Electric Vehicles – Deathly Quiet

Again, we’re struggling to come up with a show. There just isn’t ANYTHING happening at the moment that we can find ANYWHERE. All online forums, blogs, and other EV news sources are MORIBUND.

Oh, I guess Coda has shipped two cars. And Wheego has sold 36 EV’s in the past year and the company president has announced that that’s just what he wants and just what he planned all along. He’s been reading too many Volt press releases. The Volt production line is currently shut down.

And so doing my normal early Friday morning perusal of the wires and press releases and blogs, trying to find some gems for your consideration this week, there was NOTHING. I mean NO news.

Chris Paine of course produced “Who Killed the Electric Car” and of course this year’s documentary “Revenge of the Electric Car” which he graciously previewed at our EVCCON in September. One of his favorite recharge stops is BURNING MAN in the Black Desert. Now a 50,000 person annual event with a hideous and growing set of laws and regulations, he did deliver a talk there that basically said that if no one buys these electric cars during this “window” change is not going to occur.

He was basically acknowledging the same phenomenon we predicted nearly two years ago – very meager sales. His take is that the consumer is not sufficiently dedicated to the cause. My take is the value proposition presented is poor and the consumer is no dummy when it comes to counting their ducats.

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At this point, the excuses have all rung hollow and faded away. The “next month in Jerusalem” talk is pretty much over. And the finger pointing has begun. According to Lutz, it’s conservatives using the Volt as a political football. To others, it is proof positive of range anxiety. It’s another Obama plot.

And as that dies down, we are left with….nothing. No news. No commentary. No developments. ALL the press release announcements from those NOT actively producing a car fall prey to the wait and see what happens to the Volt and Leaf. You will find all those firm plans can just as easily be changed with another press release.

I find Nissan’s announcement of new models and the $9900 ChaDemo fast charger heroic in the breech. I’m actually starting to pull for this gutsy little French dwarf with the Italian suit and shoes. In the face of a total meltdown of a couple BILLION dollar bet, he’s talking “double down.”

I again predict the Tesla Model S will re-energize the thing, but add FURTHER confusion when they come out selling well. Ironically, the numbers won’t be much different. But for them to sell 10,000 cars in a year will be viewed as a blowout victory, where for Nissan to do the same thing is viewed as a horrifying train wreck of a failure. Expectations. It’s all about expectations.

Note that all along I’ve been talking about VALUE PROPOSITION. Not PRICE. They are different things.

A $100,000 car is of course expensive. If it comes with 120 lbs of gold bar in the trunk – it is a good value proposition. You can stop off, sell the gold for a couple of million, and keep the car.

A $32,000 car is not very expensive. Of course, if it is a dead clone of a $19,000 car, but electric, not a good value proposition.

As an ENTIRELY new model, on an ENTIRELY new production line, ENTIRELY manned by people who have never been in the automobile business, the odds of Tesla delivering a functional car that doesn’t crater itself Fisker fashion are pretty slim. I will predict the issues with the Tesla S will be modest and software related. And within a year of introduction, this car will be touted as one of the greatest sedans ever designed worldwide of any kind and any power train. And sell perhaps as many as 20,000 in 2013.

That’s going to further stun the pundits, along with the 44% short sale in TSLA stock who wind up with their panties around their ankles, and entirely out of altitude, airspeed, and ideas at more or less the same moment.

Fear. Uncertainty. And doubt. How ironic that the companies seeking to sow it are now the ones reaping it. FUD.

Meanwhile we struggle for life. We should be overrun with advertisers at this point. We have built a great following of some great viewers all pretty passionate and engaged in the sport of divining the next great movement toward galvanic magnetic propulsion. This should be ENORMOUSLY attractive to advertisers unless I know NOTHING about publishing.

We had one vendor run an ad for six months and experience great growth. They then dropped the ad. Growth slowed. And their conclusion? They have reached MARKET SATURATION.

I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. This is the most absurd situation I can recall facing.

We’ve been doing some little experiments. Recall that I had a little trouble with getting my very excellent braided straps from Australia because of the shipping charges. Oh EV works hosed up one order because of a change in size of the terminals on the 400Ah cells they were unaware of. But the real issue was huge shipping.

So we sourced the straps ourselves and of course came up against the problem that they wanted to sell us one BRAZILLION straps, and we needed 75. Interesting experiment here. We can’t get them stateside for less than $20. Let’s go ahead and ORDER the brazllion. The shipping IS substantial but for some reason NOT what it is from Australia. And we’ll offer the straps to our viewers.

We sold out of the straps in two weeks. We reordered ANOTHER brazillian and we’re looking at a third order at the moment. The guy selling them to us wants us to look at his tinned copper cable terminals as well.

We found this little Ampere Hour meter that had actually been DISCONTINUED. We talked the guy into importing them again and we wrote a little manual for it. Cast the goofy Chinese shunts into some nonconducting resin so you could mount it, added a 12v-12v converter to close the door on any isolation issues, and we sold OUT in 10 hours.

We reordered 20 of them. We have four left. I’ve ordered 32 more.

I guess I’m not having the same problem justifying advertising on EVTV that my advertisers are. What’s going on?

It’s true, that some of our viewers have just been curiously supportive. I’m not sure they NEED braided straps right now, but they will and they wanted to show the flag. We appreciate it. Ironically, I had an order for the METER from AUSTRALIA and he’s a little butt hurt over the $134 shipping charge – Fedex and UPS being within a dollar of each other. I don’t know how to tell him that’s where we started…..

And now I have Matt Hauber of EVWest calling to take me to task for COMPETING with them as a dealer. Wait a minute. We never HAVE had any dealer advertisers. What’s with that. Why would I worry about competing with them?

MORE comically, I get on YouTube, and this onetime EVTV intern has started his own series of videos under the EVWest umbrella. What’s good for the goose is NOT good for the gander? Actually they are not bad. You might have a peek. Very hands on, how to, just like he learned here in Missouri. He even kind of labors to mimic my labored Pall Mall limited breathing and talking style.

