Monday, February 28, 2011

Rising Nissan Leaf Prices in UK Blamed on Falling Pound

When Nissan U.K. announced a stiff 6.9 percent price hike recently for the Leaf EV to be sold throughout its territory, the stated reasons were currency exchange fluctuations and raw material price increases.

24.jpgWe reported same on Friday, but questioned whether currency issues contributed much as other Nissan models sold over there hadn't gone up nearly as much - under 2 percent on average.

Could the culprit be raw material prices that would bleed over into the cost of Leafs in other countries, we wondered.

Well, Nissan Motor Great Britain spokesman Tom Barnard got back to us this morning with a bit more detail and, it appears, the currency exchange rate really is at the bottom of it all.

The British pound has depreciated against the yen by 13.4 percent in the past 10 months, he said, affecting the Leaf more than other Nissan models because the EV is built in Japan and imported while 80 percent of the remaining Nissan models sold in the U.K. are built there and thus "not subject to the same exchange rate fluctuation."

Nissan passed on part of the cost difference for the Leaf via the 6.9 percent price hike and - so far - is eating the rest of the increased cost of bringing the electric car to Britain.

As part of its effort to grapple with the strengthening yen, Barnard said, Nissan Great Britain also discontinued sales of the Cube multi-purpose vehicle, which also was being imported from Japan.

The lesson here? Don't take currency speculation advice from us!

Nissan is building a Leaf assembly and battery plant in England - due to open in 2013 - and will at that point the EV's price won't be at the mercy of currency fluctuations, Barnard said.

Nissan North America spokesman Tim Gallagher told us last week that there are no plans afoot to raise U.S, prices.

The huge Leaf and EV battery complex the company is building at its Smyrna, Tenn. manufacturing campus is due to open late next year.


Mitsubishi i Electric Reservation Site to be Online by Spring

Thumbnail image for USiMIEVRS.JPG

Mitsubishi Motors, which will debut its i-MiEV battery-electric vehicle in the U.S. this fall, will have a reservation system up and running this spring as it looks to gauge interest in the four-seat city car. EV.

Customer requests for information on the i-MiEV have "easily doubled" over the past month as U.S. gasoline prices have edged towards the $4 threshold, according to Mitsubishi Motors spokesman Maurice Durand.

"Because of the interest, we're going to be enacting an ordering process," said Durand. "Certainly within the next 90 days."

The car, which has a single-charge range of about 93 miles, will be priced around $30,000 before tax incentives when it goes on sale in the U.S. in November.

The i-MiEV, which debuted in Japan last April, became available in Europe last month. Mitsubishi is offering the i-MiEV for $40,172 after government incentives in France and for up to $47,600 in some of the 14 other European countries where it's now on sale, with the cost to consumers varying with tax incentives.

Source: Green Car Advisor

Sunday, February 27, 2011

BMW Optomistic Concerning its Upcoming i3 Electric Vehicle - 30,000 Units Anually

BMW i3 / Megacity EV

BMW AG aims to sell at least 30,000 units of its i3 electric vehicle a year beginning in 2014.

"We are targeting volume production for the i3," said Ian Robertson, BMW’s global sales and marketing boss.

Robertson said sales volume for the i3 could be "comparable to one of the lower-volume Mini derivatives. However, we can easily increase our output if opportunities arise." Mini sold about 30,000 units of its Clubman model globally in 2010.

In late 2013, BMW will launch the i3 EV, previously known as the Megacity Vehicle, and the i8 plug-in hybrid under its i subbrand, which was born out of the automaker’s Project i group. The i8 two-door coupe is based on the 2009 BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept study. BMW said the plug-in hybrid combines sports car-like performance with the fuel consumption and emissions of a small car.

The price of the i3 is not yet decided, but BMW sources said the i3 will be above 40,000 euros in Europe. "As with all BMW Group products, the BMW i3 will be a premium car," Robertson said.

Initial pricing for the i8 is unclear.

"Our sales will strongly depend on legislation. Not only by big markets like the U.S. or China, but by local city authorities and their terms of taxation," Robertson said. "If a city like Amsterdam or London decides that you get a tax reduction, then sales will boost."

Currently, European countries such as Ireland and France offer a one-time subsidy of 5,000 euros to EV buyers.

Said Robertson: "We are looking at multiple distribution channels – from conventional sales and leasing to different rental approaches, like car sharing. We will also build up communities for such rental approaches, this is why we bought a share of the smartphone app My City Way."

The i3 and i8 also will share parts for electric motors, lithium ion batteries and powertrain electronics. They will be built in BMW’s plant in Leipzig, Germany, alongside the 1 series and the X1.

After the launch of the i3 and i8, the automaker will expand its BMW i lineup to include more vehicles. "The world is changing — and we are driving this change. This is the 'next premium,' " Robertson said. "There is room for a whole family" of vehicles, he said.

With its i lineup, Robertson said that BMW is reaching "a total new group of customers such as city dwellers who are more interested in electronic devices such as an iPhone than owning a car."

Introducing Daymaki's Wireless Electric Bicycle - Capable of Charging Your iPhone

This is a really, really cool bike and you would never lose it!

Now, take a close look at Daymak's new Shadow eBike wireless bicycle and see if you can spot what they mean by “wireless”.

Did you see it, yet? I’ll admit: it took me a few glances to “get” the fact that this is the world’s first, electric-motor-equipped bicycle that is FULLY wireless, meaning: no delicate electrical connections exposed to the elements, no wires getting accidentally snipped at the local bike shop, and no short-circuit prone “in-frame” wiring. The entire slick and sleek electrical system integrates the battery, the electric motor, the magnetic regenerative brakes, the throttle, and the pedal-assist functions using 2.5 GHz frequency-hopping “spread-spectrum technology“.

What “wiring” there is fully sealed within the bike’s front hub, which also features an innovative USB port so you can power up your iPhone, iPad, Nook, or any other similar device while you pedal down to your favorite coffee shop.

Daymak plans to offer the Shadow eBike with a choice of 250W or 350W electric motors, which will provide a 12-15 mile range as a “pure electric vehicle”, or 22-25 miles in pedal-assist mode. The included battery takes about 4 hours to completely recharge with a standard 110 outlet (Daymak didn’t mention what impact charging your favorite electronics would have on range, though).

Prices start at just under 2000 USD.

Source: Gas2.0

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Own a Chevy Volt? Better Read This Before Towing

2011 Chevrolet Volt With Old Glory

No matter how careful a car owner you are, every once in a while you may wind up getting your car towed. Something break down, you run out of charge, or maybe you didn’t realize you were parking in a snow zone. Things happen.

Electric car owners however need to be careful about how their cars are towed. With conventional gas-powered cars, the transmissions should be shifted into neutral during towing so the wheels are disconnected from the engine. Otherwise, towing the car can cause the engine or transmission components to also turn.

Many electric vehicles however do not have a neutral position in their transmissions. As a result, if a rear-wheel drive electric car gets towed from the front, the spinning of the wheels will cause the motor to spin. The heat from the friction may cause further problems, damaging the motor or other components.

Volt owners should make sure their cars are towed with the front wheels off the ground. Better yet, suggests GM, a flatbed truck should be used.


Nickel Nitride for Li-ion anode material with good reversible capacity

We can't begin to tell you how many articles like the following we have heard and even posted. What is scarcer than hen's teeth are the follow up stories trumpeting a breakthrough chemistry that can be reliably used in automotive applications. Someday (hopefully sooner rather than later), you will read about it here.

From Green Car Congress:

Researchers in France and Spain have designed a nickel nitride material for use as an anode in Li-ion batteries that shows good reversible capacity. A paper on their work is published in the RSC Journal of Materials Chemistry.

Nickel nitride was prepared through different routes involving ammonolysis of different precursors (Ni(NH3)6Br2 or nickel nanoparticles obtained from the reduction of nickel nitrate with hydrazine) and thermal decomposition of nickel amide obtained by precipitation in liquid ammonia.

