Tuesday’s topics

September 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

  • Like full-scale Scalextric, but without rails: students at the University of Applied Sciences, Karlsruhe, have built a prototype car using induction charging. The E-Quickie draws energy from chargers embedded in a road surface, and theoretically, all the time it can be driven on suitably-equipped roads, it would never need external recharging. So far, it’s only done 31mph, but the students are working on making it faster and lighter. Might work for site-specific vehicles and applications.
  • Antonov is demonstrating its two- and three-speed transmissions at the Low Carbon Vehicle Show, Millbrook, this week. These gearboxes are designed for electric vehicles and are scalable for a  wide variety of applications. The three-speeder – which could be developed for four ratios – is a dual-clutch system created in partnership with Jaguar in the Limo-Green project; the two-speeder is for anclliary motors and generators. Full release at Green Car Congress.
  • Toyota is to launch seven new hybrids by the end of 2012, a senior executive said yesterday (Detroit News). These will include a plug-in model (Prius), at least one stand-alone model not based on any existing product, and a Yaris hybrid.  There’ll also be hybrid versions of every Lexus model, reports Autoweek.  Also on the way: two all-electric models, a small car and the Tesla-developed RAV4 EV, the latter to be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.
  • Crisp-maker Frito-Lay is about to become the operator of the largest private fleet of electric trucks in the USA. It is preparing a 21-vehicle  test fleet, converted by Smith Electric Vehicles, for use later this year, with a further 155 trucks planned for delivery by the end of 2011. The initial fleet will operate in the New York area, Columbus, Ohio, and Ford Worth, Texas. Frito-Lay reckons that once all 176 trucks are deployed, it will save 500,000 gallons of fuel a year and that each will emit 75% less carbon dioxide (based on an all-in lifecycle analysis) than the diesel truck it replaces.
  • A Cambridge University team has identified the enzymes which make plant materials such as straw, stalks and wood so tough. This knowledge can now be used to better-extract energy from these materials to make biofuels, or for genetic engineering of specific biofuel crops, “in a sustainable way that does not affect the food chain”. Science bit at Alphagalileo.
  • Autocar’s Greg Kable has driven the Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell. “A promising start”, he says, reserving judgement until a price is announced. And Auto Express has had a ride in the Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid; “not the most spectacular experience” in all-electric mode, but “astonishing” once the engine kicks in…
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