But it puts me in mind to fulfill his phears. What would EVTV look like as a dealer? We’re not stepping on any dealer toes as we’ve never HAD any dealer advertisers. And the same component developers who are very shy about a commercial contract are EXTREMELY generous to their “dealers” often ceding a huge markup.

I have to tell you, I don’t quite get the dealer thing in the first place for some of these companies. Understand that I was more or less famous for an editorial I wrote in the very early 1990’s where I predicted the worldwide wholesale collapse of dealer networks because of the Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web.

When the dealer web site and the manufacturer’s website are geographically separated by one click of the mouse, the whole house of cards kind of comes tumbling down. If you took the dealer markup and split it, the manufacturer gets half more profit and the end user gets a lower price. What happens to the value add from the dealer? What WAS the value add from the dealer?

For a dozen years since, as hundreds and HUNDREDS of these networks have gone down in flames just as I predicted, the chant has been the same. SERVICE, SERVICE, SERVICE. And the end user has gone for the same thing instead, PRICE, PRICE, PRICE. And in every case I’ve examined, the problem was the dealer wasn’t DELIVERING the service.

The relationship was based on the manufacturer believing the dealer brought them sales from the local area. And in those days indeed dealers stocked product as well as spare parts, made repairs, etc. It all made sense.

With the Internet, the manufacturer is empowered to deal with customers directly, wherever they are located physically. With UPS and Fedex, items can be shipped overnight, products returned, etc.

Local John Deere dealer, Cape Girardeau Missouri. Case in point. Sells John Deere lawn mowers. It gets to be spring, and I take mine in for repair. The guy looks me RIGHT in the eye – “twelve week backlog buddy.”
WTF. I’m not going to NEED a lawn mower in August champ. In fact, he was rude about it. I felt like I was intruding even ASKING him to repair a lawn mower I’d bought from him a year before.

Feet don’t fail me now. It’s off to Walmart.

One year later, I run into him in a restaurant. He’s lamenting that at age 50 he has lost his dealership – everyone’s buying at Walmart or Online, and he has to start all over. Where are they going to get SERVICE he bleats plaintively. I bight the last inch of my tongue off completely and roll it around in my mouth. “Twelve week backlog buddy”. Had he WANTED to provide service, he simply would hire a couple of extra mechanics for the spring season. He wasn’t to be bothered. He’s unemployed.

What service? The manufacturer drop ships the product and answers most of the questions. Very little value add going on out there that I can see. And it’s easy to add. How about writing some INSTRUCTIONS to go in the box guy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered parts and received them, with NOTHING in the box. I can’t even tell what the part number is.

So we have a new world changing technology trying to reinvent distribution networks of the 1950s.

I understand my 500 new A123 cells are in St. Louis being held up by DHL as usual. Should be here in a day or two. We’ve added these to the EVTV store at $31 each. Yes, I know that’s more than what I paid. Duh.

Fortunately, it also covers the $1985 shipping and the $450 Paypal surcharge. And we’ll have to repackage them to go out. We intend to offer them for those viewers that want 8 or 16 or 32 or something to play with, test, experiment with, etc. After they have that all worked out, it would make sense to go through the angst of dealing with the Chinese directly for larger numbers. But this will work well enough for our viewers to get to play with them and test them and see for themselves before committing to a larger order. And yes, we’ll unapologetically make a couple of ducats per cell on the deal.

The other thing on my mind these days is that March was about when we kicked off the idea of an Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention last year. We got quite a surge of signups. We sincerely hope and plan for a larger and better convention this year. Registrations are $595 again this year, with a discount to $400 between now and 1 June. IF you bring a car, we will discount that to $99 each for up to two people per car recognizing the not inconsiderable expense of shipping a car out here. Ask those that did last year if it was worth it. THey had a blast. To register: https://www.evtv.me/evccon.html

As noted last blog entry, David Kidd did a fascinating little 30 minute documentary on EVCCON 2011 I found quite engaging..



Bottom line is that I think we are facing a great future of unlimited potential with thousands of very interesting and passionate people engaged in a holy mission to change the world for the better, at least when it comes to energy usage. That there are a BILLION cars on the road as of July 2010, and each could be made 7-8 TIMES more efficient at energy usage while doing the same job is a HUGE benefit to mankind and the wobbly little blue marble we ride on. I’m neither dazed nor confused and in fact energized by excitement as to all the good things to come.

Feet don’t fail me now…..

Jack Rickard


72 thoughts on “Electric Vehicles – Deathly Quiet”

  1. here’s the situation as I see it.
    all the small automakers will die, fisker, coda even tesla (they might restructure or be bought). the big automakers will continue to make their overpriced EVs and sales will slowly grow over years. DIY has a closing window in which to make a difference and as I see it it will never take off as long as we stick with the current collection of mismatched high cost EV components where each build is a costly engineering experiment.
    when your advertiser says the market is saturated they are probably right. it’s a small crowd.
    we don’t even have a product that combines controller, DCDC and charger at any price let alone what it could be. and that’s what we need. a single product that has everything including relay and J1772 support (and maybe the new european plug standard, could be an element on the show, europe wont be using j1772). and the price needs to be progressive. not 3000$ for this part, 2500 for that etc. but 1000 total. for a product that moves a typical ton+ car at stock speed.
    one box to connect and it’s done. and maybe later an AC equivalent. and we need similar progress on the motor side as well.
    it’s rich for Hamstra to say he wouldn’t use a new supplier because warfield is his friends and family. very nice of him to saddle all the builders with double price tag to maintain an expensive unprogressive business. it doesn’t have to be outsourced to china to be competitive. but a complacent business with higher salaries can’t be part of a revolution. just like your lawnmower guy.

