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April 26, 2011
The electric vehicles were staged at NREL before being transported to Antarctica. NREL is leading a project that will test two EVs at McMurdo Station.The goal is to reduce dependence on imported fuels in Antarctica and validate the performance of the vehicles in extreme conditions.

The punishment your car endures on a cold winter commute pales in comparison to the veritable torture that researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are inflicting on two electric utility research vehicles — all in the name of science.

For these e-ride Industries EXV2s, commutes are short in distance but long on darkness and temperatures that dip below -50°F at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica. However, if these electric vehicles (EVs) can prove they are tough enough to take on Antarctica, then they will help offset current fossil fuel use and pollution at the station. These more efficient and less resource intensive EVs could replace the base’s extensive fleet of diesel trucks, snowmobiles and buses.

“This project is specifically looking at reducing the amount of petroleum used down in Antarctica,” NREL Senior Task Leader Ted Sears said. “Transporting vehicle fuel to Antarctica is costly and resource intensive, and requires great planning as well. Managing energy use very carefully is critical because of potentially harmful effects on the environment.”

The Polar Regions are pristine research environments and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Office of Polar Programs is working with NREL and DOE to incorporate more renewable energy and energy efficiency practices into its current facilities. In fact, NSF and Raytheon Polar Services own one of the vehicles and DOE/NREL own the other.

“Each gallon of fuel NREL can demonstrate can be displaced with renewable energy will make a real difference,” Sears said. “At this point, it looks promising given that two renewable resources — solar and wind — are already on ‘the ice’ and can be used to power vehicles. So, we’ve put two test electric utility vehicles down there, to see how they function.

“Of course, we’ll be examining the power needs of any proposed McMurdo Station electric vehicle fleet to ensure it would not negatively impact the other power needs and operations at McMurdo. It may be that a mix of vehicle types, electric and conventional, is appropriate, depending on the operational needs at the facility.”

Getting There is Half the Battle

Enlarge imageNREL Senior Task Leader Ted Sears puts the NREL logo on one of two electric vehicles that are now working in Antarctica. Sears is leading this project – which will implement testing of the EV’s at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, to see how well EVs can hold up under harsh conditions.
Credit: Dennis Schroeder

E-ride’s EXV2 was chosen mainly because of its truck frame and its design as a utility vehicle,” said NREL Senior Mechanical Engineer Ian Baring-Gould, who leads the Laboratory’s work in polar environments.

Researchers thought these were the units that would best fit the kind of vehicle uses found in Antarctica where pickup trucks are currently the vehicle of choice. The e-ride EXV2 is designed as a two-person vehicle with a truck-like bed and larger utility style tires for use on dirt roads.  It has a maximum speed of 25 mph under “normal” driving conditions and uses an array of lead-acid batteries. For deployment to Antarctica, the EVs were outfitted with insulation for the batteries as well as battery heaters.

NREL worked closely with NSF and Raytheon Polar Services during the selection and manufacturing process. But, the work really started once the EVs made it to NREL’s campus in Golden, Colo.

“We did some initial testing at NREL using a cold cell and dropped the temp to -9°F while the EVs were on a dynamometer,” Sears said.  “We saw that the vehicles function as we expected, and were able to capture data during cold temps.”

Once the EVs were outfitted with initial data logging equipment, NREL took the vehicles to Raytheon to make sure the data loggers could communicate wirelessly with the NSF and Raytheon servers and get information back to NREL. From there, it was off to California via flatbed truck. These EVs cannot be driven on the highway because their top speed is only 25 mph  Once in sunny California, the EVs were put on a boat to Christchurch, New Zealand, and from there, a transport plane to McMurdo. The e-ride’s plane landed on the ice in February 2011, on one of the last flights in before the harsh winter season hit.

“I love the photos from when the vehicles were unloaded in Antarctica,” Sears said. “They just look to me like they are cringing as their tires hit the ice going, ‘I don’t know about this.’ ”

Working On ‘The Ice’

Enlarge imageThe e-rides land on the ice in February 2011, on one of the last flights in before the harsh winter season hits. Testing these vehicles’ batteries will be key to understanding how EVs perform in harsh climates.
Courtesy of Kent Colby with Raytheon Polar Services

After the long haul to Antarctica, the EVs are now getting used on a daily basis.

“They’ve been there for over a month now and are working, but we are heading into the bad weather now and we’ll see how these vehicles do,” Sears said. “Even if they are only good in the summer months, we would be happy with learning this and with the associated amount of petroleum savings.”

In just over a month, the EVs have been driven more than 70 hours and logged nearly 140 miles. The data collection will continue for at least one year, capturing data during the most brutally cold months and the more “mild” summer months. The main concern as the Antarctic summer fades into winter is — how well will the batteries hold up?

“Empirical data on the capability of the vehicle batteries in such cold is critical,” Sears said. “As a result, we are trying to learn everything we can about how the vehicle systems operate and respond in the extreme cold. Despite the vehicles being equipped with battery warming devices, there are still going to be limitations on their capabilities.”

