Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Cars that run on overnight charge catch valley VC's eye

Filed under
Sci/Tech

With oil prices hitting new highs, venture capitalists are considering a kind of car you can plug into your home power outlet at night. And one person they'll be hearing from soon is Palo Alto's Felix Kramer.

The Toyota Prius and its ilk are in high demand -- with engines that run on gasoline and electricity.

But with a plug-in, you can do away with gasoline almost entirely. You can get a car that charges overnight so you drive it 10 miles each way to work on batteries alone. And if you need to drive it more, you can rely on a cleaner fuel blend, say, 80 percent ethanol -- made from corn or sugar -- and 20 percent gasoline.

With the U.S. Senate's move this week to add new tax credits for gas-electric hybrid cars in its version of national energy legislation, the plug-in car may also get new impetus.

``I'm looking very actively to play,'' said Marty Lagod, a venture capitalist at Firelake Capital in Palo Alto, who wants to invest, but also wants a plug-in car himself.

Though Silicon Valley sometimes has gotten a bad rap for not excelling at clean tech, it turns out the region is a hotbed of plug-in innovation.

The Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, for example, has helped develop plug-in hybrid conversions for the Dodge Sprinter van, to be tested as early as this fall. And Andrew Frank, a professor at the University of California-Davis, has built several such vehicles with his students.

But some say it's time to build real businesses. And that's where Kramer comes in.

We met Monday with Kramer, founder of CalCars, a Palo Alto non-profit where he and engineer Ron Gremban developed a plug-in conversion of the Prius. They've gotten it up to a 100 miles per gallon, compared with the 45 mpg maximum driving a normal Prius.

When Kramer pulled up to a restaurant in his Prius on Lytton Avenue Monday, the only parking space available was behind another Prius. They're that popular.

Kramer is about to start looking for venture capital for a plug-in, he said. So far, he said, he's been content to let others do the business.

The problem is that E-Drive's conversions will cost $10,000 and $15,000, which will leave most people out in the cold, Kramer said. ``It's for movie stars,'' he said, predicting they'll sell only 100 to 1,000 vehicles.

Kramer thinks he can sell 10,000 to 100,000 vehicles, and at $750 a car in possible carbon credits, he thinks there's a promising market.

The easiest option, he said, would be to have a major automaker sign on, especially Toyota. With its economies of scale, Toyota should be able to get the cost down to about $3,000 -- enough for consumers to afford. They might even be able to save money over the life of the car, he said. But Toyota, one of the world's largest automakers, hardly feels any urgency to embrace a plug-in car: ``The situation is evolving,'' said Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman in Southern California. ``We're studying the matter, and keeping a careful eye on the projects happening around California.''

The refusal to commit is why Kramer is considering Ford Motor, which has expressed interest in clean technology, and also some other Asian automakers.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Security: Uber, Replacing x86 Firmware, 'IoT' and Chromebook

  • Key Dem calls for FTC to investigate Uber data breach

    A key Democrat is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate a massive Uber breach that released data on 57 million people, as well as the company's delay in reporting the cyber incident.

  • Multiple states launch probes into massive Uber breach
  • Replacing x86 firmware with Linux and Go

    The problem, Minnich said, is that Linux has lost its control of the hardware. Back in the 1990s, when many of us started working with Linux, it controlled everything in the x86 platform. But today there are at least two and a half kernels between Linux and the hardware. Those kernels are proprietary and, not surprisingly, exploit friendly. They run at a higher privilege level than Linux and can manipulate both the hardware and the operating system in various ways. Worse yet, exploits can be written into the flash of the system so that they persist and are difficult or impossible to remove—shredding the motherboard is likely the only way out.

  • Connected sex-toy allows for code-injection attacks on a robot you wrap around your genitals

    However, the links included base-64 encoded versions of the entire blowjob file, making it vulnerable to code-injection attacks. As Lewis notes, "I will leave you to ponder the consequences of having an XSS vulnerability on a page with no framebusting and preauthed connection to a robot wrapped around or inside someones genitals..."

