Start the week

March 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Some Monday morsels:

– Audi is expected to unveil an ‘e-tron’ plug-in hybrid version of its A1 supermini (pictured) at the opening day of the Geneva Motor Show tomorrow.

– Ferrari is to unveil a 599 Hybrid featuring the F1-developed KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) tech; no pictures we can show you yet, however.

– Avis is to add Renault electric cars to its rental fleets in Europe next year. The electric Fluence saloon and a version of the Kangoo compact MPV are the most likely contenders, though no details have been confirmed as yet; the Twizy scooter-cum-city-car and Zoe minicar could follow onto the fleets.

– Over half of all new cars sold in Europe now emit 140g/km of carbon dioxide or less, according to figures from JATO. Cars emitting 101-120g/km now account for 25.6% of the European car market, an increase of 8.9% on last year’s stats.

– Jaguar Land Rover has developed a micro gas turbine to recharge a hybrid’s batteries whilst on the move. It’s calling the technology an Ultra Lightweight Range Extender (ULRE); more details from Autocar.


Geneva preview: Subaru Hybrid Tourer

February 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

This isn’t the new Legacy Outback – the gullwing doors won’t make production – but the Hybrid Tourer does preview some of Subaru’s future styling trends. It’s also the first hybrid with a ‘boxer’ engine (horizontally-opposed, ‘flat’ cylinder layout), a powertrain partnered with  Subaru’s all-wheel drive system and Lineartronic auto gearbox.

The engine’s a 2.0-litre flat-four with direct injection and turbocharger, and there are two electric motors – 10kW up front, 20kW to the rear – and lithium-ion batteries. The rear electric motor drives the car at lower speeds and from start-up, the petrol in most normal conditions at higher speeds; the small front motor mainly acts as a generator and kicks in to help out for climbing hills or other high-load demands.

Subaru will also be showing its Stella EV electric city car in Geneva. This has a 90km range, 40kW and a quick-charge facility to give 80% of battery capacity in 15 minutes.

Geneva preview: Honda 3-RC

February 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Is it a car? Is it a bike? Somewhere between the two: the 3-RC, to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show next week, is a single-seat mobility device with full bodywork but an open canopy. It’s an electric three-wheeler, with handlebar-type steering and motorbike wheels, plus a handy lockable compartment up front. It’s not intended for production, apparently, but it does indicate Honda’s thinking on a new generation of commuter vehicles.

Geneva preview: NLV Quant

February 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

NLV Solar AG last year commissioned Swedish supercar-maker Koenigsegg to collaborate on an electrically-driven super-coupe. A model of the Quant made its debut at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, complete with solar panels to supplement battery-charge – and next week, a nearer-production version is to debut, reports Autoblog Green.

The Quant is a four-seater with a carbonfibre chassis, a body now entirely covered in a solar film to trap energy, and four 150kW motors to propel it. More details in Geneva; the company says that “within the coming year, the NLV Quant will be fully engineered and ready for production”, and the car’s progress can be followed online.

The Quant is planned to be the first production car with a four-seat carbon fiber chassis and a body entirely covered in a thin solar film. Propulsion will come by way of a quartet of 150 kilowatt electric motors. We’ll be looking for more details next week.

Proton plug-in hybrid: the platform

February 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here’s what lies under the surface of the Italdesign-styled Proton plug-in hybrid. Developed by Lotus Engineering (owned by Malaysian firm Proton), the powertrain incorporates the Lotus Range Extender engine, designed specifically for a hybrid system. This is a three-cylinder, 1.2-litre unit, which also acts as a generator to recharge the batteries and drive the motors; it delivers low emissions and works via a single-speed transmission. There is an ‘acceptable’ electric-only range for city use, says Lotus, boosted by recharging from a domestic AC power socket.

Geneva preview: Infiniti M, hybrid next year

February 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand (a putative Lexus rival) is to launch its third-generation M saloon  in Geneva next week. This high-tech M Mk3, a 5-Series/E-Class-sized and lavishly-equipped executive saloon coming to European showrooms, will come with 3.0 V6 diesel or 3.7 V6 petrol engines, but a hybrid’s on the way for 2011 as well. This gets a 3.5 V6 petrol engine plus electric motor, and Infiniti promises diesel-like economy.

Geneva preview: Mercedes-Benz F800 Style

February 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Mercedes-Benz is to preview its next-generation CLS at next week’s Geneva Auto Show. The 4.7m-long F800 Style concept’s  a four-door saloon with sliding rear doors,  for easy access to its interior, and a low-slung roof-line. The front-end styling of this concept also previews the new-look Mercedes nose, to appear throughout the range.

The F800 Style showcases a hybrid system combining a 300bhp direct-injection, 3.5-litre petrol engine and a 190bhp electric motor; electrical energy is stored in lithium-ion batteries stowed beneath the rear seats. It can do 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, 155mph, and 29km in electric-only mode. There’s also a 136bhp/214lb ft fuel cell version; the F800’s platform has been developed for the flexibility to accommodate different types of powertrain.

The Geneva show car features several other technologies heading to production Mercs in the near future: the Distronic Plus auto-steering system (linked to the cruise control at speeds of up to 40kph); Pre-Safe 360 all-round monitoring and crash-sensing, to prime the brakes and prepare for an impact; and an additional sat nav function indicating driving range in electric-only mode.

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