Thursday, June 30, 2011

Better Place Shows Off Europe's First Battery Switch Station

Better Place has moved a bit further down the road in its quest to corner the electric vehicle market. In Denmark, the company has just unveiled Europe's first Battery Switch Station, which will serve as the cornerstone of Better Place's biggest real-world test to date.

The grand event was held at a new Better Place facility in Gladsaxe, just outside Copenhagen. The vehicle used to demonstrate the station's functionality was the Renault Fluence Z.E. -- which isn't terribly surprising, given Renault's close partnership with Better Place and its founder/frontman, Shai Agassi.

Over the next nine months, additional Better Place Battery Switch Stations will be built across the country in partnership with numerous municipalities and DONG Energy. In total, Better Place aims to construct 20 such facilities in building a nationwide charging infrastructure.

The Battery Switch Stations are almost fully automated, and motorists can stay buckled up for the entire process. Drivers swipe their membership card at the entrance, and according to the company's press release, "The rest of the process is automated, similar to going through a car wash, so the driver never has to leave the car. In just a few minutes, a robotic arm removes the depleted battery and replaces it with a full one and the driver is back on the road."

Our take

Of the many electric vehicle manufacturers vying for a piece of the consumer market, Better Place may face the toughest road ahead. While some drivers like the idea of swappable batteries, most prefer to recharge. In fact, according to a recent survey from Accenture, 62% of consumers would rather recharge, compared to the 38% who'd like to trade dead batteries for fresh ones.

Granted, 38% isn't a terrible figure -- truth be told, it's higher than we'd have thought -- and granted, the EV charging battle may not be all-or-nothing. In fact, there may be room on Planet Earth for both sorts of electric vehicles.

But Better Place still faces a huge hurdle, and that's the massive infrastructure developments that the swappable-battery model requires.

Many current EVs can charge from a standard wall plug, and in the future, even that may not be necessary if inductive charging becomes the norm. (Given the diminishing importance of wires and cables in our daily lives, we're betting/hoping that it will.)

Better Place, however, requires real estate, buildings, and large-scale charging stations. And if someone comes along with a smarter, more clever battery system, who's to say that Better Place will be able to retrofit its stations to accommodate the new standard? It seems like a lot of work for an intermediate step toward an all-electric future.

Source: All Cars Electric

CNN says Chevrolet Volt tech is "obsolete" compared to Toyota Prius Plug-in

toyota prius plug-in hybrid vehicle
Plug-in Prius Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Volt fans like to point out that Chevy's plug-in hybrid can go 25 to 50 miles without using a drop of gas. Then, the Volt shifts seamlessly into its "range-extending" mode. Not everyone is impressed by this. CNN Money recently had the audacity to call the Volt's technology "obsolete."

Here's a rundown of the reasoning behind CNN Money's bold claim: The Toyota Prius Plug-in has an estimated range of 13 miles in electric-only mode. Then, the plug-in Prius switches over to Toyota's fuel-sipping hybrid mode. In the non-plug-in Prius, that system is good for 51 miles per gallon in the city and 48 mpg on the highway. Meanwhile, after the Volt switches over to its gasoline-burning mode, most road tests have shown it's not that fuel efficient. In fact, Popular Mechanics found their Volt got just 32 mpg in the city and 36 mpg highway. As we all know, 51 > 32. Thus, CNN Money concludes:
On trips of 13 miles or less, the Prius plug-in and Volt deliver the same all-electric mpg: zero. On trips between 13 miles and 35 miles in length, the Volt beats the Prius. But after 35 miles, the Prius handily outscores the Volt.
But it all boils down to price. Stickered with a base price of $41,000, the Volt ain't cheap. Pricing for the Prius Plug-In, though not officially confirmed, is expected to start at approximately $28,000, meaning that it will likely undercut the Volt's MSRP by more than $10,000. Yes, rebates alter that number, but CNN finds it difficult to justify the hefty premium for what amounts to less than 30 miles of added electric-only range. Do you agree?

Source: Autoblog Green

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

FedEx Express doubles and diversifies all-electric fleet with 24 new units; adding more than 4,000 new, fuel-efficient vehicles in total

FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. is adding more than 4,000 new, fuel efficient vehicle. As part of that, within the next two months FedEx Express will place 24 new all-electric vehicles into service, expanding to three new cities and more than doubling its fleet to 43 all-electric vehicles while growing the diversity of suppliers it uses for electric vehicles.

