Jumat, 30 Mei 2014

Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV Evolution Vision Gran Turismo [VIDEO]

Mitsubishi Motors, a company with a spectacular history in races like the Dakar Rally and World Rally Championships (WRC), has developed a special concept model for Vision Gran Turismo: This is the "Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV Evolution Vision Gran Turismo".

In the development of this special concept model, Mitsubishi Motors introduced their design team, Advanced Vehicle Research and Development Group, and Aerodynamic Engineering Development Group into this project in the same process they would normally follow to plan and develop real motorsports vehicles.

The styling of the car follows the basic concepts of the "MITSUBISHI Concept XR-PHEV" shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, while pouring in know-how gained from years of motorsports experience into its every detail. The result was the evolution of the concept into a stoic racing machine.

The "Athlete Form" design concept was advanced further, emphasizing the driving features aggressively. The iconic front grill is a study of next generation Mitsubishi automobiles, and the shape that forms a wedge starting from the triple diamond mark is designed in the image of an athlete at crouching position on a starting line, evoking an intense image of tension and potential.

Utilizing advanced development technology from the Plug-in Hybrid EV System, the spontaneous power of the motor and powerful torque of the engine is transmitted through an 8 speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) to drive the 4 wheels. It's overwhelming drive performance is controlled precisely with the S-AWC vehicle dynamics control system that distributes the drive force optimally to the 4 wheels, producing a handling characteristic that moves the car exactly as the driver desires.

In addition, the carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) body reduces weight and greatly contributes to its agility, and the downforce produced by the aerodynamic form of the front and rear diffusers produces excellent cornering performance. The large diameter 20 inch aluminum wheels gives an impression of a tough suspension system, and the powerful appearance of the front and rear fenders is in the image of toned muscles of a powerful athlete.

Graphene batteries and supercapacitors could give EV sales some serious thrust.

Graphene – the world’s thinnest material – could make batteries light, durable and suitable for high capacity energy storage for electric vehicles.

Graphene promises a revolution in electrical and chemical engineering. It is a potent conductor, extremely lightweight, chemically inert and flexible with a large surface area. It could be the perfect candidate for high capacity energy storage.

Soon after graphene’s isolation, early research already showed that lithium batteries with graphene in their electrodes had a greater capacity and lifespan than standard designs.

A new project ‘Electrochemical Energy Storage with Graphene-Enabled Materials’ is exploring different ways to reduce the size and weight of batteries and extend their lifespan by adding graphene as a component material.

“But before we build the batteries we need to know how graphene will interact with the chemical components – specifically electrolytes,” comments Professor Andrew Forsyth from the School of Electronics and Electrical Engineering.

His colleague Professor Robert Dryfe from the School of Chemistry performs experiments to analyse the chemical interactions between graphene and lithium ions. Professor Dryfe is also exploring how quickly electrons are transferred across graphene and the magnitude of capacitance – the amount of electrical energy that can be stored on graphene surfaces.

The academics are working with a number of commercial partners, including Rolls-Royce, Sharp and Morgan Advanced Materials. Commercial partnership is crucial for developing the future applications of graphene. Graphene@Manchester is currently working with more than 30 companies from around the world on research projects and applications.

Another focus of the project is graphene-based supercapacitors, which tend to have high power capability and longer cycle life than batteries, but lower energy storage capacity. Nevertheless, they hold much promise to complement batteries as part of an integrated storage solution.

According to Professor Forsyth a combination of graphene batteries and supercapacitors could give electric car sales some serious thrust. Today these green vehicles run on batteries that weigh 200kg – as much as three passengers. By reducing the weight of the batteries graphene should boost vehicle efficiency and increase the driving range of electric cars to beyond 100km – a limitation that currently prevents their widespread uptake.

“If we can extend the distances that cars can travel between charge points we will instantly make them more popular,” Professor Forsyth states. “But how will the batteries cope with the real-life strains of driving? Electric cars – like all other vehicles – are not driven smoothly. Dramatic peaks in power demand as drivers accelerate will stress the battery and potentially limit its lifespan.”

To test whether prototype graphene batteries and supercapacitors are up to the job, Professor Forsyth will expose them to real world stresses that mimic different driving profiles. “We can even test the technology for driving in extreme weather conditions,” he added. “Many batteries struggle to perform in cold conditions, but our weather chamber will reveal any weaknesses.”

Of course, graphene-based storage is not limited to transport. It could play a major role in the future of the National Grid as Britain becomes ever more dependent upon renewable energy. “If we rely on solar and wind power to produce energy, what will happen when clouds block the sun and the wind is just a breeze?” asks Professor Forsyth. “If we can develop high capacity electrical storage, operators will be able to store electricity for times of low generation.”

A grid-scale battery and converter system is being installed on Manchester’s campus to test large scale electrical storage. Researchers will use the battery system to develop methods to control the flow of electricity and reconcile differences between power generation and local demand.

Pratt & Whitney say Electric Aircraft Require Innovations Not Yet Invented

Though electric aircraft technology continues to improve, an engineer at Pratt & Whitney says the technology must make revolutionary leaps before being applicable to commercial or military aircraft.

P&W has looked into electric aircraft and determined that three technological “miracles” must occur before electric flight goes mainstream, Alan Epstein, P&W's vice president of technology and environment, tells reporters.

First, battery technology must improve by 50 to 100 times, says Epstein, noting that a commercial aircraft like a Boeing 737 require about 10MW of energy during cruise.

Battery-powered aircraft could be viable with current technology only “If you want to fly one-hundredth of the distance in the same size airplane,” says Epstein, who made his comments during a question and answer session at the company’s Connecticut headquarters earlier this week.

P&W has also spoken with engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about developing an electric engine capable of powering large aircraft.

Such powerplants could be built, they determined, but would require new, complex superconductivity technology. Also, engineers would need to remove the engine’s magnetic shielding to reduce its weight.

That is a problem, Epstein says, because without magnetic shielding the engine would “kill the people sitting next to the motors.”

“Three miracles are about two-and-a-half too many for an industrial organisation and one-and-a-half too many for most companies,” Epstein says. “I don’t see major commercial electric aircraft without innovations that have yet to be invented.”

Some might beg to differ. In 2012 German aerospace research institution Bauhaus Luftfahrt released details of a concept for a zero-emissions 190-seat aircraft which could potentially enter service in 2035. Designated the Ce-Liner, the electric aircraft would rely on twin super-conducting electric motors supplied by a bank of up to 16 battery containers.

Kamis, 29 Mei 2014

Tesla announce Model S pricing for Australia

Tesla Motors have announced Australian pricing for its Model S which starts at $91,400 plus on-road costs for the Model S 60 and tops out at $133,257 for the high-performance P85.

The base model can be had for about $107,000 driveaway in Melbourne or Sydney, while the range-topper is about $140,000.

This reflects the growing affordability of electric cars, as this pricing is about half that of the Tesla Roadster which pioneered the brand Down Under in 2011 at $222,995 driveaway for the base model and $260,535 for the Sport.

Australian orders for the American-made plug-in Model S are now being taken on Tesla’s website, two years after the model went on sale in the United States.

Tesla, which expects to sell 35,000 of the five-door liftback Model S sedans globally this year, is planning to re-establish a retail showroom in Sydney, along with sales representation in Melbourne and a dedicated service facility.

Expected to land in Australia by August, the three-model range will offer three levels of performance, depending on battery size and electronic tweaks.

The base Model S 60 boasts 225kW of power from its 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack, driving the large sedan from zero to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds – about the same as a V6 Holden Commodore – and to a top speed of 190km/h. Official driving range on a full battery charge is said to be 390km.

Stepping up to the mid-range $111,807 Model S 85 adds more battery oomph (85kWh) for more power (270kW), faster acceleration (5.6 sec to 100km/h) and greater range (502km).

The $119,900 flagship P85 – P stands for performance – has the same 85kWh battery and 502km range as the 85 but adds an enhanced electric drivetrain for faster acceleration.

Tesla says the P85 can cover the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.4 seconds – a split second faster than the 4.4-litre V8 BMW M5. And it is about $100,000 cheaper, too, at least in base format that is well short of the M5’s feature level.

If the Tesla buyer ticks all the boxes for optional extras, including a performance suspension and 21-inch wheels package, ‘tech’ package (a bundle of electricals that includes sat-nav, keyless entry, memory seats and power tailgate, among others), and other extras, the price can top $170,00, plus on-roads.

In standard form, the Model S is available in one exterior colour – flat black – with 19-inch alloy wheels, cloth seats and piano black interior trim.

Metallic paint in a variety of colours costs between $900 and $1800, while leather is also $1800. A glass panoramic roof is a $3100.

The standard on-board charger comes with a 40-amp single-phase wall connector. For an extra $1800, a buyer can have twin chargers fitted to reduce charging time.

