Tag: Electric Vehicles

Toyota Explains the Benefits of Hydrogen Versus Full Electric

July 20, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

Forbes recently spoke with Toyota about some of Tesla’s offerings as well as the upcoming launch of the Toyota Mirai. The Mirai is a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle that runs on compress hydrogen as its fuel source. Toyota doesn’t see electric vehicles as being a realistic green source of transportation at the moment, and according to the automaker a time when electric vehicles are a good reliable way to get around over long distances is a long way off in the future.

2015 Toyota Mirai

Electric Cars Have Some Difficult Challenges to Overcome

When it comes to increasing the range of electric vehicles, Scott, a Toyota Executive says that there are some difficult Physics and chemistry problems that have to be solved still. He explains that to increase the range of an electric vehicle you have to add a heavy electric battery. He goes on to say that each additional battery improves the range of the vehicle by a marginal amount and that all the added weight that you add from the battery further decreases the range that you’ll get from that battery.

According to Scott electric vehicles are an ideal solution for short-distance travel because they are highly efficient at what they do. He goes on to state that they aren’t yet suitable for long distance travel and that a new material with a higher energy density has to be developed to change that.

The Charging Dilemma

Another issue that Scott sees with electric vehicles is that they can’t be charged too quickly. Charging an electric vehicle quickly can damage the battery components and it requires a massive amount of power. With an increase in energy capacity it would become more and more difficult to get all the necessary power into the batteries in a timely manner. This isn’t an issue with vehicles like the Mirai or standard gasoline or diesel vehicles, because they rely on a fuel source that can be pumped into the vehicle relatively efficiently. The fuel source has a higher energy density than batteries do, and that makes them into a more effective tool for long-distance travelling.

Hydrogen Vehicles Don’t Face the Same Hurdles

Unlike electric vehicles that are still waiting for key technology enhancements, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles aren’t waiting for those enhancements. According to Toyota the vehicles are already ready for long distance travel, and with a range of over 300 miles on a fill up that takes less than 10 minutes it’s easy to see that they’re on to something. The Mirai only really faces two specific challenges still. The first is lowering the cost of the technology to make cars that are around similar prices to standard new vehicles sold today. Toyota says that goal is a realistic one and that they are already making improvements to lower the cost of the technology further. The second is getting hydrogen refueling stations around the country so that owners can actually enjoy long-distance travel. This issue won’t be that difficult to solve once enough drivers adopt the fuel cell technology. As demand increases for the new fuel source more stations will pop up around the country, and there is already a significant level of support for the stations with infrastructure being improved around the country already.

The hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle isn’t perfect yet, but it’s much closer to being the best suitable option for long-distance travel than the electric vehicle is, and that’s exactly what Toyota had to say about electric vehicles versus the Toyota Mirai.

Why Electric Vehicles are Awesome

March 31, 2015 lacarguy Green Articles, Volkswagen, Volkswagen Santa Monica Tags: , , , ,

Electric vehicles are slowly becoming more popular and are sold to more people each year. Even with more people beginning to own EV’s there are still so many more that don’t know about most of the benefits that these vehicles come with. There’s a reason that so many people are picking up EV’s today, and why so many more will begin to in the near future, and it’s not just to save money on fuel. Electric vehicles are fun to drive, and much more affordable than gasoline vehicles are over the long term. When you consider all the benefits that cars like the VW e-Golf and Nissan Leaf have to offer they make sense to get.

volkswagen egolf

Easier to Maintain

One of the biggest benefits of an all-electric vehicle is that it’s easy to maintain compared to a gasoline-powered one. EV’s have far fewer moving parts and they are less likely to fail or have costly repairs. This means you can do more of the maintenance on your own, and enjoy driving a vehicle that doesn’t have to be worked on all the time. Over time the lack of maintenance will help you save a great deal of time and money.

Save on Fuel Costs

I know, I know gas prices dropped down recently, but even at $2.00 a gallon, or whatever the price is near you, EV drivers are likely still saving on fuel costs. This is because electricity is cheaper than gasoline. When the prices eventually creep backup (and they will!) EV owners will really be reaping the benefits. At 15,000 miles a year it’s likely that an EV driver would save at least $1,000 a year and that figure goes up quite a bit of gas prices increase again.

A Calm and Soothing Ride

Electric vehicles are surprisingly quiet, and that’s not a bad thing. Some car enthusiasts will miss the rumble of a gasoline engine, but I didn’ the first time I took an EV out. Mostly I was amazed at how quiet the ride is, and I kept wondering if the vehicle was on at all. EV’s also smell better than gasoline engines and you don’t have the harmful fumes to worry about breathing in while driving around.

