Monday newsbriefs

June 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

The final phase of the three-year GM-sponsored EcoCAR Challenge has started: 16 teams from North American universities are taking part in tests at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds in Michigan. Their vehicles will undergo engineering tests similar to those on pre-production cars, including safety, handling and technical assessments, evaluation for consumer appeal, braking and acceleration measurements, and emissions and energy consumption tests. The teams will then make presentations in Washington DC, before an awards ceremony and a display of the vehicles at the US Department of Energy. Full day-by-day reports from the Green Garage Blog.

  • America’s National Highway Transport Safety Adminstration (NHTSA) is researching potential fire risks from lithium-ion batteries. Purely a precautionary measure and probably just about setting minds at rest – no fires have been reported as yet – but they’re concerned about the risks in the event of an accident and when recharging. More at Autoweek.
  • Work continues at Mazda on the rotary engine, despite the impending demise of the RX-8, reports Edmunds InsideLine; new ‘laser injection’ tech could give it another lease of life. This means no need for spark plugs, and easier sealing of the combustion chamber; in combination with stop-start and micro-hybrid systems, lightweight materials and other measures, an RX-8 replacement could emit just 130g/km of carbon dioxide. Mazda’s also talking Wankels and comparing notes with Audi, apparently (Audi’s using a rotary as the range-extender unit in the A1 e-tron).
  • Two electric taxis have taken to the streets in Dublin, reports, in  a pilot programme. They’re a Nissan Leaf and a wheelchair-accessible Peugeot Expert. Though there’s just five on-street charging points in the city as yet, 30 fast-chargers on main routes between towns are coming by the end of the year.
  • Suzuki’s to sell a Swift-based extended-range hybrid next year, reports the Nikkei (via Autobeat). It’s to have a 19-mile all-electric range; Suzuki is aiming to sell ‘several thousand’ in Japan before starting exports. Could be the production version of a concept seen at the 2009 Tokyo Auto Show, which had a 660cc engine, 54kW motor and lithium-ion batteries, and which has been tested in demo form.
  • Another Chinese EV: Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co (BAIC) is to sell a small electric saloon currently codenamed C30DB; launch in September (Beijing Times via Autobeat Asia).
  • Poland’s rolling out an EV charging infrastructure: Polenergia SA and Alva Technologies have announced a joint venture called E+ to develop a network of charging stations, leasing and rental of EVs, their maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance. At least 300 charging stations and operations in 14 cities are planned by the end of 2013 (Autoblog Green).
  • Korean firm Leo Motors (maker so far of electric scooters, microvans, microcars and suchlike) is promising an electric supercar faster than the Tesla Roadster. The 240kW-motor LZ-1 is said to do 161mph, accelerate 0-60 in 2.9 seconds and have a 249-mile range; its body is carbonfibre/aluminium alloy. Development of the rolling chassis has been completed, reports Sustainable Business, and former Ford designers are now working on the styling. A range-extended version with a hybrid LPG/hydrogen (eh?) generator is also planned, apparently, to give a total 560-mile range.
  • The IET (Institute of Engineering & Technology) has posted most of its Smart Grid 2011 conference online.



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