- Nov 13, 2018 4:36 pm GMT
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In February I posted two papers on EVs and EVSE, and updated a third (first link below) that was originally posted around the New Year. These are all linked below.
This paper immediately above was posted in February, note my predictions in section 4.
Much in happening in electric mobility, so it is a good time to report on the latest news in these markets, which follows in the rest of this paper.
2.Accelerating Light EV Deployments
Every once in a while, I come across a chart that tells the whole story. I found such a chart on a site I visit periodically (linked at the end of this paragraph). In the past I've never scrolled down much past the main table. For some reason a few weeks ago I did scroll down to where the chart below is.
Note that the sales of plug-in cars (battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrids) have grown steadily since 2010, but this year it's shooting off the chart. The main car fueling this is the Tesla Model 3, and its accelerating production (go to the site linked in the reference above for the gory details).
BEVs are still being purchased by early adapters, but they are starting to invade other parts of the mobility markets. Read the following subsections and sections for details.
2.1.Tesla Model 3
The promised $35K Model 3 apparently will be shipped next year. The models currently being shipped and pricing are below. Prices do not include federal/state incentives.
- Mid-Range (260 mile range, RWD) $47,200
- Long Range (310 mile range, AWD) $54,200
- Dual Motor Performance (310 mile range, AWD) $65,200
Delivery of the Mid-Range should take between six and 10 weeks. Note that the federal tax credit goes from $7,500 to $3,750 for any Model 3 delivered after December 31.
So far this year (through October) Nissan has only sold 11,920 Leafs (compared with 95,882 Tesla Model 3s). Nissan upgraded the Leaf in 2018. This was mainly a styling exercise, but they also increased its range to 150 miles.
A new model (called the Leaf E plus) will arrive next year. Based on early reports this new variation will have a range of around 225 miles, cost about $5,500 more than the current Leaf, and will have more power. It will also offer faster charging since the new battery pack will have active cooling. Since it will be competitively priced with the base Tesla Model 3, I wouldn't expect a major surge in sales unless Tesla has continued trouble delivering the base Model 3.
This is a fully electric mid-sized SUV. It is priced in the $75K to $90K range and first U.S. deliveries have started in the last few days as I'm writing this (late October). Also my December Motor Trend Magazine arrived in the last few days, and it tested the I-Pace vs. a Tesla Model 3 Performance (and a third non-electric car). The Model 3 is about 700 lbs. lighter than the I-Pace and thus the Model 3 performed quite a bit better. The as-tested price was $88,600 for the I-Pace and $78,700 for the Model 3. The range of the I-Pace was 234 miles vs. 310 miles for the Model 3.
I have not seen any other major changes for existing BEVs. The following are what I consider to be other "reasonable" BEVs. I've included their 2018 U.S. sales volume (as of October, see above for the Leaf and Tesla Model 3):
- Tesla Model S (19,745)
- Tesla Model X (18,800)
- Chevrolet Bolt (13,882)
The price of some EVs seem to drop more rapidly than internal combustion (IC) powered vehicles. I would guess there are a number of reasons for this, the main one probably being the incentives – the starting point for the depreciation is lower than the "sticker-price". On the other hand they should be much more reliable than IC-powered vehicles, and much easier to repair (go to the first paper linked at the beginning of this post, section 4.1). The prices below seem to be the current average price for a 2-year old used BEV in Northern California:
- Tesla Model S, $65,000
- Tesla Model X, $77,000
- Nissan Leaf, $10,000
- Chevy Bolt, $30,000
There are number of very small EVs under development and at least one (in the U.S.) in limited production. The "one" is Arcimoto (link below). The main issue with these is that they cost more (to buy) than the above used Leaf, which is a real car with all of the features and functions that we expect in cars. The Mini-BEVs, not so much.
The business approach for Mini-EVs also seems to be evolving away from ownership to ride-sharing fleets. See the article linked below for some of the details of Mini-BEVs and potential business models.
Some conservative individuals managed to get a proposition on the California State Ballot to repeal the recent major gasoline tax increase I've mentioned in earlier posts. This proposition lost by 56% to 44%. Meanwhile our gas prices in California are the highest in the country at an average of $3.75 per gallon. The good news is that high fuel pricing will continue to accelerate the electrification of our mobility fleets.
Solid-state lithium-chemistry batteries are probably the next major wave of battery technology, especially for mobility. However, it appears that these are five to ten years away from mass deployment into these markets per two highly credible sources. 