The electrochemical behavior against lithium was tested in all cases, the specific capacity being much larger for the latter (1200 mA h g-1 compared to 85 mA h g-1 and 125 mAh g-1 respectively). Ni3N ‘cast’ electrodes exhibited good rate capability, with 500 mAh g-1 reversible capacity maintained after 10 cycles at a rate of 1 Li per h.

—Gillot et al.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Take A Test Drive In the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive This Weekend

Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

Looking for something to do this weekend? How about test driving an all-electric vehicle?

The first batch of 2011 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive vehicles has made it to Smart dealerships across America. Those dealers recently sent out an email invitation to interested parties to come and take a test drive and "be one of the first to get behind the wheel of the next generation of smart."

To find out if there is a Smart ED in your neighborhood, click here and then on "Dealer Maps" to locate the dealership and enjoy the drive.

Australian Automotive Manufacturing Industry Collaborates on Electric Vehicles


Melbourne, Australia, 18th February 2011 – Industry leaders in the Australian automotive manufacturing industry came together today to announce the launch of EV Engineering Limited.
EV Engineering Limited will design and engineer seven ‘proof of concept’ fully-electric versions of Australia’s number one selling passenger vehicle, the Holden Commodore. This project will take place over a 15 month period.

The ‘proof of concept’ vehicles will be powered by renewable energy using standard electric vehicle plug-in and battery switching infrastructure. They will be used to investigate technical viability and attractiveness to customers so that consideration for mass production can be undertaken.

Consistent with the direction of the Automotive Australia 2020 roadmap, EV Engineering Limited represents the first industry collaboration on large, powerful, zero-emissions vehicles. EV Engineering Limited brings together major automotive components suppliers Air International, Bosch, Continental and Futuris, electric vehicle infrastructure and services provider Better Place, with the support of Holden and the CSIRO.

According to the chairman of EV Engineering Limited and former President and CEO of Mitsubishi Australia, Robert McEniry, electric vehicles represent an exciting opportunity and important part of the future of the Australian car manufacturing industry.

“This collaboration is evidence that the local manufacturing and automotive industries have recognised the important role these vehicles will play in their future,” Mr McEniry said.
“EV Engineering Limited builds on the existing strengths of the industry in large sized passenger vehicles for both domestic and export markets. This initiative will strengthen the local capabilities and give Australia the opportunity to lead the world in the development of large, powerful, zero-emissions vehicles, and ensure we remain globally competitive in this sustainable, high growth market.”

Members of EV Engineering Limited are backing the project with financial and in-kind contributions and substantial access to IP, and engineering support. Funding of $3.5M to be allocated to engineering costs, will be provided from the Australian Government’s Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF).

Gavin Smith, Regional President of Powertrain and Chassis Systems Control at Bosch Australia said of the partnership, “This project will help develop electric vehicle engineering skills, capabilities and components within the Australian supplier industry.

“By their involvement, each of the partners makes a clear statement. They believe there is a place for the Australian industry to participate in the exciting new developments surrounding the electrification of the motor vehicle. By developing the skills and capability here, the partners will be in a good position to exploit opportunities as vehicle manufacturers further extend their portfolio of electric vehicles.”

New Foed Focus With Super Fuel Economy (SFE) Boasting 40 MPG Highway

2012 Ford Focus ST

The new Ford Focus with the SFE (Super Fuel Economy) package is EPA-certified at 40 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg city. Focus becomes the fourth vehicle in the Ford Motor Company vehicle lineup with an EPA-certified rating of 40 mpg (on either city or highway cycles) or more.

The Focus is fitted with a completely new 2.0-liter gasoline direct-injection DOHC four-cylinder engine that combines high-pressure direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) for enhanced performance and fuel efficiency. This engine delivers more power than the current 2.0-liter Duratec unit featured in the North American Focus, while contributing to fuel economy gains of more than 10%.

To maximize its performance and economy advantage, the engine is mated with the latest dry-clutch six-speed Ford PowerShift automatic transmission. A high-efficiency dual dry-clutch design, the transmission alone can help to reduce fuel consumption by up to 9% compared to a traditional four-speed automatic.

The SFE package also includes 16-inch steel wheels with aero wheel covers, active grille shutters, high-efficiency tires, four-wheel disc brakes, rear spoiler and a special SFE badge.

The Ford Focus employs full active grille shutters to help optimize aerodynamics by using vents to control airflow through the grille to the cooling system and engine compartment. If air is required to cool the engine, the vents are opened. If no airflow is needed the vents are shut, contributing to significantly reduced aerodynamic drag.

Mounted in the grille aperture ahead of the radiator, the active grille shutters feature motorized horizontal vanes that can rotate through 90 degrees to block the airflow. Automatically controlled by the car’s electronic control unit, the vanes can be rotated into 15 different positions—from fully closed to fully open—depending on the amount of cooling air required. When fully closed, the reduction in drag means the active grille shutters can reduce CO2 emissions by 2%.

As an additional benefit, the system keeps the vanes closed as long as possible when starting from cold, so the engine reaches its most efficient operating temperature more quickly. This also helps reduce fuel consumption.

The three other 2011 models achieving at least 40 mpg are the Ford Fiesta SE with SFE package (40 mpg highway) and the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (41 mpg city).

Source: Green Car Congress

Thursday, February 24, 2011



When first launched in Japan in July 2009, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV became the first electric car in regular series production from a major manufacturer, available to world markets. Today, it also becomes the first electric vehicle to be crash-tested by the renowned Euro NCAP organization: a milestone further enhanced by a 4-star rating / new protocol.1

Going mainstream
Excellent as such, this result vindicates the view Mitsubishi Motors took when developing this next frontier vehicle: whilst ambitious in its technology, it shall remain mainstream in its daily use whether through the ease of driving, the performance and the convenience it offers.

Obviously, this includes the guarantee of a level of passive & active safety similar to that of an IC-engined car - the direct result of a thorough development process accumulated over 500,000 km of testing that only a major manufacturer like Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) could commit.

Making the best use of MMC's advanced mid-ship architecture, i-MiEV is powered by a compact and lightweight motor and a pack of high-energy density lithium-ion batteries safely located within a long 2.55 m wheelbase.

In this respect, Euro NCAP's comments on the integrity of i-MiEV are eloquent: "No problems were experienced with the high voltage electrical system which powers the vehicle: the battery was properly isolated from the body shell and was not damaged during the tests."

Recently launched in 15 European countries, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV has already surpassed MMC's sales expectations in the region (about 3,000 units shipped as of end of January 2011) and with highlights including # 1 spot in the A-Segment in Norway. This year shall see a further introduction, in North America.

Porsche resurrects 1900 Semper Vivus full-hybrid for Geneva display - VIDEO

Porsche's First Hybrid, Semper Vivus (always alive) used 4,000 pounds of lead acid batteries for propulsion! The car has been resurrected and will be on display at the Geneva Auto show.

BYD's Two New Green Vehicles Will Make European Premiere at 2011 Geneva Motor Show


BYD Co., Ltd (BYD) will showcase two new electric vehicles at the upcoming 2011 Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) from March 1st to 13th. At the 2011 GIMS, BYD will present its overall "Three Green Dreams" Strategy for the European market. With the showcase of BYD's updated pure-electric vehicle 2012 e6-Eco (European Premiere), the core technology of BYD e-Bus K9, the world's first independent 4WD dual-mode electric SUV S6DM (European Premiere), and the world's first dual-mode electric vehicle F3DM, BYD aims to spot its green technology at the 2011 GIMS with the "Green City Solution" which can offer the leading models and the relevant charging facilities in conformity with the development of society.

"Three Green Dreams"

As an IT, automobile and new energy business leader, BYD's "Three Green Dreams" are based on these three pillars of its R&D:

1) Affordable solar power
2) Environmentally-friendly energy storage
3) Electrified transportation

The clean energy generated by solar power station can be stored in the energy storage station, and charge the electric vehicles efficiently according to the users' need. This shows the whole process of generating, storing and using clean energy from the sun with the integrated application of solar technology, battery technology and EV technology.

