What do Big Oil and EV Batteries Have in Common?

For those of you interested in the sector under the sector in electric vehicles, the guts of Li Ion battery technology, the week just got more interesting than an overpriced, over hyped Tesla IPO.

Check out a very quiet unnanouncement in A123’s SEC filings noting a multi-year supply deal with ConocoPhillips’ Cpreme, the emerging leader in anode materials for Li On batteries.  The technology is a processing technology to make high performance graphite based powders out of plain old petroleum coke materials, that has the potential to be very low cost at scale.  A123 has announced supply deals in the past with Navistar, Fisker, Eaton, Think, the Chevrolet Volt and a number of others.

For those interested in the guts of the Cpreme technology, a good summary is here.  And a quick search of the patents includes: 7,618,678, 7,597,999, 7,323,120.

It wasn’t too long ago when the only other contender for Tier 1 battery supplier in the US, Johnson Controls-Saft, was announcing their Cleantech Innovation Award win and DOE award with a Cpreme logo quietly slipped into the presentation, though likewise no announcements were ever made.  Johnson-Controls-Saft had announced lithium ion supply wins with Ford, Mercedes, and BMW.  Maybe the liberal view is right, cleantech can bring manufacturing and green jobs back to the US – courtesy of our oil companies?

Or perhaps we should note that Tesla has announced it’s buying its batteries from Panasonic in Japan – with our DOE money (about half of its total capital!) and California tax breaks.  So maybe we’ll just ship the new cleantech manufacturing jobs to Japan instead.

Neal Dikeman is a partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, the Chairman of Carbonflow and Cleantech.org, and a long time cleantech advocate and blogger on Cleantechblog.com.

Headhunting in the CleanTech World

by Richard T. Stuebi

It wasn’t long ago that most executive recruitment firms didn’t know how to spell “cleantech”, much less develop specialized practices in the field.

In 2000, when I and my fellow co-founder of a start-up company in the distributed generation space knew that we needed help in hiring a CEO, we contacted a few generalist search firms, but found that they had neither the interest nor the rolodexes to take the assignment. In the end, we retained the energy-focused firm Clarey/Napier International of Houston, and were very satisfied with their work, but it wasn’t though they had a lot of competition for our business.

In early 2005, I wrote a white paper called “Leadership in Renewable Energy” (which I was astonished to find still on the web!), in which I vowed “to personally be involved in ‘recruiting’ one new excellent businessperson into the renewable energy sector each year,” and urged others to do likewise — just to accelerate the pace of talent entry into cleantech.

My how times have changed!

Today, a couple of top-notch boutique search firms — Hobbs and Towne and ON Search Partners — are mainly if not solely focused on cleantech placement opportunities. And, after years of ignoring the sector, many of the big retained recruiting firms now have solid cleantech practices.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Ron Brown, the partner who heads the Alternative & Renewable Energy practice at Heidrick & Struggles, outlining some of their recent cleantech placements at venture-backed firms such as Grid Net, Comverge, Solyndra, Northern Power Systems, and Bloom Energy.

Hardly a month goes by where I don’t receive an unsolicited call or email from a recruiter looking to place an executive into some cleantech post. So, my vow from 2005 to help in attracting one person a year into the renewable sector seems like a quaint notion today.

This state of affairs would have been unfathomable to me a few years ago, and is possibly the most compelling evidence supporting long-term optimistic prospects for the cleantech world. As long as a good share of the best talent flows into cleantech, this is a sector with a healthy future.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of NorTech Energy Enterprise, the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

Cleantech Blog "Power 10" Ranking Vol III 2010

This year picking the Top 10 Cleantech companies felt a little more challenging than 2009 and 2008.  The sector is growing (and growing up), and struggling under its first cycles.  Biofuels is a bit smashed up (as we’ve been predicting), water tech still has not emerged, solar is learning how to play with the big boys, smart grid is growing up fast but still a bit young, carbon is still under a policy uncertainty cloud. And EVs, well “where’s the beef?” is still the phrase that comes to mind.

