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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Tesla Model S promo Video

Tesla’s Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen and Vice President of Sales George Blankenship discuss the Tesla Model S.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Customers standing by Ener1 [video]

Battery maker Ener1 may be going through bankruptcy proceedings, but automakers working with the firm’s subsidiary, EnderDel, aren’t abandoning the company just yet.

Indiana-based EnerDel, which was the recipient of a $118 million private investment-matched grant from the Department of Energy to develop batteries for electric cars, is proceeding with business as usual and at least two of its high-profile customers say that they don’t expect to be adversely affected in the short term.

Volvo, which is owned by Chinese automaker Geely, is currently operating a test fleet of approximately 250 electric C30 compact cars that use batteries built by EnerDel. The vehicles are being evaluated in real-world situations around Europe with an eye on developing a production version of the car.

A Volvo spokesperson at the automaker’s headquarters in Sweden said that the company plans to continue working with EnerDel on the next generation of the vehicle and is not seeking a new supplier. He does note that the electric drive technology is flexible enough to allow a switch if one becomes necessary.

At the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, Volvo unveiled a plug-in hybrid version of its XC60 crossover that uses a battery pack supplied by South Korea’s LG Chem, the same company that provides the cells used by the Chevrolet Volt.

In the United States, the president of Lightning Motorcycles, Richard Hatfield, says the California-based company is moving forward with a production version of its all-electric superbike using EnerDel technology. Hatfield says he has discussed the matter with Ener1 and that he has confidence in the company’s plan for recapitalization.

A prototype of the $38,000 two-wheeler powered by an EnerDel pack set an electric motorcycle top speed record of 215.9 mph last October at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The production version uses an air-cooled 11 killowatt-hour pack that is capable of delivering up to 150 miles per charge and goes on sale this quarter.

While Hatfield expects to sell only about 50 of the high-performance superbikes annually, this spring he is introducing a commuter-focused model with a range of 50-100 and a price between $8,000-$12,000. He hopes to manufacture several thousand units of the lower-priced model per year.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

California Orders Automakers to Sell More Electric Vehicles

California will require automakers to sell millions of “zero-emission” vehicles -- battery- electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen-powered -- setting new standards followed by states from New York to Oregon.

The rules adopted by the California Air Resources Board mean manufacturers will have to produce about 1.4 million advanced vehicles for sale in that state alone by 2025, more than 40 times the number put on the road from 1996 through 2010, according to a state analysis.

The regulations have implications for the broader automotive market because 10 other states, including New York and New Jersey, plan to adopt the standards. Earlier rulings by the California board led to the addition of catalytic converters and exhaust-treatment systems as standard equipment on all cars sold in the U.S.

“Today’s vote to adopt the package of clean-cars standards represents a new chapter in California and the nation,” said Mary Nichols, the chairwoman of the board, which has pushed carmakers since the 1970s to sell cleaner vehicles to reduce air pollution. The board’s vote came after two days of hearings in Los Angeles.

Starting in 2018, the requirements that now apply to the six largest carmakers, all from the U.S. and Japan, will widen to the top 12, to include German and Korean companies. Failure to meet the standards could bring fines and, at the extreme, limits on sales in the state.

Other States

Others that will adopt the requirements are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont, said Roland Hwang, transportation program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. That will at least double the impact of California’s program, to sales of more than 3 million advanced vehicles nationwide, he said.

“We believe that’s a very reasonable total by 2025,” Hwang said.

California accounted for 9.7 percent of U.S. new-vehicle registrations in 2010, according to the National Association of Automotive Dealers. Collectively, the 11 states accounted for 28.5 percent of the 11.4 million new registrations that year, association data show.

Automakers that reduce their overall greenhouse-gas emissions in the U.S. will receive credits for four years, beginning in 2017, exempting them from some of the zero-emission vehicle requirements. They must beat their greenhouse-gas targets by a “significant” amount to qualify, Nichols said in a conference call with reporters.

Oil Companies

The new rules also require oil companies to install hydrogen supply pumps at existing gasoline stations to power fuel-cell cars.

Each hydrogen pump may cost between $1 million and $2 million, according to the air board. Companies affected by the new rule include BP Plc, Chevron Corp., Tesoro Corp., ConocoPhillips, Valero Energy Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp.

The requirement may lead to a court fight with the oil companies, said Cathy Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, a trade group whose members include those that would have to comply with the new rules.

“We strongly oppose the clean fuels outlet requirement,” Reheis-Boyd told the regulatory board yesterday.

Adoption of California’s new rules comes as the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency match regulations for carbon exhaust and other pollutants. The Obama administration last year announced plans to double so-called Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, the biggest increase in U.S. history.

Fuel Economy

California’s program and efforts to regulate carbon exhaust triggered lawsuits by automakers and dealers in the last decade. To meet the new fuel-efficiency standard, automakers were already planning to boost sales of advanced vehicles, said Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the industry’s biggest trade group.

“Automakers have invested massive sums in new types of powertrains now on sale,” Bergquist said in an interview before today’s vote. “We still do not support mandates, because mandates create a disconnect in the marketplace.”

California’s rules force companies only to offer certain types of vehicles, not for people to buy them, she said. Electric cars may not sell in large numbers if there aren’t enough public charging stations, Bergquist said.

“Once government determines that society should move to diversify powertrains, that triggers a legitimate role, and even an obligation, for government to invest in supporting infrastructure, like making charging stations widely available,” she said.

Combined Sales

Currently, General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC, Toyota Motor Corp. Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. must sell a combined 60,000 plug-in, battery-electric and fuel-cell cars in the state from this model year through 2014.

Ford is introducing a line of electric vehicles such as the 2012 Focus Electric, said Sara Rudy, the Dearborn, Michigan- based automaker’s emissions regulatory manager.

“However, the market acceptance of these vehicles is very uncertain,” she told the Air Resources Board yesterday.

By 2018, the state’s rules will extend to Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., Germany’s Daimler AG, Volkswagen AG and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, and Japan’s Mazda Motor Corp.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fiat Criticized For Not Making EVs and Hybrids

Italian carmaker Fiat has come under severe criticism from Corrado Clini, Minister of Environment. The minister has accused the company of not taking any effort towards investing in electric and hybrid car technology.

The Fiat attack is also linked with the Italian truck driver strike that caused most of the country’s petrol stations to run dry. Clini says the automaker has missed out on a great opportunity, and as a result Italy will be forced to import such green vehicles.

Clini also mentioned the Fiat Multipla hybrid that was unveiled at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show, saying that if they had continued on the path, they would have been market leaders.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Seagen sails past 3 GWh tidal energy milestone [video]

A tidal energy generator off the coast of Northern Ireland has been hailed as the first in the world to produce more than 3 GWh of electricity, marking a major milestone for the UK's fledgling marine energy sector.

Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines (MCT) yesterday confirmed that its 1.2 MW SeaGen device had produced more than 3GWh of electricity, since it was first deployed for testing four years ago.

The test installation has the capability to deliver about 10 MWh per tide, which adds up to 6,000 MWh (6 GWh) per year. This is approximately the rate of energy capture that a wind turbine of about 2.4MW rated capacity can typically produce.

