Design Concept of the Day: Nissan BladeGlider

November 8, 2013 § 1 Comment

nissan bladegliderInspired by Nissan’s  ZEOD RC Le Mans contender and the earlier DeltaWing prototype racer, the BladeGlider concept is a preview of a proper production prospect, says Nissan: “both a proposal for the future of Nissan electric vehicle development and an exploratory prototype of an upcoming production vehicle”. Incorporating the aerodynamics of swept-wing aircraft, downforce is the duty of the super-rigid carbonfibre underbody (hence no wings), and drag is further reduced by the triangular shape – front track is just 1m and front:rear weight distribution is 30:70. And, excitingly, “when BladeGlider matures into a production car, it could be Nissan’s first use of in-wheel motors”. These motors are fitted to the rear wheels, freeing up space up top and lowering the centre of gravity, as do the low-mounted, rearward lithium-ion battery packs. The body’s carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), and entry is via scissor-up doors: it’s a three-seater, with the driver ahead of the passengers at an aircraft-style wheel. It’s a running prototype and not just a motor show fantasy, too – Autocar has a little more detail, and notes that there’s elements of the well-proven Ariel Atom in the chassis of the test mule. Full reveal of the BladeGlider will be at the Tokyo Motor Show.

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Toyota’s Tokyo debuts; Car2go expands; more EV news

November 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Toyota is showing a series of new concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show at the end of the month. Whilst much attention will be on the compact FT-86 coupe co-developed with Subaru, there’ll also be the Aqua small hybrid hatchback (previewing the Prius C); an iQ-based electric city car called FT-EV III  (range 65 miles, launch could be next year); a five-seater fuel cell-powered family car called FCV-R; plus a further concept called Fun-Vii (the flowery one pictured, below), about which no details have been issued as yet other than to say that it’s for a future “where people, cars and society are linked.” More details at Green Car Congress.

  • Daimler’s Car2Go scheme is now expanding into Austria: a short-term rental fleet of 500 Smart Fortwos will be operational in Vienna early next month. A 300-car all-electric fleet is also now up and running in San Diego, California.
  • Renault has opened upgraded EV test facilities at Lardy, France; the facility, which first opened in 2009, has received a 28million-euro investment and now features 100 test benches. More at Green Car Congress.
  • Better Place has secured $200million-worth of funding to develop its business of battery-swap stations and EV recharging infrastructure. More, again, at Green Car Congress.
  • The London borough of Camden is  launching a trial two-week programme enabling local business to try out electric vehicles. Cars available to test-drive include a Nissan Leaf, a Mitsubishi i-MiEV and a Renault Kangoo Van ZE. There are 29 public charging points in Camden, apparently (Green Car Website).

Design concepts of the Day: Daihatsu D-X, Pico and FC Sho Case

November 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Daihatsu has three cute little concepts for the Tokyo Motor Show. Most eye-catching is the D-X (“D-Cross”), a stripped-to-the-bare-essentials roadster with a tiny two-cylinder engine and lightweight resin body. Its modular construction allows for different body-types around the same frame, including closed coupe or shooting-brake.

The Pico is a 1+1 tandem-seater EV, designed for city commuting; it’s said to be easily-accessible for the elderly or those with restricted mobility, as well as useful for urban deliveries.

The FC Sho Case, meanwhile, displays Daihatsu’s thinking on fuel cells; its powertrain is packaged into the floor, leaving space for a large, boxy interior which could suit either a cargo-carrying application or a multi-seater MPV. The seats of this concept fold flat, and are transparent, in order to show off the powertrain underneath. Extensive picture galleries of all three at Car Body Design.

Friday newsbriefs, Mitsubishi PX-MiEV II plug-in hybrid

November 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mitsubishi is to show a plug-in hybrid concept at the Tokyo Motor Show next month. The PX-MiEV II is a midsized SUV (previewing the next-gen Outlander) with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine and 70kW motor. It has an overall range of over 800km and an all-electric range of 50km, and selectable all-electric and battery charge modes, the latter switching the engine to act as a generator. The battery can be used as an external power source – when camping, for example, or in an emergency situation – and it is quick-charge compatible. This concept also showcases Mitsubishi’s new twin-motor four-wheel drive system, coupled with traction control developed from that in the Evo X. Acceleration from a standing start – with 100% of the electric motor’s torque available – is said to be equivalent of the oomph from a 3.0 V6. And Mitsubishi is also showing its Minicab-MiEV electric van, the latest ASX (RVR) small crossover with stop-start, an integrated house/car/energy management concept with smart power metering called MiEV House – plus the MiEV Cafe, powered by the battery of the EV parked next to it, via a heavy-duty external power supply device.

