Seat shows economical new Leon; build your own electric speedster; tech titbits

July 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Seat is to launch the third-generation Leon at the Paris Motor Show, with sales to start towards the end of the year. The Spanish-built member of the Volkswagen Golf family is to get engines from 1.2- to 2.0-litres, all direct-injection and turbocharged, and fuel consumption is improved by an average 22%. Most economical will be the 1.6 TDI diesel (104bhp/184lb ft), which will deliver 74.3mpg and emit 99g/km in Ecomotive form with stop/start and brake energy recuperation. The 2.0 TDI Ecomotive (148bhp/236lb ft) will do 70.6mpg, and petrol-wise, watch out for the entry-level 1.2 TSI (85bhp or 104bhp). Seat’s hinting too that the range will expand beyond the sole five-door body-style of the current line-up, too.

  • “If we think of ourselves as a mobility company rather than just as an auto provider, that really opens up possibilities”, said Bill Ford at the recent ‘Go Further With Ford’ trend conference. This thinking involves integrated public-private transport systems, autonomous and networked vehicles, and new business models. Meanwhile, Renault has launched a scheme called MOBILIZ, to include mobility schemes, low-cost car rentals, car-pooling and micro-community transport, and social finance schemes to aid mobility for  people on low incomes. Via  Green Car Congress; more on Renault MOBILIZ here.
  • Detailed story on wireless EV charging and cordless induction charging mats at Detroit News today. Some serious money’s going into developing this stuff.
  • New figures from McKinsey indicate that the price of an EV lithium-ion battery pack, including cells, management software and packaging, could fall to an average $200 per kilowatt-hour by 2020 and to $160/kWhr by 2015 (current price is $500-600). The break-even point for total cost of ownership parity with an ICE vehicle is $250, it claims. The cost reductions will be brought down by a combination of economies of scale, lower prices for individual components, and improved technologies to improve battery capacity. Full report at McKinsey Quarterly, edited highlights (no sub required) here.
  • EV batteries are expensive, and preventing them from overheating is difficult: however, researchers at the Frauenhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology, Oberhausen, have come up with a coolant claimed to be three times more effective than the usual water-cooling. CryoSolplus combines water with ingredients including paraffin and glycol, absorbs three times as much heat as water alone, is more effective at conducting heat away, and can be used in smaller quantities, thus saving on weight and packaging. More at alphagalileo.
  • The Schaeffler Group says its thermal management module can boost a car’s fuel efficiency by 4% compared to a conventional thermostat. It gives more precise control of engine and transmission temperatures, with quicker warm-up. It’s now fitted in Audi’s latest four-cylinder engines (AutoTech Daily).
  • DIY EV of the Day: the Modi-Corp Pius (no ‘r’). It’s an open speedster-style kit car (pictured below), but before you get too excited, it’s just a low-speed single-seater (classed in Japan as a motorised bicycle) intended for assembly by students at engineering colleges and mechanic training centres (via


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