The Electric Transportation Industry Conference
December Gathering in Florida
To Be The Largest for the EV Industry in 2002
By Shirley Georgi
(Sept., 2002) The Electric Vehicle Association of the Americas (EVAA) is excited about their December Electric Transportation Industry (ETI) Conference ; it is anticipated to be the largest gathering of the electric transportation industry anywhere in the world in 2002.
Kateri Calahan, the Electric Transportation Industry Conference organizer, explained that the best theme for the conference stems from a quote by Victor Hugo - “An invasion of armies can be resisted but not an idea whose time has come.” She continued, “If we had a main theme, it would be centered on electric drive technologies whose time has come. They are here, and it is now the age of electric drive.”
EVs (electric vehicles) have taken on an expanded definition to include multiple battery chemistries, extending into a variety of hybrids and a plethora of fuel cell technologies. Along with a 50,000 square foot auto show, the agenda will feature approximately 200 of the leading electric transportation voices from across the globe and a vehicle “Ride ‘n’ Drive” that will feature a full array of on and off-road motive power as well as industrial battery, hybrid and fuel cell electric vehicles. To provide an in-depth picture of what will be happening, BD editor Shirley Georgi, interviewed Kateri Callahan, Executive Director of EVAA and conference organizer.
A Potential Golden Payoff for Fuel Cells in California
Cost $5 billion retrofit fuel cell infrastructure Result 6,500 stations support H2 refueling
Savings 8.8 M gal. of gas equals 225,000 barrels oil/day Payoff 240 metric tons reduction of CO2 emission/yr.& other greenhouse gases
(The Source of data - The Natural Resources Defense Council)
A pot of gold? Yes, but not so easily obtainable. Who will pay the bill? Is the oil industry ready to stick its neck out and build new ‘refineries’ and retrofit countless gas stations? How much will the car makers ultimately be willing to spend to build and promote a vehicle with a total paradigm shift built around hydrogen? How many new brave customers will there really be? And then, too, there are the added costs and laborious efforts attached to the needed legislation, regulation, standards and even litigation. The bill for this ‘ 5 Star Project’ is immense and the percentages among government, the oil companies, the auto makers and the ultimate consumers are yet to be calculated.
The figures look great, but much has yet to be decided. If the hydrogen is created by means of utilizing plants and/or devices that emit some CO2 and other greenhouse gases, then the payoff is not so great. Other considerations involve the emissions’ cost of vehicles transporting the hydrogen and/or the basic materials (i.e. gasoline) to make hydrogen. The well to wheel costs must be emphasized. Since there are so many variables in how the infrastructure should be developed, these costs can not accurately be determined at this time.
Fuel cells are exciting, but perhaps at this stage of the game, there are more questions than answers. Perhaps the indications are to carefully walk into this new technology rather than fly into the unknown.
What technologies will be discussed at conference?
All vehicles which have an electric drive. These will include fuel cells and hybrids. The common denominator of the technologies of interest to EVAA is that each has an electric propulsion system.
Do you see such as technologies including the 42 Volt systems?
At present, the 42 Volt systems being discussed and developed are not going to have an electric drive propulsion system, so it is not under our umbrella. Currently, those 42 Volts are being put there for a lot of added electronics on board the vehicles. If they begin to use batteries in an application to support electric propulsion, then the technology would be of interest to our group.
Are the sessions geared more toward science and technology or toward the marketing aspects of the industry? What is very unique and appealing about the conference is that the sessions are very well balanced. Attendees will have an opportunity to choose from multiple tracks.
If we look at the technologies on the development curve, we see marketing sessions which will be basically on batteries and hybrid electric vehicles. On the research side, there will be more orientation toward fuel cells.
U.S. Major Auto Companies See Bear Market for pure EVs
Amidst the excitement of the upcoming conference on electric propulsion vehicles, it seems that Ford and GM have found that the consumer market for the pure electric vehicles isa delusion rather than a dream.
In late August, Ford made a definite decision to stop U.S. sales of the TH!NK Neighbor low-speed vehicle. Ford reported that they had sold only 1,688 Neighbors and had donated 500 to national parks. Spectra LLC of Detroit will stop building the vehicles for Ford at the end of this calendar year. The Think City, the European model made in Norway, may also have its production cease; a decision will be made by December.
