behind the wheel of a 2011 Chevrolet Volt prototype on Wednesday, I found myself confronting what may be the greatest fear that future owners of electric vehicles will face: a battery-charge indicator showing just a few miles of remaining range.
If I were out on a desolate Interstate in a vehicle powered solely by batteries, I'd be praying to the god of electrons for a place to pull off and plug in a charging cord. But my drive is at General Motors' proving grounds here, and I'm about to experience what the Volt's vehicle line director (and my passenger), Tony Posawatz, says is the car's trump card: a gasoline-powered generator under the hood.
Like other reporters, I had already driven Volt prototypes in the battery-powered mode, and they were predictably smooth and silent. But for eventual Volt owners, a crucial -- and so far unanswered -- question is how the car will perform when the battery's charge is depleted and all electricity is provided by an onboard generator, driven by a gasoline engine, that has no mechanical connection to the wheels.
Will it be a slug? How annoying will the noise of the generator's engine be in an otherwise mute car?
G.M. engineers say that a fully charged Volt is capable of 40 miles of purely electric driving before the computer calls for the generator, which has an output of 53 kilowatts (about 71 horsepower), to start and sustain the battery's minimum charge level -- the "extended range" operating mode.
So what is life after 40 like in the Volt?
It takes a few laps of Milford's twisty, undulating 3.7-mile road course to deplete the remaining eight miles of battery charge. With the dashboard icon signaling my final mile of range, I point the Volt toward a hill and wait for the sound and feel of the generator engine's four pistons to chime in.
But I completely miss it; the engine's initial engagement is inaudible and seamless. I'm impressed. G.M. had not previously made test drives of the Volt in its extended-range mode available to reporters, but I can see that in this development car, at least, the engineers got it right.
I push the accelerator and the engine sound does not change; the "gas pedal" controls only the flow of battery power to the electric drive motor. The pedal has no connection to the generator, which is programmed to run at constant, preset speeds. This characteristic will take some getting used to by a public accustomed to vroom-vroom feedback.
A few hundred yards later, as we snake through the track's infield section, the engine r.p.m. rises sharply. The accompanying mechanical roar reminds me of a missed shift in a manual-transmission car. For a moment the sound is disconcerting; without a tachometer, I guess that it peaked around 3,000 r.p.m.
I asked what was going on.
"The system sensed that it's dipped below its state of charge and is trying to recover quickly," Mr. Posawatz said. "The charge-sustaining mode is clearly not where we want it to be yet."
Immediately the engine sound disappeared, although it was still spinning the generator. A few times later in our test, the generator behaved in similar fashion -- too loud and too unruly for production -- but there is time for the programmers to find solutions. Volt engineers are revising the car's control software, which will have the effect of "feathering" the transition from the nearly silent all-electric mode to the charge-sustaining mode, when the generator will be operating.
"We're designing a software set of rules, which will just require more seat time for the engineers to finish," Mr. Posawatz said. "We have nine months to work this out."
The sound of the generator running at steady highway speeds is something Volt owners, and others who appreciate the flexibility and efficiency of this type of hybrid system, may have to accept.
Unlike many electrics, including the Tesla Roadster, the Volt's electric drive has no whine. The car feels solid and planted on the road. Clicking the Sport button on the dashboard releases a bit more oomph than when in Normal mode; in terms of efficiency, there isn't much difference between the two except at peak power.
The Low mode-- Chevrolet plans a flashier name for it by next fall -- is unique in the electric-car world, and a useful feature. While coasting, it applies electric motor braking, then smoothly blends in the regular brakes.
Even beyond the regenerative function, Low mode offers one-pedal driving in slow speed, stop-and-go, and downhill environments. The regenerative braking, whether applied through the Volt's foot pedal or by pulling the shift lever down into Low mode, is both progressive and predictable. This is in stark contrast to the harsh, abrupt regenerative braking delivered by BMW's all-electric Mini-E, for example.
There is minimal body lean in the tight corners. The low-rolling-resistance Goodyear tires created specifically for the Volt provide excellent grip.
Throughout my test, the prototype behaves admirably. At its current state of development, the Volt is an extremely refined vehicle.
November 14, 2009
Lincvolt is feeling good. Now an ethanol fueled, turbo-charged, single rotor engine turning a UQM 75KW generator is in place under the hood. This week the new design Lincvolt battery enclosure will be built in Wichita, KS. A lot of progress has been made and we are almost ready to place the electrical components. We will keep you posted.
