Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This week we feature Richard Rodriguez's excellent Porsche 914 Targa build. Richard shot an excellent video walk around of this car, which does 100 mph and of course over 100 miles range using somewhat unusual Voltronix batteries from Flux Power. Flux Power was started by the ex-CEO of Aptera Motors.

One of our viewers suggested we show how little is really inside the $3000 Clipper Creek Level II Charge Station and so we did. We went a bit further. We gathered up all the pieces you would need to build an SAE J1772-2010 Electrive Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) 60 amp charge station. All in, it is right about $900 and would would probably take 2 hours to assemble.

David Kerzel's modularEVPOWER.com J1772 control board is of course what makes it possible. But we found an enclosure with TWO 90 amp contractors on eBay for $299. This gives you an approved enclosure and approved contractor for your box.

We also added a GFI 60amp circuit breaker for $117 including shipping. It's a Siemens ITE BF260 model.

Of course, you need a plug and cable. We get the 70Amp model with 8 meter cord from Chennic for $175 plus shipping.

Beyond that you're into optional switches and a $2 automotive relay. The contractor works on 120vac across its coil. We use the 12v automotive relay to apply this voltage on command from the modularEV control board.

Here's a little wiring diagram that might help you put all this together.

David Kerzel was sufficiently wowed by our combination of his billet aluminum J1772 socket and the billet aluminum gas cap, that he's going to get the caps, and make a totally integrated gas cap/J1772 socket with LED lights and his little control board to sell as a package. Would have saved us some work and having seen his machining work, it will undoubtedly look better as well. Since the caps are about $130 and his billet socket is $160, the board is $30, the little device is likely to be a bit pricey, certainly over $350. But it would provide a very nice total solution to mount on a car for J1772 compatibility. And it would be kewell.

We also talk about the CABLED study from Coventry and Birmingham in the UK. This is real data collected by satellite. And it very seriously calls into question the question of infrastructure. Most EV proponents are campaigning vigorously for public charge stations in their cities. We have been a little reluctant on this, and at this point we're actually against it. Getting the government, federal, state, local et al, to fund charge stations no one is going to use seems like a bad approach. Level II charging is best done at home and so is generally done at home.

We can see some utility in Level II charge stations at your place of employment. Tax credits for employers are I think already available but this area should certainly be pursued.

But public Level II charging never did really make any sense at all. Walmart is going to install 830 charge stations. It's goofy. I'm only going to be in Walmart for 45 minutes and I wouldn't even bother plugging in the cord if I DID accidentally get one of those parking spots.

We need Level III charging spots between cities that can bring our car to 80% in 30 minutes. This would allow intercity travel. I can deal with driving 100 miles (two hours) and taking a 30 minute break, particularly if coffee is available. It would be a rather leisurely drive and we'd be talking 300 miles in a day perhaps - 400 if you are aggressive. But it would allow cross country travel. And the number of these stops is within the scope of do ability even across the land.

The batteries will already do it. We need a CHARGER on the car that will talk ChaDemo or Level III, when adopted, and that is non trivial. It's not just a communications issue. The Level III will be a couple hundred amps at up to 400v DC. But it can be done.

Gas stations are the obvious place for this, and you will have to pay for it - probably through the nose. But I'd pay $20 for a quick charge that would get me city to city. Still a bargain compared to gasoline.

I think this is the "charge station" we should be focused on. Free electricity at the mall just doesn't work for me - unless I happen to work at the mall. The only ones to benefit from Walmart's charging stations would be Walmart employees with electric cars.

Here is a link to the J1772 spec as revised January 2010.

Jack Rickard

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Blind Leading the Blind.

They say that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man would be named King.... I guess I'm not convinced...

This week we ran our longest show ever, and had to cut much of that. It's feast or famine here, depending on what parts come in or are available. Right now we're buried. We really finally after months of waiting have the necessary batteries for the Cadillac Elescalade, but are working furiously on the eCobra at the same time.

We actually cut a good bit of the show and put other bits off to next week. But it was still a bit of a press.

Mark Kriss, brother to Eric Kriss contributed an interview with Ludmilla Ng of Sinopoly Battery Company. Sinopoly, recall, is Thundersky Battery renamed, and currently in a furious legal battle with Winsston Chung. The company accuses Chung of submitting FORGED documents in the legal proceedings and it is all a little beyond me regarding the battle.

