Senin, 30 September 2013

World's Most Efficient EVs Travel 3,000 km without Plugging-In

This time next week the world's most energy efficient electric cars will be hitting speeds of up to 130 km/h (81 mph) as they race 3,000 km (1,865 Miles) coast to coast across the Australian Outback contesting the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

The outright contenders for line honours will come from the big budget single seater aerodynamic vehicles of the Schneider Electric Challenger Class. The only external energy source allowed during the race is solar irradiation received by a maximum of either 3 square meters of high-efficiency (22.5%+), triple-junction gallium arsenide (GaAs) solar cells or 6 square meters of silicon based solar cells with less than 22.5% efficiency. The solar array is paired with a maximum on-board energy storage capacity of 5 kWh to assist with energy use strategy, hills, clouds or extra acceleration for overtaking.

To have a good chance to win each car has to 1) Collect as much solar energy as possible and 2) Use as little energy as possible. This means special attention needs to be applied to the efficiency of transferring electrical energy to the wheels and minimising friction from aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance which is affected by vehicle weight amongst other things.

To achieve the electrical efficiency goal, every Bridgestone World Solar Challenge winner since at least 1999 has used a direct drive in-wheel motor to propel the vehicle. Direct drive eliminates mechanical transmission losses that can be as much as 20%.

Solar cars use very low rolling resistance tires that are specially designed for this race with a rolling resistance ten times less than an average road car. With the rolling resistance of a cars tyres accounting for roughly 20% of all energy used, tyres can account for up to one in every five tanks of fuel in a regular road car. Vehicle weight is also kept extremely low with extensive use of carbon fiber, again to minimise rolling resistance.

In 2011 Tokai Challenger won with an average speed of 91.54 km/h (56 mph). With such high average speeds combined with the physics - air resistance being proportional to the square of speed - aerodynamic drag is the main source of losses on a solar race car. Much design effort is invested in CFD computer simulation, scale and full size wind tunnel testing. The best solar race cars achieve a drag coefficient as low as 0.07 (Nuna 3 – which holds the record for highest average winning speed @ 102.8 km/h) where a road car ranges from 0.24 (Tesla Model S) to 0.35 (Toyota Land Cruiser).

It is the chase of maximum aerodynamic efficiency that has lead to the race winning dominance of “coffee table” type vehicle designs which brings up the question of how practical can a solar-powered vehicles be? The 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge sees the introduction of the Michelin Cruiser Class which is not focused on speed but practicality, with the ultimate goal of entrants being able to meet the requirements for road registration. Cruiser Class cars must seat a minimum of two people and will be allowed over-night battery charging at select locations.

While the Michelin cruiser class aligns solar race car design more closely with road car requirements, if the limitations of having the solar cells on the vehicle itself are removed, powering a regular road going EV with solar power is an affordable reality today!

Tesla Motors recently launched a network of solar powered superchargers capable of charging their Model S to 320 km of range in 30 minutes. Even a modest 1.5 kw residential roof-top PV solar system generates enough energy to power a commuter EV like a Nissan Leaf for more than average annual mileage. In fact, displacing the cost of petrol instead of grid power will reduce the break even time on a roof-top PV installation from years to months.

This year’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is held from 6th – 13th October. If you can’t make it to Darwin or Adelaide, you can follow the race on Twitter via @tsport100 or @WorldSolarChlg.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Words and thoughts are entirely my own.

San Diego Gets First Public SAE Fast-Charging Station for EVs

The SAE International DC “Combo” Fast Charge station installation at the Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego is a milestone for plug-in electric vehicles – the first public installation in the U.S. of an industry-coordinated standard for fast charging of plug-in electric vehicles.

The Chevrolet Spark EV, available in California and Oregon, will be the first EV in the U.S. to offer the SAE International fast-charge connector as a vehicle option starting in late December.

“The launch of these new charge stations will help improve the convenience and adoption of electric vehicles because they dramatically reduce the charge time,” said Pamela Fletcher, executive chief engineer of electrified vehicles at General Motors. “The SAE Combo DC fast charge stations are the result of EV industry collaboration to help customers benefit from available public infrastructure.”

The new combined AC and DC charging, or combo, connector is accessible via a single charge port on the vehicle and allows electricity to flow at a faster rate, making EVs more convenient for longer trips and for EV owners who may lack convenient access to overnight home charging.

“San Diego Gas & Electric applauds the collaborative efforts it took to make San Diego home to the world’s first retail SAE DC fast charge station,” said Lee Krevat, director of smart grid and clean transportation for the utility. “Our local drivers that have vehicles equipped with this charging system connector will be the true beneficiaries of this technology.”

Many major automakers including GM, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche have announced they will adopt the SAE combo fast charge connector standard. Earlier, many of the world’s major automakers had adopted the SAE’s 120V/240V AC connector standard to assure plug-in vehicles could access all charging infrastructure regardless of vehicle make or model.

Nissan Leaf Nismo RC | TRANSLOGIC 139 [VIDEO]

AOL's Translogic take the NISMO RC for a spin and interview NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani at the recent Nissan 360 media event.

Minggu, 29 September 2013

A Day in the Life of an EV Fast Charger [VIDEO]

Nissan is selling more LEAFs than ever before and is the lead sponsor of National Plug-In Day in 2013.

With the day being about plugging in to charge up, Nissan pointed some video cameras at the company's EV quick charger, stationed in front of Nissan Americas headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. to see who is stopping in to charge and go.

California Goal to Have 1.5M EVs on the Road by 2025 [VIDEO]

California has a goal of having 1.5 million electric vehicles on its roads by 2025.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday toured an electric car fleet that included Tesla, BMW and Honda as part of a meeting with other car manufacturers and private companies. The meeting was held at San Francisco's Exploratorium and discussed the future of the electric car.

Brown said he will sign two pieces of legislation continuing incentives for purchasing electric cars.

Sabtu, 28 September 2013

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV competes in cross country rally [VIDEO]

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation remains convinced of the virtues of motor sports to improve the breed and whilst the glorious days of the Dakar Rally and the World Rally Championship are long gone for Mitsubishi, the achievements of the innovative i-MiEV Evo electric monoposto racer at Pikes Peak still prove the point – especially for pioneering technologies.

In the case of the bigger SUV/crossover Outlander, cross country was deemed better suited – more so as it would be an unusual showcase for Outlander PHEV and its unique Plug-in Hybrid Electric drivetrain.

A pre-production Outlander PHEV was entered in the 2013 Asia Cross Country Rally (or “AXCR”) which took place August 10th – 16th between Thailand and Laos, post-event celebrations starting today in Japan.

An officially FIA sanctioned race, the AXCR is an Asian take at a Dakar-type of extreme cross country rallying, which started this year from Pattaya and finished in Pakse, in the southern part of Laos.

Over 6 days, competitors drove over 2,000km on various road surfaces and conditions including mountain roads, muddy jungle, river crossing, etc,…, making it a true challenge in terms of driving performance and endurance.

A reliable choice

Out of a total of 20 entries in the four-wheeled category (of which 19 finished), the Outlander PHEV attracted quite some attention as it was the only plug-in hybrid vehicle to participate, most competitors behind heavy-duty Diesel-powered pickup trucks.

Entered by a private team (“Two and Four Motor Sports”), backed by Mitsubishi Motors, the sole Outlander PHEV finished 17th overall with no failure: quite a success for what was essentially a standard car – including the Twin Motor 4WD plug-in hybrid electric drivetrain, as well as the Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system – the only modifications being the regular cross-country racing routine of upgraded shock absorbers and springs, roll cage, underfloor protection, exhaust and snorkel duct, etc,…

World markets

Completing such a tough rally with no problem whatesoever confirmed the durability as well as the dynamic performance of Outlander PHEV just a few months before it starts its commercial career in world markets.

Mitsubishi will launch Outlander PHEV sequentially, starting with selected PHEV markets (The Netherlands, Nordic countries, etc,…) from October 2013 onwards.

The other European markets will gradually follow from November 2013 to Q1 2014.

Jumat, 27 September 2013

VW working on Ducati powered XL Sport Project

Volkswagen really don't seem to 'get it'! The chairman of the supervisory board at Volkswagen Group, Ferdinand Piëch, revealed during a lecture at the Vienna University of Technology that VW are working on a racing version of the XL1 to be powered by a 1.2 Liter two cylinder Ducati 1199 Panigale R superbike engine.

Instead of ditching the XL1's 47 hp two-cylinder diesel engine and showcasing their recently launched EV strategy by installing a high performance 200 kw electric motor into the low drag carbon fiber XL1 chassis, something that might give a Tesla Roadster a runs for it's money, VW decide to stay old school and take a huge step backwards by off-loading the XL1's entire hybrid system.

