Thursday, September 30, 2010

Volvo Car Corporation will introduce plug-in hybrids (including diesel electric) on the market in 2012

PHEV Diesels are way overdue, so hats off to Volvo.

Volvo Cars is introducing a series-produced plug-in hybrid as early as 2012.

Pure electric power from the battery will cover the daily transport needs of 75 percent of European drivers. For longer distances, an efficient diesel hybrid engine automatically takes over. The combined range is about 1,200 kilometres. Carbon dioxide emissions will average out at 49 grams per kilometre, with fuel consumption of 1.9 litres per 100 km.

Volvo is convinced that in the future, customers will continue to want safe, comfortable cars with good driving properties and generous load-carrying ability, no matter if they are powered by electricity or other fuels.

Plug-in hybrids are an attractive car type offering the user the best from both electric power and conventional drivelines: extremely low fuel consumption and CO2 levels, combined with a long range and high performance.

"The new Volvo plug-in will be a truly enjoyable car to drive, featuring Volvo's high safety and comfort standards. At the same time, CO2 levels and fuel consumption will be as low as half that available on the market today." says Magnus Jonsson, Senior Vice President Product Development at Volvo Cars.

Volvo plug-in hybrid has several advantages:

  • Fuel consumption, running costs and CO2 emissions are very low.
  • The car is a "normal" Volvo, with all its customary good properties.
  • It is conveniently recharged at home via a regular wall socket.
  • It is an enjoyable car to drive, offering high performance.

Electric power with CO2 levels close to zero

Electricity is highly suited as a car fuel. The electric motor has a high efficiency rating and consumes about one-fifth as much energy as a corresponding engine running on fossil fuel. Volvo's plug-in hybrid cars will be propelled by a robust electric motor that receives its power from a lithium-ion battery. What is more, additional electricity is generated every time the car brakes.

The battery is conveniently recharged at home via a regular wall socket. Electricity as a fuel is far cheaper than petrol or diesel, which results in low operating costs. The battery will take about five hours to recharge.

The range will be about 1,200 kilometres, just like in a conventional diesel car. The plug-in hybrid will be able to be driven up to 50 kilometres on pure electric power and when running on the battery, emissions from the exhaust pipe will be non-existent. If the battery is recharged using electricity from renewable sources, the net emission of CO2 will be close to zero, even in a lifecycle perspective.

Efficient diesel engines as a complement

As a complement to the electric motor, one of Volvo's fuel-efficient diesel engines is also fitted under the bonnet - optimised to run on renewable synthetic diesel and complying with the tough forthcoming exhaust emission requirements.

The diesel engine can be run separately or in combination with the electric motor for optimal power and energy utilisation. 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. Being able to combine these two power sources makes it possible to offer high performance and trouble-free use by the owner.

Most car trips cover short distances, to and from work. This means that the forthcoming Volvo plug-in hybrid will cover the transport requirements of most people. For longer distances, the diesel engine starts up automatically, giving the car the same properties and range as a conventional diesel car.

According to the standardised NEDC certification driving cycle, CO2 emissions from Volvo's plug-in hybrid will be lower than 50 g/km.

Plug-in hybrids - market potential

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. Fuel costs on electric power will be about one-third compared with driving on diesel, and this partially compensates for the higher purchase price, although not fully.

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," says Magnus Jonsson.

Plug-in hybrids the result of industrial cooperation

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 cross-border initiative.

The formation of the joint company with Vattenfall creates entirely new preconditions for developing next-generation green technology in a highly efficient way. Working in partnership is something that the company regards as an absolute necessity in the drive towards a sustainable future.


The hits keep coming!


  • Ford is on track to produce five hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric vehicles for the North American market by 2012 and European markets by 2013
  • Ford’s first hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles for Europe will be based on the new Ford C-MAX and be launched in 2013
  • C-MAX plug-in hybrid will use the company’s critically acclaimed powersplit architecture with a high-efficiency Atkinson-cycle engine in combination with a high-voltage electric motor generator and a lithium-ion battery system
  • New C-MAX hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles will be built in Valencia, Spain and join Transit Connect Electric and Focus Electric and a yet to be announced CD-segment vehicle in a suite of electrified vehicles across the compact, midsize and light commercial van segments

The drive toward broad commercialisation of low-emission, fuel-efficient electrified vehicles is gaining ground as Ford Motor Company confirmed today it is on track to deliver five electrified vehicles for launch in North America by 2012 and European markets by 2013.

Ford’s commitment to extend its global electrified vehicles strategy will see the introduction of a full battery-electric Ford Transit Connect in 2011, and a battery-electric derivative of the next-generation Ford Focus, due in 2012.

Ford’s Valencia Plant in Spain will build the company’s first hybrid models for European customers with two advanced technology derivatives of the all-new five-seat Ford C-MAX compact multi-activity model to be launched in 2013 – a full hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The fifth vehicle will also be a next-generation hybrid-electric model and will be announced at a later time.

“Our plan to deliver five electrified Ford vehicles as promised is well underway, which is great news for our customers both here in Europe and in North America,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe today at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. “The new advanced powertrain technologies we are applying progressively across our entire portfolio further strengthen Ford’s commitment to delivering significant fuel economy improvements and reduced CO2 emissions to meet our customers’ functional needs without compromising their driving experience.”

While North America continues to be the dominant market for hybrid sales, European interest in the segment is rising. According to R.L. Polk & Company, a leading auto industry market research firm, European hybrid vehicle sales are projected to double between 2010 and 2012. Other researchers project worldwide hybrid sales to top 6 million units per year by 2020, with the volume leaders being the U.S., Europe and China.

“Due to the increasing customer interest in Europe for electrified versions of our vehicles, we are stepping up our efforts to bring these models to market alongside our latest-generation, fuel-efficient EcoBoost petrol and Duratorq diesel models,” Odell added. “European consumers soon will have an even greater range of electric alternatives from Ford.”

New C-MAX HEV and PHEV: The powersplit and plug-in advantages
The upcoming new Ford C-MAX PHEV and HEV models, like the company’s next-generation hybrids, will use the company’s critically acclaimed powersplit architecture with a high-efficiency Atkinson-cycle engine in combination with a high-voltage electric traction motor generator and a lithium-ion battery system.

In a powersplit hybrid, the electric motor and petrol-powered engine can work together or separately to maximise efficiency. The engine also can operate independently of vehicle speed, charging the batteries or providing power to the wheels as needed. The motor alone can provide sufficient power to the wheels in low-speed, low-load conditions, and work with the engine at higher speeds. As a result, the current-generation Fusion Hybrid can operate in petrol-saving electric mode up to 47 mph under certain conditions for short distances.

Comparatively, Ford’s future plug-in hybrid is being designed to operate in electric mode at even higher speeds than the current generation. The plug-in hybrid will stretch its fuel efficiency further than a hybrid by enabling the user to recharge the lithium-ion battery by plugging the vehicle into the electrical grid. As a result, plug-in hybrids have more battery energy to draw upon and can go further without using the petrol-powered engine.

Plug-in hybrid users will want to recharge their vehicles overnight, because the cost of electricity is typically lower during off-peak hours. While a plug-in hybrid does not need to be plugged in to operate due to its petrol engine backup, it is designed to operate most efficiently when the battery has been fully charged.

