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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nissan Leaf to get 200 km range by August

Nissan plans a midcycle update as early as August that aims to deliver a big increase in the Leaf's driving range.

The improvements will come from increasing the battery capacity from the current 24-kilowatt-hour power pack to 30 kWh. The increase will boost range to 200 km (125 miles).

CEO Carlos Ghosn outlined future EV steps at the company's annual shareholders meeting Tuesday, June 23. Nissan is developing a lighter, thinner, cheaper battery to enable driving ranges comparable with gasoline vehicles in the "near future," he said.

Next to him on stage, Nissan displayed a Leaf equipped with a prototype next-generation electric drivetrain. That technology, which is under development and being tested, achieves a range of more than 500 kilometers (310 miles).

Ghosn said the goal of the next-generation battery is to eliminate range anxiety by providing enough cushion for people to complete their daily drive and "return home with ample charge."

A video simulation showed the car charging up to a range of more than 310 miles and ending the day with a drivable range of 160 miles still in reserve.

Yet even before that next-generation battery hits the market, Nissan plans an interim upgrade for its flagship green car. "We will not wait for its completion to move forward," Ghosn said.

Monday, June 29, 2015

VW 'close to battery breakthrough' next-gen e-Golf to get 300km range

Volkswagen is closing in on a new battery technology that will bring “a quantum leap for the electric car”, according to the firm’s boss Martin Winterkorn.

Winterkorn told German tabloid newspaper Bild, "VW is researching a super-battery in Silicon Valley in California, that is cheaper, smaller and more powerful. An electric Volkswagen that can travel 300km (186 miles) on electricity is in sight. It will be a quantum leap for the electric car.”

As we reported back in December, VW acquired a 5% holding in QuantumScape, a San Jose-based early-stage battery startup that has been working on commercializing solid-state battery technology from Stanford University.

Volkswagen was due to decide in the first half of this year whether QuantumScape's battery technology is ready for use in its electric cars.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mini Superleggera to have BMW i8 plug-in hybrid powertrain - reversed

The Mini Superleggera concept is getting closer to production, as new details on its powertrain have emerged.

Production Mini Superleggera concept could use a plug-in hybrid powertrain similar to that of the i8 sports car according to Autocar sources.

That arrangement will see a petrol engine mounted at the front, with an electric motor mounted at the rear axle, along the same lines as BMW's all-wheel-drive range-extender electric car powertrain. It will be based on the same UKL platform which already underpins the rest of the Mini range as well as the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer.

BMW board member with the responsibility for Mini Peter Schwarzenbauer said that Mini was still exploring the potential of plug-in hybrid and EV technology. "every new Mini model will come with a hybrid option, Plug-in hybrids are economically a little easier," he said "Full electric is extremely challenging. Finding a small space to put all the batteries in is extremely challenging. We are working on both possibilities."

Schwarzenbauer said "There is no decision at the moment, but we have a lot of people here that are fighting hard for it. One of our superheroes will be an open car. I'm not saying the Superleggera will come, but you will have an open car."

Friday, June 26, 2015

Samsung doubles lithium ion battery capacity

Samsung researchers have developed materials that double the power capacity of lithium-ion batteries.

Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) said the technology uses silicon cathode material coded with high-crystalline graphene to produce batteries with twice as much capacity as ordinary lithium-ion batteries.

The institute said the research result was published in the international science journal Nature Communication on Thursday.

The research team said the new technology is expected to enhance the performance of mobile devices and electric vehicles.

"The research has dramatically improved the capacity of lithium-ion batteries by applying a new synthesis method of high-crystalline graphene to a high-capacity silicon cathode," said Son In-hyuk, a professional researcher at SAIT. "We will continue to improve the secondary cell technology to meet the expanding demand from mobile device and electric vehicle markets."

The lithium-ion battery was introduced in 1991 and its storage capacity has been gradually improved. But the material's properties have limited improvements to capacity, failing to follow skyrocketing demand from the mobile and electric car industries.

Consequently, researchers worldwide have accelerated the development of materials for a high-capacity battery that can fundamentally overcome the limitations in graphite material.

