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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BMW i3 Parks Itself without any Driver Input [VIDEO]

The BMW i3 has an interesting function available as a $1,000 optional extra: Parking Assistant.

This system allows your car to park itself without your input. It uses a sonar installed in the right side of the car that detects large enough parking spaces when you want it to. After that, all you have to do is stop and keep the parking assist button pressed and the i3 will do everything for you.

That’s what a crew of journalists from Romania did when BMW invited them over in Austria to try out the new electric car from Munich. However, there’s a twist: this time, no driver was inside the car while the operation was done.

The man hopping out of the moving i3 is Vali Porcisteanu, a Romanian rally driver. He somehow meddled with the control button and made it stick while he left the ‘premises’.

The end result is both quite impressive and funny at the same time, seeing the car do all the work by itself, with no one inside.

Tesla Gigafactory deal confirmed - Panasonic to invest up to $1Billion

Panasonic has reached a basic agreement with Tesla Motors to participate in the Gigafactory, the huge battery plant that the American electric vehicle manufacturer plans to build in the U.S.

Tesla aims to begin the first phase of construction this fiscal year. The plant would start making lithium-ion cells for Tesla cars in 2017. The automaker is shouldering the cost for the land and buildings.

Panasonic likely will invest 20 billion to 30 billion yen ($194-291 million) initially, taking responsibility for equipping the factory with the machinery to make the battery cells. An official announcement on the partnership will come by the end of this month.

Capacity at the Gigafactory will be added in stages to match demand, with the goal of producing enough battery cells in 2020 to equip 500,000 electric vehicles a year.

The total investment is expected to reach up to $5 billion, and Panasonic's share could reach $1 billion.

The Japanese company owns a stake in Tesla and currently makes the batteries for Tesla cars. In a contract reworked in October 2013, the two agreed that Panasonic would supply Tesla with 2 billion battery cells between 2014 and 2017.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Panasonic to invest $200-300 million in Tesla battery plant

Panasonic Corp plans to initially invest about 20 billion to 30 billion yen ($200-300 million) in Tesla Motors Inc's planned lithium-ion battery plant in the United States, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The Japanese company, which already supplies batteries for the electric vehicle maker, will ultimately invest about $1 billion in the planned $5 billion battery "Gigafactory", the person said.

The figures for Panasonic's investments were first reported by the Nikkei business daily earlier on Tuesday.

A Panasonic spokesman declined to confirm the investment figures, saying that while the company has signed a letter of intent to participate in the Tesla battery project and was in talks on the matter, no concrete decisions had been made.

A basic agreement on cooperation on the project between the two companies is due to be announced by the end of this week, with both due to report quarterly earnings results on Thursday, although no investment figures will be disclosed, the person said.

A Tesla spokesman, asked about the Nikkei report, declined to comment on "speculation regarding Panasonic".

Tesla is looking at three sites in the United States to build the Gigafactory plants which by 2020 would be able to make more lithium-ion batteries in a year than were produced worldwide in 2013.

Panasonic said in May it wanted to be the sole battery cell maker at the battery facility.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tesla Model S: Still the best car in the world? [VIDEO]

CNET On Cars, Episode 46: CNET revisits the Tesla Model S now that it's a bona fide mass production hit.

GM and LG working on Tesla Model 3 competitor with 200 mile range

LG Chem CFO Cho Suk-jeh has revealed the company will supply an automaker with a battery that will allow one of their models to travel more than 200 miles (320 km) on a single charge. Suk-jeh declined to say which automaker will use the battery but all indications are pointing to General Motors.

General Motors executives have said that the automaker is working on an EV that will deliver at least 200 miles of range. The automaker, manufacturer of the Chevrolet Volt, has said it hopes to have the longer-range EV in the market in 2016 to compete with the anticipated Tesla Model III, now scheduled for introduction in late 2016 or early 2017.

LG Chem presently supplies lithium-ion batteries to GM, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Volvo and Renault, among others.

Doug Parks, GM’s vice president for product development, said in an interview last year that General Motors plans to offer an EV with at least 200 miles of range for a price of around $30,000. That's the target all the major automakers are aiming at for their next-generation electric vehicles, he said.

GM invested $7 million in Battery Start-up Envia Systems in 2011. Unfortunatley the promised 'world record' 400 Watt-­‐ hours/kilogram (Wh/kg) energy density only lasted a few cycles leaving GM to search for more legitimate battery technology partners.

General Motors and LG Group agreed in 2011 to jointly design and engineer future electric vehicles, expanding a relationship built on LG’s work as the battery cell supplier for the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera extended-range EVs.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

BMW i9 Supercar to launch in 2016

Auto Motor und Sport is reporting on a future BMW i9 due to launch in 2016. In the same very year, BMW is celebrating 100 years.

BMW i9 would be based off the i8 hybrid sports car with more power and a beefier appearance. Still featuring a plug-in hybrid, the BMW i9 is said to forgo the 1.5 liter three-cylinder engine in favor for a larger one and with more power.

Furthermore, the i9 would also get a bigger electric battery which will generate more than the 131 hp found in the i8.

Lightweight materials and construction remain top priorities for BMW so if it comes to life, expect the i9 to feature even more carbon fiber and aluminum parts.

The BMW i9 is rumored to run 0 to 100km/h in under 4 seconds and with a top speed above 155 mph.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

All-electric Kia Soul EV test drive in Seoul

Kia have released another promo video for the Soul EV.

The Soul EV is propelled by a liquid-cooled AC synchronous permanent magnet electric motor rated for 109 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. Like most electrics, the motor sends power to the front wheels via a single-speed constant-ratio transmission.

A 96-cell, 27-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery feeds the motor. It lives under the Soul’s floor, and takes a small bite out of rear seat legroom, which shrinks from 39.1 to 36.0 inches. The standard 120-volt charger, which stows under the cargo floor, takes a bigger bite out of luggage capacity, down 5.1 cubic feet to 19.1.

The Soul EV can be charged to 80% in as little as 33 minutes using a 50-kW system, and the Soul EV is fitted with three charging ports. Two of the ports are for conventional AC charging, per SAE standard J1772, and the third for CHAdeMo public stations.

Deliveries began in South Korea in May 2014 with EU and US to follow in the second half of the year. With 200 km range and a price in the $30k range it looks like a solid addition to the EV market.

