Search 4,000 EV News articles

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Audi working with WiTricity on fully automatic wireless charging [VIDEO]

Audi is working flat out on the future of 'electromobility' – on its e-tron models and their technology. The brand with the four-ring badge pursues a comprehensive concept that includes every aspect of the task, including recharging the traction battery. In this area, automatic and contactless charging is an especially interesting prospect: Audi's name for this is Audi wireless charging.

Project Leader Dr. Björn Elias says: "We aim to offer our customers a premium-standard recharging method – easy to use and fully automatic, with no mechanical contacts. It uses the induction principle, which is already well known from various products, from the electric toothbrush through the induction cooker hotplate. We are now using it to recharge cars."

Dr. Elias is in charge of the Audi wireless charging pre-development project at Audi Electronics Venture GmbH (AEV), an AUDI AG subsidiary. Within the scope of pre-development in the area of Audi electronics, AEV has the task of identifying new trends in the vehicle electronics environment, checking their suitability and bringing them up to series-production readiness, if necessary in cooperation with outside companies.

An important partner in the area of wireless charging is the WiTricity Corporation from Watertown, near Boston. The American company supplies technical components which are integrated into the vehicle's complete system, in particular the coil systems that are integrated into the plates. The primary coil is normally located at the roadside or on a parking lot; the secondary coil is on the underside of the Audi e-tron vehicle.

When the Audi e-tron or some other suitably equipped electric vehicle is driven to a point above the primary coil in the road surface, the battery charging process starts automatically. Alternating current in the primary coil generates an alternating magnetic field that crosses the air gap and induces an alternating voltage in the secondary coil on the car. This voltage is rectified and fed to the car's traction battery. The process is terminated when the battery is fully charged or if the recharging process is interrupted by driving the car away or switching it off manually.

The primary coil – for instance in the car owner's garage – can be flat on the floor or even under the surface. It is unaffected by rain, ice or snow, and since the alternating magnetic field is only built up when a vehicle is above it, there is no risk to human beings or animals.

This charging technology can be integrated into the traffic infrastructure wherever needed, for instance as garage parking equipment or on housing estates. Dr. Elias outlines a medium-term scenario: "Imagine you drive to work in your Audi e-tron, and on the way home you stop off at the store. Wherever you park the car, its battery will be recharged – perhaps even at traffic signals. These short recharging cycles are ideal for the battery: the smaller the difference between the values before and after recharging, the longer the battery's potential operating life."

Much more work will be necessary before countrywide recharging infrastructures can be built up. Audi is playing an active part as a member of the expert workgroups in Germany and America that are aiming for a uniform public standard. Dr. Elias expects automatic wireless charging technology to go into series production in a few years' time. With it, electromobility has the potential to take a further big step forward.

Free Hawaii electric vehicle charging through 2012

Hawaii's electric vehicle drivers will have free access to more than 130 charging stations across the state through the end of 2012.

Electric car network provider Better Place says it is activating the state's largest electric vehicle charging network on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, including at hotels, office buildings and shopping centers.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, drivers will have the option to sign up for a Better Place membership plan.

With federal and state funding, Better Place has been working with businesses and property owners to install charging infrastructure across the state. In April last year, Better Place installed its first charge spots in the parking structure of a Waikiki hotel. There are now charge spots at five hotels and resorts on Oahu, Maui and Kauai.

Nissan Leaf Now Available Nationwide In US

Beginning today, drivers across the country will have their first opportunity to order their Nissan LEAF, as Nissan North America expands availability for all U.S. markets, nationwide.

This new launch phase means residents of 21 new states will be able to select and order a 2012 Nissan LEAF. The LEAF is the only electric car ever to be available nationwide.

"More than 22,000 LEAFs are on the roads globally, having driven more than 30 million miles," said Brian Carolin, senior vice president, Sales & Marketing, NNA. "There is no longer any doubt that a 100-percent electric, zero-emissions vehicle fulfills the needs and desires of drivers from around the globe. Nationwide availability of the Nissan LEAF means that now, anyone in the country can opt for a transportation solution that does not harm the environment, provides a pathway to energy independence, and doesn't use a single drop of gas."

On March 1, reservation holders in the remaining 21 states will receive emails from Nissan inviting them to engage in the Nissan LEAF ordering process. One week later, anyone living in these new markets will have the opportunity to place a reservation and order a Nissan LEAF. Deliveries will start taking place in these new markets by summer.

Audi Unveil Diesel Hybrid, AWD R18 E-Tron Quattro for Le Mans [VIDEO]

Motor sport is used yet again by AUDI AG to pioneer new technology: the brand with the four ring's new Le Mans race car is the world's first LMP1 car to combine a highly-efficient TDI with a hybrid system. quattro drive also celebrates its comeback to the race track with the prototype – in a entirely new form.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro is the name of the new Le Mans prototype that makes its race debut on May 5 in the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) and fights for overall victory at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans (France) on June 16/17. Audi unites two technologies in a fascinating way to create a new type of drive, which is also already being tested for future use in production cars: e-tron quattro.

Hiding behind this description is the next generation four-wheel drive with which Audi combines the advantages of the proven quattro drive with the potential of electromobility. To this end one vehicle axle is powered conventionally, the second by electric motors.

"Audi has always consciously selected championships and categories in racing that have a close relationship to production and therefore have technical relevance for the Audi customers," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, who personally drove the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro onto the stage on Wednesday evening during its world premiere in the Audi Training Center at Munich airport – electrically and almost silent. "quattro, TFSI and TDI are three excellent examples of how motorsport has stimulated production development. A similar tendency is apparent with the e-tron quattro: we test a completely new technology on the race track before it's introduced to the Audi production line."

On the Audi R18 e-tron quattro kinetic energy is recovered on the front axle during the braking phase. It is fed as electric into a flywheel accumulator before being retrieved under acceleration again above a speed of 120 km/h. During this procedure only the front axle is integrated. The V6 TDI power plant producing 375 kW (510 hp) continues to transmit its power to the rear wheels. Both systems complement each other to create the new drive principle e-tron quattro.

Project began in February 2010

The project e-tron quattro for motorsport started in February 2010. Only 18 months passed from the initial conceptual ideas to the first test. "This is a relatively short cycle for a technology that has never been tested in motorsport and which still doesn't even exist in production," stresses Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport. "The challenge is correspondingly big."

Audi Sport developed the Audi R18 ultra in parallel to the Audi R18 e-tron quattro – because Audi takes a two-pronged approach this year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the newly created FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) – the 2012 model year Audi R18 is built with and without hybrid drive. The trick: the base of both cars is completely identical, which is why the additional logistical effort is kept limited for Audi Sport and the race team.

"The TDI engine invented by Audi is still the most efficient drive in the world," says Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "We are convinced that the TDI has even more potential. This is why Audi not only supports the hybrid in motorsport as it does in production, but in parallel also the further development of the conventional drive."

Innovation in transmission area

The R18 e-tron quattro's twin brother more than lives up to its model name 'R18 ultra': it is the lightest Le Mans prototype that Audi Sport has ever built. To compensate for the additional weight of the hybrid system the subject of lightweight design and construction was the focus throughout development of the 2011 Le Mans race winning R18 TDI. In addition to the many detail optimizations there is also a genuine innovation in the transmission area: a new gearbox with a carbon-fiber composite housing was developed for the R18 – a premiere for endurance racing.

"The new R18 ultra is a distinct evolution of last year's Le Mans race winning car," summarizes Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "Our drivers' impressions were very positive from the first moment. Without the weight optimized R18 ultra we would have not been capable of realizing the R18 e-tron quattro which is absolutely identical with the exception of the hybrid system."

