Toyota invests in wireless car charging

Charging your hybrid or electric car may someday become as simple as pulling into the driveway.

Toyota Motor has invested in and has signed an agreement with WiTricity to collaborate on a wireless automotive charger that doesn't need any point of contact to charge a car's battery, Toyota said yesterday.

WiTricity has developed technology that could eventually enable a plug-in electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle to be charged by simply parking the vehicle in the vicinity of a car charger embedded with a special device.

The Mass.-based company has already been developing the technology for consumer electronics … Read more

Study: Electric cars, hybrids too expensive for most

Despite rising prices at the pump, many consumers are still reluctant to purchase vehicles with alternative power trains because of cost and misunderstandings about the new technologies available.

That's according to the J.D. Power and Associates "2011 U.S. Green Automotive Study," whose primary findings were released today.

The J.D. Power and Associates study was conducted in February and included interviews with over 4,000 U.S. consumers planning to buy a new vehicle within one to five years. It estimates that alternative vehicles will make up less than 10 percent of the market by … Read more

SAE, IEEE partner on vehicle-to-smart-grid tech

Two of the world's leading technology standardization groups have signed an agreement to partner on vehicle-to-smart-grid standards.

The memorandum of understanding has been signed by the IEEE-SA (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association) and SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers). It is essentially a first step to both organizations agreeing on future standards related to smart grids and vehicle electrification, including vehicle-to-grid communications, the organizations said today.

The immediate effect is that the two groups will share draft standards on any technology relating to smart grids and "vehicle electrification," with the opportunity for each to … Read more

Five business models to boost electric cars

WASHINGTON--Everybody wants an auto battery breakthrough that will lead to longer driving range and lower prices than what's found with oil-powered autos. But while scientists are busy at work on the technology, there are a number of clever business ideas to make transportation cleaner and cheaper.

To a large degree, the toughest part of making electric vehicles take hold is sorting out new business models, according to speakers at last week's annual conference of the Electric Drive Transportation Association. Here are examples of how existing technology is already being used and of the approaches being explored to redefine … Read more

Report: Smart-grid apps to revolutionize electricity use

Get ready for reliable electricity, and an automated world of electronics, appliances, and buildings, to become the new normal.

That's the main message in a report released today by GigaOm Pro and Pike Research.

Smart-grid applications in six key areas will change the way people use, buy, manage, and think about electricity, according to the report "Smart Grid Apps: Six Trends That Will Shape Grid Evolution" led by Clint Wheelock, Pike Research founder and managing director.

Those electricity-related applications focus on home energy management systems, electric vehicles, distribution automation, smart-grid analytics, building energy management systems (BEMS), and … Read more

EV industry gets ready for bumpy ride

WASHINGTON--The auto and battery industries have come up with some impressive electric vehicles. Now they're wondering how to make money on them.

The Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are at the head of a parade of plug-in and hybrid vehicles slated to come out in the next three years. At the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) conference here, auto executives said they were confident their products can deliver, but not everyone is sure how the demand for them will form.

With few plug-in vehicles actually in the market, the surrounding industry of component and charging infrastructure suppliers need to … Read more

Nissan's Leaf back on track

Despite setbacks from last month's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Nissan says it will be able to deliver its all-electric Leaf cars on time and is ready to take more U.S. orders, the company announced today at the New York Auto Show.

Originally, the Japanese automaker planned for an introductory sale of 20,000 Nissan Leaf cars in the U.S. and 6,000 in Japan for 2011. The Leaf is Nissian's first mass-marketed zero-emission car.

Once Nissan reached its goal of pre-selling 20,000 cars in the U.S. in September 2010, it stopped taking orders. … Read more

Google, DOE building definitive electric-car map

Google and more than 80 other companies are collaborating with the Department of Energy to make it simple for drivers of electric vehicles to find parts and charging sites.

Via a partnership called the GeoEVSE Forum, the organizations are pooling their data to build a definitive database of all available EV charging stations in the U.S. regardless of the manufacturer or network, the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory said yesterday.

The GPS and mapping system database will also include all available electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) stations.

While the data will be organized using Google mapping tools, it … Read more

Ford names 25 top EV-ready cities in the U.S.

From New York City to Seattle, Ford this week named 25 U.S. cities that are paving the way for an influx of electric vehicles.

By the end of 2012 there will be more than 20 plug-in vehicles on the market, said Mike Tinskey, manager of vehicle electrification and infrastructure for Ford. And major metropolitan areas and utility companies are working together to provide an infrastructure for public charging stations.

"Over the next 12 months we will see at least 18,000 new charge stations in U.S. cities," Tinskey said. "People will start seeing charge stations … Read more

Texas revs up eVgo chain of charging stations

The eVgo chain of charging stations for electric vehicles will have its official coming-out party today at a Dallas event whose speakers include Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The first U.S. commercial chain of charging stations, eVgo (pronounced ee-vee-go), is set to announce that it will have a total of 60 electric-vehicle charging stations in place by Labor Day. It is owned by NRG EV Services, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, one of the largest electricity providers in Texas.

NRG EV Services and eVgo will also likely announce their specific pricing structure and plans for station customers. So far, eVgo … Read more