Thursday newsbriefs

July 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s a quick preview of the new-generation Renault Twingo, to be launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Key nugget of info: it’ll get the new Renault-Nissan three-cylinder engine, an economy-oriented unit no doubt to feature extensively in the Renault-Nissan range. Next time around, however (2014), it’ll share its platform with the next Smart ForFour supermini, under the terms of a deal with Daimler; electric versions will follow.

  • BYD is to lease 200 eBus and 300 e6 saloons to authorities in Shenzhen for the 2011 Universiade, a national student sports festival. The saloons will be used as taxis, and all 500 of these electric vehicles will remain on public service in the city after the event (Edmunds AutoObserver). This is one of the biggest EV fleet deals yet made.
  • Tour of the Better Place visitor centre in Tel Aviv, including a look at the Renault Laguna EV and battery-swapping, at Autoblog Green today.
  • Mazda has started testing two electric Demio (Mazda2) prototypes in Japan. These have a 200km range; production is planned for spring 2012.
  • Solar EV chargers are now on sale in the US: SolarCity is supplying a $1500 package with photovoltaic panels and cells to customers in selected states (Wired Autopia). Makes sense in sunny SoCal, perhaps less so in the wet Pacific north-west…
  • Tequila all round! A study from Oxford suggests that ethanol for fuel use could be derived from agave plants, and as these grow only in desert or marginal climates, they won’t displace any food crops. Emissions from production of this biofuel are lower than from making corn-based ethanol (or petrol), too. More at The Guardian.
  • Bike alert: the Oregon Manifest project, sponsored by Levi’s, is a challenge to design a practical, attractive and versatile pushbike to encourage Americans out of their cars. Criteria include load-carrying ability, robustness, security and visibility. As someone who’s just bought a cargo bike, I approve. And it’s an interesting insight into the US pro-bike brigade (tattoos not compulsory, I hope).
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