Design Concept of the Day #3: Hyundai Stratus Sprinter & DB Atlant

November 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

This one’s a Hollywood horror story, not least due to the echoes of McCarthyism. Hyundai’s entry into the Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge is a double: two vehicles for the vampire, time-travelling Countess Elena of Siberia, Soviet spy turned anti-commie campaigner, fighter for freedom and justice. The Stratus Sprinter is a multi-purpose runaround with all-terrain and light combat capabilities, the DB Atlant an airship, both with “a magical stealth force that renders them invisible during daylight.” More at the Design Challenge website.

Hyundai ix35 FCEV in Euro trial; EV charging at Little Chefs; the Coffee Car and more

October 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Some more news for y’all. Hyundai’s ix35 FCEV prototype is off to Europe – it’s been selected by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, a European Commission-backed body, to demonstrate and test hydrogen fuel cell technology in real-world trials. It will be test-driven by Members of European Parliament, commissioners, EU officials and other policymakers in Brussels until March 2012. Hyundai plans to have 30 prototypes in action around Europe by next year, with a view to production of fuel cell vehicles by 2015.

  • The Little Chef chain of roadside restaurants (the Heston Blumenthal-tweaked one aside, I use the term advisedly) is going to roll out 126 EV chargers in its car parks by February 2012, reports The Green Car Website. Little Chef says that this means that 90% of the UK will be no further than 30 miles from one of their fast-chargers, and all 162 UK outlets will get a charger by the end of next year. Charging will be free until December 2012.
  • The wonderfully-named Tranquility Park Garage, Houston, is the largest EV charging facility in the USA, according to Green Car Reports. It’s got 28 chargers, a nice touch in a city built by oil.
  • Talk about caffeine-fuelled: a team of conservation volunteers from Durham converted a Rover SD1 to run on waste coffee grounds, via a process of biomass gasification. And they broke a speed record: the Coffee Car managed 66.5mph, a new high for a car powered by organic waste, despite its huge gas tank weighing it down in the rear. Full story – and video – at Gizmag.
  • This week’s archive EV video clip at The Charging Point: David Coulthard drives the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell.

Tuesday newsbriefs: all about EVs, today

September 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Having seen the Volkswagen NILS, Opel RAKe, Audi Urban Concept et al, this one now looks less strange: the Edison2 eVLC, an electric version of the XPrize-winning Very Light Car. Said to be more efficient than a Leaf, claimed to be ‘the highest mpge-rated vehicle ever’, carries four; lowdown from Autoblog Green.

  • Or how about an enclosed motorcycle, a cleverly-balanced two-wheeler? Autoblog Green also has the details (and video) of a concept from Korea’s Lit Motors. Production of 10,000 a year planned, range of 150 miles, 0-60 in six to eight seconds, but first drivable C-1 prototypes still six months off.
  • Other news from Korea; responsibilities are to be split between the divisions of Hyundai-Kia. Kia is to focus on EVs, Hyundai on plug-in hybrids and fuel cell cars, said vice president Yang Woong-chul at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The first Kia EVs will go on sale at the end of the year.
  • The next phase of the UK’s Electric Highway: charging points are now available on the M4 and M42, linking Bristol and Birmingham to London and bringing these journeys within reach for EV drivers. There are 32-amp fast-chargers and slower 13-amp sockets for overnight use at the service station hotels, all powered by renewable juice from the Ecotricity wind and solar farms. They’re at the Welcome Break Hopwood Park services on the M42 (junction 2) and Membury on the M4 (between junctions 14 and 15), and join those already installed at South Mimms (M25/M1 junction), Michaelwood (M5) and Oxford (M40, junction 8a), plus the top-up point at the Ecotricity windmill on the M4 near Reading. Access to these sockets is via a free swipe card.
  • PSA Peugeot-Citroen has signed a cooperation agreement with General Electric for EV infrastructure and support for fleet and business customers. The deal will involve recharging stations, customer experience centres, research into range and charging time, as well as the leasing of 1000 PSA EVs to GE in Europe by 2015 (Green Car Congress).
  • Random snapshot-image from a foreign city: Boulder, Colorado is planning 40 public EV chargers by June 2012, but they’re costing more than expected, and 80% of EVcharging in the city is expected to be at home anyway. Authorities are optimistic that the expenditure will encourage EV use. (Daily Camera, via @cleancartalk).
  • The Car Charging Group is to install EV chargers in car parks run by the USA’s largest operator; the Coulomb Technologies chargers to be used could go into up to 2,200 locations (Green Car Congress).
  • Since it’s all about EVs today, let’s just celebrate the wealth of expertise in this sector in the UK… Best of British feature at The Charging Point; so much more that could have been mentioned, once you drill down to component level (transmissions, control systems), but this does at least highlight a couple of interesting projects relevant to real people and not just a supercar-driving elite.

