Sunday, November 29, 2009

LA Auto Show To Be Site of the Unveiling of North American Chevy Cruze

2011 Chevy Cruze

One has to wonder why it is taking GM so long to bring this vehicle to North America? In today's economy, this is a car that makes perfect sense and should immediately find a receptive market. Maybe that is wy they are taking so just makes good sense!

From Green Car Congress:

GM unveils the US production version of the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan at the LA Auto Show on 2 December. The Cruze will compete with vehicles such as Toyota Corolla; Honda Civic; Ford Focus; Hyundai Elantra; and Nissan Sentra.

The Cruze is a GM global car; the North American version features a new Ecotec 1.4L I-4 turbo with variable valve timing that delivers up to an estimated 40 mpg (EPA ratings pending) on the highway with a high-efficiency model. GM has already introduced the Cruze in Europe and Asia.

Cruze goes on sale in the US in the third quarter of 2010 but has already logged more than 4 million miles in quality and durability testing worldwide, making it one of the most real world-tested GM products prior to a US launch. The US and Canadian versions of the Cruze will be built in Lordstown, Ohio, where US$350 million was invested for their production.

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze will be offered in LS, LT and LTZ trims. The models will feature a new family of efficient four-cylinder engines, including a 1.4L turbo and 1.8L unit, coupled with six-speed automatic and manual transmissions. Electric power steering is standard.

Enhanced with its exhaust-driven turbocharger, the Cruze’s Ecotec 1.4L turbo performs like a larger engine when needed, but retains the efficiency of a small-displacement four-cylinder in most driving conditions. It is standard on LT and LTZ models, with power ratings estimated at 138 horsepower (103 kW) and 148 lb-ft of torque (200 N·m).

Standard on LS models is an Ecotec 1.8L four-cylinder that has the same basic architecture as the 1.4L turbo. Both engines are part of GM’s family of global small-displacement engines designed with fuel efficiency in mind, including technology such as full variable valve timing that optimizes performance and fuel economy across the rpm band.

With the Ecotec 1.4L turbo, Cruze’s fuel efficiency enables a cruising range of more than 500 miles (800 km).

Engines for the 2011 Cruze
1.8L DOHC I-4 1.4L turbocharged DOHC I-4
Displacement (cu. in. / cc): 110 / 1796 83.2 / 1364
Bore and stroke (in. / mm): 3.17 x 3.47 / 80.5 x 88.2 2.85 x 3.25 / 72.5 x 82.6
Block material cast iron cast iron
Cylinder head material: cast aluminum cast aluminum
Valvetrain overhead camshafts, four-valves per cylinder, double continuously cam phaser intake and exhaust (DCVCP) overhead camshafts, four-valves per cylinder, double continuously cam phaser intake and exhaust (DCVCP)
Ignition system individual coil on plug individual coil on plug
Fuel delivery sequential multi-port fuel injectors with electronic throttle control sequential multi-port fuel injectors with electronic throttle control
Compression ratio 10.5:1 9.5:1
Horsepower (hp / kW @ rpm) 136 / 101 @ 6300 (est.) 138 / 103 @ 4900 (est.)
Torque (lb.-ft. / Nm @ rpm) 123 / 167 @ 3800 (est.) 148 / 200 @ 1850 (est.)
Recommended fuel regular unleaded regular unleaded
Max engine speed (rpm) 6500 6500
Emissions controls close-coupled catalytic converters; Quick-Sync 58x ignition system; returnless fuel rail; fast light-off O2 sensor close-coupled and underfloor catalytic converters; Quick-Sync 58x ignition system; returnless fuel rail; fast light-off O2 sensor
EPA-est. fuel economy TBD TBD

Germany Awards Daimler 9 Million Euros to Develop Mercedes-Benz Electric Delivery Vans

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van

Mercedes-Benz's Van unit will utilize 9 million Euros ($13.46 million dollars) to produce 50 all-electric Sprinter vans that are to be deployed as delivery vehicles. Some quick mathematics shows that the company can spend more than $2 million dollars per van. That is more than a fuel cell car or even SUV (Equinox). These should be special vans indeed.

Urban delivery vans are ideal and well suited for all-electric applications. Instead of sitting and idling while the delivery is made, the van be completely turned off. With a range of 50 to 80 miles, there is plenty of range as well. Here at Alt Energy Autos, we also believe that the USPS could benefit tremendously from the deployment of electric fleet vehicles. UPS and FedEx are already working on electric versions of their respective fleet trucks and they can be a major force in moving the world's fleet away from oil fired drive trains.


Anticipating a payoff in cleaner city air and a lowering of national CO2 emissions, the German environmental ministry is awarding automaker Daimler a grant of up to 9 million euros ($13.46 million) to subsidize development of an all-electric version of its Sprinter commercial van.

Up to 50 of the electric vans will be produced by the Mercedes-Benz Van unit and delivered to customers in environmentally sensitive inner city areas for real-world testing.

Because they travel relatively short distances and spend a lot of time idling while cargo is being unloaded and delivered, commercial vans are an ideal platform for electrification.

They benefit from electric drive systems' powerful torque; don't suffer from the need to be recharged after 50-80 miles of driving and improve both air and environmental noise quality with their zero emissions, near-silent motors.

In the U.S., Ford Motor Co. has said it will begin selling an all-electric version of its Transit Connect small van next year, and Chrysler has promised an electric version of controlling shareholder Fiat's Doblo small van in 2011 - to be sold under the Ram brand.

There also are a number of independent electric van and truck companies and converters in the U.S., including Smith Electric Vehicles U.S., EVI and Azure Dynamics.

Mercedes said the grant will help develop the drive and energy management systems and the vans' regenerative braking energy recapture capabilities and perfect thermal control of the vans' lithium-ion battery packs.

The automaker intends to begin delivering the test vans next year and said it hopes to be able to migrate the electric drive system to other van models in its lineup.

Friday, November 27, 2009

SAIC Displays Six Models of New Energy Vehicles to Be Used at Expo 2010 and Unveils Commercialization Plans for Hybrid, PHEV and BEVs by 2012

The Chinese seem serious about producing alternate energy vehicles as their nation begins to demand more and more cars and the highway infrastructure is built. It is clear the nation does not want to follow the United States in its current energy dependency. Indeed, the Chinese have a plan and have options, which is certainly more than we can say about the Detroit Three.

From Green Car Congress:

At the China International Industry Fair held earlier in November in Shanghai, SAIC Group displayed six models of new energy vehicles, which will serve the Expo 2010. Of those models, two made their premiere at the Fair. The models were the Shenchi Brand 4-seat battery-electric car; the Shenchi Brand 11-seat fuel cell vehicle; the Shanghai Brand fuel cell car; the Shanghai Brand hybrid; the Buick LaCrosse hybrid; and the UNDP fuel cell bus.