Meantime, Lincvolt's second rotary engine will be set up for further tuning and fuel blending next week. As we make efficiency gains, we will apply them to the onboard rotary, which is now being programmed into the Lincvolt system.
Thanks for your support!
Take your foot off the Gas America
GENERATOR INSTALLED IN LINCVOLT
November 12, 2009
Lincvolt is feeling good. Now an ethanol fueled, turbo-charged, single rotor engine turning a UQM 75KW generator is in place under the hood. Next week the Lincvolt battery enclosure will be built in Wichita, KS. A lot of progress has been made and we are ready to place the electrical components. We will keep you posted.
ROTAPOWER'S HYBRID ENGINE FOR ELECTRIC CARS READY FOR PRODUCTION
November 10, 2009
The new green Rotapower hybrid engine set to make the government's low carbon initiative a success
A new ultra clean, light and powerful hybrid engine called Rotapower is announced which is so advanced that the exhaust gases coming out of the engine can be cleaner than the air going into it.
Peter Mustafa, shareholder and publicist for the revolutionary new engine commented, "the Rotapower engine will play a major part in reducing pollution levels worldwide as well as reducing the carbon footprint".
The engine, which, following years of development, and which is now ready for manufacture, can consume 40% less fuel than its rivals putting out 40% less carbon in the process. It is tiny, 1/6th the size of a diesel equivalent, ultra quiet and weighs little. It also has only 3 critical moving parts making it inherently reliable.
As well as being the ideal companion hybrid engine for the forthcoming plug-in hybrid electric cars, it also is the perfect replacement for the world's dirty 2-stoke engines, which in one day can put out more pollution than a Rotapower engine will in an entire year.
Electric cars, by themselves, have poor range as was demonstrated today in Dunfermline when Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary, test drove the new Mini E which has a reported range of only 120 miles and the whole back seat and boot taken up by batteries. Plug-in hybrid electric cars, however, have the range of a normal car but its batteries still take up a considerable amount of space. The Rotapower engine scores highly as its tiny volume, weight and high power allows room for more batteries without impacting on the passenger compartment or boot whilst keeping the car running in electric mode for longer.
The new Rotapower engine would dramatically help the government meet its 5-year low carbon green motoring transformation and the engine is ready for production now.
The company is seeking joint venture partners for manufacture and distribution of its engines and current countries under consideration are the UK and Ireland. With the decline in car manufacturing and the surge in demand for Rotapower engines the timing and synergy is impossible to ignore. It is the right solution at the right time.
For full performance information, visit www.rotapower.info.
October 30, 2009
Lincvolt now has a single rotor engine running on renewable fuel to turn a 75 KW generator.
The engine is controlled by Electromotive's WinTEC 3.
Beginning next Monday tuning and fuel blending experiments will continue.
Stay tuned. Thank you for your support.
October 4, 2009
Lincvolt is being updated with a new battery configuration and the drive train is in place ready to test on a chassis dyno. The new Lincvolt Battery Management System (BMS) is scheduled for installation the week of October 12. Wiring will be re-routed to accommodate the new battery configuration and BMS. New components will be waiting to be installed and tested with the generator running, looking for spikes that have somehow gotten around the filter in previous tests and caused damage to previous components.
The rotary motor that will turn the generator is still causing problems for the team. We are working on our fifth rotary motor with tuning set to commence again on October 6. We are attempting to turn a 75 KW UQM motor with a single-rotor engine that gets about 65 HP. Three weeks of attempts by Uli Kruger and Johnathan Goodwin have not been able to attain the results we are looking for. The rotary program has been plagued with failure since the beginning and now, after 18 months of experimenting with different fuels, we think we are finally on the verge.
At the recommendation of Roy Brizio, we have brought in a professional tuner who will start on the 6th at Brizio's Street Rods in South San Francisco, California. Uli Kruger will be on hand to describe the goals of our testing for the tuner. This will be a "make or break" for the rotary. Since the car is completely set up for a rotary we may have to fall back on a naturally aspirated gasoline powered rotary to use as a placeholder while we finish the rest of the Lincvolt system. The rotary type motor we have chosen to turn the generator may be the wrong one and we will find another approach if that is the case. We may have to proceed with the naturally aspirated gasoline powered rotary in the meantime. This will enable us to completely tune in the rest of the car. We are all excited about that!