QUANT e-Sportlimousine with nanoFLOWCELL drive [VIDEO]

nanoFLOWCELL AG introduced their QUANT e-Sportlimousine concept at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year and the company has just announced the car has been approved for road use in Europe.

The company says this is a critical step because they are "working at top speed" on a production version. nanoFLOWCELL AG chief technical officer Nunzio La Vecchia went on to say "This is a historic moment and a milestone not only for our company but perhaps even for the electro-mobility of the future. For the first time an automobile featuring flow-cell electric drive technology will appear on Germany's roads."

The heart of the QUANT e-Sportlimousine prototype is the nanoFLOWCELL® battery. It gives the car a driving range of 600 kilometres. The newest product moving the world towards attractive electrical mobility was conceived at the nanoFLOWCELL DigiLab simulation lab at nanoFLOWCELL AG in Zurich, Switzerland. It is still under active development and the results so far are extremely promising.


All-wheel drive via 4 three-phase induction motors, torque vectoring for optimal drive torque distribution
Peak power: 680 KW (925 PS); 170 KW (231.2 PS) x 4
Operating power: 480 KW (653 PS); 120 KW (163.2 PS) x 4


nominal voltage: 600 V
nominal current: 50 A
tank capacity: 2 x 200 L


0 - 100 KM/H: 2.8 S
top speed: 380 + KM/H
range: projected 400 to 600 KM
energy consumption: 20 KWH/100 KM

Dimensions and weight:

kerb weight with full tanks: 2,300 KG
wheelbase: 3,198 MM

Tesla Battery Pack - Tear Down [VIDEO]

The eSamba project have acquired a Tesla battery pack to reverse engineer &/or use in the VW Samba Bus EV conversion.

Jehu Garcia's eSamba project is part of a 30-odd episode YouTube series where Jehu has recently experimented with building his own 18650 Lithium Ion battery packs. In this weeks episode the guys tear down a battery pack manufactured by Tesla Motors.

It's not made clear in the video which vehicle the Tesla battery pack was removed from other than to say the car in question had done approx 5,000 miles. I believe it is most likely from a RAV4 EV as although the 6 module battery pack shown has a capacity of 18 kWh, approx half the total capacity of 41.8 kWh, under body pictures show the Tesla based RAV4 EV has two separate underfloor lithium ion traction battery packs.

After a bit of disassembly the Tesla 18650 based modules should give the eSamba project a few new ideas.

RAV4 EV Underbody

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Renault all-electric truck hits Paris

As part of its research into goods transport based on sustainable development, Renault Trucks and Guerlain are currently testing an experimental all-electric vehicle operated by Speed Distribution Logistique. This 16 t vehicle will be delivering supplies to Maison de Parfums & Cosmétiques boutiques in Paris over the next two years. It generates no polluting emissions or noise nuisance and will be tested on regular, demanding delivery rounds of over 200 km.

Committed for many years to the principles of sustainable development, Guerlain and the Paris region carrier Speed Distribution Logistique have joined forces with Renault Trucks to test a 16 t all-electric experimental vehicle under actual operating conditions: the 100% electrically-driven Renault Trucks D.

This truck will be carrying out daily deliveries to the Guerlain boutiques in Paris from its distribution centre, covering over 200 km. To operate over such a long route, a first for any electrically-driven vehicle, the Renault Trucks D all-electric will recharge its battery several times during each 24 hour operating cycle. Its route has been planned so that it can carry out two partial recharges during the day and a total recharge between 7 PM and 2 AM.

“The initial tests we’ve carried out using this technology under real operating conditions with our customers have been very satisfying,” explains Christophe Vacquier, Renault Trucks’ project manager. “We are now going further with Guerlain and Speed Distribution Logistique, using the vehicle on 200 km rounds which gives us confidence in the future of this technology.”

The test is scheduled to run until the end of 2015. A full appraisal will then be carried out and added to Renault Trucks’ expertise in the field of electrically-driven medium tonnage vehicles and its customers’ requirements. This will then be used to determine the direction future research will take.

For Alexandre Oulès, director of operations and Philippe Bernard, logistics manager at Guerlain, becoming jointly involved in this unique programme was an obvious choice. For Guerlain has made sustainable development part of its strategy for more than seven years, focused on six major challenges which include a determination to reduce the level of CO2 emissions generated by goods transport. It was also an opportunity to work with Renault Trucks and Speed Distribution Logistique on an innovative project, based on a joint commitment to protect the environment.

Marc Bachini, Speed Distribution Logistique’s founder explains why his company has become involved in this project: “Based on my own convictions, I defined an economic model that respects people and their environment. After having invested in all-electric Renault Maxity delivery vehicles in 2013, this civically-responsible approach naturally led me to pursue this path and incorporate an experimental 16 t all-electric vehicle to be used for warehouse collection. This enabled me to offer Guerlain, a pace-setting company in sustainable development, a totally emission-free delivery cycle.”

The Renault Trucks D all electric: technical characteristics

-GVW: 16.3 tonnes
-Payload: approx.6 tonnes
-Wheelbase: 4,700 mm
-Motor: 103 kW / 400 V LQ 160P asynchronous electric
-Gearbox: ZF 6S800 TSO, manual automated by air activators
-Batteries: 2 Lithium-ion battery packs with a total charge of 170 kWh (battery weight: 2 tonnes)
-Battery recharge: Mains 380 V/64A outlet and braking energy recovery
-Full charging time: approx. 7h
-Operating range: 120 km (without partial recharge)

Friday, July 18, 2014

LG Chem targets EV batteries with range of more than 200 miles in 2016

South Korean supplier LG Chem plans to supply batteries for electric vehicles that can travel more than 200 miles, or 321 kilometers, per charge in 2016, its CFO said on Friday.

The CFO, Cho Suk-jeh, did not elaborate on which automakers will use the so-called second-generation batteries.

LG Chem currently supplies batteries for General Motors, Renault SA and other automakers.

GM's former CEO, Dan Akerson, said last year the U.S. automaker, which currently sells the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR hybrids, was working on new electric vehicles, including one with a 200-mile driving range.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Redox Ultrabattery achieves high energy and power capacity

Researchers have tested a unique combination of hybrid supercapacitor-battery materials that combines fast electrochemical charge times with the high energy density of a li-ion battery.

