Wednesday, October 05, 2011

What’s with the EV 2011 Conference and Trade Show?

This year’s EV Conference and Trade Show was indeed full of big announcements concerning electric vehicles (EVs). The series of conferences, which happened in Toronto on September 26 to 28, also addressed several issues plaguing the industry.

As expected, the event became a platform for showcasing existing and future models. Attendees were treated to a varied display of cars, including the Smart Fortwo Electric, Ford Transit Connect Electric, Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV), Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

One of the huge announcements made at the event was “Building Canada’s Green Highway,” a dream for Canadians to travel with alternative energy running their cars. This aims to supplement petroleum stations now available with car electricity and the accompanying charging infrastructure.

Various hurdles that should be overcome before EVs go mass-market were also tackled in the event. One of the major issues around the development of EVs is the battery, which has failed to keep pace. Companies find it challenging to create smaller batteries though some are now working on denser, newer materials to place more energy into small-sized batteries.

The infrastructure needed for charging these batteries also poses a challenge. EVs will initially go to those who can charge them easily at home or work. This would probably rule out condo residents unless charging stations are installed. But together with making charging stations as widespread as gasoline stations, standardization is an important part of electric acceptability.

Here’s what Ian Forsyth, director of corporate planning for Nissan Canada, said about this.

“The receptacle on the car for charging is an SAE standard, that’s established, But the vehicle supply equipment, the interface between the car and the grid – those standards are not resolved. The cord, temperature resistance, the amperage rating of the unit itself, the waterproofness, other overload issues and all of those things are part of it.”

Click here for more of his statement.

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