I spend most of my day meeting and talking to companies in the cleantech sector. And those of you who know me know I have opinions on who is doing it right, and who is doing it wrong.

As before this is the Cleantech Blog Power 10 Ranking of cleantech companies doing it right.

Eligibility for inclusion in the ranking requires meeting a 6 point test. Suggestions for inclusions in future volumes are welcome. The 6 point test:

1. The company is energy or environmental technology related
2. I like their products
3. The market needs them
4. The company is smart about building their business
5. I’d like to own the company if I could (for the right price, of course!)
6. It is not already one of mine

So here we go:

1.  First Solar – Still growing, still maligned, still taking market share, still the cost leader by 5,233 miles.  The whole solar category owes them big time.  And it bought Nextlight Renewable Power, which might have made the list in its own right.

2.  A123 – A123 has huge challenges in front of it, and we debated whether they should come anywhere near the list at all.  But to be honest, without their IPO, the last year would have looked really bleak (and the A123 c. 50% downround before that really was bleak).  Thanks guys, we’re rooting for you.  Don’t make me regret this one.

3.  Nissan –  Is it Leafs or Leaves?  No matter, kudos for rolling dice to make a serious play in EVs.  Fingers crossed that the actual launch keeps you on the list.  Of note, before you ask about Tesla, see below.

4.  Sharp – Still a solar king, so I still won’t dethrone them.  But we got close this year to just listing only one PV manufacturer.

5.  JP Morgan – Kudos for snatching up the best asset in the carbon markets at a bargain price.  The first mover in over $1 Billion in M&A in the carbon markets that has announced since the fall (JPM/Ecosecurities, Barclays/Tricorona, ICE/Climate Exchange PLC, Reuters/Point Carbon).  Smart money is buying, and you moved first.

6.  Enphase Energy – I’m very, very curious to see if microinverters finally have real legs.  Kudos for essentially making the category real.

7.  Landis+Gyr – Still my favorite in smart grid.  Until one of the US venture backed players delivers enough to challenge them for market share, they stay the smart grid representative.  Though perhaps Silver Spring can push them this next year?

8.  Walmart – We pushed GE off for Walmart this year.  I expect to get hammered for this one.  But be honest with yourself, their push for greening up their supply chain was serious, was massive, and is and can be the single biggest impact on the cleantech sector ever.  Walmart haters, go home.  The market leader is leading.

9.  Iberdrola Renewables – Keep on trucking.  Wind energy is still our cleantech crown jewel, and you are still the king.

10.  Philips Lumileds – We probably should have had them on last year’s list, as LEDs continue to thrive and may be one of the biggest unsung stars in cleantech, and Lumileds is long the key LED powerhouse.

Applied Material’s well publicized issues have knocked them off this year’s list, but we have hope they’ll be back.  And I really really wanted to add both Schott and Solel, the solar thermal receiver kings, but ran out of room.

This Year We Add a Dishonorable Mention to:
1.  Any company raising money with Advanced Equities, which would include Bloom Energy, SolFocus, Fisker, Serious Materials et al.  If that statement doesn’t make sense to you, just google the words advanced equities scam.  Has the potential to sink major venture firms and the whole cleantech venture sector if we’re not careful.  Or read below. 
Garbage In, Forbes Magazine
Advanced Equities Takes Its Investors on a Bad Trip, Venture Beat
2.  Solyndra – Tsk, tsk, $3.50/Wp for CIGS is not very exciting after $1 bil in capital, and $500 mm of taxpayer money?  Aren’t we supposed to be selling CIGS for $1/Wp these days without subsidies ;)?  No wonder the IPO got pulled.  How happy do you think Barack Obama is with his investment now?
3.  Tesla – Selling 10 cars a week?  With $400 mm of my taxpayer money?  Come on people.  Sell to your rich friends without my money.  All Tesla fans should read the Michael Kanellos article with the “selling 10 cars a week” bit. I think there are 10 dealerships within 10 miles of the NUMMI plant alone that outsell that. Is this an EV company or an SNL skit?  Go Nissan!
Neal Dikeman is a partner with cleantech merchant bank Jane Capital Partners LLC, and the Chairman of Carbonflow, as well as the editor and creator behind Cleantech Blog and Cleantech.org.