"Green City Solution"

Based on the EV technology, BYD's "Green City Solution" is both a long-term and short-term one-stop solution to optimize the application of energy by means of electrifying urban public transportation including city buses and city taxis, so as to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions at a low cost and in a sustainable way. With the "Green City Solution", the current combustion engine buses and taxis can be replaced by electric ones which can not only help to lessen the air pollution from the transportation sector dramatically, but also can greatly reduce human dependence on oil. BYD's "Green City Solution" is such a feasible way to help create the green economy which enables society to generate more each year while preserving or enhancing natural capital.

European Premiere Models: 2012 e6-Eco and S6DM

BYD's pure-electric vehicle -- the 2012 e6-Eco and the brand-new dual mode electric SUV -- the S6DM will make their European premieres at the 2011 IGMS.

The new 5-seat crossover -- the 2012 e6-Eco has a more dynamic and sporty exterior design. Equipped with BYD Fe battery, the e6-Eco has an expected range of 300km in urban roads condition. It only takes 40 minutes to fully charge the e6 by a 100KW quick charger.

The BYD S6DM SUV is the world's first Independent 4WD Dual Mode Electric SUV. Traveling over 60km purely on electric power and over 495km (310 miles) extended range with the high- efficiency 2.0L gasoline engine, this SUV sports a 10kW electric motor (M1) paired with a smooth 6-speed dual-clutch transmission propelling the front wheels while a powerful 75kW electric motor (M2) powers the rear wheels.

e-Bus: K9

As the world's first pure electric bus powered by BYD "Fe" battery, the core technology of K9 is another BYD breakthrough in the field of electrified public transportation. The 12-meter-long e-bus is specially designed with in-wheel drive motor, electronically controlled air suspension system (ECAS), low-floor and ample space. The K9 is able to run 250+km on a single charge in urban road conditions with the environmentally-friendly and powerful "Fe" battery.

Dual Mode Electric Vehicle: F3DM

The world's first Dual Mode electric vehicle --F3DM low-carbon version also features the BYD Fe battery together with a BYD 371QA 1.0liter gasoline engine. This vehicle is equipped with a solar panel sunroof to parallel charge the Fe battery. Powered by the Fe battery pack alone, the F3DM can travel over 60km in urban road conditions. The combined range of the HEV mode allows the car to achieve 500 km with a maximum speed of 150km/h.

About BYD

BYD Co., Ltd (BYD) is a listed company in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that specializes in IT, automobile, and new energy. Being the largest rechargeable battery manufacturer of the world, BYD entered the auto business in 2003, and it has kept a robust yearly growth rate successively. In the auto business, BYD is a global pioneer in the field of new energy vehicles including Dual Mode Electric Models and Pure Electric Models. BYD has also focused on the Research & Development and manufacturing of a wide range of new energy products, including the LED lighting, energy storage system and solar energy products.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sharp developing Intelligent Power Conditioner enabling EV batteries to be used as storage batteries for home power

Sharp Corporation has developed an Intelligent Power Conditioner that enables batteries in electric vehicles to be used as storage batteries for the home. Sharp will be conducting tests to confirm the safety and reliability of this system, with the aim of making this device commercially available in the near future.

Sharp Intelligent Power Converter. Click to enlarge.

The Intelligent Power Conditioner (power inverter/controller) is based on power control technology Sharp has developed over the course of developing power conditioners for PV generation systems. With the Intelligent Power Conditioner, solar cells and storage batteries operate in conjunction with utility power to supply electrical energy on a consistent basis. In anticipation of future DC home appliances, this system can also supply DC electricity.

The technology can make use of EV traction batteries as part of a residential power storage system. In proof-of-concept trials, Sharp succeeded in using a battery pack in a commercially available iMiEV to supply 8 kW of power—enough to power electrical appliances in an average household. In addition, the charge controller in the Intelligent Power Conditioner was able to deliver 4 kWh of energy to recharge the electric vehicle battery pack in approximately 30 minutes.

Sharp will be pursuing R&D aimed at the early commercialization of this Intelligent Power Conditioner.

In the context of making the Eco House concept a reality, Sharp is focusing on three themes: solar cells, storage batteries, and DC (direct-current) appliances.

Source: Green Car Congress

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Marketing Look at the Rinspeed Bamboo EV

This has to be one of the goofiest cars ever but at least it derives its power from alternate energy forms.

The Fisker Karma Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle - Test Drive

2012 Fisker Karma
2012 Fisker Karma – Click above for high-res image gallery

Business partners Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler are visibly on edge. While they want to dedicate every ounce of their focus on this all-important launch of their first baby, the 2012 Fisker Karma, their attentions are being constantly pulled away from it by big conference calls regarding the money and logistics of launching the whole Fisker Automotive franchise. Are they really and truly answering a $95,900-$108,900 question with this bold effort that enough people are asking? It's clear they just want us to fall in love with their lux'd up plug-in extended-range electric sedan.

We've been helicoptered into the infield handling circuit at California Speedway in Fontana to have a brisk go at one of Fisker Automotive's first completed verification prototypes of the Karma, built by Valmet Automotive in Uusikaupunki, Finland. We are already assuming that the build quality and finish of all the pretty parts will be fine, as Valmet has learned a lot about these things while building cars for Porsche to strict Stuttgart standards. We also already know that the car is indeed pretty inside and out, albeit particular to some out there, seeing as Fisker has designed such lovely lady lumps as the Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage, not to mention the BMW Z8 roadster.

Fisker Coachbuild started back in 2005 after both Henrik and COO Bernhard Koehler had had enough of slow project cycles at Ford's Orange County advanced design studio. But they liked the area's year-round weather and the plushness surrounding them, so they stayed put in the OC.

Couchbuild work all by itself was pretty boring, so the two set their active minds to building an entire car company instead. As the story goes, one day, Fisker saw materials showing an abandoned U.S. military project for special ops called "Aggressor," which was a high-performance stealth hybrid-electric vehicle built by Quantum Technologies Worldwide. Not long thereafter, Fisker Automotive was born when Quantum and Fisker hooked up in 2007. And then, as quickly as January 2008 at the Detroit Auto Show, we saw the Fisker Karma concept car.

2012 Fisker Karma side view2012 Fisker Karma front view2012 Fisker Karma rear view

The Karma's initial reception was much warmer than luke, but the design frankly needed a little tweaking and most didn't give the Karma a serious chance at making any difference in our automotive lives. That was just before all of planet Earth became obsessed with greenery and eco and feeling badly about having destroyed nature to further our bipedal needs and desires. And then, of course, the world economy melted like a Dali clock and we all reassessed our capitalistic selfishness and whatnot. Basically, the timing was ideal for Fisker Automotive to try and cash in on the several innovative green and generally smart thoughts it was having. We, the guilty, are drawn to this stuff like yuppies to mesquite.

By late 2009, Fisker Automotive was coming out of essentially a nine-month hiatus during which Lucifer rose from Hell and swallowed mankind whole. Or so we thought. But investors finally felt like investing again, and just short of half a billion bucks had been promised to our heroes, much of this attracted by the imminent huge loan being talked about from the Department of Energy. Everything rode on that razor edge – not just for the Karma itself, but also for any future plans. That $529 million loan from you and me came through in September 2009 and Fisker Automotive went directly from vaporware to a $1 billion, fully-funded company with big cigar-chomping (but from sustainable tobacco farms) plans.

So, here we are in Fontana.

2012 Fisker Karma wheel detail2012 Fisker Karma emblem badge2012 Fisker Karma 2012 Fisker Karma taillight

The first noteworthy item is that the design tweaks carried out after the January 2008 debut remain, and they still look good. These had to do mostly with the face and grille, which were not in keeping with the rest of the car's melody. We still don't care for the door handles that look to our eyes like something off a cute little Daihatsu – they're too small and size matters. But all the rest is fine and well within the developing Fisker DNA.