Le Mans 2012: two R18 e-tron quattro and two R18 ultra

Audi Sport Team Joest will field two R18 e-tron quattro and two R18 ultra prototypes in the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 16/17. The two hybrid cars are driven by last year's winning trio Marcel Fässler (CH), André Lotterer (D) and Benoît Tréluyer (F) as well as Dindo Capello (I), Tom Kristensen (DK) and Allan McNish (GB) who boast a total of 13 Le Mans wins between them. New signing Loïc Duval (F) starts together with Timo Bernhard (D) and Romain Dumas (F) in an R18 ultra as do Marco Bonanomi (I), Oliver Jarvis (GB) and Mike Rockenfeller (D).

Audi Sport Team Joest also contests the World Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) on May 5 in the same formation. At the same time the race doubles as a dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only Mike Rockenfeller will miss this race due to a clashing date with the DTM.

After the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi plans to enter an R18 e-tron quattro and an R18 ultra in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). André Lotterer and Allan McNish have been nominated as the drivers so far.

At the World Championship opener at Sebring (USA) on March 17, Audi Sport Team Joest relies on the proven R18 TDI from last year, which are driven by Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer, Dindo Capello/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish as well as Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas/Loïc Duval.

BAE Electromagnetic Railgun [VIDEO]

A test shot fires from the Office of Naval Research-funded Electromagnetic Railgun prototype launcher located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. The test shots begin a month-long series of full-energy tests to evaluate the technology.

This prototype, developed by BAE, is the first of two industry-built launchers that will bring the Department of the Navy a step closer to producing a new-generation, long-range, weapon for surface ships.

Source: Wired

Monday, February 27, 2012

Plug-in Prius Eligible for California Consumer Incentive

As the 2012 Prius Plug-in models begin to arrive at dealerships, Toyota Motor Sales, Inc. announces that it has been approved for the State of California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP).

Designed to promote the use of Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) and related clean vehicle technologies, the CVRP is a consumer incentive made available in addition to the $2,500 Federal Tax credit¹ offered for qualified vehicles. The 2012 Prius Plug-in also offers consumers eligibility for the State of California's HOV lane sticker

The CVRP program offers rebates to individuals, business owners, non-profit groups, and government entities that purchase or lease new eligible zero-emission or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Under this program, the Prius Plug-in is eligible for a $1,500 rebate that will be provided to consumers on a first come first-served basis. These grants are available when a vehicle is either purchased or leased for 36 months or longer. The CVRP is funded by the California Air Resources Board (ARB).

The first-ever Prius Plug-in Hybrid, combines the benefits of the third-generation Prius Liftback's Hybrid Synergy Drive with a dedicated electric driving (EV) capability, in a package that is priced more competitively than most currently available plug-in hybrids or pure Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV). The Prius Plug-injoins the Prius Family, which includes the third-generation Prius Liftback, the versatile new Prius v and the all-new subcompact Prius c, which will be available in March of 2012. The Prius Plug-in features a new Lithium-ion battery, which boosts its overall fuel economy and offers convenient charging times of only 2.5-3 hours using a standard 120V outlet or 1.5 hours using 240V.

While in EV Mode, the Prius Plug-in is rated by the EPA to drive up to 11 miles. It's also capable of traveling up to 62 mph using electric power alone. During EV Mode driving, the Prius Plug-in is rated at 95MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). In hybrid mode, it has an EPA combined mileage rating of 50 mpg. This means that when the EV Mode is depleted, Prius Plug-in still obtains the same estimated high fuel economy rating as Prius Liftback. With its Lithium-ion power and extended electric vehicle mode, the Prius Plug-in is EPA-rated for a total driving range of 540 miles.

It will be available in two models, the Prius Plug-in and the Prius Plug-in Advanced. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid model comes equipped with an abundance of standard features including LED Daytime Running Lights, Smart Key on three doors, Display Audio with Navigation and Entune™ with integrated backup camera, Touch Tracer Display, heated front seats, Remote Climate (A/C only), EV/ECO/POWER modes, unique15-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, enhanced Multi-information Display and much more.

The Prius Plug-in Advanced model adds additional standard features including Premium HDD Navigation with Entune™ and JBL® GreenEdge™, Plug-in Hybrid Applications through a user's smartphone (Charge Management, Remote Climate, Vehicle Finder, Charging Station Map², and ECO Dashboard²), Head-up Display, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System, LED headlamps with auto on/off feature and integrated fog lamps, SofTex-trimmed seating, an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, Safety Connect and more.

The base MSRP for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is $32,000. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced has an MSRP of $39,525. Both Prius Plug-in models are eligible for up to $4,000 worth of government-supported consumer incentives ($2,500 federal tax credit¹ and $1500 worth of the State of California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Program), in addition to offering eligibility for California's High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane sticker.

At launch, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will be available in the following 14 states: California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. A national rollout of Prius Plug-in is planned for 2013.

¹ Individual purchasers of a Prius Plug-in vehicle may be able to take advantage of the Federal
Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle tax credit. The Prius Plug-in vehicle tax credit is
confirmed to be $2,500. Individuals should consult with their own tax advisors to determine
the specific amount of benefit, if any, that they may be able to claim on their federal income
tax returns.

² Charging Station Map and ECO Dashboard Apps available summer 2012; all other apps available at launch.

GM-Backed Envia Claims World Record Energy Density for Li-Ion Battery

Envia Systems today announced test results that verify the company's next-­‐ generation rechargeable battery has achieved the highest recorded energy density of 400 Watt-­‐ hours/kilogram (Wh/kg) for a rechargeable lithium-­‐ion cell. When commercialized, this 400 Wh/kg battery is expected to slash the price of a 300-­‐mile range electric vehicle by cutting the cost of the battery pack by more than 50 percent.

The testing of Envia's next-­‐generation lithium-­‐ion battery was performed by the Electrochemical Power Systems Department at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Crane, Ind., under the sponsorship of ARPA-­‐E. Tests at various cycling rates at NSWC confirmed that Envia's automotive battery cell demonstrated energy density between 378-­‐418 Wh/kg for rates between C/3 to C/10 for a 45 Amp-­‐hour (C/3) cell. Similar cells have been cycling in Envia's test labs for over 300 cycles. NSWC Crane will also test these cells to validate cycling performance.

"Since the inception of Envia, our product team has worked tirelessly and logged over 25 million test channel hours to optimally develop each of the active components of the battery: Envia's proprietary Si-­‐ C anode, HCMR cathode and EHV electrolyte," said Dr. Sujeet Kumar, Envia Systems co-­‐founder, president & CTO. "Rather than just a proof-­‐of-­‐concept of energy density, I am pleased that our team was successful in actually delivering 400 Wh/kg automotive grade 45 Ah lithium-­‐ion rechargeable cells."

"Envia's new battery technology represents exactly the kind of innovation and breakthroughs that ARPA-­‐E is looking for from the American research and development community," said ARPA-­‐E Director Arun Majumdar. "We hope that this low cost and high density battery technology enables wide spread adoption of electric vehicles across the country and around the world."

"In an industry where energy density tends to increase five percent a year, our achievement of more than doubling state-­‐of-­‐art energy density and lowering cost by half is a giant step towards realizing Envia's mission of mass market affordability of a 300-­‐mile electric vehicle," said Envia Systems Chairman and CEO Atul Kapadia.

Aircraft of the future could use regenerative braking

Tomorrow's aircraft could contribute to their power needs by harnessing energy from the wheel rotation of their landing gear to generate electricity.

They could use this to power their taxiing to and from airport buildings, reducing the need to use their jet engines. This would save on aviation fuel, cut emissions and reduce noise pollution at airports.

The feasibility of this has been confirmed by a team of engineers from the University of Lincoln with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). This forms part of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme.

The energy produced by a plane's braking system during landing – currently wasted as heat produced by friction in the aircraft's disc brakes - would be captured and converted into electricity by motor-generators built into the landing gear. The electricity would then be stored and supplied to the in-hub motors in the wheels of the plane when it needed to taxi.