They are a Blast to Drive

Even without all the other benefits it would make sense to pick up an electric vehicle because they are so much fun to drive. If you haven’t experienced one yet you’re missing out and you don’t know the true value of an electric vehicle. Automakers love to go on and on about all the money that buyers will save, or about how the cars are good for the environment, but they never focus on how much fun the cars are to drive.

Electric vehicles accelerate so uniformly and so immediately that it’s like controlling a jet on the road. You step down on the thruster and blast off from a standstill to high speeds nearly instantly. With 100 percent of the torque available right away even small engines feel potent and ready to strike. If you’ve always wanted an electric vehicle for the other benefits, but haven’t had the motivation to go through with the purchase, get yourself to a dealership and test drive one of these cars. Once you realize how fun they are you won’t have any trouble getting the motivation to make the purchase anymore. That’s how good electric vehicles are, and how confident I am in their capabilities.

With all the federal and state incentives, and battery prices dropping each year it makes sense to pick up an electric vehicle if you do a lot of local driving. Whether you get a car, truck or SUV. Your new EV will make driving more enjoyable and save you a bit of cash as well.


RAV4 EV Incentives Reach as High as $17,500

January 3, 2013 lacarguy Green Articles, HybridCars.com, Toyota Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

by Zach McDonald of HybridCars.com

Toyota’s decision to release the RAV4 EV exclusively in California instantly ensured that buyers of the car would receive an additional $2,500 in state incentives on top of the $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax credit. But thanks to a series of additional perks, the first lithium ion battery-powered crossover utility vehicle available in the United States will now be even more affordable.

Toyota RAV4 EV
With a substantial (and expensive) Tesla-built 42-kWh battery pack, the RAV4 EV starts at $49,800—in league with many luxury hybrids. In addition to $10,000 in federal and state credits, Toyota will reportedly tacking on $7,500 in incentives—including $5,000 cash back and $2,500 in “loyalty cash” for returning Toyota customers.

In all, some RAV4 EV buyers could pay as little as $32,300 for the vehicle (though availability is limited.) As a final enticement, buyers who act before January 7, 2013 will also be eligible for zero-percent financing.

Toyota is offering a 36-month, $599-per month deal for leasers.

The RAV4 EV first hit California roads on September 24. Toyota plans to limit sales to 2,600 vehicles by 2014, and there has been no announcement as to whether the carmaker plans to continue its arrangement with Tesla to produce more vehicles beyond that point. The crossover is the only fully-electric SUV available in the United States market, carrying a range of 103 miles and equivalent efficiency of 76 electric miles per gallon.

RAV4 EV Marries Two Very Different Approaches to Green Motoring

September 7, 2012 lacarguy Electric Vehicles, Green Articles, Green Auto Technology, HybridCars.com, Toyota Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

by Zach McDonald — hybridcars.com

It’s been a little more than two years since Toyota and Tesla shocked the automotive world by announcing their intention to work together on electric vehicles. At the time, the nature and extent of that cooperation were unclear, but just months later we learned that the two companies were hard at work adapting Toyota‘s RAV4 crossover into an EV.

This won’t be the first Toyota RAV4 EV to hit the market, though it will be completely technologically distinct from its predecessor. Released in 1999, the original RAV4 EV is still beloved (and driven) to this day by hundreds of passionate owners. This time around though, the RAV4 plug-in will carry a lithium ion battery pack and strong reminders of Tesla’s DNA.

Toyota has been famously reluctant to build fully-electric vehicles, due mostly to the carmaker’s unease about expensive, limited-range cars that won’t take you 100 miles in between charges. Surprisingly, Tesla feels largely the same way: the most affordable version of its Model S carries a range of 160 miles at highway speeds, more than twice the range of cars like the Nissan LEAF and Ford Focus EV.

In a pair of videos recently released by Toyota, engineers from the project tell the story of how the two carmakers came together to build one of the most intriguing vehicles to come along in years.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN6qpUbba0Q]

Both companies played to their own strengths. Tesla took the lead in providing the car’s electric drivetrain and 41.8 kilowatt-hour battery, capable of at least 100 miles of range (though a recent New York Times review found the SUV easily exceeds that number.)