On startup, Ford’s future plug-in hybrid will operate in charge-depletion mode. When the battery has been depleted or certain conditions are met, it switches to charge-sustaining hybrid mode for continued optimal fuel efficiency. After the battery is depleted, the vehicle will drive like a regular hybrid electric vehicle.

“A plug-in hybrid owner will make fewer trips to the pump to refuel, because of its all-electric mode capability,” said Lisa Drake, chief engineer for Ford’s Global Hybrid and Battery Electric Vehicle programs. “They’ll be able to conveniently recharge their plug-in hybrid at home overnight. And they’ll never have to think about the vehicle’s electric range, because the plug-in hybrid seamlessly shifts to petrol when needed.”

The eco-friendly alternatives: All-electric Focus and Transit Connect models
Ford’s future all-electric vehicles – Transit Connect Electric and Focus Electric – offer yet another means for eco-friendly driving, this time without a fuel tank.

Vehicle users will have the option of recharging Transit Connect Electric and Focus Electric with either a standard 240V or 120V charge station for optimal recharging. The vehicles will come with a transportable cord for remote recharging.

A battery electric vehicle’s onboard lithium-ion battery pack is charged by connecting the charge port to a power outlet. Inside the vehicle, an onboard charger converts the AC power from the electric grid to DC power to charge the battery pack.

Ford’s battery electric vehicles are expected to offer fleet customers lower cost of operation, because recharging with electricity is generally less expensive than refuelling with petrol. Users may also benefit from much lower maintenance costs over the life of the vehicle.

The development of Ford’s battery electric and plug-in hybrid technologies leverages nearly 200,000 miles of road testing conducted in collaboration with a coalition of 10 utilities, the U.S. Department of Energy, the New York State Energy Research and Development Administration and the Electric Power Research Institute.

In the United Kingdom, Ford is working with Scottish and Southern Energy and Strathclyde University on the UK Low Carbon Vehicle Fleet program to demonstrate a fleet of 21 prototype electric vehicles and collect data on their performance.

In Germany, Ford is working with RheinEnergie AG, the city of Cologne and the University of Duisburg-Essen on the ColognE-mobile program, using a fleet of 25 electric vehicles to conduct road testing. The program is part of a much larger research effort in several cities in Germany involving multiple automakers, utility companies, universities and technology partners.

Proven performance
Ford’s next-generation hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles will build on its considerable success in North America with the Fusion Hybrid and Escape Hybrid – America’s most fuel-efficient midsize car and most fuel-efficient SUV, respectively.

Ford has more than 140,000 hybrid vehicles on the road to date, including hybrid versions of Mercury Milan and Mariner. The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid joins the North American line-up this fall and is the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in America.

“We know that one technology does not work for all customers – hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles each offer distinctly different advantages,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development. “By leveraging our global platforms, we are able to offer our customer a range of solutions as part of a strong product line-up.”

Ford is designing its hybrid and electric vehicles to provide outstanding fuel efficiency with no-compromise driving enjoyment. Smooth regenerative braking, confident acceleration, a comfortable interior and smart driver information features have helped earn the North American Ford Fusion Hybrid the 2010 MOTOR TREND Car of the Year® award and a place on numerous best “green” car lists.

“We expect our upcoming plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles to drive like real cars because they’re based on real cars,” said Nancy Gioia, Ford director of Global Electrification. “They share many of the same quality components as their petrol- and diesel-powered counterparts, while delivering superior fuel economy and no-compromise driving enjoyment.”

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

General Motors Ramps Up Worldwide EV Testing

Opel Meriva electric vehicle, to be tested in Germany as part of MeRegioMobil program, 2010-2011

Opel Meriva electric vehicle, to be tested in Germany as part of MeRegioMobil program, 2010-2011

Enlarge Photo

General Motors recently hit the headlines with its attempt to trademark the term “Range Anxiety” to use in advertising campaigns for its extended range electric vehicle, the 2011 Chevy Volt.

At a glance, you’d think the automaker was trying to seriously slur the image of all electric vehicles, with implications that battery technology was simply not ready to be used in electric-only vehicles.

But while the 2011 Chevy Volt is stealing most of the attention, multiple test projects within the automaker hint that worldwide, GM and its subsidiaries are deadly serious about going all electric again.

Chevrolet Cruze EV, test fleet in South Korea, October 2010

Chevrolet Cruze EV, test fleet in South Korea, October 2010

Enlarge Photo
Hot on the heels of the summer announcements from GM that it was working on an all-electric version of the GM Sail - a subcompact model sold in by GM China - came the news last week that the global automaker was testing an all-electric 2011 Chevy Cruze EV in South Korea.

Last week, Opel/Vauxhall, the European arm of GM, unveiled its Vivaro e-Concept, an all-electric range-extended van the same size as a Mercedes Sprinter. Similar to the 2011 Chevy Volt in technology, the concept is capable of up to 60 miles on its lithium-ion battery pack before a small 1.4 liter engine switches on to offer range-extended operation.

Including the 2011 Chevy Volt, the Vivaro e-Concept brought the total number of plug-in vehicles being tested or produced by GM to four.

It turns out there are more.

We’d heard some rumors last week that keen photographers in Germany had spied some under-cover Opel Meriva minivans being recharged at a remote location during road-testing.

Today, GM confirmed the rumor and the latest of its test-fleets. Based on the european Meriva small minivan platform so popular among European soccer moms, the all-electric test fleet can travel up to 40 miles per charge.

Compared to other electric vehicles in testing, the range is truly abysmal. And the 0-62 mph time of 11 seconds is hardly anything to get excited about. But the Meriva test fleet has a far more interesting party trick.

It can provide power back to the grid.

The system, called Vehicle To Grid, or V2G, enables the electric car to provide power back to the power grid or even to act as a giant battery backup system for a home in the event of a power outage or natural disaster. Not only does this give the car an added functionality but it also helps the power grid to cope with peaks in demand by allowing a V2G vehicle to give a tiny amount of energy from its battery pack back to the grid.



Enlarge Photo
Both the Chevy Sail EV and Chevy Cruise EV are prototypes. But with a 100 mile range and top speed of 100 mph, the Cruise EV prototype could conceivably hit the U.S. market in a few years as a production car if the testing proves successful.

The latest announcement from GM comes just days before the Paris Motor Show. Is GM planning a big announcement or perhaps an all-electric Volt? Possibly.

As for the Meriva? We're unlikely to see the current vehicle move beyond testing, but perhaps a future all-electric Volt model could provide a V2G capability along with a greatly increased range? We'll have to see.

Source: All Cars Electric

Canon Investment Holdings Company to Invest $48.9M in Altair Nanotechnologies for 51%; China Battery Deals

Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc. recently reached a definitive agreement whereby China-based Canon Investment Holdings Limited would purchase newly issued common shares of Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc. resulting in Canon holding 51% of Altair’s fully diluted common shares immediately following closing.

Headquartered in Zhuhai, China, Canon is the holding company of Yintong Energy Company Ltd. (YTE), which is a manufacturer of high-capacity and high-power lithium battery products. Yintong’s lithium battery modules are made with a proprietary circular design and are used in a range of customer applications, including mass transit and energy storage solutions.

