Sabtu, 30 November 2013

Auto sector adds spark to Japan's electronic components industry

Japanese electronic component makers are looking beyond a fickle smartphone market that once lured them with rocketing growth, tying their fortunes more closely to the most resilient of Japan's big industries: automobiles.

Component makers such as Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd and TDK Corp are capitalising on rising demand for electronics like those that make cars safer with automatic braking or less polluting with engine controllers.

In contrast, Murata and others are having an up-and-down ride shipping components for Apple Inc's iPhones, while declining smartphone orders were a factor in January when TDK slashed its full-year operating profit forecast.

The auto industry offers a stable alternative, especially because of the enduring prominence of compatriot automakers such as global leader Toyota Motor Co. The value of electronic components per car will grow 26 percent over the decade to 2022, according to Fuji Chimera Research Institute.

But the payoff may not be as quick and will favour those with a longer history in the business.

"TDK and Murata were early to start working in automobiles and are strong there," said Manabu Akizuki, executive director at Nomura Securities. "Moving into automobiles is not so difficult but it takes 10 years to bear fruit."

Murata is the world's largest maker of ceramic capacitors used to control power supplies in electronic gadgets. It gets 40 percent of its sales from smartphones, including the iPhone for which it has been a major supplier since 2010.

Orders were hit earlier this year when Apple curbed output of the iPhone 5. It now aims to rely less on smartphones and boost autos' share of sales to 20 percent from 15 percent.

"Once we have products in place to expand our sales of power-supply parts, we expect to be able to generate growth that can match (that of our components for) smartphones," President Tsuneo Murata said in an interview last month.

Global smartphone demand is growing 30-40 percent a year, but this is likely to slow to 10-20 percent after about two years, he said.

Others in the industry also bemoan smartphone volatility.

"In December, (orders for the iPhone) were cut in half," said one senior executive who declined to be named. "Then they fell by half again. At that time, I thought: 'We'd be better off not doing this. The inventories just pile up.' It took four or five months to work them off. A smaller company would've gone under."

Murata has acquired several companies to bolster its position in autos, including Finnish microelectro-mechanical sensor maker VTI Technologies, bought in 2012 for 20 billion yen ($200 million). The sensors, which detect a car's movements, are used in stability control systems to prevent skidding that can cause accidents.

HYBRID AND ELECTRIC CARS

Hybrid and electric vehicles such as Tesla Motors Inc's all-electric Model S have multiplied the opportunities for electronics manufacturers, especially battery makers Panasonic Corp and Hitachi Ltd.

Batteries, motors, car navigation systems and other electronics account for 50 percent of the value of an electric-powered vehicle compared with 20 percent for a gasoline-powered car, according to estimates from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

"The value of electronic materials and parts per vehicle will increase by factors of 10 with electric-powered vehicles," said Moritaka Kamiya, head of TDK's auto sales division.

TDK, which began supplying magnets for windshield wiper motors in the 1960s, bought German electronic parts maker Epcos for 200 billion yen in 2009. That saddled it with a declining business supplying parts for Nokia Oyj mobile phones, but also gave it sensors for car air conditioners and expertise in component modules, which offer higher margins than parts sold separately.

Other electronic components makers targeting the auto sector include Rohm Co Ltd. It increased its share of revenue from autos by 2 percentage points to 25.6 percent in the fiscal first half, and in September announced a tie-up with Freescale Semiconductor Ltd's Japan unit to boost its overseas business.

Nidec Corp, like TDK, has seen its hard disk drive component business shrink because of declining PC demand. In consequence, it has shifted focus to automotive uses such as windshield wipers and power steering.

The investment necessary to enter the market is substantial, says Nomura's Akizuki, but the stakes promise to be considerable.

The total market for automotive electronics will almost double to 26 trillion yen in 2022 from 14 trillion yen in 2012, according to Fuji Chimera Research Institute.

"There isn't the sharp growth and contraction that smartphones have, but it will steadily increase," said Shoji Sato, executive director at Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities.

Is the Porsche 918 Spyder better than a Bugatti Veyron? [VIDEO]

Autocar road tester Steve Sutcliffe drives the £650,000 Porsche 918 Spyder Plug-In Hybrid Supercar and compares it's performance stats to a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport saying up to 190 mph the 918 is quicker.

Source: Autocar.co.uk

Jumat, 29 November 2013

VW e-Up priced from £19,250 [VIDEO]

Volkswagen has opened order books in the UK for the new all-electric VW e-Up, pricing the model from £19,250. That figure includes a £5000 government grant.

The e-up! is powered by a 60 kw electric motor with maximum torque of 210 Newton meters available immediately with the first revolution. It accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h within 14 seconds and reaches a top speed of 135 km/h.

The lithium-ion battery integrated in the underfloor area has a total energy storage capacity of 18.7 Kilowatt-hours (kWh); this means that the car can cover up to 150 km (per NEDC) on a single charge thanks to its low vehicle weight of 1,185 kg.

Deliveries of the first e-Ups are expected from February. A three-year warranty is standard, which can be extended up to five years. The battery warranty is eight years / 100,000 miles.

BMW to Electrify entire model range

BMW product chief Herbert Diess says “Electricification will be a central thread in what we do, be it plug-in hybrid, hybrid or full electrification".

Diess told Autocar "all BMW models will soon need to be sold with some form of electrification - be it in hybrid form or pure electric drive" as it is the only way of meeting stringent emissions regulations in the future.

“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. “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].”

Diess explained that European customers are likely to see most of the new electric-drive technology first, as regulations here are stricter than elsewhere.

“The i8 shows what’s possible even below 50g/km, but we will also offer all standard models with entry-level electrification. We will try to use the modular kit developed for the i3 and i8 on a kit basis.”

BMW could build a large battery powered sedan to compete head on with Tesla's Model S likely to be called i5.

Kamis, 28 November 2013

Mahindra Racing will join the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship

Mahindra Racing will join the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship beginning in September 2014. The motor sports division of the Mumbai-based USD 16.2 billion multinational Mahindra Group has signed an agreement with series promoters Formula E Holdings to become the eighth and only Indian team to join the new zero emission series.

The innovative all-electric global race series will include 10 races in its first season in city-centre locations around the world, including London, Beijing and Los Angeles, designed to raise awareness about electric vehicles as well as help advance EV technology.

The series has generated significant interest globally, and professional services firm EY recently released a report forecasting that Formula E will help contribute to the additional sale of 77 million electric vehicles worldwide over the next 25 years.

Already a major global force in the development and production of electric vehicles through Mahindra Reva it was a natural step forward for the Mahindra Group to join the Formula E Championship.

“We strongly believe that Formula E can provide an excellent global showcase for our electric vehicle technology,” said Mr Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of Mahindra Group. “With advanced operations and expertise in electronics, IT, automotive technologies and manufacturing, we are already seeing the fusion of this technology into our electric vehicle operations. Racing will further accelerate that trend while Formula E is set to raise awareness globally about the benefits of electric vehicles.”

With Mahindra’s participation confirmed, Formula E is guaranteed to start with at least eight teams coming from seven different nations. GP2 team DAMS has confirmed its entry (the delightfully-named e.dams) as well as ex-Formula One team Super Aguri.

The driver line-ups are yet to be confirmed, but former F1 drivers Lucas di Grassi and Karun Chandhok are widely expected to secure a seat. Also, IndyCar’s Takuma Sato is also thought to be set to join Super Aguri, but he will be hoping that this partnership is far more fruitful than their time together in F1.

Rabu, 27 November 2013

Nissan Launch New Leaf Ownership Scheme in the UK

Nissan is introducing a comprehensive customer commitment to dramatically improve the ownership experience of a Nissan LEAF.

Unrivalled in the pure EV market, the innovative Nissan CARE-EV LEAF customer commitment scheme makes five cast iron pledges designed to provide the ultimate in reassurance and peace of mind and answer many of the questions that customers face when considering EV ownership for the first time.

Available at all 205 Nissan retailers in the UK, the scheme makes the following promises:

Rapid charge your LEAF for free at any Nissan dealership and on the Electric Highway
LEAF customers may rapid charge their vehicle for free at 60 Nissan dealerships across the country. LEAF owners can also charge at the 50 and growing locations equipped with rapid charging units installed by Nissan as part of Ecotricity’s Electric Highway. Powered by sustainably sourced electricity from wind and solar power and located at key service stations up and down the UK’s motorway network, these rapid chargers can charge the new Nissan LEAF from empty to 80% in just 30 minutes.

Borrow a petrol or diesel Nissan free for up to 14 days
LEAF owners who need an extra car for a special occasion can borrow a petrol or diesel Nissan model free of charge for up to two weeks. Simply give your dealer seven days’ notice and cover the fuel and insurance.

