A day of investing-in-the-environment announcements, more Monday newsbriefs

October 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s a day for big “we’re investing in the environment” announcements. Opel wants “to be the market leader in electric mobility”, sales and marketing chief Alain Visser tells Automotive News. 6000 pre-orders for the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera already, apparently, with 10,000 to sell next year; a decision will be made by the end of the year whether to put the RAKe two-seater into production for 2013, and an electric city car (probably a sister model to the Chevy Spark EV) is under development for 2013 as well. Interestingly, ANE notes that the RAK-e may be built by Kiska, a subsidiary of bike-maker KTM, in Salzburg, and that it will have a target price of 10,000-12,000 euros.

  • Nissan has announced its six-year environmental plan, NGP (Nissan Green Plan) 2016. This focuses on reducing the company’s carbon footprint, shifting to renewable energy and increasing the diversity of its resources. It’s aiming for a 35% fuel economy improvement overall (from 2005’s figures); cumulative sales of 1.5 million zero-emissions vehicles across the Renault-Nissan Alliance; a 20% reduction per vehicle of overall CO2 emissions (from 2005’s figures); a 25% usage of recycled materials and the setting-up of a closed-loop recycling system for steel, aluminium and plastic; and a reduction in consumption of rare earth metals. Nissan is also to lead the development of an all-new fuel cell car with Daimler, and, by 2016, launch an all-new front-wheel drive hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. 70% of its R&D budget is to go specifically on ‘green’ tech, too.
  • Porsche is expanding its apprenticeship programme to take on 150 trainees a year in partnership with the Cooperative State University Baden-Württemberg. This is with a view to “investing in the company’s future” and developing vocational training in the “the field of e-mobility and lightweight construction”, says a spokesman, and Porsche is expanding its training centre accordingly. “Cooperative State University” – is there a lesson here about investment in education for industry?
  • Citroen is adding its e-HDi Airdream microhybrid (stop-start, energy recuperation) system to the Berlingo van; with the 90bhp diesel engine, this brings fuel economy up to 60.1mpg and carbon dioxide emissions down to 123g/km, and enables the Berlingo to meet the Euro 5 legislation. Fuel economy is improved by up to 15% in city driving. Prices from £12,795 excl. VAT, six-speed automated manual gearbox optional.
  • More Porsche: the ‘960’ supercar, halfway between 911 and 918 Spyder, will come 2015/2016 and be a plug-in hybrid, says Autoweek.
  • More Nissan: there’s no need for longer-range EVs, says a Nissan North America product planner, who’s analysed all the data and feedback so far from Leaf owners. Only a handful have run out of juice, they’re getting relaxed about charging, and in two-car households, the Leaf has become the main daily vehicle. More at Auto Observer.
  • The iconic American yellow school bus goes electric: Trans Tech has launched a 50mph, 161bhp bus that can do 100-130 miles between recharges. First ones hit the road next year, with full-scale production mid-2012, reports Autoblog Green, which also notes that the city-state of Hong Kong has just ordered 28 battery-electric buses plus a further eight ‘supercapacitor’ buses which get a zap-up at each stop.
  • Autocar’s done some maths on the running costs of the Renault Fluence (noting the monthly battery-lease charge). Compared to a Passat Bluemotion, it only makes financial sense if you’re doing 15,000 miles a year, they claim, though the figures don’t include exemption from the London congestion charge (surely an incentive for most British EV buyers in and around the capital) or go into the more favourable company car tax savings.
  • The Scottish government has announced a £4.2million fund to encourage public bodies to invest in ‘green’ vehicles (Business Green).
  • Detailed Q&A at the Guardian on the forthcoming London Low Emissions Zone (coming January 2012) and the £100/£200 a day charge for vans not meeting the Euro 3 emissions legislation (or certified as having a particulate filter fitted). Classic pre-1973 camper vans exempt, anything else 1.205 tonnes gross vehicle weight and more, registered pre-2002, will probably be liable unless the owner can prove otherwise. This story has, it seems, been prompted by a Guardian journalist failing to do his homework before shelling out on an elderly Volkswagen Transporter to carry his surfboards.
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