Volkswagen’s BIG Plans For Electric Vehicles Could Make It The World’s Largest Automaker

5 03 2010

Think of it as a race to the starting line. Volkswagen, Europe’s largest European automaker, has big plans to dominate the nascent world of electric cars.

As Treehugger reported, Volkswagen plans to sell 300,000 electric vehicles a year by 2018, which would translate to 3% of all sales. VW’s hybrid ambitions could lead it to overtake Toyota as the world’s largest automaker within eight years.

Key details of Volkswagen’s strategy include introducing the company’s first hybrid electric vehicle the Toureg 2010, and in 2013 three EVs, likely to be versions of the Jetta, Golf, and the Up. Here’s Treehugger:

“A notable aspect of VW’s approach is that it’s banking on offering the EV as an option on already available and recognizable models as it has done with TDI diesel options. Instead of developing all new models to channel new tech into, as with, say, the Prius or Volt, VW seems intent on phasing new tech into an already familiar cars…”

But some bigger questions remain, namely in VW’s ambitious growth projections. Even though sales of hybrids have been rising and governments are beginning to offer incentives in their production and purchase, the New York Times reports that billions are needed by automakers to invest in what is still an uncertain future and technology. Ironic but maybe true, the NYT suggests:

“The best thing that could happen to electric-car development might be a recovery in the market for conventional gasoline and diesel autos. That would give the big car makers more money to invest in research.”

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You May Soon Be Able to Charge Your Electric Car for Free, While You Shop

5 03 2010

best buy parking lot

Best Buy parking lots are ideal for EV charging. (Flickr/NCReedplayer)

E-charging stations spread

5 03 2010

What do you think?

28 02 2010

Obama’s Plan

28 02 2010

The Current Situation

The country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. For too long, politicians in Washington have been beholden to special interests, but no longer. Our new, responsible energy policy recognizes the relationship between energy, the environment, and our economy and leverages American ingenuity to put people back to work, fight global warming, increase our energy independence and keep us safe.

The Solution

  • Chart a new energy future:

    President Obama has a comprehensive plan to chart a new energy future by embracing alternative and renewable energy, ending our addiction to foreign oil, addressing the global climate crisis and creating millions of new jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.

  • Invest in clean, renewable energy:

    To achieve our goal of generating 25 percent of our energy from renewable sources by 2025, we will make unprecedented investments in clean, renewable energy – solar, wind, biofuels, and geothermal power.

  • Fight climate change:

    We will invest in energy efficiency and conservation, two sure-fire ways to decrease deadly pollution and drive down demand. And we will hold special interests accountable as we finally work to address climate change and its potentially catastrophic effects.

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Please Take our Survey

26 02 2010

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Bloom Box to Fuel your house and maybe your electric car…

26 02 2010

SAN JOSE, California (AFP) – Stealth start-up Bloom Energy on Wednesday publicly unveiled an innovative fuel cell that promises to deliver affordable, clean energy to even remote corners of the world.

Compact Bloom Servers built with energy cells made from silicon — a plentiful element found in sand — made their formal debut in an eBay building here partially powered by the energy source.

“Bloom fuel cell technology has the potential to revolutionize the energy industry,” California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said while introducing Bloom founder K.R. Sridhar.

“He is someone shaping the future of energy not just for California but for the world,” Schwarzenegger said.

A high-powered audience gathered for the event included Google co-founder Larry Page, eBay chief executive John Donahoe and former US secretaries of state George Shultz and Colin Powell.

“The core of our technology simply is sand,” Sridhar said pulling a black cloth off a clear glass container of sand and then holding up a greeting-card sized cell made from the material.

“It is available in plenty… and it has the scientific property that enabled us to make a fuel cell,” he said.

Fuel cell technology dates back to the mid 1800s, but Bloom eliminated the need for expensive metals such as platinum.

Bloom servers work with a variety of fuels, meaning users can freely switch to whatever is locally available or most affordable, according to Sridhar.

“Basically, if it has a hydrogen or a carbon in it, or both, the cell is capable of using it as fuel,” Bloom marketing vice president Stu Aaron told AFP.

“We have run it in the lab on vodka, although we don’t recommend that. There are better uses for vodka.”

The fuel cells use electrochemical reactions instead of combustion. Liquid or gas fuels go into the cell and electricity comes out, according to Aaron.

Fuel and air pass over opposite sides of cells, which trigger oxygen ions to combine with the fuel to produce electricity, heat, water and an oxide based on the chemicals in the mix.

In the case of natural gas, propane or bio-gases with hydrogen, the oxide by-product is water. The cells reuse heat and water to sustain the process.

If the cells were operating on oil, gasified coal or other fossil fuels a byproduct would be carbon dioxide, but in amounts two-thirds less than given off by burning, according to Bloom.

“In Africa it could be ethanol from switch grass; in California it could be cow manure,” Aaron said. “The beauty of the technology is that it can be deployed anywhere and use the local resources that are most economical and clean.”

The servers, nicknamed “Bloom boxes,” have been secretly tested by a group of major corporations including eBay, Wal-Mart, and Coca Cola.

Google was Bloom’s first customer, buying four servers that it installed at its campus in Mountain View, California.

“I’m a big supporter of this,” Page said during an on-stage chat with renowned Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, a major backer of Bloom.

“I’d love to see us have a whole data center running on this at some point when they are ready,” Page said.

Bloom servers capable of pumping out 100 kilowatts of electricity each cost 700,000 to 800,000 dollars but the price is expected to plummet as production ramps up and efficiencies of scale are achieved.

Sridhar predicted it will take about a decade for the technology to get to the point where it can be used in homes.

He hefted a brick-sized fuel cell in one hand, saying it could power a standard light bulb but will soon be able to satisfy the electricity needs of a typical US home.

Electricity generated by Bloom servers — refrigerator-sized metal boxes housing stacks of fuel cells — costs about nine cents per kilowatt/hour as opposed to the 14 or 15 cents typically charged here by utilities.

The cost of the servers is recovered in three to five years by energy savings, according to Sridhar. The servers are guaranteed for 10 years. Sridhar would not disclose the lifespans of the fuel cells.

Colin Powell, a Bloom board member and retired general, said the servers could be a boon to the military, which has grown increasingly energy-dependent as technology infuses the tools of war.

“This is a breakthrough,” Powell said. “Sooner or later it is going to be in homes all across America. Think what it will ultimately do for humankind.”

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