Electric alert: Defender EVs on trial

February 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

defender_evsLand Rover has built a test fleet of seven all-electric Defender 4x4s. These all-terrain EVs – to be publicly unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show – have a 70kW (94bhp), 330Nm motor and 300-volt lithium-ion battery pack (air-cooled), and though their range is only around 50 miles, they can run for up to eight hours at low speeds off-road. A fast-charge at 7kW takes four hours, and the Hill Descent Control system incorporates regenerative braking with up to 80% of kinetic energy recoverable. Transmission is single-speed, with a modified version of the Terrain Response System and the standard 4WD with differential lock; weight is increased by only 100kg. So far, tests have included wading to a depth of 800m, pulling 12 tonnes up a 13% gradient and other heavy-duty tasks; Land Rover describes them as a “rolling laboratory” which “gives us a chance to evolve and test some of the technologies that may one day be introduced into future Land Rover models”. Later this year, the seven vehicles will “go into service in specialist real-world trials”. Land Rover is also launching a nine-speed automatic gearbox, developed by ZF, which promises fuel savings of up to 16% in a diesel SUV and 12% in a petrol compared to a current six-speeder.

  • Want to build your own electric racing car? Westfield Sportscars is launching the iRacer, a DIY kit car costing from £13,999 which can be used in the Formula Student series. It is being developed with support from Birmingham University, which is also working with Westfield to reduce CO2 emissions and weight by a target 20% across its range. More here.
  • Hyundai has started assembly-line production of the iX35 Fuel Cell crossover: the first batch of 17 is going out for fleet use, 15 to the municipality of Copenhagen and two to authorities in Skane, Sweden. Consumer retail sales are scheduled for ‘after 2015’. More here.
  • Detailed Q&A with GM’s chief technology officer, John Lauckner, at Autoblog Green. GM is focusing on five key areas: clean propulsion-related tech incl. power electronics, emissions control, motors, better batteries and other economy-improving measures; connected vehicles/infotainment; advanced materials (lightweight, eco-friendly) and technologies; sensors, processors and memory (computing power) and manufacturing-related technologies. We’re still at an early stage with e-mobility, he says, but Gen II and III lithium-ion battery improvements will bring improvements and lower costs.
  • Updates to the Nissan Leaf, soon to be built in Sunderland: range increased to 124 miles (up from 109), a more efficient heating system, improved luggage space, enhanced regenerative braking in ‘eco’ mode, tweaks to the chassis, interior bio-fabrics and more versions/options available, including a 32amp onboard quick-charger giving a four-hour complete top-up. The batteries (already built in Sunderland) are now warranted for 5 years/1oo,oookm, with a new clause protecting buyers against ‘gradual capacity loss’ in that time.  Full rundown here.
  • A story from a satisfied RelayRides member, renting out her Nissan Leaf by the hour: some angst, but it seems to be working for her. Interesting points are that 1. most of her renters are young – finding car ownership too costly, or with a different attitude towards it? and 2. that some see it as a chance to try out an EV before buying one. Most even plug her car back in to recharge when they bring it back, apparently.
  • Poor feedback from a taxi trial of the Leaf in Osaka, however – charging takes the cars off the streets too long, battery capacity has deteriorated, and use of the heaters kills the range, reports Japan Today. Possibly not the best application of EVs at this point in time, then, especially since there are only eight chargers in Osaka.
  • Over 150 charging points are now operational in a national network in Estonia, with a full 165 to be onstream this summer. Over 60 are on highways between the country’s major cities, and fast-chargers enable top-ups in 20-40 minutes. They are operated by the national  Elmo programme, a partnership with Mitsubishi, with three charging tariffs, including pay-as-you-go, available to users. More here.
  • Supporting national manufacturing and supply chains: the French government has ordered 2000 Renault Zoe electric superminis plus 100 Fluence ZE saloons, to be delivered over the next three years as part of a 17,000-EV fleet for the public sector. On a more pan-European note, 50 Mercedes-Benz Vito E-Cell vans are going to Post Danmark, reports EV Fleet World.
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