The Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf didn’t dominate the floor at the Milwaukee Auto show, but they were definitely the newest and most innovative technology on display. Equally important, Charge Point technology, which its vendors hope will provide the means for recharging electrics anytime, almost anywhere, was featured one floor below. Information was also available on the pending electric version of the two-seater Smart Car, although display models both had gasoline engines.
Around these glimpses of the future, gleaming internal combustion powered vehicles were still getting plenty of attention, and a number were already labeled sold, while the ever-popular classic car models were a favorite for picture taking. Minivans are offering improved gas mileage, in the range of 18-25 miles per gallon city, and 25-30 highway. Some sports cars, with the same number of seats as the Smart Car (two), are down as low as five miles per gallon.
The Volt and the Nissan will not be marketed in the midwest until 2012 and 2013 respectively. By 2013, much of the support technology should be significantly better than what is available now. But electrichargMobility LLC had on display the essential hardware and software for recharging networks. Charging stations are available in models to attach to floors, poles, or walls in public places, another for home installation, and a direct current (DC) fast charge station.
According to a Nissan representative stationed near the Leaf, free recharging is being offered in many locations, including some Starbucks which provide it as a courtesy to customers. Whether free or not, ECMobility hopes to sell to businesses, school districts, hospitals, municipalities, and parking structure operators, who can generate revenue, with users inserting a charge card as they would do at many gas stations.
The Smart Car electric is expected to have an 84 mile range, with a 30 kilowatt drive motor powered by a 16.5 killowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged from 20 percent to eight percent of capacity on a 220 volt outlet in 3.5 hours. It will be capable of reaching highway speeds, but like most Smart Cars, is more designed for local than interstate driving. Full production will begin in 2012.
Rounding out the display were well maintained classic cars, including a black 1960 Chevrolet Impala, and a 1967 Mercury 427 Cyclone GT. Harley-Davidson had far fewer classic oldies on display than last year, but a 1922 model, and some ranging from the 1960s to the 1990s, were available.