A Louisiana Take on the BP Oil Disaster by Billy Shulz

In the wake of the recent British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon tragedy, many of us have now been exposed to not only the economic costs of dependence on fuel-inefficient vehicles (who burn through oil at a most unsustainable pace), but also the unacceptably high human and environmental costs of offshore oil drilling.  That we may better learn the value of conservation of our homes, our environment, and, most importantly, our families (eleven families will grieve for the loss of their loved ones onboard the Deepwater Horizon), we must look toward a future that includes sustainable transportation and that future will only be made possible by our support for the development of the next generation of super-efficient vehicles that Global-E is developing.  In order to limit the potential for the occurrence of another tragedy like the Deepwater Horizon, our demand for oil must slow – this will only be made possible, as we are well aware, by the creation of a new transportation infrastructure which includes high-speed railways, ultra-light aircraft, and highly fuel efficient vehicles.  We now know the tremendous cost of reckless demand for oil, be it foreign or domestic, and in order to help secure our energy independence and the protection of our environment and our families for the future, we at Global-E are working night-and-day to provide a small part of that future.  I, for one, am very proud to be part of building a safer, cleaner future for our world, and it is my most sincere hope that our work today will help to prevent another tragedy like the Deepwater Horizon from ever happening again.

Your Take on the BP Oil Spill

An Interview with Team Leader Carl Guichard at Shakedown

A Note from Team Member Jeremy Hunnewell

I found out about Global-E after team leader Carl Guichard was featured in City Business’s Innovators of the Year award issue. I was new to the New Orleans region, and looking for a way to get involved with local projects. I’ve long been a car fan, and also have recently taken an interest in the green movement. I had no idea anyone was producing electric cars in the New Orleans region! I thought that it sounded too good to be true, but sent a quick note off to the email address listed with the article. I didn’t expect to hear back, but Carl gave me a call within hours. His excitement and passion for the project were immediately obvious, and we found a way for me to get involved and help out. I have a finance background, and did a little bit of work with a financial model, but I was also able to get my hands dirty prepping the G1 for the SEMA show. It was a great experience, seeing the team spring to action to do what needed to get done in order to keep everything on track and to get the car loaded onto the trailer in time. That’s what I love about Global-E – no matter what tasks are required or the resources available, people rise to the occasion and work within those constraints to achieve what an outsider might have thought was the impossible.
Jeremy Hunnewell

An electric car…from 1918?!

On my way home from the Shakedown stage of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE, I decided to stop off in Dearborn at the Henry Ford. This is a beautiful museum that represents a collection of American culture as it has developed through the past 250 years. My favorite exhibit was obviously the collection of cars, and I managed to come across a gem of a car hidden in the back corner of the museum. Tucked away in a dark corner behind another exhibit is a 1918 Detroit Electric Car, and I would say that this car has a more important story to tell than any other car on exhibit. Electric cars were in fact produced and sold at the dawn of the automobile. These cars were even favored by many people, who didn’t want to worry about hand cranking an engine to life. They also didn’t like how loud engines were, nor did they like the smell of exhaust or the vibrating felt by the passengers. Electric cars, on the other hand, were smooth, quiet, and didn’t smell. The Detroit Electric was a widely known car back in the early 20th century. Even Henry Ford and Thomas Edison owned them! Although the top speed may have only been 20mph, this was average for any car of this time period. Better yet, these cars got up to 80 miles on a single charge!

                No one seems to be certain as to why electric cars eventually succumbed to the gasoline engine. Plenty of conspiracy theorists will tell you that oil companies had something to do with it, or that automakers saw more money in fixing the less reliable gas engines. Whatever theory you choose to believe, we know this as fact: electric vehicles were around and viable 100 years ago. Why can’t they be viable now? Also keep this in mind: The Ford Model T had a fuel economy of 13 to 21 mpg. US DOT statistics show that the average US passenger vehicle fuel economy was only 17.4mpg in 2008. Have petroleum engines really progressed, or is it time to try something new? The decision is yours.