Gates Gets It

by Richard T. Stuebi

A few weeks ago, the American Energy Innovation Council released a report calling for a bipartisan commitment to increased governmental involvement in encouraging more research to spawn the new energy industry of the future.

The five key recommendations of the report are:

  1. Create an independent body to propose a national energy strategy
  2. Triple federal spending on energy research to $16 billion per year
  3. Create centers of excellence in energy research
  4. Fund ARPA-E at $1 billion per year
  5. Establish a New Energy Challenge Program to drive pilot project deployment

Members of the Council represent a “who’s-who” of American business leadership, and they recently met with President Obama upon the report’s release. Quotes from press coverage after the meeting were revealingly strong.

Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric (NYSE: GE): “We have a policy today. Our policy is uncertainty…I’d say status quo for this country is a losing hand.”

Ursula Burns, CEO and Chairwoman of Xerox (NYSE: XRX): “The incident in the Gulf just kind of intensified this discussion – that we have a fragile, brittle system.”

But it is the presence and statements of Bill Gates, the legendary founder and Chairman of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), that are telling. Until now, Gates has been largely silent on energy and environmental matters. However, as you can see in a posted video, Gates is now beginning to speak up on these issues.

Gates said in a news conference after the meeting with Obama that he and his fellow business leaders hoped “that any energy bill, particularly that’s raising revenue, should be heavily influenced by the Council’s report” to put more revenue into energy research.

To the humanitarian Gates, the world’s poor are “going to be the ones, when there are climate change effects, who suffer by far the most. And they need cheap energy. That’s actually something that unites the rich and poor.”

Note that Gates didn’t waffle by saying “if” about climate change. It’s a matter of when and where climate change will start biting.

Of course, the technoscenti don’t view Gates with the same esteem as, for instance, a Steve Jobs of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). While not as exalted as Jobs, as the second wealthiest person in the world (who pals around with the world’s third wealthiest person, Warren Buffett), Gates ought to have a lot more impact with those who control the really big dollars (not just public but private and philanthropic).

So, when someone like Gates starts making noises that our current approach to energy and environmental issues is untenable, perhaps it’s a sign of bigger changes afoot in the cleantech realm.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of NorTech Energy Enterprise, the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

BP and the Obama Administration – I Blame You for Ruining My Gulf

To start off with, I have to say like many people I’m deeply concerned with the oil spill at Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. It is a generational environmental hit that cannot be overstated. Perhaps BP deserves more credit than it’s getting for responding fast with a massive amount of resource, no finger pointing, and for putting its whole company on the line, but this is a BP caused problem, so we ought to expect that. However, we should not ignore the role our government had in this debacle.

I’m not a happy camper. We’ve been doing drilling offshore with a very, very good environmental track record for decades. The laws, systems and technologies in place to prevent exactly these problems are known, tried and tested. When this is over we are likely to find that it wasn’t the laws and prevention technology that failed, it was not giving them the proper respect. Or put another way – “operator error” at BP and our government.

BP has been dinged for a number of years now for the dark underbelly of the John Browne era. When John Browne took over, he really turned the entire industry upside down, opening an era of super M&A, and out wheeling and dealing the other oil companies including the acquisitions of Amoco and Arco, pushing the Beyond Petroleum concept leading the way in solar, renewable, and carbon. His and BP’s contributions should not be understated. But industry people will generally tell you that the BP of that generation also built a culture of short term thinking, make your numbers and milestones, cutting maintenance and safety corners if need be, and leave the problems for the next guy. This is the same picture that has been emerging in the media, administration and congressional inquiries into what happened at Horizon just before the explosion, systemically ignoring best practice to save economics on a challenging well. It makes me cringe. I hope it’s not true.

