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Kia Shows Us How Hybrids Are Changing & Improving, Leading To More EVs

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For my first trip of the Untold EV & Cleantech Stories project, I wanted to take an EV along. My 40 kWh LEAF doesn’t have sufficient range to make it across the country, as a number of Electrify America stations are too far apart for it at highway speeds. My original plan was to borrow an EV from a manufacturer to review along the way, but logistical issues led to the vehicle being unavailable. I ended up with borrowing a hybrid as my cleanest option this time.

I was originally disappointed that I wouldn’t have a full EV to review, but the Sorento Hybrid Kia lent me turned out to be a really neat vehicle that gives us a peek at Kia’s future electrification plans, as well as a look into how hybrids are changing and improving.

Older Hybrids Relied A Lot On Being Small & Slippery

The biggest difference between today’s new hybrids and most early hybrids is the size of the electric motor. Early hybrids were largely a gas-powered vehicle with a small electric motor-generator that’s meant to collect up regenerative braking energy and dispense it a bit here and there to improve the efficiency of the vehicle. Combined with the ability to eliminate idling and inefficient low-speed engine operation, the results were generally dramatic.

These early vehicles were almost all small vehicles built to be as efficient as possible, though. The Toyota Prius, the Honda Insight, and others got a lot of their efficiency by being small, having low drag coefficients, and low weights. When this early hybrid technology was applied to larger vehicles, like the Chevrolet Tahoe, city fuel economy drastically improved, but overall efficiency was still around 20 MPG, which is far less impressive.

The Kia Sorento Hybrid at “The Teepees” in Petrified Forest National Park. Photo by Jennifer Sensiba.

The Sorento Is A Big Vehicle That Gets Small Vehicle Efficiency

Compared to GM’s experiment with hybrid SUVs a decade ago, the Sorento Hybrid is positively impressive (though obviously not as impressive as an EV). It’s a 4,000-pound vehicle with 6 seats (available with 7), plenty of horsepower and torque, and a boxy shape like people would expect from an SUV. Despite all this, it ends up with 39 MPG city, 35 highway, and 37 combined. In my testing, the vehicle actually achieves these numbers.

Those are all better numbers than I achieve with my Volkswagen Jetta, and even slightly better than a Chevy Volt I used to own. Running down the highway at 80 MPH, the Sorento Hybrid does better, despite being larger, heavier, and more powerful. To be fair, a Sorento is a lot smaller and lighter than the truck-based Tahoes were, but it can still tow small trailers and carry a lot of people or cargo. In other words, it’s no Prius. It’s leaning a lot more on the efficiency of its drivetrain than it does on general efficiency.

Nothing proves this more than the initial drive I took from Phoenix to Flagstaff. Despite being one of the steepest, most grueling drives in the continental United States, the vehicle still managed to get 26 MPG going up Interstate 17. This same drive overheated my Nissan LEAF in 2019, and it’s common to see people stuck on the side of the road along that route. Arizona DOT even puts up signs recommending that people turn their air conditioners off.

Bigger Electric Motors Mean Better Efficiency

To figure out how Kia was getting such great efficiency, I kept a close eye on what the vehicle was doing over 2000 miles, and learned a lot.

The first thing I noticed was that the Sorento would often operate in EV mode off and on at nearly any speed. Even at 90 MPH, the gas engine would periodically shut off and the vehicle would push along with excess battery power it needed to burn off. This was more common on downhill stretches and on level ground, but could happen on some uphill stretches.

This kind of electric power at highway speeds wouldn’t be possible without a much bigger electric motor than the previous hybrids, which the Sorento hybrid has. It only has 60 horsepower at 2000 RPM, but that’s more than enough for highway cruising all on its own. Where it’s more impressive is torque, with just under 195 lb-ft on tap. This relatively large hybrid electric motor let Kia use a tiny (for this vehicle size/weight) 1.6L GDI motor, producing 177 HP and roughly the same torque as the electric motor. Total system power isn’t 400 lb-ft of torque, as the electric motor does its best at 2000 RPM while the gas motor does its best at 4500. Combined, the maximum is 227 HP and 258 lb-ft.

Readers are probably going to remind me that all of the power ultimately comes from that 1.6L gas motor, as this is not a plugin hybrid. It manages to get unnatural efficiency, even on the highway, by optimizing its use of the gasoline engine, doing something similar to the “pulse and glide” technique hypermilers use to squeeze bigger efficiency out of the older hybrids. That’s how the vehicle I tested got such good efficiency on the I-17 climb.

When cruising on the highway, the electric motor actively drags the gas engine down a bit to improve the engine’s brake-specific fuel consumption. In this mode, it uses more fuel than it would just pulling the car along, but it uses less fuel per unit of power produced, and stores this excess energy in the battery pack. When it reaches the next uphill, it can expend this excess energy to help the gas engine climb the hill without revving up. Or, if it encounters a downhill or flat segment, it can shut the gas engine off entirely for short periods and drive on EV power alone.

In other words, the car runs the gas engine only when it can run at its most efficient for power generation plus driving, and then runs the electric motor to assist or entirely drive the vehicle at nearly any speed.

