Category Archives: Electric Vehicles

Self-Proclaimed “Queen Of Shitty Robots” Builds The First Tesla Truck

Originally published on CleanTechnica

The Tesla pickup truck is set to be revealed to the world in just a few months, but one eager maker just couldn’t help herself and had to go off and make one for herself. Simone Giertz is the self-proclaimed Queen of Shitty Robots and has made a name for herself by building some seriously odd robot creations and documenting the process on her YouTube channel. Why build shitty robots? Let’s get into that first.

Oh, Simone

Simone likes creating things that don’t exist. It’s a way for her to express her quirky side and also to explore the limits of what’s possible. Most of her creations aren’t earth shattering, but they do have a tendency to get your mind moving and exploring what’s possible. Whether it is a hair-washing robota drone that carries babies, or a robot that feeds your popcorn fetish, she’s built some pretty wacky things and made some messes along the way.

Unfortunately, Simone’s story isn’t one of vast successes and innate ability unleashed. “When I first started building things, obviously, I was pretty bad at it,” she told Wired. “You can’t be good at things from the start and I decided just to embrace that and to roll with it and turn it into something funny.” Getting over the need to be perfect was something she latched onto right away. If you get caught up on getting everything perfect, you’re going to be let down a lot, because achieving perfection can be a never-ending pursuit.

On the other hand, if you just start building, having fun, and exploring the creative process, you’ll probably have a lot more fun along the way. Simone latched onto the concept and just ran with it. Over the last 3 years, she has built some hilarious robots that, in reality, she could probably turn into some useful things, but again, that’s not the point. She documents her creative process — bumps, bruises, and all — on her YouTube channel as a way to encourage others to do the same.

If she’s failing on camera, in front of millions of viewers, what does it matter if I fail trying to fix my bike, upgrade my router to the latest home-brewed firmware, build an electric car, or start a company in the comfort of my own home? Failure is inevitable. The only thing we get to choose is what we’re going to do when it happens.

Keying A Tesla

Simone had made a deal with herself early on that she would not drive a gas-powered vehicle, but she wanted a truck. As of 2019, there just aren’t any electric trucks out there for consumers, so she did the logical thing and bought a brand spanking new Tesla Model 3.

You see, Simone likes building things, and people who build things need to move the things around that they’re going to unbuild and rebuild, plus things to build things with in the first place. Got that? One of the better vehicles to do that type of thing with is a truck. As a maker, she figured, what the heck, why not just buy a Tesla Model 3 and start cutting? What could go wrong?

Simone did just that. She invited a team of fellow makers, including Rich Rebuilds, to a new shop leased for the occasion, bought a brand new, cherry red Tesla Model 3, and started making plans. To get over the initial fear of cutting into the brand new, factory fresh Tesla Model 3, Simone keyed the car with the name she had given to her new creation: TRUCKLA. It’s a truck made from a Tesla. Watching her key that into the back deck of a brand new Model 3 is cringeworthy TV if I’ve ever seen it, but that’s her style. Get over the messing up part. Make things messy. Scuff it up a bit so you won’t worry so much about banging it up on accident later.

The team had the shop for 10 days and they quickly started work drafting out plans for the truck. The initial design session quickly led to a plan to pull out the rear seats, cut away the upper frame, and reuse as much of the lower steel frame and body work from the Model 3 as possible. That came with its own limitations, but kept the process contained to something they could achieve with their combined maker/welder/automotive/creative skillsets in right around two weeks.

The first step in getting the car ready was to pull all the stock stuff out of the rear of the car, pull out all the seats, interior, wiring, and the like until all that was left was metal. That took a few days, but was fairly straight forward for their team. After all, if Rich Rebuilds can’t figure out how to tear up an undocumented Tesla in a matter of hours, it’s probably not possible in the first place.

After the car was stripped, they prepped it for surgery. Blankets were laid down, tape was set out, lines were drawn, and tools were laid out. And then they started cutting. There’s something about watching a cutoff tool spending some quality time with a fresh coat of factory paint that is at the same time extremely satisfying and chilling. Off came the structural rails that run the length of the car. Off came the rear glass.

Sparks flew, adhesive was cut, and I’m sure more than a few plastic clips were snapped, but at the end of the process, the rear of the car was chopped up into an unrecognizable mass. As with home remodels, demo is always the fastest part of the process, and when the demo ends, the real work starts. The crack team mapped out the layout of the truck bed and started bending pipe and welding it back in to restore the structural integrity of their creation.

Rebuilding A Dream

Functionally, the truck was to have a rather short bed, so they decided to add a roof rack for larger items that would normally fit into the back of a normal pickup truck. The rack would also tie into the frame of the car to restore some of the lost rigidity of the frame. For the bed of the truck, they found a donor truck that had recently passed away and harvested the bed from that. A Chevy Colorado gave its rear window to the project, which after some muscling, fit in so nicely that it looks stock.

The Aftermath

Her pal Marcos Ramirez did much of the rebuilding of the truck off camera while Simone prepared for the next chapter in the story. The plan was to shoot a short commercial for the car that resulted in a fun little mockumentary with some great footage of the truck blasting around a farm.

The project is exciting, not because this is the next big thing for Tesla, but because it shows how Tesla as a vehicle is inspiring others to pursue their dreams — how Tesla is driving real, meaningful change in not just the automotive industry, but in the world at large. Tesla is a bold statement that we can envision the future we want and just get started building it. Be the change.

Simone’s Truckla is a one of a kind and it’s beautiful. Check out her full documentary of the process below that shows all her quirkiness, creativity, and ultimately, her new fully electric truck. If you like it, you can buy a shirt to support more of her zany adventures and show off some cleantech swag while you’re at it.

To run the numbers on a Tesla Solar Roof, Solar, or Powerwall for yourself in about two minutes, use my referral code ( and you can save $100. Tesla is just one of many solar providers out there, so don’t go with Tesla just because I did. Remember, I compared offerings from Sunrun, Sun Power, sonnen, and Tesla before making what I felt was the best decision for my family and recommend you do the same.

Source: Simone Giertz via engadget

Vegas, Baby! Los Angeles To Vegas & Back In A Tesla Model 3 — 8 Hours Of Driving & 70 Minutes Of Charging

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Road trips rarely consist of scripted fueling stops, nicely packed sack lunches, and firm itineraries, so when EV enthusiast Dennis Pascual and I decided to make the 540-mile | 869-kilometer run from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back, we intentionally shot from the hip. The quintessential road trip from LA to Vegas is a staple coming-of-age trip that thousands of youngsters embark on every week.

