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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fully Charged | Airbus E-Fan [VIDEO]

In this weeks episode of Fully Charged Robert Llewellyn gets a VIP invitation to witness the Aibus E-Fan battery powered electric aeroplane cross the English Channel.

First flown in April 2014, the plug-in plane is powered by two electric motors with a combined power of 60 kilowatts each driving a variable pitch fan providing a static thrust of 1.5 kN which is an engineering first on an electrically powered aircraft.

The motors are in turn powered by a 250V lithium polymer battery pack made by South Korean company Kokam. The batteries are housed within the inboard part of the wings parallel to the cockpit providing an endurance of between 45 minutes and 1 hour.

The batteries can be recharged in one hour.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Toyota Prius Taxi has travelled over 1 Million Kms [VIDEO]

In a new video posted by Toyota Austria, a taxi driver claims to have covered 1 million kilometers (more than 600,000 miles) in his 2007 Toyota Prius - all with the original battery pack.

What's more, the driver, Manfred Dvorak, claims the Prius has never broken down. "For me, the Prius is the ultimate sidekick," he says.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

VW Develops Self-Parking Self-Charging Electric Vehicle [VIDEO]

Volkswagen have launched an EU research project called 'V-Charge' to look into the near future of automated parking. Six national and international partners are jointly developing new technologies with a focus on automating the search for a parking space and on the wireless charging of electric vehicles.

The test vehicles not only automatically looks for an empty parking space, but can also finds an empty space with charging infrastructure and inductively charges its battery. Once the charging process is finished, it automatically frees up the charging bay for another electric vehicle and looks for a conventional parking space. 'V-Charge' stands for Valet Charge and is pointing the way to the future of automated parking.

In the USA especially, convenient valet parking is a big hit: you pull up in your car right outside your destination, valet service personnel park it for you and have it brought around again as and when you need it. There is no more time-wasting search for a parking place. The V-Charge project picks up on this idea. Its development goal is fully automated searching for a parking space ('valet parking') within defined zones, such as in multi-storey car parks.

There are many scenarios that illustrate the advantages of the V-Charge concept. Take one practical everyday example: a commuter notices that he is possibly going to be late and is thus running the risk of missing an important meeting at his company. With V-Charge he is able to pull up right in front of the main entrance, get out and establish the link to his vehicle via the associated smartphone application. Operating fully automatically, the vehicle has a digital map relayed to it and within the parking area or multi-storey car park autonomously navigates to a parking space. If it is an electric vehicle, the system additionally prioritises a parking bay with an automatic charging facility. Pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles are identified by the cameras and ultrasound sensors integrated within the vehicle. Therefore, the vehicle is allowed to travel in so-called 'mixed traffic'. The selected parking area neither has to be an enclosed domain nor is any complex technical equipment required.

As the electric vehicle nears its destination, the system recognises via local sensors whether the allocated parking space is taken. If it is empty, the fully automatic parking manoeuvre begins and positions the vehicle exactly above the inductive charging spot. When the charging process is complete, the vehicle automatically moves to another parking space, leaving the charging station free for another electric car. When the driver returns to the multi-storey car park, he calls the vehicle back to the starting point via the V-Charge app. The vehicle moves to the defined pick-up location, with the driver not needing to set foot in the parking area or multi-storey car park.

Taking the lead in the international research consortium is the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. It is responsible for visual localisation, movement planning and vehicle control (Autonomous Systems Lab division), camera calibration, 3D reconstruction from images and obstacle detection (Computer Vision and Geometry Lab division). Braunschweig Technical University works on the issues of car park management and the vehicle's communication with the technical surroundings (vehicle-to-infrastructure 'V2I'), Robert Bosch GmbH contributes its expertise in the field of sensor technology, Parma University looks after object recognition and Oxford University handles the development of detailed navigation maps of the parking area (semantic mapping concepts). As the sixth partner in the consortium, Volkswagen is providing the platform equipment, safety and control modules, as well as systems for static monitoring of surroundings, object recognition and automated parking.

