QBEAK cues up, Pininfarina considers Cambiano production, more EV and fuel cell news

March 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Danish start-up ECOmove has won the Frost & Sullivan ‘2012 European Electric Vehicles Early Stage Investment Opportunity Award’, indicating that the renowed automotive industry analysts see it as a good firm to invest in. ECOmove plans to launch its QBEAK city car (first seen last year) shortly, a 3m-long 400kg lightweight seating up to six and with a range of up to 300km (depending on battery module options). It promises that the car “will be one of the most affordable, individual, flexible, sustainable and easy-to-drive and park EVs, without compromising safety or reliability.” Its modular chassis allows for different body types and sizes – convertible, van, hatchback or more – and it features in-wheel motors. Up to six “energy modules” can be ordered, and it is also compatible with a plug-in hybrid powertrain option; its structure is aluminium with Kevlar and plastic recyclable body panels.

ECOmove has just signed a deal to lease five cars to Copenhagen city authorities, and it is part-backed by a grant from the Danish Business Innovation Fund as well as investors including  the Energi Horsens Fund and Østjysk Innovation. More about the QBEAK and the company here.

In other news today:

  • Pininfarina is seriously considering (very limited) production of the Cambiano coupe concept, reports Automotive News Europe. It could be road-ready in 24-30 months, and would probably get a small diesel engine acting as a range-extending generator, powering its in-wheel electric motors. They could make ten at about a million euros each, or 70-75 at around 400,000 euros a time, apparently, and “are evaluating the potential.”
  • BMW Group, Bosch, Daimler and Siemens are amongst a group of German companies teaming up to form a  joint venture to develop an open data platform for EV recharging infrastructure. The “hubject GmbH” will be based in Berlin.
  • A 3000-car trial of ‘V2X’ – vehicle-to-vehicle, or vehicle-to-infrastructure – communications is to kick off in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This US Department of Transportation research is the largest trial yet of such wireless tech, and whilst it will focus on crash avoidance and safety, these developments have implications for fuel-saving and incremental moves towards autonomous vehicles as well. More at Green Car Congress. Denso Corp., meanwhile, is also starting a V2X trial in partnership with Tongji University, Shanghai, looking at lane-clearing and green-lighting to speed up progress of emergency vehicles (again, more at Green Car Congress).
  • It’s the little details that make the difference: a supercapacitor module could reduce wear on batteries and negate the need for larger, heavier-duty batteries in stop-start systems, says Aussie firm CAP-XX Limited. Its super-cap also works in conjunction with KERS. (Do we give a CAP-XX? Oh yes).
  • Fuel cells are now  “ready for use in everyday conditions”, is the conclusion from a trial in Basel, Switzerland, and “especially in niche applications such as municipal utility vehicles.” The EMPA/Paul Scherrer Institute programme has been testing a hydrogen-fuelled street-cleaning vehicle (pictured below) with local authorities since 2009, and whilst there were some initial reliability glitches, the main problem reported was that the powertrain was insufficiently wasteful of heat to warm the driver’s compartment in the winter. Full story here.
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