As well, Tesla promises to establish a network of “Tesla Superchargers” that it claims can replenish the batteries by more than half in a little as 20 minutes. The facility will be free to Model S 85 and P85 owners, but requires a $2700 tweak for 60 buyers.

Because “green” cars get luxury car tax breaks in Australia, but the flagship P85 still attracts $13,357 in tax.

The Tesla website provides driveaway pricing that varies by state and territory, with the Australian Capital Territory the cheapest and Western Australia the dearest. For example, the driveaway price for the base Model S 60 in the ACT is $103,095, while in WA it is $109,363.

Tesla Model S pricing:

Model S 60 $96,208
Model S 85 $111,807
Model S P85 $133,257

Selasa, 27 Mei 2014

Google launches an all-electric self driving 'pod' car [VIDEO]

We have seen battery powered 'pod' type driver-less cars before with the ULTRra PRT at Heathrow airport and the recently announced 100 vehicle trial on public streets around Milton Keynes. These vehicles can only navigate on purpose built guideways as opposed to merging with general traffic. This week Google has demonstrated a driver-less pod type electric vehicle based on their self-driving technology, which while currently limited to car-park demos for legal reasons, should be capable to dealing with public roads autonomously.

The two-seater prototype vehicle is Google’s reimagination of what the modern automobile should look and feel like if you took the human out of the transportation equation and designed something solely to chauffeur passengers from point A to B.

“The project is about changing the world for people who are not well-served by transportation today,” Google co-founder Sergey Brin said at the inaugural Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. “There’s not great public transportation in many public places in the United States.”

The car — which was conceived and designed by Google, unlike the ones it previously modified — lacks many of the trappings of a normal car, and that includes the three essentials: A steering wheel, an accelerator and a brake pedal.

Google wants to get these cars on the streets ASAP. The company plans to start testing them in Mountain View, Calif., later this summer. They hopes to build at least 100 prototypes over the next two years, and get them into the hands of volunteer drivers — or nondrivers, as it were — as soon as the system is evaluated to be safe.

BMW i9 planned for 2016?

Auto Motor und Sport are reporting on BMW’s plans to build an i9 model. Built atop the already sold out i8, the BMW i9 is rumoured to be a four-door sportscar.

Little else is known about the i9 but it would presumably feature carbon fiber construction and perhaps the i8's plug-in hybrid powertrain that consists of a 1.5-liter Turbo three-cylinder engine, an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery which as a combined maximum output of 362 PS (266 kW) and 420 lb-ft (570 Nm) of torque.

BMW has trademarked an entire range of i vehicle, from i1 to i9, with at least one of them, the BMW i5, planned for production in the near future.

Minggu, 25 Mei 2014

Australia Post takes delivery of first Renault electric vans

In an Australian-first, Renault's 100 percent electric-powered delivery vans will shortly join Australia Post's fleet in Melbourne and Sydney.

The Renault Kangoo Maxi Z.E. (Zero Emission) electric van, currently not sold in Australia, is widely used across Europe and the United Kingdom and will be used exclusively by Australia Post from mid-2014 for a 12 month proof-of-concept.

Australia Post Head of Environmental Sustainability, Andrew Sellick said using the Renault Kangoo Maxi Z.E. for day-to-day parcel and letter deliveries is another exciting step in Australia Post's sustainability journey and an important step in assessing the real-world use of electric commercial vehicles.

"The Kangoo Maxi Z.E. assessment is part of a broader strategy to explore alternative fuels at Australia Post, including using biofuel and hybrid vehicles in our current fleet.

"The electric vans will be powered by accredited GreenPower from renewable energy sources to ensure we are maximising the potential to reduce our environmental impact.

"The Kangoo proof-of-concept will give us a clearer picture of the benefits of using electric powered delivery vans. Through this assessment we expect to see at least a 50 percent reduction in energy costs and a 100 percent reduction in carbon emissions to comparable combustible-engine vehicles in our fleet.

"While at this stage we are working with Renault to prove this concept, if the vans perform well across the range of metrics we'll be measuring them on, the future potential is very exciting. We hope this initiative will ultimately help drive the commercialisation and acceptance of electric vehicles in this country."

Renault Australia's Managing Director, Justin Hocevar said "we are excited to broaden our existing relationship with Australia Post in rolling out the Kangoo Z.E. in Australia. Through our partnership with Australia Post, we are able to comprehensively investigate the business case for introducing the fully electric Kangoo Z.E. van in Australia in the future."

Some of the alternative fuel initiatives implemented across Australia Post's network have included the rollout of:

  • 740 electric bikes that have replaced motorbikes at various locations
  • 100 hybrid vehicles introduced to the fleet to replace existing six cylinder vehicles, reducing emissions by over 30 percent
  • 25 hybrid trucks introduced into StarTrack's fleet of vehicles, improving fuel efficiency by 20 percent improvement on average
  • implementing 5 percent of bio-diesel to StarTrack's fuel supply in 2012 - an initiative which has saved approximately 820 tonnes of carbon

    Australia Post's Port Melbourne Business Hub will receive 2 Renault Kangoo Maxi Z.E. vans mid-year, with the remaining 2 vans that are part of the 12 month assessment delivered to StarTrack House in Sydney by year-end. Charging stations at each location will be powered by accredited GreenPower sources.

    The charging station at Australia Post's Port Melbourne Business Hub is funded by the Victorian Government Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure.

  • Airbus display E-FAN @ ILA 2014 Berlin Air Show [VIDEO]

    The electric E-Fan experimental aircraft display was a highlight of Airbus Group's portfolio during ILA 2014 Berlin Air Show. This video gives some more insight into this exciting project.

    Sabtu, 24 Mei 2014

    Solar House Uses EV to Realize 75% Energy Self-sufficiency

    Sekisui Chemical have launched the "Grand Two U V to Heim," a wooden smart house that links an electric vehicle (Nissan Leaf) and a solar power generation system with an output capacity of 10kW in the aim of realizing practical energy self-sufficiency.

    By appropriately controlling a solar power generation system and the rechargeable battery of an EV, the system is able to provide up to 75% of the amount of electricity consumed by the entire house throughout the year.

    Conventional "V2H" systems, which provide electricity from an EV to a house, have various limitations. For example, when electricity is supplied from an EV to a house, it is necessary to temporarily cut off electricity from the power grid. To solve this issue, the Grand Two U V to Heim comes with a grid connection system that also controls an EV and a solar power generation system.

    New Battery Tech Could Turn Waste Heat to Electricity

    Vast amounts of excess heat are generated by industrial processes and by electric power plants; researchers around the world have spent decades seeking ways to harness some of this wasted energy. Most such efforts have focused on thermoelectric devices, solid-state materials that can produce electricity from a temperature gradient, but the efficiency of such devices is limited by the availability of materials.

    Now researchers at MIT and Stanford University have found a new alternative for low-temperature waste-heat conversion into electricity — that is, in cases where temperature differences are less than 100 degrees Celsius.

    The new approach, based on a phenomenon called the thermogalvanic effect, is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications by postdoc Yuan Yang and professor Gang Chen at MIT, postdoc Seok Woo Lee and professor Yi Cui at Stanford, and three others.

    Since the voltage of rechargeable batteries depends on temperature, the new system combines the charging-discharging cycles of these batteries with heating and cooling, so that the discharge voltage is higher than charge voltage. The system can efficiently harness even relatively small temperature differences, such as a 50 C difference.

    To begin, the uncharged battery is heated by the waste heat. Then, while at the higher temperature, the battery is charged; once fully charged, it is allowed to cool. Because the charging voltage is lower at high temperatures than at low temperatures, once it has cooled the battery can actually deliver more electricity than what was used to charge it. That extra energy, of course, doesn't just appear from nowhere: It comes from the heat that was added to the system.

    The system aims at harvesting heat of less than 100 C, which accounts for a large proportion of potentially harvestable waste heat. In a demonstration with waste heat of 60 C the new system has an estimated efficiency of 5.7 percent.

    The basic concept for this approach was initially proposed in the 1950s, Chen says, but "a key advance is using material that was not around at that time" for the battery electrodes, as well as advances in engineering the system.

    That earlier work was based on temperatures of 500 C or more, Yang adds; most current heat-recovery systems work best with higher temperature differences.

    While the new system has a significant advantage in energy-conversion efficiency, for now it has a much lower power density — the amount of power that can be delivered for a given weight — than thermoelectrics. It also will require further research to assure reliability over a long period of use, and to improve the speed of battery charging and discharging, Chen says. "It will require a lot of work to take the next step," he cautions.

    Chen, the Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering and head of MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering, says there's currently no good technology that can make effective use of the relatively low-temperature differences this system can harness. "This has an efficiency we think is quite attractive," he says. "There is so much of this low-temperature waste heat, if a technology can be created and deployed to use it."

    Cui says, "Virtually all power plants and manufacturing processes, like steelmaking and refining, release tremendous amounts of low-grade heat to ambient temperatures. Our new battery technology is designed to take advantage of this temperature gradient at the industrial scale."