Team member Paul Perrone will be on hand when Lincvolt moves onto a chassis dyno this month newly rewired, reconfigured, and with a working generator system. Paul is an expert in robotics, and will be programming the cycling of the generator system, i.e. programming the onboard intelligence that decides when the generator starts up and shuts down with the car in motion. This has to be done on a chassis dyno. The Lincvolt team is ready for this next stage to begin.
Needless to say, we are running late. We are still weighed down by simple problems that seem unrelated to the tuning process and we have been unable to complete the task of experimenting in a meaningful way with different fuels. If you have been watching us, it is easy to see how frustrating 18 months of pursuing the rotary motor concept has become. But it is just starting to get really interesting!
Yet, we still remain optimistic that we will succeed. We have seen a lot of indicators that the rotary motor holds some great possibilities for fuel economy.
The week of October 5-12 will be critical to making a run at our scheduled trip to Las Vegas on November 2. Stay tuned.
In the event that we do not make the trip, we will continue with the development until we are satisfied that we have exhausted all of our alternatives.
The Goodwin Young Lincvolt team thanks you for your support.
September 20, 2009
We are targeting a test run from San Francisco to Las Vegas at the first of November. We will be attempting a run with no plug-ins, recharging while under way with the latest Lincvolt generator system. In preparation for this, we will be tuning the generator motor for maximum efficiency. This begins with Uli Kruger and Johnathon Goodwin doing the tuning at Brizio Street Rods. When that is complete and the rotary is installed in Lincvolt, we will be running the car on a chassis dyno to further tune the charging system, calibrating the run times and KW settings. During this time a Battery Management System and new safety components will also be installed and tested with the Lincvolt intelligent dashboard.
Shakey Pictures will be covering the tuning process over the next 6 weeks or so. The web cam will be active and we will resume our live updates as the process evolves. We are behind on our schedule as originally envisioned, yet we are enthusiastic and optimistic about our chances for success! As we move ahead, thank you for your continued support.
The Goodwin Young Lincvolt team.
SILICON VALLEY SAYS DETROIT MUST START OVER TO SURVIVE
September 19, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -- For those who think billions of dollars in federal money has saved the American auto industry, Silicon Valley's venture capitalists have a different view to share.
The U.S. auto industry, they warn, can never become competitive again. It remains too wedded to a dying business model and too out of touch with the sources of innovation, they say.
Instead, they look for a new group of upstart companies to shoot to prominence and profitability, overtaking the automakers once known as the "Big 3" just as Google Inc. came from nowhere a decade ago to eclipse established technology companies.
"I do not believe that the U.S. auto business can be competitive," said Ray Lane, a managing partner at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. "I don't see any of these new car companies based in Detroit."
Lane is backing plug-in hybrid carmaker Fisker Automotive, which is planning to launch a $39,000 model. He"s also slated to be chairman at V-Vehicle Co., an auto company unveiled in June that plans to build "environmentally friendly" vehicles in Louisiana with backing from billionaire T. Boone Pickens.
Detroit has lost its entrepreneurial spirit, Lane said. "For years they have been led by accountants and lawyers, not engineers and entrepreneurs," Lane said. "That's OK if the industry isn't changing."
So what do Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group need to do to regain marketplace dominance?
"Start over," said Marc van den Berg, managing director of VantagePoint Venture Partners, which backs upstart electric carmaker Tesla Motors and electric-vehicle infrastructure firm Better Place.
The U.S. auto industry has been hit hard by high fixed costs from health care obligations and 27-year sales lows in the past year. After demand did not reach 10 million units in the first half of the year, the cash-for-clunkers program brought July's light-vehicle sales rate to 11.1 million units and August's to 13.7 million. But 2009 sales remain down 28 percent.
GM and Chrysler have restructured in federally sponsored bankruptcies, receiving $60 billion in government funding. Even Ford, which has avoided federal emergency aid and bankruptcy, is counting on government support in the form of nearly $6 billion in low-cost U.S. loans to develop fuel-efficient vehicles.
Business model redesign
But the only way the Detroit 3 can succeed is by completely overhauling the business model, moving beyond just designing attractive cars, Silicon Valley venture capitalists say.
"There is room for business model innovation and technology innovation," said Vinod Khosla, managing general partner of Khosla Ventures.
Khosla said U.S. automakers need to embrace innovation at all levels. He pointed to Better Place, which is building charging infrastructure and battery-swapping stations for electric vehicles.
"Better Place is saying, 'Don't let the consumer buy the batteries,'" Khosla said. "That's a business model innovation."
"There's lots of such innovation possible," he said.
