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Local News / Automotive

Sunday, 19 June, 2011 1:31 AM

Sales of electric vehicles are set to take off soon, panelists say

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Chevrolet Volt Vehicle Line Director Tony Posawatz addresses the Automotive News Green Car Conference on June 14, 2011.

 

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

|

NOVI, Mich. -- While initial sales of the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan LEAF were lower than expected, those figures are expected to rise at a very fast pace. High gas prices and the choice to "go green" will drive consumers to take home EVs very soon. Experts discussed that very topic at the Automotive News Green Car Conference on Tuesday at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich. There were three sessions including "The Case for Electrics," "Rethinking the Car" and "The Consumer Experience: What Have We Learned So Far?"

The day began with a breakfast along a product showcase and a ride and drive event. Then, there was an opening address from Tony Posawatz, the Chevrolet Volt Vehicle Line Director. It was followed by the the three sessions listed above and a discussion about China. The afternoon wrapped up with the presentation of the Automotive News PACE Environmental Awards. A closing reception took place shortly after.

"We're improving efficiencies to make the battery go further," Posawatz said. "We're looking at a whole host of options. We didn't always have the most eager suppliers. We believe the cost of batteries will go down by half. We feel for our friends in Japan. Many, many new exciting announcements are coming. We'll build as many as customers demand. The Volt was initiated in 2006. It was a technology statement. We plan to build 300,000 of these vehicles by 2020."

Nancy Gioia is the Director of Global Electrification at Ford Motor Company. She received her Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan and a Master's degree in manufacturing systems engineering from Stanford University.

"Attracting and retaining new talent is one of the challenges," Gioia explained. "We've embedded electrification into our business. It can drive us forward. We still believe its between 10 to 25 percent battery electric. We share technologies between applications. We started the smart gauge in the Fusion Hybrid. We also then go mobile. You can connect with your car like with your friends on Facebook."

Jon Bereisa is the President and CEO of Auto Letrification LLC. He received a Bachelor's of Science degree, a Master's of Science degree and professional degrees from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

"Technology is in the catch up mode since the early 1900s," Bereisa said. "In 1996, it was the EV1. It all started with lead acid batteries. We had a range problem. Batteries were not energy efficient in those days. Next was nickel metal hydride batteries. It did succeed in a hybrid arena, but not the amount we needed. With the California ZEV mandate (1990), there was very little customer awareness of an EV. In 2011, there has been a big difference. We're going to have to make everything lighter and more fuel efficient. We're still suffering low range."

Jason Forcier is the Vice President of the Automotive Solutions Group at A123 Systems, Inc. He earned a Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Kettering University and a Master's degree in business administration from the University of Michigan.

"Political pressure to electrify has never been greater," Forcier said. "Over 2,500 buses on the road today with an A123 Systems battery. The number of OEMs [automakers] with batteries are doubling. The Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF are doing very well in the market. Start-stop systems cost less than $1,000. We currently have 50 projects under development."

Jun Ni is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan's College of Engineering. He earned a Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Shanghai Jaio Tong University in China and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin.

"In China, the fuel cell is bring pushed," Ni explained. "Ten cities will have 1,000 electric vehicles. Quickly, this has been expanded to 25 [cities]. Beijing was the first city. There is a plan to roll out another 4,000 [electric] vehicles this year and 2012. Hangzhou has already 3,000 vehicles on the road. Lead acid batteries are out. Shanghai plans to reach 20,000 EVs by 2012 and 5,000 charging posts."

The discussion was not only about electric vehicles, but also clean diesel. Bosch showed off a demonstration vehicle of its new Volkswagen Jetta Clean Diesel Power.

"This is a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI," said Brad Warner, marketing manager of diesel systems for Robert Bosch LLC. "We've partnered with Banks Power of Azusa, Calif. to enhance the performance and handling of the vehicle. Its got a 2-liter engine in it. We thought, 'boy, there's a lot more performance this little 2-liter engine can do.' We've put some proprietary Banks engineering on it, increased the fuel flow and the pressure. We put some sport chassis and tires and rims on it. We shaved about one to two seconds off the 0 to 60 time on it."

The 2011 Automotive News PACE Environmental Awards were given out in three categories: Product, manufacturing process and innovation partnership. There were a total of 15 award winners for this year. Click here to view the complete list of winners.

The Automotive News Green Car Conference took place one day after the first-ever Electrifying 100 awards ceremony at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich.

Related Story: Electrifying 100: Top individuals promoting the move toward electric vehicles honored

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Nancy Gioia is the Director of Global Electrification at Ford Motor Company.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Jon Bereisa is the President and CEO of Auto Letrification LLC.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Attendees listened very closely to the speeches.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Jason Forcier is the Vice President of the Automotive Solutions Group at A123 Systems, Inc.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Some of the vehicles at the ride and drive event outside.

 

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