CarCharging has taken over the operations and maintenance of 27 Blink electric vehicle charging stations in Davidson County. The stations had been installed and owned by Ecotality, which filed for bankruptcy almost a year ago and then sold its Blink assets to Florida-based CarCharging.
Nissan executives this spring made a big splash with their ZEOD electric race car, which the company rolled out after splitting from the innovative DeltaWing project. Now the DeltaWing group — newly led by former Firestone racing point man Al Speyer — is suing the car maker, saying it and designer Ben Bowlby have, among other things, misappropriated confidential information and breached their contracts. Racer's Marshall Pruett has the lowdown, including a short response from Nissan.
Nissan executives have unveiled their vision for where electric cars might go in the future. Building on the technology they've brought to market with the Leaf, they are promising "a fresh electric vehicle driving experience based on peerless technology and exotic styling" with the BladeGlider concept.
With its narrow, 1.0 meter lightweight front track and wide, stable rear track, BladeGlider looks as if it could have sprung from a "skunk works" project. But the radical architecture all boils down to aerodynamics and balance. Having the front wheels close together reduces drag and enhances maneuverability for high G cornering power, assisted by its 30/70 front/rear weight distribution ratio.
The electricity-powered car, hailed by many as the vehicle of the future, will remain just that, a prominent industry consultant said this morning at a local industry conference.
"Electrification makes no commercial sense," Kim Korth, president and CEO of IRN Inc., told attendees of the first AutoConnect gathering organized by law firm Frost Brown Todd. "It will be a teeny microniche for the foreseeable future."
Electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf will account for a relatively bigger share of the market in some of the world's largest and densest urban areas, Korth added. But she's not buying some forecasts that have electric cars making up 7 percent of light-vehicle sales within a decade.
Automakers have rolled out or are planning to introduce about 20 electric models to the U.S. market. Since the end of 2010, consumers have bought almost 140,000 pure-electric or hybrid-electric cars, according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association. So far in 2013, the trade group says electric cars have accounted for 3.9 percent of total sales.
While skeptical about the potential for that number to grow, Korth — who is based in Grand Rapids, Mich. — told AutoConnect attendees that another emerging technology is set to have a big impact on the auto sector. Autonomous vehicles, she said, will change the industry and how many of us move around in a big way. As the technology matures, don't be surprised if the features that we take for granted today — such as pedals, instrument panels and buttons — disappear. Instead, cars' interiors will increasingly resemble living rooms.
Nissan will between now and next April install quick chargers for its Leaf electric car at more than 100 dealerships in 21 cities around the country. The units will be able to charge an empty battery to 80 percent capacity in half an hour. A company spokesman said the list of dealerships that will get quick chargers hasn't been finalized, but Nashville is set to get some. Middle Tennessee is the No. 7 market in the country in Leaf sales. Through the first half of this year, Nissan sold 9,839 models in the U.S., more than in all of 2012.
Nissan executives today unveiled the ZEOD RC, a Le Mans-class prototype that will rely in part on the same electric drive technology in the company's Leaf model. The new car builds on the work Nissan did last year with the Deltawing car. The company has brought on board full-time Ben Bowlby, the lead designer of that vehicle, as its director of motorsports innovation.
"The ZEOD RC program is designed to develop multiple technologies to evaluate how they could be used for a future LM P1 class return of Nissan at the Le Mans 24 Hour. There are multiple options we are investigating. A Zero Emission on Demand option where the driver can switch between electric and petrol-powered drive is a future direction for road cars, so that will be tested in addition to pure electric power and other new technologies that we still have under development."
Nissan has donated six of its Leaf electric cars to New York for a pilot taxi program. One big question the city and the Leaf drivers will look to answer: How do you accommodate an electric car's charging needs related to a taxicab's full day of work?
Talking to reporters last week, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said many consumers still don't have enough trust in electric-car technology to buy a Leaf or one of its competitors. But he says the auto maker's $5 billion bet on electric cars is still the way to go and that the Leaf's slow ramp "isn't going to shake the foundation of Nissan."
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