Source: BusinessGreen

More Info: Marine Current Turbines

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012 Ford Focus Electric fast on the draw

Top speed is OK … if you’re a racecar. If you’re an electric car, the speed that’s more important is charging time. In this regard, the new 2012 Ford Focus Electric has some bragging rights.

Among the many technologies incorporated in this EV is a fast on-board charger. “The best in the industry,” says Steve Ross, whose official title is Product Marketing Manager, Sustainability and Electrification, Ford of Canada.

Ford claims the 6.6 kW charger on the Ford Focus Electric takes only three to four hours to charge a fully depleted battery when hooked up to a 240V, 32-amp charging station. By way of comparison, the Nissan LEAF has a 3.3 kW charger and takes about six to eight hours to achieve a full charge from a 240V source.

According to Ross, this faster charging rate is a strategic element of Ford’s electric vehicles, and one that will ultimately give owners of its EV less to worry about when it comes to range anxiety, as when they are able to charge during the day, either at home or at a station along their route, they will be able to get more juice in a shorter amount of time, to significantly extend the kilometres they have at their disposal on any given day.

The Ford Focus Electric’s range on a full charge is 160 km.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Toyota Le Mans HYBRID [in-car] EV Mode pit exit and on-track

Toyota Motorsport TS030 HYBRID LMP1 2012 Le Mans Challenger testing @ Paul Ricard. The in-car video features a demonstration of pit exit using EV mode.

Demand for Li-Ion batteries explodes by 447%

Global production of lithium-ion batteries will almost quadruple in 2012 to feed growing demand generated mostly by plug-in vehicles according to research firm IDC Energy Insights, Framingham MA.

An IDC Energy report, Business Strategy: Lithium Ion Manufacturing Global Buildout - Supply and Demand Forecasts expects worldwide growth of 390% from 6,689MWh in 2011 to 26,149MWh in 2015.

This explosive growth is being driven by the need for batteries in plug-in vehicles and stationary storage. The report also indicated that plug-in electric vehicles will require more than seven times the 2011 production level, rising to 17,331MWh by 2015. North America will lead the demand in the coming year; however, Asia will quickly eclipse North America in demand. If Li-ion costs fall as expected, IDC Energy expects global stationary storage lithium-ion demand on the electric grid will increase by more than 17 times in 2015.

To meet this expected demand, manufacturers throughout the world are engaging in one of the largest factory build-outs in world history. It is led by a combination of existing battery giants, such as Electrovaya in Canada, Panasonic in Japan, Samsung SDI in South Korea and Johnson Controls in the US, as well as emerging players, such as A123 Systems in the US, and BYD in China.

Li-ion batteries are the preferred battery type in a number of applications ranging from plug-in electric vehicles to computers to power tools, based on their flexibility, durability, energy density, and power capabilities.

Historically, the one challenge that has delayed adoption has been price: they are significantly more expensive today than other battery types; however, IDC Energy says the enormous increase in production capacity will generate economies of scale, causing Li-ion battery prices to decrease significantly.

"As prices for Li-ion cells come down, more applications will become eligible for their use, creating a self-feeding cycle that will lead to lower prices and more widespread adoption," says Sam Jaffe, research manager for IDC Energy Insights and one of the authors of the report. "Demand and supply will be in rough equilibrium for at least the next three years, allowing manufacturers to reach high levels of production capacity and leading to even lower price points."

Better Place Plans Electric-Car IPO Within 2 Years,

Better Place LLC, a U.S. startup developing charging stations for electric vehicles that started putting cars on the road this week, expects to go public in the next two years, Chief Executive Officer Shai Agassi said.

“We’re probably not going to go for another private round between now and the initial public offering,” Agassi, 43, who founded the business, said yesterday at Better Place’s test track and showroom north of Tel Aviv. “We have enough capital to go all the way until then.”

Better Place, based in Palo Alto, California, has raised $750 million since it was founded four years ago and is in partnership with Renault SA (RNO) to install electric-car charging systems in Israel, Denmark and Australia. Cars are expected to start using the company network in Denmark within weeks and Australia later this year, Agassi said.

The local capital expenses of the roll-outs will be funded by debt rounds in Israel and Denmark. In Australia, an equity round is planned to finance the introduction there, Agassi said.

In China, where Better Place opened a visitors’ center in the southern city of Guangzhou last month, the company may raise money locally if it starts to expand there as part of its partnership with China Southern Power Grid Co.

Better Place is building at least 20 roadside switching stations across Israel (ILCO), which enable car owners to exchange spent batteries within five minutes, much like pulling into a gas station, Agassi said.

Plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles have the potential to make up 9 percent of auto sales in 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That could rise to 22 percent of sales by 2030, or four million vehicles.

Station Roll-out

“The global electric vehicle market is still at a nascent stage,” U.K. market-research company Technavio said in an August 2011 report. “The biggest challenge that is causing hindrance to the growth of the global electric vehicle market is the high price and low performance of electric vehicles as compared to conventional vehicles.”

As many as 10,000 cars using Better Place stations will be on Israel and Denmark’s roads by the end of the year, said Agassi, who skipped his annual trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos this year to oversee the Israeli roll-out.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made cutting the nation’s dependence on petroleum one of his government’s primary goals. Israel’s energy imports are often connected to the geopolitical situation in the region, seen in multiple attacks on its gas pipeline from Egypt over the past year.

“We buy batteries and sell at the price of oil so it is a great business to be in between those two elements,” according to Agassi.

The visitors’ center in Israel has been expanded into a car retail showroom, where the Renault Fluence ZE model is being sold from 122,900 shekels ($32,500), including a subscription for fuel miles.

Bosch reaffirms plans to step up EV, internet investments

Robert Bosch, which posted an 8.8 pc increase in 2011 sales to 51.4 billion euros, said it will intensify its activities in electromobility and internet-based services.

The world’s largest automotive supplier said it is spending around 400 million euros a year on electric-vehicle technology. That reflects expectations that, by 2013, 21 projects for hybrid and all-electric powertrains will go into series production at 13 automakers.

Bosch said it expects the internet to radically change the competitive environment in the car industry. “While the classic hardware and software businesss will still be a main driver of growth for many years to come, Bosch intends to exploit the technical potential of internet connectivity more extensively than in the past,” the company said in a press release.

Underscoring its resolve to become a bigger player in, specifically, “the internet of things,” Bosch last year acquired inubit, a Berlin-based maker of business process management (BPM) software.

Bosch CEO Franz Fehrenbach told reporters that he was “largely satisfied” with the group’s 2011 results. He said the company’s pretax return on sales of 5 pc was below his target of 7 pc-8 pc mostly because of special factors. These included higher materials costs, upfront investments in electromobility and renewable energy and a downward revaluation of solar energy assets.

Fehrenbach said he expected Bosch’s sales to grow between 3 pc and 5 pc this year, despite a global economic slowdown. He said he didn’t expect a global recession.

