Environment Forum

Back to the Future goes electric

The DeLorean Motor Co. announced it will launch an all-electric version of its Back to the Future gull-winged car in 2013, but aficionados are debating whether or not it will fly.

Texas-based DeLorean has partnered with Epic EV (and its sister battery company Flux Power) to bring to market the prototype DMC-12 EV, with a top speed of 125 mph driven by a 260 horsepower electric motor. Range is between 70 and 100 miles and the battery has an expected lifespan of 7 years.

It will sport a price tag from between $90,000 to $100,000.

Critics are concerned about the weight of stainless steel.  “I’m not sure you know the DeLorean – it is a very large, very, very heavy car and I couldn’t imagine making an EV version of it.  $100 says the range blows,” writes AMouth, one of 294 comments on the subject at techie hub slashdot.org.

But test-drivers were impressed.

Kevin McCauley at Jalopnik.com says the gull-winged classic glides silently despite its weight, and has more than enough torque to handle the 200 extra pounds of the electric system.

“I twist the key and rotate the surprisingly weighty metal dial. Silence. I press the gas pedal, which, true to form with any 1980s exotic, has so much resistance it’s more like a piece of gym equipment.  Press harder, and we silently glide forward.”

Vehicle-to-grid: Genius or waste of energy?

 

A professor at the University of Delaware has patented a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology for parked electric vehicles to return power to the grid and teamed up with NRG Energy to commercialize it.

Professor Willett Kempton, who has been testing V2G technology that lessens the load on natural gas plants, told the New York Times utilities would not be interested in buying electricity from individual cars but from groups of perhaps 100 vehicles.

The idea is not without its critics.

The only way this will take off is for users to have a financial incentive to allow the power company to do this, i.e. the power price during peak demand must be so high that it’s cheaper to deplete your EV battery rather than draw from the grid,” writes hackertourist on listserv slashdot.

GM, Chrysler cleared executive decks in 2009

When 2009 began, both General Motors and Chrysler were sliding toward bankruptcy. As the year ends, both companies have survived to fight another day.

The same can’t be said for their senior executives.

Of the top 10 executives at GM’s glass-towered Detroit headquarters in January, only one — Bob Lutz – remains.  At Chrysler, only two of the 10 highest-ranking executives are still in Auburn Hills.  

At GM, the churn took a dramatic toll at the vice president level. Of the 55 top executives, including vice presidents and divisional leaders, who were at GM at the start of the year, 26 have left the automaker.  Of the remainder, few remain in the same positions they held, according to a Reuters tally.

from Summit Notebook:

How Leo DiCaprio started a car company

Henrik Fisker, the storied car designer who has shaped Aston Martins, Fords and BMWs, told the Reuters Autos Summit this week that he now wants a starring role in the green revolution.

But he also wants to make the world safe for sports cars for generations to come.

"Being a car enthusiast and loving cars, to be quite honest, I could not imagine a life without a beautiful, fast sports car," Fisker said. "I needed to do something to make sure that I could drive one of those nice cars, my children could drive one of those beautiful, fast cars."

A Nightmare on Auto Street: Big boxes

When it comes to competition in the auto business, it’s the unknown that keeps the top U.S. Honda executive, John Mendel, up at night.

Mendel, speaking to the Reuters Auto Summit in Detroit, said he is always concerned about the conventional competitors. But what he is really afraid of is a company that “changes the game.”

“What keeps me up regarding new competition is someone significantly changing the game,” Mendel said.

Electric cars to help solve riddle of storing power

Since the days of Thomas Edison, finding a way to effectively store electricity has been one of the “Holy Grails” for power companies.

While it won’t be an overnight revolution for electricity, eventually plug-in electric cars and trucks will be a step toward the elusive goal, said Ted Craver, chief executive officer of Edison International.

Edison International is the parent of Southern California Edison (SCE), which is the biggest utilty in the United States in terms of power delivered to customers.

Don’t rain on my electric car parade

Electric car organization Plug In America revved up the inaugural festivities this past weekend with a parade of 74 plug-in vehicles in Santa Monica, California, dubbing it the “greenest procession of its kind.”

The non-profit group first applied to ride in the Presidential inaugural parade in Washington, but was not chosen. Undeterred, it took the parade west, said spokeswoman Zan Dubin Scott.

“Today we congratulate President Barack Obama, who has called for one million plug-in cars by 2015,” Paul Scott, one of the group’s co-founders, said at the parade on Saturday, taking the moment to make a “plug” for more plug-ins by 2016. “With the audacity of hope and the confidence born of years driving these cars, we’re asking Obama to accelerate his plan and make it happen three years sooner, then to boost that number to ten million plug-ins by 2016.”

New EPA chief ready to give California new car rules of its own?

Environmental Protection Agency chief-to-be Lisa Jackson said science would be her guide on policy – and that may mean California is in the driver’s seat on setting new global-warming-style regulations on cars. (Not to mention the nearly 20 other states ready to follow in its footsteps.)

Jackson said she would reconsider whether California should get a waiver from the EPA that would allow it to regulate carbon pollution from cars, the San Francisco Chronicle said. The Bush administration has said no to such a waiver – but Jackson said she would focus on the science.

“She said today ‘I’m going to do it’. I mean, she didn’t say that — but I don’t think the auto industry has any doubt,” Sierra Club chief Carl Pope said shortly after a Senate confirmation hearing for Jackson. “She didn’t have to signal that strongly.”

  •