    we need 500$ motors, and 1000$ PEMs. and both are quite possible.
    then we need a bit more expensive and powerful models to show the performance side of EVs as well.
    and ideally we’d need some light weight aerodynamic cars (maybe 818) to put the stuff in to make the EV really shine. bright enough to shame big auto into doing better than the 40k$ 1700kg Volt and the 35k$ Leaf with a lead acid starter battery.
    if we can’t shame big auto we can’t make a difference.

    refinement, optimization. it is key.
    a 30k$ conversion that needs an expert to maintain it and has very little resale value is a nasty value proposition, especially now that big auto EVs are moving below that price.

    the billet soliton looks cool. but it can have no part in the revolution.

    when three 3$ IGBTs can power a car, we are missing opportunities when the cheapest reliable controller is a 2100$ soliton jr. or you can choose a 1500$ curtis that will break because it’s a low quality analog design that they haven’t changed in 20 years.

    it’s not about outsourcing to china or squeezing the price so they go out of business. it’s about products that noone is making that are very cheap to manufacture.
    the chinese are easy to beat. you just need to keep your premium near the shipping and the hassle of customs, chinese sales people, logistics and product confidence.
    plus if you innovate as I suggest then china is nowhere to be seen.

    just talking about it on the show might be enough, certainly a good start. and if there are no takers immediately then use the strength of your wealth to activate a few good men. think of it as a mini dirt cheap manhattan project. to build a weapon that can ‘kill’ big auto.

    1. I am one possibility but I could use some financial support. but since everybody irrationally loves to hate me I left it open who would do it. I am not suggesting this as a trick to make money, I say it because it is the truth and it will work if others do it as well. and there is nothing wrong with my personality. you might notice you are attacking me with zero justification.

    2. Because nothing is ever good enough Utopia can ever exist except in books and movies.

      Well like everyone else here, get a job and then use your paycheck to fund your needs. You need to go elsewhere to solicit funding. This is the wrong group of people.

  2. Jack,
    What is one of the first, second and third comments you hear from people concerning electric cars, it’s range, range, followed by range. After you have one you find it’s not that big a deal you simply fit the range into your life. But a range extending trailer puts this question into the problem solved category. $220 for a small trailer with 12″ wheels and $600 for a 7,000 watt generator both available from Harbor Freight takes care of the hardware. Somebody with some electrical expertise can surely come up with an interface that matches the output to the voltage of your particular battery pack. This avoids also having to have a 7,000 watt charger to go along with the generator. All this doesn’t have to keep up with 100% of the energy required, it just needs to turn 1 to 2 hours of driving time into 6 or 8 hours of driving time and distance. The trailer just sits around 99.5% of the time but does away with the dreaded range anxiety perceived or not.

    1. And it could take you all the way to Denmark where the same high voltage generator can be connected to Dans front doorknob. All you will have to do is sing some hymns, he’ll come.

      Still waiting for Dan to make that $9 charger/controller.

    2. The $9 charger controller won’t happen because the three cheap chinese IGBT’s needed cost $9 bucks if he can find them. The rest is out of his league. Utopia once again is relegated to the books and movies and Dan’s world.

      He might do well to contact Paul Zigouras about how to build a real simple cheap controller. A couple IGBT’s and some crappy control board and toss it into a plastic box. Heck. Even that would cost more than the utopian $9 special.

      Pete 🙂

  3. I’ve been looking on the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere trying to figure out how many luxury vehicles priced in the $ 70 000 range was sold in the U.S. last year. Luxury car sales in the U.S. was roughly one million. I don’t know, so far, how many of those cars are priced at around $ 70 000, and I don’t know how many of those cars the Tesla Model S would compete against. I do know 12 258 Mercedes S Class cars were sold in the U.S. in 2011. The E Class sold 62 736 and many of those were probably sold on excess of $ 60 000, the S Class is a $ 90 000 plus vehicle. I think the E Class is closer to the Tesla Model S’s segment…..

    The reason I was researching this was I was trying to come up with a feel for how well the Model S might sell next year. I was trying to come up with a guesstamation. I wanted to see if the number of Model S cars Tesla planned on producing in 2013 could be sold out. That figure is 20 000, as everybody here probably knows. But trying to guess how may E Class drivers, or whatever, will switch to Tesla is something that can’t be guessed. But 2% of the luxury car market is 20 000 per annum based on one million luxury car sales. Interestingly, Tesla could attract people that can afford to, but wouldn’t normally spend more than $ 70 000 on a car. But, how many people would this account for? Mot many I assume. Anyways, my point is 20 000 might not lead to over-inventory, assuming Tesla produces 20 000 in the first place. That’s the best I can come up with.

    I’ve only scratched the surface but so far I think it looks positive for Tesla. I really do hope it works out for Tesla.


    1. it is difficult to say how willing the silent masses are to buy a model S. I’m offering a guess of 6500 sold the first 12 months and 3500 the next which wont be enough. I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers turn out to be a lot lower than that. but it is theoretically possible it will sell above all expectations. it’s just not the sense I get from the Volt, Leaf, iMiev and Karma. the model S is a looker and it has a good image (bricking aside) but that’s also why I’d give it 6500 sales the first year. if it was plain looking from just any new producer it would be lucky to get 500 sales.
      they say they have 8000 presales but they also had 2000 for the roadster iirc. and that took them 4 years to make into actual sales.
      I hope they do well because it’s a great slap in the face of the establishment but I fear not.

    2. Hi Pads,
      I know two women who each posses SLK Roadsters, both have folding roofs, so no trunk (boot) space. Two seats and a bonnet longer than a dining room table. As goes practical; they are utterly useless.

      The lady who lives nearest to me normally drives a Toyota Yaris 20 miles to work and the other has a Fiat 500 for 5 miles. Both of their big cars probably don’t do close to 5~10k miles between them in a year. They are purely for Sunday drives and parking outside the pub.

      Jacks right on the money about the value proposition thing.

      Especially after Dan starts selling his $9 charger/controller.

