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January 22, 2008

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Simon

Very interesting. I look forward to hearing who these other 5 countries are. Fingers crossed for the UK :)

betsy - MoneyChangesThings.blogspot.com

Yasher koach! Very literally!

Eylon Israely

It's amazing to see this dream becoming a reality. "Who revived the electric car?" in the making indeed. Keep firing those neurons in that crazy brain :)

M Bargenda

Finally it is becoming a reality...
I have worked on a concept for electric cars with the ability to change the battery in 1993 in Germany and presented the concept to the big German automakers and SMH in Switzerland (the developer of the swatch/smart car). Because of the high cost for the infrastructure, there was no interest to pursue the concept at that time (Response from VW and SMH).
If you are interested, I will gladly share the concepts and responses with you and hope they might contribute to your future success.

Zalman

First of all Yasher Koach. This an amazing and very importance development. If this works it will be amazing for Israel and the world.

I am a bit worried for you. What will happen in five-ten years time when a battery is capable of recharging within five ten minutes? (I hear a company Phoenix has already developed such an EV). And more pressing. Plug-in hybrids. GM and Toyota promised to come out with them by 2010. Its basically an EV with an on board generator or range extender. With an all electric range of 40 miles and then the generator comes on to recharge the batteries. Your whole model of changeable batteries will be obsolete. Plug-in hybrids don't really need a new infrastructure. They can be charged at home over night (and at work if easily available - but not essential b/c 40 miles is enough for most daily commutes). True they don't exist yet in commercial numbers but if the public was educated about them and exposed to them they would sell like hot potatoes.

So again thanks for taking a bold step but I would hate to see this bold investment that you and Israel is making fall through b/c of better technology. Who knows maybe you can find a way of making a business with plug-in hybrids - which I think are the future b/c they are easily integrated into all countries without a new infrastructure.

Whatever happens I wish you and Israel much hatzlacha.

Zalman

Zalman

Hi it's me again.

I do think Israel should be a leader in getting the world off oil in general and electric cars in particular. So in that sense you're my hero.

But I do believe plug-in hybrid is the way. Over 150 Toyota's Prius has been converted after market by private companies into a plug-ins. And they have achieved over 100 MPG. So they are very achievable technologies. Toyota has been dragging their feet on this and finally agreed last week to announce they themselves will market a plug-in hybrid. (And even that is a watered down version, only 7 miles on elecric mode, which seems that they are reluctant to promote plug-ins in light of the fact Toyota themselves built an EV - the Rav4, which could go 120 miles on a charge with MiNH batteries. But the point is they are finally going to produce a plug-in. [Yes I have seen "Who killed the electric car?" ])It took a lot of effort by consumer groups like calcars.org and pluginamerica.org to convince Toyota that a plug-in is something the public want. (And it was the start-up Tesla that finally goaded GM to go back to EV'swith the Volt. And then Toyota didn't want to be outdone by GM). So it's start-ups who are pushing for green and oil free energy.

If Israel can take the leading role in promoting the plug-in and mandating that a certain number has to be sold, that will go a long way in getting the world off oil. And it will happen a lot faster b/c their is no need to put up costly new infrastructure.

I believe you got into this b/c you are concerned about the future. And for Israels sake it should get off oil. But I think plug-in hybrids will get the world off oil much quicker than your current plan.

If Israel will promote the PHEV and you promote it (with the influence you have) then the world and especially the US will get off this dangerous oil addiction much faster. This technology is something the private sector has to fight for as its not in the oil companies (and some governments) interest at all. And they push back hard.

As in one interview you were asked if you were afraid and you answered "I'm more afraid what will happen if we don't do this" May your spirit of entrepreneurism (if that's how you spell it) help guide you to the right decision for Israel and for the world.

Zalman

Australia

Zalman

Hi Shai, it's me again

I failed to explain exactly what a PHEV (plug-in hybrid) car is.

There are two types of hybrid.

