This Week In EVs

Since substantive Saab news is hard to come by lately, and when it does emerge it’s about things like what if decisions regarding Griffins and the like, I figured I’d at least try to shine a light on the electric vehicle market. NEVS plans on focusing their initial efforts on an EV using Japanese technology (read: batteries), and as they conglomerate the parts necessary to commercially produce and profit from their first Saab, they will be struggling with the same challenges as competitors who have made their own solutions. It’s our attempt at SU to educate Saab fans and future new Saab customers about these engineering issues, EV advantages and disadvantages, and try to better understand the field so that when the new Saab EV emerges, we have a pretty solid knowledge base to draw from.

EVTV

Here’s the top 4 videos to watch this week in the world of electric propulsion.

1. Drive magazine talks to the head of engineering for the new Porsche 918 Hybrid.

This is basically the proposal I had for the High Performance Saab contest that Swade ran a while back, except done if money wasn’t an option. A completely new engine with carbon fiber mounts, carbon fiber chassis, new battery tech, and some incredible software to make it all work are all highlighted in the video. If Saab could do the poor man’s version with lightweight metals, their own EV propulsion, and some sort of ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) motor or generator on board, and keep it under $40K out the door (with tax credits), I think we’d have a pretty solid car that most of us would die to own. Now, if they felt like building a limited run Aero-X as a showpiece for their new Japanese tech for $1,000,000+, I’m sure that wouldn’t be such a bad outcome either.

2. Automobile Magazine pits Tesla Model S vs. 2013 BMW M5 in a drag race.

Who do you think wins 2 out of 3 times? For those of you who know anything about the Tesla so far, this should be easy.

3. Translogic reviews the Tesla Model S.

No, I’m not obsessed with a Model S. It’s just the first credible EV that’s publicly available. This video is a couple weeks old, but it’s the one video I’d suggest you watch if you want to see what Saab needs to come to the EV party with to remain credible– strong performance, no compromise engineering, and innovations that break new ground. It also shows just how a young startup can produce a truly badass, world beating car. NEVS needs to take notes. Pay attention to the battery placement and reasons behind their own charging cable. (Link for mobile devices)

4. Mercedes all-electric SLS AMG, driving footage.

There really isn’t much to see, or for that matter hear, here. It kind of sounds like a jet on the drive-by though, something that NEVS might be able to play up? Also, this car is not really a serious attempt for Mercedes at an EV, that’s coming in the form of the B-Class EV. Before we hear grumbles from the crowd for its insaaaaaane price, remember this is basically an engineering exercise more than anything else. It’s also can be yours in a very, very blue color…

EV News and Reviews

1. The guy who created the SU of Chevy Volt websites (gm-volt.com) decides to trade in his Volt for a Ford C-Max Energi. His reason is pretty damn credible, and something Saab should pay close attention to, since it would disqualify the setup they designed their Saab ePower around (hint: it involves a giant battery tunnel up the middle of the interior).

2. For our UK readers, Ecotricity has announced the installation of fast chargers similar to the ones I described in the Tesla Supercharger article I wrote last week. If you live near South Mimms (M25/A1), Oxford (M40) and Hopwood Park (M42), you’ll soon be seeing Nissan Leafs charging to about 80% full in about 30 minutes. I’m really hoping that NEVS works just as hard on charging infrastructure and compatibility in parallel with the development of new Saabs.

3. What would an electric, Finnish version of a Spyker be? Scarlet Motors seems to be answering that, and they’re partnering with Helsinki’s Metropolia University to develop their EV supercar. Check out their world speed record for EVs back in March. Maybe NEVS could get together with these guys on a Scandinavian partnership?

4. In an ideal world, we could just charge an EV to full in less than 5 minutes not only at our homes but at any fuel station we visit. Seeing that for the next couple of years, most of us at SU would prefer an EV with an onboard generator like a Volt to one that requires charges. Honda has just entered that small ring occupied only by the Volt and plug-in Prius, and I have to say, I’m impressed with their first attempt (though it’d hideous looking).

kochje
Member
3 years 11 months ago

Interesting news, Jeff.
Thanks for sharing and…..continue to keep us informed about these developments.

hans h
Member
3 years 11 months ago

Interesting read about the four-seater Volt. I actually didn’t know this. Shame on me. 😉

I like the colour on the Mercedes, though.

Bernard
Member
3 years 11 months ago
The Volt is carrying around an extra 500kg of fuel/engine/transmission/coolant/etc because it’s a hybrid. This means that it’s got a longer total range (which customers almost never use), but it’s also got a much shorter electric range and much less useable space than it should. By way of comparison, the Smart ED has a slightly higher capacity pack (17 vs 16 kW/h) and three times the electric range. This goes to show that NEVS may be onto something with their all-electric solution. They won’t be making a hybrid of an electric car and a gasoline car that’s bad at both… Read more »
kochje
Member
3 years 11 months ago

Let us hope that this is true; come on NEVS; make that happen.

