Episode 528 – Fast-Charging Kills Batteries, Opel Goes LLC, GM Introduces New Logo

November 24th, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:31

Electric-vehicle fast-chargers are apparently to blame for causing electrical-grid issues, and according to GM, they can also reduce battery life.  Opel is getting itself reclassified as a corporation — AG in German — instead of a limited-liability company — GmbH — to raise money.  GM introduced a new electronic logo on top of its Detroit, Michigan headquarters.  All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in the “You Said It!” segment.


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SPEED KILLS . . . BATTERIES (subscription required)
Yesterday we reported on how electric utilities are admitting they could have problems with electric cars. Today, Ward’s reports that those fast chargers for EVs are at the heart of the problem. Those are the 480-volt direct-current units that can recharge a car quickly. Nissan says they can recharge 80 percent of a LEAF’s batteries in 30 minutes. But they suck up a lot of juice, up to 50,000 watts per recharge. That places a tremendous load on the grid. And now General Motors says those fast chargers will reduce battery life, if used repeatedly. The Level III chargers will cost up anywhere from $45,000 to $64,000 installed. In many cases, the U.S. Energy Department is subsidizing the cost.

GM’s Opel unit is getting itself reclassified as a company. Instead of officially being called Adam Opel GmbH, it will now become Adam Opel AG. GmbH stands for limited-liability company. AG stands for corporation, and that will allow Opel to become a publicly traded company, which will help it raise money on its own rather than just relying on the General Motors mother-ship.

GM’s IPO has gotten the company a lot of attention, but one thing that’s kind of flown under the radar is the fact that the company replaced it’s logo on its headquarters. According to the New York Times, GM took down its old blue-and-white block-letter logo and replaced it with an LED sign that shows vintage GM logos. It cycles through three different logos every minute or so. GM made the move because it wants to change its image and show that the company is evolving. Thanks GM, now we’re going to have to create all new graphics because of this.

In other GM news, the company along with its partners in China, SAIC and Wuling, unveiled the Baojun 630 earlier this week which is the first passenger car from the joint venture’s all-new low-cost brand. The car was developed in China for that market using GM technology and meets Euro IV emission standards. Production has already started but the car won’t go on sale until early next year. Pricing and specs were not announced.

The Ford Raptor is a monster.  Where there’s no pavement this heavily modified F-150 is hard to beat, which is why the U.S. Border Patrol wanted at least 10 of the trucks in its fleet to guard the Arizona/Mexico border.  But there was a problem.  According to Autoblog, Ford only builds the off-road pickup with fancy leather seats, which is a no-no for the Border Patrol.  But after a little string pulling the feds got what they wanted.  Ford specially built a truckload of Raptors with cloth-covered chairs and custom paint.  Loyal Autoblog reader Matt was able to snap a couple photos of the pickups on the hauler.  They look just as menacing wearing the government’s green-and-white livery as they do in factory colors. It’s enough to make me want to be a border-patrol agent!

If you’re a big-shot executive at a car company you’d better know how to drive.  If you’re the president of Ferrari you’d better know how to race.  Autoblog is running some video of Luca di Montezemolo behind the wheel of the new Lancia Stratos, putting the car through its paces at the Fiorano race track in Italy.  Surprisingly, the Ferrari chief seems to like the car, even though it doesn’t have a prancing pony on the hood.  Could that be because it’s powered by one of his company’s 4.3-liter V-8 engines?  Maybe.  You know, it’s not every day we see the head of an automaker behind the wheel, which makes this video pretty cool.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now it’s time for some of your feedback.

Dale Leonard saw our report that utilities are now admitting electric cars could pose a problem for the grid. “Did the Utility Companies just wake up from a 20-year nap that all of a sudden they’re in a panic about Electric Cars and the Grid?”

Dale, I think the powers that be really wanted electric cars to come to the market, so they ignored any problem that could prevent that. My prediction for the next thing that the EV crowd will have to admit to: there’s not one recycling center that can recycle lithium-ion batteries.

Raynman84 believes there is a simple fix for the charging issue. He says, “If it is clearly and widely advertised that people should charge at night, the problem goes away.”

Raynman84, you’re mostly right, except during the summer, when people are running their air conditioning all night, which already causes brownouts in a lot of places, even without any electric cars.

Jon M is wary of VW shooting to become the largest automaker in the world. He says,

“Watch out for Volkswagens. Anytime an auto manufacturer shoots for No. 1 it seems to result in decreased quality and customer service.”

Jon M, you’re right. VW’s goal should be building the best cars and offering the best service. That’s how you get to be No. 1, not by setting arbitrary manufacturing targets.

Salvador G. saw our coverage of the Hyundai media party at the L.A. auto show and says,

“Please tell me that an American Automaker is topping that Hyundai presentation . . . Mermaids, drinks, music . . . did reporters just applaud Jeff Bridges for getting a Genesis? And when can we (I) go with you next time?”