The Silicon Valley financiers have high stakes in the transportation sector and are looking to herald the next wave of innovation in cars. Khosla, co-founder of computing company Sun Microsystems, is backing a number of biofuels makers, including Coskata.
His former firm, Kleiner Perkins, a prolific fund that backed now-household names such as Google and online retailer Amazon, has set its sights on the green technology sector with bets like Fisker and fuel-cell maker Bloom Energy.
Kleiner Perkins' Lane said the success of Google and Amazon stemmed more from their unique business models than their technology.
"It was nifty technology that Google had developed, but there were 10 others that had technology," he said. "It was innovation in the business model that produced the value in Google."
Raj Atluru, managing director of another Silicon Valley venture capital fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, said big carmakers will continue to exist. But new names will herald change in the industry.
"Tata Nano is going to change the entire supply chain. They are changing the economics," Atluru said. "Chery has gone from a start-up automotive company to $6 billion in revenue."
Chery Automobile Co. is among the growing ranks of Chinese firms to have held talks with European or U.S. brands without making any commitments, while India's Tata Motors has made headlines with its $2,500 Nano small car.
Draper Fisher, which has brought industry-changing companies like Internet phone company Skype and e-mail firm Hotmail to the marketplace, is betting on low-cost Indian electric-car firm Reva.
Kleiner Perkins' Lane said a number of changes in the auto industry, including efficiencies in power train and electrification, "will set us up for the next 50 to 100 years in a totally different industry than the one that was created in the last 100 years."
THE CHEVY VOLT GETS 230 MPG? ONLY IF YOU USE BAD MATH
Category: Bad Statistics
by Mark C. Chu-Carroll, scienceblogs.com, August 11, 2009
Here's a quick bit of obnoxious bad math. I saw this myself in a link to an AP article via Salon.com, and a reader sent me a link to the same story via CNN. It's yet another example of what I call a metric error: that is, the use of a measurement in a way that makes it appear to mean something very different than what it really means.
Here's the story. Chevy is coming out with a very cool new car, the Volt. It's a hybrid with massive batteries. It plugs in to your household electricity when you're home to charge its batteries. It operates as an electric car until its batteries start to get low, and then it starts running a small gas motor to power a generator. It's a very cool idea. I'm honestly excited about cars like the volt - and Google helped develop the technology behind it, which biases me even more in its favor. So you'd expect me to be very supportive of the hype around it, right? I wish I could. But GM has decided that the best way to promote it is to use bad math to tell lies to make it look even better than it really is.
Chevy has announced that for city driving, the Volt will get gas mileage of 230 miles per gallon.
That's nonsense. Pure, utter rubbish.
The trick is that they're playing with the definition of mileage. In city driving, the Volt is primary an electric car: it's powered by its batteries which you must recharge every night, not by gasoline. On average, you can drive it for about 40 miles on a full charge before it needs to start using any gasoline.
The "mileage" figure, as it's presented, is really meaningless - because it's being presented for a situation in which the gasoline engine almost never runs at all.
They compute it by basically saying: "If I fully charge the car battery every night, how far will I drive the car in typical city commuting conditions before it's consumed a gallon of gas".
What if you drive your volt around the city all day? Your mileage will drop to around 50 miles per gallon once you've driven more than 40 miles. If you drive your car 100 miles in a day, you'll consume a bit over a gallon of gas. That's very impressive. But it's absolutely not what you'd expect after being told that it gets 230 miles per gallon.
The method that GM used to produce that mileage figure is extremely dishonest and completely uninformative. The "real" effective mileage (excluding the cost of charging the car - which will be significant!) varies depending on the length of your commute.
My wife could commute in a Volt, and never put gas in it: her commute is about 12 miles each way - so she'd effectively have infinite mileage according to GMs method. If I commuted in a volt, I'd get something around 288 miles per gallon. (My commute is 24 miles each direction, leaving me with 8 miles per day running on gas; so about 6 days of my commute would consume a gallon of gas; that's 288 miles.) If one of my friends, who commutes 45 miles each direction per day, were to commute in a Volt, he'd end up burning a gallon of gas per day - getting around 90 miles per gallon.
Plug-in hybrids are a new class of car. You can't really describe their efficiency compared to a conventional gasoline-powered car using a single familiar figure. You could present energy efficiency in terms of a unit like "distance per kilojoule", but most people won't have a clue of what that means. The honest way to describe it is to say "Up to 40 miles without consuming gas, and then 50 miles per gallon". That's not so horribly difficult, now is it?