GerritN
Member
3 years 11 months ago
The whole thing with the transmission weights etc. is why I don’t like hybrids. The Porsche 918 of course is a bad example because it is not meant as a daily driver. Porsche is just trying to get more power for a reasonable fuel consumption and, like Chris Harris says at the end of the video, it would be very interesting to see what this car would do when you strip everything away in the sense of electrics. We already know that stripping away the ICE leaves you with the optimal setup as far as weight, complexity and ‘fuel’ consumption… Read more »
GerritN
Member
3 years 11 months ago

“…with improved batteries the range and charging times will decrease…”
===>
“…with improved batteries the range will increase and charging times will decrease…”

Red J
Member
3 years 11 months ago
Mahle-powertrain presented in June their concept of a Range-Extender Powertrain. The car used for the demonstration was an A1 that is capable to run 70 km pure electric, and with the 22,5l of petrol that fit in the tank would extend that value for another 430 km, so you would have 500 km of total range. the car uses a 14 kWh Li-Ion battery, which should have something an Energy density of 200 Wh/kg, which means that the battery weight should be around 75 kg. the whole RE-system (ICE + Generator) weights 70 kg and if you add the weight… Read more »
GerritN
Member
3 years 11 months ago

Thanks Red, that’s pretty close to what I had in mind.
130kg for the Mahler generator isn’t that bad, it’s about the weight of one average American passenger 🙂

Red J
Member
3 years 11 months ago

And this is not the end of the ER-EV journey. 😎

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 11 months ago

In other news, Toyota has managed to sell quite a few of their Prius models—-seems like the hybrid formula is working well for them. People can actually drive their expensive cars on vacation without worrying about “running out of charge.” Ditto for snowstorms that snarl traffic. There’s a lot to be said for a car that can run on gas AND electric—–and when you’re out of energy, someone with a gallon of fuel can get you to safety—–instead of needing a two mile long extension cord.

Red J
Member
3 years 11 months ago

Well, Toyota is doing so well with their hybrids, that they are thinking about to start producing batteries in Europe to meet the needs in the old continent. 😎

Bernard
Member
3 years 11 months ago
The Prius has very little load capacity. You can only really fit four people inside, and luggage for only two of these. Plus the highway mileage isn’t that great. Last time I rented one on a trip, I got around 6l/100km on the open road. My 9-3 will get around 7l/100km at similar speeds, but it can fit five people, their luggage, and have room to spare. Plus it tracks well, doesn’t get steered toward the ditch by the wake from passing cars, has plenty of reserve power, etc, etc. In my mind, their open road performance is very compromised.… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 11 months ago
Bernard: We’re not comparing our gas engined Saabs to the Prius. I have a 2004 9-5 ARC wagon that I like far more than my 2008 Prius. We’re comparing a full time EV that might be “on the docks” from NEVS, to a very useful, very accepted, very successful, popular, reliable hybrid in the Prius. You’re telling me something and you’re preaching to the chior—-I totally believe that a new Mahindra Saab or even Youngman Saab, making gas and diesel engined cars and trucks, would have had a 2000% better chance at succeeding than NEVS. But here we are, and… Read more »
Bernard
Member
3 years 11 months ago
Angelo, You may have missed my point. Both the Prius and the Volt are compromised by the fact that they lug around two different drivelines. This means that they have surprisingly little carrying capacity relative to their size and selling price. On top of that, fuel savings aren’t all that great. The EPA estimates that a Prius will cost around $1,000 less per year to fuel, relative to a similar sized car (Cruze, Sentra). That savings costs you $10,000 up front, which means that the original owner will not benefit (unless they use the car commercially in the city). Additionally,… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 11 months ago
I would look no further than sales figures for pure EVs compared to sales figures for hybrids to explain why a business plan of “EVs only” is a recipe for disaster. What automaker is selling EVs and making a profit on them? Also, are you forgetting why the ecoweenies want a Prius? It’s the environment—-they want to save the Earth. WEll, at least they want OTHERS to think they want to save the planet. They like the little “Hybrid” emblem to show everyone how much they care. So the $1000.00 fuel savings is only part of the reason they are… Read more »
No 9
Member
3 years 11 months ago

The Model S is really growing on me. Will start buying lottery tickets!

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 11 months ago

yep, if I get a multi-year pro sports contract or hit the lottery, I might look at them too. I guess I have to practice my basketball playing.

Dan P
Member
3 years 11 months ago

Great article, Jeff. I know its been out-commented by the parts story, so just wanted you to know that your work is appreciated! Keep ’em coming.

saabluster
Member
3 years 11 months ago

“No, I’m not obsessed with a Model S.”-Jeff

Yeah well I am. Very Saaby on many levels and the first car to get me excited in over a decade that was not a Saab. The problem is I can’t afford them:( What do I do? Saab really really needs to get this new electric 9-3 out. If it could meet the range of the 60kWh Model S and be sub-$35 I just might be able to swing it. Probably wishful thinking. Might just have to wait for depreciation to kick in and do its thing.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 11 months ago

Model S, “Saaby?” Huh? What? Ummm….okay, they both have four tires. They both have a steering wheel. What else?

Dan P
Member
3 years 11 months ago

Innovative, ergonomic, surprisingly practical, and there’s even something weird about the “key”…

Allan B
Member
3 years 11 months ago
I read this and watched the videos with great interest. There is no doubt we are at the dawn of a new age. It is very exciting. The way Tesla have approached the problem without being encumbered by tradition is just beautiful. It all makes me think that hybrids are already obsolete before they have even become mainstream. I agree the trick for Saab will be to do something that is very capable at a cheaper price point. But I have questions. If Saab are going to be using a revised version of the existing 9-3/Epsilon architecture for their first… Read more »
Mircea
Member
3 years 11 months ago

but what about this?

http://www.slashgear.com/honda-toyota-nissan-and-hyundai-plan-nordic-fuel-cell-splurge-09251000/

Looks like their plans are slightly different from NEVS’s…

Red J
Member
3 years 11 months ago

To run an FC-car in the scandinavian winter is not that easy than doing it in California. I wish them to be successful in this endeavour, but I don’t think they will meet their schedule.

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