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Posted on on June 5th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


Batteries That Can Multitask

Published  by The New York Times: June 3, 2011

THERE’S more than meets the eye in the battery-powered model car sitting in Emile Greenhalgh’s laboratory at Imperial College London.


The model has been modified by the researcher’s team to increase the amount of electrical energy it can store — but not by installing a bigger battery. Instead, the team added body components that double as capacitors, devices that hold an electrical charge until they are tapped.

“Although the energies they provide are fairly modest,” Dr. Greenhalgh, a composites expert, said, “they have shown that our material could be used to smooth the demands on the battery, thus enhancing its life.”

Designers of full-scale electric vehicles are working toward the same goal: battery reserves need to be extended because today’s technology typically delivers only enough power for about 100 miles of driving. Larger batteries are not necessarily the solution, either. Even the most advanced designs weigh hundreds of pounds, reducing the vehicle’s range.

To help cut weight and increase driving distances, engineers are developing car frames and bodies made of carbon fiber-reinforced composites, plastic materials that can be 50 percent lighter than steel but provide superior strength and rigidity. Although used in a handful of exotic sports cars, carbon composites remain too costly for mass-market cars.

One potential solution is to build autos with carbon composites that can also serve as batteries. The dual-function materials could make E.V.’s and hybrid vehicles lighter as they simultaneously provide extra electricity.

“Structural power technology combines mechanical structure and energy storage capabilities,” said Dr. Greenhalgh, who heads a group at the college working on the concept. “This could allow us to have our cake and eat it too.”

To enable the composite materials to store electricity, the resin that binds the carbon fibers is laced with lithium ions; the fibers serve as conductive electrodes for this type of charge-holding capacitor.

It is different from a battery, which produces electricity from a chemical reaction. Another research group, at the Swedish Institute of Composites, is working on a structural battery.

Dr. Greenhalgh also leads a wider European Union project, which includes Volvo Cars, to study the innovative materials. “Volvo says that structural power technology will be key to the E.V.’s they’re developing,” he said.

One of the project’s goals is to test a prototype E.V. with a trunk floor that provides electricity. “We’re expecting a 15 percent weight savings compared to the standard battery in a conventional structure,” said Per-Ivar Sellergren, an engineer at the Volvo Cars Materials Center in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“Even though the panel will not be large enough to power the entire car, it could provide enough power to switch the engine off and on when the car is stopped at a traffic light,” he said.

Mr. Sellergren said that if future composite battery structures could store energy as efficiently as lithium-ion batteries, an E.V. would require only the roof, hood and trunk lid to be made of such materials to achieve an 80-mile range.


Posted on on December 11th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Can Nissan start weaning the auto industry off petroleum?

By MARK SCHREIBER, The Japan Times, December 122, 2010

On Dec. 3, 2010, BBC News reported that the prices of petroleum on both sides of the Atlantic hit their highest levels since the financial crisis, with Goldman Sachs forecasting an increase to $100 per barrel in 2011.

This ominous news item seems to have been largely eclipsed by the stream of coverage of Nissan Motor Company’s launch of the LEAF, an all-electric five-door hatchback launched by the Yokohama-based automaker this month.

LEAF is an acronym for “Leading Environmentally friendly Affordable Family car.”

While Nissan’s promotional activities have largely avoided hints concerning higher prices at the pump, the success of what Nissan is billing as the first mass-produced EV (electric vehicle) may very well be bolstered by rising gasoline prices. America’s Environmental Protection Agency rates the LEAF as achieving fuel economy equivalent to 99 miles per gallon (42 km per liter), about double that of hybrid cars, which are powered by both a gasoline engine and an electric motor.

Moreover, according to AP reports, the estimated cost to charge the LEAF’s batteries (assuming normal use) will come to $561 a year. Depending on distance driven, the $46 a month in added electric bills is likely to be considerably less than outlays for gasoline. And as an added incentive, buyers of EVs will be eligible for tax credits ($7,500 in the case of the United States, for example).

But if monetary saving is the sole objective, the figures can be tweaked to work both ways. Those of the “drive it ’till it drops” school have been able to demonstrate that sticking with one’s old clunker for another, say, five years still achieves considerable savings over those who trade in for a new EV, even after outlays for oil changes, periodic maintenance and the usual operating costs.

TV commercials and print media ads invariably pander to the emotional aspects of car ownership — prestige, excitement, family togetherness or innovative design, etc. — and ads appealing to thrift are rare. Apparently drivers, even when motivated by genuine economic concerns, don’t like to be reminded of it.

While taking a multifaceted approach to its new model’s capabilities — such as pointing out that owners will be able to use their cell phone to turn on the car’s air conditioner before going out to the parking lot on a hot day — Nissan is emphasizing the LEAF’s status as a “zero emissions” vehicle that will be kinder to the environment. (Although arguably the plants that generate the electricity to charge the batteries will still give off emissions.)

Apart from personal taste preferences and budget, buyers are most likely to be wary of the practical aspects of EV ownership such as maximum cruising range and battery recharging time. Nissan has been doing a lot of proactive groundwork, such as efforts to ensure that owners who drive their LEAFs into the nation’s remote hinterlands will be able to reach the next recharging point without running out of juice.

At stake in this venture is more than just a single automaker’s R&D investments. In recent years, Japan’s electronic firms lost market share due to the unfavorable yen exchange rates and lower labor costs in developing economies such as China. But other factors should not be disregarded. Shukan Economist (Nov. 23) makes the point that that while Sony’s Walkman personal audio player initially competed successfully on the basis of performance and design, the current market leader, Apple’s iPod, grasped the consumer market from a completely different perspective based on networking, attracting customers by providing both hardware and content.

By the same token, the magazine writes, it may no longer be sufficient to treat the family car as a stand-alone product. If EVs are to succeed, then in addition to such necessary attributes as safety and passenger comfort, manufacturers will ultimately need to differentiate their products through tie-ups with appliance makers, home builders and IT businesses.

Even while parked in the garage, for example, what’s to keep an owner from utilizing his EV as a virtual concert hall for listening to hi-fi audio? Or, through additional value-added innovations, using the glass windscreen as a panoramic video display on which cinema or games can be enjoyed?

Commenting in Nikkei Business (Nov. 8), Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn expressed the view that “Japan, so to speak, is like a ‘test laboratory’ that spawns new work methods, logistics, technology, procurement and so on, which it deploys from the grass roots level to the rest of the world. This role will continue in the future.”

According to what are called “conservative estimates,” by 2020, 10 percent of the world’s passenger cars will be EVs. What remains to be seen is whether a Japanese auto maker, headed by a visionary French-Brazilian- Lebanese CEO, will set a new standard that steers the auto industry away from the internal combustion engine.


Posted on on August 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

from Cleantech Investor Services <>
date Wed, Aug 18, 2010

American Business Conferences
American Business Conferences
Dear Colleague,

With just 6 weeks to go until the event and almost all the key vehicle OEMs and EV battery suppliers signed up to attend, the EV Battery Tech USA: Global Cost Reduction Initiative is gathering further momentum as stakeholders throughout the EV supply chain sign on to support it. AeroVironment, the market leaders in EV charging solutions have joined the event as Co Sponsors, whilst Leo Motors will be unveiling their new BMS technology in the exhibit area. The event is now close to selling out as word spreads that the whole EV industry is coming together to make genuine progress in addressing the issue of reducing the cost of EV batteries.