      And you know what? I had a ride in an electric Berlingo van last week and I’m far more impressed. It has to be said a grumbling engine lacks refinement no matter how its engineered.

    3. Hi Andy,

      It’s kind of ironic that the future electric Tesla Roadster may be a more practical option for the SLK drivers. The 2014 Roadster will apparently be based on a shortened Model S architecture, possible one can imagine, with “frunk” and trunk space and an option of battery range.

      Jacks point on value proposition kinda highlights that the value proposition, in some cases, is one of perception. I think Elon Musk gets this. The model S is a very desirable car to me; it looks better than a Jag Rapide, is very smooth and quite (I imagine), and to me represents the dawn of a new, bright and sustainable future. I can imagine myself feeling that I have been latterly transported to the future if I ever got a chance to drive the Model S, or even own one.

      One very slight downside is that Jaguar is a badge that people pay a premium for, and Tesla a vehicle representing new technology that people will pay a premium for. But that’s just my pessimism speaking. I have no doubt that Tesla will be seen as a luxury brand by the masses quite quickly. Because of its design it’s better, it’s futuristic, fast, quite, possibly safer, exclusive, and it has what I call a frunk – which I think is pretty cool. Another stick in the mud might be consumer confidence, and the “Fear. Uncertainty. And doubt” Jack mentions from time to time that can be seeded by detractors.

      And, I have no doubt that the Berlingo (VAN!) is a very smooth drive. I drove the leaf last year and loved it. Somebody below mentioned the Zoe, a car I hope to test drive. But another car I think might do surprising well among young people, if priced correctly and was capable of 120 km (which it isn’t), in the future is the Twizy. Someting like the twizy could be the Yaris of the future, not that the Yaris is cool or anything…..anyways that’s my humble opinion, I hope people can poke plenty of hole in them…….


  4. Jack,
    Instead of an EV conversion, I sprinted for a 2011 Nissan Leaf demo at the local Nissan dealership. I’ve had it since Saturday,the 17th. Really like it. The get up & go will press you back into your seat. I’m driving 56 miles round trip to work and back each day, with 30-something miles to spare when I get home. I plan on building a LEVEL-2 Charging Station.
    I will stay tuned though Jack & Brian for the best TV there is at EVTV.ME!


    1. Excellent car. I have 10,500 miles on mine already. I drive a minimum of 44 miles round trip nearly all freeway daily to work and back and no charger at work. It could use a bit larger pack but for my needs its just right even in the winter months. Mine still has the same range and no sign of any less capacity at all.

      Pete 🙂

    2. Pete,
      I drive 58 miles round trip and get home with a range indication of 30 something miles left on the charge. I’m well pleased with it. I too only have the Level-1 charger that came with it which is sufficient. Seems to add a few miles to the range to give it a 2nd top-off charge when I get up in the morning. I got mine Saturday. Today I got home with 37 miles SOC. That’s encouraging about the battery pack performance over that many miles. Did you lease or buy; I saw a Nissan Sales Manager say that if you want to buy, first lease it to get the $7500 from the Gov’t up front in the form of a Tax Rebate,then when your 1st payment is due, buy out the lease to purchase it less the $7500. So that’s my plan for next month.
      Thanks for the update on your Leaf.


    3. I paid for my Leaf and I have already received my credits and rebates. I paid two principal payments and will continue to make payments as usual. It will be paid off much faster now. Much less interest too. I thought that the Leaf had a heat pump system for the heater but I guess not. It should be an easy upgrade since it already has air conditioning. If it was a heat pump there would be more motive power available during the cold winter days. Now that the warmer weather is upon us I am noticing my good distances coming back. I have two level II EVSE boxes. They are much better than the super slow level 1 EVSE.

      Get your level II as quickly as you can but don’t spend an arm and leg and don’t use EV Charge America.

    4. Yea, I got the impression that the Leaf didn’t have a heat pump system, so now I know,thanks. I was going to wait another 2&1/2 weeks for Modular Power to get their revised EVSE controller board out,and build a Level-2 EVSE,but now I’m thinking not due to time. This morning my car isn’t charged up enough to take to work, so I have to use my Plan-B ICE car :/ Thanks for the caution for EV Charge America.


  5. I haven’t heard what it is evnetics is cooking up. I hope it’s a real ‘duh’ moment for everyone who will have retrospectively wished they had worked on a competing product.

    George’s presentations last year were right on the money. The challenge is that everyone is trying to predict the future from the past behaviors. They will be sorely wrong because of the key element I picked out of his talk: watch the trends, not the data points. The trending picture he well illustrated was increased cost of sourcing fuel and increased demand in new markets worldwide.

    The myopic view is that America needs cheaper EVs to penetrate the market. The cheap EVs will be pouring out of china in a few years at cut throat pricing, but they won’t make it stateside. Our boon will be in doing domestic conversions with those cheap components. But it will be passionate innovators such as EVnetics that set the bar. Cheap Asian cars won’t “keep up with the Jones’.” it’ll be the higher value car that retains bragging rights at the PTA meeting parking lots while the rust buckets filled with imported knock off components begin to out number them. That’s when we win. But it requires envy, not logic. Value, not price. Continuing price escalation in gas is what makes it inevitable, but giving value is what will make it profitable.

    The challenge is in identifying the current problem and giving the solution that will remain relevant. Cheaper and cheaper components will quickly lose their relevance. Look at the 1231c vs Sol Jr. Look at lead vs LiFePO4. Look at NEMA vs J1772. Compact Flouroescent vs LED.

    Please keep in mind that we are a horrible demographic. Our heritage, affluence, and professional trainings are so diverse – the most meaningful conclusion is that there are a multitude of very good reasons for EVs, and they are recognized by all walks of life – huge market potential.

    As far as capital, I for one am sinking the ship I drifted in on to build the new life boat. I can’t afford it, but I’m not letting that stop me. It’s just testng my patience.

