Car-share concept wins design award

June 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

A car-share concept has won the 2010 Pilkington Design Award, a competition for graduates of the Vehicle Design course at the Royal College of Art. Swedish grad Marten Wallgren’s The Grid is a semi-autonomous two-seater for 2025, recharged in community facilities and to be used in private and public capacities. A special award for Best Use of Glazing was given to German design student David Seesing, who used double glazing to channel airflow and contain energy losses in his Symbiosis concept. More details and pictures at Car Design News ; pic to follow here when the RCA and Pilkington see fit to release any.

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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.

Think City to enter EV Cup

June 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Think City is to enter the EV Cup, a race series for electric vehicles which kicks off next year.This EV Cup Edition model has had its weight reduced by 70kg, with its interior stripped out to just a single lightweight bucket seat and steering wheel, its glass replaced by Perspex and its suspension revised. Its drivetrain control software has also been tweaked.

Its first track testing was carried out this weekend, by drivers including C4 presenter Kevin McCloud. The Grand Designs architect said that “on the short runs we were doing today, it just doesn’t seem to run out of power, thanks to its linear torque, which actually makes it better than its equivalent petrol city car for short races.”

BMW M8: latest rumours

June 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Latest on the BMW ‘M8’, the hybrid supercar derived from the Vision EfficientDynamics concept: it’ll get BMW’s 5.0-litre V10, plus a pair of electric motors, reports Autozeitung, in place of the concept’s plug-in hybrid powertrain. The motors – one driving the front axle, the other the rear – will deliver around 150bhp, contributing to a total 600-700bhp; the M8 will be around five inches longer than the concept, and will have a 2+2 seating layout. It could debut in 2012.

Rethink on Ampera?

June 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Vauxhall/Opel Ampera may be radically re-engineered, reports The Telegraph today – and its all-electric drivetrain may be sacrificed in favour of its small range-extender petrol engine providing motive power, rather than only acting as a generator, at higher speeds.

The paper quotes an Opel project engineer as saying: “We are considering driving the wheels directly from the petrol engine”, and says that the prototype has shown limitations in  high-speed performance, with a shortage of torque over 50mph.

A  decision, expected to also affect the Chevrolet Volt, will be made by the autumn.

Tuesday titbits

June 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

  • Tesla has raised $226million in its initial public offering of stock. The sale of 13.3million shares will fund the purchase and preparation of the former Toyota factory in Fremont, Caliornia, and development of the Model S electric saloon for production in 2012. The IPO includes the sale of $50million-worth of stock to Toyota.
  • Maserati will add stop-start to its next-generation Quattroporte luxury saloon. A 15% weight reduction and a 25% improvement in fuel economy is targeted; the new Quattroporte will have four-wheel drive, an eight-speed gearbox and downsized V6 and V8 engines, and it will share its underpinnings with other top-end Fiat-Chrysler Group vehicles (Automotive News Europe).
  • London mayor Boris Johnson has taken delivery of four Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars; they’re the first of 1000 electric vehicles to join the city’s fleet, and will be used by Transport for London to check on roadworks. Johnson plans to have 1,600 charging points across London in the next year, with 7,500 by 2013 and 25,000 by 2015.
  • The US Department of Energy has awarded a $24million grant for commercialisation of algae-based biofuels. This will fund research for three years by  consortia led by Arizona State University, University of California at San Diego, and Cellana LLC.
  • The Southwest Research Institute claims it has solved the problem of low-speed pre-ignition in turbocharged, direct-injection petrol engines. Its HEDGE tech (High Efficiency, Direct-injection Gasoline Engine) will aid engine downsizing and carbon dioxide reductions, SWRI says. More at Green Car Congress.
  • There’s a great picture gallery of experimental solar vehicles at Treehugger.com , some more convincing than others. My favourite’s ‘Eleanor’.

Mini modifications this autumn

June 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Mini gets a minor makeover this autumn: though the exterior styling tweaks are subtle, amounting to a revised bonnet, a bit of extra chrome and LED taillights, and the interior is only mildly facelifted, there’s a new diesel engine on offer.

The former Peugeot-Citroen 1.6 is replaced by BMW’s own unit as in the 116d; this will be offered in 89bhp and 110bhp forms for the Mini One D and Cooper D respectively. It returns 72.4mpg and emits 99g/km, bringing the Mini hatchback into the tax-free zone, though its emissions are a little higher in the Clubman and Convertible (103g/km and 104g/km). Sales start mid-September.

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