10/17/98 Club Meeting

hosted by Southern California Edison

We had a good turnout for the October meeting which was held on Saturday, October 17, at Southern California Edison in Rosemead. Many thanks to SCE for hosting the meeting, especially for the freshly baked cookies!

John Cox opened the meeting with an announcement about the next Club get-together on December 5th. It will be a GMATV event combined with an EV1 Club meeting, similar to the event we held for Kris Trexler. The location is still being determined but it will probably be on the west side of L.A. He then started a round of self-introductions. In addition to EV1 owners there were several prospective owners, speakers and guests from L.A. Department of Water and Power (DWP), SCE, GM Advanced Technology Vehicles (GMATV), Nissan, and Ford, and of course many supporters from Saturn and GM.

Kids & Cars for Clean Air Expo

Sharon Sarris, GM Director of Corporate Communications, talked about the "Kids and Cars for Clean Air" Expo which will take place Saturday, November 7, from 11am to 2pm at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The event will feature students and teachers who participated in the year-long Electric Vehicle Education Program sponsored by GM and others. There will be model electric car speed and hill-climbing competitions, areas for kids to build model cars, free food, EV1 ride and drive, and more. TV weathercaster Christopher Nance will be on hand to cover the event, give out awards, etc. A sign up sheet was circulated for volunteers to judge the competitions and other tasks. If you would like to volunteer or are interested in attending and would need a charge, contact Sharon.

Have charger, will travel...
Club member Jeff Church is always ready with a club charger to help SCE charge cars for meeting attendees!

Edison Update

Ed Kjaer, SCE Director of Electric Transportation, praised GM for being the leader in supporting charger infrastructure and noted they are responsible for a large percentage of the 600+ chargers currently installed.

Ed then briefed us on his group's activities. SCE's EV Technical Center, a test facility for electric vehicles, batteries, and components, is one of two national EV test centers recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy. With over 160 EVs and a total mileage of over 1.2 million EV miles, they have one of the largest fleets in the country, and plans to expand by another 130-140 in 1999. Their Pomona test loops are famous for testing the range and performance of electric vehicles. SCE has been studying the long- range implications of the approaching electric vehicle revolution, and Ed noted that most auto manufacturers believe today's internal combustion engines will cease to exist in 25 to 40 years.

Infrastructure Updates

Helena Hsieh from L.A. DWP gave a brief update on new and upcoming chargers. UCLA and USC now have chargers installed, and City Hall has a new public charger. Charger installation at the L.A. Zoo and Robertson Garage (3 chargers) should be complete by the end of October. They are in negotiation to install chargers at Paramount Studios (3 chargers) and Cedar Sinai Hospital at Beverly Center. For information on these and many other new charging sites brought online in the past few months, check the EV1 Club's Charger List.

Helena also reported on a program in progress to work with city emergency services organizations so that accidents involving EV's will be properly handled.

Tiffany O'Day asked for help writing letters to the City of Santa Barbara, City of Malibu, and Fry's Electronics (all locations) to install public chargers. Contact Tiffany for more information. There will also be a ride and drive event at the Fountain Valley Fry's from November 20 to 22.

Magne Charge Program Report

George Bellino, GMATV Magne Charge Program Assistant Manager, briefed us on the status of the 50 KW Inductive Fast Charge Fleet Demo program. The program is sponsored by SCAQMD and DARPA (through CALSTART) and involves GM, EdisonEV, and SCE. Four standard lead-acid S10 EV trucks were modified with 50 KW rectifiers, 50 KW cabling, and new BPM software to accommodate the fast charging. The trucks will undergo a six month fleet trial, with a final report to the AQMD in March.

The charger is still a proof of concept design, not a production charger. It uses off-the-shelf existing technology (nine parallel SCMs) with a liquid cooled coupler. Preliminary data is very promising, with up to 10 consecutive charges per day (2 to 4 charges per vehicle) providing an average of 2.3 miles per minute of charging. The vehicles are charged up to 80% on the 50 KW charger during the day, and overnight they are charged to 100% using 6.6 KW chargers.