But it doesn't sound nearly as impressive as "230 miles per gallon."
GM SAYS NEW VOLT TO GET 230 MPG IN CITY DRIVING
By Kimberly S. Johnson And Tom Krisher, AP, August 11, 2009
WARREN, Michigan - General Motors Corp. said Tuesday its Chevrolet Volt rechargeable electric car should get 230 miles per gallon (98 kilometers per liter) of gasoline in city driving, more than four times the current champion, the Toyota Prius.
The Volt is powered by an electric motor and a battery pack with a 40-mile (65-kilometer) range. After that, a small internal combustion engine kicks in to generate electricity for a total range of 300 miles (480 kilometers). The battery pack can be recharged from a standard home outlet.
GM is marketing the 230-mile (370-kilometer) figure following early tests using draft guidelines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for calculating the mileage of extended range electric vehicles.
The EPA guidelines, developed with guidance from automakers, figure that cars like the Volt will travel more on straight electricity in the city than on the highway. If a person drives the Volt less than 40 miles (65 kilometers), in theory they could go without using gasoline.
Highway mileage estimates -- which are generally higher than city ones -- for the Volt have yet to be released using the EPA's methodology.
"We are confident the highway (mileage) will be a triple-digit composite," GM CEO Fritz Henderson (pictured at left) said.
If the figure is confirmed by the EPA, which does the tests for the mileage posted on new car door stickers, the Volt would be the first car to exceed triple-digit gas mileage.
EPA said in a statement Tuesday that it has not tested a Volt "and therefore cannot confirm the fuel economy values claimed by GM." The agency said it applauded "GM's commitment to designing and building the car of the future -- an American made car that will save families money, significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create good-paying American jobs."
GM has produced about 30 Volts so far and is making 10 a week, said during a presentation of the vehicle at the company's technical center in the Detroit suburb of Warren.
Henderson said charging the volt will cost about 40 cents a day, at approximately 5 cents per kilowatt hour.
Most automakers are working similar plug-in designs, but GM could be the leader with the Volt, which is due in showrooms late in 2010.
Toyota's Prius, the most efficient car now sold in the U.S., gets 48 miles per gallon (20 kilometers per liter) of gas. It is a gas-electric hybrid that runs on a small internal combustion engine assisted by a battery-powered electric motor to save gasoline.
Although Henderson would not give details on pricing, the first-generation Volt is expected to cost near $40,000, making it cost-prohibitive to many people even if gasoline returns to $4 per gallon.
The price is expected to drop with future generations of the Volt, but GM has said government tax credits of up to $7,500 and the savings on fuel could make it cost-effective, especially at 230 miles per gallon (98 kilometers per liter).
"We get a little cautious about trying to forecast what fuel prices will do," said Tony Posawatz, GM's vehicle line director for the Volt. "We achieved this number and if fuel prices go up, it certainly does get more attractive even in the near-term generation."
The mileage figure could vary as the guidelines are refined and the Volt gets further along in the manufacturing process, Posawatz said.
GM is nearly halfway through building about 80 Volts that will look and behave like the production model, and testing is running on schedule, Posawatz said.
Two critical areas, battery life and the electronic switching between battery and engine power, are still being refined, but the car is on schedule to reach showrooms late in 2010, he said.
GM is simulating tests to make sure the new lithium-ion batteries last 10 years, Posawatz said, as well as testing battery performance in extremely hot and cold climates.
"We're further along, but we're still quite a ways from home," he said. "We're developing quite a knowledge base on all this stuff. Our confidence is growing."
The other area of new technology, switching between battery and engine power, is proceeding well, he said, with engineers just fine-tuning the operations.
"We're very pleased with the transition from when it's driving EV (electric vehicle) to when the engine and generator kick in," he said.
GM also is finishing work on the power cord, which will be durable enough that it can survive being run over by the car. The Volt, he said, will have software on board so it can be programmed to begin and end charging during off-peak electrical use hours.
It will be easy for future Volt owners living in rural and suburban areas to plug in their cars at night, but even Henderson recognized the challenge urban, apartment dwellers, or those that park their car on the street might have recharging the Volt. There could eventually be charging stations set up by a third-party to meet such a demand, Henderson said.
Chrysler Group, Ford Motor Co. and Daimler AG are all developing plug-ins and electric cars, and Toyota Motor Corp. is working on a plug-in version of its gas-electric hybrid system. Nissan Motor Co. announced last month that it would begin selling an electric vehicle in Japan and the U.S. next year.