But the "news" buried in all that is some new "black" Sinopoly batteries that are something of an advance. The 66 Ah cell is 10% more energy than the previous 60 Ah cell, but it is ALSO much lighter at 1.8 kg vice 2.5 kg. And to Eric Kriss's interest, the 200Ah cell is in the same size and weight as the previous Thundersky 160Ah cell. Winston Battery Company does NOT have access to this factory and does not offer these cells.

Ludmilla insists that they are going to continue this increase in energy/weight at a very aggressive 10% per year. And they are pricing at $1.05 per Ah for less than 10,000 Ah and $1 per Ah above that, which rather undercuts CALB and even Winston Battery. Sinopoly appears very aggressive.

Eric is the star of this week's show. He had a very unnerving vibration in this drive train of his Beck Speedster electric. He removed the motor and had the flywheel, clutch, and pressure plate dynamically balanced, reassembled, and is all good to go now. In this weeks episode, we assemble the adapter plate, flywheel, clutch and pressure plate on the eCobra, and again mention the importance of doing this.

It is a very simple spin balancing procedure, and does NOT reqquire a magician machinist to perform. Most NAPA auto parts places, but also almost all full service autoparts dealers, do a set stable of routine machinging for automobiles. Most commonly, turn rotors and drums, and indeed do this very routine flywheel balance. They basically assemble the flywheel, clutch and pressure plate into one assembly, and mount it on a spin balancer. They then gradually remove material from the back of the flywheel with a drill to bring the whole assembly into balance. It's typically less than $100. But don't even bother installing without doing this.

In our Speedster Redux, recall that we burned out a clutch with the 1000 amp Soliton1 and replaced it immediately with a Kennedy Stage IV racing clutch and 3000 lb pressure plate. They arrived overnight and we had them IN the next day. Unfortunately, we neglected to do this basic machining, and indeed we have a slight "buzz" in our drive train. Not bad, but not likely to improve either.

Eric does a walkaround of his very excellent Speedster build, pointing out the improvements and changes he made ot our Speedster Duh design. Most notable was his use of 200Ah cells. As we have driven Duh 111 miles on a single charge using the 180Ah cells, this would imply a max range of his Speedster of 123 miles. That puts his 80% range at 98.4 miles. And that's pretty good. Ours is 88 miles so he gets a safe range increase of 10 miles - very substantial.

He also takes us on a drive to a car museum to view a 1908 Bailey Electric. I kind of got the impression they spent more time with the curator looking at the Speedster than with Eric looking at the Bailey.

This kind of build was what we were wanting to foster as our mission. A highly desirable car in its own right, that happens to be electric, and built in a very workmanlike fashion that you might expect in any factory built car. When people see this, and you driving it, with a 100 mile range, pleasurable performance, and NO gasoline and NO mess and a CLEAN engine compartment, the reaction is universally positive.

We also had some fun with J1772 this week. One of the old guys that renovates buildings for me here in Cape did an install of our Clipper Creek J1772 charging station. We plugged it into the Mini Cooper, pressed the button, and it immediately started charging per design.

We also received a beautifully machined custom billet aluminum J1772 inlet port from David Kerzel of modularEVPower ($160). As we have an enormous billet aluminum covered gas cap for the Cobra, as is customary on Cobra's, we endeavored to marry the two. This is the only gas filler cap I can imagine sufficiently enormous to actually put a J1772 inlet inside of. And I managed to squeeze in a soft LED light ring as well. We used Kerzel's little circuit board to simulate the J1772 copilot signals but also to work the proximity switch and light the LED ring. Very cool.

Mounting it to the car was a little gruesome, and complicated by the fact that you are going to be plugging in and unplugging daily for years. The inlet had to be recessed BELOW the fiberglass of the car so that the cap could be closed, while sticking upt THROUGH the fiberglass sufficiently to allow the plug to lock into position. We made an aluminum mounting plate and used the mounting screws for the cap, along with some spacer nuts and washers, to stand it off very securely. Kerzel had actually machined tapped holes for #6-32 screws into the rim of the inlet piece. Very nice job.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is implementing rules requiring noisemakers for electric cars. I would urge you to ignorre this stupid law. Passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress, this addresses the potential for blind people to be run over by electric cars they can't hear. We've investigated and found the total number of blind people so far massacred in this way - Zero. in fact, there have been no injuries and we cannot find a verifiable story of a close call.