The whole package looks more showcar bodacious than the actual original concept.
You want wheelbase? By golly, we got some. 124.4 inches of some, to be precise. So, we have a Porsche Panamera- or Jaguar XF-length vehicle with the wheelbase of a 2012 long-wheelbase Jaguar XJ. This was needed primarily to fit all the plug-in EV with extended-range motor paraphernalia within the space between the two axles. Between the long-legged profile, wide tracks, and low 52.4-inch height, the Karma does look the business. Toss in standard 22-inch fair-weather wheels – called "Fisker Circuit Blade" for boldness points – and the whole package looks more showcar bodacious than the actual original concept. A rarity in this world.

When we suggested that maybe 20-inch Goodyear Eagle 1 tires and Fisker wheels might deliver more everyday comfort, rather than just scoffing at our practical ways, Fisker said, "If we went anywhere below 21 inches, the center part of the steering assembly would come dangerously close to the ground." We looked under there, and he's right. The winter tire set is 21 inches, by the way. As we look at the Karma, it hits us a bit like the Panamera in the sense that any wheel less than 21 inches starts to look perilously like 14-inch steelies on a Toyota Camry.

2012 Fisker Karma wheel

And we sit in it, press the brake pedal, and press the ignition button. Of course, seemingly nothing happens, but everything does light up nicely. Primary sight stealers are the driver instrument cluster and standard 10.2-inch haptic touchscreen of the Fisker Command Center onboard diagnostics/climate/entertainment/navigation unit created with Visteon.

The default mode is Stealth – in honor of the dropped special ops project Quantum was banking on (and sort of still is) through Fisker – and it can take us for a range of 50 miles on pure electric propulsion at speeds up to 95 mph. Acceleration to 60 mph can happen in this ninja-killer state in 7.9 seconds, which is not bad considering the Karma weighs just over two tons, not unlike a Panamera 4S. (Exact curb weight has not yet been revealed and, as any society lady knows, such questions are not to be asked if it can be helped.)

2012 Fisker Karma gauges2012 Fisker Karma touch screen

Stealth mode includes a soundtrack that's being called the "signature Fisker external sound," which all can hear up to 30 mph when it cuts out. The idea is that, for around-town driving, the car makes enough noise as it approaches so as to warn everyone in the vicinity who isn't also sitting in a car. It's an appropriate audio track, right from the semi-successful recent remake of Tron. It sounds more like an electric hovering sound with no internal-combustion simulation at all, which was unexpected and a pleasant surprise.

One basic driving fact about the Fisker Karma is that it is, at the very least, the first upper-premium four-door purely electrically driven car in this current electric tidal wave that we're living in. You could call it a plug-in electric and leave it at that, but, like the Chevrolet Volt, it's more interesting than that due to the range-extending engine. Unlike the Volt, however, the Karma is a pure series EV – the ICE up front does not in any way directly power the forward progress of the driven axle.

2012 Fisker Karma front 3/4 driving view2012 Fisker Karma front 3/4 driving view2012 Fisker Karma rear 3/4 driving view

The 255-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected GM Ecotec four-cylinder engine is cradled in a front mid-engine layout, and it powers the 175-kW generator while in Sport mode, which then pumps the 315-cell 606-pound lithium-ion battery pack full of kilowatt energy. It's the 20-kW battery pack that finally feeds the two 201-hp, electric motors placed fore and aft of the single-speed rear differential. Combined, the whole works is good for a stonking 981 pound-feet of torque. Thus spinneth the rear axle and hence the forward thrust. In this Sport or, may we suggest, extended-range mode, top speed is let out to 125 mph and acceleration to 60 mph now happens in just 5.9 seconds whether we like it or not. We'll come back to that.

Claimed maximum range in Sport mode is 300 miles. The fuel tank for the ER engine holds just 9.5 gallons, thus saving lots of sloshy pounds. Claimed possible autonomy per gallon in this longest range mode is 100+ miles, because you'll definitely be recharging the batteries two or three times overnight before you burn through all the liquid fuel. Fisker predicts "people will stay in Stealth mode for over 80 percent of the time they're driving." A noble forecast, O, Danish wise man.

2012 Fisker Karma badge2012 Fisker Karma badge

There we were, still in Pomona, yes, and we had polished off two spirited Stealth laps, grabbing the overly stylized steering wheel through several tight curves. We already were blown away by the dynamics of the all-new very stiff Karma chassis. Shall we risk a shower of disbelief from commentators by saying the Karma is the best handling large premium car in this entire segment? Why, yes, we shall. The steering itself could always be more communicative for us, but here it is still among the best of the biggies. The gaping wheelbase of the all-aluminum chassis and large wheels attached had us wondering however could this be, but it was so.

If there's a chink in the Karma's packaging, it's that luggage space totals just 7.1 cubic feet.
Suspension structure on all four corners is by forged aluminum double-wishbone, while front dampers are straightforward units and rear dampers are fancy self-leveling. This arrangement takes the consequent dynamics of the 47/53 fore/aft weight distribution to new heights. We were even shorting curves over the rumble strips and sliding the tail around slightly whenever needed. Certainly, the big Goodyear Eagle 1 tires helped a bunch – 255/35 WR22 (99W) front, 285/35 WR22 (102W) rear – as did the ironclad vented Brembo performance brakes that stopped us consistently all day. We were hauling butt and racing around in a battery-energized car and not complaining about the cornering dynamics! Ka-loo ka-lay, wake the entire village!

We really appreciated the interior as well throughout all of this action. Fisker is not immune to designing great premium sports car interiors, and he's done a winning job of the grand tourer variety here. The trim to get is the mid-range $103,900 EcoSport, as it includes all the base EcoStandard abundance plus Scottish hides all around (sourced from a self-sustaining establishment in the Scottish Highlands where cows roam freely and are fed well until they are slain and skinned). The final and top trim is the $108,900 EcoChic, which uses faux leathers of the best quality so you can have nothing on your conscious food-chain-wise. All woods seen are harvested from already fallen or sunken timbers in the upper Midwest and feel very nice. If there's a chink in the Karma's packaging, it's that luggage space totals just 7.1 cubic feet, meaning that despite the car's generous footprint, you'd better ring NetJet for longer trips.

2012 Fisker Karma interior
2012 Fisker Karma center console2012 Fisker Karma rear seats2012 Fisker Karma door handle

We'll risk another pronouncement that leaves us open to thrown darts of criticism. As good as Audi's MMI and BMW's latest iDrive interfaces may be, they have a real competitor in the first-generation Visteon-Fisker Command Center. The touchscreen is terrific work and handles its several clever menus and graphics intuitively and attractively. If it only gets better from here, Fisker may be in the onboard computer functionality and interface business before long.

Oh, but wait, there's one big, sad note to report besides the one about there being no right-hand-drive cars for people who still drive on the wrong side of the road (all 70-plus countries of you). It has to do with Sport mode as it is inserted with a pull of the left steering wheel shift paddle. If we are switching to Sport while at a stop or at low speeds prior to accelerating, it functions well enough. The Ecotec ignites and the cabin gets a pretty decent new atmosphere with bass and baritone notes, though the notes should still be lower so as to hide the fact that it's a four-cylinder mill at our feet.

2012 Fisker Karma rear 3/4 view

But then when we squish the throttle pedal to try and experience all the promised added oomph of Sport, the range-extending engine chimes in sonically wayyyyyy too much and with an unpleasant sound to boot. See, the exhaust pipes exit right at the back of the molded composite front fender panels mounted way down low, and there are the corresponding nicely designed heat extractors, too. This is aesthetically beautiful, to be sure, but functionally and packaging-wise, it's a real headache, quite literally. With the 6,300-rpm max revs of the 2.0T motor revving at will under throttle, the sound becomes completely uncharacteristic of a $100,000 four-door anything. This, friends, must be addressed. Fisker COO Koehler assured us that "we are aware of what you say and a new muffler has been ordered that should solve the issue." We hope so.

The bottom line is that the Fisker Karma is a rolling dream machine for anyone who wants something very different that works and drives exceptionally well for any company's first go at it all. If Fisker Automotive in SoCal and Valmet in Finland can just eliminate any hint of this anomalous Sport racket, the car can and should be an unqualified hit. There are 3,000-plus pre-orders of intent and deliveries are due to begin in late May of this year. Full-scale production of 1,500 units per month should be reached in October, they say, and in 2012, volume should already be at its 15,000/year maximum, a total comprised of three Karma body variants – the sedan, the convertible two-door Karma S, and a third model to be revealed at this September's Frankfurt Motor Show.