  6. MORIBUND…..

    let us hope, that there is nothing new visible
    because everybody is in his garage and
    working on some new things………
    I am doing this at the moment, and a few friends
    also do!

    There is some hope for the near future!


  7. We (the US) are on a road to a financial catastrophe. The car makers see it, the government sees it, the people in touch with the problems see it. The cause is oil pure and simple. We are in the middle of the greatest transfer of wealth ever conceived. Any businessman, or family man for that matter, knows you can not keep sending large amounts of money out the door and stay viable.

    The problem is the oil companies are getting in the way. They influence the government decisions in order to keep their position. They influence the car makers through stock holders that have stock in both oil and car companies. So right now the people that have to make the decisions are forced to make bad ones or none at all.

    We the public prefer to stick our heads in the sand and let the government make the decisions. To few of us are willing to bite the bullet and do something. Currently the best viable substitute for oil powered transportation is the electric car. The other proposed technologies have some serious hurdles to overcome like nonexistent infrastructures.

    Sure electric cars cost more. They are a new technology with the need to recoup R&D and production costs. Electric cars are currently at a saturation point. All of the people that have been waiting for years now have a EV. When (not if) the price of gas begins another upward spiral there will be pressure for alternatives including electric cars. This will perturb the saturation situation by more and more people getting fed up with the weekly money siphon at the pump. They will start shopping for an alternative to petroleum. Hopefully electric cars will be there ready to go.

    The next step is to educate the public and get past the electric car myths. Make the answers to the “How much?”, “How Far?”, “How fast?’ questions not sound pitiful. People just have to realize that it’s not the money you spend today but the money you don’t need to spend in the future that’s important.

  8. No one echoed Renault ZOE inauguration at Geneva 2012 Car Show. I see in it first attempt for decently priced EV, a value proposition.

    Why isn’t Renault selling cars in USA? ZOE is close to VW Golf (Rabbit) in size and will sell for around 18.000€ in France, including battery lease over 3 years.

    I think we will eventually end up having even more cars, per family, when EVs become available. Renault-Nissan will improve their value propositions increasing sales numbers.

    Instead of tossing away our dream ICE, people will either convert it themselves or take it over to a local Wayne’s, hoping for $12,500 price tag. Most probably will get a nice sunday fun ride with it, and perhaps a new hobby.

    I expect many of such owners will undergo Jack’s path, to never actually finish a car, improving its elements, testing new solutions. It is natural for OEMs to have the capacity for market flooding prices and when competition arrives, they will. The same ZOE will sell starting from 12.000€ once obliged to.

    In absence of common competition, aware of being the only option out there, they are making as much as they think can. True value propositions are not for early adopters moment of the market adopting curve.

    These new hobbyists will help drop the EV component’s price tags, by having more of them churned out. But, it will not be soon, these things take time, unless under oil price pressure.

    1. Nice video. It was nice to have the sub titles. Understood very little of what they were saying. Love the little car. There is room for more batteries but as a start it is great. Well designed and a decent price. Wonder how that one was missed. Too bad its not here in the states for sale. I don’t however like the leasing of the battery pack.

      Pete 🙂

    2. Actually I don’t quite get what this leasing represents.

      On March 12th, Renault replies, in comments “… As of today, the lease of the battery for the UK is from 70 £ per month for 36 months and 7,500 miles.”

      What happens 2520 £, 3 years or 7,500 miles later?

      The car is I supposed owned with payment of 15.800€ (in France) + leasing.

      Does this means one “runs out of juice” when leasing ends and new contract is needed in order to power the vehicle again?

      If so, perhaps Flatenum could be squeezed in instead of the new leasing.

  9. Actually I don’t quite get what this leasing represents.

    On March 12th, Renault replies, in comments “… As of today, the lease of the battery for the UK is from 70 £ per month for 36 months and 7,500 miles.”

    What happens 2520 £, 3 years or 7,500 miles later?

    The car is I supposed owned with payment of 15.800€ (in France) + leasing.

    Does this means one “runs out of juice” when leasing ends and new contract is needed in order to power the vehicle again?

    If so, perhaps Flatenum could be squeezed in instead of the new leasing.

    1. How does car leasing work?
      I guess they stop leasing it and it stays under your car? £70*12months*3yr’s= £2,520.

      7500m/£2520 Less £300 engine servicing costs = 7500/2220 = 29.6p/mile

      Cheapest prices:
      Diesel = 0.075litre/mile*£1.41 = 10.58p/mile.
      Gasoline= 1 litre/mile*1.34 = 13.4p/mile.

      After those first three years the payback will accelerate, (£840pa). Providing leasing ceases and they don’t chase you up for more money.

      An electric car with payback :))

  10. Jack, You don’t have a battery electric mower? B&D makes a push mower with a removable pack and there are electric riding mowers. Converting your old JD mower to electric would be an interesting EVTV addition. The HD EVTV cloudcasting still seems like a million dollar hydrogen vehicle to me. My guess is Toyota will eventually acquire Tesla. The Nissan might know he can drop the price of the LEAF to $25-28,000 and still be profitable. Mitsubishi has halved the size of its electric motor. Electric scooters and bikes are in the news and I’m anticipating your electric 2-wheeler project. Translogic 96 http://translogic.aolautos.com/ indicates the Parisian autolib electric cars with flexible lithium polymer packs have 155 mile ranges. Everlasting gumdrop-like EVs are very radical propositions. Planned obsolescence documentary [English subtitles]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkBQKSlsNhU&list=FL-EcGh38h4Zfa-17Wjy2kzQ&index=19&feature=plpp_video

  11. Yea Jack:
    Why ain’t your riding mower electric? Lord knows, I tried to get ya’ interested in building one already to illustrate the basics of conversions to the uninitiated. Mine uses a 48 vdc motor that’s almost a direct replacement for a B&S ICE, an alltrax spm controller on a Sears chassis. Works farly well on Pb batteries…next upgrade Li batteries to increase “time on station.”