Li-ion batteries with high specific energy, high power density, long cycle life and low cost are critical for widespread adoption of electric vehicles. A key bottleneck in achieving this goal is the limited fast charging ability of Li-ion Batteries. Rapid charging causes accelerated degradation of the battery as well as a potential fire hazard due to local over-potential build-up and increased heat generation. Li-ion Batteries have the highest energy density but typically suffer from low power density.

On the other extreme, electrochemical double-layer supercapacitors, which store energy through accumulation of ions on the electrode surface, have low energy storage capacity but very high power density.

A special category of electrochemical capacitors is provided by redox capacitors. Here, charge is stored through surface or bulk (pseudocapacitive) redox reactions, similar to Li-ion Batteries, yet, with a very fast charge transfer response, similar to electrochemical double-layer capacitors. Although excellent capacity retention for extended cycling can be obtained even at high charge - discharge rates, specific capacity of redox capacitors is typically lower than for Li-ion batteries.

The most intuitive approach to combine high energy and high power density within a single device is to combine the different types of energy storage sources. So far, mainly hybridization between electrochemical double-layer capacitors and Li-ion batteries has been explored. The primary drawback of this approach is that power and energy performances are decoupled. At high current densities, the response is dominated by the electrochemical double-layer capacitor component, considerably diminishing the energy density of the hybrid device.

Researchers have now shown that enhanced battery-capacitor hybrids can be constructed by careful choice of the super-capacitor and battery components. They combined a lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery material with poly (PTMA) redox capacitor. The PTMA and LiFePO4 hybrid ultra-battery gives best-of-both-worlds performance characteristics: high energy and power capacity as well as fast and stable recharge for more than 1,500 cycles.

In addition to improved cycling and rate performances, the hybrid electrode features a unique fast charge storage mechanism. When a charge current is applied on the hybrid electrode, the polarization of PTMA and LiFePO4 overlap above the equilibrium values and both components are charged (or, oxidized). However, the faster redox kinetics of PTMA results in excess charging of the PTMA component.

When the current supply is stopped, the potential of both components in the electrode tends to reach their equilibrium open circuit potential. However, the electrochemical potential of the PTMA is higher than that of LiFePO4. According to the first law of thermodynamics the overall state-of-charge (SOC) of the electrode will remain unchanged, mainly the PTMA/LiFePO4 charged species ratio will change.

The hybridization of the two separate components yields a remarkable set of properties. The appropriate redox couples, flat-potential profile and elevated specific capacity yet, different redox kinetics for PTMA and LiFePO4, offer a hybrid battery electrode where the fast electrochemical response of PTMA delays the voltage rise during the charge process. This implies significant improvements for the rate performance, cycle lifetime and safety of lithium-ion batteries during rapid recharge.

This novel approach paves the way to new design rules for Li-ion battery electrodes and may prove pivotal in pushing the performance envelope of Li-ion batteries towards the goal of increasing adoption of electric vehicles.

Source: Nature

Toyota Supra, BMW Z4 sports cars to share platform

Toyota Motor and BMW will develop a common platform for two sports car models that will become the first products to come out of a comprehensive tie-up the two inked in January 2013.

The automakers will use the same platform as early as 2017 for the BMW Z4 and a planned revival of the Toyota Supra, a model popular in the 1980s and 1990s. The vehicles will have different body designs and be sold under their respective brands.

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

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

The partners also plan to discuss joint manufacturing and parts procurement. BMW is a leader in building cars with lightweight carbon fiber bodies, but the technology is expensive, leading many to focus on whether Toyota will adopt it.

Toyota's tie-up with BMW is aimed at making use of the German carmaker's luxury-vehicle expertise while lowering costs. Toyota and BMW also jointly work on research for lithium-air battery expected to be more powerful than the lithium-ion batteries used in many hybrid and electric vehicles,

Autocar test the BMW i8 hybrid sports car [VIDEO]

Autocar's in-house race driver Steve Sutcliffe tests the BMW i8 in Scotland.

The i8 has a transverse mid-mounted 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine that drives the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox. An electric motor acts as a starter motor but can also fill in any torque gaps in the engine’s delivery. The front axle is driven separately by an electric motor and two-speed gearbox to create a car of incredible flexibility and complexity.

In eDrive mode the i8 is a zero-emission, front-wheel-drive machine with a useful 129bhp and 184lb ft, a top speed of 75mph and a range of 23 miles. In Comfort mode the i8 is a plug-in hybrid that’s quiet, refined, has a range of up to 310 miles and can be charged from zero to 80 per cent inside two hours.

Select Sport mode by simply moving the gear selector from ‘D’ to ‘S’ and the i8 transforms again. Now the internal combustion engine and electric motor combine as effectively as possible to deliver maximum power, noise and excitement. So configured, the i8 generates 357bhp and 420lb ft. It also tightens its damping, reduces the electric power assistance for the steering and manages the car’s balance by manipulating drive to the front axle for ultimate agility and engagement. The numbers say the i8 combines 135mpg and 49g/km on the one hand or 0-62mph in 4.4sec and 155mph (limited) when driven like a sports car should be.

Panasonic to build gigafactory, produce batteries for Tesla Motors

Japanese electronics giant Panasonic is teaming with Tesla Motors to build batteries for the American electric car manufacturer.

Panasonic is expected to sign a contract this month to help Tesla construct a plant and produce batteries for its vehicles.

Initial operations at the plant are scheduled to commence in 2017 and become fully operational by 2020. The facility will produce batteries for 500,000 vehicles annually.

The American company had been seeking partners for the venture and plans to invest up to $5 billion in the joint project. Panasonic is to be the core participant, likely investing more than 200 million dollars.

Tesla will invest $2 billion in the factory, while the construction will require $4–$5 billion. The rest of the fund will be provided by Tesla’s partners. Tesla is considering other potential investors, such as suppliers of raw materials for the investment.

Panasonic and Tesla signed a deal in Oct 2013, under which Panasonic will increase the supply of battery cells to 2 billion in the 4-year timeframe till 2017. Panasonic has supplied 200 million cells to Tesla in the last 2 years.

