2010: The Year of the Electric Car?

2010 is shaping up to be the year that the electric car takes off. Although a lot of folks have been swept up by the promise that electrified transportation holds, only a handful have been able to put a highway-capable electric vehicle in their garage up ’til now.

That’s about to change.

While only the wealthy can afford an electric Tesla roadster at over $100,000, 2010 will bring a number of electric vehicles targeted at less affluent consumers. This year will see the launch of the mass produced Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Coda Sedan. As these cars enter production, they’ll face marketing, perception, and logistical hurdles.

We’ve come to take a lot for granted with conventionally-powered automobiles, when it comes to convenience and range. Refilling the fuel tank is a no-brainer: there are service stations everywhere and the process takes just minutes.

Refilling the batteries in an electric vehicle is a completely different matter …

Resource: Inconvenient Truths About Electric Cars

Is A Buick SUV Crossover Hybrid Plug In On The Way?

GM may be in the process of gearing up for production of a Buick SUV crossover that will be a hybrid. The new vehicle is said to have either a 4 or 6 cylinder engine with an electric motor powered by a lithium battery pack, similar to the GM Volt.

Over at GM Volt they describe the new Buick as being:

Today GM has confirmed this and released a teaser image of the upcoming vehicle.

“Buick has always been at the forefront of new technology, so it is only fitting that the brand should debut our new plug-in hybrid technology in a beautiful new crossover,” said GM vice chairman Tom Stephens. “This will firmly put Buick, and GM, front and center in the advanced technology game.”

The plug-in hybrid version will follow in 2011 and is expected to be the first commercially available plug-in hybrid SUV produced by a major automaker.

The hybrid will have an 8 kwh lithium-ion battery pack, using the same lithium manganese spinel cells as the Volt, supplied by LG Chem, who will be building a lithium-ion battery factory in Michigan set to open in 2012.

“LG Chem – the supplier of our battery cells for the Volt – has also been selected to supply the lithium-ion cells for the new Buick plug-in hybrid, and its Troy, Mich.-based subsidiary Compact Power will supply the pack,” said Stephens.

The plugin hybrid can operate on either gas, electricity or both depending on the driving conditions. It differs from the Volt in that the gas engine can be in operation at any time, not just after 40 miles. Using this technology the vehicle is expected to achieve at least double the efficiency of a gas version of that car. This could amount to more than 70 MPG.

The engine for the plug hybrid will be a 3.6L V-6 flex-fuel, and the car will also contain two powerful electric motors and sophisticated electronic controls.

Here is a sneak peak:

It should interesting to see if Buick and GM can pull this off. It will also be interesting to see how much these electric hybrids will cost us.

Comments welcome.


Marvell And Their Small Plug-In Computer

The folks at Marvell have a new miniature computer that is about the size of a network power adapter. The mini computer uses any Linux based operating system which uses the 2.6 kernel. The small computer uses a Marvell Kirkwood processor running at 1.2 GHz, 512 MB each of flash and DRAM. Also included is a USB 2.0 plug and Gigabit Ethernet.

According to Marvell the unit also features:

Plug computing is a logical evolution for the digital home in the same way enterprise applications moved from servers to network appliances,” Mr. Hajime Nakai, Director, Member of the Board, BUFFALO INC. “Marvell is probably the only company that can pack so much processor performance into such a compact form factor.”

“Marvell is a leader in designing high-performance, power-efficient CPUs,” commented Linley Gwennap, principal analyst of The Linley Group. “SheevaPlug leverages this capability to deliver an impressive amount of compute performance in an innovative form factor. As a silicon provider, Marvell is providing a flexible platform for a wide variety of applications that serves both consumers and service providers.”

Early adopters of plug computing began to launch Marvell based products at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2009. These include:

Axentra: HipServ™ software running on a SheevaPlug is a complete home server platform and applications suite that allows OEMs and service providers to quickly go to market with branded home server solutions. This highly secure and stable software platform allows users to easily store, manage, share, view, or listen to digital media content in the home or remotely. www.axentra.com

Cloud Engines, Inc.: Cloud Engines launched the Pogoplug, a new device which connects your external hard drive to the internet so you can easily share and access your files from anywhere. The $99 device won accolades at CES, and the company is taking discounted pre-orders now at www.pogoplug.com.

Besides being compact this mini computer is also frugal when using electricity and uses about 1/10th the juice of a standard system according to Marvell.

What do you think? Do you see a need for this mini computer?

Comments welcome.


Google And Its Fleet Of Hybrid Vehicles

Google has a project called RechargeIT that is assisting small start up companies in their development of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Google has also put into service a small group of demonstration vehicles for its corporate fleet of cars. These vehicles are charged using solar power which is being generated on the Google campus, located in Mountain View, California. Furture plans include a fleet of 100 of the plug ins to replace gas powered fleet vehicles.

On their site Google states:

Google has created a small demonstration fleet of plug-in hybrids and eventually plans to include over 100 plug-in hybrids in its corporate fleet as demand grows and cars become commercially available. Google.org has contracted with Hymotion to retrofit 4 Toyota Priuses and 2 Ford Escapes. Google.org is demonstrating the capabilities of this technology, collecting actual data on the performance of these vehicles, and making this information available to the public. All of these cars are outfitted with data recording devices that track technical and environmental performance, use patterns and charging history.

RechargeIT is also exploring ways to develop and deploy V2G technology. With the help of PG&E, Google will be demonstrating how electricity might be transmitted back and forth between plug-in hybrids and the grid. V2G offers the potential to use plug-in hybrids as a battery storage to make better use of our energy and stabilize the grid. Similar to the plug-in hybrid vehicle demonstration, the objective is to collect real world data to understand the benefits of V2G and enable future adoption.

Well you have to give Google credit for not only supporting being Green, but also doing something about it. Their innovative ideas could lead this country to vehicles that will be friendly to the environment and increase mileage dramatically.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


Firefox And Opera Browser – Abobe Plug-In Flaw

Just a quick alert. If anyone is using Firefox 1.5x or Opera 9.10 with the Abobe plug-in for viewing .pdf files, Symantec is reporting a vulnerability that could allow a hacker to exploit a flaw in the Adobe software.

One option for Firefox users is to open Tools | Options | Downloads and clicking the “View & Edit Actions” button. In the resulting dialog, choose “PDF” and click “Change Action.” Pick “Open them with the default application option,” click “OK” and “Close” and “OK.”

I’d check the Opera site for recommendations.

This exploit does not effect Internet Explorer nor newer versions of Firefox or Opera. Common sense then would dictate that users should upgrade to the newest browsers in order to protect their systems. :-)

[tags]firefox, abobe, opera, flaw, plug-in[/tags]