    Lee adds, "This technology has the additional advantage of using low-cost, abundant materials and manufacturing process that are already widely used in the battery industry."

    Jumat, 23 Mei 2014

    Electric BMW Mini Superleggera Roadster Concept [VIDEO]

    The BMW Group celebrates the meeting of the time-honoured and the contemporary at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2014 with a very special concept: the MINI Superleggera™ Vision. This exclusive interpretation of an open-top two-seater was created by MINI and Touring Superleggera, the tradition-steeped design and coach building house based in Milan.

    The MINI Superleggera™ Vision is on the one hand a classic roadster, a compact and agile two-seater, expressing the most minimalist and emotional style of motoring; and on the other hand its electric drivetrain gives the car distinctly modern driving dynamics. In collaboration with MINI, Touring Superleggera™ has designed and built an elaborately crafted, unique model which blends the tradition of classic coachwork construction with the MINI's authentic British styling to create timeless aesthetic appeal.

    - Modern Britishness meets Italian flair: the iconic design of MINI meets elegant, athletic beauty - interpreted in contemporary style.

    - Classic Italian body construction and hand-shaped metal sheeting give the MINI SuperleggeraTM Vision a unique emotional appeal. Both on the inside and outside, the form is reduced to the maximum extent so as to achieve a clear focus on the distinctive driving experience.

    - The interior reflects traditional coachwork construction in terms of materials and styling, combined with the icons of MINI interior design.

    - High-end materials such as leather, aluminium and black chrome highlight the clear aesthetics of the interior.

    Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design on the concept: "Touring Superleggera and MINI have much in common: both companies attach great importance to their history and this is something which defines their outward appearance to this day. What is more, they both emphasise iconic design and distinctive solutions. These elements are merged in the MINI SuperleggeraTM Vision to create an elegant automobile which interprets a British roadster under the influence of Italian style and hand craftsmanship."

    British design with an Italian accent - the exterior design.

    "The MINI SuperleggeraTM Vision elegantly perpetuates what the Classic Mini started 55 years ago: reduction to the essentials. Its energetic, minimalistic design embodies the dynamic essence of an automobile. At the same time it creates unique emotional beauty in combining the past and future of the automotive industry, i.e. traditional coachwork craftsmanship and modern design styling. It was a pleasure for me to design a concept like this." says Anders Warming, Head of MINI Design.

    The perfectly balanced proportions indicate at first glance what the electrically powered MINI Superleggera™ Vision has to offer in terms of a driving experience: the stretched bonnet, long wheelbase and cool, short overhangs convey pure driving fun. As in every MINI, the wheels are set widely on the body, promising a high degree of agility. The passenger cell is slightly set back, further underscoring the car's dynamic impression. The overall effect of the MINI Superleggera™ Vision is sporty, elegant and dynamic.

    The front of the MINI Superleggera™ Vision features the traditional MINI design icons: two circular headlights and a hexagonal grille define the unmistakable front section, providing a contemporary interpretation of features which have become firmly established over decades. There are also striking classic sports car elements such as a wide track and distinctively curved wheel arches that give the front a dynamic presence. The classic MINI bonnet stripes are three-dimensionally embossed and run on into high-quality polished aluminum accents. The inlaid bonnet harks back to classic British roadsters of bygone days.

    Meanwhile the horizontal rib look of the radiator grille adds a classic sporty touch. The fact that it is closed is a discreet indication of the car's electric motor. The two fog lights echo the circular contours of the headlamps, providing a smaller interpretation of them in the radiator grille. The air inlets are also circular, giving the front section a distinctive touch. A flat front splitter made of carbon fibre closes off the front to the road, thereby underscoring the car's sporty statement down to the last detail.

    Classic coachwork construction in a cutting-edge interpretation.

    The striking element of the side view is the characteristic "Touring" line. It embodies both the high art of coachwork building and classic aesthetics. Surrounded by tight, seamless surfaces, it traces a precise, vibrant movement from the front wheels through to the rear. This reflects the great craftsmanship and longstanding experience of Touring Superleggera in area of body construction: ever since it was founded the company has stood for fine, light sports car bodies. To this day, Touring Superleggera™ shapes large aluminium sheets by hand using the most performing frame structures. The hand-crafted style of construction gives the MINI Superleggera Vision an aesthetic form which would be virtually impossible to achieve by machine manufacture.

    "MINI and Touring both believe that proportions are the key factor of beauty, and share the same values of essentiality and innovation" says Louis de Fabribeckers, Head of design of Touring Superleggera. "In this car all unnecessary equipment or decoration is sacrificed, as performance is gained through lightness and efficiency of the bodywork and interior. The Italian touch is in the proportions and the typical waistline."

    There are very few gaps in the body since it is constructed from large sheets of metal. The result is a closed look that conveys high-quality elegance. The specially developed exterior paint finish Como Blue, almost liquid in effect, stands for both classic and modern style. It particularly underlines the refined Italian touch of the MINI Superleggera™ Vision. The elaborate rims and the elegant exterior mirrors in long-hole look complete with a mirror base in polished aluminium add exclusive accentuations at the side. Echoing the front section, the discreet CFRP sills underscore the sporty character of the MINI Superleggera™ Vision.

    Meanwhile the striking fin defines the look of the rear, adding a touch of extravagance. It gives the MINI Superleggera™ Vision a particular longitudinal dynamics while at the same time embodying the unconventional air of both MINI and Touring Superleggera. Like the "Touring" line at the side, it is modeled with enormous precision. The highlight of the flat, wide rear is the unusual lights: designed in the form of a Union Jack divided in two, they combine functionality and symbolism in a way never seen before. In this way they express the British roots of the MINI Superleggera™ Vision while at the same time emphasising the modern LED technology as already used in the new MINI. A chrome bar demarcates the rear lights at the centre of the rear, making this area a classic British jewellery icon. The CFRP diffuser rounds off the rear to the road in sporty style.

    Echoing the exterior - the interior design.

    The exterior and interior design of the MINI Superleggera™ Vision merge seamlessly. Only a surrounding shoulder line in polished aluminium visually separates the exterior and interior from each other. The border creates an encircling, sporty gesture that consistently perpetuates the clear elegance and generous surfaces of the exterior.

    In its styling and in the look and feel of its materials, the interior design celebrates the tradition and the essence of classic coachwork construction. It reflects how the automobile was created: the essential features are quoted - the untreated aluminium sheeting and the tube-shaped structural elements - and they are made visible in the interior by means of a high-quality interpretation. This is most striking in the dashboard. The latter is created from a single aluminium sheet and has been left in the state the automobile body would look like without a paint finish. The generously sized unpainted surfaces and the clearly visible hand craftsmanship of the dashboard go together to reflect the skilled artistry of the coachbuilders. The doors and the sporty 3-spoke steering wheel likewise reveal the traditional method of construction. The structural elements in the doors form a Union Jack, discreetly indicating the British origins of the MINI Superleggera™ Vision.

    The Center Instrument in the middle of the instrument panel draws on MINI design styling and has been extended for the MINI Superleggera™ Vision to include a touch-sensitive control element and two circular instruments with metal surrounds on the right. In addition to the analog clock on the far right, the second framed instrument activates the camera which is integrated between the driver and front passenger seat. It has the function of capturing those particularly worthwhile moments on the road.

    Classic and modern to equal degrees - colour and material design.

    The classic materials aluminium and leather in a virtually untreated state define the reduced aesthetics of the MINI Superleggera™ Vision in the interior. Below the shoulder covered in brown leather in the classical color Sabbia, the materials are kept to the essentials. The structural elements in the doors and centre console are finished in high-quality black chrome, exclusively set apart from the aluminium surfaces and the raw, matt textured paint finish in the footwell area. This deliberately contrasting mixture of structured surfaces and high-end materials gives the MINI Superleggera™ Vision an exceptional charm. The sporty bucket seats are reminiscent of bygone MINI motor racing achievements and are covered in high-quality black leather. True to the MINI Motto "Hide & Reveal", accentuations in Misty Magenta provide a touch of Italian flair in tongue-in-cheek MINI style in concealed spots such as the two hot air outlets under the instrument panel and inside the door openings in the structural elements of the doors.

    Coachbuilding in 2014.

    Since 1926, Touring Superleggera is forerunner of advanced automotive design and custom coachbuilding. The company is one of the rare firms offering the whole in-house productive cycle from the first sketch, all the way through surface engineering and structural analysis, style models and prototypes, to turn-key, low-volume production of special bodywork.

    "We are delighted that MINI wanted to stimulate an independent initiative and particularly Italian design for the first time", says Piero Mancardi, CEO of Touring Superleggera. He continues: "This project also shows MINIs attention to preserving and nurturing the skills of craftsmanship incorporated in modern coach building."

    The MINI Superleggera™ Vision epitomizes the potential of "Carrozzeria" in today's automobile industry: blending creativity and flexibility with rigor and respect of high standards. The result is a car of classic beauty that is also state of the art.

