EVS-23: Rumors & comments & questions, oh my! (2 of 2)

New York Cityâ''And hereâ''s the second one, my last post from the Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS-23) held Sunday through Wednesday (Dec 2-5) in Anaheim, California.

This is the final list of factoids, comments, questions, suppositions, and a bit of opinion (I posted the first one from Anaheim on Wednesday). Like the first, this was gathered from three intensive days of discussions with engineers, technologists, researchers, and executives. They were from automakers, battery companies, research institutions, regulatory bodies and more.

Consider this food for thought on the state of electric vehicles today:

- V2G? V2H? Simple plugs? A long, long way to go yet. Reader Glenn Skutt asked if there was any discussion of Vehicle-to-Grid communication and its long-term implications, and there was tons. But right now, the automakers are just starting to grapple with the issuesâ''itâ''s not yet a natural thing for auto engineers to consider interfacing their product to anything beyond digital fault analyzers. Stay tuned on this one (and watch Spectrum for more).


- My favorite moment (photo): In a presentation by Peter Nortman, president of EnergyCS, describing its results with a fleet of 15 Priuses converted to plug-in hybrids, a squadron of grey-suited Asian engineers raised their digital cameras in unison, like a ballet of swans, to snap pictures of every slide he projected. Cheaper than $150 for the proceedings on CD-ROM, I guess.

- As well as plug-ins, itâ''s all about the weightâ''or should be. Fordâ''s Susan Cischke announced little beyond the directions CEO Alan Mulally had already laid out earlier at the LA Auto Show. But she reiterated the companyâ''s commitment to â''stabilize the weight and sizeâ'' of its vehicles, and start reducing the weight of models launching after 2012. Given Mulallyâ''s tenure in the aircraft industry, where weight is anathema, this sounds promising. Too bad Ford is selling Jaguar, its only brand that has an actual aluminum-framed car in production â'¿.

- Assuming the Chevrolet Volt launches as promised in 2010 or 2011, how will GM hang onto an early-mover advantage in batteries? Itâ''s well known that Panasonic gives Toyota its newest and best products well before they reach other customers; the two companies have a decades-long relationship. Can US vendors do the same? A high-ranked executive smiled wolfishly when asked how GM would prevent battery vendors (A123, say) from selling cells to other automakers. His answer? They can sell power batteries (for hybrids) all day long, but GM gets a lock on energy batteries (for long-range electric-drive vehicles). Given the market, I bet those were long, arduous negotiations.

And thatâ''s all she wrote â'¿but watch Spectrum Online for a full writeup of EVS-23, including this material and many pictures, just like the one I did on the LA Auto Show. Thanks for reading.


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