Senate Committee Passes Bill to Force EPA Action on CA Waiver
BlueFire Files for Construction Permits for California’s First Cellulosic Waste to Ethanol Plant; Demo Facility for Bio-Butanol

31 Teams Are Signed Up to Compete for Automotive X Prize

More than 30 teams have signed a letter of intent to compete for the Automotive X Prize (earlier post) once the prize is officially funded and launched.

The Automotive X Prize follows the model of the Ansari X Prize for private space flight, offering a multi-million dollar purse—the exact amount not yet specified—to the teams that win a long-distance stage race for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG equivalent (MPGe) and meet specified emissions criteria.

The 30 plus teams include groups from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland. More than 300 additional teams have inquired about joining.

The independent and technology-neutral AXP competition is open to teams from around the world to prove they can design, build and bring to market 100 MPG or equivalent fuel economy vehicles that people want to buy. Industry experts will scrutinize team plans. Those that qualify will race their vehicles in cross-country stages that combine speed, distance, urban driving and overall performance. The winners will be the vehicles that exceed 100 MPG equivalent, fall under strict emissions caps and finish in the fastest time.

The competition is expected to travel through multiple cities while broadcast to a global audience in 2009 and 2010. The organizers hope to build consumer demand for vehicles in the competition and demonstrate many practical, clean and affordable vehicle options. Cities involved in the competition route have not yet been chosen.

The AXP has received support and encouragement from several government agencies that will help the privately funded organization conduct the competition and test vehicle compliance, including the US Department of Energy and Argonne National Laboratory; the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway, Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHA); the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ); and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

In addition, non-governmental organizations supporting the AXP include the National Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, the Apollo Alliance, the Consumer Federation of America, Global Green USA, CALSTART and Greenpeace among others.

The AXP has recently finalized a supporting sponsorship from Adobe. Other early AXP sponsors and donors include Idealab, Ray Sidney of Big George Ventures, the Elbaz Foundation, and the Jack D. Hidary Foundation.

Once fundraising for the prize purse and administration is complete, the AXP will officially launch.

The following 31 teams have signed a letter of intent signaling their intent to apply for the AXP competition:

  • Aptera Motors - California, USA
  • Commuter Cars Corp. - Washington, USA
  • Cornell University - New York, USA
  • DEHyds - Washington, USA
  • Delta Motorsport - Northants, UK
  • Desert Fuel - Arizona, USA
  • Disruptech - California, USA
  • Dragonfly Technology LTD - Northhampton, UK
  • Fuel Vapor Technologies - British Columbia, Can
  • GreenIt! - Oregon, USA
  • Herf Duo - Berlin, Germany
  • HyKinesys - California, USA
  • Kinetic Vehicles - Oregon, USA
  • Kuttner Doran Inventions - Virginia, USA
  • Loremo AG - Munich, Germany
  • Maine Automotive X - Maine, USA
  • MDI, Inc. & Zero Pollution Motors LLC - New York, USA
  • Michigan Vision - Michigan, USA
  • MotoTron Corporation - Wisconsin, USA
  • Phoenix Motorcars - California, USA
  • Prometheus Systems, LLC - Arizona, USA
  • Porteon Electric Vehicles, Inc. - Oregon, USA
  • Psycho-Active - Georgia, USA
  • Roane Inventions - Texas, USA
  • Society for Sustainable Mobility - California, USA
  • Spirit One - Alberta, Canada
  • Tesla Motors - California, USA
  • Valentin Technologies - Wisconsin, USA
  • Velozzi - California, USA
  • X Tracer - Winterthur, Switzerland
  • ZAP Motors - California, USA

Comments

NBK-Boston

Regarding NOx pollution and EVs, the real issues to keep in mind are the difference between NOx emissions from the current total grid mix, the additional NOx emissions that may be produced if large numbers of EVs begin to charge from the grid, the location and impact of those NOx emissions, and how the future of the grid will effect those numbers.

1. Currently, the grid is fairly dirty, in large part because a large number of old coal plants, without scrubbers, are under "grandfather" status in the midwest and do not employ scrubbers.