The Bosch CEO acknowledged the uncertain outlook for the European economy and said: “Whether we see stagnation or even a recession depends largely on how rigorously and quickly the necessary reforms are carried out in the euro zone.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Toyota Racing Unveils 2012 TS030 HYBRID Le Mans Race car

Toyota Racing today announced more details of its forthcoming FIA World Endurance Championship participation, including an intention to race two cars in specific races.

The new team, which is based at Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany, will make its race debut on 5 May in the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Toyota Racing intends to enter two TS030 HYBRID cars in the subsequent Le Mans 24 Hours (16-17 June. Participation in further rounds is yet to be confirmed.

A driver line-up of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima has already been confirmed for one car while discussions are still ongoing to finalise the driver line-up for the other. Additionally, Andrea Caldarelli, from Pescara, Italy, has joined Toyota Racing as a junior driver.

The TS030 HYBRID is Toyota's successor to the iconic TS010 and TS020 cars which participated at Le Mans with podium success during the 1990s, with TS an acronym for ToyotaSport.

Toyota is the first manufacturer to confirm its participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship using a hybrid system, emphasising the pioneering approach to this technology which has seen more than 3.5 million Toyota hybrid vehicles sold worldwide.

The THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System – Racing) powertrain is designed to deliver maximum performance and features an all-new V8 3.4 litre normally-aspirated petrol engine and hybrid system with capacitor storage developed by official team partner Nisshinbo.

The team will use the TS030 HYBRID's first test to evaluate the merits, within the current regulations, of a front motor system produced by Aisin AW and a rear motor system developed by official team partner DENSO. Those regulations limit hybrid systems to recovering a maximum of 500kJ between braking zones whilst restricting deployment to only two wheels.

A brand new carbon fibre LMP1 chassis has been developed and produced at TMG, where the complete car was assembled for the first time in preparation for a roll-out on 11-13 January at Paul Ricard.

During an exclusive test session at the French track, which included running in darkness, the TS030 HYBRID completed several hundred kilometres, showing an impressive level of reliability and performance for this very early stage in the car's testing programme.

Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre both put the TS030 HYBRID through its paces at Paul Ricard, joined by 30-year-old Japanese driver Hiroaki Ishiura, who is a candidate to join the driver line-up at races where Toyota Racing participates with two cars.

Official partners to the Toyota Racing programme include ZENT, Aisin, Nippon Steel, Takata, Toyoda Gosei and Michelin.

Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: "Of course we would love to win Le Mans; that is the dream for all competitors in this race. But we are realistic and we know we need to develop and to learn in order to compete with some very strong competition. Our target this year is to show the performance level of our car and particularly the THS-R powertrain. Hybrid is a core technology of Toyota so it is important to demonstrate this in a motorsport arena and we want to prove it can bring a performance advantage, both in terms of lap time and fuel efficiency. Everyone involved in designing, developing and preparing the car – both at TMG and at Motor Sport Division in Japan – has worked incredibly hard to reach this point and we are all very excited to be back on the race track again."

Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: "The two main performance drivers of our TS030 HYBRID car are the aerodynamics and the hybrid system. The regulations for hybrid powertrains allow us to recover energy under braking and release this to improve acceleration out of a corner, delivering lap-time benefit. For any given performance level, a hybrid powertrain will achieve this with less fuel so it is an extremely relevant technology and one we are excited to be bringing to endurance racing. Another key point in our development phase has been delivering aerodynamic efficiency. The development team at TMG has worked very hard to achieve an optimum aero concept using our state-of-the-art aero development processes based on combined wind tunnel testing and CFD. Judging by the positive feedback we received during the roll-out we have a very good base on which to build in the coming weeks."

Hisatake Murata, Hybrid Project Leader: "Toyota has been working on hybrid systems for motorsport for several years, during which time we have made huge progress. Now we feel ready to bring our technology to the ultimate motorsport test: the Le Mans 24 Hours. Integrating a hybrid powertrain is, of course, a different challenge compared to a 'standard' powertrain. But we have worked together with partners such as DENSO, Aisin AW and Nisshinbo to develop the THS-R technology so it is part of the overall concept of the TS030 HYBRID. This technology will be used to recover up to 500kJ between braking events, energy which can be released via either front or rear motors to deliver a performance advantage. Toyota's hybrid technology has already won a 24-hour race – the Tokachi 24 Hours in 2007 – so now we are bringing the latest THS-R development to global motorsport; we know this is a technically-demanding exercise but we are well prepared for the challenge."

Alex Wurz: "It was cool to drive the TS030 HYBRID car for the first time. Just leaving the garage on the electric power is very futuristic, then when you let the clutch go and the internal combustion engine kicks in it is like an old friend has returned! When we put on the slick tyre I could feel the car generates a very good amount of grip so I think we have a good base and I think we can turn this into a really fast car. I am definitely very happy but my nature is to also be analytical and therefore I know there is still a lot of work to be done. It's really good to work with all the mechanics and engineers; the Toyota Racing team is very international and this works well. I am very comfortable in this team because they are all extremely professional, that is really clear."

Nicolas Lapierre: "My first impression from the roll-out was positive; the chassis is really advanced and the hybrid system works very well. The TS030 HYBRID car has good reaction to the steering with quick and efficient response combined with an impressive base level of downforce which is a nice feeling for a driver. It is totally different from anything I have known before because the philosophy is different. So our roll-out was promising and we saw the car's potential on several levels; we still have plenty of work to do but I think that we will have a strong package. We are starting from a blank page so the challenge is exciting."

Kazuki Nakajima: "I cannot wait to drive the TS030 HYBRID for the first time. I spoke a lot with Alex and Nicolas about the car during the roll-out and it obviously has great potential. I have been doing a lot of time in the TMG driving simulator so I have got to know the car in a virtual world, as well as the Le Mans track; now it's time to drive it for real. It is a great opportunity for me and I am thoroughly looking forward to the experience of racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Toyota Racing. To return to Le Mans with hybrid technology is a big challenge for Toyota but it is also a real opportunity for all the drivers and I hope my recent Super GT experience will be a benefit. It's a great feeling to be involved in this project and I am really motivated for this season."

Toyota Hybrid Racing

PG Elektrus Lotus Based Electric Sports Car

As production of the Tesla Roadster drawing to a close, German Bicycle manufacturer PG has revealed a Lotus Elise based electric sports car called Elektrus which they say will be manufactured in Germany starting later this year.

Powered by a 268 horsepower (200kW) electric motor, which also produces 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) of torque from zero rpm, PG claim a 0-60 time of under 3 seconds. Top speed of the Elektrus is 'limited ' to 155 mph (248 km/h), although PG claim it can supposedly do 186 mph (300 km/h).

The PG Elektrus has a range of up to 215 miles (350km) on a full charge – which takes just four hours using a 380V fast charger, or eight hours using a conventional 220V outlet. In addition, a small solar panel located behind the cockpit helps top up the batteries, or runs the audio system and other interior equipment when parked up.

The PG Elektrus has a multi-speed transmission which can be switched back and forth between automatic and manual modes. (are PG destined to repeat Tesla's multispeed gearbox debacle?) For drivers who might miss the sound of a conventional internal combustion engine, the audio system can replicate the soundtrack of a V8 burble, or the scream of Formula-One racer.