To download a pdf of the brochure click here:

Speakers Include:
Toshiaki Otani, Vice President For Global Battery Business, Nissan
Micky Bly, Executive Director Of Global Electric Systems, Batteries, Hybrids And Electric Vehicles, General Motors
Jay Iyengar, Global Director And Chief Engineer, Electrified Propulsion Systems,Chrysler
John Muldoon, Principal Scientist For Post Li-ion Research, Toyota
Ted Miller, Senior Manager Of Energy Storage Strategy An Research, Ford
Chetan Maini, Chief Of Technology And Strategy, Mahindra REVA
Naveen Munjal, Managing Director, Hero Electric
Phil Gow, Vice President Of Battery Systems, CODA Automotive
Ian Clifford, CEO, ZENN Motor Company
Egil Mollestad, Chief Technology Officer, Think
David Crecelius, Vice President Of Powertrain, Bright Automotive
Ben Hogan, COO, Phoenix Motor Cars
Doug MacAndrew, Technical Director, Smith Electric Vehicles
Dr. John Lee, President And CTO, Leo Motors
Frederic Marangone, Product Manager, ZAP
Steve Clark, Senior Manager of Energy Storage & Management Systems, Chrysler
Dr. Ion Halalay, Sr. Researcher- Electrochemistry and Battery Systems, General Motors
Rick Woodbury, President, Commuter Cars
Ian Wright, CEO, Wrightspeed
Peter Van Den Bossche, Secretary Of TC69, IEC
David Howell, Co-Chair Of The FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership’s Energy Storage Technical Team, U.S. Department Of Energy
Khalil Amine, Head Of Technology Development, Battery Technology Department,Argonne National Laboratory
Kandler Smith, Vehicle Energy Storage, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

EV Battery Tech USA: Global Cost Initiative will be an unmissable opportunity to be part of the next wave of Electric Vehicle supply chain partnerships as they are formed. To book on to attend and join the world’s leading vehicle OEMs and battery manufacturers at the event, go to:, call 1 800 721 3915 or email

We look forward to hosting this Summit next month.
Kind regards,

Jane Thomas
Conference Director


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Posted on on August 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

From The White House – Today’s Schedule:

The President will visit the Ford Motor Company Chicago Assembly Plant and continue to tell the story of how the tough choices he made to save the American auto industry were necessary to save a million American jobs, stave off economic devastation in our auto communities and revitalize an entire American industry.  Later this year, the Chicago Assembly Plant will begin production of the new, fuel efficient 2011 Ford Explorer.  Ford just announced that thanks in part to new Department of Energy loan guarantees aimed at helping companies retool their plants to make more fuel efficient vehicles, the Chicago plant is adding 1,200 new jobs.

All times are Eastern Daylight Time

8:00 AM: The Vice President meets with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

10:55 AM: The President tours the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant

11:15 AM: The President delivers remarks at the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant (audio only)


Posted on on May 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The World Wants Electric and no gimmicks – no hidden gasoline engines please!

—- —-

Nissan Says Electric Car Is Sold Out for This Year.

By NICK BUNKLEY, The New York Times,  May 25, 2010
DETROIT — Nissan’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, said Tuesday that the company had already received 19,000 orders in the United States and Japan for the electric car that it would start selling at year-end.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

The Nissan Leaf, which is scheduled to arrive in dealerships later this year, is meant to travel 100 miles on a full charge.

Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg News
Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s chief.

More than six months before the car, the Nissan Leaf, arrives at dealerships, the preorders mean that the car is sold out for this year and that the company might stop taking reservations, Mr. Ghosn said during a visit to the Detroit Economic Club.

“The preorders are such that we are very comfortable with what we have undertaken,” Mr. Ghosn said after the speech. “The more we advance into it, the more comfortable we are with it.”

Nissan plans to break ground Wednesday in Smyrna, Tenn., for a plant to build batteries for the Leaf and eventually other models, part of its goal to sell at least 500,000 electric cars worldwide starting in 2013. The first Leafs will be made in Japan, with assembly in Tennessee planned to start in 2012.

Mr. Ghosn’s enthusiasm for electric vehicles contrasts with some recent studies and with comments from other automakers, including Honda, suggesting that pure electric vehicles have little short-term potential.

General Motors is scheduled to begin selling a battery-powered plug-in car, the Chevrolet Volt, later this year, but the Volt also has a small gasoline engine so that drivers can go beyond the battery’s expected range of 40 miles a charge.

Mr. Ghosn said he did not want the Leaf, whose expected range is 100 miles on a full charge, to have a range-extending engine, a feature that G.M. has said would assuage drivers’ worries about being stranded with a dead battery with no fast or easy way to recharge.

“We wanted to do a zero-emission vehicle,” Mr. Ghosn said. “I don’t want gasoline in the car, period.”

Nissan has given the Leaf a starting price of $32,780, minus a $7,500 federal tax credit. The Volt, whose price has not been disclosed, is expected to sell for close to $40,000 before the tax credit.

Among the other electric vehicles planned for sale in the United States within several years are a battery-powered version of Ford’s compact car, the Focus, and the Tesla Model S sedan, which will be built in California as part of a new partnership with Toyota announced last week.

The preorders for the Leaf include 13,000 in the United States, where dealers take a $99 deposit, and 6,000 in Japan.

Mr. Ghosn said sales in the United States would be concentrated in areas where there was sufficient means to support electric vehicles, like cities in California and other states that are installing charging stations.

“We don’t want to put the consumer in a situation where he buys the car and he doesn’t know how to charge it and he doesn’t know how to take care of it,” he said.

“We will make sure that in the markets in which we put the car, the consumer has the basic infrastructure to be able to drive the car with peace of mind and not have to worry.”

Mr. Ghosn, who also is chief executive of Nissan’s partner, the French automaker Renault.

He declined to speculate on what would have happened if Nissan and Renault had completed the alliance they sought with G.M. in 2006, but he said he had no complaints about the American government’s financial support to G.M. and Chrysler last year.

“No government in the world, no matter on the left or on the right, is going to let go hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Mr. Ghosn said.


Posted on on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The different levels of demeaning a woman in the Islamic world:

Burqa is a most complete body-cover – the covering of the eyes may or may not be also required.

Hijab is a legal term in Islamic law – “curtain” or “cover” that covers everything except face and hands in public.

Niqab is just a veil – least offensive.

Khimar is a headscarf or veil as mentioned in the Quran. This is the way women should cover themselves as per the Quran.


ADC (The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee) Congratulates Rima Fakih as Miss USA 2010

Washington, DC | May 17, 2010 | | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) extends its wholehearted congratulations to Ms. Rima Fakih of Dearborn, Michigan, who was crowned Miss USA 2010 on May 16th at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
You can read more about Ms. Rima Fakih, who is of Lebanese descent, by visiting the links to the following articles:
Last night, Rima competed against 50 other contestants, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Rima will go on to compete for the title of Miss Universe this summer.  She will spend the next year traveling the globe to promote the Miss Universe organization.
ADC President, Ms. Sara Najjar-Wilson, stated that, “we are very proud of Rima Fakih.  She is a very intelligent as well as a very beautiful young woman.  We are elated by her success, and are confident that she will honor all Americans in representing the United States in the Miss Universe Pageant.”
Rima, who is 24-years old, is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, earning a degree in Economics and Business Management.  She began competing in beauty pageants while in college, as a way to earn scholarship money.  After her reign, Rima aspires to attend law school.
ADC wishes Rima much success and happiness as Miss USA, and extends to her continued best wishes in all her future endeavors. (so does our website –
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), is non-profit and non-sectarian and is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States, and to promote the cultural heritage of Arabs.
ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.


Posted on on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The CNN ireport – LIVING IN A TOXIC TOWN. CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta invite you to put on video what you know.….

Living in a toxic town

Many residents of Mossville, Louisiana, suspect their proximity to more than a dozen chemical plants may be responsible for what they say are high rates of cancer and other diseases in the area.

Is there a place near you where pollution is making people sick? CNN is investigating the environment’s effects on health as part of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Toxic Towns USA special. We want you to join us in the newsgathering process.

“Put yourself on video and document conditions in your area, or take photos of what’s around you. Tell us what industrial or chemical pollution may be contributing to health problems for you and those you love, and be sure not to put yourself in a dangerous situation,” CNN writes.

“Tell us about toxic towns near you and Dr. Gupta may report on your community.”


Posted on on May 15th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Maria Zheng profile picture

Maria Zheng

Research Assistant

William Davidson Institute, Ann Arbor, MI

Social entrepreneurship opportunities in China

May 14, 2010 —

BoP (Below the line of Poverty) Opportunities in China

What are some BoP ventures and issues in the world’s most populous nation?

China’s extreme income inequality, rich heritage and diverse geographies make for intriguing social venture opportunities during its time of neck-breaking economic growth.

While China has become the world’s third-largest economy, 627 million Chinese still lived on less than $2.50 per day in 2005.

Poverty is almost exclusive to the countryside – just 70 percent of rural Chinese are below the poverty line versus 18 percent of urban residents.

The following are several hot poverty alleviation topics and situations unique to China to get you thinking.


1. “Facebook for Farmers”

In 2006, the China Banking Regulatory Commission estimated that 2/3 of rural villagers, or 480 million people, had no access to formal credit. Only 10 NGOs in China could independently cover the cost of their loans, while in comparison, India had 1,000 microcredit institutions at the time.