Not only does the 190 hp / 123 Nm Ducati motorcycle engine have less power and torque than a standard Tesla Roaster, and significantly less than a Roadster Sport (300 hp / 400 Nm) but the V-Twin's peak torque is at 9,000 rpm instead of from 0 rpm like the Tesla. While the XL Sport (795 kg) may have a weight advantage over a Roadster (1,235 kg), it'll still be significantly slower 0-100 km/h and will be about as technically advanced mechanically as a motorcycle engine powered Locost Britsh kit car, or even the Piontek Sportech kit car chassis the Tesla powertrain was originally developed in.

BMW Plan PHEV Version of it's Entire Model Range

Not only have BMW invested a total of €600 million ($811 million) in it's i3 and i8 electric vehicle production network, a spokesman this week spelled out BMW’s commitment to electrification in no uncertain terms.

“We are planning to have a plug-in hybrid in each and every model series,” BMW’s head of production for large vehicles, Peter Wolf, told motoring.com.au this week. “So far we have the 3, 5 and 7 Series as full hybrids, and at the other end of the bookshelf the i3 and the i8. We are planning to work on that with the X5 eDrive, but at this stage, the plug-in is a completely new concept, and the battery is very specific [to the X5].”

BMW showed off the X5 eDrive concept at the recent Frankfurt motor show, and officially launched it this week. The large SAV (not an SUV, mind you) has an intelligent all-wheel-drive system, a four-cylinder gas engine, a 70 kW electric motor and a 19-mile electric range.

Wolf said that the X5 eDrive is close to production-ready, but wouldn’t give an actual date: “We can’t tell [you] anything about what is the start of production, but we are working on such a concept [and] we are very far [along]. But it’s not a part of next year.”

Source: motoring.com.au

Sumitomo to Triple LiNiO2 output to meet Tesla Model S Demand

Sumitomo Metal Mining will invest ¥4.8 billion (US$48 million) to boost its production capacity of lithium nickel oxide (LiNiO2) from the current 300 tons per month to 850 tons to meet anticipated increased Li-ion cell production by Panasonic to meet the growing demand for Tesla Model S EVs.

Sumitomo successfully developed its high-performance lithium nickel oxide for cathode materials in collaboration with Panasonic Corporation and is now supplying this material to that company, which uses it to make the cylindrical lithium-ion batteries which are adopted in the electric powertrains used by Tesla.

Tesla commenced deliveries of its award-winning Model S sedan in the US in June 2012. With Model S deliveries now underway in Europe and slated to begin in Asia, including Japan and Australia, in the spring of 2014, Panasonic is planning to increase production of its lithium-ion batteries.

To respond to this expansion of the market for automotive rechargeable batteries, Sumitomo will expand its production facilities for lithium nickel oxide at its Isoura Plant in Niihama City, Ehime Prefecture. Expansion work is to get under way in October, with completion scheduled for June 2014.

Sumitomo says it is pursuing aggressive development and stable supply capability in cathode materials, leveraging its ability to produce nickel in-house. Going forward, Sumitomo intends to further strengthen its operations in materials for energy and environmentally related applications.

Tesla EVs offered by Hertz at Calif. airports

A handful of Tesla Motors Inc. electric cars are now available for rental at two California airports by Hertz Global Holdings Inc., which is adding more upscale autos to its fleet.

Hertz said it is introducing Tesla Model S and Roadster rechargeable cars at Los Angeles and San Francisco airports. Hertz has five Teslas combined at the two airports, with rental prices starting at about $500 a day, Paula Rivera, a Hertz spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

The Tesla models expand on a lineup of higher-priced vehicles that Hertz has added to its fleet under its Dream Cars program, which includes Ferrari and Lamborghini models.

In July, Hertz won final regulatory approval for its $2.3 billion acquisition of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. The merged companies compete with closely held Enterprise Holdings Inc. and Avis Budget Group Inc.

Enterprise has carried three Tesla Model S cars in its Exotic Car Collection fleet since June and plans to add two more by the end of the year, spokesman Greg Phillips said in an e-mail. The cars rent for about $300 to $500 per day, he said.

Hertz separately reduced its full-year forecast for full-year revenue and profit, citing weaker than anticipated car rentals at U.S. airports.

There's 'No Charge To Charge' For New Nissan Leaf Buyers

Driving the all-electric Nissan LEAF means never having to buy gas. Now, thanks to the new "No Charge to Charge" program, offered by Nissan and NRG eVgo, new buyers and lessees of the all-electric Nissan LEAF in the Dallas-Fort Worth and greater Houston areas will have unlimited access to the eVgo network for public charging stations for their first year of ownership at no cost.

Beginning in October, customers who lease or purchase a new Nissan LEAF in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston markets will receive one year of complimentary access to eVgo's comprehensive Freedom Station (R) charging network, including 23 locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and 17 in the greater Houston area. Also, included as part of the eVgo network, is charging at Park N' Fly locations at DFW and IAH airports.

"Nissan LEAF owners who already subscribe to NRG eVgo's Freedom Station network rave about the convenience and increased range confidence it provides," said Erik Gottfried, Nissan's director of EV Sales and Marketing. "Adding one of the country's most innovative charging plans to the world's best-selling electric car is a clear win for Nissan LEAF buyers."

Dallas-Fort Worth is one of the fastest growing markets in the country for Nissan LEAF sales, with deliveries up 500 percent so far in 2013 as compared to 2012. The presence of strong public infrastructure with eVgo, as well as major technology companies and strong word-of-mouth referrals from existing owners has fuelled the rapid rise in LEAF sales.

"NRG eVgo has created a comprehensive suite of electric vehicle charging products to support the growing number of EVs and to address EV drivers' need to charge both at home as well as on the road," said Jack Cannata, director of marketing for NRG eVgo. "With access to our well-placed charging stations across the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metro areas, Nissan LEAF drivers can really maximize their use of the vehicle."

eVgo Freedom Station sites, conveniently located along major roadways, offer electric car drivers DC fast charging and Level 2 charging. DC fast chargers can deliver up to an 80% charge in less than 30 minutes. Level 2 chargers deliver range at a rate of 12 -- 25 miles per hour. Most sites are available 24/7 and are positioned near retail stores as well as restaurants to provide the option to shop or eat while charging.

Nissan will offer "No Charge to Charge" with acquisitions of the Nissan LEAF made between October 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014 at all certified Nissan LEAF dealers in the Dallas-Fort Worth and greater Houston area markets.

Kamis, 26 September 2013

Autonomous Nissan Leaf Gets First License Plate for Public Road Testing

Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn today took delivery of Japan's first license plate for a car equipped with highly advanced driver assist systems. It clears the way for a Nissan LEAF equipped with the technology to be tested on the public roads in Japan for the first time. The research program will accelerate the development of technologies fundamental to Autonomous Drive. The systems are designed to allow the driver to manually take over control at any time.

The license plate includes the number 2020, which reflects Nissan's goal to be ready with multiple, commercially-viable Autonomous Drive vehicles by the year 2020.

"This is an ordinary license plate for an extraordinary vehicle," said Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn. "A month ago we revealed to the world our 2020 Autonomous Drive target. Road testing of the underlying technologies is critical to maintaining our leadership position and we are grateful to the Government of Japan for its support."

The Nissan LEAF to be tested is capable of a number of functions, including:

  • Lane keeping
  • Automatic Exit
  • Automatic lane change
  • Automatic overtaking slower or stopped vehicles
  • Automatic deceleration behind congestion on freeways
  • Automatic stopping at red lights

    Nissan is developing Autonomous Drive as it works to achieve virtually zero fatalities in accidents involving its vehicles. The goal stands alongside zero emissions as a key pillar of Nissan's research and development. Autonomous Drive is an extension of the Nissan Safety Shield, which monitors a 360-degree view around vehicles for risks, gives warnings to the driver, and automatically intervenes if necessary. Work is already underway to build a dedicated Autonomous Drive proving ground in Nissan's facility in Oppama, Japan.

    Nissan Executive Vice President for Research and Development, Mitsuhiko Yamashita, said: "The realization of the Autonomous Drive system is one of our greatest goals, because Zero Fatalities stands alongside Zero Emissions as major objective of Nissan's R&D. Through public road testing, we will further develop the safety, efficiency and reliability of our technology."

  • Rabu, 25 September 2013

    BMW i3 to have 200 Mile Lithium-Air Battery by 2017 [VIDEO]

    At the recent launch of the BMW i3 lithium-ion battery-electric car, BMW board member Ian Robertson said that in the next three to four years there will be more progress in battery development than in the previous 100 years. He said electric cars will have batteries with twice the current power within four to five years, which will double the range.

    We reported back in January that Toyota Motor Corp and BMW AG agreed to jointly research a lithium-air battery. Lithium-air battery has its anode filled with lithium, and cathode with air.

    Lithium metal-air batteries can store more than 5,000 watt-hours per kilogram. (A123 M1 cells are around 120 wh/kg) That's more than forty-times as much as today's high-performance lithium-ion batteries, and more than another class of energy-storage devices: fuel cells.

    The reduction in battery mass is achieved by eliminating the need for a second reactant inside the cell. Lithium metal batteries react with oxygen in the air that is pulled in through a 'breathing' casing, making them lightweight and compact.

