INTERVIEW: Meet Eric Lundgren, who broke the world record for EV range with a car made from trash

June 22, 2017 by  
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Eric Lundgren, the founder and CEO of e-waste recycling company ITAP , recently beat the electric vehicle driving range of a Tesla with a car made from trash and powered by repurposed Nintendo batteries. (Well, technically not just Nintendo batteries but Lenovo laptop and Time Warner cable box batteries too.) But how did he accomplish the seemingly impossible? Read on for our exclusive interview. “It’s not magic. We just put a larger battery in a lighter frame. It’s that simple,” Lundgren explained in a recent interview with Inhabitat. “We basically put a 130 kilowatt hours battery pack in a car that weighs a little bit less than a Tesla.” Related: ‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery spells bad news for gas-guzzling cars Lundgren is a pioneer in hybrid recycling — reusing the components in broken electronics or outdated electronics so that they don’t end up in toxic landfills. His trash car — the Phoenix — broke the world record for longest EV range last month, outlasting a Tesla Model S P100D on a round-trip from L.A. to San Diego. His team had already set the EV range record but Guinness didn’t accept the results because of missing film footage of the event so they gave it another go with cameras on for the entire race. They built the Phoenix in 35 days at a cost of $13,000 using 88 percent consumer waste. The $150,000 Tesla died at 318 miles while the trash car set the new world record — 382.3 miles on a single charge. Related: Electric cars could reach cost parity with conventional cars by next year In our interview (edited for clarity), Lundgren talks about how despite his success with electric vehicle range, his passion lies in making hybrid recycling widely accepted in society. Inhabitat: What motivated you to build the Phoenix and beat the EV world range record? Eric Lundgren: I’m all about hybrid recycling. The Phoenix was a way to demonstrate hybrid recycling. That was the purpose. I don’t want to become a car manufacturer. I want to do hybrid recycling and the Phoenix was a great demonstration. Inhabitat: What materials did you use to build the Phoenix? Lundgren: It is the most environmental car ever built with the lowest carbon footprint. The chassis of the car came from a scrap yard. It was about to get crushed and we dragged it out of the scrap yard. It didn’t even have wheels on it. We put wheels on it. We took out everything. Converted it to an EV. And we put used batteries – basically trash batteries – in it. The controller came off of a forklift. The blinker came off of a bicycle. The car itself is two 1997 BMW 528is that we frankensteined together to make one car. Inhabitat: What is the connection to hybrid recycling? Lundgren: We used garbage. We used all garbage, all old technology. All things that our consumer world said were trash and have zero value. And we built something that is the most valuable because it just beat a world record. So we’re demonstrating the value in garbage and trying to educate the public and corporations to start practicing hybrid recycling, which is a way of saving that value rather than destroying it. Inhabitat: It is amazing how badly you beat the Tesla. Lundgren: We took 35 days to build it. Tesla took a year-and-a-half to build their car. Tesla’s research and development cost was $1.4 billion. Our R&D cost: I paid my engineers in Keystone Light beer. Our car has one-tenth the carbon footprint ratio of a Tesla. Inhabitat: The number one issue with EVs is range anxiety. You would think that Tesla would want to increase their range. Lundgren: If Tesla increased their range, are you willing to pay an extra $30,000 for an extra hundred miles? My guess is they did some sort of marketing survey and realized that at 300 miles people are not willing to pay more money for longer range so they stopped there and the world says ‘oh, they must have stopped there because that’s the best that a car can do.’ Well I just proved that that’s not true. I just proved that cars can do more. Inhabitat: What are your objectives regarding the EV industry and hybrid recycling? Lundgren: My goal is to push the EV industry to produce cars that people want to buy so that we can get off of fossil fuel. My other goal is to demonstrate hybrid recycling so that companies like Tesla send dead battery packs to a hybrid recycler that can actually salvage the good parts out of them to build something new – rather than what they currently do, which is send them to a company in Canada, which smelts the battery pack for its commodity value. That’s bringing all the value in a pack down to its lowest common denominator. Inhabitat: What are you working on next? Lundgren: We’re going to build the largest repurposed battery pack for my facilities. All the power from my recycling is going to come from solar panels that go to a giant solar power array that runs my entire factory that produces batteries from trash. So in other words, my processing facility is going to be run from the sun to garbage batteries. That’s what is going to power my entire processing facility within the next six weeks. Inhabitat: You are building an electric semi truck to compete with Elon Musk’s Tesla Semi? Lundgren: In September Elon Musk releases his electric semi . In November, I’m releasing an electric semi that costs a fraction of the price of his, goes 55 miles further and is built from basically consumer waste. I don’t know what his semi is going to cost. My guess is it is going to cost around $300,000 or $400,000. My semi is going to cost $60,000 – and it will go farther than his. Inhabitat: Any thoughts on the era of affordable electric vehicles about to begin with the upcoming release of the Tesla Model 3 ? Lundgren: I truly believe that the world is going to go EV . I truly believe that the world is going to utilize lithium to get away from burning coal and to get away from all of these other primitive ways that we produce and use power, and transport ourselves today. We need to evolve as a society – and electric vehicles are a way to do that – but the recycling of those vehicles is just as important as the manufacturing. It doesn’t get enough attention. People don’t realize what happens to things when they just discard them. We need to start worrying about efficiency on the back end so we can become more efficient on the front end. Inhabitat: And where do you see hybrid recycling going? Lundgren: In the future, electronics of any type – whether it be an electric car or a laptop or tablet or cell phone or server router, you name it – all of that product is going to be reused very similar to how a chop shop in the auto industry works. If your car has a flat tire, you don’t throw away your car. And if you do, then they salvage every other working part. Let’s say you blow an engine — the chop shop salvages the catalytic converter and the exhaust and the windshield and the transmission and all the other parts. But in electronics today we throw it all away. We’re at a point where hybrid recycling is going to kick off. It’s going to become huge. Nobody understands it, so this car [the Phoenix] is a great demonstration for it. + ITAP Images via Jehu Garcia [Editor’s note: Lundgren was sentenced after we completed this interview to serve 15 months in federal prison for distributing free software (computer restore Freeware) in order to divert computers from landfills and empower consumers to fix their property. He is currently appealing the sentence.]