Once it happened, we exposed a bigger systemic problem. BP is throwing everything known at this thing, and making up new technologies every hour racing for a solution. It’s a company defining event and they know it. The systemic problem is that a catastrophe like this in deepwater is new and challenging. The fixit tools just don’t exist. Handling the same situation if the rig had stayed up, or if we were onshore, would likely have seen many of the remediation techniques already work. But no one has EVER dealt with problems like this at depths like these before. The oil drilling and spill containment technology arsenal we’ve built up over the years has never been tried (and maybe really not even planned) to operate subsea in deep water. These are part technology issues and part planning issues. Neither of which are things you want to be trying out for the first time the day the crisis hits. Both industry and government should have seen this one coming.

The US government has culpability here, too. The US government is the landowner here, collects big checks from BP and others from drilling, and was just as culpable in disregarding the risks and just as unprepared for the results. The deepwater risk plans were filed by the oil companies as asked, and apparently never challenged by the regulator. When Congressmen berate ExxonMobil for cookie cutter risk plans almost word for word the same as BP’s that talk about walruses in the Gulf of Mexico, I want to know why the regulator never caught this when it could have mattered. The same regulator who negotiates the deals and collects the checks?   Mr. Congressman, Mr. President, oversight of that is YOUR fault, not BPs.  The are the oversightee, you are the oversightor.

If my pit bull bites a child because I can’t control it, the dog gets put down, but I pay the piper. There’s a saying that there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. If my tenant is breaking laws and someone gets hurt, and I hadn’t spoken up or enforced my own lease, don’t I have some responsibility to the victim? Does the term negligence come to mind?

The US government had zero capability of its own in place to deal with a spill of this magnitude, meaning all of the technical heavy lifting was squarely on BP’s shoulders, and to believe the media reports coming out now, the Federal government moved fast but was highly unorganized on its own side failing to coordinate Federal, state and local response (remember the old sarcastic, “Hi, I’m from the government, I’m here to help” line). That’s about like leasing out my building, telling the tenant they’re liability is capped, and then hoping they happen to decide to get insurance for me anyway.

And the government’s reaction seems very political, when I want to see more work. Just shut up and do it.  The moratorium on offshore drilling smacks of egregious kneejerk politics, did nothing for the crisis at hand, and hurt the very communities under economic strain. A recent WSJ article even quoted a number of the technical experts the administration had cited as the justification for the moratorium who publicly slammed the administration for misrepresenting their analysis once they saw the “final, final” report, not the “final” one they signed off on.

Perhaps worse, the Obama administration’s shakedown of BP, like it’s previous shakedown’s of Chrysler to force a firesale and riskless windfall for Fiat, is very, very disturbing. We have the best court system in the world for just this sort of thing, and it makes me shudder to see what we are doing to the rule of law, crisis or no crisis. What, you think a Southern trial lawyer can’t hold his own with BP? Get real. Mississippi by itself mints trial lawyers faster than BP pumps oil. Item number 1, BP should not be able to use Congress and the administration as a shield to try and cap its liabilities (we apparently did that ourselves at a paltry $75 mm), and second, the administration should not be blatantly strong arming a private company to agree to payments above and beyond our own legislated cap, without going through the courts we set up. Hugo Chavez does that. America does not.

We don’t need “down with BP polemics” and finger pointing. We don’t need to wreck the rule of law to CYA the government’s errors. We may not even need new laws. We do need our regulators to actually do their job. We do need BP to pull out all the stops to plug the leak, and to pay the price for its recklessness, and we do need the industry to start working on planning and technology ahead of time when it can do the most good.

