The Charm of Endurance

The Workhorse W-15 Hero, renamed the Lordstown Motors Endurance. Photo: Workhorse Group.

In 1998, Workhorse Custom Chassis was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio to take over production of General Motors’ P30/P32 series stepvan and motorhome chassis. By 2005, the company was taken over by Navistar International, its supplier of diesel engines. Navistar then closed the plant in 2012.

AMP Electric Vehicles bought the company in 2015, and changed its name to Workhorse Group Incorporated, scattering attention on electrically and ICE powered delivery vans, buses and recreational vehicles.

In 2016, Workhorse introduced a W-15 Hero prototype, an all-wheel drive plug-in pickup. It used custom battery packs, to provide power to an electric-drive, with a range oft 80 miles/ 130 km. These batteries were housed underneath the vehicle to save space and provide more payload capacity. Confusingly, a BMW three-cylinder generator/ range extender was also provided, making this a hybrid ICE vehicle, rather than a pure battery electric. The vehicle was be built with four motors — one for each wheel — to deliver all-wheel drive. It also had outlets to run power tools off the vehicle battery.

In 2018, Workhorse scattered attention again, by announcing Surefly, its two-seat gasoline/ electric hybrid eVTOL (vertical takeoff and landling) octocopter.

On 2019-11-07, the newly constituted Lordstown Motors Corporation purchased the 576 000 square meter Lordstown Ohio assembly plant from General Motors. This plant originally opened in 1966. Confusingly, some reports say Workhorse Group has a 10% stake in this plant, others state that it has no financial involvement.

The plant has been a political liability for GM since its 2018 announcement that it would not use the facilities. This became an immediate political liability for Donald Trump, who earlier had discouraged supporters from selling their homes in Lordstown because of all the jobs he would bring back to the area

Steve Burns, previous CEO of Workhoorse, and current CEO of Lordstown Motors, is fundraising to convert the plant so it can manufacture electric vehicles. What used to be called a Workhorse W-15, is now being called a Lordstown Motors Endurance, targeting pickup truck fleet buyers.

Meanwhile, Workhorse Group is bidding on a contract to make plug-in mail trucks for the U.S. Postal Service. Even if Workhorse wins the postal contract, it is unclear if the Lordstown plant would build those vehicles. Lordstown Motors does have an agreement to transfer the 6 000 existing pre-orders for the W-15/ Endurance from Workhorse Group to Lordstown Motors for production.

Burns has stated that Workhorse and Lordstown Motors share intellectual property related to electric-drive systems.

Production of the W-15/ Endurance is dependent on successful funding. If sufficient funds were raised, Burns said he would work with the UAW (United Auto Workers Union) to hire staff who didn’t transfer to other plants. Burns wants experienced vehicle assemblers to build the trucks.

Lordstown Motors has the money to buy the plant and work on the vehicle, but needs more money to continue development, conduct crash and safety testing, get the truck approved for sale and to retool the factory.

Lordstown Motors is not the only electric pickup attracting attention. The Rivian R1T pickup is possibly the top contender, is fully electric, has an exciting design that it shares in part with its R1S SUV sister, a large fan base willing and able to purchase vehicles, financing under control, and production facilities secured in Normal, Illinois. Ford has also announced its own fully electric version of its F-150 pickup. Yet, the pickup everyone is wanting to learn about is the Tesla Cybertruck, to be unveiled in Los Angeles, 2019-11-21. Which is why anything about the Workhorse W-15 Hero/ Lordstown Motors Endurance had to be pushed out now.

Max Whirlpool: A tidbit

Max Whirlpool (16) shown immediately after being unplugged, and waiting to be escorted outside of the kitchen, for smoking.

Max Whirlpool (16) has been expelled from the kitchen for smoking. A representative from the kitchen, who wishes to remain anonymous because he is unauthorized to speak on behalf of management, stated: “We practice tough love. There is no discrimination. Any electrical appliance caught smoking will be treated exactly the same way as Whirlpool. It will be removed from service. ” He added that Whirlpool has worked in the kitchen since 2003.

Our next microwave oven will not be a Whirlpool. That is not because of any dissatisfaction with Max, until the smoking incident. It is more related to Whirlpool as a corporation. It does not appear to take the health and safety of consumers seriously. In fact, even when one of its products was clearly to blame for a massive loss of life, 72 people, it attempted to blame others.

Recently, the Guardian reported that the Grenfell fire report “… went further than many expected, as did Moore-Bick’s dismissal of attempts by corporate groups to delay or prevent findings that might count against them, such as the “fanciful” claim by Whirlpool – the manufacturer of the Hotpoint fridge-freezer – that the fire could have been started by a cigarette.”

