Mercedes Vito gets voltage

July 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Mercedes-Benz has started production of its electric Vito E-Cell van. Just 100 will be made this year, but a run of 2000 is planned for 2011. The E-Cell’s lithium-ion batteries give an operating range of just 130km, and top speed from the 60kW motor is only 80kph, but it will be suitable for localised deliveries and deployment from a central base with charging facilities. Its loadspace is unaffected by the electric conversion, and payload is around 900kg. Mercedes is leasing the first 100, rather than selling them outright, in a four-year trial deal to cover servicing and maintenance; subsidies are available to German users, and right-hand drive versions are on offer to British customers.

More hybrids from Mercedes

June 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

There’ll be a couple of new hybrids in the next-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class, reports Autocar, which has spy shots of a test mule. These could include a diesel ‘mild’ hybrid as well as a petrol model with a V6 engine. The standard V6 petrol will gain stop-start and direct injection, promising a fuel economy improvement of nearly 25%, and there’ll be a new small 2.1-litre diesel. No DiesOtto compression/spark-ignition engine, however; that’s been delayed in favour of the hybrids. Expect styling to be similar to that of the F700 concept (pictured).

Autocar’s also reporting today that there’ll be an improved version of the Ecoboost 2.0 turbo engine in the upcoming Ford Mondeo facelift. This 237bhp engine will have its emissions reduced to 179g/km; revisions will also be made to the 2.0 and 2.2 diesels. These tweaked Mondeos go on sale in the UK in October.

Friday round-up

March 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

And finally…

- Ferrari plans to fit its Hy-Kers hybrid system – as in the 599 Hy-Kers concept – in all its production models within three to four years.  Ferrari CEO Luca di Montezemolo told Automotive News that the company aims to cut its emissions by a minimum 35% in three years.

- BMW is going to lease its electric 1-Series coupe, previewed by the ActivE concept, in Berlin, London, Paris and several US cities. A test fleet of up to 700 cars will be available. The 170bhp ActivE can do 160kph and has a range of 170km. As with the Mini E trials, this programme will feed into the development of the Megacity electric vehicle.

- Rental firm Europcar has pre-ordered 500 electric vehicles from Renault for delivery in the third quarter of 2011. The cars will be deployed in Europe’s largest cities; first on the fleets will be the Fluence ZE saloon, the Twizy ZE city car and the Kangoo ZE van, with the Zoe ZE supermini and further variants to follow. Renault also confirmed a deal with Avis earlier this month.

- Mercedes-Benz is to spend E1billion a year over the next two years to develop batteries and more efficient powertrains, reports AutoBeat Europe. Most of this spending will be on electric vehicles, nearly doubling the current investment. Daimler plans to produce its own long-life lithium-ion batteries  in Germany from 2012.

- A joint venture has been set up between train-maker China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation and the Liaoning Shuguang Automobile Group to make electric vehicles. Times Electric Automobile of Dandong will be a subsidiary unit of China South, reports, and it is to receive  investment of $37.4million.

Week-end odds and ends

February 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Mercedes-Benz is to launch its E300 BlueTec diesel-electric hybrid early next year, reports Autocar. Much of its hybrid powertrain – including motor and lithium-ion battery pack – will be shared with the S400 hybrid, but the twin-turbo engine’s a version of of the 2.2-litre diesel in the E250 CDI. It’s said to be capable of over 56mpg.

Two titbits from supplier firms. Continental AG has developed an ‘intelligent’ accelerator pedal which pulses to indicate when a driver should change up or down a gear. In tests, this reduced fuel consumption by an average 8%. Continental says that drivers are more likely to take notice of a pulsing pedal than a visual display on the dashboard, as in current gearchange-indicator systems, and that this could be linked to sensors to warn drivers of hazards ahead, as well (AutoBeat Europe).

Valeo is to significantly increase the number of components it makes for hybrid powertrains, reports AutoBeat Europe; at the moment, it only supplies a battery-cooler in this sector. The company will lay out its new strategy at an investors’ meeting next month.

Geneva preview: Mercedes-Benz F800 Style

February 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Mercedes-Benz is to preview its next-generation CLS at next week’s Geneva Auto Show. The 4.7m-long F800 Style concept’s  a four-door saloon with sliding rear doors,  for easy access to its interior, and a low-slung roof-line. The front-end styling of this concept also previews the new-look Mercedes nose, to appear throughout the range.

The F800 Style showcases a hybrid system combining a 300bhp direct-injection, 3.5-litre petrol engine and a 190bhp electric motor; electrical energy is stored in lithium-ion batteries stowed beneath the rear seats. It can do 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, 155mph, and 29km in electric-only mode. There’s also a 136bhp/214lb ft fuel cell version; the F800’s platform has been developed for the flexibility to accommodate different types of powertrain.

The Geneva show car features several other technologies heading to production Mercs in the near future: the Distronic Plus auto-steering system (linked to the cruise control at speeds of up to 40kph); Pre-Safe 360 all-round monitoring and crash-sensing, to prime the brakes and prepare for an impact; and an additional sat nav function indicating driving range in electric-only mode.

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