One of them is silicon, which is expected to realize more than 10 times the power capacity compared with graphite. But the research has faced serious technological problems over drastic degradation of battery life.

SAIT said its researchers turned to graphene, a relatively new material that is physically strong and highly conductive, to solve this problem.

This material has up to four times the capacity compared with graphite and can double the energy density of ordinary lithium-ion batteries, the institute said.

Patents covering the new technology have been applied for in Korea, China, Europe and the United States.

Drive e0 PP03 Becomes First Electric Car to Qualify P1 @ Pikes Peak [VIDEO]

(please view this using Google Chrome for interactive 360)

The Drive e0 PP03 one megawatt AWD battery electric racer driven by Kiwi Rhys Millen has become the first electric vehicle to qualify P1 overall at the 93rd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

The 2015 event could go in history as the first outright win by a battery electric race car.

With Mitsubishi's EV works team, who funished 2nd and 3rd outright in 2014, absent for this years race, the competition is between two Megawatt class EV teams. Multiple champion Nobuhiro Tajima has teamed up with Rimac Automobili to build a 1.1 MW AWD racer while Rhys Millen drives for Latvian team Drive e0 with their 1 MW AWD special.

Racing starts @ 8 AM MDT (Mountain Daylight Time - GMT -6 Hrs) Sunday 28th June.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Chevy Bolt testing confirms 320 km range target [VIDEO]

General Motors engineers say early testing of its upcoming Chevrolet Bolt EV is affirming their estimates that the car will have a range of 320 km (200 miles) between charges.

The automaker has produced 55 prototypes of the all-electric vehicle at plants in Seoul, South Korea, and Orion Township. They have been driven hard throughout GM's Milford Proving Grounds and early results are positive, engineers say.

"We have experienced 200 miles. We're pretty confident in that," said Pam Fletcher, GM executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles. "You can imagine we're going to eke out every mile of range we can."

Chevy unveiled the Bolt (that’s “Bolt” with a “B,” not to be confused with the existing plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt) concept at the Detroit Auto Show back in January, the hand-built prototypes have been testing since April. Vowing a 320 km (200-mile) range and a price tag of $30,000 after incentives, the Bolt is expected to enter production sometime in 2017.

Pam Fletcher, the chief executive engineer for electric vehicles at General Motors, also emphasized on Wednesday that GM’s electrification technology and manufacturing is U.S.-based. “Chevrolet’s electrification technology is very much grounded here in the U.S.,” Fletcher said in a video posted on GM’s site. She mentioned that the battery packs and electric drive units for the Volt are manufactured in Michigan and the electric motors are made in the U.S. “It’s a really a terrific story for technology and manufacturing and electrification in this country,” she said.

Chevrolet has committed to pricing the Bolt at about $30,000 after the $7,500 tax credit.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

TNT Introduce Electric Delivery Vans In The Netherlands

TNT is deploying seven new 3.5 tonne electric express delivery vehicles for its operations in and around Amsterdam and Rotterdam, The Netherlands, as a partner of FREVUE (Freight Electric Vehicles in Urban Europe), an urban e-mobility project supported by the European Commission. FREVUE seeks to demonstrate to industry, consumers and policy makers how electric vehicles can meet the growing need for sustainable urban logistics.

TNT’s new e-Ducato vehicles purchased from BD Auto replace the standard diesel vehicles previously operating in Rotterdam and Amsterdam and will enable to save 24,000 litres of diesel and 76 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions each year. They provide a range of 200 km and a loading volume of 13m3.

Erik Uljee, Managing Director, TNT Benelux, said: “The partnership with FREVUE is part of TNT’s corporate responsibility agenda and meets the objective of our Outlook strategy to increase efficiency and productivity. To support zero emission transport in city centres, the authorities extend certain privileges to TNT such as exemptions from parking bans and access to closed areas outside loading and unloading times. With the three vehicles in Rotterdam and four in Amsterdam, TNT’s electric fleet in the Netherlands is nine in total.”