Canon has agreed to purchase approximately 125,917,996 shares at $0.3882 per share, providing $48.9 million in proceeds to fund the contemplated establishment of a lithium-titanate manufacturing facility in China and Altair’s working capital requirements and operations in the United States.

Under a separate conditional supply and technology license agreement, Altair has agreed to sell to YTE an ALTI-ESS 1 Megawatt system, battery cells, and its proprietary lithium-titanate material to be used in the production of battery cells in China.

The agreement provides up to $6.6 million in revenue to Altair by the end of 2011 including an advance of $2.0 million for lithium-titanate at the time of signing; Altair is committed to ship 20 metric tons of this material prior to year-end. Purchases of $4.6 million under the supply agreement are conditional upon closing of the transaction. YTE has the option to require repayment of any portion of the $2.0 million advance not offset by shipped orders if the share subscription agreement is terminated by Altair under certain conditions.

Altairnano also agreed to provide YTE with an exclusive license to its technology to manufacture battery cells using its advanced lithium-titanate materials for the Greater China market, and a non-exclusive license with respect to the remainder of Asia, Australia and New Zealand, but excluding any Middle-Eastern Country.

Under the terms of the license agreement, YTE may grant sub-licenses to affiliated companies and Altair retains the right to license third parties for the contract manufacture of cells, outside of China, for Altair’s business requirements.

Under an investor rights agreement, Canon will have the right to appoint a number of directors to the Board that is proportionate to its holdings, have certain registration rights and have certain rights to purchase additional shares in connection with dilutive issuances.

Closing of the transaction is subject to certain conditions, including shareholder approval at a special shareholders meeting anticipated to be held in December 2010, receipt of regulatory approval for the transaction from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and winding up certain defense contracts.

Altair’s board intends to implement the reverse stock split as previously approved by shareholders, by 15 November 2010.

JMP Securities is the financial advisor to the Company and provided the Board of the Company with a Fairness Opinion in relation to the proposed transaction. PacBridge Capital Partners is the financial advisor to Canon Investment Holdings Limited.

Source: Green Car Congress

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Zero Motorcycles Awarded Additional Grant Funds to Support Advanced Electric Powertrain Development Program

Zero Motorcycles has been awarded its second grant in the state of California to further the development of advanced electric powertrain systems. The most recent award comes from the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District (MBUAPCD) where Zero was awarded a $177,906 grant in partnership with the city of Santa Cruz.

This new grant adds funding to the $900,000 grant from the California Energy Commission awarded last month. The funds will be used to develop an advanced new electric powertrain for Zero Motorcycles. Additional matching funds from the City of Santa Cruz and others provide Zero with total funding for the project of $2,018,000.

Zero says that it now has the financial momentum and expertise it needs to develop electric motorcycle powertrains that exceed current levels of performance, range and efficiency.

Source: Green Car Congress

Chevrolet Volt Makes it to Semi-Finals of Car of the Year Award

Looks like the Chevy Volt is in the running for car of the year and is currently a semi-finalist. Really? A car that will be produced in these miniscule numbers can be considered for such a lofty title? What do you think? Shouldn't a car have more mass appeal to be considered?


General Motors and Nissan dominate the list of 14 cars being considered for the 2011 North American Car of the Year. The list includes two electric vehicles, Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf.

The awards are unique in the United States because — instead of being given by a single media outlet — they are awarded by automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites.

Twenty-seven new cars were eligible for the 2011 North American Car of the Year award. Earlier this week jurors voted on those they thought deserved additional consideration or what is known as the “short list” That narrowed the field to 14 semi-finalist cars, which will be on the ballot in December.

General Motors and Nissan each have three models on the short list. There are four European models, four domestic and four from Japan. Two are from Korea.

The jurors did not vote on the trucks because there were only 14 and it did not seem necessary to narrow the field from that original list.

The three car and three truck finalists will be announced on December 16th at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit. The final two winners, a North American Car of the Year and a North American Truck of the Yedar, will be announced in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

This is the 18th year of the awards, which are funded exclusively by the jurors. During that time:

• Domestic automakers have won North American Car of the Year nine times. European automakers have won four times, Japanese automakers have won three times. A Korean automaker has won once.

• Domestic automakers have won North American Truck of the Year 11 times. Japanese automakers have won four times. European automakers have won twice.

2011 North American Car of the Year Short List:
Audi A8
Buick Regal
Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet Volt
Ford Fiesta
Hyundai Sonata/2.0T/Hybrid
Infiniti M37/56
Jaguar XJ
Kia Optima
Mazda Mazda2
Nissan Juke
Nissan Leaf
Volkswagen Jetta
Volvo S60
North American Truck of the Year Short List:
Dodge Durango
Ford Edge
Ford Explorer
Honda Odyssey
Hyundai Tucson
Infiniti QX56
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Kia Sorento
Kia Sportage
Lincoln MKX
Mercedes-Benz R-Class
Porsche Cayenne
Toyota Sienna
Volkswagen Touareg

Monday, September 27, 2010

Volvo Gets Clever: Body Panels as Batteries


Tomorrow’s Volvo car: body panels serve as the car battery

Imagine a car whose body also serves as a rechargeable battery. A battery that stores braking energy while you drive and that also stores energy when you plug in the car overnight to recharge. At the moment this is just a fascinating idea, but tests are currently under way to see if the vision can be transformed into reality. Volvo Cars is one out of nine participants in an international materials development project.

Among the foremost challenges in the development of hybrids and electric cars are the size, weight and cost of the current generation of batteries. In order to deliver sufficient capacity using today’s technology, it is necessary to fit large batteries, which in turn increases the car’s weight.

Earlier this year, a materials development project was launched by Imperial College in London that brings together nine European companies and institutes. Volvo Cars is the only car manufacturer participating in the project. With the help of 35 million SEK (approx. 3.5 million EURO) in financial support from the European Union (EU), a composite blend of carbon fibres and polymer resin is being developed that can store and charge more energy faster than conventional batteries can. At the same time, the material is extremely strong and pliant, which means it can be shaped for use in building the car’s body panels. According to calculations, the car’s weight could be cut by as much as 15 percent if steel body panels were replaced with the new material.

Volvo Cars contributes its expertise
The project will continue for three years. In the first stage, work focuses both on developing the composite material so it can store more energy and on studying ways of producing the material on an industrial scale. Only in the final stage will the battery be fitted to a car.

“Our role is to contribute expertise on how this technology can be integrated in the future and to input ideas about the advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost and user-friendliness,” says Per-Ivar Sellergren, development engineer at the Volvo Cars Materials Centre.

Initially, the car’s spare wheel recess will be converted into a composite battery.
“This is a relatively large structure that is easy to replace. Not sufficiently large to power the entire car, but enough to switch the engine off and on when the car is at a standstill, for instance at traffic lights,” says Per-Ivar Sellergren.

Immense interest in the project
Many people have visited the Imperial College website, which contains information about the project, and have seen the video on YouTube. Per-Ivar reads the visitor comments with immense interest.
“Almost daily I read new ideas about how this technology could be used or further developed. The potential is enormous and it’s great that so many people are interested,” he says.