In any event, we think they got the cart before the horse. We do not think blind people should be allowed to drive AT ALL, electric or not. And what difference it makes whether the car makes noise or not is entirely beyond us.

So these learned people, our very best and brightest, cannot do ANYTHING about spending our money like drunken sailors and whores to the extent that they are now BORROWING 40% of the annual budget, but they do have time and common cause to address something that is, and has never been, a problem at all, with an almost unanimously adopted measure to require YOU to do something hysterically embarassing in public to accomplish NOTHING.

Most advocates and organizations, faced with such tyrannic stupidity, organize a letter writing campaign to Congress to make their views known. And they provide everyone a sample letter so they will know what to say?

We rather presume our viewership is exceptional in that they are probably bright enough to write a letter. But for those of you who need it, here is a sample letter to your Congressman on this very considered issue:

Dear Congressman/Congresswoman Pluketthamner:

You're fired.

Warmest Regards;

Sincere Registered Voter in Your District

It's brief. It's to the point. And it can be encoded in Braille very easily so they can read it with their fingers...

I suppose you could even send it by finger directly.....

Jack RIckard

Monday, July 11, 2011

Batteries and Things

After a week off, we did get a video out this week. It's a little hosed up. I have the new Final Cut Pro X editing software and it has a few problems I'm struggling with.

We had some news on the J1772 front. Clipper Creek actually made some sort of internal error and SHIPPED us one of their charge stations in exchange for money - about $3000. This is NOT a 70 amp charger as I said in the video, rather a 40 amp model CS-40

It uses the white Yazaki connector. It's pretty sturdy. And it's $3000. This will give us a baseline for J1772 charging.

For most of our viewers, somewhat more important is being able to fit your build so that you can charge using J1772 - and perhaps at a somewhat lower cost.

We have published the basics in the past with a couple of resistors, a diode, and a switch with a J1772 receptacle. David Kerzel is the President of the EV group down in Florida and a hobby machinist. He's done a lot of small engines and so forth. But today, he has ModularEVPower, a web site offering J1772 components for home builders and he has come quite a ways very recently.

We received one of his machined billet aluminum J1772 charge ports at $160. We can get these ports in a plastic model for $75 from China. But I am a sucker for machined aluminum pieces on our cars and this is very gorgeous.

Second, he has brought the resistors, diode, switch gig to a new level with what he calls an Active Vehicle Side Control Board at $30 each. This actually uses the proximity switch in the plug to activate the charging process. Once the switch is closed, it does the voltage divide down to 6v on the square wave to start the EVSE sending 240vac power. It ALSO closes a relay that has the common, the normally closed, and the normally open contacts all available for your use. You can use this to interlock a charger, light a light, or whatever. Very nifty and I think quite cool.

Finally, for $230 he has the guts of a the J1772 Electric Vehicle Service Equipment or EVSE - the EVSE Control Module.

This is what you connect to the plug end proximity pin (5) and pilot signal pin (4) to perform the J1772 interlock sequence. It features a switch allowing you to set the output current level which is encoded properly in the 12v 1 kHz square wave. It also has a 12v output to energize the contactors. You'll need a 12vdc power supply and contactors to switch the 240 vac phases, and you have, for less than $400, the equivalent to the Clipper Creek EVSE at $3,000. Of course you also need the plug and cable, which is about $175, and an enclosure. A GFI circuit breaker in the panel would be a good thing. But certainly for about $700 plus enclosure you can build your own. We use replica gas pumps. You can use a pumpkin if you like.

Duane Ball and Scott Smith engage us with a video report on the Porsche GTS (904) build they have been working on. This is the latest Chuck Beck replica of a 1964 Porsche race car that slightly over 100 were ever made. Special Editions has been putting them out and sold OUT of their first set of these. They have increased the price of this roller now to $63,000 to meet demand - that's with no engine. Duane has essentially completed his build to the point of first drive/EV grin and is working off some DC-DC converter issues and a problem with his tachometer sensor. Waiting for a VIN number in New York. But the car and build are gorgeous.