The test vehicle: a network of technical sensory organs
The technical prerequisites largely already exist. During the introductory stage, for instance, it was possible to utilise sensor and camera technologies that are already being used in today's production vehicles. A dense network of sensory devices enables autonomous operation of the V-Charge test vehicle, which is based on a Volkswagen e Golf1. Four wide-angle cameras and two 3D cameras, twelve ultrasound sensors, digital maps and the so-called 'Car2X' technology for the vehicle's communication with the infrastructure ensure that the vehicle's surroundings are reliably detected and recognised. Pedestrians, vehicles and obstacles get identified, parking spaces recognised and measured and then this stream of data is put together in real time to form an overall picture – the task that the technical 'sensory organs' have to fulfil is complex and extremely varied.

As continual tests run as part of the research project show, V-Charge is already functional today. GPS-independent indoor localisation, centimetre-exact parking space measurement and 360-degree recognition of surroundings all function reliably, as do the system's reactions to pedestrians and vehicles and the way in which it takes account of traffic moving in line with or across the vehicle's path.

2005: a Volkswagen Touareg called 'Stanley' makes the first move towards autonomy
At Volkswagen automatic motoring moved from being a vision to a field of research at an early stage. 'Stanley' – a Touareg converted in cooperation with Stanford University in California and the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (USA) into a laboratory that could drive autonomously – was already winning the Grand Challenge competition for robot vehicles as far back as 2005. The next stage of development, in 2007, was the Passat 'Junior', which even then was finding its way through the big-city jungle without a driver – and doing so with such success that it took second place in the Urban Challenge for autonomous vehicles.

Given the working titles 'PAUL' and 'iCar', two further Passat research vehicles also demonstrated their autonomous capabilities that same year. While, thanks to intelligent parking assistance with no driver involvement, 'PAUL' slips into spaces perpendicular to the carriageway, the 'intelligent car' makes life easier for the driver in stop-and-go situations and on long monotonous journeys by automatically braking and keeping the appropriate distance.

In 2011, the 'eT – follow me!' microvan was launched as the ideal vehicle for delivery services. One real-life scenario: If the driver walks from house to house along a street delivering letters, for example, 'eT' follows him on quiet electric paws like a well-trained dog to ensure his mailbag is constantly replenished ('FollowMe' function) – or stays on his spot like a good boy until receiving the electronic 'come to me' call.

Also taking to the stage of autonomous motoring in 2011 was the 'HAVE-IT' (Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport), a Volkswagen AG contribution to the research project of the same name funded by the European Commission. The Wolfsburg engineers had developed for the Passat Variant a 'temporary autopilot', which set the best possible degree of automation for driving on motorways and similar roads based on the driving situation, surroundings, the driver's condition and the system status.

Bosch & GS Yuasa on-target to double battery energy density & half costs by 2020

German supplier Robert Bosch and Japanese battery partner GS Yuasa Corp. are "on a good path" toward their goal of developing a lithium ion battery that costs half as much as today's batteries but has twice the energy density, a top Bosch executive said.

The companies aim to produce such a battery by 2020, Wolz said. "We are on a good path to reach that target," he told reporters.

Achieving such performance in automotive power packs will be a major breakthrough in popularizing electrified drivetrains, Wolz said.

Bosch is positioning vehicle electrification as a pillar of growth as carmakers tap batteries to meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations. The supplier expects hybrid and electric-only drivetrains to account for 15 percent of the global automotive market by 2020, Wolz said.

In 2013, GS Yuasa, Bosch and trading house Mitsubishi Corp. formed a joint venture to develop low-cost, high energy-density lithium ion batteries.

Bosch invests some 400 million euros in electromobility research and development each year.

Monday, July 13, 2015

BorgWarner to buy electric motor maker Remy for $950M

BorgWarner agreed to buy Remy for $951 million in cash, driving further consolidation of the auto-parts industry.

BorgWarner will pay $29.50 a share, a 44 percent premium from Remy’s closing price on Friday, according to a statement today. The price indicates an enterprise value of about $1.2 billion, BorgWarner said. The maker of turbochargers and transmission parts said the deal is set to close in the fourth quarter and should add to earnings in the first year because of purchasing efficiencies and other savings.