    The technology is being studied by researchers including IBM , which is working to develop a lithium-air battery that will let electric vehicles run 500 miles on one charge.

    Given the recent news that General Motors is working on an EV that can go 200 miles (320 km) per charge at a cost of about $30,000 to compete with Tesla's as yet un-named 200 mile $30,000 EV due in approx three to four years, the 2016/17 model year promises to be a very exciting year for affordable, long range electric vehicles.

    One question asked is: how will the first BMWi customers benefit from more powerful batteries in the future? EV powertrains are expected to have a minium service life of 20,000 hrs which equates to approx 1.2M km or 80 years average annual motoring so the electric motor and power electronics will likely outlast several battery packs. BMW still have a few years to decide how to switch or upgrade to newer battery technology as it becomes commercially available.

    Highlights from WEC Six Hours of Circuit of the Americas [VIDEO]

    TOYOTA Racing fought a race-long battle for victory in the Six Hours of the Circuit of the Americas before taking second place in the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

    After six hours of intense racing in hot temperatures, the #8 crossed the finishing line just 23.617 seconds behind the race winner.

    The TS030 HYBRID was able to get strong performance from the same set of tyres over two stints. This, combined with quick pit stops, reduced the amount of time the #8 needed to spend in the pits.

    The next round is TOYOTA Racing's home race, the Six Hours of Fuji on 20 October where the team will have two cars competing as the #7 of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima returns to action.

    Selasa, 24 September 2013

    Tesla Model S is Norway’s top-selling car in September

    The newly landed Tesla Model S, after a market presence of less than two months, has already topped Norway’s best-sellers' list during the opening two week’s of this month, comfortably outselling all other cars, regardless of fuel type, accounting for 6.2 per cent of all the new cars sold in Norway.

    Hot on the heels of recording 184 registrations in its debut month in Norway, registrations of the Model S hit a chart-topping 322 units to bulldoze Volkswagen’s conventionally powered Golf (256 units) out of first place by a substantial sales margin, according to AID compiled data.

    The number eight slot went to Nissan’s LEAF, Norway’s most popular electric car so far this year. Both fully-fledged electric cars have captured a combined market share of 9.1 per cent.

    1) Tesla Model S322
    2) Volkswagen Golf – 256
    3) Toyota Auris
    4) Mazda CX-5
    5) Volvo V40
    6) Skoda Octavia
    7) Toyota RAV4
    8) Nissan LEAF

    Sabtu, 21 September 2013

    500 Miles in a Day in a Nissan Leaf [VIDEO]

    A British couple set out to drive 500 miles (800 km) in a day from the Waitrose eco-store in Bracknell in a Nissan Leaf following the Ecotricity Electric Highway at Welcome Break motorway service stations. Here is their story.

    Dutch Students Break EV Acceleration Record 0-100 km/h in 2.13 sec [VIDEO]

    Dutch students today reset the Guiness world record for acceleration 0-100 km/h, in the category for electric cars. The Delft University of Technology Racing Team used their 2012 All-Wheel-Drive 148 kg Formula Student DUT12 to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in just 2.13 seconds at Valkenburg Airport.

    The Formula SAE car has a four wheel drive powertrain with a 26 kw / 27 Nm motor driving each wheel giving a total peak power output of 104 kw. The front motors are out-board and drive through a 1:7 Planetary gear system. The rear motors are in-board and drive the wheels via a 1:13 two-stage spur gear system with carbon fiber half-shafts.

    The Delft Team first prepared the ground by pouring a solution of sugar in water over the track, and heating it with a gas-burner. All rubble was removed and a plastic sheet was put over the track to keep it dry. Additionally, tire warmers were used on the car, the driver was the team's lightest member, Marly Kuijpers, and the the run was repeated ten times with traction control and tire slippage tweaked for each run within the four motor controllers via the CAN bus ECU.

    The team says that rule changes make 2013 and 2014 Formula Student cars less likely contenders for future acceleration records. For one thing they will have high downforce wings, which add drag, and larger batteries, adding weight. The heavier machines are unlikely to reach a new record, so Delft may well hang on to the top spot longer than another student team, which held its record just over a year.

    Jumat, 20 September 2013

    Molten-air battery offers up to 45x higher storage capacity than Li-ion

    Researchers at George Washington University have demonstrated a new class of high-energy battery, called a "molten-air battery," that has one of the highest storage capacities of any battery type to date. Unlike some other high-energy batteries, the molten-air battery has the advantage of being rechargeable.

    Although the molten electrolyte currently requires high-temperature operation, the battery is so new that the researchers hope that experimenting with different molten compositions and other characteristics will make molten-air batteries strong competitors in electric vehicles and for storing energy for the electric grid.

    This ability to store multiple electrons in a single molecule is one of the biggest advantages of the molten-air battery. By their nature, multiple-electron-per-molecule batteries usually have higher storage capacities compared to single-electron-per-molecule batteries, such as Li-ion batteries. The battery with the highest energy capacity to date, the vanadium boride (VB2)-air battery, can store 11 electrons per molecule. However, the VB2-air battery and many other high-capacity batteries have a serious drawback: they are not rechargeable.

    The researchers experimented with using iron, carbon, and VB2 as the molten electrolyte, demonstrating very high capacities of 10,000, 19,000, and 27,000 Wh/l, respectively. The capacities are influenced by the number of electrons that each type of molecule can store: 3 electrons for iron, 4 electrons for carbon, and 11 electrons for VB2. In comparison, the Li-air battery has an energy capacity of 6,200 Wh/l, due to its single-electron-per-molecule transfer and lower density than the other compositions while a typical Li-Ion battery has a capacity of approx 600 Wh/l.

    Source: Phys.org

    Buckeye Bullet 3 Delayed in Bid to Become First 400 MPH EV [VIDEO]

    The Buckeye Bullet is a collaboration between Ohio State University and Venturi, and although due to the flooding of Bonneville salt flats (Utah, USA), the FIA and the organizers of the world speed records program decided to cancel the competition for this year, the team were targeting a 400 MPH (640 km/h) world land speed record for electric cars.

    The car, called VBB-3, is actually the third “Buckeye Bullet” land speed record car. Driver Roger Schroer took the VBB-2.5 to 307.58 mph in 2010, giving him the current FIA world record.

    VBB-3 is powered by four electric motors, which generate 400 horsepower each (750 hp Peak) with energy storage provided by 2,000x prismatic A123 batteries that weigh 1,600 kg. The 3.2 ton Carbon fiber skinned vehicle can output a total of more than 2 Megawatts (3,000 hp) which, when combined with a drag coefficient of only 0.13, the team hope is sufficient to re-write the EV Land Speed Record.

    To break the record, the electric car must travel at least one mile and average two runs within an hour. The student team hopes that the new car will break 400 mph, something no electric car has achieved, but this will now have to wait till 2014.

    Source: Venturi

    Kamis, 19 September 2013

    BMW Begins Production of i3 Electric Car [VIDEO]

    Assembly lines in Leipzig, Germany, today began turning out BMW AG’s new i3 electric car, which is scheduled to arrive in U.S. dealerships in the second quarter of 2014.

    The i3 opens a new frontier for BMW, which has long been known for turning out big, powerful, gasoline-powered vehicles that while fairly efficient, did not rely on their “green” qualities as selling points.

    The i3 also marks a departure in design and structure for BMW because the i3s body is made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, or CFRP. The strong, light material allows the car to accommodate the weight of its batteries and electric-drive system without becoming excessively heavy. The company said the car will deliver the kind of sporty, fun-to-drive performance customers expect from BMW cars.

    Rabu, 18 September 2013

    Chevrolet Spark EV Driving 101 [VIDEO]

    Car reviewers describe the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV as “fun,” “spunky” and a “hoot to drive.” With 130hp and 400 lb-ft of instant torque, the all-electric mini-car can go from 0 to 60 in less than 7.6 seconds.

    “Spark EV is the new benchmark for electric cars aimed at urban driving and a kick in the pants to pilot around town,” said Lindsay Brooke, senior editor, SAE International magazines. “Spark EV owners who are new to all-electric driving will soon find out how difficult it is to hide their silly grin when they realize how far that car will take them for pennies on the dollar.”

    For many Spark EV owners, getting plugged-in to an all-electric, no-gas-required lifestyle will be a new experience.

    Here are a few tips to ease the transition:

  • Recharge daily – And do it quicker with the soon-to-be-available SAE combo charger for DC fast charging. It can recharge the 21-kWh lithium-ion battery pack to 80-percent capacity in 20 minutes.

  • Extend range – Maximize the mini-car’s EPA-estimated 82 miles (130 km) of driving range by recharging in public charging stations, or use Spark EV’s standard 120V cord in any outlet.

  • Don’t be a juice hog – Public charging stations are in high demand. After charging, move on so that other EV owners can recharge. Or if parking conditions allow, place a note on your dashboard saying it’s okay to unplug your car if the Green Light indicating a full charge is flashing.