Look for the vehicle to land with a gasp-inducing price tag of $367,700.

Source: PG

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rolls-Royce 102EX Phantom EV Test Drive [video]

Rolls-Royce revealed the 102EX "experimental electric" almost a year ago at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show. Equipped with a 71 kWh lithium-ion battery which sends power to two electric motors that develop a combined 389 hp (290 kW / 394 PS) and 800 Nm (590 lb-ft) of torque, the prototype can accelerate from 0-60 mph in "under 8 seconds" and hit a limited top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph). Rolls Royce estimates the car will have a range of approximately 200km (124 miles) on a single charge via it's Qualcomm wireless charging system.

AOL's Translogic recently took the 102EX for a test drive.

Electric DeLorean DMC-EV Test Drive [video]

Texas-based DeLorean Motor Company is looking to redefine the iconic DMC-12 conceived by John Z. DeLorean over 3 decades ago. While its pop-culture status as the "Back to the Future car" will never change, the DMC-12's reputation for surprisingly poor performance can certainly be addressed.

With some help from Epic EV, the folks at DeLorean have swapped the car's original 130 hp V6 for an all-electric powertrain that produces 260 hp and is reported to go from 0-60 mph in under 5 seconds. That's certainly one way to transport the stainless steel, gull-winged wonder from the past into the future.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The First Continental U.S. Mitsubishi EVs Get Delivered

It may have been quietly rolling around Japan for a few years now, but Mitsubishi’s first mass marketed fully electric vehicle is now on continental American soil.

John and Jean Malanaphy of Santa Monica, California; Paul Wasson of Tigard, Oregon; and Roger Saint John of Lake Tapps, Washington are apart of the first members of the public to hold the keys to a U.S.-spec 2012 i-MiEV. Hawaii received its first i last month and now the rest of the United States will soon follow as Mitsubishi prepares for even more deliveries.

Starting at $29,125, the base i still gets help from a $7,500 tax credit that drops the price to $21,625. With that rebate, the i-MiEV is the most affordable fully electric and zero emissions vehicle available in North America. Using a slightly longer body than the Japanese cars, the U.S. i was specially enhanced for the American market. When the EPA released their 2012 list of “Fuel Economy Leaders”, it was the little Mitsubishi that came out on top. Soon to follow the first run of cars will be a wider availability to most of the U.S. by the summer of 2012.

First batch of Renault Fluence ZE Better Place cars hit the road [video]

A four-year venture in the making, the first fleet of several dozen Better Place Renault Fluence ZE electric cars drove in a procession down Tel Aviv’s Ayalon on Sunday afternoon.

About 100 Better Place employees were the beneficiaries of today’s inaugural car shipment, and members of the general public will begin receiving their vehicles during the second quarter of 2012, the company said. Throughout the year, thousands of electric cars will be reaching Israeli roads, according to Better Place Israel CEO Moshe Kaplinsky.

“We had a vision and working papers only, but there is no doubt that in four years we have unequivocally proven that when setting a goal and acting with determination allows for achieving goals and instigating global change,” said Better Place founder and CEO Shai Agassi.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Honda Begins Deliveries of 2013 Fit EV [video]

Honda delivered a 2013 Fit EV battery-electric vehicle to the city of Torrance today as one of the first major steps in the Honda Electric Vehicle Demonstration Program, a prelude to the retail market launch of the Fit EV with customers in California and Oregon this summer.

The delivery was marked by a ceremony at the Torrance City Hall, at which a key to the Fit EV was presented to Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto by Steve Center, vice president of the Environmental Business Development Office at American Honda.

"This is an exciting day as we take another important step toward Honda's comprehensive vision for reducing CO2 emissions while at the same time advancing our relationship with the city of Torrance," said Steve Center. "Honda has a long history with electric vehicles starting with the introduction of our first battery-electric car, the EV Plus, nearly 15 years ago. With Honda's extensive experience and the real-world feedback from the city of Torrance, we will be even more prepared for the further customer adoption of electric vehicles."

Over the past year, Honda and the city of Torrance have worked together to gather input from Torrance residents about potential recharging station locations and jointly participated in numerous public awareness events with a Fit EV test vehicle. Honda and the city will continue to further these initiatives while also studying local government fleet usage of an electrified vehicle. The city of Torrance will also receive a Honda plug-in hybrid for additional testing at a later date.

"Today, in our partnership with Honda and their continuing efforts in renewable technologies, we will be driving into a more sustainable future," said city of Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto.

Honda unveiled the 2013 Fit EV at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show and announced plans to begin leasing the 123 city-mile per charge (76 mile range combined adjusted city/highway)1 battery-electric commuter vehicle to its U.S. customers in the summer of 2012. Equipped with a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery and 92 kW coaxial electric motor, the Fit EV battery can be fully recharged in as little as 3 hours when connected to a 240-volt circuit.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Honda's Cumulative Worldwide Hybrid Sales Reaches 800,000 Units

Honda have announced that cumulative worldwide hybrid vehicle sales surpassed 800,000 units as of the end of December 2011. This milestone was reached 12 years and 2 months after the start of sales of the first generation Honda Insight in Japan November 1999, which realized fuel economy of 35km/liter* then the world's highest fuel economy among all gasoline-powered vehicles.

Honda introduced the first generation Insight, Civic Hybrid and Accord Hybrid equipped with Honda's original lightweight and compact IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) hybrid system. More recently, following the introduction of the second generation Insight in 2009, Honda introduced a total of six new hybrid models in the last three years to expand the hybrid vehicle lineup and sales. Honda's annual worldwide hybrid sales for 2011 was approximately 200,000 units (up 30% compared to 2010), and Honda's total hybrid sales during the last three years exceeded 500,000 units. In Japan, the ratio of hybrid vehicles exceeded 45% of all new Honda's vehicle registrations for the month of December 2011.

As of today, Honda sells seven hybrid models in approximately 50 countries around the world. In addition, the market introduction of the ILX, the first Acura brand model equipped with a hybrid system, is scheduled in spring 2012 in North America.

Under the global environmental slogan of "Blue Skies for Our Children", Honda will continue its efforts to realize the further market penetration of hybrid vehicles to realize a low carbon society.

YearMonth / Model introduced to the marketHonda's Cumulative Worldwide
Hybrid Vehicle Sales
1999November: First generation Insight 
2001December: Civic Hybrid 
2004December: Accord Hybrid (North America only) 
2005 April: 100,000 units
2007 May: 200,000 units
2009February: Second generation InsightAugust: 400,000 units
2010February: CR-Z
October: Fit Hybrid
December: 600,000 units
2011June: Fit Shuttle Hybrid (Japan only)
October: Freed Hybrid (Japan only)
 Freed Spike Hybrid (Japan only)
December: 800,000 units

Thursday, January 19, 2012

McLaren's F1 Successor to be 800 hp Hybrid

The fact that McLaren is currently testing the successor of the iconic F1 hypercar is no longer a surprise. According to, the replacement for the McLaren F1 will be powered by an 800 hp 3.8 liter twin turbo V8 engine. This unit will be backed up by a kinetic energy recovery system, KERS, provide bursts of electric power for overtaking.