We also did a bit of battery testing this week. I have moved my test bench from the home garage to the new facility where I have LOTS of room and now quite a bit of electrical power. And so we did a bit of cell testing.

I obtained 16 of A123's 20 Ah M1 HD cells. This is a 20Ah pouch "prismatic" cell that is definitely a Lithium Iron Phosphate variant, which we like and use. The spec sheet has it at 3.65 and 2.0 v. We found it operates just as our Thunderskies with respect to voltage, charging and discharging although the climb and dropoff are a bit alarming at the end. That may just be our inexperience with such small 20Ah cells.

In any event, their claim is POWER and they do indeed deliver it. We were seeing sag voltages of less than HALF what we get from the Chinese variants for the same current load. They are very stiff. In American fashion, they don't quite put out 20Ah as advertised. We like the Chinese style claim where they call things 20AH and provide 21 or 22. Not on these.

Of course, A123 has been unbelievalbly snotty about the whole thing. We got these from OSN Power, a Chinese company ironically, They sample at $50 per cell, or $46 in quantity.

Two problems here. One is that they are heroically expensive at $2.25 per amp hour. Chinese cells are going to $1 Ah very quickly now. And secondly, they would have to be mounted in modules of some sort, which incurs some work, some expense, and some weight.

One of the advantages of these cells is a 127 wH per kg energy density, along with the power. Any weight from the module build would detract from that - and any expense would exacerbate teh first disadvantage.

If we can figure a super cheap super light way to do all that, we may pursue a build with these. But it would be to get titillating video. I don't see them as an alternative frankly. They are just too expensive and too complicated to use. They might get you a few more miles down the road, but they simply cannot compete with our lego block cells we use now. If you want to build a racecar, perhaps. But a viable vehicle? I don't personally think they warrant either the price or the complexity. They are incrementally better at some things with an exponentially higher cost to deploy. We have followed this company for years, and they remain a LOSER in battery development. The only company they've really sold on the cells are very small outfits and Fisker and they did Fisker by giving them the batteries essentially - a $30 milion investment in Fisker if they would use their cells.

John Plasma Boy Wayland and Rich Rudman have done something similar with Dow Kokam Cells and for the same reason - power output, once John's "Dream Came True" and they gave him the cells gratis. Kokam also designed a module for them which they had most of built at a custom plastics CNC plant (again gratis) with hardware done by Jim Husted. The result is about 10 lbs of module for 16 of these cells, pretty much negating the density improvement and is just hysterical. Forgive me, I just had to laugh. This is so overengineered and overbuilt to no known purpose that I can't deal with it. I SAY that overkill is ALWAYS appropriate. In this case, they have taken this concept to extremis and beyond. You HAVE to see this http://photos.plasmaboyracing.com/LiPol-Module/assem

If we have to do all that to use Kokam or A123 cells, it likely won't happen. But I have some ideas for something lighter and less costly ( cost is no object when using other people's money). I don't know when we'll get to them.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Innovation Party

Despite my last post regarding the miniscule number of actual electric cars on the road, and admonition that we are firmly at the BEGINNING of the tinkerer/innovator market stage, the wider press frenzy and flurry of OEM press releases has had an effect of urgency. Although remaining largely unobtanium, the blizzard has certainly spurred the aspirations of the more inventive among us. And it solidifies my feeling that there is a lot of electric car to be yet built. Basically, we don't know what the future vehicle looks like.

This is a bit startling when you think about it. Not only do we have new batteries finally, but innovation in this area continues predictably enough. But on things like the Electric Motor, what can really be done that hasn't been done in the past 150 years?

Actually, a lot. Several viewers have pointed me to some startling innovations, largely coming out of the United Kingdom.

Electric drive trains share the basic problem ICE drivetrains for automobiles exhibit. A typical 15 inch wheel and tire rotates about 750 rpm at 70 mph and correspondingly less at lower speeds of course. Electric motors do not operate well at 750 rpm and are really unwell at 50 rpm. We say they develop full torque at 0 rpm, but that is a little misleading. What they mostly develop is heat at those levels.