SAIC has set clear targets for industrializing new energy vehicles in combination with the 2010 World Expo Shanghai, including the introduction of mild-hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and battery electric vehicles (BEV) by 2012:

  • SAIC will introduce the Roewe 750, a mild-hybrid car offering a 20% boost in fuel economy compared to the conventionally powered model, into the market in quantities in 2010.

  • The Roewe 550, a plug-in strong hybrid car offering a 50% boost in fuel economy, will enter the market in quantities in 2012.

  • In the same year, SAIC-made and branded battery-electric vehicles will also enter the market.

SAIC Group says it has set up a relatively complete new energy vehicle industrial supply chain, laying a solid foundation for integrated vehicle development. As a leading auto maker in China, SAIC says it adheres to the principle of “making independent innovations, integrating resources both at home and abroad and utilizing overseas and domestic strengths at the same time”.

While seeking international cooperation, SAIC has actively fostered domestic parts suppliers and eventually put in place an industrial chain that is strategically safe and independently controlled by SAIC.

The plug-in hybrid system developed by SAIC has entered the prototype-making stage. This technology helps circumvent the technical barriers erected by Toyota, General Motors and other overseas and domestic hybrid product makers, SAIC says, so that people can expect SAIC-made new energy vehicles to be equipped with electric transmissions in 2012.

SAIC Expo 2010 Gallery
Shenchi Brand 4-seat electric inter-pavilion car (for service within the Expo Zone). The bodywork is made of high-strength glass fiber-reinforced plastic. The chassis is made of parts for mini vehicles. The powertrain adopts advanced overseas and domestic products. Maximum speed is 35 km/h (22 mph) and the continued driving mileage is up to 80 km (50 miles).
Shenchi Brand 11-seat fuel cell sight-seeing car (for service within the Expo Zone). The vehicle features front and rear independent suspension, four-wheel disc brake, electric power steering and vacuum brake booster. Maximum speed is 40 km/h (25 mph) and the continued driving mileage is up to 80 km (50 miles).
LaCrosse hybrid car (for service outside the Expo Zone).The LaCrosse hybrid car is the first such in the mainstream B-plus models made in China. The car is equipped with a 2.4L ECO engine plus an all-new hybrid powertrain. For urban driving, LaCrosse ECO-Hybrid can improve fuel economy by 16% and more, and meets the EU IV emissions standard. (Earlier post.)
Shanghai Brand fuel cell hybrid car (for VIP service inside the Expo Zone). Shanghai Brand fuel cell car is the first SAIC-developed and branded fuel cell hybrid. A plug-in hybrid, the vehicle uses the battery as the main power source (rechargeable with 220 V direct current) and a small hydrogen fuel cell system for auxiliary power. For short distance driving, the car can run on the battery pack. For longer distances or when the battery runs out, the car can shift to a hybrid driving mode, where the fuel cell generates electricity and produces enough electricity to drive the car while supplementing the power battery with electricity in the meantime.
Shanghai Brand hybrid car (for VIP service outside the Expo Zone). This mild-hybrid vehicle uses a BSG system (belt driven starter generator) system. Top speed is 205 km/h (127 mph). The Shanghai Brand hybrid car offers a 20% boost in fuel economy and can be expected to go to the market at the end of 2010.
UNDP fuel cell bus (for service on the Expo Avenue inside the Expo Zone). This vehicle is specially developed for implementing the phase II project of GEF/UNDP, i.e. Demonstration Project of China’s Fuel Cell City Bus Commercialization. It adopts the advanced dual fuel cell system independently developed in China. Using an advanced ultra-low-floor structure, this model is a high-end mainstream city bus.

Insider Look in the Chevy Volt

Here is another review of the Chevy Volt from a boyfriend of a GM engineer. Not too much is new but it does give us more insight on the soon coming alternate energy vehicle.


Kevin Corrigan is the boyfriend of one of the Volt engineers, Mel Fox. As is common practice at GM, Mel got to take a Volt integration vehicle home for the night. Kevin decided to write about it on his blog. He claimed not to drive the car as GM wouldn’t allow it, but his experience gives us for the first time a real-world extended driving impression with an advanced dvelopment production intent Chevy Volt.

Kevin thought it was “watered down from the concept” but “looked good” and he found the hatchback space “enormous.” Once inside he was “driven” to the instrument panel which looked “awesome.” He found the two LCD screens “large, colorful, and crisp” and enjoyed the capacitive finger-sensing console buttons.

He was impressed with the silence of the car though noted some slight “whistles and whines.”

He said the car’s power was “adequate” though not overwhelming, but he did find the very linear power delivery curve a “cool sensation.”

Kevin did notice the sound of the engine. Here’s exactly how he described it:

With the radio off the engine could be heard coming on quite clearly, but that’s not to say it was overly loud. given that the engine operates more like a generator then a direct source of propulsion, it’s noise is not dependent on speed. That takes a bit of getting used to. The best comparison i can make is that it sounded like a very muted turbo prop airplane engine. There’s a low level “drone” of sorts that comes to life as the engine hit’s it’s operating speed(s). If the radio was on i think it would be virtually un-noticable. There was a vibration that could be felt, but that was very subtle. When the vehicle stops the engine goes into auto-stop.

Kevin was unable to determine the Volt’s fuel efficiency in charge sustaining mode. When I asked him he replied, “not sure about mpg..display’s weren’t working 100%.”

Overall, Kevin got to spend about 30 minutes driving in the Volt.

Now here’s some more very exciting news.

In a couple of days I will be given an extended test drive opportunity of a Chevy Volt integration vehicle in both EV and range-extended mode operation.

If I could take you all with me I would, but since that isn’t up to me, please leave your requests for what you would like me to observe in the comments below. Stay close to the site and I’ll keep you posted!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Four Mitsubishi iMiEV's delivered to the Principality of Monaco

The all-electric Mitsubishi iMiEV

Mitsubishi is one of the very few auto makers to offer an all-electric production vehicle. For that, we are grateful. The four cars have been delivered on a lease basis and let's hope this is only the beginning.

From Green Car Congress:

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) jointly delivered four units of the electric vehicle i-MiEV to the Principality of Monaco on 15 November.

The Principality of Monaco, proactively seeking ways to combat environmental issues and to replace domestic transportation with low-CO2-emitting electric vehicles, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, Mitsubishi Motors Europe B.V. and MC Automobile (Europe) N.V. regarding fleet testing of the EVs in March. (Earlier post.)

