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Friday, April 18, 2014

Li-Sulfur Batteries with Metal-Organic Frameworks offer 800 km Range

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) added a kind of nanomaterial called a metal-organic framework, to the battery’s cathode to capture problematic polysulfides that usually cause lithium-sulfur batteries to fail after a few charges.

A paper describing the material and its performance was published online April 4 in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters.

“Lithium-sulfur batteries have the potential to power tomorrow’s electric vehicles, but they need to last longer after each charge and be able to be repeatedly recharged,” said materials chemist Jie Xiao of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “Our metal-organic framework may offer a new way to make that happen.”

Today’s electric vehicles are typically powered by lithium-ion batteries. But the chemistry of lithium-ion batteries limits how much energy they can store. One promising solution is the lithium-sulfur battery, which can hold as much as four times more energy per mass than lithium-ion batteries. This would enable electric vehicles to drive farther on a single charge, as well as help store more renewable energy. The down side of lithium-sulfur batteries, however, is they have a much shorter lifespan because they can’t currently be charged as many times as lithium-ion batteries.

The reason can be found in how batteries work. Most batteries have two electrodes: one is positively charged and called a cathode, while the second is negative and called an anode. Electricity is generated when electrons flow through a wire that connects the two. To control the electrons, positively charged atoms shuffle from one electrode to the other through another path: the electrolyte solution in which the electrodes sit.

The lithium-sulfur battery’s main obstacles are unwanted side reactions that cut the battery’s life short. The undesirable action starts on the battery’s sulfur-containing cathode, which slowly disintegrates and forms molecules called polysulfides that dissolve into the liquid electrolyte. Some of the sulfur—an essential part of the battery’s chemical reactions—never returns to the cathode. As a result, the cathode has less material to keep the reactions going and the battery quickly dies.

Researchers worldwide are trying to improve materials for each battery component to increase the lifespan and mainstream use of lithium-sulfur batteries. For this research, Xiao and her colleagues honed in on the cathode to stop polysulfides from moving through the electrolyte.

Many materials with tiny holes have been examined to physically trap polysulfides inside the cathode. Metal organic frameworks are porous, but the added strength of PNNL’s material is its ability to strongly attract the polysulfide molecules.

The framework’s positively charged nickel center tightly binds the polysulfide molecules to the cathodes. The result is a coordinate covalent bond that, when combined with the framework’s porous structure, causes the polysulfides to stay put.

“The MOF’s highly porous structure is a plus that further holds the polysulfide tight and makes it stay within the cathode,” said PNNL electrochemist Jianming Zheng.

Metal-organic frameworks—also called MOFs—are crystal-like compounds made of metal clusters connected to organic molecules, or linkers. Together, the clusters and linkers assemble into porous 3-D structures. MOFs can contain a number of different elements. PNNL researchers chose the transition metal nickel as the central element for this particular MOF because of its strong ability to interact with sulfur.

During lab tests, a lithium-sulfur battery with PNNL’s MOF cathode maintained 89 percent of its initial power capacity after 100 charge-and discharge cycles. Having shown the effectiveness of their MOF cathode, PNNL researchers now plan to further improve the cathode’s mixture of materials so it can hold more energy. The team also needs to develop a larger prototype and test it for longer periods of time to evaluate the cathode’s performance for real-world, large-scale applications.

PNNL is also using MOFs in energy-efficient adsorption chillers and to develop new catalysts to speed up chemical reactions.

“MOFs are probably best known for capturing gases such as carbon dioxide,” Xiao said. “This study opens up lithium-sulfur batteries as a new and promising field for the nanomaterial.”

This research was funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Researchers analyzed chemical interactions on the MOF cathode with instruments at EMSL, DOE’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at PNNL.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

More than 400,000 Electric Cars on the Road Worldwide

The number of electrically powered automobiles worldwide climbed to just over 400,000 in early 2014. This figure, which only counts battery electric and plug-in hybrids, was determined in an analysis conducted by the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-W├╝rttemberg (ZSW).