At the same time, FedEx Express will be adding more hybrid-electrics, using composite vehicles and upgrading more than a tenth of its conventional vehicle fleet to more energy-efficient vehicles.

FedEx Express is bringing new all-electric delivery vehicles to New York City, Chicago and Memphis, and diversifying the existing Los Angeles fleet. In all, FedEx will add into service 15 Navistar eStar electric vehicles, two Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) eCell electric vehicles and two FCCC electric vehicle retrofits, and five Ford Transit Connect Electric vans to complement the current 19 all-electric vehicles deployed in Los Angeles, London and Paris.

These vehicles will be studied to help evolve all-electric vehicle technology and to establish a foundation of understanding on utility grid needs by modeling impact of future all-electric vehicle growth on the shared energy grid.

  • In New York, FedEx Express will be working with GE and Columbia University’s Engineering School to study energy grid impacts in an effort to project how large vehicle deployments would impact the energy grid.

  • In Chicago, FedEx Express will be comparing different all-electric vehicle technologies to determine what works best for its fleet needs.

  • In Memphis, FedEx Express is retrofitting existing vehicles to make them all-electrics, saving resources through using existing vehicle bodies. FedEx has added five Transit Connect Electric vans from Ford Motor Company and Azure Dynamics to support the corporate Information Technology Asset Disposal program, driving regularly scheduled routes to pick up, recycle, reuse and dispose of IT assets.

  • In Los Angeles, FedEx Express is diversifying its fleet, adding an FCCC eCell to its current four Navistar eStar all-electric vehicles, and is in the midst of adding 45 new FCCC-Eaton hybrid-electric pickup and delivery vehicles to its fleet.

Different vehicles are appropriate for different routes. The key is to use the right truck for the mission on the right route. FedEx Express is adding all-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles to dense urban routes that have a lot of starting and stopping. This use of regenerative braking and electric motors significantly improves the efficiency of the vehicles on such urban routes.

On high-mileage routes, FedEx is upgrading vehicles with 4,000 fuel efficient, lower emitting BlueTEC clean diesel Sprinter Vans. Each Sprinter is at least 100% more fuel efficient than the most commonly found alternative it replaces. Since launching our first Sprinter in 2000, we have put close to 1.4 billion miles on these more fuel efficient vehicles, saving over 66 million gallons of fuel compared to their predecessors.

—Keshav Sondhi, manager of Asset Management for FedEx Express Global Vehicles

FedEx Express has also been piloting five composite vehicles from Utilimaster in Detroit, Memphis, Jackson, Tenn., and Jonesboro, Ark. Dubbed “The Reach,” it is able to achieve 35% better fuel economy than its predecessor and has been performing well. The smaller, more efficient engine and low weight of the composite materials, which includes recycled rubber material, resin, fiberglass and poly core, compared to aluminum, allows the vehicle to achieve these fuel efficiencies.

Source: Green Car Congress

Spy Shots: slightly revised Tesla Model S spied outside Tesla HQ

tesla model s

Tesla Motors recently released a small collection of new photos of the all-electric Model S sedan that's due to be released next year, but that doesn't mean that the vehicle has been out playing where a camera could get a clean shot. Until today, anyway.

Our friends over at Green Car Reports caught the Model S in the vicinity of Tesla's headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. No one outside of Tesla knows for sure, but GCR speculates that the spy shots "may represent the most production-ready Model S seen to date." We already noticed a few changes between the officially released images and the original prototype, but there are a few more differences here: normal taillights, taller side view mirrors and production-style door handles are three easy-to-spot changes. Notice anything else?

Source: Autoblog Green

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Johnson Controls to invest $138.5M in Toledo battery facility to support start-stop market; projecting 70-92% demand globally for start-stop systems i

JCI is projecting between 70-–92% demand for start-stop systems in new vehicles by 2020 in the Europe, North America and China markets, squeezing out conventional ICE vehicles. Source: JCI. Click to enlarge.

Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) plans to invest $138.5 million to convert its battery plant near Toledo, Ohio into an Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery facility for start-stop and other higher efficiency vehicles. Subject to final state and local incentives, the facility will be the company’s first such plant in the United States.