Well, Salvador, no, none of the Big Three had a party anywhere near as good as Hyundai’s. And sad to say, nope, you can’t go with us.

And finally, edmaluf saw our report on a truck dealership in Florida giving away AK-47s as a sales gimmick. He writes, “To give away Ak 47s is completely absurd. A ridiculous idea, something that should never happen!!!!!!!  They should give away M 16s.”

You guys crack me up!

A programming note here. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which is a big holiday here in the United States. It’s a day in which we give thanks for what we have, and do it with family and friends. So the crew and I will be out for the next two days, meaning there won’t be an Autoline After Hours tomorrow, and Autoline Daily will return next Monday. Have a great Thanksgiving, and weekend, and we’ll see you then.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

32 Comments to “Episode 528 – Fast-Charging Kills Batteries, Opel Goes LLC, GM Introduces New Logo”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    Told you so !

    ( the E/V grid issues )

    Happy TG all

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    M 16s are fully automatic, no can do; however, I’m good with AR-15s.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  3. Zieke Says:

    Hey John, Looks like these electric cars are going to cause more headaches than they are worth. Since this country’s no nuke energy policy think of all the coal it’s going to take to generate the power to charge the things. And as you said, where do the old batteries go? Of course they are quite expensive, so what’s the incentive to buy one?
    Maybe I’ll even reap the benefits from someone wanting to sell a perfectly good gas engined car at a greatly reduced price so they can be “first on the block” with their new toy.
    Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving…

  4. Phoenix Mark Says:

    OK the boarder partol got their cloth seats. How much extra did we the tax payer have to shell out over the stock seats, just to not get leather ones?

  5. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Chuck Grenci: The M 16 is selective fire as is the AK 47 in military configuration.In cicilian mode they are both semi-auto ergo legal.

  6. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I forgot to clarify:selective fire means it can be set to fire full auto,or single fire semi-auto.

  7. Dale Leonard,Lakewood Ohio Says:

    After re-watching last friday’s Autoline Daily,I have one question,Has Jim Hall ever considered doing stand-up comedy???

  8. Dale Leonard,Lakewood Ohio Says:

    To: Phoenix Mark- Actually the cloth seats are way cheaper to build then the leather. Also it’s a proven fact,in Police Service,cloth seats are more durable and outlast leather. Check out any Police vehicle you see on the street and it has cloth seats.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Jim Hall the comedian, had a joke: “Hey, how do you like this Volt car, eh? all electric everything but you still need a match to light a cigarette.”

  10. GPurcell Says:

    Come on John! I expect Rush Limbaugh to get it wrong about EV’s but you too!
    First of all Li-Ion EV batteries are to be fully recycled by the auto Co’s or a sub.
    Second, any designer of EV Fast Charge Stations that does not include a right designed energy storage system to aleviate any peak load on the Electric Utitlity does not know what they are doing. And for home charging the Utility should be offering off peak charging rates that motivate home owners to charge at night.
    Third I would check with Andrew Farah (not Wards) about the GM comment on battery life using fast charging. When I worked with all the Auto Co’s during the 90′s on EV infrastructure we found the technology now being used by ECOtality to actually extend lead acid battey life, because they used the right charge algorithum! What kills batteries are incorrect charge algorithums. ECOtality (etech) has been using that fast charging technology commercially for over 10 years on lift trucks and airport ground support equipment with great battery life. I would check with them not a secondary source on information about charging Li-Ion batterys the same way.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    As I have been predicting the batteries will be the achilles’ heel on the new ev’s

  12. Salvador G. Says:

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving JohnMc and everyone at Autoline.

  13. W L Simpson Says:

    re: GM logo——wow—lower case

  14. XA351GT Says:

    Okay raise your hands if you’d like to see a point/counterpoint on EVs between John and Chrustie. there is no arguement that a better way than gas has to be found but the current E/V tech is not going to get it done. Time to move on and find something else. Like John said there are no recycling capabilities for Li-Ion batteries , so if all the Earth Mothers are listening this means we will do more harm to the enviroment than we will help. Coupled with Coal fired electric plants it becomes a lose lose situation.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    I guess on the Li ion issue the Chinese will buld a facility big enough to recycle a lot of batteries and we will ship ours there and then they will keep the recycled materials for themselves and charge a pretty penny for the process.

  16. Rudy Boniface Says:


    No doubt, electric cars will put an increasingly heavy load on the grid. The solution I foresee is an electric car in the garage…with solar panels on the roof.

    Ideally, a second battery would be charging during the day while the driver is out for the day.

    Rudy Boniface

  17. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Now that technology has been developed and employed in making aluminum alloy diesel engine blocks I think it’s obvious that small highly efficient and clean diesels is the immediate answer.Bio-diesel is cheaper to make and works great in diesels.Far better then E-85 does in gassers.I wish there was something that I could do to motivate our govt to lighten up a bit on diesels and solve one problem at a time instead of the seemingly random way of assigning impracticable goals by the epa.Walk before we run type of thing….

