Design Concept of the Day: Duo

April 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Duo Concept transforms from a two-seater to a four-seater, with a handy extending floor section between the front and rear seats taking its overall length from 3m to 3.5m. Showcased at Car Body Design, this EV is the final thesis project of Luigi Memola, submitted for his Industrial Design degree at Politecnico di Torino University. It was created under the supervision of a Pininfarina engineer, and uses an existing electric powertrain; it appears to be based on the Pininfarina Nido, but with the slide-out section and natty scissor-opening doors. Handy for parking in tight spaces, a fun idea which improves the versatility of a tiny city car; expect fold-out floors to feature in the runarounds of the future, once issues of crash safety and soforth have been resolved.

In other news today:

  • Fuel cell vehicles: Hyundai is going to “provide a sufficient number of FCEVs where hydrogen infrastructure is available during 2012-2015”, reports Autoblog Green. The company “will make a limited supply in 2012 and anticipate thousands will be available globally through 2014.”
  • Ferrari has patented a two-motor hybrid system, a relatively conventional set-up not using KERS, which could be used in the California, reports Car and Driver.
  • Toyota’s subsidiary Toyota Auto Body Co has unveiled a new EV – but the latest Coms is just a single-seat, 37mph mobility scooter-type vehicle. It could also be suitable for neighbourhood use or for getting around campuses and industrial complexes; its range is 31 miles and it takes two hours to recharge. More at Green Car Reports.
  • The first San Francisco-area hydrogen refuelling station has opened at Emeryville, California. It will supply hydrogen for 12 fuel cell buses operating in the East Bay area, and up to 20 passenger cars a day, and is part of the AC Transit HyRoad project. A second station will begin operation in Oakland next year. More details from the suppliers, Linde Group.
  • A new breakthrough in lithium-sulphur batteries has been made by researchers at LMU Munich and the University of Waterloo (Canada), reports AutoTech Daily, which explains that lithium-sulphur batteries can store five times as much energy as lithium-ion, use cheaper and less toxic materials, and operate better at low temperatures, but are difficult to charge and discharge as sulphur is a poor conductor of electrons. However, this can be overcome by adding a thin layer of sulphur atoms to cathode material made of ‘spherical ordered mesoporous carbon nanoparticles’.  Whatever those might be… sounds promising, however. Coating the carbon material with silicon oxide also reduces the formation of polysulphides which obstruct charging and discharging.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists has calculated that electric vehicle drivers in the USA can save $13,000 on fuel over the vehicle’s lifespan. On the best electricity supply tariffs, they can save $750-$1,200 a year compared to running a typical compact petrol-engined car. Its report also looks at the ‘cleanest’ grids supplying the lowest-carbon electricity.

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