Get to know the Nissan LEAF
Guaranteed 24-hour test drives will allow potential LEAF customers to experience the vehicle and learn just how well it fits their lifestyle.

Free pan-European EV roadside assistance
In the unlikely event a LEAF customer should run out of power on the road, help will soon be at hand with free towing from Nissan roadside assistance.

Free battery state of health guarantee
The Nissan LEAF battery state of health guarantee covers against lithium-ion battery capacity loss below nine bars (out of 12) within the first five years or 60,000 miles.

Nissan Test Autonomous Leaf on Expressways in Japan [VIDEO]

Nissan has carried out the first public road test of Autonomous Drive on a Japanese highway. A Nissan LEAF electric vehicle equipped with the revolutionary technology took to the Sagami Expressway in Kanagawa prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, with the prefecture's Governor, Yuji Kuroiwa, and Nissan Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga, on board. The vehicle operated fully automatically on the highway. Journalists witnessed the tests and later had the opportunity to experience the car on the highway themselves.

"Nissan seeks a safer, more comfortable and environmentally friendly mobile future," said Shiga, vice chairman of Nissan. "Through these tests on an expressway, we hope to further advance our technological development, with the goal of soon implementing Autonomous Drive vehicles. When starting a new project, serious effort is required to gain an understanding of all the variables involved. We were able to conduct this important testing on the Sagami Expressway thanks to the strong support from Kanagawa Prefecture."

The milestone event in the development of next-generation mobility was carried out with the cooperation of Kanagawa Prefecture. It took place near the "Sagami Robot Industry Special Zone," an area that is being revitalized with the help of the local government. Projects include the development of life-assist robots, which are equipped with sensors, artificial intelligence, and control systems. The public road test conducted in the special zone will help Nissan to develop Autonomous Drive towards its goal of being ready with commercially viable vehicles by 2020.

The Nissan LEAF used on the public road testing was the first vehicle with Autonomous Drive capability to be granted a license plate in Japan last September. Nissan's prototypes are equipped with Autonomous Drive technology that detects road conditions and automatically operates the car's main controls, including steering, braking and acceleration. The vehicles can operate in full automatic mode on the expressway, merge into traffic, change lanes and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.

Senin, 25 November 2013

BMW says has 10,000 i3 orders - i8 already sold out

BMW has orders for nearly 10,000 of its i3 electric cars, the first of which were delivered in Germany last week, the company's global sales chief, Ian Robertson, said at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Robertson also said the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car due to be introduced in mid-2014 has sold out for its first year of availability. He did not say how many the company will sell in that first year.

The BMW i3 will go on sale in the U.S. market in the second quarter of 2014.

Sabtu, 23 November 2013

e-volo VC200 18 rotor 2 person electric helicopter - first flight [VIDEO]

E-volo’s Volocopter is a revolution in aviation Made in Germany. Safer, simpler, and cleaner than normal helicopters, it has a unique way of moving – a groundbreaking innovation. The Volocopter is an environmentally friendly and emission-free private helicopter. Instead of one combustion engine, eighteen electrically driven rotors propel it.

The maiden flight and first test flights were conducted in the dm-arena in Karlsruhe with the prototype of the 2-person VC200 on Sunday, November 17, 2013. Based on this model, it will be prepared for series production in the coming years. “There are already numerous requests for the Volocopter from around the world,“ said Alexander Zosel, managing director of e-volo.

With multiple flights lasting several minutes reaching the nearly 22 m high ceiling of the dm-arena, including a number of smooth takeoffs and landings, the Volocopter concept exceeded all expectations. “Rich and incredibly quiet sound, absolutely no noticeable vibrations in the flight, convincing structure with a great, new spring strut landing gear, and an extremely calm rotor plane,“ concluded the e-volo managing director, thanking the KMK. “New innovations that have the possibility to change our world are continually presented at the Messe Karlsruhe. Therefore it was natural to work in partnership with the e-volo team to enable the test flights in the dm-arena,“ announced KMK managing director Britta Wirtz. “The fair is not just a display of strengths in the technology field, but concretely supports pioneers of aviation as well.“

The developing team of e-volo knew from the onset that the Volocopter was very easy to fly. Due to elaborate simulations at the Stuttgart University, they already knew that it was much more quiet than a helicopter. However, the pleasant low, rich sound and the lower-than-expected noise level caused great cheering among the e-volo team during the first flights.

People were eager to know whether there would be disturbing or even dangerous vibrations in the mechanic structure of the rotor plane. “Such vibrations are a large problem for normal helicopters,“ stated e-volo managing director Stephan Wolf, adding that “there, the vibrations together with the deafening noise have lead to much discomfort on passenger flights in helicopters.“ Due to the complex structure of the Volocopter in carbon lightweight design, it was not possible to simulate the expected vibrations in the laboratory. “The result of the first flight created a euphoria among the entire project team.“ Wolf and Zosel further stated that “not even the HD video cameras secured to the exterior carbon ring of the rotor plane captured the least vibrations.“

Nearly all problems of normal helicopters are thereby solved.

Yamaha Unveil Motiv.e City Car @ Tokyo [VIDEO]

In the current era of urban traffic and environmental problems there is increasing demand for downsizing and fuel efficient cars. MOTIV.e satisfies these demands by utilising ground breaking manufacturing and materials technology while delivering a new level of driver experience which emanates from the Yamaha Motor Company DNA.

The MOTIV.e is created from Yamaha Motor's multi-wheel history and experience (2 wheel - 3 wheel and 4 wheel technology). Yamaha Motor Company has always been dedicated to craftsmanship with a focus on 'quality mobility'. The MOTIV.e builds on this philosophy and incorporates Formula One heritage, inspiration from motorcycle design and the latest technology to deliver an exciting and high quality driving experience. The MOTIV.e delivers a new level of personal mobility.

Yamaha Motor Company chose Gordon Murray Design to cooperate in the design and development of the MOTIV.e which utilises Gordon Murray Design's revolutionary iStream® manufacturing technology. Yamaha Motor Company and Gordon Murray Design are a perfect fit as a partnership with both company's Formula One and technology backgrounds.

The iStream® manufacturing system which incorporates Formula One composite technology delivers new levels of lightweight, safety, vehicle dynamics and manufacturing flexibility alongside low environmental impact.

The MOTIV.e design reflects Yamaha's rich heritage in high quality lifestyle products while introducing a technical and dynamic shape which is inspired by Yamaha Motor's Motorcycle products. The iStream® design is centred on a steel frame incorporating bonded composite monocoque panels to produce a lightweight, rigid safety cell. All independent suspension and low unsprung weight delivers new levels of ride and handling. The all-new electric powertrain has been designed using 'state of the art' materials and technology.

The MOTIV.e represents a new starting point for urban mobility vehicles and sets new standards in the ultra compact 4 wheeler segment.

Formula E electric single seater racing car - Track Debut [VIDEO]

The fully-electric Spark Renault SRT_01E made its successful track debut at a circuit near La Ferté Gaucher, 80km east of Paris, France.

In the hands of Lucas di Grassi, it completed 40 laps during the two-day run, the objective of which was to perform an overall systems check. For the purpose of this initial test, the Spark-Renault was equipped with smaller battery, limiting the maximum power to 50 kW instead of the 200kW (270hp) peak power the car will produce in its final trim.

“It is a great feeling to be driving the Formula E car for the first time,” said Di Grassi. “I can assure all the drivers they will have a lot of fun with this car – even with just a quarter of the power, it has quite a lot of grip and the electric motor produces huge torque."

Fisker files Chapter 11 as investor group buys company

Fisker Automotive filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday after lengthy efforts by investors to salvage the company.

The filing comes after the Anaheim, California-based company agreed to sell itself to an investor group, Hybrid Technology LLC. The group bought a loan extended by the U.S. Department of Energy, originally worth $168 million, for $25 million.

In all, the DOE has recouped about $53 million on its $192 million investment in Fisker.

In a statement, Hybrid Technology said the purchase of the government loan was the first step toward eventually restarting production and sale of the Karma, which Fisker has not built in about 18 months, and the development of other hybrid-electric vehicles.

"As we continue to examine Fisker's opportunities, we will be making decisions about the structure and footprint of the new business," a spokeswoman for Hybrid Technology, Caroline Langdale, said in a statement.

Although the design of the Karma drew rave reviews, it had many quality problems that hurt the company's image and drained its cash. In April, Fisker fired most of its staff to save cash following an unsuccessful search for a buyer.

Its financial woes left Fisker unable to repay millions in outstanding bills to suppliers. The DOE put the loan up for auction in mid-October.