According to the terms of the MoU, the i-MiEVs, which delivery mainly to corporate customers in Japan began in July, were delivered to the Principality of Monaco.

The i-MiEVs are being leased via MCE Bank GmbH, a subsidiary of MC. According to the terms of the MoU, the Principality of Monaco plans to promote electric vehicles through the use of the i-MiEVs at its local community service organizations, including the post office, public parking services, the Monegasque electricity company (SMEG) and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

Mitsubishi launched the i-MiEV was launched in Japan in July 2009. Looking to move towards full-fledged global distribution in 2010, MMC is currently involved in global testing and promotional activities in New Zealand, the United States and across Europe.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope that everyone enjoys the Holiday and has a Happy Thanksgiving.

Be safe and we will see you again soon.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

GM Gets Left at the Altar by Koenigsegg Over SAAB Sale.

Poor GM. They cannot win for losing. It appears to us that they are merely reaping what they have sowed for the past 50 years and not even massive influxes of free cash can keep them on the right path.

From Green Car Congress:

Koenigsegg Group AB has terminated the agreement for its proposed purchase of GM’s Saab. GM President and CEO Fritz Henderson the Koenigsegg move today.

We’re obviously very disappointed with the decision to pull out of the Saab purchase. Many have worked tirelessly over the past several months to create a sustainable plan for the future of Saab by selling the brand and its manufacturing interests to Koenigsegg Group AB. Given the sudden change in direction, we will take the next several days to assess the situation and will advise on the next steps next week.

—Fritz Henderson

GM and Koenigsegg had signed a stock purchase agreement regarding the sale of 100% of the shares of Saab Automobile AB in August. Conditions to close the sale included expected funding commitments with Swedish government support and guarantees, as well as transitional assistance from GM, as Saab becomes independent. In September, Koenigsegg signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co. Ltd. (BAIC) to explore growth opportunities in the Chinese and international markets for the products of SAAB Automobile and BAIC.

GM is also currently working to sort out the reorganization and financing of Opel following its decision not to sell.

A Review of the Chevy Volt Charge Sustaining Mode

Interesting comments for the reporters.

From All Cars Electric:

Two lucky, select journalist have no had the chance to test the Chevy Volt in charge-sustaining mode and although the vehicle is still not perfect, the overall review from Lindsay Brooke of the New York Times is positive and enlightening.

Brooke was one of only two journalists to try out the Volt's charge sustaining mode and he wrote up a full review of his experience driving the vehicle during the transition. His piece ran in the New York Times under the headline of "For the Volt, How's Life After 40 (Miles)?. Some excerpts are posted below.

Though Brooke's noted that the vehicle is highly refined and praise many aspects of the car, there is still some work to be done in charge sustain mode and the transition is not as seamless as GM hopes for. GM will continue to refine this aspect of the vehicle prior to production.

As Brooke writes," Like other reporters, I had already driven Volt prototypes in the battery-powered mode, and they were predictably smooth and silent. But for eventual Volt owners, a crucial - and so far unanswered - question is how the car will perform when the battery's charge is depleted and all electricity is provided by an onboard generator, driven by a gasoline engine, that has no mechanical connection to the wheels."

At this point during the test drive the vehicle is nearing the zero mark on its electric range meter gauge signaling the need to enter into charge sustaining mode. Surprisingly, Brooke's note a seamless transition. As he said, "With the dashboard icon signaling my final mile of range, I point the Volt toward a hill and wait for the sound and feel of the generator engine's four pistons to chime in. But I completely miss it; the engine's initial engagement is inaudible and seamless. I'm impressed."

Somewhat stunned by the seamless transition, he continues down the track for a few hundred yards and then disappointment set in. Brooke said, "The engine r.p.m. rises sharply. The accompanying mechanical roar reminds me of a missed shift in a manual-transmission car. For a moment the sound is disconcerting; without a tachometer, I guess that it peaked around 3,000 r.p.m. A few times later in our test, the generator behaved in similar fashion - too loud and too unruly for production - but there is time for the programmers to find solutions."

At this point, according to GM's Tony Posawatz, the vehicle sensed that its state of charge was low and it was trying to recover as quickly as possible. This aspect will receive additional fine tuning. As Posawatz said, "The charge-sustaining mode is clearly not where we want it to be yet.

Aside from complaints about the charge-sustaining mode, Brooke came away impressed with the overall vehicle. He closed by saying, "Throughout my test, the prototype behaves admirably. At its current state of development, the Volt is an extremely refined vehicle."

So there it is. One of the first drives and reviews of the prototype Chevy Volt in charge sustaining mode. GM will continue to tweak this transition until they get it right and additional reviews are sure to follow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nissan May Offer Varying Battery Configurations For the Leaf

In order to meet the needs of prospective customers, Nissan is considering offering various battery configurations. They would offer longer range packs as well as performance types. We just want to see the car and dispense with all the extraneous rhetoric.

From The Detroit Bureau:

Nissan may eventually offer optional, higher-power, longer-range batteries for the Leaf BEV, shown here with CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Would you like to Super-Size that battery?

The typical new car buyer has a myriad array of options to chose from, covering everything from paint color to the quality of the sound system, but one of the most substantial choices usually concerns engine size. Do you want that fuel-efficient inline-four or a high-performance V-8?

But what happens when the industry begins the conversion to electric power?

When Nissan begins rolling out its new Leaf battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, next year, there’ll be just one powertrain package: using lithium-ion batteries, it will deliver 100 miles of range, 0 to 60 times of less than 10 seconds and a top speed of 90 mpg.

But a senior Nissan planner tells that the company eventually give BEV buyers the electric vehicle’s equivalent of choosing engines, offering an array of different battery packs. That would allow a motorist to choose between a lower-range, lower-cost pack, or batteries delivering perhaps twice the mileage, at a higher price, of course. And, as battery technology improves, eco-minded motorists might also be offered batteries that would add a bit more muscle to their green machines.

While today’s hybrid-electric vehicles, like the Toyota Prius, rely on time-tested nickel-metal hybrid batteries, manufacturers will be switching to more powerful lithium-ion, or LIon, technology for the plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles that begin rolling out in surprisingly large number over the next several years.

There are plenty of uncertainties about LIon chemistry, despite it being near-ubiquitous in today’s laptop computers and cellphones. So, initially, makers are playing it safe. With the Chevrolet Volt, for example, General Motors will only use about half the total energy its T-shaped LIon pack could hold. Nissan will use a bit more, somewhere around two-thirds, hints Mark Perry, product planning chief for Nissan’s advanced technology programs – though he declines to provide hard numbers.