The road trippers, Dennis & Kyle. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

This Demands A Response

The trip was necessary to respond to the sensationalist headline from the EV road trip undertaken by one New York Times journalist claiming that the 8-hour drive required 5 hours of EV charging. In the real world, the majority of EVs sold can do the trip in much less time, with far less time spent charging. So we met up at the predetermined starting point of our journey in downtown Los Angeles, jumped into our trusty Tesla Model 3 with just 207 miles | 333 kilometers of range (325 miles | 525 kilometers is what’s available on a full charge), and hit the road.

“Our trip was different. It was to be a classic affirmation of everything right and true in the national character. A gross physical salute to the fantastic possibilities in this country.” Okay, so our trip to Las Vegas was not about the country like it was in the deranged classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but rather, it was a celebration of just how far electric vehicles have come in the last few years. And there were no bats, thank God.

Entertaining Traffic

To avoid traffic, we left Los Angeles at 5:00am (4:59am on the official clock for the trip) and headed east. The navigation said our first charging stop should be at the 150kW Tesla Supercharger in Yermo, California. We made good time, until we didn’t. An accident ahead of us resulted in parking lot traffic where we moved 2 miles | 3.2 kilometers over 1 hour and 38 minutes. The break gave us a chance to put Tesla’s new arcade game to the test.

Rocking the Tesla Arcade on the freeway while stopped. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

The built-in arcade function with a game that’s actually modern and entertaining definitely helped pass the time — though, Twitter, email, and other social platforms admittedly played a significant role as well. A few practice rounds down and we were able to level up, earning a new character and a new level in the game. It’s not worth celebrating in the real world, but when you’re literally parked on the freeway for who knows how long, every success is worth celebrating. Thankfully, traffic started to move before my bladder did and we were on our way towards Yermo once again.

Yermo is one of Tesla’s less utilized charging stations and was one of the answers to the congestion at the original LA to Vegas charging stop in Baker, California. Stopping along the way at one of these three towns is a part of the journey no matter the type of vehicle used.

The Tesla Supercharger in Yermo, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

We were eager for the stop to grab some breakfast, stretch our legs, and answer the call of nature (pro tip: don’t send that one to voicemail). Yermo is a single stop exit. There is one attraction there and it just so happens to have a handful of Tesla chargers. Across the parking lot, a few new ChargePoint 50kW Tritium VeeFil chargers were being installed, which was a nice treat, as Dennis spent some time at Tritium.

A new ChargePoint DC fast charging station in Yermo, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

After the quick pitstop in Yermo, we were eager to get back on the road for the 145 mile | 233 kilometer sprint over to Las Vegas.

Leaving Las Vegas

We arrived in old town Las Vegas at 10:47am and parked for a few minutes for a quick stretch of the legs. We opted to check out the new Fremont Experience, where we would assuredly lose a few bucks each. Dennis put a few bucks onto the craps table and came up empty after a few rolls of the dice. I was equally successful with my first venture on the Roulette wheel, in far less time.

Having checked the box in Downtown Las Vegas, we scrambled back to the car and started the trip back to Los Angeles. Before leaving town, we stopped at the South Las Vegas Tesla Supercharger for a very brief charging session to top up. We were not there for the food and found that we only needed 15 minutes of charging to get to our next stop in Baker, California, to see Tesla’s massive Supercharger and EVgo’s ultrafast charging station in a single stop.

The South Las Vegas Tesla Supercharger. Image credit: Dennis Pascual. Used with permission.

The South Las Vegas Tesla Supercharger. Image credit: Dennis Pascual. Used with permission.

Juiced back up, we hit the road, back onto Highway 15 South towards California and the roadside refueling station that is Baker, California.

Charging Our Batteries & Bellies In Baker

Baker and Barstow are the usual suspects when it comes to midway stops between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. They both have well-established lines of fast food chains, gas stations, and tourist traps designed to extract as much money in as little time as possible from those passing through. After taking the exit, we breezed through the alien jerky stand and the large mothership parked out front and went straight for the new EVgo DC fast charging station.

Driving a Tesla Model 3, we knew we would not be able to charge there, as Tesla still has not released a CHAdeMO adapter for the Model 3. (Though, it is expected “soon.”) Just the same, we are supporters of electric vehicles of all shapes and sizes and that goes for EV charging stations as well. We took in the beauty of the new 6-stall EVgo station and ogled at the beautiful bifacial solar panels hung overhead. The shade they cast was welcome, as the “World’s Largest Thermometer” that protruded awkwardly into the sky a few feet away reminded us that it was a toasty 102°F | 39°C.

The EVgo ultrafast charging station in Baker, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

We had neglected to bring our solar ovens, so after a few minutes exploring the new station, we enjoyed a few Beyond Burgers from the nearby Carl’s Jr. The final stop for us in Baker was at Tesla’s Supercharging station, where we would drink down the largest charge of our journey in a 31-minute charging session.

We could have moved on in less time and with less of a charge, but we were busy just taking it all in. The 40-stall, solar-bolstered Tesla Supercharger in Baker is impressive. We wandered from station to station, just taking it all in. Compared to the 6 stalls up the road at the EVgo station, which is tucked behind a tourist trap shop, the Tesla Supercharger just a few blocks down a dusty road sends a completely different message. It sits comfortably on the side of the main drag in town, next to a Shell gas station and a lot next door that is actively being developed into another gas station.

Recharging at the Tesla Supercharger in Baker, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

The Tesla Supercharger isn’t attempting to project hopes and dreams. It’s just a part of the normal boring layout in Baker. And that’s a great thing. It is there to tell the world that charging EVs on long road trips is not only possible, but completely normal. 120 kilowatts of power at 40 stations hurts the brain to think about in technical terms, but to onlookers, it’s just a part of the normal landscape of Baker now.

As impressive as the physical footprint and charging capacity is at the Baker Supercharger, it is also the most poorly designed Tesla Supercharger I have experienced. The entire station is designed around every vehicle charging pointing in the same direction, but that is absolutely unclear when pulling up to the station. The result is chaos. Cars end up parking in every imaginable direction. Some pull in from the road and just park precariously between two stalls to let the charging cables reach. Others drive in circles before choosing their similarly ill-fated parking configuration. The station was not anywhere near its capacity, but that didn’t make it any less painful to watch.

We stopped for 31 minutes to charge, which, if anything, is rushing the trip. We ate the remains of our plant-based fast food meals, snapped a few photos for posterity, and packed up. There’s not a lot to see in Baker, but after hours in the car, we needed some time not being in the car. Just the same, we pushed onward, for science.