A subsidiary of Hybrid Technology, Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC, is purchasing Fisker's assets and will provide $8 million in debtor-in-possession financing.

Fisker won a $529 million loan in 2009 as part of the Obama administration's effort to boost advanced vehicle development in the United States. But the DOE froze Fisker's credit line in mid-2011 after the company missed certain performance targets. Fisker's struggles also fueled Republican criticism of the DOE's role in promoting green cars.

Kamis, 21 November 2013

Mitsubishi GC-PHEV plug-in SUV concept [VIDEO]

The Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV blazes new trails with powerful driving performance thanks to its full-time 4WD Plug-in Hybrid EV System; excellent stability and road handling that S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) provides; and information power that an innovative human interface and Connected Car technology together bring. Offering the latest environmental performance, this vehicle empowers you to drive freely on the Earth while enjoying safety and peace of mind. Experience the reliability and satisfaction of driving the Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV.

EXTERIOR
A dynamic front face with SUV personality. A futuristic form that looks sculpted from a single block and wraps the vehicle with the strength to drive on any road.

INTERIOR
When you open the easy-access doors with no center pillar, the spacious cabin and futuristic interface catch your eye. Enter a progressive informational space that stimulates your adventurous heart. The door to a new driving experience is now opening.

CONNECTED "TACTICAL TABLE"
A large interface with a touch screen, sweeping wide through the center, collects information that passengers bring, information from the internet, and data accumulated by the vehicle itself, allowing the creation of original maps and driving plans that occupants can share as they connect with the world. The Connected Car possibilities expand from here.

AR WINDSHIELD
Vital driving information is displayed on the windshield to enhance navigation and warn of car distances and lane departures. A driving assist system that uses communication technology also enhances driving safety by notifying the driver with guidance and a warning when vehicles or pedestrians enter blind spots in intersections. AR:Augmented Reality

NEW PHEV SYSTEM
The FR-type Plug-in Hybrid EV system effectively employs engine and motor power. The 3.0-liter V6 supercharged MIVEC engine is assisted by a 70kW high output motor that provides dynamic performance. This system realizes low energy consumption while achieving CO2 emissions under 100 g/km and supremely quiet operation. SPECIFICATION : CONCEPT GC-PHEV

■Overall length / Overall width / Overall height (mm): 4930 / 1940 / 1980
■Seating capacity: 4
■Targeted hybrid fuel consumption: 15 km/L or more
■Targeted EV cruising distance: 40 km or more
■Engine type: 3.0-liter V6 supercharged MIVEC engine / Max. output: 250 kW
■Motor: Max. output: 70 kW
■Total battery electric power: 12 kWh
■Wheel drive: Full-time 4WD
■Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Nissan BladeGlider Wheel Motor Powered EV Concept [VIDEO]

More than a concept, Nissan BladeGlider is both a proposal for the future direction of Nissan electric vehicle (EV) development and an exploratory prototype of an upcoming production vehicle from the world's leading EV manufacturer. BladeGlider was developed with form following function. Nissan crafted the vehicle's unique architecture to give the driver and passengers "sustainable exhilaration" - a fresh electric vehicle driving experience based on peerless technology and exotic styling.

Targeting the visionary individual seeking visceral driving and sustainability, BladeGlider goes beyond sheer power and acceleration to send the heart soaring into new realms of smooth "gliding" pleasure. It is a physical demonstration of the innovation and excitement of the Nissan brand and Nissan's Zero Emissions Mobility leadership. BladeGlider's pioneering spirit distinguishes it from anything yet envisioned for EVs and destines it to rule the roads of the not-so-distant future.

Re-inventing the Performance Car - A Game Changer Designed from Scratch

A clean slate was the starting point for this project, led by Francois Bancon, division general manager of Product Strategy and Product Planning at Nissan. "The goal was to revolutionise the architecture of the vehicle to provoke new emotions, provide new value and make visible for consumers how Zero Emissions can help redefine our conception of vehicle basics," said Bancon.

BladeGlider's shape alone, with its narrow front track, challenges the orthodoxy that has dominated the roads since the earliest days of the internal combustion engine. The revolutionary nature of the car is more than skin deep. New possibilities for the designers and engineers were opened up by the unique characteristics of electric vehicles.

BladeGlider has its conceptual roots in two aerial images: the soaring, silent, panoramic freedom of a glider and the triangular shape of a high performance "swept wing" aircraft.

It is therefore fitting that, in terms of engineering, BladeGlider's developmental focus was aerodynamics: achieving low drag (cdA) while generating road-hugging downforce.

Disruptive and challenging to the status quo, BladeGlider shares sustainable engineering values with both Nissan LEAF - the best-selling EV in history ─and the Nissan ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car), which will make its debut at next year's Le Mans 24 Hour race.

A Provocative Shift in the Engineering Paradigm

With its narrow, 1.0 metre lightweight front track and wide, stable rear track, BladeGlider looks as if it could have sprung from a "skunk works" project. But the radical architecture all boils down to aerodynamics and balance. Having the front wheels close together reduces drag and enhances manoeuvrability for high-G cornering power, assisted by its 30/70 front/rear weight distribution ratio. Aerodynamic downforce is created by the highly rigid yet lightweight carbon-fibre underbody, hence the lack of drag-inducing wings.

When BladeGlider matures into a production car, it could be Nissan's first use of in-wheel motors. The in-wheel motors provide rear-wheel propulsion with independent motor management, while also contributing to freedom of upper body design and space-efficient packaging.

To power the electric motors, BladeGlider employs Nissan's innovative lithium-ion battery technology, proven in Nissan LEAF. Battery modules are mounted low and towards the rear to enhance stability and handling.

Revolutionary Breakthrough in High-Performance Design

BladeGlider embodies a fearless vision of the EV future. Its tightly streamlined deltoid body comprises a tough and structurally optimised chassis wrapped in ultra-lightweight, yet strong and stiff, carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) finished in a pearlescent white colour that evokes the pristine freedom of a glider. The racing-inspired exterior features a sculpted contour that is both functional and breathtakingly beautiful. Starting from the low, flat and narrow nose, the body line rises gracefully to the cockpit canopy and then curves forcefully back over the large rear wheels, evoking a sense of dynamic movement even when the vehicle is standing still.

"BladeGlider was conceived around delivering a glider-like exhilaration that echoes its lightweight, downsized hyper-efficient aerodynamic form," said Shiro Nakamura, Nissan's senior vice president and chief creative officer. "This design is more than revolutionary; it's transformational, applying our most advanced electric drive-train technology and racetrack-inspired styling in the service of a new dimension of shared driving pleasure."

Inside the canopy, the cockpit seats three in a triangular configuration with the driver centre-forward. Seating appointments feature special light and comfortable coverings with yellow fluorescent lines. Amid simple yet edgy interior styling cues, an aircraft-type steering wheel and state-of-the-art instrumentation technology complete the glider-like image. To support maximum EV cruising efficiency, the IT system can display relief maps and atmospheric conditions.

This efficient, aerodynamic, simple, and lightweight vehicle provides a "gliding" feel that combines the feeling of gravity-defying freedom and near-360 degree view of a glider with the pulse-quickening exhilaration of a race car.

"I think that the excitement of the racing car should be mirrored in the excitement of driving the road car," said Ben Bowlby, director of Nissan Motorsport Innovation, who has supported the BladeGlider's development. "I think there are elements we can bring from the race track to make these future road cars more exciting, more fulfilling and give greater driving pleasure."

As a rear-drive performance car, BladeGlider exhibits a coherent and linear handling that enables it to consistently hug road curves, providing feedback for intuitive and exhilarating steering control when cornering under threshold conditions.

Augmenting BladeGlider's aerodynamically-engineered precise feedback and control, the canopy-like visibility of the driving position engenders a synchronised feeling of oneness with the machine and the road. The result is a free soaring experience which the driver can share with two passengers in the V-shaped seating configuration. Passengers sit at the longitudinal centre of gravity to maintain the car's balance at all times. The centre-driving setting of the cabin space is designed to enhance the driver's sensatory experience. 

As a final touch, the driver's seat automatically slides laterally when you open the door, enabling easy access to passenger seats.

New EV Values for the Next Generation

By thinking outside the box, Nissan has created an EV that truly symbolises the unlimited potential of electric propulsion - balancing zero emissions with innovative excitement like never before.

Rabu, 20 November 2013

VW Shows 214 mpg Twin Up! XL1 Based Hybrid Concept @ Tokyo

Volkswagen introduced the XL1, the world's most fuel-efficient production car, to the streets in 2013. This plug-in diesel hybrid for two people is being produced in a limited volume and has a European combined fuel consumption figure of 261 mpg as well as a carbonfiber body and chassis.

