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NEWSLETTER: December 2014
Welcome to the EDI newsletter, where we’re committed to delivering valuable information and insight on the hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicle drivetrain industry. We'll also share some of our company news and technology breakthroughs. If this newsletter was forwarded to you and you would like to receive it monthly please feel free to subscribe. Thanks from the team at EDI.
In this Issue:
In this edition, we feature executive perspectives from around the globe, points of view on industry trends, and corporate updates.
Some highlights include:
• We “track the (utility) trucks” as they head over to Washington DC
• EDI formally announced our plans to open a Global Innovation Center in the Silicon Valley
• Members from the executive team recently visited China to present at BIT
CEO Corner, Point of View
2014 has set a new standard for EDI’s achievements across the board for sales, product releases, patents filed, hiring, facilities expansion, and new customer collaboration. As the year draws to a close, I am amazed at what the team at EDI has accomplished in just 12 short months. We’ve continued to make substantial progress towards our vision of developing “world’s first” game changing technologies, collaborating with the best in the industry, and developing solutions that are right-sized for our customers.
We’ve collaborated with industry leaders in North America and Asia to deliver new PHEV, CVT, and battery solutions to the marketplace. Using our rapid engineering methodology, we’ve designed and built from scratch solutions to meet customer requirements and evolving regulatory requirements. In under a year we have light duty trucks, Class-3, 4 and 5 trucks, and a mass transportation bus operating and driving on the streets. Some of our product release highlights include:
• In partnership with PG&E, a brand at the forefront of the utility industry, we unveiled the industry's first Class-5 work trucks capable of shortening or eliminating electric outages, and reducing emissions by up to 80%, as well as a Class 3 PHEV truck.
• We worked with Shaanxi Automotive, one of the world’s largest bus manufacturers to develop PHEV powertrains for their large fleet of city buses-reducing their fuel consumption over 40%.
• We’ve partnered with the CEC to deliver an entirely new market application for our technology, a CNG-PHEV Class-4 truck that improves the fuel economy of a conventional powered CNG truck by more than 40%.
• We developed an Advanced Dual Chemistry Battery System that is capable of achieving a 50% increase in the All Electric Range.
We continue to receive tremendous support from the marketplace. This year, EDI was awarded grant-funding approval by the California Energy Commission from its Energy Research and Development Division for our work in the development of CNG-PHEV solutions. Based on the growing demand for our technologies, we also secured an infusion of capital from existing and new strategic investors.
And finally, to support increasing customer and market opportunities, we’ve announced our plans to open a Global Innovation Center and Headquarters in the Silicon Valley in January of 2015.
I am deeply grateful to the marketplace, our partners, customers, and investors for our progress this year. I also commend the EDI team, a group of innovators who have dedicated themselves to advancing the industry and building the industry’s best technologies.
As we move into 2015, our mission continues to be clear: Transform the industry by creating best-in-class products, collaborating with world-class partners, and delivering the highest levels of quality and performance available.
Joerg Ferchau, CEO
Efficient Drivetrains Inc.
Learn more about EDI’s product portfolio
PG&E Utility trucks head to Washington D.C. and San Francisco... EDI heads to the White House
On the heels of the recent commitment from the White House to double the pace of U.S. Greenhouse gas reductions over the next decade, the EDI team worked to ready a fleet of Power and Utility trucks for transport to the East Coast last month to participate in an elite, by invitation only industry summit on Capitol Hill. The fleet included two of EDI’s power export trucks featuring 120kW of exportable power - used for shortening or eliminating planned and unplanned outages, a Class 5 bucket truck - which eliminates engine idling by allowing all onboard equipment including the boom to be operated off of battery power, and a light weight PHEV truck.
We kept busy while in DC participating in a series executive speaking panels, media interviews, and roundtable discussions with leaders from the industry and government officials. The Hill, a news outlet covering current events on Capitol Hill also hosted a policy forum in partnership with PG&E on the future of the electric vehicle. The live, on-stage discussion “The Next Generation of Electric Transportation: Innovation in Technology & Power” featured leadership perspectives from the U.S. Department of Energy, PG&E, Edison Electric Institute, and EDI, on the potential for electric vehicles and the types of public and private sector investments needed to spur further innovation into electric trucks and vans.