Credit where credit is due: I applaud the administration for moving fast, and I applaud BP for not finger pointing and putting their money where their mouth is, now. I apologize to everyone for the long rant, I’m almost done. But I grew up in Houston, and the Gulf of Mexico is home to the beaches, and the wildlife, and the sea food, and the industry, that defined my home town. It’s sickening that part of me is a tiny bit relieved the oil slick is moving East not West. Frankly, I’m not sure whether the Obama Administration or BP deserves to survive this debacle. The Gulf of Mexico and 40 years of track record in the offshore drilling industry deserve better.

Neal Dikeman is a partner at Jane Capital Partners, a cleantech merchant bank. He is the Chairman of Carbonflow, and Cleantech.org, and is Texas Aggie.

A Good Green Story

by Richard T. Stuebi

One of the more promising stories to emerge from Cleveland in recent years is the formation of the Evergreen Cooperatives, a holding company to fund start-up companies that:

  • Employ disadvantaged citizens from some of the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Cleveland
  • Are founded on the principle of being worker-owned cooperatives, to enable employees to participate in the wealth-creation of the business
  • Serve the needs of the local community, anchored by the market requirements of major enduring institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and Case Western Reserve University
  • Provide a product/service that is truly sustainable and consistent with the green economy of the future

Since Evergreen was formed and seed-funded in late 2009, the first three businesses launched are the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, Ohio Cooperative Solar, and GreenCity Growers Cooperative. With just a few months of operation, these green economy enterprises are now employing dozens of Clevelanders who otherwise would be challenged in finding meaningful employment opportunities, affording true career-tracks and wealth-creation (as opposed to merely a meager wage).

Admittedly still in its early days, the long-term impact of Evergreen will only be known and felt years from now. But, the prospects are promising. In the late 1950’s, the Mondragon region of Spain suffered from many of the same economic travails now besetting Cleveland, but the formation of the Mondragon Corporation (a similar network of cooperative businesses) has now led to an economic powerhouse of more than 100 firms employing 120,000 people and annual revenues of more than $20 billion.

The world is taking notice of this social experiment: so far in 2010, Evergreen has been reported on in The Economist and Business Week, but perhaps the most thorough story on the Evergreen Cooperative is found in “The Cleveland Model”, an article appearing in a recent issue of The Nation. I urge you to read this article to learn more about a truly positive glimmer of hope in the revitalization of the industrial Midwest of the United States — and in the mainstreaming of cleantech throughout the American economy all the way into its inner cities.

There are too many heroes underlying the birth of Evergreen to list in one place, and I’m sure I don’t know them all, but I cannot complete this posting without special tips of the hat to: Lillian Kuri and India Pierce Lee of the The Cleveland Foundation, Ted Howard of the Democracy Collaborative, Stephen Kiel of Ohio Cooperative Solar, Mary Ann Stropki of ShoreBank Enterprise, and the late and deeply-missed John Logue of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of NorTech Energy Enterprise, the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

4.7 Million EV Charge Points by 2015

As people start ordering electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Roadster, and Chevy Volt, a vast network of charge points becomes more important. Drivers want to extend their range by hundreds of miles by charging at work, downtown, and on the road. Many who live in cities are interested in electric cars but do not have garages. They want work and public places to charge.

The automotive industry will reach a turning point during 2010, as it begins the gradual transition away from the internal combustion engine and towards electrification. According to a new report from Pike Research, this evolution will require a market-by-market expansion of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, ranging from residential equipment to public, private and workplace charging stations. The cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that a total of 4.7 million such charge points will be installed worldwide during the period from 2010 to 2015. Electric Car Charging Articles.

Thousands of new charge points are now being installed. Ford is promoting smart charging as it now takes orders for the Ford Transit Connect, next year for the 2011 Ford Focus EV, and in 2012 the Ford Plug-in Hybrid. Ford is partnering with Coulomb Technologies to provide nearly 5,000 free wall-installed charging stations for some of the automaker’s first electric car and electric delivery van customers.