The Tesla Supercharger in Baker, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

The Return To Los Angeles

Thus began the longest stretch of our trip. That 15-minute charge we picked up in Las Vegas was nice, but it also meant that we were backloading our driving towards the end of the trip. I was getting tired after waking up at 3:15 am to start this crazy adventure. “How long could we maintain,” I wondered. But we must continue. It had truthfully not been that long, but the sweet siren song of Autopilot threatened to lure me into a sleep that would not end well.

Dennis and I chatted it up for the last few hours of our trip, as we had been doing for the majority of the day. The time flew by. Before we knew it, we were back in the comfort of LA traffic. OK, so there is no comfort in traffic, but we were back. We snapped a few photos as we rolled into downtown Los Angeles to officially log the mileage, time, and state of charge, and that was that. Here are the official timestamps with driving time and charging times parsed out for clarity:

What Did We Learn?

Driving an electric vehicle on long road trips is easy as long as you have the right one. The Tesla Model 3 is the top selling electric vehicle in many markets around the world today because it delivers on the key requirements that real EV drivers have. Fast charging is a critical component of functional long-distance driving in an EV, and Tesla delivers on that in spades. The Supercharging network is the largest DC fast charging network in the world and that shows on road trips like this one.

They don’t need to be planned. They don’t need a ton of thought put into them. Just get in and go. Tesla drivers know this, as evidenced by the dozens of Teslas we spotted on the long dusty stretches between exits on the road to Las Vegas and back. They were absolutely all over the highway, with a few of them flying past us as we settled for our fixed cruise control speeds.

Tesla Supercharger. Baker, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Autopilot made this trip easy. I would almost say too easy, but I’d worry that Tesla would take it away from me for the rest of my life and leave me Autopilot-less. I’m not saying it is perfect, as Autopark still tries to work more times in traffic than it does in actual parking lots, and Navigate on Autopilot’s automatic lane change is painful to experience most of the time, but overall, it improves with each and every over-the-air update that comes down.

Autopilot handling traffic. Image not from this road trip. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

For the long stretches of highway that constitute the majority of the Los Angeles to Las Vegas journey (and back), Autopilot was king. It allows the driver to exert far less energy towards the rote task of steering and acceleration while delivering improved safety. That is a game changer, my friends. If you haven’t tried it, get out there and do it. If you have tried it, I’m sorry. Now you have experienced the future and you’ll forever be tainted as a result. You’ll also probably end up buying a Tesla in the next few months.

If you are worried about the capabilities of electric vehicles, just do a bit of reading or get out there and take one for a test drive. The top selling electric vehicle out there is likely far more capable than you thought, but be warned: driving a car that is packed with so much future technology will ruin all other cars for you.

If you are in the market for a Tesla and we have helped you make your decision to buy one, feel free to use my Tesla referral code to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging: 

BYD Adds Bus Manufacturing Capacity In North America With New Canadian Plant

Originally published on CleanTechnica

New energy company BYD is taking another step into the lucrative North American bus market with the announcement of a new bus plant in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. The new 45,000-square-foot facility represents another step forward into the electrified future of North America.

The BYD Coach & Bus Factory in Lancaster, CA. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

“We are dedicated to partnering with municipalities across Canada, and we are passionate about our mission to create a cleaner environment here in North America and across the globe,” said BYD President Stella Li.

BYD’s new plant in Newmarket, Ontario and gives BYD additional bus production capacity close to the high-density east coast of the US in addition to opening up new partnerships in Canada. It builds on BYD’s existing bus supply deals in Toronto, Victoria, Longeuil, St. Albert, and Grand Prairie. “We’re proud to establish a home in Canada; it re-affirms our commitment as a company to be rooted in this country and in this province,” said Ted Dowling, Vice President, BYD Canada. “We look forward to creating new partnerships across the nation.”

A bare bus frame at BYD’s Lancaster, California factory. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

The new plant already has its first marching orders, with an order for 10 fully electric BYD buses for the largest transit operator in Canada, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). The TTC also has an option to add another 30 BYD buses beyond the initial order.

The new factory brings the promise of new jobs into Canada as many automakers’ plants in Canada face uncertain fates in light of dwindling sales. “As traditional auto manufacturing is withdrawing from Canada, municipalities across the country are re-doubling their efforts to tackle climate change through zero-emissions transit,” Dowling said.

BYD has an established track record of bringing future proof, clean tech jobs into the communities where it sets up shop, much like it has done in Southern California. “BYD is well-positioned to replicate in Canada the kind of rapid growth we’ve seen in places like Lancaster, California — a plant which started with about 100 workers in 2013, and now employs more than 750. Together with our partners in York Region and the town of Newmarket we’re going to put Canada on the map as a North American leader in Electric Bus assembly,” said Dowling.

If you are in the market for a Tesla and we have helped you make your decision to buy one, feel free to use my Tesla referral code to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging: 

The 8 Accessories Every eBiker Needs

Originally published on CleanTechnica

So you’ve bought a new eBike or are considering pulling the trigger on an eBike purchase. While eBikes are in many ways just glorified bicycles, there are a few differences that require some additional thought.

eBikes in Barcelona, Spain. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

I recommend ordering the first 3 of these along with your bike because when it shows up, the first thing you are going to want to do is to get out there and ride it. Having a helmet, bike lock, and tire protection will set you up for success even before you start riding.

Buy A Helmet

eBikes travel at higher speeds than your brain is used to traveling at on a bike. Protect it from its own inability to sense danger with a helmet. Moving at higher average speeds also means that any accidents are going to be at those same higher speeds, making full face helmets, gloves, elbow pads, etc., worth considering.

Get A Lock

eBikes are typically much more expensive than traditional bikes and thieves know it. Avoid the oh crap moment of coming out of the store to find your bike gone by buying a nice lock or two. I’m not talking about a $5 cable lock either. Go get a hardened steel chain lock, u-bolt, folding lock, or all of the above. You kicked down big bucks for an eBike, so don’t go cheap on the thing that will keep it safe.

For extra safety, pull the battery off and take it with you into the store, as the battery is a big chunk of the value of the bike. I’ve also built a habit of keeping my tools, spare tire, and pump in a rack bag that I can quickly pull off and take into the store with me. That’s one less thing for thieves to snatch and one less thing I have to worry about when I’m picking up some fresh veggies or some not quite as healthy Doritos.

Protect Your Tubes

I’m sure I’m deserving of an award for this one, but I have managed to get a flat tire in every ebike I’ve put any sort of serious mileage on in just the first couple of days. I know, I’m a slow learner, but when the inevitable flat tire comes, the first thing I do is to order some tube protection.