If the project is successful, there are many possible application areas. For instance, mobile phones will be able to be as slim as credit cards and laptops will manage longer without needing to be recharged.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Report: Mitsubishi Motors and LG Chem to Develop Advanced Automotive Lithium-Ion Battery System

The Nikkei reports that Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and South Korea-based LG Chem will jointly develop an advanced automotive lithium-ion battery system.

LG Chem will first supply lithium-ion batteries for electric prototype vehicles on which Mitsubishi Motors is working. The companies will develop a battery system that will add a power control device and a collision safety mechanism to LG’s batteries, and produce a prototype vehicle in which the developed battery system will be installed. They will also launch a pilot project for mass production at Mitsubishi Motors’ Nagoya factory.

The two firms will conduct joint studies on the performance and safety of the new battery system in the hope of using it in some models.

GS Yuasa Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) launched a joint venture—Lithium Energy Japan—in 2007 to manufacture large-capacity and high-performance lithium-ion batteries for the i-MiEV.

LG Chem, which mainly supplies batteries for cell phones and notebook computers, is supplying batteries to GM and Ford, and has had a number of other recent wins in the automotive sector.

The Nikkei report notes that this may become the first case of a Japanese automaker producing electric cars incorporating lithium-ion batteries made overseas.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

BMW Announces ActiveE Field Trial Markets


BMW today announced the U.S. markets that will be part of its field trial of the ActiveE--the first all-electric BMW.

If you are in a major metropolitan area next summer, you'll be able to check out the BMW ActiveE.

The announcement that BMW will put 450 of the electric vehicles on U.S. roads was made today at the Opportunity Green conference in Los Angeles.

Metropolitan markets BMW plans field tests include the New York area, the Los Angeles area, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Boston, and select markets in Connecticut.

Labeled a "Megacity Vehicle," the ActiveE was first spotted at the 2010 Detroit auto show earlier this year.

The ActiveE, which has a reported range of 100 miles, sports a 1-series chassis and body with an electric motor fitted onto the rear axle.

"We were the first automaker to put 450 electric vehicles on U.S. roads for daily use. We have gained so much insight into living with an EV with our MINI E pioneers over the last year," said Rich Steinberg, manager of Electric Vehicle Operations and Strategy for BMW of North America. "Partners like the city of New York's Mayor's Office, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison have also been critical to the success of the program. We're looking forward to working with more drivers in more markets to build on our base of experience as we get ready for the launch of the Megacity Vehicle, and we look forward to even greater collaboration with the BMW ActiveE."

A full-scale launch of the ActiveE is scheduled for 2013.

Source: Cnet

Saab Automobile and AAM Form Joint Venture to Develop Electric All-Wheel Drive and Electric and Hybrid Driveline Systems

Saab Automobile and American Axle Manufacturing (AAM) have formed a jointly-owned company for the engineering, development and marketing of electric all-wheel drive systems, as well as electric and hybrid driveline systems. The new company, called e-AAM Driveline Systems, will be based in Trollhattan. The joint venture will commence operations on 1 October.

e-AAM will develop and market an electric all-wheel drive system in a full service package. This electric all-wheel drive system can be easily integrated into existing platforms, minimizing vehicle architecture changes. Saab will become a client of e-AAM Driveline Systems, purchasing components to be used in next-generation Saab vehicles from 2012.

The new company will also market its expertise and advanced products to other car manufacturers on a global basis.

For Saab, the announcement of this partnership is a major step towards a successful future as an independent company. Saab is currently class-leading with its innovative Cross Wheel Drive system (XWD). The new electric all-wheel drive system will secure a leadership position in its next generation Saabs. This joint venture will bring together Saab’s world-class vehicle engineering expertise and AAM’s extensive engineering, production and marketing capabilities, which leads to a powerful combination.

—Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile CEO

Saab is introducing its 9-3 ePower battery-electric vehicle at the upcoming Paris Motor Show. The 9-3 ePower is the prototype for a test fleet of 70 vehicles which will participate in extensive field trials in Sweden early next year. (Earlier post.)

AAM is a leader in the manufacture, engineering, design and validation of driveline and drivetrain systems and related components and modules, chassis systems and metal-formed products for trucks, sport utility vehicles, passenger cars and crossover utility vehicles.

Source: Green Car Congress

Friday, September 24, 2010

Smart's All-Electric eScooter Concept to be Revealed at Paris Auto Show

  • 2010 Smart Escooter Concept
  • 2010 Smart Escooter Concept
  • 2010 Smart Escooter Concept
  • 2010 Smart Escooter Concept
  • 2010 Smart Escooter Concept
  • 2010 Smart Escooter Concept
  • 2010 Smart Escooter Concept
  • 2010 Smart Escooter Concept
  • 2010 Smart E-Scooter concept teaser
  • 2010 Smart E-Scooter concept teaser
  • 2010 Smart E-Scooter concept teaser

Last year BMW rolled out its C1-E Concept, an all-electric scooter that represented the automaker’s vision of what a safe, environmentally-friendly and highly practical single track vehicle for city traffic could look like.

Now BMW's closest rival, Mercedes-Benz, through its Smart car division, is retaliating with its own electric scooter concept that will debut at next week’s 2010 Paris Auto Show alongside a similar model from MINI that we saw yesterday. The move is part of a greater plan to diversify Mercedes’ city-car division and hopefully build a presence in what could one day be one of the most hotly contested segments in the world.

The new concept, dubbed the Escooter, features two wheels on a single track and plug-in capability, which means users can simply charge up the scooter in their own homes. It is driven by a disc-shaped wheel hub motor in the rear wheel, which offers a total of 6 horsepower. The brushless direct current hub drive transmits its power directly to the rear wheel and is maintenance free. Top speed is around 30 mph, enough for urban commutes but far short of highway necessities. Total driving range is 62 miles on a single charge of the scooter’s lithium-ion battery.

To brake the Escooter safely, just one touch is enough to slow both the front and rear wheels simultaneously. When the hydraulic disc brake at the front is actuated, an anti-lock braking system kicks in. At the rear the electric motor switches into regenerative mode whenever the brake is applied, slowing the wheel and converting the kinetic energy into electrical energy to top up the battery. Further charge comes from an array of solar cells at the front.

The Smart brand was originally established to tackle the need for improved mobility, especially in congested city environments. However, up to now it has concentrated its efforts on four-wheel solutions. The next stage is to look at how to expand beyond this with other environmentally friendly vehicles, such as the Escooter.

Other models Mercedes-Benz is expected to launch through its Smart car division in coming years includes an all-electric Fortwo, as well as a new rear-wheel drive successor to the original Forfour four-door model.

Source: All Cars Electric

Honda Poised To Double CNG Version of Civic GX

2011 Honda Civic GX NGV

For the past seven years, the natural-gas-powered Honda Civic GX has been named the greenest vehicle on the market by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. The Civic GX might next year cede its green crown to the all-electric Nissan LEAF or the plug-in Chevy Volt. Nonetheless, Honda is planning to increase production of the GX—the only mass-market compressed natural gas vehicle on the market.