'Engine-less taxiing' could therefore become a reality. ACARE (the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe) has made engine-less taxiing one of the key objectives beyond 2020 for the European aviation industry.

"Taxiing is a highly fuel-inefficient part of any trip by plane with emissions and noise pollution caused by jet engines being a huge issue for airports all over the world," says Professor Paul Stewart, who led the research.

"If the next generation of aircraft that emerges over the next 15 to 20 years could incorporate this kind of technology, it would deliver enormous benefits, especially for people living near airports. Currently, commercial aircraft spend a lot of time on the ground with their noisy jet engines running. In the future this technology could significantly reduce the need to do that."

The University of Lincoln's research formed part of a project that aimed to assess the basic feasibility of as many ways of capturing energy from a landing aircraft as possible.

"When an Airbus 320 lands, for example, a combination of its weight and speed gives it around three megawatts peak available power," Professor Stewart explains. "We explored a wide variety of ways of harnessing that energy, such as generating electricity from the interaction between copper coils embedded in the runway and magnets attached to the underside of the aircraft, and then feeding the power produced into the local electricity grid."

Unfortunately, most of the ideas weren't technically feasible or simply wouldn't be cost-effective. But the study showed that capturing energy direct from a plane's landing gear and recycling it for the aircraft's own use really could work, particularly if integrated with new technologies emerging from current research related to the more-electric or all-electric aircraft.

A number of technical challenges would need to be overcome. For example, weight would be a key issue, so a way of minimising the amount of conductors and electronic power converters used in an on-board energy recovery system would need to be identified.

The project was carried out under the auspices of the EPSRC-funded Airport Energy Technologies Network (AETN) established in 2008 to undertake low-carbon research in the field of aviation, and was undertaken in collaboration with researchers at the University of Loughborough.

Audi Announces A3 e-tron Electric Vehicle U.S. Pilot Program [VIDEO]

Audi today announced the battery-electric Audi A3 e-tron pilot program in the U.S. to define a progressive e-mobility driver experience for premium car buyers. Audi made the announcement of the engineering-based pilot program for the A3 e-tron today at TED2012 in Long Beach, Calif., where Audi is presenting a vision for the role transportation will play in the world's increasingly congested urban centers of the future.

The A3 e-tron pilot program marks the first step by Audi into the expanding U.S. electric vehicle landscape, which is a central component of the discussion expected at the Audi Social Space at TED2012.

At TED2012, Audi intends to spark a progressive dialogue about the role transportation will play in the global megacities of the future. The Audi Social Space will present a variety of perspectives on this topic on touch-screen video installations allowing attendees to pose new mobility scenarios for future urban spaces and contribute in real time to Audi's live Twitter feed through the #AudiTED hashtag.

Elements of Audi balanced mobility initiatives will provide a backdrop for the interactive Social Space and spark conversation on future urban mobility and how to achieve CO2 neutrality across the mobility chain. Initiatives include: the lightweight A2 concept EV that features technology built specifically for the megacity of the future, like traffic-friendly piloted drive technologies for stop-and-go congestion; the Audi e-gas project, which utilizes offshore wind turbines to generate clean power for the production of electricity, hydrogen and methane; and futuristic cityscapes designed by partner architects of the Audi Urban Future Initiative.

Audi A3 e-tron, a global debut

Adding a new electric dimension to driving performance, the Audi A3 e-tron pilot program will allow Audi to identify challenges and opportunities with plug-in vehicles as progressive luxury car buyers become increasingly receptive to EV technology. By studying e-tron use across multiple geographical regions, Audi will monitor the effect of climate conditions, driving patterns and energy performance and use insight gained in the final development of future EV technology applications.

The A3 e-tron pilot program will take place in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Denver markets.

"As part of the long-range Audi corporate goal of moving toward CO2-neutral mobility, there will be e-tron plug-in vehicle products exhibiting all of the performance and design attributes Audi drivers have come to expect," said Johan de Nysschen, President, Audi of America. "Audi is committed to refining Audi e-tron technology and we expect our plug-in vehicles to become a significant choice for our buyers within a growing line of advanced, efficient Audi powertrains over the coming years."

With the A3 e-tron pilot program Audi engineers and technical experts will explore EVs in a real world setting and monitor in real-time how e-tron technology operates in everyday scenarios. The pilot will run throughout the year and provide actionable feedback and telematics data to Audi engineering teams in the U.S. and Germany. This approach follows the Audi philosophy of engineering innovation by introducing fully developed alternative technology to ensure no compromises are needed by Audi owners.

"The A3 e-tron pilot program serves as an important innovation platform for Audi to develop greater insight into electric vehicles and how American driving conditions affect use of the progressive technology in everyday life," said Jeff Curry, e-mobility and sustainability strategy lead at Audi of America. "We will integrate the data generated from this program into the launch of a range of Audi e-tron models for American drivers."

The e-tron name indicates that an advanced electrified power train with a plug-in capability is onboard. As a core philosophy of e-tron, Audi engineers are researching e-tron power concepts tailored to different vehicle types and driving needs including full battery-electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and extended range electric (EREV) versions. The goal is to have the right product for the market at the right time - the best solution for the individual requirements of Audi customers. Audi e-tron becomes the latest entry to Audi's stable of ingredient technologies, including Audi ultra lightweight construction, Audi TDI® clean diesel, Audi connectTM navigation and infotainment and Audi's signature quattro® all-wheel drive.

Based on the Audi A3, currently sold to U.S. consumers in gasoline-powered and clean diesel TDI configurations, the Audi A3 e-tron features a fully electric powertrain with a 26kw lithium-ion battery, and zero driving emissions. Providing a sporty driving dynamic, Audi A3 e-tron has 199 lb-ft torque, a battery range of approximately 90 miles and a top speed of 90 mph all while retaining the full interior space and versatility of the A3.

Audi also is working on standardizing peripheral technologies that have to be taken into consideration for wide spread EV adoption and use, including driving the establishment in 2011 of common global standards for charging. As part of the pilot program, Audi will develop its network of infrastructure partners, test advanced services and create partnerships that will be central to providing the premium Audi experience for e-tron buyers.

Pininfarina Cambiano range-extended EV concept

The Pininfarina Cambiano concept has been leaked ahead of its debut at the Geneva Motor Show.

Looking sleek and stylish, the concept is a three-door ‘coupe' that draws inspiration from 1957 Lancia Florida II. Notable styling highlights include LED headlights, a long hood and a full-length glass roof.

The four-seat cabin is elegantly equipped with premium leather seats, wood floors and illuminated accents. There's also a digital instrument cluster, an infotainment system and an analog clock which resembles a wristwatch.

Power comes from a range-extended electric drivetrain which consists of four 82 PS (60 kW / 80 hp) electric motors and a small diesel engine that acts as a generator to recharge its batteries. This setup enables the 1,700 kg (3,748 lb) concept to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, hit a top speed of 275 km/h (186 mph) and travel more than 200 km (124 miles).

Source: Quattroruote

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Infiniti Emerg-E concept photos leaked

Photos of the Infiniti EMERG-E electric sports car concept have unceremoniously leaked to the Internet today, ahead of concept car's official announcement. Understandably, Infiniti won't be too happy about this, but perhaps the damage is negligible as the planned release is expected any day now ahead of its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in just over one week.

Infiniti has been quite thorough with their teaser campaign which began back in November, releasing partial closeups and hiding images of the car in boring interview videos. But most recently, patent office design sketches were uncovered giving us our first glimpse of the entire vehicle. Fortunately we didn't have to wait very long to see the vehicle in high-resolution from multiple angles as the patent design images were not very satisfying.

No new information accompanies the EMERG-E images, but Infiniti has already told us it is an electric powered "uncompromising" sports car with range-extended capability featuring a 1.2-liter engine mounted mid-ship for optimal weight distribution and handling. Infiniti emphasizes the EMERG-E will be the first car from the brand to not only have a range-extender drivetrain but offer "vivid performance" with zero emissions capability.