The new McLaren F1 will use a carbon fiber monocoque chassis similar to the one used on the current MP4-12C. Price is expected to start at 750.000 EUR.

Source: Car Magazine

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Toyota Prius V Wagon Sales in 10 Weeks Top GM Volt Total for 2011

Toyota scored a quick victory in 2011 as U.S. deliveries of its Prius v wagon in 10 weeks topped sales of Chevrolet Volt plug- in hybrid for the entire year.

Toyota sold 8,399 of the hybrid wagon, which didn’t arrive at U.S. dealerships until the last week of October, said Carly Schaffner, a spokeswoman for the company. GM delivered 7,671 rechargeable Volts in 2011 and 7,997 in the model’s first 13 months on the market.

“Prius v is off to a great start,” Jim Lentz, president of Toyota’s U.S. sales unit, said in an e-mail statement yesterday, without elaborating. The hybrid wagon starts at $26,400, Toyota said on its website. The Volt starts at $39,145 and is eligible for as much as $7,500 in federal tax credits.

Toyota, the largest gasoline-electric auto seller, wants to deliver 220,000 vehicles bearing the Prius name this year to U.S. customers, a 60 percent increase from 2011. That’s to be fueled by a four-car “family” consisting of the original hatchback, the v, the Prius c subcompact arriving in March, and a plug-in Prius that goes about 15 miles on battery power.

In addition to Prius sales, Toyota also sold 9,241 hybrid midsize Camry cars and 14,381 Lexus CT200h gas-electric compact luxury wagons in the model’s first calendar year.

The Prius v wagon, larger and heavier than a standard Prius, averages 42 miles per gallon of gasoline in combined city and highway driving, compared with 50 mpg for the main version. The Volt, capable of going 35 miles on battery power, has two U.S. fuel-economy ratings: 94 mpg-equivalent when both its lithium-ion pack and gasoline engine are used, and a combined 37 mpg when powered solely by gasoline.

Source: Bloomberg

First pictures of Toyota's Le Mans petrol-electric hybrid LMP1 Race Car

Toyota's all-new 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours contender hit the track for the first time last week for three days at Paul Ricard.

The driver line-up is believed to be Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima. Toyota will field a solo entry at Le Mans this year and the petrol-electric hybrid LMP1 sports prototype will alos contest selected rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

With Peugeot cancelling it's entire race program within a week of Toyota's first test, the only other works team racing for the first Hybrid win at Le Mans in 2012 will be Audi with their Diesel hybrid.

Last year Toyota seriously outclassed Peugeot at the Nurburgring. In April Peugeot had a crack at the EV track record with their AWD EX1 electric concept car setting a time of 9 mins 01.338 seconds, slower than a road registered STi WRX. Toyota launched their EV record attempt in August and achieved 7 mins 47.794 seconds. Perhaps Peugeot were looking to avoid similar embarrassment on home soil.

Peugeot ends Le Mans programme with immediate effect [video]

Peugeot has announced that it will end its endurance racing programme with immediate effect.

The French manufacturer had been Audi's main rival in sportscar racing, running the variants of its diesel 908 prototype in the Le Mans 24 Hours and associated series since 2007.

"This decision has been taken in the context of a difficult economic environment in Europe," Peugeot said in a statement on Wednesday. "Peugeot has chosen to concentrate resources on its sales performance in 2012."

The decision to can the programme comes amid declining car sales for the Peugeot group, and will be a major blow to the formative WEC - which had been expected to see a season-long battle between Audi and Peugeot.

Toyota is embarking on a new LMP1 programme but will not contest a full campaign this year, while Porsche's new car will not hit the track until 2014.

Peugeot's Sport department has not been closed as part of today's announced changes and it is understood that the door has been left open to future racing programmes should funds once again become available in 2013.

Despite Peugeot carting a hybrid version of their 908 HDi FAP called the 'hy' around the show circuit as long ago as 2008 and the Peugeot 908 HYbrid4 having undergone its first track test at Estoril in October 2011, the Diesel Hybrid Sports Prototype may now go down in history as never having raced at Le Mans.

ABB installs UK’s first privately-owned DC rapid-charging station

ABB today announced that it delivered the UK's first privately-owned direct current (DC) rapid-charging station for electric vehicles. The charger was installed in Retford, Nottinghamshire, and has been officially opened by Transport Minister, Norman Baker, underlining the UK government's commitment to promoting ultra-low carbon transport.

ABB's Terra 51 charger was recently installed at the offices of printing company RCS PLC in Retford, just 3 miles off the A1 that connects London and Edinburgh. RCS, a fast-growing company that aims to become the greenest producer in its industry, bought the charger with financial support from the Midlands Plugged-in Places (PiP) project, part of the UK government's wider programme to develop EV charging infrastructures across the UK. The rapid-charge station is being used by RCS to recharge its electric fleet of sales and delivery vehicles, but will also be part of the Plugged-in Midlands public charging network.

The opening coincides with the Government announcing the findings of its review into the Plug-In Car Grant. The Review has confirmed funding for the Plug-In Car Grant, which will continue for cars at the original level of 25% off the purchase price of the vehicle up to £5,000 upto 2015. The Government also announced a new Plug-In Van Grant where vans will be eligible for a grant of 20% off the purchase price of the vehicle up to £8,000.

''The adoption of electric mobility is a reality. All major car brands have either already introduced their electric car models or are planning a launch within the next 1 to 2 years," said Hans Streng, Senior Vice President and General Manager of ABB's Product Group EV Charging Infrastructure. In the meantime, the rollout of charging infrastructure is accelerating across Europe. Fleet owners, utilities, service operators and car-OEMs are convinced of the need for DC rapid charging. The possibility to quickly recharge will help potential buyers overcome the hurdle of range anxiety. That's why the UK needs DC charging - in addition to the existing AC infrastructure - to further drive electric mobility.''

Rapid charging reduces electric-vehicle charging times from eight hours, using regular alternating current (AC), to as little as 15 to 30 minutes, which allows drivers to quickly recharge and keep driving. This will help alleviate concerns about the limited range of electric vehicles, thus providing a powerful incentive for potential buyers of electric cars. The rollout of a nationwide recharging infrastructure plays an integral part in the UK government's drive to promote electric-mobility and reduce carbon emissions from road transport.

"We know there is public appetite out there for plug-in vehicles and we're doing everything possible to make them a real option for both motorists and industry," said Mr Baker.

"The installation of this charging station will not only make it easier and faster for electric-vehicle owners to recharge away from home, but demonstrates how our Plugged-in Places programme is helping to stimulate private investment in vital infrastructure. There is no doubt that low-carbon vehicles are here to stay, and we will continue to work with industry to create a world-leading charging network that really reflects the needs of its users."