In addition, Panasonic doubled its investment for auto batteries to $275 million this year. Panasonic will utilize this additional investment to boost the domestic production of the small lithium-ion batteries for Tesla.

The collaboration ultimately boosted the earnings of Panasonic's lithium-ion battery section into the black for fiscal 2013.

Tesla Motors anticipates selling 35,000 Model S vehicles this year, a 55 percent increase from 2013. The company is also planning to release the Model X, an SUV type electric vehicle, in 2015. The new factory is expected to ultimately boost the number of batteries sold to Tesla Motors.

Panasonic is seeking to increase sales in its EV battery cell sector to 4.5 billion dollars in fiscal 2018. That goal would be a 3.5-fold increase from fiscal 2012.

The company is expanding its battery operations in the hopes of establishing it as a core business. Panasonic's household electronics business previously held that position, but sales have stagnated in recent years.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

200 MPH Porsche 918 Spyder Acceleration Launch Control Test [VIDEO]

German magazine Sport Auto test the Porsche 918 Spyder: Acceleration 0 to 333 km/h.

The fastest ever road-going Porsche, with the weight-optimised 'Weissach' package fitted, accelerates from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in just 2.6 seconds, from zero to 124 mph (200 km/h) in 7.2 seconds, and passes the 186 mph (300 km/h) mark after 19.9 seconds.

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid sets 700 MPG Nürburgring lap record [VIDEO]

Three-digit records are nothing new at the Nürburgring, the go-to location when car manufacturers want to prove the pace of their latest models, but until now, these feats have always been about miles per hour, not miles per gallon.

Toyota turned tradition on its head when it took its Prius Plug-in hybrid to the track, setting out to show not how fast the car could go, but just how little fuel it could use on a single lap of the notorious Nordschliefe.

A first-of-a-kind Nürburgring record was in its sights, but with no help from any clever technical tweaks or trick bodywork. Instead, Toyota designed a genuine, real-world test with the car running in traffic during a public session and complying with all the circuit rules, including the 60km/h minimum average speed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tesla's $35,000 car will be called the Model 3

In an interview with AutoExpress, CEO Elon Musk revealed that the $35,000 vehicle will be called the Model 3 (with three bars to represent it), after Ford put the kibosh on calling it the Model E.

“We were going to call it model E for a while and then Ford sued us saying it wanted to use the Model E".

Musk has repeatedly targeted 2017 as the release window for a smaller vehicle. He's said it will be the third generation after the original Roadster and Model S, and in the interview claims it will have a range of over 200 miles per charge, probably using batteries built in Tesla's planned Gigafactory.

Musk also told the magazine about a range boost upgrade coming for the original Roadster that will give it a modern battery capable of up to 400 miles on a charge, "which will allow you to drive from LA to San Francisco non-stop."

Next Generation Toyota Prius To Get Electric All-Wheel Drive

Automotive News reports the next generation of Prius, set to begin production in December of 2015, may get an all-wheel drive option in addition to its default front-drive layout.

“I think we will possibly do it,” said Koei Saga, senior managing officer in charge of powertrain development, speaking about all-wheel drive. Saga also says that there will be two different battery options available with the 2016 Prius, a low-cost nickel-metal hydride unit or a more expensive lithium ion pack.

The choice of two batteries could possibly deliver a low-cost version using the tried-and-true nickel-metal hydride technology that Toyota has used since it launched the Prius in 1997. And for those wanting longer electric-only driving range, a larger-capacity lithium ion pack could be offered as an upper trim model with a higher price.

The 2016 Prius will ride on a new platform, making the car lighter, smaller and more efficient. ”The batteries will be renewed. Everything will be revised. And I think we will come up with a fuel economy that will surprise everyone,” Saga said.

It looks like the top selling Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV may get some AWD competition.

Bugatti mulls hybrid follow-up to Veyron supercar

Bugatti, the maker of exotic supercars such as the 1,200-horsepower Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, is considering a model that some might feel contradicts the ethos of the extravagant brand: a hybrid.

The French manufacturer, owned by Volkswagen, has developed the blueprint for a 2015 follow-up model to the $1.7 million limited-series Veyron that may sell out this year, two sources at VW group with knowledge of the matter said.

The two-door model may rely on a 1,500-horsepower, 16-cylinder engine and will probably be limited to about 450 cars, the same as the expiring Veyron, the sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Bugatti's new chief executive Wolfgang Duerheimer, a former R&D boss at Audi and Porsche who returned to the French brand on June 1, favours a hybrid version of the brand's next model, the sources said on condition they not be identified because the matter is confidential.

Ultra-luxury nameplates such as Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche are embracing electric powertrains after being on the cutting edge for years in upgrading chassis and engine electronics while striving to trim CO2 emissions.

Hybrid systems used in McLaren's P1 model and Porsche's 918 Spyder work to boost performance and fuel economy.

"Moving to hybrid propulsion seems like a logical next step" for supercar-makers, said Stefan Bratzel, head of the Centre of Automotive Management near Cologne. "By curbing emissions and boosting performance, they can justify building more of these cars."

The new model will beat the 431 kilometres (268 miles) top speed of Bugatti's Veyron Super Sport, which lost the title of the world's fastest production car in February to the Hennessey Venom GT, sources said.

"The new model will not be less exciting than the Veyron," a spokeswoman for Bugatti said, without being more specific. "Our customers have certain expectations."

Wolfsburg-based VW acquired the Bugatti brand in 1998 along with Lamborghini and Bentley Motors to create a stable of high-end carmakers. VW doesn't break out Bugatti's earnings in quarterly or annual reporting, but a company source says the brand has been loss-making for years on high development costs for the Veyron.

Samsung SDI to Boost Supply of BMW i3 & i8 battery cells

The BMW Group and Samsung SDI plan to expand their supply relationship for battery cells for electro-mobility. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect today in Seoul. Samsung SDI will supply the BMW Group with battery cells for the BMW i3, BMW i8 and additional hybrid models over the coming years. The most important elements of the agreement are the increase in quantities delivered over the medium term, in response to growing demand for electro-mobility, and further technological development of battery cells.

Dr. Klaus Draeger, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network: “Our partnership with Samsung SDI is a good example of successful Korean-German cooperation on innovative technologies. The battery is a key component in every electric vehicle – since it basically determines the range and performance capabilities of the car. In Samsung SDI, we have chosen a supplier that offers us the best-available technology with future-oriented Korean battery expertise.”