  • Know the distance – The available BringGo smartphone app can help Spark EV owners know how far they can go without recharging by providing full-function, in-dash navigation via Chevrolet MyLink as well as live traffic updates, for less than $60.

  • Go with the flow – Many EV owners like to maximize range by driving at or below the speed limit. No problem, just steer clear of the fast lane so other Spark EV drivers can enjoy their instant torque.

  • Be loud – The Pedestrian Friendly Alert Function projects a light chirp and calls attention to Spark EV’s presence. Pulling the turn signal lever back while in Drive will give a friendly honk. The alert can be set to activate automatically in Drive and Reverse at speeds below 18 mph (28 km/h).

  • Enjoy the savings – Spark EV can save its owners approximately $9,000 in fuel over five years compared to the average new vehicle – that’s $150 per month that can be spent on something else.

  • Be an EV advocate – Expect to get lots of questions about Spark EV. Take these opportunities to spread the advantages of going gas free.

    Expanding the Spark lineup, the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV is designed to make the trip as electrifying as the destination. It is priced under $19,995 with tax incentives and is now available to residents in California and Oregon, with sales expanding to Canada, South Korea and Europe later.

  • Panasonic Ene-1 GP Suzuka KV-40 Challenge [VIDEO]

    The "2013 Ene-1 GP SUZUKA" next-generation electric energy car event was held last month at Suzuka Circuit.

    It was sponsored by Land Mobility Inc, owner of Suzuka Circuit, and Panasonic was an official partner of the event.

    Panasonic promoted its "KV-40 Challenge" where cars were powered on 40x AA rechargeable nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. In this challenge, teams were invited to independently produce single-seater electric vehicles, powered by EVOLTA batteries, and complete 3 laps around the 5.8 km Suzuka circuit which features a maximum elevation change of 50 meters.

    75 teams from all over Japan participated, ranging from junior high school teams to serious hobbyists, with average speeds on the track reaching up to 60 km/h and it was noted that driving skill definitely played a large part in participant success.

    The winner of the time trial was "Ahiru-Ecopa Racing Togo" team.

    Selasa, 17 September 2013

    World’s first solar powered family car set for stellar performance [VIDEO]

    With just 17 days to go before 43 teams from 24 countries take to the start line in Darwin on October 6 to contest the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 3,000 kilometre quest across Australia; one team is already putting its revolutionary 4 seater solar family car, Stella, through its paces in Darwin.

    First time entrants in the inaugural Michelin Cruiser Class, Solar Team Eindhoven of Eindhoven University of Technology from the Netherlands are hoping their pre-race road testing in Darwin will pay dividends across the Aussie outback. Purpose built for this year’s event ‘Stella’ is the first ‘energy-positive car’ with room for four people, a trunk, intuitive steering and a range of 600 kilometers.

    Competition in the Michelin Cruiser Class is not about finishing first across the line. It is about taking the technology to the mainstream and developing a car for the future Competitors will be judged on energy use and efficiency; how many people they’ve carried and over what distance and the potential of the design and practicality to appeal to the mainstream motoring market. ‘Stella’ will have her work cut out for her with competition from the German Bochum team, whose former car, the ‘BoCruiser’ inspired the category; Australian teams from Uni NSW and TAFE SA; and teams from Japan, Taiwan, USA, Canada and New Zealand.

    Teams in the Elite Challenger Class are also well prepared. An unprecedented number of crews arrived in Australia early including America’s most successful solar team, University of Michigan who have yet to post a win here. They’ve been venturing out on test runs, and have even organised a ‘mock race’ to simulate the real Challenge in every way possible.

    The Dutch Nuon Solar team from Delft University, believes their car, Nuna 7 can deliver their fifth World Solar Challenge from seven attempts. Until recent challenges they dominated, winning in 2001, 2003, 2005 & 2007. Their excellent record was thwarted in 2009 and again in 2011 by the impressively slick Japanese Tokai University team. Team Tokai are here to win and will not give up the title without a fight. Others to watch include Team Twente with their car, Red Engine, and Stanford University, who hope their car, Luminos, will live up to its name and be a leading light.

    This year’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is held from 6th – 13th October. If you can’t make it to Darwin or Adelaide, you can follow the race on Twitter via @tsport100 or @WorldSolarChlg.

    Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

    Senin, 16 September 2013

    GM Working on $30,000 EV with 200-Mile Range [VIDEO]

    As automakers race to make cheaper electric cars with greater battery range, General Motors is working on one that can go 200 miles (320 km) per charge at a cost of about $30,000, a top company executive said.

    Vice President of Global Product Development Doug Parks wouldn't say when or if such a car will be built, however. Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson also mentioned a 200 miles EV back in March.

    Currently GM sells the $35,000 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, which can go 38 miles on electricity before a gas-powered generator kicks in. It also offers the all-electric Chevy Spark subcompact that can go 82 miles on a charge. It starts at $26,685. Electric cars are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

    The 200-mile car would cost about the same as the current Volt, and it would match the range and be far cheaper than Tesla Motors' $71,000, all-electric Model S. The Model S can go up to 265 miles on a single charge.

    A moderately priced electric car with a 200-mile range would make electric cars more appealing to Americans, solving the two chief complaints about such cars: Anxiety over running out of power and high price, said Tom Libby, lead North American analyst for the Polk automotive research firm.

    "That would be a huge step forward, no question," he said.

    Currently, cars powered solely by batteries make up only 0.3 percent of U.S. sales, Libby said, but he's confident that would increase if an automaker came out with a moderately priced 200-mile car.

    Tesla gets accolades for the Model S, including the highest test score ever recorded by Consumer Reports magazine. And the Palo Alto, Calif., company also is working on a mass-market electric car. CEO Elon Musk has said it will have around a 200-mile range and cost about $35,000. It could go on sales as early as the end of 2016, he has said.

    GM has taken a different approach from Tesla, Parks said, pricing electric vehicles from around $25,000 to about $40,000. They don't go as far after each charge, which has kept battery costs down and made the cars more affordable, he said.

    "Their pricing is up there for a real unique customer," Parks said of Tesla. "The real trick will be who can do a 200-mile car for more of the price range I'm talking about. We're all in races to do that."

    The 200-mile car won't be the next-generation Volt. Speaking at a Monday event to show off GM's expanded battery laboratory at its technical center in Warren, a suburb north of Detroit, Parks said that GM engineers are now working on a new Volt, which will go a little father on electricity than the current model and cost a little less. He wouldn't say when it will arrive in showrooms or how much it will cost.

    GM on Monday showed off a 50,000-square-foot addition to the battery lab. The added space, which nearly doubled the lab's size, will let the company test batteries and computer controls much faster than before. Parks said the goal is to develop electric cars twice as fast as the company could in the past. It took GM about four years to develop the Volt and bring it to market.

    Solar Cars improve the breed

    A famous quote from Soichiro Honda, the legendary founder of Honda Motor Company, says “Racing improves the breed”. There's no doubt many Formula One teams have used that phrase to imply a legitimate link between innovations made in racing that eventually benefit us all as the technology from top-level motorsport filters down into road cars, although it would be hard to convince anyone of a practical use for an off-throttle blown diffuser in a family hatch back.

    Likewise solar racing cars have made significant contributions that have lead to today's current crop of mass produced Plug-In electric cars. It all started with the winning vehicle of the very first World Solar Challenge in 1987. GM's Sunraycer was designed by Hughes Aerospace, (the company originally founded by Howard Hughes) at the time a division of General Motors, in collaboration with a smaller aerospace company called AeroVironment.

    More than a dozen Caltech graduates participated in Sunraycer programs at AeroVironment, the most deeply involved was Alan Cocconi who was responsible for the power electronics systems. This included everything from motor controller through battery management to telemetry.

    The Cocconi designed MOSFET based three phase AC motor drive inverter ran a 92% efficient 10 hp (peak) motor that drove the left rear wheel of Sunraycer via a cogged belt.

    Sunraycer won Pole with a top speed of 109 km/h and lead the 24 car field from start to finish covering the 3,005 km route at an average speed of 66.9 km/h (41.6 mph), 50% faster than 2nd place.

    Following the World Solar Challenge success, in early 1988 GM insiders proposed the idea of making a very efficient EV with the knowledge gained from Sunraycer but to make it an affordable car with decent range and performance equal to a petrol powered car. Work soon begins at AeroVironment on the 'Impact' based around a 15 kWh Lead Acid battery pack, Al Cocconi again responsible for power electronics design.

    The Impact EV concept car was launched at the LA Auto Show in Jan 1990 and the car was so well received that by April GM announced the car would go into production. The Alan Cocconi designed motor controller for the Impact, a direct descendant of that used in Sunraycer, was refined by Hughes Electronics and went into the GM EV1 when production started in 1996.

    Based on his work to date, in 1992 Alan Cocconi founded AC Propusion to produce electric vehicle drive systems featuring high performance, high efficiency induction motors and integrated high power battery charging. The original test bed was a not too glamorous Honda Civic but once the powertrain design was debugged, a Piontek Sportech kit car chassis, originally designed around a Suzuki GSX-R motorbike engine, was converted into an EV sports car called t-zero.