"At RCS we are passionate about the environment and have already invested in both renewable energy and our own fleet of electric vehicles," said Michael Todd, RCS Managing Director. "This new rapid charging point is the next step in our own environmental program and, being so close to the A1, it provides a convenient addition to the UK charging infrastructure for motorists and companies that have embraced electric vehicles."

"DC charging provides an exciting, fast complement to the AC charging infrastructure and through working with ABB we've enabled RCS to create a UK first to help encourage electric-vehicle adoption. We believe that this successful implementation will spur other organisations, in both the public and private sector, to become part of the growing electric infrastructure that is powering change in the Midlands," said Robert Evans, CEO of Cenex, which co-manages the Plugged-in Midlands project.

Since launching Europe's first commercially operated rapid-charging station in the Netherlands in May 2010, ABB has delivered and installed many dozens of DC chargers and DC charging networks throughout the region. ABB recently won a tender offer to build a network of 200 rapid chargers throughout Estonia, which creates the world's first DC charging infrastructure with full nationwide coverage and represents Europe's largest EV charging infrastructure contract to date.

The Terra 51 installed in Retford is a single-port charger, particularly suited to locations with regular traffic. ABB's product portfolio also includes the multi-port Terra Base Station 100.2, which can charge up to two cars simultaneously and is ideal for locations that are expected to see an increase in electric-vehicle traffic over the next few years. All Terra systems come with a wide range of connectivity features, including remote maintenance, software updates and high availability levels. ABB's connectivity suite is designed to support all existing and future connection standards such as CHAdeMO and the EU/U.S. charging standard within the same network.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Toyota's Hybrid Le Mans car tests for first time

Toyota's all-new 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours contender hit the track for the first time last week.

The Japanese manufacturer's petrol-electric hybrid LMP1 coupe was shaken down over three days at Paul Ricard, starting on Wednesday. No comment has been forthcoming from Toyota Motorsport GmbH about the test, but it is understood that the car completed several hundred kilometres of largely trouble-free running.

All three of the drivers who will race Toyota's solo entry at Le Mans and in selected rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship this year were on hand at the test.

It is believed that Alex Wurz, whose team-mates are Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima, was at the wheel for the first laps and undertook the majority of the driving.

Further testing is scheduled at Ricard at the end of the month, when more official details of Toyota's progress should emerge.

The car, a name for which has yet to be announced, is expected to make its race debut in the Spa WEC round in May.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First all-electric BMW ActiveE delivered in US [video]

BMW has delivered the first all-electric ActiveE in the US and began the next chapter in its electromobility strategy. Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW of North America presented the keys to a BMW ActiveE to Tom and Meredith Moloughney who will begin their two-year lease today. As one of the inaugural MINI E pioneers in 2009, today they officially became the first ActiveE Electronauts.

"Calling the Moloughneys Pioneers is very appropriate because they have shown the world that an electric vehicle can absolutely serve one's daily driving needs without compromise," said Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW of North America. "We learned a lot from all of our experience with the MINI E and we are looking forward to learning more in these next two years with the BMW ActiveE as we prepare for the launch of the first BMW i models in 2013. We are pleased that Tom and Meredith have agreed to stay with us on this journey."

The BMW Group's electromobility development strategy began with the MINI E Field Trial in the summer of 2009. When the MINI E trial program began, one of the main open questions was, could a private individual live with an electric vehicle on a daily basis without changing their driving habits? The MINI E pioneers proved without a doubt that not only could it be done, but that doing so required no change in their daily routine, with the exception of plugging-in instead of stopping at the gas station. No one has proven the viability of an EV as daily transportation more conclusively than the Moloughneys, who logged over 72,500 miles in MINI E # 250 in just two-and-a-half years. That is as much driving as the typical American driver does in five years and they did it without burning so much as an ounce of gasoline.

The Moloughneys today became the first of what will be 700 BMW Electronaut households who will lease a BMW ActiveE for a two year period. Deliveries will continue over the next several weeks. As the MINI E provided valuable insight into life with an EV, the BMW ActiveE lease period will again be used to gather feedback that will be part of the development of the BMW i3 which will come to market in 2013.

The ActiveE is the only car that is 100% Electric and 100% BMW, providing the performance and efficiency everyone has come to expect from The Ultimate Driving Machine®. With output of 170 hp and maximum torque of 184 lb-ft from a standstill, The BMW ActiveE accelerates from 0-60 mph in under nine seconds. Newly developed lithium-ion batteries facilitate a driving range of up to 100 miles on a full charge.

The BMW ActiveE will be available for lease in the metropolitan markets of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, New York, Boston and Hartford for $499 per month for 24 months with a down payment $2,250. Anyone in those markets interested in leasing one of the 700 BMW ActiveEs coming to the US should visit

project i - research and development of tomorrow's mobility.

The BMW ActiveE is the BMW Group's next step towards an emission-free, mass-produced electric vehicle. Within the framework of project i, the BMW Group is carrying out research and development work on the development of electrically powered vehicles. The next step will be the BMW i3 due to launch in 2013. It will be designed to meet the demands of a sustainable mobility solution for congested urban areas. For this reason, the drive components and battery technology that will be used in the BMW i3 are being tested in the BMW ActiveE.

Ongoing field tests involving more than 600 MINI E cars, including 450 in the US, have already provided vital knowledge about the demands on future electrically powered production vehicles. Beginning with year in the US, Europe and China, a test fleet of over 1100 BMW ActiveE vehicles, produced at BMW's Leipzig plant, will provide further valuable insights into the everyday use of the vehicle. The findings will serve to deepen the knowledge already gained on the everyday use of electric vehicles and to learn more about customer requirements. The feedback from customers testing the MINI E and the BMW ActiveE will be fed directly into series production of the BMW i3, which will be launched in 2013.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hands-on look at Nissan's electric utility vehicle [video]

CNET's Wayne Cunningham has a look at the Nissan ENV200 Concept at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

Friday, January 13, 2012

London To Start Wireless Recharging Trial

Fifty electric cars will begin tests of a wireless recharging system in London starting later this year. The tests are being conducted with the support of Transport for London and Mayor Boris Johnson.

All that is needed for the system to work is a plate about the size of a tablet computer on the ground or a few centimetres beneath it, another plate on the underside of the car, a controller to turn alternating current into direct current and an in-car display - which can be integrated into the dash or a touch-screen - to show when the vehicle is lined up and charging has begun. For the moment, the car has to be static while charging takes place, but eventually wireless recharging points could be embedded in roads to give electric vehicles complete autonomy.

Qualcomm, the company behind the system, says that wireless recharging would remove the clutter of plug-in posts from streets and parking areas and be vandal- and theft-proof.

It is not the only company examining wireless recharging for electric vehicles, but claims to have stolen a lead on the competition because its system works over a wider air gap between the car and charging plate, even if the car is not perfectly aligned.

'The system works on the principle of a magnetic resistance similar to charging an electric toothbrush,' says Qualcomm's senior strategic marketing director, Joe Barret. 'The advantage of our system is that even if you're not very good at parking it will still work. In future you could have pads buried in the motorway every metre, which would allow electric cars to travel longer distances, have smaller batteries and weigh less.'

