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September 2009 Posts


  The EVcast
Blog Entry

EVcast #267: There and Back Again...Eventually

posted by Bo Bennett, Group AdministratorTuesday, September 1st 2009 @ 3:36 PM (1 ratings)    post viewed 6108 times

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Bo shares how getting his license for his Vectix scooter resulted in a clinical case of range anxiety. Plus an interview with Evatran about their "Plugless Power (tm)", followed by the latest EV industry news, and listener feedback, including an unforgiveable royal blunder from the Oil Capital of the World. Yeehaw!


Don't just listen to the EVcast -- experience and be a part of it!  Join us at 1:00pm Eastern, M-F, in our live video broadcast and chat along with us!

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a guest said on Tuesday, September 1st 2009 @ 5:20 PM:

As per the Houstonian who said he wanted to be able to drive "300 mile to San Antonio" to escape a hurricane:

1) It's 200 miles to San Antonio, not 300.

2) 200 miles is in the range of a Tesla Roadster if you keep your speed down.

3) You don't need to get all the way to San Antonio to escape a hurricane's brunt.  Trust me, I used to live in Houston.  Hurricanes drop a category every 30 miles or so they move inland (give or take 2x depending on the storm's speed)

4) What are the two main characteristics of major hurricane evacuations?  A) traffic, and B) gas shortages.  A) EVs excel in traffic while gas cars such in it; and B) EVs don't need gasoline; there's rarely an "electricity shortage".

So I have no clue where he's coming from.

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Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield
Saturday Host
Free Access
aminorjourney said on Wednesday, September 2nd 2009 @ 2:40 AM:


Wow. Your bike test sounds easy-peasy! :)

To get the learner's permit, I had to spend an entire morning going around a parking lot doing every conceivable manouver (other than jumping through flaming hoops or over busses) and then an afternoon out on the road for a minimum of 2 hours (which happened to be in torrential rain) before they gave me my permit.


To get a full bike licence I need to 


1) take a special theory test to make sure I know road law and motorbike handling theory (even though I have a driver's licence)

2)Take an off-road test in a special test centre, doing:

Various manouvers at speed, including a high speed swerve, figure of eight and emergency stop

3) Go out on the road for a long ride with the examiner for the final part. Fail any part and you can't move on to the next. 

Here's a link to the last two bits - the practical riding.

Typical British Beaurocracy, although I have to admit, I'm pretty glad they make me go through all of that stuff. Oh, and Bo, can you ride a regular bike now, or are you restricted to automatic? In the UK if you take your driver's test in an automatic, or bike test on an automatic, you can't drive a manual...

Interesting new sponsor. I look forward to Saturday!


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william stockwell
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WilliamStockwell said on Wednesday, September 2nd 2009 @ 6:39 AM:

The Swiss guys argument would only make sense if there was a limited supply of batteries so that only so many cars could be produced- which unless he knows something no one else does is a pretty lame argument.


The most logical solution will be a plug in hybrid that has an ICE that can use biofuels- and the electricity is produced by wind, solar, nuclear, or geothermal, it's pretty much carbon neutral then.

The new concern seems to be that China has most of the supply of rare earth magnets to produce high power density electric motors.

btw if anyone is interested there is a talk and demonstration of the WiTricity technology on youtube you can find it at TEDtalksDirector.

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Rick Covert
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RickCovert said on Wednesday, September 2nd 2009 @ 1:12 PM:


Let me explain my rational for needing a 300 mile EREV car vs a car with a reported 100 mile range.

1.) Your right. Its not 300 miles to San Antonio. From where I live its precisely 217 miles from engine start to stop.

2.) If I mortgage my house I can afford a Tesla Roadster. I'm not even sure I can afford a Volt at 40,000 just yet. I remain optimistic though because this is far more do-able then the Tesla.

3.) I travel to San Antonio several times a year, hurricanes not withstanding, because that is where my mom lives and she occasionally requires my computer skills to service her computer. With my son and wife in tow my mom has graciously allowed us to stay there if a hurricane strikes. While you could move only 60 miles out of the hurricane's path by the time the company you work for says OK you don't have to come to work today all the hotels  within a 250 mile radius are booked and the only other choices are El Paso, 8 hours from San Antonio, or Colorado Springs as my co-workers discovered during the Rita evacuation in 2005.