Alex Molinaroli, president for Johnson Controls Power Solutions, said that the company sees the start-stop vehicle technology market growing to 35 million batteries globally by 2015—including batteries not put into new vehicles—with the United States as an important piece of the market. By 2020, JCI projects, demand for start-stop systems in new vehicles will reach 70–92% in Europe, North American and China—essentially supplanting conventional internal combustion engine vehicles.

Johnson Controls’ Toledo investment will add 6 million in AGM battery capacity to the company’s North American AGM footprint by 2013.

Start-Stop is a technology applied to a standard gasoline-powered vehicle that automatically shuts the engine off during idle, reducing fuel use and emissions by 5–12 percent, and restarts when the driver engages the clutch or releases the brake pedal.

In a presentation at Johnson Controls Power Solutions Analyst Day, Craig Rigby, Vice President Global Product Engineering, noted that key energy storage attributes—cycling, usable energy, and charge acceptance—tend work against each other. Battery charge acceptance allows a system to capture braking energy to replenish the battery after a start-stop event. A commercially viable system must balance improved charge acceptance with cost and complexity, he said, noting that most current vehicles do not fully utilize the charge acceptance of existing technology.

While there are a number of alternative technologies being proposed for start-stop—such as carbon additives to the negative plate; replacing lead negative plates with carbon plates; or coupling an AGM battery with ultracapacitors—all face challenges and have an impact on cost, he said. AGM, on the other hand, provides the best balance of attributes and aligns with most current and future application requirements, he argued.

VARTA AGM battery. Click to enlarge.

Johnson Controls is currently the leading supplier of start-stop batteries in Europe through its VARTA brand. In 2010 the company supplied 3 million VARTA Start-Stop batteries in Europe, and is adding capacity there to reach 11.2 million batteries by 2015.

In addition to Start-Stop, our Original Equipment customers are also turning to our AGM technology to support many of their other new high efficiency vehicles that place similar aggressive demands on the battery. Our Toledo facility will be very important in helping to establish the same leadership here in the United States.

—Jorge Guillen, vice president, Start-Stop, for Johnson Controls Power Solutions

Pending final state and local approvals, Johnson Controls will receive a combination of tax credits and incentives from the state of Ohio totaling $25 million. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer and the first line will launch production in spring 2012.

Source: Green Car Congress

Is There a Toyota Prius V plug-in hybrid in the works?

2012 Toyota Prius V
2012 Toyota Prius V - Click above for high-res image gallery

Given that Toyota will launch the Prius Plug-in in spring of 2012 and that the Prius V is basically a roomier version of the standard Prius, it seems like a no-brainer for Toyota to eventually equip the V with plug-in components, right? Well, that seems to be one option that Toyota is keen on.

Recently, Plugin Cars' Nick Chambers interviewed Ron Ishii, senior field engineer for Toyota. While Ishii didn't confirm that a plug-in Prius V is in the works, he did say that:
The engineers and designers don't leave any possibilities out of the equation. The Prius V packaging is very similar to the Prius on purpose. In the back of the car under the floor where the battery sits, the packaging is almost identical so the larger battery required of the plug-in system could fit there the same as it does in the Prius Plug-in.
Chambers then turned to Ed Larocque, national marketing manager for Toyota advanced technology vehicle. Larocque added:
Hopefully the success of the plug-in Prius will help us move towards the release of a plug-in Prius V. If our customers demand a plug-in from us we will deliver it. If we need to adjust our product strategy to remain on top, and that means we need to add a plug-in Prius V, we will do it.
Based on these statements – and our suspicion that the Prius Plug-in will be a hit – a plug-in version of the Prius V certainly seems likely, doesn't it?

Source: Autoblog Green

Monday, June 27, 2011

2011 Chevrolet Volt Proves it can be an Electric Wizard Too

2011 Chevrolet Volt charging port

2011 Chevrolet Volt charging port

Enlarge Photo

When is a 2011 Chevrolet Volt not a plug-in hybrid?

When it covers 2,500 miles between fill-ups.

That’s how far Maryland resident Jeff Parmet has driven in his 2011 Chevrolet Volt in the past six months. In fact, he’s just visited the gas pump for the first time since buying the car.