Now, Europe's largest carmaker is applying the experience it gained from this technological showpiece and is applying it to a high-volume production vehicle. Volkswagen is presenting this new car at the Tokyo Motor Show: a plug-in hybrid version of the up!, called the twin up! concept car. This four-seater shares certain parts of its drive system with the XL1-including its diesel engine, electric motor, and DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Compact hybrid system

Since all new Volkswagen vehicles are configured to accept alternative drive systems as well as conventional ones, it was easy to install the compact plug-in hybrid system in the twin up!. The only modification made in the production version was to lengthen the extremely short front overhang by 1.2 inches. The twin up!'s 55 kW (75 PS) drive unit-consisting of a 35 kW (48 PS) 0.8-liter TDI Clean Diesel engine, a 35kW electric motor, a seven-speed DQ200 DSG transmission, and the power electronics-is mounted at the front of the car. Installed at the back, behind the rear seats and under the trunk, is the "fuel storage system": an 8.6 kWh lithium-ion battery, the 12-volt battery for the electrical system, and an 8.7-gallon fuel tank.

Maximum efficiency

The car attains impressive efficiency thanks to a combination of good aerodynamics (0.30 Cd), a low unladen weight of 2657 pounds, lightweight plug-in drive components, and low rolling resistance 165/65 R15 tires. In all-electric model, for example, the twin up! has a driving range of 31 miles. In the "New European Driving Cycle"-the standard testing and comparison driving cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles in Europe-the concept car returns a sensationally low fuel consumption figure of 214 mpg, which equates to CO2 emissions of just 27 g/km.

The twin up! highlights the fact that efficiency and driving fun will not be mutually exclusive in the future. In the city, in electric mode, the twin up! accelerates from 0 to 37 mph in 8.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 78 mph. In hybrid mode, the car delivers 159 pound-feet of torque, a high number for such a small car. Out of town, the twin up! goes from 0 to 62 mpg in 15.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 87 mph.

Plug-in hybrid concept in detail

Two-cylinder TDI. The TDI produces its peak power of 35 kW from just 830 cc. The two- cylinder TDI was derived from a common rail four-cylinder, 1.6-liter diesel engine and has a bore spacing of 88 mm, with a bore and stroke of 81.0 by 80.5 mm. The XL1's engine also shares key internal modifications for reducing emissions, which include specially formed piston recesses for multiple injection and individual orientation of the injection jets. The common-rail diesel's smooth running properties were transferred to the two-cylinder engine, aided by a balancer shaft that is driven by and turns at the same speed as the crankshaft.

An exhaust gas recirculation system, an oxidation catalytic converter, and a diesel particulate filter are used to reduce tailpipe emissions.

Hybrid module. The hybrid module is located between the TDI engine and the seven-speed DSG transmission: it consists of an electric motor and a clutch, integrated in the DSG housing in place of the usual flywheel. The electric motor is supplied with energy from the 8.6 kWh lithium-ion battery. The power electronics, which operate at 308 Volts, manage the flow of high-voltage energy between the battery and the electric motor and convert direct current to alternating current.

Order under the hood. The engine compartment of the twin up! is completely covered. All service access points are in maintenance-friendly locations. A matte black engine compartment cover with acoustic insulation organizes all the recognisable components. The power electronics, and the service access located across from it, are integrated in a high-gloss black band, which also functionally partitions the engine compartment. An aluminium- look central capsule unites design themes from the world of combustion engines and electric motors, where the electric elements are coded in the colour blue.

Interplay of drive modes. As previously noted, the electric motor can power the twin up! for distances of up to 31 miles and to a top speed of 78 mph. In electric mode, the TDI engine is decoupled from the drivetrain and is shut off. Meanwhile, the clutch on the gearbox side remains closed, and the seven-speed DSG is fully engaged. Provided that the battery is sufficiently charged, the driver can choose when and where the twin up! should be driven electrically by pressing the e-mode button. Restarting the TDI engine is a very smooth process. While driving, the electric motor's rotor is sped up and is very quickly coupled to the clutch in a process known as "pulse starting". This accelerates the diesel engine to the required speed and starts it, so the driver hardly notices the transition.

Energy and drive management. When the twin up! is braked, the electric motor operates as a generator; its braking energy is used to charge the battery under regeneration. In certain operating conditions, the load of the TDI engine can be shifted so that it operates at its most favorable efficiency level. The gears in the DSG transmission are also always selected with the aim of minimizing energy usage.

The engine controller regulates the entire energy and drive management system based on the specific load demanded by the driver. Parameters flowing into this control system include the accelerator or e-pedal position, engine load, energy supply, and mix of kinetic and electric energy, so that the system always uses the optimal type of propulsive power.

Nissan to lift U.S. output of Leaf electric car as demand climbs

Nissan said it will lift U.S. production of its all-electric Leaf as demand for the car has surged sharply this year following a cut to its sticker price.

Jose Munoz, Nissan's senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Americas, said the Leaf is now the top reason customers are referred to the Nissan brand, adding that the vehicle is profitable.

"From a purely attraction and branding point of view it's already a very good car," he told reporters at the NADA/J.D. Power Western Automotive Conference in Los Angeles. The event was being held in conjunction with the L.A. Auto Show.

The automaker dropped the U.S. price of the Leaf by more than $6,000 to $29,650 at the beginning of this year after a shift in production of the model to the United States from Japan allowed it to cut manufacturing costs.

Munoz said the company was still weighing exactly how much it will boost output at the Smyrna, Tennessee plant where it produces the Leaf, but added it would be "an important increase."

Nissan is selling more than 2,000 Leafs a month in the United States. It sold 18,078 Leafs to U.S. drivers from January to October, not far behind the 18,782 Chevrolet Volts delivered in the same period and a big jump from the 9,819 sold in all of 2012.

Supplies of the Leaf at U.S. Nissan dealers are currently running at about 20 days. Normally the company likes to keep supplies at around 60 days.

"We are supply constrained... We will start producing more Leafs probably by the end of this year -- so December January time," he said.

Selasa, 19 November 2013

Berkeley Lab Develop Lithium-Sulfur Battery Good For 300 Mile Range

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have demonstrated in the laboratory a lithium-sulfur (Li/S) battery that has more than twice the specific energy of lithium-ion batteries, and that lasts for more than 1,500 cycles of charge-discharge with minimal decay of the battery’s capacity. This is the longest cycle life reported so far for any lithium-sulfur battery.

Demand for high-performance batteries for electric and hybrid electric vehicles capable of matching the range and power of the combustion engine encourages scientists to develop new battery chemistries that could deliver more power and energy than lithium-ion batteries, currently the best performing battery chemistry in the marketplace.

For electric vehicles to have a 300-mile range, the battery should provide a cell-level specific energy of 350 to 400 Watt-hours/kilogram (Wh/kg). This would require almost double the specific energy (about 200 Wh/kg) of current lithium-ion batteries. The batteries would also need to have at least 1,000, and preferably 1,500 charge-discharge cycles without showing a noticeable power or energy storage capacity loss.

“Our cells may provide a substantial opportunity for the development of zero-emission vehicles with a driving range similar to that of gasoline vehicles,” says Elton Cairns, of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) at Berkeley Lab.

The battery initially showed an estimated cell-specific energy of more than 500 Wh/kg and it maintained it at >300 Wh/kg after 1,000 cycles—much higher than that of currently available lithium-ion cells.

The team is now seeking support for the continuing development of the Li/S cell, including higher sulfur utilization, operation under extreme conditions, and scale-up. Partnerships with industry are being sought. The next steps in the development are to further increase the cell energy density, improve cell performance under extreme conditions, and scale up to larger cells.

The results were reported in the journal Nano Letters, in a paper authored by Min-Kyu Song (Molecular Foundry, Berkeley Lab), Yuegang Zhang (Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics, Chinese Academy of Sciences) and Cairns (Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Berkeley Lab). The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and a University of California Proof of Concept Award.

For a more detailed discussion of the technology, see here.

Honda NSX Hybrid to use turbocharged engine [VIDEO]

The Honda NSX will be powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 engine, instead of the naturally aspirated V6 originally planned, according to internet reports.

The U-turn was revealed when the Japanese car manufacturer demonstrated a mock-up twin-turbo V6 unit during a media event on the eve of the Tokyo motor show.

Unlike the original NSX, the new model will have its powerplant mounted longitudinally instead of transversely. Two of the Honda NSX's perceived rivals - the McLaren 12C and Ferrari 458 Italia - both have their engines mounted longitudinally.

The engine, which will be completely unique to the NSX, is planned to be mated to Honda's SH-AWD (super handling all-wheel drive) system that uses a three-motor (one for each front wheel and a third one integrated into the engine as a motor generator) hybrid layout.