Nonetheless, Perry says, “We expect to see the technology improve” as LIon batteries go into higher-volume production. That should not only drive down the cost of lithium batteries, but drive up so-called “energy density.” In lay terms, that means more electrons into a given battery mass, which translates into longer range between recharging.

Nissan battery researchers have suggested that within a few years it will be possible to nudge Leaf’s range up to 150, perhaps even 200 miles. Other automakers have confirmed similar targets. Tesla founder Elon Musk told his company’s roadster might eventually get 400 miles on a charge, nearly double today’s range.

Since batteries are the single most expensive part of a BEV, makers like Nissan could simply downsize the battery pack to maintain the same range at a much lower cost. But there’s another option Perry says Nissan is “looking at.”

Greater range would be a big advantage in the marketplace, Perry acknowledges. While studies show 100 miles range would be enough for more than 90% of Americans on a typical day, that doesn’t eliminate so-called “range anxiety,” the fear that you may not have enough power in the pack to race to school to pick up a sick child and then rush to the doctor.

So, Perry says, Nissan might offer customers a variety of different battery packs with, say, 100, 150 or 200 miles range, much as they can choose V-6 or V-8 upgrades today. And

And the choice might not be limited to range, said another well-placed source. A manufacturer like Nissan could alternatively offer batteries with significantly higher “power density.” This is a measure of how quickly energy can be piped into or out of a battery pack. Higher power density batteries can recharge faster – and deliver more power to a vehicle’s electric motors.

That’s good news for muscle car fans, because unlike an internal combustion engine, which builds torque as it revs up, an electric motor develops maximum tire-spinning torque the moment it starts to turn.

“This is obvious,” says Stephanie Brinley, auto analyst with AutoPacific, Inc. “Ultimately, people will want varied levels of performance. So, with anelectric vehicle, instead of upgrading from a V-6 to a V-8, you’ll get a different battery.”

Nissan, as part of its aggressive move into “electrification,” has formed several dozen ventures with energy suppliers, governments and other partners, including Better Place, a company that will provide a network of recharging stations in Israel. Nissan customers in the tiny country will be able to either recharge their batteries or quickly swap them out for fresh ones.

What’s to prevent an outside manufacturer from coming along and eventually offering its own batteries to a Nissan BEV customer? CEO Ghosn sidestepped that question during the kick-off of a 22-city Leaf launch tour, but he said that “without a doubt,” Nissan would be open to working with such a vendor “if (one) comes along with batteries better than ours.”

The battery cars coming out in the next couple years will deliver relatively limited range and modest performance. Initially, makers hope that between eco-guilt and government incentives — such as a $7,500 tax credit — there’ll be reasonable demand for the vehicles. But Nissan’s Ghosn believes that BEVs could make up as much as 10% of the market by the end of the next decade, and the automaker is backing that up with plans to launch not only Leaf but three other BEVs — while its French affiliate, Renault, will introduce four battery cars of its own.

To make the equation work, analysts like Brinley believe, makers like Nissan will have to appeal to a broader array of consumers with better range and improved performance.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Peugot is introducing its BB1 EV, which is basically a Mitsubishi iMiEV altered to look a little different. Actually, this car looks like it is driving backwards!


  • A New Future Urban Mobility Solution
  • Electric Powered with a Range of 75 Miles
  • Zero Emissions
  • Accommodates Four Occupants

Peugeot's revolutionary vehicle of the future - the BB1 - will be visiting London's Covent Garden on 7th and 8th November.

The BB1 is a glimpse of what could be urban mobility in the future. A cross between a car and a scooter, it is powered by two clever electric motors mounted in the rear wheels and has enough power from its lithium-ion battery packs to travel up to 75 miles between recharges.

Unlike many small electric cars, this vehicle can accommodate up to four adults due to its innovative layout and controls which are more scooter than car. Solar panels help power the vehicle's onboard systems and it will communicate directly with a modern smart phone, so you can have your music, images, hands-free phone and navigation, just how you like it!

The Peugeot BB1 will be on show in Covent Garden from 10 am until 7 pm, on 7th and 8th November, enabling the general public to have a close up look into the future of urban title

Twenty five Peugeot BB1 branded rickshaws will also be operating around Central London to ferry interested individuals to the BB1 display, free of both cost and of course emissions.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Production Of The Electric Smart ForTwo Begins in Hambach

This will be the second generation Smart ForTwo Electric vehicle to be produced. There will be about 1000 of these built for testing and development with real production beginning in 2012.

Press Release:

Hambach/Frankreich, Stuttgart, Nov 19, 2009

Hambach, France / Stuttgart, Germany - This week, Daimler AG started production of the smart fortwo electric drive at the smart plant in Hambach, France. In a first step, 1,000 vehicles will be provided to customers participating in various mobility projects in major cities in Europe and the U.S., in order to generate broad feedback on electric driving under everyday conditions.

Marc Langenbrinck, Managing Director of the smart brand: “With the start of the series production of the smart fortwo electric drive, the Hambach plant enters a new era – at the same time, the smart fortwo emphazises its pioneering role on the way to individual mobility with local zero-emissions in cities and urban areas. Its innovative battery-electric drive makes the smart fortwo electric drive the ideal vehicle for the city: it combines responsibility to the environment with driving fun and joie de vivre in a virtually perfect manner.”

The second-generation smart fortwo electric drive started now is equipped with the most modern lithium-ion-battery. As of 2012, the smart fortwo electric drive will be produced as a regular part of the smart product portfolio and will regularly be sold through the smart sales network.

First Milestones in 2007 and 2008

The smart brand has taken a pioneering role in electric mobility since 2007. Back then, 100 smart fortwo electric drives of the first generation went into practical customer operation under everyday conditions of city traffic in London. Feedback from this project has been very positive right from the start and confirmed the high degree of maturity of this vehicle concept.

Just one year later, the company introduced the second generation - which is now being produced - with an even more advanced electric drive and an innovative, highly efficient lithium-ion battery. Lithium-ion technology has decisive advantages over other types of batteries including higher performance, shorter charging times, a long life and high reliability. In addition, a smart fortwo electric drive can be charged at a regular household power outlet.

A story of success: The smart Plant in Hambach

The smart plant in Hambach was inaugurated in 1997. Since 1998, it has produced the smart fortwo, since 2007 in its current generation. In 2008, more than 800 employees of the plant and some further 800 people employed by seven system partners produced about 140,000 units of the smart fortwo. In September 2008, the brand celebrated its tenth anniversary along with the 1-millionth smart fortwo produced at the Hambach plant.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Volt Update With Timeline

GM is fairly proud of their effort with the Chevy Volt and recently released a status report on their progress both for the car and the battery pack. GM claims they are on schedule and that we can expect production vehicles in November of 2010. The caveat is that it will be limited to a couple thousand units and will only grow slowly from that point.

