Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Honda Debuts Hybrids and EV's At Tokyo Auto Show

Big doings from the Honda Motor Company. We only wish that more of these concepts were destined for production.

The CR-Z Concept 2009. Click to enlarge.

Honda will reveal the CR-Z Concept 2009, the most recent prototype of a compact sports car using Honda’s IMA technology, at October’s Tokyo Motor Show. Honda introduced the first version of the CR-Z concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2007. When the production version goes on sale in 2010, it will be the first series-production sports hybrid car from a major OEM, and the first gasoline-electric vehicle to employ a 6-speed manual transmission.

Honda will also reveal two more concepts at the show. The EV-N is a small, 4-seater battery electric vehicle, inspired by the N360, Honda’s 360cc micro car launched in the 1960s. It features solar panels in the roof, which could be used to help to charge the on-board battery. The EV-N is purely a design study and there are no plans for production.

The EV-N. Click to enlarge.

The show will also mark the debut of the Skydeck concept, a 6-seater hybrid MPV. This is still a design study, but Honda is positioning it as an example of how the IMA technology can be placed in a range of different cars for different needs.

To give the Skydeck the practicality of a conventional MPV, many of the hybrid system components—including the high power battery—are housed in the car’s center tunnel (rather than behind the rear seats or under the floor, as with previous production hybrids). This allows for greater cabin space, and the room for three rows of two seats. It also gives a lower center of gravity.

The SKYDECK. Click to enlarge.

A special display zone named “HELLO!” (for Honda Electric mobility Loop) will feature a display of electricity-based products, including products that supply electricity, vehicles that run on electricity and products with innovative electronic technologies. As well as the EV-N, this area will display FCX CLARITY, a fuel cell electric vehicle that runs on the electricity it produces from hydrogen; a new EV-Cub electric motorcycle; the new U3-X, a one wheel personal mobility device that uses balance control technology developed through the ASIMO robot project (earlier post); and LOOP, a portable communication tool that allows people and mobility devices to communicate with each other.

The EVE-neo. Click to enlarge.

Honda’s motorcycle display will share the same stand area as four-wheeler, with features from larger-displacement sports bikes to compact commuter models powered by electricity. Advanced models that address environmental elements include the PCX, an idle stop function-equipped global scooter; and the EVE-neo, an electric scooter. The new Dual Clutch Transmission technology for larger-displacement and sportier bikes will also be showcased.

Source: Green Car Congress

Saturn, No More...Dead and Gone

Poor Saturn. Our sympathies to all Saturn owners.

From Automotove News:

General Motors Co. said it will begin to phase out Saturn -- the car company conceived more than 25 years ago to fend off imports -- after potential buyer Penske Automotive Inc. failed to secure a source of vehicles to keep the brand afloat.

“We will be winding down the Saturn brand and dealership network,” GM said in a statement today. "This is very disappointing news and comes after months of hard work by hundreds of dedicated employees and Saturn retailers who tried to make the new Saturn a reality.”

Penske had been in discussions with unidentified automakers around the world to develop a product portfolio for Saturn after a sale by GM. The retailer had negotiated terms of an agreement to source vehicles from another automaker, but the automaker’s board rejected the deal, Penske said.

“Without that agreement,” Penske said in a statement, “the risks and uncertainties related to the availability of future products prohibit” the vehicle distributor from moving ahead with the deal.

A source familiar with the negotiations told Automotive News that it was France’s Renault SA that had decided not to work with Penske.

In July, Renault said it had been approached by Roger Penske, CEO of Penske Automotive, about supplying vehicles to Saturn. Earlier reports suggested that Penske Automotive might buy vehicles from Renault’s Korean unit, Renault Samsung Motors, for Saturn.

13,000 jobs at stake

GM said it will determine and communicate to dealers how it plans to wind down the Saturn brand and dealership network “shortly.”

Saturn customers and owners will continue to be able to purchase and have their vehicles serviced at Saturn retailers during this process, GM said. Once the wind-down is complete, Saturn owners will be able to have their vehicles serviced at other GM dealerships.

GMAC Financial Services said in a statement that it will continue to provide financing options to Saturn dealers and customers during the wind-down.

GM, which emerged from bankruptcy in July, had said it aimed to finalize the agreement with Penske in the third quarter -- a deal it had said could preserve more than 350 franchises and 13,000 jobs.

As part of its bid for federal rescue loans, GM on Dec. 2 told Congress that it may sell Saturn in order to focus on four core brands. At the time, GM also said it would turn Pontiac into a niche brand. It, like Saturn, is scheduled to be shut down.

Months of ‘limbo’ time

Dealer George Nahas has been through the brand-closing trauma before. Nahas, owner of two Saturn stores in Alabama and Florida, owned an Oldsmobile dealership in 2000 when GM killed that brand.

He says this latest news is disappointing, but it at least provides clarity for his future.

“We’ve been in limbo since Dec. 2,” Nahas said. “The brand has been damaged since then. Penske buoyed our spirits and our hopes. Our spirits were high because we thought the Penske deal was going to go through. At least now we know what it is, and we know what our destiny is, right? We can act accordingly.”

Nahas says he has some import brands that want him to carry their products. “I guess I’ll be selling the competition.”

Golden touch

Detroit industrial hero Roger Penske, 72, had proposed stepping into the unprecedented role of taking over a doomed brand without owning a single auto plant.

GM had agreed to continue selling Penske three Saturn models -- the Aura, Vue and Outlook -- for two more years. After that, Penske would have to put together a portfolio of new products from wherever he could source them.

The white-haired Penske is a familiar face in U.S. racing circles. Penske’s firm also rescued Detroit Diesel Corp. two decades ago after GM decided to sell off that business. It also acquired and restored motor speedways around the country.

Penske Automotive is the nation’s second-largest automotive retailer, with new-vehicle retail sales of 171,872 units in 2008, according to the Automotive News Data Center. It also distributes the Smart ForTwo, made by Mercedes-Benz, in the United States.

John Pitre, general manager of Saturn of Bakersfield in California, said, “If Roger didn’t think it would work, then it won’t work.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Presenting Jungle Motors - EV Converters Extraordinaire

In the market for an all electric vehicle but do not want a Tesla or want to wait for the established auto manufacturers? How about a Toyota Prius that has been converted with batteries to become plug-in capable? Surf on over to Jungle Motors and place your order. You can buy a late model vehicle completely converted to EV mode for less than half the price of a Tesla. They are serious about their vehicles and the worksmanship shows.