Putting the finishing touches to the powertrain will be a new dual-clutch transmission, but Honda officials are yet to finalise the number of ratios.

70 year old lady loves her solar powered Nissan Leaf

My original motivation for buying an electric car was that I hated going to petrol stations and I resented the amount of money I spent there.

I was worried that an electric car would feel so different to drive from my previous car, that as a 70 year old lady, I would find it too difficult to adapt. Once I had a Test Drive, I realised I had nothing to worry about.

To start with the only difference I noticed was that it was much quieter, which does mean you have to watch out that pedestrians don’t walk out in front of you without looking, but doesn’t affect the feel of the car. My first Test Drive was in a Mitsubishi iMiev, which was the only electric car available in Australia at the time. I was persuaded to wait for the LEAF to arrive and I’m glad I did because it is larger and suits my needs better.

To help with reducing the cost of charging the Leaf I installed a 3kw solar panel system on the roof of my home. On a fine day, I can fully charge my car for no cost, using only the 15 amp power point I had installed for the purpose. The whole LEAF/Solar Panel purchase is an investment, which will pay for itself in savings if I live long enough. It is also true that it is a benefit to the environment, both locally and globally. For me, all that is a bonus, it was not my motivation.

I took delivery of my LEAF 13 November 2012. I had to collect it from Sydney because that was the closest Nissan dealership that stocked the LEAF, at the time. My first concern was to get home to Maitland in the Hunter Valley because that was almost 152 kms away.

Although, officially I could go that far without a charge, there was concern that I might not make the distance. I decided to risk it, knowing I am very good at driving cautiously. As a precaution I had a tow truck lined up to collect me if I didn’t. I reached home with 14 kms to spare. That gave me confidence because I bought my LEAF to do short trips around Maitland, not to drive long distances. Having made it home from Sydney it was obvious that ‘range anxiety’ wasn’t going to be a concern for me.

Once I started driving my LEAF regularly I realised there was something else I particularly enjoyed. On the rare occasions when I drive on a 4 lane highway, other cars see me sitting at traffic lights and think ‘electric car, that won’t go fast’ and put their foot down, expecting to leave me behind, only to find I leave them at the starting post with my instant acceleration.

I also enjoy sharing my experiences with family and friends. Within a couple of months I discovered something else special about being a LEAF owner. We like sharing our experiences with other LEAF owners. The Australian LEAF Owners Forum was formed which allows us to share our knowledge and discoveries about our EVs. I have never had a car that is special in that way before and I enjoy it.

NSW members of the Forum decided we wanted to meet to collaborate. This was a bit tricky because all the others live in Sydney. One member found a Caravan Park in Bateau Bay, 90 kms for the Sydneysiders and 90 kms for me, with many 15 amp power points, where we could all recharge our LEAFs while we had a long, lazy lunch talking about our prized possessions. We got on in real life as well as we had in the Forum and that makes owning a LEAF very special indeed.

Guest Post by: Dr Phoebe Thornley @PhoebePhoebet

NHTSA opens 'preliminary evaluation' into Tesla fires

U.S. safety regulators have opened a preliminary evaluation into two fires in Tesla Model S electric cars.

The National Highway Traffic Administration says fires broke out in two of the cars' batteries after the undercarriage hit road debris. The debris damaged the batteries and caused a thermal reaction and fires. No one was hurt in the fires.

The probe affects more than 13,000 cars sold in the U.S. The agency says it wants to examine risks from the undercarriage getting hit.

Tesla's batteries are located beneath the passenger compartment and protected by a quarter-inch-thick metal shield.

Tesla says it asked the government to investigate even though its cars catch fire at a far lower rate than gas-powered vehicles.

In 2011 the NHTSA opened a similar preliminary evaluation into the Chevy Volt following a severe-impact lab test on a battery pack that resulted in an electrical fire six days later.

This led to GM adding further enhancements to the vehicle structure and battery coolant system in the Chevrolet Volt that would further protect the battery from the possibility of an electrical fire.

Only 3 months ago the NHTSA awarded the Tesla Model S Five Star ratings in all NHTSA crash tests.

Source: NHTSA

Senin, 18 November 2013

Porsche 918 Spyder Plug-In Hybrid Final Tune Drops 0-100km to 2.6 sec

Shortly before delivery of the first customer vehicles, the Porsche 918 Spyder is beating its own benchmark values. Marking the success of the final tuning measures, the super sports car from Stuttgart is now clearly the fastest ever road-going Porsche. With the weight-optimised 'Weissach' package fitted, the 918 Spyder accelerates from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in just 2.6 seconds (-0.2 seconds quicker than previously), from zero to 124 mph (200 km/h) in 7.2 seconds (-0.5 seconds), and passes the 186 mph (300 km/h) mark after 19.9 seconds (-2.1 seconds).

Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Senior Vice President 918 Spyder programme, highlights the significance of these results: "We have now used all options available to electrify the 918 Spyder, working right up to the last minute to do so."

The enhancements also bring benefits in terms of the electrical performance delivered by the hybrid super sports car. The two electric motors on the front and rear axle allow the 918 Spyder to accelerate from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.2 seconds, without producing any emissions. Such a performance marks a reduction of seven tenths of a second versus the previous time. With the Weissach package fitted, this electric sprinting time is reduced to 6.1 seconds.

The 918 Spyder complete with Weissach package currently holds the lap record for road vehicles on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, with a time of 6:57 minutes. At the same time, as a vehicle delivering particularly low consumption and emission figures, the model is certified to efficiency class A+.

With the Weissach package fitted, the total NEDC fuel consumption of the 918 Spyder amounts to 94 mpg (3.0 l/100 km) – 91 mpg (3.1 l/100 km) without the Weissach package. That equates to CO2 emissions of 70 g/km (72 g/km without the Weissach package). The level of energy consumption was determined to be 12.7 kWh/100 km during the approval cycle.

Self-healing electrodes could make li-ion batteries last 10x longer

Researchers at Stanford University and Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made a pretty big breakthrough in lithium-ion battery technology. The team has developed a self-healing electrode using a stretchy polymer material that repairs cracks made in the electrodes caused by repeated use of the battery. This self-healing property could majorly extend the life of lithium-ion batteries in gadgets and electric cars.

The university reports, "Silicon electrodes swell to three times normal size and shrink back down again each time the battery charges and discharges, and the brittle material soon cracks and falls apart, degrading battery performance. This is a problem for all electrodes in high-capacity batteries...To make the self-healing coating, scientists deliberately weakened some of the chemical bonds within polymers – long, chain-like molecules with many identical units. The resulting material breaks easily, but the broken ends are chemically drawn to each other and quickly link up again, mimicking the process that allows biological molecules such as DNA to assemble, rearrange and break down."

The electrodes coated with the polymer lasted 10 times longer than uncoated electrodes, which could make a huge difference in battery lifetimes.

"Their capacity for storing energy is in the practical range now, but we would certainly like to push that," said Yi Cui, an associate professor at SLAC and Stanford.

The coated electrodes worked for about 100 charge-discharge cycles before starting to significantly lose their energy storage capacity, which is still quite shy of the 500 cycles for cell phones and the 3,000 cycles for electric vehicles, but the researchers say the potential is there for getting those higher cycle numbers.

The team thinks that other electrode materials could work as well, but for now they're focusing on upping the capacity and longevity of the technology.

Norway has become the world capital of the electric car

For the second month in a row, an electric car topped new car registrations in October in the Nordic country, where 716 Nissan Leaf were sold with an unprecedented market share of 5.6 percent.

“Norway is showing the way out of oil dependence, or even addiction,” said Snorre Sletvold, president of the Norwegian Electric Car Association.

From the modest Buddy, a locally produced two-seater urban car, to the US-made Tesla S, some 15,000 electric cars should be rolling on Norwegian roads by the end of 2013, 10 times more than in neighboring Denmark and Sweden.

Electric cars still represent a small fraction of Norway’s car pool, but figures grow steadily every month.

In total, they accounted for 7.2 percent of Norwegian auto sales in October, up from a 3.4 percent market share a year ago. Around 5,200 have been sold in the first 10 months of 2013 and new models by Volkswagen (including an electric version of its famous Golf), BMW and Renault are expected to hit the market in the coming months.

In September, US-made Tesla S, Crown Prince Haakon’s personal choice, topped the sales list due to a backlog that had built up before the first cars were shipped to the country.

Somewhat paradoxical in oil-rich Norway, this success can be partially explained by the numerous incentives intended to foster clean vehicle sales in the country.