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INTERVIEW: Meet Eric Lundgren, who broke the world record for EV range with a car made from trash

Volkswagen confirms it’s bringing back the Microbus

June 21, 2017 by  
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Volkswagen has been teasing Microbus fans for years about the idea of introducing a new Microbus. Back in 2001 the first Microbus concept brought back nostalgic memories of the 1960s and then more recently VW teased us again with the Bulli concept and this year with the I.D. Buzz concept . Even though the earlier concepts never lead to production models, the I.D. Buzz concept is now definitely headed to the production line – reportedly. Auto Express spoke with VW CEO Herbert Diess, who confirmed that the new Microbus is in VW’s future production plans. While the new Microbus will recall memories of the iconic Microbus from the 1960’s, it will differ from the original by having an electric powertrain — like the concept. Related: Volkswagen previews I.D. Crozz, its 2020 electric SUV “Emotional cars are very important for the brand,” Herbert Diess revealed. “We are selling loads of Beetles still, particularly in US markets. But we will also have the Microbus that we showed, which we have recently decided we will build.” It’s expected that the Microbus will be based on the new MEB platform that will be the basis for all of VW’s new electric models. The final design will be tweaked a bit, but it will draw cues from the I.D. Buzz concept that debuted earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show . VW’s Design Boss Oliver Stefani also hinted at the idea of the new Microbus, “With the MEB platform this is the chance now to get the proportions back. But you can also get much more interior space, almost one class higher.” Even though we have confirmation that the Microbus is coming back, we still don’t know when. The first model from the new MEB platform isn’t expected to arrive until 2020, so we can expect the Microbus to arrive sometime after the new electric hatchback . When it does arrive, expect the new electric Microbus to have a driving range around 300 miles. Via Auto Express + VW Images @VW

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Volkswagen confirms it’s bringing back the Microbus

