Written by Prognog Staff    The forthcoming stimulus bill from the US House or some $825 billion is expected to contain provision for some $54 billion for renewable energy projects--good news for CleanTech companies who have certainly been hurt by the global economic slowdown this past year.

Bizjournals.com notes that "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 includes $8 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy and transmission projects, $11 billion to improve the electrical grid, $6.9 billion to improve federal buildings and make them more energy efficient, plus $2 billion in loan guarantees and grants for advanced battery technologies and $1.5 billion in grants and loans to help schools become more energy efficient."

The news, coupled with a report from the CleanTech Group that "clean technology venture investment reaches record $8.4 billion in 2008 despite credit crisis and broadening recession", is evidence that the fundamentals of green and clean investments remain strong for 2009.  The group goes on to note that the "top clean technology sectors in 2008 were solar, biofuels, transportation, and wind. Solar accounted for almost 40% of total clean technology investment dollars in 2008, followed by biofuels at 11%."
Written by R.E. Lord    According to reports from Auto Blog Green as well as a lengthy thread on Tesla Motors Club forum, Tesla Motors has raised the price on a slew of options for the Tesla Roadster. The price increase, however, will not only affect the price of just any future owner, but those brave souls who apparently "locked-in" the price of their car--including said options.

As ABG puts it, "it turns out that customers who already locked in orders recently have been unlocked and asked to reselect options. Some of the previously selected options are now higher priced and other previously standard features are now extra cost options."

Tom Saxton, one of the aforementioned customers who locked-in his options and pricing, has a nice breakdown of the changes on his blog.

Short of the original email from Elon Musk, no official word from Tesla Motors on these latest changes.

Update: Brief comment from Tesla's Rachel Konrad on Greentech Media noting that they had to "improve the margins on the car for the next round of investors..."  She goes on to note that Tesla does not take the increase lightly but "it’s a decision we think helps ensure the viability of the company going forward."

No real word yet on why they decided to "unlock" the lock-in prices on those customers who had put down a $50,000 deposit.

Further Update: ABG is reporting that Tesla Motors has called two townhall meetings next week, one in Los Angeles and one in Menlo Park, to discuss the new changes.  As ABG puts it, "It seems that even a new explanatory email from CEO Elon Musk has had little calming effect on the firestorm ignited by the increasing of prices for locked-in Tesla buyers. To avoid further damage from what is fast turning into a PR nightmare, the company is turning to a previously-successful approach and has announced a set of town hall meetings."
Written by Prognog Staff    Image 
GM announced that it would be building its own plant in Michigan to produce the lithium-ion battery back for the Chevy Volt.  According to their press release:

"  *GM will establish the first lithium-ion battery pack manufacturing facility in the United States operated by a major automaker
  * LG Chem has been selected to supply the lithium-ion battery cells for the Chevrolet Volt
  * Advanced battery strategy strengthens GM's capabilities to develop hybrid and electric vehicles
  * GM will open a new automotive battery lab - the largest of its kind - in the United States to further strengthen design, development and testing capabilities
  * A partnership with the University of Michigan has been established to develop a specialized curriculum for battery engineer."
This is undoubtedly good news for fans of the Volt as well as those of lithium-ion batteries.  The fact that GM is not only choosing to use this technology, but is heavily investing in the manufacturing of the batteries indicates a commitment to the project that clearly serious.
Written by Prognog Staff    Image The American Wind Energy Association, or (AWEA), has recently announced record growth in the wind producing industry in the US for a third year in a row.  The United States now produces roughly 21,000 (MW) of installed wind power capacity at this point.

According to the AWEA, "this summer, the U.S. passed Germany to become the world leader in wind generation."

They also report that according to the US Department of Energy, "wind could provide 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030, supporting 500,000 jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as taking 140 million vehicles off the road, and saving 4 trillion gallons of water."
Written by Prognog Staff    {mosgoogle left} One of the few beneficial consequences of the high gas prices these last few years, at least for electric car and alternative fuel vehicle enthusiasts, is a strong interest in developing and producing cars that don't rely on expensive and dirty fuels.  What we've seen in the last few months, owing to falling oil prices combined with an economy that has completely imploded, are gas prices that have fallen even quicker than they rose.  In fact, gas prices are levels not seen since at least 2004, and they're continuing to fall.

