Citroen and Peugeot cut EV prices, Oslo bigs up biogas, Oregon electrifies

March 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Citroen has cut the price of the C-Zero EV and confirmed that an electric Berlingo van will go on sale in early 2013. The C-Zero’s down to £26,216 on-the-road, not counting the £5000 government Plug-In Car Grant, which brings it down to £21,216. New contract-hire rates start from £249 a month over three years/30,000 miles. Citroen is also expanding its specialist network of EV dealers from 11 to 21 specially-trained sales outlets, with about 100 of its dealerships to be trained to service, repair and maintain the C-Zero, the DS5 Hybrid4 and other future electrified Citroens.

Peugeot’s doing the same for the iOn, sister model to the C-Zero (and Mitsubishi i-MiEV) – identical new pricing and contract-hire rates, but 23 EV sales and service locations. Electric Partner van on the way, too.

In other news today:

  • The city of Oslo is opening a new thermal hydrolysis plant processing food waste; this will produce enough biogas to power 135 buses. 65 buses are already running on biogas from the city’s sewage plant. Essentially, the factory will boil up all the food waste collected by citizens and put out for recycling; the byproduct of the gas extraction is an organic sludge, which will be supplied as fertilizer to 100 local farms.  More (in English) at Forkningsradet.
  • That US West Coast road trip in an EV is on its way to becoming a reality: the first phase of the West Coast Electric Highway has opened on the I5 in Oregon. There’ll be fast-chargers – giving a full charge in about 30 minutes – at 25-mile intervals through the state, eventually linking Canada (Vancouver) to the Mexican border at San Diego, California. AeroVironment has installed charging stations (one fast-charger, one conventional in each) in Cottage Grove, Rice Hill, Roseburg, Canyonville, Wolf Creek, Grants Pass, Central Point and Ashland, and will put in 40 more for Oregon and Washington. Press release, more details posted at Autoblog Green.
  • So, this privatised road-pricing thing… Knee-jerk reaction from DTF: tolls, pay-as-you-go road-pricing not necessarily a bad thing (if priced/taxed fairly, and IF feasible/affordable public transport alternatives are available), but selling off Britain’s roads? On the evidence of the railways, no, no and no again. And as someone quicker than myself has pointed out on Twitter this morning, all this detracts attention very nicely from the government’s plans for the NHS (RIP). Can’t wait for the Budget (teeth gritted in anticipation).
  • Interview with Phillipe Starck about the V+ Volteis at the WSJ: inspired by the 2CV, it’ll be sold at 15 outlets in France as a runaround. Yes, it is basically an electric golf cart, but as the esteemed @bobbyllew tweeted this morning: “Okay, accepted it’s a glorified and very expensive golf cart for use in sunny climes, but I like the simplicity and lack of ‘carness’.” Seconded. These things have their place, even if that is only in the South of France or for use as resort vehicles. Think of it as a modern-day Mehari.

Design Concept of the Day: ECOmove Essence EV

March 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Following yesterday’s update on the progress of the ECOmove QBEAK (see previous post), today’s Design Concept is a variant thereof. Simon Sneftrup created the Essence as his thesis project for his MA in Automotive Design at Coventry University; it’s a two-seater sports coupe-cum-commuter car based on the flexible, modular QBEAK chassis and with its electric powertrain, incorporating in-wheel motors.

“With this unique platform I have been able to design a low-chassis e-car with an element of sportiness and excellent driveability”, says Sneftrup, a Dane and a graduate in industrial design from the Aarhus School of Architecture. “We think it is very interesting to see our platform being used in different contexts”, says ECOmove CEO Mogens Løkke. “This also inspires us to see things in a different perspective”. Full gallery at the ECOmove website.

In other news today:

  • Peugeot is launching a 508 HYbrid4 saloon alongside the SW estate-based 508 RXH, with the same 37bhp e-motor driving the rear axle in addition to the 2.0 HDI 163 engine. This 200bhp car emits just 95g/km and returns a claimed 78.5mpg (the RXH does 107g/km and 69mpg) and it’s priced from £31,450 (ouch. A lot, for a Peugeot).
  • Volkswagen’s confirmed the all-electric Golf Blue e-motion for a late-2013 US launch; European sales around the same time. Plug-in Audi A3 follows 2014 (Automotive News Europe).
  • The first Solar Sail solar-recharging point – a very cool-looking structure – has been installed near Austin, Texas. Pictures, press release posted at Autoblog Green.
  • Car2go is to launch in Birmingham this autumn, its first UK location. A fleet of up to 250 Smart Fortwos will be available for on-the-spot hire within a 30 square-mile area, from selected off-street parking spots or any on-street spaces; more details on pricing will be released shortly.