That starts with tire liners that put up a protective barrier between the outer tire and the inner tube to shield it from any thorns, staples, nails, and the like. Mr Tuffy’s makes a lineup of go-to products for different diameter tires and with different thicknesses, but there are many other options out there to choose from.

The second layer of protection is Slime. I stole this hack from Bosch’s ebike guru Brian Sarmiento who has embarked on several multi-day road trips on his fleet of eBikes. Slime stuff surfaced many years back and people have been pumping the snot colored goop into their inner tubes ever since. The goopy liquid contains solids in it that essentially clot up on any holes that might show up in the tube. You can buy Slime by itself or buy tubes pre-filled with it. They also have a heavy duty tube that comes with thicker walls for even more protection.

Image courtesy: Bosch

The reason tube protection is so important for eBikes compared to normal bikes is that it’s likely that you’ll be traveling longer distances and traveling on commuting roads or paths. In my neck of the woods city here in Southern California, that translates to riding on the side of otherwise very busy streets on unkempt bike lanes. My tires inevitably end up eating all of the loose construction materials thrown out of vehicles and onto the side of the road. It’s not great. I wish it was better (and it may be in your area), but it has been a reality for me. Level up your protection by adding Slime to your tubes and by getting thicker tubes before you end up on the side of the road wondering what happened.

eBikes also tend to have rear wheels that are more complicated to take off, thanks to the drive motors and electronics that go with them. Protecting your tubes means less flat tires on the side of the road that you may or may not have the tools to repair in the field.

Keep Your Tires Inflated

Just like on a normal bike, tires are more susceptible to roadside debris when they are less inflated. Keep your tires filled up to the lesser of the tire’s max rating and the bike manufacturer’s recommended pressure. You’ll want to check this every couple of weeks to ensure they stay safe and give you the best riding experience.

Image courtesy: Pure Cycles

It may sound obvious, but just as it some time to build new routines around cars, rebuilding those routines around bikes will take some time. Don’t rush yourself, just take your time and be patient with yourself through the inevitable learning or (re-learning) process.

Spare Tube

Even if you’re prepared and have taken measures to protect your tubes, #FlatsHappen. It’s never a bad idea to carry a spare tube to avoid getting stranded miles from home without options. I tossed one of the stock tubes that came with the bike in my repair kit after replacing them with Slime-filled tires. It’s not the ideal long term solution, but it’ll do in a pinch.

Tube Patch Kit & Tire Irons

Doing a field replacement of a front tire can be done in the field, but depending on the eBike, that might not be an option for the rear (or driven) tire. For these, it’s best to bring a tire patch kit. A key part of any patch kit is the tire irons that help you pull the outer tire off in order to gain access to the tube itself.

Roadside repair. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Patch kits haven’t changed much in years and there are essentially two types. The first type of patch uses a vulcanizing fluid to marry up the rubber in the tube and the rubber from the patch. The second type of patch comes with integrated adhesive. Park Tools is a staple in the bicycle maintenance world and makes a great patch kit with integrated adhesive that keeps it simple while ensuring high quality.

Tire Pump

To fill up the tire after a tube replacement or patch, you’ll need a tire pump. Most portable pumps are tiny, but that means you’ll be pumping hundreds of times to fill up your big eBike tires. I opted for a larger full-sized pump from Zefal, but there are many options out there for pumps. Save yourself the headache of having to walk your bike back home by being prepared before heading out.

Gear Bag

With all this gear, it’s a good idea to find a permanent home for it on the bike. That can be a backpack, pannier, or a rack top bag. Find a solution that fits with your lifestyle and fill it with the eBike essentials.

There are endless options for bicycle configurations and eBikes take that to an entirely new level with more power, higher speeds, more range, and accommodations for riders of different levels of fitness. Do you have a must-have accessory that we missed? Let us know in the comments! 

Wallbox Pushes Into The Rapidly Expanding US EV Market

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Spanish EVSE manufacturer Wallbox announced at an exclusive launch party at the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in New York City last week that it is entering the US EV charging market.

Image courtesy: Wallbox

Wallbox has already established itself as a global force in EVSE manufacturing and digital solutions, with more than 20,000 chargers installed in 30 countries across Europe. Its array of EVSE solutions combined with the smart solutions it stack on top of them like facial recognition, smart sensors, secure access control, remote programming, and a dynamic cloud-based app have made it the preferred choice for many charging site hosts.

Wallbox is leveraging the cloud to keep owners connected with its cloud-based myWallbox charging management platform. The solution gives owners visibility of real time updates from their EVSE, updates on the latest improvements from Wallbox and the ability to remotely control and program their Wallbox.

Image courtesy: Wallbox

“Customer understanding and innovation are fundamental to our approach. We have to remember that when people buy a plug-in vehicle, they are taking control and owning their mobility energy for the first time. This is a big and very liberating change,” says Wallbox US Country Director, Douglas Alfaro.

Wallbox has its sights set on the US market as one of the largest, fastest growing EV markets in the world, noting that the US EV market grew 81% last year. This is largely thanks to the success of the Tesla Model 3 in its home market, which has spurred interest in electric vehicles in millions of people around the world. The economics of electric vehicles are also starting to shift, with the total cost of ownership of the Standard Range Model 3 already having edged out BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and many more. Access to functional, high speed, convenient EV charging around town makes EVs that much more visible and easy to adopt for millions more drivers and Wallbox is eager to dive into the new market.

If you are in the market for a Tesla, find someone locally who you know (like, someone you know in real life) and use their referral code. If you don’t know anyone with a Tesla, go find someone at your local Supercharger and try not to be a creep and ask them for their referral code (they won’t mind). If that doesn’t work, ask a co-worker or a distant relative, post on Facebook or Twitter, or just hit up Google. If all of that fails and it’s an odd-numbered day and not too sunny out, you can use my Tesla referral link to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging, I guess. Here is my referral code: 

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe Details Plans To Move Into Stationary Energy Storage

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Rivian Big Bold EV Bet

Rivian hosted a roundtable discussion for 800 of its reservation holders to talk a little bit about how the company is progressing in the move to production. They also took the opportunity to talk about an exciting microgrid project they’re working on with the Honnold Foundation in Puerto Rico.

First off, Rivian designed its battery systems with second life use in mind.

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe (RJ): “We can leverage our battery systems to support grid applications, to support energy storage applications. But very importantly, our platform, our technology can fit, and work in products well beyond our own.”

RJ: “If we were to show the product 2-3 years ago, it would have been similar, but it wouldn’t have been finished. It wouldn’t have had all those questions answered. We wanted to answer as many of those questions internally first.”

World-famous free-solo climber Alex Honnold, founder of the Honnold Foundation (Honnold): “I’ve been wanting to electrify my transportation for probably 5 or 6 years. I was fantasizing about electric vans and imaging, but it just wasn’t quite there.”