Pike forecasts that by 2015, more than 3.1 million EVs, including plug-in hybrids and all-electric
vehicles, will be sold worldwide. Pike Research’s indicates that competition from infrastructure providers will intensify by the end of 2011. Leading the first 20,000 U.S. charge point installations are AeroVironment, Better Place, Coulomb Technologies, and ECOtality. GE, Panasonic, Samsung, and Siemens are moving into the space with hardware and network services.

Pike Research’s study, “Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment”, analyzes technology and expansion issues for the EV charging infrastructure in global markets. It examines the market for residential, public, private, and workplace charging stations as well as reviewing the key operational and technological impacts of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles on the grid. Analysis includes an in-depth assessment of market drivers and barriers, along with profiles of charging infrastructure vendors and utilities. Detailed forecasts for EV charging equipment are included through 2015. A free Executive Summary is available online.

Bobby Jindal is Blinded by Money

I was shocked when reading this letter from Governor Bobby Jindal. Now I find him to be over political at times, even though I like his governing style in general. In this case, he is just out of his mind. BP has not even capped the well yet and Governor Jindal is asking for more drilling in Louisiana. I understand the economic output, but given all the gas they have found in the State he would be better off pushing for the Pickens plan which converts heavy trucks to natural gas than letting more drilling occur until they have a failsafe way to prevent future spills.

More importantly, as a smart young person, he knows that we can offset all off shore drilling with electric vehicles, natural gas, and higher CAFE standards. Why politicians like him put their brains
in a drawer to dumb themselves down I have no idea.
Jigar Shah

Top Ten Energy Myths

by Richard T. Stuebi

I get a kick out of trite little lists that I can quickly report on and provoke some thinking and conversation.

And so it is that I recently came across the “Top Ten Energy Myths”, as suggested by Thomas Tanton, a fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

As listed in the table of contents, the ten myths are:

  1. Most of our energy comes from oil.
  2. Most of our oil comes from the Middle East.
  3. We have no choice but to import vast quantities of oil.
  4. Offshore oil production imposes environmental risks.
  5. Reducing our peroleum (sic) use through alternative energies like solar and wind will increase U.S. energy security
  6. Energy companies will not invest in clean reliable energy.
  7. Renewable energies will soon replace most conventional energy sources.
  8. The U.S. consumes large amounts of energy and thus emits a disproportionate amount of the world’s greenhouse gases.
  9. Federal mandates for higher-mileage cars means less energy consumption
  10. Forcing drivers to use alternative fuels will help solve global warming.

As Tanton notes in the introduction, Mark Twain is attributed to have said that “it ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know that just ain’t so.”

And so it is: some facts are myths. But, then again, some facts are factual too, and some claimed facts are myths. For instance, at the conclusion of a brief commentary on these top ten myths in the February issue of Power, Tanton presents as “fact” that “increased oil production can have green results”, with the supporting claim that “new drilling technology, developed by private energy companies, has greatly reduced the risk of oil spills.”


I guess the moral of the story here is that readers have to be pretty discerning when considering the writings of thought-shapers, to not accept commentary as absolute, definitive and permanently correct, but rather to look between the lines in identifying biases and competencies that underlie their arguments. And, if a writer is neither competent to discuss the topic, nor unconflicted in discussing the topic, readers are well-advised to not put a lot of trust in the writer’s opinions.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of NorTech Energy Enterprise, the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

Coulomb Technologies Smart-Charging for Ford Electric Vehicles

By John Addison – June 3, 2010

Ford is promoting smart charging as it now takes orders for the Ford Transit Connect, next year for the 2011 Ford Focus EV, and in 2012 the Ford Plug-in Hybrid. Ford is partnering with Coulomb Technologies to provide nearly 5,000 free wall-installed charging stations for some of the automaker’s first electric car and electric delivery van customers.

