Oil insecurity, Nissan’s first EV, and hydrogen from plants?

April 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

nissan tamaOil insecurity in the UK: 32% of our oil is imported now, compared to exports of 40% in 2001, according to a report by Deloitte for the RAC Foundation. 75% of all petroleum products in the country are consumed by transport; we’re a net importer of diesel in particular, because “our ageing oil refineries are also struggling to meet the demand”, with most coming from the Netherlands, Sweden, Russia, Belgium and the US. Two national oil refineries have closed in the last decade, leaving the country with seven, of which “all but one has been up for sale within the past three years”. As North Sea stocks dwindle, “we are becoming more dependent on international markets and foreign suppliers to keep the nation moving”, and “our inability to meet our oil and roadfuel requirements is a potential timebomb”, says Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation.

  • Nissan has restored one of the 1947 Tama EVs (pictured) made by Prince Motor, its predecessor company (previously Tachikawa Airplane). Nice video about the vehicle, and Japan’s early experiments with e-mobility post-WWII, here. Built for a time of oil shortages and infrastructural crises… now there’s an idea. The Tama had lead-acid batteries and a range of over 96km; its top speed was only 35kmph, but enough for it to serve as a taxi until 1950. The Tama Senior, an electric saloon, was also made. A handy history of Nissan’s EVs here, btw.
  • Realistically, this ain’t exactly the answer to the  top-mentioned problem either, but… Porsche is introducing a plug-in hybrid Panamera. This 416hp Panamera S E-Hybrid returns up to 91mpg/71g/km (a very averaged-out sort-of-NEDC figure, really for compo purposes only), features regenerative braking and can be quick-charged in 2.5 hours or four hours from a standard domestic socket; it can do up to 22 miles in all-electric mode (11-22 miles range cited as an achievable everyday possibility) and 84mph (168mph possible from the engine, incidentally). Acceleration 0-62mph? 5.5 seconds, and it can coast in all-electric mode at high speeds too; transmission is the eight-speed Tiptronic S auto ‘box. Charging status, battery management and remote operation of the climate control can be monitored via the Porsche Car Connect smartphone app.
  • More hopeful news, albeit for further into the future? A team from Virginia Tech has developed biocatalysts to extract hydrogen from plant matter, which could “help end our dependence on fossil fuels”, says Professor YH Percival Zhang. More here.
  • US buyers of the Fiat 500e are to get 12 days’ worth of free ICE-rental via a deal with Enterprise (excl. insurance and fuel), reports Automotive News, to cover them should they wish to travel beyond the 500e’s 80-mile range.
  • Chinese car-maker Geely and the Kandi Technology Corporation are forming a JV to make mass-market EVs and electric solutions for the public transport system of Hangzhou, “an electric vehicle test pilot city”. Statement of intent posted here. Could these EVs be for some kind of car club/share?
  • All-electric Mercedes-Benz B-Class will go on sale in the US next year; release posted here. Plus more on that Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, to “sell a million in Portlandia”, suggests Autoblog Green. Slightly less old-school SUV-style than the Highlander, Pathfinder and QX60 hybrids also unveiled in New York, I suppose.
  • Was peak VMT (vehicle miles travelled) in the US three years ago? Or is the downturn a blip like 1979? Debate at the Twin City Sidewalks blog (via AutoblogGreen).
  • FutureDrive Live (previously known as EcoVelocity) has been canned. The show was due to take place next month as an add-on to the Ideal Home show at ExCel, but apparently not enough exhibitors had been signed up.
  • California’s Green Automotive Company, a distributor of EVs and already the owner of Liberty Automotive (converter of Range Rovers) has now snapped up GoinGreen, the UK distribution agents for the G-Wiz. More here.
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