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Kevin Bullis

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The Week in Energy

Highs and lows for electric vehicle companies, and how to buy into the carpool lane.

  • February 25, 2011

Renault Announces 5th Electric Vehicle

The Nissan Leaf was first to market, with its electric Leaf, but the other half of the Nissan-Renault alliance is working to catch up. It’s now announced five EVs, the most recent announcement is for a van that will be available this fall. Renault is taking an unusual approach. It sells the car, but not the battery, the most expensive component of an electric vehicle. From Green Car Congress:

As is the case for the rest of its electric vehicle range, Renault separates ownership of the vehicle and battery. Customers will either buy or lease their vans and take out a monthly subscription for the battery, with pre-tax prices starting from €72/month (US$99). Renault calculates that running costs—including battery lease, the electricity required for battery charging (average for a full charge: €1.5) and maintenance—will be similar to those of an equivalent internal combustion-engined vehicle when the annual distance travelled is less than 15,000 km (9,300 miles). They will be competitive when the annual distance travelled exceeds this figure.

Battery Breakdown?

EEStor is a battery company that’s been promising a revolutionary battery for years now, and Ian Clifford, the CEO of an electric car maker believed them, and basically staked his company’s fortunes on EEStor coming through. EEStor hasn’t yet, and now Clifford is stepping down as CEO. From Earth2Tech:

In 2009, Zenn Motors basically placed its entire fortunes on the promises of EEStor, a company which has been called snake oil by many, and which has been promising to commercialize a supercapacitor that can provide 10 times the energy of lead-acid batteries at one-tenth the weight and half the price, and can move a car 400 kilometers after a 5-minute charge. But despite a steady string of press releases and missed deadlines, followed by several months recently of silence, there’s been nothing to date from EEStor.

Buying into the Carpool LaneEfforts to convince people to carpool by creating dedicated carpool lanes isn’t apparently going too well, judging by how empty these lanes usually are. To make better use of these lanes, Los Angeles County is installing a system that will allow solitary drivers to use the lane, for a fee. Pull into the lane, switch on your FasTrack transponder, and you can use the carpool lane with impunity. But here’s the catch: the fee depends on how fast cars are travelling in the carpool lane—if traffic gets heavy, that should free up some space in the lane for carpoolers. From the press release:Vehicles travelling in the new ExpressLanes must have a FasTrak toll account and a small transponder. Drivers will set a switch on their transponder so the toll system knows if they are driving alone and be charged; or part of a car pool and drive for free in the ExpressLanes. Sensors on the interstate will calculate any tolls and automatically deduct the proper amount from the driver’s prepaid account. The ExpressLanes will be designed to keep traffic moving at a minimum 45 mph speed.

Efforts to convince people to carpool by creating dedicated carpool lanes isn’t apparently going too well, judging by how empty these lanes usually are. To make better use of these lanes, Los Angeles County is installing a system that will allow solitary drivers to use the lane, for a fee. Pull into the lane, switch on your FasTrack transponder, and you can use the carpool lane with impunity. But here’s the catch: the fee depends on how fast cars are travelling in the carpool lane—if traffic gets heavy, that should free up some space in the lane for carpoolers. From the press release:

Vehicles travelling in the new ExpressLanes must have a FasTrak toll account and a small transponder. Drivers will set a switch on their transponder so the toll system knows if they are driving alone and be charged; or part of a car pool and drive for free in the ExpressLanes. Sensors on the interstate will calculate any tolls and automatically deduct the proper amount from the driver’s prepaid account. The ExpressLanes will be designed to keep traffic moving at a minimum 45 mph speed.

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