Now that we know what the EMERG-E looks like, a bit different to the Essence Hybrid Concept, we'll have to wait until the Geneva Motor Show on March 6 to get the details.

Friday, February 24, 2012

BYD wins contract for 1500 more electric vehicles [VIDEO]

Shenzhen City will add 1500 pure electric K9 buses and e6 taxis to its public transportation fleet, already the largest zero-emissions fleet in serviceworld-wide.

Commenting on these successes, Shenzhen Development and Reform Commission (SDRC) Director Xiangzhen Lu said, “Shenzhen is the first city in China to implement a subsidy for new energy vehicles and the first city to launch consumer sales of the BYD e6.” The zero-emissions Taxi fleet has already given many consumers their first experience with the BYD all-electric, 5-passenger e6, China’s first long-range, pure-electric car.

SDRC cited rising oil prices and growing environmental pressures as key reasons to transform the public transportation system. Shenzhen City believes electrified transportation offers the most effective way to simultaneously stimulate economic recovery while restoring the environment by lowering CO2 emissions. The addition to the fleets will include 1000 pure electric buses and 500 pure electric taxies, all manufactured by BYD.

BMW i3 and i8 feature in Electric Car Commercial [VIDEO]

We caught video of this commercial being filmed back in August 2011. So here's the finished product.

The i3 hatchback will be available as either a true battery-powered electric vehicle, with a range of up to 100 miles, or as series hybrid with an onboard, gasoline powered generator like the Chevrolet Volt. To broaden the i3’s appeal, BMW is taking steps to keep the cost down, targeting a $35,000 price point for battery-powered models.

The i8 coupe, on the other hand, will be a halo car for BMW, with an emphasis on both high performance and environmental responsibility. Designed as a plug-in hybrid, the i8 will use a three-cylinder engine to power the rear wheels, supplemented by an electric motor powering the front wheels.

2012 Chevrolet Volt Cleared for California's Carpool Lanes

A low emission model of the 2012 Chevrolet Volt electric car are on their way to California, where customers will qualify for a $1,500 state rebate and be allowed to drive solo in the state's carpool lanes.

Volts with the Low Emissions Package, which is standard for California, began shipping from the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck plant this week and should begin arriving at the more than 140 participating Chevrolet dealerships in California before the end of the month.

"The Volts with the Low Emissions Package are certain to be a strong draw for California commuters looking to travel the state's notoriously congested freeways in the carpool lane," said Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing.

Commuters who use carpool lanes in Southern California save an estimated average 36 minutes a day, or about a third of their total driving time.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is making 40,000 Clean Air Stickers available for registered vehicles that meet the state's emissions standards. Applications can be downloaded from the DMV's web site at

Additionally, the new Low Emissions Package makes the 2012 Volt eligible for owners and lessees to receive up to $1,500 in state rebates through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. This incentive is in addition to a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 Clean vehicle rebate applications can be submitted online at

California has more than 1,400 miles of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes. Originally restricted to vehicles with two or more occupants to help minimize congestion, the lanes are now open to single occupancy use by owners of advanced, low-emission vehicles. Volts registered in Georgia, New York and Florida also are eligible for single occupancy access to carpool lanes.

The Volt has a total driving range of up to 379 miles, based on EPA estimates. For the first 35 miles, the Volt can drive gas-and tailpipe-emissions-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt's battery runs low, a gas powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 344 miles on a full tank. Volt owners have travelled more than 10 million miles since the vehicle launched late last year. Roughly two-thirds of those miles were powered by grid electricity.

Tesla says Model S can be parked for a year without “bricking”

A single blogger is spreading a rumor about electric vehicles becoming inoperable. “Bricking” is an irrational fear based on limited information and a misunderstanding of Tesla’s battery system. Here is why the rumor is unfounded:

Even in cases of neglect, the earliest Roadsters will take over two months to discharge if parked at a 50 percent charge without being plugged in. A Model S battery parked with 50 percent charge would approach full discharge only after about 12 months.

Model S batteries also have the ability to protect themselves as they approach very low charge levels by going into a “deep sleep” mode that lowers the loss even further. A Model S will not allow its battery to fall below about 5 percent charge.

At that point the car can still sit for many months. Of course you can drive a Model S to 0 percent charge, but even in that circumstance, if you plug it in within 30 days, the battery will recover normally.

Tesla say they will continually advanced their technology with each new model released. Model S and Model X will have batteries that can sit unplugged for over a year when parked with only a 50 percent charge. And when that year is up, all you need to do is plug it in.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Volvo smart charging concept for electric cars [VIDEO]

Volvo Car Corporation's focus on connectivity technology also includes smart features for charging of electric vehicles.

The company is one of the partners in the research project ELVIIS (Electric Vehicle Intelligent Infra Structure) that develops a smart on-board concept for controlling, measuring and paying for electricity when charging via any outlet.

ELVIIS is a consortium involving Volvo Car Corporation, Ericsson, the utility company Göteborg Energi and the Viktoria Institute. The innovative research project across several industries aims to bring mobile connectivity to electric cars - and to identify and remove barriers for using electrical vehicles in daily life. The concept works like this

  • The driver can choose to charge the battery pack via any ordinary power outlet.
  • The outlet is identified via GPS.
  • The driver pre-sets timing and charging amount on the touch screen or remotely via a smart phone or tablet.
  • Using the mobile network, the car communicates with the grid and sets the charging scheme in order to support optimal utilisation of the grid and most favourable energy price.
  • Any unintended interruption of charging process is directly reported to the driver's mobile phone.
  • The system directs the cost for each charge to the car owner's personal utility bill.

The Volvo C30 Electric has been used as a test car in the project. Equipped with an integrated 7-inch colour touch screen, it makes the smooth charging concept available at the driver's fingertip. Five C30 Electric cars will now be used for testing and evaluating the technology during a year.

"Our basic view is that the owner of an electric vehicle shouldn't have to sacrifice any of the properties he or she expects from a luxury car," says Lennart Stegland, Vice President Electric Propulsion Systems, Volvo Car Corporation. "This smart technology for charging in any outlet, and paying automatically via your own electricity bill, is an excellent example of how we do everything to make the daily use easier for the customer."

The concept is developed on a generic communication platform to make the technology globally applicable.

The ELVIIS technology is fully in line with Volvo Car Corporation's development of Sensus technology, which makes the driver feel totally in control and totally connected.
"Sensus is the interface that promotes intuitive communication with the car, connecting it to the driver's digital world. We will continue to extend the offer of intelligent content that provides easy access to support, information and entertainment," says Lennart Stegland.

Mahindra REVA looks to set up assembly unit in Australia

Mahindra REVA Electric Vehicles today said it is exploring possibilities to set up its first overseas assembly facility in Australia and a final decision will be taken within this year.

The company has tied up with the government of Victoria, Australia, to support a feasibility study to explore potential for research, supply chain development and manufacturing of clean technology vehicles there.

"We are looking at possibility to set up a local assembly unit in Victoria. A feasibility study is going on at present and it is expected to complete in the next six months," Mahindra REVA Electric Vehicles Chief of Strategy and Technology Chetan Maini said.

A final decision will be taken once the feasibility study is completed, he added.

Initially, the company will start exporting its future models to Australia from India to judge demand of its products there, he added.

"Our next product NXR will be launched later this year. Then, we will start exporting from next year to many markets and Australia is one of them," Maini said.

Currently, Mahindra REVA has its manufacturing facility only in Bangalore and is setting up its second unit at the same place.

Elaborating about the association with the local government in Australia, he said the MoUs are signed with two Victoria-based research organisations -- AutoCRC and La Trobe University's Centre for Technology Infusion.

