Midweek news digest: saving Saab, SARTRE, new battery tech and assorted EV snippets
May 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
Latest on the save-Saab story: an investment consortium has made a bid for the bankrupt Swedish firm. The group includes a Japanese firm called Sun Investment and a Hong Kong-based firm called National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd; the former “specialises in high-tech environmental projects”, reports Automotive News Europe, and the latter “builds and owns power plants.” Interesting bit is that they have formed a new group called National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, which gives a fair clue as to their intentions, and players in the project include a former head of Volvo Trucks. Believe it when it happens, I reckon, though you can follow the story at the ever-hopeful Saabs United.
- Volvo has carried out the first public-highway demonstrations of road-train ‘platooning’, claimed to save an estimated 20% in fuel: the latest phase of the SARTRE project (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) saw the electronically-controlled, autonomously-driven convoy travel for 200km at 53mph with gaps of just 6m between each vehicle. More from Ricardo, the consultancy which is developing the technology, with video here.
- More Toyota news: the Prius is now the third best-selling car in the world, with 247,230 sold in the first quarter of 2012. It’s just behind the Ford Focus (277,000) and Toyota’s stalwart Corolla (300,800), with sales boosted by the launch of the Prius C subcompact in Japan. That’s technically not the same car, but never mind, this is calculated on name-plates.
- Nissan is launching a ‘Leaf to Home’ charging system in Japan; in combination with an EV Power Station device, this enables the connection of the car’s batteries to power a domestic supply, useful in the event of a mains or grid outage or event such as an earthquake. This has been developed by Nichicon Corporation, which has also announced its launch of an ultra-compact 10kW quick-charger, the smallest and lightest of its type.
- Potential new EV battery materials of the day: antimony/carbon nanocomposites for anodes in sodium-ion batteries, said to be cheaper, safer and more sustainable than lithium-ion; carbon nanotube-graphene complexes for use as electrocatalysts in fuel cells and metal-air batteries; tin nanoneedles for anodes in lithium-ion. Thanks, Green Car Congress!
- EuropCar has added 30 Opel Amperas to its short-term rental fleets in Brussels and Frankfurt as well as in Amsterdam, where the range-extended EV has been trialled since March. More locations, more countries to follow.