Honnold: “[When I saw Rivian’s vehicles, I thought,] this is exactly what I need to go out.

Honnold: “[When driving out to many of my climbing sites around Las Vegas,] you do a lot of highway commuting, then there’s a lot of extreme driving to get to the cliff.”

Honnold: “Obviously, there’s the alignment in values and what we hope to do in the world, but at some point, you just want to drive a truck real fast.”

RJ: “It seamlessly transitions into a storage application. The fact that it’s seamless is really important because it lowers the barrier for the batteries to find the second life, to get into a storage application.”

RJ: “The vehicles are designed so, essentially, the batteries come out of the vehicle and we flip a digital switch and the batteries can then go from storing electrons that are propelling a vehicle to storing electrons that could be powering a house or a business. The pack itself is designed to stack very easily into an enclosure, essentially a shipping container. In smaller applications, you can actually take the top off the pack and inside the pack are what we call modules. These are sized to perfectly fit into a rack, so you can dissect modules as well and use modules as more discretized or smaller energy storage applications.”

“The vehicles are designed so essentially, the batteries come out of the vehicle and we flip a digital switch and the batteries can then go from storing electrons that are propelling a vehicle to storing electrons that could be powering a house or a business.” — Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe

Sustainability is a foundational belief at Rivian. This penetrates the design of the vehicles, the design and intentionality that goes into the design of Rivian’s factory outside of Chicago, and the company’s philanthropic efforts.

RJ: “When I started Rivian, the goal was to create products that were exciting and built with passion and deliver real performance, but at the same time, are deeply sustainable.”

RJ: “The decisions we make as a company absolutely are made from the vantage point of, ‘How do we have the most impact?’”

RJ: “The deal we did with Ford was part of that. How can we provide help provide a platform that will speed up their electrification efforts in a certain segment? That was motivated by the desire to get more sustainable electric vehicles on the road more quickly.”

Honnold: “Having these powerful experiences in nature, you wind up caring a little bit more about preserving, protecting and hoping that the next generation can have similar experiences.”

Visiting an extremely remote climbing location in Chad, Honnold was taken aback by just how remote and disconnected some farmers were from the grid, from the infrastructure much of the world takes for granted.

Honnold: “This is an incredibly different existence than I’ve had growing up in Sacramento.”

Honnold: “I just feel a certain obligation to do something.”

Honnold: “At a certain point, personal actions only go so far.”

It was the disconnect between his ability to make a larger impact simply by living a more sustainable life himself and the much larger need for the world to rapidly transition to lower-carbon, more-sustainable ways of life that triggered him to start the Honnold Foundation.

Rivian plans to use much of the land that it purchased with its manufacturing facility to support local agriculture programs and to grow food for its workers.

RJ: “We’ve got about 1,000 people at the company split between 3 primary development locations. In Detroit, we do a lot of the mechanical design and larger systems that have interactions with the big suppliers in the midwest. On the West Coast, we have an office in Silicon Valley that does all of our connectivity, our cloud architecture, all of our self driving. In Southern California, just outside L.A., we do all of our propulsion systems, our chassis systems. But the three of those work streams come together in our production facility, which is just south of Chicago.”

RJ: “We have 508 acres at the plant, a very small percent of which actually has the plant occupying it. Most of it is just grass. We’re going to be turning a lot of that into an area to grow food. We’re going to run that in partnership with some of the local universities through their agriculture programs to grow food locally on our site, partnering with local universities and then that food is going to be served in our facility with students that are learning from top chefs who we bring in to run the food services in our facility. We’re going to provide incredible food to our plant team, regardless of what part of the plant you work in. So there’s true equity, we treat every employee as part of this mission to bring this facility back up.”

To vet the capabilities of Rivian’s second-life battery packs in a real life application, they partnered with the Honnold Foundation and the Camino Foundation on a world-first project. Together, they are designing and building Puerto Rico’s first cooperatively-managed solar energy microgrid. The new microgrid will power the community of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. The solar-plus-storage installation will rely heavily on 8 Rivian battery packs as the storage for the system.

Honnold: “It’s a collaboration with the Camino Foundation, with Rivian, with the Foundation to provide second-life batteries to help power a cooperative solar microgrid.”

RJ: “We look out over time and this is a very big opportunity. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of vehicles, thousands and thousands of megawatt-hours of energy storage that needs to be applied. This is a beautiful project because it allows us to demonstrate what we’re thinking about for a community that really needs it and in partnership with that community to fully build out the potential of energy storage combined with solar. In many ways, this will serve to create echoes for others to see this.”

Honnold Foundation Executive Director Dory Trimble (Trimble): “At the Honnold Foundation, we really want to make sure that solar really is the right solution. With Casa Pueblo, the work we’re doing there, solar is the right solution for Puerto Rico.”

Trimble: “The cool thing that we can do is to shine this light on projects that wouldn’t have visibility otherwise.”

Trimble: “The core of our work is supporting solar energy access and everything else is just in service of that.”

Honnold: “That’s why a project like this is so important to us because it really does show real potential. If you can have such a big impact on a community with just 8 car batteries, it’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Honnold: “Electric cars are the future, so there are only going to be more and more batteries.”

RJ: “We see the ability to have enormous impact over time with the batteries from all of your vehicles at their end of lives.”

RJ: “We have very big batteries in our cars, so one battery can do a lot in terms of its impact to a community.”

Stationary energy storage applications have been embedded in the fabric of Rivian’s products, designs, and company strategy from the beginning.  

RJ: “There are some very large deployments. We haven’t announced yet, but we have a number of other relationships and partnerships that we’re establishing to really put this idea, this ability to use energy storage from our vehicles, through a megaphone to really help drive adoption of more sustainable ways to access sustainable energy.”

Honnold: “Domestically, one of the things I love about electric cars and why I have solar on my home is that I personally don’t support wars in the Middle East, let’s say. But I can charge my car at home and I can just completely opt out of the entire oil industry. I mean, obviously, it’s embedded in my groceries and it’s embedded into other aspects of my life, but to a certain point as a consumer, I can just opt out of certain things that I don’t support. My local utility is pretty regressive. I don’t really support it, but thankfully, I produce my own energy. That’s kind of the beauty of electric cars and the transition to renewables is that it allows individuals to opt out of a lot of the things they personally don’t support.”

Trimble: “When we think about giving and impact on the world, there’s also an opt-in, and for me, the opt-in is supporting work that has a positive impact.”

Trimble: “I don’t really care if you give us money. I just think that people should be giving their money to things they care about.”

