November 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Infiniti is teasing some more images of its upcoming electric saloon, which it has previously described a “stylish, high-performance five-seat luxury vehicle”. It’ll be revealed at next spring’s Geneva Motor Show; exec. VP Andy Palmer says: “At the Geneva show next year, we will present our vision for a totally new kind of inspired premium performance car. Infiniti already has hybrid and clean diesel models on sale. And with an all-electric sedan on the way, the natural next step was to push the boundaries where performance and the environment intersect.” More details – and a short interview with Palmer – at

  • In other news: Mazda has pledged to improve the fuel economy of its fleet by 30% by 2015. The SkyActiv package of more fuel-efficient engines, lighter-weight bodies and new technologies will be applied to six all-new models in the next five years, with 80% of the company’s line-up renewed in that time-frame. Mazda’s committed to continuing with the rotary engine, and will also explore hybrid and electric powertrains. More at Detroit News. Mazda has also confirmed the lease of an electric Demio (Mazda2) in Japan (Auto Observer).
  • A bit more detail on the Honda Fit/Jazz EV, to go on sale in the US next summer; check out The Charging Point.
  • TV chatshow host and much-loved car guy Jay Leno has driven 10,000 miles in his Chevy Volt – and hasn’t yet filled up with petrol (Detroit News).
  • California’s CODA Automotive says that it has (finally) started production of its electric saloon, and that it will offer a 10-year battery warranty. The price has been reduced, too: it’s down to $39,990, or $29,000 once federal tax rebates and grants are taken into account.
  • Chevrolet is offering Californian buyers a Low Emissions Package for the Volt, which will make it eligible for an extra $1500 rebate and entry into high-occupancy vehicle/car pool lanes. The pack includes modification of the engine and exhaust, adding a second air pump to increase the efficiency of the catalytic converter and reduce tailpipe emissions.
  • Eindhoven University is developing a reactor process to turn wood waste into biofuel. It aims to demonstrate the viability of small-scale fuel production (Green Car Congress).
  • Latest lowdown on those Russian Yo-auto hybrids at Green Car Reports; featuring supercapacitors and natural gas-compatible, apparently.
  • The Obama administration has finally passed the ruling mandating an average 54.5mpg (US) across manufacturers’ ranges by 2015. Much scaremongering on exactly how much these new CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) regulations are going to cost the car-makers; let’s start with Detroit News’ estimations… Volkswagen’s already objecting, saying that the rules don’t incentivise the purchase of clean diesels, reports Automotive News.
  • Drivers of hybrids are 25% less likely to be injured in an accident, reports ther USA’s Highway Loss Data Institute, probably because hybrids are, on average, 10% heavier than their conventional equivalents. However, they’re 20% more likely to be involved in incidents with pedestrians, who may not have heard them coming in all-electric mode (Automotive News).

Ford unveils new Escape; EV and hydrogen action

November 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ford has revealed the new Escape SUV in Los Angeles today – one and the same as the next-gen Kuga we’ll get in Europe next spring. Engines on offer are the turbocharged 1.6 and 2.0-litre Ecoboost engines, plus diesels as in the Focus, and even three-cylinder engines may follow; US buyers will get the option of a normally-aspirated 2.5, however. Eco-tweaks include auto-closing grille slats to improve aerodynamics. Ford’s promising class-leading economy. More LA Auto Show news to follow…

  • In other news today: Mercedes-Benz will start taking orders for the SLS AMG E-Cell next year, reports Autoblog Green.
  • The Autovision Museum, near Hockenheim, has recreated a vehicle it claims to be “the world’s earliest EV”, the 1880, 8mph Starley Tricycle. Video of it in action at YouTube.
  • Smith Electric Vehicles is to open a manufacturing facility in the South Bronx to make the Newton, a Ford conversion. New York State is to fund some substantial buyer incentives to support EV sales (Green Car Congress).
  • How do you go ‘beyond the car’? Thoughts on, and sketches of, a new ‘sustainable mobility vehicle’ in an essay at Treehugger. Car-sharing – of tiny, autonomous EVs – and multi-configurable vehicles, integration with other forms of public transport… it’s not rocket science.
  • Los Angeles is “the epicentre for hydrogen cars”, says Treehugger – a “fledgling infrastructure” is growing, apparently.

Design Concept of the Day: Belumbury Dany

November 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s a new name on the EV scene: Belumbury. This Rome-based design consultancy has teamed up with the Università di Camerino to develop a two-door, four-seat city car called Dany, which could be offered in electric or petrol-powered form. The Dany, on display at the Milan International Motorcycle Show this week, has a tubular steel frame with plastic body panels. A 10kW motor with lithium-ion battery pack gives up to 112 miles of range and a top speed just over 59mph; the two-cylinder petrol version (20bhp) features a CVT gearbox and does about 56mph. Why a motorbike show for its debut? It’s classed as a lightweight ‘quadricycle’ rather than being a proper car. Prettier than a G-Wiz, though, and perhaps a bit of Italian city chic will bring some smarter design to this sector. (Via Autoblog Green).

Toyota’s Tokyo debuts; Car2go expands; more EV news

November 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Toyota is showing a series of new concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show at the end of the month. Whilst much attention will be on the compact FT-86 coupe co-developed with Subaru, there’ll also be the Aqua small hybrid hatchback (previewing the Prius C); an iQ-based electric city car called FT-EV III  (range 65 miles, launch could be next year); a five-seater fuel cell-powered family car called FCV-R; plus a further concept called Fun-Vii (the flowery one pictured, below), about which no details have been issued as yet other than to say that it’s for a future “where people, cars and society are linked.” More details at Green Car Congress.