  12. Jack: Excellent article.

    You summed it up exactly: value for money. I have owned everything from $200 junk cars to $35,000 SUV’s– but, it’s not just the gross amount each car cost, but 1. Did it meet my needs? 2. Was it worth what I paid?

    My son owns a BMW 3-series, which is over $40K with options, but he would NEVER buy a Volt, because, compared with the Beemer, the Volt seems cheap inside and downscale. On the other hand, the electric Cobra you are building is awesome, and he WOULD spring for THAT, in spite of the primitive interior– because it is a Cobra, and Cobras are cool…

    In other words, as you said: perceived value for the money is great for a Cobra or a BMW, and not so great for the Volt, which is seen as a rather expensive, electric Chevy Cruze.

    The Volt, actually, WOULD be a good car… for $18-$20,000… unfortunately, Toyota already builds a $20K Volt and it is called “Prius C”.

    As soon as we can produce a 400 mile range battery, electrics will be more common. And, as you also mentioned: service, service, SERVICE.

    One of the reasons I don’t own an electric: Where can I get it serviced? Who will work on it? Where is a service network, where I can take my electric car, if the computer freaks out?

    Again, your article was succinct and observant… Thank you for stating what is obvious, common sense to the consumer. regards, Jeff Zekas, Veneta, Oregon

  13. Indeed, I agree with Jeff Zekas, although in my previous comment (erroneously duplicated) I drifted towards what seemed as an important omission from not as quiet last week due to ZOE .

    I forgot to mention how much I agree with everything else Jack wrapped up in the last post. It has been almost a year now I don’t miss an episode.

    Still a lot to do on my side for EVs. Two times “liked” on my fb, shared WSIU InFocus 2011 EVCCON’s digest.

    Could it be EVs are like baby garments? Unless somebody is expecting one, it is a department of close to no interest at all. It is a vital segment of living though. Suppressed on our priority lists they dwell until the final sprint to its very top, where stay forever on.

    I hope EVs have not dropped to a dead calm and quenching. When circumstances change with mobility, due to petrol prices or availability or both, everything tumbles up. EVs will burst to top of everyone’s priority list, just as described when we’re to become fathers, of which many of you can testify before me.

    Of course, if value proposition offered is correct. Jack helps establishing terminology for our conversations. We all know what it’s about, but particularly for non-native english participants, communication lags.

    As Andyj helped me understand this battery leasing, on otherwise owned car, for three years ZOE owner pays 3x otherwise diesel expense/mile. Devilish deal might not end there, if lease contract contains fine print footnote, obliging on extensions.

    Service is needed, investments to assure components as well, but I no longer have doubts about EV conversion part in electrification of our everyday ride. It is otherwise inviable, on a global scale, in over 30 years.

    Starting from tomorrow, if ICE production seises and all OEMs instantly have the same production volumes and sales with EVs, quite impossible estimate, it will take at least two decades, if population somehow freezes on the same level, of tomorrow.

    On mid and long term, it is not about the money but the production capacities after all. With today’s world OEM capacities it is inviable, without EV conversions, to reach the turnover point in getting the EVs on our streets. Even if it is at 8% of all the cars out there, it cannot be soon without EV conversions.

    Among my fb friends only 2 got intrigued with EVCCON. But if I had an EV, probably even my neighbors, would at least have an excuse to stop me for an occasional chat, which generally doesn’t go further from friendly hello and goodbye, or policemen.

    One thing is to talk about it and completely different story to do it. Even buying an EV is compatible with EV conversions. What would happen to my vintage 3-series beemer – a squash?!

    As a civilization, human society cannot afford to dump billion cars in order to introduce EVs. Some of the material from this bulk will indeed get recycled, eventually.

    There lies the importance of EV conversions, because many of us have already found, among ICE cars, and own a dream car. A perfect donor for an EV conversion.

    Such vehicles will outlive original ICE versions.

    Excellent article Jack.

  14. I really liked this blog post. The internet can be a dealer/Manufacturer’s friend or enemy….

    When I was producing electric outboard motors, it allowed me to reach a wide audience and sell to people almost anywhere in the U.S. with very little expense. On the down side, Briggs and Stratton saw my work on-line and decided that they would build and sell the outboards them selves. Since I was using many of their parts to build the outboard, competing with them was more or less pointless.

    I have no doubt that any dealer smart enough to advertise (am maybe do a few How-To segments) on your EVTV would have more business than they could handle. The main thing it would give them is a little credibility. Trust is what sells products on a continuing basis. Most dealers NEVER get this…

    I work for an electrical distributor (In business for over 100 Years) and they keep me around because I (and a few other engineers) are the “value add”. We provide free advise, training and technical support. Our products are some of the most expensive in the industry, but we have had two of the best years we have ever had back to back. Logic dictates that that should not happen in a down economy, but exceeding the customer’s needs/expectations is the key differentiator…

    Keep up the good fight guys….

    1. Jeff:

      I agree completely. And indeed, distribution networks where there really IS a value add from service obviously thrive. Rotorooter and the windshield repair guys are service franchises and don’t even work without distribution network.

      But if you don’t keep with the service, the need for dealers kind of disappears in the world of the Internet.

      Your problem with Briggs and Stratton is all too common. There are a hundred small companies that did add-ons for Microsoft Windows. Microsoft simply cherry picked that and anything useful, they incorporated into the operating system – which ate the competition immediately.

      But in reality, they were always add-ons trying to capitalize on Microsoft’s work anyway. Adobe Photoshop, and Autocad, and Solidworks and other software programs with a stand alone utility became formidable tools in their own right and could run in some cases on multiple operating systems. They are specialized tools and inappropriate for inclusion in the operating system.

      But yes, training and technical support are huge issues and if you actually provide them, you will find no problem continuing as a dealer. Indeed, the equipment guys like Cisco were COURTING the ISP’s hard because that was the defacto help desk for the Internet, and they wanted to be sure they were part of it – kind of the reverse of what I describe here.