Demand for fuel-saving technology and global scale is pushing auto-parts makers to consolidate. In May, TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. was acquired by German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG for $12.4 billion.

“Our main focus has been organic growth, and that remains a prime path for us,” James Verrier, CEO of BorgWarner, said on a conference call. “But we’ve also been consistent about the need for M&A to add key technology to sustain that growth.”

The acquisition highlights the increasing importance of the electrification of the powertrain, which has not been a strength of BorgWarner’s, Verrier said.

BorgWarner rose 1 percent to $54.14 at 11:39 a.m. in New York, as Remy soared 42 percent to $29.18. This year through Friday, Remy had fallen 1.9 percent and BorgWarner had declined 2.4 percent.

Electric Powertrains

Buying Remy will add alternators, starters and hybrid motors, giving BorgWarner the ability to benefit as more powertrains blend electric power with traditional gasoline-fueled technology.

Some investors had been concerned that the move to hybrid engines would eventually cause BorgWarner to lose sales to automakers, Joseph Spak, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a research note today.

BorgWarner CFO Ron Hundzinski said he expects savings from the acquisition of at least $15 million annually within two years, in part by eliminating duplicate costs associated with a public company, and from lower purchasing expenses. He said he expects the Remy business to have profit margins in the mid-teens, similar to BorgWarner’s.

Former GM unit

Remy International, formerly known as Delco Remy, traces its roots to brothers Frank and Perry Remy, who developed magnetos, generators that used magnets to help start early automobiles. GM acquired Delco Remy in 1918 and spun it off in 1995. The name was changed to Remy International in 2004 and the Pendleton, Ind.-based company spent less than two months in bankruptcy in 2007.

Remy posted net income from continuing operations of $6.1 million last year on revenue of $1.2 billion. In 2013, it posted net income of $12.4 million on revenue of $1.1 billion.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Airbus E-Fan becomes first electric plane to cross Channel [VIDEO]

Airbus Group's E-Fan technology demonstrator today became the world's first twin-engine, battery-powered electric plane to successfully cross the English Channel—more than 100 years after Louis Blériot became the first pilot to make the journey.

Powered by lithium-ion batteries, the E-Fan took off from Lydd, England, and completed the 74-kilometer (46-mile) flight to Calais, France in 37 minutes.

"The E-Fan project and today's historic Channel crossing show that the pioneering spirit and ingenuity demonstrated by Louis Blériot and the other early aviators is still alive today," Airbus CTO Jean Botti said in a statement. "The 10th of July 2015 will now join the list of famous days in aviation history, and I'm sure Blériot would be proud of this achievement."

Since April 2014, the E-Fan has made more than 100 flights, and was put on display during last month's Paris Air Show.

Already, the Airbus team is working on the E-Fan 2.0—an electric two-seater aimed at pilot training—which will be followed by the E-Fan 4.0—a four-seat aircraft for full pilot licensing and the general aviation market.

The all-electric plane aims to reduce noise, emissions, and vibration caused by conventionally powered engines. Plus, its two battery packs provide 60 kilowatts of power, suitable for 45 minutes to one hour of flight.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Electric truck takes up delivery duties for BMW in Munich

100% electric trucks from the BMW Group and the SCHERM group will be in service from today in Munich. This means the BMW Group will be the first automobile manufacturer in Europe to use a 40-ton electric truck for material transport on public roads. It was launched at the BMW Group Plant in Munich by Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Ilse Aigner.

The electric 40-ton truck – a model from the Dutch manufacturer Terberg – has successfully completed its first test drives. On 7 July, the car will go into regular operation and travel eight times a day between the SCHERM group logistics centre and the BMW Group plant in Munich. It will transport different vehicle components, such as shock absorbers, springs and steering systems.

The electric truck by the BMW Group and the SCHERM group will be exclusively charged with electricity from renewable sources. The combination of this and the alternative driveline means the 40-ton truck helps the environment while it is on the road – it’s CO2-free, quiet and generates almost no fine particle pollution. Compared to a diesel engine truck, the electric truck will save 11.8 tons of CO2 annually. This is equivalent to the distance a BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics would travel when going around the world almost three times.