  18. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I have 3 words for you that will solve the grid problem= Nuclear Fusion Tech!!

    Too bad this Admin is investing Billions in Solar (which would work great for cars) while allowing the Fusion program to move slowly.

    GM, Nissan. Are you guys on crack? How do you sell EVs without Transparent solar panels that can be made to look like a panoramic roof?

    Solar charging would also be less on the grid too. A good EV should be able to get Electricity anywhere it can get it. If a simple rudimentary calculator can charge instantly under a street light at night, then a car should be able work wonders too.

    An EV with Solar, Plug in, and Liquid Propulsion Charging tech wrapped up all into one would: extend ranges, be less consumptive on the grid, and be able to be an anywhere going car to be ran mostly 80% EV.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It shouldn’t be a surprise that fast charging is hard on batteries in an EV. From my experience, fast charging is very hard on all batteries, like my nicads for R/C cars and, more recently, LiPo’s for R/C ariplanes.

    Batteries don’t like it when they are “smoking hot,” and that’s the way they get if you charge them at a high enough rate to almost fully charge a battery in 30 minutes.

  20. vrmchris Says:

    hello to all,

    i have to concur about Li-Ion batteries. no recycling center can handle Li-Ion????? hmmm.

    as far as nuclear fusion hyundai smoke, please keep dreaming. nowhere close on the horizon. and very, very expensive to get there.

    solar has potential. there have been recent discoveries that can make solar much more efficient. the only question is how can they be produced at a reasonable cost.

    quick chargers? not a good idea if you want your battery to last 10 years.

    happy thanksgiving to all. and have a great weekend.


  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Lithium batteries used in electronic devices are currently being recycled, and there are projects in the works to cycle the much larger volume that will exist with EV’s on the road. See: http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/23215/

    From what I’ve read, the price of lithium carbonate used in batteries is low enough that recycling may not “pay for itself,” at current usage rates, and the lithium compounds are relatively non-toxic compared to other battery types, especially NiCad. As volumes of large batteries increase, I suspect the price of lithium from China and Russia will rise, and recycling will become more cost effective.

  22. JT Lambert Says:

    I like the idea of DIESELs with Al castings,Variable COMPRESSION ,SLIDE VALVES.Multi-sequential Pezzo injectors..Best of all they’ll run on a grade of fuel inbetween gasoline and diesel as we know it today.Light loads/low C,heavy loads/highC.Urea drip in the exhaust makes EPA happy.Mate this up to a DOUBLE DISC/clutch tranny and the above just will fade into oblevian.

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    Any opinions on the America Top Gear show? I saw it once and I’m done, why the hell did they have to copy the British version, the only thing missing was a phony British accent. They could have done it their way but regardless I found the hosts uninteresting,

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Where do you see America’s Top Gear show? Is it on Speed, PBS, or what?

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    History Channel, Kit

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sunday nights

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks, Pedro.

  28. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    US Top Gear needs work. The cast isnt right, and like the UK Top Gear that cast will have to shuffle with new players until they get it right. They were funny only once, and that was induced by occasional Marijuana use which occured that night.

    If weed doesnt make that show funny=WE HAVE A PROBLEM; A BIG ASS PROBLEM!!!

    The Cast also doesnt reflect the Diversity of New America either. It reflects the Diversity of Old School America, a hodge-podge of European Ethnic Groups who wasted 200 years Stupidly and Blindly thinking they were “different” from each other.

    Italians, Irish, Anglo Saxon? Who cares? They are all White=the Same to me.

  29. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I hope my Kids will be able to say White, Black, Latino, Asian? Who Cares? They are all Humans, we need some Sentient Robots, or Aliens on that show to reflect the Diversity of the New World.

  30. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    That show is so ridiculous that Ill watch a couple of more new episodes, and if they dont get it together Im done.

    They also have to show a Hyundai, yeah like I see a Dodge Viper on the streets everyday=a car that may cost $110K but after 2-3 years of use it’s such a shit box that it ends up on scummy used car lots going for $9K.

  31. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    And it has a Chinese quality Interior that’s unbecoming of an “Exotic” Car. The Gen Coupe Interior is better than that Americrap.

  32. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I may hate FIAT Poop, but I do have high hopes that they would improve on the Viper.

    Like a typical Corporate Suported American Show Top Gear US has AND NEEDS sponsors who pay the light bill. There will be no displays of Shit Box Build Quality Comedy you see on UK Top Gear.

    See, that’s the Benefit of State Ran television. No or Very Little Corporate Sponsorship Censoring.

    America, Land of the Free My ass. Yeah it’s the land of the free for How Much.

    America’s Coporatist Bought and Paid For Media is Communism’s disgruntled Brother. But as long as they say Dirty Words, and engage in morally destructive imagery NOBODY CARES!!!