SAN FRANCISCO — There is hope that some day will be a completely electric vehicle that runs without needing any gas, but to do so there needs to be more places to charge them.
Of all the states, California has set the most ambitious targets for cutting emissions in coming decades, and an there
Important pillar of its plan to reach those goals is encouraging the spread of electric vehicles.
But the push to make the state greener is creating an unintended side effect: It is making some people meaner.
The bad moods stem from the challenges drivers face finding recharging spots for their battery-powered cars. Unlike gas stations, charging stations are not yet in great supply, and that has led to sharp-elbowed competition. Electric owners are unplugging one another’s cars, trading insults, and creating black markets and side deals to trade spots in corporate parking lots. The too-few-outlets problem is a familiar one in crowded cafes and airports, where people want to charge their phones or laptops. But the need can be more acute with cars — will their owners have enough juice to make it home? — and manners often go out the window.
In the moments after Don Han plugged in his Nissan Leaf at a public charging station near his Silicon Valley office one day this summer, he noticed another Leaf pull up as he was walking away. The driver got out and pulled the charger out of Mr. Han’s car and started to plug it into his own. Mr. Han stormed back.
“I said, ‘Hey, buddy, what do you think you’re doing?’ And he said, ‘Well, your car is done charging,’ ” Mr. Han recalled. He told him that was not the case, put the charger back in his own car and left “after saying a couple of curse words, of course.”
Such incidents are not uncommon, according to interviews with drivers and electric vehicle advocates, as well as posts from people sharing frustrations on social media. Tensions over getting a spot are “growing and growing,” said Maureen Blanc, the director of Charge Across Town, a San Francisco nonprofit that works to spread the adoption of electric vehicles. She owns an electric BMW and recently had a testy run-in over a charging station with a Tesla driver.
The Mirai is the name that Toyota selected for t it’s upcoming fuel cell vehicle (FCV). The Japanese automaker has also announced that it is building a network of hydrogen stations in the US Northeast to support the new vehicle.
The $69,000 vehicle is due to arrive in the US in 2016. Toyota proclaimes that “the future has arrived,” (Mirai means “future” in Japanese) which may make the thousands of people who’ve owned a Honda FCX Clarity FCV since 2005 gag. But despite being late to the game, Toyota is now making a huge bet on FCVs. It has teamed with Air Liquide to build 12 hydrogen stations in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The stations will be “strategically placed” so that drivers of the 300-mile-range Mirai can tool around the region without (much) anxiety. Previously, Toyota said that 19 hydrogen stations would be installed in California.
Not exactly. But it could be made out of the byproduct in the production of ketchup.
Ford has found another unexpected material that it can use to make car parts, joining coconuts, soy, rice hulls and recycled blue jeans,
Ford says it has a deal with H.J. Heinz to use study whether the stuff left over from making ketchup, like dried tomato skins, seeds and stems, can be used to make composites. Sounds crazy? Well, Ford thinks the skins alone could make wiring brackets or center console storage bins.
Heinz has a lot of skins. It processes 2 million pounds of tomatoes a year.
“We are exploring whether this food processing byproduct makes sense for an automotive application,” said Ellen Lee, plastics research technical specialist for Ford, in a statement. “Our goal is to develop a strong, lightweight material that meets our vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing our overall environmental impact.”
From electric to ethanol and even hydrogen fuel cells, we’ve seen a lot of advancements in the automotive world when it comes to alternative fuel solutions. But Audi has a new technology up its sleeves in the form of synthetic e-fuel.
Synthetically engineered e-fuel can replace gas and diesel, and so far Audi claims to be making significant strides in its performance and viability. The German automaker recently completed a series of tests, confirming that its e-fuels burn more efficiently in internal combustion engines than traditional fossil fuels, resulting in far fewer emissions.
E-fuel production takes the energy from the sun and nonpotable water and converts it into liquid fuel using a photosynthetic process involving microorganisms. But rather than the photosynthesis producing more cells, the microorganisms produce fuel. Audi claims there’s no need for fresh water or agriculture of any kind in the process.