EVs in Austrian rally, Joule gets canned, Friday news round-up

July 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Silvretta E-Car Rallye takes place this weekend, part of the Silvretta MotorKlassik tour. 29 EVs, RE-EVs, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell cars, including prototypes, will run 333km through the demanding terrain of the Austrian Alps; cars taking part include the Mercedes-Benz SLS E-Cell, Fisker Karma, Volkswagen Golf Blue-e e-motion, Audi A1 e-tron, Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell (x2) and B-Class F-Cell (x2), Smart Fortwo electric-drive (x2), Volvo C30 Electric, BMW ActiveE, the ER ElectricRaceAbout, Mini E and Tesla Roadster Sport. Daimler’s also sending the Smart e-bike to tackle some sections of the route. Full gallery of the entrants, who set off yesterday, here; Daimler press release on its entrants (pictured) here.

  • First time I came across displacement-on-demand or cylinder shutdown tech, it was in a Cadillac V8: now it’s in a Volkswagen Polo. The Polo BlueGT has a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine plus what VW’s calling Active Cylinder Management (ACM) to deactivate two cylinders and 700cc at low revs and under low load. It’ll thus do 62.7mpg and emit 105g/km, an improvement over the slower, less lively 1.2 TSI. Full lowdown at Autocar.
  • Writers have been checking out the new BMW 3-Series ActiveHybrid, a fast-accelerating high-performance machine with regenerative braking and a range of up to 2.5 miles under electric power only. Interesting thing is that BMW is said to be exploring topographical mapping – a sat nav function checking out the road ahead and thus optimising the use of EV, coasting or petrol-only modes. Sounds like the Ricardo-developed Sentience tech to me, as in the Intelligent Energy RE-EV van. More at Autoweek. But does it stack up in diesel-friendly Europe, asks Autocar?
  • The Optimal Energy Joule, a promising-looking EV developed in South Africa, has been canned, reports SA’s Engineering News (via Autoblog Green). The company failed to secure funding, and its state backers pulled out too.
  • Mazda is to lease a trial fleet of 100 Demo (Mazda2) EVs in Chugoku, Japan. They’ll hit the road in October and are said to have a range of 200km.
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More EVs for hire and lease, prepare for Urban Mobility 3.0

June 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Citroen is delivering 100 C-Zero EVs to DB Rent, the car rental division of rail operator Deutsche Bahn, for a car-share scheme in Berlin. The cars will be located at railway stations and S-bahn stops in the city, and will be available for one-way trips; cars and charging points can be located using a smartphone app. A further 400 C-Zeros are on order for DB Rent to make up a large fleet.

In other news today:

  • Bolloré, supplier of the Pininfarina-designed Bluecar EV to the Paris Autolib’ scheme, is now offering the car for lease to private customers and businesses. It’s up for 330 euros a month for a minimum three-month period, and yes, you can have it in colours other than blue, reports Technologic Vehicles. Private cars can get up to 130kph, too (the Autolib’bers are limited to 110kph). Pre-order forms are at the Bluecar website.
  • Mazda is to start leasing a range-extended EV in Japan next year, featuring its hydrogen-fuelled rotary engine as the range-extender, reports The Nikkei. No word yet on which model this will be based, but Mazda is already offering for lease a Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid (more on that here).
  • Liberty Electric Cars of Peterborough is in discussions with California’s Green Automotive Company over joint projects. Liberty is best-known for its e-Range Range Rover electric conversion, and is expected to supply its technology to Green Automotive  of Newport Beach, which has ditched its original plans to produce and sell its own e-SUV and now intends to convert existing vehicles which are already approved for US sale, reports EV Fleet World.
  • Battery tech story of the day: ionic liquid electrolytes could make batteries ten times as powerful as lithium-ion technology and cost less, says Colorado Ionics Corporation. Working in conjunction with ultracapacitors to double energy storage limits, ‘Iolite’ salt electrolytes can operate at high temperatures and voltages, are not flammable and do not evaporate, the company told MIT’s Technology Review (AutoTech Daily).
  • The first Australian-built, right-hand drive Holden Volts hit the road this week, reports EV Fleet World. They’ll be run on a 12-week trial in partnership with the state of Victoria’s government, and all results/findings/data will be publicly shared.
  • Some more detail/updates/general thoughts on the news that Audi may be pulling the plug on its A1 and A2 e-tron. Here at the Charging Point.

November 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Infiniti is teasing some more images of its upcoming electric saloon, which it has previously described a “stylish, high-performance five-seat luxury vehicle”. It’ll be revealed at next spring’s Geneva Motor Show; exec. VP Andy Palmer says: “At the Geneva show next year, we will present our vision for a totally new kind of inspired premium performance car. Infiniti already has hybrid and clean diesel models on sale. And with an all-electric sedan on the way, the natural next step was to push the boundaries where performance and the environment intersect.” More details – and a short interview with Palmer – at nissannews.com.