Toyota was responsible for applying its renowned regenerative breaking technology, which is balanced with the Tesla drive architecture to provide an efficient, responsive ride. Modifying the body and undercarriage of the car to ensure optimal aerodynamics were another challenge, since any drag can greatly diminish an electric vehicle’s range. The RAV4 was given an enhanced spoiler, redesigned front fascia and covered underbody to achieve a coefficient of drag of around 0.3 (about 25 percent better than a standard RAV4.)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfO3_SG26So]

Together, Toyota and Tesla have constructed the first lithium ion-powered electric SUV on the market. Though initial production will be limited to just 2600 vehicles, demand for the car should be strong given its unique blend of attributes. If response to the first RAV4 EV is any indication, expect a chorus of calls for Toyota to build more.

RAV4 EV Reduces Range Anxiety by Reducing Coefficient of Drag

September 5, 2012 lacarguy Electric Vehicles, Green Auto Technology, Toyota Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

Have you considered a fully electric vehicle? Or would you like to consider one but are concerned that it might not make it as far as you would like it to. What if the vehicle ran out of power? What if it leaves me stranded? Well, you are not alone. There are others out there who would consider purchasing an electric vehicle but have what we call, range anxiety.

Watch the following video as Toyota executives, engineers and designers discuss the RAV4 EV and how they plan on eliminating range anxiety by creating an aerodynamic, fully functional, and fun-to-drive vehicle without any compromises.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN6qpUbba0Q]

Introducing the 2013 RAV4 EV

August 15, 2012 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

Electric vehicle technology is moving at a very fast pace which means there may be an EV in your very near future. Auto manufacturers are working hard to meet the requirements of the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board’s (CARB) zero-emissions vehicle program. Toyota delivers its contribution with the 2013 RAV4 EV which is the product of a collaborative effort with Tesla Motors.

Toyota Motor Corporation’s president, Akio Toyoda and Tesla’s chairman, product architect and CEO, Elon Musk decided that their companies should develop an electric vehicle together. In order to fast track the process, rather than build a vehicle from scratch, they decided to use the existing RAV4 platform. Engineers at Toyota took the lead and the end result is an all-electric SUV with a motor based on the system in the Tesla Model S sedan.

A restyled front bumper, upper and lower grill, side mirrors, rear spoiler and an underbody designed the optimize airflow produces a lower coefficient of drag and low center of gravity. As a result, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV has an exceptionally smooth, quiet ride, and comfortable handling. Two drive modes are available: Normal and Sport. Sport mode accelerates the RAV4 EV from 0 to 60 mph in just 7 seconds before topping out at 100 mph. Normal drive mode achieves a 0 to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds with a maximum track speed of 85 mph. Max output from the electric powertrain is 154 horsepower (115 kW).

There are two options to charge the RAV4 EV. In standard mode, which is designed to optimize battery life, the battery charges up to 35 kWh and the EPA-estimated driving range rating is 92 miles. Extended mode allows the battery to fully charge to a capacity of 41.8 kWh, resulting in an anticipated EPA-estimated driving range of 113 mph. To help optimize EV range, Toyota designed the climate control system with three modes which sets a balance between driver comfort and EV driving range. In NORMAL mode, the climate control system mimics a conventional vehicle which maximizes passenger comfort and in turn, reduces the EV range. ECO LO mode achieves the balance between cabin comfort and improved range through reduced power consumption of the blower, compressor, and/or electric heater. ECO HI further reduces blower, compressor and heater levels, offering up to 40 percent power reduction compared to NORMAL.

In addition, the unique Toyota/Tesla designed regenerative braking system works to maximize the vehicle’s kinetic energy loss and converts it to electric energy, which recharges the battery and extends driving range. The addition of cooperative regenerative braking increases driving range by up to 20 percent.

The RAV4 EV incorporates a number of unique safety features in addition to what is found in the conventional RAV4. The battery modules are encased in a structural pack surrounded by a four-sided extruded aluminum enclosure. Large aluminum rocker extrusions act as a structural attachment between the enclosure and the body as well as provide further impact protection. In addition, the chassis is specially designed to help protect the battery and inverter assemblies in the event of a collision. A rigid inverter protection brace bridges the gap between the body front cross member and the front suspension member to mitigate inverter damage by keeping the two members at a set distance from each other during a frontal crash. Special steel ramps built into the front of the undercarriage serve to deflect intrusion into the battery enclosure. In a rear impact, the battery’s rear mounting brackets can separate the battery from the body further protecting the battery enclosure from intrusion.

“A prime design target for all Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles featuring traction batteries is to maintain battery structural integrity and electrical isolation internal to the battery,” said Sheldon Brown, executive program manager for Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America. “The RAV4 EV battery and chassis are designed as a system to protect against battery ‘isolation loss’ during a crash, meaning the electrical energy is completely contained within the battery preventing any conductive path to the vehicle body. Electrical components and chassis are designed as a system to protect occupants, first responders and the battery pack itself.”