Find their website here:

A sample of their offerings:

Welcome to the Jungle and thanks for stopping by Jungle Motors. This is THE place for-

-100% Electric Vehicles- freeway speeds and 100+ mile range

-Gas to 100% Electric Conversions- Your car or ours

-Gas to Electric/Gas Hybrid Conversions- Improve your MPG

-Hybrid to Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV)- Charge at home and save $$

-Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Conversion- 2004 to 2009 models

-Lithium Iron Phosphate (LifePO4) batteries and Motors

-NEW- full Auto Body and Paint services now available -NEW-

*Coming Soon Plug-In Hybrid Conversions for-
Toyota Highlander
Ford Escape
Toyota Camry

Prius Plug-In Conversion Obama Stimulus Special. Our Kit with batteries normally $6,995 installed, is only $5995 if ordered today. Get over 100+ Mpg and drive in Battery only mode!! Call for your conversion appointment
(949) 443-0900

1986 Hot Red Electric Porsche Cabriolet 911, over 100Mph and 125 mile range, new paint and top $48,995.00

1977 Beautiful Black Electric Porsche 911 SC, over 100Mph and 125 mile range, ready to roll $43,995.00

2002 Cool Vanilla PT Cruiser, over 100Mph and 150 mile range, Woody package with room for 5, $46,995.00

2000 White Ford Ranger EV, NiMh batteries, 75Mph and 60 mile range $19,995.00

2005 Burgundy Toyota Prius with Lead Acid Plug In Conversion Kit, over 100Mpg, $17,995.00

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mitsubishi iMiEV Battery System To Be Used for Garbage Collection

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC), will supply battery systems from its new-generation electric vehicle i-MiEV to Kyokuto Kaihatsu Kogyo Co., Ltd. for use in a garbage collection vehicle to power the trash compactor. This is the first time that components used in the i-MiEV are to be supplied for non-i-MiEV use.

Refuse truck
Kyokuto Kaihatsu Kogyo refuse truck with Li-ion compactor. Click to enlarge.

Current trash compactors on garbage collection trucks run on power from the truck’s engine. Looking for a more environmentally-friendly solution, Kyokuto Kaihatsu Kogyo Co., Ltd. has worked on developing electric-powered trash compactors for its trucks for the past few years.

During development, it determined that the battery system used in MMC’s i-MiEV fulfilled the necessary specifications for an electric-powered trash compactor. The company decided to use MMC’s battery system to power trash compactor to create an electric garbage collection truck. The result is:

  • A 75% cut in truck CO2 emissions during use by utilizing battery power for the trash compactor instead of the engine;

  • Engine noise and CO2 emissions can be cut to zero when the engine is turned off during compactor use;

  • With almost no noise and no gas emissions during compactor use, the new truck is optimal for trash collection from within buildings, during early morning or late at night; and

  • The electricity cost to run the trash compactor is significantly less than diesel fuel usually used in normal trash compactors.

Source: Green Car Congress

Friday, September 25, 2009

Volvo to Introduce Plug In Hybrid Diesel in 2012

The Volvo Motor Company knows what they are doing. They are taking an existing vehicle platform, the V70 and converting it into a serial plug in hybrid vehicle capable of 31 miles all electric range. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel like Chevy has done with the Volt, Volvo is taking a much easier route and will put a great product on the road. Of course, the added bonus here is the use of a long lasting diesel engine.

From Green Car Congress:

PHEV battery pack in V70 demonstrator without damage after a full scale rear crash test. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Corporation is postponing its plans to produce a full hybrid based on a diesel engine and instead will introduce a series-produced plug-in diesel hybrid (PHEV) in Europe as early as 2012. The plug-in will support up to a 50 km (31 mile) all-electric range—sufficient to cover the daily transport needs of 75% of European drivers. For longer distances, the diesel automatically takes over. The combined range is about 1,200 kilometers (746 miles). Carbon dioxide emissions will average out at 49 g/km, with fuel consumption of 1.9 liters per 100 km (124 mpg US), according to the NEDC certification driving cycle.

The strategy that Volvo is adopting to start series-producing plug-in cars as early as 2012 is to exploit existing architecture for major components such as the body and engine. The company says it is saving time by installing the battery and electric motor beside a conventional driveline instead of waiting for an entirely new generation of car models.

The diesel engine will be optimized to run on renewable synthetic diesel, and will meet future exhaust emission requirements. The diesel engine can be run separately or in combination with the electric motor for optimal power and energy utilization. For example, the diesel engine can support or replace electric power at high speeds or when the battery charge drops, while the electric motor can offer additional torque at low engine revs.

19630_1_5A V70 plug-in hybrid demonstrator. The series-production PHEVs will feature “somewhat different” technology. Click to enlarge.

V70 PHEV Demonstrators. In January 2007, Volvo Cars and energy supplier Vattenfall launched a joint project with the aim of testing and developing plug-in technology. A new company was founded, V2 Plug-in-Hybrid Vehicle Partnership, as a result of this initiative.

The partners put three Volvo V70 PHEV demonstration cars on the road in the summer of 2009. These will combine a front-wheel drive diesel engine with a rear-wheel drive electric motor, powered by an 11.3 kWh Li-ion battery pack, of which 8 kWh is usable. The car will support both residential charging (approx. five hours) as well as a 32A fast charge. (Earlier post.) Volvo Car Corporation has selected lithium-ion battery systems designed and produced by Ener1, Inc. for the plug-in demo cars. (Earlier post.)

When announcing the V70 PHEV demonstrators, Volvo indicated that the cars planned to go into series production in 2012 will feature “somewhat different” technology.

The purchase price of a plug-in hybrid is expected to be considerably higher than for a conventional diesel car since the batteries are still expensive, says Volvo. Fuel costs on electric power will be about one-third compared with driving on diesel, and this partially compensates for the higher purchase price. Volvo Cars assesses that plug-in hybrids will be commercially viable for certain customer categories in 2012, gradually widening in appeal as battery price and performance continuously improve.

We are focusing strongly on plug-in hybrids in order to meet the demands for low CO2 emissions and to provide sustainable road transportation. We naturally expect that the relevant authorities will offer subsidies to boost developments, speeding up the creation of a market for this type of car.

—Stephen Odell, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation

Volvo’s dealers will offer customers who buy a plug-in hybrid a special contract for the supply of renewable energy. This agreement has been created in cooperation with the company’s partner, Swedish electricity supplier Vattenfall.

A123 Systems Goes Public In a Big Way

Li-ion battery maker A123 Systems went public today in a widely anticipated IPO. Initially priced at $13.50/share, the company opened trading on the NASDAQ this morning at $17.00, and closed at $20.29, resulting in a market value of $1,964,396,640 at the end of the day.

Share volume on day one was 41,165,289; shares outstanding are 96,816,000. The initial public offering was of 28,180,501 shares. Of the shares in the offering, 27,500,000 shares were offered by the company and 680,501 shares were offered by selling shareholders. The company granted the underwriters the option to purchase up to an additional 4,227,075 shares at the initial public offering price to cover over-allotments, if any.

Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated and Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as joint book-running managers for the offering. BofA Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Lazard Capital Markets LLC, and Pacific Crest Securities acted as co-managers of the offering.

In its S-1/A filed with the SEC, for the year 2008, A123 reported an operating loss of $79.592 million on total revenue of $68.525 million, which included product sales and research and development services. For the first six months of 2009, the company reported an operating loss of $40.262 million on total revenue of $42.922 million.

Source: Green Car Congress

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Zenn No More, Just EESU-Powered Drivetrains

The ZENN EV Styling By the Beach

Do you have a Zenn EV motor car? Better keep it as it will one day be a relic, like the CommutaCar. The Powers-That-Be have decided not to sell any more electric vehicles and will instead focus on partnering with the EEStor company to market ultra-capacitor powered drive trains. If successful, the EEStor capacitor will truly revolutionize electric powered vehicles, giving them a range comparable to fossil fueled variants.

From Reuters:

Zenn Motor Co says it is on the verge of a battery breakthrough that could drive the tiny Canadian company into the automotive big leagues, but not as a maker of electric cars.

Zenn now makes low-speed electric vehicles, but in an apparent shift in strategy, Zenn Chief Executive Ian Clifford said on Tuesday the company no longer plans to distribute or sell its own highway-capable electric vehicle, partly due to an increasingly competitive market.

"The way things have really changed over the last year -- there have been such dramatic shifts and focus on electric vehicles -- it doesn't make a lot of business sense for us to go into the distribution and sale of the vehicle," he said.

Instead, Zenn thinks it has a better crack at mass markets by supplying auto equipment makers with an electric car drivetrain, which generates and delivers power.

To do this, Toronto-based Zenn is banking on EEStor Inc, a low-profile, privately held U.S. battery-maker, to deliver technology that will make electric cars faster, more powerful and able to travel longer between charges.

Zenn has invested $7.5 million in EEStor and has a 10.7 percent stake in the company. To date, EEStor has met three of the four contract milestones tied to Zenn's funding.

Clifford said the final milestone is the ultimate proof point: delivery of a production-quality energy storage unit, or battery, that meets precise criteria.

The battery promises to power a car up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) at speeds of up to 125 km/h (80 mph) on a five-minute charge.

"We are working on a daily basis with EEStor on this final milestone - this very, very critical milestone - because it takes us to commercial viability," he said.

The problem is that Zenn has no say on when Texas-based EEStor must deliver the technology on which Zenn's future hinges.

"I have faith," said Clifford, who invested his windfall from an Internet marketing business in Zenn. "You'll see, as we announce things and position the launch of our solution, I think our direction will be very clear."

While he's waiting for EEstor, Clifford is talking to auto equipment manufacturers about Zenn's planned drivetrain system for electric cars. Zenn has exclusive rights to sell EEStor technology for mid-sized vehicles weighing up to 1,400 kilograms (3086 pounds) and to retrofit any vehicles over one year old.

Zenn will develop a "proof of concept" highway-capable car that it can use as a demonstration to carmakers.

The company said it will also shift focus away from the low-speed car it currently sells. Selling for about $16,000, the car has a top speed of 40 km/h (25 mph).

Zenn, whose name stands for "zero emission no noise", stock was off 13 Canadian cents at C$5.95 on the TSX Venture Exchange on Tuesday. Over the last 12 months, the shares have gained more than 70 percent.

Fisker Automotive Gets US Funds To Build PHEV's

Fisker Automotive will get a slice of the pie as the DOE has awarded them $528.7 million to crank out PHEV's. Is this where you want your tax dollars to go? To a company that is making automobiles precious few of us can afford? Surely, that money could be spent more wisely.

From Green Car Congress:

The US Department of Energy is awarding a $528.7-million conditional loan to Fisker Automotive for the development of two lines of plug-in hybrids—the Karma and the new Project Nina vehicle—by 2016. This is the fourth conditional loan commitment the Department of Energy has entered into under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan program. The Department plans to make additional loans under this program over the coming months to large and small auto manufacturers and parts suppliers up and down the production supply chain.

In the first stage of the program, Fisker Automotive will use a $169.3 million ATVM loan for engineering integration costs as it works with primarily US suppliers to complete the company’s first vehicle, the Fisker Karma. (Earlier post.) Engineers will also design tools and equipment and develop manufacturing processes. This work will be conducted at Fisker’s Pontiac, Michigan office with support from its headquarters in Irvine, California.

While the final assembly of the Karma will be done overseas, more than 65% (based on cost) of the parts required for Karma will come from US suppliers. The four-door Karma is scheduled to appear in showrooms in summer 2010.

The second stage includes a $359.36-million ATVM loan for Fisker’s Project Nina—the design, engineering and assembly of Fisker Automotive’s next-generation plug-in hybrids, starting at about $39,900 after tax credits. Fisker says that Project Nina—inspired by the ship belonging to explorer Christopher Columbus—is symbolic of the automobile industry’s transition from old world to new. Fisker estimates production of up to 75,000-100,000 of these plug-ins in the US per year beginning in late 2012.

Fisker automobiles use an extended range electric vehicle architecture, and will offer a cruising range of about 300 miles.

The first three conditional loans included $5.9 billion for Ford Motor Company; $1.6 billion to Nissan North America, Inc.; and $465 million to Tesla Motors.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hong Kong Government Agrees to Purchase 10 iMiEV's

The Mitsubishi iMiEV

Apparently, the Hong Kong Government enjoyed its one month test ride with an all electric iMiEV. Here is a clip form the Nikkei:

Edward Yau told reporters the months-long test drive of the iMiEV, a lithium-ion battery-powered four-seater that gives out roughly 63 horsepower with a top speed of 130 kilometers per hour, was satisfactory.

Yau said the procurement demonstrates “the government’s commitment in promoting the use of EV in combating air pollution.” The cars are expected to arrive in Hong Kong by the end of the year and will be used by various government departments. Yau said the two Hong Kong power companies are in talks with car park operators about installing charging devices for the electric cars.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nissan Will Lease its Battery Pack for the Leaf for $150 Per Month

The 2010 Nissan Leaf

Look like the cat is out of the bag as concerns Nissan's upcoming all electric vehicle, the Leaf. Until now, CEO Carlos Ghosn has declined to say whether the Lithium ion battery pack in the Leaf would be sold with the vehicle or leased. Apparently, the company has chosen the latter.

This is a two edged sword as the consumer will not have to worry about buying another battery pack in the future but they will have a monthly payment that never goes away.