From Green Car Congress:

The Volt and its Li-ion battery pack have proceeded in parallel through GM’s development and manufacturing process. Next up is the PPV (product and process validation) stage (Feb-Aug 2010) prior to the start of regular production (SORP) in November 2010.

Both the Chevy Volt extended range electric vehicle and its battery pack are converging on the beginning of the product and process validation (PPV) stage of GM’s development and manufacturing process, scheduled to start in February 2010, according to an online status update given by Andrew Farrah, Volt Vehicle Chief Engineer and Bill Wallace, Engineering Group Manager, Voltec Battery Systems.

Both the vehicle and the pack have undergone some expected tweaking on the run-up to PPV based on the testing to date. On the vehicle side, these have included adjustments to address NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) issues when running in electric mode. On the pack and cell side, GM has made minor adjustments in the chemistry (LG Chem’s Li-ion manganese spinel) in collaboration with LG Chem for improved life. The current cell chemistry for the Volt, now in its fourth generation, is the one that will head into production.

Relative to tweaking [the cell], these are very small adjustments. Remember, this application is not a cell phone, we use this [cell] in a significantly different way. The adjustments are primarily for life. That is one of our largest challenges, but also one of the biggest assets for our battery. We think we’ve done some good things...this will be out production chemistry.

—Bill Wallace

GM’s fleet of 80 pre-production Volts has logged more than 250,000 miles of testing so far, and has undergone hot weather testing in Death Valley, as well as mountain testing at Pike’s Peak and Baker’s Grade. During a briefing on the OnEVLAB in October (earlier post), Tony Posawatz, GM’s Vehicle Line Director for the Volt, noted that some Volts are also heading out overseas for testing under other harsh conditions.

GM Battery Technology Evaluation
In a briefing on Li-ion battery chemistries provided in October, Andrew Leutheuser, GM Lead Battery Systems Engineer said that GM uses a four-phase evaluation process that resulted in the selection of the LG Chem cells for the Volt:
  • Phase 0, pre-screening: more than 155 chemistries evaluated on paper.
  • Phase 1: cell screening: more than 60 chemistries tested in GM Labs.
  • Phase 2: cell qualification (resulting in two).
  • Phase 3: pack qualification (resulting in one).
  • Volt battery development. The cells and packs have hit a number of testing milestones of their own, at the cell, module and pack levels.

    More than 50,000 cells have been on test, all without failure, and GM has built more than 300 prototype battery packs. There have been more than 300,000 miles of customer use lab testing to date. Twenty of the 60 Battery Systems Lab pack channels are fully dedicated to Voltec.

    The Volt team has access to another 20 channels on a shared basis, and the remaining 20 are for other GM technology programs, Wallace said.

    (In a tour of the Battery Lab in October, about 10 the Volt T-packs were visible, showing four different configurations of interfaces and connectors. Asked about the differences, Andrew Leutheuser, Lead Battery Systems Engineer, explained that they reflected generational learnings to optimize pack function over the course of the pre-production process.)

    Battery module impact test. Source: GM.

    GM’s new Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant, where the production Voltec packs will be made, is installing its production equipment and is currently in process tests developed in the Battery Systems Lab prior to plant launch.

    GM has conducted more than 150 tests (abusive and in-use) on the prismatic battery cells themselves, including cell penetration; crush; life cycling; thermal stress; overcharge;and performance characterization.

    The battery modules have gone through high dynamic impact testing; static crush; sustained pressure; short circuit; thermal stress; and seal integrity tests.

    Result of a 30° forward impact at 65 km/h (40 mph). The orange T is the battery pack (the vehicle is tipped up to expose the bottom), and appears protected from the impact by the vehicle structure. Source: GM. Click to enlarge.

    The packs have undergone more than 20 tests, including crash; mechanical vibration (a shaker table); corrosion; thermal cycling and shock; and customer use lifecycle. Vehicle crash testing has shown that the pack is well protected by the vehicle structure.

    One learning from the process to date is that the pack internal environment conditions are somewhat different than initially expected. The in-use evaluations, however, have shown that the cells are performing as expected.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Brammo Introduces New Price for the Enertia Plug-In Electric Motorcycle, Now $7,995

    The Brammo Electric Motorcycle

    In the market for a plug-in electric motorcycle? They are becoming increasingly easy to find and their price tags are falling. Here is another such cycle with a sale price, the Brammo.

    Press Release:

    Brammo, maker of plug-in electric motorcycles, announced today it is dropping the price of the all-electric BRAMMO Enertia powercycle, to $7,995. Customers are also eligible for a 10% federal income tax credit, further reducing the price to $7,195.

    "While this pricing breakthrough is innovative in transportation, it is in line with consumer electronics, where engineering and production advances get passed on to customers as quickly as possible to stimulate adoption of the technology," stated Craig Bramscher, founder and CEO of Brammo. "The Enertia is consumer electronics that you can ride and BRAMMO's engineers are able to deliver a better value proposition to customers sooner than a traditional transportation company."

    Today, qualified customers can walk into select Best Buy stores and with a $2,000 down payment, ride out on an Enertia for $249 a month with 24-month no interest with payments financing offered through Best Buy. The Enertia can also be purchased direct from in select states where the product is not yet available at a Best Buy.

    The BRAMMO Enertia powercycle is the ideal commuter vehicle as it blends an exhilarating ride experience with environmental consciousness and low operating costs. The Enertia has a top speed of over 60 mph, has a range of 42 miles and charges in about four hours by plugging into a standard wall outlet—all while using less than a dollar in electricity per 100 miles ridden.

    "With this price reduction Brammo has positioned electric vehicles for the mass market and consumers can now be part of a solution to the transportation crises that America is facing," said Bramscher. "The wait is over, consumers can now buy an EV that is price competitive with a gas burning alternative and enjoy reduced maintenance and substantially lower ownership costs."

    Fans and media can follow Brammo on Twitter @BrammoSays and on its Facebook fan page, Brammo Powercycles.

    About Brammo

    Brammo ( is a premier specialty vehicle manufacturer developing sustainable performance products for the next generation of transportation. Through integration of digital engineering and high impact design, Brammo transforms ideas into compelling products. Located in Ashland, Oregon the company was founded in 2002 and is privately held.

