The hidden agenda behind the Toyota 2000GT EV

July 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

So Toyota’s 2000GT EV, as shown at the Goodwood Festival of Speed recently, is more than just a fun project… Autocar today quotes Toyota engineer Naohiko Saito as saying that this concept’s powertrain is “an early part of the development process in refining the technology” for a production EV, with an electric city car to appear before a sports car. These vehicles are expected to get a manual gearbox, using a torque-converter to set gear ratios, and Toyota’s hybrids are also to gain a manual-transmission option. This is at least three years away, however.

  • Autocar’s also updating us on Tesla’s upcoming third model-line, scheduled for 2015. This is a BMW 3-Series-type electric vehicle, to cost from around $30,000 (£19,000) and be “more experimental” than the Model S; its platform could spawn a number of variants, even including a pick-up truck.
  • The European Commission has put forward some amended targets for CO2 reduction: an average 95g/km for cars by 2020 with a mandatory 130g/km in 2015, and 147g/km for vans with 175g/km mandatory from 2017. Manufacturers will be fined €95 per vehicle per gram/km over the target, but incentives and “super credits” will be put in place for vehicles emitting less than 35g/km. All detailed nicely at Green Car Congress.
  • Latest on Chargemaster’s POLAR network of EV recharging facilities: it is teaming up with Transport for London’s Source London to install more chargers in London. This private-public partnership will add 200 new jointly-branded POLAR/Source London fast-charge points in the city this year, and the first of these – at the Waitrose store in North End Road, Fulham – went live yesterday. All POLAR members will be automatically enrolled into the Source London scheme and able to use those charging points  from August.
  • Daimler is expanding further into the world of mobility management services with a scheme called moovel, to be piloted in Stuttgart. A mobile app has been developed to integrate information from local transport providers such as train and bus companies with a ride-sharing/car-pooling scheme, and in phase two of the trial, Daimler’s Car2Go short-term rentals will enter the equation as well (thanks, Green Car Congress).
  • Worth mentioning for its name alone, though it’s only a 25mph golf cart/mobility scooter: the Eggasus, an upright three-wheeled EV with all-weather ability, has just gone on sale in California after being a finalist in the Sierra Nevada Innovation Challenge. Initial models cost from $5000, through a crowd-funding social venture – expect to see more of such set-ups in the EV start-up world. More at Inside Line.
  • The Portuguese police force is the first to use the Nissan LEAF; it has taken delivery of eight, which will be deployed mainly for the force’s Safe Schools initiative and for use in urban centres. Pic and more info at EV Fleet World.
  • EVs by divine decree: the Pope has been given an NWG Zero, a two-seat EV which can do 62mph and 86 miles per charge (not that you’d need all that, around the Vatican). However, it can’t accommodate all the armouring necessary to protect the Pope against assassination attempts, so he’s unlikely to use it; instead, Mercedes-Benz is working on an M-Class plug-in hybrid for Papal duties. More at Green Car Reports.

EV infrastructure: Source Edinburgh project “at the discussion stage”

August 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Source London scheme, a public-private partnership to establish electric vehicle charging points across the capital, could soon have a Scottish equivalent: talks are underway about Source Edinburgh, a collaboration which could be developed from the electric vehicle research just started at  Jewel and Esk College (pictured). The college, which has campuses near Musselburgh and in Dalkeith, is already working with Siemens, a partner in Source London, on a project involving the Edinburgh trams and other forms of transport in the area.

The EV research programme is collecting both quantitative data and subjective feedback from a 12-month trial in partnership with Midlothian Council; assessing four Mitsubishi i-MiEVs used by staff members, it aims to provide a comprehensive picture of real-life EV costs, practicalities and user needs, as well as informing policy-makers on infrastructure demands.

The college will be holding workshops and seminars for businesses, fleets and individuals interested in going electric, and making its findings available to the public; the research will also feed into the training of technicians, engineers and other auto industry workers studying at the college, including qualified mechanics returning for top-up training. Professor Steve Tinsley, Director of Innovation and Enterprise, says that the intention is to extend the initial 12-month trial into nationwide research involving universities and colleges in Dundee, Angus, Stirling and Perth, to give a national picture of the use of EVs in more rural areas and the necessary infrastructure to support them. And ultimately, “the intention is, though the conversation is only just starting with Edinburgh Council, to look at a Source Edinburgh project”, he says.

“It’s only at the discussion stage at the moment, but the intention is, that with all this information that we’re gathering, and the reason for mapping charging points as they are at the moment, is to take a view on Source Edinburgh as a project, and look at what we would need in terms of additional charging points and who would supply them”, he explains.

At the end of the initial 12-month trial, Prof. Tinsley says “we would hope to have data that will give us a very good understanding of an electric vehicle… And to have enough information to say ‘right, are we now in a position to take it to the next level, to implement Source Edinburgh?’ because we have enough knowledge around the region to introduce it (electric vehicles) as another part of a transport solution for Scotland.”

