Concept of the Day: Pininfarina Hybus

October 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Pininfarina has unveiled a hybrid diesel-electric bus at the MobilityTech forum in Milan. It doesn’t look terribly exciting – snazzy patriotic paint job apart – because it’s basically a conversion job of a 17 year-old Iveco bus, done to show the possibilities of retro-fit conversions. The HyBus gets a 1.3-litre Fiat Multijet diesel engine plus electric generator, two Magneti Marelli motors, a regenerative braking system and a lithium-ion battery pack; this is around 60% cheaper than a new hybrid bus, apparently. More about it here. I like the prospect of the revamp/upcycling of an otherwise obsolete old bus, too.

In a lightning-quick round-up of the best of the rest for the end of the working week:

  • The next-generation Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution – Evo XI – will be a diesel-electric hybrid, reports Autocar.
  • Detailed drive story on the Audi Urban Concept – a 6ft 7in journalist folds himself into this tiny city EV – from Automobile (thanks, @GreenMotor).
  • Daimler-owned car2go and Europcar have joined forces to roll out the car-share scheme in 40-50 European cities (Green Car Congress).
  • Only 106 electric cars were bought in the UK in the third quarter of this year. Still, when your choice is limited to the C-Zero/iON/i-MiEV (very small city car, fleet-lease only), Nissan Leaf (if you can get your hands on one), Tesla Roadster (ditto) and a few impractical little quadricycles, all very expensive for what they are, then that’s hardly surprising, is it? More choice, more sales expected next year; debate (not all of it well-informed) at the Guardian.
  • 10 US states and the District of Columbia have joined forces to create the Northeast Electric Vehicle Network, funded by government grants. The aim’s to reduce the region’s emissions and oil dependency, and create an EV recharging infrastructure  in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington DC (Michelin Challenge Bibendum).
  • Defence of Fisker at Grist – ol’ Henrik has come under fire from certain US media outlets who’re insinuating that Obama handed out a lot of government money for building inaccessibly-expensive cars in Finland. As Grist points out, Fisker’s now got production off the ground, is employing a load of people at a formerly-defunct GM plant, and is bringing more mainstream models to market having established its brand in the luxury sector. ‘Project Nina’ hits the road late 2012 with full production due mid-2013.

Design Concept of the Day #3: Citroen Tubik

September 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Volkswagen’s reviving the Microbus, and Citroen’s reinventing the H-Van. The Tubik (a reference to the ‘TUB’, Type-H) is meant to be a high-tech executive shuttle this time around, however, rather than an utilitarian working vehicle, and it’s packed with Citroen’s communications tech to offer an all-round mobility solution. Systems include the MultiCity platform – an online portal and route finder now live in France giving train, plane and other public transport info as well as traffic updates – and a surround-sound audio system plus giant semi-circular cinema screen. The Tubik seats up to nine in a variety of passenger/luggage/lounging configurations, on felt seats with silky backrests; the leather-floored rear compartment is accessed via a huge full-length upward-opening side door with a panoramic one-way window for maximum privacy.

The H-Van is recalled by details such as the ribbed-effect front end (a nod to the H’s corrugated-iron panels), its ridged windscreen pillars and its distinctive front nose, housing in this case a diesel engine. It’s not just a retro recreation, however, thanks to gadgets such as a head-up display, fingerprint-recognition security, and reversing/rear-view cameras.

Power comes from Citroen’s Hybrid4 diesel-electric powertrain, and its CO2 emissions are “at a level comparable to a conventional saloon.” It’s 4.8m long, 2.08m wide and 2.05m tall, sits on 22-inch wheels with low rolling-resistance tyres, and features Citroen’s Hydractive self-levelling suspension, which automatically lowers at high speeds to enhance aerodynamics. Strip out some of the obvious concept-car gimmicks, and you have a perfectly feasible rival for the Volkswagen Multivan/Caravelle.

Wednesday newsbriefs

September 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Citroen’s launching the DS5 (posh C5-based hatchback) at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The range is to include a diesel-electric Hybrid4 model, with 200bhp, four-wheel drive, an all-electric mode, acceleration boost function, sport mode, six-speed auto gearbox, stop-start and CO2 emissions from 99g/km. On sale next spring. Oh, and Lexus is to show the new GS 450h hybrid for the first time in Europe.

  • Autocar’s driven the Volkswagen Up (1.0 Bluemotion version): “the most modern baby car going and one of the most technically interesting.” Auto Express likes it too, especially that three-cylinder engine.
  • Hyundai will be offering passenger rides in the iX35 fuel cell prototype at the EcoVelocity Show in London next week.
  • Also at EcoVelocity, 3.15-4pm on Saturday Sept 10th: an EV discussion panel with debate and Q+As, featuring TheChargingPoint’s Robert Llewellyn, radio DJ/Nissan Leaf owner Mark Goodier, the Campaign for Better Transport’s Sian Berry, a spokesman from the Nissan Technology Centre Europe plus one special guest tbc.
  • Heard the one about laser-powered cars, giving emissions-free transport, forever? “Still a few problems to solve”, says Autoweek
  • The new Audi S6, S7 and S8 feature a 4.0 TFSI V8 (turbocharged, stratified-charge fuel injection) with cylinder deactivation, energy recuperation and stop-start; fuel consumption improved by up to 25%.  Launch at Frankfurt. Full lowdown at Green Car Congress.
  • Leaf looks like a limo: stretch jobs now available from the Electric Car Company, reports Autoblog Green. One for the more eco-minded hen party, perhaps.
  • Fisker is to source a four-cylinder turbocharged engine from BMW for its ‘Project Nina’ saloon, an extended-range EV due next year (Green Car Congress).
  • Williams F1 is to supply its flywheel energy recovery/storage system, developed for KERS, for use in mass transit and rail systems. It’s just signed a deal with Kinetic Traction Systems Inc. to advance and promote the tech for such applications (Green Car Congress).
  • The Canadian province of Ontario and Magna International are to jointly invest some CAN$400million in the development of electric vehicles (Globe and Mail).

