Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Clemson University Develops Interactive Display

At the 2011 SEMA Show's Vehicle Technology Center, Joshua Ekandem, a student at Clemson Univers
ity, demonstrates an interactive display for the CU-ICAR, a research and development project at Clemson. Studies by students and a psychologist have discovered that different ages have preferences for display & interaction.

Joshua is developing designs for the interface that will be intuitive & customizable by the driver, yet not contribute to driver distraction. Programming is being developed that will give presets on display preferences for various drivers.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mercedes Unveils iPhone Integration Plans

With today's consumers expecting to be able to access info & entertainment easily, Mercedes-Benz has implemented their @yourCOMAND in its F 125! research vehicle to provide an "always on" environment available to the drivbeer & passengers.

Primarily @your COMMAND will be largely voice activated to minimize driver distraction, will integrate with the iPhone, and will be able to recognize some gestures. The driver will be able to remotely check status of the vehicle from their computer or smart phone for service needs, & even fuel level.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Future Parking: San Francisco's Smart Parking Spots

San Francisco is replacing 5,000 of it's parking meters with new Smart Parking Meters. Not only will the meters take credit cards, they also have sensors in the pavement that can locate clear spots, and (in the near future) tell your smartphone where the nearest parking space can be found (yes, soon there will be an Ap for that). Another smartphone feature is a phone alert when your parking time gets low, and the possibility of paying for the first and a subsequent time block by phone.

Watch the Video from the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Electric Vehicle Pioneers Celebrate

Dr. Andy Frank, Ron Gremban and Felix Kramer- photo

Dr. Andy Frank, "
father of the plug-in hybrid," now drives a Chevy Volt from a Davis , California Chevy dealership, in a milestone after years of engineering, experimentation and advocacy.

Dr. Frank has been experimenting with various advanced vehicle technologies for the last 25 years with teams of students at UC Davis, where he is a Professor of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering.

The next day Ron Gremban and Felix Kramer picked up their Volts at Novato Chevrolet.
Ron is the CalCars Technology Lead, who first drove an electric car in the 1968 Caltech-MIT cross-country race and led the 2004 open-source PRIUS+ Project, converting hybrids so they could plug in. Felix is the founder of CalCars, and the three men have been important influences on bringing Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles to the mainstream.

The Novato event was covered by the Marin Independent Journal.

Felix spoke at Plug-In 2010. A transcript of his perspectives on the development of PHEV can be read here.

See the Professor Plug-in music video a fun way to see some PHEV modern history.

As published by Larry Holser at

Monday, January 3, 2011

Electric Cars Going Mainstream This Year

Nissan & Chevy are just now beginning delivery of their electric cars.

An electric car had actually been introduced at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair by Ferdinand Porsche. The car broke speed records and had a range of about 30 miles. Later he combined the electric drive with an internal combustion engine, creating the "System Mixt." a gasoline-electric hybrid that broke more records. A century later the first electric-gas hybrid vehicle was introduced to the US in 1999 by Honda with it’s Insight, followed the very next year by Toyota’s Prius.

Some consumers had expressed “range anxiety” about electric cars. “Range Anxiety” is the concern that an electric vehicle will run out of power with no recharger nearby, or that the driver may need to wait hours to recharge away from home.

How is Range Anxiety being addressed?

1. More EV charging stations.

There are three levels of EV chargers. Level 1 and 2 power the internal charger.

  • Level 1: 120 volts & charges in 11 hours.
  • Level 2: 240 volts & charges in 6 hours.
  • Level 3: 480 volts in under 30 min.

The Nissan Leaf can take all three levels. The GM-Volt can take level 1 and 2.

How do you find a EV charging station?

2. The EV batteries have increased capacity.

The Nissan Leaf website says that “depending on the conditions, when your battery is new your range may vary anywhere from 138 - 62 miles.” For the majority of drivers, that battery capacity will handle the commute to and from work with stops for shopping, even without charging.

3. EV with gasoline engine - a safety-net

The GM Volt’s approach is all-electric power to wheels with a small internal combustion engine that GM calls an “emergency generator” to the batteries. Since the battery-only range is about 25-50 miles (depending on conditions) , the gasoline engine can increase the range to about 400 miles.

4. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)

PHEVs have the ability to drive on batteries only, after charging, with a full-size engine that can be used after the batteries are depleted. They will be coming to Ford, Toyota, Volvo and Peugeot showrooms in 2012, with BMW, Mitsubishi, and Volkswagen in 2013.

Google has tracked a fleet of Hybrid and PHEV vehciles for two years, getting over 100 mpg in the city. See the details.

5. Swappable batteries

Drivers go to a “switch station” which swaps their low batteries for a fully charged ones. The swap is faster than refuelling at a gas station. Will auto manufacturers standardize their batteries and access?

Much of the innovation is coming from Silicon Valley, and we look forward to reporting it. Please send insights and news items to

As published by Larry Holser on

Friday, December 24, 2010

EV Charge With Your Meal?

A recently opened McDonalds restaurant in West Virginia is the first McDonalds in the nation to have an EV charging station.

Cracker Barrel Restaurant & Country Store plans to offer EV charging stations in twenty-four of it's Tennessee stores.

Walgreen's Pharmacy Offering EV Charging Stations

The Walgreens pharmacy chain will offer rapid-charging EV stations at 18 Houston-area stores next year, through a partnership with power utility NRG Energy.

NRG's eVgo Network will initially include over 100 charging stations and cost NRG about $10 million. The eVgo Network will be rolled out in early 2011 throughout Houston and Harris County,Texas.

The eVgo network will include both Level 2 chargers, which generally take four hours to recharge EV batteries to full charge, and DC rapid chargers, which can charge an EV in about 30 minutes.