All electric cars in Norway are exempt from VAT and other taxes, public parking fees and urban toll payments, and are allowed to use bus lanes.

Sabtu, 16 November 2013

Nissan to introduce e-NV200 commercial vehicle in Japan in 2014

Nissan Motor plans to launch e-NV200, a 100% electric commercial vehicle, in Japan in fiscal 2014. Production will begin the same year in Barcelona, Spain.

The e-NV200 model is based on the NV200 taxi vehicle, and is the second fully-electric vehicle from the manufacturer, after Nissan Leaf.

The vehicle has zero CO2 emissions during operation. Its features include an advanced telematics system, and power supply in the luggage area for outdoor activities or emergency power. Its powertrain, similar to that of Leaf, enables good acceleration and quiet operation, claims the company.

Nissan is in the process of creating a market for its new launch. The e-NV200's low operating cost is expected to make the vehicle attractive.

The company is in talks with Yokohama, Nissan's home city, to make the e-NV200 available for public services.

Nissan plans to make the latest electric vehicle part of "Yokohama Mobility Project Zero," a collaboration between the company and the city to achieve low carbon footprint. Nissan Leaf and ultra-compact electric vehicle Nissan New Mobility Concept are already included in the project.

The automaker is likely to introduce e-NV200 in Barcelona as well for public transport. It is preparing to install EV charger network and parking areas to support these vehicles in the city.

Electric car runs record-setting 1,300 km on one charge [VIDEO]

(UPDATED: Video of World Record attempt added)

A Japanese team set a world record Friday for distance travelled by an electric vehicle on a single battery charge, running 1,300 km on a course in Akita Prefecture.

The four-driver team included Kenjiro Shinozuka, 64, who in 1997 became the first Japanese driver to win the Dakar Rally.

The team said it plans to file a request with Guinness World Records for recognition of the feat, which eclipsed the previous mark of 1,003.2 km.

The drivers used an EV converted Suzuki Every minivan, equipped with a 135 kWh lithium-ion battery, to lap the 25-km-long course.

The challenge to the record started on Wednesday at the Solar Sports Line, a dedicated 25-kilometer course in the village of Ogata in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Akita.

The four took turns at the wheel to drive the vehicle day and night at speeds of around 30 kph.

After passing the previous record shortly past 12:30 a.m. Friday (3:30 p.m. Thursday GMT), the vehicle ran out of power and stopped around 10:30 a.m., some 46 and a half hours after starting.

Jumat, 15 November 2013

Audi Sport join Formula E Championship

ABT Sportsline, led by Team Principal Hans-Jürgen Abt, has today (15 November) reached an agreement that will see it become the seventh team and the only German outfit to enter the new FIA Formula E Championship – competing under the banner ‘Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team’.

“We’re proud to have the opportunity to take part in the debut of this new racing series. Participating in the new FIA Formula E Championship marks a completely new chapter in our more than 60-year motorsport history,” said Hans-Jürgen Abt. “As a company that has been active in the field of regenerative powertrains and electric mobility we’re convinced of the series’ concept. It’s innovative, delivers motorsport at the highest level and a great show for fans around the world – all of which are a perfect fit for ABT Sportsline.”

The outfit, from Germany’s Allgäu region, will race under the name of Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team, based on the name used in its successful commitment as an Audi factory team in the popular international touring car series DTM.

Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich commented: “We’ve been watching this new project of the FIA with great interest and are delighted that ABT Sportsline as one of our close and long-standing partners will be involved right from the beginning. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for the squad on tackling this new challenge and are planning to support its commitment with drivers from our factory line-up if required.”

The agreement was signed by Hans-Jürgen Abt and Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings, in Kempten, Germany. Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team will now be put forward to the FIA for final approval as the seventh outfit to enter the new global electric race series. They join IndyCar outfits Andretti Autosport and Dragon Racing, Asia’s China Racing and Super Aguri and fellow European squads Drayson Racing and e.dams.

With five titles to its credit in the DTM alone ABT Sportsline is one of the most successful German teams, which has achieved victories and titles in GT and endurance racing as well. The commitment in Formula racing now also marks a return to the outfit’s early days. At the beginning of the 1990s, ABT scored its initial successes in Formel ADAC and Formula Three. One of the drivers back then was the subsequent Formula One and DTM star Ralf Schumacher. “We’ve been keen to embrace new challenges on many occasions in the past. Formula E is no doubt one of the most intensive ones, which makes our excitement about it even greater,” added Hans-Jürgen Abt.

Alejandro Agag said: “We’re delighted to welcome the Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team into the championship, our seventh of 10 teams and the third European outfit. Formula E is very much an open championship and a platform for teams to showcase their own fully-electric cars, so to have one of the most successful German motorsport teams with the support of a big manufacturer on board is a fantastic addition to the series. I’m sure German racing fans will also be particularly pleased as they now have a home team to support during the Berlin Formula E race.”

Kamis, 14 November 2013

Mitsubishi Motors cuts iMiEV price by up to $9,100 in Japan

Mitsubishi Motors Corp has slashed the price of its first generation electric kei-car the i-MiEV in Japan by up to $9,100.

Japan's sixth-biggest carmaker, which started selling the i-MiEV 4 years ago in 2009, said on Thursday it was dropping the price of its top of the range i-MiEV by around 25 percent, or 900,000 yen ($9,100), to 2.9 million yen

With government subsidies, the model can be bought in Japan for around 2 million yen, it said (AUD$ 21,500).

"The main purpose of cutting the price is to strengthen our ability to sell these cars," a Mitsubishi Motors spokesman said.

Mitsubishi Motors also cut the price of the entry level i-MiEV by 190,000 yen to 2.5 million, which with subsidies can be bought for about 1.7 million yen (AUD$ 18,250).

In just over four years since the vehicle first went on sale, Mitsubishi has manufactured some 30,000 i-MiEVs. The car was rebadged and sold by PSA Peugeot Citroen as the iOn and the C-Zero.

Mitsubishi is still betting on the electric powertrain technology and is aiming for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids to account for 20 percent of the vehicles it produces by 2020.

Mitsubishi and Nissan Motor Co recently announced plans to expand a joint venture to develop a new small car including an electric version.

Nissan, maker of the Leaf electric car, also said on Thursday it would start selling its second all-electric vehicle, a commercial van called the e-NV200, in Japan in the financial year through March 2015.

Tesla Model S Driving Review -- Everyday Driver [VIDEO]

The guys from Everyday Driver climb into a loaded P85+ model to see if the S lives up to all the hype, and where it excels.

They also give the 17" Touch Screen Interface a good demonstration.

MIT researchers find a way to boost lithium-air battery performance [VIDEO]

Lithium-air batteries have become a hot research area in recent years: They hold the promise of drastically increasing power per battery weight, which could lead, for example, to electric cars with a much greater driving range. But bringing that promise to reality has faced a number of challenges, including the need to develop better, more durable materials for the batteries’ electrodes and improving the number of charging-discharging cycles the batteries can withstand.

Now, MIT researchers have found that adding genetically modified viruses to the production of nanowires — wires that are about the width of a red blood cell, and which can serve as one of a battery’s electrodes — could help solve some of these problems.

The new work is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, co-authored by graduate student Dahyun Oh, professors Angela Belcher and Yang Shao-Horn, and three others. The key to their work was to increase the surface area of the wire, thus increasing the area where electrochemical activity takes place during charging or discharging of the battery.

The researchers produced an array of nanowires, each about 80 nanometers across, using a genetically modified virus called M13, which can capture molecules of metals from water and bind them into structural shapes. In this case, wires of manganese oxide — a “favorite material” for a lithium-air battery’s cathode, Belcher says — were actually made by the viruses. But unlike wires “grown” through conventional chemical methods, these virus-built nanowires have a rough, spiky surface, which dramatically increases their surface area.

Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, explains that this process of biosynthesis is “really similar to how an abalone grows its shell” — in that case, by collecting calcium from seawater and depositing it into a solid, linked structure.

The increase in surface area produced by this method can provide “a big advantage,” Belcher says, in lithium-air batteries’ rate of charging and discharging. But the process also has other potential advantages, she says: Unlike conventional fabrication methods, which involve energy-intensive high temperatures and hazardous chemicals, this process can be carried out at room temperature using a water-based process.

Also, rather than isolated wires, the viruses naturally produce a three-dimensional structure of cross-linked wires, which provides greater stability for an electrode.

A final part of the process is the addition of a small amount of a metal, such as palladium, which greatly increases the electrical conductivity of the nanowires and allows them to catalyze reactions that take place during charging and discharging. Other groups have tried to produce such batteries using pure or highly concentrated metals as the electrodes, but this new process drastically lowers how much of the expensive material is needed.

