Auto briefs: Grid coordination, car conversion, buzz moments

The effect of uncoordinated charging on the electric grid, a teenager's conversion of a gas-powered car to an electric powertrain, and the effect of high octane vehicles on one's mood were among the items promoted by automotive organizations and automakers recently.

  • Uncoordinated charging of plug-in electric vehicles could be taxing to the nation's electrical grid, according to research from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The recently published paper said an electric vehicle market share of up to 3 percent, or about 7.5 million vehicles, does not affect aggregate residential demand. However, it also says peak demand will go up significantly if drivers in a concentrated geographical area purchase electric vehicles and all charge them at about the same time after returning home. NREL researchers say this demand could require upgrades to electric infrastructure and a more integrated network including vehicles, buildings, and the grid.
  • Toyota recently spotlighted a Texas teenager who successfully converted a 1980 Toyota Celica to an electric vehicle. Adam Lansing received the vehicle, which was missing its engine, from a friend's father who heard him talking about wanting to do such a project. Starting the work at age 12, Lansing had to rebuild the vehicle 52 times over six years before reaching the final version: an electric car powered by 94 lithium ion batteries, with a 130-mile range. Lansing has also founded his own company, Hawkeye Innovations LLC, to do custom electric car conversions.
  • A study commissioned by Ford has suggested that driving a sports car is an ideal way to improve your sense of well-being and emotional fulfillment. The automaker's study, which measured the emotional reactions of drivers in a number of activities, found that participants experienced an average of 2.1 "buzz moments"—high intensity thrills—during a commute in a Ford sports car. This was exceeded by the experience of riding a roller coaster, which gave an average of three buzz moments, but exceeded other activities such as watching a football game, salsa dancing, or fine dining. The automaker's designers created a Ford Performance Buzz Car for the study, projecting a visual representation of participants' emotions on the exterior of the vehicle.

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