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Vision Industries' Zero Emission tyrano Truck To Be Tested By FedEx

    Here is a press release announcing FedEx's plans to test a fleet of plug-in hybrid electric fuel cell trucks. Too bad they decided to use hydrogen fuel cells as the concept will never get off the ground. Hydrogen fuel cell technology is a dead end even if no one will publicly admit it.

    Companies like UPS, FedEx and the USPS are ideal candidates for alternate energy vehicles considering the astronomical number of miles each drives every year. Also, their large fleet's provide the perfect environment for testing and data collection of new technologies.


    FedEx Freight Corp., a leading provider of regional and long-haul less-than-truckload (LTL) services in the U.S., and Vision Industries Corp. (OTCBB: VIIC), producers of the zero emission plug-in electric/hydrogen fuel cell hybrid Tyrano™ truck, today announced that the companies have entered into an agreement to test a tractor powered by the hydrogen/electric hybrid Tyrano™ drive train. FedEx Freight Corp. is a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX).

    As part of the agreement, Vision Industries Corp. will configure a FedEx Freight tractor with its hydrogen/electric hybrid Tyrano™ drive train. The reconfigured vehicle will then be tested for one year in certain operations to evaluate the operational suitability of the Vision Tyrano™ technology.

    "It is our goal to be involved in projects such as this to further the advancement of alternative fuels that both reduce our dependence on foreign oil and are good for the environment,” said Douglas G. Duncan, president and CEO, FedEx Freight. "We are excited about technological advancements we see today in transportation and look forward to what the future holds in this arena.”

    Martin Schuermann, president & CEO of Vision, stated, "We applaud the FedEx vision of an environmentally friendly heavy-duty truck fleet. We believe that our zero emission Tyrano™-powered vehicle will help FedEx Freight work toward its goal of reducing its carbon footprint.”

    About FedEx Freight

    Within FedEx Corp., the FedEx Freight Segment had annual revenues of $4.4 billion in fiscal year 2009. With corporate offices in Memphis, Tenn., the Segment includes FedEx Freight, a leading U.S. provider of regional LTL freight services; FedEx National LTL, a leading U.S. provider of long-haul LTL services; FedEx Freight Canada, an LTL operating company serving most points in Canada; and FedEx Custom Critical, North America's largest time-specific, critical shipment carrier. For more information, visit the FedEx web site,

    About FedEx

    FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $34 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 275,000 team members to remain "absolutely, positively" focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit

    About Vision Industries Corp.

    Vision is a provider of hydrogen fuel cell/plug-in electric powered vehicles and turnkey hydrogen fueling systems. Vision’s proprietary hydrogen fuel cell/plug-in electric drive system combines the superior acceleration of a battery powered electric vehicle with the extended range provided by a hydrogen fuel cell. Vision uses major manufacturers as partners or sub contractors to produce its vehicles. This business approach avoids massive outlays of startup capital. Many regional, state and federal alternative energy programs in the form of grants, subsidies, tax credits and loans exist or are planned. For more information on Vision Industries Corp., please visit

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Nissan Begins 12 Month Marketing Blitz For Leaf

    The All-Electric Nissan Leaf

    Will Nissan succeed in promoting their upcoming all-electric vehicle, the Leaf? Apparently, Carlos Ghosn wants to take the car on a 12 month tour through 21 US cities in the hopes of generating initial sales volume. Do you think this strategy will work? If Nissan insists upon leasing the battery, won't that undo all of the marketing? Are consumers really going to be interested in purchasing a vehicle whose payments never end?

    From Automotive News:

    Claiming that Nissan will be rewarded for blazing a trail into mass production of electric vehicles, CEO Carlos Ghosn kicked off a year-long marketing blitz for his five-passenger Leaf here today to an audience of environmentalists, government regulators and media.

    Sitting in the hot California sun in a dark suit and no necktie, Ghosn assured an audience in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium that electric-vehicle sales will quickly catch on with consumers. He referred to a goal set this year by President Barack Obama to see 1 million electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015.

    “You'll have much more than 1 million cars by 2015,” Ghosn said. “The response will be bigger than we think.”

    Ghosn predicted that mass-market sales will spur advances in battery technology, which will in turn stimulate more sales and bring down vehicle costs.

    He said the purchase cost of the hatchback Leaf, designed to have an all-electric range of 100 miles, will be within “1 or 2 percent” of the cost of competing non-electric cars. But company officials are still working out details about how the Leaf will be transacted at Nissan dealerships -- including whether customers will purchase its battery as part of the sticker price or whether they will lease it separately for a monthly fee.

    Leasing it would allow customers to upgrade their batteries during the life of the car. “We want to lease the battery. We don't want to sell the battery,” Ghosn said.

    Nissan Motor Co. is preparing to launch a $2 billion construction project in Smyrna, Tenn., that will produce 150,000 Leafs a year, along with a new lithium-ion battery plant to manufacture 200,000 electric-vehicle batteries a year.

    One-car tour

    To build up awareness for the car, which reaches retail stores in one year, Nissan officials are mounting a 21-city U.S. tour, using the solitary light-blue Leaf prototype that Japanese engineers have permitted to come across the Pacific Ocean. Because the interior is white, program managers will not be allowing crowds to climb into the car at events.

    Nissan plans to ship the Leaf prototype around the country on an almost daily basis to display it to college campuses, shopping malls, government offices and other venues.

    Ghosn said the tour “is important for us to change people's perspective.”

    “This car should sell without advertising,” Ghosn said, adding that the company expects to make a profit off the vehicle.

    In recent weeks, Nissan's electric-vehicle plan has expanded. Ghosn revealed in Tokyo last month that Nissan plans to produce three electric models, including a small commercial van and a compact Infiniti model.

    French automaker Renault SA, of which Ghosn is also CEO, will simultaneously develop electric vehicles.

    But speaking in Los Angeles today, Ghosn said that Nissan plans four electric vehicles and Renault also plans four models.

    He said the two automakers are working toward together having overall production capacity of 500,000 cars and batteries a year among the United States, Europe and Japan.

    Friday, November 13, 2009

    The Citroen C-Zero Electric Car - With Video

    The Citroen C-Zero

    PSA and Mitsubishi teamed up to make an electric car based on the iMiEV. The result will be the Citroen C-Zero which is scheduled to hit the showrooms late 2010.

    Here are some specifics:

    Drivers will be able to fully charge the car in six hours via a regular outlet, allowing a range of 80 miles. Alternatively, an 80 per cent charge takes just half an hour using a 400V supply. Citroen claims a 0-62mph time of 15 seconds, and accelerate from 37-56mph (50-70km/h) in six seconds. Top speed is pegged at 80mph.