Altogether, these modifications have the potential to produce a battery that could provide two to three times greater energy density — the amount of energy that can be stored for a given weight — than today’s best lithium-ion batteries, a closely related technology that is today's top contender, the researchers say.

Belcher emphasizes that this is early-stage research, and much more work is needed to produce a lithium-air battery that’s viable for commercial production. This work only looked at the production of one component, the cathode; other essential parts, including the electrolyte — the ion conductor that lithium ions traverse from one of the battery’s electrodes to the other — require further research to find reliable, durable materials. Also, while this material was successfully tested through 50 cycles of charging and discharging, for practical use a battery must be capable of withstanding thousands of these cycles.

While these experiments used viruses for the molecular assembly, Belcher says that once the best materials for such batteries are found and tested, actual manufacturing might be done in a different way. This has happened with past materials developed in her lab, she says: The chemistry was initially developed using biological methods, but then alternative means that were more easily scalable for industrial-scale production were substituted in the actual manufacturing.

Jie Xiao, a research scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory who was not involved in this work, calls it “a great contribution to guide the research on how to effectively manipulate” catalysis in lithium-air batteries. She says this “novel approach … not only provides new insights for lithium-air batteries,” but also “the template introduced in this work is also readily adaptable for other catalytic systems.”

In addition to Oh, Belcher, and Shao-Horn, the work was carried out by MIT research scientists Jifa Qi and Yong Zhang and postdoc Yi-Chun Lu. The work was supported by the U.S. Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation.

Rabu, 13 November 2013

Mitsubishi Electric to Exhibit EMIRAI 2 EV concept car @ Tokyo Motor Show [VIDEO]

Mitsubishi Electric will display its EMIRAI 2 concept car at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. The car is a continuation of the original EMIRAI first exhibited in December 2011 with rear projection customizable dashboard display, biometrics capabilities, and sensor array.

Advanced automotive technologies and products will be displayed in two EMIRAI 2 electric-vehicle concept cars. One vehicle features an EV powertrain and the other a driving-assistance system to offer safer and more comfortable driving experiences in the coming future.

The EV powertrain system incorporates high-accuracy traction control and acceleration control. The driving-assistance system features integrated image sensing and powered on-board display technologies.

The show will be held at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition complex in Tokyo, Japan from November 23 to December 1.

Graphene Supercapacitors Ready For Electric Vehicles

Automakers are always searching for ways to improve the efficiency, and therefore the range, of electric vehicles. One way to do this is to regenerate and reuse the energy that would normally be wasted when the brakes slow a vehicle down.

There is a problem doing this with conventional batteries, however. Braking occurs over timescales measured in seconds but that’s much too fast for batteries which generally take many hours to charge. So car makers have to find other ways to store this energy.

One of the more promising is to use supercapacitors because they can charge quickly and then discharge the energy just as fast.

Researchers at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea say they have developed a high-performance graphene supercapacitors that stores almost as much energy as a lithium-ion battery, can charge and discharge in seconds and maintain all this over many tens of thousands of charging cycles.

The Koreans say they have perfected a highly porous form of graphene that has a huge internal surface area. This is created by reducing graphene oxide particles with hydrazine in water agitated with ultrasound.

The graphene powder is then packed into a coin-shaped cell, and dried at 140 degrees C and at a pressure of 300/kg/cm for five hours.

The resulting graphene electrode is highly porous. A single gram has a surface area bigger than a basketball court. That’s important because it allows the electrode to accomodate much more electrolyte (an ionic liquid called EBIMF 1 M). And this ultimately determines the amount of charge the supercapacitor can hold.

Santhakumar Kannappan at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology have measured the performance of their supercapacitor at a specific capacitance of over 150 Farrads per gram that can store energy at a density of more than 64 Watt hours per kilogram at a current density of 5 Amps per gram.

That’s almost comparable with lithium-ion batteries which have an energy density of between 100 and 200 Watt hours per kilogram.

These supercapacitors have other advantages too. They can fully charge them in just 16 seconds and have repeated this some ten thousand times without a significant reduction in capacitance. “These values are the highest so far reported in the literature,” Kannappan says.

Selasa, 12 November 2013

New 360 hp Nissan Skyline Hybrid on sale in Japan 2014

Nissan Motors today announced the launch of the all-new Skyline Hybrid, which goes on sale late February 2014 at Nissan dealers throughout Japan.

Nissan’s one-motor two-clutch parallel hybrid “Intelligent Dual Clutch Control” system delivers maximum power output of 268 kW (360 hp) and fuel economy of 5.4 l/100km on JC08 mode. The new Skyline achieves 20% improvement in fuel economy over 2015 standards and SU-LEV certification, emitting 75% fewer exhaust emissions than 2005 standards, thereby fully exempting it from the automobile acquisition tax and automobile weight tax.

The new Skyline also feature Direct Adaptive Steering technology - steer-by-wire - which controls tire movements with steering inputs transformed into electrical signals. This system delivers responsive handling and quickly communicates road surface feedback to the driver.

Another feature, Active Lane Control, uses a camera to detect the intended direction of the vehicle based on the lane markers at speeds of 70 km/h (43 mph) or more to help fine-tune the tire angle and steering reaction force, resulting in greater driver confidence at highway speeds.

The new Skyline features high-strength body construction (Zone Body) that utilizes the Nissan-developed 1.2 gigapascal (GPa) Ultra High Tensile Strength Steel with High Formability.

Available crash avoidance technologies include PFCW (Predictive Forward Collision Warning), which can detect a possible collision up to two cars ahead and gives an alert to the driver with a visual warning and audible buzzer when deceleration is required; BSW (Blind Spot Warning), which detects a vehicle in the next lane to reduce risk of car-to-car collision when changing lanes; the Nissan first BSI (Blind Spot Intervention); and Japan’s first adoption of BCI (Backup Collision Intervention) which can detect a vehicle approaching when in reverse and warn the driver to help reduce the risk of a collision.

With run-flat tires included as standard in every grade, the vehicle can travel around 150 km (93 miles) at 80 km/h (50 mph) even with completely flat tires.

The new Skyline will be produced in the Tochigi Plant (Kaminokawa-machi, Kawachi-gun, Tochigi prefecture), Nissan’s mother plant for luxury vehicles.

Prices range from ¥2,990,400 to ¥3,490,650 (US$30,150 to US$335,200), including consumption tax.

Kia Soul EV with 200 km range to launch in 2014 [UPDATE]

An all-electric version of the Kia Soul is still on track to launch globally in early 2014. It will be Kia’s first electric car sold outside its home market of South Korea, following up on the domestic Ray EV.

The Soul will be equipped with a 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery making it capable of travelling up to a claimed 200 km on a single charge. Paired with that is an 81 kW / 285 Nm electric motor, propelling the Soul EV from 0-100 km/h in less than 12 seconds, and on to a top speed of 144 km/h.

Power is sent through the car’s front wheels via a single-speed constant ratio gear reduction unit. In a test drive Autocar.co.uk says there is and there’s surprisingly aggressive deceleration upon throttle lift off. Kia says the Soul EV’s battery can be fully charged in around five hours when using a standard 240-volt outlet, or in 25 minutes when using a fast-charge unit with a 100 kW output.

The Soul EV is expected to go on sale in the first half of 2014 and pricing is expected to start at 40 million KRW ($35,490 / €27,480).

Senin, 11 November 2013

BMW and Toyota Working on i8/LFA Based Hybrid Sports Car

It's been nearly two years since Toyota and BMW announced an agreement to work together to develop sports cars using state-of-the-art hybrid technologies, and now a source close to the two companies says the pair has decided on its first joint-venture.

Motoring.com.au recently spotted a BMW i8 at Toyota’s proving ground near Mt. Fuji, reportedly undergoing emissions and durability testing. It claims this is a prelude to a joint supercar development program.

Such a program would give Toyota – the carmaker that popularized hybrids in the first place – a hybrid successor to the Lexus LFA. Toyota wouldn’t just have a new halo model, it would have one with hybrid technology that could be more easily connected to its mainstream models. The marketing department will be happy, at least.

BMW could potentially leverage the platform to build a car that slots above the i8 in its lineup, offering true supercar performance. While the i8 was designed to balance performance and economy, BMW has toyed with the idea of building a more performance-oriented car.

Supercar makers are more conscious of CO2 emissions than ever before while at the same time delivering more power and performance. Powertrain electrification is the key to meeting these goals in the same vehicle.

Take, for example, the electrically assisted Ferrari La Ferrari and McLaren P1, or the purely battery-powered Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive – the most powerful AMG ever made.