The vehicle count doubled over the twelve months of last year, increasing by an impressive 200,000 units. The Ulm-based researchers found that demand is greatest in the USA, Japan and China, which are currently the globally leading markets. Germany is just seventh in the ranking, trailing France, the Netherlands and Norway. The most telling statistic is that countries with incentive programs have taken the lead in electric mobility, a market with a bright future. The top-selling cars are made by Japanese and American automotive companies; batteries are sourced mainly from Asia.

Incentive programs have sparked a run on electric cars in the lead markets. This benefits especially the pioneering companies Nissan, General Motors and Toyota. "Efforts in Germany are also quite impressive,"says Prof. Werner Tillmetz, a member of ZSW's board of directors at Ulm. Research into batteries has been stepped up significantly and automobile manufacturers are fast-tracking the development of advanced electric drives. "However, it will take far more effort to establish a lead market in this country with an end-to-end value chain that includes the key component, the battery. Otherwise we will be left behind by the global competition."

According to ZSW's study, the number of registered electric vehicles increased at an annual growth rate of over 100 percent in the last three years. Nearly 100,000 electric cars were on the road worldwide in early 2012. A year later the vehicle count came to 200,000, and already reached 405,000 early this year. If the past three years' growth rates are sustained, then more than one million electric vehicles will be out and about worldwide as early as the beginning of 2016. The researchers tallied the global registration numbers for cars with battery powered electric drives, range extenders and plug-in hybrids. They did not count motorcycles, trucks, buses or full hybrid vehicles, of which there are now more than six million.

The United States are well ahead with 174,000 electric cars, followed by Japan (68,000) and China (45,000). Close to 30,000 electric vehicles are registered in the Netherlands, compared to just 17,500 in Germany. A similar picture emerges in the automotive company rankings. Nissan is in the lead, having sold more than 90,000 of its Leaf models, followed by General Motors with combined sales of its Ampera and Volt models topping the 60,000 mark. Toyota, which has moved over 40,000 Prius Plug-Ins, is in third place

BMW Powers Up with Concept X5 eDrive Plug-In Hybrid

The new BMW X5 has already raised efficiency to a whole new level in the world of the luxury Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV). BMW is using the New York International Auto Show 2014 to present what it sees as the logical next step towards bringing about a radical reduction in fuel consumption and emissions in the SAV segment.

The BMW Concept X5 eDrive succeeds in fusing the familiar brand of driving pleasure generated by the xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system and a luxurious ambience enshrined within an interior offering tremendous versatility of use with a plug-in hybrid drive system. A conventional combustion engine works together in perfect harmony with the cutting-edge BMW eDrive technology to produce the brand's hallmark sporty drive coupled with a significant reduction in fuel consumption, making it an impressive example of the effectiveness of the BMW EfficientDynamics development strategy. As a result, the car is able to drive on electric power alone at speeds of up to 120 km/h (75 mph) and for a distance of up to 30 kilometres (approx. 20 miles), while recording average fuel consumption figures of less than 3.8 l/100 kilometres (more than 74.3 mpg imp) in the EU test cycle.

The concept study underwent a series of detailed refinements in preparation for its appearance at the New York International Auto Show and is equipped with a drive system comprising a 180 kW/245 hp four-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and a 70 kW/95 hp electric motor likewise developed by the BMW Group. The motor is supplied with power from a lithium-ion battery that can be charged from any domestic socket and has sufficient capacity to enable all-electric driving with zero local emissions for a range of up to 30 kilometres (approx. 20 miles). To ensure a particularly high level of crash safety, the high-voltage battery developed for the BMW Concept X5 eDrive is housed underneath the luggage compartment, whose everyday usability remains virtually uncompromised thanks to the 40:20:40 split-folding rear backrest and an almost level loading floor.