Monday newsbriefs #2

August 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Another London shot. Land Rover is sending three Range_e prototypes on the RAC Future Car Challenge (5th November, Brighton-London). These showcase plug-in diesel hybrid technology due to hit production after the launch of a (non-plug-in) diesel-electric hybrid in 2013. Five plug-in prototypes are currently being tested in the CABLED trial; the project is supported by the government’s Technology Strategy Board. They’re based on the Range Rover Sport, with the current 245hp 3.0 TDV6 diesel engine, an eight-speed AF auto gearbox, a 69kW electric motor plus a 14.2kW/h lithium-ion battery which can be charged from an external source. This gives an all-electric range of over 20 miles, and overall CO2 emissions of 89g/km.

  • The next-generation Vauxhall Ampera will be “significantly cheaper” and will have a more radical design, reports Autocar. Think Vauxhall Zafira Tourer concept, apparently. And yes, its powertrain is scalable for a number of different applications.
  • Poorly-blended biofuels have had a corrosive effect on engines, reports the Equimotor project, an international R&D initiative, which says it’s now cracked the problem (AlphaGallileo).
  • The car with scales: Project Flake features a covering of small flexible panels which rise and fall to tweak aerodynamics, managing airflow, cooling, downforce and even acting as airbrakes. An intriguing concept: pictures (CGI) and video at Inhabitat.

 

BMW confirms plug-in hybrid

November 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

BMW has officially confirmed it is to build the Vision EfficientDynamics plug-in hybrid, reports Autocar. The coupe concept, shown at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, is headed for production in 2013, has a diesel-electric powertrain with a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder engine (161bhp) and a pair of electric motors to give a total 323bhp; it’s said to return 75mpg and emit 99g/km of carbon dioxide. It can operate in front-, rear- or all-wheel drive mode, has a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, and performance is said to be on a par with that of the M3. And,  by the way, it is the car teased in the dontblogaboutthis silly-buggers. Looks good on the outside, tech sounds even better.

In other news today:

  • Clive Sinclair has done it again: the X-1, announced today, is his 21st-century answer to his C5. Driver sits more upright this time; deliveries from July 2011, price from £595. No, it’s still not a proper car, and there are probably better commuting choices, but if you’re interested…
  • Only marginally less pointless an exercise, though this guy’s probably had a helluva lot more fun: Ecotricity’s Dale Vince, the Zerocarbonista, has finally got his pet-project Nemesis EV on the road. Well, sort of, says the Guardian. So far – £750,000 to convert a Lotus Exige – it’s a bit of a rich boy’s eco-toy, though Vince is talking about putting a few Mk2 versions into production and going for a speed record.

Tuesday titbits

October 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

Van of the day: the Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation and Morgan Olson MT-EV WIV (Walk-In Vehicle). It’s all-electric, with Tesla-supplied battery cells, and a 100-mile range is promised; there’s a gross vehicle weight of up to 8845kg, and a clever control/driver information system with sophisticated fault code reading. FCCC (a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks America) is positioning it as an urban delivery vehicle.

  • Fisker is going to expand its range to six plug-in hybrids within the next five years, including a relatively affordable and accessible model known as Nina (2012), and the Karma, seen in Paris in production format. The Irvine, California-based company’s considering an IPO, like Tesla.
    • More relevantly for anyone outside California, Volvo is to build all future driveline architectures with a view to accommodating plug-in hybrid capability. A plug-in diesel hybrid’s planned for 2012, and Volvo has built V70 PHEV diesel prototypes capable of a 31-mile all-electric range. Further into the future, range-extended EVs are under consideration (2016-2018) but coming first are the C30 EV and plug-in petrol hybrids (Green Car Congress).
    • Some years back, Saab was experimenting with a variable compression engine. Nothing came of that one, but French firm MCE-5 Development has now raised E10.3million from shareholders and investors to develop its own take on the VCR theme. Its engine, showcased last spring at the Geneva Motor Show in a Peugeot 407-based prototype, is a 1.5 with two-stage turbocharger, delivering 220bhp and 310lb ft. Compression ratio can be varied from 20:1 to 7.1, and the engine returns 6.7l/km (42.2mpg) and emits just 158g/km (Green Car Congress).
    • The Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid is on track for production in 2013, Porsche CEO Matthias Muller told Car magazine. 90mpg and 70g/km “when driven gently” – as if anyone would.

    Paris Motor Show: Audi e-tron Spyder

    September 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

    The e-tron has become a plug-in diesel hybrid, and lost its lid; Audi’s latest iteration of its electrified supercar is now a Spyder convertible, featuring a new 300PS version of the 3.0 TDI V6 engine and a pair of 64kW electric motors. It has a 31-mile range in all-electric mode at up to 38mph, and a total range of 621 miles; despite a 155mph top speed and 0-62 acceleration in 4.4 seconds, it returns an average 128.4mpg and emits 59g/km. The so-called  e-quattro chassis, with rear-biased but variable four-wheel-drive, features torque-vectoring, the targeted acceleration of individual wheels for optimum traction, stability and performance. Whilst the e-tron itself might not see production, much of its tech is destined for the mainstream line-up.

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