    Nissan delivers 50,000th all-electric LEAF in U.S. [VIDEO]

    Nissan achieved another milestone this month as Dallas residents Todd and Lisa Bolt made Nissan LEAF the first all-electric model to hit 50,000 sales in the U.S. The Bolt family took delivery of their black LEAF SL earlier this month at AutoNation Nissan of Lewisville.

    Thanks to enthusiastic owner advocates, robust public charging infrastructure and the launch of a successful free charging promotion, Dallas – and the state of Texas – have become hot growth markets for LEAF. So far in 2014, LEAF sales in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex have grown by about 50 percent over the previous year, with that growth set to accelerate faster thanks in part to the introduction of a new state tax rebate of up to $2,500 on the purchase or lease of a new Nissan LEAF.

    "Beyond the simple economics of not buying gas, we've been impressed with how well the LEAF drives," said Todd Bolt, a pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake. "When we show the LEAF off to family and friends, they're surprised that the car is so quiet and rides so well. The LEAF does everything we need day-to-day, and given the financial savings, I don't know why we'd buy another gas car."

    Electric vehicle ownership has taken hold at Gateway Church, where both Todd and Lisa work, after an executive pastor did the math and decided to buy a Nissan LEAF. Now, more than 20 employees are in the fold, jokingly referring to themselves as the "Blessed LEAFs Club."

    Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston are among 10 launch markets for "No Charge to Charge," a new promotion that provides two years of no-cost public charging to new LEAF buyers who took delivery of their car after April 1, 2014. The national promotion is modeled after a successful pilot program launched in Dallas and Houston last fall with Houston-based NRG eVgo.

    "With 'No Charge to Charge,' the new EV tax credit and enthusiastic new owners like the Bolt family, Dallas is poised to climb the ranks of leading LEAF sales markets," said Toby Perry, director, EV Marketing for Nissan. "Texas is a great indicator that the right mix of customer awareness and strategically placed charging can lead to rapid EV adoption, and we expect to use that model to grow our sales in markets across the U.S."

    With nearly 115,000 global sales since launch, Nissan LEAF is the world's top-selling electric vehicle. LEAF seats up to five passengers and boasts an estimated driving range on a fully-charged battery of 84 miles and MPGe ratings of 126 city, 101 highway and 114 combined. With a starting price of less than $30,000, LEAF is competitively priced with similar gas-powered cars after applicable tax credits, while providing the benefits of lower running costs and less scheduled maintenance.

    LEAF is powered by an advanced lithium-ion battery and an 80kW motor that provides a highly responsive, fun-to-drive experience. A Nissan LEAF can be charged to 80 percent of its full capacity in about 30 minutes using its available quick charge port and a quick charger. Charging at home through a 220V outlet is estimated to take approximately five hours with the 6.6 kW onboard charger (approximately eight hours with the S grade's standard 3.6 kW charger).

    Renault, LG Chem Join Forces to Develop Long-Range EV Batteries

    Renault Samsung Motors announced on May 21 that the Renault Group and LG Chem signed an MOU to develop next-gen long-range electric vehicle (EV) batteries and thus forged a strategic partnership. Both companies are planning to cooperate in the development of lithium-ion batteries used in long-range EVs.

    Even though they did not elaborate on their target miles per charge, the current value of 93 miles will reportedly double (i.e. 300 km). To attain their target, LG Chem’s high-energy-density batteries will be used in the joint development.

    The deal is significant in that two top-ranked firms in each sector decided to join forces. Renault already released four EV models including the Renault Z.E. The company is also expanding its investment to sell 1.5 million EVs by 2016, together with Nissan, which belongs to the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Renault’s EVs are fitted with LG Chem’s lithium-ion secondary batteries, while Nissan is supplied with batteries from the Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture between Nissan Motors and the NEC Corporation.

    LG Chem also occupies a top-ranked position in the EV market. The auto battery maker is currently supplying batteries to 10 car manufacturers, but the number is going to increase to 20 companies next year. According to Japanese market research firm B3, the Korean firm ranked first in the EV market by producing 1408MW/h in the third and fourth quarters of last year.

    The industry is paying attention to whether or not this deal will serve as an opportunity to facilitate another partnership between car and battery makers. Samsung SDI is already supplying its batteries to the BMW i3 and the i8 plug-in hybrid, and participating in the development of next models. This kind of united front between industries is expected to bring the era of EV commercialization closer.

    Nissan launches GT-R LMP1 WEC and Le Mans programme for 2015

    Nissan will take on Audi, Toyota and Porsche in the World Endurance Championship from the start of next season.

    Nissan has confirmed that it will mount a two-car attack on the full WEC with a car to be known as the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.

    Nissan vice-president Andy Palmer explained that his company wanted to exploit the new energy-based P1 rules introduced for this season by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest at Le Mans and the FIA.

    "We applaud the ACO and FIA for the work they have done to get the rules right," he said.

    "LMP1 is not just an arms race - all our rivals in the class have taken different technical approaches and we will be doing the same."

    He explained that Nissan wanted "to win in a very different way to that of our rivals".

    "We won't be turning up in a vehicle that is a basically another hybrid that looks like another Porsche, Audi or Toyota — they all look the same to me. Our intention is to do something that is a little bit different."

    Nissan, which made its announcement in London on Friday afternoon, has yet to disclose technical details of the car or where it will be built.

    Volvo to Develop Electric Roads for Dynamic Wireless EV Charging

    The Volvo Group is now taking the next step in the development of sustainable transport solutions. In collaboration with the Swedish Transport Administration, the Volvo Group will study the potential for building electric roads, where city buses can be charged from electricity in the road at the same time as the bus is in operation. The benefit is quieter and more climate-smart public transport. A 300- to 500-meter electric road may be built for test operations in central Gothenburg during 2015.

    “Vehicles capable of being charged directly from the road during operation could become the next pioneering step in the development towards reduced environmental impact, and this is fully in line with our vision of becoming the world leader in sustainable transport solutions. Close cooperation between society and industry is needed for such a development to be possible and we look forward to investigating the possibilities together with the City of Gothenburg,” says Niklas Gustavsson, Executive Vice President, Corporate Sustainability & Public Affairs of the Volvo Group.

    With the use of an electric road, vehicle batteries would continuously be charged wirelessly during operation by transferring energy from the electricity grid to a vehicle, instead of charging the bus while it is standing still at charging stations. The technology being studied is called inductive charging, whereby the energy is transferred wirelessly to the underside of the vehicle by equipment built into the road.

    The Volvo Group will develop a detailed proposal within the framework of innovation procurement from the Swedish Transport Administration. The proposal entails building a road section equipped with wireless charge technology and developing vehicles that will automatically charge their batteries when passing such a road section. The road will be built along a suitable bus line in central Gothenburg and be tested for public transport. Experiences from such a test track will provide valuable knowledge for future political and industrial decisions for establishing electric roads.

    For several years, the Volvo Group has been offering hybrid buses with a traditional diesel engine that is supplemented by an electrical engine to reduce CO2 emissions. Three Volvo plug-in-hybrid buses are already in operation in Gothenburg (project Hyper Bus*), which charge their batteries at the end stations of line 60. The next stage of development is for these types of buses to be able to charge their batteries while in operation, thus increasing the distance the buses can run on pure electricity. And this is exactly what will be studied now. In 2015, a new bus line, ElectriCity, will become operational between Chalmers and Lindholmen in Gothenburg. This line will also provide additional knowledge of charging technology and electric power for heavy vehicles.

    “We are working on both a broad and a deep basis to develop the technology of tomorrow. Electric roads are another important part of the puzzle in our aim of achieving transport solutions that will minimize the impact on the environment,” says Niklas Gustavsson.

    Kamis, 22 Mei 2014

    Panasonic Says Tesla Investment Won't Be a Risky Gamble

    Panasonic executives sought to allay investor concerns about the firm taking part in Tesla Motors $5 billion battery plant, saying any investment decision will be made one step at a time.

    Earlier this month, the Japanese tech giant said it signed a letter of intent to participate in the construction of what the Silicon Valley electric-car maker calls "gigafactory" for assembling vehicle batteries in the U.S. But Panasonic hasn't disclosed how much it plans to invest in the plant.

    With Panasonic already expanding production of batteries at factories based in Japan, one key concern is whether it will face overcapacity if it invests in the U.S. plant.

    Panasonic aims to double its sales from the automotive business to $20 billion by 2019. A third of these sales would come from car batteries and other parts for fuel-efficient vehicles.

    In addition to Tesla, the company has also received interest from other auto makers both in and outside of Japan, while its batteries can also be used for power-storage systems, they said.

    Source: WSJ

    Rabu, 21 Mei 2014

    Toyota Improve hybrid fuel efficiency by 10% with SiC Inverter

    Toyota in collaboration with Denso has developed a silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductor for use in automotive power control units. Toyota will begin test driving vehicles fitted with the new PCUs on public roads in Japan within a year.