In addition to the settings that can be activated using the characteristic BMW Driving Experience Control switch, three driving modes can be selected according to requirements and the situation at hand: intelligent hybrid drive with an optimal relationship between sportiness and efficiency (AUTO eDrive), pure electric and thus local emission-free driving (MAX eDrive) and SAVE Battery to maintain the current charge level.

Majestic poise at its most sophisticated: dynamic, flexible, luxurious, plus zero local emissions if required.

Thanks to the BMW eDrive technology that has been specifically honed for this model as part of the BMW EfficientDynamics strategy, the concept car brings a whole new brand of poise and assurance to the SAV segment. The formidable power reserves produced by its duo of drive units, its outstanding levels of motoring comfort and the optimised traction, handling stability and dynamic performance qualities over any terrain courtesy of BMW xDrive technology all endow it with the all-round sporty prowess typically associated with BMW X models, while its landmark efficiency blazes a trail for its rivals to follow. The ability to operate purely on electric power with zero local emissions, especially in city traffic, puts a whole new slant on the SAV driving experience that shows the shape of things to come. At the same time, the plug-in hybrid drive concept does not impinge in any way on the exemplary versatility offered by the Sports Activity Vehicle's interior or its distinctly luxurious ambience. In short, the BMW Concept X5 eDrive shows itself to be supremely talented in every way, deftly bringing major advances in cutting fuel consumption and emissions into harmony with state-of-the-art functionality and everyday practicality that never fails to impress.

A number of understated styling touches have been meticulously incorporated into the exterior design to underline the groundbreaking character of the BMW Concept X5 eDrive. The kidney grille bars, air intake bars and the insert in the rear bumper are all finished in the BMW i Blue colour developed for the BMW i brand, for instance, creating a stunning contrast to the Silverflake metallic exterior paintwork. The BMW Concept X5 eDrive also comes with body-coloured wheel arches, specially styled roof rails, a connector for the charging cable which – as on the BMW i models – lights up during charging, as well as 21-inch light-alloy wheels in an exclusive, streamlined design.

To make sure that the styling of the luxurious passenger compartment echoes the highly sophisticated drive concept, light blue double-felled seams adorn the Ivory White exclusive leather upholstery covering the seats, door trim panels and dashboard. Further highlight features of the specially designed interior include the Piano Finish Black interior trim with blue accent strips, "eDrive" lettering embossed in the front of the headrests, ambient lighting with a blue hue, and an eDrive button that is also illuminated in blue. In the luggage compartment lined in black velour, a transparent cover – again illuminated in blue – affords a clear view of the high-voltage battery for the electric motor.

BMW eDrive in a Sports Activity Vehicle: intelligent hybrid technology promises outstanding efficiency and hallmark driving pleasure.

Electrification of the powertrain is a key component of BMW EfficientDynamics technology and allows BMW to unlock tremendous potential for reducing fuel consumption and emissions. The BMW eDrive technology developed for this purpose comes in various versions, each precisely tailored to the particular vehicle concept. Both the BMW i3, the first all-electric production vehicle from the BMW Group, and the soon-to-be-launched BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car are powered by BMW eDrive technology. The BMW Concept X5 eDrive now follows in the tyre tracks of the BMW Concept Active Tourer unveiled in 2012 by demonstrating how model-specific BMW eDrive technology can be employed in plug-in hybrid models from the BMW core brand.

This is the first time that BMW eDrive technology has been hooked up with the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system. The BMW Concept X5 eDrive boasts the superior driving characteristics that stem from the permanent and fully variable distribution of drive power between the front and rear wheels. Regardless of the selected driving mode, the drive power generated by the electric motor, the combustion engine or the two units acting in unison is channelled swiftly and precisely to wherever it can be converted into forward propulsion most effectively. This allows the concept study to deliver all the qualities that SAVs are renowned for – superb traction and optimised handling stability in all weather and road conditions coupled with enhanced agility when taking corners at speed – in remarkably efficient fashion. The highly versatile and sporty driving abilities of the BMW Concept X5 eDrive are accompanied by average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle of less than 3.8 l/100 km (more than 74.3 mpg imp) and CO2 emissions of under 90 grams per kilometre.

