The electric Evo, EVs for rental, fuel cell Mercs and more Monday newsbriefs…

May 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Meet the electric Evo… this is the Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution, one of the company’s entrants in the Pikes Peak hillclimb this July. This stripped-out lightweight roadster shares its drivetrain with the production i-MiEV hatchback, and it will be driven by team manager and Dakar Rally winner Hiroshi Masuoka. Mitsubishi is also entering a stock i-MiEV, to be driven by off-road racer Beccy Gordon. (And other electric contenders include a very nice retro-converted 1995 BMW M3 – check out the video at Jalopnik).

  • Zipcar is adding a Vauxhall Ampera to its car-share fleet in London for a six-month trial period. Meanwhile, Hertz is extending its On Demand scheme to Oxford, where it’s offering ten Nissan Leafs, sited at convenient city locations, from £5 an hour to members.
  • The US federal admin is helping would-be hybrid drivers to calculate their ‘payback time’ – how many miles before savings on fuel cancel out the initially higher purchase price. Check out fueleconomy.gov for more. Is there a similar tool publicly-available in the UK? Nearest things I can find are the very useful running costs databases (and other handy tools) at sites such as Fleet News, though these are, of course, skewed towards fleet/corporate customers and not so easily digestible by private motorists.
  • Engine tech time: researchers at the Texan Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio,  are continuing to develop the Scuderi split-cycle engine. They’ve found that adding the Miller cycle – with a higher ratio in the expansion phase than in cylinder compression – can reduce fuel consumption and enable engine downsizing of up to 50%. Science bit – and link to the paper presented at SAE 2012 – at Green Car Congress.
  • Mercedes-Benz is “on track” to launch a next-generation B-Class F-Cell for the 2015 model-year, to be made in higher numbers, and to launch a fuel cell saloon (probably an E-Class variant) for 2017, reports Green Car Congress. “I am completely convinced the technology has the potential to take over the internal combustion engine, together with pure battery EVs in their niche“, said Sascha Simon, head of product planning for M-B USA.
  • This is supported, not-so-incidentally, by new research from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA) which claims that hydrogen-powered vehicles (in fuel cell, hydrogen-fuelled ICE or plug-in hybrid formats) could account for up to 70% of the car market by 2050. Full lowdown at (again) Green Car Congress.
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