RJ: “There are a lot of exciting things coming.”

RJ: “There are other products we’re developing. There are other things we’re doing with some of our technology. We’re excited to start to show the world more of that, but I also want everybody to know here, very pragmatically, we’re working very hard and very long to make sure that we get your cars ready.”

RJ: “We’re on track. Lots of activity at the plant with our teams, with the supply chain. Things are gearing up really nicely. As you’ve seen in how we approach these complex systems, we’re being very thoughtful and organized about how we execute.”

RJ: “As we get closer to production, we’re going to start asking you to tell us exactly what you want in terms of configuring your vehicle. So later this year, you’ll get a note to ask you to configure color and feature set.”

Dive into the hour-long talk below if you want more of the juicy pictures of what’s really going on at Rivian today and what’s coming down the pike in the future.

Rayvolt Is Not-So-Secretly Plotting An eBike Revolution Powered By The Sun

Originally published on CleanTechnica

A former boat captain might not seem like the most likely person to start the next big electric mobility company, but sometimes, it is just that kind of outside the box thinking that creates the perfect storm.

Mat Rauzier launched his career designing watercraft for several companies before taking a left turn when a new adventure presented itself and found himself at the helm of a boat. As captain, he shuttled clients around the world on their adventures, exploring the wonders of the seven seas day after day. After several years on the water, he found that it was not actually the siren song of the sea that called to him, but rather, an innate desire to create, to explore, and to bring his own style of change to the world that was his true passion.

That desire boiled up inside of him and led him to a degree in nautical engineering, which provided the structure and the technical cred to frame up his ideas in the real world, but it was not boats he would ultimately be creating. Rather, his dissatisfaction for the status quo and the pollution created from the vehicles that moved him around in the world led him to build something new. What it was at the time was not clear, but after some tinkering in his workshop and with the advice of friends turned business partners, Rayvolt was born.

From the glossy pages of its catalogs and the beautiful pictures that adorn the Rayvolt website, it is not immediately clear what kind of company Rayvolt is. So when they invited* CleanTechnica out to their headquarters to meet the team and to see their new lineup of ebikes for 2019, we were excited to get a look behind the curtain at what it was that really made them tick. *Rayvolt paid for our travel to and from Barcelona for the meeting.

After winding through the twisted alleys of Barcelona, I cracked the door to their showroom that also served as the company headquarters and R&D facility, and caught my first glimpse of what they stood for. A lineup of beautifully crafted electric bikes stood in a row to the right in what was clearly the showroom, but it was clear that it required an intentional effort to keep the handful of bikes polished up and pretty amidst the fray that lay beyond. A closer inspection revealed that two of those bikes were actually partially assembled prototypes that I later found were actively being developed for a huge new deal for a local bike-sharing company (more on that later).

Rayvolt’s Barcelona headquarters. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

As I looked up from the row of bikes that signaled that I was indeed at the right place, several desks full of smiling faces looked up to greet me. I caught a glimpse of CEO and founder of Rayvolt, Mathieu Rauzier, and Rayvolt co-founder and CTO Jaime Pla Vallve De Aviles, whom I had shared a lengthy Barcelona-style welcome dinner with the night before. Mat excitedly came over and welcomed me to the space before taking me on a tour of every nook and cranny of the facility.

The workspace was strewn with bolts, batteries, motors, and partially assembled (or disassembled) bikes. It felt comfortable and made a lot of sense to me, as I love tinkering with just about anything and everything to better understand how things work (or don’t) to try to make them work better, with varying degrees of success.

Mat introduced me to the diverse team of experts behind Rayvolt that handle sourcing, sales, engineering, and the more technical aspects of the business. They were enthusiastic and clearly felt at home in the space. In the days that followed, I saw each of them pushing their respective parts of the business forward in their own ways, whether it was tearing down and rebuilding the latest Rayvolt motor to integrate the another improvement or negotiating a change request with a parts supplier.

Detail on the Rayvolt Torino. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

We went down a set of stairs into the basement of the building they clearly outgrew months ago and entered into the workshop, and that’s when everything changed. Bike parts were laid out on and stacked up in every nook and cranny of the workshop like docked boats in a harbor. Each bike clearly had its place, but the sheer volume of the barely organized chaos was imposing and I tread carefully, so as to not accidentally disturb the one bike that might be holding everything else in place. Mat looked back at me as we covered the last few steps and the glow on his face made it clear that this was his domain.

A row of early prototypes lined the wall on the right. To the back, a few older Rayvolt Cruisers were in the middle of being upgraded with some new tech. Mat reached around a corner and as if pulling a rabbit from his hat, whipped out a hybrid bike frame that he was working on as one of his pet projects. His passion for design, electric motors, batteries, quality, and technology overflowed out into room as if trying to paint his vision onto the empty frame as he spoke.

The workshop and Mat’s passion for combining classic bicycle and motorcycle lines with the best electrification technology available to create the ebikes that will pull new riders into a new take on an old school mode of getting around. The challenge was clear: what is the best way to harness the firehose that is Mat’s passion for ebikes each and every single day and shape it into beautiful ebikes for customers.

Mat and his team of creators, of doers, of engineers, have built up a line of ebikes that continue to improve with each generation. On our first night in town, Mat shared that Rayvolt had initially struggled to bring its vision for technology-powered classic bikes into reality as they met with supplier after supplier in Shanghai and Shenzhen. Their volumes were too low for any suppliers to be willing to make the changes Mat and his team wanted, but after many long weeks in China and a lot of pushing from his Chinese-born wife and now Chief Operating Officer Ying Zhang, they found a handful of suppliers to work with.

These new suppliers were willing to customize parts to Rayvolt’s specifications and to the high quality standards they needed. Strong relationships forged through long days spent not just at the factory, but out on the factory floor with suppliers followed by drink-sodden business dinners, stretched out from days into weeks of what could best be described as Undergrad Engineering school meets the Hangover.

Putting in the time to design and build their bikes from the ground up without compromise meant designing their own motors, instead of using the off-the-shelf motors that find their way onto many electric bikes around the world. Rayvolt’s motors are optimized for efficiency and power, and building them from the ground up allows them to be constantly improved with numerous small improvements. Mat shared how the next generation motors will move from rectangular to curved magnets to allow for a seamless ring of magnetic field versus a sub-optimized design.

Rayvolt has built up an impressive lineup of ebikes for its customers including its flagship bike, the Cruiser, which pays homage to the early days of motorcycles. The seat sits low on the long frame and pushes the pedals to the front of the frame. It’s a sight to be seen and as we toured Barcelona’s most famous sites on a pair of Rayvolt’s bikes, we felt like the talk of the town as numerous bystanders gawked at the unique ebikes.