In the Toyota Prius the engine works together with the electric motor. They work in tandem. So the prius is a more complex car than the ICE.

The plug-in I'm talking about is ten times simpler. (GM call the plug-in hybrid Volt an "EV flex"). A serial plug-in hybrid means that the car motor is pure electric. The only thing connected to the wheels is the electric motor. The engine is just like a spear tire, a back up. It only turns on when the batteries run low.

So in essence it's an EV. It's possible to never turn on your engine if you travel less than 40 miles - (the range GM wants to give the Volt on electric mode). So as long as you just commute less than 40 miles you never turn on the "back up generator".

Whats the biggest cost to the electric car? The batteries. If you want over 100 miles range it can cost around $20,000 just for the batteries. So it's difficult to provide a $30,000 sedan with 100 miles range when the batteries themselves are $20,000.

But in a plug-in hybrid (it should really be called an EV with a generator) you don't need the 100 miles range. You only need the amount of a daily commute! For longer trips the generator comes on and boosts the range to 300 - 400 miles.

90% of commutes in the US are less than 35 miles. So really, only on long trips, like family trips, would most people need to turn on their engines/generator.

And this generator can be quite small. It only needs to power the battery to keep from running out. (And if you type in the length of the trip it can be made to calculate the most efficient speed of recharge - [thats my idea]).

So you've slashed the cost of the battery.40 miles range might cost around $8,000 in batteries.

You've halved or more the size of the engine, (a lot smaller than the engine on a prius b/c the prius engine actually has to power the wheels. Besides the prius is quite a complex machine; turning off at traffic lights etc as opposed to if the engine is just a generator charging a battery.)

How much should such an engine cost to make? $1,000? $2,000? I don't think much more than that.

So there you have it. You've slashed a $20,000 battery pack with 100 miles range to a $10,000 battery/generator pack with UNLIMITED range.

And the generator can be made to run on any type fuel; petrol, diesel, or ethanol. (Although I think ethanol has done more damage to the environment than good, with the destruction of rain forest in Brazil and Indonesia, for ethanol production, at an alarming rate. And competing with food production sending food prices higher).

So at the end of the day the plug-in hybrid has the best of both worlds. It's an EV for your daily driving. And when you want to go on long trips it's has the range like any other car.

And it shouldn't be hard for Nissan- Renault to build such a car. All it is, is an EV + a small engine. It's nowhere near as complex as the Prius.

I commend you in your project. We badly need to get off oil. As you say in your other posts, we've basically reached the peak of oil production.

I'm looking forward to hear your thoughts on this.

Zalman

Zalman

And Shai

I know I'm posting this at quite an awkward time, after all you just announced your plan yesterday to the media.

But I still think that there might be a way to integrate your plan into the plug-in hybrid.

And I also believe Israel should be at the forefront of this EV revolution. So maybe your plan might still work - even though I think the plug-in hybrid is a much simpler solution.

Either way I hope you are successful and that you bring pride to Israel.

G-d bless you.

Zalman

Simon

I think plug-in hybrids have been commented on before. The problem with them is although they help reduce oil consumption, you are still to a lesser degree reliant on oil.

Even if you concentrate efforts on the plug-in hybrid you are still avoiding the inevitable. Oil is finate. There is only so much of it in the world and eventually it will be used up. We have to think beyond oil. That is what PBP looks to be doing.

Tim Hurst

Shai, Thanks for this very thorough post, quite informative. It strikes me that Israel is taking the future of energy seriously whereas in the US, we seem to take the past much more seriously. And that, my friends, is what (small "c") conservatism is all about.
Israel is also the first country to employ pay -as-you-go electricity meters, much like the phone cards and prepaid phones we see elsewhere. What else do they have up their sleeves?

Dmitry

Way to go! Finally some specifics, including at least a tentative timetable. I can't help but wonder though, if the EVs make it to the leasing market, where will they fall? Group 4, like Prius today (which will mean a total disaster) - or group 2, where they belong?... That would make a huge kickstart for their acceptance in Israel, since Hi-tech people, especially those with leasing, are much more likely to experiment with their cars - but not if it'll cost 'em.