    Through use of SiC power semiconductors, Toyota aims to improve hybrid vehicle fuel efficiency by 10 percent under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's JC08 test cycle and reduce PCU size by 80 percent compared to current PCUs with silicon-only power semiconductors. SiC power semiconductors have low power loss when switching on and off, allowing for efficient current flow even at higher frequencies. This enables the coil and capacitor, which account for approximately 40 percent of the size of the PCU, to be reduced in size.

    PCUs play an important role in hybrids and other vehicles with an electrified powertrain: they supply electrical power from the battery to the motor to control vehicle speed, and also send electricity generated during deceleration to the battery for storage. However, PCUs account for approximately 25 percent of the total electrical power loss in HVs, with an estimated 20 percent of the total loss associated with the power semiconductors alone. Therefore, a key way to improve fuel efficiency is to improve power semiconductor efficiency, specifically by reducing resistance experienced by the passing current. Since launching the “Prius” gasoline-electric HV in 1997, Toyota has been working on in-house development of power semiconductors and on improving HV fuel efficiency.

    As SiC enables higher efficiency than silicon alone, Toyota CRDL and Denso began basic research in the 1980s, with Toyota participating from 2007 to jointly develop SiC semiconductors for practical use. Toyota has installed the jointly developed SiC power semiconductors in PCUs for prototype HVs, and test driving on test courses has confirmed a fuel efficiency increase exceeding 5 percent under the JC08 test cycle.

    In December last year, Toyota established a clean room for dedicated development of SiC semiconductors at its Hirose Plant, which is a facility for research, development and production of devices such as electronic controllers and semiconductors.

    In addition to improved engine and aerodynamic performance, Toyota is positioning high efficiency power semiconductors as a key technology for improving fuel efficiency for HVs and other vehicles with electrified powertrains. Going forward, Toyota will continue to boost development activities aimed at early implementation of SiC power semiconductors.

    Toyota will exhibit the technology at the 2014 Automotive Engineering Exposition, to be held from May 21 to May 23 at the Pacifico Yokohama convention center in Yokohama.

    Minggu, 18 Mei 2014

    ELMOFO Electric Radical First Race at Eastern Creek [VIDEO]

    The Electric Radical SR8 built by Newcastle based ELMOFO had it's first race yesterday at Sydney Motorsport Park (Eastern Creek).

    With Garth Walden at the wheel for the first official CAMS sanctioned race meeting for an Electric Vehicle. The instant torque can make this car a bit of a handful on tight track sections, particularly with cooler tyres.

    The ELMOFO Radical, the current electric lap record holder, was the only electric powered vehicle in a field of petrol powered cars in Race 1 of Round 1 of the NSW SuperSports State Championships.

    The car performed as expected during practice, qualified 3rd (of 7) in it's class and was positioned 5th (of 9) on the grid for the start. The 2 front runners are super-light and faster Stohr racers which are in a different class to the Radicals.

    The 500 hp and 600 Nm of instant torque enabled Garth to wheel spin his way to the front of the Radical field which he led for the whole race until the last 150m where a technical issue caused a sudden power drop and let 2 cars pass just before the finish line.

    Tesla Motors in under 2 minutes [VIDEO]

    Created for the 2014 World Energy Innovation Forum, this short video showcases all things Tesla in just under two minutes.

    Flexible supercapacitor demonstrates ultrahigh energy-density

    Scientists have taken a large step toward making a supercapacitor with energy density comparable to a Li-ion battery.

    The supercapacitor packs an interconnected network of graphene and carbon nanotubes so tightly that it stores energy comparable to some thin-film lithium batteries—an area where batteries have traditionally held a large advantage.

    The product's developers, engineers and scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, Tsinghua University in China, and Case Western Reserve University in the United States, believe the storage capacity by volume (called volumetric energy density) is the highest reported for carbon-based microscale supercapacitors to date: 6.3 microwatt hours per cubic millimeter.

    The device also maintains the advantage of charging and releasing energy much faster than a battery. The fiber-structured hybrid materials offer huge accessible surface areas and are highly conductive.

    The researchers have developed a way to continuously produce the flexible fiber, enabling them to scale up production for a variety of uses. To date, they've made 50-meter long fibers, and see no limits on length.

    They envision the fiber supercapacitor could be woven into clothing to power medical devices for people at home, or communications devices for soldiers in the field. Or, they say, the fiber could be a space-saving power source and serve as "energy-carrying wires" in medical implants.

    Liming Dai, a professor of macromolecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve and a co-author of the paper, explained that most supercapacitors have high power density but low energy density, which means they can charge quickly and give a boost of power, but don't last long. Conversely, batteries have high energy density and low power density, which means they can last a long time, but don't deliver a large amount of energy quickly.

    Microelectronics to electric vehicles can benefit from energy storage devices that offer high power and high energy density. That's why researchers are working to develop a device that offers both.

    To continue to miniaturize electronics, industry needs tiny energy storage devices with large volumetric energy densities.

    By mass, supercapacitors might have comparable energy storage, or energy density, to batteries. But because they require large amounts of accessible surface area to store energy, they have always lagged badly in energy density by volume.

    Their approach

    To improve the energy density by volume, the researchers designed a hybrid fiber.

    A solution containing acid-oxidized single-wall nanotubes, graphene oxide and ethylenediamine, which promotes synthesis and dopes graphene with nitrogen, is pumped through a flexible narrow reinforced tube called a capillary column and heated in an oven for six hours.

    Sheets of graphene, one to a few atoms thick, and aligned, single-walled carbon nanotubes self-assemble into an interconnected prorous network that run the length of the fiber. The arrangement provides huge amounts of accessible surface area—396 square meters per gram of hybrid fiber—for the transport and storage of charges.

    But the materials are tightly packed in the capillary column and remain so as they're pumped out, resulting in the high volumetric energy density. The process using multiple capillary columns will enable the engineers to make fibers continuously and maintain consistent quality, Chen said.

    The findings

    The researchers have made fibers as long as 50 meters and found they remain flexible with high capacity of 300 Farad per cubic centimeter. In testing, they found that three pairs of fibers arranged in series tripled the voltage while keeping the charging/discharging time the same.

    Three pairs of fibers in parallel tripled the output current and tripled the charging/discharging time, compared to a single fiber operated at the same current density. When they integrate multiple pairs of fibers between two electrodes, the ability to store electricity, called capacitance, increased linearly according to the number of fibers used.

    Using a polyvinyl alcohol /phosphoric acid gel as an electrolyte, a solid-state micro-supercapacitor made from a pair of fibers offered a volumetric density of 6.3 microwatt hours per cubic millimeter, which is comparable to that of a 4-volt-500-microampere-hour thin film lithium battery.

    The fiber supercapacitor demonstrated ultrahigh energy-density value, while maintaining the high power density and cycle stability. "We have tested the fiber device for 10,000 charge/discharge cycles, and the device retains about 93 percent of its original performance," Yu said, " while conventional rechargeable batteries have a lifetime of less than 1000 cycles."

    The team also tested the device for flexible energy storage. The device was subjected to constant mechanical stress and its performance was evaluated. "The fiber supercapacitor continues to work without performance loss, even after bending hundreds of times," Yu said. "Because they remain flexible and structurally consistent over their length, the fibers can also be woven into a crossing pattern into clothing for wearable devices in smart textiles." Chen said.

    Such clothing could power biomedical monitoring devices a patient wears at home, providing information to a doctor at a hospital, Dai said. Woven into uniforms, the battery-like supercapacitors could power displays or transistors used for communication. The researchers are now expanding their efforts. They plan to scale up the technology for low-cost, mass production of the fibers aimed at commercializing high-performance micro-supercapacitors.

    In addition, "The team is also interested in testing these fibers for multifunctional applications, including batteries, solar cells, biofuel cells, and sensors for flexible and wearable optoelectronic systems," Dai said. "Thus, we have opened up many possibilities and still have a lot to do."

    Airbus Electric Airplane Flies—For an Hour Per Charge [VIDEO]

    The Airbus E-Fan, an all-electric trainer aircraft made of composite material, made its first flight last month–proving once again that it is possible to fly without jet fuel.

    That’s with one caveat however: The plane can fly for about an hour on a single charge. But still, this seems like a big deal mainly because the largest aerospace and defense company in Europe and the world’s leading commercial aircraft manufacturer is backing it.

    The successful first public flight of the electric E-Fan experimental aircraft was the highlight of Airbus Group’s E-Aircraft Day in Bordeaux, France on April 25. The electric E-Fan training aircraft is an experimental demonstrator based on an all-composite construction. Airbus Group and its partners intend to perform research and development to construct a series version of the E-Fan and propose an industrial plan for a production facility close to Bordeaux Airport. In addition, the group’s research efforts support the environmental protection goals of the European Commission, as outlined in its Flightpath 2050 program.