      All to often, they dealer talks service, and delivers the minimum while seeking the maximum ducat per square foot. In the age of the Internet, those guys are gone.

      The EV component builders, lacking confidence in their ability to market, have posted VERY generous dealer markups in the hopes someone else has the magic lotion to grease sales. It doesn’t really work that way. It has attracted a large number of people that want to put up a web site and sell controllers and motors by discounting the MSRP and giving away part of their cut.

      Well, where that leads is the manufacturer can just give the end user part of the cut instead.

      Welcome to the Internet.

    2. I agree many producers could very beneficially sell directly. it would certainly be hugely advantageous for all relevant parties if A123 did it at a flatrate price irrespective of volume.
      and with the further benefit of inherent confidence in the seller.
      shipping it twice is also foolish. same with repair.
      you could argue it costs jobs but those are essentially leach jobs that doesn’t add value to society, just siphons/kills. those would be better in production and development.

      speaking of leaching middlemen, it would be quite advantageous to find the original source of the A123 cells and deal with those directly.
      Jack you might try buying the information from a supplier that seems close to the source. if they resell them for 17.4 you gotta wonder what they can be bought for at the source. 16, maybe 15. the real price might even shock us.
      as I’ve mentioned before there is a seller on the chinese ebay that sells the cells with cut tabs for 13.5$ (despite a 7% drop in dollar vs yuan over the last 18 months).
      the same seller also suggests that the cut cells were part of a project for volkswagen.

  15. on another note, I ran over a chinese provider of AC drivetrains: http://en.glelec.com/cp.html
    I’ve seen it used in a car 4 years ago or so so they’ve been around.
    the guy wasn’t so forthcoming about the price and told me I was too focused on price and I shouldn’t worry about that, they give me the best price. he lied 🙂

    1 PM m&c GLMP20L1&GLCP7024L6
    1 PM m&c GLMP20L2&GLCP7026L9
    1 PM m&c GLMP25L0&GLCP4024L1
    1 PM m&c GLMP25L1&GLCP7024L11
    1 PM m&c GLMP35L0&GLCP7024L3
    1 PM m&c GLMP40L0&GLCP7029L4
    1 PM m&c GLMP65L0&GLCP10028L5
    1 PM m&c GLMP280L0GLCP10045L21
    1 PM m&c GLMP280L0GLCP14050L20

    they range from 50kW to 160kW peak power rating.

    I communicated to him that the prices were ever so slightly too high, 4 times to be specific. he then said I didn’t know the EV situation.

    Curtis has a rather ‘comfortable’ pricing policy so it was surprising to see an unknown chinese maker price it even higher.

    1. Nothing for 9 dollar?

      Perish the thought.
      How come a guy from China guessed you knew nothing… So quickly?

      You see Dan, he would be extremely cheap but above scrap value if only he was pulled out with continuous work then found himself produced to excess with stock he has to shift or die.

      Why don’t YOU make these units for less?
      If a hippy (my hero) from the UK can make a world beating motor that was a game changer for small EV’s then you can, yes?

      Jack & Jeff etc. can help you shift them in the US for a reasonable sum. I’ll do the UK if you want.

    1. Isn’t that a beauty. I bet the eCobra we did last summer would look a lot like that with burgundy paint on it. I understand Paul was in Granby this week from Taiwan and really liked the way it drove as well.

      Jack Rickard

  16. It is a thing of beauty. Don’t like Burgundy Paint on any vehicle. Don’t care for that top either. Kinda detracts from the cool lines of the cobra. Keeps the rain out but ……….

  17. GreenEV…”Did you have a look at their web site and photos of the car there? ” I love their bragging about a 263 watt electric motor that can take the car from zero to sixty in 3.9 seconds. Must be a very light car to go that fast on 263 watts. It about matches my output on a bicycle.

  18. Oye…

    It just blows my mind how completely clueless the guys who are trying to sell EVs are.

    Who exactly does Brian Andersson think is interested in buying Jack’s Cobra from him for $85k? Obviously a person who has never seen the show (even though Brian links to it on his home page) and therefore would believe that it’ll go 150mph or 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. What exactly does Brian intend to do when the performance claims turn out to be completely BS?

    Oh, wait, maybe they’re “mathematical” numbers based on the car losing 1000 pounds (the CF/Chromoly diet) and running on a 19kWh 320V A123 pack, that is if B&B actually understands the car and the systems well enough to gin that up. Whatever.

    Another classic EV conversion business story you couldn’t sell as a made-for-TV movie script- Kit car company outsources EV conversion prototype to a couple of clever drunken hobbyists, (OK, maybe Brain is not drinking so much…) They do it, but they also proceed to document the whole thing for the entire market of potential buyers worldwide on that Internet, including detailing what it costs and how it performs. Kit car company then smoothly pretends no one knows any of that, completely inflates the performance and the price, further pretends the prototype is somehow productized and in production, and finally pretends there’s some OTHER market of people who can be suckered into buying one. Oh, the humanity. Especially the girl in the marketing video!

    The genuine market response? $25k on ebay; less than half the value of the components, and less than 1/3 the dumb-ass price on the website, with bids actually depressed by the kit car mfr’s silly decision to pretend the car it was selling WASN’T the prototype everyone who MIGHT buy it already knows all about.

    And so it goes, unless this is the new stealth product and mission of EVTV, which I rather doubt, because Jack’s been buying EVs, not selling them.

    All quiet on the kit car EV front, too…

    1. You are just a cheerful little basket of sunshine Tom.

      First, the price isn’t overblown. I told them by the time it was done there is no way to produce it for a sales price less than $85,000 and we DID document it the whole way. Add it up.

      Second, you’re kind of blowing past the part where it is a really nice car and does perform very nicely. True, there is non 3.9seconds and I pointed all that out to them, but somehow the “error” persists.