Source: Autoblog Green

Introducing The Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid Diesel Electric Vehicle

Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle


At the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, Volvo Cars will be unveiling the world's first diesel plug-in hybrid - a virtually production-ready Volvo V60 with carbon dioxide emissions below 50 g/km. The Plug-in Hybrid, which will be launched in the market in 2012, is the result of close co-operation between Volvo Cars and Swedish energy supplier Vattenfall.

The concept of a plug-in diesel hybrid gives the driver the very best of what an electric and diesel car can offer: very low fuel consumption and CO2 levels, combined with long range and high performance.

By simply pressing a button, the car gives the driver the option of how they want to drive:

* An electric car with a range of up to 32 miles.
* A high-efficiency hybrid with carbon dioxide emissions averaging just 49 g/km.
* A dynamic and engaging car with a combined output of 215 + 70 horsepower, 440 + 200 Nm of torque and acceleration from 0 to 62 mph of just 6.9 seconds.

The front wheels of the V60 Plug-in Hybrid will be driven by a five-cylinder 2.4-litre D5 turbo diesel, which produces 215 horsepower and maximum torque of 440 Nm.

The rear axle features ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive) in the form of an electric motor producing 70 horsepower, which receives its power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The car features a six-speed automatic transmission.

The driver chooses the preferred driving mode via three buttons on the instrument panel: Pure, Hybrid and Power. The interaction between diesel and electric power is handled via a control system.

"The second-generation hybrid is the perfect choice for the uncompromising buyer who wants a superbly carbon dioxide-lean car packed with driving pleasure. To get drivers to think green, we have offered both, in one traditional genuine sports wagon" says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Cars. He adds: "The technology is still undergoing development and testing, however, the car already points very clearly to what our customers can expect when the plug-in hybrid enters showrooms next year. What we've done is to spice it up with spearhead technology that allows the driver to choose: zero emissions, high-efficiency hybrid or full-on performance. Just select the mode that suits best."

The Pure, Hybrid and Power driving modes give the V60 Plug-in Hybrid three different temperaments:

* In Pure the car runs only on its electric motor as much as possible. If the battery has been recharged using electricity from a renewable source supplied by Vettenfall, the driving range is up to 32 miles with zero emissions of carbon dioxide. Battery range varies with terrain, climate and driving style.
* Hybrid is the default mode whenever the car is started. The diesel engine and electric motor interact to provide the optimal balance between driving pleasure and low environmental impact. Emissions of CO2 are 49 g/km (EU Combined), corresponding to diesel fuel consumption of 150 mpg. The car's total range is up to 746 miles.
* In Power mode the technology is optimised to give the car the best possible performance. The diesel engine and electric motor have a combined power output of 215 + 70 horsepower and maximum torque of 440 + 200 Nm. The electric motor's lightning-quick torque delivery contributes to the car's 0 to 62 mph acceleration time of 6.9 seconds.

The majority of all European car drivers cover less than 32 miles a day, for instance to and from work. On longer trips, the diesel engine is activated automatically, giving the car the same properties and range as a conventional hybrid.

The cost of the battery pack means the plug-in hybrid will be more expensive to buy than a Volvo V60 with a conventional combustion engine. Pricing will be announced nearer the 2012 launch date. On the other hand, fuel costs are expected to be one-third of a conventional combustion engined V60.

The plug-in hybrid can be charged via a regular household electricity socket at home or elsewhere. Charging time is about five hours if the car is recharged at home.

In addition to its three driving modes, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid features a number of other possibilities and benefits:

* The driver can choose to save battery capacity in order to be sure of driving on clean electricity later, for instance after entering the city. In order to maintain a sufficient battery charge level, the car is powered by its diesel engine.
* Pushing the AWD button in the centre stack activates electric four-wheel drive. Instead of the mechanical power transmission of the conventional AWD system, the central control unit manages torque distribution to the diesel-driven front wheels and the electrically powered rear axle.
* Using the car setup menu, the driver can key in the planned route's distance (short, medium or long). The control system calculates the balance between diesel and electric power to obtain the lowest possible CO2 emissions for the given distance.

The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid is recharged via a regular power socket (230V/6A, 10A or 16A). The charging time depends on the level of the current. A full 10A charge takes 4.5 hours. The time is shortened to 3 hours with 16A, while a charge in a 6A socket takes 7.5 hours.

The driver has the possibility to preheat or cool the passenger compartment during the recharging process. This means that more battery capacity can be used for powering the car. This pre-conditioning is programmed via a timer in the car's setup menu or remotely via a mobile phone. Via the mobile app, it also gives the owner access to a number of smart features, such as a reminder to plug in the charging cable if this hasn't been done at a certain pre-set time.

The instrument panel in the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid has been modified to give the driver a full range of important information about diesel and electricity consumption, battery charge level and remaining range.

On the outside the car has several additional features that emphasise its CO2-lean profile, such as lightweight wheels with exceptionally low air drag and Pirelli tyres designed for low rolling resistance.

Uncompromised Safety

The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid includes a systematic approach to all safety aspects related to battery power. The basic perspective is that the battery-powered Volvo must be as safe as any other new Volvo car - when it comes to owning and driving and also in the event of an accident.

"We apply the same high safety standards to all our products but the safety-related challenges may differ depending on the driveline and fuel being used. To us, electrification technology is another exciting challenge in our quest to build the safest cars on the market," says Jan Ivarsson, Senior Manager Safety Strategy & Requirements at Volvo Cars. He adds: "It is understandable that a lot of questions about electrification safety are related to what will happen in an accident but it is important to have a holistic approach including all the aspects of day-to-day usage of the car."

Volvo Cars is currently conducting wide-ranging and thorough analysis of a variety of safety scenarios for cars with electric power, including virtual and real life tests in Volvo's own crash-test centre. Through advanced automatic monitoring of battery status and by encapsulating the battery and protecting it effectively in a collision, the result is a world-class safety level.

"Based on our significant database with input from actual road incidents and accidents, we know where the focus must lie in everyday traffic conditions. The solutions we have developed for the V60 Plug-in Hybrid takes into account the situations that are unique to this type of car," says Jan Ivarsson.

"We have carried out full-scale crash tests with different load cases, such as frontal, rear and side collisions to confirm that the battery technology fulfils our safety requirements," reveals Jan Ivarsson. He adds: "The lithium-ion batteries are separated from the crumple zones and the occupants' compartment."

All safety systems in the Volvo V60 will also be available in the plug-in hybrid version. However, electric power also adds new possible safety scenarios and these too must be dealt with. Volvo's safety experts have analysed the five accident sequence phases and developed unique solutions for the battery and for protection of the occupants as necessary.

When Volvo Cars analyses traffic situations from a safety perspective, the engineers use a model that illustrates the sequence of events during the whole driving phase. The process is divided into five phases and based on these, Volvo develops new safety solutions and improves existing ones.

1. Normal driving: An advanced monitoring system keeps watch and ensures that each cell maintains the correct voltage level and optimal operating temperature by regulating the cooling system. This is of significance to both safety and battery capacity. In the event of any deviation, the battery is automatically shut down as a preventive measure.

2. Conflict: The battery adds weight that alters the standard vehicle's dynamics, for instance in fast avoidance manoeuvres. The braking system has been enhanced to handle the increased mass, and DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) helps the driver contain the situation.

3. Avoidance: If a frontal collision is imminent and the driver is acting too late to brake the car, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid can activate automatic systems such as Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and City Safety to help avoid or reduce the effects of an collision.

4. Collision: To reduce the effects of a collision, the battery package is encapsulated and is protected and separated from the car's crumple zones and the occupants' compartment. Steel beams and the structure around the battery are reinforced to help protect it. If the battery is damaged, resulting in gas leakage, there are ducts that lead the gas out under the car. In extreme heat, the occupants are shielded by the battery's protection. At the moment of impact, crash sensors send information about the collision to the car's computer to shut off the power supply to reduce the risk of a short-circuit.