The truck battery takes three to four hours to charge. When fully charged, the vehicle has a range of up to 100 kilometres. Thus, the electric truck can theoretically complete a full production day without any additional recharging.

Bavaria’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Ilse Aigner: “Bavaria is a leading industrial and research location. It is crucial that the Bavarian economy is also at the forefront in electric mobility. BMW is making an important contribution to this and is showing that you can succeed on the global market with sustainable products made by innovative companies.”

Hermann Bohrer, Head of the BMW Group Plant in Munich: “With our electric truck, we are sending another strong signal for sustainable urban mobility. We are contributing to reducing emissions in the city and are proud to be the first automotive manufacturer in Europe to use an electric truck of this size to transport materials on public roads.” Thus, the innovative truck is another valuable contribution to sustainable production.

Jürgen Maidl, Head of Logistics at BMW Group, emphasised the potential of the electric truck. “With this project we will gain valuable information on what will be possible with electric trucks in the future for city logistics. The BMW Group, along with our partner the SCHERM Group, is once again bravely embarking on a new journey and delivering pioneering work.”

Kurt J. F. Scherm, CEO of the SCHERM group underlined: “As a supplier of transport solutions, it is especially important to us to offer sustainable transport. The electric truck is the first step towards CO2-reduced transport logistics. In addition, this innovative truck is charged with 100% green energy.“

Urban mobility – and for the BMW Group this also includes urban logistics and transport — is a topic with great future potential. Since the end of 2013, the BMW i brand has been on the market. In addition, the company has launched its successful car-sharing programme DriveNow and established it in international cities. The BMW i3 vehicles are currently being introduced into the DriveNow fleets step by step.

Friday, July 3, 2015

London's Iconic Double-Decker Buses to go Electric

One of the world's most recognized transportation systems, TFL (Transportation for London), known for their iconic red, double-decker buses, has contracted for the manufacture of a brand new, battery electric replacement. The company selected to build the next generation London Bus double-deckers is global electric vehicle leader, BYD Company Ltd.

The announcement took place at this week's C40: Clean Bus Summit held at London City Hall. Breaking the news was the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

"Many believed that a pure electric double-decker bus would not be possible due to the size of the battery packs required to power it," said Mayor Johnson. "However by working with BYD and utilizing the latest cutting edge technology London has been able to secure another world first. The new electric double-decker trial will see the zero emission double-decker buses manufactured by BYD enter service on Route 16 from October."

Also addressing the Clean Bus Summit was BYD's Managing Director of European Operations, Isbrand Ho.

"We are delighted to be chosen by London as its partner for the world debut of our new pure electric double-decker. As the Mayor has said, this is genuinely world beating new technology," said Ho. "Since BYD is by far the world's largest maker of zero emission pure electric buses and as such is keen to promote their take up and use as quickly as possible we are also pleased to have today supported the Declaration and pledged BYD to helping promote zero – not just ultra low – emission vehicles on the streets of the world's major cities."

BYD's Battery Electric bus employs many advanced technologies developed in-house by a staff of more than 15,000 R&D engineers including the BYD Iron-Phosphate Battery which boasts the only 12-year-battery warranty in the industry. Combined with BYD's proprietary hub motors and regenerative braking system, the BYD battery electric bus offers the lowest life cycle cost of ownership.

The BYD electric bus delivers a host of operational and environmental benefits for public transit riders, bus operators and residents of the community – it is very quiet and ensures a comfortable ride without vibrations, jerks or the noise associated with the conventional buses and combustion engines. The bus can also drive for more than 155 miles even in heavy city traffic on a single charge. As of April 1st, 2015, BYD bus fleets have completed greater than 50 million miles "in revenue service" and have been evaluated by more than 150 cities in 36 countries around the world. To date, BYD has built over 5,000 electric buses globally, making it by far the most popular electric transit vehicle on the planet.

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.