Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Don't Panic. Get Ready.

So, back to electricity.

Three people in the meeting already owned electric cars which they drive everyday. They are engineers and the "energetic minority" of electric car owners. They are so excited by their cars. They reconfigured their old gas models to be electric. They are experimenting. One fellow did melt some terminals, so these people are the early adopters. However, instead of filling the car for $50 - $70 dollars/week, they charge it overnight for about 10 cents/kw-hr - (a dollar a day?)

Duke power says the full charging in the daytime of the current cars is not any problem nine months out of the year as far as present capacity is concerned. I think nighttime charging is good all the time right now.

Still since the amount of electric cars coming on is probably gradual that gives them time to get ready as well.

No cars currently designed have the ability to use the fast charge stations. They'd melt I guess.

So, for the next five years - ten years the cars available now are viable for a long time. Nissan's new LEAF, all -electric vehicle, introduced day before yesterday will be able to fast charge. Nissan has addressed this in two ways. First is with the vehicle itself, which offers 50 kW fast charge capabilities that will provide up to an 80% charge in 30 minutes for an additional 31 miles of range.Of course, while the fast charge capability is great on the car, without a place to charge it, the feature is of limited value. Nissan understands this and has already created partnerships with the States of Oregon and Tennessee, as well as cities like San Diego, CA, Raleigh, NC, Seattle, WA, and with Sonoma County to develop an electric vehicle recharging infrastructure.

So, by 2011, we will need those fast-charging "power stations" in NC I'll bet. That's really quick.

We expect that folks in the Triangle will get the current electric cars - hybrids, EVs and PHEVs pretty soon, charge them at home and top off at work or at shopping malls or of course, McDonalds, to keep their cars powered up.

I think we need charging stations at every museum or interesting business or site every 40 miles. That will lead those Triangle folks and those of us brave enough to get one before 2011 to venture out for tourism (especially our Revolutionary War sites). These will likely not be day trips, but overnight trips to B+Bs or hotels. We can start building them now. Or plan to roll them out en masse in 12 - 18 months. The Electric car arrives en masse then too. But you know we need 6 months to make the plan and 6 months to install and test them one by one. That is not a really long time.

So, while it's not practical to build the fast-charge posts now due to the scale of their use( only LEAF buyers starting the end of next year) the regular charging stations (240V) are practical and may encourage "heads in beds".

The only interesting quirk to foresee is that the newly approved SAE plugs for the cars have not yet been designed with "smart" capacities. That is they don't talk to the charging stations and say "I want a fast charge. Or I am a Nissan LEAF as opposed to I am a Toyota Prius or I am a Chevy Volt"

I imagine you can locate the charging stations on GPS, but I don't know if you can tell another car is already charging there. More bugs to work out. However, I also imagine the early adoptors will work with the grid of charging stations across the state of NC to beta-test the vehicles. They can also give us feedback on their tourism experience or be inspired by our outstanding Revolutionary War history to write the next novel, animate the next cartoon or create the next fabric design.

I mean, give me an electric car and send me on the road around NC and I'd be thrilled to report all those experiences and collect data. Sign me up! I'm collecting my recommendation for Rev. War and FUN THINGS TO DO sites.

Duke power will be happy to discuss it. I imagine Progress Energy will too.

You go Nissan!

No comments: