EVs, upgrades – and charging in both senses of the word

March 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

Akustische Innovation: Der e-Sound von Audi“The electric car is the future”: thus says Dr Ulrich Hackenburg, Audi’s board member for technical development. His definition includes plug-in hybrids – such as the A3 E-tron and R8 E-tron (pictured) – and, in this interview with Automotive News Europe, he notes that Audi is planning to offer “a completely new world of services to the customer – all the way to green energy supplies and the installation of fast-chargers in garages”.

  • A good idea: Renault is thinking about offering retro-fit battery upgrades and software updates to its EV customers. More at What Car?.
  • And ‘chip’ tech which could increase range by 15%: Dukosoi of Edinburgh has just received funding to develop its Electric Vehicle Optimisation Integrated Circuit (EVoiC), which monitors energy levels and the flow of power to and from individual cells in a battery, reports Business Green.
  • The end of ‘free’ EV charging in the UK is nigh: Chargemaster (including the Polar network) has just announced its new tariffs and pay-as-you-go option. Transport Evolved has done the maths; looks as if it’s going to hit EV drivers who regularly charge away from home at the network’s points rather hard. Other operators and networks are expected to follow suit in due course. Could tip the balance in the lower running costs vs. higher purchase price EV equation for some.
  • A team from the Fraunhofer Institute Center Stuttgart is developing a micro smart-grid system for EV-charging; it has installed kit in its car park to support up to 30 EVs in a ‘living lab’, and is now adding photovoltaic panels and a small wind turbine to increase the proportion of renewable energy used. The charge@work project is looking at coping with peak load, grid-balancing and smart management. More here.
  • BMW’s planning to expand its DriveNow short-term rentals/carshare to up to 25 more cities – 10 in the US and 10-15 in Europe, reports Automotive News.
  • Detroit engine-maker EcoMotors, creator of an OPOC (opposed-piston) unit, has signed a second deal with a Chinese company; First Auto Works (FAW) is to invest over $200million, reports Automotive News.
  • Detailed piece about the Project 100 car/ride/bike-sharing scheme proposed for Las Vegas at Atlantic Cities. An interesting story involving a well-funded entrepreneur, attempts to entice people to live downtown again, a potentially fraught relationship with public transit providers, and state legislation.
  • I’m liking the WAVE – Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience, a heavy-duty truck concept developed for the retailer by Peterbilt, Great Dane Trailers and Capstone Turbine. Besides extreme aerodynamics for fuel-saving, it’s got a lightweight carbonfibre trailer and a turbine-driven biodiesel-compatible hybrid powertrain. Video, more details at Wired.
  • There are plenty of experiments going on to synthesize biodiesel from algae – now there’s the possibility of algae-derived hydrogen.
  • The BMW i3 has met with a lukewarm response from participants in the BMW’s Electronaut programme who won’t be trading up, reports Transport Evolved – many simply preferred their 1-Series ActiveEs and Mini Es, and see the i3 as too expensive and too MPV-like.
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