George also briefed us on the new smaller charger paddle. The new standard halves the size of the charge port, which is important to Toyota because they would like to be able to put it on either the front or the right side quarter panel of various vehicles. The paddle thickness is the same as the current paddle but the width is less. When plugging the new paddle into the current charge port, a plastic insert adapter aligns the small paddle for proper power transfer between the primary and the secondary halves of the transformer formed by the paddle and port.

The tradeoff made to reduce the volume of the charging port is that the new port will handle up to 80 KW compared to 160 KW for the current port. GM determined that with some design changes, it is possible to reach 120 KW with the new port, but that 160 KW would require "exotic" approaches. For the immediate future, though, 80 KW was deemed to be adequate!

An additional change made to the new paddle is in the communications with the vehicle. The current RF (radio frequency) communications between the paddle and the charge port is not acceptable in Japan or Europe because of conflicts with their frequency allocations, so the new paddle will use infrared (IR) since this is not FCC or government regulated. For backward compatibility, the chargers with new paddle will also do RF communications, at least for the next few years.


Nissan Presentation

Lance Atkins, Nissan Electric Vehicle Test Engineer, presented the Nissan Altra EV. The Altra is a large vehicle compared to the EV1, looking like a cross between a station wagon and small van. It is powered by a Sony lithium ion battery pack arranged under the bottom of the vehicle in a flat array of 12 battery modules, each consisting of 96 cells.

Li-Ion cells are currently very expensive, but Nissan is investigating replacing the cobalt in the batteries with manganese or aluminum to reduce cost. Lance also stated that Li-Ion cells are safer because fires can be extinguished with water and clean up is easier since the material is nonhazardous.

Nissan Altra Specs & Features

  • Top Speed: 75 MPH
  • Acceleration (0-50): 12 seconds
  • Range: 120 miles (Test lab results)
  • Charging: Magnecharge inductive
  • Charge time: 5 hours
  • Motor: 83 HP AC Synchronous (86 lbs).
  • Batteries: 12 modules of 96 Li-Ion cells
  • Battery capacity: 30.2 KWH
  • Stereo (AM/FM/Cassette/CD)
  • Cruise control
  • Air conditioning (preprogrammable)
  • Remote control (2-way communications)
  • Dual air bags
The Altra comes with a neat combination remote control and status display which allows you to view the state of charge, program the charge time, and precondition the vehicle.

The charge port is inductive. Nissan will be evaluating its EV for the next two years and is just starting the first demo program, with 15 Altras going to Nissan employees and 15 going to utility companies for fleet testing. For 1999, there will be 100 vehicles available to fleets. They are planning a retail launch in 2000.

Altra dashboard detail (left). Bar graphs show battery capacity, power use (including regen power going back into the batteries), and temperature.


Ford Presentation

Ken Stwertnik, Ford EV marketing, presented the '99 Ford Ranger EV. This 90 HP truck uses NiMH batteries for 85 miles cruising range, 60 miles in the city. It is intended to be used as a truck, with similar clearance, turning radius, and payload (1200 pounds), and they expect a class 2 trailer rating. Ken stated that compared to an V6 ICE Ranger the EV is faster from 0 to 30 mph and about the same from 0 to 60 mph, plus it has better heating and cooling. It uses conductive charging.

EV1 Event Calendar

Rick Ostrov spoke briefly about the December 5th event. They will be doing a 1999 product rollout, a ride and drive, and will be inviting a ton of people. They will be announcing the '99 Chevy S10 EV truck with NiMH HVAC-cooled batteries, 60 to 80 mile range, and 1000 pound payload. He also mentioned a $349/month leasing program for the last '97 EV1s (demo units).


EV Test Drives

The meeting adjourned to the SCE parking lot shortly after 4pm to let attendees oggle the latest in EV technology and test drive the Nissan Altra, Honda EV+, and Toyota RAV4 EV, courtesy of Nissan and SCE.

The Toyota RAV4 (above) charges using a conductive station. Future models will use the modified inductive paddle which GM and Toyota agreed to earlier this year.

At right, the RAV4's conventional looking dash is shown. Note the traditional ignition key. A key is used in all of the EV's shown (except, of course, the EV1).

Honda's dashboard (right) takes a moment for the driver to get oriented. The battery capacity is shown in a vertical bargraph to the left. The horizontal bars indicate the estimated range, with the green portion showing the "guaranteed" range.

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