Mat also showed us an early build of a bike cover that he is working on that uses a set of integrated solar cells to recharge the battery. The solution folds up neatly into a briefcase sized package for travel, then unfolds to cover and power the bike. Stay tuned for more about this as it develops, but we are excited at the prospect of riding more bikes, powering them with batteries, and recharging it all from the sun. Beautiful!

The Rayvolt Torino. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Bike-friendly cities like Barcelona make electric bicycles an even more obvious alternative to gasoline vehicles and the injection of Rayvolt’s ebikes into an already bike-centric city like Barcelona is sure to fuel the flames even further. In addition to Rayvolt’s impressive lineup of ebikes, the company has a number of irons in the fire, so stay tuned here on CleanTechnica for the news as it breaks.

We worked with Mat and the team on a special win-win deal for CleanTechnica and our readers. If you buy a bike using our link and our affiliate code KEEPSAFECT, Rayvolt will give you a free classic helmet with purchase of one of their ebikes. On our end, Rayvolt kicks down a few bucks to CleanTechnica through their affiliate program to help us keep the lights on. To get the deal, you do need to use our referral link to complete your purchase, then drop the coupon code ‘keepsafect’ in when you’re ready to checkout. The best part is that doing this costs you absolutely nothing extra and supports CleanTechnica at the same time. 

Tesla Leverages Software To Eke Out More Supercharging Capacity

Originally published on CleanTechnica

In a push to increase the capacity of its Supercharging network at the top 8% of its stations in North America, Tesla is implementing a charging limit of 80%. During holidays, an additional 9% (for a total of 17%) of Supercharging stations will have the new charging restrictions put in place.

Tesla reached out to CleanTechnica this morning with the update and told us that the new charging cap is being put in place in parallel to the continued expansion of the Supercharging network, not as a stop gap that is being used in place of spending more capital to continue to expand the network. Much like the On-Route Battery Warmup solution, the new charging cap is a simple software push that adds value to all owners and increases the amount of kilowatt-hours the company can push out to vehicles with its Supercharging network.

Owners on road trips using the in-car navigation to determine charging stops and durations will not be affected by the new restriction, however, allowing owners traveling to more remote destinations the ability to charge up as much as recommended by the navigation system. Even in these situations, because the system optimizes the route for overall travel time, charging beyond 80% is an infrequent occurrence.

Implementing a software-limited charging cap of 80% at 8% of Supercharging stations may sound like a limit to freedoms, but the reality is that most people do not charge up to 100% … ever. That is because charging from 0–80% is when charging speeds peak, while charging from 80–100% takes far longer since charging speeds quickly taper off. Charging up beyond 90% also has long-term consequences for battery life, so keeping the state of charge lower is also the best way to ensure a long life for the vehicle’s battery.

The company estimates that the throughput at popular stations should improve by 34%. That translates to higher availability and faster Supercharging times for owners.

As part of the rollout of version 3 of its Supercharging network, Tesla said that it would be doing more than just installing more stations in a push to serve more than twice the number of vehicles with its Supercharging network by the end of 2019, something some close followers of Tesla Supercharging stations have noticed.

Tesla’s continued expansion of its Supercharging network will continue on into the future as its production, delivery, and sales capacity continue to grow year after year.

Tesla’s new version 3 Supercharging hardware is also coming in 2019 as the company begins deploying its new Supercharging backbone that splits a single 1 megawatt power feed into four dedicated 250kW charging stations. This new hardware raises the bar and continues to expand Tesla’s DC fast charging network as competitors continue to take pot shots from the sidelines about how their one fast charging station in a lab charged their prototype vehicle at 350kW. Cute, but Tesla is doing it today. Less talk, more action, thank you very much.

If you want to take advantage of my Tesla referral link to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging on a Tesla Model S, Model X, or Model 3, here’s the link: 

The Hands-Free Podcast Launches With A Special Guest (Spoiler: It’s Me)

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Friend of CleanTechnica Nico Nevolo (formerly of Tesla Van Life) has launched a brand new podcast called the Hands-Free Podcast and he brought his Tesla Model X to my neck of the woods in Southern California to talk with me about a wide range of topics in the clean tech space for the first episode.

We talked through subjects including some of my work history, Tesla (obviously, as Nico worked for Tesla for 4 years and lives in a Tesla Model X), electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, the controversial notion of a Universal Basic Income in the United States, and more. I really enjoyed talking with Nico as we drove from Ventura, California, up to Santa Barbara, California, and back with quite a bit of help from Tesla’s Autopilot system.

The Autopilot system is actually the star of the show in Nico’s Hands-Free Podcast, as he drives around interviewing his passengers while the car does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to driving down the highway. I will say that when I drive with Autopilot engaged, I always try to keep my hand on the wheel and recommend that you do the same. Having said that, I didn’t feel like we were ever in any danger and Nico did a great job of blending driving with talking for our ~1 hour chat.

I would love it if you watched the podcast and let me know what you think of it in the comments, on Twitter, on email, or whatever your preferred communication medium is these days. In related news, if you have comments about the topics we covered, as always, drop those down in the discussion here on CleanTechnica or on the Hands-Free Podcast YouTube channel, where the haters tend to hate just a little bit harder for some reason. Drop him some love while you’re at it. 

Harman Kardon’s Bold Vision For The Future Of Autonomous Electric Vehicles

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Harman flew me out to New York City to hang out for the weekend so the company could give me a behind-the-scenes look at what it has been working on, all while we enjoyed the historic Formula E in Brooklyn. I spent the weekend with Harman’s top brass and grilled them about the company’s plans for the future. We dug into how Harman Kardon is positioning its brands and its strategic relationships with 34 automotive companies to succeed as the automotive industry undergoes the largest transition in its more than 100-year history.

Automobiles are transitioning from 19th century internal combustion engines to electric powertrains. In parallel, autonomous driving technology is progressing to the point where Level 2 autonomous driving systems are moving into production quickly. All major automotive companies are planning to produce fully autonomous vehicles in the next 5 years.

These two disruptive injections into the automotive industry promise to topple carefully constructed legacies as new companies arise from the wreckage. Companies that are truly in touch with market signals and emerging trends will pivot and, indeed, are already positioning themselves to capitalize on the transition. They will move aggressively into the new markets to shape the future of the automotive industry.

Automobiles will transition from personally owned vehicles to a market of largely fleet vehicles. The personal vehicle ownership experience will evolve into a personalized multimedia experience within the vehicle. This is a transformation from a physical experience to a digital experience that will follow passengers from vehicle to vehicle, from home to work, to the café, and beyond.