The world’s first self-driving grocery store just hit the streets of Shanghai

June 13, 2017 by  
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The world’s first self-driving supermarket just landed on the streets of Shanghai – and it could be coming to your neck of the woods in the near future. Developed by the folks behind the Wheelys bike cafe , the Moby is a solar-powered market on wheels that actually helps the environment by filtering smoggy air. It’s also packed with artificial intelligence, it features drone delivery, and it’s open round-the-clock without staffing. Wheely’s Moby Store is the future of shopping. Instead of driving to the store and waiting in line, the store will come to you – and you can check an app to see if a Moby is nearby. The Moby is powered by the sun and is able to run autonomously – although stores will be controlled by remote or human drivers until self-driving vehicles are legalized. Related: New Wheelys 4 bike café cleans smoggy air and turns coffee grounds into fertilizer Shopping at Moby couldn’t be easier: you just step in, take what you need and head out. All purchases are automatically tallied without the need for a checkout counter. Or you can order a drone delivery – each store has 4 drone pads for quick delivery. Moby keeps track of what is purchased and uses artificial intelligence to restock inventory. When the store needs to be restocked, it will drive itself to the warehouse and fill up. The Moby Store can also operate as a mini pharmacy and coffee shop, features first aid devices (like a defibrillator), and provides an ATM in addition to the usual grocery fare. Lest you miss the interaction with a clerk, shoppers will be greeted and helped by the holographic store assistant, Hol. If the store doesn’t have what you need – or if you have a special order – you can just tell Hol and it will be ready for you next time you drop by. The Moby store was developed in cooperation with Himalayafy and Hefei University and it’s currently in beta testing in Shanghai. + Wheelys

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The world’s first self-driving grocery store just hit the streets of Shanghai

Tesla to power ‘almost all’ Superchargers with solar after disconnecting them from the grid

June 9, 2017 by  
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Tesla wants the world to switch to renewable energy – and the company is leading by example by taking “almost all” of its Superchargers off the grid. The stations have been criticized in the past because they rely on dirty fossil fuels to power up electric vehicles. In response, Tesla founder Elon Musk announced that “almost all” Superchargers will be disconnected from the grid as solar and battery arrays are installed at the company’s 800 stations. Since the Superchargers were unveiled in 2012, Musk has been talking about adding on solar arrays. Now, he’s preparing to launch ‘Version 3’ of the Supercharger while deploying even more battery and solar systems – and he wants to take them off the grid. In response to a negative comment on Twitter, Musk said, “All Superchargers are being converted to solar/battery power. Over time, almost all will disconnect from the electricity grid.” All Superchargers are being converted to solar/battery power. Over time, almost all will disconnect from the electricity grid. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 9, 2017 As Elektrek reports , a recent study concluded that the average electric car in the United States now gets the same efficiency as a (non-existent) 73 mpg gas-powered vehicle . In retrospect, Musk could have made this point and ended the argument. However, he went one step further by unveiling the company’s ambition to take Tesla’s Supercharger network off-grid. Related: Tesla is doubling its Supercharger network by the end of the year to 10,000 chargers The logistics still need to be worked out, as Tesla would need solar arrays as large as football fields at some stations. However, the intention has been set, and if Elon Musk has proven anything, it’s that he’s an innovative leader who consistently takes action. Expect to see improved Supercharger stations that are disconnected from the electric grid in the future. Via Elektrek Images via Tesla , Inside EVs

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Tesla to power ‘almost all’ Superchargers with solar after disconnecting them from the grid

‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery spells bad news for gas-guzzling cars

June 7, 2017 by  
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Charging an electric car remains an obstacle for some people, especially in areas lacking charging infrastructure. But new battery technology developed by researchers at Purdue University could change that completely. They’ve designed an instantly rechargeable battery that could allow electric vehicles to be charged in roughly the same amount of time it takes to fill up a car with gasoline today. The researchers designed a flow battery system, which in itself isn’t unique, but the Purdue scientists removed battery membranes, something they say no one else has done. Membranes in batteries break down over time, so the new battery technology allows for a longer lifespan and cuts costs. This rechargeable battery could be a game changer for electric cars. Related: New battery concept could give electric vehicles a 621-mile range Drawing on the Purdue energy storage technology, electric car owners would pull up to a station and fill up their cars with not gas, but fluid electrolytes. The spent battery fluids could be gathered and recharged at a solar or wind farm . Earth, atmospheric, and planetary science professor John Cushman said in a statement, “Instead of refining petroleum, the refiners would reprocess spent electrolytes and instead of dispensing gas, the fueling stations would dispense a water and ethanol or methanol solution as fluid electrolytes to power vehicles…It is believed that our technology could be nearly ‘drop-in’ ready for most of the underground piping system, rail and truck delivery system, gas stations and refineries.” They say their instantly rechargeable method is affordable, safe, and environmentally friendly. Cushman recently presented their findings at the International Society for Porous Media 9th International Conference in the Netherlands. With two other Purdue researchers, he started a company, IFBattery, to commercialize their technology. Cushman said they are seeking financing to develop large-scale prototypes, and from there they’ll look for manufacturing partners. Via Purdue University Images via Purdue University and Håkan Dahlström on Flickr