4.) While EV's do great in traffic you also have to account for air conditioning in Houston because the outside temperature can get up to 102º F as it did during the Rita evacuation. While I can stand the heat my wife and son cannot. Such heat could put my wife in the hospital so the A/C stays on. There is a likely 20% reduction in range due to A/C use.

This is the basis for my 300 mile range. Your reqirements will, no doubt, be different from mine.

Rick, from the oil capitol of the world, Houston, TX. Smile

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Paul Cummings
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PaulCummings said on Wednesday, September 2nd 2009 @ 6:48 PM:

Large hurricanes in the Gulf- another good reason to live in Austin:-)  (though right now we sort of have the oppisite problem- we're kinda hoping for some residual rains from a stray hurricane or two;-)

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John Briggs
Free Access
JohnBriggs said on Monday, September 7th 2009 @ 10:46 AM:

Regarding Evatran and plugless power

Bo wisely asks "So if you were to plug in, it would take you 10% shorter of a time to charge, is that accurate." 

To which the clear answer is YES.  It will be quicker to charge with a plug than plugless.

So how does the Evatran engineer respond.  He deflects, "when we are looking at a transfer item like this we are looking at several things. What we are looking at is  the transfer efficiency from the actual power input to the power output out of the device {(Bo) OK.} So Really what this thing does, it replaces the bulky cord you have to plug into your vehicle that is going to lay out in the street across the sidewalk stuff like that."

  Spoken like a true marketing guy.

   Why can't people be more straightforward.  The advantage of this technology is no cords or plugs, the disadvantages are slightly lower efficiency and the need to get the two halves of the charger close together.  This means lack of flexibility in the mounting of the charger in the car, and lack of flexibility in where the car is parked.

   Also, it is more than a little disingenuous to talk about this technology solving the problem of power cords running across the sidewalk.  This technology fixes that problem by requiring you to drive your car into the garage.  You cannot leave it out on the street.  So you could also fix that problem by giving people a 6" long power cable and require them to carefully position the car next to the plug/charger.  His argument doesn't hold up.  Yes it would be nice to have to plug in, but it will be at the expense of having to carefully position your car when parking it.


   I am a little conflicted about this connector technology.  Honestly, I don't care that much about how the car plugs in other than being able to plug into a standard 120V 20A socket that is available everywhere.  No one should every try to take that option away from me (You hear that Better Place, I am talking to you).

   Beyond that, i worry about the Balkanization of EV connectors.  I hope that we can settle on one standard soon.  Perhaps the SAE J1772 is the best chance to do that.  It is standards based and available to all.  People like Evatran may or may not have a better technology, but they are sure making things messy.

   I don't want this to go the route of flash memory which currently includes.
      1) USB flash
      2) Smartmedia
      3) compact flash
      4) SD
      5) micro SD
      6) Memory stick
      7) xD memory

Or perhaps a more appropriate example are the dozens of varieties of cell phone chargers.

  I hope that this settles out quickly.

   One more thing, if plugless power is so great, why not stay with the old paddle chargers from the 1990's?

John C. Briggs

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John Briggs
Free Access
JohnBriggs said on Monday, September 7th 2009 @ 11:02 AM:

As for EV Car Co.  Thank you for the sponsorship, and I hope you are able to find more interesting vehicles to sell in the near future.  

   Looking at the EV Car Co website, one quickly gets depressed by the EV offerings.  There are four listed.

  • ZENN. We know, an NEV company which most of us would not buy.
  • SCORPION. Not an EV, a hydrogen supercar.
  • Insite. Couldn't find any information. 
  • Whip.  Wheego.  Smart car like NEV.

Not real exciting.

John C. Briggs


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Rebecca Hough
a guest said on Tuesday, September 8th 2009 @ 11:22 AM:

To increase awareness and answer some of John's skepticism:

A potential decrease in efficiency - let's say 10% decrease in efficiency - with an inductive system would not equate to a 10% longer charging time. Avoiding electrical engineering jargon, the battery will receive the same power from the grid - the charger will simply draw more watts from your standard outlet to compensate.

The primary advantage of Plugless Power TM is the removal of bulky cords and plugs. There is a trade-off with positioning your car next to the station, but this will not require more talent than being an average driver. Additional benefits include: convenience, safety, and universality. With Plugless Power TM, there is no longer a hazard of waking up and realizing that you have forgotten to plug-in your vehicle and you have no charge to get to work. There is no worry over running over a cord and morphing its plug so it no longer fits into your vehicle. Because Plugless Power TM is based on inductive charging technology, with no actual electricity flowing between your car and the base station, the systems are safe in a variety of environments including outside in the snow or rain. There is no problem with having children in the vicinity or with driving away with your car still plugged in. The Plugless Power TM base station is also universal to all vehicles regardless of charger type. Your car is outfitted so that you can pull up to any Plugless Power TM station and charge - without attention to if your vehicle accepts 120V or 240V power.