    Launched in 1997, the 1040 kg t-zero, powered by 28x lead acid batteries, started to make headlines with it's 0 to 100 km/h in 4 seconds levels of performance. By 2003 the car had been upgraded with 6,800x 16850 Li-ion cells giving a single charge range of 480 km, a 320 kg reduction in kerb weight and 0-100 km/h times reduced to a Supercar beating 3.2 seconds.

    If some of these specs sound similar to the Tesla Roadster, that's because the Roadster was developed by Tesla Motors to mass-produce AC propulsions t-zero, the first EV to demonstrate the performance and range potential of lithium ion batteries and the car that can legitimately be credited with inspiring today's mass produced plug-In electrics from GM, Nissan, Mitsubishi etc. Tesla Motors was founded to commercialise Alan Cocconi's work and the Tesla Model S still uses technology licensed from AC Propulsion.

    Today's solar racers are still blazing a trail years ahead of the automotive industry, witness BMWs i3 Electric car, the first all carbon fibre production car. Every WSC winner since 1999 has achieved up to 98% drive train energy efficiency by using direct drive in-wheel motors (road car in-wheel motors are currently being developed) and surely it won't be much longer before the 12.5% of Australian homes that have roof-top PV systems installed realise they already have the infrastructure in place to solar power a plug-in electric vehicle for their daily commute?

    This year’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is held from 6th – 13th October. If you can’t make it to Darwin or Adelaide, you can follow the race on Twitter via @tsport100 or @WorldSolarChlg.

    Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Words and thoughts are entirely my own.

    Jumat, 13 September 2013

    Spark-Renault SRT_01E Formula E race car unveiled in Frankfurt [VIDEO]

    FIA President Jean Todt and Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings, earlier this week (September, 10) revealed the much-anticipated new Spark-Renault SRT_01E fully-electric single-seater during the opening day of the prestigious 65th International Frankfurt Motor Show.

    Watched by invited guests and members of the press, the SRT_01E has been designed and built by Spark Racing Technology, headed by the renowned Frédéric Vasseur, together with a consortium of the leading manufacturers in motorsport, and will compete in the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship - the world’s first global electric race series beginning in September 2014.

    Using the very latest technology, the SRT_01E aims to push the boundaries of what is currently achievable in electric motorsport, whilst ensuring a balance between cost-effectiveness and sustainability, in addition to coping with the demands of racing entirely on city-centre circuits.

    The car’s monocoque chassis has been constructed by leading Italian firm Dallara and has been aerodynamically designed to aid overtaking. Made from carbon fibre and aluminium, the chassis will fully comply with the 2014 FIA crash tests.

    Providing the electric motor, gearbox and electronics is McLaren Electronics Systems, the world leader in high- performance technology for motorsport. Williams Advanced Engineering, part of the Williams group of companies that includes the world famous Williams F1 Team, is responsible for the design and supply of the batteries and their battery management systems; producing 200kw (the equivalent of 270bhp).

    Overseeing all the systems integration, performance optimisation and powertrain electrical safety is Formula E’s Technical Partner Renault, a leader in electric vehicles and an expert in motorsport thanks to its Renault Sport Technologies and Renault Sport F1 programmes. Meanwhile, custom made 18-inch treaded tyres have been created by Official Tyre Partner Michelin, with just one durable tyre to cater for both wet and dry conditions and helping to reduce overall costs and promote sustainability.

    “I congratulate all partners involved in the production of the fully-electric SRT_01E car – it is a fantastic achievement,” said FIA President Jean Todt. “The innovative technology deployed follows the best environmental practices, highlighting the potential of the Formula E Championship to spark a revolution in the development of new electromobility systems, not just for motorsport but also for everyday use. This new championship builds on the FIA’s traditional role as a leading promoter of innovation, technology and performance in the automotive sector.”

    The car, which has been 10 months in the making, will be used by all 10 teams and 20 drivers competing in the new zero emission series although only for the first season as Formula E is an ‘open championship’ designed to encourage manufacturers to build their own car to help accelerate R&D around the electric vehicle. A total of 42 cars will be produced by Spark with each driver using two cars during the one hour races.

    Alejandro Agag, CEO of Championship promoter Formula E Holdings, said: “With Formula E being an open championship, the series gives manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their electrical energy innovations and we’re delighted to have Spark Racing Technology as the first, and for them to produce our new fully-electric Formula E car. Spark has enlisted the very best companies in motorsport to aid with its development, with Dallara, Renault, McLaren, Williams and Michelin all leaders in their respective fields and it’s an honour to welcome them here today. The Frankfurt Motor Show is also the perfect environment to reveal our new car. Many leading manufacturers at the Show today are unveiling their new electric road cars but not just one offs, full car ranges, demonstrating how times have changed and why the time is right to launch the new FIA Formula E Championship.”

    Frédéric Vasseur, President of Spark Racing Technology, added: “I am extremely proud and happy to work with the partners Spark has gathered together to form this unique consortium, a first in the history of motorsport. I regard each and every one of these partners with the highest esteem, I have worked with them throughout my career and they have accompanied me in a lot of the successes I have been fortunate to achieve in my other activities in traditional motorsport. All consortium members are driven by a motivation to make this innovative project a success.”

    Patrice Ratti, CEO of Renault Sport Technologies, said: “As a global leader for the production of electric vehicles and with a unique expertise in motorsports ever since the company was founded, the choice of Renault as technical partner to develop the fully-electric SRT_01E car for the FIA Formula E championship was obvious. Renault engineers and motorsport experts are directly contributing to the overall powertrain architecture and are in charge of electric systems' specifications and integration, benefiting from the experience acquired while developing the new 2014 Renault-Energy-F1 Power Unit. Renault is also working with Spark to enhance the performance and safety level of the SRT_01E car powertrain. The objective is to design an outstanding race car that will be clean, reliable, safe as well as fast and responsive.”

    Peter van Manen, Managing Director of McLaren Electronic Systems, said: “These cars are going to be brilliant racing through the centres of cities. Electric motors deliver instant torque and acceleration and that is what McLaren is all about. Performance and efficiency. Our electric motor, developed originally for the McLaren P1™, has the highest power-to-weight ratio in the world. McLaren is proud to provide the performance behind Formula E.”

    Sir Frank Williams, Founder and Team Principal of Williams, commented; "Motorsport is moving towards a greener future and the FIA Formula E Championship will be a prime opportunity to showcase the latest green technology that has its origins in motor racing. Williams has a track record in developing hybrid technologies and we are proud to be supplying the battery and battery management system for the car that is being launched today. These components will be a pivotal part of what makes the car so green and the team at Williams Advanced Engineering is working hard to develop a battery system that is reliable and makes for excellent racing."

    Andrea Pontremoli, CEO of Dallara Automobili, said: “With our single-seater cars running successfully in the most important categories and championships all over the world, we could not lose the opportunity to be part of the new Formula E exciting challenge and we are very thankful to our long term partner Frédéric Vasseur for the credit he gave us. We will use all our experience and know how to design and build the best possible chassis in terms of performance, reliability, ease of use and safety. The safety aspect is particularly important for us and we are working hard with Spark and the FIA to set new safety standards for such an innovative championship.”

    Pascal Couasnon, Director of Michelin Motorsport, added: “Michelin is the official tyre supplier to the FIA Formula E Championship for the next three years [2013 to 2015]. This new discipline is of special interest to Michelin because it is a means to work on the design of efficient tyres to optimise the range of the formula’s single-seater cars. These solutions need to be extremely versatile in order to adapt to different weather conditions without losing any of their pedigree as genuine racing tyres. For Michelin, it is an additional opportunity to carry over the innovations developed for motorsport from the race track to the street.”

    The SRT_01E will undergo a stringent FIA crash test followed by an extensive testing programme.

    VW announce plans to electrify 14 models by 2014 possibly up to 40

    Amazing how some companies change their tune. Only as recently as 2009 Dr Winterkorn himself said that EVs won't have a majority share in the market for another 15-20 years. Yet within 5 years they're planning a total of 14 models from several Group brands with electric or hybrid drive technology. If there is sufficient demand, Dr Winterkorn says up to 40 new models could be fitted with alternative drivetrains.

    The Volkswagen Group has set its sights on global market leadership in electric mobility. "We are starting at exactly the right time. We are electrifying all vehicle classes, and therefore have everything we need to make the Volkswagen Group the top automaker in all respects, including electric mobility, by 2018", Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, said on the eve of the 65th International Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main.

    Winterkorn is convinced that Volkswagen is strongly positioned: "We have the most comprehensive approach to tomorrow's mobility. From highly-efficient, eco-friendly diesel, gasoline and natural gas-fuelled engines to classical hybrids, purely battery-driven vehicles and plug-in hybrids - no other automaker can match the broad range we have to offer." The company wants to win new customers with electric vehicles that are technically mature, practical in everyday use, safe and affordable, and is showcasing models such as the all-electric e-up! and e-Golf as well as the Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid and the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, also a plug-in model, at the auto industry’s leading motor show.