Wokai, a non-profit named after the Chinese words “I open”, is a young, online microfinance program looking to change that imbalance, matching donors with entrepreneurs in China online. Like, lenders contribute capital online to generate funds for small businesses. Similarly to Facebook, Wokai provides a community and network for donors and borrowers. helps potential borrowers such as Sichuan’s Xu Guiqiong, in need of RMB 10,000 (approximately US$1,600) to grow a small breeding business and connect with the outside world. It is dedicated to showing donors the impacts of their micro-loans by linking them with their borrowers. Potential donors can browse for borrowers by industry, read their profiles, and give to a specific borrower. Loan recipients are screened by Wokai’s representatives and local field partner agencies. Since it’s launch in November, 2008, has raised US$140,000 in contributed capital and helped over 270 farmers drive their enterprises.

2. China’s poorest are most affected by disasters intensified by climate change.

Longer periods of drought caused by global warming exacerbate farmer’s economic difficulties in China, where 95% of those living in absolute poverty live in at-risk areas and are already the worst affected by climate change. China’s most urgent priority should be reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Accumulation of greenhouse gases has caused natural disasters across all of China, from intensified drought in northwest Gansu Province to more frequent torrential rain in Sichuan and floods and droughts in Guangong. Rising sea levels, landslides, more devastating typhoons, desertification, and permafrost thawing are all results of global warming, destroying lands from China’s east coast to Tibet. These intensified disasters create water shortages and destroy homes, farmland and cash crops, eventually leading to increased migration and displaced populations.

3. The hukou system: yesterday’s rural poor become today’s underserved urbanites

China’s household registration system and residency permits, known as “hukou“, ties people to their original place of residence, essentially rendering migrant workers from the countryside illegal immigrants when they move to cities. Hukou distinguishes urban from rural residents and is inherited. Hence, city children will have rural hukous if their parents had them. Depending on the city’s policies, changing from a rural to urban hukou often requires owning landing, prooving stable income sources, or paying a certain amount of taxes- all virtually out of reach for migrant workers. Without urban hukous, China’s rural poor who have moved to cities have restricted or no access to healthcare, public education, social welfare and other services, as cities limit such public programs to local residents. In certain cities, those with rural hukou cannot buy real estate. Until China reforms its hukou system, people originating from the countryside will always be second-class citizens in cities. The number of displaced peoples will only grow with climate change, as people leave drought-stricken villages for work in cities. Migrant workers must continue returning to their villages for adequate healthcare services and sending 58 million children back to villages where they may receive public educations.

4. Lack of social security leads to high savings rates and restrained consumers

China’s famously high savings rates mean that even its low-income households above the BoP often consume below the World Bank poverty line. Nearly half of rural households below the poverty line still save. In comparison, only 1/3 of households in the United States’ bottom fifth save. Research on the reason behind Chinese’ high savings rates cites government’s lack of a strong social security system, education costs and gender imbalance towards males. Economic vulnerability exacerbates poverty in rural China, as farmers are exposed to price shocks and workers’ pay is often delayed.  Until China creates a more secure economic insurance system and encourage more balance between saving and consumption, BoP markets may be difficult to reach.

5. Newly discovered tourist sties are driving growth in poor regions.

While migration to mega-cities continues apace, building tourism industries in smaller cities has become an increasingly viable alternative. Poor regions are opening facilities to accommodate tourists to well-preserved ancient landmarks and support their economies. Gansu, one of China’s poorest provinces, is undergoing a $38.4 million sustainable tourism project with loans from the World Bank.To welcome tourists to its section of the Silk Road, Great Wall and ancient monastaries and geological parks, Gansu has instituted reconstruction projects and infrastructure overhauls. Likewise, tourism has brought fresh inflows to central China’s city of Pingyao, which has a poor, agricultural-based economy and is water-scarce. Since its Ming dynasty wall, preserved Ming and Qing residences and ancient city streets helped it become a World Heritage Site in 1997, shops and hotels have emerged while new construction jobs have been created. These influx of tourists and building poor cities’ tourism industries has led to employment and social and economic development.


Posted on on May 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

A new New York Times blog, GREEN – – with sections on Science; Business; Politics & Policy;  Living. — Updated: 4:35 pm

12 Experts to Review U.N. Climate Panel’s Work

By JOHN M. BRODER, May 3, 2010.

Green: Science

Harold T. Shapiro, a former president of Princeton University and the University of Michigan, will lead a 12-member panel that will review the practices of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has been criticized for errors.

Dr. Shapiro, an economist, will lead a group that was assembled by the InterAcademy Council, an organization of the world’s leading scientific academies, at the request of the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. It will look into the management and review policies of the I.P.C.C. that led to errors in the panel’s most recent report, including a faulty estimate of the rate of melting of the Himalayan glaciers and several smaller mistakes.

Harold T. ShapiroThe New York Times Harold T. Shapiro

“We approach this review with an open mind,” Dr. Shapiro said in a statement. “I’m confident we have the experts on this committee necessary to supply the U.N. with a stronger process for providing policymakers the best assessment of climate change possible.”

The I.P.C.C. has been faulted for failing to consider alternate views of climate science, sloppy citation of sources and for reliance on some research that was not properly peer-reviewed. The panel will make recommendations on how to avoid such problems and how to identify and quickly correct errors in future reports.

The United Nations panel draws on hundreds of scientists to produce periodic reports that are supposed to be the definitive assessment of current climate science. The panel does not make policy recommendations, but its work is used by policymakers around the world in deciding what action to take to combat global warming. Its most recent report was published in 2007; the next is due in 2014.

Scientists and officials say that the panel’s findings that the earth is warming and that human activity is almost certainly a cause remain indisputable. But critics have used the errors to raise doubts about the credibility of the entire 3,000-page study.

The I.P.C.C.’s chairman, Rajendra K. Pachauri of India, has been accused of conflicts of interest involving a research organization he heads. He has vigorously disputed the allegations, citing an independent audit of his finances.

The academic review board’s task is to look at the group’s research and management practices, not the soundness of its science. But it is authorized to make recommendations on virtually all aspects of the I.P.C.C.’s work.

The InterAcademy Council is expected to deliver its report by Aug. 30.

The review panel members were nominated by science and engineering academies around the world and include experts from the United States, Brazil, China, the Netherlands, Japan, India, England, Germany and Malaysia.

The vice chairman of the committee will be Roseanne Diab, executive officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa and a professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.


Posted on on April 26th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Automakers’ risks expanding in China

End of incentives may put brakes on market growth

Bloomberg, as per Japan Times online.

Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Co. are raising production capacity and sales forecasts in China, betting vehicle demand will continue to grow even if the government scraps car-buying incentives.

News photo
Latest and greatest: A model poses next to Daimler AG’s Maybach luxury saloon during an unveiling for the media at the Beijing Auto Show on Thursday. BLOOMBERG PHOTO

Volkswagen, the biggest foreign carmaker in China, will invest $5.9 billion in plants and new models by 2012, while Nissan aims to boost its capacity in the nation by almost 70 percent, the companies said Friday at the Beijing Auto Show.

Toyota and Hyundai Motor Co. are also building new factories in China, the world’s largest vehicle market.

The automakers are competing for market share as Volkswagen estimates the growing wealth of China’s 1.37 billion people may raise auto demand there as much as 20 percent this year. Nissan predicts growth may slow next year as China has signaled it may end a tax break for small cars, and industry consultants JD Power & Associates and IHS Global Insight say carmakers risk building too many plants.

“China’s motorization is reaching the masses,” said Takanobu Ito, chief executive officer of Honda Motor Co. “Even after the tax break ends, demand shouldn’t drop very much.”

China’s vehicle sales growth this year will exceed Honda’s original estimate of 10 percent, Ito said at the auto show. Xu Changming, a research director at China’s State Information Center, said last week demand may rise about 17 percent to 16 million vehicles, down from 46 percent last year.

The Chinese government is likely to raise the consumption tax to 10 percent next year for cars with engines no larger than 1.6 liters, after cutting the rate to 5 percent in 2009 and raising it to 7.5 percent this year, Xu said. Last year’s reduction, which helped Chinese auto demand surge past the U.S. for the first time, resulted in “unsustainable” growth, he said.

Even if the tax break is phased out, “there is a fear that amid all of this investment and stellar growth, the vehicle market could start to overheat,” Paul Newton, a London-based auto analyst at IHS Global Insight, wrote in a research note last week. “The carmakers vying for market share in China may not want to admit it, but this risk is becoming a very real concern.”

General Motors Co., the largest automaker in China, plans to increase sales in the nation to 3 million vehicles by 2015 from an estimated 2 million this year. The company and its local partners sold 1.83 million units in China last year.