Both driving pleasure and efficiency in the BMW Concept X5 eDrive are given an extra boost by an electric motor generating a maximum output of 70 kW/95 hp together with the instantaneous power delivery that has become a hallmark of electric drive units thanks to the high levels of torque available from the word go. The electric motor variant developed for the BMW Concept X5 eDrive as part of the BMW EfficientDynamics strategy also boasts sporty performance credentials, a compact design and optimised weight. The electric motor alone is capable of propelling the BMW Concept X5 eDrive to a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). With 250 Newton metres (184 lb-ft) of torque on tap from stationary, it gives the vehicle wonderfully spontaneous response that translates into thrillingly dynamic acceleration. It also works in tandem with the combustion engine to boost its power significantly whenever a quick burst of speed is called for. The BMW Concept X5 eDrive is able to complete the standard sprint from rest to 100 km/h (62 mph) in under 7.0 seconds.

The task of ensuring the engine and electric motor team up together to optimum effect is handled by the power electronics that were developed by the BMW Group and apply the same basic concept used in the BMW i cars. The power electronics combine a liquid-cooled inverter for driving the electric motor, supplying energy to the onboard electrical system from the high-voltage battery and for centralised control of the hybrid-specific drive functions into a single integrated system.

ECO PRO mode and all-electric driving: BMW EfficientDynamics

As in other members of the current BMW production line-up, the Driving Experience Control switch in the BMW Concept X5 eDrive can be used to select not only the COMFORT and SPORT settings but also the ECO PRO mode that fosters a particularly economical driving style. This driving mode is programmed for highly intelligent hybrid functionality, whereby the energy management system orchestrates the interaction between engine and electric drive unit as the driving situation changes in order to maximise efficiency. As a further component of the BMW EfficientDynamics technology, a hybrid-specific Proactive Driving Assistant has also been included, which works together with the navigation system to allow the route profile, any speed restrictions and the traffic situation to be factored in as well for the purpose of drive management.

In addition to this, the driver also has the option of engaging the all-electric driving mode by switching from AUTO eDrive to the MAX eDrive setting at the push of a button. With the battery fully charged, the vehicle is able to cover a distance of up to 30 kilometres (approx. 20 miles) on electric power alone, which means zero local emissions. There is also a SAVE Battery mode, which can be selected to deliberately preserve the battery's energy capacity. This might be the case, for example, if a longer journey is due to end with a final stage through urban traffic that drivers wish to complete in all-electric mode.

Everyday usability: flexible charging scenarios and impressive viability. In order to capitalise as much as possible on the superior efficiency of its electrified powertrain, the BMW Concept X5 eDrive is designed as a plug-in hybrid, allowing its high-voltage battery's energy levels to be renewed from any domestic power socket, a special Wallbox that can handle higher currents, or at a public high-speed charging station. The Wallbox Pro is designed for installation in the customer's garage and offers complete ease of use as well as exceptionally short battery recharging times, thanks to a maximum charging rate of 7.4 kW. It is controlled by means of a high-resolution touchscreen including proximity sensor, while LED light strips provide an additional indication of the charge status. The built-in load management facility governs the charging current in accordance with the current draw on the household electricity supply. The Wallbox Pro even makes it possible to use home-generated electricity, such as that obtained from solar panels. There is also a function for creating different user profiles and displaying the respective charging histories. On request, the corresponding data can be sent online, e.g. for billing purposes.

