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[<< Prev][Next >>] Post: May 20th 2011
E-Mission

Your Car Care REPs are back on the scene and the ride is looking so fresh and so clean, clean. This time of year brings about two major things in New York City, warmer weather and the New York International Auto Show. This years 2011 auto show was much bigger than previous years. The Jacob Javits Center had to open up a 3rd level to accommodate all the vehicles and even make room for the Dub Auto Show that represented this year along with the usual suspects. In fact, this show was so huge with so much to report on, that I have to break this article into 3 installments. This 1st installment is what most of the audience and manufactures were buzzing about during this years NY International Auto Show, the Electric Vehicle / EV, and rightfully so. With gas prices continuing to rise, EVís are quickly becoming a viable alternative. Today weíll discuss what the NY International Auto Show had in store for spectators seeking gasoline alternative cars.

Before going to the NY auto show (been going about 11 years now) I always check their website for more information and special features. Good thing I did, because this year they had an EV ride along treat. As soon as I entered the Jacob Javits Center I asked a rep where could I find the EV pavilion. I was directed to the appropriate escalator. To my surprise there were a lot of folks headed in the same direction. Once I arrived at my destination I couldnít believe how long the line was. After signing a disclaimer saying that Iím riding at my on risk (no jokes) I took my place on line, I was greeted by a ďConnectĒ representative. Connect is a new rent by the hour car rental company brought to you by Hertz. This was undoubtedly created to compete with the ever-growing popularity of the Zip Car Company. The representative asked me would I like to sign up to become a member? If I choose to sign up now the membership fee would be waived. Plus I would receive $10 off my next rental of any EV from Connect. I said ďSure why notĒ. She asked for my email address, which I gave her (facety@carcarereps.com), she said ďHey I heard about you guysĒ. It feels good to be recognized amongst the herd.

The 1st EV that I rode along in was the Chevy Volt. Iíve been doing a lot of research about the Volt and was anxious to take a spin and feel how it handled (as a passenger at least). Our driverís name was Stan, who explained a lot about how the car handled under real world driving conditions as opposed to a closed track. Upon entering the car I didnít know what to expect. Because the Volt is an EV, I sometimes forgetÖitís still just a car. I was surprised to feel how comfortable the front seats were. I was also impressed with the dashboard display especially the center console that shows how much power is being used and how itís being distributed throughout the vehicle. I asked folks that were in the back row how it felt, they told me that it wasnít a luxury rear seat, but didnít feel cramped. As Stan drove the course he hit us with a barrage of quick facts. Charging times, Miles Per Charge Ė MPC and instrument gauges were a few things he spoke about. He even discussed the vehicles torque. He demonstrated for us how the torque felt by suddenly pressing the accelerator pedal. Quite honestly the car wasnít just peppy it took off like a pit bull after a yorkie, quite impressive. Stan mentioned that there are other Chevy Volts throughout the auto show and to ask the reps as many questions as you want.

Next up for this EV explorer was the Mitsubishi MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle). The MiEV is a much smaller car than the Volt. You could see and feel it, once inside. I donít discriminate against small cars. My theory is a compact car doesnít have to feel compact. For example the Mini Cooper looks small from the outside but feels big inside. Unfortunately, the MiEV felt as cramped inside as it looked from the outside. The gauges and controls were also very minimal. It looked as if they sent in the beta version. News alert guys! Youíre supposed to send in the deluxe version!! We have no problems envisioning what it looks like without the bells and whistles, but we have trouble envisioning what it would look like with the upgrades. What I did appreciate was the MPC Ė Miles Per Charge and the charging time in comparison to the Volt. Supposedly the MiEV would be able to travel for 100 Miles on a single charge. Charging time is around 6-8 hours on a standard household outlet. When the driver drove the course the car felt stiff and contentious, but it zipped along quickly and quietly. I didnít have to ask anyone how the back seats felt because no one wanted to be adventurous and explore the tiny back row seats.

After leaving the EV pavilion I continued on my quest to seek out new unexplored EVís. I ran into a unique looking vehicle named the EN-V. Iím not sure if I can classify it as a car because these vehicles have 2 wheels as opposed to four. The EN-V is a Japanese made concept which is futuristic in itís look, controls, function, even itís parking. There were two types of EN-Vís on deck and a 3D rendering animation of what the vehicles would look like in motion. Hereís the plot. You ever see the movie iRobot starring Will Smith? If you have, youíll remember that the cars are actually driving themselves with the driver able to override the autopilot mode and manually drive the car. The cars in iRobot did this by driving on sort of electrically charged roadway principle. This is exactly the concept behind the EN-V. One of the things that I enjoyed watching in the 3D anime were cars criss-crossing each other at a busy intersection, with no one slowing down for a stop sign or red light. This is because the vehicle is equipped with anti collision detection sensors that can detect the speed and direction of all EN-Vís present. These sensors adjust the speed and course of your vehicle so you donít hit anyone. In theory this sounds good but wouldnít this make it hard for people to actually cross the street (using their legs & feet)? Or possibly, in the future no one walks in cross walks.

The EN-V animation showed how unique the vehicle would be in terms of driving. It used methods of platooning several vehicles together (4-5) in order to be more efficient. The parking of the vehicle took me by surprise. The occupant got out of the EN-V exiting from the front glass retracting center cockpit. He then pressed a hand control remote which whisked the vehicle away along a track to be engulfed by a revolving automatic parking machine. While listening to spectator reactions to the vehicle, I was surprised that younger audience 25 or younger disliked the way it looked, thought it was unsafe or laughed at its uniqueness. Older spectators 30 or older were intrigued with the vehicle and inquired more with the representative on hand. Interesting observations.

I felt as if I was on the yellow brick road looking for the EV Wizard when I came upon 2 companies that provide charging to EVís. They are Leviton and Beam. Beam stated that they presently have over 85 charging stations and offer customers unlimited monthly charging for $98/month. Their stations allow you to rapidly charge your EV. Using your homeís 110V AC power source can charge EVís up too, but this usually takes 10-12 hours on average to charge the vehicles lithium-ion battery. A Leviton rep told me that soon you would be able to get a machine installed in your home (by the Geek Squad) that will allow you to charge your EV in 3-4 hours. The rapid charge is made possible by converting your 110V power source to a 220V power source.

I crossed borders at the NY auto show and moved into BMWís showcase. I saw something different this year. BMW unveiled their all-new EV to the public. The Active E is an EV that looks similar to the BMW 1 series. The technology that BMW uses for its powerplant is 32-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that delivers 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The styling of the car has BMW all over it, fierce and fast looking even when standing still. I use to drive a BMW so Iím familiar with the handling and the precision that goes into the engineering. I wonder how the EV will handle compared to their gas driven vehicles?

With a large bulk of auto manufactures having a version of EV tech or hybrid in their car model lineup, it would seem that the industry is serious about eradicating fossil fuel emissions. I like to call this the E-Mission. Itís important to note that this article described mainly EVís (Electric Vehicles) but there were dozens of hybrids present. When I go to auto shows / events itís always good to see the vehicles present but more importantly, I listen to what spectators have to say about a particular car. The 2011 NY International Auto Show has more and more people gathering information on what seems to be the inevitable Ė the EV. Stay tuned! Your Car Care REPs have got more to give. Next time weíll discuss the DUB Auto Show Tour.



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