    The C-Zero will ship with power steering, ABS, traction control, ESP, electric windows, six airbags and air conditioning as standard.

    Citroen has told reporters that the C-Zero will be commercially available at the end of 2010 and, although no prices have been confirmed yet, insiders expect that it will cost around £10,000 ($16,500).

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Introducing The Peugot Three-Wheeled Hybrid Scooter Concept: The HYbrid3 Evolution

    The great ideas for alternate energy vehicle just keep coming and coming. Now, if we can just get more of these ideas from the drawing board to the showroom, consumers will become empowered.

    What we are looking at today is essentially a three-wheeled scooter that incorporates a hybrid drivetrain. Electric motors are placed in each of the two front wheels and the internal combustion engine propels the rear wheel, making the HYbrid3 an all-wheel drive. The most useful feature of this concept is its ability to drive in EV mode up to 10 km (about 6 miles). Urban dwellers could use the scooter for running errands and not use a drop of gasoline.

    What are the odds this concept can make it to production?

    From Green Car Congress:

    The HYbrid3 Evolution. Click to enlarge.

    At the Milan International Cycle and Motorbike Show, Peugeot is presenting a three-wheel drive hybrid scooter concept: the HYbrid3 Evolution. The scooter delivers 36 kW (49 bhp) of power, with fuel consumption of 2.0L/100 km (118 mpg US) and 48 g/km of CO2 in the combined cycle.

    The HYbrid3 Evolution is a roofless—and higher-powered—version of the HYbrid3 compressor, presented at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. The HYbrid 3 Evolution features electric motors in each of its two front wheels and a naturally aspirated engine at the rear. There are no mechanical connections between the front and the rear, with everything controlled electronically (“by wire”), which works in favor of the vehicle’s compact size.

    Engine and rear wheel. Click to enlarge.

    The new 300 cm3 supercharged gasoline engine providing the concept’s rear wheel drive has an output of 30 kW (41 bhp). The two 3kW electric wheel motors are powered by lithium-ion batteries which can be recharged by an energy recovery system active during deceleration and braking.

    The HYbrid3 Evolution can be driven in three different modes:

    • in electric only mode (start-up, low speed and deceleration, offering a range of up to 10 km);

    • in gasoline only mode, at stable speed on the open road, when the gasoline engine attains its optimal efficiency;

    • Gasoline engine/electric motor combined: as required by road conditions; and during phases of acceleration for extra power (“boost” function) and grip, when the power can attain a maximum of 30 + (3x2) = 36 kW (49 bhp). These characteristics allow acceleration and in-gear acceleration equivalent to that obtained with a single 500 cm3 engine (the Peugeot Satelis for example).

    The HYbrid3 Evolution also uses a stop & start system that places the engine on standby when the vehicle is at a standstill (at traffic lights, a stop sign or in traffic jams) or when the vehicle is being driven in electric mode.

    The front suspension, consisting of deformable parallelograms (i.e. wheels that incline) has at its center a transverse damper for optimal driveability and stability. The suspension assemblies are positioned on the wheel hub.

    The brakes incorporate an ABS system coupled with a linked integral braking system (PBS) which acts simultaneously on the rear wheel and the two front wheels. The braking system operates by means of three ventilated discs and, in addition, via the front electric motors which in this way recover energy to recharge the batteries. This assembly (3 wheels + electric motor braking) also makes it possible to reduce the braking distance by around 30% compared to a two-wheel scooter equipped with traditional brakes.

    Peugeot says that this hybrid technology and its original implementation is one of its technologies of the future, that could be applied in different forms with different naturally-aspirated engines, different electric solutions and on any type of vehicle, even the smallest models.

    From 2011, the HYbrid4 3008 will be the Group’s first vehicle to be sold with an HDi engine at the front and an electric motor at the rear.

    Tango EV Re-enters Production

    Ever heard of the Tango EV? This is a quirky, expensive all-electric two-seat vehicle that has barely got off the ground. For a mere $150,000 you get an extremely thin car with impressive performance metrics. Zero to sixty in four seconds, top speed of over 100 mph and a range of 120 miles makes it a daily driver for nearly all commuters.

    But why spend nearly 50% more than the entry fee for a Tesla Roadster for this car? The Tesla boasts better performance and twice the range for much less money. What are we missing here? Why is the Tango so pricey?

    From USA Today:

    At a bit more than 3 feet wide, the Tango is clearly in contention for bragging rights to claim to be America's skinniest car. Eleven were built and now Rick Woodbury says he's like to create more, so he's taking orders. It certainly is unique, even as a commuter car.


    Tango is so the twiggy-thin that Woodbury says that scores of police officers have told him they wouldn't give him a ticket if he drove it between lanes on a crowded freeway just like a motorcycle. (Those were the good cops. The bad cop, on the other hand ...) The goal was to create a car that can zip through crowded urban traffic. To achieve that, Tango has two seats, one behind the other, and doesn't waste room like typical cars used by solo commuters.

    "All those people are using the wrong tool for the job, carrying four empty seats around" he says. The car doesn't come cheap, though, with price well above the priciest Lexus: $150,000.

    Woodbury has been showing off Tango this week at the SEMA trade show in Las Vegas, which closes today. The company hopes to compete for the X Prize, aimed at rewarding the best of the next-generation of high-mileage cars. Tango could be a contender, if for no other reason, its unique powerplant:

    It is electric powered and unlike some other urban electric prototypes, has four wheels instead of three. Tango will go 120 miles per charge, zoom from zero to 60 miles per hour in about four seconds and top out over 100 mph, says its maker Commuter Cars, based in Spokane, Wash. The batteries are carried low to the ground, making up much of the car's ton of ballast to make sure it's stable and won't tip over in tight turns, Woodbury says.

    As for safety, Tango depends on a sturdy cage like that other small car, the Smart. Woodbury says the passenger compartment meets specifications for NASCAR racing. It has four times the side protection of a typical SUV. Also like the Smart, the car's 8-foot, 5-inch length should allow it to be parked nose first to the curb in a street parking spot.

    Best of all, even if your having trouble getting thin, at least your car can be the envy of every wide-body.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    GMAC Needs More Bailout Funds Claims Fed

    How do you feel about banks that receive free money so they can stay afloat? Usually, this forum focuses on alternate energy vehicle developments and technological advancements, but when we find out that GMAC is standing in line with their hands out, it tends to provoke our ire.

    GMAC is notorious for their 0% interest loans and they use this marketing tool to entice consumers to purchase big gas hogs they could not otherwise afford. Vehicles like Tahoes and Yukons and Escalades and Hummers with bloated price tags and pathetic mileage ratings are scooping up the free money from GMAC that you and I ultimately get the tab for. Maddening.