Ghosn was asked if Nissan’s electric cars would be more expensive than similar conventional cars? This is his response:

No. The electric car only makes sense if everyone can benefit. It must be for the customer at the same price as his gasoline equivalent in particular thanks to government aid. The battery will be leased for just under 100 euros ($150USD) per month. The cost of electricity consumption and the leasing of the battery will be lower than the cost of gasoline.” (translated from French)

What is your take on this strategic decision? Is it good or bad for the EV industry to have a never ending battery payment? Can we be sure that as technology costs decline, so will battery prices to the consumer? In other words, three or four years from now will I be able to swap in the pack for a cheaper one?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jay Leno Show To Highlight The Ford Focus EV

The All-Electric Ford Focus EV

Be sure to record this program. As we all know, Leno is a big fan of the automobile and has been privileged to drive many alternate energy vehicles.


Background: A battery-electric Ford Focus will appear tonight, Friday, Sept. 18 on "The Jay Leno Show" (NBC, Monday-Friday, 10-11 p.m. ET) in a segment they call "Green Car Challenge." The battery-electric Ford Focus will be used throughout the first season of the show, driven by celebrity guests who accept the challenge.


• An electric-powered Ford Focus is ready to race tonight on "The Jay Leno Show" (NBC, Monday-Friday, 10-11 p.m. ET) in a segment called "Green Car Challenge." Tuned to perform on a racetrack that was specifically designed for "The Jay Leno Show," the battery-electric Ford Focus will be the car used throughout the first season. Actress Drew Barrymore is the first celebrity to accept "The Jay Leno Show's" "Green Car Challenge."

• A one-of-a-king battery-electric Focus will make its television debut tonight in "The Jay Leno Show's" "Green Car Challenge." Celebrities who accept the challenge will be at the wheel, driving quickly to establish a fast lap time that future guests will try to beat. The "Green Car Challenge" will be a regular segment on "The Jay Leno Show."

• The electric Focus to be driven by celebrity guests on "The Jay Leno Show" is one-of-a-kind vehicle, based on the European five-door production Focus ST, modified into a battery electric vehicle (BEV) as part of Ford's BEV test fleet. The Focus BEV foreshadows many of the same systems that Ford will begin selling to consumers in an all-new electric Ford Focus, scheduled to go on sale in North America in 2011. The new Focus BEV is one of four electrified vehicles Ford is introducing now through 2012 as part of the company's commitment to deliver best-in-class fuel efficiency with every new vehicle it introduces.

• "The Jay Leno Show"'s unique Focus BEV started life as a European production Focus ST, built in Germany in July. The car was delivered to Ford's world headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., where engineers went to work, removing the traditional engine and gas tank and installing an entire electric powertrain – all in six weeks. With Recaro racing seats, a full roll cage, a five-point racing harness and wearing a unique (and fitting) "Electric Orange" paint scheme, the battery electric Focus ST is ready for racing.

• With a sophisticated electric powertrain, the zero-emissions Ford Focus BEV delivers nearly as much torque at the wheels as a 2010 Ford Mustang V-6. It also stores enough energy to power an average household for 24 hours.

• Thanks in part to the battery placement, the race-ready Ford Focus BEV has a nearly ideal 50/50 weight distribution for improved race track handling. The front springs and dampers come from the performance-minded Ford Focus RS, a popular, high-performance European production model. The rear dampers and springs are unique to Leno's Focus BEV.

• The car is specifically tuned to perform on the track built alongside "The Jay Leno Show" studio at NBC. To help improve performance, Ford created a similar track at its proving ground in Michigan so the vehicle would be ready to handle the tight turns.

• Besides an ability to perform on the track, the Ford Focus BEV boasts the impressive statistics of a conventional battery electric vehicle, with a range of nearly 80 miles on a charge and peak power of 141 horsepower (105 kilowatts).

Powertrain: permanent magnetic electric motor
Power: 141 hp / 105 kw
Torque: 236 lb.-ft. / 320 Nm
Redline: 7500 rpm
Batteries: 98, air-cooled, 60 A-h Lithium-ion batteries
Capacity: 23 kilowatt hours
Transmission: Single speed gearbox

Steering: Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Front suspension: Macpherson-type struts
Rear suspension: Independent short-long arm (SLA), control blade multi-link system
Brakes: Front: 12.6 in / 320 mm ventilated discs
Rear: 11.0 in / 280 mm solid disc
Anti-lock system

Wheelbase: 104 in / 2640 mm
Overall length: 171.7 in / 4362 mm
Overall height: 58.9 in / 1497 mm
Overall width: 72.4 in / 1840 mm
Curb weight: 3,421 lbs

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Audi's e-tron Electric Sports Car Concept

File this report in the "Who Cares" file. Seriously, this car is just plain silly, with four electric motors, cutting edge braking technology and a heat pump! Our guess is that it will never see production. If so, it would have to cost more than a Tesla Roadster and since it is an Audi, there would be a premium just for the emblem. The car would surely fetch $200 grand, thus minimizing its market to nil.

From Green Car Congress:

The Audi e-tron concept. Click to enlarge.

At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Audi unveiled the e-tron. a high-performance electric sports car featuring four drive motors—two each at the front and rear axles—making the concept car a true quattro. Producing 230 kW (313 hp) and 4,500 Nm (3,319 lb-ft) of torque, the two-seater accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds, and from 60 to 120 km/h (37 – 75 mph) in 4.1 seconds. The 53 kWh lithium-ion battery pack enables a range of approximately 248 kilometers (154 miles) (NECD combined cycle).

The e-tron is 1.90 meters (74.80 in) wide, 4.26 meters (167.72 in) long and 1.23 meters (48.43 in) tall. The wheelbase of 2.60 meters (102.36 in) leaves plenty of room between the axles for people and technology. Like with a mid-engined sports car, the cabin of the e-tron is shifted far forward toward the front axle, leaving room in front of the rear axle for the roughly 470 kg (1,036 lb) battery unit, the inverter and the power electronics.

The two rear electric motors, which have their own cooling system, are mounted behind the rear axle. The front electric motors are mounted on the front axle, with their cooling system arranged in front of them. This special package, which features a 42:58 weight distribution, ensures perfect balance, which contributes to the driving dynamics of the e-tron.

Battery pack and charging. The battery pack has a total energy capacity of approximately 53 kWh, 42.4 kWh (roughly 80%) of which is usable. The battery pack is directly behind the passenger cabin for an optimal center of gravity and axle load distribution. Placing the battery in front of the rear axle ensures an optimal axle load distribution without compromising the compact overall design and the generous amount of interior space.

The battery system is water-cooled. A needs-based energy management system controls all functions for the chassis, convenience equipment and other auxiliary consumers. A thermal management system with optimally matched cooling and heating components considers the cooling requirements of the battery and the drive system in addition to the interior temperature.

The energy storage unit is charged with household current (230 volts, 16 amperes) via a cable and a plug. The socket is behind a cover at the back of the car. With the battery fully discharged, the charging time is between 6 and 8 hours. A high voltage charge (400 volts, 63 amperes) reduces this to just around 2.5 hours.