Top EV Myths Busted

Here are the top 10 EV myths, busted (Content courtesy of Think Global):

1. You are just moving the pollution out of the cities to the countryside.

Electric vehicle motors are three-to-five times more efficient than gasoline-powered vehicles. While it’s best to power EVs from renewable energy sources (which are growing quickly), the efficiency of EVs makes them cleaner, producing less carbon, under any situation—even when they are charged using coal-fired electricity.

2. Customers will never buy a car with less than a 200 mile range.

So-called ‘range anxiety’ diminishes when people get used to driving EVs on a daily basis. It’s just like charging a cell phone overnight. You plug it in, and in the morning it’s ready to go, fully charged. As more EVs hit the road, businesses and cities will add charging points to encourage EV use.

3. The battery won’t last.

EV batteries are designed to last at least 10 years and more than 100,000 miles. Modern lithium ion batteries meet or exceed that target.

4. You’ll need to build a lot more power plants.

Actually, there’s enough off-peak electricity in the U.S. to power 79 percent of U.S. driving demand. As more EVs are deployed, it’s important to ensure that the smart-charging (time-based charging management) and vehicle-to-grid connectivity progresses as well. A connected network of millions of micro energy storage devices—which EVs would become—provides significant opportunities to improve the stability and performance of electric grids and better balance peak demand.

5. We’re going to run out of lithium—and isn’t it poisonous?

Lithium carbonate today comes from dried salt lakes in South America (Chile, Argentina and Bolivia) and China. There are also other huge sources for lithium, although these are more expensive to develop. Lithium can even be extracted from salt water and projects are under way to do this. The industry will not have a shortage of lithium for the next decade. It is also possible that new battery technologies will be based on other light metals like zinc or nickel. Lithium from used batteries will be recycled in dedicated recycling plants. Lithium batteries contain no poisonous heavy metals like lead in lead-acid batteries or cadmium in NiCd batteries.

6. The infrastructure has to come first.

The best way to deploy EVs is to get cars on the road first, then add infrastructure. If there’s no EVs to use those plugs and parking spots, people see it as wasteful. Infrastructure is a component of good policy at a federal, regional and local level to support EV early adopters.

7. They’re not safe.

Highway-certified EVs must meet all the same safety and crash test requirements as regular production cars with some important extras. For example, new European Union regulations require EVs to conform to the European CE electrical standards for plugged-in appliances, with the toughest electrical safety requirements.

8. The technology is too complicated.

A modern electric car has only about five main moving parts compared with hundreds in an internal combustion engine. There are no regular visits to the dealership for an EV. No oil changes, no filters–even brake pads last two-to-three times longer than in conventional cars, because EVs use regenerative braking to recapture the energy that would otherwise be lost while braking. Your first trip to the dealership with an EV for scheduled maintenance will probably be around 40,000 miles to check brake pads. Eventually, you’ll need new wiper blades and tires. But that’s about it!

9. Fast charging EV batteries in 15 minutes will wear them out quickly.

Modern prismatic lithium batteries can be developed with fast-charging in mind. The critical technology is in the cell design to manage battery temperature during charging. Limiting fast charging to the zero to 80 percent range also protects battery life. The majority of EVs will be charged during overnight off-peak periods when electricity is cheaper and readily available. Fast charging locations provide reassurance and peace of mind for those occasional days where more than 100 miles are required.

10. Plug-in hybrids represent the best solution.

Carrying around the extra weight and cost of two powertrains makes little sense. In some ways, a ‘hybrid garage’ (where one car is an EV and the other a relatively fuel-efficient ‘normal car’) is probably most economical for a typical family. As plug-in hybrids get bigger and heavier, they need more batteries and stronger gas- or diesel-powered generators or engines. It becomes a ‘vicious circle’ of more cost and more weight to achieve acceptable range and performance in both modes.

Avg commuting distance to work/school