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‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery spells bad news for gas-guzzling cars

Fisker is back with the $130,000 400-mile range EMotion

June 7, 2017 by  
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Designer Henrik Fisker is getting ready to jump back into the EV segment with a new electric car called the EMotion. Now that Fisker’s former EV, the Karma has been reborn under new ownership, Fisker is ready to move beyond the capabilities of the old Karma with the entirely new 400-mile range 2019 EMotion. Fisker Inc has released a set of teaser photos of the new EMotion, which is going to debut later this month on June 30. The EMotion’s design has been toned down a bit from the EMotion prototype and renderings that we’ve seen over the past year. The big changes, include a revised grille, more production friendly headlights and toned down fenders. Related: Fisker’s EMotion has the Tesla Model S in its sights Even though the overall design has been toned down, the exterior does conceal some new tech features, like an integrated LIDAR system behind a tinted screen to provide autonomous driving capability. The side mirrors conceal two cameras, which enable panoramic, 360-degree views to the driver. Fisker also says that the carbon fiber and aluminum structure exceeds current safety standards, while its light carbon fiber and aluminum wheels reduce rotational mass by 40 percent. Fisker hasn’t revealed the full specs for the 2019 EMotion, but it will have a driving range over 400 miles and new proprietary UltraCharger technology can add over 100 miles to the large battery in nine minutes. The EMotion will also have a top speed of 161 mph. The big news is that the pricing for the EMotion has also been released, starting at $129,900. Fisker is going to reveal the EMotion on June 30 and will also begin taking reservations on the same day. + Fisker Images @Fisker

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Fisker is back with the $130,000 400-mile range EMotion

Retro electric motorbike with 40-mile range fits in the trunk of a car

May 22, 2017 by  
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Urban mobility is seeing something of a renaissance. As cars congest and pollute cities, people are rethinking how to get around. One company based in Singapore , seeks to inject a little fun and imagination into urban travel. Vanda Electrics is offering a small electric motorbike called the Motochimp that they claim will open your eyes “to the surreal in everyday spaces, as you meander through streets and dreamscapes.” The future of urban mobility isn’t all sleek electric cars or pioneering flying cars . Vanda Electrics infuses a sense of playfulness into a commute with their Motochimp, a foldable motorbike that can be packed into a car trunk. The unconventional vehicle was designed to celebrate spontaneous joy rides and “defy boredom and faceless urban transport.” From the website, it appears the motorbike will come in at least three bright colors: red, blue, and yellow. Related: Hyundai foldable electric Ioniq scooter will make your commute awesome The bike’s draw isn’t only its funky design , but the nearly 40 mile range it can get on one charge. The company also says the battery charges rapidly. The zero emissions vehicle will be able to cruise through the streets at speeds of 20 miles per hour. Jonny Smith of YouTube channel Fully Charged drove the Motochimp around and said the quirky vehicle is like the “child of a tube of toothpaste, Lego, and a packet of Pez candy.” He also likened the bike to a 1960’s coffee machine. According to Treehugger, the motorbike is expected to enter production in 2017 and could be released in the United Kingdom and possibly the United States by 2018. The price is yet unclear; Smith said the Motochimp could cost around $1,600 while Auto Express put the price tag closer to $2,000. Treehugger pointed out with prices that expensive, the Motochimp isn’t likely to be a vehicle for the masses, but could offer a fun alternative for those who want to ditch their cars. + Vanda Electrics + Motochimp Via Treehugger Images via Motochimp Facebook

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Retro electric motorbike with 40-mile range fits in the trunk of a car