Audi engineers are also working on an inductive (wireless) charging solution to make charging more convenient. The inductive charging station, which can be placed in the garage at home or also in special parking garages, is activated automatically when the vehicle is docked.

Braking. A hydraulic fixed-caliper brake is mounted on the front axle, with two novel electrically-actuated floating-caliper brakes mounted on the rear axle. These floating calipers are actuated not by any mechanical or hydraulic transfer elements, but rather by wire (“brake by wire”). In addition, this eliminates frictional losses due to residual slip when the brakes are not being applied.

This decoupling of the brake pedal enables the e-tron’s electric motors to convert all of the braking energy into electricity and recover it. The electromechanical brake system is only activated if greater deceleration is required. These control actions are unnoticeable to the driver, who feels only a predictable and constant pedal feel as with a hydraulic brake system.

Lightweight construction. Lightweight construction was a top priority for the e-tron concept car. The Audi development engineers drew on the core competence of the company for the e-tron. The body structure is based on Audi Space Frame (ASF) technology and was realized as a hybrid construction. All add-on parts—doors, covers, sidewalls and roof—are made of a fiber-reinforced plastic.

The combination of aluminum and carbon fiber-reinforced composite material delivers rigidity coupled with low weight. Audi will soon use this technology in a similar form for production vehicles. Despite the complex drive system layout with four electric motors and a high-capacity battery system, the total weight of the Audi e-tron is only around 1,600 kilograms (3,527 lbs). An intelligent aerodynamics concept with active elements helps to reduce consumption.

Heat pump. A heat pump is used to efficiently warm up and heat the interior. The heat pump—used here for the first time in an automobile—also serves to increase efficiency and range.

Unlike a combustion engine, the electric drive system may not produce enough waste heat under all operating conditions to effectively heat the interior. Other electric vehicles are equipped with electric supplemental heaters, which consume a relatively large amount of energy. The heat pump used by Audi—and commonly used in buildings—is a highly efficient machine that uses mechanical work to provide heat with a minimum input of energy.

A high-efficiency climate control system is used to cool the interior. It works together with the thermal management system to also control the temperature of the high-voltage battery. The battery, the power electronics and the electric motors must be kept at their respective ideal operating temperatures to achieve optimal performance and range. As soon as the vehicle is connected to a charging station the vehicle is preconditioned as appropriate by the thermal management and other associated systems.

The drive system is heated if temperatures are cool, and cooled if hot. This preconditioning can also be extended to the interior, if necessary, so that the passengers can step into a cabin that has been heated or cooled as appropriate for their comfort.

Car-to-x.The e-tron concept car uses car-to-x communication technology developed by Audi to improve the efficiency of conventionally powered vehicles. For example, information about traffic light cycle times and the flow of traffic—provided by the infrastructure and other vehicles—is used to compute an optimal driving strategy. Audi has already modeled such a solution in Ingolstadt as part of its “travolution” project.

Ford Europe Rolls Out BEV Concept at Frankfurt Auto Show

More news from this exciting auto show. Ford's BEV concept, based on an Escort, is a pretty stout vehicle, with one exception, a smallish battery. A 23 kWh Li ion battery pack in this particular vehicle yields about 75 miles range. Not enough. We feel 100 miles range is the minimum for an all-electric vehicle to begin the process of overcoming range anxiety but still are rooting for the success of this particular car.

From Green Car Congress:

At the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, Ford of Europe revealed the first of a fleet of Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) prototypes based on the Ford Focus (earlier post), and specially developed to participate in the UK Government’s Ultra-Low Carbon Vehicles demonstration initiative next year.

The Focus BEV prototype. Click to enlarge.

The research program aims to test the technology’s suitability for potential future application in Ford’s European passenger car range. A consortium of Ford, Scottish and Southern Energy and Strathclyde University will use the fleet of fifteen prototype Ford Focus BEV vehicles and a charging infrastructure in and around the London Borough of Hillingdon from early 2010.

The vehicles will be used by both the Scottish and Southern as well as a number of evaluation drivers located in Hillingdon. This new BEV demonstration fleet is being developed partly with public funding from the UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB).

The Focus BEV prototype is based on the current European Ford Focus and will use a new all-electric powertrain, provided by the strategic supplier Magna. This technology is based on that being developed for Ford’s new-generation C-sized global vehicle architecture and which will be launched in North America in 2011.

To evaluate whether this technology is suitable for European road and driving conditions, a fleet of fifteen European Focus BEV prototypes is being built. These cars will deliver local zero emission mobility without constraining the user needs and providing room for five passengers, a practical boot and other Ford Focus attributes.

The Ford Focus BEV use a 23 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a chassis-mounted 100 kW permanent-magnet electric traction motor that delivers 320 N·m of torque. The BEV will have a range of up to 120 km (75 miles) and a top speed of up to 136 km/h (85 mph). Charging the batteries will take between 6-8 hours using a common 230 volt grid.

The prototype incorporates key components from Ford’s proven North American hybrid technology, including the electric climate control system. The high-voltage air-conditioning compressor is a key feature of the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, recently introduced in the North American market.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Volkswagen Introduces 1 Liter Concept Car at Frankfurt Auto Show

Not sure exactly the market size for such a small, unattractive two-seat vehicle, but at least the Volkswagen group is trying. This particular vehicle incorporates a very sophisticated hybrid drivetrain which utilizes a small diesel engine and small electric motor to provide phenomenal mileages. The following article is a very good read and explains the system quite well.

Would you purchase a two-seat vehicle like this?

From Green Car Congress:

Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Volkswagen Brand Technical Development, in front of the Volkswagen Concept Car L1 in Frankfurt. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen unveiled the L1, its second-generation one-liter class concept car, at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The diesel-electric full-hybrid vehicle, weighing just 380 kilograms (838 lbs), offers an initial glimpse at how a future production version might appear.

The “one-liter” designation refers to the design target of fuel consumption of 1 liter per 100 kilometers (235 mpg US). Volkswagen first revealed a one-liter concept at the annual meeting in 2002, then cancelled the project in 2005. (Earlier post.) In 2007, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn confirmed that VW was resurrecting the 1-liter car project and would place it in production. (Earlier post.)

The earlier, first-generation 1-Litre concept. Click to enlarge.

The L1 combines a two-cylinder 0.8L TDI (the smallest diesel engine intended for production applications ever built by Volkswagen); a 10 kW motor; and 7-speed DSG installed at the rear. As a unit, they represent the most fuel efficient hybrid drive in the world, according to Volkswagen. The aerodynamic (Cd = 0.195) L1 offers combined cycle fuel consumption of 1.38 L/100km (170 mpg US), with CO2 emissions of 36 g/km. Top speed is 160 km/h (99 mph).