Under the Ford Blue Oval ChargePoint Program, fleets and residents in nine designated markets could receive a free ChargePoint® Networked Charging Station with the purchase of a Ford Transit Connect Electric vehicle. The nine markets designated by Coulomb Technologies include Austin, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Sacramento, the San Jose/San Francisco Bay Area, Redmond, Wash., and Washington D.C. The installation of ChargePoint charging stations will begin immediately.

Ford plans to introduce five new electrified vehicles in North America by 2012, providing a range of products to meet a variety of customer needs. These include:

• A Transit Connect Electric small commercial van. Test Drive Report
• A Ford Focus Electric passenger car debuting in 2011. Test Drive Report
• Two next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid-electric vehicles and a plug-in hybrid by 2012

If 5,000 Transit Connect Electrics are sold in the target cities prior to Focus EV sales, then charging units may all go to those customers. This will help accelerate early adoption of electric vans in fleets such as utilities, universities, goods delivery, and contractors.

New USA Jobs for Plug-in Cars and Advanced Batteries

Ford’s increased use of lithium-ion batteries is also increasing jobs in the United States. Ford will make its own battery packs in Michigan, using Focus EV cells from nearby Compact Power, an LG Chem company. The plug-in hybrid cells will be made in Wisconsin by Johnson-Controls Saft. The U.S. made new lithium-ion batteries will be used instead of the currently Mexican made nickel metal hydride batteries. Over 6,000 new jobs are coming to Michigan just for advanced batteries. “Michigan will be the place where the electric vehicle and battery-powered vehicle will be researched, developed, produced, manufactured and assembled,” said Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The Ford Blue Oval ChargePoint Program is part of Coulomb Technologies’ $37 million ChargePoint America charging station infrastructure project made possible by a grant funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Transportation Electrification Initiative administered by the Department of Energy.

Coulomb Technologies Leads in Smart Charging Build-Out

Coulomb Technologies is a fast-growing venture capital backed firm headquartered in California. Coulomb’s ChargePoint® Network, is open to all plug-in electric vehicle drivers and provides authentication, management and real-time control for the networked electric vehicle charging stations. The network of electric vehicle charging stations is accessible to all plug-in drivers by making a toll-free call to the 24/7 number on each charging station, or signing up for a ChargePoint Network monthly access plan and obtaining a ChargePass™ smart card. Other future payment options include using any smart (RFID) credit/debit card to authorize a session or using a standard credit or debit card at a remote payment station (RPS) to pay for charging sessions. To locate available charging stations, visit mychargepoint.net and click “Find Stations.”

As electric cars start to ship with the new J1772 smart charging capability, Coulomb has taken the lead in installing a smart charging infrastructure with over 700 networked charging stations worldwide shipped to more than 130 customers in 2009. The ChargePoint Network provides multiple web-based portals for Hosts, Fleet managers, Drivers, and Utilities, and ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations ranging in capability from 120 Volt to 240 Volt AC charging and up to 500 Volt DC charging.

Smart charging will allow customers to save money by charging off-peak when rates are low. Major utilities also plan to inform smart charging station customers that excess renewable energy is available if that is their charging preference. Electric Utilities Facilitate Smart Grid
ChargePoint America will offer home and public charging stations to individuals and businesses. Businesses interested in applying for free public charging stations or consumers exploring an electric vehicle purchase can visit www.chargepointamerica.com for more information.

Three automakers have committed to deliver electric vehicles in designated US regions. The Chevrolet Volt, the Ford Transit Connect Electric and Ford Focus Electric through the “Ford Blue Oval ChargePoint Program”, and the smart fortwo electric drive will be introduced along with this program. ChargePoint America plans to provide 4,600 public and private ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations by October 2011.

Clean Fleet Reports about Electric Cars

Top 10 Electric Car Makers for 2010 & 2011

By John Addison, Publisher of the Clean Fleet Report and conference speaker.