Meanwhile there are still many improvements in the pipeline for the design and production of liquid-electrolyte LiIon batteries that will reduce the cost of these. This will assure continuing declining prices for EVs.
3.Heavy Electric Vehicles
The following is the latest news on the two major markets in this category.
3.1.Battery Electric Buses (BEBs)
In the first paper linked at the beginning of this one (section 3.1, originally published in December of last year), I predicted that a category called "Electric Vehicle Hosts" would be among the first impacted by EVSE loads. One of the types in that category are Bus Fleets.
BEBs are unique in this crowd as production units are actually rolling off of the assembly line and going into bus fleets in the U.S. (and around the world). Furthermore many large fleets are planning to purchase enough BEBs to make charging a major challenge. See section 4 below for more information on these challenges, and how we will meet them.
Not only has Tesla produced multiple Tesla Semi prototypes, they actually have a web site for this product now (link below).
NFI Industries, a logistic provider that has ordered ten Tesla Semis has said that they expect delivery in 2020. NFI has 10 electrified Freightliners on order from Daimler, and they expect delivery next year. Go through the link below for more information
Regarding Freightliner, they have a fleet of 30 evaluation e-trucks that they will start to deploy later this year or early next year. This Electric Innovation Fleet is described in the article linked below. In an interview with Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America from a few days ago. He said they were "…days away…" from starting to deploy this fleet.
Volvo Trucks will start deliveries in Europe of the Volvo FL Electric for urban distribution and refuse operations next year.
“There are considerable differences” in trucking patterns in North America, but Volvo believes use of electric trucks in the U.S. and Canada is a logical follow-up to the introduction in Europe. The company will initially look at the use of electric delivery trucks in urban areas of North America.
Volvo is also working on a demonstration pilot in Southern California. This will leverage $44.8 million of preliminary CARB funding to validate Volvo’s electrified truck platforms in California and required charging infrastructure prior to the full commercial launch of Volvo Trucks’ electrified vehicles in North America in 2020. The project will kick off in 2019 as part of the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project that pulls together 16 partners working to transform operations at 2 high-volume freight locations to next generation solutions.
4.Currently Offered Battery-Electric Busses
The following are a list of E-Busses currently being offered in the U.S. and some details for each.
Proterra makes two models for transit agencies: a 35 foot and a 40 foot. They have also recently partnered with Thomas Built for school busses (see below). The following are the capabilities of Proterra's transit buses.
Maximum Range: 35 ft. -- up to 250 miles; 40 ft. – up to 350 miles
Seating Capacity: 35 ft. – 28; 40 ft. -- 40
Charge time (Plug-in for full-charge): 35 ft. -- 3 hours, 40 ft. 4.5 hours
Recent press release: With more than 500 vehicles sold to 64 different municipal, university, airport, federal and commercial transit agencies in 29 states, Proterra is committed to providing state of the art, high performance vehicles to meet today’s growing market demand.
See below for an Image of the Proterra 40 ft. model.
BYD makes two series: "Transit" and "Motor Coach". There are four sizes of Transit Buses: 30 ft., 35 ft., 40 ft. and 60 ft. (articulated). There are three sizes of Motor Coaches: 23 ft., 40 ft. and 45 ft.
Maximum range goes from about 110 miles to 230 miles
Seating Capacity goes from 23 to 45
Charge time goes from 2 hr. to 3.5 hr.
Motor Coaches tend to have more power, more seating and a higher top speed for a given size.
Recent press release: The firm has delivered 270 buses in North America; and sold in excess of 650 buses in total to more than 50 municipal, transit agency, university, airport, federal and other commercial and private sector clients in 14 states, and across 4 provinces in Canada.
See below for an image of the BYD 40 ft. Model.
New Flyer is a Canadian company that offers three E-Bus models: 35 ft., 40 ft. and 60 ft. (articulated). They also offer diesel, CNG and hybrid buses. They previously offered direct electric drive buses (from overhead lines), but I could not find any evidence that they still offer these. Overall, New Flyer makes a huge number of buses, but a tiny percent of them are battery electric.
Maximum range goes from about 180 miles to 260 miles
Seating Capacity goes from 32 to 50
Charge time rages from 1 to 5 hours for 100 kW charge rate
New Flyer also make hydrogen fuel cell buses and I found a press release where Orange County Transportation Authority (California) ordered 10 of them.
See below for New Flyer's latest 40 ft. model.