Not only in Antarctica but around the world, there are many remote locations looking at renewables to reduce fuel use. “That is one of the prime reasons we are testing this in McMurdo,” Baring-Gould said. “In this case we are looking at EVs for McMurdo, but there is a huge market out there from rural communities in Alaska to islands in the Pacific that need to look at the transportation sector and how EVs can play a continuing role in their ability to reduce dependency on imported fuels.”

In his recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for putting one million EVs on the road by 2015PDF. “These may not be the exact roads he was thinking of, but nonetheless, we are taking new technology and deploying it,” Sears said. “This project really offers NREL a significant opportunity to increase the visibility of small electric vehicles, expand our experience with them, and validate the performance of the vehicles in extreme conditions.”

Learn more about NREL’s Advanced Vehicles and Fuels Research. Visit the McMurdo Station Web Cam to see current conditions in Antarctica.

— Heather Lammers

Newest EV choices indicate drives to succeed

By Lee van der Voo
Contributing reporter

Drive Oregon Executive Director Jeff Allen rallies the crowd at the EV Roadmap 6 event on July 30.

While this week’s EV Roadmap 6 conference featured reams of useful knowledge during its seminars, some of the real action took place in a nearby courtyard.

That’s where manufacturers showed off their latest lines of, well, the actual electric vehicles themselves. All the biggies were there: Tesla, Toyota, Ford, all of which displayed their wares at the World Trade Center during the conference.

There were also choices from Honda, smart, VIA motors and Oregon start-ups Arcimoto and EV Options. Plus, Silicon Energy Silicon showed off one of its pretty-cool solar trailers.

The EV Roadmap 6 conference — presented by Drive Oregon, Portland General Electric and Portland State University — focused on issues related to vehicle charging, the driving experience and ways that employers can enhance EV usage.

Data shows cities can save big money by switching to EVs

By Jon LeSage,

Municipal fleets are saving money by using electric vehicles, and the Electrification Coalition has the numbers to prove it. Houston, TX, for example, expects to save $110,000 a year by bringing in 27 Nissan Leafs, according to the EC study.The organization also found that using Leafs in the city fleet in Loveland, CO, will save 41 percent compared to owning and operating gasoline-powered cars.

What started out as meeting environmental benefits has also bring cost savings to Houston’s fleet, said Laura Spanijan, director of sustainability at the City of Houston. The forecasted savings are expected to come from reduced fuel and maintenance costs compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. The city’s FleetShare program, developed with Zipcar, makes a network of 50 EVs, plug-in hybrids and hybrids easy to access for Houston city employees. Employees can reserve green cars available in the fleet pool at seven locations and the program handles about 600 reservations a month.

Loveland has found EVs to be a solution to rising fuel costs, says Mayor Cecil Gutierrez. The 41-percent savings have offered a notable boost during tough economic times, and the city is now going to convert all of its light-duty vehicles that don’t need to drive long distances to EVs, Gutierrez said. The program has helped Loveland employees quickly overcome their reservations about EVs.

You can read more about what the cities gained with their EV switch in the case studies on the City of Loveland and the City of Houston, respectively, and from reading the press release below.

Loveland, Colo. also benefiting from municipal use of electric vehicles

Washington, D.C.-Cities are saving money by using electric vehicles (EVs) in their vehicle fleets, two new studies find. City officials in Houston, Texas, estimate that the city’s 27 Nissan LEAF electric vehicles will save the city $110,000 annually compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. A similar study examining Loveland, Colo. found that the city’s LEAFs will cost 41 percent less to own and operate than gasoline-powered vehicles.

“Houston first began using electric vehicles for the environmental benefits they offer, but now we are planning to add even more EVs to our fleet because of the cost savings they bring,” said Laura Spanjian, director of sustainability for the City of Houston. “We project that electric vehicles will save the city $110,000 per year in reduced fuel and maintenance, costs that we would otherwise have to spend on gas-powered vehicles. Also, our new car sharing program FleetShare, which we developed with ZipCar, provides easy access to the vehicles for Houston’s employees.”

Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez also said that using electric vehicles saves his city money.

“Loveland needed to do something about rising fuel costs, and electric vehicles have proven to be a great solution, saving us about 41 percent overall compared to gas-powered vehicles,” Gutierrez said. “In tough economic times, these savings cannot be ignored. Loveland is now aiming to convert all of its light-duty fleet vehicles that work within a close distance of the city to EVs.”

Cities across the country are adding electric vehicles to their fleets in order to take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits. The two new case studies released today by the Electrification Coalition-“The City of Houston: Forward Thinking on Electrification,” and “The City of Loveland: Marrying Functionality and Economics”-offer new insight into the benefits of municipal fleet electrification as well as best practices and lessons-learned.

“After only three years on the market, electric vehicles are already proving themselves as smart economic choices for municipal and commercial vehicle fleets,” said Robbie Diamond, President and CEO of the Electrification Coalition. “Fleets are leading the way to widespread adoption of EVs, which is crucial for protecting our nation from the economic and national security threats posed by oil dependence.”

Additional findings of the new studies include:

Houston: Centralizing management of capital and operational expenditures under one office was crucial in capturing “total cost of ownership” savings.

