EV Roundup: Nissan, Chevrolet, Enterprise, PG&E, Schneider Electric, Raser

by | Jul 28, 2010

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The backdrop for this week’s electric vehicle (EV) and related announcements is the Plug-In 2010 Conference, held in San Jose, California, which covers all areas of plug-in vehicles including batteries, vehicles and infrastructure. While Nissan and Chevrolet released new rollout plans and pricing for their EVs, several companies including PG&E and Enterprise Rent-A-Car say they plan to add EVs to their fleets. To help drive the adoption of these environmentally-friendly vehicles, Schneider Electric introduced a complete offering of EV charging solutions.

Nissan announced its national market roll-out plan for its Nissan LEAF. More than 17,000 customers have placed reservations for the zero-emissions vehicle.

The Nissan LEAF will be available first to consumers in December in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee. These areas are home to The EV Project, said to be the largest electric vehicle and infrastructure deployment ever undertaken. It’s a partnership with charging infrastructure provider ECOtality, which is partially funded by a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Customers in these first five launch states, who represent more than 55 percent of total Nissan LEAF reservations, will be able to place firm orders starting in August.

In January 2011, the Nissan LEAF will be introduced to Texas and Hawaii followed by North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina and Alabama in April 2011. The remainder will be rolled out beginning in Fall 2011 with availability in all markets nationwide by the end of the year.

Nissan also notified consumers that the lithium-ion battery pack that powers the Nissan LEAF will carry a warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles, matching the U.S. market.

Expanding the company’s commitment to support alternative technologies, Enterprise Rent-A-Car will offer Nissan LEAFs next year in select markets. Delivery of 500 Nissan LEAFs will begin in January 2011 and will continue throughout the year. The company also plans to offer customers electric vehicles from other manufacturers as they become available.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car initially will offer electric vehicles to customers across eight different markets where the infrastructure exists to support the vehicles, including Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn.; San Diego; Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle.

Beginning November 2010, charging stations will be installed at select locations, including several of the Enterprise “hybrid branches,” which offer hybrids and other environmentally-friendly rental options in 30 different markets. Enterprise is rolling the vehicles out to a limited number of branches to ensure that it can properly train its employees to show customers how to use and charge the EVs.

Chevrolet announced that participating Chevrolet dealers will begin taking orders for the Volt, touted as the industry’s first EV with extended range capabilities. The Volt has a total driving range of about 340 miles and is powered by electricity at all times. For up to the first 40 miles, the Volt drives gas- and tailpipe-emissions-free using electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas powered range-extending engine/generator operates to extend the driving range another 300 miles on a full tank.

The Volt’s 16-kWh lithium-ion battery is covered by a transferable warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starts at $41,000 ($33,500 net of full federal income tax credit, which ranges from $0 to $7,500).

The brand also will offer a lease program with a monthly payment as low as $350 for 36 months at MSRP with $2,500 due at lease signing. The benefit of the $7,500 tax credit is included in the reduced lease payment.

The Volt will be initially available to customers in California, New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and the Washington D.C. area.

Raser Technologies announced that Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) will be the first company in the U.S. to take delivery of the company’s new extended range electric (E-REV) fleet trucks, designed to achieve an average of 100 miles per gallon in typical daily driving when recharged at night from a typical household outlet.

The extended range electric pick-up truck can drive the first 40 miles on lithium-ion batteries, and can continue driving over 300 miles by generating its own electricity from a small onboard gasoline-powered generator or “range extender.”

PG&E expects to take delivery of the first two E-REV fleet trucks modified with Raser’s E-REV powertrain for initial testing and demonstration before the end of 2010.

Raser demonstrated a 100 miles-per-gallon, extended-range electric Hummer H3 last year, aimed at fleets, contractors and small businesses.

To help drive the adoption of EVs, Schneider Electric plans on delivering a portfolio of EV charging solutions including EV charging infrastructure, smart-grid integration, services and management, aimed at all EV stakeholders, including automotive manufacturers, municipalities, utilities, commercial and government entities as well as consumers.

As an example, the company’s EV charging solutions will include Square D smart charging stations with smart grid technology for residential and commercial applications including fleets as well as fast-charging stations.

Schneider Electric currently has pilots and partnerships underway in North America and Europe. As an example, the company will provide electric vehicle chargers for the plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHV) trial in Strasbourg, France, being conducted by EDF and Toyota.

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