The "sweet spot" of course is much wider at perhaps 2000-3500 rpm for most motors of AC or DC. And so in direct drive applications, you will often see a gear ratio of 8.25:1 in a single speed gearbox.

Converting existing cars, the single speed 8.25:1 gearbox is largely unavailable. So it is usually easier to just retain the existing manual transmission.

A couple of problems there, none insurmountable. First, many desirable vehicles don't have a manual transmission. Would you believe the most popular vehicle of ANY make is still the Ford F150 pickup truck? ANd would you believe they just don't make them with manual transmissions any longer? Unobtainium.

There is weight and efficiency loss through the transmission, and one of the most popular questions we receive at EVTV is the continuous suggestion that we bail on the transmission and go direct drive.

Direct drive poses some all around problems, but by far the largest is this matter of RPM matching.

Basically, this would involve a drive train somewhat like the Tesla Model S with a motor IN an axle with gear reduction linearly between the motor and the wheel. All doable. All expensive. All custom.

There is actually an alternative - magnetic gearing.

Magnetic gearing does an rpm reduction and a torque multiplication based on magnetic coupling using rare earth permanent magnets. Magnegear is a good example. They do a rotary magnetic gear reduction for the oil and gas industry drilling operations.

These are frictionless, very low maintenance and very volumetrically attractive notions. But aren't electric motors mostly about magnets and magnetic fields. Yes, Johnny, they are.

The video above describes a company with a technology for magnetic gear reduction, but their Pseudo Direct Drive takes this a step further - putting the gear reduction IN the motor. By combining magnetic field windings with a series of rare earth magnet rotors, they do both the motor thing and the gear reduction in one package.

In this way, you can have a motor spinning at 2500 rpm and the shaft of the motor spinning at 500 rpm in a very small package.

Yasa Motors carries this a step further. Robert Lewellyn does a take on this I found engaging.

They are cloyingly careful not to include any details in their description, but it appears to use a three phase Sevcon controller to spin an outer rotor of a few neodymium magnets that then induce current in a series of wound armature coils - effectively doing the gear reduction with an output of 750 NM of torque in an incredibly small package. Better it appears you can STACK these pancakes to get whatever power level you want.

Forget wheel motors. By putting these inboard with a short shaft, you can get all the advantages without the unsprung weight and durability issues.

So electric motors for electric vehicles really do have some peculiar needs and requirements. And there is indeed room for innovation in such a mature technology as electric motors. I find both of these technologies utterly fascinating. But they share a common theme - a 3 phase space vector inverter.

We don't really have one.

I have gone on about bottom balancing since late 2009 in a world of top balancing BMS gurus who insist I'm a whacko. Now WHAT OEM has MORE experience with Lithium Cells than ANY other?

The answer will NOT surprise you. DeWalt. They've been using these cells in power tools for years now. And as it turns out, their BOTTOM BALANCING PATENT rather predates anything I might have ever said about this.

I also said that Akio Toyoda, Chairman of Toyota Motors might have FELT the Winds of the Future but he could not BE the Winds of the Future. Apparently he does not agree. The company announced at their Las Vegas Dealer meeting that there would be 35 Tesla/Toyota RAV-4s built in 2011 with a product introduction in 2012.

Purported to equal performance of the gasoline version, the vehicle should have a 100 mile range and drive much like the ICE version.

The company also announced the 2012 launch of the Scion IQ EV - a 65 mile per charge city roadster about the size of the ill fated Daimler Smart ForTWo. Again, no pricing or planned production numbers.

They do also plan a plug-in version of the Prius with an electric range of 14 miles. So Toyota seems to have gotten electric religion, at least at the press release level. Next year in Jerusalem. Always next year...

I must say I find both these pure electrics from Toyota attractive.

Jack Rickard

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Where We Are - Who You Are - Why That's Important

I have no video for you this week.

I've been working on my recently moved battery test bench and some new battery tests. Not without some glitches in equipment and process.

But more to the point, it was the Holiday Weekend and it was important that we show up in Nashville Tennessee on the occasion of the marriage of Brain's stepson Kyle Anderson. As a result, we simply have no show for you this week. I could jam together a late entry today I suppose, but Friday looms before us.