The result is that it can get great mileage even on the highway, where most small-motor hybrids don’t gain any advantage.

Looking Ahead

The bit of important future insight we can gain from this is that Kia isn’t playing the typical shell game many manufacturers are playing with hybrids. They’re serious enough about electrification that they aren’t messing around with crappy small-motor hybrids in an attempt to greenwash their vehicles and avoid building EVs. Instead, they’re building up toward going all in on EVs.

I appears that every Sorento now has room for a charging port under the fuel door.

From the Sorento Hybrid, we can see that the company left room for a plug in the fuel door, and left room for more battery in the upcoming plugin hybrid version. From what I can tell, every Sorento, even the gas ones, are set up to allow for this instead of trying to cram batteries into the platform. Because the company put the legwork in, its electrified crossovers deliver dramatically better mileage than the gas versions with very little power loss, which will lead to more people actually buying them over the gas version, and it won’t hurt the company if more people buy the hybrid and PHEV versions.

Finally, there’s the EV6, which is a serious EV built on a dedicated EV platform, so we know the company isn’t just playing hybrid greenwashing games.

The Grand Canyon’s Lookout Studio. Photo by Jennifer Sensiba.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/06/22/kia-shows-us-how-hybrids-are-changing-improving-leading-to-more-evs/

Cleantech

Solar Retailers: Stop Searching For Solar Marketing Ideas. Your Passage To Growth Has Finally Arrived.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021 – PV Passage is here with the goal to disrupt the solar industry. They are paving the way for smaller suppliers to compete against large-scale, corporate retailers.

Built from a team of industry professionals, each member has over 14 years of experience in the solar market. Lived experience from the days of pre-$8000 government rebates through turbulent markets and an ever-evolving industry to successfully support retailers in becoming long-term resilient players.

Acting as a guide, PV Passage’s purpose is to support the smaller suppliers in each step of the process. From lead generation to supply management to sales training, PV Passage is here to even the playing field, giving David the slingshot he needs to take on Goliath.

With a formula of proven solar marketing ideas, reliable and consistent supply, in-depth sales training, and a deep understanding of the industry, the team at PV Passage has got all you need to grow your striving business to reach its full potential

It’s no secret that the more prominent international suppliers dominate the industry. These companies have a stronghold in the supply chain. With no exclusivity offered, retailers are competing against each other for small profit margins. For the smaller of these retailers, it can be simply too hard to compete – until now.

No matter where in Australia you are located, PV Passage has proven solutions. From solar in Tasmania to Townsville to Byron Bay and beyond, a tailored solution to suit your business’s goals is waiting for you.

With vast experience navigating a competitive and cut-throat industry, the PV Passage team has identified the gaps that restrain quality operators from expanding beyond their limits. Knowing your product and delivering a flawless service is not always enough. Raising your profile to a necessary point of scale takes time and knowledge. This is where the challenges arise. This is where PV Passage fills the gap for small but ambitious solar providers.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The only solar distributor in Australia to offer real-world competitive advantages for the growing solar retailer. Advantages such as product exclusivity, geo exclusivity, tailored sales training, and a reliable supply chain. Retailers have the chance to skip the competition and focus on what they’re good at: providing a high-quality service.

PV Passage is looking for candidates that best match their growth model, and partnerships are limited, so enquire now if your business is ready to take passage.

Contact at www.pvpassage.com.au.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/28/solar-retailers-stop-searching-for-solar-marketing-ideas-your-passage-to-growth-has-finally-arrived/

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Cleantech

Solar Retailers: Stop Searching For Solar Marketing Ideas. Your Passage To Growth Has Finally Arrived.

Published

on

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 – PV Passage is here with the goal to disrupt the solar industry. They are paving the way for smaller suppliers to compete against large-scale, corporate retailers.

Built from a team of industry professionals, each member has over 14 years of experience in the solar market. Lived experience from the days of pre-$8000 government rebates through turbulent markets and an ever-evolving industry to successfully support retailers in becoming long-term resilient players.

Acting as a guide, PV Passage’s purpose is to support the smaller suppliers in each step of the process. From lead generation to supply management to sales training, PV Passage is here to even the playing field, giving David the slingshot he needs to take on Goliath.

With a formula of proven solar marketing ideas, reliable and consistent supply, in-depth sales training, and a deep understanding of the industry, the team at PV Passage has got all you need to grow your striving business to reach its full potential

It’s no secret that the more prominent international suppliers dominate the industry. These companies have a stronghold in the supply chain. With no exclusivity offered, retailers are competing against each other for small profit margins. For the smaller of these retailers, it can be simply too hard to compete – until now.

No matter where in Australia you are located, PV Passage has proven solutions. From solar in Tasmania to Townsville to Byron Bay and beyond, a tailored solution to suit your business’s goals is waiting for you.

With vast experience navigating a competitive and cut-throat industry, the PV Passage team has identified the gaps that restrain quality operators from expanding beyond their limits. Knowing your product and delivering a flawless service is not always enough. Raising your profile to a necessary point of scale takes time and knowledge. This is where the challenges arise. This is where PV Passage fills the gap for small but ambitious solar providers.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The only solar distributor in Australia to offer real-world competitive advantages for the growing solar retailer. Advantages such as product exclusivity, geo exclusivity, tailored sales training, and a reliable supply chain. Retailers have the chance to skip the competition and focus on what they’re good at: providing a high-quality service.