    According to Winterkorn: "The electric car cannot be a compromise on wheels, it must convince customers in every respect." He said that environmental compatibility and sustainability were increasingly becoming the main purchasing criterion: "From the zero-emission city car, through the plug-in hybrid all-rounder to the three-liter sports saloon: It is our customers who decide for themselves just how much e-mobility they want." He went on to say that electric-drive vehicles were a key building block for achieving the ambitious climate protection targets, and that the plug-in hybrid had the greatest market potential.

    Initially, a total of 14 models from several Group brands will be available with electric or hybrid drive technology by 2014. If there is sufficient demand, up to 40 new models could be fitted with alternative drivetrains. Winterkorn underscored that Volkswagen had placed electric mobility "at the center of the Group": "We have developed the know-how for electric motors and battery systems at our own components plants, we have recruited 400 top experts for electric traction and qualified almost 70,000 development, production and service employees in this new technology – the biggest electrification training program in our industry."

    The Volkswagen Group invests over seven billion euros in research and development each year. A significant share is spent on developing technologies and components for electric mobility – more than in any other field.

    The key to rolling out electric mobility swiftly and efficiently across all brands and vehicle classes is the modular toolkit systems which from the start have been designed for assembling electric drives. Production in Bratislava, Puebla, Wolfsburg, Leipzig or Ingolstadt can now respond flexibly and at low risk to demand as it arises and can reduce both weight and costs through the use of proven components.

    According to Winterkorn, anyone who genuinely takes ecological responsibility seriously goes one step further: "We must have a holistic mindset and a comprehensive approach to mobility – from generating energy through development, production, retail and vehicle operation right down to recycling. Our clear goal, therefore, is to lead with holistic, modern mobility concepts."

    In Europe, Volkswagen Group brands currently offer 420 model variants with maximum CO2 emissions of 130 grams per kilometer, 302 models emitting a maximum of 120 g/km, 50 models emitting up to 100 g/km and 23 models emitting 95 g/km or less. The Volkswagen XL1 plug-in hybrid has the lowest emissions. The world's most efficient series production vehicle has CO2 emissions of 21 g/km, consumes 0.9 liters of fuel and has a range of 500 kilometers, making it the company's technological spearhead.

    ELMOFO 500 hp Electric Radical SR8 Track Testing [VIDEO]

    Solar Power Australia's ELMOFO (Electro Motive Force) Electric Radical SR8 has logged more testing laps around Eastern Creek Raceway, now known as Sydney Motorsport Park.

    The team are chasing more track time to tune the dual RMS PM150 Inverters to suit the 500 hp EVDrive Dual-Inline Stacked Motor.

    The Radical currently holds the EV lap record at the 3.9 km circuit of 1:37.5.

    Rabu, 11 September 2013

    Vauxhall Cut Ampera Price by £3500

    Vauxhall Ampera prices have been cut by £3500, dropping the entry-level price for the innovative petrol-electric range-extender to £28,750, after a £5000 government grant.

    Vauxhall/Opel CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann denied claims that Ampera prices had been slashed because sales were slow. He said: 'The Ampera has sold more than 5000 units and accounts for more than half electric car sales in Europe. That’s disappointing for the electric car market, not for the Ampera.'

    The revolutionary plug-in electric car has struggled to fulfil its sales promise, partly because the recession has deterred buyers from adopting less-conventional technology.

    Neumann went on to say that GM is 'still convinced that the range-extender is the best electric car concept'. The system works by relying on a standard combustion engine to generate energy for the electric motors that power the car, resulting in a pure-electric range of up to 50 miles and a total touring range of 300 miles with use of the petrol engine.

    GM vice-president Steve Girsky also said that the range-extender technology would continue to be used, but that new models with the powertrain were unlikely to happen until 'the technology has advanced a bit further and come down in price'.

    Selasa, 10 September 2013

    World Premiers of VW e-Golf and e-up! @ IAA 2013 [VIDEO]

    In a dual world premiere, Volkswagen will be presenting two new and extremely efficient electric cars at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt (10th to 22nd September): the e-up! and e-Golf. This means that Europe's most successful carmaker is transitioning two high-volume production models to the age of electric mobility. Both zero-emissions cars offer unlimited everyday practicality, each has four doors, and they are attractively equipped. Standard features: automatic climate control with parking heater and ventilation, radio-navigation system, windscreen heating, LED daytime running lights and, in the e-Golf, the Volkswagen brand's first use of LED headlights. The two newcomers are also leaders in energy efficiency: the e-up! consumes just 11.7 kWh of electricity per 100 km – this makes it the new world champion in efficiency. The e-Golf, positioned two classes higher, attains an excellent value of 12.7 kWh. Given an electricity price of €0.258 per kWh (Germany, as of 31st July 2013), driving 100 km with the e-up! costs just €3.02, and with the e-Golf it is around €3.30.

    Made in Germany. Innovative drive technologies are core competencies at Volkswagen. Therefore, the e-motors, gearboxes and lithium-ion batteries of the e-up! and e-Golf are developed in-house, and they are manufactured in large Volkswagen component plants in Germany.

    Typical Volkswagen. All Volkswagen are intuitive to operate, extremely practical in everyday use and sophisticated, and these traits have been fully transferred to the brand's new e-vehicles. The zero-emission cars from Volkswagen are manufactured with the same high-volume production systems as their counterparts with combustion engines.

    e-Golf data. The e-Golf, which is being presented in a world premiere in Frankfurt, is driven by a 85 kW / 115 PS electric motor. The motor produces its maximum drive torque of 270 Nm as soon as it starts off. The results: the front-wheel drive e-Golf reaches 100 km/h in 10.4 seconds. On a motorway, the speed of the five-seat front-wheel drive car is electronically limited to 140 km/h.

    e-up! data. Also making its debut in a world premiere at the IAA is the four-seat e-up!. Its electric motor produces 60 kW / 82 PS. This motor transmits 210 Nm of torque to the driven front axle from a standstill. It completes the sprint to 100 km/h in 12.4 seconds. Top speed: 130 km/h.

    Driving ranges tailored for commuters. The e-up! can drive 160 km on one battery charge (18.7 kWh), while the e-Golf with its larger battery (24.2 kWh) has a range of 190 km. In both models, two very efficient driving modes ("Eco", "Eco+") and four just as easy to activate regenerative braking modes ("D1", "D2", "D3" and "B") help to extend maximum ranges. And they are driving ranges that make sense. In Germany, for example, studies by the Federal Ministry for Transport, Building and Urban Development found that around 80 per cent of all car drivers in Germany drive fewer than 50 km daily.

    Quick charging. The fastest CCS charging stations (direct current) shorten the time needed to charge the battery of an e-up! or an e-Golf to 80 per cent capacity to just around half an hour.

    Powertrain and fuel strategy. Over the past decade, Volkswagen has already systematically sketched out a schedule for the future in its powertrain and fuel strategy, which included starting points for electric vehicles like the e-up! and e-Golf. This strategy sets up a timeline with realistic time windows for the introduction of alternative drive systems such as the hybrid, electric and hydrogen-based systems. In this scenario, the all-electric drive system – which will be demonstrated by the new e-up! and e-Golf – represents an indispensable and sensible supplemental drive system. That is because electric cars utilise renewable energy sources and enable zero-emissions mobility in metropolitan areas. Nonetheless, well into the future Volkswagen will continue to promote an intelligent mix of the most efficient drive systems.

    Driving at the pace of the big city. The fact is that the target group for electric cars is growing, because a paradigm shift has begun. Sustainable mobility is having an increasing impact on people's actions. Yet the products for implementing this environmental awareness must be practical and fun as well - such as the e-up! and e-Golf which accelerate to big city pace in just a few seconds. The new zero-emission Volkswagen cars therefore have the potential for irreversibly charging up the electric car segment with innovative technology, a high level of everyday practicality and a dynamic driving feeling.

    Opel cuts Ampera price by 17 percent in Germany

    General Motors' European brand Opel has announced a 17 percent cut in the price of its Ampera electric car in Germany at this week's Frankfurt car show, where rivals will be showing off their electric models for the first time.

    "Effective immediately, we are lowering the price of an Ampera to 38,300 euros ($50,400), which is a cut of almost 8,000 euros in Germany," Opel Chief Executive Karl-Thomas Neumann told an industry conference on Monday.

    Speaking to reporters, Neumann said it was no coincidence that the price cut coincided with the premiere of key competitor models like the electric version of the Volkswagen Golf hatchback and Up minicar.

    "We see a tremendous chance given all the talk about electro-mobility and we want to remind people that we have been in the market already for one and a half years," he said.

    Price cuts will also be made in other markets, but due to differing tax laws, the price-tag and the size of the reduction will be different from country to country, a company spokesman said.

