International Cat Speculators Since 2006

Posts tagged ‘Electric Cars’

GM to Launch Electric Car

GM looks to cash in on the oil crisis.

General Motors Corp says its all-electric Chevrolet Volt is on track for a launch in 2010 after the company’s board approved funding for production of the high-profile plug-in vehicle.

“The Chevy Volt is a go,” GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner told reporters ahead of the company’s annual meeting with shareholders in Wilmington, Delaware.

“What we’re saying with this approval is that the GM management and board believe the technical goals of the Volt are not only achievable, but achievable generally within the time frame we previously outlined,” Wagoner said.

The announcement on Tuesday represents the most detailed road map toward bringing the highly anticipated car to the market by the end of 2010, an ambitious timetable challenged by some of GM’s rivals.

Great, electric is the way to go. People can always hire a petrol car for long trips.

Unlike gas-electric hybrids such as the Prius, which run on a system that twins battery power and a combustion engine, the Volt will be powered entirely by an electric motor and have a battery that can be charged through an ordinary power socket. The Volt’s on-board engine will be used only to power the battery on longer trips, GM has said.

So, it’s really a plug-in hybrid.

What I’m waiting for is a car company that makes a plug-in hybrid where you can slot out the petrol engine, so you don’t have to lug a ton of steel around your daily commute, but can still utilize it for long trips.

Of course, if we all went to this technology, we’d have to build more power plants, and that’s not happening. Better to build a coal plant though, than to have millions of cars on the road – with a single plant it’s a lot more efficient to clean what comes out the exhaust.

But coming back to the car, if oil prices are still the same in 2010 (which I doubt) these things are going to sell like hot cakes.

Israel Going Electric

I saw this in the Herald on the weekend – that’s not online, but this is. Israel is trying to implement a network to allow electric cars to be used across the country.

They have good reasons. For starters, not depending on their enemies for energy.

Given the size of the country, it just might work.

It is not the first time a government has tried to promote electric cars on a mass scale. A 1990 California mandate requiring automakers to sell zero-emissions vehicles famously flopped. But the Israeli attempt is far more sophisticated than anything that precedes it. It aligns policy makers and a major car company with an outfit prepared to build hundreds of thousands of electric charging stations across the country. In an interview with TIME, Israeli President Shimon Peres called the project, “an experimental lab, a pilot project, before it’s applied to other, bigger industrialized nations.”

Automaker Renault-Nissan will manufacture the cars and Better Place, a California start-up founded by former SAP executive Shai Agassi, will build the infrastructure, which may eventually consist of 500,000 charging points and up to 200 battery-exchange stations. A pilot involving a few dozen cars will start later this year in Tel Aviv. A few hundred vehicles are expected to be on the road by 2009, with production scaled to the mass market by 2011. On Jan. 13, Israel slashed the tax rate on cars powered by electricity to 10% in order to encourage consumers to buy the vehicles once they are available.

The idea to take Israel electric was born in a white paper that Agassi, an Israeli native who now lives in the United States, wrote as part of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders forum. Peres was impressed and encouraged Agassi to pursue the project as a stand-alone business, helping to introduce the software-industry executive to auto executives, including Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault-Nissan. The Japanese-French auto alliance has separately said that it will manufacture a hybrid by 2010 and an all-electric car by 2012.

Electric cars, which have existed for more than 100 years, are becoming all the rage — both GM and Toyota have said they will manufacture plug-in hybrids by 2010. But Agassi’s plan stands out because it focuses on the infrastructure for recharging cars instead of on the vehicles themselves.

Electric Cars and Things I Hate

Warning: the following is a ramble, and not a particularly entertaining one. But you may be interested in the ending. Maybe.

You have been warned.

(more…)

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