These might be great news for consumers looking to save money on fuel, and perhaps car makers who have seen the demand for their products nearly dry up completely.  But, will these low gas prices once again kill any prospects for a viable market of electric vehicles?

The LA Times recently reported that these falling prices can be both a blessing and a curse for automakers. They mention that "costly gasoline has pummeled vehicle sales in the U.S. this year and forced automakers to dramatically rejigger their lineups. They are closing truck factories, racing out small cars and investing in expensive alternative-fuel vehicles like hybrids and electric cars."  However, these changes were brought about with the expectation that gas would be in the $5-$6 a gallon range soon. Now that we've seen gas fall below $2 a gallon, consumers with short memories and a lingering desire for big trucks and SUVs may abandon their quest for fuel efficiency and return to their old ways.

Production of fuel efficient cars and development of electric and hybrid vehicles may come to a standstill.  Bob Lutz, General Motors Vice-Chairman and face of the companies electric car the Chevy Volt, was quoted as saying that although "we may hate high fuel prices, but they've been driving us in the right direction when it comes to fuel economy. If we suddenly went to $1 or $1.50 a gallon, that would be really bad."  And by bad he means the need to develop of fuel efficient cars and electric vehicles would simply evaporate.  Bye, bye Chevy Volt.
Written by Prognog Staff   
Chevrolet Volt Interior
© 2008 GM - Chevrolet Volt Interior

Chevrolet Volt Leads General Motors Into Its Second Century

DETROIT - General Motors launched its next 100 years today by unveiling the much-anticipated production version of the Chevrolet Volt - a vehicle that delivers up to 40 miles of gasoline- and emissions-free electric driving, with the extended-range capability of hundreds of additional miles.

"Revealing the production version of the Chevy Volt is a great way to open our second century," said Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and CEO. "The Volt is symbolic of GM's strong commitment to the future ... just the kind of technology innovation that our industry needs to respond to today's and tomorrow's energy and environmental challenges."

Form follows function
The design of the Chevrolet Volt production car has evolved from the original concept that was unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Because aerodynamics plays a key role in maximizing driving range, GM designers created an aerodynamically efficient design for the production vehicle. Many of the design cues from the concept vehicle endure in the production Volt, including the closed front grille, athletic stance, rear design graphics, outside rearview mirrors and more. The Volt's rounded and flush front fascia, tapered corners and grille are functional, enabling air to move easily around the car. In the rear, sharp edges and a carefully designed spoiler allow the air to flow off and away quickly. An aggressive rake on the windshield and back glass help reduce turbulence and drag.

Working closely with GM aerodynamicists to shape the Volt, design and engineering teams developed one of the most aerodynamic vehicles in GM's history. They spent hundreds of hours with the Volt in GM's wind tunnel, testing and re-testing parts such as the front and rear quarter panels, rear spoiler, rockers and side mirrors. Aerodynamic improvements enabled GM to reach the Volt's target of driving up to 40 miles (based on EPA city cycle) without using gasoline or producing emissions.

Inside, the Volt offers the space, comfort, convenience and safety features that customers expect in a four-passenger sedan, and it delivers them in a variety of interior color, lighting and trim options unlike any offered before on a Chevrolet sedan. Modern controls and attractive materials, two informational displays, and a touch-sensitive infotainment center with integrated shifter distinguish the Volt's interior from other vehicles in the market.

Some of Volt's interior technological features include:

* Driver-configurable, liquid crystal instrument display
* Standard seven-inch touch screen vehicle information display
* Touch screen-style climate and infotainment controls
* Optional navigation system with onboard hard drive for maps and music storage
* Standard Bluetooth for cellular phone and USB/Bluetooth for music streaming

New era in automotive transportation
The Chevrolet Volt is leading a new era of electrification of the automobile by creating a new class of vehicle known as the Extended-Range Electric Vehicle, or E-REV.

The Volt uses electricity to move the wheels at all times and speeds. For trips up to 40 miles, the Volt is powered only by electricity stored in its 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery. When the battery's energy is depleted, a gasoline/E85-powered engine generator seamlessly provides electricity to power the Volt's electric drive unit while simultaneously sustaining the charge of the battery. This mode of operation extends the range of the Volt for several hundred additional miles, until the vehicle's battery can be charged. Unlike a conventional battery-electric vehicle, the Volt eliminates "range anxiety," giving the confidence and peace of mind that the driver will not be stranded by a depleted battery.