Autonomous driving will free humans from the task of driving and for the first time in human history, humans will be able to focus on the music, the quality of the sound, a movie in full 7.1 channel surround sound, an immersive 3-dimensional call with coworkers around the world, or any number of other experiences while being moved from place to place. Forward-thinking companies have recognized this opportunity and have started to move into various niches of this future environment.

With the average human not fully aware how fast the transition to electric vehicles and autonomous vehicle technology will happen, it is important to step back from the compelling vision of the future automotive experience to build a bridge to that future. Electric vehicles will become the standard for new vehicles over the next 10 years because of cost and cost alone. If we have learned nothing over the course of the climate change awareness movement, it is that most people are not motivated by the environment, as it is too large for our brains to comprehend and not immediate enough of a concern. Making climate-friendly technology like electric cars more affordable than more damaging technologies like internal combustion engines hits budgets, though, and creates a near-term, practically guaranteed, compelling incentive to switch to an electric vehicle.

The advantages of autonomous vehicle technology similarly speak to our near-term ambitions. The promise to free us from hours and hours of slavery behind the wheel each week is enticing. Giving back weeks or months worth of time to work more, to play more, or simply to sleep is a gift that the ultra-rich will pay a premium for, at first. As with all software-driven technologies, autonomous driving technology will scale quickly as the initial R&D costs are absorbed and it quickly becomes ubiquitous amongst high-end luxury vehicles. Then it will begin to trickle down into more affordable classes. Economics will be the death knell for human drivers as trucking companies, taxi companies, and delivery drivers are replaced by lower-cost, fully autonomous driving technologies.

To the visionaries and early adopters with fingers on the pulse of the automotive industry, these transitions are inevitable and, depending on their individual levels of confidence, will transpire over the next 2 to 10 years. The bridge built by these two technologies to the future of personal transportation specifically wipes the inside of the vehicle clean. It’s a blank slate for visionaries to draw upon as they mold the future that so many have been dreaming of and attempting to recreate in so many science-fiction movies over the last 4 decades. The difference is that now, today, we have the technology to truly build that future and bring it to life for the first time in human history.

I think Harman Kardon is one of the visionary companies boldly looking into the future and creating what it envisions to be the future of the human transportation experience. Over the course of two days in New York City, Harman brass laid out their vision for the future, and I have to say, I was impressed. More than that, I’m now even more excited about the future and about the opportunity to be able to share a bit of that vision here.

If you were to ask 100 people on the street what products Harman Kardon designs, builds, and sells, you would likely come back with a consensus that it is a consumer products company playing in the audio space. Harman Kardon has for decades designed and built audio products for home, for cars, and everywhere in between that dazzled the ears. The sound system my father owned as I grew up was a Harman Kardon system. It filled my childhood Saturday mornings with the musical creations of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, with the Grateful Dead and Jeff Beck. I have fond memories of those days and of the music brought to my ears by Harman Kardon and would have given the very same answer as those 100 hypothetical strangers off the street.

The truth is that Harman Kardon is very much an audio company but that the expertise Harman Kardon brings to the table is much deeper than just speakers. When an automaker comes to Harman Kardon to buy speakers for its vehicles, it is presented with a full suite of offerings. From unbranded OEM speakers to a 12 speaker Harman Kardon system all the way up to the fully customized, audiophile-quality Revel audio system that was custom tailored and tuned for the Lincoln MKX, Harman truly has products for every use case, at every tier.

Aside: I’ll divert here to mention that this is not an advertisement. This is not paid, I don’t have to write any of this … but just as I built the bridge from internal combustion vehicles to the fully autonomous future, it is important to set the stage for the massive attack on your senses that is just around the corner in those very same autonomous vehicles.

Harman Kardon parent company Harman’s suite of products goes beyond the sound system into active noise-cancelling technology that is already in use today in ultra-luxury vehicles to cancel out the last remnants of road noise that cannot be overcome by another layer of sound-deadening insulation. Looking forward a few years, that same technology will be used to transform the already quiet interiors of electric (autonomous) vehicles into silence more traditionally associated with movie theaters and audiophile listening rooms like the one buried in the basement of the Harman flagship store in Manhattan.

Electric vehicles also bring new challenges to the exterior of the vehicle, where regulators have mandated the production of artificial alerts to inform pedestrians of the approaching vehicle. On the flipside of the equation, some drivers may opt for artificial engine noise to emulate the sounds of a rumbling racing engine to trigger reactions forged over decades of wrenching on internal combustion engines. Record-breaking zero-to-sixty times earned by torquey electric motors will be masked by the artificial sound of a roaring V8 produced by audio companies like Harman.

But those technologies are incremental. They show breadth but are not in and of themselves disruptive. Let’s rewind to CES in January of this year. In Las Vegas, Harman unpacked its vision for the fully autonomous (electric) vehicle, which featured an immersive webchat technology that included directional voice tech that synced up the audio with the location of the video of whoever was speaking.

Harman tech stretches beyond just enabling more working time (because who really wants to work more anyway?) and enables rich multimedia experiences as well. Harman’s Life-Enhancing Intelligence Vehicle Solution demonstrated a multimedia-rich, immersive, integrated experience that seems a bit too futuristic … until autonomous vehicle technology enters the picture. Then it becomes brilliant. It becomes the vehicle we all wish we had driving us down the road to work, to our relative’s house or just to grab a bite to eat at your favorite restaurant down the street.

The awkward part of the rich experiences Harman is slinging is not that they aren’t cool — it is only that we can’t imagine them in our lives today because most people don’t realize how close autonomous (electric) vehicles are to being invaluable pieces of our day-to-day life. 10 years ago, we couldn’t have bothered to worry about having a computer in our pockets. Today, everyone has a smartphone. In my travels in India 5 years ago, I was blown away with how everyone seemed to have a smartphone, regardless of income. Software-based technologies drop in cost quickly as production volumes ramp up.

Here at CleanTechnica, we are excited about the future because of what electric vehicles promise to do for global emissions by eliminating tailpipe emissions. We are also increasingly excited about autonomous vehicle technologies because they promise to save lives, while at the same time giving back hours per week or per day. We admittedly don’t often delve into what happens after that in the vehicles and I was thankful to have been invited to attend Formula E in New York City by a company as innovative and forward thinking as Harman to catch a glimpse of what that future might look like … and it’s exciting.

Harman paid for travel and accommodations for me to attend the Formula E in New York City. As mentioned above, I was not required to write anything at all about the event or about Harman. These thoughts are all mine, and yes, I am genuinely excited about the future of personal transportation … for more reasons than just the batteries.