Tag Archives: Electric Car

Test Driving a Tesla



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Imagine if the government had bailed out the horse-drawn carriage business in 1910. How much longer would it have been before the personal transportation industry advanced to the point that everyone could have an automobile? Perhaps the government shouldn’t have bailed out conventional gasoline-powered cars. Maybe it’s time to let the evolution of the automobile take another step forward. Telsa is leading the way for this new horizon and if you ever get a chance to drive one, you’ll quickly learn that you’ll never want to drive a gas vehicle again.

During a recent trip to San Francisco, I spent a day with some friends who were shopping for a new car. We went to dealer after dealer, studying prices and shapes and colors and of course gas mileage. We saw some pretty nice cars. And of course they wanted something affordable and reasonable, but not hideous or unsafe. At the end of the day they went home and I stopped at ONE more place – the Tesla dealership in Burlingame.  I asked to take a test drive and the friendly staff set me up in the Tesla Model S P85, which is the top of the three-car line-up in the Telsa fleet.

First of all, I’m not really a car guy. But that doesn’t matter. There were so many moments while driving this thing, where I found myself saying, “This is just so cool.”

The company is owned by Elon Musk, who also owns Space X, and this makes perfect sense when you climb aboard this space rocket of a car. As the salesman approached the car, it started automatically, sensing the key in his pocket. The door handles which were flush against the door, popped out and I couldn’t help but feel like they really wanted to make something efficient and powerful but, as I mentioned, really cool too.

The first thing I noticed when I sat down in the cockpit of this future car, was the massive 17” touch screen in the middle console. This is your control panel for music, navigation, internet, backup camera and phone.  No more dinking around with your tiny smart phone for that Pandora app, or Google map, this beast of a monitor makes access to these things extremely simple. One of the most important features the computer brings up, are all the Tesla Supercharger stations across the country and even the world. It shows how many are currently in existence but also how many are scheduled to be in place in the next year – which is considerably a lot more. Charging is free at any Tesla shop, and they’re currently spaced out appropriately across the US, so in theory, you could drive across the country for free. The car can also be charged at other non-Tesla chargers but a fee may be required.

After a quick lesson in where all the knobs and buttons were and a demo of the control panel screen, we were off. This car has power. Lots of power. A little acceleration goes a long way, and when you want to slow down (which ideally, you don’t) just letting up on the pedal slows the car down to a point where you may not even need to use the brake. This regenerative braking system is by design to save power. The amount the car slows down when not accelerating, can be adjusted via the control panel as per the driver’s preference.  The P85 is stocked with an 85 kWh battery giving it a range of 265 miles per charge. The 85 has the same battery while the base model 60 has a 60 kWh battery giving it a range of 208 miles per charge.

One of the next things I noticed was how smooth it was, but also how SILENT it was. Even when I was encouraged to give it a little more acceleration, there was no sound. The P85 can do 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds. I’m not sure I got it to that on the side roads but it made merging into traffic on the freeway, feel just fantastic. I was told the test car is limited to a mere 80 mph cap but if I had my own, I could get it to 130 mph. In Bay Area traffic, good luck getting anywhere at those speeds. But speaking of traffic – which tends to be a lot of stop and go – the Tesla will give your ankle a break from going back and forth on pedals, thanks to the regenerative braking.

During the drive we hit a rather bumpy road. I immediately noticed that this was no problem at all for the car, and this is due to its Smart Air Suspension. The system automatically adjusts and levels itself out as needed. This system can also be accessed through the control panel to raise or lower the rest of the vehicle if needed for an incline, snow driving or loading/unloading.

The tech of the Tesla S is state-of-the art. And the price tag reflects that. You’re looking at somewhere around $70k for this baby, but it IS a luxury vehicle. A very, very cool luxury vehicle. But if you feel like getting one, all you have to do is head over to teslamotors.com and build yourself a custom car. There is currently somewhere around a three-month wait on the S.