Friday newsbriefs

May 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

London mayor Boris Johnson launched Source London yesterday: this scheme integrates all the various boroughs’ EV-charging schemes. Members get an electronic card which will unlock any London charging point, for £100 a year (charging then free). 1000 more charging points in a variety of public places by 2013 (there’s only 150 at the moment), says BJ. Full press release here; to register or find out more, go here.  Nissan has responded quickly to the above by offering 12 months free membership to any Leaf owner living within 40 miles of a Source London charging point. Boris himself took delivery of a Leaf recently (pictured).

  • Seat is starting trials of its Leon TwinDrive plug-in hybrid. A number of prototypes are being tested in the Barcelona area by public authorities and organisations. Petrol-electric, thought to be slated for production in 2014.
  • Ford is to offer five different electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid models on the Focus platform by 2013 (thanks, @Dan_honestjohn).
  • Volvo Cars has received a 6.57million kronor grant (about £624,000) from the Swedish Energy  Board to develop and test a flywheel KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) in partnership with Volvo Truck and SKF. There’s the potential of 20% fuel savings and six-cylinder-like performance from a four-cylinder engine; in-car testing starts later this summer.
  • No hybrid or KERS-type system in the next-gen Porsche 911, reports Autocar, but when there is a 911 hybrid, it’s likely to be a plug-in.
  • Is government intervention needed to incentivise EV sales, asks Detroit News, or should EV-makers stand on their own two feet? Discuss. 57% of American car buyers said they wouldn’t want an EV, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll; further debate at Good Transport which explains “why electric cars will succeed even though six in ten Americans don’t want them” (via @TeslaMotors).
  • Global sales of 1.25million EVs a year by 2020, according to figures from a battery consultancy (Edmunds Auto Observer).
  • Tesla is hoping to raise nearly $215million in a secondary stock offering; this cash will enable it to develop the Model X crossover.
  • Pictures and video (crash!) of the  Grand Prix de Pau Electrique at Autoblog Green. Check out the Exagon Racing cars developed from the Andros Trophy ice-racers.
  • Saab has restarted production at Trollhatten, thanks to an agreement on investment from Chinese firm Pang Da, and  the all-electric 9-3 ePower trial project is underway again. Construction of a 70-strong  test fleet is going ahead, reports Autoblog Green.
  • Nissan’s helping out the Red Bull Racing F1 team (sponsored by Infiniti) with its KERS tech, reports What Car?, which is a collaboration for mutual benefit. WC? also says that Leaf prices are going to come down as Nissan’s planning to make its batteries in Sunderland.
  • GE Energy Industrial Solutions has launched its Solar Car Port; this be-panelled structure can charge up to 13 vehicles a day from six points, plus power the lights in the parking lot where it lives. More at Green Car Congress.

Tuesday newsbriefs

November 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

The 2010 RAC Future Car Challenge (see earlier posts) has been judged a jolly good success all round. Most energy-efficient car of the event was judged to be the all-electricVolkswagen Golf blue-e-motion driven by What Car? ed Jim Holder; other individual efficiency prize-winners in their respective categories were the Tata Indica Vista Electric, the Gordon Murray T.25 City Car, one of the Toyota Auris Hybrids, the BMW 320d, the Lotus Elise S1 Electric, a Honda CR-Z, the Zytek Mercedes-Benz eVito taxi, the Nicholson McLaren Citroen Nemo Van Electric, the Ford Fiesta Van 1.6TDCi ECOnetic, the Proton Exora Extended-Range EV, and the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell. The Vauxhall Ampera was judged ‘best public choice’ and ‘best private entry’ was Russ Sciville’s Lotus Elise S1 Electric. 64 vehicles took part in total.

  • Fiat is to put the 500 EV into production in Toluca, Mexico (a Chrysler facility) in 2012. Its lithium-ion batteries are to be supplied by SB LiMotive Co., a joint venture between Bosch and Samsung SDI Co (Autobeat).
  • London mayor Boris Johnson wants 1300 EV charging points across the city by 2013. He’s setting up a new programme called Source London. But didn’t he promise 25,000 by 2015? Some way to go, then (Autocar).
  • BMW’s expanding its Leipzig plant and investing $560million to build EVs: the 1-Series ActiveE in 2011 and the little Megacity in 2013.
  • First deliveries of the Volkswagen Up! (replacement for the Lupo city car) next year, prices from E10,000. Electric e-Up! comes 2013.
  • The Powertrain & Vehicle Research Centre at the University of Bath is getting £590,000 from the Technology Strategy Board to develop its downsized engine concept. Its high-torque petrol unit is said to promise performance of a 5.0-litre V8 with less than half the capacity. Partners in the project include Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus Engineering, the University of Leeds and Imperial College London.

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