I did think it might be of interest to blog a bit in any event. I recently talked about early adopters and where we are in the adoption curve and from the responses I can see a number of our viewers are a little out in the weeds on adoption curve theory. There is an almost quaint disconnect between where I think we are in the world and where the mainstream media and apparently many of our viewers think we are in the world.

In 1962 Everett Rogers, a professor of rural sociology published Diffusion of Innovations. In the book, Rogers synthesized research from over 508 diffusion studies and produced a theory for the adoption of innovations among individuals and organizations.

The heart of the research really was about the adoption of new seed corn developments and their diffusion through agricultural communities. The concept had been posited as early as 1860 but Rogers et al kind of brought it all to a point.

More recent work is most notable in Geoffrey Moore's 1991 Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers. Usually referred to simply as "Chasm" this is the Marketing Bible in high-tech land. It actually describes a little problem in Rogers model - a gap between early adopters and early majority that must be crossed for successful marketing of high technology products and the book describes techniques for bridging this "gap."

Now let's talk about electric cars. First, what IS an electric car. Believe it or not, everyone gets to do this on their own as homework, and everyone's definition is automatically valid - for them. I suppose you could say that since Bill Lear fitted a radio to an early Chevrolet, and subsequently founded MOTOROLA to put AM radio in automobiles, the car has BEEN electric. It's main powerplant was gasoline but it DID have a battery and a radio and had electricity in it.

I personally view it as a car who's main function is transportation and whose movement is driven by electrical power - not thermal or Otto cycle engines but by magnetic electric motors.

I have somewhat further refined my definition to include the concept that with an electric car, you do not need to fuel it with gasoline. If you find yourself at a gasoline pumping station inserting a nozzle and filling it with gasoline, ipso facto no electric car.

We eschew hybrids almost entirely for this reason. They use gasoline. Actually our aversion for them is much more deeply seated. In a world where automobiles are already increasingly specialized devices, the hybrid is an attempt to marry a cow and a horse to produce ......what? They inherit the DISADVANTAGES of both electric and ICE drive trains while simultaneously NEGATING the advantages of each drive train, while at the same time becoming extraordinarily complex.

If William of Ockham was correct about the razor and lex parsimoniae still has merit, the hybrid doesn't cut it as a solution to our transportation problems. It's interim popularity notwithstanding.

We actually have had electric powered cars for well over a Century. Indeed the first car introduced at a Paris exposition in 1861 was electrically powered. They failed in competing with the gasoline engine car for a number of reasons, most having to do with the low energy storage capacity of the batteries. It is amusing to read the accounts of much improved battery performance expectedly quite soon and within months described in books on electric cars from as early as 1913.

Broadly, I would say it didn't happen. Apologies to all fan boyz of the Nickel Cadmium and Nickel Metal Hydride cells, they did not offer sufficient improvement to be attractive.

'Dr. John Goodenough invented lithium cobalt oxide cathode materials while at Oxford University. His technology was used in the first commercial Li-ion battery, launched by SONY in 1991. More recently, at the University of Texas, Austin, Dr. Goodenough patented a new class of iron phosphate materials with potential to replace the more costly cobalt materials. In 2000, he received the prestigious Japan Prize for his discoveries of the materials critical to the development of lightweight rechargeable batteries.

Mr. Winston Chung studied these U.S. patents on LiFePo4 cells and developed a very practical large prismatic cell marketed under various names but eventually as THUNDERSKY batteries.

We first encountered these cells in late 2007 and early 2008. We experimented with LiFePo4 cells using a Global Electric Motorcar (GEM) neightborhood electric vehicle and compared them to the very best available Trojan lead acid flooded cells of the time in that vehicle. The results were so impressive, that we decided to try a car conversion which first rolled on Christmas Day, 2008. Our EV grin knew no bounds.

I experimented with a lead acid car in 1979/1980 as soon as I left the U.S. Navy. It had a range of about 20 miles that quickly deteriorated to 11. A used Pinto was the donor car and it had no provisions for heat and PWM controllers were unheard of at the time.

And there is the first rubrick on which we operate. Lithium ion driven cars are cars. Pb cells of all forms are toys. You can demonstrate movement with Pb. You cannnot act as a car with them. It is simply not a practical car with regards to initial range and you are in a constant state of needing a new battery pack at huge expense.