Thursday newsbriefs

August 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

A pioneering hydrogen refuelling station has opened this week in Orange County, California. The Fountain Valley facility not only allows drivers of the Honda FCX Clarity, Hyundai iX35 FCEV and other fuel cell prototypes to fill up, it’s part of a biogas project which also generates electricity and heat. The hydrogen is generated by the municipal wastewater treatment plant at the Orange County Sanitation District. Let’s not mince words – this is basically poo power. Methane gas builds up as the “wastewater” sits in holding tanks, then is purified and fed into a fuel cell, where it is reformed to hydrogen; electricity is generated as a by-product. The facility will produce enough hydrogen for 25-50 vehicle refuellings a day, and generate 250kW daily. More, including video to explain the process, in the press release from the hydrogen supplier Air Products.

In other news today:

  • Vauxhall/Opel is finally to launch a city car to rival the likes of the Fiat 500/Ford Ka, reports Autocar. The ‘Junior’ will be a Mini-length three-door hatch based on the Agila/Corsa platform; it could be previewed at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. Three-cylinder petrol and diesel models first, but an electric version’s said to be scheduled for 2015.
  • Cadillac has confirmed that the Chevy Volt-based Converj 2+2 coupe will go into production. It’ll take the name ELR.
  • Video story at Wall Street Daily about electric taxis in Hangzhou, near Shanghai: one driver’s having to take customers along to the quick-charge station, but he’s otherwise “optimistic”.
  • Hyundai is to lead a South Korean consortium to develop a midsize EV and improve battery technology. The new government-funded programme is to accelerate production of a car with a 200km-plus range. South Korea intends to become a top-three manufacturing nation for EVs (AFP).
  • EV charging concept of the day: “up-converting” energy from power lines into radio frequency, transmitted between metal plates from a road surface to the car. More on this Japanese proposal at Green Car Congress.

Monday matters

October 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

AVID Vehicles of Cramlington, Northumberland has developed an electric utility vehicle. The E-Warrior has a 250kg payload and a 40-mile range, and is said to be suitable for agricultural work, estate management and off-road duties such as landscaping, park ranger-ing or even military/security applications. It has dual DC motors on each axle, and whilst it can only do 25mph, it has a towing capacity of 500kg. Prices start from £9,750. AVID is also marketing a small electric car/van it calls Cue-V.

  • Hyundai is to lease 2000 fuel cell vehicles between 2012-2014. These trial demonstrators will be based on a mid- to large-sized SUV, and will be available in different countries; around 400 will go to the USA. Hyundai has also confirmed that it is working on a plug-in version of its new Sonata hybrid.
  • A Polish firm has unveiled an EV which could go on sale for just 6000-7000 euros. Romet’s 4E (Electric, Economic, Ecological, Easy) is only a tiny two-seater capable of less than 30mph, but it does have a 100-mile range (Green Car Congress).
  • AVL is showing a concept vehicle at the Expo Shanghai 2010. It’s an open-bodied commuter/tourist bus, rather than a ‘proper’ car, but it previews an electric powertrain with fuel cell range-extender, which could have further applications (Green Car Congress).
  • DIY EV of the day: the BMW bi-motor. A converted 1986 BMW 323i, its pair of motors put out the equivalent of 500bhp, making it a Tesla-beating drag racer. Video at Autoblog Green, from a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin forum called DIY Electric Car.

Thursday thoughts

August 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hyundai has set out its plans for meeting an average 50mpg (US) across its entire range by 2025. Key to this target – which is ahead of the US CAFE standards – are cars such as the recently-launched Sonata hybrid (pictured), and a concept car to be unveiled at November’s Los Angeles Auto Show will be “an important part of this fuel-economy puzzle”, said Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik in a speech yesterday.

    • San Francisco and the Bay Area will benefit from a $5million grant through the government-funded Spare the Air Programme. This will fund 3000 private electric vehicle charging points, subsidised for individual houses and apartment blocks, 2000 on-street and public-access charging points at businesses, plus 50 fast-charge stations easily accessed from the freeways.
    • Thought-provoking claims on the impact of aeroplanes vs cars on global warming: long-term, cars are the greater culprits, according to a study published this week. It’s all to do with the lifespan of the gases emitted, and altitude; more at Green Car Congress.