  • Chromebook exploit earns researcher second $100k bounty
    For Google’s bug bounty accountants, lightning just struck twice. In September 2016, an anonymous hacker called Gzob Qq earned $100,000 (£75,000) for reporting a critical “persistent compromise” exploit of Google’s Chrome OS, used by Chromebooks. Twelve months on and the same researcher was wired an identical pay out for reporting – yes! – a second critical persistent compromise of Google’s Chrome OS. By this point you might think Google was regretting its 2014 boast that it could confidently double its maximum payout for Chrome OS hacks to $100,000 because “since we introduced the $50,000 reward, we haven’t had a successful submission.” More likely, it wasn’t regretting it at all because isn’t being told about nasty vulnerabilities the whole point of bug bounties?
  • Why microservices are a security issue
    And why is that? Well, for those of us with a systems security bent, the world is an interesting place at the moment. We're seeing a growth in distributed systems, as bandwidth is cheap and latency low. Add to this the ease of deploying to the cloud, and more architects are beginning to realise that they can break up applications, not just into multiple layers, but also into multiple components within the layer. Load balancers, of course, help with this when the various components in a layer are performing the same job, but the ability to expose different services as small components has led to a growth in the design, implementation, and deployment of microservices.

Lumina 1.4 Desktop Environment Debuts with New Theme Engine and ZFS Integrations

Lumina 1.4.0 is a major release that introduces several new core components, such as the Lumina Theme Engine to provide enhanced theming capabilities for the desktop environment and apps written in the Qt 5 application framework. The Lumina Theme Engine comes with a configuration utility and makes the previous desktop theme system obsolete, though it's possible to migrate your current settings to the new engine. "The backend of this engine is a standardized theme plugin for the Qt5 toolkit, so that all Qt5 applications will now present a unified appearance (if the application does not enforce a specific appearance/theme of it’s own)," said the developer in today's announcement. "Users of the Lumina desktop will automatically have this plugin enabled: no special action is required." Read more

today's leftovers

  • qBittorrent 4.0 Is a Massive Update of the Open-Source BitTorrent Client
    qBittorrent, the open-source and cross-platform BitTorrent client written in Qt for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows systems, has been updated to version 4.0, a major release adding numerous new features and improvements. qBittorrent 4.0 is the first release of the application to drop OS/2 support, as well as support for the old Qt 4 framework as Qt 5.5.1 or later is now required to run it on all supported platforms. It also brings a new logo and a new SVG-based icon theme can be easily scaled. Lots of other cosmetic changes are present in this release, and the WebGUI received multiple enhancements.
  • FFmpeg Continues Working Its "NVDEC" NVIDIA Video Decoding Into Shape
    Earlier this month the FFmpeg project landed its initial NVDEC NVIDIA video decoding support after already supporting NVENC for video encoding. These new NVIDIA APIs for encode/decode are part of the company's Video Codec SDK with CUDA and is the successor to the long-used VDPAU video decoding on NVIDIA Linux boxes. That NVDEC support has continued getting into shape.
  • Kobo firmware 4.6.10075 mega update (KSM, nickel patch, ssh, fonts)
    A new firmware for the Kobo ebook reader came out and I adjusted the mega update pack to use it. According to the comments in the firmware thread it is working faster than previous releases. The most incredible change though is the update from wpa_supplicant 0.7.1 (around 2010) to 2.7-devel (current). Wow.
  • 3.5-inch Apollo Lake SBC has dual mini-PCIe slots and triple displays
    Avalue’s Linux-friendly, 3.5-inch “ECM-APL2” SBC features Apollo Lake SoCs, 2x GbE, 4x USB 3.0, 2x mini-PCIe, triple displays, and optional -40 to 85°C. Avalue’s 3.5-inch, Apollo Lake based ECM-APL single-board computer was announced a year ago, shortly after Intel unveiled its Apollo Lake generation. Now it has followed up with an ECM-APL2 3.5-incher with a slightly different, and reduced, feature set.
  • 7 Best Android Office Apps To Meet Your Productivity Needs
    Office application is an essential suite that allows you to create powerful spreadsheets, documents, presentations, etc., on a smartphone. Moreover, Android office apps come with cloud integration so that you can directly access the reports from the cloud, edit them, or save them online. To meet the productivity need of Android users, the Play Store offers an extensive collection of Android office apps. But, we have saved you the hassle of going through each one of them and provided you a list of the best office apps for Android. The apps that we have picked are all free, although some do have Pro version or extra features available for in-app purchases. You can also refer to this list if you’re looking for Microsoft Office alternatives for your PC.

Servers and Red Hat