Earlier, the Guardian had reported on another fire, where MP Andy Slaughter said “… the government should learn from a serious fire in his constituency in 2016, when a faulty Indesit tumble dryer started a blaze in the Shepherds Court tower block in Shepherd’s Bush, west London. Residents escaped with minor injuries. Twenty fire engines and 120 firefighters attended the scene.

The same article cited a letter to UK business secretary Larry Clark, where Slaughter stated “that Whirlpool – which owns both Hotpoint and Indesit brands – had “a poor history of fire safety”.

Wikipedia, in a section titled UK Dryer Fire Risk, in its article about Whirlpool Corporation, writes: “Safety warnings about tumble dryers published on the Indesit and Hotpoint websites in 2015 advised customers that “In some rare cases, excess fluff can come into contact with the heating element and present a risk of fire.” Condensers and vented tumble dryers sold under the brands Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline and manufactured over an 11-year period between April 2004 and September 2015 present a fire risk. An estimated 5.3 million tumble dryers were bought in the UK over the time period. Originally, and even after several fires were confirmed as being caused by faulty devices, Whirlpool advised customers that using such devices was safe provided they were not left unattended but would not issue a product recall. Whirlpool offered to fix faulty machines or replace tumble dryers at a cost of £99 – an offer met with derision with consumer groups and in the press. Parliament discussed widespread difficulties with getting faulty machines fixed or replaced, including long wait times and poor service.”

Max’s replacement Sam, a Samsung MS23K3515AW purchased for NOK 900, has arrived in Inderøy. We have spent some time learning how to operate Sam. We are looking forward to working with him to serve our modest microwaving needs in the coming years: reheating food/ beverages and defrosting. Sam is originally from Malaysia.

The Charm of Sandwiches

In a weblog post about sandwiches, no American or Canadian can fail to mention Dagwood Bumstead and his impossibly high Dagwood sandwiches. Chic Young (1901-1973) created the comic strip Blondie 1930-09-08. It relates the adventures of flapper Blondie Boopadoop both before, but especially after, her marriage to Dagwood, and their life together with children Alexander and Cookie and dog Daisy, in Joplin, Missouri. In my childhood, this comic strip was required reading.

In this weblog post, the topic is the vegan recreation of iconic meat based sandwiches including tuna, clubhouse and BLT – bacon, lettuce, tomato. It is inspired by an article in the Guardian, about upcoming vegetarian makeover at Pret a Manger: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/17/pret-a-manger-gives-blt-a-vegan-makeover

Some common ingredients: Cheese, at Cliff Cottage, refers specifically to just one variant – Cheddar, which was the only type of cheese its residents actually grew up with; Roasted shiitake mushrooms are used to imitate rashers of bacon; mayonnaise can be regular or vegan, depending on whether or not the consumption of eggs is a dietary consideration.

Cheese Fantasy (a Cheese Dream, but without the bacon)

Open-faced grilled cheese sandwich with roasted shiitake mushrooms.

FLT (Fungus, lettuce, tomato)

Pret a Manger refers to their equivalent as VLT, as if mushrooms were vegetables. Roasted shiitake mushrooms, with sliced tomatoes, green salad and mayonnaise. The mayonnaise can be filled with finely chopped tofu.

Funa (fake tuna)

Kabuli chickpeas aka garbanzo beans, can successfully mimic tuna. They are crushed then flavoured with chopped pickled onions, capers and seaweed mixed with vegan or regular mayonnaise, depending on whether or not the consumption of eggs is a problem. The precise formulations are left as an experimental exercise.

Gladys sandwich

This sandwich is named after Gladys Love Presley (née Smith; 1912 – 1958) who made these sandwiches for her son, Elvis (1935 – 1977). It consists of toasted bread slices with peanut butter, sliced or mashed banana. Originally it sometimes contained bacon. Where this taste is wanted, roasted shiitake mushrooms can be substituted. Honey is sometimes used as a condiment.

Hangout (is the new clubhouse)

Wikipedia tells us that vegetarian club sandwiches often include hummus, avocado or spinach, as well as substitute the real bacon with a vegetarian alternative. Mustard and sometimes honey mustard are common condiments. The sandwich is commonly served with an accompaniment of either coleslaw, or potato salad, and often garnished with a pickle. Due to high fat and carb content from the bread, bacon and dressing, club sandwiches have sometimes been criticized as unhealthy.

