Share →

EVCCON 2013 is done and we are slowly recovering. My voice is pretty much gone. I did several sessions of two hours or more.

We had several hits this year. Brian Seymour and the HPEVS team showed up in force this year showing their new AC35x2. They brought two cars at no small expense, a Toyota Scion XB and a Corvette.

The Corvette was quite interesting and we didn’t do it justice in the show this week due to some “where is the clip” confusion with a new video employee. But this is a very interesting car. There are a few Corvette models with an automatic transmission in the REAR of the car. Brian coupled his 152 HP AC35x2 to this transmission DIRECTLY easchewing the use of a torque converter. The issue there is how to keep the hydraulic pump going to provide pressure for takeoff. He actually devised a way using the Curtiss Control CREEP mode to idle the transmission at 50 rpm. This was enough to run the pump, but left the car standing still.

The result was imperrect. We rode with Brian on the 1/8 mile and the car, absolutely bloated with 260Ah Thundersky cells, was slow off the line but then picked up very quickly – indicating to me there was tuning yet to be done. But basically it works and whether it is 50 rpm or 56 rpm or 62 rpm is a matter of trial and error. They had literally finished the car a few hours before putting it on a truck for Missouri.

Seymour, who claims to be terrified of public speaking, turned out to be the hambone of the event, and a fount of info just unavailable on this new product line. For example, the CAN bus output of the Curtis controller already has all the info you would need to thoroughly instrument a car courtesy of the software he has written in VCL. Already in the box. We had earlier noted you can now configure the controller WITHOUT the Curtis 1311 controller. And of course with the AC35x2 you basically get a single motor with two sets of 3-phase windings. This allows you to use TWO Curtis 144v controllers for over 150kW in an affordable AC package.

Eric Kriss stole the show with a session on planning a build. In covering the basics he demonstrated to us anyway that we’ve maybe been in a bit too far with the tech talk and not enough of the basic approach. The session was probably the most noted at the event. He has also done a BOOK on his 1969 Saab Sonnet conversion. Available from Lulu for $50 it’s a must see. Yahoo AutoTalk did a spot on his build that is also extremely interesting..

Dr. Dennis Doerfel of Reap Systems was unable to attend from the UK but sent a fascinating video session on battery terminal temperature considerations that was very well received.

EVCCON actually started five days early with the arrival of Al Gajda and his son Paul on the previous Thursday with their 1939 Dodge Brothers pickup. They installed 80 CA180FI cells in the back of this small vintage pickup truck. Al did rather well with our Tesla stock tip and it was nothing but the best for the Dodge. Actually we had predicted a short squeeze last February and I called a $140 stock price by the end of summer. Ironically, Tesla opened Monday morning of EVCCON at exactly $140.01 per share. It went as high as $157 in the days after their 2nd quarter earnings announcement.

We had picked up my Model S the week before the event. My wife has already laid claim to the car but was very good at the event. Anyone who looked a little glum or out of the action she swooped down on with the Model S and they were forced to drive or ride in it until they were grinning ear to ear again. She shuttled dozens of people around in the car.

Jehu Garcia did show up with his Samba bus on a trailer. Turns out a few things were not entirely sorted as he had his transmission coupler on backwards, rather loose nuts on his rear wheels, and some other interesting little items we helped him with. He actually edited an EVTV episode from his hotel room and that was our August 9th show. We’re looking for ways to work with this fascinating entrepreneur from California.

Mark Weisman, Collin Kidder, Ed Clausen, plus a team of three from the University of Lisbon led by Paulo Almeida fell on the VW Thing like a swarm of rock apes. It had no chance. By track day, it was rolling around fairly freely and showed 90HP on the Dyno and edging out Jeff Southern’s THING on the track.

Which didn’t seem to affect Jeff very much. His VW Thing build was named grand champion of EVCCON 2013. This is a combination of track day and car show events but the lions share comes from a car judging we actually outsource to the local Capaha Hot Rod group. They don’t know much about electric cars, but they know what they like. We add a numeric vote on technicals but it really doesn’t count as much. In any event, Southern was showing a great build, great paint, and heroic attention to detail and everyone pretty much agreed it was the top build at the event.

The quality of builds overall has increased with each EVCCON and the cars were just beautiful this year. Multiple Porsche’s, BMW’s, a very unique Morris Minor, and Kevin Smith and the Illuminati team returned with a spanking new carbon fiber body which really set off one of the most unusual cars you’ll ever see. A very shy 17 year old high school student was lurking in the background with a very interesting Porsche Boxster build. It was just hard to take it all in.