Sang-Jin Park, CEO of Samsung SDI: “I am very proud that Samsung SDI supports the success of the BMW i3 and i8. The decision taken in 2009 to choose lithium-ion battery cells from Samsung SDI for the BMW i models was the right one for both companies. Additional BMW vehicles will also be equipped with Samsung SDI’s leading lithium-ion technology. This MoU with the BMW Group demonstrates the trust in Samsung SDI’s future technology and efficient mass production capabilities. Both companies are confident that this extended partnership will secure their leadership in future technologies.”

The partnership with Samsung SDI since 2009 provides the BMW Group with access to state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery technology. Another important factor in the choice of Samsung SDI was that the company considers the suitability of lithium-ion battery cells for environmentally-friendly production and subsequent recovery of materials during product development. Complete high-voltage batteries for the BMW i3, BMW i8 and other future hybrid vehicles are built on an ultra-modern assembly line at BMW Plant Dingolfing. The only supplied parts are the cells – otherwise the high-voltage batteries are developed and produced completely in-house, building on experience with earlier batteries developed in-house for models, such as the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 and 5 and the BMW ActiveE, with further optimisation.

The extension of the collaboration with Samsung SDI underscores the BMW Group’s strategy of further electrification. Continuation of the partnership also confirms the success of BMW i. Customer demand for the BMW i3 remains high. In addition, in the first half of 2014 the BMW Group has already sold around 5,400 BMW i3 cars.

Deliveries of the BMW i8 got underway in the main international markets in June. Demand is already significantly higher than the planned production volume for the ramp-up phase.

South Korea is also an important supplier market for the BMW Group, beyond the partnership with Samsung SDI. For this reason, the company opened a local purchasing office in 2009. In 2014, the purchasing volume in this market will exceed 300 million euros – a significant increase over the previous year, with sourcing volumes continuing to climb over the coming years. The BMW Group relies on a total of 20 South Korean suppliers. South Korea will be one of the key purchasing markets for the BMW Group in the future, especially for innovative IT technologies.

The BMW Group has operated its own subsidiary in South Korea since 1995. This commitment was expanded in 1998 with the opening of a logistics and training centre. BMW Financial Services has also been active in South Korea since 2001. On 14 July 2014, the BMW Group opened its only combined brand and driving experience centre worldwide currently, in the vicinity of Seoul airport. In 2013, the BMW Group was market leader in South Korea’s premium segment for the sixth consecutive year, with the sale of 39,367 BMW and MINI vehicles – an increase of 13.4% from 2012. A total of 1,328 BMW motorcycles (+27.6%) were also delivered to customers. In the first half of 2014, sales reached 21,972 units (+19,3% compared to prev. yr.). BMW South Korea employs a total workforce of 230 people.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Exagon Furtive-eGT electric supercar ready for production

The Furtive-eGT has been around in concept form since 2010 and a few may even have been delivered, but now Exagon appears ready to go into serial production.

The Exagon Furtive eGT electric supercar is powered by a pair of 300 kW Siemens electric motors that combined have the potential to deliver up to 600 kW / 516 Nm, the car is exceptionally rapid. Power is transferred to the rear wheels and Exagon says throttle response is virtually instantaneous, delivering a 0-100km/h sprint of just 3.5 seconds, faster than a Tesla Roadster.

The car has a top speed of 250km/h and the electric motors are energised by a hefty 53kWh lithium-ion battery which provides a range of around 300km but Exagon will option a small range-extender engine to charge the batteries on the run, which gives the car a theoretical 730km range.

The Exagon Furtive eGT has four seats and features a monocoque light carbon fiber body, which weighs an astonishingly low 124 kg. The manufacturer is also offering a wide selection of personalization options, while the price and availability are set to be announced at a later date.

Tesla Model S P85 Dyno Run gets 436 HP @ the wheels [VIDEO]

Tesla owner Emmanuel Chang had his 2013 Black Tesla Model S P85 dyno tested on a mobile Dynojet recently at some generic car show.

The Model S P85 is officially rated 416 HP (305 Kw) at the motor shaft. This particular combination of dyno and P85 recorded 436 HP (320 Kw) at the wheels. (there is usually a significant drivetrain loss between motor output shaft and wheels)

A few details regarding this test:

  • 1) The tech couldn't attach a sensor to the motor's crank so "engine rpm" has to be recalculated as he took the wheel RPM (so multiply the RPM by 1000, then by 9.71 *approx*)

  • 2) The dyno maxed out at 2000 lbs·ft (2710 Nm) but math from the specs indicates 4301 lbs·ft (5831 Nm) at the wheels. (The P85 outputs 600 Nm peak torque via a 9.73:1 final drive ratio)

  • 3) Horsepower and torque number are inaccurate as the car smoked the tires on the dyno's drum so the wheels were not spinning 1:1 for the computer to measure accurately, basically it has slightly more power than what the computer thinks it has.

    Source: TMC

  • Fully Charged - Nissan e NV200 test drive [VIDEO]

    Robert Llewellyn drives a Nissan e NV200, an electric van with the same drivetrain as the Nissan Leaf, around Barcelona.

    Wednesday, July 9, 2014

    Sand-based lithium ion battery improves energy density 300%

    Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have created a lithium ion battery that outperforms the current industry standard by three times. The key material: sand.

    “This is the holy grail – a low cost, non-toxic, environmentally friendly way to produce high performance lithium ion battery anodes,” said Zachary Favors, a graduate student working with Cengiz and Mihri Ozkan, both engineering professors at UC Riverside.

    The idea came to Favors six months ago. He was relaxing on the beach after surfing in San Clemente, Calif. when he picked up some sand, took a close look at it and saw it was made up primarily of quartz, or silicon dioxide.

    His research is centered on building better lithium ion batteries, primarily for personal electronics and electric vehicles. He is focused on the anode, or negative side of the battery. Graphite is the current standard material for the anode, but as electronics have become more powerful graphite’s ability to be improved has been virtually tapped out.

    Researchers are now focused on using silicon at the nanoscale, or billionths of a meter, level as a replacement for graphite. The problem with nanoscale silicon is that it degrades quickly and is hard to produce in large quantities.