PV Passage is looking for candidates that best match their growth model, and partnerships are limited, so enquire now if your business is ready to take passage.

Contact at www.pvpassage.com.au.


Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.


 



 


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Click here to access.

Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/28/solar-retailers-stop-searching-for-solar-marketing-ideas-your-passage-to-growth-has-finally-arrived/

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Cleantech

Microgrids in Australia — the Next Big Step

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Australia is one of the leaders in the world in the adaptation of electrical power grids to the new technologies of renewable energy. Famous for the Hornsdale Power Reserve (Tesla’s Big Battery in South Australia), the country is now trialing microgrids with smaller batteries in cities (Sydney and Melbourne), isolated country towns, and mining complexes. 

In Melbourne, the city council is seeking to establish a network of 5 MW batteries (the Power Melbourne Project). These batteries will enable a more efficient use of the network, putting power back in when it is needed the most. Early days yet — more details to be revealed. 

Meanwhile, Melbourne has already launched its first 150kW community battery and two more are to be commissioned. The benefit of these batteries is a more efficient use of solar power generated by users within their radius. These users will be able to store excess power generated during daylight hours, then draw it down after dark, rather than taking it from the grid. It is expected that this will reduce costs for participants and help stabilize the grid. Ausgrid is not currently charging for this service. 

“Put simply, a community battery allows multiple households within a certain radius to ‘share’ a storage system for the excess energy generated by solar panels. This can save households thousands of dollars on the upfront cost of an individual battery, and allow them to effectively use more of the solar energy their home systems generate — bringing down their electricity costs,” Ausgrid CEO Richard Gross said.

Many isolated communities, including those hit by the savage bushfires of 2020, have unreliable and expensive electricity. Now 20 of those communities have received funding under the Commonwealth Government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund. These funds will allow the communities to become “islandable” — able to operate even when disconnected from the main grid. Renewable energy and batteries will replace expensive and polluting diesel generators.

In sparsely populated Western Australia, power companies are encouraging those who live at the periphery of long power distribution lines to go solar with battery backup (and a diesel generator  to be sure). It is becoming cheaper to install renewables than it is the maintain the long power lines. 

Mining operators led by Twiggy Forest (Australia’s “Outback Steve Jobs”) are moving rapidly to solar arrays with battery backup — much cheaper than trucking in diesel tankers thousands of kilometers into the never, never.

“Every Australian — no matter where they live — should be confident that they will have the power they need, when they need it, and at an affordable price,” said Angus Taylor, Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister.

Hear, Hear!


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/28/microgrids-in-australia-the-next-big-step/

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Cleantech

Microgrids in Australia — the Next Big Step

Published

on

Australia is one of the leaders in the world in the adaptation of electrical power grids to the new technologies of renewable energy. Famous for the Hornsdale Power Reserve (Tesla’s Big Battery in South Australia), the country is now trialing microgrids with smaller batteries in cities (Sydney and Melbourne), isolated country towns, and mining complexes. 

In Melbourne, the city council is seeking to establish a network of 5 MW batteries (the Power Melbourne Project). These batteries will enable a more efficient use of the network, putting power back in when it is needed the most. Early days yet — more details to be revealed. 

Meanwhile, Melbourne has already launched its first 150kW community battery and two more are to be commissioned. The benefit of these batteries is a more efficient use of solar power generated by users within their radius. These users will be able to store excess power generated during daylight hours, then draw it down after dark, rather than taking it from the grid. It is expected that this will reduce costs for participants and help stabilize the grid. Ausgrid is not currently charging for this service. 

“Put simply, a community battery allows multiple households within a certain radius to ‘share’ a storage system for the excess energy generated by solar panels. This can save households thousands of dollars on the upfront cost of an individual battery, and allow them to effectively use more of the solar energy their home systems generate — bringing down their electricity costs,” Ausgrid CEO Richard Gross said.

Many isolated communities, including those hit by the savage bushfires of 2020, have unreliable and expensive electricity. Now 20 of those communities have received funding under the Commonwealth Government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund. These funds will allow the communities to become “islandable” — able to operate even when disconnected from the main grid. Renewable energy and batteries will replace expensive and polluting diesel generators.

In sparsely populated Western Australia, power companies are encouraging those who live at the periphery of long power distribution lines to go solar with battery backup (and a diesel generator  to be sure). It is becoming cheaper to install renewables than it is the maintain the long power lines. 

Mining operators led by Twiggy Forest (Australia’s “Outback Steve Jobs”) are moving rapidly to solar arrays with battery backup — much cheaper than trucking in diesel tankers thousands of kilometers into the never, never.

“Every Australian — no matter where they live — should be confident that they will have the power they need, when they need it, and at an affordable price,” said Angus Taylor, Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister.

Hear, Hear!


Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.


 



 


Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/28/microgrids-in-australia-the-next-big-step/

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