    Opel's finance chief Michael Lohscheller said the price cut would not have any impact on its target of a slightly narrower loss for Opel this year given the relatively low sales figures.

    He also said that a better-than-expected first half would not mean it would upgrade its outlook either. "The second half is traditionally weaker than the first half in the auto industry due to seasonal effects. We're sticking to our full-year guidance," Opel CFO told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.

    Only 828 new Ampera cars were registered in Germany last year out of a market of 3.08 million vehicles, according to official figures from the KBA motor vehicle agency.

    Electrification meets performance in new generation of hybrids

    Faced with tougher European regulations on pollution, but a constant desire among affluent drivers for speed and panache, many carmakers have reached the same solution: luxury hybrids.

    Pricy new models are heading for production from BMW, Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and Tata Group's Land Rover, among others, - some with gasoline engines, some with diesels, but all with electric motors and battery packs.

    They will slot into Europe's automotive landscape just below top-end hybrids such as LaFerrari, unveiled earlier this year by the Fiat-owned supercar maker, and a new 918 Spyder from Volkswagen's Porsche, on display in its final production trim at the Frankfurt auto show this week

    While they may not have as much of an impact on energy consumption and clean air as smaller, more efficient hybrids and pure electric cars such as the BMW i3 and the Renault Zoe, the new high-performance hybrids could represent a clever compromise between the demands of regulators and speed junkies.

    The cars offer a "feel-good factor" to wealthy drivers, according to LMC Automotive analyst Jonathon Poskitt, giving them the social kudos of being "green" while also allowing them to still enjoy the buzz and status of a fast, powerful vehicle.

    On top of existing rules aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions for all new cars in the European Union by 2015, the 28-country bloc is working on stricter targets for 2020.

    That makes luxury hybrids of critical importance for premium carmakers.

    "Manufacturers need to gently push them into the market, and doing this under the premise that it provides politically correct performance - in other words, green - is a nice way to market that," said Tom De Vleesschauwer, director of long-term planning and sustainability for consulting firm IHS Automotive.

    But there are also risks. Carmakers will need to convince drivers that hybrid engines perform at least as well as the traditional gasoline and petrol varieties.

    And they will still have to apply electrification to their larger luxury sedans and sports cars in order to meet the stricter emissions rules, De Vleesschauwer said.

    But he was optimistic. BMW's new i Series of electrified cars "symbolizes the new acceptable face of performance - keeping performance relevant for the times," he said.

    ALL ABOUT PERFORMANCE

    In addition to the BMW i8, the latest production-based performance hybrids on display at the Frankfurt auto show include the Mercedes-Benz S 500 Plug-In Hybrid and Land Rover's Range Rover Hybrid and Range Rover Sport Hybrid.

    But performance-tuned hybrid propulsion systems won't be exclusive to high-end luxury vehicles. Among the performance hybrid concepts on the Frankfurt show floor are VW's Audi Sport Quattro, Geely Automobile's Volvo Concept Coupe and Toyota Motor Corp's Yaris Hybrid-R.

    Toyota, whose Prius remains the world's best-selling gasoline-electric vehicle, describes the Yaris Hybrid-R as a "showcase of ideas for the development of hybrid technology for maximum performance and increased driving pleasure."

    While the standard Yaris is a modest hatchback aimed at entry-level buyers, the addition of all-wheel drive and a 420-horsepower powertrain inspired by the Toyota TS030 Hybrid Le Mans racecar injects some serious sizzle into the subcompact.

    Volvo's Concept Coupe is the first effort from new design boss Thomas Ingenlath and is the first to use Volvo's new scalable product architecture, which will underpin a whole family of future compact vehicles.

    The Concept Coupe's underlying architecture is flexible to accommodate completely autonomous driving - a goal that Volvo hopes to put on the road "before 2020." For now, the Frankfurt show car features a potent 400-horsepower hybrid powertrain.

    While it sports a plug-in hybrid driveline, the Audi Sport Quattro concept is all about pure performance. With nearly 700 horsepower on tap, the all-wheel-drive coupe features a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 gasoline engine with cylinder deactivation and a start-stop system to improve efficiency.

    On the production front, the new Mercedes-Benz S 500 Plug-In Hybrid is being prepared for an early 2014 introduction, when it will square off against such competitors as Porsche's recently launched Panamera S E-Hybrid.

    The S 500 combines a 329-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 gasoline engine with a 107-horsepower electric motor.

    Also slated for delivery in early 2014 are the new Range Rover Hybrid and Range Rover Sport Hybrid, which British parent Land Rover, a unit of India's Tata Group, is billing as "the world's first premium diesel SUV hybrids."

    Both utility vehicles share a common drivetrain, built around the company's turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel mated with an electric motor, producing a combined output of just under 340 horsepower.

    At the opposite end of the hybrid spectrum, in terms of size, shape, styling and sporting character, is BMW's i8, which has been seen previously in concept guise at various motor shows and debuts at Frankfurt in final production trim.

    Ian Robertson, BMW's global sales and marketing boss, puts the i8 in "in the super-sports category ... it's all that you'd expect from a performance car."

    Built on a lightweight chassis with a carbon-fiber passenger cell, the four-passenger coupe features futuristic styling to match its advanced technology. Under the skin is a hybrid propulsion system that marries a 129-horsepower electric motor at the front with a 228-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder gasoline engine in the rear.

    BMW plans a global launch of the i8 next May, initially targeting buyers in Europe, North America and China.

    Sabtu, 07 September 2013

    Nissan e-NV200 Electric Van in Final Development Phase

    Nissan is in the final development phase of its second mass production zero emission vehicle, the e-NV200 compact van. Electric vehicles are ideal for urban delivery applications, and this vehicle is envisaged for use as a delivery van that offers a breakthrough type of mobility for entrepreneurs, featuring efficiency and green consciousness.

    The company has been working with several large commercial fleets in global markets since 2011 to understand how the e-NV200 test car performs under real operating conditions. So far the e-NV200 has received positive comments for its quiet, comfortable driving with no emissions and low noise, CO2 reduction, and generous carrying capacity.

    Feedback will help Nissan adapt future battery-powered light commercial vehicles to better fulfill exacting customer requirements.

    The 100% electric compact van, e-NV200, is scheduled for launch in 2014. As Nissan’s second global electric vehicle, it follows Nissan LEAF, the world’s first affordable 100% EV for the mass market.

    In addition to further reinforcing Nissan’s zero-emissions leadership, the launch of the e-NV200 represents significant innovation in the commercial vehicle market. The model offers all the spaciousness, versatility and practicality of its base vehicle, the multipurpose commercial van NV200. It delivers advanced performance that can only be achieved through the powertrain of the Nissan LEAF.

    The e-NV200 provides exceptionally smooth acceleration and quietness, driving characteristics that are unique to EVs, while emitting no CO2 emissions at the point of use. e-NV200 displays great potential for businesses, with its advanced telematics system and power-supply function in the cargo compartment. Also, the model's enviable running cost – a priority for most companies – will be highly attractive when competing in the commercial vehicle marketplace.

    "The e-NV200 will offer all the spaciousness, versatility and practicality of a traditional diesel or gas-powered compact van, but with zero CO2 or other pollutant emissions at the point of use. What's more, it will provide an outstanding driving experience that is unique to EVs. e-NV200 represents a bold and innovative addition to our commercial vehicle range, which is already one of the broadest of any manufacturer," said Hideto Murakami, corporate vice president, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

    When e-NV200 production begins it will become Nissan's second zero-emission vehicle, but the company is already investigating further innovative ways of harnessing its world-leading EV technology in the commercial vehicle market with the e-NT400, which is a light truck based on the European NT400Cabstar, known as NT400 Atlas in Japan.

    The e-NT400, still in its development phase but with plans for production under study, uses Nissan LEAF running gear to create a zero-emission 100% electric vehicle.

    Like e-NV200, e-NT400 would be able to enter city areas denied to conventional vehicles powered by diesel or petrol engines, while its near-silent running means it could operate around the clock as it creates no noise or emission nuisance.

    Low running costs would make e-NT400 a breakthrough business proposition, while the high output, high capacity lithium-ion battery powering the 80kW electric motor gives smooth, vibration-free acceleration for a completely unprecedented driving experience.

    With a cruising range of 87 miles (140 kilometers) in NEDC mode, and the availability of fully integrated Quick Charging potential - allowing the battery to be charged to 80 per cent capacity in just 60 minutes - the e-NT400 has the potential to make a serious contribution to lowering CO2 emission in cities. At the same time, it will increase productivity and lower running costs for operators.

    Hideto Murakami, Nissan corporate vice president responsible for the Global LCV Business Unit, said: "As well as e-NV200, Nissan is developing a number of vehicles that adapt a diverse range of EV technologies. We want to explore the potential of EV technology in the light commercial market to diversify the value that Nissan's commercial vehicles provide to businesses."