2. New plants, using coal, NG or anything else, have to meet fairly strict standards. Their NOx emisssions are not very high at all.

Taking these two items together, one can conclude that any widespread use of EVs that will lead to the increased use of existing dirty coal plant will probably lead to additional NOx emissions. This may be the case if many such plants operate at part load at night, were available for use, and would be ramped up to charge EVs if people began plugging them in at night and drawing power above the baseload. In a situation where increased use of EVs would lead to the construction and use of new powerplants, however, the additional NOx emitted for each EV would be very low, since the new plant would be very clean. Also, as others have pointed out, location makes a big difference, as some parts of the country are very distant from old dirty coal plants, and the use of EV in those places would lead to the increased use of relatively clean power from whatever source.

3. The locations of these plants and the geographical effect of their emissions is also an issue. These dirty coal plants tend to be far away from urban centers, while the NOx released from cars (small quantity that it is these days) is released in the heart of urban centers. While midwestern pollution tends to blow eastward over New York and Boston, there is some discount factor that must be applied to a unit of pollution produced far away from people, relative to one close in. That depends on what price you put on all the different negative effects NOx (and other pollutants cause), and the effect that dilution and atmospheric dwell time have on those effects.

4. The future of the grid points only in one direction -- cleaner -- and that statement has very little to do with my faith in renewables. Environmental laws, vitiated as they have been by our current President, still impose a one-way ratchet on grandfathered dirty coal plants, and one by one they are being shut or cleaned up at they come due for overhaul (the whole "New Source Review" business). The long-term outlook for EVs is therefore still pretty positive even in a "do nothing (new) about the grid" scenario.

Back to the main point of this article, I would prefer to see at least part of the race follow a "road-trip" kind of format, with at least 400 miles per day, and 150 or 200 mile legs with only a half hour break max in between. Perhaps plug-in vehicles should be allowed to use high-power quick charge facilities, perhaps not. There's a chicken-and-egg problem there that I have not yet fully thought through.

scatter

I fully agree with you jmilner. Speed is not the goal here so I think it's strange that it's a time-based trial. However I get the impression that the tests are going to be on public roads so I guess speed limits will apply?

John Latusek

Meanwhile, regardless of the arguments and excuses, one company (SmithEV) is just getting on with producing and selling effective practical roadgoing electric vehicles, to hardnosed fleet managers (DHL, TNT, Royal Mail, and several bigname retailers) in the UK. And within the next week or two will likely be announcing the whereabouts of its new US factory, which is going to be producing a 12 ton version of its existing successful 'Newton' delivery truck tailored for the US market - for which orders are already in the bag.

While some are still toying with prototypes, and organizing gimmicky contests, others are just quietly getting on with business. SmithEV (which has been making electric vehicles since 1920 and knows a thing or two about producing selling and servicing them) is nowadays part of Tanfield Group, whose stockmarket share price has steadily climbed more than sevenfold in the past year. Check out http://www.smithelectricvehicles.com

jack

The only perspective Jack is putting things in is a status quo American one.

Please.

EVs can "fill up" for pennies a KWH and don't pollute. That's what this prize is about.

So you think this prize is about helping electric cars? Where in the prize does a manufacturer have to show that it's the most economical? That it produces zero pollution? I didn't see where part of the requirement was to completely change power grids the world over, which is the only way they "don't pollute." Sweeping dust under a rug doesn't mean you've cleaned the house.

-----

New plants, using coal, NG or anything else, have to meet fairly strict standards. Their NOx emisssions are not very high at all.

Let me make this more specific. If the Prius were a plugin powered from the grid, it would put out over 12 times as much NOx per mile as its Bin2 emissions limit as a gasoline-fueled vehicle. It would take a very long time for the national grid to ever get to that level of emissions, and meanwhile, ICE emissions technology keeps improving as does HEV technology. I'd love to see what new coal plants and expansions of existing coal plants are actually putting out in terms of NOx emissions.