"Our association with the State of Victoria will further enhance our capabilities. We look forward to working closely with the Government of Victoria to help make it the most desired destination for development of electric vehicles in Australia," Maini said.

Mahindra REVA's association with the AutoCRC will be for establishing an operational framework for an applied research programme, the domestic company said.

"The two-year MoU will facilitate the sharing of relevant confidential information and enable the two parties to establish specific project agreements under the applied research programme," it added.

The firm has entered into a three-year MoU with La Trobe University to facilitate collaborative research and development for new energy management technologies.

"The research programme will develop new concepts and techniques at the crossroads of high-efficiency building design, electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid technologies," Mahindra REVA said.

Negligent owners can 'Brick' the battery in their Tesla Roadsters

A blogger named Michael Degusta has widely distributed a link to the media publicising a blog post he authored about what he sees as a "Devastating" design problem with the Tesla Roadster.

Based on hear-say from an as-yet un-named Tesla regional service manager (we are left to speculate if the source is another disgruntled ex-employee) Degusta recites several third-hand stories of Tesla Roadster owners who have bricked the battery pack in their cars by allowing it to run completely flat, the common denominator being that all these Roadsters were left unattended for multiple weeks.

In one case the car was taken for a drive then parked with only a 25% state-of-charge (SOC) left in the battery, in a garage, unattended and unplugged for 6 weeks. In another case the owner left the car attached to an (unapproved) 100ft extension cord for an unspecified "extended period" again unattended. In a third case a Roadster was shipped across the Pacific to Japan, again starting with an un-known SOC and unattended for an unknown extended period of time.

There are no claims of pending legal action against Tesla so we can take from that Tesla are not considered to be legally at fault. In-fact Tesla Motors have each new owner sign a document saying they have read and understand that the "warranty does not cover damage caused by leaving a vehicle unplugged where it discharges the battery to at or near zero state of charge". This document also specifies that "an extension cord should never be used".

As much as it sounds like a possible design issue that allows the battery to brick itself, by all reports, it takes weeks for this to happen which squarely points to owner ignorance/neglect.

Lets hope that the attention brought to this issue at least makes all Tesla owners fully aware that it is their responsibility to ensure due care of their battery. It should now be clear that if through negligence they allow their battery to reach zero charge and further allow it to remain in that condition for an extended period of time, then they are most likely liable for a sizeable repair bill.

(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Green Overdrive: Test driving the Fisker Karma [VIDEO]

For this week’s Green Overdrive show Katie takes the Fisker Karma for a test drive!

Toyota FT-Bh Hybrid Concept details released [VIDEO]

Toyota’s FT-Bh concept intends to break new boundaries in small car efficiency. It’s as spacious as an average five-door supermini, but produces about 50 per cent less CO2, and tipping the scales at under 800kg, its weighs less than a three-door Aygo.

These feats have not been achieved by using exotic materials or expensive techniques: from the outset Toyota determined that the FT-Bh would be made using commonplace, economically viable production methods and technologies, including a down-sized full hybrid powertrain.

Toyota took a “total vehicle” approach, focusing on five areas of design and engineering to gain the highest fuel efficiency and lowest emissions: weight reduction, optimum aerodynamic performance (achieving a 30 per cent gain), powertrain efficiency, thermal energy management and electricity saving.

The FT-Bh concept makes its world debut at the Geneva motor show, at 10.15am on 6 March.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

UK names first 7 plug-in vans eligible for grants

Van buyers will be able to receive 20% - up to £8,000 - off the cost of this first wave of 7 plug-in vans.

At an event today to launch the eligible vans, which was supported by companies such as British Gas and BT as well as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Justine Greening said:

“Our new grant demonstrates that you can be a motorist and still be pro-environment.

“Cars and vans are absolutely central to people’s lives – it’s how most of us get around and for many journeys they are, and will remain, the only practical and convenient travel choice. Nevertheless climate change is a global challenge we simply have to meet head on. It cannot be ignored or side-stepped.

“The new Plug-in Van Grant – offering up to £8,000 off one of these seven innovative vans – also makes business sense as it’s been estimated that a small electric van will typically cost £100 less in fuel for every thousand miles driven compared to a diesel equivalent.”

The way that vans are used and driven make them ideally suited to the switch to electric as they often have a predictable route and distance to travel each day; they make frequent stops; and many of them return to an overnight base where they can be easily recharged.

Business Minister Mark Prisk said:

"Vans are essential to the smooth running of so many businesses and contribute enormously to the UK economy. An upfront purchase grant, when combined with lower running costs and tax benefits, can make switching to an ultra low carbon van an attractive choice for those businesses.

“Now there are seven different models eligible for that support van buyers should be able to choose one they find easy on the eye as well as on the wallet.”

Businesses that run electric vans can benefit from reduced refuelling costs, are exempt from the van benefit charge, attract capital allowance concessions, and also receive a 100% discount for the congestion charge in the London.

The Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Paul Everitt said:

“The Plug-In Van Grant and today’s detail on the 7 models eligible is excellent news for van drivers, operators, businesses and the industry. The savings on the initial purchase price, coupled with the tax advantages and very low running costs make a plug-in van an attractive proposition – particularly for those running local and back-to-base services.

“Home to a high level of low carbon R&D and manufacturing activity, the UK is well placed to take full advantage of the ultra-low carbon vehicle sector. Incentives that support the development of a flourishing market will add to our competitive advantage.”

The first seven vans to be made eligible for the grants are;

· Azure Dynamics – Transit Connect Electric

· Daimler Mercedes-Benz – Vito E-Cell

· Faam – ECOMILE

· Faam – JOLLY 2000

· Mia-electric – Mia U

· Renault – Kangoo ZE variants Kangoo VAN ZE, Kangoo Van Maxi ZE, and Kangoo Van Maxi Crew ZE

· Smith Electric – Smith Edison variants SE2 and SE3

Gearoid Lane, Managing Director of British Gas New Markets, who have announced their ambition to have hundreds of electric vans in their fleets over the next few years, said:

“Extending electric car grants to cover fleet vehicles is a positive step in lowering emissions on our roads. With our network of engineers repairing boilers around the country we are keen to include electric vans in our own fleet, with 100s scheduled to be introduced over the next few years. We are also at the forefront of helping people with their own electric cars by installing charge points in homes up and down Britain.”

The eligible models are revealed on the same day a report is published by the Climate Group which shows the benefits low carbon vehicles can have if businesses adopt them into their fleets and provides companies with the advice and tools they need to make their good intentions a reality.

Ellen MacArthur, whose charity - the Ellen MacArthur Foundation - already uses an electric van, said:

“We’ve been running a Renault electric van to help with the work of my Foundation and it is working really well for us. Today’s announcement means people will have more choice about the kinds of vans that they can drive and I am pleased to support this initiative.”

The Transport Secretary also announced today that the Mia Electric (Mia and Mia L models) has become the eleventh vehicle now eligible for the Plug-in Car Grant - a consumer grant of up to £5,000.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Russian Billionaire To Build Another Hybrid Car Factory

Russian billionaire and presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov on Monday unveiled plans to build the second hybrid Yo-mobile plant in the Russian Far East.

“The next Yo-mobile plant must be built in the Far East to develop local innovation production,” Prokhorov said at a press conference, adding the move was necessary to show that “we have something to demonstrate in relations with both China and Japan.”

Russia's Yo-Auto plant, co-owned by Prokhorov, is expected to offer its first Yo-mobile hybrid cars for sale in December 2012. The annual production capacity of the first Yo-mobile plant near St. Petersburg is estimated at 45,000 cars. Capacity will be doubled after the second stage of the plant is built.

A Yo-mobile features a maximum speed of 75 miles per hour (120 km/h), a cruising range of 249 miles (400 km) and an estimated fuel economy rating of 67 miles per gallon (30 kilometers per liter).