Houston: The city also made it easier for its employees to use electric and other green vehicles by implementing an innovative car sharing reservation program. The city equipped 50 EV, PHEV and HEV vehicles with Zipcar’s Fast Fleet wireless technology, enabling employees to reserve available vehicles in the fleet pool. The program has seven locations and handles nearly 600 reservations per month.

Houston: Charging infrastructure is a key piece of the city’s electric vehicle FleetShare strategy. To date, the city has installed 77 level two (220v) and 32 level one (110v) charging stations throughout the City.
Loveland: Initial employee skepticism was quickly overcome-usually in one use-by the vehicle’s better-than-perceived reliability, performance, and range. Repeat usage by employees is very high.

Loveland: The city has plans to incorporate four more EVs into its fleet by the end of 2014.

Minnesota Company Aims to Save US Postal Service

Updated: 06/06/2013 6:36 AM
Created: 06/05/2013 2:48 PM | Print |  Email
By: Nick Winkler

Princeton, Minn. based electric vehicle maker, E-Ride Industries, is being considered to help replace postal service fleet.

The company manufactures electric utility vehicles that are changing the way people work and could save the U.S. Postal Service hundreds of millions of dollars.

The company says its vehicles can be operated for about $.05 a mile versus approximately $1 a mile for USPS gasoline powered delivery vehicles.

E-Ride says if a federal law is changed and the postal service replaces half its fleet with electric utility vehicles, it could save several hundred million dollars a year in fuel.

Currently, USPS says it uses approximately 726 million gallons of fuel a year.

Electric utility vehicles are replacing fleet vehicles on college campuses, military bases, and VA hospitals. They can be customized, get between 25-60 miles per charge, and are designed to perform in extreme conditions.

In the past 10 years E-Ride says it has sold more than 1,000 electric utility vehicles worldwide.


itemprop=”headline”>Nolan vows to help e-ride get postal contract

Eighth District U.S. Congressman Rick Nolan and e-ride Industries founder John Herou look at the neighborhood electric vehicle that the U.S. Postal Service test-drove for two years in Washington, D.C. The location is e-ride’s manufacturing facility just north of Princeton city limits.

Eighth District U.S. Congressman Rick Nolan and e-ride Industries founder John Herou look at the neighborhood electric vehicle that the U.S. Postal Service test-drove for two years in Washington, D.C. The location is e-ride’s manufacturing facility just north of Princeton city limits.

Someday your mail might be delivered in vehicles manufactured in Princeton if a U.S. Congressman has his way.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan promised, after visiting the e-ride Industries neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) works in Princeton last Friday, that he will try to get a regulation changed so that NEVs would be allowed to reach a top speed of 35 mph on streets.
Right now the vehicles are only allowed to go 25 mph. Raising the NEVs’ allowable speed would make them more practical if the United States Postal Service (USPS) were to use NEVs, says e-ride founder and chief operating officer John Herou.
As e-ride engineer Bob Teich explained, it doesn’t make sense to not allow NEVs to reach 35 mph when they can now legally operate on roads posted at 35 mph or less.

The newly-elected Eighth District Congressman was accompanied on the tour by two office staffers. Also there was Lisa Fobbe of Princeton, who staffs the St. Cloud office of U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

Herou explained, during the tour, how the postal service tested one of e-ride’s NEVs for delivering mail in Washington, D.C. The original test was for close to a year, beginning Nov. 1, 2010, and then the contract was extended to end Nov. 10, 2012. The USPS has been test-driving vehicles from many NEV companies, according to Herou.

“Just give us a shot,” Herou said to Nolan about hopes that the speed limit for NEVs could be increased to 35 mph. Herou said he wasn’t asking for any special favors to get the postal service to choose e-ride to supply them with NEVs.

The NEVs that e-ride manufactures are 72 volts. E-ride has filled out a proposal to the postal service that, if approved, would mean that e-ride would supply the USPS with 500-1,000 NEVs. Herou says that e-ride offered three possible configurations in its proposal to the USPS: one with lead-acid batteries and a 400-watt solar panel; a second option with maintenance-free lead-acid batteries; and a third option with lithium-ion batteries.

Most of the routes that the postal service would use the NEVs on would not draw the lithium-ion batteries down more than 50 percent, therefore those batteries would last up to 20 years, Herou said.

If the postal service contracts with e-ride to produce as many as 20,000 NEVs, it would mean 350 jobs at e-ride, Herou said. Then there would be the jobs produced at the companies supplying NEV parts for e-ride, Herou added. “We just need you to help,” Herou told Nolan.  “You’re going to get it,” Nolan replied. Nolan added that for the postal service to use NEVs, instead of the gas engine-powered vehicles it is using now, would save the government a lot of money. Herou calculated that if the postal service were to use 20,000 e-ride NEVs over a 20-year period, the USPS would save nearly $3.11 billion through less fuel and maintenance.

Nolan said that the best effort to get a federal law changed to allow NEVs to go up to 35 mph would be if the entire Congressional delegation from Minnesota was behind it.