‘Indestructible’ Arctic seed vault flooded after permafrost melts

May 22, 2017 by  
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The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is supposed to protect all of the world’s seeds, but climate change has other ideas. The vault was built inside the Arctic Circle to protect a diverse seed collection from natural disasters, war, and other calamities, but meltwater from thawing permafrost recently flooded the vault’s entrance tunnel. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault , tucked in a mountain on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, was thought to offer failsafe protection, according to The Crop Trust , the organization behind the facility. Nearly a million packets of seeds can be found within, ready to offer a measure of food security for the world. But record high temperatures melted permafrost around the seed vault, and water breached the vault’s entrance. Related: 50,000 new seeds deposited in Arctic Circle’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault The seeds weren’t harmed, according to a statement on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault website, and the facility wasn’t damaged either. The water that did enter froze and has since been hacked out. But the seeds’ future safety is suddenly in question. Hege Njaa Aschim, Director of Communications at Norway’s construction and property agency, Statsbygg, told The Guardian, “It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that [the vault] would experience extreme weather like that…It was supposed to [operate] without the help of humans, but now we are watching the seed vault 24 hours a day.” Vault managers have already taken steps to fortify the vault, such as digging trenches to channel water away and working to waterproof the tunnel that stretches into the mountain. They’ve installed pumps inside the seed vault to help get rid of water in case of flooding in the future. They also took out some electrical equipment that generated heat in the tunnel. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault’s statement on the incident said, “Globally, the Seed Vault is, and will continue to be, the safest backup of crop diversity .” Via The Guardian Images via Global Crop Diversity Trust on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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‘Indestructible’ Arctic seed vault flooded after permafrost melts

Tesla is taking some major risks by accelerating production of Model 3

May 19, 2017 by  
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Tesla is raring to get its Model 3 sedan on the road, and it looks like the electric-car maker isn’t above taking a few risks to do so. In its self-imposed race to launch the car by September, Tesla is leapfrogging past the testing phrase of its production line and eschewing temporary prototype tools in favor of permanent—and far pricier—equipment, according to Reuters . The move is a high-risk one, industry experts say, because of the higher cost of any tweaks to equipment designed to produce millions of cars. Certainly Tesla isn’t immune to quality issues: The company has fielded complaints of steering-wheel malfunctions , foggy windshields , and improperly latching doors in the past, all of which resulted in expensive recalls. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, said during a call with investors that “advanced analytical techniques,” i.e., computer simulations, would help the company bypass what he dubbed “beta” production testing. Related: Tesla is doubling its Supercharger network by the end of the year to 10,000 chargers But the gambit, if successful, could spell bigger profits. The faster Tesla can drop the Model 3, which has an estimated base price of $35,000, the sooner it can rake in billions it anticipates from customers who have already placed deposits. “It’s an experiment, certainly,” Consumer Reports’ Jake Fisher told Reuters. + Tesla Via Reuters

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Tesla is taking some major risks by accelerating production of Model 3

Stanford study says fossil-fueled cars will vanish in 8 years as big oil collapses

May 17, 2017 by  
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A new study published by Stanford University suggests that fossil-fueled cars will vanish within eight years – and citizens will have no choice but to invest in electric vehicles or similar technologies. This is because the cost of electric vehicles – including cars, buses, and trucks – will ultimately decrease, resulting in the collapse of the petroleum industry. Led by Stanford University economist Tony Seba, the report has caused spasms of anxiety within the oil industry . Entitled “Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030,” it details how people will ultimately switch to self-driving electric vehicles, as they are ten times cheaper to maintain than cars that run on fossil fuels and have a near-zero marginal cost of fuel. Additionally, EVs have an expected lifespan of 1 million miles. In comparison, most fossil-based cars barely last 200,000 miles. Seba predicts that in less than a decade, it will become very difficult for consumers to find petrol stations, spares or mechanics knowledgeable enough to fix combustion engines. His ultimate premise is that modern-day car dealerships will disappear by 2024 as the long-term price of oil falls to $25 USD a barrel. Those who cling to their outdated cars will probably have to pay to dispose of them in the future, says Seba. In the author’s own words, there will be a “mass stranding of existing vehicles.” Related: Iceland’s “Thor” volcano power plant can generate 10X more energy than oil or gas wells The Sanford researcher is also confident that within the next decade, humans will predominantly rely on self-driving vehicles as they are significantly less dangerous. “We are on the cusp of one of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruptions of transportation in history,” said Seba. “Internal combustion engine vehicles will enter a vicious cycle of increasing costs. What the cost curve says is that by 2025 all new vehicles will be electric , all new buses, all new cars, all new tractors, all new vans, anything that moves on wheels will be electric, globally.” The Professor estimates that the “tipping point” will occur in the next two to three years when EV batteries surpass 200 miles and electric car prices plummet to $30,000 USD. By 2022, the low-end models will be sold for as low as $20,000. Following that, it will be the death of big oil . + Stanford Via Financial Post Images via Pixabay

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