Blue Bird is a major manufacturer of School Buses, and this year delivered their first few battery electric school buses. They went the conversion route, and used a separate company, Adomani in Corona, California for the conversion. This process takes a "minimum modification" approach. From Adomani's web site: " ADOMANI ICE to EMA patent is an Internal Combustion Engine conversion to Electric Motor Assembly ("EMA"). This patent allows ADOMANI to develop an all-electric motor assembly using the Original Equipment Manufacturers ("OEM") accessory parts like alternators, pumps, compressors, and belts."
This approach allows Blue Bell to use their existing standard OEM platforms.
Thomas Built: From the referenced article (end of this subsection) from a few days ago: The cooperation between Proterra and Thomas Built Buses progressed quickly after Daimler (parent company to Thomas Built Buses) invested in Proterra.
The two companies unveiled, at the 44th Annual National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Conference, the Saf-T-Liner eC2 Jouley electric school bus powered by Proterra (image below).
The vehicle can be recharged using J1772 Combo plug (CCS Combo 1) at 60 kW in about three hours, which suggests battery capacity of about 180 kWh.
4.5.General Design Considerations
There are two approaches to making a BEB. The most efficient way, and the method that will dominate in the long run is design buses from the start as battery electric vehicles. All battery electric vehicles (heavy and light) have intrinsic advantages that are best implemented in a purpose-designed vehicle. These include more flexible packaging of the batteries and the motor. In a BEB this shows itself in a larger passenger capacity for a given size of bus. Also an electric drivetrain is simpler, more efficient and requires less maintenance than any internal-combustion drivetrain. This means a much lower cost of ownership.
An alternative to a purpose-designed bus is to retrofit existing busses or existing designs. This can save roughly half the price of a new bus, but some of the advantages pointed out in the prior paragraph may be lost or muted.
BEBs are emerging now for several reasons. I believe that the primary reason is increasing shipments of light EVs are driving down the price of batteries and other EV components that can also be used in BEBs. Batteries can be the most expensive component in a BEB, but their prices are coming down rapidly. There are two approaches to battery-sizing: (1) use a smaller battery, and also use route-side charging plus nightly depot charging, or (2) use a larger battery, and only use depot charging. See descriptions of these two EVSE configurations below.
4.5.1.Bus Depot Charging
Bus fleets, whether used for school students or the general public have one thing in common: they spend part or most of the day parked in bus depots. A general transit agency runs on fewer routes and with less frequency in the late night and early morning hours, so most of the busses are at the depot. School busses normally run at the start and end of normal school hours, so they spend most of their time in the depot. This means that the right time to charge is probably when the busses are parked at the depot.
Also there is the question of electricity pricing. Based on initial EV tariffs being offered by my home utility (PG&E), I would guess that the lowest charging rates will be offered in the hours between 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM. The good news is that this corresponds to when most buses are in their depot.
The other charging method for BEBs is chargers at some points long their routes. There are two configurations: (1) overhead and (2) in-ground. The former is somewhat like a pantograph (used by electric trains, trams or permanently supplied buses), except in reverse. See the link below for videos from EBUS on how each system works.
Note that route-side charging is envisioned as being a fast-charge technology. If the current generation of E-Busses cannot cover the whole day with a daily charge from the bus depot, they may interrupt their route (with passengers possibly being transferred to a second E-Bus) at a fast charger, and continue the route. Other scenarios might be a quick charge (10 to 15 minutes) to continue the route without transferring the passengers.
As more advanced (read: solid state lithium-ion) batteries are developed, BEBs will have longer ranges and the capability for faster charging (from route-side chargers).
5.Planning a Long Journey
The main focus of the following subsections will be on battery electric bus (BEB) fleet deployments. As we mentioned in section 3, these are the only heavy electric vehicles being deployed en masse by multiple manufacturers. Along with large numbers comes large problems with charging. Larger bus fleets and/or fleets that are converting from internal combustion to electric mobility very rapidly will be where these problems first crop up. However even the most aggressive conversion will require many years, resulting in many headaches. A good planning process may avoid most of these.
The planning process will need to include a suite of models that includes:
- Models of the BEBs being considered, where each model will include the purchase cost and a method to change the battery size and adjust the resulting cost.
- Estimated future BEB / battery pricing
- Various configurations of bus supply equipment (chargers) with costs, where depot charging and route-side charging options are supported.
- Power costs for fleet and individual bus charging, including time-of-use energy costs, and the impacts of demand charges
- Power limitations of bus depots
- Peak-power mitigation measures such as battery energy storage and photovoltaic arrays
- Entry of the cost estimates for major facility electric upgrades
After configuration for fleet-unique variables, the fleet will be used to run many scenarios for future stages of fleet deployment. The most promising of these scenarios will be detailed and documented for review by senior stake-holders. Decisions will result in a fleet deployment plan based on a solid analysis of the best information.
