Friday newsbriefs

June 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

A quick round-up of news before the weekend. First up: the TAC Motors Stark, a small and lightweight Brazilian-built 4×4 designed for hard-core mud-plugging. It’s to be electrified, using the MotoCzysz D1g1tal Dr1ve plug-and-play powertrain module in place of its usual Fiat turbodiesel. A contract for the build of 3600 eStarks has been signed, reports Wired, with a view to sales in North America further down the line though it’s unlikely to make it to Europe. Still, this is just one early example of what’s set to be a growing trend – vehicles in niche market sectors getting off-the-shelf EV tech developed by other small start-ups including motorcycle manufacturers (MotoCzysz has developed its powertrain and control software racing electric superbikes).

  • Resurface roads, save fuel: a study from MIT suggests that pavement deflection (the sinking of a soft surface under a vehicle’s weight) could waste as much as 273million barrels of oil each year in the US.It recommends firming roads up with a layer of concrete or an asphalt-concrete composite, or using thicker layers of asphalt. Only fair to say that the study was funded by the cement/concrete industry, however… More at Wired Autopia
  • New battery tech of the day: copper antimonide, electrodeposited onto nanowires or copper foam substrate to speed up the migration of lithium ions between the cathode and anode, with no need for liquid electrolyte. Prieto Battery claims that in a car, this could give a 400-mile range, full charging in 10-20 minutes and 240 volts, and safe, stable longevity, and says it could bring a product to market within 12 months.
  • This may be distasteful to Guardian-reading peaceniks (amongst which I count myself), but a lot of important auto/environmental research is coming out of military projects. The TARDEC lab in Warren, Michigan (Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Centre) is working on technology to recover waste exhaust heat energy in tanks; more at Detroit News.
  • The first of a new network of pay-as-you-go fast-chargers was opened this week at Clacket Lane motorway services on the M25. Infrastructure provider Engenie is to install Schneider Electric chargers at Roadchef facilities across the UK; these can zap up a battery to full capacity in 30 minutes, and no membership will be required for access.
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