  • In other news: Mazda has pledged to improve the fuel economy of its fleet by 30% by 2015. The SkyActiv package of more fuel-efficient engines, lighter-weight bodies and new technologies will be applied to six all-new models in the next five years, with 80% of the company’s line-up renewed in that time-frame. Mazda’s committed to continuing with the rotary engine, and will also explore hybrid and electric powertrains. More at Detroit News. Mazda has also confirmed the lease of an electric Demio (Mazda2) in Japan (Auto Observer).
  • A bit more detail on the Honda Fit/Jazz EV, to go on sale in the US next summer; check out The Charging Point.
  • TV chatshow host and much-loved car guy Jay Leno has driven 10,000 miles in his Chevy Volt – and hasn’t yet filled up with petrol (Detroit News).
  • California’s CODA Automotive says that it has (finally) started production of its electric saloon, and that it will offer a 10-year battery warranty. The price has been reduced, too: it’s down to $39,990, or $29,000 once federal tax rebates and grants are taken into account.
  • Chevrolet is offering Californian buyers a Low Emissions Package for the Volt, which will make it eligible for an extra $1500 rebate and entry into high-occupancy vehicle/car pool lanes. The pack includes modification of the engine and exhaust, adding a second air pump to increase the efficiency of the catalytic converter and reduce tailpipe emissions.
  • Eindhoven University is developing a reactor process to turn wood waste into biofuel. It aims to demonstrate the viability of small-scale fuel production (Green Car Congress).
  • Latest lowdown on those Russian Yo-auto hybrids at Green Car Reports; featuring supercapacitors and natural gas-compatible, apparently.
  • The Obama administration has finally passed the ruling mandating an average 54.5mpg (US) across manufacturers’ ranges by 2015. Much scaremongering on exactly how much these new CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) regulations are going to cost the car-makers; let’s start with Detroit News’ estimations… Volkswagen’s already objecting, saying that the rules don’t incentivise the purchase of clean diesels, reports Automotive News.
  • Drivers of hybrids are 25% less likely to be injured in an accident, reports ther USA’s Highway Loss Data Institute, probably because hybrids are, on average, 10% heavier than their conventional equivalents. However, they’re 20% more likely to be involved in incidents with pedestrians, who may not have heard them coming in all-electric mode (Automotive News).

Tokyo Motor Show preview: Mazda Takeri

October 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mazda’s previewing the next-generation 6 saloon with a concept called Takeri, to be revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show (end of November). Takeri’s a mid-sized four-door featuring Mazda’s SkyActiv tech – lightweight structure, aerodynamic optimisation, new diesel engine, stop start – plus Mazda’s first regenerative braking system, which stores decelerative energy in supercapacitors and reuses it to power the car’s electrical equipment. It’s a taste of Mazda’s next-generation styling, dubbed ‘Kodo’, too.

  • In other news today: Honda’s going to launch the Fit (Jazz) EV at the Los Angeles Auto Show mid-November. It’ll do 100 miles and 90mph; no word on Euro sales as yet.
  • Battery-developer and manufacturer Axeon has signed a collaboration/supply deal with fellow lithium-ion specialists A123 Systems. A123 gives the nanophosphate tech, British firm Axeon the systems integration, design engineering and testing; the partnership is “already engaged with a major UK customer”, according to a statement today, “and additional projects are also on the horizon.”

Seat Mii, Monday newsbriefs

October 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

And here’s the Spanish version of the Volkswagen Up! – the Seat Mii. The three-door goes on sale in Spain before the end of the year, with sales elsewhere in Europe in spring 2012; five-door versions follow later next year. As with the Skoda Citigo and the Up! itself (ha – just noticed that unfortunate connotation) it gets the new VW Group three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol engine (60hp and 75hp); economy-optimised Ecomotive versions will emit just 97g/km. Kit on offer will include stability control, side airbags, a portable sat nav/phone device, and City Safety Assist auto braking; on a practical note, its 251-litre boot expands to 951 litres with the rear seat folded, despite an overal length of just 3.55m. More figures: the 60hp version is good for 99mph and the 75hp model 106mph; they’ll return 62.8mpg and 60.1mpg respectively; the Ecomotive models will do 67.2mpg; a CNG-fuelled model (to be offered in mainland Europe) emits just 86g/km. An automated manual gearbox is optional. No word on UK pricing as yet.