Yo-Auto promotes the vehicles as "environmentally friendly, energy-saving autos for daily operation in the city, powered by both gasoline and liquefied gas."

Prokhorov has said he wants to make a unique eco-friendly hybrid car that would cost less than $10,000.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fully Charged 2012 announcement [VIDEO]

Announcing the upcoming series of Fully Charged, looking at the future of energy and the amazing new electric cars coming onto the market this year

GS Yuasa To Start Auto Lithium Battery Plant In March

GS Yuasa Corp intends to sharply cut production costs for automotive lithium ion batteries by bringing a new factory onstream next month.

The company unveiled the new plant in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture, to the press on Thursday.

"Through mass production, we will soon lower production costs to a quarter" of what they were when the company first started making such batteries in 2009, said President Makoto Yoda.

Being built with Mitsubishi and Mitsubishi Motors at a cost of 37.5 billion yen (USD$470M) the factory is slated to begin operations a month ahead of schedule. The annual output capacity will be enough to equip 50,000 Mitsubishi Motors i-MiEV electric vehicles.

The facility is to make batteries for the i-MiEV and Minicab-MiEV, a commercial model by the same automaker, and for EVs of France's PSA Peugeot Citroen Group. A plug-in hybrid to be released in fiscal 2012 will also use batteries manufactured at the plant, according to Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko.

The partners are also building another plant at the same site for 30 billion yen. This facility, which will be able to make enough batteries to power 75,000 i-MiEVs a year, is expected to supply batteries to major domestic and foreign automakers.

Source: Nikkei

Friday, February 17, 2012

First Endurance Run For The TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID [video]

TOYOTA Racing completed its first long-distance endurance test during a three-day session at Paul Ricard in France, which ended this evening. In just its second full test, and its third time on track including a roll-out, the TS030 HYBRID was faced with the tough challenge of a 30-hour endurance run.

The long-distance test began on Thursday afternoon following initial sessions to evaluate various performance developments. Sébastien Buemi, in his first test as an official TOYOTA Racing driver, started the marathon session, followed by his team-mate in car #8 at Le Mans, Hiroaki Ishiura. Car #7 team-mates Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima also took turns behind the wheel of the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. The test ended with TOYOTA Racing having achieved its primary goal of completing a significant number of laps to evaluate the car over very long distances.

TOYOTA Racing will now concentrate on preparing and updated package for the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, its first race of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship season. The next tests are scheduled for April.

Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: “We have done some valuable tests and this has contributed to our ongoing development of performance, reliability and organisation. The endurance test was an interesting experience; we were expecting challenges for everyone in the team and we weren’t disappointed! It’s not easy on the car or the people but we are all passionate about this project so a strong team spirit saw us through to the end. We are content with the results and the conclusions we have been able to draw, which will accelerate our preparations for our first race.”

Hisatake Murata, Hybrid Project Leader: “This was the first time we have run the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing over such a long test session so we never expected a trouble-free week and we did experience a few issues, but nothing major. Thanks to a large amount of data and the detailed feedback of all the drivers, we have a lot of information about how the THS-R powertrain behaves. We have been able to use this already to refine our systems and before the next tests we will work more on some of the issues raised. We have achieved our primary goals for this test and I am happy with how it has gone.”

Alex Wurz: “The test has been interesting and we have gained valuable experience. In terms of development, we continue to optimize the interaction between all components, including the hybrid system. As a result, the car is progressing. During our endurance test we did encounter some issues but that is why we are testing. The team sprit here at TOYOTA Racing really strong and it has again been a pleasure to work with the guys; we know and understand each other better and better with each day. Overall I would say I am generally pleased with this test.”

Hiroaki Ishiura: “It was a really exciting experience to drive the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID during an endurance run for the first time. Actually, this was my first time to drive this lay-out of Paul Ricard and I had to do it in the dark, so my first task was to find my way around! We don’t drive much at night in Super GT so I don’t have a lot of experience of this; it was a very useful test for me in that sense. It was good to complete a lot of laps and I’ve enjoyed working with the team again.”

Kazuki Nakajima: “Overall the test was good. It was the first time for me to participate in an endurance test and it allowed us to prepare in circumstances much closer to race conditions. This meant running in some very cold conditions but even then the car and tyres were working well. I did a lot of stints so I was really busy and we put plenty of mileage on the car. We have a sound basis and the car shows good potential but we now need to work on the details and develop some areas. We are on the right track and things continue to go well.”

Nicolas Lapierre: “I did some development work and also participated in the endurance test. I am quite positive about how it went for a first long-distance simulation with the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. We can see how the car reacts to various different conditions, such as the cold track temperatures we may encounter during the night at Le Mans. The car felt pretty good in these conditions, which is not always easy here at Paul Ricard. The package is evolving and improving; we have fixed some issues, corrected some little details and overall we are moving forward.”

Sébastien Buemi: “It was nice to discover more about the endurance racing environment. I have been in the driving simulator at TMG so I had an idea of what to expect but the reality is always a bit more complex. From a technical point of view the car is very impressive although we still need to make progress in some areas, which is normal at this stage of testing. I did some long stints and learned about new aspects of endurance racing, like driving at night, managing fuel consumption and adapting my driving style. I can see that every detail is important in order to be fast in this discipline.”

Chevrolet Volt - Just the Facts [VIDEO]

There's been a lot of talk about the Chevrolet Volt lately. Here are some facts to help set things straight.

Siemens Acquires Tidal Power Firm Marine Current Turbines

Siemens has acquired the majority stake in Marine Current Turbines Ltd., the UK company based in Bristol, which develops and builds tidal power systems.

“The acquisition of Marine Current Turbines is an important step forward for the Solar & Hydro Division,” said Ted Scheidegger, CEO of the Solar & Hydro Division of Siemens Energy. “We will continue to drive the commercialization of this promising technology which harvest energy from highly predictable tidal streams. Our target is to secure a leading position in this future business.” As a pioneering company, Marine Current Turbines has become a technology leader in tidal power systems.

Back in November 2011, Siemens increased its stake in the company to 45 percent. Siemens is planning to complete the acquisition of Marine Current Turbines in the coming few weeks. Financial details of the deal are not disclosed.

Global carbon reduction commitments are increasing demand for reliable marine current power. Experts are expecting double-digit annual growth rates for this sector up to 2020. The worldwide potential for power generated by tidal power plants is estimated at 800 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually. That is approximately 25 percent more than the total power demand of Germany and is equivalent to between three and four percent of global power consumption. Coastal regions with strong tidal currents like those in the UK, Canada, France and East Asia offer major potential for the utilization of this technology.

Marine Current Turbines (MCT) has already successfully implemented a commercial-scale demonstration project with SeaGen in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. Since November 2008, two axial turbines with a combined capacity of 1.2 megawatts (MW) have been providing power to approximately 1500 households. SeaGen has to date fed more than three gigawatt-hours of electricity into the grid.

In terms of power generation this is the largest tidal current power project to date. Further projects are at the planning stage, including the 8-MW Kyle Rhea project in Scotland and the 10-MW Anglesey Skerries project in Wales. “Siemens’ acquisition is hugely welcomed by staff and management at MCT and signals great confidence in MCT’s achievements over many years,” said Andrew Tyler, CEO of MCT.

Tidal turbines generate electricity by utilizing tidal current flows. The SeaGen turbine is fixed on a structure and is driven by the flow of the tides. This technology is effectively similar to a wind turbine, with the rotor blades driven not by wind power but by tidal currents.

Water has an energy density that is 800 times higher than that of wind. Twin rotors turn with the tidal current and optimally track the direction and speed of flow thanks to blades which can rotate through 180 degrees. A key advantage is that the generated power is precisely predictable in the tidal cycle.