5. After the collision: The battery has a security cut-out that functions like a household earth fault circuit breaker. It shuts down and isolates the battery if the current travels in the wrong direction, for instance if two cables are pressed together as a result of an accident. Volvo also works with the emergency rescue services, providing them with detailed instructions on how to handle various Volvo models in the event of an accident.

Volvo Cars and the battery manufacturers have far-reaching product responsibility as regards both production and recycling. This ensures proper handling of the battery when it comes to the end of its life in the car.

Electric power offers a range of benefits

Electrification of the transport sector is an important step in the fight against climate change. Electricity is a highly beneficial fuel:

* An electric motor is almost four times as efficient as a regular combustion engine. This means that an electrically powered car consumes less energy and thus produces lower emissions, even if it is powered by a blend of electricity sources that include fossil fuels.
* European electricity production has an emission ceiling. This means that even if all vehicles were to run on electricity, electricity production itself is not allowed to produce more carbon dioxide. This emission ceiling will be gradually lowered over a period of time.
* Electricity is an excellent source of energy. It does not risk running out, and it can be produced virtually without any CO2 emissions.
* Emissions from millions of exhaust tailpipes are transferred to a small number of production facilities, which are easier to control and which will operate on the basis of the EU's trade in emission rights, something that does not apply to the transport sector at present.
* Electric vehicles use relatively little electricity and the increase in consumption will be more than covered by ambitious expansion plans for renewable energy sources throughout Europe. A single wind-power station, for instance, produces sufficient renewable energy to power 3,000 electric cars.

Electricity production is undergoing rapid expansion. Wind-power is being commercially introduced on a large scale and is continuing to expand, biofuels will replace fossil fuels on a broad front, wave-power is expected to enter commercial operation within ten years, and new technology to clean CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations is currently under development.

Volvo Cars in Partnership with Vattenfall

In January 2007, Volvo Cars and Vattenfall launched an industrial partnership whose aim was to test and develop plug-in technology. This cross-border initiative resulted in the foundation of a jointly owned company - V2 Plug-in-Hybrid Vehicle Partnership,

"No industry or organisation can tackle the climate challenge all by itself. It is our mission to develop carbon dioxide-lean cars, but a sustainable future must be created jointly by everyone in society. This project shows how cooperation between experts in different areas brings us closer to the transition from individually carbon dioxide-lean products to a climate-smart lifestyle," says Stefan Jacoby.

"With our latest development we are once again demonstrating our leadership in the environmental field by being first to market hybrid technology in an entirely new dimension," He adds: "Having Vattenfall in the electricity generating industry as a partner gives us an added strength. It allows us to be on the inside and shape developments in this area, for instance when it comes to clean electricity and infrastructure. We will also offer our customers a climate-neutral electricity supply contract when our plug-in hybrid enters series production."

"We're taking a giant step forward towards our "DRIVe Towards Zero" vision, that is to say the hunt for zero emissions. In fact, when the V60 Plug-in Hybrid is run solely on electricity and recharged using renewable energy, we've already reached that goal."

"Backed by the innovative power and spearhead technological competence of two industries, we have succeeded in creating a car that is truly unique in the automotive world. I'm very proud of the fact that Vattenfall and Volvo Cars are the driving forces behind the development of transport solutions that tackle climate issues and society's oil dependency. With renewable electricity from Vattenfall, the plug-in hybrid can be driven with minimised climate impact and local emissions. The result of the project emphasises that the future of the car lies in electrification," says Vattenfall's President and CEO Øystein Løseth.

The Future of Production

Everything from the way the car is produced, used and serviced to the way they are recycled is analysed thoroughly and the information obtained is used to shape the development of the production car. At Volvo Cars, work progresses on the V60 Plug-in Hybrid in parallel with development of the Volvo C30 Electric, which runs entirely on electricity.

"These two car types complement one another. With a plug-in hybrid the driver is entirely independent of recharging stations when driving long distances. The future electric-car market will feature a mixture of both all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids," says Stefan Jacoby.

The third leg in Volvo Cars' electrification strategy is empowering the upcoming engine generation with hybrid technology.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Nissan Continues To Be Unable To Meet Demand For its All Electric Leaf

Nissan Motor Corp., struggling with the slow rollout of its Leaf electric vehicle, may face new allocation problems when it resumes taking now-frozen orders.

High demand for the car means Nissan is juggling planned output of 10,000 vehicles through March 31 against more than 27,000 orders in the United States, Japan and Europe.

Nissan has stopped taking orders and likely will be filling existing ones through the end of summer.

But the company hasn’t decided when the next round of orders will begin or what the allocation for various markets will be, COO Toshiyuki Shiga said. In the fiscal year starting April 1, Nissan will have capacity for 50,000 Leafs, but 17,000 will go toward orders already booked.

That leaves enough production for 33,000 new customers worldwide in the next fiscal year.

Nissan will resume taking orders sometime after “after we deliver enough volume to the first lot,” Shiga said in an interview today. And he conceded that balancing demand from different regions for the next fiscal year will be “a little tough.”

The 6,000 orders already placed in Japan are expected to be filled by the end of March. But completing U.S. deliveries will take longer -- fueling the ire of impatient customers there.

“I know that some U.S. customers are frustrated,” Shiga said. “But delivery is a little bit delayed because of shipping timing and deliveries to Japan.”

Leaf assembly lines will be added in Britain in 2012 and Tennessee in 2013.

Until then, the bottleneck will grow at Nissan’s Oppama assembly plant south of Tokyo, the only plant making the zero-emissions hatchback.

Shiga ruled out the possibility of bringing the Smyrna, Tenn., plant online earlier than scheduled to help alleviate the tight supply. Nissan can’t build the electric vehicles without their lithium ion battery packs. And construction of the factory making those, he notes, has just begun.

Introducing Yet Another Plug-In Hybrid - This Time From Imperia, Dubbed the GP

Belgian automaker Imperia presented its Imperia GP plug-in hybrid roadster at the Brussels Motor Show in January. Following European regulation R101 for plug-in hybrids, the mixed consumption—gasoline and electricity—of the Imperia GP barely reaches 1.9 L/100km (124 mpg US) plus 11.5 kWh/100km and the CO2 emissions are below 50 g/km.

The Imperia plug-in roadster. Click to enlarge.

The Imperia GP features a 156 kW, 260 N·m (209 hp, 192 lb-ft), 1.6L turbocharged, gasoline direct injection engine; a 100kW, 300 N·m induction motor; and about an 11 kWh 355V lithium polymer battery pack (1P96S layout). All electric range is estimated to be 50-80 km (31-50 miles). The Imperia GP accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.0 seconds in purely electric mode, and in 4.0 seconds in hybrid mode

Imperia’ PowerHybrid system allows the driver to decide at any time, via a selector, the type of propulsion required: electric or hybrid. Using another control, the driver decides whether he/she intends to run the batteries down completely (in order to recharge them on the mains, having reached the destination), or wants to keep a reserve to be used when entering urban traffic.

The car features a 3 kW on-board charger. With a 200V 16 A plug, 85% charge is achieved in 4h, 100% in 5h.

Pricing is €103,223 (US$141,000) excl. VAT.

The new Imperia Automobiles is reviving the name of a company both famous and Liege-based, which was at the height of its success in the 1st half of the 20th century.

Source: Green Car Congress

Introducing the Smart Forspeed Electric Vehicle Concept

Smart ForSpeed Concept
Smart Forspeed – Click above for high-res image gallery

Not every future Smart model is in trouble of vanishing – some will never see the light of production. To wit, Daimler's minicar maker is bringing an all-electric, roofless version of the Smart ForTwo to the Geneva Motor Show, and the Forspeed concept looks surprisingly similar to the the Smart Speedster we got a pee at a few weeks ago.