I do agree that the ability to plug into any 120V standard plug is necessary, unfortunately many EV industry studies have shown that a majority of US homes do not have a dedicated 120V plug available for their EV. This means that because there are many devices already pulling off their home's service, the electric vehicle will continuously trip the breaker and the home will require, at least, some basic electrician work. I have run into this problem many times at my own home, my parking garage, and at friends' homes.

Paddle chargers from the 90s were inductively based. However, these chargers still required bulky cords making them very similar (to the consumer) to a conductive plug-in system.

There are many impediments to the adoption of Electric Vehicles, but Plugless Power TM is confident in our ability to help the consumer comfortably and conveniently transition to EVs. We invite your comments and feedback at

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John Briggs
Free Access
JohnBriggs said on Tuesday, September 8th 2009 @ 9:58 PM:


    Thank you for the thoughtful reply.  This is especially nice of you considering how aggressive my posting was.  I understand you are trying to create a new technology and must cast it in a good light.  Clearly there are benefits to inductive charging.  However, I am not sure, that in the end, they will be worth the effort.

     Your argument about the charging time does not hold much water.  If you can get 1500 Watts of power from a standard outlet, with only 90% efficiency, only 1350 Watts will be delivered to the battery.  So 1.5KWH is taken from the wall and only 1.35KWH is delivered to the car.  So naturally it will take longer to charge the battery.  The idea that you will just pull more Watts from the wall is a little silly.  These outlets are already limited on how much power can be drawn from them.  If you pull 1670 Watts (10% more) from the wall, to make up for the 10% efficiency loss, the circuit may trip.  In any case, less wattage is delivered to the car than is taken from the wall, so charging time increases.

    In the later part of the charging cycle when energy is being added more slowly to the battery (as is typical in Lead acid) then perhaps your argument is correct about the charging time.  But during the early part of the charging, a 10% efficiency loss will slow down charging. 

    One more thing, the energy isn't lost so much as it is turned into heat.  That is a big problem with high power chargers.  Let's say that we have a 70A 240 V charger.  This is 16.8KW of which 1.68KW is converted to heat.  Well this is like having a hair-dryer running in your garage.  This means either big heat sinks (metal pieces) or noisy fans.  I know because I have a 95% efficient inverter for my solar panels.  The 2.5KW inverter converts 5% (125 Watts) of its energy to heat.  This is taken care of by a noisy pair of fans.  You system would have 13X more waste heat.

    However, I can see the benefit of such a technology to people like me that have a garage.  I always park in the same place at night.  Also, I always position my car very carefully.  And yes, I am less likely to forget to plug in my car with such technology.  I will never forget to park my car, but I might forget to plug it in.

   On the other hand, I don't think we need to cast unnecessary confusion about plug-power.  Plug-in cars are interlocked so that they cannot be driven with the power cord connected.  So don't worry about that.  Also, with J1772, there is no power on the cable when it is not connected to the car so it is safe.  Also, J1772 offers the opportunity to automatically adapt to 120 or 240 Volts.  And I am sorry, but the idea that plugless power is "universal" is kind of silly.  A standard power plug is universal.  Plugless power requires special charging equipment.  120V outlets are available everywhere.

    You are correct that the 120V outlet in my garage is overloaded and a new outlet would probably be needed.  So let's say it costs $500 to add a nice new 240V outlet to my garage.  With a  J1772 plug, now I can charge my car very nicely.  With plugless power, I have to purchase your unit as well, for what, $2000?  Also, my electrician knows how to put in a standard 240V outlet, but will surely charge extra for the uncertainty and added time of installing a plugless power module.

    So the problem with paddle chargers is that you MUST use the expensive ($2000) converter.  There is no way to connect a 120V line to the car.  As a result, some RAV-4 owners place the charger in the car.  That way they can charge away from home.  The same ridiculous situation would exist with Plugless Power.

    Personally, I wish you well, but I am pulling for J1772 as the victor in this race.  Open standards are the way to go.


John C. Briggs


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