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Transportation Patents Power

BMW, Mazda Keen To Meet With Tesla About Charging Technology 137

PC Magazine reports that following Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla would be freeing for other electric car makers to use the various patents that the company has amassed, at least two companies — Mazda and BMW — are said to be interested in meeting with Tesla, for a very good reason: According to undisclosed sources speaking to the Financial Times, both Nissan and BMW would be interested in working with Tesla to craft up some universal vehicle charging standards. To quote unnamed official: "It is obviously clear that everyone would benefit if there was a far more simple way for everyone to charge their cars."
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BMW, Mazda Keen To Meet With Tesla About Charging Technology

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  • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:26AM (#47244455) Homepage

    Musk announced this days ago during a briefing call. BMW and Tesla are already talking. They were just at the plant on Wednesday.

  • by l2718 ( 514756 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:47AM (#47244519)

    For wide adoption there needs to be a full market around electric vehicles: opportunities to build charging stations, sell home charging equipment and so on. Gas stations are possible since practically all cars use the same fuel, but also because they have very similar intake openings so that the pump can stop by itself.

    Tesla by itself is too small to set standards, so this is good news. It also shows how disclaim in patents helps: the benefit from a greater and more active market exceeds the payoffs from discouraging competition.

  • Re:It's Nissan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:31AM (#47244623) Homepage

    The real problem is that they didn't standardize on high-power charging in the beginning. We got the SAE J1772 standard, but it tops out at 80 amps / 240V. Europe's a mess as it stands, with a bunch of competing connectors implementing IEC 62196-1, and again, no solid fast charging standard. This leaves everyone to have to pick and choose their own high-power coupler. It's idiotic, they should have standardized from the beginning, it's obvious that it's going to be a necessity for mainstreaming EVs. 20 minutes to charge your car while you take a lunch stop, fine. 3 hours to charge your car while you take a lunch stop, Not Fine(TM). Until you get fast charging standardized and available, the majority of consumers will continually hold that up as their excuse as to why they can't buy an EV (there's often some big holes in that logic, but that's neither here nor there).

    There are a couple other possibilities for mainstreaming other than fast charging, but I don't see them around the corner. One is to have a whole day's worth of driving - or most of a day's worth (enough that if you charge during your meal / rest breaks, it's a full day) - on a single charge. In such a case, the upper end of J1772 is enough for all but very high consumption vehicles to charge you to full while you sleep, so you can drive another full day immediately after. But that requires multi-hundred kilowatt hour packs which would weight 1-2 tons and cost $50-100k with today's tech. It'll happen eventually, batteries double in energy density every 8 years or so (price drops happen too but they're more irregular and harder to predict) - but we're not to the point yet where this would be a viable option. The other option is making available self-steering genset trailers, like the AC Propulsion Long Ranger. It seems such an obvious stopgap - you've got a generator when you need it but don't have to drag it around when you don't, you could buy them, rent them, share them, etc. Your car uses gasoline on those occasional long trips but otherwise is pure electric with none of the problems of PHEVs. Unfortunately no major automakers are pursuing this approach (I'm not really sure why, the Long Ranger got good reviews). As it stands, the majority of manufacturers are pursuing some form of fast charging, but as mentioned, the standards situation is a mess right now. :

    And then there's the issue of how fast charging changes incentives. As it stands, utilities *love* EVs because it lets them sell more power for rather little added infrastructure cost, they're largely stable nighttime loads. But once you start getting to 480V multi-hundred-amp daytime fast charges, it's just the opposite, that's horrible for them. It's possible to make them become once again something desirable for utilities by including a battery buffer inside the charger (trickle charges when not fast charging a car, then burst discharges), but I'm not aware of any fast chargers that come like that by default.

    The other option is to accept that disadvantage of allowing fast charging EVs in exchange for having EVs smart grid integrated, so that all the cars left plugged in during the day charge when demand is low and stop charging or even reverse flow during those brief peaks. It's possible to incentivize EV owners as well - let them pick at what time their car needs to be fully charged, whether they want to allow reverse flow, etc. The more flexible they are about timing, the more their car can wait to buy power when it's cheapest, and they could get a rebate on reverse flow power sold at higher prices during peaks. Such a system would work well, leaving owners with the ability to choose the balance between speed and price (even potentially to earn a net profit on their car if they're flexible enough), and it'd leave utilities with a nice smooth generation/demand balance, much better than today. Unfortunately, neither the grid nor current EVs are to that point.

  • by sjwt ( 161428 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @08:02AM (#47244715)

    Gasoline gives you 12,200 Wh/kg []
    University of California's currntly running a SC @ 39.3 Wh/kg [] So thats 310 times less, the gap keeps closeing.
      Worryed about the extra weight? Why not make your supercapacitor part of the load bearing structure of the car

  • Re:It's Nissan (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @08:07AM (#47244743)

    Mostly because GM, Ford, and Chrysler are ran by some of the dumbest people on the planet. Which means we will get a standard that the European and Asian cars use along with tesla, and then something completely different from Ford, GM and Chrysler. Causing an even larger fall of domestic car buying with the executives having press conferences asking, "WE have no idea why people are not buying our cars"

    I remember the lots full of Escalades and other huge SUV's no one wanted a few years ago.

    At the same time that the big three have no idea what people want to buy, that incompatibility will hurt.

    But to their way of thinking, interface standardization is a socialist construct. Much better to invent a non-standard "freedom connector" that if you are lucky, you will dominate the market, and others will have to pay you royalties to use.

    Coupled with a non-trivial segment who wants to see electric vehicles fail, and their starting to sound silly sycophants, it is amazing that we don't have politicians trying to ban all EV's on patriotic grounds.

    As preposterous as that sounds, consider that "Heartbeat of America" (tm) Chevrolet were touting patriotism as a hallmark of their big trucks, and the present day efforts to ban Tesla sales in certain, states. There is enough money in the hands of people who would benefit at EV's failure to set the stage for some entertaining shenannagins.

  • Re:It's Nissan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @08:59AM (#47245017)

    Because under the socialist Obama administration, there's no point to innovating and trying to increase your company's profits: the taxman is going to take it all.

    Because under a Republican administration, there's no point to innovating and trying to increase your company's profits:

    With infrastructure crumbling, education failing and the middle class fading the environment that fosters capitalist success is fading away. Better to start up in a country like Germany that creates an environment where it's worthwhile trying to innovate.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.