Until its release last winter, Chevrolet was pretty adamant that its 2011 Volt was a range-extended electric car. That is, until it was disclosed that under circumstance, its range-extending gasoline engine could directly drive the front wheels, making it a plug-in hybrid.

A whole group of electric car fans were horrified. “How could General Motors have cheated us?” they asked. To them, the Volt was nothing more than the automotive equivalent of a mudblood.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

But just like that clever wizarding mudblood Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, the Chevrolet Volt has proven time and time again that it is capable of being just as much an electric car as the all-electric 2011 Nissan Leaf.

Driving 2,500 miles on a single tank of gasoline equates to 2,156 miles of all-electric driving, with just 344 miles of gasoline-fueled driving. Put another way, with the Volt’s 9 gallon gas tank, an average equivalent fuel economy of 277 miles per gallon.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

That’s enough to make cars like the gasoline-sipping 2011 Toyota Prius look like a Humvee.

Although most Volt drivers are unlikely to achieve such a long period between fill-ups, perhaps its time for Chevrolet - and the electric car industry - to acknowledge that when driven mindfully on sub 35 mile trips the 2011 Chevrolet Volt is most definitely more electric than car.

Source: All Cars Electric

AC Propulsion powers Yokohama-sponsored EV to new Pikes Peak record

Exposed chassis of the winner. The gold box with the AC Propulsion logo is the AC Propulsion Power Electronics Unit (PEU), which contains power electronics and integrated charger, which supports charging at up to 18 kW. Click to enlarge.

The Yokohama Tire-sponsored electric race car using AC Propulsion’s proprietary electric drive system broke its own 2010 record at the 89th annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The AC Propulsion-equipped vehicle won the hill climb’s Exhibition Class and set a new EV record with a time of 12:20:084, besting last year’s record-breaking time of 13:17:575 by nearly one minute. It was also the race’s fastest EV among both cars and motorcycles.

This year’s Yokohama EV, a rear-wheel drive, open-wheel race car, was built by Summit Motorsports and driven by Japan’s Ikuo Hanawa. It used fuel-efficient Yokohama BluEarth tires and SANYO Electric Co. lithium-ion batteries. The Pikes Peak AC-180 motor, rated at 268 hp (200 kW) at 6000-7000 rpm and 258 lb-ft (350 N·m) of torque from zero to 5000 rpm, is a high-performance version of the AC Propulsion AC-150 motor found in the BMW MINI E.

AC Propulsion engineers developed a high-performance cooling system for the vehicle’s 200-kW induction motor so it could operate at maximum output throughout the ascent up the mountain and break the record set last year with the same motor. (That motor powered the Yokohama-sponsored EV that beat the previous EV record set by Jeri Unser in 2003 by 65 seconds.)

The AC Propulsion Power Electronics Unit (PEU) in the vehicle contains everything except the motor—it provides power to and controls the motor and contains the integrated charging system. The integrated charging system is part of what makes the AC Propulsion system lighter, more efficient and less costly. The PEU also allows vehicles to charge up to 18kW, where the current crop of EVs is charging at 3kW. Finally, the PEU provides 12V power to the vehicle and the vehicle’s V2G (vehicle-to-grid) capability.

The drive system utilizes the proprietary tzero-technology that also powered the MonoTracer MTE-150 to a first place victory in its category and achieved the highest efficiency overall in the 2010 Progressive Automotive X PRIZE.

Now in its 89th year, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, also known as the Race to the Clouds, is the best-known hill climb in the world. Racing to the 4,301-meter summit, participants cover a 12.4-mile course beginning at the 2,862-meter level. The race is famous for the severity of its conditions: rapidly changing temperatures and weather, a combination of tarmac and gravel surfaces and 156 turns.

Our string of Pikes Peak EV records--especially this one, where we are well into the 12-minute bracket--clearly demonstrates that electric vehicles can get up the hill fast. Now that more people are buying EVs, it’s important to offer really good performance. For us, the old racing slogan holds: win on Sunday, sell on Monday.

—AC Propulsion CEO Tom Gage

Source: Green Car Congress

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Honda begins European Demonstration Programme of Zero Emission EV-neo Electric Scooter


Honda announced today that the EV-neo electric scooter will make its European debut. A Demonstration Programme in conjunction with Barcelona City Council will get underway from the beginning of July 2011. EV-neo is a battery electric scooter with zero in-use CO2 emissions. Representing a significant development in its EV European activities, Honda will provide Barcelona City Council with 18 EV-neos for the period of one year.