“Every time the government changes their policy, it will have some impact,” Kevin Wale, president of GM’s China business, said at the auto show. “But the underlying demand is increasing at a very fast rate.”

At the moment, “we don’t have enough cars and we can’t build enough cars,” he said.

Government policy changes are too unpredictable to be reflected in planning, Toyota Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada said at the show.

“The speed of changes to government policies is faster than our development of new engines and new cars,” Uchiyamada said.

Toyota is basing its strategy on “significantly high” demand for small-engine compact cars, he said.

Toyota’s 2010 sales in China may exceed an 800,000-unit target, said Masahiro Kato, president of the company’s local unit.

A new Toyota plant in Changchun, Jilin Province, will start production in late 2011 or early 2012 and have a yearly production capacity of 100,000 vehicles, he said. The new plant will likely build Corolla vehicles and the automaker may also introduce a new low-cost car in China, Kato said.

Nissan aims to raise output capacity in China to 900,000 vehicles a year by 2012 from 535,000 now, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn said at the show. The company is planning further increases even as Ghosn said industrywide sales growth in the nation may slow to between 10 percent and 15 percent next year.

“Nissan is going the right way,” said Takeshi Miyao, an analyst at auto consulting company Carnorama in Tokyo. “It’s important for each automaker to gain share now. Later is too late.”

Nissan, which will begin selling its Leaf electric car in China next year, aims to boost sales in the nation 12 percent this year to 850,000 vehicles.

Winfried Vahland, head of Volkswagen’s China operations, estimates the Chinese auto market may grow between 15 percent and 20 percent this year, compared with the company’s previous estimate of 10 percent to 15 percent.

“We’re a bit more optimistic now” than at the beginning of the year, Vahland said.

The company, which plans to add production capacity at its Nanjing and Chengdu plants, aims to match or exceed market growth this year, Vahland said.


Posted on on April 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Japan Times, EDITORIAL, Monday, April 26, 2010

The next generation of cars. Efforts to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the face of global warming are likely to greatly alter the face of the car industry.

Whether automakers can produce cars with low CO2 emissions, such as hybrid or electric cars, will be a key to their survival. This consideration is clearly behind the recent agreement by Nissan Motor Co., Renault SA of France and Daimler AG of Germany to form an alliance.

The European Union’s plan to introduce strict restrictions on CO2 emissions in 2012 appears to have caused a sense of crisis for Daimler, which mainly relies on sales of large luxury cars. Under the EU plan, each carmaker must meet the emission standard of no more than an average of 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven by each car.

Fines for firms in violation will rise exponentially. A penalty of 5 euro per vehicle will be applied if the emission rate is 1 gram above the standard. The fine will increase to 20 euro per vehicle for an excess of 2 grams, and 235 euro for an excess of 5 grams.

In 2009, Daimler vehicles’ average CO2 emission per kilometer was 160 grams. Although that was 13 grams less than in 2008, the carmaker may be facing large fines because the pillar of its fleet is formed by high-emission Mercedes-Benz cars.

Daimler can hope to benefit from Renault’s expertise in developing smaller cars. Renault’s average CO2 emission per kilometer was 143 grams in 2008, and that figure is expected to have improved to between 130 and 140 grams in 2009.

Daimler can also hope to gain knowledge of electric cars from Nissan, which has started accepting reservations for its new electric vehicle that is due to go on sale in December. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. started selling its electric car in April.

Although electric cars are desirable from the viewpoint of environmental protection, some problems must be solved. First, they are expensive.

Although in Japan consumers generally pay less than ¥3 million for an electric car, these purchases are subsidized by the government.

Also, electric cars can only travel short distances before needing to be recharged, and at present there are not enough recharging stations. On this front, the government sector’s efforts will be indispensable to help the car industry make the innovative leap expected of it.


Posted on on April 14th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (



The Shenzhen-based BYD (an acronym for Build Your Dreams) was founded by Wang Chuanfu in 1995 on a $300,000 loan. Over ten years it grew to become China’s largest manufacturer of mobile phone batteries, and producing over half of ALL rechargeable phone batteries worldwide. Applying its battery technology to cars, BYD Auto was founded in 2002. As of 2009, it is the sixth-largest car manufacturer in China, and exports cars globally to Africa, South America, and the Middle East.

In 2008 BYD attracted the attention of uber-entrepreneur Warren Buffet, who invested $250 million in the company, buying up a 10% stake. In the beginning of 2010, Wuang Chuanfu was named the richest man in China.

March 2, 2010 –

It said – The e6 – the highly anticipated all-electric vehicle from BYD – made its European debut today at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland.

The unveiling came as part of an announcement by Henry Li, head of BYD auto exports, that BYD would begin selling the e6, as well as the F3DM dual-mode plug-in hybrid, in European car markets starting 2011. This follows BYD’s announcement earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show that the e6 will go on sale in the US by late 2010.

It was the Chinese automaker’s first ever appearance at the Geneva Motor Show, but, as Li assured, it would certainly not be the last: “BYD is a feature of the Geneva show from now on” he told audience members at a press conference this morning at Geneva’s PALEXPO convention centre.

BYD is not the first Chinese car company to present at Geneva, however may well prove to be the first successful one. Its domestic rival, Brilliance, which displayed in Geneva in 2007, laid out similar ambitions of breaking into the European car market, however has not appeared since.

Brilliance’s failure has been attributed to their models’ poor performance in crash tests, and the company’s reluctance to lower prices (as their competitors did) in response to the 2009 recession.

BYD, however, is confident it will succeed where others before it failed. “In China, there are many automakers. Some are big and some are small. Some are government run and others are independent. I believe we are one of the best and we are a very serious company” said Li this morning. {We decided to post this today because we trust Warren Buffet – the man does not like losing money and his readiness to invest means that he recognized credibility when he investigated the company. our web’s comment}

Part of BYD Auto’s success has been on consistently producing reliable cars on par with those from bigger, more established car manufacturers in almost every facet except for one: price.

BYD’s innovative operating practices have enabled the company to significantly lower production costs on its vehicles. It produces 99% of its car components in-house, from the dashboard decals to the radio antennae, at a time when many major automakers are increasingly outsourcing vehicle parts. And it employs local Chinese laborers to put together parts that other major automakers produce on more expensive, machine-driven assembly lines.

BYD is pinning much of its hopes of cracking European and US car markets on the e6, its all-electric offering whose impressive specs have caused quite a buzz in the green car blogosphere.

The four-door, five-passenger car boasts a range of up to 250 miles on a single charge – the highest for any upcoming production-line EV. Its projected 72 Kwh lithium iron phosphate battery pack (the largest battery of any production-line EV) will be made entirely of recyclable chemicals, and be quick-charged to 50% capacity in 10 minutes. Performance-wise, the e6 will be able to do 0-60 mph in 12 seconds, and reach a top speed of 87 mph.

Some have questioned whether the e6 will be able to deliver on such claims, and more importantly, if it will be able to meet Western safety and driving standards. BYD, however, remains undaunted, and, as the e6 goes increasingly public, it seems BYD has every bit of reason to be confident in its product.


Posted on on April 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Washington Post News Alert: GM’s results aren’t comparable to prior years – from July 10, when GM emerged from bankruptcy protection after shedding billions in debt, and using “fresh-start accounting” through Dec. 31, 2010, they lost only $4.3 Billion.

The Washington Post News Alert: GM loses $4.3B in second half of 2009.
10:18 AM EDT Wednesday, April 7, 2010

General Motors Co. says it lost $4.3 billion in the last half of 2009 as it struggled to emerge from bankruptcy protection, repay government loans and cope with a severe downturn in U.S. sales.

However, the automaker says it still sees a chance of achieving profitability in 2010.

GM’s results aren’t comparable to prior years. They only measure the period from July 10, when GM emerged from bankruptcy protection after shedding billions in debt, through Dec. 31.

The Detroit company reported revenue of $57.5 billion for the period.

GM arrived at the totals using fresh-start accounting, which allows companies to completely revalue their assets after bankruptcy protection. GM says it’s the largest company ever to go through the fresh-start process.

For more information, visit


Posted on on April 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

U.S., Canada Crack Down On Vehicle Emissions

Date: 06-Apr-10

from Washington – Timothy Gardner, Tom Doggett, Reuters.

The United States finalized on Thursday its first greenhouse gas emissions rules on automobiles and boosted fuel efficiency standards, moves Canada is jointly imposing on its industry.

