March 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

honda s660So Honda has launched its S660 roadster in Japan – a tiny kei-class 660cc turbocharged lightweight, a belated follow-up to the Beat – but there’s talk there might be an electric version. Remember the EV-ster concept (Toyota Motor Show, 2011)? That clearly had some influence on the S660’s design… More on the (very cute) little S660 here, anyway. Not-so-funnily enough, I’m much more interested in this than the equally long-anticipated NSX.

  • A steering system based on in-wheel motor tech reduces the drain on battery range in EVs; the three-year e2-Lenk project at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology is to develop this assisted steering system with a view to saving cost, weight and manufacturing complexity. More here.
  • Not sure about the name (toilet humour alert) but the e-floater (!) is a promising-looking ‘last-mile’ urban transport solution. It’s a battery-powered stand-up scooter, using composites and plastics from BASF (it weighs less than 12kg), with solar charging option. More details from Floatility Gmbh.
  • Alongside last week’s announcement about OLEV grants for electric motorcycle/scooter buyers came confirmation of £6.6million for hydrogen infrastructure projects, including 2 new refuelling stations (Brentford, Croydon), upgrades to existing stations in Sheffield, Port Talbot, Swindon, London/Greater London, an upgrade to a mobile refuelling station (to support test drives, conferences, demos, etc) and one more mobile station. More here.
  • Jaguar Land Rover is to double the size of its Whitley engineering/research/design centre for the development of “ultra-low-emissions vehicles”; these are to include all-electric versions of the XE and F-Pace crossover, reports Autocar, with an all-electric Range Rover likely too. The aim is, says the mag, to tap into the market identified by the Tesla Model S for luxury-level EVs which enable the affluent to get around LEZ/congestion charge-type legislation. Obviously.
  • Another week, another rather ridiculous ‘hypercar’, but the 200mph LM2 Streamliner – to be unveiled at the upcoming New York Auto Show, ‘cos it’s really well-suited to the streets of the Big Apple – will also be offered in all-electric form, says Autocar. Which doesn’t necessarily make it alright.
  • Better biofuels: researchers at University of East Anglia have identified strains of yeast that make the process of  turning waste agricultural material – straw, sawdust, corncobs –  into fuel more feasible. More here.

Geneva 2015: the aftermath

March 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

lexus lfsaI really liked the Lexus LF-SA city car concept, which has to give more than a few clues as to the next-gen Toyota/Scion iQ as well. Automotive News makes the valid point that as a Lexus, it’d be offered with hybrid powertrain only, and suggests that it’s a viable contender for production rather than just a think-piece. Further news from Geneva: some comment from Automotive News Europe on the prospect of an Opel/Vauxhall-badged Chevy Bolt: more commercially viable than a Karl/Viva EV, more likely than a direct replacement for the too-expensive Ampera. So Nissan launched – ahead of expectation – a seven-seat passenger-carrying version of its e-NV200 van, the Evalia (more here), and that Borgward brand-revival: plan is for mass-market production (800,000 cars a year by 2020) with an SUV to come first; it’ll be launched at Frankfurt show in the autumn, and there’ll be hybrid powertrains, reports Autocar.

ford ebikesMeanwhile, away from Switzerland Ford raised a few eyebrows at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, unveiling two folding e-bicycles and its Handle On Mobility trial programme. The Dahon-built MoDe:Me is a straightforward 200W-boosted commuter pedelec to be stowed in a car boot for short onward park-and-ride journeys; the MoDe: Pro is for commercial use (couriers, electricians, delivery services, suggests Ford) and can be stowed in vans or support vehicles. The trial will test an app called MoDe: Link (iPhone 6) which enables navigation (signalled to the rider via vibration on the handlebar grips); auto turn signals; communication with other vehicles, identification of bike-friendly routes, hazards and alerts; integrated multi-modal journey planning including weather, parking and charging point info; adjustment of pedal-assist according to the rider’s heart-rate (with ‘no sweat’ mode); and compatibility with Ford’s in-car SYNC. More details here. And also at the Mobile World Congress: BMW’s “Vehicular Small Cell” tech for better in-car wireless networking (more here).