It is hoped that the data collected from this two-year programme will see the first wireless charging points being established in UK car parks and outside offices and shopping centres in 2014.

Qualcomm is an American company whose European headquarters are in Chiswick, West London. It is the world's largest manufacturer of electronic chips - 1.2 million a day - and is also heavily into wireless recharging and in-car communications systems.

The company's plan is to licence the technology to electric car manufacturers, and says it is already in discussions with many of them. It is also talking to the infrastructure company Chargemaster and Addison Lee, Europe's largest taxi operator, about more widespread adoption.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vauxhall Ampera electric car now on sale

The Vauxhall Ampera order books are now open.

Customers buying Vauxhall's new Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) will be supported by a 23-strong dealer network and will be appointed a specific Vauxhall HQ-based customer agent.

Offered in three trim levels - Standard, Positiv and Electron all Amperas get a DAB radio, 7-inch touch-screen control monitor, cruise control and alloy wheels. Prices start at £29,995 which includes a £5,000 government plug-in car grant.

The mid-range Positiv adds leather interior, heated front seats, parking sensors and a rear view camera with prices set at £32,250.

Top-of-the-range Electron models feature a state-of-the-art infotainment system with colour touch screen, sat-nav, Bose audio system, DVD player, 30GB hard-disc and voice control. The Electron is priced at £33,995.

Every Ampera is backed by Vauxhall's Lifetime Warranty and 8 year 100,000 mile battery warranty. Ampera retailers will also offer a free collection and delivery service for all scheduled service, warranty and repair work.

All Vauxhall Ampera customers will also receive the contact details of their own personal Ampera agent, a service known as 'MyAmpera'.

Vauxhall's Chairman and Managing Director said, “We’re breaking completely fresh ground with the Ampera. The technology is obviously unique in a production car, but it's the level of personalised customer support we’re offering that will be just as important to owners. MyAmpera reinforces this personalisation and will help us engage with our new owners throughout their time with the car.”

Lola-Drayson Launch 850 hp Formula E world championship EV racecar

Drayson Racing Technologies and Lola Group today unveil the much-anticipated electric-powered Le Mans prototype racing car, the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV, at the 2012 Low Carbon Racing Conference at the NEC.

The culmination of Drayson Racing's long experience in green technology since pioneering bio ethanol fuels in 2007, the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV will also take centre stage on Stand 6240, in Hall 6, at Autosport International 2012, from Thursday 12th to Sunday, 15th January. Here visitors can learn first-hand about the technical innovation behind the ground-breaking vehicle, which has been designed to demonstrate the potential of green technologies in the harsh environment of motorsport. Project pioneer Lord Drayson, former Minister of Science and Innovation, Managing Partner at Drayson Racing Technologies and President of the Motorsport Industry Association comments:

“Electric racing represents a considerable new business opportunity for motorsport and underlines the growing commercial potential of green racing and technology. Electric-powered racing is really taking off with the launch of the new FIA Formula E world championship for electric racing cars planned for 2013 and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of the push for innovation at such an exciting time for the sport and industry.

“Indeed, the B12/69EV racing car that we are unveiling today showcases advances such as inductive charging, composite battery power, moveable aerodynamics and electrical regenerative damping, making it one of the most innovative cleantech motorsport project in the world. With over 850 horsepower, it aims to be the fastest electric-powered racecar to lap a circuit.”

Martin Birrane, Lola Group Chairman adds: “This innovative new project will evidence several new technologies with a variety of well-known technical suppliers, to show that zero carbon, clean racing can be fast and exciting, whilst offering a stimulating engineering challenge.”

UK Trade & Investment CEO Nick Baird, a key speaker at the conference, said:

“This prototype combines revolutionary innovation alongside the development of new green technologies that can be applied across other parts of the motorsport and other sectors. The UK is one of the best places in the world to develop a low carbon business, or indeed, any kind of business. The speed, with which this project has progressed, from initial discussions to unveiling of this vehicle in a matter of months, clearly demonstrates the strengths of the British motorsport sector.

“This development represents a major new business opportunity and underlines the growing commercial potential of low carbon racing. The world needs to know more about what this industry can do and UK Trade & Investment is here to help make that happen.”

The 700V A123 pack has a capacity of around 60 kWh. The battery pack powers four axial flux Oxford YASA motors via inverters supplied by Rinehart. The motors, up to 850 peak horsepower (634 kW) powering the rear wheels, are mounted in a similar longitudinal location to where the ICE powerplant would normally be located. There is a single speed reduction gearbox/differential linking the drive from the electric motors to the driveshafts.

The weight of the car will be approximately 1000 kg, slightly in excess of the regular 900 kg in LMP1 presently. The overall control system for the car will be supplied by Drayson Racing Technologies working in partnership with Cosworth who supplied the original system for the 2010 LMP1 car.

Energy 101: Electric Vehicles [video]

The US Department of Energy produce a regular Youtube TV series called Energy 101.

Previous episodes have covered subject such as Solar PV and Wind energy.

In this weeks edition the DoE highlights the benefits of electric vehicles, including improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and lower maintenance costs.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tata eMO EV concept unveiled @ Detroit [video]

Tata Technologies was selected by Michelin to display its electric MObility (eMO) engineering study EV as part of the prestigious Michelin Challenge Design display at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

"The eMO project symbolizes the coming of age of Indian automotive engineering," said Warren Harris, Tata Technologies President and Global COO. "It is a tangible example of the capability of Tata Technologies to engineer a full vehicle - a first for any India-based engineering services company."

Harris noted that the unique strength of Tata Technologies is the organization's global reach. "Because we are India-based, Tata Technologies is intimately familiar with developing markets. Additionally, our experience and presence in Europe and North America means we also have an understanding of developed markets; a combination that provides a competitive advantage to our clients," he said.

Tata Technologies' Vehicle Programs & Development (VPD) Group, with more than 300 engineers operating from its four automotive engineering centers of excellence worldwide - Pune (India), Detroit, Coventry (UK), and Stuttgart (Germany) - had the responsibility of developing eMO.
Kevin Fisher, VPD President, explained the beginning of the eMO program. "In mid-2010, in anticipation of the April 2011 launch of VPD, we researched numerous concepts for an internal engineering study that would highlight both the Tata Technologies dedication to environmental responsibility and sustainability, and showcase our global experience, knowledge, capacity and innovation."

The Tata Technologies VPD Group used its unique multidimensional approach to vehicle engineering and development on eMO that leverages the company's intimate understanding of frugal engineering principles and its unique understanding of the demands of both developed and developing markets; utilizing its Global Delivery Model and proprietary Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE) platforms to develop products faster and more cost effectively, Fisher added.

"As we have previously stated, this next decade will see an ever-increasing demand for more efficient and accelerated product development that also will need to incorporate more new technology than the auto industry has seen in 30 years," Fisher said. "We are positioned to set the pace in automotive product development and technological innovation."

