Thursday newsbriefs

August 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mercedes-Benz is previewing the all-new B-Class – now a more conventional small family-sized car – prior to its launch at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Stop-start is now standard, aerodynamics have been enhanced, and its four-cylinder petrol engines are the first of an all-new engine series with third-gen direct-injection tech. They come in the B-Class in 1.6-litre form; 122hp in the B180 and 156hp in the B200. The four-cylinder, 1.8-litre diesel is scaled down from the engines in larger Mercs, and comes in 109hp (B180 CDI) and 136hp (B200 CDI) formats.  Also new is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, said to offer the same efficiency as a manual. No mpg and CO2 figures yet, but improvements expected all round. UK sales start next spring.

In other news:

  • Latest feature announced for the EcoVelocity Show (8th-11th September, Battersea Power Station) is ‘Electric Avenue’ – a display of some rather quirky EVs from different eras, including the Peel, Sinclair C5, new Brahms Electric Hearse, microcars from Zerocars, Greenpower racers and Econogo scooters. Honda has also confirmed that the FCX Clarity fuel cell car will be on show for the first time in the UK, and the Insight, CRZ and Jazz Hybrid will all be available for test-drives.
  • Ashwoods Automotive, based near Exeter, is launching a new range of aftermarket hybrid/electric conversion products, including battery management systems, ‘plug in and play’ hybrid modules and simulation software. They’ve been supplying hybrid-converted Transit vans for a while now, promising fuel savings of 15-25%.
  • Electric golf cart sales are booming – amongst retirees in Florida, at least, reports Detroit News. Money-conscious pensioners (gas-conscious seniors, I suppose) are increasingly turning to them as second vehicles for local use, but authorities are undecided whether the slow carts should be declared road-legal or restricted to private communities and the golf course.
  • A rather expensive EV – but a historic one. An 1899 Columbia Electric Landaulet just sold for $550,000 at the RM Auctions sale at Pebble Beach, making it the most expensive EV ever sold at auction (Green Car Reports).
  • Another ‘Electric Avenue’ – more on the network of fast-chargers between Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington at Edmunds AutoObserver.
  • More on the Netherlands trials of pay-per-mile road charging at the New York Times.
  • What do you really think about green cars? Car magazine wants to know, and has a short survey. Stick in your two penn’orth.
  • I’ve been catching up with the BMW i/Wallpaper Sustainable Neighbourhoods project. Six teams in six very different world cities, coming up with proposals for the urban environments of the future; much creative thinking emerging.
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