NAIAS Detroit round-up and more…

January 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

honda fcvHonda’s still not production-ready with its fuel cell vehicle, but the extensively-previewed FCV Concept on show in Detroit is closer to the real deal (to go on sale in Japan spring 2016, with US and Euro sales to follow); its fuel cell stack is a third smaller than the FCX Clarity’s, but gives a 60% increase in power density. Driving range is said to be over 300 miles. Honda has also said it will add PHEV and battery-electric models to its range for 2018.

  • So Hyundai has given its Sonata Hybrid saloon a plug: all-electric range of 22 miles, a total power output of 202hp and 93mpge (on the US test cycle), upping the capability of the existing plugless Hybrid model. The new PHEV has a more powerful 50kW motor in place of a torque converter in the six-speed auto ‘box, allowing for higher-speed electrically-powered progress, and supplementing the 154hp/140lb ft 2.0-litre engine. Recharging can be done in 2.5 hours at 240V.
  • OK, this Chinese concept first seen at the Guangzhou Auto Show in 2013, is quite amusing. Not much info available on the GAC (Guangzhou Automobile Corporation) WitStar, though there’s a bit via PR Newswire; range-extended powertrain with 1.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine and motor-generator, giving 127hp/168 lb ft, an all-electric range of 62 miles and overall fuel consumption of less than 2.0l/km, apparently. Given that GAC has already launched its GA5 REV in China, the powertrain is presumably a goer.  This concept has some autonomous capability, wooden flooring and falcon-wing doors provide the requisite concept-car quirks, and we won’t talk about the arm rest with embedded (plastic) fish tank. Gallery of pics at Detroit Free Press.
  • Honorable Detroit mention to Local Motors, 3D-printing and assembling its Strati EV on its stand at the show. More here.
  • And the electric train: a five-week trial between Harwich and Manningtree (Essex) will see the Class 379 Electrostar in action. More here.
  • Advances in lithium-sulphur batteries: BASF/University of Waterloo (Canada) are reporting stabilisation of the cathode, thus delivering improved performance and battery life. Details here.
  • ULEV is putting up £5million-worth of funding for UK public-sector organisations to go electric; fire and police services, NHS bodies and local authorities are invited to apply for funding towards the purchase of EVs. More here.
  • And the government-backed Go Ultra Low campaign is appealing to people’s pockets by pointing out that switching to ultra-low emissions vehicles could save them money (£860 a year in tax and fuel, it’s claimed – obviously, that’s assuming that drivers can match ‘official’ consumption figures, an issue to which I will return at a later date). It has surveyed 1690 drivers, however, and found that over a third didn’t drive a journey over 80 miles last year – thus suggesting that owning an EV would be feasible – and that there were plenty of misconceptions about EVs, PHEVs and plug-in vehicles as well as a lack of awareness about fast-charging stations, running costs and safety. Feedback from the survey and more detail here.
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