Friday briefs

May 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Let’s get this show back on the road. A quick catch-up on current affairs, recent developments and news of the week, and then business as normal (such as it ever is). Picture of the day: the Mitsubishi i-MiEV of Thames Valley Police, to be used for ‘routine non-emergency duties’ in and around the Milton Keynes area.

The vehicle has been handed over today at Soul’s Mitsubishi in Milton Keynes and has been commissioned with Thames Valley Police corporate livery. The pure-electric vehicle (EV) will be used for routine non-emergency duties in and around Milton Keynes city centre.

  • Volvo is working with a Belgian tech/development specialist called Flanders’ Drive (obviously) on an induction charging project. The Flanders’ CED (Continuous Electric Drive) system for recharging EVs or plug-in hybrids transfers energy wirelessly to the car’s battery via a charging plate with magnetic coil buried in the  road surface: no power sockets or cables required. A C30 Electric goes to Belgium this week to be suitably modified. Bus-maker Van Hool and tram manufacturer Bombardier are also involved in the project. Induction charging – which works in a not dissimilar way to an induction hob for cooking – is tipped to be a convenient and quick way  to recharge (1 hour 20min for the C30 Electric)  and could replace plug-in points in many situations.
  • Little things which make a difference: Ford is fitting an active grille shutter to the new Focus which reduces aerodynamic drag by up to 6% when closed, thus reducing fuel consumption and emissions. This automatically rotates through 90 degrees to control airflow according to cooling needs, ‘blanking off’ the radiator from a cold start-up to improve low-temperature efficiency as well as aerodynamic performance. It’s optional with the 1.6/2.0 Ecoboost, 1.6/2.0 Duratorq Mondeo, Galaxy and S-MAX as well.  Ford’s also launching engine updates across the Mondeo range, with efficiency improved by up to 25% and the addition of stop-start in selected models.
  • Fiat’s two-cylinder, 785cc TwinAir engine has won the 2011 International Engine of the Year award; it topped the Best New Engine, Best Green Engine and Best Sub-1-Litre categories as well as getting the overall prize. The jury of 76 international motoring writers comprehensively favoured downsized, economical internal combustion engines over electric and hybrid solutions this year, says Engine Technology International magazine.
  • More news on a seven-seat Prius MPV ( on dedicated platform) at Autoweek.
  • Porsche is planning hybrid and electric versions of every model in its range. No surprise, but Edmunds Inside Line has the lowdown.
  • Volkswagen is to sell EVs in China in partnership with local manufacturer First Auto (FAW). These will be affordable models, specifically developed, and sold under a new brand-name, Kaili (‘carrier’).
  • The German government is putting up 2billion euros for R&D of EVs and promoting their use, though sales won’t be subsidised. Cars emitting less than 50g/km of CO2 will be tax-exempt, amongst other incentives. Full story at Der Spiegel.
  • There’ll be an electric version of the  Aston Martin Cygnet as well as the Toyota iQ it’s based on, reports Car mag. Coming 2013.
  • Opel (and thus Vauxhall) is planning a small EV, possibly based on the Corsa or Agila, reports Automotive News.
  • Production of EVs and hybrids will reach 9million a year, and 9% of total car production, by 2020, predicts Autofacts (a division of PwC). A third of these will be EVs and plug-ins. Key facts of the Charging Forward report at Green Car Congress. 60% of car-buyers would consider a plug-in hybrid, meanwhile, according to a global study by Accenture.
  • MAHLE Powertrain is working with Evo Electric on a 900cc, twin-cylinder, four-stroke and Euro 6-compliant range-extender engine. Agreements with manufacturers have been signed (Green Car Congress).
  • Chief designer of BMW’s i brand Benoit Jacob has been talking to the New York Times; a few hints on the i3 EV.
  • Mazda’s first SkyActiv engine will go in the next-gen Mazda2 (Demio); it’s a 1.3 petrol with a high compression ratio, direct injection and stop-start. More on the SkyActiv tech at Mazda’s USA site.
  • Nissan’s NISMO-developed Leaf racer has completed shakedown testing at the Sodegaura Forest Raceway.  A one-make race series is intended. Film at Nissan’s YouTube newsroom.
  • Robert Llewellyn’s driven the Delta E4 electric coupe on Fully Charged.
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