Amit Nisenbaum

On top of Simon’s comment which I completely agree with one shouldn’t overlook the fact the weather it is a full fledge EV or a PHEV (which could be looked at as an EV derivative) there is always the need for a primary recharging capability when the vehicle is parking. As such there is a need for an Electric Recharge Grid Operator (ERGO) to provide the appropriate infrastructure at parking lots (weather they be residential, public, office, etc.). This is the core pillar of PBP (as I understand it). The battery swapping stations augment this pillar so EVs could take lengthier trips.

Now, what is the “right” car solution for lengthy trips, this is an irrelevant question. Reason be, there is no one right answer, there is no silver bullet, market dynamics will drive the actual solution which will probably be a combination of vehicle types where some will be EV, some will be PHEV and you know what, nobody knows what new types of car the future will bring. In reality, there will come a time where batteries will be so powerful (and affordable) where there will be no need for roadside charging (note Moore’s law for semiconductors as the appropriate analogue for such disruptive technologies). However, the need for ERGOs will always exist. So I wouldn’t be worried about the long-term viability of this venture.

Saying that I do believe that there is an optimal (vs. right) solution which is the EV. Even without relying on clean renewable energy sources it is more optimal to generate electric energy in power plants and then use this energy to charge an EV battery than to charge the battery directly from a “generator” onboard the vehicle. The reason is rooted in basic science/engineering:
• Large scale power plant efficiency ratio (# of electrical energy units produced by one unit of fossil fuel) is around 40%
• The efficiency ratio of a small, vehicle-mounted, combustion engine (# of mechanical energy units produced by one unit of fossil fuel) is around 20%
Even when factoring in the efficiency ratio of the electric engine onboard vehicle (which is around 90%) it is obvious that it is better to burn the fossil fuel at the power plant level and then distribute the electricity vs. burning the fossil fuel at the car level. The problem till lately was that there was no infrastructure service provider to support the electricity distribution (to parking lots or roadsides), now there is! Not to mention what I will call PBP 2.0 where the energy will be produced from clean renewable energy sources.

Finally, what I like the most about PBP is the “new economy” best practices it brings to “old economy” industries (automotive, energy, etc.). One example is the “open source” approach where the team is seeking to create an ecosystem and doesn’t look at things as a zero-sum game. They understand that there is no way for any one entity to drive the insurmountable change by itself. This is relevant to which types of vehicles it will support (EV vs. PHEV vs. other types) as well as to openness to other infrastructure players. I believe that this approach combined with other best practices and analogues brought from the “new economy” domains make PBP not only an exciting play but also one that will be very successful for a long long time.

Good luck!

Zalman

Hi, Simion, Amit Nisenbaum,

I would like to point out a few things.

*The plug-in hybrid should really be called an electric vehicle with a range extender. 50 weeks a year it's an electric vehicle. The one two weeks a year you go on trips it becomes a hybrid - with all the benefits of a Prius.

* "Oil is finate." - Correct. Thats exactly why the world must be "plugged-in" ASAP. This will enable us to preserve whats left of oil for future generations.(Don't forget there is no known alternative to oil for jet travel. So the remaining oil has to be preserved and used rationally).

As the battery technology improves and it becomes possible to charge within a few minutes than the "range extender" can slowly be phased out till we all drive pure EV's. But till then the PHEV is the best solution to get the world off its oil addiction NOW.


I live in Australia so I will give an example from here. Say I want to drive from Melbourne to Sydney. 850 km. I would have to change the battery 4-5 times on the way. Not very convenient, besides the immense cost of putting up battery changing stations all over Australia. Something I don't think is achievable not in ten years and not in twenty.

Plug-in hybrids (electric car with a range extender) on the other hand can be built TODAY, can be sold TODAY and can be used in every country in the world TODAY.