“With the activity in the environmental vehicle space, we’re anticipating growth in sales of CNG vehicles, not only in California but nationwide,” said Elmer Hardey, Honda’s senior manager of alternative vehicles, in an interview with

“We’re considering doubling sales in the next two- to three-year horizon,” Hardey said. Last year, Honda sold less than 2,000 Civic GXs—so a doubling is still a modest increase in production. The Civic GX will also be offered with nicer amenities, such as a navigation system and premium stereo package. Honda is completely redesigning the Civic for the 2012 model year.

There are several factors that keep Compressed Natural Gas vehicles in a small niche, most notably limited access to CNG fueling stations. Hardey confirmed that a home-refueling option is still available to GX drivers. FuelMaker, the maker of the Phill CNG-refueling device, was acquired by Fuel Systems Solutions in 2008. The product is now called the BRC Fuel Maker, which sells for about $4,500, minus a $2,000 tax credit.

From an economic perspective, many consumer question the $25,000 price tag for the Civic GX, when the less expensive EX premium model provides nicer features and better performance. Yet, the government perks—such as a $4,000 tax credit and solo-driving access to carpool lanes in several states—could motivate a few buyers. In addition, CNG is less expensive than gas or diesel—by as much as a dollar or two compared to the equivalent per-gallon price.

2011 Honda Civic GX

The CNG inlet for the Honda Civic GX.

EV vs. CNG

Hardey believes that interest in CNG home-refueling devices have been stimulated by the electric vehicle market. “People are beginning to consider their needs and alternatives,” Hardey said.

“If a customer wants to move away from petroleum, then CNG and electric vehicles are a good choice. Obviously, battery electric vehicles are a further choice away from petroleum than a hybrid or plug-in hybrid,” Hardey said. “CNG is a fossil fuel, but it becomes an energy security issue. Maybe you want to move away from oil and use a US-based resource. Natural gas fits that need very effectively.”

Even with a doubling of sales, the Honda Civic GX is likely to remain a very niche vehicle. On the other hand, there’s tremendous momentum building for plug-in cars—and Honda realizes that they can’t be left out of the market. Earlier this year, Honda announced future production of an all-electric subcompact city car, as well as a larger plug-in hybrid. In addition, the company is continuing to emphasize hybrid gas-electric cars as a fuel-efficient strategy.

“The plug-in hybrid will be the size of the Honda Accord or larger,” Hardey said. There’s no chance that Honda will develop a new dedicated model that runs on CNG. On the other hand, according to Hardey, Honda will start its electric and plug-in hybrid program with existing platforms, and then “quickly move to dedicated vehicles.” That speaks volumes about the future direction of CNG versus EV in the new green car landscape.

Source: Hybrid Cars

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Introducing the GE Wattstation Electric Vehicle Charge Port - VIDEO

I think they are trying to make their chargers operate like an iPod!

Debut: Vivaro e-Concept Study Adds New Impulses Opel Premiere at the IAA Commercial Vehicles 2010

OPEL Vivaro e-concept

This is a cool looking van, electric or not. But then, aren't most concept cars?


  • Electric-van concept, seen with more than 400 km extended range
  • Clean advanced technology perfect for congested urban areas
  • Capacity with more than 5 m3 cargo space and 750 kg payload target

Hannover/Rüsselsheim. Opel is sending new impulses to electric mobility: At the IAA Commercial Vehicles Fair in Hannover (September 23 to 30, 2010) the brand debuts a research project on a Vivaro e-Concept, an electric van with up to 400 kilometers extended range. With this concept, Opel imagines that environmentally friendly e-mobility could also be intriguing for commercial vehicle operators.

“We would like to test the acceptance of our advanced propulsion technology by showing the Vivaro e-Concept to the commercial vehicle specialists attending the show,” says Chris Lacey, Executive Director, International Operations Opel/Vauxhall Commercial Vehicles. “We are convinced that we will get a fantastic reaction from the people who use such vehicles on a daily basis: Electric mobility will allow them to travel in city areas which are now off-limits to petrol and diesel-powered vehicles and the range-extender technology makes it possible to use an electric van for normal routine business.”

The Vivaro e-Concept aims to prove that operators do not have to make great concessions to practicality when they choose intelligent propulsion. The e-Concept is conceived to have 5.0 cubic meter storage capacity able to carry 750 kilograms of load, making it an excellent value for urban delivery drivers.

The e-Concept is envisioned to be capable of meeting the typical daily needs of inner city delivery transport fully electrically and therefore completely emission-free. The vehicle would be extremely quiet and clean – with respect to the environment and reduced traffic zones in the inner city.

The 111 kW electric motor in the Vivaro e-Concept propulsion system delivers 370Nm of torque and would offer 100 kilometers pure electric driving range. On longer, regional hauls or shuttle services, range-extender switches on, extending the total driving range to more than 400 kilometers. Thanks to Opel’s extended range propulsion concept, engineers foresee the Vivaro e-Concept as capable of driving permanently with engine and electric motor propulsion, enabling drivers to reach distant destinations with the confidence and peace of mind that a depleted battery will not strand them.

Intelligently stowed energy

Opel engineers have mounted the batteries, which can be re-charged on a standard household 230-volt outlet under the floor of the Vivaro e-Concept. There, the lithium ion battery modules are protected from the weather. At the same time the modules provide a low center of gravity for good handling characteristics, protecting especially from crosswind influence.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Coda Prices Its EV Sedan at a Whopping $44,900 - Promises "Real-World" 100 Mile Range

CodaEVPreProduction.jpgCoda Automotive officially put its 2011Coda EV on sale today and said the 5-passenger, 100-mile electric sedan will start at $44,900 before any applicable federal and local incentives.

That means the Coda will cost $300 more than the uplevel Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and almost $11,000 more than the five-passenger Nissan Leaf EV that is likely to be its chief competitor.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup, which has raised more than $125 milion in private capital, initially will sell its cars in California only.

Coda has re-engineered and re-fitted a Chinese-built sedan with help from Porsche Engineering and a cadre of U.S. and Chinese suppliers including electric motors and controllers from Colorado's UQM Technologies and an EV transmission from Borg Warner.

Coda marketing director Michael Jackson, who headed North American marketing for General Motors in 2006 and part of 2007, said in an interview Monday that the price - which will be offset by a $7,500 federal tax credit and also would qualify for California's limited pool of $5,000 EV purchaser rebates - is justified because the Coda offers features the Leaf and Volt don't share.

Range 'n Recharge Advantages

Additionally, he said, Coda is aiming to deliver a luxury-car buying and after-sales customer support experience.