The eMO architecture emphasizes "right size" personal urban transportation by minimizing its exterior footprint and maximizing interior space, including seating for four adults. Based upon research of city/urban usage, eMO has the flexibility - with rear seats articulated - to do double-duty as a personal cargo carrier, without the mass and cost of a dedicated trunk.
As a ground-up EV study, eMO also incorporates design advantages over an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle like smoother aerodynamic surfaces and shorter overhangs. With sustainability in mind, eMO benefits from a low carbon footprint and a recyclability strategy. To reduce the overall carbon footprint of the manufacturing, assembly and other associated processes, Tata Technologies eliminated the traditional body shop and paint process, and utilizes many green product materials in eMO.

The 2012 Michelin Challenge Design Theme, "City 2046: Art, Life and Ingenuity - Transforming Personal Mobility," challenged participants to design a personal, ground-based vehicle that can transport between two and 10 people, meeting the anticipated needs of select cities in 2046, when more options for public and private transport will be offered. Michelin challenged entrants to create a vehicle that can inspire, as well as transport. Design winners were invited to be an exhibitor in the Michelin Challenge Design at the 2012 NAIAS beginning January 9 and continuing through the public run of the show. "We are delighted to showcase our eMO concept alongside these innovative ideas," said Fisher.

Source: Tata

Electric vehicle battery costs coming down 70% by 2015: Chu

Industry and government are on track to bring down the cost of batteries to power hybrid and electric cars, which is crucial for improving commercial appeal of those vehicles, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Wednesday.

Chu said at the Detroit Economic Club the Obama administration is not deterred by soft sales of plug-ins in their first full year in showrooms, nor does it worry about the potential for overcapacity in battery production.

And, he said, the administration is sticking to its goal of seeing up to 1 million electric and plug-in hybrids on U.S. roads by the middle of this decade.

"If you look at what they've done, they've done it wisely," Chu said of measured initial production of the mostly electric Volt by General Motors and the fully electric Leaf, made by Nissan.

The two sold almost 20,000 of those vehicles combined in 2011.

Government and industry officials say bringing down battery costs is critical to meeting those goals, and Chu cited aggressive steps and measurable progress.

Chu said batteries suitable for plug-in hybrids four years ago cost about $12,000 to produce.

"That's pretty expensive. We think we're on target by 2015 so that the cost of that same capacity battery will be reduced to $3,600" Chu said, representing a 70% cost reduction by 2015.

The goal, he added, is to more than halve the cost again by 2030.

"Once you get a battery that's $1,500 and much less expensive electric motors, which we are also working on, then you get to a very exciting price point," he said.

The Department of Energy said 18 months ago it expected battery costs per kilowatt hour to drop from about $1,000 in 2009 to $300 in 2015 and $100 in 2030.

Tesla Roadster updated for 2012

Tesla Motors announced today that the iconic Tesla Roadster is now available with new innovations and options, but only in limited markets. The last version of the historic, limited-production electric supercar will only be available in Europe, Asia and Australia.

"The Tesla Roadster is the first and only of its kind: an electric sports car with exhilarating performance, zero emissions and gorgeous looks," said Tesla Vice President of Communications, Ricardo Reyes. "This latest version embodies Tesla's commitment to constant improvement. These Roadsters are our best ever."

New options and enhanced features of the updated Roadster include:

  • Exclusive encore colours - Cosmic Black, Galactic Gray and Magma Orange - with new, complimentary interior colours
  • A rear snow cover and improved motor and inverter systems for even better performance in snow and ice
  • Improved air conditioning for driver comfort in the hottest months
  • Xenon headlamps ideal for rural night driving
  • Enhanced front windscreen seals to make the cabin even quieter
  • Two new Mobile Connectors available for charging in Europe and Japan
  • The Tesla IEC Type 2 (Mennekes) Mobile Connector enables charging from Type 2 stations and outlets, the most common EV charging infrastructure in Europe
  • The J1772 Mobile Connector enables charging from a developing infrastructure of public J1772 charge stations in Japan

Updated Roadsters are available now in Europe, Asia and Australia, while they last.

Over 2100 current Roadster owners in at least 31 countries have logged more than 18 million electric miles - and counting.

Lola Drayson bids for Formula E supply

The new Lola-Drayson partnership is aiming to be the chassis and drivetrain supplier to the FIA's new Formula E series.

The partnership took the wraps off its first collaboration - the all-electric B12/ 69EV - at the Cleaner Racing Conference in Birmingham's NEC today.

However, the LMP1-based car is just a showcase for the electric technology beneath the surface. It is this that forms the basis of Lola-Drayson's supply tender.

"The shape of the car will look very different," Lord Drayson said. "That's because the regulations in Formula E are completely open on aerodynamics, so therefore you start with a clean sheet of paper.

"It's going to be central cockpit, a cross between a single-seater and a Le Mans car, a real emphasis on reducing drag because of the importance of low-drag - not so much downforce as you'd see on a single-seater car, but active aerodynamic surfaces to give you sufficient downforce.

"We already have a design on the drawing board at Lola - it looks great, but it looks like nothing else."

The deadline for submissions is January 17, with a decision made at the World Motorsport Council meeting on March 9.

Should Lola-Drayson get the deal, the all-new car is expected to hit the track for testing in the final quarter of 2012, with Formula E starting in 2013, although an official calendar of eight street races is yet to be finalised.

Formula E has an almost open rulebook, with the main stipulation being a maximum battery weight of 300kg. Drayson believes it has the potential to revolutionise racing.

"We want to encourage the mainstream manufacturers to participate in this. These cars will have torque-steer, and torque-steer is very relevant to road-car technology.

"The challenges of high-performance electric motor cooling are very relevant to the road car industry. And the fact the cars are going to be raced on streets right at the heart of cities makes it very relevant to the agenda of people, and that's what motorsport has to target."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SK Innovation, Continental to form electric car battery JV

SK Innovation said on Tuesday that it would team up with German auto parts supplier Continental AG to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, hoping to tap into growing demand for environmentally-friendly cars.

The South Korean refiner and battery producer said it would take a 51 percent stake in the joint venture, which is expected to be completed in the second quarter, with Continental holding the remainder.

SK will supply battery cells to the venture and Continental battery management electronics and systems expertise, SK said in a statement.

SK Innovation, a relative latecomer to the car battery market, has been picked to supply products to Hyundai Motor , Kia Motors and Daimler unit Mitsubishi Fuso.

1 million EVs on U.S. roads by 2015 Still Possible, Energy Chief Says

President Obama’s goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015 is still “possible,” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said.

“Whether it’s 2015 or 2016, I don’t know,” Chu told reporters today as he toured U.S. automakers’ exhibits at the Detroit auto show. “We have a good shot of making that.”

Chu said electric-vehicle sales will depend on how quickly the price of their batteries decreases. The Department of Energy has previously said it expected battery costs per kilowatt hour to drop to $300 in 2015 and $100 in 2030.

Nissan Motor Co. sold 9,674 of its Leaf electric cars last year, narrowly missing its target of 10,000. General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet dealers sold 7,671 of its Volt plug-in hybrids, also falling just short of its U.S. sales goal of 10,000.

Both of the 2011 models were the automakers’ first electric vehicles to sell in the U.S.