Keep in mind that 12x figure is for the grid as a whole, so something strictly from coal, on average, is probably around 20x as dirty in terms of NOx as a Bin2 vehicle.

These dirty coal plants tend to be far away from urban centers, while the NOx released from cars

Possibly, but I can see a coal plant from where I'm sitting - dab smack in the middle of the city.

Gerald Shields

It's going to be interesting. Telsa, Phoenix Motorcars and Zap are in the competition. Telsa might introduce it's "Whitestar" concept for the competition. Phoenix Motorcars is a favorite because of it's fast charging SUV & SUT. Zap is sure to enter ZapX or the lower cost model the company is planning.

Neil

Re new plants: SaskEnergy is building a coal plant that has a 90% reduction in emissions. FutureGen claims near zero emissions.

re the prize: They have two stated objectives. 1) reduce pollution. 2) reduce oil dependency. There are lots of ways to skin that cat. IMO EVs represent the most economical route to both.

"Sweeping dust under a rug doesn't mean you've cleaned the house." ... continuing to poop in the living room doesn't count either ... so clean up your cars and your grid.

Cervus

I'm technology agnostic as far as these matters are concerned. BEVs might be the perfect solution in the eyes of many here, and that may very well be. However, making the perfect the enemy of the good is counterproductive.

Gerald Shields

Early Favorites:

Telsa Motors
Phoenix Motorcars

Cool, but too weird to buy:

Aptera Motors - Aptera's cars are futuristic-looking, but three wheels?! Come on.
Commuter Cars Corporation - The odd thin-looking Tango isn't impressive to me.
Fuel Vapor Technologies - Another three wheeled wonder.

Concepts, but no car:

Zap Motors - While the concept ZapX is workable, haven't seen a workable demo car.

Loremo AG - Simple concept: The lighter and more aerodynamic the car, the better the fuel efficiency no matter what engine it has, but again, no demo car.

Society for Sustainable Mobility - Another good concept: Building a car the way the Linux operating system is developed, but then again, no demo car.

Hell No! I'm not going to buy that!

Maine Automotive X - Uh, I want a REAL CAR not a hobby/toy car

Neil

Phoenix certainly has the early lead in that it already has a vehicle that qualifies in the main category (the Tesla roadster would have to go in the alternate category because it only seats two) in almost any way I can think of. The only question I have is if the judges will accept their business plan (could altair produce 10,000 batteries per year). Anything with three wheels will have to compete in the more junior alternate category.

jcwinnie

Re: "Road Trip"

And, NBK-Boston... Could you get dates for my friends, too?

hampden wireless

"MAINSTREAM CLASS REQUIREMENTS
Capacity: 4 or more passengers (95th percentile adult male) and 10 cubic feet of useful cargo space
Wheels: 4 or more wheels
Performance: 0-60 mph acceleration in less than 12 seconds, minimum top speed 100 mph, minimum range 200 miles etc."

For a hybrid the only problem is mpg, the Prius meets most of these stats already except mpg and could be stretched to those levels with a combination of (moderately expensive) technology.

Improving the mpg of the Prius to 75mpg is possible for the next version with low cost changes. Past there it gets pricey. A new hcci engine, very lightweight body parts and a turbo generator could be expensive.

For an electric car the only problem seems to be range. 200 miles is quite a large # for an electric car, especially one that will hold four people.

Ed Danzer

The rule about the production sales price has not been published. Until this number is set choosing a winning technology cannot be made. If the Mainstream price is under $50,000.00 list price I doubt an electric vehicle will make the 250 miles on a charge because of battery costs.

Neil

The phoenix with an extra battery can make the range (if the extra weight doesn't slow it's 0-60 acceleration from 10 sec. to over 12) but is short on speed by 5mph. I'm sure they can squeeze that out given that the 95mph quote is for 5 people and a full load. Now the question is if they could still make the price reasonable with the extra battery. For the purposes of this competition they might be better of installing a small ICE range extender.
WRT production costs, the judges are going to have to make some estimates for mass production costs. That could be tough for batteries, as lots of claims for mass production costs have been made but at this point they're still grossly expensive.