  • Daimler’s Car2Go scheme is now expanding into Austria: a short-term rental fleet of 500 Smart Fortwos will be operational in Vienna early next month. A 300-car all-electric fleet is also now up and running in San Diego, California.
  • Renault has opened upgraded EV test facilities at Lardy, France; the facility, which first opened in 2009, has received a 28million-euro investment and now features 100 test benches. More at Green Car Congress.
  • Better Place has secured $200million-worth of funding to develop its business of battery-swap stations and EV recharging infrastructure. More, again, at Green Car Congress.
  • The London borough of Camden is  launching a trial two-week programme enabling local business to try out electric vehicles. Cars available to test-drive include a Nissan Leaf, a Mitsubishi i-MiEV and a Renault Kangoo Van ZE. There are 29 public charging points in Camden, apparently (Green Car Website).

Design concepts of the Day: Daihatsu D-X, Pico and FC Sho Case

November 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Daihatsu has three cute little concepts for the Tokyo Motor Show. Most eye-catching is the D-X (“D-Cross”), a stripped-to-the-bare-essentials roadster with a tiny two-cylinder engine and lightweight resin body. Its modular construction allows for different body-types around the same frame, including closed coupe or shooting-brake.

The Pico is a 1+1 tandem-seater EV, designed for city commuting; it’s said to be easily-accessible for the elderly or those with restricted mobility, as well as useful for urban deliveries.

The FC Sho Case, meanwhile, displays Daihatsu’s thinking on fuel cells; its powertrain is packaged into the floor, leaving space for a large, boxy interior which could suit either a cargo-carrying application or a multi-seater MPV. The seats of this concept fold flat, and are transparent, in order to show off the powertrain underneath. Extensive picture galleries of all three at Car Body Design.

New EV charging points for Brighton

November 11, 2011 § Leave a comment




New public EV charging points opened this week here in Brighton; the latest pair are on the seafront at Madeira Drive, by the pier, Sea Life Centre and Brighton Wheel. This brings the total up to 8 (in four locations). Brighton Council says that there are now 22 registered users of the facilities – and interestingly, the majority of them live outside the city, showing that electric commuting is becoming a reality. More than half have registered a new vehicle, too. The council is about to send out a survey to these users to get feedback on why they’ve opted to buy and run an EV. This ties in nicely with the other recent announcement (in this briefing) of an all-electric car club/car-share scheme in the city, and today’s launch of the Eco Technology Show (15th/16th June next year at the Amex Stadium).

  • And in other odds-and-ends news for the week: San Francisco is aiming to become the EV capital of the US. It’s pulled together $5million-worth of funding to form the Bay Area EV Strategic Council, to develop infrastructure, etc (Green Car Congress).
  • Rolls-Royce is taking the 102 EX (experimental electric Phantom) on a world tour, and it’s currently in the US in advance of an appearance at the LA Auto Show. Green Car Reports had a go in it.

Friday newsbriefs, Mitsubishi PX-MiEV II plug-in hybrid

November 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mitsubishi is to show a plug-in hybrid concept at the Tokyo Motor Show next month. The PX-MiEV II is a midsized SUV (previewing the next-gen Outlander) with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine and 70kW motor. It has an overall range of over 800km and an all-electric range of 50km, and selectable all-electric and battery charge modes, the latter switching the engine to act as a generator. The battery can be used as an external power source – when camping, for example, or in an emergency situation – and it is quick-charge compatible. This concept also showcases Mitsubishi’s new twin-motor four-wheel drive system, coupled with traction control developed from that in the Evo X. Acceleration from a standing start – with 100% of the electric motor’s torque available – is said to be equivalent of the oomph from a 3.0 V6. And Mitsubishi is also showing its Minicab-MiEV electric van, the latest ASX (RVR) small crossover with stop-start, an integrated house/car/energy management concept with smart power metering called MiEV House – plus the MiEV Cafe, powered by the battery of the EV parked next to it, via a heavy-duty external power supply device.

  • Easier EV charging? POD Point, a charging point-maker, has received an £89,000 government contract to create a database of publicly-accessible facilities across the UK. This will involve “systematic mapping”, says Transport Minister Norman Baker, and a system called Central Whitelist, allowing e-motorists to use points from different suppliers and different membership schemes in different locations – like mobile phone ‘roaming’. The data will be accessible via sat navs and mobile apps.
  • And further into the future: Qualcomm, which has just bought out wireless induction-charging firm Halo IPT, is to to start a trial of wireless charging in London, in partnership with Transport For London, Chargemaster and minicab giant Addison Lee. The trial, to be based in East London’s ‘Tech City’ development, will involve around 50 EVs and will be funded by the Technology Strategy Board and the Office for Low-Emissions Vehicles (OLEV).
  • Ford has announced a new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine, developed in the UK at the Dunton and Dagenham engine facilities. This turbocharged, direct-injection unit will feature first in the Focus early next year, giving 125hp (and 56.5mpg) or 100hp, with CO2 emissions from these two versions just 114g/km and 109g/km respectively. The engine – to be built in Craiova, Romania – will then go into the C-MAX, Grand C-MAX and upcoming B-MAX (mid-2012).
  • Nissan is giving away 400 fast-chargers across Europe to help accelerate EV use. 65 will be deployed in the UK at motorway service stations, airports and city centre locations.
  • Volvo is trialling two C30 Electrics in the Jiading district, Shanghai, in a bid to learn what Chinese consumers want from an EV.
  • The world’s smallest electric car is just one molecule big – if you’ve not caught the ‘nano-car’ story yet, then it’s at the BBC website.

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