0.8L TDI. In the standard ECO mode, the 800 cm3 TDI develops a power of 20 kW / 27 hp (at 4,000 rpm); in Sport mode—used to reach the car’s top speed, for example—the car’s power increases to 29 kW / 39 hp (at 4,000 rpm). The maximum torque of the TDI is 100 N·m / 74 lb-ft (at 1,900 rpm). The L1 also has a Stop-Start system, which automatically shuts off the drive unit when the vehicle is at a stop and restarts it when the gas or E-pedal is pressed.

The two-cylinder 0.8-liter TDI unit has been derived from the 1.6 TDI just introduced a few months ago. The 1.6 TDI is making its debut at the IAA in cars such as the new version of the Golf BlueMotion (3.8 l/100 km) and the Passat BlueMotion (4.4 l/100 km). (Earlier post.)

Based on their common origins, the 0.8 TDI and 1.6 TDI have identical cylinder spacing (88 millimeters), bore (79.5 millimeters) and stroke (80.5 millimeters). These TDI engines also share key internal engine features for reducing emissions. They include special piston crowns, multi-injection and individual orientations of the specific injection jets. On both drivetrains there is exhaust gas recirculation, an oxidation catalytic converter and a diesel particulate filter. Equipped this way, the TDIs in each Volkswagen fulfil the limits of the Euro-5 emissions standard.

The 1.6 TDI, thanks to its common rail injection, is also an exceptionally quiet and low-vibration diesel engine. These positive properties have been successfully transferred to the two-cylinder unit. The TDI’s aluminium crankcase was also constructed with high precision to achieve very low friction losses. The oil pump, designed to operate at a maximum oil pressure of 4.0 bar, also contributes to engine efficiency.

Another example of how the entire drive system is configured for high efficiency is the L1’s cooling system. Its external water pump is controlled by engine management so that cooling is only activated while engine operating conditions require it. This thermal management also contributes to reduced fuel consumption. A second electric water pump, also activated only when needed, provides cooling required for the starter generator and the power electronics in a separate water circulation loop operating at a lower temperature level.

The E-motor. The hybrid module has been integrated into the housing of the 7-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox). It is located between the TDI engine and the DSG gearbox and consists of a 10 kW / 14 hp electric motor and a clutch. The E-motor is supplied with energy from a lithium-ion battery located at the front of the car. An electronic power control module, operating at around 130 volts manages the flow of high voltage energy the battery and to the E-motor. In parallel, the vehicle’s low voltage electrical system is supplied with the necessary 12 Volts through a DC/DC converter.

In normal operation the electric motor can support the TDI engine in conditions such as by electronic load point shifting and in acceleration. If necessary—generally during acceleration—the E-motor can supply 40% additional torque over the entire speed engine speed range. The E-motor can also propel the L1 over short distances by itself. In this case, an auxiliary clutch decouples the TDI from the drivetrain.

Restarting the TDI is a very easy process. In so-called “pulse starting” of the TDI, the electric motor is sped up and is then coupled to the TDI unit to provide almost instant starting. The entire process takes place automatically and without jolts, so the driver hardly notices the restarting of the TDI engine.

In braking phases, the E-motor operates as a generator to charge the lithium-ion battery by recovering braking energy. The gears of the automatically shifting DSG are always selected with the aim of achieving the best possible fuel economy. The engine controller regulates all energy flow and drive management tasks taking into account the moment by moment demands for power made by the driver. Some of the parameters used to calculate the optimum propulsion mode for the given conditions are: accelerator pedal position, engine load, momentary fuel demand, energy supply and the mix of kinetic and electrical energy at any given time.

Transmission. Gear shifting work aboard the L1 is handled by the 7-speed DSG. Compared to the version equipping the new Polo, the design of the L1 Direct Shift Gearbox has been developed to include clutch control for the hybrid module. Furthermore, individual gear ratios have been optimized to attain responsive driving performance despite the car’s extremely low fuel consumption. The hybrid module is located where the flywheel is usually to be found.

Body. The dimensions of the L1 are distinctive. While the length of the L1 at 3,813 millimeters is still similar to that of a Volkswagen Fox, and its height of 1,143 millimeters nearly matches that of a Lamborghini MurciĆ©lago, the car’s aerodynamically optimized narrow width (1,200 millimeters) has no comparisons in the world of today’s production cars.

The two-seat monocoque, including the tubular frame driver’s seat and passenger seat as well as the exterior body skin, all consist of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP). There are no doors. Instead, the driver and passenger climb into the L1 from the top. An electrically actuated entry canopy above the seats is opened and closed for this purpose.

Headlights and taillights all utilize LED technology. The rear wheels are completely covered; their wheel covers can be removed to change the Michelin low resistance tires. The underbody is also completely enclosed. The 0.8 TDI is cooled via adaptive air channels integrated in the sides of the car body. These automatically open and close based on the hybrid unit’s operating state and vehicle speed. The tailgate is opened in the usual, manual way. It too consists of CFRP. Inside is a stowage space of 50 liters.

Of the 380 kilograms curb weight, 122 kg are taken by the drivetrain, 79 kg by the chassis, 35 kg by interior furnishings and 20 kg by the electrical system. The remaining 124 kg is the weight of the body.

These 124 kilograms can be further broken down: 64 kg are accounted for by the CFRP monocoque including integrated passenger seat; 28 kg is the weight of the entire CFRP exterior skin; 19 kg for the CFRP entry canopy; 9 kg for the CFRP driver’s seat; and 4 kg for the LED lights.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Volkswagen To Introduce EV Concept, e Up! At Frankfort Motor Show

Obviously, the Frankfurt Auto Show is the place to be these days. Here is another interesting concept, this time from Volkswagen. This will be a pure electric vehicle based on the Up! line of small cars that was originally introduced to the public in 2007. Not so many specifics yet, but we will pass them along when available.

Obviously, this will be a smaller electric vehicle designed primarily for urban transit.

From DriveSolar.Org:

VW e Up!

The electric version of Volkswagen's "Up!" concept city car now has a name: the "e Up!".
The compact electric 4-seat city car will debut at the Franfurt Motor Show and is foreseen to be launched in 2013.

VW e Up!

Source: Volkswagen via

Friday, September 11, 2009

Toyota Press Release For the Upcoming Plug In Prius

In case you are interested in the specifics, here is Toyota's Press Release. Actually, the 12 miles electric range is great for running errands after work or running around on the weekends, but really little else. Nonetheless, how cool is it to be able to drive all weekend with gasoline?