  • Nissan is partnering with Spanish energy firm Endesa to develop two-way vehicle-to-grid EV-charging for peak load-balancing, energy storage and back-up in emergency situations. The trials will also involve energy storage using second-life batteries from end-of-life EVs. More here.
  • Putting a silica shell, with ‘mildly reduced’ graphene oxides’, onto cathode material in lithium-sulphur batteries reduces the likelihood of ‘polysulfide shuttle’ as lithium tends to dissolve in electrolyte: a team from the University of California have developed a process promising higher battery performance and longer battery life. More, incl. references, here. Yet BASF is developing a process to increase the energy density of good ol’ nickel-metal hydride tenfold, apparently – NiMH batteries being both cheap and stable; more here.
  • And latest news on the ‘biobattery’ process – improving the efficiency of biogas plants in producing electricity, gas, biofuel and ‘biochars’ from green waste, sewage sludge, food industry by-products, straw or animal excrement. Trials in Germany are now seeing 75% efficiency.

Concept of the Day: Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II

February 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

mitsu concept xr-phevMitsubishi has released more details of its small SUV concept, a plug-in hybrid, prior to next week’s Geneva Auto Salon. The XR-PHEV II has a new powertrain promising a motor output of 163hp (no details yet on the engine) and overall emissions below 40gkm, and is front-wheel-drive despite its mini-Shogun styling; think next-generation ASX urban crossover.  It has all-electric, series hybrid and parallel hybrid modes – designed for prioritising all-electric operation, with the engine acting as a generator, but the engine can also kick in to supplement the motor power.

  • Toyota is putting its i-Road into action in an EV-share in central Tokyo next month, in partnership with Park24’s Times Car Plus service. A trial – supplementing Toyota’s programme in Grenoble, France – will run till the end of September to gauge user feedback, activity patterns and ease of usage.Toyota expects the cars, to be located at the Times Station, Yurakucho ITOCiA shopping centre, to be used one-way to businesses, shops and sight-seeing locations; they can be returned to any of five central bases. Times Car Plus members opting into the service will pay 412 yen (about £2.25) per 15 minutes with max hire time two and a half hours. There are around 430,000 members of this mobility service (operated by car park network Park24) across Japan.
  • Springer has published a book on Electric Vehicle Business Models, including case studies and research on car-sharing, wireless charging, grid-balancing, marketing (‘technology push vs market pull’), and cost of ownership; more details and samples here.
  • Volkswagen’s Geneva concept previewing the next CC is to have a (petrol) plug-in hybrid powertrain, reports Autocar, but the Audi Prologue Avant (next-gen A6 Avant estate) is diesel-electric – 3.0 TDI engine, 353hp, plus 100kW motor and eight-speed tiptronic transmission, delivering 0-62 in 5.1 seconds, 155mph, 176mpg overall, 43g/km and a 54km range in all-electric mode. Wireless induction charging capability, too.
  • Zap-Map.com has launched a mobile app (£4.99, iOS, Android to follow) enabling UK EV drivers to search for public charging points (by rated power, connector type or compatibility with their vehicle as well as by postcode or location), and to provide feedback and ratings , i.e. on correct functioning. It’s the first of a series of apps the Zap-Map/Next Green Car team (managers of the government-funded National Chargepoint Registry) are developing to support electric car drivers. More here. This follows debate on EV user forums about the ins and outs of repurposing and selling data from OpenChargeMap and other OS databases…
  • Proterra has upgraded its e-bus battery packs to deliver a range of 180 miles; more at Green Car Congress.
  • Not all biofuel bad: the Greater London Authority is planning to get vehicles used on council fleets running on a blend with used cooking oils, fats and greases, and Hackney is to trial blends of B20 and B30 in its LCVs by the end of the year, reports Fleet News. This could also help tackle the problem of ‘fatbergs’ clogging the capital’s sewers.

Concept of the Day: Liberty Electric Cars DELIVER

May 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

liberty deliverWell, the Google car’s everywhere, so I’ll bring you something different. This is DELIVER (Design of Electric LIght Vans for Environment-impact Reduction – catchy, eh?), built by the UK’s Liberty Electric Cars in an EC-funded project involving partners including RWTH Aachen University, Fiat, Volkswagen, Michelin, the Polis Network, Technical Research Institute of Sweden and HPL Prototypes. It features 2x 57kW/42Nm Michelin in-wheel motors, fitted on the rear axle with a two-speed transmission, an 80-cell Li-NMC battery pack, and promises a range of 100km and a top speed of 100kph. It weighs 2200kg and has a payload of 700kg, while its flexible cabin layout (no B-pillar kerb-side) gives walk-in capability and aids driver safety; it’s been developed with postal/delivery operations, supermarket deliveries and city council use in urban/suburban areas in mind. With a driver.