Roger Pham

BEV or PHEV is not the only solution for petroleum dependency or peak oil.

Renewable methane or H2 from waste biomass, wind or solar electricity to run ICE-HEV will be just as efficient as BEV or PHEV without the uncertainty involving cost reduction of battery or problem with large scale production. Making 100 millions BEV battery packs at 10,000 USD a piece will cost 1 trillion USD. Adapting a full infrastructure for renewable methane or H2 will cost a small fraction of that, and will last well over 30 years in comparison for a BEV battery pack which may last but half of that.

Infrastructure for BEV already exist? think again. Ramping up production and gathering raw materials for millions of large battery packs will be a very expensive and daunting task, while the ICE-HEV technology currently exists at mass production level for the Prius, Escape, and soon with GM dual-mode.

Building plants to produce renewable methane or H2 may well be much cheaper than building tens or hundreds of millions of battery packs. Methane distribution via underground pipeline infrastructure already largely exists. Iran, Pakistan and Europe (Germany) are adapting their transportation increasingly toward methane that can be easily produced from a widely diverse renewable energy sources, or converted from coal at even higher efficiency than electrical generation from coal.

The Automotive X prize is wrong if their criteria for MPGe is unfairly biased toward BEV's.

Scatter

Why would the price of the battery need to be included in the sale price of the vehicle? I believe the entrants have to demonstrate a viable business model so that model could include battery leasing.

Bob Bastard

@Ed Danzer: I would think that the sale price would be implicitly covered in the business model requirement. If the sale price is over $50,000, I would imagine the company would have a hard time convincing anyone that they can sell 10,000+ units/year.

Gerald Shields

One thing: I'm kind of shocked that the Lightning Car Company (http://www.lightningcarcompany.com/) didn't apply. They have a sportscar that uses Altairnano's techology.

Scatter

These are just the initial letters of interest. There's a lot more to come I'm sure!

jlw

Just a note that the emission standards are on a full well-to-wheels basis. The grid component of emissions is derived from a model created at one of the national labs (Argonne, I think).

These guys have thought through all of this stuff already.

Neil

Roger: don't forget that if you are manufacturing battery packs, you don't need to build as many engines or their zillions of parts. How much does it cost to build a 2 litre engine? So, you're not looking at a trillion in incremental costs.
Comparing the lifespan of an H2 infrastructure with the lifespan of the batteries is bogus. You're comparing an energy distribution system with part of a drivetrain. Try comparing the lifespan of energy distribution systems, the electrical grid with the lifespan of the H2 infrastructure (I don't see either as a problem). Then compare the lifespan of drivetrains, the lifespan of the battery and motors with the lifespan of a gas tank and an ICE engine.
Not only that but all of those batteries can do double duty in a V2G system, which increases the efficiency of our electrical system, lowers the cost of electricity and makes it possible to incorporate far more renewables into the grid.
I don't expect that we'd go straight to BEVs anyway. PHEVs will be the first step. (running the range extender on methane would make sense) Hey, maybe we're both wrong (or both right).

jack

Just a note that the emission standards are on a full well-to-wheels basis. The grid component of emissions is derived from a model created at one of the national labs (Argonne, I think). These guys have thought through all of this stuff already.

Apparently not, since they don't use well-to-wheel for measuring fuel economy.

jack

How much does it cost to build a 2 litre engine?

A lot less than an electric motor and a bunch of batteries at this point. That's problem one for BEVs. Range and recharge (time and locations) being the two other big ones.

It's just plain dumb to have the MPGe metrics they developed for this program. Either split the field between fossil and electric completely, or compare primary energy at the plant with refinery energy content.