The rules are part of President Barack Obama’s goal to cut emissions of gases blamed for warming the planet by about 17 percent by 2020, under 2005 levels.

Obama wants Congress to pass a long-delayed climate bill, but to push it along, he has also set in motion steps for the Environmental Protection Agency to begin regulating the emissions from cars and large polluters like power plants.

“By working together with industry and capitalizing on our capacity for innovation, we’ve developed a clean cars program that is a win for automakers and drivers, a win for innovators and entrepreneurs, and a win for our planet,” said Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the EPA, which finalized the rules with the Department of Transportation.

The rules, which the agencies had laid out since last year, require that cars and trucks get on average 35.5 miles per gallon (15 kilometers per liter) by 2016. The current limit is just under 25 miles per gallon. The EPA also ruled that average vehicle emissions will be limited to 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile by 2016, down about 15 percent from 2012.

Canada’s government also finalized fuel efficiency rules on Thursday. Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice said Canada and the United States “will effectively share common standards” for limiting vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.

The two countries are working together on proposed standards for tractor-trailer trucks, which should be released in the next few months, Prentice said.

The North American auto industry is highly interlinked, and Canada has said its strategy for emissions also hinges on U.S. policy because of the two nations’ integrated economies.


The U.S. vehicle emissions standards, which will be phased in starting with the 2012 model year, will reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 900 million metric tons, the EPA said.

The program will add about $52 billion in vehicle costs, but benefits should hit $240 billion, the EPA said. The savings would come in lower fuel bills and in reduced health care costs as soot and other particulate emissions fall.

The U.S. rule will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and 960 million metric tons of carbon emissions over the life of vehicles, equivalent to taking 58 million cars off the road for a year, the EPA said.

Oil refiners have joined other industries and lawmakers in challenging EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to impose emissions rules on big business.

“Such misguided and flawed policy has the potential for devastating consequences to American consumers, businesses, jobs, and the economy,” said Charles Drevna, the president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.

But automakers support the separate vehicle regulations because it would create the first national standard for controlling car and truck emissions, superseding state plans that would have created a patchwork of regulations.


One auto dealer called the rule a victory for consumers and U.S. automakers.

“Every day customers walk into my stores asking for the same thing — cars that go farther on a dollar. For the most part that was not an American car. Now domestic cars will become more competitive,” said Adam Lee, president of Lee Auto Malls, a string of dealerships selling both foreign and domestic cars.

Many new vehicles, especially hybrid cars, already meet or exceed the planned standards. Car companies are considering a range of ways to meet the new standards including more efficient combustion engines, new fuels and batteries.

The rules are expected to add an average of $950 to the cost of new vehicles, the EPA said Thursday, down about $350 from earlier projections. That said, a driver would save about $3,000 over the life of a vehicle when the rules are fully implemented.

Plug-in electric cars will initially get a “zero” emissions rating as an incentive, a U.S. government official told Reuters.

Now that the rules are in place, the EPA will look to limit emissions from stationary sources like power plants and factories. But the EPA’s Jackson said no polluters would be regulated before 2011, in part to give Congress time to pass climate and energy legislation.

“It’s entirely consistent with allowing Congress, especially the Senate, time to work on a bill, we are trying to be very mindful of where they are going as we work on regulations,” Jackson said.


Posted on on April 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

In March 2010 the automakers US market was divided as follows:

GM 17.6%, Toyota 17,5%,  Ford 17,2%,  Honda 10.2%,  Nissan 9.0%,  Chrysler  8.7%, Hyundai  4.4%,  Volkswagen  2.9%,  Kia  2.9%,  Subaru 2,2%  and everything else totaled 7.4%. The sales in March 2010 are well above the 2009 figures for March, except for Chrysler – and that allowed Nissan to come out ahead of Chrysler.

We look at these figures and find a complete overlap with the exhibiting companies at the 2010 International New York Auto Show.

The companies that were represented, but not on the previous list, are Volvo, Mazda, Saab, Mitsubishi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Suzuki, Dodge, the small cars – Smart, Mini, and Scion, and the high tab – Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Rolls Royce. Whole countries were missing – nothing from France or Italy or China. The Indian small Tata Nano was not at the Convention Center but at the Smithsonian Museum’s New York Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum. Gone are also the Russian, Romanian, Balkan vehicles of old – they have no market in the US anymore and this was a dealers motivated show.

What we saw was a nominal effort by many corporations to answer the needs of a cleaner environment, and we can predict easily that those that made more honest efforts will see their market shares increase in the near future.

We went to search for this kind of cars of the future – beyond those we wrote about in the previous postings.

At Ford the attraction was the Bark-Buckle up Pet safety choice for Smart Rides – good for the pets, but what does it for air quality?

The FORD Trend Car of the Year is the 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid. There is a big sign DRIVE GREEN and I asked what?

I was told that in 2010 Ford will come out with a Lithium battery small van and in 2011 a Focus Electric compact car.

In 2012 there will be a plug-in hybrid. FORD has ended the CNG fueled vehicles, but still sells flexfuel – ethanol/gasoline vehicles but understandably did not bring them to the show. Who would want them in the EV age? The FORD wonder was a Voice Activated APPS with SYNC Pandora internet radio powered by Microsoft.

We may not sound enthused by what we saw at Ford, but then they are much better then GM. As we mentioned elsewhere – the GM nicest GREEN was a Chevrolet Camaro – painted Green -great body – no soul.

But then, an interesting announcement – “Ford, Microsoft team up to help electric vehicle owners Recharge more effectively, affordably.” This to form Microsoft Hohm. Recharge what? The answer is – The Transit Connect Electric later this year, Focus Electric in 2011, a plug-in hybrid and two next-generation hybrids in 2012, joining four Ford and Mercury hybrids already on the road and a new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid coming this fall. The Focus Electric will be the first electric vehicle to use Hohm. The best we figure out here is that Hohm will help the electric company to figure out the increased demand of current. It is not a motor vehicle direct issue. Sorry – at this stage we are still interested in electric motors – zero emissions –  and our memory is still alive with Dr. Roberta Nichols testifying 25 years ago before Congressional Committees on progress that was never realized.

* *

Ford has also another claim to fame – they did not go bankrupt recently and did not get government bailout. They are thus the US prime manufacturers at the moment. It was Mr. Alan Mulally, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company who was the speaker at the opening Press Breakfast. He is also the Chairman of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in 2010. He said:

“One priority is the continuation of the industry’s contributions to improving our environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. In 2009, we welcomed President Obama’s historic ‘one national program” policy as a reflection of our efforts. As a next step, WE CALL ON THE US GOVERNMENT, INDUSTRY AND STAKEHOLDERS TO BEGIN IMMEDIATELY MAPPING FEDERAL STANDARDS FOR 2017 AND BEYOND TO PROVIDE CLEAR, CONSISTENT AND ACHIEVABLE GUIDANCE FOR IMPROVED FUEL ECONOMY AND CO2/GHG REDUCTIONS WELL INTO THE FUTURE.” Strong words of value indeed! On the other hand these words also explain why we were so enthusiastic about the AMP conversions – because they can be done right now, and do not have to postpone action until Washington has a clear policy.

He was seconded by Mr. Dave Mc Curdy, President & CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers – the chief Washington DC lobby for the industry: “Energy security and environmental protection have converged at the center of our national political agenda.”


The industry says: Instead of mandating specific technologies, set performance-based standards and let manufacturers determine how best to achieve them. {We say – go for zero emissions – can you? Will you?}

When claiming that this industry generates 8 million private-sector jobs, $500 billion in wages, and $70 billion in personal tax revenues, sounded like holding a pistol to Obama’s head and negated much of what was said previously – in our opinion.

Looking deeper into the material we find a visual mess when electric cars are depicted and it is not hard to figure out that the industry likes better the clean diesel alternative. There is mention of Hydrogen technology and a call for the States to buy cars in order to create markets – fleet purchases for advanced technologies available today as the image of the good American.

But to us this is not good enough. I met Johann Jungwirth, President &CEO, Mercedes-Benz Research& Development North America, Inc. A Daimler Company based in Palo Alto. He was supervising the Smart Car stand and the Brabus which is a more customized Smart with nice electronic gadgets. He told me that in June he will launch the Smart EV. Now he was talking. The US distributor will be the Penske Automotive Group of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  www.mbrdna,com www.penskeautomotive,com

Talking Hydrogen RE Hybrid – there is a Mazda in the works that even includes sections of bioplastics – like for seats.