I found myself wanting to drive fast but was also conflicted as I didn’t want to be done with it too quickly either. After driving this car, I really felt like I was getting into a horse-drawn carriage when I finally had to return to my boring old gasoline car. Maybe it’s time to let those “analog” cars die and embrace the future of electric vehicles. If the future is Tesla, you’re going to love it.


Fisker Answers Questions About Their Recent Karma Fire



Fisker has made a lot of news lately, most of it better than this story, since they are the hot electric car maker on the market these days.  You may have read recently about the Fisker Karma that burst into flames on the side of a road on August 10th.  Many people assumed that the fire was caused by the large battery pack that powers these sleek machines, but the investigation seems to indicate otherwise.

Surprisingly, Fisker executives determined that a cooling fan was the culprit behind the fire.  Fisker has decided that the sealed component here had an internal fault, thus causing it to fail and overheat, starting a slow burning fire.  A recall will be coming shortly for those “lucky” enough to have already received their vehicles.

A portion of the official company statement has been posted below.

Fisker has already contacted its retailer network. Customers are expected to be contacted by retailers, ahead of their receiving formal notice from the company by mail, to have the cooling fan replaced with a unit that meets the required specifications. At the same time an additional fuse will be installed for added protection.

In their investigation, independent experts established that the incident was not caused by the Lithium-ion battery pack, new technology components, engine component packaging or unique exhaust routing of the Fisker Karma.

“We are committed to responding swiftly and decisively to events such as this to ensure total customer satisfaction,” says Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Henrik Fisker. “This incident resulted from a single, faulty component, not our unique EVer powertrain or the engineering of the Karma. As this situation demonstrates, Fisker Automotive is dedicated to doing whatever is necessary to address safety and quality
concerns.”

The owner of the car involved in the Woodside incident, Mr. Rudy Burger commented: “I have been incredibly impressed with the way Fisker has handled this incident. I have personally started seven technology companies and know from direct experience that the US needs more innovative companies of this type, especially in the automobile sector.

“Fisker is a great company and one that I am personally planning to invest in. I look forward to getting behind the wheel of my next Fisker.


Fulton Innovation’s Wireless Charging



Fulton Innovation logoThe great thing about CES is that every now and then an unknown shows off something cool. I’d never heard of Fulton Innovation but they have smart products based around wireless power transmission. Todd learns more about eCoupled from Dave Baarman.

Fulton Innovation have developed an inductive coupling solution that scales from simply making a magazine cover light up as you walk past to being able to charge a whole bag of devices without taking them out of the bag. Electric cars could be recharged by parking in the right spot and not by plugging them in.

Not all of these products are ready for market just yet, but inductive charging efficiencies are on a par with plug-in chargers though economies of scale are needed to bring the prices down to a point where it’s built-in as standard. Palm’s Pre range of smartphones used inductive charging with the Touchstone and the Motorola Droid 4 has inductive charging as an option. As a Pre 3 owner, it’s brilliant not having to fiddle with cables and I hope more devices come to the market with inductive charging in 2012.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network, and Dave Lee from Waves of Tech.

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GE EV Watt Car Charging Station



Jeffrey Powers talks to David Wang and Joshua Caillavet of General Electric about the GE EV Watt station, which is a charging station for electric cars. This is a level 2 charger, operating from 240V, rather than 110V, giving shorter recharge times for EVs (electric vehicles), say 4 to 8 hours, rather than 15 to 18 hours associated with a level 1 charger.

Fortunately, common sense seems to have prevailed with electric cars and a charging connector standard has been agreed by the manufacturers, so there shouldn’t be any compatibility problems between chargers and EVs.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast.

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Arcimoto Green Concept Car



The car built by Arcimoto, while only a prototype at this point, is intended to become reality.  The idea came from that of the incumbent bike.  It has two wheels in the front and one in back.  That design is intended to make the car lighter and, therefore, use less battery power, which means a longer range.  Arcimoto is planning three models with distances ranging from 40-160 miles per charge and capable of attaining highway speeds.

What gets your attention, besides the unique look, is the target price – $17,500 before taxes and credits.  Availability has not yet been announced, but is probably a little ways off.

Interview by Jeffery Powers from Geekazine.com.

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