    Favors set out to solve both these problems. He researched sand to find a spot in the United States where it is found with a high percentage of quartz. That took him to the Cedar Creek Reservoir, east of Dallas, where he grew up.

    Sand in hand, he came back to the lab at UC Riverside and milled it down to the nanometer scale, followed by a series of purification steps changing its color from brown to bright white, similar in color and texture to powdered sugar.

    After that, he ground salt and magnesium, both very common elements found dissolved in sea water into the purified quartz. The resulting powder was then heated. With the salt acting as a heat absorber, the magnesium worked to remove the oxygen from the quartz, resulting in pure silicon.

    The Ozkan team was pleased with how the process went. And they also encountered an added positive surprise. The pure nano-silicon formed in a very porous 3-D silicon sponge like consistency. That porosity has proved to be the key to improving the performance of the batteries built with the nano-silicon.

    The improved performance could mean increasing the expected lifespan of silicon based electric vehicle batteries up to three times or more, which would be significant for consumers, considering replacement batteries cost thousands of dollars. The energy density is more than three times higher than that of traditional graphite based anodes, which means cell phones and tablets could last three times longer between charges.

    Record Breaking Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle Run at Pikes Peak [VIDEO]

    Record Breaking Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle Run at Pikes Peak by Greg Tracy.

    Tracy climbed Pikes Peak in the Mitsubishi I-MiEV Evolution III and shatters Monster Tajima's 2013 Electric Modified Class record by 38 seconds with a 09.08.188 record time.

    Greg Tracy came in 2nd overall beating everyone in the competition except for overall winner Romain Dumas in his Honda powered 2013 Norm racer.

    Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    BMW, Daimler Jointly Developing Wireless Inductive Charging Standard

    Driving pleasure and sustainability are fused together in unprecedented fashion in the all-electric BMW i3 and the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. Their high-voltage batteries can be recharged quickly and easily by means of the BMW i Wallbox that forms part of the 360° ELECTRIC portfolio. This sophisticated charging station with fast-charge facility for feeding cars with power either at home or at work underlines the all-embracing approach adopted by the BMW i brand when it comes to developing products and services for sustainable mobility of premium calibre.

    In the process, the BMW Group has assumed a pioneering role in this field and is therefore pressing keenly ahead with the development of innovative technologies for making driving with zero tailpipe emissions more and more attractive. Systems for inductive charging of high-voltage batteries are the next step forward for energy supply. The development objective in the medium term is to put reliable, non-wearing and user-friendly solutions for inductive charging into production that have been tailored to both the batteries in the BMW i cars and the high-voltage batteries in future plug-in hybrid models from the BMW Group.

    The crucial advantage of inductive power supply over conventional charging stations is the cable-free connection between the supply point and the vehicle’s high-voltage battery. Carmakers Daimler and the BMW Group have signed an agreement on the joint development and implementation of a standardised technology for inductive charging of electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The system consists of two components: a secondary coil in the vehicle floor as well as a base plate with integral primary coil that is located underneath the car, for example on the garage floor. The arrangement of the coils, and consequently of the field pattern, is based on a design derived from their circular shape that offers a number of crucial benefits.

    These include the extremely compact and lightweight construction along with effective spatial confinement of the magnetic field. The electrical energy is transmitted via an alternating magnetic field generated between the coils, contact-free, without charging cables and at a charging rate of 3.6 kW. With an efficiency factor of over 90 percent, this method enables the high-voltage batteries in vehicles to be charged efficiently, conveniently and safely.

    A further development target is to minimise the charging time for contactless power transmission. At a charging rate of 3.6 kilowatts, the high-voltage batteries in many plug-in hybrid vehicles can be fully charged in under three hours. It takes less than two hours to charge the BMW i8 using a fully working prototype of an inductive charging station. In order to make allowance for the higher storage capacities of high-voltage batteries in pure-electric vehicles, the future technology standard also foresees the possibility of increasing the charging rate to 7 kW. This ensures that the battery in the BMW i3 could still be fully charged overnight when using the inductive system.

    Inductive charging makes life considerably easier for the driver of an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, as there is no need to connect any cables to top up the power reserves. Once it has been correctly positioned above the primary coil, the driver can simply start the charging process at the push of a button using the vehicle’s own operating system. Data is transmitted via a WiFi connection between vehicle and charging station to help the driver even with parking.

    The inductive charging facility can be used regardless of the weather conditions. Not even rain or snow has a negative effect on the power feed as all of the system’s conductive components are protected, which means the primary coil can even be installed outdoors. During charging, ambient electromagnetic radiation is also kept to an absolute minimum. The space between the primary and secondary coils is permanently monitored, allowing charging to be halted instantly if any foreign bodies are detected.

    As with today’s BMW i Wallbox, the inductive power supply systems of the future will also make it possible to activate and monitor the charging process from a smartphone. The relevant smartphone app will let drivers call up the data transmitted online on the battery’s charge status, for instance, or the time remaining until charging is complete.

    400 hp VOLVO XC90 Hybrid will be worlds's most powerful SUV

    Volvo Cars' all-new XC90 will offer an unrivalled combination of power and clean operation when it is launched later this year. The all-wheel drive seven seater offers drivers up to 400 horsepower but with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of around 60 g/km (NEDC driving cycle). There has never been an SUV offering this level of power this cleanly.

    "There are no compromises when you drive an all-new XC90," said Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Car Group. "In the past you could either have power or low CO2 emissions. But with the all-new XC90 you can have both."

    The new XC90 offers a range of Drive-E engine options, all of which provide an outstanding combination of performance and fuel-efficiency. The main distinguishing feature of the Drive-E engine range is that they are all four-cylinder engines.

    "With our new Drive-E powertrains, we have created a family of intelligent petrol and diesel engines with power curves that give exciting driveability at the same time as delivering world-beating fuel economy," added Dr. Mertens. "With seven people in the new XC90, carbon dioxide emissions per person and kilometre are outstandingly low."

    The CO2 performance of the all-new XC90 will reinforce Volvo Cars' leadership when it comes to bringing more environmentally-sound technologies to market. According to figures monitored by European car industry association ACEA, Volvo Car Group delivered an industry-leading reduction of average fleet emissions by 8.4 per cent from 2012 to 2013.