Waterloo Sandwich

Food writers James Beard (1903 – 1985) and Evan Jones (1915 – 1996) believed that the Denver sandwich was created by Chinese chefs who cooked for logging camps and railroad gangs in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was probably derived from egg foo young. The first written reference to a Denver sandwich appears 1903-04-07 in the, Semi Weekly Iowa State Reporter (Waterloo, Iowa), pg.  6, col. 1. In honour of this, the hamless equivalent of a Denver sandwich, has been renamed the Waterloo sandwich. It features shiitake mushrooms, onions and green peppers in a cheese omelette.

Conclusion

Reducing red meat consumption in sandwiches doesn’t seem to be a major problem, as long as one appreciates roasted shiitake mushrooms!

Climate Crisis Links: A tidbit

Does this image meet all seven principles for climate visuals? Check out the last link in the list below to find out. In the great climate debate, it may be difficult to tell – or even to know – what truth is, for there can be many different varieties and perspectives on it. However, attempting to tell a truth is better than the alternative, which is to engage in obscuring it, which is much broader problem than that of simply telling obvious lies. Photo: Joël de Vriend

The world is in crisis, and it is time to act now. There is only one person who can decide how you should act, and what you should prioritize. Despite this caveat, here are some links.

World Scientists’ warning of a climate emergency 2019-11-05: https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806

Nobody is prepared: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/05/most-countries-climate-plans-totally-inadequate-experts

Previous warning statements to put current events into perspective

Second warning (2017): https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/67/12/1026/4605229

First warning (1992): https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/1992-world-scientists-warning-humanity

UN Sustainable Development Goals website: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs

The 7 climate visuals principles: https://climatevisuals.org/evidence-behind-climate-visuals

The Charm of a Uniti

The production model Uniti One, available in three gray colours. (Photo: Uniti)

Uniti began life as an open innovation project at Lund University in 2015, then emerged as a Swedish electric vehicle startup in 2016. It is developing an advanced city car. What first attracted my attention, was the replacement of the steering wheel with a joy-stick. Most of the mechanical system appeared equally innovative, and claimed to be sustainable, whatever that means.

Prototype development was funded through an equity-crowdfunding campaign on the Swedish platform FundedByMe, with 570 investors contributing €1,227,990.

The design mandate of the Uniti One seems to be in a state of flux. At one time, it was a relatively unsafe L7e quadricycle. Now, thankfully, it is being lauched as a M1 vehicle requiring crash testing, and more safety equipment. Other details, such as seating arrangements have also been subject to change. It was a side by side 2 seater, before it became one with one person sitting behind another. Now it is launching as a 3 seater, with a driver in the middle in front, with space for two passengers behind. Trunk space is adequate to hold a packed lunch and a charging cable, at 155 litres.

With a 50 kW electric motor and 62 Nm of torque, and a mass under 600 kg, the Uniti One can reach 100 km/h in less than 10 seconds. It has a computer controlled top speed of 120 km/h.

The Uniti One comes with an electrochromatic panoramic roof that darkens automatically to keep the car cool when parked in direct sunlight. Its virtual sun visor darkens the top of the windshield when the sun is in the drivers eyes.

An Android operating system controls the infotainment system and most of the standard features of the car. Voice commands can be issued. Its systems are regularly updated over the air.

A high strength safety cage surrounds the driver and passengers keeps interior deformation to a minimum, in the event of a collision. Other standard safety equipment include driver’s airbag, anti-lock braking, electronic stability control and a tire pressure monitoring system. The Intel MobilEye 6 collision avoidance system provides forward collision and lane departure warnings, speed limit indicator, and warning for potential collisions with pedestrians or bicycles and their riders, in real time.

In its current state, what appeals most about the Uniti One is that much of the equipment is optional, which means that people declining options can end up with a lower cost vehicle. Currently, the base model costs about €18 000, before subsidies. The only options I would insist on would be the Intel Mobileye 6 collision avoidance system (€ 700), winter tires (€ 400) and possibly air conditioning (€ 300). This is not a highway vehicle, so a 150 km range with a standard 12 kWh battery and a slow 3.2 kW charger seem adequate. It seems wasteful to spend €2 800 each on a 24 kWh battery and a 22 kW charger.

In terms of a computer vehicle transporting one person and a lunch bag in an urban environment, this is probably a good choice except, in urban environments there is public transport, which would be a better choice.

That said, my greatest disappointment with the production vehicle is its steering wheel, with no joy-stick in sight.

Uniti One interior, available in gray. (Photo: Uniti)