Concepts of the Day: Smart Fourjoy, Citroen Cactus

September 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

smart_fourjoyThe four-seat Smart is back – though this time, it has no doors or rear windows. In concept form, at least; the production-spec new-generation Forfour which the Fourjoy previews (a model co-developed with the next Renault Twingo) is likely to be more of a conventional supermini. The 55kW electric motor-driven powertrain (as in the current Fortwo electric drive) will be developed for the real deal, though, and the concept gives a good preview of the design of the car to be launched late 2014. It keeps the Smart ‘tridion cell’ styling – playing up its structural features – with a polished aluminium finish to this framework plus moulded plastic panels and plexiglass trimmings. The interior incorporates a pair of smartphones for entertainment and connectivity – and the roof holds a pair of electrically-driven longboard skateboards plus helmets with cameras for live image-streaming. The ‘boards are suggested for use over short distances in the city – perhaps solving the ‘last mile’ problem. The Fourjoy goes on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week. Gallery of pics at Car Design News.

citroen cactusAlso on show in Frankfurt: Citroen Cactus, previewing the first of a series of utility-focused C-line models from Citroen (distinct from the design-driven DS-line). This concept is an SUV-style supermini, its most interesting technology its Hybrid Air drivetrain. This uses a tank of compressed air and hydraulics to supplement engine power and eke out a claimed 94mpg-plus. with a 45% reduction in fuel economy promised around town. The Cactus also features an all-digital touchscreen control system with Citroen’s online Multicity Connect applications and location-based information. More pics here. But is it as cute and attention-catching as Citroen’s earlier C-Cactus diesel-electric hybrid with its boggle-eyed headlamps?

  • Another Frankfurt reveal: modular battery technology for e-buses, developed by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).
  • Toyota is working on wireless charging for the Prius Plug-In Hybrid (which will, presumably, no longer need to be plugged in). Full text from speech by Satishi Ogiso, managing officer, posted here.
  • Electric trucks for Texas: 30 heavy-duty Smith Newton delivery vehicles are to go into service in the Houston-Galveston region (Green Car Congress).
  • BMW is working with power company Vattenfall on a second-life programme for lithium-ion batteries from its i-range. Leftover EV batteries should still have 80% of their original capacity, it says, and can be used for energy storage and grid-buffering. More here.
  • US EV drivers can now rate their charging experience – equipment broken, busy, inconvenient, etc – with PlugScore, a further app from Recargo’s PlugShare (Green Car Reports).
  • Ford has confirmed that it’ll be selling two hybrids – C-MAX Energi plug-in, new-generation Mondeo petrol-electric – plus the Focus Electric in Europe by the end of next year (EV Fleet World). It’s doing demos of the Focus Electric at the LowCVP event at Millbrook this week.
  • A 50-bike electric scooter-share has been launched in Barcelona: Motit users can reserve bikes via smartphone and it costs from 4 euros an hour or 45 cents per km. More here.
  • “Local laser reinforcement” techniques could reduce weight of steel structures in cars by 20% – thus delivering fuel-efficiency and emissions savings – without compromising crash safety. Work from the Frauenhofer Institute for Material and Bean Technology, Dresden: more here.
  • EV charging points have now been installed in 12 London Underground car parks (Fleet News).
  • Smart Highway, a concept designed by Daan Roosegaarde, has won the Community category of the Index: Award 2013. Smart Highway features solar-charged glow-in-the-dark and temperature-activated paint, reducing the need for energy-inefficient lighting, and could incorporate induction charging for EVs. Looks cool, too.
  •  Oh, and on a watery note, I’m liking the Planet Solar solar-powered catamaran, which has just cruised into London.
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