Thursday thoughts

July 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Chevrolet has confirmed an eight year/100,000-mile warranty package for the Volt’s electric-drive powertrain. The warranty covers all the battery components, the  charging system, the thermal management system and the electric-drive components – though not the engine-generator, once the usual warranty period has been passed. GM says that engineers have completed over a million miles and four million hours of durability testing. The same deal’s expected for the Euro-market Vauxhall/Opel Ampera.

    • A version of the Vauxhall Corsa with stop-start is now on sale in the UK. The Corsa Ecoflex, with the 1.3 CDTi diesel engine (75bhp) returns 70.6mpg, nearly 5mpg more than the standard version, and emits 105g/km of carbon dioxide; the biggest fuel savings are, of course, around town. It also now meets the Euro 5 emissions standards and features a particulate filter. It costs £260 more than its conventional counterpart, however.
    • Air quality campaigners are protesting London mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to exempt all cars emitting less than 100g/km of carbon dioxide (mostly diesels) from the congestion charge. No qualms about making large hybrids pay; the small sub-100g/km diesels, however, may have a low carbon dioxide output but they emit more harmful nitrous oxides and particulates than petrols or petrol-electric hybrids. Concern also is that an incentive to buy an EV will be lost – why spend out on an expensive Nissan Leaf, say, to get round London when you could have a mainstream diesel supermini at half the price? Full debate at The Guardian.
    • Still, the congestion charge system does need reforming: theoretically, vehicles like the new Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Crew Cab (21mpg US, a correspondingly high CO2 output) are exempt under the current rules.
    • Toyota is to launch its own-brand charging points for EVs and plug-in hybrids; it has teamed up with Nitto Electric Works Ltd and will market the points for commercial premises, businesses and suchlike, initially in Japan, from this autumn.
    • Honda has revived plans to open a hybrid-specific production plant in Yorii, Japan; this factory will open in 2013. No word on what will be made there yet, however, and a parallel plan for a new factory to make mini-vehicles has now been shelved instead.
    • The folk of Austin, Texas – one of my favourite cities – are furiously discussing the eco-implications of hosting a Grand Prix. It doesn’t fit with the otherwise (relatively) progressive city’s environmental credentials, say many. Ah, but F1 is the driving force behind much technical development which will come to consumer cars, say others. Check out the debate at the Austin Chronicle.

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