On November 20th, the fleet of utility solutions was unveiled to members of the press, government, and industry. To display the potential of the new vehicles, team EDI performed live demonstrations, using the Power Export truck to charge the soundstage, food trucks, and a fleet of electric vehicles. White House Senior Advisor John Podesta also took the bucket truck for a spin-operating the boom on all electric mode just outside of the West Wing of the White House.
Tony Early, CEO of PG&E provided his perspective to the industry: “The commitment we’re announcing today isn’t just about purchasing more vehicles, and it’s not just about utilities. It’s about encouraging clean energy innovation, growing the marketplace for electric drive technologies, and positioning our country-and our customers-to take full advantage of the incredible opportunity that electrification represents.”
EDI heads to the San Francisco Auto Show
Just three days later, we move to the West Coast, where EDI’s utility trucks joined hundreds of new cars on display at the San Francisco Auto Show. The trucks were marketed as a “Special Attraction” and showcased in PG&E’s 15,000 square foot “Future Drive” Expo on the main floor of Moscone Center, one of the largest booths dedicated to cleantech at the venue.
Coverage from the Washington D.C. and San Francisco events can be found on our utility and telecom solutions page.
EDI to Establish New Global Innovation Center
Contributed by guest author: Alysha Webb
In late October EDI announced its plans to open a global innovation center and corporate headquarters in the Silicon Valley. An office location has been selected in Milpitas, California - close to automotive and technology innovators like Tesla motors, Cisco, Sandisk and other leading brands.
The new global headquarters brings together EDI’s research and development teams, sales, marketing, and administration in 30,000 square feet of space dedicated to its development, manufacturing, and global operations. The space design has an open flow, without traditional cubical set ups to enable the free-exchange of ideas and information.
EDI expects to open its new offices in January 2015. Read the full press release.
EDI's Recent Adventures in China
In October, a large contingent of EDI’s leadership team traveled to China to participate in industry events, meet with new suppliers, and to participate in a demo ride of their latest PHEV bus project with Shaanxi Automotive.
On their first stop in Beijing, CTO Andy Frank was a featured speaker at two of China’s top Universities, the Beijing Institute of Technology and Tsing Hua University. Andy Frank presented perspectives on the advantages of PHEV technology and the resulting environmental benefits. His presentation was well received by participants, including leaders from the automotive and green tech industry, as well as students studying new energy vehicles.
In Xian, the EDI team participated in a test ride of their latest PHEV city bus project with Shaanxi Automotive. The bus is currently on a 10,000km road test in preparation for certification at the end of this year. The bus maneuvered well through the city streets and is currently demonstrating fuel reduction over 40% when compared to a conventional bus. Based on the success of the project, EDI is projected to provide a large volume of these PHEV powertrains in 2015. In addition to their work with Shaanxi, EDI also secured an order for an initial volume of their newest bus drivetrains with another bus manufacturer.
In response to recent increases in customer and market demands, the team traveled to Shanghai to complete their search for an expanded manufacturing site. A location was selected and build out plans are underway. While in Shanghai, EDI also met with key motor and battery suppliers to solidify business partnerships.
Learn more about EDI’s products and services and presence in China.
China policy supports back fleet electrification; PHEV tech seen as beneficiary
Contributed by guest author: Alysha Webb
Wang Chuanfu, chairman of Chinese automaker BYD, was a speaker at a recent conference in the central China city of Wuhan. BYD is best known for producing the e6, a battery electric crossover vehicle. So you might expect he would tout the potential for electrification of passenger vehicles, but he didn’t. Wang talked about buses. “The promotion of new energy vehicles in the public sector is very effective,” said Wang.
BYD produces a battery electric bus, so Wang has something to gain by promoting the sector. But he isn’t the only one who sees the potential of public fleets to boost the electrified vehicle count in China.
The Chinese government is issuing policies that will greatly expand the number of plug-in vehicles in fleets in China. The effect of those policies is already evident.
“The China NEV market this year is growing, especially in buses,” said an executive at Wanxiang Group, one of China’s largest suppliers. It has an entire division devoted to producing electric vehicle components.
Production of commercial plug-in electric vehicles – including pure electric and plug-in hybrid electric – has surged. In the first 10 months of 2014, production of battery electric commercial vehicles leapt 133 percent to 5,723 units and production of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles soared 181 percent to 7.972 units, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information technology.