    Built with an all-composite construction, the E-Fan is 22 feet long and has a wingspan of 31 feet. It looks like a toy version of a jet aircraft with a pair of nacelles that aren’t really jets, but two ducted, variable pitch fans spun by two electric motors with a combined power of 60 kW. The ducting increases the thrust while reducing noise, and by centrally mounting them, the fans provide better control. The E-Fan flies at only 114 miles per hour.

    Powering the fans are a series of 250-volt, lithium-ion polymer batteries made by Kokam of South Korea. These batteries are mounted in the inboard section of the wings and carry enough charge for up to one hour of flight. They can be recharged in one hour. Worried about the “recharge” light coming on while up in the air? There’s a backup battery for emergency landings.

    Another key technology on the E-Fan is its e-FADEC energy management system, which automatically handles the electrical systems. According to Airbus, this simplifies system controls and, since E-Fan is a trainer, eases the workload of instructors and students.

    The E-Fan has zero carbon dioxide emissions in flight and should bring a significant reduction in noise around airfields, according to Airbus, “thus improving relations between local residents and flight schools with long-term prospects for the discreet and economical initial training of future professional pilots.”

    “It will not only lead to a further reduction in aircraft emissions and noise to support our environmental goals but will also lead to more economic and efficient aircraft technology in the long run. Our focus is to develop innovations that will help define what tomorrow’s aerospace industry will look like,” said Airbus Group Chief Technical Officer Jean Botti.

    So today the E-Fan is a learning platform, tomorrow a larger hybrid version that can fly 80 passengers on short regional trips. That’s apparently the plan. From small beginnings, a revolution in the air.

    Electric car tax credit should be $10,000 says Congressman

    Vermont Rep. Peter Welch wants to make it easier to buy electric cars by increasing the size of the federal tax credit for the vehicles and making those credits available at car dealerships.

    The Democrat said increasing the size of the tax credit to $10,000 and making it easier to take advantage of would make the vehicles more affordable for middle-income people.

    Electric car buyers are now eligible for credits up to $7,500 through their tax return.

    "If we're going to make real progress on climate change and we're going to reduce the cost of transportation, by the way, the cost of gas to our consumers, then we want to make this technology available," Welch said at an electric vehicle charging station near the Statehouse.

    Welch said he planned to introduce the legislation for the Electric Vehicle Act when he returns to Washington.

    More electric vehicles are needed because the transportation sector is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases in Vermont, he said. Electric vehicles have become more practical because battery technology is improving, making it possible for people to drive longer distances without charging, Welch said.

    Welch was joined at the Montpelier news conference by Montpelier Mayor John Hollar, Karen Glitman, the director of the Transportation Efficiency Program at the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and Dan Keene, owner of Lamoille Valley Ford and Twin State Ford.

    Glitman said the number of electric vehicles sold in Vermont last year tripled and there are about 640 plug-in electric vehicles registered in Vermont. The number is still small, but it is increasing and the potential savings to Vermont consumers is huge, she said.

    In 2010, there were $1.1 billion in taxable gasoline and diesel fuel sales in Vermont. If that amount of travel were provided by electric vehicles charged at the current cost of residential electricity, it would save about $800 million a year.

    "We need to keep that money with Vermonters and keep it working in Vermont rather than sending it overseas for the most part," Glitman said.

    NISMO ZEOD RC's Electrical System Explained [VIDEO]

    Jason from Engineering Explained has a look at the ZEOD RC's Electrical Systems and Zero Emissions on Demand motors that are capable of making the car go at 300km per hour!

    While the video does show a close-up of the enclosure for the 400 volt 12 kWh battery, the only other details provided are that the twin BLDC motors are rated at 120 kw each.

    Jumat, 16 Mei 2014

    GM to Build Chevy Spark EV 19 kWh Batteries In House

    General Motors will bring all its electric vehicle battery building capabilities in-house with production of battery systems for the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV at its battery assembly plant in Brownstown, Mich.

    "Using our in-house engineering and manufacturing expertise enabled us to deliver a battery system that is more efficient and lighter than the 2014 Spark EV without sacrificing range," said Larry Nitz, executive director of GM global transmission and electrification engineering. "Our successful working relationship with LG Chem has allowed us to deliver a new battery system for the Spark EV that helps us to better leverage our economies of scale."

    A newly designed battery system features an overall storage capacity of 19 kWh and uses 192 lithium ion cells. The cells are produced at LG Chem's plant in Holland, Mich. The battery system weight of 474 lbs. is 86 pounds lighter than the system in the 2014 Spark EV. The Spark EV battery is built on a dedicated production line at Brownstown, which also manufactures complete battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt, Opel Ampera and Cadillac ELR.

    Changes in battery design will not affect the Spark's MPGe, or gasoline equivalent, performance compared to the 2014 model. Range will remain at an EPA-rated 82 miles and MPGe will remain at 119.

    Priced at $19,995 with full federal incentives, The Spark EV is one of the most efficient – and affordable – all-electric vehicles available. Currently on sale in California and Oregon, the 2015 Spark EV features segment-leading technology including Siri Eyes Free, 4G LTE and DC Fast Charging.

    Brownstown Battery Assembly's 479,000-square-foot, landfill-free facility south of Detroit produces the lithium-ion battery packs for GM's extended-range electric vehicles. It started mass production in October 2010 and is the first high-volume manufacturing site in the U.S. operated by a major automaker for automotive lithium-ion battery production. The site was made possible with the help of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding through the U.S. Department of Energy.

    Kamis, 15 Mei 2014

    Dual Carbon Battery Charges 20x Faster than Current Li-Ion Batts [VIDEO]

    Power Japan Plus has launched a new battery technology – the Ryden dual carbon battery. This unique battery offers energy density comparable to a lithium ion battery, but over a much longer functional lifetime with drastically improved safety and cradle-to-cradle sustainability. The Ryden battery makes use of a completely unique chemistry, with both the anode and the cathode made of carbon.

    “Power Japan Plus is a materials engineer for a new class of carbon material that balances economics, performance and sustainability in a world of constrained resources,” said Dou Kani, CEO of Power Japan Plus. “The Ryden dual carbon battery is the energy storage breakthrough needed to bring green technology like electric vehicles to mass market.”

    The Ryden battery balances a breadth of consumer demands previously unattainable by single battery chemistry, including performance, cost, reliability, safety and sustainability.

  • High Performance – energy dense and charges 20 times faster than lithium ion batteries. It is also more powerful than other advanced batteries, operating above four volts.
  • Cost Competitive – slots directly into existing manufacturing processes, requiring no change to existing manufacturing lines. Even more, the battery allows for consolidation of the supply chain, with only one active material — carbon. Additionally, manufacturing of the Ryden battery is under no threat of supply disruption or price spikes from rare metals, rare earth or heavy metals.
  • Reliable – first ever high performance battery that meets consumer lifecycle demand, rated for more than 3,000 charge/discharge cycles.
  • Safe – safest high performance battery chemistry ever developed. The Ryden battery eliminates the unstable active material used in other high performance batteries, greatly reducing fire and explosion hazard. Even more, the battery experiences minimal thermal change during operation, eliminating the threat of a thermal runaway. Finally, the Ryden battery can be 100 percent charged and discharged with no damage to the battery.
  • Sustainable – contains no rare metals, rare earth metals or heavy metals, and is 100 percent recyclable, vastly improving the cradle-to-cradle sustainability of an advanced battery. Even further, Power Japan Plus is testing the Ryden battery with its organic Carbon Complex material, working towards the goal of producing the battery with all organic carbon in the future.
  • “Current advanced batteries have made great improvement on performance, but have done so by compromising on cost, reliability and safety,” said Dr. Kaname Takeya, CTO of Power Japan Plus. “The Ryden dual carbon battery balances this equation, excelling in each category.”

    Path to Market

    Power Japan Plus will begin benchmark production of 18650 Ryden cells later this year at the company’s production facility in Okinawa, Japan. This facility will allow the company to meet demand for specialty energy storage markets such as medical devices and satellites. For larger demand industries, such as electric vehicles, Power Japan Plus will operate under a licensing business model, providing technology and expertise to existing battery manufacturers to produce the Ryden battery.

    Tesla Sees Need for Hundreds of Battery ‘Gigafactories’

    Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk said the need for lower-cost batteries for autos and power storage means there will need to be hundreds of “gigafactories” like the one the carmaker is planning to build.

    The electric-car company based in Palo Alto, California, anticipates the battery factory will reduce the cost of lithium-ion cells by more than its initial guidance of 30 percent, Musk said. He spoke yesterday at the World Energy Innovation Forum, an annual conference hosted by Tesla board member Ira Ehrenpreis.

    “I think we can probably do better than 30 percent,” Musk, 42, said yesterday at the company’s Fremont, California, plant. As carmakers increase demand for batteries “there’s going to need to be lots of gigafactories. Just to supply auto demand you need 200 gigafactories,” he said.