10 September 2009

CO2 emissions cut to less than 60g/km


  • New Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept reinforces Toyota's progress towards the ultimate eco-car
  • Lithium-ion battery technology allows for compact packaging and quick recharging
  • Rechargeable from domestic power supply or public charging point in around an hour-and-a-half
  • Extended EV (electric) driving mode of up to 12.5 miles at speeds up to 62mph
  • Over longer distances, Prius Plug-in switches to conventional petrol-electric full hybrid operation
  • CO2 emissions cut to less than 60g/km
  • Toyota to launch global lease programme to evaluate Prius Plug-in in early 2010

Toyota is unveiling a new Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept at the Frankfurt motor show, signalling further progress towards its ambition of building the ultimate eco-car.

Presentation of the new concept comes ahead of a test programme that will see more than 500 cars leased to customers worldwide for real-world evaluation of performance and monitoring of driver attitudes and experiences.

Using lithium-ion batteries, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid provides clean, fuel-efficient electric-powered running in urban areas for longer distances and at higher speeds than the conventional, third generation full hybrid Prius. Over longer distances, or when the limit of battery power is reached, the system automatically shifts to conventional petrol power. Advanced battery technology allows for full recharging in around an hour and a half and the extended EV capability brings CO2 emissions down to around 60g/km.

The plug-in hybrid concept

Europe's population is increasingly urban-centred and Toyota research into commuting patterns shows that in the UK and France, more than 80 per cent of car journeys cover a distance of less than 25km; in the UK around 80 per cent are less than 10km long. These figures confirm the potential for electricity in providing short to mid-term sustainable mobility.

The environmental benefits of electric cars for urban commuting are well-documented, but vehicle development has been hampered by the drawbacks of the weight, size and cost of the large capacity batteries needed to provide even a modest driving range, and the lack of an adequate recharging infrastructure.

Toyota is addressing both these issues with the launch of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept. It believes that progress in battery technology makes plug-in hybrid architecture the most workable solution for an electrified powertrain. The system overcomes the issue of a limited cruising range by enabling an automatic switch to a traditional full hybrid petrol-electric system once the vehicle reaches the limit of its EV (electric vehicle) driving range.

The concept model is a development of the new, third generation Prius, and builds on the core technology of Hybrid Synergy Drive specifically to meet the needs of urban motorists. It is a full hybrid vehicle in which both the electric motor and petrol engine can drive the wheels: a fully electric EV mode is used for shorter distances, while the petrol engine provides a true long-range capability.

As well as avoiding the limited range traditionally associated with electric vehicles, Toyota has also achieved a compact and practical packaging design for the battery pack. Prius Plug-in can be also be quickly recharged, from a conventional household electricity point, or a public charging post.

More than 500 Prius Plug-in cars will be released around the world early next year for lease programme, with more than 150 of these on the road in Europe. This will let Toyota evaluate all the technical aspects of the new model in a real-world environment, an essential step in preparing the vehicle for a potential market launch. The lease programme will also yield valuable intelligence on market response and which characteristics drivers find appealing, and why.


The Prius Plug-in Concept's powertrain is similar in format to the Hybrid Synergy Drive used in the new Prius, but with the nickel-metal hydride battery pack replaced by a new, high-output lithium-ion battery – a first for a Toyota hybrid vehicle. The new battery is more compact and has a higher volumetric energy density, so it does not compromise vehicle weight and packaging. Perhaps more importantly, it can be recharged much more quickly than the nickel-metal hydride type: the battery in the Prius Plug-in can be fully recharged in one-and-a-half hours from a 230v power supply.

The battery allows strong, seamless acceleration up to a maximum 62mph (100km/h) in EV mode. On a full charge, it can cover approximately 12.5miles (20km) in EV mode, six miles further than the nickel-metal hydride battery in the latest Prius model. Over longer distances, the car operates as a regular full hybrid.

The car's extended EV performance has a significant impact on emissions, with CO2output dropping to less than 60g/km and, as with other full hybrid models, reduced NOx and particulates (PM) levels. Even greater CO2 savings can also be gained if the electricity used to charge the battery is drawn from renewable sources, such as windmills and solar panels. Simply put, the lower the percentage of energy derived from fossil fuels, the better the car's well-to-wheel CO2 performance.


The Prius Plug-in Concept is every bit as comfortable, convenient and practical as the latest generation Prius. As in its sister model, the air conditioning can be activated remotely, when the vehicle is plugged, enabling the cabin to be brought to the right temperature before setting off.

To help drivers maximise the benefits of driving in EV mode, it is equipped with a Hybrid System Indicator, which includes information on the EV driving range, based on the level of battery charge. An engine starting point display has also been added to emphasise the increase in EV driving range.

The Electro Multi-Vision screen on the dashboard also offers a display that highlights the plug-in hybrid's contribution to reducing CO2 emissions, showing a computer graphic image of single tree that gradually increases to whole forest as the battery charging process takes place.

As a significant development in environmentally responsible mobility, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept offers commuters and people who live in urban areas all the benefits of an electric vehicle, with none of the drawbacks.

Outline technical specifications

Displacement (cc)


Max. power (bhp @ rpm)

97 @ 4,000

Max. torque (Nm @ rpm)

142 @ 4,000


Permanent magnet synchronous motor

Max. output (bhp)


Max. torque (Nm)




EV cruising range (miles)


Recharging time (min) 100V

180 (target)


100 (target)

CO2 (g/km)


Overall length (mm)


Overall width (mm)


Overall height (mm)



1. Fuel consumption and CO2 values are measured in a controlled environment, in accordance with the requirements of Directive 80/1268/EEC, including its amendments, on a basic production vehicle. For more information about the basic production vehicle, please contact the Toyota press office.

2. The fuel consumption and CO2 values of your vehicle may very from those measured. Driving behaviour, as well as other factors (such as road conditions, traffic, vehicle conditions, installed equipment, load, number of passenger, etc) play a role in determining a car's fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Toyota To Introduce Plug-In Prius With a Staggering 12 Mile EV Range

Chalk this story up to the "Who really cares" category. Prius will demonstrate their world changing 12 mile all electric plug in Prius at the Frankfurt Auto Show. We have known about this car for quite some time but have wondered why it is taking so long to bring to market since individuals have been converting their own Prius's since 2004. Moreover, the commercial conversion kits you can buy today can deliver 30 miles of range, so why did Toyota choose 12 miles? For one reason and one reason only, namely to keep the oil flowing.

From Green Car Congress:

The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept. Click to enlarge.

Toyota has provided some initial details on the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept to be unveiled next week at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The Plug-in Prius will support an all-electric driving range of about 20 km (12.4 miles) miles at speeds up to 62 mph. Over longer distances and higher speeds, the Prius Plug-in switches to conventional gasoline-electric full hybrid operation. The extended electric range brings CO2 emissions down to around 60 g/km, according to Toyota.