Chief competitive points of the car, he said are:

  • "Real 90- to 120 mile range withough the climate-related variables Nissan acknowledges will be a factor in the Leaf's per-charge range. The Coda uses active thermal management for its battery pack, while the Leaf relies on ambient air cooling, making its batteries more susceptible to extremes of heat and cold. Additionally, the Coda's 34 kilowatt-hour battery pack is almost 42 percent larger than the Leaf's 24 kWh pack.
  • Faster recharging times because the Coda's 6.6 kilowatt on-board charger can pull energy from the grid at a quicker rate than the Leaf's 3.3 kw charger. Jackson said the Coda system using a 240-volt Level 2 charging station can replace 40 miles of range in 2 hours and recharge a fully depleted battery in about 6 hours. Nissan has cited charging times in the 6- to 8-hour range while the Volt's much smaller 16 kWh battery wil take about 4 hours to charge on a Level 2 system.
  • Zero emissions all the time - a claim GM cannot make for the Volt, which uses a small gasoline engine to generate electricity if the initial battery charge is depleted during a trip.
  • Deluxe sales and after-sales service with a system designed to enable shoppers to take test drives without a salesman in the passenger seat and to complete the sales process - including financing - online. Cars will be delivered to customers' homes or offices by a "Coda Valet" who will be assigned to be the buyer's personal link to the company as long as he or she owns the car.

Easy Shopping

"We started this companty with a clean sheet," said Jackson, "and we studied companies like Saturn, smart, BMW Mini and Tesla. We wanted to create a model that focused on the tangible, like our real 100-mile range...but we also believe that the entire buying and ownership experience is part of creating value."

Most consumers have already used the Internet to do their comparison shopping and are ready to buy when they visit a dealership but still have to put up with a salesman while they take a test drive and haggle with managers and finance and insurance specialists while they are completing the purchase, Jackson said.

The entire buying process - except signing financing papers and final contracts - will be done on-line on Coda's Website. Sales launched today with Coda beginning to accept $499 deposits for cars that will be delivered in the fourth quarter. Deliveries are expected to ramp up in the first quarter and Coda has set a goal of 14,000 sales through the end of 2011.

Build to Order

Coda won't operate as a traditional car company with lots of cars in stock and Jackson said it typically will be 45 to 60 days from completion of a purchase agreement to delivery until the car is delivered.

While both GM and Nissan have announced three-year leasing deals for their electric-drive vehicles, Coda hasn't cemented its lease arrangements, Jackson said, adding that terms "will be competitive."

Coda intends to make the shopping process easier, he said, by placing its cars in "test-drive centers" located in major shopping malls and staffed by product specialists who can answer questions and explain the car but who aren't commissioned sales people.

There will be 17 such locations in California by the end of 2011, with the first set to open in January at the Century City mall in Los Angeles.

Jackson said Coda is working with mall operators Westfield Group and Simon Property Group.

Repair Network

Coda will have no dealerships, so no dealer service departments, but announced today that it has signed with a major retail department store chain that operates its own auto repair centers to sublet space in eight of its California locations for battery warranty centers that will be staffed by Coda engineers.

(Coda spokesman Darryll Harrison said the retailer asked that it not be identified, but gee, how many big shopping center retailers have their own auto repair facilities, usually right next to the key-making kiosk in the parking lot!)

Additionally, Jackson said Coda has signed a deal to train repair technicians at 20 Bridgestone/Firestone tire and auto repair centers in California to perform routine maintenance and repair work not involving the electric-drive system.

The company said it will begin marketing its cars in Hawaii at the end of 2011 and it is likely that similar maintenance and warranty repair system will operate there.

Now all that remains to be see is whether Coda CEO Kevin Czinger is correct in his belief that early EV buyers won't be all that price sensitive, even in an ongoing weak economy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Introducing the Peugot EX1 Roadster EV Concept

The Peugeot EX1. Click to enlarge.

Peugeot has developed an electric two-seater roadster concept car, the EX1. Ultra-light, the EX1 is and equipped with two electric motors—one on each axle—with peak output of 125 kW (250 kW / 340 bhp in total), and an immediately available constant maximum torque of 240 N·m (177 lb-ft) at the front and rear.

This mechanical architecture allows not only the optimization of weight distribution, but also four wheel drive. This reflects the positional benefits of HYbrid4 technology, available as standard on the 3008 from 2011, featuring an HDi FAP diesel engine at the front and an electric motor at the rear. (Earlier post.)

The water droplet shape of the EX1. Click to enlarge.

Its lightness, weight distribution and aerodynamics, the torque and power of its two electric motors and its high-output lithium-ion battery make capable of very rapid acceleration. Peugeot says that the EX1 concept car has already broken international acceleration records (approved by the International Automobile Federation) for an electric-powered terrestrial vehicle.

The EX1 concept car is based on an architecture shaped like a “water droplet”, with a rear section built around two closely set rear wheels. The driver and passenger climb into the passenger compartment through a reverse-opening door, giving access to the two sports bucket seats.

Driving the EX1. Click to enlarge.

The driver, seated at floor level in a driving position that helps enhances the sense of excitement (legs outstretched), drives the vehicle with two control handles, providing an experience similar to that of an aircraft pilot or video game, Peugeot says.

As well as the presence of harnesses inside the car, the occupants are also protected by the height of the carbon passenger cell, which has sufficient overhead clearance to include a roll-over protection bar. Similarly, the wind deflector, perfectly integrated in terms of style, allows the car to be driven on a daily basis without a helmet.

Source: Green Car Congress

Saab EV Prototype Using Boston Power Swing Cells Already in Mass Production

SAAB ePower EV

The recently announced Saab 9-3 ePower battery-electric vehicle is using Boston Power’s Swing cells already in mass production, according to Boston-Power Founder and CEO Dr. Christina Lampe-Onnerud.

Boston-Power collaborated to deploy a Saab ePower-specific implementation based on the handshake between the drivetrain and the battery, Lampe-Onnerud said.

Boston-Power uses cobalt and manganese on the cathode with graphite on the anode. Its battery technology platform is based on a flat, oval-shaped prismatic cell design with external dimensions equivalent to two conventional 18650 lithium-ion cells. Each cell incorporates multiple, independent safety devices located in different areas of the cell.

Swing cells are targeted for electric vehicle, industrial and electronic applications. Some of the attributes of the Swing 4400 include:

  • Energy density of 180Wh/kg
  • Volumetric density of 420Wh/L
  • 1,000+ cycles at 100% Depth Of Discharge (DOD)
  • 2,000+ cycles at 90% DOD
  • Constant power of 440W/kg
  • Pulse power of 1,500 W/kg (2s pulse)

Source: Green Car Congress

Monday, September 20, 2010



Magna E-Car Systems, a recently formed joint venture between Magna International and the Stronach Trust, announced today the grand opening of its latest facility, a new hybrid- and electric-vehicle system development center and state-of-the-art battery/materials testing facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

"It is with great pride that we at Magna E-Car Systems, together with our many supporters and collaborators from government and private industry, are able to officially unveil this modern facility today," said Ted Robertson, President North America, Magna E-Car Systems. "Magna E-Car Systems has a full range of industry-leading capabilities and this facility represents an important step forward as we work to develop effective, innovative solutions for future mobility."

The 82,000-square-foot facility is located at 4121 North Atlantic Drive. Approximately 200 employees work on new electric-vehicle designs as well as cells and battery packs, hybrid- and electric-vehicle components, and complete hybrid- and electric-vehicle systems.

Including Auburn Hills, Magna E-Car Systems has four facilities throughout North America and three facilities in Europe working on several programs, including the Ford Focus Battery Electric Vehicle, a Volvo hybrid program and powertrain controllers for General Motors.

