green stocks report
Here Come the EVs
A revolution in electric transportation will mean profits for
battery-makers and start-up car companies around the world.
January’s North American International Auto Show
in Detroit emphasized fuel-efficient cars for the first
time in a generation. If the Big Three automakers survive to see their “better late than never” electric and hybrid
prototypes hit the road, Americans will finally have access
to a wide variety of very efficient vehicles, from small and
sporty cars to practical vans.
“Once the auto industry’s attention shifts from short-term survival, the priority will be fuel-economy regulations,
energy policy and advanced powertrain technologies,”
said Dave Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive
Research. The auto industry is on the verge of a revolution
that will blend fun performance and green technologies,
he said, noting they aren’t mutually exclusive.
Every brand name automaker and many newcomers
around the world are betting on the electric car. There
are too many to list here, but see “New Products: Fuel-Efficient Cars” on page 48. Nissan/Renault, BMW, GM,
Ford, Volkswagen and Chrysler/Fiat all promise to bring
electric cars (EVs) to market in the 2010–2011 timeframe.
The first EV from a mainstream automaker, BMW subsidiary Mini, hits the road next year — the Mini E. Only 500
cars will be available and only in California and New York.
The car’s lease price will be a hefty $850 a month, and the
company says the car will go 156 miles on a full charge.
That easily beats GM’s well-publicized plug-in hybrid
(PHEV) Chevy Volt, which has an all-electric range of
only 40 miles ( 60 km) and isn’t due out until 2010. Other
manufacturers are betting on PHEV, in which the 40-mile
all-electric range can be extended to 400 miles (600 km)
on liquid fuel. Toyota will deliver 500 Prius PHEVs to
global fleets later this year, including 150 in the United
States. With new low-sulphur fuel standards in place, high-mileage diesel cars have also made a comeback.
Even the U.S. Army is leasing 4,000 Neighborhood
Electric Vehicles (NEVs) over the next three years for use
on its bases. These small EVs can travel 30 miles ( 48 km)
at a top speed of 25 miles per hour, so they’re great for getting around campuses.
But it’s the upstart new car companies that are really getting people excited. Prominent examples are Tesla Motors,
Fisker Automotive and BYD Co. In China, its home market, BYD recently launched its mid-sized EV sedan, which
is dubbed the F3DM and features an all-electric range of 62
miles (100 km). Warren Buffet is a major investor in BYD,
which plans to introduce EVs to Europe and Israel in 2010
and in North America soon after. There’s also Better Place
By RONA FRIED, Ph.D.
Rona Fried, Ph.D., is
president of Sustainable
Business.com, the online
community for green
business: daily sustainable business and investor news, Green Dream
Jobs, Business Connections and the sustainable
Contact Fried at rona@
Consult your financial
advisor before making
The merger of Fiat and
Chrysler means we may
see this Brazilian-built Fiat
EV in Dodge showrooms.
LLC, which is creating the all-important charging network
infrastructure to support EVs. It has agreements in place to
set up charging stations in Israel, Denmark, Australia and
in Hawaii and the San Francisco Bay area.
For now, attention is still on plain old hybrids, which
have a way to go to really gain a foothold. Toyota’s 2010
version of the Prius is roomier, more powerful and achieves
50 miles per gallon. It even sports a solar-powered ventilation system to cool the car while parked. Honda’s Insight
hybrid goes on sale this month. It’s a four-seater that gets
about 41 miles per gallon at a selling price below that of
EVs face a lot of hurdles. Where will owners charge
their cars? Better Place can’t build 50 million curbside
charging stations overnight. Governments at the city,
state and federal levels need to jump-start demand for EVs
by offering incentives to build the charging infrastructure.
General Motors says it’s working with utility companies
to create charging stations; Oregon state agencies and the
utility Portland General Electric are creating a charging
network with technology that enables parked EVs to send
power to the grid.
Truth is, other than BYD ( 1211.HK), most new entries
in EV manufacturing don’t trade on the public markets, and
you’ll have to buy BYD’s stock on China’s market. India-based Tata Motors (NYSE: TTM) is showing leadership
with its Tata Nano, said to be the world’s cheapest car, and
in its partnership with Toronto-based electric drive company Electrovaya (EFL. TO) to build EVs in Europe. An
electric version of Tata’s Indica hatchback, with a range of
120 miles (200 km), goes on sale in Norway this year.
The other major hurdle for EVs is, of course, the high-performance battery. Investors with a high tolerance for
risk might be interested in the mostly micro-cap stocks
that are developing advanced batteries or ultracapacitors.
Before the market crash, A123 Systems planned a highly
Leading energy-storage technology companies include
Axion Power International (AXPW.OB), Altair Nanotechnologies (Nasdaq: ALTI), Polypore International
(NYSE: PPO), Max well Technologies (Nasdaq: MX WL),
Energy Conversion Devices (Nasdaq: ENER) and Raser
Technologies (NYSE: RZ). ENER, which is also a leading
thin-film solar company, is developing advanced batteries
via its Cobays partnership with Chevron. Raser is developing technology to improve the efficiency of electric motors;
it’s also making headway on geothermal energy. ST