ELC Calls for Large-Scale Fleet Demo Project, Could Be 1,500 Vehicles,
PG&E to Help Create ‘Comprehensive National Model for EV Deployment’
A coalition claiming “blue chip” membership is designing a large-scale electric vehicle demonstration project it says “will help create a comprehensive national model for EV deployment.” This year and next could see more than a thousand EVs, likely in Northern California.
Navistar, Pacific Gas and Electric, FedEx Express, A123 Systems, Hertz, Azure Dynamics, Coda Automotive, Ecotality, Automatiks, and GE Capital are members of the just-announced Electrification Leadership Council.
1,000 EVs? 1,500?
ELC, which according to Navistar eStar battery electric truck VP Mark Aubry has been working for more than a year, also includes large delivery service companies and vehicle manufacturers, and representatives of national, state and local agencies.
“Our Council recognizes that no one entity can create a comprehensive solution for the broad scale deployment of EVs,” Aubry says in an ELC release.
“That’s why we have come together to create a public and private model that will help us understand what will be required to operate thousands of EVs within a community.”
“This is not just about selling trucks and selling technology,” Aubry told F&F. “It’s about moving the pendulum.”
When it comes to electric vehicles, he says, “Deployment is the critical part that’s missing.”
ELC member reps agree that the big test is to involve at least 1,000 vehicles. “What is being targeted is 1,500 units,” says PG&E fleet chief Dave Meisel.
For FedEx Express, the key is scale. Two or three battery vehicles is easy, says Russ Musgrove, managing director for global vehicles, but deployment of 50 trucks, each drawing the power of a house, requires the equivalent of a new utility substation. “When you get to scale the problems become more complicated,” Musgrove told F&F. “There are some very large hurdles. For us the key for electric vehicles to be successful is collaboration. Every one of these partners is necessary.”
“We’re trying to get the EV industry to stand on its own feet without incentives,” he says.
Fuel savings, of course, is an economic incentive, and there are others, says PG&E’s Meisel. The utility expects significant maintenance savings from EVs, and to save even more money from power takeoff, which allows e-drive vehicles to replace the generators towed to worksites. “This isn’t math that anybody’s doing right now,” Meisel says. “It’s real money. People aren’t viewing the full revenue stream. Both fiscally and environmentally the potential is amazing.”
ELC says its “initial task is to design its demonstration project which will focus on a large-scale deployment of EVs within densely populated local markets where all of the components of an EV Ecosystem can be brought together to better understand the interoperability between EVs and the electric grid across a variety of vehicle classes and applications.
“The EV Ecosystem components include everything from EV deployment, charging stations, the electrical grid, energy storage devices and battery second-life applications, to communication systems and support networks.”
The location of the big EV demo likely won’t be announced until the second or even the third quarter of 2012, Aubry says. But after that, ELC will move quickly, he says, as it wants to see vehicles on the road this year.
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