Much advertisement is given the zero emissions Nissan Leaf, but as they do not have yet a running vehicle they were not part of the EV separate show we wrote about. Next year probably they might. In any case – they are ahead of the US companies but behind the Mini (BMW), Think, and Miev (Mitsubishi).

Nissan said it will begin taking purchase orders for the 2011 Leaf on April 1 in Japan and April 20, 2010 in the US The vehicle will have a 100 mile range. It will be first sold on the West Coast, Arizona and Tennessee. It will cost $32,780, which is 20% below the price in Japan,  and the buyer will be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax-credit for electric vehicles.

General Motors says they intend later this year to put on the market in California, Michigan and Washington DC an improved range Chevrolet Volt.  Also Toyota intends to present in 2012 its electric vehicle.

The most interesting news this week were the rumbles that Mr. Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Renault-Nissan, is trying to bring under his wings also Daimler AG. The intent being to have a wide range partnership to build small energy efficient vehicles. The new alliance will be sealed with a 3-5% exchange of shares. This will obviously have implications for a Daimler Smart and Renault Twingo cooperation on EV.


Posted on on April 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The event was opened by Ron Cogan the editor and Publisher of Ron Cogan’s Green Car Journal who is tracking innovations in the auto-motive industry – “Since 1992 Green Car Journal is a quarterly publication focusing on vehicles that uses energy and technology environmentally friendly.” The Green Car of the Year is an award from the Green Car Journal. In the most recent issue – Green Car Journal, winter 2009/2010 chose Audi A3 TDI as its winner.

Turbocharged Direct Injection ( TDI) is the technology used to describe and name specific types of diesel engines produced by the German automotive industry business Konzern, Volkswagen Group. These are fundamentally turbodiesel engines, which feature specific technology, namely turbocharging, and cylinder-direct fuel injection. These TDI engines are widely used in all mainstream Volkswagen Group marques of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles produced by the company (particularly those sold in Europe). They are also used in marine engine – Volkswagen Marine, and Volkswagen Industrial Motor applications.
TDI is a registered trademark of Volkswagen AG.

The TDI engine  directly injects diesel and and air where a fuel injector sprays atomised fuel into the main combustion chamber of each cylinder, rather than into the pre-combustion chamber prevalent in older diesel engines of the indirect injection. The engine also uses forced induction by way of a turbocharger to increase the amount of air which is able to enter the engine cylinders,  and most TDI engines also feature an intercooler to lower the temperature (and therefore increase the density) of the ‘charged’, or compressed air from the turbo, thereby increasing the amount of fuel that can be injected and combusted. These, in combination, allow for greater engine efficiency, and therefore greater power outputs (from a more complete combustion process compared to indirect injection), while also decreasing emissions and providing more torque than its non-turbo and non-direct injection petrol engined counterpart. Because of the lowering of emissions moment, some call the TDI a green technology.

Similar technology has been used by other automotive companies, but “TDI” specifically refers to these Volkswagen Group engines.
Naturally-aspirated direct injection diesel engines (those without a turbocharger) made by Volkswagen Group use the Suction Diesel Injection (SDI) label.
The reduced material volume of the direct injection diesel engine reduces heat losses, and thereby increases engine efficiency, at the expense of slightly increased combustion noise. A direct injection engine is also easier to start when cold, due to more efficient placing and usage of glowplugs.

Direct injection turbodiesel engines are frequent winners of various prizes in the International Engine of the Year Awards. In 1999 in particular, six out of twelve categories were won by direct injection engines: three were Volkswagen, two were BMW, and one Audi. Notably that year, the Volkswagen Group 1.2 TDI 3L beat the Toyota Prius to win “Best Fuel Economy” in its class. At this year’s New York Auto Show it was the TDI vehicles of Volkswagen that won the two awards we posted in but it was an Audi vehicle using the Volkswagen technology that got Ron Cogan “2010 Green Car of the Year” award. This was just a long way to say that Ron Cogan, like many others in the US, prefer the so called Clean-Diesel or Hybrid technologies to the budding electric vehicles – this may be nevertheless justified when considering the paucity of commercially available EV autos.


But on April 1, 2010, Ron Cogan was introducing electric vehicles to the press present at the Jacob K. Javits Center.

He first introduced Steven Burns, the President of amp electric vehicles that we presented in followed by Jay Piters, President of REMY that provides the motors for the reconstructed vehicles that are sold by AMP.

The third introduction was to PEP Charger – the two outlet public charging station for the electric cars. The presentation was made by PEP Stations President James Blain and Vice President Brady Blain. The Public charging station are a supplement for those that can charge the batteries in their suburban homes

Following came three companies that do not just reconstruct existing products but build new EV cars from scratch.

The three cars presented were:

(1) the Mini electric NYC Scout bearing New York license plate M-59403 Official NY. The car is actually running around New York, checking out pot-holes etc. Their logo is “Mini goes Maxi” and was introduced by Richard Steinberg, Manager, Electric Vehicle Operations and Strategy, BMW Group Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey He believes the Mini is ideal for the city. They have already produced 450 cars in use – leased. This car is a two seater but they intend to go to a generation of 4 seats and expect to start selling them in 2015.

(2) the Miev electric car from Mitsubishi Motors with a Michigan license plate 006 M 468 Manufacturer Feb. The car being made in Michigan by Mitsubishi, was presented by Bryan Arnett, Manager Product Strategy, Mitsubishi, Cypress, California. The car has an 80 miles range. They have at the show 8 vehicles to be available to drive around. They have produced already 180 vehicles and sold some.

(3) the Scandinavian Think City vehicle 100% electric, powered by ENerDel Lithium Ion system are made in Turku, Finland. It also had a Michigan license plate 024 M 272 – but will be produced in Indiana. The range is 100 miles. They are intent on cooperating with Mayor Bloomberg of New York City and we know that the Mayor made contact with the company at the time of the Copenhagen Conference.


Posted on on April 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Brazilian Walter Maria De’Silva, Volkswagen AG Head of Group Design stood there at the end beaming holding two New York Auto-Industry Oscars in both his arms.

The concerns Press & Public Relations Director, Steve Keyes of Herndon, Virginia, was at hand but seemed unprepared for the results.

First – the 2010 WORLD GREEN CAR:

At a press conference hosted by the New York International Auto Show, Bridgestone Corporation, and BASF SE at the Jacob Javits Centre in Manhattan, New York, the Volkswagen BlueMotion (Golf, Passat, Polo) was declared the 2010 World Green Car.

The Volkswagen BlueMotion (Golf, Passat, Polo) was chosen from an initial entry list of thirteen (13) contenders nominated by fifty-nine (59) World Car jurors from twenty-five (25) countries throughout the world.

The World Green Car award was established in 2004 and is part of the overall World Car of the Year Awards program that is international in scope.   It should not be confused with the Green Car of the Year® award handed out in the United States by Green Car Journal.

Due to the complexity of some of the ‘green’ technologies, three (3) green experts were appointed by the World Car Steering Committee to extensively review all documentation and specs associated with each candidate.   They were asked to create a short-list of finalists for review by the fifty-nine (59) jurors in their second round of voting in February.  Their ballots will be tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG.  The three green experts are in alphabetical order:

Sam Abuelsamid (representing North America) is the technical editor of several ‘green’ web sites including and  In 2006, he began writing for and; becoming a full-time writer and photographer and editor in 2007.

Dean Slavnich (representing Europe) is editor of Engine Technology International (ETi) and its sister publication, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International (E&H).  Engine Technology International is widely regarded as the most readable, passionate and informative publication currently produced on the subject of OE engine and powertrain design, development and manufacture.

Tadashi Tateuchi (representing Asia) is the creator and chairman of the Japan Electric Vehicle (EV) Club.  He was awarded the Environment Minister’s medal in 1998.  A juror on the Japan Car of the Year panel, he contributes regularly to Car Graphic magazine and the Japan Automobile Federation’s monthly magazine.

The fifty-nine member jury chose the Volkswagen BlueMotion (Golf, Passat, Polo), the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius as the top three finalists for the 2010 World Green Car award. {Please note – not a single US corporation made vehicle was among the listed three front-runners.}

Jurors felt that “It is not necessary to add an electric motor and a heavy battery pack to achieve class-leading efficiency. Based on Volkswagen’s common-rail diesel engines, the BlueMotion models are among the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the market. In fact, the Passat BlueMotion can travel just about 1,000 miles on one tank of fuel in the European cycle. As far as internal combustion engines go today, these models are the ultimate you can get.”

