Comuta-Car and Comuta-Van. 1979. A range of electric vehicles which had begun life in 1974 as the CitiCar, made by the Vanguard-Sebring company in Florida. After the original company was dissolved the assets were sold to Frank Flower a New Jersey  businessman. He re-engineered vehicles and obtained a government contract to build 500 electric postal vans for the USPS. The contract was canceled due to problems with the vans and some of the unused postal Comuta-Vans were sold to the public. The company was wound up after Flower’s death


The London Taxi Company has inaugurated a new vehicle plant in Ansty, near Coventry. It will be the UK’s first dedicated electric vehicle manufacturing facility. LTC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Geely (who also own Volvo), has invested more than £300m in the new site and the next-generation London taxi, which will be produced at the plant and exported around the world.

Reuters: The Electric Car is Doomed (Again)

The Reuters staff dealt a blow to the EV enthusiasts today, calling the electric car a “dead end” and “not ready for primetime.”  The news agency pointed out that EVs’ two biggest advocates, Pres. Barack Obama and Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, have backed away from their ambitious goals of having electric cars fill streets.

In case you need reminding, Pres. Obama intended to have one million EVs on US roads by 2015.  How many EVs are out there?  Well, 2012 was a banner year for EVs in the US.  That banner year totaled only about 53,000 EVs sold, according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA). 

Carlos Ghosn predicted EVs would be 10% of the global auto market by 2020.  That 10%, as Reuters points out, is roughly equal to six million units. Let’s just say that EVs are having to settle for fraction of that number.  Nissan’s Leaf is measuring sales in the low thousands–hardly enough to inspire.

If the EV falters again, this would be the third time in history.  EVs first crashed in the 1910s as gasoline-powered autos secured dominance in the market.  The EV’s state-backed revival in the 1990s was short-lived in the face limited range, the popularity of SUVs, and cheap gas.


Power Up On The Go

A major concern for people thinking about buying their first electric vehicle is something that has come to be known as range anxiety, the fear that the car will run out of juice before they get to their destination or a recharging point. The perception is so widely felt that it’s considered an obstacle to large numbers of consumers adopting the technology. Yet experts say electric vehicles powered by renewable sources like the sun and wind are necessary to achieve energy independence and to slow human contributions to climate change.

One way of extending electric vehicle range besides the difficult road of improving battery technology is to build recharging infrastructure like that which has been developed for gasoline distribution and sales. But the act of recharging itself also throws up obstacles for widespread adoption–getting a quick boost to extend range by 50 miles can take 20 minutes using DC fast charging, and connecting to a regular AC household plug can take 20 hours to refill a depleted battery. 

A few groups of researchers around the world are looking beyond these early issues in the developing electric vehicle industry. Instead of building refuel points like those used in the gas station model, they are working on delivering electricity to vehicles while they’re on the go, no stopping needed. It’s called wireless power transfer, and it is starting to show promise. Learn more and see the video below.

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It appears we are very near the same type of inflection point in price and performance that led to the explosion in solar PV several years ago. Since electricity remains by far the best and cheapest alternative fuel that can be made without releasing CO2 — one that is cheaper to run a car on than gasoline even at current low oil prices — this game change is good news for both consumers and the climate.

Game Change: Tesla And GM Announce Affordable, Long-Range Electric Cars

At last! We’re moving further and further into the #SunlightREVolution. Looking forward to more affordable EVs in the future. 


NASA Investigating Electric Propulsion For Flight

NASA engineers in Virginia successfully flew this remote-controlled aircraft that can hover like a helicopter and fly like an airplane. Its 10 rotors change direction on wings that tilt from vertical to horizontal.

Their purpose in testing the 10-foot-wingspan vehicle that they call the GL-10 Greased Lightning? To see if aircraft powered by multiple electric rotors might be the future of air travel. The first flights at the agency’s Langley Research Center saw the Greased Lightning tethered for safety. Researchers expect to run untethered flights later this year. 

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Tour the enormous solar-panel covered wings of the Solar Impulse 2 and its cramped cockpit with pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg.

MORE. What It’s like to Fly a Solar Plane With a Coffin-Sized Cockpit

Frustrated by the French governments slow pace in installing EV charging stations, automaker Renault is taking matters into its own hands. Renault will install 1,000 EV chargers at high volume centers like supermarkets and high density parking lots. Renault believes their investment will pay off in the long-run as they essentially kickstart the electric vehicle market and begin providing the necessary infrastructure for its future cars. It’s a risky gamble, but Reanult is left with little choice if they want their customers to buy an electric vehicle that can actually be used. 


Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne once said an all-electric Ferrari is “an almost obscene concept,” but that didn’t stop a group of guys in California from turning the 308 GT into an EV.

MORE. We Drive an All-Electric Ferrari, The Car that Shouldn’t Exist

The future of big rigs could lie in these overhead wires
Semi trucks are a fixture on the world's highways, transporting a significant portion of the world's cargo — and that's leading to a rash of innovation in the space that mirrors what's happening in...
By Chris Ziegler

This seems like a good idea to me - I’ve love to see this happen.

Despite the dismissive comment at the end, the problem with doing this for passenger cars isn’t the pantograph on top of the car, but the fact that passenger cars are low enough it would put the high-voltage wires within people’s reach.