The high degree of flexibility drivers can enjoy when it comes to choosing an energy source is given an added boost by the charging cable that is carried in the vehicle. The battery unit is located underneath the luggage compartment, so that there is only a small loss of load capacity overall – the luggage compartment is able to hold two large suitcases or four 46-inch golf bags. The SAV's excellent versatility – helped by the 40:20:40 split-folding rear backrest – has been fully retained, along with its ample sense of spaciousness and the impressive level of comfort offered to the occupants of all five seats.

Intelligent connectivity for yet greater efficiency.
Innovative functions from BMW ConnectedDrive assist with planning journeys in such a way as to maximise the amount of time spent driving on electric power alone. In the BMW Concept X5 eDrive, the current electric range thus appears as a numerical value in the instrument cluster. Intelligent connectivity enables the vehicle's dynamic range display to constantly make allowances for any factors affecting the range, such as traffic conditions, route profile and driving style.

When route guidance is activated, the location of local charging stations is added to the selection of points of interest shown on the navigation map. Drivers are able to call up charging stations situated along the planned route or at their destination, while the system additionally notifies them of the charging time needed to fully replenish the battery's energy levels. Furthermore, information graphics indicating the current operating status when engine and motor work together in unison, the impact of the driving style on vehicle efficiency and the fuel consumption history for selected periods of time can be shown in the iDrive operating system's Control Display, along with other information.

Drivers are also able to view all information relating to the battery's charge level and electric driving range on their smartphone. A Remote app from BMW ConnectedDrive that has been specially designed with electric mobility in mind even enables them to control the charging process from their phone. It also allows the vehicle to be pre-programmed whenever it is connected to an electricity supply: the heating and air conditioning systems can be activated remotely in this way to get the passenger compartment to a pleasant temperature ready for the start of the journey.

BMW-Toyota sports car to use all-wheel drive and supercapacitors

BMW's newly minted alliance with Toyota will result in a hybrid all-wheel-drive Z4 / Supra replacement, complete with supercapacitor technology for increased performance, Autocar reports.

The car will have a front-engined direct-injection four cylinder turbo and electric motors driving all four wheels. The supercapacitor system will be derived from technology first seen in Toyota's Hybrid Supra HV-R in 2007 when it won the Tokachi 24 hour race and more recenly Toyota's Le Mans LMP1 race cars.

BMW will supply the 2.0 liter turbocharged engine combined with electric motors produced by BMW at its engine plant in Munich while a Toyota-developed electronics system is expected to provide torque-vectoring capability.

With the car expected to have a front mounted engine and sequential manual gearbox in a conventional longitudinal powertrain layout it will be interesting to see what type of electric motors BMW deploy to drive the front wheels, perhaps in-wheel motors?

1,000-hp AWD hybrids to dominate 2014 Le Mans

There's no more popular saying in the world of motorsport than "racing improves the breed". Although in most cases, most racing series require strict rules on technology to keep races competitive and costs down, that's rarely the case.

The one place where automakers still push the limits of technology? The 24 Hours of Le Mans, which this year will feature three machines from Toyota, Audi and Porsche that offer radically different paths to cars of the future — hybrid, all-wheel-drive ones at that.

The favorite comes from Audi; they've won 12 times at Le Mans since 2000, and in one of the two races it didn't win the Audi machinery still won under the Bentley brand. The R18 e-tron quattro the company drove through the streets of western France earlier this week features the latest changes to the winning strategy, with a 4-liter, turbocharged V-6 diesel engine paired with a flywheel hybrid system for maximum fuel efficiency. That flywheel powers the front wheels, and a second system recaptures energy from the heat of the exhaust.

Toyota has been attempting to challenge Audi in endurance racing for a few years, making some progress and winning a couple of races, but never breaking through the German automaker's dominace. For this year's TS040 model, Toyota revised its entire system, adding a front-wheel-drive to the 3.7-liter V-8 supercapacitor powered hybrid from last year. In total, Toyota says the setup can generate nearly 1,000 hp, while using 25 percent less fuel than last year's vehicles as required by Le Mans rules for 2014.