    Tesla is getting close to deciding where it will build the first such proposed facility, which Musk has said will cost as much as $5 billion and involve partner companies such as Panasonic. Last week he said groundbreaking at one of at least two potential sites could happen as early as June.

    Along with supplying cheaper batteries for Tesla’s electric cars, the plant is to supply stationary power storage devices to SolarCity Corp., another Musk-affiliated company. Those power storage devices will also be needed by other solar power providers and to store wind power, he said, without identifying specific companies.

    Selasa, 13 Mei 2014

    BMW i5 with 300 km range expected by 2017

    Following news late last year of a large battery powered BMW sedan 'already in the works', details are starting to emerge about the 2017 i5.

    According to Car & Driver, the model will be heavily influenced by the i3 but feature distinctive styling and front-hinged rear doors. The model could also be equipped with a more conservative interior but nothing is official as of yet.

    Like the i3, the i5 is expected to feature an electric motor that develops 170 PS (125 kW) and 250 Nm (184 lb-ft) of torque. However, the model's increased size could enable it to use a larger lithium-ion battery that delivers an electric-only range of up to 200 miles (322 km). There could also be a range-extended variant that uses a 1.5-liter three-cylinder petrol engine.

    The BMW i5 will reportedly be launched in 2016, as a 2017 model, and cost approximately $50,000.

    Source: Car & Driver

    Senin, 12 Mei 2014

    BMW SGL to triple carbon-fiber production capacities

    Due to the high demand for carbon fiber in automotive production, BMW and SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers are going to triple the capacity of their carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake, WA (USA).

    The expansion will be funded by an investment of 200 million US dollars, in addition to the previously invested 100 million US dollars. The site expansion, scheduled to be completed by early 2015, will make the plant in Moses Lake the world’s largest carbon fiber plant. With the anticipated creation of 120 new jobs, the headcount at the joint venture in Moses Lake is going to rise from currently 80 to about 200 people. Due to the automated production processes, the expansion of the site in Moses Lake will make it possible for the BMW Group to apply carbon fiber material also in other model series in the future, at competitive costs and in large quantities.

    At present, the Moses Lake plant operates two production lines, exclusively for BMW i, with an annual output of approx. 3,000 tons of carbon fiber. Already this summer, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers will commission a third and fourth production line in Moses Lake, which are currently being built, thus doubling the plant’s capacity to 6,000 tons per year. Today’s groundbreaking ceremony for a fifth and sixth production line has been the first step toward tripling capacities to 9,000 tons annually in the medium term. The energy needed for the carbon fiber production is fully generated from hydropower.

    “With its highly automated carbon fiber production and stringent quality standards, Moses Lake is setting new standards in the industry. At present, the site is the world’s fastest growing carbon fiber producer. Together with the BMW Group, we are doing pioneering work to establish CFRP as a material in large-series automotive production. In a mix of materials, CFRP offers new opportunities in lightweight construction for an eco-friendly mobility,” explained Dr. Jürgen Köhler, CEO of SGL Group.

    Dr. Klaus Draeger, Board Member Purchasing and Supplier Network at BMW AG: “CFRP is a key material for the automotive industry of the 21st century. In our endeavor to identify increasingly lightweight materials in order to reduce a vehicle’s weight and thus its fuel consumption and carbon emissions, this material plays a crucial role. As part of an intelligent mix of materials, we will apply carbon also beyond our BMW i and BMW M models in the future. Thanks to the pooling of the SGL Group’s expertise and our knowledge in large-series production of CFRP components, we will be able to produce the ultra-lightweight high-tech material also for other model series, at competitive costs and in large quantities.”

    The carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake is a key element in the strategy pursued by the two companies, which anticipates the industrialized large-series production of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) for the application in future vehicle concepts. Up to now, carbon fiber produced in Moses Lake is exclusively used for the BMW i models. Since the start of the year, the Leipzig plant has built over 5,000 BMW i3 vehicles. At present, the production output stands at 100 units a day. Furthermore, the BMW Group has been applying the ultra-lightweight high-tech material also in its BMW M models for the past ten years.

    Andreas Wüllner, CEO of SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers: “In the course of only four years, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers has managed to become the world’s largest carbon fiber production site. The automotive industry will increasingly turn to CFRP because it is a material of the future.”

    Availability of renewable energy crucial in the decision for the location in Moses Lake
    As part of their joint venture agreement, the BMW Group and the SGL Group invested an initial 100 million dollars at their Moses Lake site by 2013, creating 80 new jobs. Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State: “Congratulations to the BMW Group and the SGL Group on the groundbreaking of their fifth and sixth production line at the Moses Lake Plant. Washington State is proud to partner with BMW. The game-changing technology of carbon fiber is driving a surge in U.S. manufacturing, and with this production plant Washington State is at the forefront of that surge.”

    The production of carbon fiber requires a great amount of energy. Accordingly, decisive factors for the set up of the carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake included the availability of renewable hydropower as well as competitive energy costs in Washington State. The availability of skilled workers also had an influence on the decision in favor of the location, which was taken in April 2010. The groundbreaking ceremony for the plant was in July 2010, the opening of the production site in September 2011. Dr. Jörg Pohlman, CEO of SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers: “We received great support from the regional authorities in Grant County and Moses Lake, a decisive element in making this rapid development of the past few years possible. With the site expansion, we are reaching an important milestone in safeguarding the site’s future.”

    Production of carbon fiber composites
    The production of carbon fiber composites for automotive manufacturing requires several process steps: The necessary precursor, which is based on polyacrylnitrile fiber, is made by a joint venture between SGL Group and the Japanese company Mitsubishi Rayon in Otake, Japan. In a next step, polyacrylnitrile fiber is turned into the actual carbon fiber in Moses Lake. This material is then processed at the second joint venture site in Wackersdorf, Germany, and turned into textile carbon fiber layers, the starting point for the production of CFRP body parts at the BMW plants in Landshut and Leipzig. In the BMW i models, CFRP already holds a significant share in the mix of materials, a first at this scope and in series production. The joint venture gives the BMW Group access to this innovative key material in the long term. The SGL Group provides their expertise in high-performance materials and their experience with carbon fiber-based materials.

    Minggu, 11 Mei 2014

    Test driving the new Mercedes B-Class electric Drive [VIDEO]

    For the first time, Mercedes brings a fully electric car to the U.S

    The B-Class ED is the product of a technology-sharing alliance between Tesla and Daimler that goes back to Mercedes’ 2009 investment.

    Rather than rely on in-house R&D, Mercedes essentially contracted with Tesla—the Silicon Valley car maker and acknowledged leader in electric automobiles—to provide the EV architecture (motor, transmission, battery, power electronics) for its electron-fired B-Class.

    Tesla will make the B-Class battery pack, power management system etc at the factory in Fremont, Calif., and ship them to Germany for final vehicle assembly.

    The B-Class Electric Drive, which is built on the same production line as the gasoline-powered version, is going to go on sale in Europe around the end of the year and will also come in a right-hand drive version for other markets in 2015.

    One of these days, one of these compliance cars is going to break out, sales-wise. The B-Class ED, which will sell in all 50 states, could be the one. While it might have emerged out of a compliance effort, the B-ED just shines, a premium family electric that braids Tesla’s and Mercedes’ DNA so convincingly the car might as well be called the Model B.

    Sabtu, 10 Mei 2014

    Monster Tajima prepares for Pikes Peak 2014 [VIDEO]

    Nobuhiro Tajima and his APEV Monster Sport team are preparing for their third year at the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb with Battery power.

    Nine-time Unlimited division champion Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima will be gunning for outright course record again after he was the first to break the 10 minute barrier with an electric vehicle at Pikes Peak in 2013, even surpassing the 9:51.278 he turned in during the 2011 race in a 900 hp Suzuki SX4, when he was the first driver ever to crack the Peak’s elusive ten-minute barrier.

    The outright hill record goal posts have been moved significantly this year by nine time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb setting a time of 8:13.878 in a 900 hp 900 kg Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak Special.

    When asked after the 2013 event about beating the new gasoline record, Tajima responded: “We are able to do that very soon, it depends on the battery. With a high quality and high density battery, I can beat that record for sure.”

    Jumat, 09 Mei 2014

    MotorTorque BMW i3 review [VIDEO]

    MotorTorque has tested the BMW i3, the premium brand's first foray into electric vehicles.

    This model, the pricier range extender version, promises a range of 180 miles - eighty miles more than the pure electric version.

    Adding to its green credentials is how this car has been built. It's an entirely new frame platform made from carbon fibre reinforced plastic, which helps keep weight down and also makes it strong, meaning you don't need the B-pillar.

    There's lots of neat touches here like satnav which shows you charging points in a hundred mile radius, and there's the option to switch to petrol mode and conserve the electric range.

    You'll only find two seats in the back and the boot is okay at 300 litres but doesn't offer the same practicality as a conventional family hatchback.