      It’s still a nice drive.

      I like burgundy.

      Nothing is a dark as all THAT.

      Brian is working on a seriously lightened Speedster with moly tube frame and carbon fiber body. I’m hoping it comes together so we can have one. I’d like to do a build on a 1000 lb Speedster.

      Jack Rickard

    2. I guess I’m darker in print. I love it all, and I’m crazy about the whole Nissan/Renault thing, and I’ll be building in Perth as soon as I get my tools and feet back under me.

      The charlatanism all over this cottage industry is no small problem, though.

      I think what is needed is an entirely different business model, sort of like a farmer’s-coop-meets-car-club enterprise where the mission isn’t to support the proprietor on the backs of the few hapless customers, but to enable the membership to convert cars by combining and leveraging shared resources, supporting, educating and protecting each other, and building community. It can be done profitably, too, provided one’s hearts and hands are in the right place, and the goal is making cars, not money.

      That’s what I’m going to try to do, anyway. Not dark at all…

  19. Jack,
    I am glad that Jeff @ Sling Blade did your research that indicated that the cam positioning sensor was not needed to run the engine.
    I applaud you in doing research/experimenting in using the Engine Control Module functions to input into the Body Control Module of late model GM cars. I too am doing similar conversion of making a C6 Corvette into an EV.
    I am anticipating I will be able to glean from your newly found knowledge.
    Thank you

    1. Mark:

      I heard from you I believe that it won’t work. I heard from Jeff it will and in fact the camshaft position isn’t needed to run the engine at all.

      I don’t know. I guess I care. But barely. As we will know soon enough. IN any event, of all the signals I”m worried about, that isn’t one of them. We can basically probably process our RPM signal and get a camshaft position that is close enough for government work.

      The MAF signal is apparently a component of shifting and I’m a little spooked by that one. But again, we’ll work something out.

      Jack Rickard

  20. If for instance the rev counter through some programming quirk needs the cam shaft sensor, I’m sure a two bit (binary) counter will sort that issue out. My guess its only for injection/ignition timing which occurs once every two turns on a four stroke.

    The MAF sensor amongst other sensors will play hell with your fuel injection if its reads awry. How anyone can overcome the fuel injection issue on an electric car baffles me.

    No seriously, if I am not mistaken, the MAF wire is electrically heated and the resistance is read off as a function of air velocity & temperature = density. It’s mainly for setting fuel feed volumes.

    If any spoofing needs to be done because of auto gear changing, its got to be related to the vacuum rising (resistance goes up) with engine load dropping and rpm rising.

    Hehehe, Quick fix: Set your gear changing points from a wire wound variable resistor-cum-dashboard heater.

    I guess be in “sport mode”, keeping the motors in their sweet spot where efficiencies live. That would be rpm based. Got a button for that, Jack?

    Hey, it’s great giving advice from the comfort of my armchair. I could get used to this. Dan’s just making me a cup of tea as I type.

  21. As a guess, the MAF sensor indicates the load on the ICE and working with a CPU, tells the tranny when to shift…perhaps the load on the motor, measured in amps can be used instead; however, programming the shift points is another story.

  22. So with the MAF giving out a frequency output from the sensor electronics it’s barely that “sea change” between MAF gear changes for economy and rpm gear changes for performance?

    It’s down to a man with an Elescalade who can publicly destroy my hypothesis. :-))

  23. The transmission is one of those tricky two-step problems:

    First, no one knows (e.g. sells a device to) control the 6L80/90 transmission independent of a functioning ECM, and the PCM for it is inside the transmission and apparently communicates only to the ECM, not any of the various sensors, perhaps including the transmission selector itself.

    Operating the transmission therefor requires the ECM to be working normally enough to at least enable full manual shifting, and hopefully fully automatic gear changes.

    All you can do to find out is hook up everything you can that’s obviously needed, like engine rpm and throttle position, spoof what you can that seems important like manifold pressure and engine temperature, and hope for the best.

    Then you find out how it all REALLY works, or doesn’t. I’m hoping its a piece of cake, with few and manageable operational quirks.

    Don’t forget to properly ground the transmission, which probably relied solely on the ICE grounding strap for this connection, or you’ll be chasing ghosts if it doesn’t work.

    1. Well, that’s largely the plan. And unfortunately, it has a high risk of winding up dead ended. But the dead end is a “more or less” working vehicle.

      We really don’t care if the ECU puts the engine in limp mode and limits the fuel injection too badly. We’re not going to have an engine and no fuel is going to be injected.

      But we DO plan on using the TPS signal as our control signal for the Soliton’s. We can fall back to the accelerator signal itself, but I would rather use the TPS.

      The thing we DO care about is the automatic shift points. Yes we have manual shifting as a fall back, but now I have to teach people how to drive the car. Better if we can get some basic shifting going on automatically.

      I have an HPTuners kit to modify the ECU parameters through the OBDII. It purports to include modifying the transmission sift points.

      Sebastien Bougois mentioned that everything got good for them when they tied a Soliton output to the ECU of a Jaguar to spoof a MAF signal. Unfortunately, it was a 0-5v signal. Mine is a square wave PROBABLY 2000-3000 hs. I MIGHT be able to cobble together a little 555 timer voltage controlled oscillator, tie that to the TPS signal as well, and use the 0-5v TPS signal to cause a 2000-3000hs square wave.

      Jack Rickard

  24. Jack, you can avoid those large paypal fees. Select pay by e-check. It’s a small fixed fee, and it takes 3 days for the payment to go through, but it’s a real money-saver.

  25. We have a good vid at the blog that might interest you, and sadly can’t upload it to EVTV because we think it’s too big (but it’s only a 10 minute vid? :/).

    Anyway, come check the Musclely Cougarificness at “EV On A Shoestring” of our 67 Mercury Cougar conversion. Let us know if you like it! Everyone is invited! Karen >>


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