November 24th, 2010 at 12:00pm
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.
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.
SHOW ME OPEL THE MONEY!
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.
NEW GM, NEW LOGO
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.
CHINA’S FINEST: WULING BAOJUN 630
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.
U.S. BORDER PATROL BUYS FORD RAPTORS
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!
FERRARI BOSS DRIVES LANCIA STRATOS
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.