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President Wants Funds to Shift Away From Gas-Powered Cars

Energy Security Trust would divert oil revenues to develop clean technologies like batteries, hydrogen.

by on Feb.13, 2013

The president calls for the creation of a national Energy Security Trust to help shift away from oil.

President Barack Obama wants to divert some of the revenues the federal government receives for oil and gas drilling to help find ways to shift to cleaner energy sources like battery power and hydrogen fuel cells.

In his State of the Union address, the president noted that there are significant new revenues being raised by leasing rights for expanded oil and natural gas production on public lands. He envisions using some of that to fund a new Energy Security Trust.

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“If a nonpartisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we,” Obama said. “Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices that we have put up with far too long.”


Ford Will Add Stop/Start Capability To 20% of Its Global Products By 2014

Technology should boost mileage by 10%, maker claims.

by on Dec.27, 2010

Ford wants to offer fuel-saving Stop/Start technology on products like the new Focus - if it can get federal regulators to acknowledge the technology's benefits.

Ford Motor Co. will begin offering so-called Stop/Start systems in a variety of its vehicles, technology the maker claims will be able to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 10%.

Globally, Stop/Start systems will be offered in about 20% of the maker’s product mix by 2014, noted J Mays, global design director, during a presentation at Ford’s Wayne Assembly Plant, on Tuesday.

Longer term, Ford officials added, Stop/Start could become fairly ubiquitous in the company’s line-up.

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But while Mays hinted that Ford hopes to launch the technology in the U.S. market “quite soon,” he cautioned that federal regulators have yet to give Stop/Start their thumbs-up.  With the nation’s fuel economy standard set to reach 35 mpg by 2016 – and possibly push to 62 mpg by 2025 – makers like Ford are reluctant to introduce anything that doesn’t gain them credits with regulators – as well as kudos from consumers.

(Ford plans to produce three battery cars at its newly-updated Wayne Assembly Plant, starting in 2012. Click Here for more.)

“We won’t bring it to market” in the U.S. without some acknowledgement from regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency that Stop/Start boosts mileage, stressed Mays.


Obama to Visit Michigan Battery Plant That Will Now Supply Both GM and Ford EVs.

Ford signs up LG Chem’s Compact Power subsidiary as new battery supplier.

by on Jul.14, 2010

Power to the People? President Barack Obama will visit Michigan to press for more battery production.

President Obama will be charging through Michigan Thursday, stopping in Holland to mark the groundbreaking of the new LG Chem battery plant that will begin supplying lithium-ion packs to the nation’s two largest domestic automakers in 2012.

The Korean-owned plant, scheduled to be one of the first in this country to produce the basic lithium-ion cells for battery vehicles like the 2011 Chevrolet Volt will also produce batteries for Ford’s upcoming Focus Electric model, that automaker announced Tuesday.

Obama’s visit will be more than the classic political meet-and-greet session.  The president will use his visit to the site of the LG Chem plant to focus on his administration’s efforts to expand the production and sales of plug-in hybrids, pure battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and other battery-based cars, trucks and crossover.

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For his part, the president is calling for the auto industry to be selling 1 million plug-ins, extended-range electric vehicles (the proper description of the Volt) and battery-electric vehicles by 2015.

While skeptics warn the technology is likely to remain expensive and limited in application for more than a decade to come, proponents insist that costs will come down –while consumer demand should rise — as manufacturers ramp up production of both batteries and battery vehicles.  Though LG Chem’s facility is still two years from production, as many as four high-volume lithium-ion factories are expected to be operating by year’s end, including one in Indianapolis supplying the Norwegian-based Think!, which plans to produce its 2-seat City minicar in Elkhart, Indiana.


OPOC Could Revolutionize Engine Design

by on Jun.22, 2010

Could the OPOC engine replace conventional internal combustion technology?

There’s so much talk all across the automotive industry about battery electric vehicles, it would seem that the death of the internal combustion engine is imminent.

But even the top proponents of battery power caution that the proven petroleum-powered internal combustion engine, or ICE, will continue to power cars for years to come. So, we might as well work on building a better one.