Overall, the Forspeed echos the Smart Crossblade that was made in limited numbers in the early 2000s. Just to emphasize that the Forspeed is a pure concept, it comes equipped with some interesting taillights, no external door handles and since it's sans-roof, there's a toneau cover that can either coat the entire interior or just the passenger side if you get caught in the rain.

The Forspeed's 41-hp electric motor can yawn the car all the way up to 37 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds and provide a top speed of 75 mph. That's not excatly "speedy" as the name implys, but the boost button you see on the dash offers another seven ponies. More important is the ED part of the clumsy "ForspeED" name; it refers to the Electric Drive powertrain that we also find in the Fortwo ED. At least the concept hits 37 mph a second sooner than the standard Fortwo ED.

The range for the Forspeed is estimated to be 85 miles, with an 80-percent charge possible in 45 minutes. This is most likley under DC fast charging conditions, but we're not sure. We'll make sure to get more info when we're on the ground in Geneva.

Source: Autoblog Green

Toyota to bring Home EV chargers to market in 2012; expects to sell 50K PHEVs worldwide that year

The Toyota PHV

The Nikkei reports that Toyota Motor Corp. will start selling home battery chargers for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012. Group firms Toyota Home and Toyota Industries Corp. will jointly develop the charger and will market it under the Toyota Home brand, through the sales channels of Toyota Home and its affiliate, Misawa Homes Co., according to the report.

The companies will produce two charger types, with one designed to extend from the exterior wall of a home and the other made for installation in a garage. The chargers will be compatible with non-Toyota cars, and will be priced between several tens of thousands of yen to 200,000 yen, including installation costs.

In 2012, Toyota expects to sell a total of 50,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles in Japan, the US and Europe, in addition to several thousand electric cars. It expects its sales of home battery chargers to reach 20,000 to 30,000 units during this period...The Japanese government wants 2 million regular EV battery chargers and 5,000 high-speed chargers to be installed across the nation by 2020.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Video: Green Overdrive cruises the streets in electrified $18,000 VW Bug

Entrepreneur Al Bullock electrified his classic VW and has been driving it around the streets of Livermore, California for the past three years. For $18,000 Bullock created a stylin’ EV that costs less than a Nissan LEAF and has the same battery range. Nice! Check out our video interview and test drive with Bullock and his electric VW.

Source: Gigaom

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Confirms Electric Test Vehicle Project

Rolls Royce Phantom


Rolls-Royce Motor Cars today confirmed the development of 102EX, a one-off, fully electric powered Phantom, to debut at the Geneva Motor Show on 1 March 2011. The car will tour during 2011, serving as a test bed to gather a bank of research data which will be crucial in informing future decisions on alternative drive-trains for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

“We have engineered the world’s first battery electric vehicle for the ultra-luxury segment,” said CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös, speaking from the company’s headquarters in Goodwood. “With this vehicle, we begin an exploration into alternative drive-trains, seeking clarity on which alternative technologies may be suitable to drive Rolls-Royce motor cars of the future.”

Rolls-Royce produces cars that represent the pinnacle in luxurious motoring for the world’s most discerning customers. With 102EX, also known as the Phantom Experimental Electric (EE), it is the company’s intention to carefully test the opinions and reactions to alternative drive-train options of a range of stakeholders including owners, enthusiasts, members of the public and the media.

102EX will serve as a working test bed for a global tour that takes in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America. Through test drives, owners will be given the opportunity to experience an alternative drive-train technology and to feedback their experiences, thoughts and concerns directly to Rolls-Royce.

While there are no plans to develop a production version, as one of the company’s EX models it will serve to begin a dialogue with existing owners and stakeholders, posing as well as answering questions of its audience.

These include the car’s ability to deliver an acceptable range between re-charges and to operate in extreme weather conditions. But also to benchmark reliability and quality against customer expectations of the world’s pinnacle automotive brand.

“I must be convinced that any alternative drive-train we choose for the future delivers an authentic Rolls-Royce experience,” added Müller-Ötvös. “It must be a technology that is right for our customers, our brand and which sets us on a sound footing for a sustainable future.”

In preparation for the Geneva debut, Rolls-Royce will launch the website this week, a portal to fuel a wider global debate seeking views on the question of electric luxury from media, VIPs and stakeholders. The site will also deliver regular updates of the car’s progress while on tour.

Full technical specifications for 102EX, as well as images and b-roll will be published at 00:01 GMT on 1 March 2011.

Report: Smart Fortwo Electric Drive unaffected by Penske departure

The transfer of the Penske-run Smart USA operation to Mercedes-Benz USA later this year has killed plans for a Nissan-developed Smart 4-door, but isn't likely to upset previously announced plans for bring the battery-electric version of the two-seat city car to the U.S. for retail sales and leasing next year.

Thumbnail image for smartEVgen2.jpgSmart USA already has begun a U.S. leasing program aimed at putting 250 Smart Fortwo EDs (it stands for Electric Drive) on the road, mostly in commercial fleets, and that program, too, is expected to continue unchanged, said Mercedes spokesman Geoff Day.

But expectations can change and Day - a deft hand at making sure no "t" is left uncrossed - added that once the the hand-off is completed and the Penske Automotive Group no longer handles Smart, the new Smart team at Mercedes-Benz USA "may review those plans."

What isn't likely to change - at least until the next-generation Fortwo is unveiled - is the Smart ED itself, which looks like the regular Smart Fortwo but replaces the internal combustion drivetrain with a Tesla Motors-developed 16.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack powering a 30-kilowatt, rear-mounted electric motor delivering 88 ft-lb of torque. The whole package delivers up to 85 miles of range on a single charge and top speed is limited to 62 mph.

The initial lease program - which is designed to help Smart develop loads of on-road use and charging pattern data from drivers, hence its emphasis on commercial fleets - is a four-year plan at a rather substantial $599 a month (versus $349 for the five-passenger all-electric Nissan Leaf).

Source: Edmunds

City of Chicago and 350Green announce city-wide Network of EV charging stations, 73 DC fast and 207 Level 2

The City of Chicago has selected 350Green, a developer of electric vehicle (EV) charging networks, to design, build and operate a network of 280 EV charging stations—73 DC Fast and 207 Level 2 charging stations—throughout the Chicago area.

The project is intended to help the City address two of the most vexing challenges facing widespread adoption of EVs: range anxiety and access to a garage for overnight charging. 350Green plans to install and operate its stations in partnership with retail hosts across high-traffic urban shopping centers and other places near where Chicago-area EV drivers live and work.

Chicago is on the cutting edge of national efforts to prepare for electric vehicles. When this project is completed, Chicago will have the most DC quick-charging stations of any city in the country, with only the entire State of California surpassing our station numbers.

—City of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley

The City of Chicago and its Department of the Environment are helping facilitate the implementation of the project. Much of the early focus around EV infrastructure has been on putting charging stations in the home garages of customers, which benefits only those who have a garage, the partners noted. Since many residents in Chicago do not have access to a garage, this effectively limits the number of people who can participate.

The project is valued at $8.8 million, with public funding of up to $1.9 million. 350Green will fund the remaining $6.9 million.

Source: Green Car Congress

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Stanford Research Team Uses Lithium Titanium Phosphate Anode in Li-ion Batteries For Good Cycle Life and Efficiency

Specific capacity and coulombic efficiency of LTP at a C/5 rate in aqueous electrolyte. Source: Wessells et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from Stanford University has shown a lithium titanium phosphate (LTP) material as an “excellent” candidate for anode material for use in aqueous Li-ion batteries. A paper describing their work was published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.

Most commercial lithium-ion cells use a highly flammable organic electrolyte. The replacement of the organic electrolytes found in these commercial lithium-ion cells with an aqueous electrolyte would resolve the safety concerns surrounding these devices, note Yi Cui and his colleagues, as well as lowering the cost of Li-ion batteries. Aqueous lithium-ion batteries could therefore be used for applications that require excellent safety, they write.