Tesla this week announced a DIFFERENT charge port for their European Model S deliveries using the Menneckes 2 connector.

Mennekes2

teslachargeport

Aside from the EVCCON recap, my main blog thought this week is actually about charge ports and charge stations. I have lived with the Tesla charge plug for a couple of weeks and it is simply technically superior to the CHademo or SAE J1772 Rev B combo plug. Argue this at your peril. It’s just much smaller, more elegant, and capable of higher power.

Leading to my insiders prediction to EVCCON attendees that within 12 months we will see both Nissan and General Motors take the knee and kiss the ring seeking to license the Tesla chargeport. Tesla will probably require not only a license fee, but that they join in funding the Supercharger network. And so the infrastructure question will be resolved.

Why is this both important and inevitable?

No matter what you imagine about future batteries, and no matter how small they get, they will HAVE to provide storage for a relatively LARGE amount of power to scratch the itch of 200-300 mile range. We are talking about 75-100 kW.

It is my belief that the final elimination of objection to electric cars will involve the ability to drive coast to coast freely. That simply and inescapably involves an infrastructure of fast chargers allowing fillup in 30 minutes. I think 20 minutes is great and 30 minutes starts to get to be a little much for most drivers. An hour is out of the question.

To charge 100kW in 30 minutes requires delivery of electric power at a rate of 200kW continously for 30 minutes. This is just not going to change. There are no shortcuts. Fast charging is REQUIRED and to be useful, whatever happens to the batteries that IS the power rate necessary.

As I’ve pointed out for several years, the batteries can already absorb this rate of charge effortlessly. It’s our ability to DELIVER it to the car that is in question.

Tesla has mapped 120 kW charge rates. Nobody else is even close. They’ve already started building SuperCharge stations for the Model S though currently miniscule in number. If they build this out, and other carmakers are making electric cars that cannot USE those charge stations, they are at a heroic disadvantage in the marketplace. I never said you NEED to be able to drive coast to coast in an electric car. But once you can in one model of electric car, it’s kind of hard to come along with an offering which does NOT have that capability. The carmakers have assumed that the infrastructure for electric cars would be somebody else’s problem.

Tesla demonstrates that IT is taking responsibility for the infrastructure in order for it to happen quickly. I personally think they should allow people to sell Tesla cars as dealers, as long as they don’t sell any other car, and that they allow others to build charge stations as well. But they have demonstrated a curious reticence to doing things my way. That pretty much leaves Nissan and BMW and General Motors to play catchup, concede the electric car market entirely, or kiss the ring.

Nissan is certainly the odd man out here. They have been ANNOUNCING fast charge at all U.S. Nissan dealerships for two years now. AND availability of a fast charge Chademo hardware at under $10,000. These announcements have been TOTAL BULLSHIT with Nissan delivering on precisely zero percent of it. But now they are hoisted on their own fast charge petard. No sympathy Carlos. You won it you wear it.

General Motors is a different kettle of fish. Their new CEO Dan Akerson has been openly critical of GM’s Not Invented Here attitude and actually has formed a team to study Tesla. He would be inclined to license the Tesla chargeport technology JUST TO DRIVE THE POINT HOME INTERNALLY. As a classroom object lesson for the crew. Just to take down their R&D managers a notch. He could and would do it on a whim.

So if GM and Tesla announced a joint buildout of Supercharger stations based on Tesla technology, who could then afford to abjure? At that point, you are immediately either in or out and there is no future in out.

Leaving SAE with mere moments to take the pledge or ALSO be out.

So it is my unqualified but nonetheless strongly held belief that within 12 months we will see the Tesla charge technology become the standard by a surprise industry announcement from Tesla and GM. All others will have to follow. And the infrastructure will actually be funded by Automakers this round. As the total number required for Interstate travel is a couple of thousand total, this is not that big a buildout anyway. A couple of billion will pretty much do massive solar powered battery banks. But this will also be the impetus to lower cost batteries AND solar panels. GM spent $8 billion on R&D last year. Tesla is already working the network albeit somewhat more slowly than described. That they wind up with royalties on every electric car in the world in the future will not hurt their shareholders feelings.

Nor mine.

Jack Rickard