Design Concept of the Day: PSA Peugeot-Citroen VELV, plus Thursday newsbriefs

October 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

PSA Peugeot-Citroen has unveiled a concept called VELV (Véhicule électrique Léger de Ville, or lightweight urban vehicle) at the ADEME forum, a one-day event in Paris organised by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency. The VELV is a 20kW three-wheeled three-seater which meets all current safety legislation for passenger cars. It weighs 650kg, can do up to 110kmph, has a range of 100km, and has a turning circle of just 7.2m. Its tech includes a communications system which identifies charging stations within the reach of remaining battery charge, and its total energy consumption is 85 Wh per km, “which means that its environmental footprint is equivalent to that of a train trip”, says PSA, which adds that “the concept is aimed at corporate fleets, traditional rental companies and self-service schemes like Autolib’, second-car buyers and numerous customers who want a better option for getting around town.”

  • In other news: Riversimple is to trial 30 of its hydrogen fuel cell-powered city cars in Herefordshire and Shropshire, reports the Green Car Website. These are in addition to 3o cars going out in the Leicester area. The Ludlow-based firm will work with local councils and participants – businesses or private individuals – will pay a monthly cost of around £250, covering a fixed-rate rental and all-inclusive per-mile charge, much like a mobile phone contract. Riversimple is said to be in the second stages of looking for backers to invest in full-scale production.
  • Autocar’s reporting on a “radical” new fourth-generation Range Rover, due autumn 2012. It’s to be nearly half a tonne lighter, and versions could include a plug-in hybrid, says the mag, which also has the lowdown on some new spark plug tech from Federal-Mogul with the potential to cut fuel consumption by 10%.
  • Automakers are the new renewable energy investors, notes The Guardian, citing GM’s stake in Sunlogics, Volkswagen’s investment in wind farms, and Ford’s solar, wind and energy storage projects at its facilities.
  • GM has teamed up with a San Francisco start-up called RelayRides on a car-share programme. This will use the OnStar tech ona mobile app for borrowers to reserve, locate and unlock vehicles (Autoweek).

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.

Tuesday newsbriefs

August 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Another Peugeot: the 508 RXH crossover will be launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Deliveries start in spring 2012 and a brown-painted special-edition model is available to order. The high-riding 508 RXH features the diesel-electric hybrid powertrain similar to that of the 3008 RXH, giving 200bhp from its 2.0 HDI engine (with particulate filter) and electric motor. It has four drive modes, automatic, electric-only, Sport or 4WD, returns a combined 70.6mpg and emits 109g/km of CO2.

In other news:

  • Toyota  Motorsport GmbH has set a new lap record for electric vehicles on the Nurburgring Nordschliefe circuit. Its twin-motored TMG EV P001, based on a Radical chassis and driven by Jochen Krumbach, clocked in at 7min 47.794 seconds. More at TMG’s website.
  • Bentley’s planning plug-in hybrids, CEO Wolfgang Durheimer has told Car and Driver.
  • BMW has issued some updates on its heat energy recovery projects: more on the Turbosteamer and Thermoelectric Generator at Green Car Congress.
  • Hertz is adding EVs – Nissan Leafs and Smart Fortwo eds – to its On Demand fleet in San Francisco. The cars will be based at the  Airport Marriott Waterfront Hotel and at Hertz’s downtown HQ, where chargers are installed. And UPS is putting 100 electric vans to work in California, the largest fleet of electric delivery vans in the state (Autoblog Green).
  • Europcar, meanwhile, is putting the Peugeot iOn on-fleet for one-day hire from Heathrow, Luton and Gatwick airports, or bases in Marble Arch and Kings Cross, London.
  • The city of Salinas, California, is suing bankrupt EV-maker Green Vehicles for its $500,000-plus investment in the development of the Triac 2.0, a three-wheeler claimed to have a 100-mile range (Green Car Reports).
  • Biofuel catalyst of the day: panda poo. Or, more specifically, the microbes which live in a panda’s guts, and which are so efficient at breaking down bamboo into sugars and energy, could hold the key to easy synthesis of biofuel from waste plant matter such as corn stalks. More at Grist.
  • And more biofuel-scatology: a team from Tulane University have been experimenting with animal dung kindly donated by New Orleans Zoo, and have discovered bacteria which can break down old newspapers into butanol. Thanks, Detroit News.

Design Concept of the Day: Peugeot HX1

August 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

To be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Peugeot’s HX1 is a low-riding six-seater MPV with a ’4+2′ seating layout and adaptable driving position. It’s ultra-aerodynamic, and can change its profile according to conditions and requirements. Power (299bhp in total) comes from a 2.2-litre HDI diesel engine driving the front wheels and a rear motor driving the rear axle, giving four-wheel drive and an all-electric mode of 18.6 miles; the HX1 will return 88.2mpg and emit just 83g/km of carbon dioxide. It’s just a concept to gauge public opinion at the moment, but looks pretty feasible, albeit with a more conventional interior configuration.