    Twin Engine technology

    Volvo has made it possible for a four-cylinder engine to provide all the driving pleasure associated with a much larger engine and do so far more efficiently and cleanly. Drive-E engines will over time be introduced across Volvo's entire range.

    For the all-new XC90, the top of the range 'Twin Engine' will carry the badge 'T8' and be a plug-in electric car, hybrid car and high-performance car rolled into one.

    Normal driving is conducted in the default hybrid mode. This utilises a two-litre, four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged Drive-E petrol engine that powers the front wheels and an 80 hp (60 kW) electric motor that drives the rear wheels.

    It uses the supercharger to fill in the bottom end of the power range to give the engine a big, naturally-aspirated feel, while the turbocharger kicks in when the airflow builds up. The electric motor on the rear wheels provides immediate torque.

    But at the push of a button the driver can switch to quiet and emission-free city driving on pure electric power where the range will be around 25 miles, and then, when needed, immediately revert back to the combined capacity of the petrol engine and electric motor, with its combined output of around 400 hp and 640 Nm of torque.

    Full range of other engine options

    The Volvo XC90 range also includes the D5 twin turbo diesel engine with 225 hp, 470 Nm and best in class fuel consumption of around 47mpg (combined), plus the D4 turbo diesel engine with 190 hp, 400 Nm and a fuel consumption of around 56mpg (combined cycle).

    Not only is there no compromise in terms of performance or efficiency, but Volvo Cars' new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) chassis technology also allows for far more flexibility inside the car. Other carmakers have struggled to combine the bulk of a battery pack with a luxurious and spacious interior, something that Volvo has managed to overcome.

    "Since our new SPA technology is designed from the start to accommodate electrification technologies, the Twin Engine installation does not compromise luggage or passenger space," said Dr. Mertens.

    TESLA P85 Vs Electric MIATA - 1/4 mile Drag Race [VIDEO]

    A Tesla Model S P85 takes on an Mazda Miata with an Electric Motor Conversion in a 1/4 mile drag race.

    The tube frame and tubbed 2002 Mazda Miata runs 2x 2000 amp Zilla 2K-EHV controllers feeding dual brushed DC NetGain 9-inch motors, a Lenco 2 speed and double GV overdrive.

    The boot mounted battery pack contains 450x LiPo 100C RC car batteries wired 90S5P that are good for 775 peak battery HP @ 375v. For the record run the controllers were set to 170 volt & 1100 amps per motor.

    The Miata runs an incredible 9.27 @ 142 mph to the Tesla's very respectable 12.72 @ 102 mph.

    Saturday, July 5, 2014

    Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Plugin hybrid Test Drive [VIDEO]

    Mitsubishi Australia were kind enough to loan EV News an Outlander PHEV for a week long test drive and we're not surprised it is already the best selling plug-in EV in Europe.

    The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the first 4x4 SUV to combine 'series' and 'parallel' hybrid systems. It has all the benefits of a plug-in electric car with a part-time duty cycle 87 kw 2.0 L 4 cylinder MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system) petrol engine that can run in either series hybrid mode, where it is used to top up the 12 kWh lithium ion battery mounted under the cabin, and/or can also runs in parallel mode to drive the front wheels.

    The electric powertrain is based on 2x 60 kw / 166 Nm BLDC permanent magnet synchronous motors that run on up to 300 volts. It's a bit like having an iMiEV motor on each axle. Given the 1810 kg curb weight, EV mode acceleration is reasonable, but applying anything more than half throttle activates the ICE to assist. In this parallel mode the PHEV has a combined maximum output of 207 kw available for hard acceleration, which 'feels' like a V6.

    Mitsubishi engineers have done an excellent job on NVH (noise, vibration and hashness) for the part-time duty cycle ICE (internal combustion engine) in the Outlander PHEV. Unlike the Holden Volt we drove last year where the ICE became fairly annoying after a few hours in the car, the ICE powertrain in the PHEV is so quiet that, without the assistance of the LCD 'energy use' dash display graphic, it's hard to tell whether the ICE is actually running or not!

    The official ADR fuel economy rating for the PHEV is 1.9L/100km, with a maximum range of 824 kilometers from it's 45 liter fuel tank. I had originally planned to drive the PHEV to Melbourne (1,800 km round trip) to test highway range and the adaptive cruise control system (more on that later) but for business reasons the trip was postponed. Instead, during the 7 days I had the PHEV, I never needed to lift the fuel filler flap even once and returned the vehicle with more than 100 km range still indicated on the dash having covered 700 km of urban driving.

    The vehicle was plugged in each night so we started each day with a full battery. The 12 kWh battery gives an EV mode range of approx 50 km. The PHEV provides a couple of options for managing your charge via two centre console mounted buttons. The 'CHRG' button allows the driver to manually turn on the ICE to charge the battery while the 'SAVE' button conserves battery charge and engages the ICE to drive the Outlander PHEV like a regular front wheel drive petrol vehicle. We were still experimenting with the save mode when we had to return the vehicle.

    At highway speeds, aerodynamic load is at it's maximum and brake regeneration on expressways is minimal. Also, a electric cars battery contains a relatively small amount of energy (12 kWh) compared to a regular fuel tank (45 L x 9 kWh/L = 405 kWh). In an effort to make the most efficient use of the available stored electrical energy, we experimented with using 'Save' mode on any steady-state motorway with a posted speed limit of 100 km or more in an effort to save the battery for lower speed urban roads where brake regeneration can be maximised and losses such as aero resistance are minimal.

    Unfortunately it wasn't a very scientific experiment so I can't provide any energy use figures. Even without using save mode at all the PHEV still achieves minimal fuel burn using it's own internal pre-programmed strategy of running the ICE in parallel mode at highway speeds so perhaps it would take longer than a 700 km test drive to get the most out of these manually operated features.

    All Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV press cars are the top-of-the-range Aspire model which comes with a feature that seems perfectly suited to an electric powertrain, adaptive cruise control. As an EV powertrain can brake and accelerate with a single input from the throttle pedal, this allows seamless control of a vehicles variable speed relative to other traffic.