Described as a technology demonstrator at this stage, it has been evaluated on the RWTH Aachen University test tracks at Aldenhoven, and DELIVER will go display at the FISITA World Automotive Congress next week in Maastricht. More details at Green Car Congress; full presentation document from the DELIVER consortium here.

  • OK, the Google car… we all knew this was coming, but the most interesting/potentially disruptive thing about it, I reckon,  will be the degree to which Google plans to build and market it itself rather than work with established OEMs. The initial 100 prototypes will be in-house (albeit assembled by Roush and based on an existing product, say the rumours), then after that, Google is expected to work with partners – but how will the products be branded? The market’s opening up, though early days, of course. (“A revolutionary idea presented in a remarkably mundane package”, says Wired. Well, maybe that’s the idea).
  • Daimler’s pulling Car2Go out of the UK; its car-share schemes in Birmingham and London have failed to take off. Reuters cites the difficulty of co-ordinating between London boroughs on parking, given the one-way/’free-floating’ nature of the scheme; Car2Go itself talks in a statement of “the UK’s strong culture and tradition of private vehicle ownership” as well as the “unique challenges”. ZipCar continues to operate in London, nonetheless, though perhaps the greater ‘challenge’ in the capital is the fact that it’s actually pretty well-served by public transport. I’d also suggest that the limited fleet – Smart Fortwos – and the short-term-oriented pricing structure gave no appeal for residents (as opposed to tourists or city visitors) who don’t need a car for everyday or short-distance transport around the city (better means are available!) but might want to use one for occasional trips out to the country or weekends away, for example (something CityCarClub appears to have considered). Either way, it didn’t work out.
  • Some interesting discussion on car-sharing with car-share research queen Susan Shaheen (sorry, couldn’t resist that) here. Yes, it’s all about the city context (see above), which is continually shifting and changing; Shaheen also points to changes in the way car club members opt to use cars as their membership progresses.
  • Study from UC Berkeley (Caperello, TyreeHageman, Kurani) on the differences between male and female EV drivers: the men were less likely to talk about seeing long-distance journeys as impractical and more likely to consider using fast-chargers, women more likely to distrust range indicators; women more likely to focus on cost savings compared with buying petrol in the here and now; men more likely to look at long-term investments and also to see EV-driving as a political issue; men more interested in R&D and getting involved with EV communities; but really, many of the concerns and points raised were common to both genders. However, women are poorly represented in much EV-related research and product-planning, they argue. Full paper can be downloaded here.
  • The Chinese government is taking action to get smoke-belching old cars off the road – compulsory scrapping of a million to improve city air quality, reports Reuters. The interventions a totalitarian state can make, and my word, there are complications – and contradictions – inherent in actually pushing such a measure through.
  • Two-stroke scooters – which only have to meet Euro 2 emissions standards – are among the highest polluters of hydrocarbons and particulate matter in cities, claims a study from Switzerland: rundown, plus references and citations, here at Green Car Congress. Discussion too on diesel engine emissions from the United Nations Economic Congress for Europe, reported here; other sectors are more responsible and vehicles are not the primary culprits for PMs, but continued recommendations are made by UNECE.
  • Understanding this is way beyond my capabilities and the little I can remember from GCSE Chemistry, but there’s been some work on ‘iron molten air’ batteries. Said to offer higher energy capacity than lithium-ion, and when operating at lower temperatures as this research team has achieved, compatible with EV applications; more here.
  • A demo project at Berlin-Schonefeld (airport site) includes a multi-energy refuelling station with a hydrogen cogeneration plant, hydrogen refuelling for vehicles, plus electrolysis of hydrogen using surplus wind and solar energy. More on the Green Hydrogen Hub here.
  • Aston University is working on a bioenergy project involving Norwegian forestry waste; at the moment, it’s looking at biofuel for marine use, but research involves refinement processes and suchlike which could be relevant to land transport as well. More here.

 

 

Monday news round-up

May 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

blueindyThe Bollore Group has launched its BlueIndy EV-share in Indianapolis: it’s to get up to 500 cars, in 200 locations, with access to 1000 charging points, in the Indiana city, and is promised to be the world’s largest all-electric car-share scheme as yet. Release here. Incidentally, something worth remembering about EV-shares – the differences between schemes in which they are integrated into a multimodal system (ie BeMobility, Berlin) and where the cars are the primary mode of transport (ie Autolib’, Paris), discussed here.

