Midweek matters

September 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

RLE International and Australian firm Energetique have launched a jointly-developed all-electric light van called the MaxEV. Based on the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi, it has a payload of 600kg and a range of up to 150km (200km in higher-spec form). It’s on display at the Low Carbon Vehicle Show at Millbrook this week and is being marketed to UK fleets.

  • Cheaper than carbonfibre: a new material called inrekor, a propylene-based foam sandwiched between sheets of aluminium, could cut vehicle weight by 30%, reports Autocar. Inrekor is said to be suitable for chassis-building and for vehicle structures, bonded together with super-strength adhesives. It has been tested by the Warwick Manufacturing Group and crash-tested at MIRA, achieving results similar to a structure with five NCAP stars.  It’s 100% recyclable, as well. Inrekor says that a prototype’s a way off, but a showcase concept (a Porsche 356 Speedster replica) using the material has been built by Dorset’s Chesil Motor Company.
  • Daimler is to collaborate with Renault-Nissan on electric vehicle tech; the tie-up will involve vehicles from the Mercedes and Smart brands.
  • Nissan’s also announced a partnership with Sumitomo Corporation to find a ‘second life’ for used lithium-ion batteries. The venture’s called 4R Energy – the 4Rs are for Reuse, Resell, Refabricate and Recycle.
  • BMW has collected feedback from the Mini E trial in the UK. Mostly good (they say), with few problems and general satisfaction; gripes included some specific issues with range, poor load-space (the batteries took up the rear compartment) and poor performance in very cold weather (Edmunds Green Car Advisor).
  • Toyota is to build a new engine factory in Altona, near Melbourne; this facility will make hybrid powertrains and a new four-cylinder petrol engine.
  • The University of Colorado at Boulder is to partner with the US Department of Energy and Toyota to trial a fleet of 18 plug-in Prius PHVs. The progress of this two-year trial can be followed on a community blog.
  • Ashwoods Automotive of Exeter has developed a retro-fit hybrid system for panel vans which can be fitted in less than four hours, and which can reduce fuel consumption by up to 25%. The company also offers retro-fit stop-start conversions, and has already delivered 130 hybridised Ford Transits to private and public sector fleets. Its clients include the Environment Agency, Transport for London, numerous local councils and Riverford Organics. The company is now working in a consortium funded by the Technology Strategy Board to develop next-generation hybrid powertrains for a variety of applications (Green Car Congress).

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