Sales of all PHEVs in the first nine months of 2014 hit 7,707 units compared to a mere 1,005 units for all of 2013, according to Auto Foresight, a consultancy in Shanghai. Sales of pure electric vehicles in the first nine months were 11,410 units compared to 11,241 units for al of 2013. No breakdown of commercial versus passenger vehicles was available, but 80 percent of the sales for both segments were to institutional buyers, said Yale Zhang, managing director of Auto Foresight, a consultancy in Shanghai.
Government policy unpins the production and demand
China set a goal of having five million electric vehicles on the road by 2020, and the central government initially imagined that target could be reached by encouraging consumers to go electric. That strategy failed miserably despite generous purchase subsidies. Now the government focus is focused on fleets, an area it has more control over. It is employing a combination of policy sticks and carrots to expand electrification.
Perhaps the most powerful policy - if enforced - will be a requirement that 30 percent of all new vehicle purchases by municipal buses should be new energy vehicles. The directive includes taxis, bus fleets, garbage trucks, sanitation trucks, mail vans, and the like.
That measure should help reduce China’s air pollution. According to BYD’s Wang, buses and taxis account for only 1.7percent of all vehicles on the road in China but 25 percent of fuel consumption and up to 30 percent of emissions.
Subsidies for commercial electrified vehicles have also been enhanced. For example, in 2013 the central government expanded subsidies for electric bus purchases, which top off at 500,000 RMB or $81,830 at current exchange rates for a bus more than 10 meters long, to include shorter buses as well.
PHEV technology the likely winner
In the early EV policy days, the Chinese government leaned toward pure electric vehicles. The limitations of the technology – mainly cost and range – quickly became apparent, however. Various government officials have recently made comments favoring plug-in hybrid electric vehicles over pure electric, citing “range anxiety.”
Industry insiders have said that PHEV technology is likely to be the most popular in the near to medium term, though not solely because of range anxiety. For one, though Chinese auto makers can produce pure electric vehicles - they cost more to produce than PHEVs because of the large battery. Charging infrastructure is also lacking, said a Shanghai-based executive at a multinational supplier.
Subsidies are another problem, said C.W. Chen, vice president of technology and business development at Efficient Drivetrains Inc., a company in California that is selling its plug-in hybrid electric technology to Chinese bus companies. Local governments are matching central government subsidies, and that means coming up with 500,000 RMB ($81,617 at current exchange rates) for a pure electric bus versus only 250,000 RMB for a PHEV bus, he said. “For a local government to come up with the money (to match a pure electric bus subsidy) is not easy,” said Chen. So though some may favor pure electric technology, they often end up buying PHEVs. Foreign firms are the likely beneficiaries of a growing demand for PHEVs, said the Shanghai-based foreign supplier executive. Producing a PHEV is very complicated and “Chinese auto makers won’t be able to do it other than partnering with others,” he said.
Safe Charging of Electric Cars
Electric cars built in the USA and Europe are charged with electricity by use of special plugs or an Electric Vehicle Safety Equipment EVSE box.
The EVSI box lies close to the electrical outlet from a house or stationary supply and the Plug-In Vehicle or PEV. The EVSE boxes contain a number of special electrical features that are required for outdoor electrical safety. The most important feature is Ground Fault Interruption (GFI), which prevents electric shock. However, outdoor electrical outlets that feature 110-volt GFI protection are available at hardware stores for about $10. The extra safety is valuable because EV or PHEV vehicles may be charged from outdoor and indoor electrical outlets that may not be GFI protected. This means that the EVSE in many cases could be redundant and is an extra cost.
In addition, the true capability of the electric circuit that the EV or PHEV is plugged into is unknown. Therefore, many EVSE ‘s do not allow rated current to be drawn since it could cause fires in the home. For example, the specific electrical outlet may be rated for safety at 15 amps whereas the wiring behind the outlet may have many connections, which result in the true operational current capacity to be less than 5 amps. To ensure safety, the EVSE equipment and chargers need to be able to detect the true circuit capability. EDI will develop such a device which will allow Electric and Plug-In Electric Hybrid Powertrain vehicles to be plugged into any conventional circuit and automatically regulate to ensure operational safety.
Professor Andy Frank, CTO
Efficient Drivetrains, Inc.