  • BMW is adding live data on charging point status to its i Remote app for US customers – data supplied by CarCharging. More here. (And there’s now an EV charging station app for Google Glass, too).
  • Leicester University is developing an app for HGV drivers for urban routing to minimise congestion, noise and pollution; the SATURN project (satellite applications for urban mobility) will run a pilot trial in Bordeaux. More here.
  • Mercedes-Benz: PHEV versions of S-Class and C-Class on the way, but all-EV models will be restricted to the smaller/lower end of the range. Interview with head of development Thomas Weber at Autocar. And Volkswagen’s to unveil the Mk8 Passat in July, prior to a Paris Motor Show launch: average 20% fuel efficiency improvements across the range, and a PHEV with a 31-mile electric range.
  • Renault is getting to grips with the fact that EV sales haven’t lived up to forecasts: report (via Bloomberg) here. It has, however, just signed a MOU with LG Chem for development of next-gen lithium-ion batteries with a view to doubling range to 180-odd miles; more here.
  • Battery news: Power Japan Plus has come up with a dual carbon battery using organic electrolyte, said to have the same energy density as current lithium-ion tech but the capability of 20x faster charging, and no loss of capacity through repeated cycling. The Ryden dual carbon battery is also fully recyclable, uses no rare earth metals, and is said to be combustion-resistant. Basic details here.
  • Much fuss about BMW crushing its ActiveE prototypes (electric-converted 1-Series) at the close of the Electronaut beta-testing programme – but all of the batteries are being salvaged for a ‘second life’ research programme, says a statement released. It’s not quite a case of re-killing the electric car. 150 of the cars are going to join BMW’s DriveNow Fleet in the San Francisco Bay Area as an interim measure until the i3s come on-stream, anyway, and a further handful are going back to Munich for research. This is what generally happens to pre-production prototypes, electric or otherwise, for legislative/safety reasons: I remember driving an early press fleet Ford Focus RS to Le Mans, showing it off at the 24 Hours to people who were stunned and horrified that, upon its return, it was going straight to the crusher.
  • Latest from Navigant Research: biofuels to account for 7.5% of liquid fuels used in transportation by 2022 (more here); less than half of light-duty vehicles in operation by 2035 will have conventional ICEs (more here and handy digest here). Summaries of reports available on click-throughs; whether or not you agree, and whatever the issues with biofuels and their feedstock sources, some useful stats/forecasts…
  • Spanish utility firm Endesa is now overseeing a 200-strong research fleet of EVs in Malaga, with cars available for local businesses to rent by the hour; 40 Leafs have just been added to the line-up (joining its existing Mitsubishi i-MiEVs), 1.5million km have been clocked up, and the project’s 23 rapid-chargers now include six with V2G capability. The project’s called Zem2all and this Spanish-Japanese collaboration is hoping to start a ‘movement’, with its ‘smart city’ model for mobility to be replicated in Fukushima, Japan, as well as a number of Latin American cities.
  • Volvo’s planning to build a 300-500m ‘electric road’ in Gothenburg next year to test induction charging for its buses; more here. And in the UK, the Highways Agency is looking to start on-road dynamic charging trials in 2016, reports Transport Network.
  • And (yet) another defunct motorcycle brand revived to make e-bikes: Spain’s Bultaco, to launch with a pair of Barcelona-built 90mph sports bikes called Rapitan and Rapitan Sport next year. Release posted here.
  • Methanol from ‘recycled’ CO2 as a transport fuel: could help reduce fossil fuel dependency, according to a lifecycle analysis study for the European Parliament. More details, references here and here.
  • OLEV has temporarily halted the domestic chargepoint installation scheme – more at Transport Evolved (which also has some news of an electric bicycle conversion kit).
  • Mix up your quick-charging and conventional charging for best battery life, reports research from KIT, Karlsruhe, studying EVs operated by businesses including Michelin and Siemens; more here.
  • And IKEA just launched (in Vienna, with further select locations to follow) an electric bicycle… It’s called FOLKVÄNLIG.

