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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

EV update: LiPo battery, Tesla testimonial, Volt production, China mandate, Landlord veto

July 24th, 2012 by Peggy Aycinena

As a follow-on to my June 21st blog regarding Electric Vehicles [EVs: an Electric Car in Every Garage], here are some additional notes of interest:

1 – An RC plane and car expert explained to me recently that if you want to follow the latest updates in battery technology, look to the RC marketplace. That market being full of avid hobbyists, it’s willing to embrace nascent technologies as early adopters.

The current technology that’s “hot” in RCs is the lithium polymer, or LiPo, battery. It’s still expensive, suffers from reduced shelf-life, and is reportedly more flammable than the lithium-ion battery technology currently installed in EVs, but the LiPo battery appears to offer “lighter weight and higher discharge rates” to power-hungry RC devices.

Per “In short, LiPo’s provide high energy storage to weight ratios in an endless variety of shapes and sizes.”

Thanks to the global RC user base, LiPo battery technology is enjoying intense research and deployment – not necessarily in that order – and may one day be widely utilized in the more “conventional” EV market. If the bugs can be worked out, the LiPo chemistry [possibly] stands to replace the “traditional” lithium-ion EV technology in years to come.

2 –
After my June 21st blog, which was pessimistic about the EV market, Forte’s John Sanguinetti posted a vigorous endorsement of the Tesla Roadster and faith in the next generation Tesla technology:

“Peggy, you have missed the mark here. I have been driving a Tesla roadster for over three years now, and I am an EV believer. The Roadster gets a legitimate 200 miles on a charge, at freeway speeds. How many days do you drive more than 200 miles? I don’t need a charger any place but in my garage.

And the flip side of range anxiety is the comfort of knowing that every morning when I leave home, the car is fully charged — I don’t need to worry if I’ve got enough gas to make it to a gas station, or if I have to take the time to stop and get gas on my way to wherever I’m going.

The car charges at midnight every night automatically, and is fully charged by morning no matter how much I drove the day before. Yes, it is impractical to take a road trip in an EV, but you don’t take a road trip in your commuter car, either.

Finally, if economics were the only, or even a primary, consideration to buying a car, there wouldn’t be all the BMWs and Mercedes on the road. The Tesla Roadster simply offers a better driving experience, and I’m confidant that the Model S will be the same.

These are cars an engineer can love. Simple, efficient, and high quality. They’re not cheap, but the price will come down the learning curve as the technology matures.”

Tesla has cut off production of the Tesla Roadster at somewhere between 2300 and 2500 units, only a third as many units as were produced of the DeLorean DMC-12 in the early 1980s. Tesla will now be concentrating on the Tesla Model S, selling at a base price of around $50K. The Tesla Roadster had a base price of around $110K.]

3 –
Speaking of production, in March 2012 GM announced a manufacturing moratorium on the “range-extended” Chevy Volt for several months due to over-production and under-demand [The Christian Science Monitor]. But enthusiasts convinced GM to change their minds, so the company switched production back on in April [New York Daily News].

At this point, it looks like around twenty thousand Volts, give or take, will be produced and purchased in 2012 at a base price point of around $40K.

4 –
Also in the category of production, in June the Chinese government announced aggressive plans to produce 500,000 plug-in EVs by 2015.

Pike Research published an analysis of those numbers that countered the prediction – an analysis that was widely read, including here on the Energy and Capital website. Nonetheless, it’s clear the Chinese government is investing heavily in EV technology and production.

5 –
Finally, an ABC7 news story out of San Francisco in early May was also widely noted:

A tenant living in an apartment building in The City was dis-allowed from recharging his Chevy Volt in the garage of the building, although the plug was adjacent to his parking space. The landlord argued that the apartment lease agreement did not extend to giving the Volt owner permissions to recharge in the garage, even if the additional energy costs were ponied up by the tenant.


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