Pex Langenberg, Vice Mayor of the City of Rotterdam, said: “It is the ambition of the City of Rotterdam to have a zero emission freight transport in the inner city by 2020. This is formalised in the Green Deal Zero Emission. We welcome the new electric freight vehicles as they will help to make the air in the city centre cleaner and decrease noise pollution.”

The city of Amsterdam welcomes the emission-free TNT trucks in line with its plans to step up improvements in sustainability as outlined in the Sustainability Agenda Amsterdam. Amsterdam is dedicated to remaining the frontrunner in electric transport and wants to be the zero emission city in 2025. Within the city, all the transport – including public transport and taxis – must preferably be zero emission by then.

By 2022 all BMW's will be AWD range-extender electric cars

BMW have embarked on a radical engineering overhaul which could see all future models from the 3-series upwards, including the Rolls-Royce range, become all-wheel-drive range-extender electric cars.

The days of spot-welded steel bodies and engines that drive the rear wheels via conventional transmissions are set to be consigned to history. BMW’s plan to make all of its cars from the 3-series upwards plug-in hybrids has forced the company’s engineers to rethink the make-up of its cars from first principles.

The first move is to radically reduce the weight of the bodyshell to help offset the extra weight of battery pack. Work on BMW’s bodyshell of the future is already well advanced, and the first generation of the mixed-materials structure can be seen in the next-generation 7-series.

It is expected to take another generation of the 3-series, due in 2018, before BMW is ready to switch its mainstream car to this kind of carbonfibre-intensive construction. That’s partly because it will take some years to reduce the cost of this kind of construction.

The next phase in BMW's reengineering is a rethink of the powertrain. The final concept — demonstrated in Nov 2014 with a 500 kw AWD 5-series GT xDrive plug-in hybrid — is similar in basic principle to the series hybrid system that propels the Chevrolet Volt.

Where the Chevy Volt has an ICE powered generator/motor + a traction motor in a single front-wheel-drive transverse gearbox assembly, BMW will retain it's famous rear-wheel-drive bias by splitting that combination and putting the main traction motor on the rear axle while the front axle can still be driven by the ICE powered motor/generator. This also means that on-demand four-wheel drive will be available on all future BMWs.

As seen in the BMW i8, a large battery will occupy the centre tunnel and some of the space usually occupied by the fuel tank. The front-mounted engine acts as a generator in most driving situations, creating electricity to help drive the electric motors.

The front electric motor is key to the new powertrain

In normal use, the front electric motor drives the front wheels via a still-secret new type of transmission. At speeds above 80 km/h or so, the ICE ‘assists’ the electric motor by attaching itself to the new transmission via a mechanical planetary system to help drive the front wheels at motorway speeds in parallel mode much like a Chevy Volt or Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The combustion engine is expected to be driving the front wheels only 10 per cent of the time on a typical journey.

BMW won’t reveal the details of this new combined electric motor and transmission system, but we speculate that BMW, like Renault and Bugatti, may be considering a disc-shaped Axial Flux electric motor mounted within the gearbox housing.

The new transmission is unlikely to have more than three ratios and could be a mechanical planetary system. It is likely to be less expensive than today’s eight and nine-speed autos and dual-clutch transmissions.

Because the new-generation engine runs as a lean-burn generator for 90 per cent of the time and the twin electric motors provide significant torque, demands on the engine are much reduced. So it probably doesn’t need a turbocharger, the accompanying intercooler system or the Valvetronic system.

The emissions control system should also be less complex and expensive, all of which greatly reduces the cost of the unit. The engine is likely to be significantly lighter, too.

The battery pack can be larger. It will fit neatly in space freed up by the removal of the propshaft and the use of a smaller fuel tank. Braking assistance from electric motors means the mechanical brakes can be smaller, lighter and cheaper.

The multi-material bodyshell will be at least 100 kg lighter than that of today’s 3-series, partly offsetting the battery’s weight.

This new hybrid powertrain offers part-time and permanent all-wheel drive and can be scaled across all models. So although the new, simplified generator motors might come in different sizes and capacities — and the battery pack will come in different sizes — this powertrain can largely be shared between everything from a 3-series to an X5 to a Rolls-Royce Phantom. This will save BMW a huge amount of money in production and research and development costs.