    Adaptive Cruise Control was my favorite feature on the car and was turned on at every opportunity. In traffic it takes over everything but the steering. In built-up heavy traffic with speeds as low as 1 km/h the system will slow and accelerate in response to the traffic ahead without any driver input. In stop-start traffic the system can bring the vehicle to a complete stop, only signalling to the driver to push the brake pedal once the vehicle is stationary. The vehicle will not move away from a dead stop, but cruise can be resumed once over 10 km/h.

    It was not uncommon to have the cruise control set to 80 km/h while only seeing 50 km/h on the speedo as the car responded to traffic. The driver can adjust the distance to the car ahead in three steps with a a steering wheel adjustable push-button. In addition this distance automatically adjusts according to speed, with the gap to the car ahead increasing at higher speeds.

    The system also handles lane changing fairly well. When the driver changes lanes to go around a slower vehicle the system will respond to the clear lane ahead and accelerate to the set speed. The driver can also momentarily over-ride the system with throttle input to accelerate into a gap while lane changing and the cruise control will resume at the set speed once you lift off the throttle pedal.

    One thing we were curious about was what the brake lights were doing in adaptive cruise mode. Apparently the low-speed auto brake system on the Ford Focus strobes the brake lights when active, but we were unable to confirm what was happening on the back of the PHEV in this mode?

    As with most hybrids which mix regenerative and friction braking, the PHEV runs a brake-by-wire system with a servo operated hydraulic brake master cylinder. This enables the cruise control to apply friction brakes at very low speed to bring the vehicle to a complete stop. With Adaptive cruise control, driving in heavy urban traffic almost becomes relaxing! I honestly think the combination of regenerative braking and cruise control is the single best feature of the car and given the fact ABS and stability control are now mandatory on new cars, it seems only a matter of time before adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking also become mandatory features.

    Speaking of stability control, the Outlander PHEV comes with Mitsubishi's Active Yaw Control (AYC) and Super All Wheel Drive Control (S-AWC). These systems were first developed for the rally homologation special Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. Given the SUV's high centre of gravity this is probably a very handy feature to have although there was no way I intended to push this vehicle to the limit to test it out. Perhaps the PHEV powertrain will soon be seen in something closer to the ground like the XR-PHEV EVO images recently released, then AYC and S-AWC could be actively engaged on winding country roads for purely entertainment value without the risk of tipping the vehicle over.

    With a list price of $47,490 for the standard Outlander PHEV and $52,490 for the Aspire, it's little surprise the PHEV has shot to #1 plug-in on debut with 99% of all Outlanders sold being PHEV in several markets around the world.

    (EU's best selling EVs Q1-Q3 2014)

    Thursday, July 3, 2014

    Translogic 153: 2015 BMW I8 [VIDEO]

    The 2015 BMW i8 is the second model in the Bavarian automaker's eco-friendly i-brand lineup.

    The i8's plug-in hybrid powertrain combines a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine with a 96 kilowatt electric motor to make 357 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. Together, this gas-electric mechanical duo is capable of propelling the futuristic sports coupe from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 4.2 seconds.

    Join Host Jonathon Buckley as he heads to Santa Monica, CA for a chance to drive the all-new BMW i8.

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

    Telsa Model E To Rival BMW 3 Series On Price

    New Model E from Tesla will look to take on the BMW 3-series and Audi A4.

    The Tesla Model E is expected to go on sale in 2016. The car’s manufacturer said that the price of batteries will play a role in the car’s cost. It claims that the contruction of a Gigafactory will help ease the price of batteries, reports AutoCar.

    Tesla also said that the car will be 20% smaller than the Model S. However, it won’t be completely made out of aluminum like the Models S. The Model E is expected to be priced to compete against other electric car rivals, such as the Audi A4 and the BMW 3-series, AutoCar notes.

    Tesla is currently building 600 examples of the Model S each week at its factory in Fremont and expects Model X sales to add significantly to that total. The factory has a theoretical capacity of 500,000 vehicles per year.

    Molten-air battery offers up to 50x higher storage capacity than Li-ion

    With support from the National Science Foundation, researchers at George Washington University, led by Stuart Licht, think they have developed a novel solution, and they're calling it the "molten air battery."

    These new rechargeable batteries, which use molten electrolytes, oxygen from air, and special "multiple electron" storage electrodes, have the highest intrinsic electric energy storage capacities of any other batteries to date. Their energy density, durability and cost effectiveness give them the potential to replace conventional electric car batteries, said Licht, a professor in GWU's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Chemistry.

    The researchers started with iron, carbon or vanadium boride for their ability to transfer multiple electrons. Molten air batteries made with iron, carbon or vanadium boride can store three, four and 11 electrons per molecule respectively, giving them 20 to 50 times the storage capacity of a lithium-ion battery, which is only able to store one electron per molecule of lithium. "Molten air introduces an entirely new class of batteries," Licht said.

    Other multiple-electron-per-molecule batteries the Licht group has introduced, such as the super-iron or coated vanadium boride air battery, also have high storage capacities. But they had one serious drawback: They were not rechargeable. Rechargeable molten batteries (without air), such as a molten sulfur battery, have been previously investigated, but are limited by a low storage capacity.

    The new molten air batteries, by contrast, offer the best of both worlds: a combination of high storage capacity and reversibility. As the name implies, air acts as one of the battery electrodes, while simple nickel or iron electrodes can serve as the other. "Molten" refers to the electrolyte, which is mixed with reactants for iron, carbon or vanadium boride, then heated until the mixture becomes liquid. The liquid electrolyte covers the metal electrode and is also exposed to the air electrode.

    The batteries are able to recharge by electrochemically reinserting a large number of electrons. The rechargeable battery uses oxygen directly from the air, not stored, to yield high battery capacity. The high activity of molten electrolytes is what allows this charging to occur, according to Licht.

    The electrolytes are all melted to a liquid by temperatures between 700 and 800 degrees Celsius. This high-temperature requirement is challenging to operate inside a vehicle, but such temperatures are also reached in conventional internal combustion engines.

    The researchers continue to work on their model to make the batteries viable candidates for extending electric cars' driving range. In the Licht group's latest study, the molten air battery operating temperature has been lowered to 600 degrees Celsius or less. The new class of molten-air batteries could also be used for large-scale energy storage for electric grids. "A high-temperature battery is unusual for a vehicle, but we know it has feasibility," Licht said. "It presents an interesting engineering question."