The most interesting new model comes from Porsche, which hasn't raced in the top class at Le Mans for 16 years. The 919 Hybrid combines a battery pack and Formula 1-style hybrid energy system similar to what Porsche uses in the 918 supercar with a turbocharged V-4 engine — a configuration chosen to save weight and space. Porsche executives call the 919 the most complicated machine the company has ever built, and despite living under the same Volkswagen corporate roof as Audi, there's no apparent sharing between teams or slack in competition.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BMW Lifts i3 Electric Car Production to Meet Rising Demand [VIDEO]

BMW has increased production of the i3 electric city car 43% to meet demand that has exceeded the carmaker’s initial expectations.

The premium manufacturer in recent weeks has raised daily output to 100 vehicles from 70 previously at the factory in Leipzig, Germany, where the model is assembled, Harald Krueger, BMW production chief, said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.

BMW has already built more than 5,000 i3s since the start of the year, Krueger said. The current production rate translates to about 20,000 vehicles for the full year, almost twice as much as BMW’s initial sales forecast.

BMW began rolling out the i3 last November and will begin bringing the i8 hybrid sports car to market in June. Both vehicles have a carbon fiber chassis to cut weight and improve fuel efficiency. The Munich-based automaker said in February that it’s building a second production hall at a jointly run plant with SGL Carbon SE (SGL) to boost assembly of the material.

“Following the market introduction in Europe, we’re now rolling out the i3 in the U.S.,” Krueger said in the statement. “The U.S. will be the largest market for the i3.”

BMW gained as much as 43 cents, or 0.5 percent, to 90.57 euros and was up 0.3 percent as of 1:21 p.m. in Frankfurt trading. The stock has climbed 5.8 percent this year, valuing the German manufacturer at 57.9 billion euros ($79.9 billion).

Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said in October the company was considering a production increase for the model after early demand exceeded expectations. BMW said at the time it had 11,000 orders for the compact car, which will cost $41,350 in the U.S., and aimed to sell more than 10,000 in 2014.

“BMW invested a lot of money” on their electric-car push and using carbon fiber, said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. “It was a bold move, but it also bears some risk as production is complex. They need to make this work.”

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mercedes-Benz Starts B-class Electric Drive production

Mercedes-Benz has kicked off production of the new B-class Electric Drive at its plant in Rastatt, Germany.

Set for sale in left-hand-drive in selected European markets during the latter half of 2014, the five-seat MPV has been conceived as a rival to the likes of the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf. Unlike the uniquely styled electric car competition, however, the new zero emission Mercedes-Benz is based on an existing model – the second-generation B-class.

At the heart of the new car is a lithium-ion battery produced by Tesla Motors – a company with which Mercedes-Benz has enjoyed close technical ties ever since its parent company Daimler took a minority ten per cent stake in the California-based electric car maker back in 2009.

Developing 177 hp and 340 Nm (252 lb ft) of torque, the electric motor of the car can propel it from naught to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 7.9 seconds, while the Tesla-sourced battery can keep it on the road for approximately 200 km according to European NEDC ratings or 115 miles in US city driving.

Source: Autocar

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Plasma Cam: 8 second electric Miata does 0-100 km/h in 1.5 seconds [VIDEO]

Take a look at what 2,000 Amps does to a set of DC motor brushes under the hood while an 8 second EV drag race car pushes nearly 1000BHP into two stock Netgain DC brushed motors.

Audi to build A6 E-Tron Plug-In Hybrid In China

Together with its Chinese joint-venture partner FAW, Audi is to launch a plug-in hybrid car for the Chinese market. The Audi A6 e-tron will be based on the long-wheelbase version of the Audi A6, which is already produced in China, and will be specially developed for the most important market of the German premium manufacturer.

"We are shaping the future of electric mobility in China," stated Prof. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. The efficient full-size sedan with a 50-kilometer range when operating solely under battery power is to be produced within the joint venture by FAW-Volkswagen in Changchun in northern China.