The Chevrolet Volt can be plugged either into a standard household 120v outlet or use 240v for charging. The vehicle's intelligent charging technology enables the Volt's battery to be charged in less than three hours on a 240v outlet or about eight hours on a 120v outlet. Charge times are reduced if the battery has not been fully depleted. At a cost of about 80 cents per day (10 cents per kWh) for a full charge that will deliver up to 40 miles of electric driving, GM estimates that the Volt will be less expensive to recharge than purchasing a cup of your favorite coffee. Charging the Volt about once daily will consume less electric energy annually than the average home's refrigerator and freezer units.

Charge out of driving
The Chevrolet Volt offers spirited driving performance in a remarkably quiet interior. More than 220 lithium-ion cells contained within the Volt's battery pack provide ample power. The Volt's electric drive unit delivers the equivalent of 150 horsepower, 273 lb-ft. (370 Nm) of instant torque, and a top speed of 100 miles per hour. The lack of engine noise, combined with special sound-deadening materials, make the Chevrolet Volt an extremely quiet vehicle to drive.

GM estimates that the Volt will cost about two cents per mile to drive while under battery power compared to 12 cents per mile using gasoline priced at $3.60 per gallon. For an average driver who drives 40 miles per day (or 15,000 miles per year), this amounts to a cost savings of $1,500 annually. Using peak electric rates, GM estimates that an electrically driven mile in a Chevy Volt will be about one-sixth of the cost of a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle. The cost savings are even greater when charging during off-peak hours, when electric rates are cheaper.

The Chevrolet Volt is expected to be built at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing facility, subject to GM successfully negotiating satisfactory government incentives. Production is scheduled to begin late 2010 for models in the United States. Pricing has not been announced. Visit media.gm.com/volt for more information.

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the annual global industry sales leader for 77 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 266,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 35 countries. In 2007, nearly 9.37 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.
Written by Prognog Staff    Tesla Motors Logo According to news today from Tesla, the next car from the California car company, a 4-door sedan, will now be manufactured in California.  Originally slated to be built in Albuquerque and codenamed "Whitestar", the new sedan will be produced somewhere in California with production slated to begin in 2010.  The new codename for the vehicle is "Model S" and is estimated to come in around $60,000.

According to the press release, full text below, Governor Schwarzenegger was extremely eager to see the Tesla back in California and has been an important factor in getting the right incentives in place for Tesla to do just that.  The main part of the deal focused on the new CAEATFA plans, just approved that would alleviate sales and use tax for automakers on equipment used to build electric vehicles.

Read more: Tesla Motors will Manufacture the New Sedan in California
Written by Prognog Staff   
Broken Turbine
Broken Turbine from Der Spiegel
Interesting article from Der Spiegel on the dangers of wind power.  The article claims that as the use of wind power continues to grow, the number of accidents have also grown as well as the number of mishaps and maintenence problems.

A wind tower toppling over in the middle of a field doesn't quite seem to pose the danger that global warming does, but I do see their point.   I see the advantages of wind power vastly outnumbering the problems and I imagine as the technology improves we'll see some of these difficulties overcome.
Read more: Is Wind Power Dangerous?
Written by Prognog Staff   

Tesla Motors Roadster Tesla Motors has recently announced that founder Martin Eberhard will be replaced as CEO of the company by  Michael Marks.  Marks is the former CEO of Flextronics International Ltd. and is an early investor in Tesla.

Eberhard mentions on his blog that this move had been in the planning stages for many months so the change should not signal any weakness in the company or doubt about their upcoming distribution of the Tesla Roadster, slated to hit the roads later in 2007.

Elon Musk, Chairman of Tesla, mentions that Marks is only to serve as an interim CEO for the company as the company searches for a permanent leader.

Eberhard is set to remain with the company as President of Technology.  As Eberhard mentions on his blog, "This means that I will spend less time with Tesla Store plans, performance reviews, purchase order approvals, board meeting minutes, and the like - and more time with engineering and manufacturing to get Tesla Roadsters on the road, and also more time with you, our customers. Honestly, this sounds like a lot more fun to me."


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