Friday newsbriefs #2

July 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

More on the houses that Toyota built: Toyota City, in the Aichi prefecture and home to the car company, is to gain a showcase 67-home estate for Toyota employees. Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles only will be allowed on the development, and the ‘smart homes’ will have solar and fuel cell-generated energy supplies, an integrated energy management system, EV recharging facilities and remote control of applicances. The batteries of  the vehicles can act as standby power supplies in the event of an emergency. Toyota is aiming for a 70% reduction in carbon footprint compared to a conventional home with petrol car. Read more at Ecofriend.

  • The cut-price Mitsubishi i-MiEV has gone on sale in Japan: the ‘M’ model has a 75-mile range, the ‘G’ model 110 miles. No word yet on whether such an option will be offered in Europe.
  • Coda Automotive has delayed launch of its electric Saloon (yet again) till the end of the year. There have been “issues” with the Chinese production partners, apparently. The Californian company is to open a retail outlet in Los Angeles in August, however, with six cars available for test-driving, and another outlet will follow in San Francisco (Plugin Cars).
  • Motor Trend has more on the growing Prius family; Toyota is to follow up its hybrid hatch and recently-launched Prius+ (Prius V, elsewhere in the world) seven-seater with a Nissan Juke-style crossover five-door hatch, Prius C. This is not the same as the Prius C coupe concept seen at motor shows last year, says MT; it’s due next spring, they report. A two-door Prius coupe, and a Prius SUV and convertible will follow with the next-gen Prius range in 2014.
  • The Silvretta Electric Car Rally is taking place this week in the Austrian Alps; 24 EVs (including seven Daimler entrants  from the electric Smart Fortwo to the Mercedes AMG SLS E-Cell) are undergoing tests of range and performance on a 185-mile mountain route.
  • The ‘electric roads’ idea has been around for a while – induction-style charging of EVs via a road surface equipped with transmitting coils – and a team from Utah State University has developed a system whereby 5kW of energy can ‘jump’ up to 10 inches vertically to charge a vehicle overhead, with 90% efficiency. Think of it as being a bit like Scalextric or slot cars, without the tracks or physical connection. More at the Brammo Electric Motorcycle Blog.
  • The UK government’s easing up on plans to introduce public EV recharging points, reports the Guardian, and instead wants to encourage people to charge at home or at their workplace. Public infrastructure is “uneconomical”, according to a new report from the DfT.
  • Much debate in the US about the ending of incentives for farmers to grow corn for ethanol: this biofuel has been judged energy-inefficient, no great saving in terms of CO2 emissions, and a distorter of the corn market. Analysis at The  Economist.
  • Peak oil is ‘getting closer’, and we may even be there already, reports The Ecologist.
  • America’s National Highway Transport Safety Administration is drawing up legislation on audible warning systems for pedestrians: that means noises and engine-simulations for electric and hybrid vehicles. Bring on the sound artists!
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