Friday newsbriefs – and flying to the future

June 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

A plane story: EADS, Diamond Aircraft and Siemens have built a hybrid aircraft concept. The two-seater DA36 E-Star, showcased this week at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, has a Siemens 70kW motor driving its propellor; a small Wankel rotary engine (supplied by Austro Engine) functions solely as a generator to supply the motor with energy, and an EADS battery provides power during takeoff and climb. The battery is then recharged when cruising. The tech could save 25% of fuel, and is scalable to larger aircraft, says Siemens, and the plane has now taken two-hour test flights. More, including video, here. Also, a team from the Institute of Aircraft Design at the University of Stuttgart has just flown its e-Genius prototype for 211 miles and two hours, averaging 100mph and returning the equivalent of 260mpg; more on that project here. It looks as if electric flight is on the verge of becoming a realistic possibility. However, the EAA Flight Venture competition for electric planes has now been delayed a year to allow participants more time to gain the necessary certification, reports Green Car Congress.

  • GM India is showcasing an all-electric Chevrolet Beat in New Delhi. The Beat BEV features a 300-cell lithium-ion battery, a 45kW electric motor and a 130km operating range; it’s just a demo vehicle, however, to evaluate the feasibility of electric vehicles in India. Full release here.
  • A one-off hybrid Lexus LS 600h L ‘laundaulet’ limousine has been built for the wedding of Prince Albert of Monaco on 2nd July. This features a one-piece transparent, 8mm-thick polycarbonate roof and has been specially reinforced with Kevlar and carbonfibre composites to compensate for the removal of its metal roof and pillars. It will “operate in zero-emissions mode for most of the newlyweds’ tour of the principality”, says Lexus. Belgian coachbuilder Carat Duchalet worked closely with Lexus engineers based in Brussels to create the car, which took over 2000 hours to build and which has been finished in a water-based Midnight Blue paint.
  • Norwegian EV-maker Think Global has filed for bankruptcy. The Oslo-based firm, once owned by Ford, has now been restructured and relaunched four times in its 20-year history; this time, it has suffered since the ending of a four-year deal with battery-maker and investor Ener1, said to be owed some £20million. Norwegian courts are to appoint a trustee to oversee the short-term running of the business and production has halted at the Valmet facility in Finland.
  • In better news, Fisker is hiring around 120 engineers, technicians and production-line workers for its plant in Wilmington, Delaware. The company’s preparing for the launch of its second plug-in hybrid, a premium saloon currently code-named Project Nina and scheduled for launch at the end of 2012. The Wilmington facility, a former GM plant, has been comprehensively recommissioned; more on this at Fisker’s website. Let’s not argue just yet whether Nina is a plug-in hybrid or, as Fisker calls it, an electric vehicle with extended range (“EVer”), though in my book, the Karma coupe is definitely the former rather than the latter.Fisker has also just announced a deal with EV Connect for installation and service of charging points for Karma buyers in the US and Canada.
  • Kenya, which imports over 100,000 new and used cars every year, is to exempt electric vehicles from import duty. There’s no charging infrastructure as yet, but this may be developed as part of a programme to improve the country’s roads (Africa Business Daily, via Autoblog Green).
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