In Episode 99 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 15, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev, which provides seamless interoperability and clearing among multiple electric vehicle charging networks.  The Collaboratev service will allow EV drivers to charge anywhere and receive a single bill.

Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev

Jason Wolf, CEO of Collaboratev

There are now 100,000 plug-in vehicles in the US.  Although that number is small compared to regular cars sold, it’s an important milestone.  Not surprisingly, early adopters are looking for more charging options, according to Wolf.

Collaboratev is working towards building a seamless transactional experience for EV users by which they will be able to recharge their vehicles at any station regardless of where they are or what charging network they belong to.  The company allows EV drivers to use a single authentication credential, which generates one monthly bill, thereby opening up any charging station for use by EV drivers.

Like the corner gas station using pumps that accept credit cards, Collaboratev envisions corner charging stations that accept its payment system.  Benefits include removing the need for multiple memberships, alleviating range anxiety, and allowing long-distance travel among multiple EV charging networks.

Although talks are in their initial stages, it is envisioned that each charging station, which will be owned and operated by independent charging network operators, will have different characteristics – coffee bars, retailer shops, media and even gasoline, all of which are intended to enhance the EV user’s experience while recharging his or her vehicle.

Will more charging stations and a seamless payment system inspire you to purchase an electric vehicle?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Jason Wolf: Episode 99 of The Wendel Forum (27:42 mins; mp3)

Collaboratev website: http://www.collaboratev.com/about.php

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 73 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on August 18, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Lindsay Riddell who covers Cleantech, Sustainability, Startups and Venture Capital for the San Francisco Business Times.  They discuss a number of trends in the cleantech environment.
 
Lindsay Riddell photo

Lindsay Riddell covers Cleantech, Sustainability, Startups and Venture Capital for the San Francisco Business Times

Biofules and Biochemicals

Bill and Riddell start of the conversation with a discussion of what’s happening in the Bay Area biofuel and biochemical industries.  Companies in this space are looking for a variety of approaches to break down or convert renewable materials into fuels, soaps, chemicals, oils, food products, fragrances and others that typically rely on petroleum-based production.
 
With the economic downturn, capital became increasingly scarce and companies had to scale back or retool their plans for expansion.  Now, as these companies mature, they are undertaking new approaches for attracting venture investment.  The more established companies have created a roadmap for some of the emerging companies. 
 
Organizations such as the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), which is a joint venture between the University of California campuses at Berkeley, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz, are helping to accelerate innovation and bring discoveries to market more quickly.  Riddell discusses some of the strategies these companies are taking to survive the short term and thrive in the long term.
 

Investment trends

 
Not surprising, with the economic downfall of the past few years, Riddell acknowledges that investor enthusiasm has waned.  She observes that there is still money available for good ideas, but the investment community has been behaving more conservatively. Meanwhile, there are still resources in places like Greenstart, a startup accelerator that works with companies focused on solutions that combine cleantech and IT.  Software applications that address issues such as energy efficiency are still finding some success in the marketplace.

Carbon Data

Riddell recently wrote an article on Facebook’s voluntary reporting on their carbon footprint.  She and Bill discuss the pros and cons of releasing this data and the market pressures at play for companies to become more transparent in their operations.  This move is likened to Wal-Mart coming out several years ago with a commitment to dedicate shelf space to products that have higher levels of sustainability.  It’s clear that these big companies can have incredible influence in the marketplace and change expectations for both consumers and investors.

Electric Vehicles

The Bay Area is home to a thriving network related to the electric vehicle industry – car manufacturers, battery manufacturers, chargers and application developers for locating electric car chargers, crowd-sourcing for charging – the list goes on.  Some of the more interesting new developments include apps for available parking spaces with charging stations, car sharing apps, and there’s even an app that essentially takes the act of hitchhiking to the internet. Most of these are mobile technologies that employ various aspects of GPS tracking.
 
What do you consider to be the most important clean tech trends in the Bay Area?  What’s just over the horizon?
 
Post Links:
 
Listen to the interview with Lindsay Riddell: Episode 73 of The Wendel Forum (27:47 mins; mp3)
 
San Francisco Business Times website: www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco
 
Follow Lindsay Riddell on Twitter: @LRiddellSF
 
California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences:  http://qb3.org/
 
 
960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com
 
Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 65 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 2, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros, a consulting firm focused on electric vehicle service equipment systems. The company advises clients – CFOs, directors of sustainability, CEOs, facilities managers and electricians – regarding vendors, installation and other issues related to EV charging systems.

John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros

John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros

The Obama Administration wants one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Kalb believes one way to achieve the goal is for large fleets – Zipcar, Avis and similar companies that purchase hundreds of cars at one time – to switch to electric vehicles.

At the personal consumer level, though, the industry is still in the early adopters phase, primarily because most people have not yet had an electric driving experience. Kalb wants consumers to know that “the fun factor is high.” Bill adds that it’s like driving “a super-charged golf cart.” Plus, without oil, water or tailpipe emissions, EVs require little maintenance making the cost of ownership low.

Kalb notes that pre-purchase decisions usually center on range anxiety, post-purchase concerns usually focus on charging because consumers don’t see options other than their own houses. But Kalb is working to increase public and workplace charging opportunities.