Previous World Green Car winners are the Honda FCX Clarity in 2009, the BMW 118d with Efficient Dynamics in 2008, the Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec in 2007 and the Honda Civic Hybrid in 2006. {Please note – not a single US Corporation made vehicle has made it yet to the winner’s podium.}


The Volkswagen Polo was chosen from an initial entry list of thirty (30) entries nominated by fifty-nine (59) World Car jurors from twenty-five (25) countries throughout the world.  Each juror was appointed by the World Car Steering Committee on the basis of his or her expertise, experience, credibility, and influence.  Each juror typically drives and evaluates new vehicles on a regular basis as part of their on-going full-time professional work.  Through their respective outlets they collectively reach an audience of many millions world-wide.

The jurors voted in January 2010 to establish a top ten shortlist.   A second round of voting occurred in February when jurors were asked to score the top ten candidates based on merit, value, safety, environment, significance and emotional appeal.   The World Car of the Year was chosen from those top ten finalists as tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG.

The World Car Awards jurors observed that, “Holding its own in the most competitive market segment, the all-new Polo MkV is one of VW’s star performers. Boasting best-in-segment packaging and handling, this supermini’s blend of classy looks, reliability and quality has meant it’s consistently been one of the market’s best-sellers. Draped in head-turning stylish curves, the Polo is certainly one of the classiest small VWs ever built. It’s also safe;  generating a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating. Behind the wheel, the Polo demonstrates mature manners and boasts a superb driving position that’s adjustable and, in common with the latest Golf, all the controls are well weighted and precise. The Polo is just one brilliant supermini.”

The top three contenders for 2010 World Car of the Year title were, in alphabetical order, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class an E 550 4MATIC, the Toyota Prius, a Hybrid Synergy drive and the Volkswagen Polo.

{Please note – not a single US corporation made vehicle reached the stage of the three finalists of one of the three success stories of the year.}

“We’re honored that the Volkswagen Polo was chosen by this distinguished group of jurors as the 2010 World Car of The Year,” said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG. “After the great triumph of the Golf last year, we are delighted to repeat this success with the new Polo. These automobiles have reaped numerous awards, winning well-nigh every prize the automotive industry has to award. This shows Volkswagen is on the right track and is offering arguably the best range of products in its history.”

The winning car had a German license plate – WOB DJ246

Previous World Car of the Year winners were the Volkswagen Golf in 2009, the Mazda2 / Mazda Demio in 2008, the Lexus LS460 in 2007, the BMW 3-Series in 2006, and the Audi A6 in 2005. {Please note again, no US Corporation made vehicle has won this World cup in the listed years, and that VW gets first place second year in a row.}


The additional two categories in the AWARDS competition are:


A design panel consisting of five highly respected world design experts was asked to first review each candidate, and then establish a short-list of recommendations for the jurors.  The design experts were:

Masatsugu Arimoto:  chairman of the Japan Auto Colour Award program, juror on Japan’s governmental “Good Design Award” committee, and Car Styling’s “Car Design Awards”; Silvia Baruffaldi: Managing Editor of Auto & Design magazine; Gernot Bracht:  former designer at Renault, now teaches at Pforzheim design school in Germany; Sam Livingstone:  an Associate Editor of Car Design News and since 2001 has lectured at the Royal College of Art where he is now Senior Tutor in Vehicle Design; and Tom Matano: currently the Executive Director, School of Industrial Design, at Academy of Art University, San Francisco.  Previously,, Matano managed the Mazda Chief Designers group that created the entire Mazda car line designs.

The experts observed that, “The new Camaro leans on its heritage but does so in an artful, modern fashion, argue our design experts.  “Although it borrows some of its styling cues from the first generation Camaro, they all contribute to a simple, pure and modern appearance. It is the most dynamic Camaro ever,” says Masatugu Arimoto.  Sam Livingstone appreciates the “innately seductive exterior and interior. It’s well resolved and I’d argue evidence that General Motors strikes a better balance than Ford and Chrysler do in their pony cars.”

The fifty-nine (59) World Car Awards jurors then voted on the expert’s recommendations in February 2010 and their ballots were tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG.

“In recreating this modern sports car, we have proven that people are just as passionate about Chevy as ever,” said Michael Simcoe, Chevrolet Design Director. “We have been delighted about the strong reaction to the Camaro  — even in markets that are new to Chevy, it has been creating an emotional appeal for the brand.”

The top three contenders for 2010 World Car Design of the Year were, in alphabetical order, the Chevrolet Camaro, the Citroen C3 Picasso, and the Kia Soul.

Previous winners of the World Car Design of the Year award were the Fiat 500 in 2009, the Audi R8 in 2008, the Audi TT in 2007 and the Citroen C4 in 2006.

{Please note two extremely bothersome signs in this competition. The Chevy Camaro that won, indeed a very good looking vehicle in beige color, got the prize for reviving successfully an old design. This is the first and only US corporation made car in this years list of 12 nominees in all categories – and also the only US corporation made vehicle in all four awards listed in all off the listed historical winners – but then this win was marred by another fact – the Kia Soul was in the room, but the the Citroen C3 Picasso was not. When I asked why it is not there I was told that it stayed at customs, for reason unknown, they were not allowed entree to the US. This also brought to my attention that no French made cars whatsoever were displayed at the show – no Citroen neither Renault or anything else. Assuming they never sold in the US market, but those cars did run in US streets – so what happened to a vehicle that did in effect win in the design category in 2006? What if the judges would have deemed it a winner also in 2010? What shadow does this now throw over the only win for the US? More then that – the beige Camaro was in the competition, but in the hall there was a great green Camaro – and let me say that the color was the only thing green about this car – clearly not a winner with us even though we can appreciate the design – but what about the motor – Detroit?}



While the winner of the overall World Car of the Year award must excel in a broad range of attributes, there is a segment of the car-buying public for whom performance – in its broadest sense – overrides all other priorities.   Candidates for the World Performance Car award must demonstrate a specific and overt Sports/Performance orientation. They must also satisfy the same availability criteria as for the overall World Car award and may be chosen from that list of eligible vehicles.

Additional entrants may include newly introduced variants that satisfy the same criteria, but are derived from existing rather than brand-new models.

In all cases, they must have a minimum annual production rate of five-hundred (500) vehicles.

The jurors voted in January 2010 to establish a top ten shortlist.   A second round of voting occurred in February when jurors were asked to score the top ten candidates based on merit, value, safety, environment, significance and emotional appeal.   The World Performance was chosen from those top ten finalists as tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG.

The World Car Awards jurors observed that, “In the opinion of many a judge on the World Car Awards jury, Audi has at long last satisfied our hunger for a street car that lives up to the excitement of the original Le Mans series-dominating R8 LMP1 car that changed the endurance racing game starting in the 2000 season. This civilian trim über R8 shares the 5.2-liter engine and chassis of the more powerful and lighter Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, so that we all really liked driving it this year should come as little surprise. With 525 metric horsepower and a big exhaust note, this winning Audi has been clocked to a 60-mph acceleration time of just 3.4 seconds by several publications worldwide. Almost as impressive as the minimum $150,000 those fortunate enough get to pay for one.”

The top three contenders for 2010 World Performance Car title were, in alphabetical order, the Audi R8 10, the Ferrari California and the Porsche 911 GT3.

“”We’re honored that the Audi R8 V10 was chosen by this distinguished group of jurors as the 2010 World Performance Car,” said Johan De Nysschen, Executive Vice President of Audi of America. “This is the fifth year of the World Performance Car award and the R8 has won it twice.  Whether you choose an R8 with a V8 or with a V10 engine, you get a World Performance Car award winner.  The records also show that an Audi has won this award three times. The truly global nature of the World Car jury is evidence that Audi is hitting the performance car sweet spot of car lovers around the world.”

Previous World Performance Car winners were the Nissan GT-R in 2009, the Audi R8 in 2008, the Audi RS4 in 2007 and the Porsche Cayman S in 2006.

{our observation is that in this category there is clearly no interest in sustainability, these cars have a market corner that is ready to spend $150,000 in order to impress the rest of us and nothing green is possible if the requirement of performance calls for a 3.4 seconds acceleration. The only thing American here is the name California – the image  America has fed overseas. Volkswagen is well advised not entering this segment of the market.}


Posted on on March 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Battery Maker Seeks Role on Electric Cars.

by Cassandra Sweet, The Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2010.…

Among the companies jockeying for position as the industry for electric vehicles gears up, battery maker A123 Systems is still producing on a small scale but appears to be positioned well in both the U.S. and Asia.

