Tuesday newsbriefs

August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Five finalists have been announced in the Dassault Systems/Riversimple/40 Fires Foundation open-source eCarDesign competition. The challenge was to design a two-passenger city car with room for luggage, created around a carbonfibre monococque with hydrogen-fuelled powertrain and four in-wheel motors. Attention had to be paid to recycling and reuse, as well as to aerodynamics. The winner gets to go to the Frankfurt Motor Show with Dassault and pitch their design to professionals and the public. More about the comp, and pictures of the finalists’ designs, at Car Design News. I’m liking Raj Shekhar’s Hydro-Hub (pictured).

  • The Aussies are taking to EVs: one in 20 cars sold in the state of Victoria will be electric by 2020, and one in ten by 2030, according to Department of Transport research. The city of Melbourne is to get 60 charging points by early 2013, and a 60-car trial is now underway (eco-business.com).
  • Interesting analysis of BMW’s i-cars at Autocar – despite the limited success of Daimler’s Smart, the A-Class & Audi’s original A2, the i3 city car, and the i programme, is “a no-brainer”, says Hilton Holloway. I think he means that in a good way.
  • Philanthropy story of the week: Tesla co-founder E/CEO Elon Musk is donating $250,000 to develop a solar power facility in Soma City, Fukushima, which was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year. SolarCity, of which Musk is also the chairman, will also donate time and resources to build the facility, which will be sited on reclaimed industrial land.
  • Der Spiegel is on the trail of algae: much potential as a biofuel, but demands a lot of land, a lot of CO2 and a lot of energy, however.
  • Further to this week’s story about the CAFE standards and the raising of the bar to 54.5mpg: in the last quarter, vehicles sold in the US averaged a pretty damn shocking 22.5mpg (US), according to figures from Ward’s Auto. Puts it into context…
  • Mazda is to launch the new CX-5 crossover at the Frankfurt Auto Show; it’s the next model to get the weight-saving, energy-saving SkyActiv treatment. Next Mazda3 (due early next year) will promise a 30% fuel consumption saving, according to the Nikkei.
  • And further to the above… improvements to the old internal combustion engine are still important, says Bosch chairman (interview at ae-plus). Including downsizing, direct injection; a better business case than electrification, he says, which is at the moment “an investment in the future.”
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