Still, whether the Obama Administration’s goal is met depends not only on the consumer adoption rate but also infrastructure development. Bill and Kalb discuss recent legislation related to EV charging. California’s SB 209, for example, mandates that homeowners associations in multi-family environments can’t prevent individual homeowners from installing a charging station. Network chargers allow the capital cost to be borne solely by the EV owner.

Similarly, AB 631 makes it easier for shopping center owners, business owners and employers to own and operate charging stations. While the cost of charging stations is $6,500 to $10,000, the Public Utility Commission won’t regulate these alternative fuel stations. Usually, EV owners are happy to pay for that amenity and would more frequently patronize businesses with charging stations.

AB 2502, which is under consideration, would permit EV manufacturers to offer consumer financing of the cost (about $2,200) of residential chargers. Needless to say, the California legislature is putting policy in place to foster necessary infrastructure development.

Wendel Forum listeners, we’d like to hear from you: If more charging options were available, would you purchase an EV?

  

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with John Kalb: Episode 65 of The Wendel Forum  (27:45 mins; mp3)

EV Charging Pros website: http://www.evchargingpros.com/

Legislation:

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 60 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on April 28, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Genevieve Cullen, vice president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association.  EDTA is a cross-industry trade association promoting the electrification of transportation.  Previously, Cullen, a lawyer, served as a government affairs consultant, working with Congress and the executive branch to promote sustainable technology.

Bill queries Cullen about the roadblocks to a sweeping societal switchover to electric vehicles.  They discuss “range anxiety” as a primary issue.  Cullen explains that plug-in vehicles come in different configurations, with pure electric cars having a range as high as 100 miles and others, which combine batteries with internal combustion engines, having a range identical to conventional vehicles.  Since the average daily commute is fewer than 40 miles, 80 percent of vehicle charging could be done at home or at the workplace, Cullen says. 

Fortunately, range anxiety can be reduced with education and experience.  In fact, studies show that range anxiety disappears within weeks of owning an electric car, according to Cullen.  Yet manufacturers haven’t properly educated potential consumers.  So EDTA created its own website for that very purpose. Goelectricdrive.com addresses range anxiety, cost concerns and answers other consumer questions like “Can I plug my car in when it’s raining?”

Other good news: on the manufacturing side, the cost of the battery, the largest incremental cost of electric vehicles, is declining faster than predicted thanks to collaboration between industry and the Department of Energy.  Soon, there will be an even larger variety of price points, already evidenced by such vehicles as the Mitsubishi Eye, the Prius plug-in hybrid and the Tesla Model S.

When more personal and commercial vehicles are electric, the US will be far less at the mercy of the global oil market, which is “governed by interests and nations not always in sync with our own,” Cullen says.  That will have both economic (the US spends a billion dollars a day on foreign oil) and national security benefits. 

UPCOMING EVENT:
May 6 – 9, 2012, EDTA will host the 26th Annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles, where consumers can test drive cars and hear keynote speeches from industry leaders, technology experts and the policy community. 

Post Links:
Listen to the interview with Genevieve Cullen: Episode 60 of The Wendel Forum (27:15 mins; mp3)

EDTA website: http://www.electricdrive.org/

EDTA consumer information website: http://www.goelectricdrive.com

26th Annual Electric Vehicle Symposium: http://events.ntpshow.com/evs26/public/enter.aspx

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

CODA Automotive achieved a major milestone yesterday as the first CODA all-electric sedan rolled off the production line at CODA’s Benecia, California plant.  You may recall that The Wendel Forum interviewed Forrest Beanum, VP of Public Affairs at CODA, almost a year ago on April 30, 2011.  Our discussion covered various aspects of the electric car marketplace, including costs and incentives associated with vehicle ownership, energy use and sourcing, and the current and future landscape for supporting infrastructure.  The only thing missing was a test drive.

First CODA car comes off the production line

The first CODA sedan rolls off the production line in Benecia (photo from CODA Automotive press kit).

Well, the wait is over.  We are proud to congratulate Forrest and the rest of the CODA team on this great news!  Initial reports price the CODA sedan at $37,250 – a sticker price that can be reduced with a $7,500 federal tax credit and a $2,500 state rebate.  A $27,250 electric car?  Sounds good to us.

To learn more about the launch of CODA’s sedan, read the Mercury News story at http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_20156808/first-all-electric-coda-sedan-rolls-off-assembly or check out CODA’s website, http://www.codaautomotive.com.

The Wendel Forum LogoForrest Beanum, VP of Government Affairs at CODA Automotive, joined show host Donald Simon for a discussion about the myths and realities of the electric car marketplace in Episode 13 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on April 30, 2011). 

The discussion covers various aspects of the electric car marketplace, including costs and incentives associated with vehicle ownership, energy use and sourcing, and the current and future landscape for supporting infrastructure. 

Listen to the episode and let us know what you think about the future of electric cars.
Post Links

CODA Automotive website: http://www.codaautomotive.com/

Discussion with Forrest Beanum of CODA Automotive: Episode 13 of The Wendel Forum  (27 minutes)

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

Donald Simon bio: www.wendel.com/dsimon

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