Today is the last day to see the flying car and all that electrifies at the International New York Auto Show 2012. Almost every maker of the automobile has an electric vehicle in the works, and some of these new vehicles are more than electrifying!
The CEO of Japan-based Nissan, and he holds the same positions at Paris-based Renault, Carlos Ghosn, electrified the auto industry with a powerful opening key note that demonstrated leadership, sharing his global vision for the electric vehicles (EVs) (which demonstrates alignment with our World Team project). “Nissan’s all electric Leaf is on top,” shared Mark Perry, the Director for Product Planning and Advanced Technological Strategy, “This year the Leaf will be available to many more people particularly due to higher production with the manufacturing plant in Tennessee coming on line to support the high demand”.
One of the many exciting electric and cross over vehicles besides the Altima and Pathfinder, is the new all electric Infiniti LE which made it’s world debut at this show with Mr. Ghosn unveiling it. This vehicle diverges from the Leaf in two technical areas — aerodynamics and weight savings. It also will come with a built in wireless charging system.
The cross over electric vehicles, with “Range Extenders,” like Fisker’s Karma, and the Chevy’s Volt make allowance for long distance if necessary without dealing with “range anxiety”. But owners of the Volt are commonly appreciating the luxury of “fuel anxiety,” explained Rob Peterson, Manager of Chevrolet Volt and Electric Vehicle Technologies at General Motors. They are so excited about free charging from renewable energy sources, and the price of electricity vs. gas that they now have anxiety about having to give about $5.oo per gallon to oil companies”. He went on to explain that a group of owners are now competing to see who can go the longest period of time cumulatively without having to re-fuel with fossil fuel at all. These vehicle owners have the freedom of a “plan B”, if they do need additional range, they have the choice. When given the choice people are choosing to change the driving habits, so the Volt is one of the new vehicles that is in a range, (both price and distance) for most people.
Jack Hidary, who leads Hertz’s global EV iniatives is OEM brand agnostic. Hertz is striving to have access to all the EVs for the public to rent, a great way for people to transition off fossil fuel vehicles and test EVs out. Hertz’s EVs range from the Tesla to the Leaf with crossovers like the Volt and the soon to be Karma along with a slew of German EVs emerging. New vehicles are planned to be available in the USA soon, like BYD’s E6. Hertz remains the leader in electric vehicle rentals, and the rental company is testing the wireless inductive charging system with a pilot program at corporate headquarters. The future of EVs is presently functioning in the City of Shenzhen, China where 100 fast chargers are already deployed and a charging infrastructure that supports the use of electric vehicles is in place. In Shenzhen, the new purchase of a BYD vehicle also comes with two level 2 chargers. For more about the BYD-Daimler alliance and the situation with Hertz in Shenzhen check out this NYTimes article.
Renting the vehicles is a viable option especially while the USA ramps up the charging infrastructure and we extend the range of the batteries for the EVs, explore inductive changing, or do a battery swap model like Better Place’s in Isreal and soon to be in Australia. Presently the batteries of the Tesla and Leaf is limited in range, which is fine for local driving, but those cross country trips may require a rental from Hertz and you never know you might even find the EV version of the Dolorean.
Hopefully Hertz will even stock the new car that flies. Maybe the flying cars will have a cross over ( not just from vehicle to plane), but also have an electric future.
[slideshow] photos by Albert Boulanger and Suzanne Maxx