5.1.Bus Supply Equipment (Charging)
Charging buses in a depot at night is the most cost-effective method for a number of reasons, but that this means that most busses will be charging at the same time, which may create a huge peak demand. This leads to the following consideration:
Current depots' electric distribution networks probably do not have enough power capacity: One approach to minimize the peak demand would be to locate small Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) close to the EVSE chargers. The BESS will charge all day long, and the Buses will only charge during the low-rate period. During the low-rate period the depot-draw will match its total service-rating, but this will be supplemented by the BESS.
The electric utility distribution system that feeds the depot does not have enough capacity: The above solution will also mitigate the peak demand for the whole facilities. And the BESS charge rate can be dispatched to achieve any desired rate that will meet daily capacity requirements.
With time buses will have higher-capacity batteries requiring higher charge rates: Long-term planning can take this into consideration, as well as other considerations such as BEB fleet growth.
Increased peak demand charges may offset the lower energy rates: This can also be mitigated as described in the first consideration above.
A long-term plan should evaluate the power mitigation methods briefly mentioned in the prior section. Many bus depots are ideal sites for large photovoltaic arrays over the bus sheds/parking areas. When these are combined with battery energy storage, this will strongly mitigate most of the above issues, provide the most flexible charging schedules, and provide resiliency to assure the BEBs keep rolling, even in the event of a long-term power outage.
Microgrid Labs (MGL) and University of California, Berkeley are currently developing a software for optimal planning of EV charging infrastructure under a National Science Foundation (NSF) award.
Based on stochastic optimization and queuing theory, the software helps arrive at the right balance of bus battery size, charging infrastructure capacity and operational schedule. The solution takes into account costs, battery size, operational requirements (range and schedule) and limitations on the electrical network.
This software is ideal for planning the EV charging infrastructure for bus fleets within the city and/or campus and for point-to-point bus services. The picture below illustrates the analytics suite for right sizing the charging infrastructure.
The software solution will assist users to:
- Optimize the number and capacity of chargers required at bus depots at different levels of conversion (e.g. 25% conversion, 50% conversion, and 100% conversion).
- Assess the inter-dependency between size of the bus battery and capacity of the charging infrastructure.
- Evaluate the correlation between halt/waiting times at the bus depot and the number of chargers – e.g. what is the optimum number required to maintain the operating schedule?
- Assess the impact on the electrical network and optimize the capacity of onsite generation and energy storage.
Microgrid Labs has completed the prototype of the software and are seeking pilot projects to test and validate this application. The pilot project can be in the form of a modeling exercise running statistical scenarios of fleet conversions to electric buses. MGL can model multiple scenarios so that the organizations understand the impact of the conversion and are prepared for the transition.
This is a risk-free study that will help bus service operators to evaluate the impact of EV fleets. Organizations that take advantage of this opportunity will have the information they need to understand the impact of the conversion and will be prepared for the transition effectively.
For more information on this study, contact:
 Inside EVs, Monthly Plug-In Sales Scorecard, Through Oct, 2018, https://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/
 Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "Tesla Includes Model 3 Performance Upgrade as Standard, 10/29/2018, https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/autos-hybrids/tesla-includes-model-3-performance-upgrade-as-standard/ar-BBP4Yr9 and articles linked therein.
 Mark Matousek, Business Insider, " Panasonic's North American CEO says solid-state batteries are at least a decade away from mass adoption in the auto industry", Nov 12, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/panasonic-ceo-solid-state-batteries-not-...
 Steel Guru, " Saft plans production of lithium ion batteries", Originally published on Automotive News on 14 Sep 2018, https://steelguru.com/auto/saft-plans-production-of-lithium-ion-batteries/520742
 John O'Dell, Trucks.com, " Volvo Will Sell Electric Trucks in Europe Next Year, North America to Follow", January 23, 2018, https://www.trucks.com/2018/01/23/volvo-electric-trucks-europe-north-america/
 Kyle Field, Clean Technica, " Volvo Trucks Prepares For 2020 Launch With Southern California Demo Project In 2019", October 12th, 2018, https://cleantechnica.com/2018/10/12/volvo-trucks-prepares-for-2020-launch-with-southern-california-demo-project-in-2019/
 Mark Kane, Inside EVs, "Proterra Teams with Thomas Built for Electric Schools Buses", 10/31/2018. https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/news/proterra-teams-with-thomas-built-for-electric-schools-buses/ar-BBP7DRE