    Jumat, 06 September 2013

    Infiniti EMERG-E First Drive @ Nissan 360 [VIDEO]

    Vincent Nguyen over at Slash Gear had the opportunity to test drive of one of only two working Infinity Emerg-E concept cars in existence while at the recent Nissan 360 press event, complete with Google Glass perspective.

    Source: Slash Gear

    Tesla Model S takes on the Aston Martin Rapide S [VIDEO]

    The Tesla Model S is a landmark car, but is it better than the mighty Aston Martin Rapid S? Autocar take to the test track to find out.

    Steve Sutcliffe over at Autocar thinks the Tesla Model S is the future...today. It offers most of the usability of the world's best luxury saloons, but with no tailpipe emissions and a fraction of the running costs.

    And it handles too. Really handles. But can it really be better than the £150,000 Aston Martin Rapide S?

    Nissan to Showcase ZEOD RC Electric Race Car at Fuji WEC [VIDEO]

    Japanese fans will have the first opportunity to see the Nissan ZEOD RC in action when the car makes its public on-track debut at this year's Fuji Speedway round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

    Running in pure electric mode, the Nissan ZEOD RC will undertake demonstration runs on October 18, 19 and 20 - all three days of the Japanese round of the WEC. The Fuji demonstration was announced today at the Nissan 360 global media event in California.

    The ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car) will make its race debut at next year's Le Mans 24 Hour. The global leader in electric vehicles for the road, Nissan will trial variants of new electric drive train technologies as part of its intended future return to LM P1 competition to challenge for overall victory at the world's most prestigious endurance race.

    Nissan's two-time Japanese SUPER GT champion Michael Krumm will drive the car at Fuji. Krumm was part of the driver line-up for the Nissan DeltaWing program in 2012 and also finished third in the LM P2 class this year at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

    Krumm competes for Kondo Racing in the SUPER GT championship in Japan alongside Hironobu Yasuda. In addition to his SUPER GT and Le Mans schedule, Krumm also recently tested a Nissan Altima V8 Supercar in Australia for the factory Nissan team.

    "It is certainly going to be a very unique experience to go that fast with electric power - especially since Fuji's main straight is nearly a mile long.

    "Fuji Speedway is such an historic venue - it's actually pretty fitting that the ZEOD RC will have its first public runs here because this car certainly has the opportunity to change motorsport history.

    "We're only doing a demonstration run but I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of top speed we'll see on the straight."

    "To be able to do that at such a great venue like Fuji Speedway, only 90 minutes away from the home of NISMO [Nissan's motorsport arm and a partner in the development of the ZEOD] in Yokohama, was too good to pass up."

    The internal-combustion motor that will form part of the ZEOD's powertrain is not due to run in the car until January.

    Kamis, 05 September 2013

    Japan tests 581 km/h Maglev train [VIDEO]

    Japan resumes tests on magnetic levitation train intended to travel at speeds up to 581 kilomeres per hour.

    Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) has began full-scale tests of the world's fastest train, the L0 series Maglev.

    After completing test drives at 500 kph on the 42.8-kilometer-long Yama-nashi maglev test line stretching from Uenohara to Fuefuki in Yamanashi Prefecture to check such factors as durability, JR Tokai plans to start commercial operations between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027.

    Following a departure ceremony, Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota and JR Tokai chairman Yoshiyuki Kasai went for a 505 kph ride on the train.

    “We were able to speak normally inside the maglev train [thanks to reduced noise levels]. I’m convinced this is world-class technology,” Ota said.

    Testing will take place until fiscal 2016, during which time JR Tokai plans to switch to testing a 12-car train, which will be used on the commercial run.

    The link is to be stretched west to Osaka by 2045.

    Land Rover Evoque_e project announced

    Jaguar Land Rover has announced its leadership of an advanced powertrain research and development programme for state-of-the-art, next-generation hybrid and battery-electric powertrain technologies based on the Range Rover Evoque platform.

    ‘Evoque_e’ is a two-year £16.3m UK government Technology Strategy Board project. Jaguar Land Rover will contribute £4m to the project and will lead a consortium of 12 selected partners – eight from industry and three universities.

    The partners include Zytek Automotive, GKN Driveline, Motor Design Limited, AVL, Drive System Design, Williams Advanced Engineering, Delta Motorsport, Tata Steel, Bristol University, Cranfield University and Newcastle University.

    Starting in October 2013, the unique collaboration will design, develop and build three research vehicles showcasing state-of-the-art, next-generation powertrain concepts for a mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV); a Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) and a full Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).

    Peter Richings, Jaguar Land Rover Director Hybrids and Electrification,said: “The aim of the project is to develop technology platforms which are configurable and compatible within the architecture of an existing production vehicle. The modular technologies include single and multi-speed axle drives; modular battery packs and integrated power electronics, multi-machine, advanced control development and torque vectoring.

    “The research teams will look at how the speed of the electric motor can be increased, to reduce its size, weight and cost while enhancing performance and durability. We will also look at the use of alternative materials to both reduce the use of rare earth materials and for systems optimisation.

    “The outcome of the Evoque_e project will be new technologies with the potential for high volume production that are capable of delivering benchmark performance in terms of cost, weight and ustainable use of materials.”

    As Britain’s biggest investor in automotive research and development, and the biggest investor in manufacturing R&D, Jaguar Land Rover is spending £2.75 billion in the year to March 2014 on product creation. Jaguar Land Rover showcased a number of the other collaborative research projects it is leading at the LCV 2013 event. These projects include the extreme downsizing of internal combustion engines, efficient management and storage of heat energies and weight reduction of engines through innovative new design concepts.

    Commenting on these research projects, Dr Wolfgang Epple, Jaguar Land Rover Director Research and Technology said: “Jaguar Land Rover has ambitious plans for growth. We believe that the success of our global business – and the UK economy – lies in engineering and innovation. Our research programmes bring together some of the best engineering minds in the UK. With Evoque_e, we will build on previous Jaguar Land Rover technology demonstrators and show clearly the breadth of our capability and commitment in advanced powertrain technology.”

    Jaguar Land Rover already collaborates with a number of leading universities in the UK on a range of technology and skills projects. More than half of Jaguar Land Rover’s research and advanced engineering team are based at Warwick University’s Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), to work collaboratively on key new technologies including energy storage, weight reduction and digital verification.

    Antony Harper, Jaguar Land Rover Head of Research, illustrated the importance of this work and its benefits to the company and the UK economy, saying: “We are keenly aware that not all the clever people work for us and our collaborative research programmes harness the best of UK engineering innovation, to develop new and exciting technologies.

    “The development of our business and our continuing investment in R&D has also encouraged inward investment into the UK, with our suppliers creating and funding their own research projects in UK universities. Technology Strategy Board funding allows us to multiply the effect of our investment and nurture UK-based technology investment, in supporting our work to address future needs, wants and legislation around the world.”

    Selasa, 03 September 2013

    Double Victory for Audi Hybrids at WEC round in Brazil [VIDEO]

    Audi has remained unbeaten in the 2013 sports car season to date. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro hybrid sports car has won the fourth of eight rounds in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). In addition, it claimed victory in the 12-hour classic at Sebring in March.

    The race weekend in Brazil ended in victory for Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) ahead of Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish (F/DK/GB). On clinching their success in the São Paulo 6 Hours, the winners reduced the gap to their team colleagues in the drivers’ standings by eight to 22 points.

    After a flawless race, the current World Champions celebrated their second WEC win of the season following their success at Spa in May. 38,000 spectators watched Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer in car number ‘1’ cross the finish line at Interlagos with a three-lap advantage over their sister car.

    The situation in the standings at the season’s midpoint has thus become more thrilling again after the Le Mans winners Loïc Duval (F), Tom Kristensen (DK) and Allan McNish (GB) had arrived with a 30-point advantage.

    The significant gap in the race, though, does not reflect the true performance delivered by car number ‘2.’ In the early phase, Audi factory driver Allan McNish dominated the action. But then the drivers’ trio experienced an unusual streak of misfortune. In a safety car period, Tom Kristensen, after pitting, returned to the track behind a slower GT race car.

    The nine-time Le Mans winner, who drove the fastest race lap as well, lost around half a minute because the car in front was not keeping the pace of the pack ahead. Loïc Duval subsequently took over the cockpit and was in the process of starting a recovery when, on lap 142 at the exit of the pit lane, he lost the right rear wheel of his car, which had gotten jammed while being mounted.

    Thus, Duval had to complete one lap on three wheels. The resulting two stop-and-go penalties completed the misfortune of the leaders of the standings who thus lost four laps in total.

    In the end though, Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich had reason to be pleased with a race weekend that left nothing to be desired. Audi Sport Team Joest, on taking grid positions one and two, setting the fastest race lap and scoring a one-two result, achieved the maximum that was possible and celebrated the first victory in South America.

    Only the eagerly awaited battle with Toyota did not take place. The challenger’s only race car had become involved in an accident as early as on lap 25 and, as a result, was forced to retire.

    In three weeks from now, Audi Sport is aiming to continue its string of success. On September 22, the WEC will be racing on the circuit at Austin in the US state of Texas for the first time.