Long-time Detroit automotive executive Don Runkle presented such a solution at this month’s Green Car Conference. Runkle’s company, EcoMotors International is developing the OPOC – opposed piston opposed cylinder – engine.

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The engine is a horizontally opposed design with two pistons running in each cylinder. The two-stroke engine has a power burst for every revolution of the crank in each cylinder instead of every other revolution, as is the case with today’s conventional ICE.

Click Here for a video of Inventor Peter Hofbauer explaining how the engine works.

“It’s a better mousetrap,” Runkle said.


Ford, Microsoft Partnering to Charge Up EVs

“Easier and more affordable” ownership promised.

by on Mar.31, 2010

An EV, says Ford CEO Alan Mulally, will double the energy consumption of the average home.

Ford Motor Co. will team up with software giant Microsoft in an effort to make it “easier and more affordable” to purchase an electric vehicle, the automaker’s CEO Alan Mulally announced during an appearance at the New York Auto Show.

The big buzzword in the auto industry, these days, is “electrification,” with Ford and most of its rivals unleashing a wave of hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles.  But the transformation is likely to be a difficult and costly one, Mulally cautioned, during the 2010 auto show’s keynote speech and again during a Ford news conference.

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The cost of battery technology is part of the problem, along with limited range.  But there’s also the challenge of simply plugging in – and making sure there’s a ready and affordable supply of energy.  That’s where Washington-based Microsoft comes in.  The software giant plans to adapt its HOHM application to work on future Ford products, starting with the 2012 Focus Electric, a battery-powered version of the maker’s new compact passenger car.


LG Chem To Set Up Michigan Battery Plant

Will produce batteries for up to 200,000 electric vehicles.

by on Mar.12, 2010

The basic battery cells for the Chevrolet Volt will soon be produced in Michigan, not Korea.

Korea’s LG Chem will invest $303 million to set up a plant in Western Michigan to produce enough lithium-ion batteries to power as many as 200,000 electric vehicles annually.

The primary customer for the LIon technology will be General Motors, which last year chose LG Chem to provide batteries for the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle, or E-REV, which GM plans to put into production this coming November.  But the size of the new plant, which will be built in Holland, Michigan, suggests LG could seek other customers, as well.

The announcement is significant for several reasons.  As part of the partnership they formed last year, GM and LG Chem set up a plant in suburban Detroit to assemble battery packs for the Volt, but the basic cells used in those packs have been coming from LG’s plants in the Far East.

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Until now, the bulk of lithium-ion production has been based in Asia, primarily Japan, China and South Korea.  But with the auto industry ramping up plans for new battery cars – and with the Obama Administration offerings billions of dollars in loans and grants – production is begin to expand in the United States.


GM Adds Battery-Electric Vehicles to Plug-ins, Hybrids, E-REVs

Pure battery cars under development, but timing uncertain.

by on Jan.25, 2010

GM is moving forward on a range of pure battery-powered vehicles, well beyond the little NXR it will sell in India as part of a joint venture.

While General Motors plans emphasize hybrids, plug-ins and so-called extended-range electrics, like the Chevrolet Volt, the automaker is quietly at work developing some pure battery-electric models that could hit the road in the next few years, officials have confirmed to

Senior GM officials are still skeptical about the potential for vehicles relying on batteries along, but they also see the need for what product development czar Tom Stephens describes as a “robust product portfolio” that can address the broadest possible mix of energy alternatives and consumer needs.

The key takeaway, GM officials stress, is that electric power, in one form or another, is rapidly becoming an essentially element in the company’s model mix.

“We have to come up with a robust product portfolio that can take advantage of all (the various) energy alternatives and do it efficiently,” said Stephens.

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Until recently, GM officials prefered to direct the media spotlight towards an array of products pairing battery power and the internal combustion engine, such as mild hybrids like the one first introduced on the Saturn Vue, advanced two-mode hybrid-electric systems, such as the one used in the Cadillac Escalade, and extended-range electric vehicles, or E-REVs, such as the Chevrolet Volt.