Having built both types, there is my mind no room for debate or discussion. And if you have not built and driven both types, while you may think you are entitled to your own opinion, it is an opinion of no interest to me personally. I don't care what you THINK about what you obviously don't know. If you are not intimately familiar with the operational characteristics of both battery chemistries, your opinion on the topic has crucially limited merit.

There were some comical explorations of these batteries by the every self aggrandizing group of lead acid electric vehicle advocates. They organized a group buy of Thundesky batteries and immediately applied their vast knowledge of Pb chemistry to them, overcharging the shit out of them to "equalize" them and of course totally destroying the cells. They demanded that THundersky replace the cells and when Thundersky refused, they announced to anyone who would listen that they had been defrauded by the Chinese.

As it has become apparent what happened, they have generally retreated into a vague discussion that the "early" Thundersky cells were defective and they are much better now. They, as pioneers, took the arrow in the back for the betterment of us all. Nothing of the kind transpired. They applied Pb thinking to a new cell that simply does not exhibit the same behaviors.

We found the cells remarkable, and the resulting Porsche Speedster conversion remarkable as well. We found we could drive the car with exhilerating acceleration, easily to 95 mph, and could drive it 100 miles on a single charge. Better, it was not ungainly or heavy feeling. It had just over 400 pounds of batteries in it.

And so I thought others should know about this, and we produced our first video, A Convenient Response to an Inconvenient Truth positing electric vehicle adoption as the solution to Al Gore's climate change disaster scenario.

This video was published May 15, 2009, barely over two years ago.

Many are focused on the late 1990's introduction of the RAV-4, the EV-1, the S10, and the Ford Ranger as electric car offerings from OEM's as the renaissance of the electric car. Although modestly capable vehicles, they simply are not LiFePo4 driven automobiles and those impressed with them again are of the camp generally that don't have experience with both. Until you do, we dont' have common ground for conversation. But indeed they were engaging cars. While you may point out that many are still in use today, it is also true that many are driving Pb chemistry cars today. I am bringing you a message. THEY DON"T MATTER ANYMORE.

Goodenough's LiFePo4 cell chemistry IS the game changer, because it is about good enough. And all chemistries prior were just not good enough.

Winston Chung is a bit of a hero to me. Because he glommed onto these early American patents and began producing the cells, there was no good choke point for the oil companies to "purchase" and gain control of the distribution of the technology - as they very much had with the Nickle Metal Hydride cells. Enforcement of U.S. patents with the Japanese Nimmie manufactures was simple, though long, drawn out and costly. It just isn't practical with the Chinese in the case of LiFePo4No. Ergo, you can have these cells, and Exxon can't take them away from you by writing a check. In an International feat of legerdemain, the Genie escaped the bottle and it would be very difficult and very expensive to stuff him back into it.

So in my mind, personal mobililty by electric drive is the answer to a host of problems spanning almost everything, our economy, jobs, the cost of food, serfdom on the OEM/Oil Company leasehold, balance of trade, transfer of wealth, climate change, and very possibly a host of health related problems as well. Whatever your position on climate change you DO know that you can off yourself in a closed garage with a car in just a few painless minutes. With 900 million on them at the close of 2010 each pumping about 50 lbs of atmosphere through with each gallon, we can pretty much agree they are not doing anything BENEFICIAL to the air we breathe. In reality, we DO NOT know what modern health problems could easily be caused by this. Everyone is so focused on smoking cigarettes as a problem, while ignoring the fact that they are all smoking a Buick whether they choose to or not.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here on the electric car as a solution. But the disconnect is back to Rogers Diffusion of Innovation.

If we take ALL the electric cars manufactured in the past twenty years, including the 37,000 GEM's and EVERYTHING ELSE, we don't have 75,000 cars on the planet. And I don't count 99% of those as even being an electric car capable of being a solution to anything.

If we count only LiFePo4 cars, the numbers get to be pretty miniscule. IF Leaf sells 12,000 cars in 2011, AND GM sells that many Volts, which it won't and which isn't even an electric car, and we count the 2400 Tesla's, all the iMiev's every prototype built by all manufacturers, we are at less than 30,000 cars.

