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High Voltage: The Fast Track to Plug In the Auto Industry Hardcover – November 8, 2011

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High Voltage: The Fast Track to Plug In the Auto Industry + JOLT!: The Impending Dominance Of The Electric Car And Why America Must Take Charge + Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars, and the New Lithium Economy
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160529263X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605292632
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #852,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Electricity has always been the best way to power an automobile. At the dawn of the last century, electric cars were the future, and 100 years later they’re the future again. For that reason, I’m sure you’ll find this book fascinating.” —Jay Leno
“The electric car can satisfy over 90 percent of our transportation needs—today. Jim Motavalli's High Voltage lays it all out in a clear and concise manner, for all to see. So what are we waiting for?” —Ed Begley Jr.
“Jim’s been on top of the electric car story since day 1—even calling out oil lobbyists on their clandestine anti-EV campaigns back in the 1990s. High Voltage lands us in in 2012 with a well-researched, up-to-the minute dispatch from the front line of one of the most exciting industrial revolutions of our time.”  —Chris Paine, director of Who Killed the Electric Car? and Revenge of the Electric Car
“With more than two decades of reporting on clean cars to his credit, Jim Motavalli understands the intricacies of the electric-vehicle scene better than just about anyone. His latest book on the subject is an enjoyable, wide-ranging tour of the 21st-century electric-car revival—essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of transportation.” —Seth Fletcher, author of Bottled Lightning and a senior editor at Popular Science

"Positively electric! Each chapter surges with high voltage. When do we see the movie?" —TOM and RAY MAGLIOZZI, NPR'S Car Talk

"Even if you aren't a car enthusiast, [Motavalli's] enthusiasm for the recent surge in electric and plug-in hybrid options on showroom floors, mixed with auto history, first-hand driving experiences and interviews with the industry's key players, makes for an entertaining read...Motavalli's behind-the-scenes perspective gives readers real insight into the possibilities offered by electric cars which clearly will no longer be relegated to a niche market." —E MAGAZINE

About the Author

JIM MOTAVALLI is the author of Forward Drive and several other books. He blogs on clean cars for the New York Times, CBS, and NPR’s Car Talk, among others. He lives in Connecticut.

More About the Author

Jim Motavalli writes on environmental topics for The New York Times, CBS MoneyWatch, NPR's Car Talk, AOL, Mother Nature Network and TheDailyGreen.com (Hearst). He is author or editor of six books, including Forward Drive: The Race to Build Clean Cars for the Future, Feeling the Heat: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Climate Change, and Naked in the Woods: Joseph Knowles and the Legacy of Frontier Fakery. His next book, tentatively titled High Voltage (about electric cars), will be published by Rodale. He is also a senior writer for E/The Environmental Magazine, a contributor to the Environmental Defense Fund publications and to Knowledge@Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania.

Motavalli is a two-time winner of the Global Media Award from the Population Institute, and hosts a radio program on WPKN-FM in Connecticut, with frequent live music. He lectures widely on climate and transportation issues.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Emc2 VINE VOICE on November 10, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is well-written, in the typical NYT journalistic style, and very comprehensive. Mr. Motavalli managed to chronicle in a short book the rebirth of plug-in electric cars (PEVs) and the state-of-the-art of the industry as of mid 2011. As the book's introduction explains, PEVs include all-electric cars (EVs or BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), but not the conventional gasoline-electric hybrids, such as the Prius, which do not plug-in.

The book was very well-researched, with a lot of primary content as many key players were interviewed just for the book, and of course, Mr. Motavalli's ample experience as a green car journalist, bringing along all his behind-the-wheels test drive experience with almost all the plug-in electric cars available in the world today. The book covers all relevant aspects regarding PEVs, advantages, disadvantages, barriers to wide adoption, the key role of EV battery technology, the deployment of charging infrastructure, fast charging standards, battery swapping, you name, every aspect is covered. There is an entire chapter devoted to Motavalli's test drives of several PEVs, which includes his experience with the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Th!nk City, Aptera 2e and the Toyota Highlander FCHV. By the way, electric vans and truck are out of the scope of the book.

The book is aimed for a wide audience, not just the early adopters, techies and green car fans. Actually, regular consumers with an interest in PEVs will find this book quite a primer to help them decide whether now is the right time to go electric or wait. I believe it would have been helpful for the layman to include some pictures, at least of the most relevant PEVs, such as the Volt and Leaf.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Wright on December 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Here is an outline of what you can find in this book:

Introduction: lists types of electric vehicles (EVs), including battery electrics (Tesla Roadster and Model S, Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus, Daimler SmartForTwo, BMW i3, Honda Fit, Fiat 500, Think City, Coda, Wheego LiFe); plug-in hybrids (Chevrolet Volt, Fisker Karma, Ford C-Max Energi, Toyota Prius Plug-In); hybrids (Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, Ford Fusion).

1) Racing for the goal: bios of Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and Henrik Fisker of Fisker Automotive.

2) Building the batteries: names major battery suppliers and their auto-company partners, including A123 Systems (Fisker), Ener1 (Think, Volvo), Johnson Controls-Saft (BMW, Mercedes, Ford), SB LiMotive (BMW), Valence (Smith Electric Vehicles, Brammo), LG Chem (General Motors), NEC (Nissan), Boston-Power (Saab).

3) From computers to cars: explains why California, although it is a great place to market electric vehicles, might not be the best place to build them.

4) The big players: Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt are current leaders, but other major auto companies are also developing electric vehicles.

5) Charging ahead: how to build networks for fast charging or battery swaps to allow for long-distance travel in electric vehicles.

6) The smart grid: how changes to rate structures and meters could work toward charging electric vehicles without requiring additional generating capacity.

7) Chinese puzzles: discusses production of electric vehicles in China by BYD and other major companies.

8) Iceland's fast track: how low-cost electricity and high-cost oil imports could encourage rapid increase in use of electric vehicles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KatCor on April 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Had to read this book for my Econ Class. Definitely came out learning more on various aspects of the Automotive world than expected.

I had little insight on the various classifications of cars, those being electric, plug-in, hybrid, etc. This book lays out in detail everything that is needed to know on all these types of cars and their benefit to us. It also describes a lot of circumstances the government faces in trying to approve certain types of cars because of their needs and it examines the international market of these cars.

I would definitely recommend this book for those of your who would love to know more about the electric car, its past, present and its future. Especially for those who want to learn more about what things we can do to help our environment out down the road!
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By Limon on March 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fun book to read, but I have a Mitsubishi iMiev,and there is no information on it in this book. A lot of other cars I've never heard of are examined, and iMiev is probably 3rd most popular all electric behind Leaf and maybe Tesla.
I'd still recommend this book to those interested in electric cars.
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