Several research groups have studied aqueous lithium-ion batteries using a variety of electrode materials including common cathode materials such as LiMn2O4, LiFePO4, and LiCoO2. The Stanford team recently demonstrated a favorable performance of LiCoO2 in aqueous lithium nitrate. However:

The narrow electrochemical stability range of water limits the choice of lithium intercalation materials that may be used as electrodes in aqueous cells. LiMn2O4 and LiCoO2 react with lithium at potentials near the upper limit of the electrochemical stability range of aqueous electrolytes. This allows their successful use as cathode materials in aqueous cells. However, the choice of a suitable anode material for an aqueous lithium-ion battery is more difficult. At a pressure of 1 atm, ambient temperatures, and a neutral pH, aqueous electrolytes will start to decompose below potentials of about -0.4 V with respect to the standard hydrogen electrode (SHE) or 2.6 V with respect to metallic lithium.

It has been shown that LiTi2(PO4)3 (LTP) reacts with lithium at an open-circuit potential of 2.5 V with respect to lithium. Thus it is among only a handful of materials currently known to intercalate lithium at potentials near the lower limit of the electrochemical stability range of pH-neutral aqueous electrolytes.

—Wessells et al.

For the study, the team used partially delithiated LixFePO4 as a reference electrode in aqueous cells or use with the LTP anode material. They constructed pouch cells using an organic electrolyte as well as an aqueous electrolyte containing pH-neutral 2 M Li2SO4 were also constructed.

LTP in the organic electrolyte showed a first-discharge capacity of 115 mAh/g at a cycling rate of 1 C—close to the maximum theoretical capacity, which is 138.8 mAh/g, based upon the insertion of two lithium ions into the crystal structure. 84% of this initial discharge capacity was retained after 100 cycles, while 70% was retained after 160 cycles. The coulombic efficiency remained above 0.99 throughout cycling.

In the aqueous electrolyte, the team found an initial discharge capacity of 113 mAh/g. 89% of the initial capacity was retained after 100 cycles at a C/5 rate.

It was found that the coulombic efficiency during cycling in the aqueous electrolyte was greater at higher charge and discharge rates, contrary to what is generally found in lithium-ion batteries. The reason for this is that there is some steady-state self-discharge in aqueous cells in which the electrode potential is beyond the equilibrium stability range of the electrolyte. The magnitude of this phenomenon varies with the extent of this deviation.

Slower experiments, during which the electrode potential was in this range for longer times, showed greater capacity losses upon cycling. This loss can be minimized by constraint of the low end of the potential range during cycling to that at which most of the capacity is found, rather than driving it down further to attain slightly greater apparent capacities.

—Wessells et al.

This work was performed with support from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) at Stanford.

Source: Green Car Congress

Friday, February 18, 2011

BYD's Two New Green Vehicles Will Make European Premiere at 2011 Geneva Motor Show

China-based BYD Co., Ltd will stage the European premiere of two electric vehicles at the upcoming 2011 Geneva International Motor Show in March: the updated pure-electric vehicle 2012 e6-Eco and the independent 4WD dual-mode electric SUV S6DM. The company will also present its overall “Three Green Dreams” strategy for the European market as well as show the core technology of BYD e-Bus K9 and the dual-mode electric vehicle F3DM.

The 2012 e6-Eco 5-seat crossover is equipped with a BYD Li-ion battery pack and has an expected range of 300 km (186 miles) in urban roads condition. It takes 40 minutes to fully charge the e6 using a 100 kW quick charger.

The BYD S6DM SUV can travel more than 60 km (37 miles) purely on electric power and more than 495 km (308 miles) in extended range with the 2.0L gasoline engine. The hybrid system includes a 10 kW electric motor (M1) paired with a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission propelling the front wheels while a 75 kW electric motor (M2) powers the rear wheels.

BYD’s “Three Green Dreams” are based on these three pillars of its R&D:

  • Affordable solar power
  • Environmentally-friendly energy storage
  • Electrified transportation

Source: Green Car Congress

The CRP Racing eCRP 1.4 Electric Motorbike - VIDEO

CRP Racing shows off its eCRP electric bike.

The 1.4 boasts twin Agni motors within its cast aluminium frame good for 52 kW (69.73 horsepower) and can hit speeds of 220 km/h (136.7 miles per hour) with the 8.9 kWh battery configuration. It can compete strongly for 40 km (25 miles) on a charge.

All-New 2012 Honda Civic Emphasizes Style, Fuel Economy and Performance Two models offer 40+ mpg

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid


Featuring the widest array of engine choices available in its class, the 2012 Civic is designed to even better meet the diverse needs of the compact-vehicle buyer when it launches this spring. The entire redesigned ninth-generation Civic lineup will become more fuel efficient with two models – the all-new Civic HF and the Civic Hybrid – each delivering fuel economy estimates of more than 40 mpg on the highway.

Built on the tradition of Honda fuel efficiency, the economical Civic HF model will be the most fuel-efficient gasoline-only powered Civic in the lineup when it launches this spring. Equipped with a 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine, the Civic HF is targeted to earn EPA-estimated fuel economy1 of 41 mpg on the highway. The 2012 Civic Hybrid, which will be outfitted for the first time with a lithium-ion battery and a larger 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine, is expected to achieve an EPA-estimated city/highway combined fuel economy1 of 45 mpg, an improvement of 4 mpg compared to the current Civic Hybrid. Both the Civic HF and Civic Hybrid models will be equipped with aerodynamic components for improved efficiency and Honda ECO Assist™ technology, an innovation that can enhance efficient vehicle operation while providing feedback to promote more efficient individual driving styles.

"The Civic is the only model in the industry that can deliver on all fronts – fuel economy, sporty performance, smart packaging, alternative fuel and long-term value," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda Motor Co.,Inc. "For the ninth-generation Civic, we are emphasizing improved fuel economy across the board, from the hybrid sedan to the sporty Si model."

In addition to the Civic HF and Civic Hybrid models, the Civic Sedan, Civic Coupe and Civic GX Natural Gas models are also estimated to achieve improved fuel economy compared to the current models. The Civic Sedan and Civic Coupe achieve an EPA-estimated fuel economy2 of 39 mpg on the highway, an improvement of 3 mpg when compared to the current model. The Civic Natural Gas vehicle is anticipated to earn a 7 percent improvement in fuel economy compared to the current model. The Civic Sedan, Civic Coupe and Civic Natural Gas models will all be equipped with the Honda ECO Assist technology.

Along with improved fuel economy, the new Civic lineup also delivers more performance, particularly with the Civic Si. The Civic Si sedan and coupe models will be equipped with a larger, more powerful 2.4-liter engine as well as a new 6-speed manual transmission. The new engine is anticipated to deliver 200 horsepower with 170 ft-lb of torque. Even with the larger engine and a 22 percent increase in torque, Civic Si is targeted to achieve an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy1 of 31 mpg; an increase of 2 mpg when compared to the current model.

The 2012 Civic lineup includes a sedan and a coupe with conventional gasoline models, a new "HF" high fuel economy version, two sporty "Si" performance versions, along with one hybrid and a natural gas alternative-fuel variant.
Additional information on the new 2012 Civic will be announced closer to the on-sale date. For more information on the current Civic and other Honda models, please visit

Civic HF, Sedan, Coupe and Natural Gas Specifications

* 140 horsepower, 1.8-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine
* 5-speed automatic transmission
* ECO Assist technology
* EPA-estimated Civic HF highway fuel economy: 41 mpg
* EPA-estimated Civic Sedan and Civic Coupe highway fuel economy: 39 mpg

Civic Hybrid Specifications

* 110 horsepower, 1.5-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine (combined gasoline + electric)
* Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
* Lithium-ion battery
* ECO Assist technology
* EPA-estimated Civic Hybrid city/highway combined fuel economy: 45 mpg

Civic Si Specifications

* 200 horsepower and 170 lb-ft, 2.4-liter i-VTEC™ 4-cylinder engine
* 6-speed manual transmission
* EPA-estimated Civic Si highway fuel economy: 31 mpg

1Preliminary EPA mileage estimates determined by Honda. Final EPA mileage estimates not available at the time of printing. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

2Based on 2012 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.