Midweek briefs

July 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Peugeot has unveiled a new member of its 508 family: the 508 RXH, a crossover-style diesel-electric hybrid higher-riding than the 508 SW estate. This has a 200bhp powertrain with an all-electric mode, four-wheel drive and a CO2 output of just 109g/km; fuel economy is 67.2mpg. It’ll be launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show this autumn and will go on sale spring 2012.

  • Singapore is extending an EV test programme till the end of 2013. The $16million programme is to develop charging and support infrastructure and subsidise fleet purchases; 20 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs and cars supplied by Daimler and Renault-Nissan are on trial (Autobeat Asia).
  • Waste Management Inc of Houston, Texas, has made its 1000th rubbish-fuelled garbage truck: this vehicle, powered by natural gas derived from methane, will go to work in Long Beach, California, where it will run on biogas from landfill sites (LA Times).
  • VINCI Autoroutes is partnering with Renault to set up EV recharging facilities at motorway services in France. Renault is to provide VINCI with vehicles for its own fleet.
  • Good results from the 45-vehicle West Midlands CABLED EV trial: users were satisfied that electric vehicles met their everyday needs. 77% of journeys were for less than 20 minutes and only 2% used more than 50% of their charge; more at The Engineer.
  • The Hybrid X team from West Philadelphia High School (semifinalists in last year’s Automotive XPrize) won the Green Grand Prix at Watkins Glen last weekend: their car, a Factory Five GTM kit car with biodiesel-drinking 1.9-litre Volkswagen engine and electric-drive system, returned 160mpg in the 100-mile event. More at EV World.
  • New York City authorities are adding 70 electric-drive vehicles to their fleets: 20 Chevy Volts, 20 all-electric Ford Transit Connect vans, and 10 Navistar E-Star trucks. That brings the total of municipal EVs up to 430 (Green Car Congress).
  • Here’s an offer: the city of Murcia, Spain, is giving away lifetime free passes for public transport to people getting rid of their cars (Treehugger).
  • Detailed feature on the GM ENV-1 (Electric Networked Vehicle) concepts at the Charging Point. I want a go in one! Is this the future of urban mobility?

Paris Motor Show: Peugeot HR1

September 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

The HR1 is a compact city concept seating up to four people, a high-riding mini-SUV on a similar theme to the Nissan Juke. It features Peugeot’s Hybrid4 petrol-electric tech, with a three-cylinder, 110bhp 1.2-litre engine driving the front wheels, a 37bhp electric motor driving the rear and six-speed automated-manual transmission; it returns 81mpg and emits just 80g/km of carbon dioxide. Though this is very much a show car, with scissor-opening doors, a movement-recognition control interface, and a tablet PC for the front-seat passenger, it does look like a serious proposal for production.

Buy PSA EV, borrow conventional car

September 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Peugeot and Citroen have both announced details of their lease programmes for their electric city cars, the iON and C-Zero (both based on the Mitsubishi i-MiEV). Peugeot is offering the iON in an all-in five-year plan which includes servicing and maintenance (up to 31,000 miles), a battery/powertrain warranty for five years, the Peugeot Connect communications system, smartphone applications and membership of Peugeot’s Mu mobility scheme, giving access to other types of vehicle (such as larger, conventionally-powered cars) when required. The programme’s E499 a month in France, and Citroen is expected to offer a similar deal. More news at the Paris Auto Show, UK-specific details to follow.

PSA plans to sell 7,000 C-Zeros and iONs next year, building up to a figure of 30,000 a year by 2015. The Nikkei also reports that a further EV tie-up with Mitsubishi is under discussion to make a small electric van. Production’s scheduled for the European market in 2012, apparently, with a target of 50,000 a year to be built in Vigo, Spain.

  • Researchers at IBM are working on battery technology which could give a car a range of 500 miles between recharges, reports the New York Times. The Battery 500 team, based in San Jose, California, is developing an energy storage known as lithium air, which uses air as a reactant. Lithium air batteries are said to have ten times the energy density of lithium-ion, and to weigh much less. The project’s still a very long away from fruition, however.
  • Toyota is to build a hybrid version of the Yaris in Valenciennes, France, reports a Japanese paper. It’s for sale in Europe as a rival for the Honda Jazz hybrid.

Starting the week

August 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

Peugeot is to unveil a new concept with its  diesel-electric hybrid powertrain at the Paris Motor Show this autumn, says Autocar. The concept’s called H1, and it’s thought to be a high-riding small hatchback previewing the style of the upcoming 208 supermini. No picture as yet.

    • GM is to up its production target for the Chevrolet Volt by 50% in 2012, from 30,000 cars a year to 45,000. Initial interest so far has been strong since the order books opened last week – and the Volt’s had the thumbs-up from Obama, too, who visited the Detroit-Hamtramck factory(pictured), took a very short test drive, and pronounced it ‘pretty smooth’.

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