    Rabu, 07 Mei 2014

    Nissan Leaf with 300 km range on sale by 2017

    Nissan's next-generation Leaf electric vehicle will have a new battery that more than doubles its range. And Infiniti’s delayed electric car will debut with the improved battery by early 2017.

    Nissan executives shed more light on the automaker’s next EVs, saying better range is key to higher sales. Nissan launched the Leaf in December 2010 and has already improved its performance. But engineers are working on a big jump with a revamped battery by 2017.

    A new battery chemistry will debut by then for use by Infiniti and Nissan, said Andy Palmer, executive vice president in charge of Nissan’s zero emissions and Infiniti businesses.

    “The battery chemistry is all about range and energy density. That’s where you see the technology moving very, very fast,” he said in an interview last month at the Beijing auto show. “This really is the game-changing technology.”

    Longer range

    Palmer declined to offer a target range. But the battery must deliver up to 300 kilometers, or 186 miles, for EVs to present an everyday alternative to the hydrogen fuel cell cars that rivals are developing, he said.

    During an interview at the LA Auto Show, Pierre Loing, vice president of product and advanced planning and strategy at Nissan, hinted that his company may offer multi-pack size option that might increase range to 400 km.

    Nissan have been working in a lithium nickel manganese cobalt battery chemistry since 2009 that was expected to enter production by 2015.

    Nissan has not announced timing for the next-generation Leaf. But Palmer said the car is on a normal product cadence, from a full global launch dating to 2013: “I think if you thought about a normal model cycle from 2013, that would be more realistic.”

    That would put the next Leaf’s arrival just after Nissan’s Power 88 business plan, which ends March 31, 2017, he added.

    The Infiniti EV, however, will go on sale “close enough to be counted” as part of Power 88 and should arrive before the luxury brand gets its long-awaited top-shelf halo car, Palmer said.

    “I think the EV will come earlier,” Palmer said, citing tightening government emissions rules, particularly in China. “To some extent, EV is now becoming practically a requirement.”

    Better batteries

    The Infiniti EV will get the company’s next-generation battery chemistry and feature wireless inductive charging, he said.

    Infiniti had delayed the EV to wait for better battery technology. The debut was initially slated for 2014.

    The Infiniti EV may have a greater range than the Leaf because its sedan packaging can accommodate a bigger battery.

    BMW i8 Gran Coupé to rival Tesla Model S

    BMW's i3 is already on the market and the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car is poised for its own launch but what of a rival for the Tesla Model S?

    We recently reported on BMW considering a large battery powered sedan to compete head on with Tesla's Model S. The guys at Auto Projecoes envisage a "family" i8, with four doors and longer wheelbase as a fitting Model S rival.

    Source: Auto Projeções

    2015 BMW i8 by the numbers [VIDEO]

    Jason Cammisa of Road & Track brings us the first real world performance numbers of the new BMW i8. One interesting figure that stands out is the 0 to 60 mph which was recorded at 3.8 seconds.

    BMW i8 uses a plug-in hybrid system consisting of a turbocharged three-cylinder BMW TwinPower Turbo petrol engine and BMW eDrive technology in the form of an electric drive system.

    In the rear of the BMW i8, the B38 three-cylinder engine makes 231 hp and delivers its power solely to the rear wheels. At the front, an electric motor is installed, which is powered by a lithium-ion battery in the middle of the vehicle. The system performance drives up to 362 horsepower.

    BMW Launch i Solar Carport Concept for i3 and i8 [VIDEO]

    With the all-electric BMW i3 already on the market and the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car poised for its own launch, the BMW Group portfolio boasts the world’s first premium automobiles purpose-designed for zero-emission mobility.

    The international media launch of the BMW i8 in Los Angeles will include the presentation of a solar carport concept developed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA for the use of renewable energy. It combines high-grade technology for generating electricity from solar power with an innovative design that perfectly complements the BMW i models.

    In its choice of materials, design and colour, the DesignworksUSA carport concept takes its cue from the characteristic styling of the BMW i models to form a harmonious counterpart. The holistic sustainability concept is underlined by the materials used in the construction of the carport and by its solar modules. In addition to the carbon elements on the side of the carport, the principal material used is bamboo in the form of struts. Thanks to its rapid growth, bamboo is considered a particularly sustainable raw material. For the generation of electricity, high-grade glass-on-glass solar modules are used. These are translucent and very durable, as well as generating a high energy yield. For the panels used in Europe, the manufacturer offers a 30-year guarantee.

    The solar carport not only guarantees the supply of green power but furthermore allows for energy self-sufficiency, so that customers remain independent of electricity prices. In conjunction with the BMW i Wallbox Pro, the car can be specifically charged with solar electricity from the carport. The Wallbox also indicates the amount of solar energy that goes into the car and provides an analysis of recent charging processes which shows the respective proportions of solar and grid power. If the solar panels provide energy beyond the requirements of the vehicle, this surplus solar power can be put to domestic use.

    Generating private electricity with the aid of solar collectors and feeding this CO2-free energy via the BMW i Wallbox into the vehicle’s high-voltage battery further optimises of the life cycle assessment of the BMW i models. Regularly hooking up the high-voltage battery to the Wallbox connected to the solar carport enables a high degree of CO2-neutral usage of the BMW i8. With a fully charged high-voltage battery, the plug-in hybrid sports car has a range of around 37 kilometres (22 miles) in all-electric mode.

    During development of the solar carport concept by BMW Group DesignworksUSA, the spotlight was firmly on the harmonious interplay between vehicle design and architecture. The glass-on-glass solar modules of the carport are supported by exclusively designed bamboo and carbon elements that authentically reflect the hallmark lines and surface sculpting of the BMW i automobiles. “With the solar carport concept we opted for a holistic approach: not only is the vehicle itself sustainable, but so is its energy supply,” explains Tom Allemann, who is responsible for the carport design at BMW Group DesignworksUSA. “This is therefore an entirely new generation of carports that allows energy to be produced in a simple and transparent way. It renders the overarching theme of lightweight design both visible and palpable.” The BMW Group subsidiary headquartered in California runs an international design studio network in Europe, Asia and America. As an impulse-generator in the fields of design and innovation, the company works for the BMW Group brands as well as for numerous other high-profile international clients spanning a range of industrial sectors.

    WEC 6 hours of Spa Francorchamps 2014 (full race) [VIDEO]

    With the FIA having put all World Endurance Championship live TV coverage behind a pay-wall for 2014, we are indeed fortunate that enthusiastic Youtubers are willing to upload the entire 6 hours of Spa Francorchamps for those of us who prefer free TV.

    Panasonic Has 39% Share of Plug-In Vehicle Batteries Thanks to Tesla

    Batteries for hybrids and plug-in vehicles are growing fast, more than tripling over the past three years to reach 1.4 GWh per quarter, according to the Automotive Battery Tracker from Lux Research. Panasonic has emerged as the leader thanks to its partnership with Tesla, capturing 39% of the plug-in vehicle battery market, overtaking NEC (27% market share) and LG Chem (9%) in 2013.

    "Even at relatively low volumes -- less than 1% of all cars sold -- plug-in vehicles are driving remarkable energy storage revenues for a few developers, like Panasonic and NEC, that struck the right automotive partnerships," said Cosmin Laslau, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the new Lux Research Automotive Battery Tracker.

    "To understand this opportunity, we combined a comprehensive data set of vehicle sales with detailed battery specifications for each car and supplier relationships, yielding a flexible tool that uncovers unexpected insights into this fast-changing market," he added.

    Lux Research analysts used historical and current vehicle sales, detailed battery specifications for each car, and supplier relationships to create the Automotive Battery Tracker. Among their findings:

  • The electric vehicle drivetrain is the most lucrative for battery developers.
     Hybrids move the most cars -- the Toyota Prius is the best-selling car in Japan and California -- but their small battery packs mean they require less energy storage in total than full electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf. Hybrids demanded 481 MWh of batteries in Q1 2014, while electric vehicles called for 774 MWh. Nonetheless, in terms of demand by OEM, hybrid leader Toyota (28%) edges EV providers Tesla Motors (24%) and Renault-Nissan (21%).
  • Regulations and consumer preference drive significant regional differences.
    China has the highest ratio in the world of plug-in vehicles to hybrids, but its average EV battery packs are less than half the size of those sold in the U.S. Adoption of hybrids also varies widely: Japanese consumers bought more than three times as many hybrids as U.S. drivers did, despite Japan being a much smaller automotive market overall.
  • Lithium-ion extends its lead, but NiMH sticks around.
     Lithium-ion batteries captured 68% of the 1.4 GWh of batteries used in plug-ins and hybrids in Q1 2014, with nickel metal hydride (NiMH) technology trailing at 28% -- but kept aloft by Toyota's loyalty to the lower-cost technology for its top-selling Prius. Next-generation solid-state batteries continue to make only a small dent, with less than 1% of the market.