Tidal turbines are part of Siemens’ Environmental Portfolio. In fiscal 2011, revenue from the Portfolio totaled about €30 billion, making Siemens one of the world’s largest suppliers of ecofriendly technologies. In the same period, our products and solutions enabled customers to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by nearly 320 million tons, an amount equal to the total annual CO2 emissions of Berlin, Delhi, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, New York, Singapore and Tokyo.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stuntbusters: Electric Engine vs. Combustion Engine [VIDEO]

The SPEED channel's Stunbusters pit a pair of electric cars against a Porsche and a 427 Muscle car to see which is faster off the line with fairly predictable results.

Source: Autobloggreen

Renault to Produce Electric Cars in China

Renault is planning to produce electric cars in China and sell more luxury vehicles in the world's biggest auto market, chief executive Carlos Ghosn said on Feb. 16.

"The Chinese government said recently that it is not possible to increase capacities or set up in China without bringing certain innovations," noted Ghosn during a conference with analysts on the group's annual earnings.

"We know that we need to bring the electric vehicle to China," he said, adding that this could be done through the Renault brand or another marque.

Renault said earlier its 2011 net profit reached 2.09 billion euros. However, it sold just 24,000 cars in China, a tiny fraction of the 2.72 million vehicles sold across the globe in 2011.

Beside green cars, the automaker is eyeing more luxury car sales in China as it moves to renew its fleet from 2014.

"Our high end line will go to China," said Ghosn.

Chinese media has speculated that the French group could set up production in central China's Wuhan, where homegrown carmaker Dongfeng has a factory.

Dongfeng is already working with Nissan, which is controlled by Renault.

Mugen to enter motorcycle in 2012 Isle of Man TT Zero

TT Zero, a zero-emissions competition held as part of the Isle of Man TT week, has received a significant boost following the news that Mugen will enter this year's event.

Mugen was created in 1973 by Hirotoshi Honda, son of Honda founder Soichiro, and has a long history of involvement in motorsport.

The team won four F1 races between 1992 and 2000 working with Jordan, Prost, Lotus and Ligier. They also manufactured engines that won the Formula 3000 championship in 1990 and 1991.

The company currently competes in the Japanese GT, and Formula Nippon Championships, and were also recently announced as the engine partner to Honda in their forthcoming WTCC campaign.

Mugen, whose TT Zero attempt is seen as the next best thing to an official Honda effort, will enter the 2012 race with an all-new original electric motorcycle.

"We are keen to use this excellent event to educate and prepare the engineers of the next generation for the use of future technology,” explained Satoshi Katsumata of Team Mugen. “We are very excited about adding to the long history of Japanese manufacturers on the Isle of Man."

Mugen will shortly confirm the identity of its rider ahead of a planned programme of testing in Japan and the UK.

The TT Zero Race takes place over one lap in a time trial format and is restricted to entrants using motorcycles with zero-emission engines that emit no CO2.

The Isle of Man Government has offered a £10,000 prize for the first team to break an average speed of 100 mph around the legendary 37.75 mile Mountain Course.

Last year's race, the second for the TT Zero class, was won by BSB star Michael Rutter (MotoCzysz) at an average speed of 99.604 mph.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

FIA agrees rule changes for 2012 World Endurance Championship

The FIA has tweaked LMP1 rules for the inaugural year of the World Endurance Championship in a bid to allow Toyota to challenge Audi for the manufacturer's title.

The new regulations state that only the highest finishing car in LMP1 will score manufacturer points, while only the six best scores - the Le Mans 24 Hours must be included - will count.

The regulations are designed to foster competition between Audi and Toyota, which was persuaded to step into the breach and expand its attack in 2012 following Peugeot's immediate withdrawal from sportscar racing on the eve of the WEC entry deadline.

Toyota will still miss the opening round in Sebring, but will fight with Audi from Spa onwards.

FIA WEC boss Gerard Neveu said the changes had been agreed by all parties in the interests of boosting competition.

"The changes were requested following the withdrawal of Peugeot from the FIA World Endurance Championship last month and were agreed by all parties," Neveu explained.

"The changes will allow Toyota, who have brought forward their participation in the championship to round 2 in Spa, to fight with Audi for the inaugural World Endurance Championship Manufacturer's title.

"These changes to the regulations will certainly make the 2012 season more exciting for both teams and spectators alike."

The changes were agreed by the FIA Endurance Commission and ratified by the FIA World Council. The regulations for the driver's championship, and for all other disciplines, remain unchanged.

Batteries to Rival Gas Peaker Plants by 2016, A123 CEO Says

Falling prices for lithium-ion batteries will make power-storage systems competitive with natural gas as a source of electricity during periods of high demand by 2016, according to the chief executive officer of A123 Systems Inc.

“In general, batteries will come down by about half in price from 2010 to 2015,” David Vieau said yesterday in a telephone interview. Waltham, Massachusetts-based A123 has shipped more than 90 megawatts of battery systems that utilities use instead of gas-fired peaker plants.

Utilities currently use gas-fired plants to supply power to meet short periods of peak demand, sometimes only a few hours a year. A123 makes battery systems that store power and supply it when needed. Improvements in battery chemistry and manufacturing will drive down prices and make them last longer, making them a viable replacement for gas, Vieau said.

“The challenge is to demonstrate that they last 10 to 20 years,” making them comparable with existing power-generation plants, he said.

Utilities owned by AES Corp, Sempra Energy and Edison International use A123’s storage systems, which provide within milliseconds anywhere from 10 kilowatts to 500 megawatts of power, for as long as eight hours.

Battery technology must come down in cost to be considered a viable alternative, Amir Rozwadowski, an analyst at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York said today in a phone interview. “The question facing the company is can they get pricing down to generate an attractive enough return.”

Electric Vehicles

Sales of grid-power systems made up 32 percent of A123’s third-quarter revenue. Its transport business, including batteries for electric cars, buses and commercial vehicles, made up 54 percent.

The grid business now makes up 40 percent to 50 percent of A123’s sales, Vieau said. “The company has focused a lot on grid and commercial businesses and yet we are labeled as an electric-vehicle company.” The company supplies batteries to General Motors Co. and Daimler AG.

The company had $97.3 million in revenue in 2010. Analysts expect 2011 revenue to reach $167.7, the average of 11 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

“On the grid, I think there is a good opportunity,” Vieau said. “We have more lithium-ion battery grid energy storage systems installed than any other company on the planet.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ford Earns Nearly 500 Hybrid Patents with 47-mpg Fusion Hybrid

The road to the new Ford Fusion Hybrid's 47 mpg – expected to be America's most fuel-efficient non-rechargeable sedan – can be traced back to Ford's electrified vehicle team and the nearly 500 patents Ford now holds for its hybrid technology.

"Ford continued to invest to develop new products like our new Fusion hybrids during the depths of the economic downturn," said Chuck Gray, Ford chief engineer of Global Core Engineering Hybrid and Electric Vehicles. "We succeeded in transforming our lineup with leading fuel efficiency, thanks in part to the many Ford inventors who are helping make our Fusion Hybrid America's most fuel-efficient sedan."

One of those inventors is Ming Kuang, who has helped grow Ford's hybrid patent portfolio from 10 in 2000 to nearly 500 today.

Kuang's reason is simple, even though his inventions are complex and among the most advanced technologies available on Ford Motor Company hybrid vehicles.

"The work on the Fusion Hybrid is all about a commitment I made a long time ago to have a positive effect on our environment," said Kuang. "It's about helping make the world my children live in – and the world my children's children will live in – a better place."

Kuang, 52, is technical leader in vehicle controls at Ford Electrification Research and Advanced Engineering in Dearborn, Mich.

Kuang's innovations can be found throughout Ford's transformed lineup, one-third of which will feature a model with 40 mpg or more in 2012 and build on the company's commitment to go further by giving fuel-efficiency-minded customers the power of choice.