Your right we are running out of oil. That is exactly why plug-ins, whether pure EV's or with a range extender, must be aggressively promoted and mandated by ALL governments, not just Israel.

Plug-in hybrids are little known by the general public. That is exactly why it must be promoted by a government. And Israel is the perfect country to start promoting them. And this is a technology that can be taken up by every country TODAY.

PBP can be the organization that aggressively promotes and educates the public in this little known technology.

Kol Hakovod to PBP for getting a government involved in electric cars. That itself is an amazing feat.

The next step is to take it to its logical conclusion - to promote a technology that will drastically reduce oil addiction that is achievable in EVERY country TODAY.

Zalman Raskin

Zalman

Simon,

I just reread your post and it seems you misunderstand exactly what plug-in hybrid is.

What you describe , that its more optimal to charge from electricity than from a "generator" for scientific reasons, (and I agree with you 100% on that) seems you are describing a "normal" hybrid -like a Prius.

A PHEV is not like a prius at all. A PHEV is an electric car that gets energy 50 weeks a year solely on electricity from your house socket. It IS an electric car every day of the year. It gets it's ALL its energy from the electric grid.

Only on long trips like inter-city trips does it become like a "prius" - like a "normal" hybrid.

So you have to look at the plug-in hybrid as an ELECTRIC CAR. Don't look at it as a hybrid. It's an ELECTRIC CAR with a range extender.

And maybe it shouldn't be called a "plug-in hybrid". Maybe for promotional reasons it should be called an "electric car with a range extender," (though that's quite a mouthful). :-)

Kol Tuv.

Zalman

Zalman

Thinking about it I think the reason PHEV haven't caught the imagination of the public is because most people haven't heard of it. (I only learned of this concept when I saw the documentary "Who killed the electric car?" about one year ago).

And even those who have heard of it or know the term PHEV don't fully appreciate what it is.

A lot of people think of the PHEV as a very efficient petrol car. But petrol nonetheless. It's still a petrol car.

But nothing can be further from the truth. It's an ELECTRIC CAR with a "range extender."

I think this picture of it being "an efficient petrol car" is the reason it hasn't caught on very well.

Take for example Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is promoting hydrogen cars. There is a mandate in California to build the hydrogen highway. He very much wants renewable energy cars. The first time he saw or heard of a PHEV was a couple of months ago when calacrs.org - an organization that is promoting PHEV's - came and presented one of their modified Prius's. Thats the first time he heard of this thing called plug-in hybrid. (I shouldn't cal it that. I should call it an electric car + range extender).

Here is a man that very much wants to promote oil free transportation and he had never heard of the PHEV. Or he never realy understood it.

It could be the campaigners or the promoters have to change their terminology.

It shouldn't be called the 'plug-in hybrid' because people confuse it with the hybrid.

It should be called a 'range extended electric vehicle.'

The reason I'm rambling on like this is because I believe peak oil is here and if we want to avert a crisis in the world we have to get off oil NOW.

And the only way to get off oil NOW, is for governments to aggressively promote the range extended electric vehicle, the REEV/PHEV.

I'm not saying 'range extended electric vehicles' [REEV/PHEV] are the silver bullet. No. They are the intermediary step to pure EV's. But this is the step that will allow every country to switch to pure EV's in the future.

We are standing at the crossroad of history to the electric car.

PBP has made a very important step in bringing a government on board to the EV's. They have made a step in the right direction. May they have much hatzlacha. My prayer is that they will go to the next step and promote the REEV (or PHEV) and may Israel be the leader and the example setter to the rest of the world.

G-d bless Israel.

Zalman

Zalman

Another point about the 'range extended electric vehicle, (REEV). (Thats what I'm calling them from now on, instead of PHEV which is misleading).

They are cheaper to make than a pure EV with 200 miles range.

Why?

As I explained in a previous post. If you want to have a 200 miles range EV, the batteries alone will cost as much as $20,000.