Concept of the Day: Bentley Hybrid

April 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

bentley hybrid conceptAm not entirely sure what this represents in terms of an environmental leap forwards, nor indeed, as a symbol of anything, but Bentley (the world’s largest producer of 12-cylinder engines) is to preview its plug-in hybrid technology at the Beijing Auto Show. This will be fitted in a version of its upcoming SUV (2017), though the Hybrid Concept showcases it in the Mulsanne limo body.  Bentley’s promising that ‘at least 90%’ of its production models will be available as plug-ins by the end of the decade; all-electric range will be ‘at least 50km’, giving a 70% reduction in overall CO2 emissions (despite a power increase of up to 25%). I could see this as a cleaner way of propelling embassy-issue or plutocrat-chauffeuring vehicles around the city, I suppose, which is progress of sorts if not exactly a mass-market solution.

  • Upcoming report from the United Nations: to claim that cars are to be the fastest-growing contributor to GHG emissions to 2050, reports Bloomberg. Points from the leaked report include a predicted 71% rise in GHG emissions from cars 2010-2050, especially in developing/emerging economies. Vehicle emissions are said to have doubled 1970-2010, with 80% of the rise due to road transport; road transport accounted for 27% of total ‘end use’ energy in 2010. Bloomberg also quotes predictions from IHS Automotive that global car sales will rise 4% this year to 70.2million, with a 27% rise to 2020; demand is expected to peak at around 100million units. On a global level, we’re a long way from ‘peak car’, if that’s the case.
  • Some figures on Western European EV sales for Jan/Feb via the ever-EV-sceptic Detroit News; up to 0.34% of the market from 0.23% in Jan/Feb 2013, with 5,894 sold versus 3,810. Tiny numbers, indeed, and if you take out Norway’s numbers (2,484, 12.3% of the country’s market) EV sales actually fell 10% Europe-wide. Small rise in Germany, though (1,038, up to 0.23% of the market).
  • The 2014 answer to the Segway – not exactly a mass-market solution for urban mobility, but may have its uses – could be the Ryno monowheel/electric unicycle, now in production… (via Autoblog Green).
  • Sugar: could be better in biofuel than the human body. The US Navy has tested a DSH (Direct Sugar to Hydrocarbon) fuel in a 50:50 blend in diesel engines; details of a paper presented at the SAE World Congress here.
  • More from the SAE World Congress: transmission-maker FEV is showing a two-speed transmission for plug-in hybrid vehicles and for use as a range-extender. It has no torque converter and is said to be 10% lighter than a comparable DCT. More here.
  • Daimler has bought out former partner Evonik’s shares in two lithium-ion battery-making firms. It now owns Li-Tec Battery GmbH and its factory near Dresden, which makes the cells for the Smart ForTwo e-drive, and battery developer/producer Deutsche ACCUmotive, outright. More here.

First look at latest JRC report on future fuels/powertrains

March 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

Pic: Ecotricity

Pic: Ecotricity

The European Joint Research Centre and JEC Consortium have updated the authoritative Well-to-Wheels Analysis of Future Automotive Fuels and Powertrains in the European Context report; it has been extended to cover 2020 and beyond from a base year of 2010, with an update on analysis of natural gas impacts in particular (given the recent push towards fracking for shale gas in Europe), a reassessment of biofuel pathways, and updates on plug-in and fuel cell vehicles including analysis of the EU electricity mix for charging vehicles. Some take-outs:

  • Shifting to renewable or lower-carbon solutions may offer GHG reductions, but total energy use may rise, depending on the specific pathway. Large-scale production of synfuels or hydrogen from coal or gas is only beneficial if CO2 can be captured and stored.
  • Ongoing improvements to petrol/diesel fuels and technologies, including hybridisation, continue to be important.
  • Methane (natural gas) currently has well-to-wheel GHG emissions between those of petrol and diesel, but beyond 2020, will near those of diesel; however, energy use remains more than that of petrol. However, it’s down to supply pathway – biogas, from waste, has lower impact; synthetic gases or e-gases are low-emissions but energy-intensive.
  • For conventionally-produced biofuels (biodiesel, bioethanol), GHG and fossil energy savings depend on the manufacturing processes and fate of co-products; the report considers the variable impacts of nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture and land use changes, and points out that  “the fossil energy savings discussed above should not lead to the conclusion that these pathways are energy-efficient. Taking into account the energy contained in the biomass resource, the total energy involved is two to three times higher than the energy involved in making conventional fuels. These pathways are therefore fundamentally inefficient in the way they use biomass, a limited resource.”
  • However, there is potential for cellulose-based fuels from straw or ‘woody biomass’, which “have an attractive fossil energy and GHG footprint”.
  • GHG emissions from GTL (natural gas-liquid biodiesel) and CTL (coal-to-liquid) are higher than from conventional diesel, especially for CTL. Synthetic diesel from biomass has lower GHG – much lower than current biofuel options – but energy use is still high.
  • DME (dimethyl ether) can be produced from biomass or natural gas with lower energy use and GHG emissions than other GTL or BTL fuels, but would demand diesel engine and infrastructure modifications.
  • Overall energy use and GHG from electric/plug-in hybrid/range-extended vehicles depends on the source of the electricity, but if this is low-GHG, electrified vehicles beat ICE. If higher-GHG, plug-in hybrids are best option.
  • Fuel cell vehicles will become more efficient from 2020-onwards. But – and this is a big but – although hydrogen produced from natural gas and used in a fuel cell vehicle from 2020 gives half the GHG of a petrol vehicle, and “hydrogen from non-fossil sources (biomass, wind, nuclear) offers low overall GHG emissions”, at the moment, “electrolysis using EU-mix electricity or electricity from NG results in GHG emissions two times higher than producing hydrogen directly from NG and gives no benefit compared with a gasoline vehicle”.