The company was honored to have Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as a guest speaker at the grand opening. As a champion for alternative energy initiatives and the lead advocate for reinventing Michigan's economy and creating jobs for the 21st century, Gov. Granholm delivered a passionate speech and proudly welcomed Magna E-Car Systems' new facility to the state of Michigan.

In August 2009 Magna was selected to receive funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 to support electric-drive vehicle components manufacturing. The grant was part of the $2.4 billion in Recovery Act funding announced by the Department of Energy.

About Magna E-Car Systems

Effective August 31, 2010, Magna International spun-off its E-Car Systems operating unit and established a new joint venture with the Stronach Trust to jointly continue to pursue opportunities in the vehicle electrification business. Under the terms of the Magna E-Car joint venture, Magna indirectly holds a 73-percent equity interest and the Stronach Trust indirectly holds a 27-percent equity interest in the new vehicle electrification joint venture.

The Magna E-Car Systems joint venture serves as the gateway to Magna's diversified range of hybrid- and electric-vehicle capabilities. Magna E-Car Systems will continue to deliver innovative solutions for future mobility while increasing capabilities, which already include the ability to develop, manufacture, and integrate a wide range of hybrid and electric products and total vehicle systems.

About Magna International

Magna International ( is the most diversified global automotive supplier. We design, develop and manufacture technologically advanced automotive systems, assemblies, modules and components, and engineer and assemble complete vehicles, primarily for sale to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of cars and light trucks. Our capabilities include the design, engineering, testing and manufacture of automotive interior systems; seating systems; closure systems; body and chassis systems; vision systems; electronic systems; exterior systems; powertrain systems; roof systems; hybrid and electric vehicles/systems as well as complete vehicle engineering and assembly.

We have over 90,000 employees in 242 manufacturing operations and 76 product development and engineering centers in 25 countries.

Zap Acquires 51% of Zhejiang Jonway Automobile to Strengthen EV Presence

ZAP Jonway plans to introduce an electric A280—the “little brother”to the A380 being used as an electric taxi. Click to enlarge.

ZAP and Jonway Group announced they had earlier signed definitive agreements according to which ZAP will acquire 51% of Zhejiang Jonway Automobile Co. Ltd. as part of a strategy to capitalize on the growing automotive and electric vehicle (EV) market in China. ZAP is a 15-year-old California EV company and Jonway Auto is a wholly owned subsidiary of Jonway Group, a 20-year-old Chinese vehicle manufacturer.

According to the terms of the definitive agreements, ZAP will acquire 51% of Jonway Auto for US$29.03 million in cash. The boards of directors for ZAP and Jonway Auto approved and signed the merger agreement on 2 July 2010.

Jonway Auto reported annual revenues of approximately US$40 million in 2009 and approximately US$20 million for the first quarter of 2010. According to the terms of the transaction, Jonway Auto will be debt-free upon the closing of the transaction.

According to the terms of the definitive agreements, ZAP has the right to acquire the remaining 49% of Jonway Auto at the same valuation by 30 March 2011 or at a then current valuation after that date. ZAP and Jonway intend this transaction to be phase one of a two-phase acquisition, whereby the two companies will combine their complementary expertise, leveraging ZAP’s EV technology and Jonway Auto’s quality ISO 9000 certified mass production capabilities to address the new alternative energy vehicle market.

ZAP intends to acquire the remaining 49% of Jonway Automobile following completion of the first phase and following final regulatory approval.

The ZAP Jonway merger will accelerate cost-effective manufacturing of ZAP’s electric vehicles and gives ZAP access to the Chinese market through Jonway’s distribution channels of more than 80 factory direct dealerships that feed into hundreds of factory authorized dealers, ZAP said. Jonway’s volume manufacturing capacity gives ZAP a strong manufacturing base with the means of commercializing its innovative EV technologies.

By combining ZAP’s experienced team of EV engineers with Jonway’s manufacturing capabilities, the combined ZAP Jonway will be able to scale up with the fast-growing worldwide market for affordable electric and fuel-efficient vehicles. The new entity will leverage ZAP’s extensive intellectual property and international market access with Jonway’s current China distribution channels and revenue base, for enhanced shareholder value. The new company creates an integrated worldwide sales and manufacturing operation.

—Steve Schneider, CEO of ZAP Jonway

As originally planned when I joined ZAP in connection with the Cathaya Funds’ investment in the company, the Jonway transaction was formulated to give ZAP the complementary facilities and automotive manufacturing expertise to position itself as a worldwide EV and automobile manufacturer. Jonway’s management continues to lead and expand its product line of traditional vehicles and will begin to build the production line for ZAP’s EVs in the coming quarters. ZAP will enhance its operations management team to focus on delivering the opportunities at hand.

—Dr. Priscilla Lu, ZAP Board Chair

Jonway Automobile, with approximately 800 employees, is currently manufacturing approximately 1,000 vehicles per month and has a capacity to produce up to 30,000 vehicles per year at its 3.6 million square foot plant in Sanmen on approximately 141 acres of land.

Jonway is ISO 9000 and China Compulsory Certification (CCC) certified. Jonway distributes through a nationwide network of auto dealerships in China and distribution partners in Europe and Egypt. Jonway’s 3-door SUV has been CE approved in Italy by its European partner for the European market.

ZAP’s engineering enables us to expand into the EV market and position our company to be one of the leaders in China’s EV market. The ZAP team also brings us international market access and automotive distribution channels for the new models that we are designing, and ZAP will help us meet the required international standards for these new markets.

—Alex Wang, CEO of Jonway Automobile

Earlier this year, ZAP integrated electric drive systems into several Jonway vehicles through its joint venture ZAP Hangzhou. These vehicles are now being showcased and used as electric taxis at the Shanghai Expo. Jonway has also agreed to produce the ZAP Alias electric car. ZAP is also one of the five companies selected by the United States Postal Service to engineer and retrofit a gas powered delivery van with a 100% electric power train.

Source: Green Car Congress

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Introducing the All-Electric Chevrolet Cruze

For U.S. car buyers, GM is convinced that a range-extended electric vehicle--its 2011 Chevrolet Volt, to be specific--is the best solution to meeting the needs of drivers who may need to go further than the 40 miles a Volt will do on battery power.

But elsewhere in the world, GM is quietly pursuing all-electric vehicles of various types. The latest one, announced today, is a prototype all-electric Chevrolet Cruze, with a 31-kilowatt-hour battery pack (almost exactly twice the size of the Volt's 16-kWh pack), which will offer a projected range of up to 100 miles.

Cells from LG Chem ... again

The electric Cruze is a joint effort among GM's South Korean subsidiary, GM Daewoo, along with lithium-ion cell maker LG Chem and LG Electronics, a sister company, which is providing the electric drive motor and inverter. (Some of the cars will also be labeled Daewoo Lacetti, the previous name of the same model sold only in Korea.)

In addition to the range of 100 miles--which GM qualifies as data that was achieved "on specific test schedules"--the electric Cruze is said to do 0 to 62 mph in 8.2 seconds, and achieve a maximum speed of just over 100 mph.

Recharging time on a 220-Volt outlet is 8 to 10 hours, and GM plans to test a high-voltage quick-charging application as well.