With the REEV you don't need a 200 miles range. No, you only need a range which will be enough for the average daily commute. I read that in the US the average daily commute is around 30 miles.

So if you build a car with electric range of 40 miles (60 km) it will be more than enough for the average commute.

So you've slashed the cost of the battery by 75%. So instead of costing $20,000 for the battery, it now only costs $5,000.

Plus a small range extender engine. A small engine shouldn't be more than $2,000 (give or take) to build.

So do the maths (or math in the US). $5,000 for the battery + $2,000 for the range extender = $7,000.

So $7,000 for the REEV battery + range-extender pack and unlimited miles.

$20,000 for the pure EV for a 200 mile range.

And it's very achievable to sell a REEV for $30,000, but very difficult to do so for a pure EV.

So it turns out the range extended EV is a lot cheaper to make than a pure EV.


Zalman

Zalman

And the REEV will be a lot lighter (with a quarter size battery) then an EV. This is also a key ingredient to maximize range in EV's

IOW, why schlep around a heavy 200 mile range battery when all you really need for your daily commute is 40 miles?

Zalman

Zalman

Hi,
Yes it's me again.

And another point. If the whole world suddenly started taking up pure EV's what will that do to the price of nickel or lithium?

I live in Australia a big mining center for commodities. If you have a big surge in demand of any metal, be it copper or nickel, or lithium, or any commodity, it causes the price of that commodity to shoot up.

We don't want to go from peak oil and go to a "peak lithium", or "peak nickel". We are already having the bad experience of using a commodity, oil, without regard to the future. If we use make smaller batteries with only 40 miles range like in the REEV we mitigate the possibility of causing a price hike of the commodity in question.


Changing the topic slightly, has anyone here heard of the "air car" being developed in France by MDI? This company MDI has developed an engine that runs on pressurized air.

Let's say we can take this air engine and that can be our 'range extender'! (I'm starting to sound like Shimon Peres).

That would be one heck of a car. The car would be an electric car with an air powdered range extender! How's that for oil independence? Maybe I should patent my idea?

Actually no. I'm not into this for the money. I'm into this because, to paraphrase Shai, I'm worried for my kids future.

Zalman

Zalman

And this is the answer to Simon. You write that the PHEV (and I like to call them range extended EV's) still rely on oil.

REEV is the intermediary step. It might lead to pure EV's.

Or it could lead to other types of fuel to power the RARELY used range extender.

Other fuels can be natural gas, or bio fuel or ethanol. (Even though I think ethanol is a disaster). Or maybe even by pressurized air.

The point is the REEV is a beautiful way to get off oil addiction, it can be implemented in every country before any new infrastructure is built. And it can lead to complete oil independence.

Zalman

Zalman

Sorry Simon, it wasn't you whom I meant misunderstood the plug-in hybrid. I meant to write Amit Nissanbaum.

At any rate it shouldn't be called "plug-in hybrid" or "PHEV". It should be called "range extended EV" - REEV

Zalman

B Gold

A very useful addition to Ev's (of whatever stripe) would be the ability to "slave" a car to another. Allows friends/family to meet and then continue in the lead vehicle; alows one to "pick up "(tow) another's EV in case of need etc. Would be so useful would put non-EVs out of business fast!

Zalman

So in short the advantages of the "range extended EV" (REEV) over a pure EV:

1 It's a lot cheaper.
2 It's lighter
3 It doesn't need any new infrastructure to kick off. (Having public recharging stations is convenient but not essential for the technology to kick off).
4 It can be implemented in every country NOW with today's technology.
5 The small "range extender" engine can be fueled by a verity of options: petrol, natural gas, diesel, ethanol (which I think is a disaster) and maybe even pressurized air.

The disadvantages are that everybody has heard of the electric vehicle. They might think it can only go as fast as a toy car, but they heard of the concept.

But the "range extended EV (REEV) a.k.a the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is a very little known and understood beast.