  • Mazda’s second Skyactiv model – featuring extensive detail-changes and technologies to bring down fuel consumption and emissions – has gone on sale in Japan. The latest Axela (aka Mazda3) follows the Mazda5 in being lighter-weight, and it also gets Mazda’s new direct-injection 2.0-litre petrol engine and six-speed auto gearbox. Press release posted at Autoblog Green.
  • Nissan’s expecting the Leaf’s battery pack to have a lifespan of at least five years/60,000 miles before it dips below 80% of its original charge capacity, and is planning a cost-saving system of individual cell module swap-outs after than if necessary. Full story at AM-Online.
  • Tesla will unveil the Model X crossover at the Detroit Motor Show next January. It’s based on the same platform as the Model S saloon; a hot M5-rivalling version of the saloon has just been announced, doing 0-60 in 4.5 seconds and, with optional high-spec battery pack, good for a range of up to 300 miles. The Model S, even in its saloon form, seats up to seven (there are two fold-out, rear-facing child seats in the back) and has “the largest panoramic roof in a production car”, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. More at Autocar. Musk also noted that Tesla’s Toyota RAV4 EV conversion is ready to go on sale next year.
  • Renault Sport F1 is to source KERS from Red Bull Technology for next year.  Team Lotus and Renault Sport F1 are to continue to collaborate, with the V8 engine deal extending to the end of 2013, and aim to carry on under the new engine regulations. “KERS is now an essential part of a competitive performance in F1”, says Jean-Francois Caubet,Renault Sport F1 MD, “and we hope this supply will help the team continue its evolution. Furthermore, a wider experience of using the KERS system at this point in time will help in the development of the powerful energy recovery systems that will be introduced under the future engine regulations.”
  • First installment of the 12.grn.hrs story – a design-an-eco-car-in-a-day workshop, part of London Design Week – is at Green Car Design.

Midweek newsbriefs

August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Audi’s to start production of the A8 hybrid next year. This combines a 2.0 TFSI petrol engine and electric motor to deliver 245hp and 345lb ft; it’ll return around 44.1mpg and emit less than 148g/km of carbon dioxide. It’ll also accelerate 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds and reach 146mph; its electric-only range, boosted by brake energy recuperation, is about 3km and top speed 37mph. Drivers can select three modes: EV, prioritising electric-drive, D (default) and S (sport). More detail at Green Car Congress.

Mazda has started using recycled material from old bumpers for new ones; this increases the proportion of material from end-of-life vehicles which can be reused. As yet, only the Biante MPV features the recycled plastic, but the process will be rolled out further across the Mazda line-up. More at Green Car Congress.

  • All versions of the new Toyota Camry – a longstanding US best-seller – give better fuel economy and lower emissions, and the Hybrid now returns 49.2mpg despite its 13hp power gain. All the facts and figures at Green Car Congress (again).
  • Chinese car-buyers aren’t keen on hybrids and EVs, despite their government’s ambitious plans, reports The Guardian. Worrying, since the Chinese car market is now the world’s biggest, and still growing rapidly.
  • Debate continues on personal rapid transport (PRT) and podcars (mini-monorail systems) at Treehugger.

Friday round-up

August 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

The end-of-week round-up. Yee-ha. Sorry, couldn’t resist that. Anyway, in no particular order:

No more Deep Ellum Blues: the city of Dallas, Texas is to get 200 ECOtality EV charging stations in the coming months. The first were opened this week in the historic downtown Deep Ellum neighbourhood. “Throughout Texas and across the United States, consumer demand for  electric vehicles is growing at an exponential rate”, says ECOtality. More at EON Businesswire. Deep Ellum’s an old industrial district of Dallas, originally home to a Model T Ford plant, juke joints, blues clubs and rough gangster gambling dens, now cleaned up and marketed as an ‘arts and entertainment district’. Gratuitous off-topic clip here, as it’s Friday and I’m in the mood for some music.

  • Had a chat with Giles Brown, founder and organiser of the EcoVelocity show. He said that it was clear from the last 2008 London Motor Show that there was demand for a ‘green’ consumer motoring event, though it wasn’t viable until there was a sufficient range of suitable mainstream vehicles to promote and display. Now there is.  Show’s going to be good.
  • Solar Roadways of Idaho is devloping, yes, solar-panelled surfaces for roads. The electricity could power vehicles via inductive charging, road signs or heating elements for de-icing. More, including video, at the Green Car Website.
  • That Smart ‘pedelec’ (electric-assist pushbike) is going to be launched at the Friedrichshafen Eurobike Show (from 31st August). It’s built by German bike-maker GRACE, and will go on sale early 2012. It’s got a three-speed gear hub, a 25o-watt motor, regenerative braking, four selective levels of power-assist, disc brakes and a USB interface.
  • Infiniti unveiled the JX crossover at Pebble Beach yesterday. Not much detail on spec yet, but a hybrid version will follow. There’ll also be a hybrid version of the new Lexus GS-series, another debutante at the Pebble Beach show.
  • Heard about the hybrid caravan? Electricity is generated from the turning of its wheels and stored in batteries; a full charge gives on-site power for up to four days. The Knaus Tabbert concept could go on sale as an aftermarket modular package early 2012. More at Spiegel.de (use Google Translate); thanks to @WilkinsDavid.
  • DIY EV of the day: the 1981 Chevrolet Camaro of  Ron Adamowicz, a drag-racer good for a 10.08-sec quarter-mile (Green Car Reports).

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