Toyota’s presentation of the new concept, which is based on the new third-generation Prius, comes ahead of a test program that will see more than 500 cars leased to customers worldwide for real-world evaluation of performance and monitoring of driver attitudes and experiences. Approximately 150 of these will be in Europe, with another 150 in the US and 200 in Japan. (Earlier post.)

Europe’s population is increasingly urban-centered, and Toyota research into commuting patterns shows that in the UK and France, more than 80% of car journeys cover a distance of less than 25 km (16 miles); in the UK around 80% are less than 10 km (6 miles) long. Toyota says that these figures confirm the potential for electricity in providing short to mid-term sustainable mobility.

The concept plug-in model builds on the core technology of Hybrid Synergy Drive specifically to meet the needs of urban motorists. It is a full hybrid vehicle in which both the electric motor and gasoline engine can drive the wheels: the fully electric EV mode is used for shorter distances, while the gasoline engine provides long-range capability.

The Prius Plug-in Concept’s powertrain is similar in format to the Hybrid Synergy Drive used in the new Prius (earlier post), but with the nickel-metal hydride battery pack replaced by a new, high-output lithium-ion battery—a first for a Toyota hybrid vehicle. The Li-ion pack can be fully recharged in one-and-a-half hours from a 230V power supply.

To help drivers maximize the benefits of driving in EV mode, it is equipped with a Hybrid System Indicator, which includes information on the EV driving range, based on the level of battery charge. An engine starting point display has also been added to emphasize the increase in EV driving range.

The Electro Multi-Vision screen on the dashboard also offers a display that highlights the plug-in hybrid’s contribution to reducing CO2 emissions, showing a computer graphic image of single tree that gradually increases to whole forest as the battery charging process takes place.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pike Resarch Poll Reveals Customer Interest in PHEV's

This is exactly the results we are looking for. Nearly half of the respondents in this poll were extremely interested in PHEV technology and were willing to purchase this type of vehicle. Another interesting statistic is that 82% of the poll takers drive less than 40 miles per day with twenty seven miles round trip being the average. A 40 mile all electric PHEV seems to make perfect sense.


Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are one of the most highly anticipated new product categories of recent years. Promising dramatically improved fuel economy over standard internal combustion engines, PHEVs are expected to drive significant benefits in the form of reduced carbon emissions and lesser dependence on foreign oil. According to a new survey from Pike Research, prospective consumer interest in the category is solid, with 48% stating that they would be “extremely” or “very” interested in purchasing a PHEV with a 40-mile range on a single charge.

“Plug-in hybrids match the driving requirements of most consumers we surveyed,” says managing director Clint Wheelock. “82% of respondents drive 40 miles or less per day, with an average daily driving distance of 27 miles.”

Other key findings of the survey are as follows:

  • 85% of consumers stated that improved fuel efficiency would be an important factor when choosing their next vehicle.
  • 65% of survey respondents interested in PHEVs expressed a willingness to pay a premium price, over and above the price of a standard gasoline vehicle, with an average premium of 12%.
  • Consumers indicated that the availability of workplace, private, and public vehicle charging stations in their local area would be very important.
  • 79% of consumers would be interested in investing in a fast-charging outlet for their home; however, willingness to pay is out of line with industry expectations.

Pike Research’s report, “Electric Vehicle Consumer Survey”, analyzes results from a web-based survey of 1,041 U.S. consumers. The report includes a detailed analysis of consumer demand and willingness to pay for PHEVs and their associated vehicle charging infrastructure. Segmentation analysis includes an examination of demand within different demographic and behavioral groups. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.

Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets. The company’s research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Renewable Energy, Clean Transportation, Clean Industry, Green Consumers, and Environmental Management sectors. For more information, visit or call +1.303.997.7609.

A Converted F-150 Pickup By EMC Yields Plug-In Hybrid

Teaser Photo of the EMC F-150 Plug-In Hybrid

Here is a cool company that is converting F-150's to plug-in power. Imagine if all pickup trucks could get 100 to 200 mpg. Considering the fact that such a large percentage of new vehicles being sold are pickups, this technology is extremely apropos.


Electric Motors Corporation's new teaser photo of the Flash, the first of two plug-in serial hybrid trucks that it plans to start building next year, shows that it has unconventional styling to match its unconventional powertrain.

“You’re familiar with how the Prius is different from a typical car -- the Flash is like that for a pickup truck. It’s that kind of different,” Wil Cashen, CEO of EMC, said yesterday.

EMC hopes to build the plug-ins in Indiana with manufacturing partner and RV maker Gulf Stream Coach. The EMC Flash pickup is based on the Ford F-150 and is intended for families and personal-use truck buyers.

“It’s an electric truck with an onboard range-extender generator system,” Cashen said. “We’ve taken an F-150 and have done something similar to Tesla, where they used a Lotus sports car for the underpinnings of their electric car. We’re using an American-made vehicle for [the underpinnings] of our truck.”

The Flash will use an electric motor to drive the wheels, while a small 1.2-liter gas engine is used as an on-board generator to recharge the batteries when power levels drop below a certain point, the same approach that GM is using with the Chevy Volt.

Cashen said that the Flash will have three different battery options: The smallest, least-expensive configuration is expected to get the equivalent of 40 mpg. Adding a second layer of batteries is estimated to get up to 100 mpg and adding a third set, Cashen said, will return up to 250 mpg. The batteries are mounted in-between the truck’s frame rails.

“We’re building a vehicle that doesn’t force the customer to edit their lifestyle,” Cashen said. “The unique thing about a truck is that [battery] packaging isn’t an issue like it is for cars.”

The Flash is expected to have the same work capabilities of the 4.2-liter six-cylinder Ford F-150 model that was discontinued last year. That truck could tow up to 5,700 pounds and carry up to 1,940 pounds. However, it won’t be able to handle many off-road scenarios. Cashen said it’s primarily designed as an on-road truck.

“We’re starting out with the simplest unit first to get people used to them and get them out on the road,” Cashen said. “We could easily make the truck make a lot of horsepower, but if the customer has to pay for $90,000 in batteries, we’ve wasted our time. Over time, that could change as more battery manufacturing capacity comes online and prices hopefully start to fall.”

EMC hopes to keep the Flash’s starting cost under $50,000. Buyers may be able to qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

A second, commercial truck will follow the Flash's full debut in November, called the Thunderbolt, Cashen said. The Thunderbolt will be aimed at the construction, emergency vehicle and motion picture industries. It is expected to have greater battery capacity than the Flash, and should be able to function as a power generating solution at job sites. It’s also expected to operate as a mobile communications platform, with high-speed wireless Internet access, acting as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Flash made its sneak preview debut this evening at the Green Jobs for American Exposition at EMC's Wakarusa, Ind., headquarters, where the Flash and Thunderbolt are expected to be built.