Midweek newsbriefs

June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Protoscar Lampo3 all-electric coupe was awarded the Supercar Cup at Le Mans; check out a video of its laps of the track in the Le Mans Vers Le Futur demo race. The three-motor, 420kW 2+2 prototype is doing the rounds of showcase events this summer; no word on production, but it’s a good ad for Protoscar’s consultancy skills. More at the Swiss company’s site.

  • More from Canada: the province of Quebec is to roll out an “Electric Circuit” network of public EV charging stations next year. 100 240-volt points, with 400-volt quick-chargers to follow, initially in the metropolitan areas of Montreal and Quebec; locations will include park-and-ride facilities, and there’ll be a $2 flat fee to cover charging and parking (smartplanet). Let’s hope the Quebecois are nicer to their EVs than Vancouver’s hockey fans
  • Mercedes-Benz is to bring forward production of  F-Cell fuel cell models to 2014, reports AutoTech Daily, following the success of the recent B-Class F-Cell round-the-world trip. Production models (which may not be B-Class based) will have a range of around 250 miles, and will cost around the same as a diesel-electric hybrid.
  • Audi has tweaked its 1.6 TDI-engined A1 supermini to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. The 104bhp A1 1.6 TDI now emits 99g/km and returns 74.3mpg; it’ll still do a very respectable 118mph and 0-60 in 10.5 seconds. It joins a growing – and now quite long – list of cars emitting less than 100g/km, which are now exempt from the London congestion charge, and will be in the lowest-rated band for BIK (Benefit in Kind) company car tax from April 2012.
  • Nissan is working on a hybrid system for front-wheel drive cars including its next-gen Altima, reports Autoweek. This is adapted from the rear-drive system in the Infiniti M hybrid.
  • The US and EU are near to reaching agreement on a common standard for EVs, the EU trade commissioner has said. An announcement will be made later this year (Autobeat).
  • Engineering consultancy Ricardo is working with the University of Brighton on a split-cycle combustion system to reduce carbon emissions from heavy-duty vehicles. The study is part-funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board. Long-distance HGVs are “less amenable” to electrification and hybridisation strategies, says Ricardo, so their engines must be improved. The project is called CoolR, and “will examine a fundamentally new split-cycle concept” with isothermal compression rather than refining existing four-stroke tech. Previous split-cycle experiments have involved water-injection to improve thermal efficiency, but CoolR uses liquid cryogen to achieve an estimated 40% thermal efficiency gain. More at ricardo.com.
  • Mitsubishi is to double output of its lithium-ion battery packs for the i-MiEV at its Mizushima plant, reports the Nikkei. Output goes up to 2,800 a month in August, and Mitsubishi’s on target to make over 40,000 i-MiEVs this financial year.
  • Good news for EV users in the US: the AAA (American Automobile Association) is to equip its breakdown units with emergency chargers. The first go on-fleet in selected states (California, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Oregon and Washington) in August. Full story at Edmunds AutoObserver.
  • Also from AutoObserver: Toyota reckons the Prius (and its related models) could become its US best-seller; and going ‘green’ is good for business, marketing and sales, they conclude – “if this is greenwashing, it pays“. On another note, discussion on EVs/EREVs going mainstream – and some interesting stats – at Autoweek. Still some buyer confusion, they note, and more customer education needed.
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