Design Concepts of the Day: Zagato Volpe, Chery Ant

April 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Zagato: legendary Italian studio responsible for exclusive Aston Martins, Lancias, Alfa Romeos, many an exotic – and this, the Volpe (“Fox”, and an acronym of ‘Veicoli Originali Leggeri Privi di Emissioni’, original light-emissions vehicle). Designed by Romano Artioli (Bugatti EB110, Lotus Elise), it’s a tandem two-seater in the vein of the Renault Twizy (but with proper doors, which open vertically), and a range-extended electric powertrain. It’s 2m long, just 1m wide, and is said to offer “high comfort and modern safety standards”. It’s to go on sale in Italy in early 2013, and was introduced on Italian TV earlier this month. There’ll also be an all-electric version with a range of 60km, and prices will start from 6,990 euros with the RE-EV from 7,950 euros. An uprated 12kW motor, giving 80kph, is a 1000-euro upgrade, and further options will include roof-top solar cells; equipment on offer includes air conditioning, an MP3 player, full central locking and sat nav. Video posted here.

In other news today:

  • The average CO2 emissions of new cars sold in the UK fell by 4.2% last year, marking a fall of over 23% since 2000. Cars emitting less than 130g/km made up nearly half of sales (compared to 10.6% in 2007), and ‘Band A’ cars emitting less than 100g/km took 3.4% of the market, double their proportion last year. Diesels accounted for 50.6% of sales, and alt-fuel cars 1.3%; 92% of the latter were petrol-electric hybrids. The average new car sold in the UK now emits 138.1g/km and returns 52.5mpg; emissions reductions have been made in all sectors, says the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders). More detail, and link to the full SMMT New Car CO2 Report 2012, here.
  • Chinese car-maker Chery is to unveil a concept called Ant (pictured below) at the Beijing Auto Show. This is said to promise a solution for urban mobility in the congested cities of the future, and will be a cloud-networked EV on a similar vibe to the GM ENV concepts. Ants: they work in a colony.
  • Road pollution is more than twice as deadly as traffic accidents, and causes 5000 premature deaths in the UK each year, according to a new study from MIT. Deaths as a result of vehicle emissions are more frequent than those caused by emissions from industry, it concluded, and the highest death rate – by a large margin – is in Greater London. More detail, links to full report, at the BBC.
  • Honda and the Japan Metals and Chemicals Co have come up with recycling solutions for the rare earth metals used in the Honda hybrids’ nickel-hydride batteries. This will be integrated into a mass-production process at a recycling plant. More at Green Car Congress.
  • Costs for an average automotive lithium-ion battery have fallen 30% since 2009, according to research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The price is now down to $690 per kWhr, from around $800 per kWhr last year, and could come down to $150 per kWhr by 2030. The estimated ‘break-even’ point – when battery costs are reduced so an EV is no more expensive than an ICE vehicle – is thought to be around $250 per kWhr, and this could be achieved by the end of this decade.

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