In Can Toyota Save the Electric Car? Der Speigel writes about the company’s new fuel cell car. With hydrogen as its fuel, the car will have a range of 600 kilometers (375 miles) and recharging it will take minutes (not hours like many of today’s EVs). The Japanese company says it will be available for purchase in 2015. About 500 Toyota engineers are working on fuel-cell technology, which suggests the technology is the company’s top R&D priority. The post calls the vehicle both “revolutionary and sobering” because it veers away from the purely battery-powered electric car, which is being developed by almost every other automaker in the world. Having successfully taken the leadership in the production of efficient hybrid vehicles (eg. the Prius), Toyota is now poised to takeover the fuel cell market.  The company believes electric cars, based on inefficient battery technology, are not capable of seriously competing with internal combustion engines powered by fossil fuels. In the view of Koei Saga, EVs are “a niche toy for eco-snobs” but are not suitable for the average driver. The Japanese firm believes a car is worthless if it is not capable of traveling long distances. However, Toyota can only reach its goal if its fuel cell car can be cost competitive and make consumers want to buy it.

The big question of whether Toyota will once again outpace the competition will depend mainly on the price at which it can sell a hydrogen-powered car…Can this car end up being cheaper than a battery-powered electric car?

The price of the first series-produced fuel-cell car will range between five and 10 million yen…That’s about €37,000 to €74,000. The higher number would be astonishingly cheap, while €37,000 would be a sensation — a car with a completely new drive technology for the price of a well-equipped, conventional mid-range car.

Another electric car charging company has gone bankrupt.  Earlier this year it was battery swapping firm Better Place. Now it is ECOtality, stranding about 13,000 commercial and residential EV charging stations across the US. The Huffington Post says the company received $115 million in grants from the US government before its demise. Car Charging Group, Inc., a US provider of charging services has agreed to takeover the assets for $3.4 million. Before entering bankruptcy protection ECOtality managed over 3000 public charging locations and 10,000 residential units.

SingularityHUB says man hole covers in New York City are about to power electric vehicles. (with video) New York startup HEVO has come up with a new way  to recharge electric vehicles in cities. It’s offering reserved parking spots to fleet customers featuring what look like manholes in the pavement, but are in fact wireless charging devices that will give cars and trucks more battery power as they sit. Each vehicle must have installed a 10-pound receiver along the drive train to absorb the power. HEVO’s technology provides 220-volts and up to 10 kilowatts of energy from the pad to the vehicle. Ten hours of charge will provide about 175 miles of travel. South Korea recently began a pilot program that charges municipal buses directly from the road using similar technology. HEVO also provides a mobile phone app that tells drivers where the charging spots are and helps guide them into position directly over the pads. It also handles billing and payments. HEVO plans to open its first two charging stations early next year in lower Manhattan.

Recargo, a company that maps and rates car charging stations in North America, has an app that identifies some 2o,000 EV charging stations in the US and Canada. The app is for iOS, Android, and web. You can download it here or view it here. See also Bloomberg, Putting All 20,000 Electric Car Charging Stations on the Map.

According to Automotive Management, Nissan wants to install 74 rapid EV charging stations across the UK and Ireland. The Japanese auto company is leading a consortium which plans to put in place more than 680 miles of major road routes serviced by these chargers by the end of 2014. EV charging times would be reduced from some eight hours to only 30 minutes. Other consortium members are Renault, BMW and Volkswagen and Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board. The European Union is providing funding for the project.

Running on two priority road axes on the mainland, the network will link major ports and cities including Stranraer, Liverpool, Holyhead, Birmingham, Felixstowe, Leeds and Kingston upon Hull with connections to existing networks in Dublin and Belfast in Eire and Northern Ireland.

In France Renault is offering 1 free hour a day of EV charging to any EV make we learn from Inside EVs. Its 372 dealership are equipped with 22 kW 3-phase charging points, so users can get as much as 22 kWh if their vehicle is capable of fully utilizing this power. For example, for the Renault Zoe, capable of a 43 kW charge, 22 kW will enable it to recharge its batteries to 80% capacity in 1 hour. The free charge, however, is only available during dealer hours of operation.

From Digital Journal we learn that BC Hydro will soon have  Canada’s first fast charging network for EVs. 13 communities in the province of British Columbia have agreed to serve as site hosts and charging station operators for the DC fast chargers and the chargers should be operating by March 2014.  The Globe and Mail notes that this charging network will serve as a continuation of the Pacific West Coast network in the US which runs along Interstate 5 from the Mexican border and through Oregon and Washington to the British Columbia border.

The first round of installations will provide charging options in Metro Vancouver, in the Fraser Valley, along the Sea to Sky corridor, in Kamloops and on Vancouver Island. The stations are leased to the local municipal government.


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