The RAV4 EV will go on sale in late summer 2012 through select California dealers, focusing on major metropolitan markets. Service for the RAV4 EV will only be available at these authorized RAV4 EV dealers.  Sales volume is planned for approximately 2,600 units through 2014. The battery is warrantied for eight years or 100,000 miles.

The RAV4 EV is expected to qualify for a $2,500 rebate through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program in California and also is eligible for a $7,500 Federal Tax Credit. The vehicle will qualify for the California High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane white sticker program.

“We believe that the RAV4 EV will attract sophisticated early technology adopters, much like the first-generation Prius,” said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager. “It’s designed for consumers who prioritize the environment and appreciate performance. We look forward to seeing how the market responds.”

Volkswagen Previews E-Bugster in Test Drives

August 1, 2012 lacarguy HybridCars.com, Volkswagen Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

by: Zach McDonald – HybridCars.com

Last month, Volkswagen invited members of the automotive press to test drive its E-Bugster electric vehicle at the Laguna Seca track in Monterey, California. Since the concept reportedly cost $2 million to build, VW didn’t give the writers free reign with the car, electronically limiting its speed to 18 mph in an attempt to give journalists a taste of the experience without subjecting the prototype to the rigors of a typical test drive. Still, the tests represented the first chance anyone has had to drive car after its unveiling in Detroit earlier this year.

The E-Bugster concept shares most of its technology with the VW eGolf, which Volkswagen deployed in test fleets last year and will release in select markets in late-2013. Cosmetically, the car previews the latest design iteration of the Beetle convertible, which is expected to debut at auto shows later this year. The E-Bugster is powered by an 85-kilowatt electric motor connected to a 28.3 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery (slightly larger than the eGolf’s), and is capable of a peak output of 114 horsepower.

VW says range for the car stands at 110 miles, and that when the drivetrain isn’t governed to remain below 18 mph (as it was in these test drives), it can accelerate from 0-60 in about 10 seconds. Inside the vehicle, test drivers were treated to rather stunning white-on-black styling, likely indicative of the overall look and feel of the forthcoming gas-powered Beetle convertible.

Volkswagen has announced no plans to sell the E-Bugster yet, and if it does, it will likely be a limited-release offering available only in select markets like California (where short-run green vehicles are useful in helping carmakers satisfy state emissions requirements). Still, it’s always positive to see automakers experiment with different electric drivetrain models and configurations―if only as a taste of what a more electrified vehicle market might someday look like.

Electric OSCar eO Proves EV Durability at Brutal Dakar Rally

January 30, 2012 lacarguy HybridCars.com Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

By Brad Berman Hybridcars.com

The grueling 2012 Dakar Rally crossed 5,500 miles of rough terrain through the harshest conditions of South America. It’s hell on machines and drivers. The terrain is torturous and can strand even the most capable of vehicles. Since its inception in 1978, the Dakar Rally, which has taken place in Europe, South America and Africa—and has even claimed the lives of 25 participants.

Despite those harsh conditions, on January 15, the OSCar eO, an extended-range electric vehicle entered by the Latvian team, completed the rally. The 2012 race’s route through Argentina, Chile and Peru is a grueling test of endurance for even the most robust vehicles and drivers. The car’s historic finish demonstrates that electric vehicles can survive the world’s most challenging driving conditions.

Powered by a motor that cranks out up to 430 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, the OSCar eO is an electrified monster. The eO’s Nissan-sourced gasoline engine acts as a generator, but propulsion is 100-percent electric. Electric range is listed at up to 190 miles, but under the Rally’s extreme conditions, less than 100 miles is the norm. Including range-extended mode, the OSCar eO can travel up to 800 km (or roughly 500 miles,) without refueling.


Before the eO’s historic finish, Maris Saukans, the car’s pilot and a seven-time Dakar veteran, said, “We like to be considered as pioneers. Now we have two tasks on the Dakar: to finish the race and give others inspiration.”

The OSCar eO, driven by Saukans and engineer Andris Dambis, ranked an impressive 77th in the final classification. With its crossing of the finish line, the OSCar eO will forever be listed as the first extended-range electric vehicle to compete in and finish the Dakar Rally.

Volkswagen Settles On Standard Electric Car Battery, From China

November 29, 2011 lacarguy Electric Vehicles, Green Articles, Volkswagen Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

By Alysha Webb

Volkswagen will use the same battery module design for all its electric vehicles globally across all its brands according to Dr. Tobias Giebel, head of the Volkswagen Research Lab in Shanghai. Those battery modules and the battery cells in them are likely to be sourced from China, he said.

Volkswagen's electric cars, like the upcoming e-Up, will likely use battery cells and modules sourced from China

“You have to be focused beyond the cell level. That is the only way,” said Giebel at the EV Battery Forum Asia 2011 in Shanghai. The Forum took place on November 7 – 9, 2011.

Volkswagen’s Giebel was optimistic about Chinese battery makers’ capacity to one day build low-cost, high-quality vehicle batteries. In an interview with PluginCars.com, Giebel said Volkswagen is working with local battery manufacturers in China to produce a product that meets Volkswagen’s global standards. “We believe the future of battery cell sourcing is in China,” he said. Today, China’s lithium-ion battery makers are focused on consumer technology, said Giebel. Its automotive-grade batteries are not up to the high-level vehicle traction battery manufacturers in Korea or Japan, he said.

But Volkswagen is working closely with about 20 of China’s more than 100 battery producers, and is already seeing improvement. “We think in a couple of years we will have really strong suppliers in fully domestic companies,” said Giebel. When they are, Volkswagen will use the same source for its Asia, Europe, and the United States operations, he said.

That could mean a significant amount of business because Volkswagen will use a standard module for all electric vehicles across all its brands. That means all hybrids, plug-in hybrid electric, battery electric, and fuel cell vehicles produced under the Volkswagen Group’s 10 nameplates, which include Volkswagen, Skoda, Audi, Seat, Bentley, Porsche, Scania, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Volkswagen commercial vehicles.

“The module shape and number of cells will be the same,” said Giebel. “The module is not part of any international norm. It is a company internal standard.” Inside the module, Volkswagen might adapt the connection between the cells to vary the number of parallel and serial cells, said Giebel. The module is a company internal standard, he added.

Volkswagen’s current parallel hybrid models, including the Touareg SUV, have a different technology, but the company will use the standard module concept first on battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric models, said Giebel. “The extension to parallel hybrid (HEV) will be decided later,” he said.

Fisker Automotive raises $115M for Plug-In Hybrids

January 15, 2010 lacarguy Electric Vehicles, Fisker Santa Monica, Hybrid Vehicles, LAcarGUY News & Events, LAcarGUY Sustainability Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

Today’s press release is more great news for Fisker Santa Monica

IRVINE, CA – January 15, 2010:

New American carmaker Fisker Automotive has secured access to an additional $115.3 million in private equity funding to develop plug-in hybrid cars.

This funding is necessary for Fisker Automotive (www.fiskerautomotive.com) to access a $528.7 million U.S. Department of Energy conditional loan that will, in part, help speed completion of the Fisker Karma, the company’s first plug-in hybrid.

The raise comes at a time when capital is scarce, the auto industry is struggling and the global economy is just beginning to rebound.

Starting at $87,900 the Karma paves the way for development of lower-cost plug-in hybrid technology for a second, family-oriented car code named Project NINA. Project NINA is expected to be built in Wilmington, Delaware at a former General Motors assembly plant starting in 2012.

“Raising $115 million in these times speaks volumes about the value of our business model and the vast potential of plug-in hybrids,” said Henrik Fisker, CEO.

Investors include A123 Systems, Ace Investments and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Fisker Automotive earlier this week signed a multi-year supply agreement with A123 Systems for the lithium-ion batteries that will power the Karma.

“Fisker Automotive selected A123 because of the company’s ability to meet our performance needs and rapidly scale to our production volume,” said Fisker. “We are committed to developing environmentally friendly cars that don’t sacrifice style or performance. A123’s technology will ensure the Karma delivers.”

Designed and engineered in the U.S., the four-door Karma proves eco-friendly cars can still have style and power. The Karma can reach 60mph in six seconds and top 125mph, yet runs cleaner and more efficiently than today’s most popular hybrids.


Fisker Automotive is a privately owned, premium American car company with a vision to lead the automotive industry into the next-generation of automobiles with high-end design expertise and eco-friendly powertrain technology. Global headquarters are in Irvine, California, USA.

The company was created in 2007 to leverage the design capabilities of Fisker Coachbuild, LLC, founded by auto design veterans Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler, and the PHEV powertrain capabilities of Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ-QTWW), a major Tier 1 supplier of clean vehicle technologies to the automotive OEMs. Previously, Fisker, CEO, was design director for Aston Martin and president and CEO of BMW’s DesignworksUSA. Koehler, COO, led operations for Ford’s Global Advanced Design Studio and created concept cars for Aston Martin, MINI and BMW. #