EVALBUM lists 378 vehicles currently as Lithium Ion driven vehicles. Two thirds of those are actually bicycles and lawn mowers. But if we say half, we have 185 Lithium ion powered cars. If we assume that EVALBUM is one out of 10 in existance, that is still less than 2000 home built Lithium cars.

32,000 cars TOPS.

Now let's look at Rodgers curve. He indicates that the first 2.5% of the market is the tinkerers and innovators. Let's assume the United States is the only market that matters, a dubious concept as gasoline is $8 a gallon over all of Eaurope. We have $255 million active automobiles currently registered.

To be 2.5% of that would require 6.3 million Lithium Ion powered vehicles. That's the point at which tinkerer innovator development is mature enough to appeal to EARLY ADOPTERS. Do we HAVE 6.3 million such vehicles? Are we close?

This is a world changing, game changing, totally disruptive techology - the Lithium ion electric car. It is TRULY different from previous electric cars in that it actually can be used as practical personal mobility - transportation. Not that it can be used heroically. It can be used easily. I do it every day.

But we aren't at the real START of the innovator level. And we won't be for another 6.27 million vehicles.

Discouraged? Don't be. Yes, of course we have now exactly ONE BRAZILLION viewers. You do understand that 99% of the people viewing come and view, and go away. Two hours of technical detritus delivered by a 57 year old guy in yellow shows with a speech impediment and Alzheimers is only attractive to a certain typ eof person - someone INTENTILY interested in the development of this infant technology.

And so in my mind, the future of an entire planet, our standard of living, our way of life, is hinged on a few thousand viewers who come back week after week and share the dream of devoting their lives to the cause.


By that, I suppose I mean to ask you, do you have the faintest idea of how very important what you are doing right now in your garage is to the future. There are so precious few, and such a heartbreaking amount of work to yet do. If you listen to the evening news, you will be convinced it has ALREADY BEEN ACCOMPLISHED. It hasn't even started. We are in the very early days of tinkerers and innovators and garage entrepreurs. Having lived and breathed the technology and the advantages of it lo these many (three) years, I am utterly convinced I know how it comes out. But we are not where you have been told we are. And so you are not who you thought you were.

Incidentally, Eric Kriss has assembled a very interesting paper on Chinese Battery Manufacture that has some truly startling information in it. Most startling is just how much of the TOTAL market for the Chinese Lithium cells that YOU comprise. I have alluded to this in the past. He's put some real numbers to it. http://krissmotors.com/ebooks.php

I do NOT think this plays out with esisting OEM manufacturers and the Leaf, although they could be quite helpful along the way. It would be an astounding and historic first if it turns out to be so. I think this ultimately is an unholy alliance between Chinese prismatic batteries and a new breed of entrepreneur. I think the ultimate numbers will be provided by companies such as but not limited to Tesla Motors. And I can no more predict who they will be than I could have predicted eBay, Google, Facebook, or Cisco Systems twenty-five years ago. Two guys about to flunk out of some university somewhere probably, who can't be bothered to attend their classes because they are working on an electric car.... eBay at the time was a Bulletin Board System (BBS) specializing in the online trading of Pez Dispensers if you must know.... We did a story on them I believe and I said they'd never amount to much but offered an interesting example of a very specialized online service.

There will literally be hundreds, and then thousands of startups coming out of this. Many will fail. Some will succeed. Some will succeed hugely. As I've said before, the Chairman of Toyota can FEEL the Winds of the Future. What he can't do is BE the Winds of the Future. He's got a full time job being Toyota.

YOU can be the Winds of the Future. The allure of this technology is so automatic and goes so viscerally to human desire, that it is destined to be a hugely disruptive world changing revolution in personal mobility. If you've read this much, you're probably already part of it. Which part?

We have precisely 100 signed up for EVCCON 2011 scheduled for September 21-25 here in Cape Girardeau. And apparently 29 are bringing cars. I think I have a leak in my numbers because TWO people are claiming the SAME car in a couple of cases. So probably 25 cars. All LiFePo4 powered. And all gorgeous beyond belief.

If you are at all interested in WHERE WE ARE and WHO YOU ARE, it will be my distinct and notable privilege to greet you personally at this event. And I'll be quite convinced I'm in the presence of the next Google or Tesla founder when I do so. Forgive me if I may be a little confused as to which of you is which.


Jack Rickard