  • Easier EV charging? POD Point, a charging point-maker, has received an £89,000 government contract to create a database of publicly-accessible facilities across the UK. This will involve “systematic mapping”, says Transport Minister Norman Baker, and a system called Central Whitelist, allowing e-motorists to use points from different suppliers and different membership schemes in different locations – like mobile phone ‘roaming’. The data will be accessible via sat navs and mobile apps.
  • And further into the future: Qualcomm, which has just bought out wireless induction-charging firm Halo IPT, is to to start a trial of wireless charging in London, in partnership with Transport For London, Chargemaster and minicab giant Addison Lee. The trial, to be based in East London’s ‘Tech City’ development, will involve around 50 EVs and will be funded by the Technology Strategy Board and the Office for Low-Emissions Vehicles (OLEV).
  • Ford has announced a new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine, developed in the UK at the Dunton and Dagenham engine facilities. This turbocharged, direct-injection unit will feature first in the Focus early next year, giving 125hp (and 56.5mpg) or 100hp, with CO2 emissions from these two versions just 114g/km and 109g/km respectively. The engine – to be built in Craiova, Romania – will then go into the C-MAX, Grand C-MAX and upcoming B-MAX (mid-2012).
  • Nissan is giving away 400 fast-chargers across Europe to help accelerate EV use. 65 will be deployed in the UK at motorway service stations, airports and city centre locations.
  • Volvo is trialling two C30 Electrics in the Jiading district, Shanghai, in a bid to learn what Chinese consumers want from an EV.
  • The world’s smallest electric car is just one molecule big – if you’ve not caught the ‘nano-car’ story yet, then it’s at the BBC website.

Design concepts of the day #2: Suzuki Regina, Q-concept, Swift EV Hybrid

November 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Three Suzuki concepts of interest at the Tokyo Motor Show, on the theme of “small cars for a big future.” The green one, called Regina, is a next-generation low-cost ‘world car’: it weighs just 730kg, is highy aerodynamic and economical, and could emit as little as 70g/km. Reminds me of the Renault 8, somehow… The Q-concept is a city two-in-tandem-seater, “ideal for everyday journeys within a radius of about 10km” as an alternative to a motorcycle; it could be configured as a delivery vehicle or cargo carrier.

On a more here-and-now note, the Swift EV Hybrid is an up-and-running prototype: it can do 20-30km in all-electric mode and has a small, lightweight range-extender engine which works as a generator. Suzuki describes this as a low-cost, low-resource, quick-charging solution compared to a ‘pure’ EV.

Design concepts of the day #1: Honda Small Sports EV, AC-X and Micro Commuter

November 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Honda’s previewing three new car concepts, to be revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show at the end of the month. There’s the ‘Small Sports EV’; no more detail on that yet, but it looks like a compact coupe with a large removable roof panel; Honda says it is “fun to drive while achieving excellent environmental performance”. The AC-X is a “next-generation plug-in hybrid vehicle offering a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience in urban and long-distance motoring”, with “engine drive mode” for fun and “automatic drive mode” for more relaxed progress; could this be a hint at the next-generation Accord? The third is an all-electric tiddler called Micro Commuter Concept – which features a two-wheeled electric scooter called Motor Compo slotted inside, so you can park up and continue your journey electrically as well. The battery of Motor Compo can be detached, too, and used as an external power source.

Honda’s also showing a boxy ‘kei-car’ mini-MPV called N Box, a three-wheeled electric scooter called e-Canopy, the RC-E electric sports bike (a 250cc equivalent), its Townwalker mobility concept, and, in the themed Smart Mobility City 2011 display, the FCX Clarity fuel cell car, EV-Monpal electric cart, EV-neo electric scooter and its Smart Home System.

Design Concept of the Day: Nissan Pivo3

November 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Nissan is to unveil a nearer-to-production Pivo concept at the Tokyo Motor Show at the end of the month, reports Automotive News. The Pivo3 – successor to concepts shown in 2005 and 2007 – is a bubble car-style city runaround with a super-tight turning circle, though it can’t quite pivot entirely on its axis like its predecessors. It features in-wheel motors which allow each wheel to be turned independently, plus an automatic valet parking system – it can park itself in specially-designated spaces and recharge its battery, and will return to pick up its owner when summoned by smart-phone. It’s “very close to what the next step in urban mobility will be”, says Nissan.

  • Full story of my RAC Future Car Challenge experience here, btw. Was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to drive the Prius Plug-In myself (well, the celebs always have to take precedence) but a good day out nonetheless.
  • Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has confirmed production – albeit small-scale – of a version of the XL1 streamliner (below) by 2013. He told Automotive News Europe that the two-seater, which weighs only 795kg and which returns over 280mpg, will go into limited manufacture. The XL1 features an 800cc two-cylinder diesel engine, seven-speed gearbox, electric motor and lithium-ion battery in its 74hp hybrid powertrain – and is said to be capable of 0-60 in about 12 seconds. It has a range of nearly 550km, with 35km in all-electric mode.

  • And Toyota has confirmed limited production of a fuel cell vehicle; just a few thousand a year, however, with price tags of some 100,000 euros… (Automotive News Europe).
  • Heavy-duty truck-makers Peterbilt and Kenworth have teamed up with Capstone Turbine to develop a hybrid powertrain for their load-haulers, using Capstone’s C65 microturbines in place of a conventional engine. Press release posted at AutoblogGreen.
  • Toyota has won the 2011 Green Manufacturing Award from the World Trade Group, due to the energy-efficiency of its plants at Burnaston and Deeside (Next Green Car).
  • Daihatsu says its e:S tech gives fuel economy savings of up to 40%; in the Mira city car, weight has been reduced by 60kg, enabling it to return over 70mpg. Detail-changes to the car include lighter seat frames and thinner door trim, plus a more efficient CVT gearbox which operates at lower hydraulic pressure; aerodynamics have been optimised as well, and there’s stop-start plus regenerative braking. Engine tweaks include modified piston rings, oil seals and timing chains. Such measures will next be applied to the Move and Tanto models (Autobeat Daily).
  • More on the hybrid Mitsubishi Evo at Automotive News – in-wheel motors under consideration.

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