Thank G-d it's becoming more heard of. But it's still not well understood and known exactly what current plug-in technology is capable of achieving.

So it's still a challenge to get the masses educated about it's potential.

But on the horizon we see big changes coming. Both GM and Toyota have publicized they are going to produce such a vehicle by 2010. And a start up the Fisker Karma have promised they are producing a REEV/PHEV by 2009. And a Chinese automaker BYD introduces plug-in hybrid for 2008 for Chinese market and other markets in future years.

So the future looks bright for REEV/PHEV. Its just the future is not coming fast enough for those who want to get off oil already.

Even though I'm waiting anxiously for the REEV aka PHEV, I still wish PBP much success in their work in promoting EV's

Zalman

ev

Zalman
With due respect You have taken over this blog with your naive rumbling.Experts in different discipoline work for years on various aspects of EV and PHEV. Here you are, just read some preliminary facts on PHEV and you are lecturing on the topic. In your cute "range extender" you dont even realize that PHEV have two engines electrical and gasoline

Dmitry

OK, Now I've got a bet going on an EV (but mostly on the reputation of Shai Agassi and that of Mr. Ghosn, for which the former has vouched). If by Jan 1 2012 there won't be at least 100 privately owned EVs in Israel, and, obviously, some infrastructure to allow their usage, you, Shai Agassi, will cost me a bottle of single malt whiskey. Any tips (such as, perhaps, to change the dates of the bet's expiration, before it's too late)? :)

Zalman

EV

With all due respect, you obviously didn't read, or understand, a single word I wrote.

The PHEV obviously has two engines the electric and the gasoline.

To explain why I used the terminology "range extended EV", let me preface.

The Prius is a normal hybrid with electric and gasoline engine. When Toyota was asked why didn't they take the obvious step and add the ability to charge the battery from the house electric socket, which is a lot more efficient, and about three times cheaper than gasoline, they answered that their market research tells them that people look at 'plugging in' as a DISADVANTAGE and clumsy.

Instead of realizing 'plugging in' is the ultimate ADVANTAGE, they construed it into being a DISADVANTAGE.

Thats how much 'plug-ins' are totally misunderstood by the public.

And thats why I termed the PHEV as a "range extended EV" because people misunderstand the plug-in hybrid as a "clumsy" Prius. And I want to emphasize that the plug-in hybrid is not a clumsy gasoline car, on the contrary, it's an ADVANCED version of an ELECTRIC car.

The whole advantage of the plug-in hybrid is the fact that you CAN plug it in.

The plug-in hybrid is the ULTIMATE electric car.

When you commute daily its the perfect electric car. You come home at night and charge it back up on electricity, that only costs the equivalent of about $1 a gallon. So with gas prices today of $3+ a gallon, charging with electricity is a great financial advantage.

And when you want to go on long trips, more than 40 mile (60 km) you still have the "back up GASOLINE engine", (ev, that emphasis is for you) or you can call it a "range extender engine" or you can call it a "back up generator." What ever you call it you can go on long trips without the problem of thinking where to change the battery.

And yes, for long trips it becomes a gasoline car (even though it doesn't necessarily have to be gasoline. It can be any type of engine. Diesel, or bio-diesel or natural gas etc. And it might eventually become powered by pressurized air, as a company in France , MDI, is working on such an engine. So the back up engine can be upgraded to become completely oil free.)

But because the vast majority of your driving is your daily commute to work and shopping and dropping the kids off at school, which is done on comlpete electric mode, the plug-in hybrid is essentially an EV with the added advantage you can go on long trips with no hassles.

So thanks for your comment, ev, but please understand what people are saying before making your comments.

P.S. Sometimes you have to sound "cute" to get change happening. The whole comcept of PBP sounds like a "cute" idea to most people. Its called "thinking out of the box." And if you want to affect change in this world you have to be willing to take criticism. So if thats what it takes to get change rolling I will take it as a complement.

Zalman

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