Archive for the ‘electric cars’ Category

Paris says "Oui" to car sharing

August 14, 2009

Paris’ mayor just announced the city wants to adopt car sharing in the wake of its successful bike sharing program.

Not only that: They want to start off with thousands of electric cars and a network of charging stations.

Isn’t the sort of bold strategy Chicago ought to be implementing if it wants to demonstrate how green it is to the international Olympic committee? Especially since the city is banking on its environmental initiatives to win the 2016 Summer Games.

That said, the Chicago 2016 committee’s “Blue-Green Games” agenda is still quite laudable—if they can pull it off.

Not taking sides on that bid—there are pros and cons to it in so many ways. Just noting that Paris seems more progressive in this regard at the moment.

Renault greenlights electric-car web site

July 27, 2009

Renault has a new electric-car web site.

The automaker’s partners include Nissan and—more intriguingly—Bay Area-based Better Place, with which it intends to partner on battery-charging stations.

And Renault wants to produce a range of 100% electric vehicles, rejecting the current business model of playing up one marquee flagship car (i.e. Prius, Insight, Volt). Their Z.E. (as in “zero emissions”) concept car is greener than green, far beyond the electric motor. We’re digging the acid-green, neon windows, which help provide insulation and save energy, and temperature-regulating solar panels.

Voiture électrique? We say, toss in a baguette and bottle of Bordeaux, and we’ll give it a shot. Seriously, though: It’s fascinating to see the electric vehicle market begin to take shape internationally.

Scotland hopes to lead the drive towards all-electric vehicles

April 29, 2009

The city of Glasgow is striving to become ‘Electric Motor City’ under an ambitious $250 million dollar plan to create, encourage and spread sustainable transportation options throughout Scotland. Glasgow has been selected as one of five urban areas in the UK to pilot the use of electric vehicles over the next two years. A plan to test 30 electric vehicles in Glasgow has just been given the go-ahead and the government also plans to give drivers who buy new all-electric vehicles a substantial tax break.

Electric vehicles are powered by battery-driven motors and therefore produce none of the polluting emissions that traditional cars produce. They also operate much more quietly than traditional vehicles. However, their range is limited without being recharged.

Environmental and transportation groups have applauded the plan, although they highlight the importance of using renewable and clean energy sources for the charging of the vehicles. Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, warns against using coal or nuclear sources of energy, and instead argues that, “We can use renewable power from the wind and tides.” Seeing as Irfan Rabbani, executive member for the environment, has publicly announced the City Council’s goal to make Glasgow “one of the most sustainable cities in Europe,” this just may happen!

Want to check out an all-electric car for yourself? Check out this video on the new Chevy Volt, which will debut to the public in 2010.

Plug-in Hybrids on I-GO Website

April 9, 2009

I-GO now has a dedicated web page for its new Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles. The page offers an overview of the converted Priuses (which were funded by ComEd), as well as tips and guidelines for I-GO members on how to reserve the cars, help maintain them in optimal condition, and operate them efficiently.

I-GO has two plug-in hybrids: one at Millennium Park’s north garage, 201 E. Randolph St., and one in the South Loop at 900 S. Clark St. at the 900 AMLI residential tower’s above-ground garage.

I-GO adds plug-in hybrids to fleet

April 6, 2009

Ever wonder what it’d be like to drive a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon?

You don’t have to wait until 2015, the deadline President Barack Obama set in his New Energy For America plan to put one million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) on the road. Thanks to generous support from ComEd, I-GO just added two plug-in hybrids to its fleet.

The cars—converted 2009 Toyota Priuses—are located in the Millennium Park north garage at 201 E. Randolph Dr., and at 900 S. Clark St. in the AMLI 900 residential tower’s garage.

On a fully charged battery, these cars are capable of achieving fuel economy in excess of 100 mpg and reducing CO2 emissions by up to two-thirds over the standard Prius.

But don’t take it from us. Try them out for yourselves.

To reserve the cars, I-GO members can simply select “Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid” on the Vehicles drop-down menu on our website after you log in. Or enter the vehicle ID numbers in the space below the menu: 4405 for 900 S. Clark, 4403 for Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph.

Operating the cars is similar to that of a normal Prius (and if you need tips on that, check out the Toyota Prius Quick Guide in the I-GO Member Manual). The difference, of course, is that, before you can start the car you’ll need to unplug the extension cord from the back of the car and recoil it on the spool located next to the garage wall. (Please don’t leave the cord laying on the floor, where it may get run over and damaged.) Then, after you return the car and swipe out with your smart card, just remember to plug it back in.

Simple, right? Plug-in hybrids might be technological marvels, but fortunately, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to drive one.

You just have to be an I-GO member.

Windy City, wind-powered cars?

February 25, 2009

Listening last night to President Obama reiterate solar, wind, biofuel, etc., among the renewable energy sources he wants to see as cornerstones of a new green industrial complex in the U.S., one wonders how they’d be incorporated into a smart grid that benefits both consumers and business. The answers to that question are multitudinous and mind-blowing.

But here’s one possible synergistic scenario I just read about on Green Tech: a smart-grid project on an island off the coast of Denmark—supported by both the Danish government and IBM—in which energy created by wind turbines is being used to generate electricity for plug-in electric hybrid cars.

It’s not the technology R&D that’s the hold-up, though. It’s the usual red tape:

The article quotes Allan Schurr, the vice president of strategy and development at IBM’s Global Energy and Utilities practice, who spells it out:

In an interview on Tuesday, Schurr said that he planned to tell members of Congress that smart-grid technologies are already available and can deliver substantial improvements in efficiency. What’s holding back large-scale adoption isn’t technology but regulations and “institutional inertia,” according to the text of his testimony.

Gets pretty damn windy in Chicago, doesn’t it? The most obvious place to create a wind-turbine corridor is through the Great Plains states, which skirt Illinois, but northern Illinois certainly packs enough wind power to feed off such a grid. ComEd and local engineering wunderkinds at some of our universities (I’m looking at you, IIT) have plug-in fever and are seriously interested in pursuing that future agenda.

Imagine wind turbines off-shore in Lake Michigan. Possible?

Maybe all we need to get a head start in this new game is a strong wind at our backs.