Porsche has its Panamera plug-in hybrid too, as well as the million-dollar 918 Spyder super-hybrid that recently set a new production-car lap record of 6:57 at the Nurburgring.

Source: Motoring.com.au

Minggu, 10 November 2013

How Tesla designed the Model S from the ground up [VIDEO]

Katie Fehrenbacher recently interviewed Tesla’s Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen to discuss the process of how Tesla started with a clean sheet to design the Model S from the ground up as a dedicated electric car.

For established carmakers, car design is a very iterative process with decades of work to build from. Tesla Motors had no such history to work with, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing according to Holzhausen.

Sabtu, 09 November 2013

Next-generation Nissan GT-R will be a hybrid

The next-generation Nissan GT-R will feature a hybrid powertrain, using electrification to boost performance and lower emissions according to engineering, sales and marketing boss Andy Palmer.

“There is an inevitability about electrification of all cars in the future, and there is the very real prospect of enhancements coming from this and ending up on a sports car like the Nissan GT-R,” said Palmer. “The electric systems can fill in the gaps in the torque curve and offer genuine performance gains, as well as lowering emissions. It’s win-win, and I’d expect to see some form of hybridisation on the next generation of car.”

Source: Autocar

Jumat, 08 November 2013

Nissan to unveil electric sports car at Tokyo Motor Show [VIDEO]

Nissan said Friday it would unveil a sporty concept electric vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show

The company, which has been selling its Leaf electric vehicle since late 2010, said it hoped its Nissan BladeGlider would help it reach a market of male drivers who still want performance and styling in an environmentally friendly car - a major hurdle to widespread commercial sales.

The car, to be unveiled at the biennial Tokyo exhibition later this month, features an aerodynamic design that widens from the front to back with space for a driver in the middle and two passengers in the rear.

The design -- one metre in the front (3.3 feet) and 1.89 metres at the back and made with lightweight carbon fibres -- puts the vehicle's centre of mass on the rear tires to allow for tighter turns, Nissan said.

"The driver's seat has been positioned in the middle of the vehicle to give a sense of a pilot in an airborne glider," Nissan said.

The concept vehicle is squarely aimed at moving into a higher-end electric vehicle market already tapped with some success by US-based Tesla.

The Japanese firm has invested about 4.0 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in electric car development in a partnership with French carmaker Renault, which owns more than 40 percent of Nissan.

This week, Renault-Nissan announced an electric car tie-up with Mitsubishi.

Nissan said it has sold more than 80,000 Leaf electric vehicles globally since its rollout three years ago.

The Japanese automaker will also be showing off its second commercial electric vehicle, the e-NV200 minivan, which it unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Rabu, 06 November 2013

Chris Harris Drives the 850hp Electric Drayson B12/69EV [VIDEO]

DRIVE's Chris Harris tests the World Record Holding - Drayson B12/69EV Electric LMP1 Race Car.

  • 850 Hp
  • 4,000 Nm
  • 995 Kg
  • 300 Kg A123 Battery

  • 0-60 Mph - 2.9 Seconds
  • 0-100 Mph - 5.0 Seconds
  • Mitsubishi to Increase EV and PHEV vehicles to 20% of Production by 2020

    Mitsubishi Motors plan to refocus its lineup on Plug-In SUV's and electrified sedans under a new three-year business plan that aims to boost global sales 29%.

    At this month's Tokyo Motor Show, it will unveil three electrified concepts: a plug-in hybrid SUV, a plug-in crossover and a microhybrid van with an engine start-stop system. The Outlander plug-in hybrid, already on sale in Japan and Europe, is due to be launched in the US but may not arrive in the United States until 2015.

    The company will push electrified drivetrains in a bid to make 20 percent of its vehicle output either all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2020. That will entail the development of a next-generation electric vehicle technology that gets a longer driving distance on each charge and a lower price point. Mitsubishi will downsize EV components and aims to introduce a wireless charging system.

    Earlier this week on the eve of unveiling the mid-term plan, Mitsubishi announced it was furthering technology and vehicle development ties with the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Under that deal, Mitsubish plans to sell a Renault-based mid-sized car in the United States. The car will be the first of two Renault-based sedans sold by Mitsubishi under the product and technology exchange.

    As part of the latest deal, the companies also aim to share technologies and "product assets" related to electric vehicles and recent product platforms.

    Nissan is the global market leader in electric vehicles, with its Leaf EV, while Mitsubishi, which markets its own EV called the i, has made EVs and hybrids a central pillar of the company's mid-term business plan.

    Mitsubishi and Nissan will further cooperate to develop a new small car to be sold globally. An electric version of the car is also planned. That car will be based on a jointly developed platform for Japan's minicar segment, a type of car restricted in overall dimensions and restricted to engines no bigger than 0.66-liters.

    The company says they will boost R&D spending by 30% to an average of 80.0 billion yen ($812.7 million) a year over the next three years, compared with 63.0 billion yen ($640.0 million) a year over the outgoing three-year business plan.

    Selasa, 05 November 2013

    Ford outsells plug-in rivals for first time in October

    Ford said Monday it sold 2,179 of its Fusion and C-Max plug-in hybrids last month, topping the totals of plug-in competitors Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. for the first time.

    Toyota sold 2,095 of its Prius plug-in cars and GM sold 2,022 of its Volt range-extended plug-in hybrid sedans.

    Sales of plug-in vehicles — excluding full battery-electric cars — total 39,083 through October, up from the 29,075 sold during the same period in 2012, according to data from automakers and the Electric Drive Transportation Association.

    Ford sales of the Fusion and C-Max Energi cars helped the Dearborn automaker to its best plug-in hybrid vehicle sales month ever.

    Tesla Model S Top Selling Car in Some of America's Wealthiest Cities

    It's no secret that the Tesla Model S is the newest "must-have" toy among America's most affluent citizens. But a shocking analysis from Edmunds.com finds that in some of the country's richest communities, the Model S sells better than any other car on the market.

    According to Edmunds.com's analysis of new car registration data from Polk, the Model S is the top-selling vehicle this year in eight of America's 25 wealthiest ZIP Codes. The analysis further finds that all eight communities are located in California. Leading the way is Atherton, CA, where the Model S accounts for 15.4 percent of all new car registrations within its borders. According to Forbes, Atherton, which sits adjacent to Tesla's Palo Alto headquarters, is the wealthiest zip code in America, with a median home price of $6,665,000.

    While the analysis shows that the richest populations are snatching up Teslas now, Edmunds.com says that the data offers hints about Tesla's potential to appeal to a broader range of buyers.

    "It's a classic pattern for any retail product, including cars: the wealthy and influential buyers set a trend, and the mainstream aspires to follow," says Edmunds.com Sr. Analyst Jessica Caldwell. "As Tesla increases the number of models and improves its price points, it could find itself in demand by more than just those in these wealthy enclaves. After all, luxury car companies typically find the most volume in their entry-level vehicles."

    Tesla has made it clear that its next frontier is to make its vehicles more affordable to the mass market. In May, Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared that he hopes to offer a vehicle to car shoppers for under $40,000 within the next four years.

    If Tesla does plan to break through to new buyers, it will have to expand its appeal outside of California's borders. Edmunds.com's analysis found that Tesla's market share exceeds 1.0 percent in only one of the non-California zip codes ranked in the top 25 by Forbes (#19 Water Mill, NY with 1.2% of all new car registrations in 2013, through August). The Model S national market share sits at just 0.1 percent.

    Tesla plans 'giga factory' for EV battery pack manufacture

    Tesla Motors is considering plans to create a "giga factory" to manufacture electric vehicle battery packs for the automaker's consumption, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said.

    Musk said Tesla's long-term ambitions to build 500,000 electric vehicles annually could chew up the vast majority of current lithium ion battery supplies globally for all industries, including computers and cell phones.

    Musk said the Tesla plant would be "something comparable to all lithium ion production in the world, in one factory."

    Musk declined to give a timeframe for the plant, but with the smaller Gen III cars slated to arrive in 2017 with a $35,000 price point, Tesla production should ramp up rapidly.

    "If we were to produce 500,000 cars, we need cell capacity commensurate with that. That might be more, or at least on par with, all lithium ion production in the world today. We're in the process of figuring that out. There might need to be some giga-factory built," Musk said in a conference call with analysts.

    Musk foresees such a plant that would take "raw materials to finished packs, with partners, in North America.

    "Raw materials are not an issue. I would not worry about lithium supply. The main constituents, by weight, are nickel, cobalt, aluminum, then lithium," Musk said, adding that the plant would be, "a green factory, a lot of solar power. No toxic elements are going to come out of this plant."

    Tesla recently inked a deal with Panasonic to update and expand their 2011 arrangement to now supply nearly 2 billion cells over the course of four years.