Design Concept of the Day: Charles Bombardier Spike
December 11, 2014 § Leave a comment
Here’s a car without a driver – or even a windscreen. The latest concept from Charles Bombardier – showcased in his regular column for Canada’s Globe and Mail – takes the idea of autonomy to an extreme, creating a car interior solely designed for passenger comfort and sociability. It’ll seat four side-by-side, or two in more luxurious face-to-face seats, or various other modular configurations; there are luggage compartments at the front and rear. Access is via gullwing doors (of course) and the cabin includes a raise-up adjustable table with inductive charging for laptops, etc. Conceived as a commuting vehicle or highway transporter, it has side windows and front/rear LCD screens – with no driver, no windscreens are needed. It’s electrically-propelled, of course, with wireless induction-charging capability. More images (renderings by Boris Schwarzer) here.
- Some detailed feedback from a small sample (76) of Nissan Leaf owners in the UK: 93% use their Leaf as their main family car, 64% say it drives better than a petrol/diesel, 89% reported significant cost savings compared to ICE cars (£200-£250 a month reported by “many”), 41% said it had positively changed the way they drive, more than a third said they did not have to plan journeys in advance more than they did previously, 95% were happy to recommend it to a friend, and over half said they would not go back to ICE. 89% charge up overnight at home. Nissan GB MD James Wright notes: “The issues that the naysayers said would hinder ownership have not materialised and, in fact, the feeling from LEAF owners is that they would never go back to a traditional combustion engine.” Nissan has now sold over 6,500 Leafs in the UK and 147,000-plus globally. More here, anyway.
- Mazda (in cooperation with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation) has developed a bioplastic for exterior parts which gives a paint-free mirror-like finish. This can be dyed, and is made from plant-derived materials, so is lower-carbon and reduces emissions of volatile organic compounds. It’ll feature first in the cabin of the upcoming new MX-5 but is also suitable for exterior applications. It’s said to be mouldable, durable and to have a higher-quality finish than painted plastic. More here.
- Nearly half of all EVs sold in the USA were purchased in California, according to DoE figures; in 2013, 70,000 all-electric and 104,000 PHEV vehicles were registered in the US. That doesn’t sound like much in the context of overall sales of 226million vehicles – but is more than a drop in the ocean: 0.6% of all car sales in 2013, from 0.4% in 2012, and rising to 0.7% so far in 2014.
- A name to watch. Seeo, a developer of lithium-polymer batteries, has gained an investor: Samsung Ventures. This latest round of funding will enable it to bring a new generation of batteries towards commercialisation, with an energy density of 400Wh/kg targeted – around twice that of batteries currently in production, and up from the 350 Wh/kg of its current prototype cells.
- Plug in and play with a Predator’s kit car: the PC010 ST comes in DIY form from $10,000, with all-EV and hybrid options available. It’s a street-legal single-seater – or at least, it will be once European Type Approval is obtained. A crowdfunding campaign is now underway. More here.
- The government of Singapore is calling for participating partners in a 1000-car EV-sharing trial, reports Today.
- Volvo’s testing a three-cylinder petrol engine, downsizing further from the Drive-E four-pots: it’ll meet Euro 7. Turbocharging applied.
- BASF has developed a four-way catalytic converter for petrol engines, with particulate filter. Now in its testing phase; science bit here.
- And, not unrelated: the European Society of Cardiology has made a very explicit statement on fossil fuel use, traffic and air pollution, advising cardiovascular patients (or anyone at risk of heart problems) to stay clear of rush-hour traffic, busy roads, etc…
- The Blink network (USA) has added a remote-start function to its charging app, reports EV Fleet World. Am not sure how well-received it would be for a driver to bag a public charging point, plug in, and then start charging later in the day, but I think this is more about general functionality and being able to sort out registration/payment/charging in one go by smartphone.