    Week-end odds and ends

    July 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

    The Itochu Corporation has taken a $5million stake in EV-maker Think, further expanding an existing small investment. The new partnership is to market the complete Think City (pictured, in Racer form) in Asia, as well as to sell the Think electric-drive powertrain and the G4 EV Drive Controller unit.

      • Hyundai is to launch an electric version of the i10 city car at the end of the year; electric versions of further Hyundai and Kia models will follow late 2011. Batteries for these will be supplied by South Korea’s SK Energy (Green Car Advisor).
      • Renault has signed a MOU with Istanbul’s city authorities to supply electric vehicles. It will work with Istanbul Enerji to establish a network of charging points with a view to launching vehicles for private and fleet use at the end of 2011, and collaborate on promoting EV use in Turkey.
      • Hitachi is planning to build factories for lithium-ion battery production outside Japan. It’s expecting sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to increase five-fold by 2020.

      Midweek morsels

      June 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

      • The UK government has confirmed that it’s going to stop bailing out the British auto industry, but Business Secretary Vince Cable is, as yet, refusing to be drawn on whether the subsidies and incentives for electric vehicle buyers, as planned by the previous goverment and due to come into effect next year, will be cut as well. It’s “actively under consideration”, Cable said today at an event held by the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders). Full lowdown from the BBC.
      • Sceptics out in full force at Detroit News: first up, columnist Manny Lopez, convinced that electric vehicles making an impact on the car market is “not very likely, ever.” Watching a demolition-derby between buses at a Michigan race circuit, he suggests that “it would be cool to see (Tesla CEO) Musk or one of his celebrity clients take a $109,000 ride (the Tesla Roadster) barrelling into an intersection as another heads into its path.” Nice. Secondly, Brit veteran Neil Winton, who started an op-ed piece earlier this month with an open mind: “I didn’t think I could come up with another reason why battery-electric cars make no sense for the forseeable future”… It’s all ideological (that ol’ greenie-liberal-commie global warming conspiracy), he thinks , grudgingly allowing the opposition to have its say in a new piece published today.  And people wonder why Detroit’s in the doldrums: with cheerleaders like these…
      • The sale of the defunct GM plant in Wilmington, Delaware to California’s Fisker Automotive has been approved; Fisker (aided by a US government loan) plans to build 100,000 plug-in hybrids there from 2012. Further to the above, looks like Michigan 0, California 1.  Oh, and Tesla shares rocketed 40% in value following this week’s IPO.
      • PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Mitsubishi are to collaborate on an electric commercial vehicle, probably based on the Peugeot Partner/Citroen Berlingo. PSA is to launch two city cars, the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero, in Europe later this year; both are based on the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
      • Hyundai Heavy Industries has signed a MOU with Raser Technologies Inc for the joint development of electric and renewable-energy vehicles, including extended-range EVs. Raser has an extended-range hybrid system for light trucks and SUVs under development with a 40-mile all-electric range.

      Hyundai to build stand-alone hybrid

      June 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

      Hyundai is to make a stand-alone hybrid model on a unique platform, like Toyota’s Prius, reports Inside Line. This car’s due for launch in petrol-electric form in 2012, with a plug-in model following a year later.

      The Sonata Hybrid  (pictured), on sale in the States later this summer, is going to be capable of 40mpg (US ) on the highway, says Hyundai, which is also hinting at an MPV-style large family vehicle with a fuel cell powertrain, possibly scheduled for 2012.

      Geneva preview: Hyundai i-flow (2)

      February 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

      Hyundai has released a front-end picture and some tech spec for its i-flow concept, to be the star of its stand in Geneva next week. The i-flow – which previews the next i40 large family car from the company – has a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain with a 1.7-litre engine and six-speed dual-clutch transmission; it’s capable of 94.2mpg, says Hyundai, and it emits 85g/km of carbon  dioxide.

      Hyundai is also showing its facelifted i30U small family car, complete with cleaner engines, and five low-emissions models: the i10, i20, i30, i30cw (estate) and ix35 ‘blue’. All of these have a stop-start system, modified aerodynamics and low rolling-resistance tyres, and all except the latter emit less than 100g/km; the ix35 blue puts out 135g/km, very respectable for a compact SUV.

      An iX35 FCEV fuel cell concept will also be on display, fitted with the latest version of the powertrain in the trial Tucson FCEV;  this “moves Hyundai closer to the commercialisation of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles”, according to a statement today, “and will lead to production volume of Hyundai FCEVs in the thousands by 2012.” The new fuel cell powertrain is said to be easier to make and cheaper to produce.

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