Zhang Pijie, President of FAW-Volkswagen: "Audi and FAW have been cooperating closely for more than 25 years. Together, we have built up the premium segment in China. Now we are cooperating on the next generation of automobiles." The two types of drive system of the plug-in hybrid technology offer customers emission-free driving with electric drive and unlimited range with the additional combustion engine.

The Audi A6 e-tron is equipped with the latest battery technology and represents another milestone in Audi's efficiency program in China. The Audi Group is pushing ahead with its activities in the area of electric mobility under the Audi e-tron heading. The focus is on a holistic approach. All systems and components are coordinated to work together optimally. This allows Audi to further reduce its cars' CO2 emissions and creates a basis for CO2-neutral mobility.

The brand with the four rings is the first manufacturer to equip all of its models produced locally in China with efficient start-stop technology and kinetic energy recovery systems. Audi was already a pioneer in 2012 with the integration of lightweight components in local production. Since the beginning of the efficiency program with FAW-Volkswagen in 2011, Audi has reduced the average fuel consumption of the models it produces in China by more than 20 percent.

"We are the market leader in China's premium segment and will continue systematically with the application of efficiency technologies. Audi is thus supporting the Chinese government's targets for the reduction of fuel consumption," stated Dr. Dietmar Voggenreiter, President of Audi China and Head of the China Region at AUDI AG. Starting this year, the company produces engines complying with the efficient Euro 6 standards in Changchun. Audi already offers its Chinese customers a wide range of imported hybrid models (the Audi Q5 hybrid quattro*, Audi A6 hybrid* and Audi A8 L hybrid*). The Audi A3 e-tron* plug-in hybrid will also come to China.

Strict efficiency criteria apply to the construction and operation of Audi's new factory with FAW-Volkswagen in Foshan, southern China. This is where the Audi A3 Sportback* is produced, which had its market launch on March 21. The Audi A3 Sedan* from Foshan will follow before the end of this year. In 2013, the brand with the four rings delivered 491,989 cars in China (including Hong Kong), an increase of 21 percent compared with 2012.

Mitsubishi Boss: Electric vehicles 'will beat petrol cars'

Electric cars will be so affordable and have such a long range between re-charges that petrol cars will not be able to compete in the next generation of cars, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation president Osamu Masuko predicts.

He said car and battery manufacturers were working on a seven-fold increase in battery capacity, increasing potential car driving ranges to more than 1000km, and major reductions to battery cost, one 20th of 2009 prices, that would drive the growth in electric cars.

“Once these things are achieved, the petrol engine can't compete,” he said, adding: “In 10 years time, we might see a dramatic change.”

He likened the rise of EVs to that of mobile phones, which had had a major impact on old style land-line telephones.

“The world is changing, and it is definitely advancing, this battery technology,” he said.

Mr Matsuko said the lithium-ion batteries for an electric car in 2009 cost as much as a Toyota Yaris, but had more than halved since.

He said the Japanese government had a target to reduce the cost of batteries for cars to one 20th of the price of the 2009 variety, and with seven fold capacity.

A 2009 electric car could travel 150km, he said, meaning the EV of the future should do more than 1000km.

Mr Masuko said Mitsubishi would not be able to meet future fuel consumption and emissions regulations in the United States, Europe and China if it did not introduce electric and PHEV cars into its mix.

He said car companies who failed to meet the regulations would have to pay penalties.

“Paying penalities is not realistic,” he said.

Mr Masuko said the fact that China – along with Bolivia and Chile – controlled one of the few sources of raw lithium for the making of current batteries was a concern, meaning the product was often used as a political bargaining tool.

However, Kazakstan supplies were now coming on stream, reducing the risk of supply instability, he said.

In the longer term, new battery substances possibly would further reduce the reliance on Chinese lithium, he said.