His name is on 40 of the 461 patents held by Ford that fall under the hybrid category. Twenty-five of the 40 patents are in production including key components of Ford's innovative powersplit architecture system found on vehicles like the all-new Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.

The all-new Fusion Hybrid is anticipated to deliver 47 mpg city and 44 mpg highway and the new Fusion Energi, arriving this fall, is anticipated to deliver more than 100 MPGe – more than the projected efficiency of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid model.

For example, one patent covers the display system for the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid that shows how efficiently the power of the car is being used. Fusion Energi, scheduled to be available later this year, is projected to achieve a better miles per gallon equivalent in electric mode than Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid.

"I'm proud to have always had the resources and freedom to keep pushing forward on innovations for those vehicles," said Kuang. "Being part of an organization that has so much respect for research and advanced engineering is what really gets me out of bed every day."

Hybrid patents – yesterday and today

As recent as 2000 Ford owned just 10 patents that it classified as hybrid technology.
Things slowly began to change with the evolution of the Escape Hybrid – the first hybrid vehicle from a U.S.-based automaker that was designed and developed in the early 2000s. Still, by 2002 Ford only had approximately 30 hybrid patents.

Kuang, who graduated from the University of California-Davis in 1991, was at Ford in those early days of hybrid technology development.

"The level of cohesiveness wasn't anywhere close to where it is today," said Kuang. For example, research and advanced engineering and product development didn't work as closely as they do today, slowing the pace of innovation.

However, the amount of green patent activity began to increase significantly in the mid-2000s, Kuang said. With the launch of the One Ford strategy designed in large part to accelerate development of new products customers want and value, a more efficient method of innovation emerged.

"We stopped trying to create and fix one-off, niche vehicles, and it made all the difference in the world," he said.

With better collaboration, inventors are more in tune to where opportunities exist. In the last three years alone, the number of inventions submitted to Ford's legal team to be considered for patents has increased more than 25 percent.

But David Kelley, a Ford attorney who handles hybrid patents, said Ford doesn't engage in the practice of getting patents for the mere sake of getting patents.

"We get the high-quality patents that Ford really needs," said Kelley. "With the high level of innovation from people like Ming, it makes sense that we should see our hybrid patent levels increase the way they have."

Eric Kuehn, Ford's chief engineer, global electrified programs, said that level of innovation makes him happy to be part of the team working on vehicles including the Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.

"One of the best parts of being involved with Ford's electrified vehicle group is that they are never satisfied," said Kuehn. "They are always striving to go further and see how far they can push toward creating even larger gaps between Ford and its competitors. That is ingrained in the culture and mindset of the team here and isn't going to change anytime soon."

Volkswagen plans to start electric cars production in China in 2014

Volkswagen AG's two joint ventures in China plan to start making electric cars in 2014 and to ramp up to mass production by 2018, its China chief said on Tuesday.

Initial EV output at Shanghai Volkswagen and FAW Volkswagen was estimated at a few thousand vehicles, rising to 100,000 by 2018, the president and chief executive of Volkswagen's China operations, Karl-Thomas Neumann, told an EU-China business convention in Beijing.

E-vehicles have so far been limited by cost batteries, and a lack of economies of scale and models considered appealing to car buyers, but Neumann said they were needed to reduce China's pollution and reliance on oil.

"I am convinced e-vehicles will be a success in China because I think it is desperately needed," he told the convention.

He added that Volkswagen, which has partnerships with SAIC Motor Corp and FAW Group in China, would launch its first plug-in hybrid here in 2015.

Each of Volkswagen's joint ventures would develop its own e-vehicle, Neumann said. He did not specify whether the 100,000 EV output planned for 2018 was for each JV or a combined target.

The central government has declared the electric vehicle industry a top priority, earmarking $1.5 billion per year for the next 10 years to become one of the leading producers of clean vehicles.

It has named 25 cities including Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen to lead the migration to green vehicles. However, demand for EVs has been held back by a lack of models, limited charging facilities, high sticker prices and safety concerns.

Toyota To Boost Capacity For Aqua Hybrid

Toyota plans to increase production capacity for the Aqua compact hybrid within three months, Senior Managing Officer Takeshi Shirane told reporters Monday.

The vehicle, manufactured at the Iwate plant of group firm Kanto Auto Works Ltd., received roughly 120,000 orders in the month after its December launch.

Shirane has been tapped to serve as president of Toyota Motor East Japan Inc. once it is created through the merger of Kanto Auto Works, Central Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Tohoku Corp. this coming July.

On Monday, he showed an openness to also making the Aqua at the Miyagi plant of Central Motor.

"We must consider it as one of our options, since we will become one company," Shirane said.

Toyota Motor East Japan is expected to handle development and production of compact vehicles.

Source: Nikkei

Monday, February 13, 2012

Nissan puts Leaf electric car into daily rental to raise awareness

Nissan has announced that its Leaf electric vehicle will be available for short term hire in London through partner Europcar.

“There are two distinct reasons for joining forces with Europcar to introduce Nissan Leaf to the short term rental market,” said Guillaume Cartier, vice president for sales operations at Nissan.

“The first is obvious: with its absence of tailpipe emissions and an outstanding driving pleasure, the Nissan Leaf is the perfect car for the inner city.

“The second is for drivers currently unsure whether an EV is suitable for their needs.

"By renting a Nissan Leaf and living with it in real world conditions they can evaluate the car in their own time.”

The Nissan Leaf has a range of around 110 miles (175km), which is more than 90% of UK commuters drive in a day.

In order to make hiring the Leaf simpler for customers, Europcar will recharge it free of charge, even waiving the standard service fee usually made for vehicle refuelling.

For total peace of mind, customers can call a Nissan Hotline with any queries they might have about the vehicle, plus, at the end of the hire every customer will be surveyed by Europcar with feedback used to help shape future generations of Nissan electric vehicles.

Ken McCall, managing director, Europcar UK Group said: "Hiring a Nissan Leaf could be the ideal option for motorists keen to reduce their fuel costs and avoid congestion charges.

"At the forefront of electric vehicle technology, it fits perfectly with our philosophy of pioneering sustainable car hire solutions, giving customers a real choice when it comes to car hire.”

The pilot scheme, which will initially run for three months, forms a definitive agreement between the two companies, and follows a Memorandum of Understanding in which both organisations undertook to investigate ways of jointly promoting the concept of emission-free motoring.

Success of this scheme could potentially see it widened to other cities.

Vauxhall Ampera police car goes on display

Vauxhall has won a competition run by the Association of Chief Police Officers Intelligent Transport Systems (ACPO ITS) to demonstrate an electric vehicle that uses cutting-edge crime-fighting technology that could be introduced into active Police service by 2015.

Vauxhall showcased the ground-breaking Ampera in Police livery featuring the very latest policing equipment on the Home Office’s Centre of Applied Science & Technology (CAST) stand at the Police & Security Conference on 31st January 2012, held in Farnborough.

The Vauxhall Ampera, which is on the shortlist for both World Car of the Year and European Car of the Year, is equipped with a range of high-tech kit to help Police officers fight crime, including:
  • Four external-mounted cameras for evidence gathering
  • Internal camera for facial recognition linked to the Police National Database
  • The standard Ampera display screen modified to provide all information currently available to Police officers, for example Automatic Number Plate Recognition
  • A second screen mounted on the passenger sun visor to allow the passenger to access all Police information
  • New Police software that has been loaded with previous incidents and historic data that is run through complex algorithms to predict potential crime hotspots
The Under Secretary of State for Crime and Security, James Brokenshire, was given an in-depth demonstration of the crime-fighting technology on the Ampera by Jim Hammond, Chief Superintendent, ACPO ITS.

Dick Ellam, Vauxhall Special Vehicles Manager said: “We are delighted to have won the ACPO ITS competition and are excited to have displayed the fittingly ground-breaking Ampera featuring this array of cutting-edge equipment.”