Although it has great potential, A123 has to wait for the production of electric cars and hybrids to really rev up in the next few years. And while it is one of the few U.S. battery companies already in Asia and vying for its vast market, it must battle regional heavyweights with years of experience in making batteries.

The company, born out of the research labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has impressed both investors and the U.S. government with its proprietary technology. A123 makes lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles and has smaller businesses in batteries for utilities and power tools.

The Watertown, Mass., company received a lot of attention last year when it completed a $378 million initial public offering. Although the stock has been volatile since then, A123’s fortunes are likely to rise or fall along with the electric-vehicle market, which is expected to start rolling in 2012, analysts predict.

“It’s one of those companies whose stock is going to be driven in the near term by momentum in the electric-vehicle segment,” said Vishal Shah, an analyst with Barclays Capital.

Has Plants in China

A123 isn’t profitable yet and probably won’t be until next year, at the earliest. But it is highly thought of. The company was founded in 2001 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, which last year also awarded A123 a $250 million grant to build a factory in Michigan. The company, with about 1,600 employees, already has manufacturing plants in China and South Korea, and is present in a total of 10 countries.

“We’re in discussions with several Chinese vehicle manufacturers and we’re hopeful we’ll be able to close supply agreements with one or more of them,” said Jason Forcier, vice president of A123’s automotive solutions group.

“We’re excited about China,” Mr. Forcier said in an interview. “We have a unique technology that’s different from others in the industry and we think we’re going to do well.”

A123 already makes batteries for hybrid buses made by Daimler AG and U.K. defense contractor BAE Systems. It is working with BMW AG on a hybrid-electric vehicle due on the market in late 2012, and with U.S. start-up Fisker Automotive on its Karma plug-in hybrid luxury sedan, due out later this year.

A123 faces competition, mainly from Asian battery makers like LG Chem Ltd., Panasonic, Sanyo Electric Co. and NEC Electronics and also from U.S. battery maker Ener1 Inc., among others.

Market to Grow

Mr. Shah of Barclays predicts the global market for lithium-ion batteries will grow from $1 billion currently to $13 billion by 2015 and to $56 billion by 2020.

U.S. climate legislation and a global agreement could drive the battery and electric-vehicle markets, but they aren’t as crucial as oil prices, said Mr. Shah.

While electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles like Nissan Motor Co. Leaf and General Motors Co.’s Chevy Volt are expected on the market in moderate numbers over the next year or so, the electric-vehicle market is expected to expand in the next three to five years, Mr. Forcier said.

Analysts agree the main event is at least a year away.

“We continue to believe 2010 is largely a preparatory year for 2011, when consumer transportation products should reach the market,” said ThinkEquity LLC analyst Colin Rusch.


Posted on on February 26th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

It is funny how the Chinese cannot take responsibility when they do something right, and the Americans cannot take responsibility when they do something wrong.

Washington bailed out GM rather then making sure first they change products and Beijing stopped companies from buying into the GM misfits but find ways to explain this without harming the feelings of GM. Good riddance to the Hummer monster – specially to the yellow one that used to cruise the New York Mid-town East Side and driven by some chief from the Department of Sanitation.

By Patti Waldmeir in Shanghai 2010-02-26, The Financial Times.

The collapse of General Motors’ plan to sell Hummer to a Chinese buyer reflects flaws in the deal rather than any reluctance by Beijing to sanction cross-border transactions, say Chinese government officials.

GM announced late on Wednesday that it had given up on efforts to sell its troubled Hummer operations to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery, after nearly nine months of trying.

The Detroit carmaker said it would now wind down production of the heavy sports utility vehicle.

The collapse marks another difficult sales process for GM since it began to downsize its operations more than a year ago. The carmaker backed out of plans to sell its Opel business last year, while a deal to offload its Saturn brand fell apart.

But it this week succeeded in selling Saab, its Swedish marque, to Spyker, the Dutch boutique sports car maker.

Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery, which had never produced a passenger car, said the deal collapsed because it was “unable to obtain clearance [for] the transaction from the Chinese regulators within the proposed deal timeframe”.

The deal’s deadline had already been extended by a month while Tengzhong made a last-ditch effort to obtain Beijing’s blessing.

Analysts said yesterday that Beijing’s refusal to sanction the deal was scarcely surprising, given the central government’s recent strong emphasis on encouraging Chinese consumers to buy smaller, fuel-efficient cars.

To produce the hulking Hummer, with its image of wasteful excess, could hardly be less consistent with Beijing’s pro-green automotive policies, said Mike Dunne of Dunne & Co, an Asia-based automotive consultancy: “For them to approve the Hummer deal would be a big contradiction.”

A ministry of commerce spokesman said Tengzhong failed to provide a sound purchase plan. He reiterated China’s policy of encouraging development of a renewable, green and environmentally friendly economy.

The ministry has previously insisted it never received an application by Sichuan Tengzhong – but the company repeatedly denied it.

Yale Zhang, of CSM Automotive in Shanghai, said the deal violated not only Beijing’s environmental goals but also Chinese insistence on consolidation in the auto industry, which has about 50-100 carmakers.

“This was just the wrong group making the wrong purchase in the wrong way,” said an industry insider, noting Tengzhong did not obtain provisional clearance before announcing the deal.

Beijing is thought willing to sanction the much bigger $1bn acquisition of Volvo by Geely, the big private Chinese automaker. That deal is expected to be finalised by March’s end.

Last year BAIC, the Beijing automaker, acquired some assets of Saab from GM, with central government approval.



Goodbye, Hummer
Published: February 25, 2010

The world might be saved: It looks as if the Hummer is destined for the junkyard. The plan by General Motors to sell the muscular brand to a Chinese company went up in a puff of exhaust smoke on Wednesday after government officials in China said that they had never received the necessary application for approval and thus couldn’t grant it.

We suspect the deal collapsed because the Chinese Communist Party — which rarely shows much shame — is worried about China’s image as the most polluting nation on the planet. If true, that is good news.

There may be other good news. While some policy analysts have called — sensibly, in our opinion — for steeper gasoline taxes to encourage American drivers to embrace fuel efficiency, some economists have been skeptical. They acknowledge that drivers might decide to drive less and take public transportation more. But they warn that most could not afford to quickly dump their gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient cars.

Yet given time, it seems, people change their ways. Americans drove 3.4 percent fewer miles in 2008 — when gas prices shot up to a peak of $4 a gallon nationally — than in 2007. And many who had bought the Hummer when a gallon of gas cost $2 decided that they couldn’t afford to tool around town in a small tank that would run, on average, around 10 miles on a gallon.

By last year, even as gas prices drifted downward, only about 9,000 Hummers were sold in the United States. That was a steep drop from 71,000 in 2006. In the spring of 2008, G.M. announced that it could not keep the sinking brand. The company is weighing two long-shot bids, but it is more than likely to wind down the brand.

Gasoline is back around $2.50 a gallon, and Americans are falling back on some of their old bad habits. Still, the Hummer’s tale is a vivid example of the power of gas prices to change Americans’ ways. It also suggests that, given the proper incentives and disincentives, all the world’s nations can embrace a greener future.


Posted on on January 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Daimler eyes alliance with Nissan, Renault.
DETROIT (Kyodo), January 13, 2010,  The head of Daimler AG says the German carmaker is considering forming a partnership with Nissan Motor Co. if it can reach a deal on a proposed technological tieup with Renault SA.

“We have confirmed that we are in discussions with Renault. It is not just discussion, but there are other discussions going on as well,” Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said Monday at the North American auto show in Detroit.

“If the discussions (with Renault) would come to any results, then obviously the potential expansion with Nissan is something to consider,” he said.

Zetsche said Daimler wants to strike a deal with Renault in the first half of this year.

Nissan and French maker Renault formed a capital tieup in 1999. If Daimler ties up with Nissan, the two are likely to work together on environmentally friendly vehicles, including electric cars, according to industry watchers.


Earlier in the day, Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally said his firm will maintain the current capital and business alliance with Mazda Motor Corp.

“We treasure our relationship with Mazda. It’s been very useful and beneficial for both of us even though we had to take down our equity position,” Mulally said.

Ford has had an 11 percent equity stake in Mazda since selling part of its shareholding in fall 2008.

The share sale was due to Ford’s financial plight amid the recession, Mulally said.

“Our relationship with Mazda will keep going,” he added.