    From Automotive News:

    GMAC Financial Services, which has received $12.5 billion in federal aid, is negotiating for a fresh infusion of taxpayer funds because it has not raised enough capital to survive a deepening recession, the Federal Reserve said.

    The auto lender is the only one of 10 large banks ordered in May to raise capital that had not met its goal, the Fed said Monday.

    "The one exception, GMAC, is expected to meet its remaining buffer need by accessing the TARP Automotive Industry Financing Program and is in discussions with the U.S. Treasury on the structure of its investment," the Fed said in a statement.

    The U.S. Treasury and Fed ordered the banks to take stress tests last spring in a bid to reassure jittery investors that they would be able to withstand a deepening recession.

    GMAC was ordered to raise $11.5 billion in the six months following the stress test results in early May, with a deadline of Monday. The firm quickly received a $7.5 billion federal capital injection and has sold U.S.-backed debt. The investment came on top of emergency government aid GMAC received in December to keep it out of bankruptcy.

    GMAC has indicated it will need less funds than were expected at the time of the tests in May, the U.S. Treasury said Monday. Department officials have said they knew it was likely the government would need to contribute more capital to GMAC because as a privately held firm, it had little ability to sell shares.

    GMAC's owners include General Motors Co. and private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. Among other lending, it provides financing to buyers of vehicles made by GM and Chrysler Group -- two automakers partially owned by the government after their federally sponsored bankruptcies earlier this year.

    Worse than ‘adverse’?

    Regulators had told the banks to increase capital based on projected losses under various economic scenarios, including one labeled "adverse" that envisioned a 10.3 percent unemployment rate next year.

    But joblessness may already be exceeding that level. On Friday, Labor Department data revealed a 10.2 percent unemployment rate for October, and the White House said it would likely rise further before the jobs picture improves.

    Nonetheless, the Fed said the stress tests were designed to ensure that the banks would stay sufficiently capitalized through 2010 and continue lending to creditworthy borrowers. The tests calmed investors enough to draw new investment into banks and sparked a stock market rally over the summer months.

    The Fed's announcement that GMAC was still negotiating for government capital comes four days after Treasury assistant secretary Herbert Allison said the Treasury Department needed more deliberation over the structure of the investment and it might be delayed past the Monday deadline.

    GM Decides To Produce Cadillac Converj

    The Elegant Cadillac Converj

    The Cadillac Converj is the swanky cousin of Chevrolet's Volt. The car will have better performance and more luxurious appointments and oh yeah, a little higher price tag. In the long run, we believe this is a good move for GM and for alternate energy vehicles in general, but what is really needed are affordable cars. Something in the neighborhood of half the price of a Chevy Volt (approximately $40,000), wo do nicely.

    From Detroit News:

    General Motors Co. has decided to produce the Cadillac Converj, an extended-range electric car using the same technology as the Chevrolet Volt, The Detroit News has learned.

    Cadillac included the Converj, a concept car that wowed industry critics and the public at the 2009 North American International Auto Show, in a presentation made to the automaker's board of directors Nov. 2, according to sources familiar with the production plan.

    A production date has not been set, and it likely will be a few years before consumers can buy a Converj.

    "Cadillac needs as much excitement in its portfolio as possible, so I think it's a good strategy for them," said Rebecca Lindland, director of auto industry research at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass.

    Cadillac sales have fallen 39.2 percent this year, the steepest decline among GM's four core brands.

    A Cadillac spokesman declined comment.

    Before GM emerged from bankruptcy July 10 with about $50 billion in federal aid, company executives said there were no plans to build the angular Converj.

    At the auto show, Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said if the Converj was approved, the production model would resemble the concept, likening it to the Chevrolet Camaro's evolution from concept to production.

    Lutz said it would have been easier financially to produce a Cadillac electric vehicle first because a premium brand would command a higher sticker price, which in turn would help defray the cost of lithium-ion batteries.

    The Converj will expand the number of electric vehicles offered by GM and spread the technology's cost. GM is spending more than $1 billion on the Volt program alone and opening a battery pack assembly factory in Brownstown Township. GM's German carmaker Adam Opel GmbH will produce an Ampera model in 2011 that uses the same underpinnings.

    The electrification of vehicles is seen as a growth area in the auto industry, and rival automakers have launched electric vehicle plans to cut the dependence on foreign oil.

    The Volt, scheduled for production in November/December 2010, will let commuters travel up to 40 miles on electric power. The engine kicks in after its battery is drained by about 70 percent to sustain the battery's remaining charge to keep the car running for several hundred miles.

    The decision to build the Converj excited dealers.

    Cadillac sells a hybrid version of its Cadillac Escalade, but Scott Allen, a dealer in California, hears from customers who don't normally think of the large SUV as a traditional hybrid.

    "A snazzy-looking little car like that would be cool," Allen said.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    Introducing the Zero S Motorcycle

    The Zero S

    So you wanna go green but can't afford a Tesla or Fisker Karma? Join the club, and then have a look at the Zero S street legal all electric two wheeler. Built for fun, built to last and built to never use a drop of gasoline. What more do you want?

    The Vectrix is another all electric two wheeler but is a scooter rather than a motorcycle. Pricewise, the two are very similar.

    From Zero Motorcycles web site:

    Type Brushed permanent magnet electric
    Top Speed 55 mph (90 kph)
    Power System
    Type Patent-pending lithium ion array
    Capacity 4 kWh (58volts @ 70Ah)
    Range Up to 50 miles (80 km)
    Recharge time Less than 4 hours
    Input Standard 110V or 220V
    Drive Train
    Transmission Clutchless one speed
    Drive system 17T / 61T, 420 Chain
    Chassis / Suspension / Brakes
    Front Suspension Travel 8 inches (203 mm)
    Rear Suspension Travel 9 inches (229 mm)
    Front Brakes 2 Pot Hydraulic, Stainless Rotor, Hand Actuated, Full Float
    Rear Brakes 1 Pot Hydraulic, Stainless Rotor, Foot Actuated, Full Float
    Front Tire 110/70-16
    Rear Tire 140/70-16
    Wheel base 55.75 inches (141.6 cm)
    Seat height 35.5 inches (90.2 cm)
    Head angle 24 degrees from vertical with 8 inch (20 cm) fork
    Trail 3.26 inches (82.8 mm)
    Steering Angle + 35 Degrees, -35 Degrees
    Frame 29 pounds (13.2 kg)
    Power Pack 80 pounds (36.3 kg)
    Total weight 270 pounds (122.5 kg)
    Typical cost to recharge Less than $.01 per mile or kilometer