Real-world EV usage data

The project's goal is to "explore market needs and customer acceptance of battery electric vehicles in South Korea," though the size of the fleet to operate in the capital city of Seoul hasn't been announced. Like many other test fleets, the maker will acquire real-world data on driving patterns and recharging behavior.

The project begins next month, indicating that the electric Cruze has been in development for some time now. LG Chem also manufactures the cells used in the Volt's battery pack, so it's reasonable to assume the two vehicles share some battery-pack technology.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

No loss of trunk space

Moreover, "While battery packs often occupy trunk space, the Cruze EV’s battery pack is mounted on the underbody," notes GM's announcement. "This gives the Cruze EV the same trunk space as conventional vehicles with gasoline engines."

In other words, it's just possible that the 100-mile 31-kilowatt-hour battery pack occupies no more volume than the Volt's smaller capacity T-shape pack, which sits in the tunnel and under the rear seat.

Why? Because both the gasoline 2011 Cruze and the electric 2011 Volt are built on the same basic understructure, heavily adapted for the change from gasoline to electric drive. A Cruze body on a Volt platform, minus the gasoline range extender, would be a logical adaptation.

Precursor to all-electric Volt?

So is this electric Chevrolet Cruze a precursor to an all-electric Chevy Volt with a 100-mile range? Or perhaps a Chevrolet Cruze Electric that would face off head-to-head with the 2012 Ford Focus Electric that Ford has already announced will be built alongside the gasoline Focus in its Wayne plant?

If so, GM may be able to compete directly with the all-electric Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus, plus offer an electric-drive vehicle with a range extender that eliminates any worries about range anxiety (the Volt). Which would be a very neat comeback for the company vilified for terminating its EV1 program in a noted documentary.

Testing EVs in China and, now, Korea

This isn't the only all-electric GM vehicle being tested, by the way. Just a few weeks ago, GM China confirmed development of an electric Chevrolet Sail. So China and Korea are the first two regions in which GM's plans to build a small number of all-electric cars will play out. No doubt the company will announce the third one in due course.

The company has also shown more futuristic electric personal transportation units, most recently in China this March, where it showed an autonomous, electric, electric two-wheeler city car.

Those cars are far less likely to hit the U.S. market though. A nice all-electric, 100-mile Chevrolet Cruze in, say, 2013 or 2014? We think that might hit the spot quite nicely.

Source: All Cars Electric

Saab 9-3 ePower - Saab’s First EV

Saab Automobile is taking its first step towards developing an all-electric vehicle with the Saab 9-3 ePower.
Making its public debut at the Paris Motor Show later this month, the Saab 9-3 ePower is the prototype for a test fleet of 70 vehicles which will participate in extensive field trials in Sweden early next year.

The performance of the cars will be evaluated under a variety of real world driving conditions as part of the development process for a purpose-built, electric Saab vehicle. Targets to be verified include a projected driving range of approximately 200 kilometers through the use of high density energy storage in lithium-ion battery cells.

The Saab ePower is the first electric vehicle from Saab and is a result of a co-operation between Saab Automobile, Boston Power (batteries), Electroengine in Sweden AB (electric power trains), Innovatum (project management) and Power Circle (Sweden’s electric power industry trade organization).

Mid-sized sports combi with zero emissions
The Saab 9-3 ePower is the first all-electric car to offer its occupants the comfort and size of a wagon bodystyle. Saab engineers have integrated an electrical architecture within the shape and dimensions of a ‘conventional’ 9-3 SportCombi.

Under the hood is a 135 kW/184 hp electric motor driving the front wheels through a single-speed transmission. Instant torque enables zero to 100 km/h acceleration is just 8.5 seconds, together with a top speed of 150 km/h.

The compact yet powerful 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is accommodated in a modified floor-pan, mainly in space within the car’s wheelbase previously occupied by the exhaust system and fuel tank. This enables an optimum weight distribution and excellent driving dynamics similar to those of a standard SportCombi.

Inside the cabin, a conventional, automatic-style gearshift lever provides selection of ‘drive’, ‘neutral’, ‘park’ and ‘reverse’. The rev-counter, fuel and turbo boost displays in the main instrument cluster are replaced by read-outs for battery status, power
consumption and driving range, all illuminated in green. To optimize space, an electric park brake is fitted.

Electro-hydraulic power steering is used and the cabin is equipped with full air conditioning, via a compressor powered by the battery pack. A separate 12-volt battery, for the lights and cabin ancillaries, is also charged from the battery pack via a current transformer

The operation of the vehicle’s powertrain is controlled by a version of Saab’s own in-house Trionic 8 engine management system, with new software written for an electric vehicle application.

Long driving range with excellent durability
The Saab 9-3 ePower’s projected driving range of approximately 200 kilometers pushes out the boundaries for current EV performance. Key to its long range are battery cells which have an energy storage density substantially greater than the best currently used in EV applications. High energy density also contributes to a lower battery weight.

The battery pack has a capacity of 35.5 kW/h and is designed to operate with full power in ambient temperatures as low as -30ºC, at least 10ºC below the operating level of other battery packs on the market today. Another key benefit is the use of air, instead of liquid, cooling which contributes to lower cost and further weight-saving in the pack’s design.

The pack is intended to support re-charge cycles equivalent to about ten years average use. It can be fully recharged from a domestic mains supply in about three to six hours, depending on depletion status. Charging times can be greatly reduced if the voltage of the electrical feed is raised, as there is no limitation on the battery’s input capacity.

Test driving experience is expected to validate the performance of this advanced battery pack, which is designed to operate reliably within a full depletion ‘buffer’ set at only 12 percent of total capacity, a much lower operating margin than used in the management of other packs.

Its lithium-ion battery cells are also the first to receive a Nordic Ecolabel accreditation for their environmental safety and sustainability, which includes manufacturing processes.

The 9-3 ePower meets the high crash worthiness standards that Saab applies to all its vehicles. The car’s power pack is located outside the occupant compartment in non-deformable structural zones, well protected and encapsulated. The battery management and monitoring system supports safe performance during normal driving and in crash conditions.

Extensive user trials
Hundreds of drivers and their families will be enlisted by Saab and its development partners during a extensive test driving and evaluation program involving a 70-strong fleet of Saab 9-3 ePowers in central, west and eastern Sweden during 2011-12.

The Saab ePower project team in Trollhättan will monitor the performance of the cars across a wide variety of usage patterns and driving conditions. To log essential component data, all vehicles will be equipped with aircraft-style, black box recorders.

“This program is designed to evaluate the potential for developing a high performance, zero emission electric vehicle and is an important next-step in the extension of our EcoPower propulsion strategy,” says Mats Fägerhag, Executive Director, Vehicle Engineering at Saab Automobile.

“This includes engine rightsizing, which exploits Saab expertise in turbocharging, as well as the use of alternative fuel, such as bio-ethanol through Saab BioPower technology.”

Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile’s CEO adds: “By 2015, annual global sales of electric vehicles are expected to reach 500,000 units and Saab is determined to be represented in this important, growing segment,

“The 9-3 ePower program is our first step towards developing a potential production vehicle that will deliver the sort of advanced performance our customers expect. We now look forward to working with our technical partners in developing such a product.”

Source: SAAB