BMW is rumoured to already be testing a four-seater with some of the above technology. Weighing less than 1,200 kg with a drag co-efficient of 0.18, the BMW prototype consumes only 0.4 liters per 100 kilometers or 706 miles per imperial gallon (588 miles per US gallon).

Source: Autocar

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

BMW Wants to Put an EV Charging Station In Every Street Light

BMW's MINI Plant in Oxford UK is showcasing a high-efficiency street lighting system that doubles as a charging station for electric vehicles (EVs) during the city’s second Low Carbon Oxford Week.

Known as Light & Charge and demonstrated for the first time in the UK, this innovative system is the outcome of a pilot project developed by the BMW Group and is a state-of-the-art LED street light that combines energy-efficient lighting with affordable EV charging.

Allowing cities to significantly reduce energy consumption, its integrated charge point also provides a cost-effective and simple solution which can be grafted straight onto the existing local authority street lighting infrastructure, substantially increasing the number of public charging stations. EV charging stations can be set up at any location where suitable parking is available, simply by replacing conventional street lights with Light & Charge systems.

“Light & Charge is a simple and innovative solution which aims to integrate a charging station network into the urban landscape and this is essential if we want to see more electric vehicles on the road in our cities in the future. I’m delighted that the MINI plant is the first location in the UK to showcase BMW Group’s technological expertise not only in developing electric vehicles but also as part of a much wider commitment to electric mobility,” said Frank Bachmann, Managing Director, MINI Plant Oxford.

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council are currently working in partnership to increase the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles such as electric cars as part of their bid for funding from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles, Go Ultra Low City Scheme.

Commenting on the new innovation, representatives from Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council said: “We’re pleased that we have the opportunity to take a look at this innovative new technology as part of Low Carbon Oxford week. Combining energy-efficient street lighting with a re-charging station for electric vehicles is a neat solution to the problems of on-street charging stations.”

With its modular LED design, the Light & Charge street light is much more energy-efficient than conventional street lighting and provides more effective illumination. It can be installed anywhere and its modular design can to be tailored to different locations. Up to four LED modules can be used to provide night-time lighting on main roads, while one or two modules are sufficient to provide lighting on side streets and in residential areas. As is already the case with vehicle headlights, LED technology allows more targeted light distribution with highly uni­form illumination to increase road safety and is optimised for minimum glare and light pollution. Through intelligent control electronics, the street light can adjust itself to its environment and yields energy savings by enabling the reduction of light output late at night and whenever no one is around.

The EV charging cable connects to a standard connector on the Light & Charge street light and the integrated control panel allows drivers to start charging with the swipe of a card regardless of vehicle model.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tesla rolls out destination charging in Australian hotels, malls

Tesla Motors has introduced its ‘destination charging’ program into Australia, with over 10 sites established. Model S owners who frequent longer trips will benefit from the destination charging program, where owners can charge at no cost.

Tesla destination charging program provides ‘high power wall units’ at key destinations for Model S owners to charge while away from home for long periods.

The wall units can provide as much as 40 amp of power to Model S and are also provided with Model S for home installation, making the device familiar to owners.

With up to 500 km of rated range, the majority of charging with Model S is done at the home, but now the destination charging will provide locations where there are longer or overnight stops.

Locations include key hotels such as Park Hyatt Sydney, The Darling, Hotel Realm Canberra, The Observatory in Port Macquarie and to fulfil the winter snow travelers Rundells Alpine Lodge Dinner Plain.

In addition, key shopping centres such as Westfield Chatswood and Chadstone have been utilised, with premium parking locations and wall units available to Model S owners.

Tesla Motors has also partnered with Secure Parking to enable a safe location for Model S owners to park and charge whilst at work or out in town. These locations are located across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

“This expanding network of destination charging is a great replication of the convenience our owners receive when charging at home. Along with the developing Supercharger network, our owners will be able to cover long distances with the knowledge they have a charging solution,” says Australian Tesla spokesperson, Heath Walker.