How does one measure MPGe if the BEV is juiced by 12% efficient solar? About 3 times better in terms of energy efficiency compared to plugging into the grid. But then what does that show? No one's ever disputed plug-to-wheel efficiency of BEVs. But it's a cheat to ignore where the energy actually comes from.

scatter

Jack have you taken the time to read the regulations?

http://auto.xprize.org/downloads/AXP_Draft_Competition_Guidelines_20070402.pdf

If you did you'd see that:


ENERGY (FUEL ECONOMY) – 100 MILES PER GALLON OF GASOLINE ENERGY EQUIVALENT (MPGe)

The AXP figure of merit for fuel economy will be Miles per Gallon of Gasoline Equivalent (MPGe), a measure that expresses fuel economy in terms of the energy content of a gallon of petroleum-based gasoline. That is, vehicle fuel economy is expressed as miles-per-gallon of energy-equivalent gasoline.

Basically we ask: how much energy was delivered to the vehicle, and how far did it go? Thus, the fuel economy measure may be described as pump-to-wheels or plug-to-wheels.

Then you read on:


GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS – MAXIMUM 200 g/mi TOTAL CO2 EQUIVALENT (CO2E)

The AXP figure of merit for greenhouse gas emissions will be the total for all significant wells-to-wheels emissions of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions – including tailpipe, HVAC, and upstream contributions,– expressed as equivalent grams of CO2 emitted per mile (CO2e). For the AXP, this figure must be less than 200 g/mi.

The upstream (wells-to-pump) contributions of GHG emissions will be estimated by using the DOE-Argonne GREET model using average default values that reflect fuel production today and in the near future. For vehicles that can be powered by more than one fuel, this estimate will be based on all of the vehicle’s possible fuels, weighted by their current mix in the marketplace. In the case of electricity, GHG emissions will be based on the current national grid – however, we will publicize in various ways how cleaner electricity production generally (and renewable energy sources in particular) can significantly reduce wells-to-wheels GHG emissions (for example, see the section Education Program).

Greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide will be expressed in terms of equivalent CO2 based on the IPCC’s 100-year Global Warming Potential measurements. Currently, the values are: 1 for CO2, 23 for CH4, and 296 for N2O.

As mentioned above, a detailed analysis of the AXP fuel economy and GHG emission requirements is available in a spreadsheet described here.

We also require that GHG emissions arising from vehicle production are no worse in this respect than typical vehicles in production today. The DOE-Argonne GREET 2 Series model is available for estimating this contribution.

jack

Jack have you taken the time to read the regulations?

Of course I did.

If you did you'd see that... "Basically we ask: how much energy was delivered to the vehicle, and how far did it go? Thus, the fuel economy measure may be described as pump-to-wheels or plug-to-wheels."

Apparently you haven't read or understood what I've said multiple times, which is that plug/pump to wheels unfairly favors BEVs, because that's the most efficient link in the energy chain for them. A more fair measure needs to go at least back to primary energy at the power plants versus energy content at the refinery. They've chosen the method they have because even going that far back towards the "well" is frought with all kinds of uncertainties and subjective judgments. One could compare primary energy at the power plants to pump for the fossil vehicles, but that's not really a fair comparison, either. Point is, the model they've chosen almost assures a BEV will win, despite their claim that this is a "fuel neutral" competition.

I've also addressed this in comparison to the GHG requirements, which you would know if you had read and understood my prior comments.

jack

Not sure if I didn't close a tag or if the post prior to mine didn't, so hopefully this is more readable

~*~*~*~*~

Jack have you taken the time to read the regulations?

Of course I did.

If you did you'd see that... "Basically we ask: how much energy was delivered to the vehicle, and how far did it go? Thus, the fuel economy measure may be described as pump-to-wheels or plug-to-wheels."

Apparently you haven't read or understood what I've said multiple times, which is that plug/pump to wheels unfairly favors BEVs, because that's the most efficient link in the energy chain for them. A more fair measure needs to go at least back to primary energy at the power plants versus energy content at the refinery. They've chosen the method they have because even going that far back towards the "well" is frought with all kinds of uncertainties and subjective judgments. One could compare primary energy at the power plants to pump for the fossil vehicles, but that's not really a fair comparison, either. Point is, the model they've chosen almost assures a BEV will win, despite their claim that this is a "fuel neutral" competition.

I've also addressed this in comparison to the GHG requirements, which you would know if you had read and understood my prior comments.

The comments to this entry are closed.