And from the 2020+ horizon:

  •  “CNG as transportation fuel only provides small savings because its global GHG balance is close to that of the gasoline and diesel fuels it would replace” – implying that CNG has only short-to-medium term advantages.
  • “With the improvements expected in fuel cell vehicle efficiency, production of hydrogen from NG by reforming and use in a FC vehicle has the potential to save as much GHG emission as substituting coal by NG in power generation” – no advantage for fuel cell/hydrogen cars over EVs using gas-derived electricity, though both bring benefits.
  • “Using farmed wood to produce hydrogen by reforming saves as much GHG emission per hectare of land as using the wood to produce electricity in place of coal and saves more GHG emissions per hectare than producing conventional or advanced biofuels” – wood biomass good for both hydrogen and electricity production, lower-emissions than producing feedstock for biofuels.
  • “When sourcing wind electricity for transport fuels, hydrogen production and use in FCEV is more efficient than the application of synthetic diesel or methane in ICE-based vehicles” – making hydrogen using wind energy is more efficient than making syn-diesel or e-gas.
  • “Using wind electricity to produce hydrogen and using it in FCEV saves slightly less GHG emissions than substituting NG CCGT electricity” – CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) electricity using natural gas is slightly lower-emissions than wind-electricity for making hydrogen.
  • “Using wind electricity as a substitute for coal electricity is the most efficient option for GHG savings”  – indeed.

Anyway, read the whole thing here, and consider all the well-to-wheel, full-lifecycle and production pathway implications. Just shows that there’s no simple solution to finding the ‘fuel of the future’.

And in other news this week…

  • On the subject of energy, a report by the UN’s Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) mentioning BECCS (bio-energy with carbon capture and storage) is about to come out, reports Reuters, with high hopes for the process.
  • Honda’s Smart Home US showcase, on the campus at UC Davis, opened this week; this is claimed to “enable zero net energy living and transportation… producing more energy on-site from renewable sources than it consumes annually, including enough energy to power a Honda Fit EV for daily commuting”. It’s all about smart home energy management (the HEMS system), renewable energy generation (solar), energy-efficient design and materials plus home-to-grid connectivity, energy storage and grid-buffering potential. Full low-down here.
  • Volvo is testing the Torotrak-developed Flybrid KERS tech in Sweden and the UK. This is said to cut fuel consumption by up to 25%, whilst adding an 80hp performance boost; a kinetic energy recovery system, it’s mounted on the rear axle in the test S60 T5s, spinning a carbonfibre flywheel to drive the rear wheels. The front-driven engine turns off under braking – and potentially up to 50% of the driving time – with the biggest potential fuel savings in stop-start traffic and ‘during active driving’ (repeated accelerator-brake action, presumably). The system’s said to be very close to market. More details here
  • Volkswagen “expects new digitalisation era in automobile industry” – details from a recent speech by chairman Dr Martin Winterkorn are here. “The two ground-breaking inventions, the automobile and the computer, are moving closer together. We need to shape the mobility of the future in an even more intelligent, more networked way,” he said, talking about a new initiative called Future Tracks and making good points about Big Data and privacy.
  • And on that note… PSA Peugeot-Citroen is working with IBM “to integrate the massive amounts of data from cars, phones, traffic signals, lights and other sources and analyze it in real-time for delivery”. with a view to offering a range of connected services, reports Green Car Congress.

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