Although the US District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a preliminary injunction on June 11th against the California Air Resources Board (CARB) preventing the implementation of the 2001 amendments to the state’s ZEV mandate, General Motors is complying with the California regulation. GM, having lost over $1 billion in developing the GM EV1 in the 90s, is now giving away Pathways, its golf cart style electric vehicles. Recipients are California businesses and charitable organization; other states receiving donated vehicles are New York, Vermont and Massachusetts which also have followed California’s lead and have tightened environmental standards for vehicles.
Jim Kliesch, the author of “The Environmental Guide to Cars and Trucks,” said, “Battery electric vehicles are not there yet technologically. Electric vehicles cost thousands of dollars more than similarly sized cars because of the expensive batteries, which need replacing after a few years.” “And,” he continued, “nobody has found a way to build a battery that is cheap, can quickly recharge and allow you to drive long distances.”
Meanwhile, Ford is still working on its environmental theme by focusing on fuel cell and hybrid gasoline- electric vehicles. GM is concentrating on fuel cells, which as Larry Burns (GM’s vice president of research, development and planning) says, “...holds far more commercial promise.”
Our job is to manage expectations and put out credible information for the whole industry. We will talk about Freedom Car. The California Fuel Cell Partnership’s executive director (Dr. Alan Lloyd) will lead a session on worldwide efforts to bring fuel cell technology forward. We will look at demonstration programs and the infrastructure programs that are going on worldwide. The people involved will tell you what is happening and how long it will take to get to get that technology into a truly commercial showroom and what the challenges are for infrastructure deployment. We are not going to oversell a technology in terms of market readiness.
What is new for those interested in the EV battery world?
From a battery manufacturer’s perspective, the good news is that all of the technologies (fuel cell and hybrids) have a potential to use batteries in their applications. We even have a session that is specific to looking at synergies of the various technologies for both on-road and off-road vehicles. This should be an important session for folks in the business of batteries.
For a long time, companies have pursued “stove piped” activities to launch products into markets for their own specific areas. Now people can begin to see other potential opportunities that could not be seen five years ago. Five years ago, who would have thought that there would be widespread commercialization of hybrid electric vehicles? Who would have thought we would be using low speed electric vehicles on the roads? There are now 37 states that have legislation in place that allow individuals to license and use those low speed vehicles on public roads that have speeds of 35 m.p.h. or less.
Is EVAA taking a role in promoting the new low speed electric vehicles?
Yes! Currently, NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) is asking for input on low speed vehicles. We are submitting comments to the rule making process to NHTSA. We are also going to submit a proposal to Canada.
Where do you see some of the greatest opportunities for EV applications?
I think one of the most interesting areas is in the industrial market. At EIT we will have both sessions and displays on this technology. There is an explosion of opportunities for battery equipment. For example, there will be a session on airport electrification. In the display area, we will have John Deere on the floor showing an electric ‘gator’. These are examples of markets that are here now; these types of markets can be huge niches for electric propulsion.
There is a theory out there now; I say a theory because I don’t think it has proved out yet. If you can migrate some of the technology advancements on new electric propulsion that have been developed on the automotive side, you can migrate those developments into the off-road sector and industrial sectorand make products more attractive because of their fuel efficiency and perhaps even bring down the cost.
What role will the government play in the conference?
The USEPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) the DOE (Department of Energy) and DOT (Department of Transportation) are all playing an important role. The DOE is the sponsor for the CD ROM which each conference attendee will receive. Dave Garman, Assistant Secretary U.S. Department of Energy, will be a plenary speaker. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Norm Mineta has also been invited to speak. The EPA is moderating a fuel cell panel. Even the FAA is involved because they are helping airports make the transition to electrification.
And, what about environmental groups?
We are pleased to have the President of the World Resource Institute (WRI), Jonathan Lash, who will be our keynote speaker on December 12th. He will speak on “Environmental Capitalism, Making Money While Doing Good.” (WRI is an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth.)
Will all of the battery chemistries be represented at the meeting?
AVESTOR, a company developing Lithium-metal polymer, is planning to attend. Energy Conversion Devices, a company with extensive work in Nickel-metal hydride, will be represented. We are currently working on having some representation from other chemistries such as Nickel-cadmium and Lead-acid. Speaking of Lead-acid, Patrick Moseley from the International Lead and Zinc Research Organization (ILZRO) and Advanced Lead-acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) will be chairing a session. However, we have no exhibitor from the Lead-acid industry, but space is still available - at the time this article was written.
And a final word?
Whether a person is interested in battery, hybrid, and/or fuel cell electric vehicles, the political, technology and market landscapes are changing dramatically. The EVAA has organized this Florida event to ensure that you understand fully the business implications of, and opportunities presented by, the industry transformation that is underway right now.