Montesa Honda, Barcelona City Council and RACC, Spain's leading Automobile Club will work together to carry out daily research and monitoring activities on the EV-neo's usage in Barcelona.

"We are delighted to bring Honda's EV technology to Europe for the first time," said Yukitoshi Fujisaka, President of Montesa Honda. "Testing the EV-neo in European conditions is an important step as we develop our EV activities."

A wide range of incentives exist for EVs in Barcelona and with motorcycles accounting for 30% of all vehicles in the city, Barcelona was an ideal location for this Demonstration Programme.

About EV-neo

The EV-neo is a battery electric scooter. It operates using a 2.8kw motor and a Lithium-ion battery. The EV-neo has a range of 34km at 30km/h on level ground* The regular charger takes the battery from zero charge to a full charge in approximately 3.5 hours** and is a highly portable unit that fits neatly in the cargo space beneath the seat of the EV-neo. The rapid charger fully charges the EV-neo in approximately 30 minutes**.

*Honda calculations based on predetermined test conditions (user results may vary based on weather, road conditions, vehicle condition and maintenance, and other parameters).
**at ambient temperature of 25 °C

EV-neo Activities in Japan

Lease sales of the EV-neo started in Japan in April 2011 with Honda expecting to sell approximately 1,000 units in the first year. The base price is 454,650 Japanese yen or approximately 4,000 Euros.

The EV-neo is also being used in Honda Electric Vehicle Testing Programmes in Kumamoto and Saitama prefectures. These testing programmes which include motorcycles, automobile and power equipment products based on electromotive technologies will help to test future forms of personal mobility and their potential in CO2 reduction. In the Kumamoto Programme, EV-neo scooters are rented to residents and tourists to provide feedback on their use and benefits and in Saitama they are leased to delivery companies.

PSA Peugeot-Citroen to offer range of "eco-friendly" vehicles

Peugeot Prologue

Aside from pure electric vehicles like the C-Zero and iOn, PSA Peugeot Citro├źn has announced that it's aiming to pack its lineup full of "eco-friendly" vehicles. The goal, according to PSA Peugeot-Citroen chief executive officer Phillippe Varin, is to launch an "eco-friendly solution" in all vehicle segments.

This decision, according to Ward's Auto (sub. req.) is one of necessity, meaning that in order to comply with European Union targets for fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions, PSA Peugeot-Citroen will have to make available a range of fuel-efficient vehicles.

To that end, PSA Peugeot-Citroen is expected to gear up for production of both a naturally aspirated and a turbocharged, 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine. Both mills will be Euro 6 compliant. Come early 2013, these downsized gassers will join PSA Peugeot-Citroen's extensive stable of fuel-sipping diesel engines.

Source: Autoblog Green

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chevrolet Shows Off Electric Beat in India

Yesterday General Motors began displaying and testing a Volt-related, all-electric version of its Chevrolet Beat minicar in New Delhi.

The EV is not being proposed for sale anytime soon, but India was chosen as a demanding environment – as well as growing market – to demonstrate the car.

The potential world market EV is actually the latest battery electric conversion by GM, which has previously announced electric vehicle demonstration programs in Germany, Korea, and China.

Chevrolet Beat Electric launch. From Left: GM Vice Prsident, Corporate Affairs, P. Balendran, GM India President and Managing Director, Karl Slym, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Sumit Sawhney. (Photo credit: Indian Autos Blog).

The Beat Electric is powered by a 300-cell, 20-kWh, liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery similar to what is in the Volt, but larger for the smaller, but non-range-extended car.

It is said to be good for about 130 km (81 miles) of normal driving. Recharge time with 240-volt power is under eight hours.

A single-speed drive unit and an electric motor producing about 45-kW (60 horsepower) turn the front wheels.

No top speed or other tech specs were listed for the latest EV being shown by its North American-based maker in several markets other than its home market.

GM’s Kevin M. Kelly, manager, electric vehicle and hybrid communications, told us a bit about the German and Korean EVs of which readers of GM-Volt may already be familiar as they may also of GM’s Chinese ventures.

In Germany, the electric GM/Opel Meriva, announced September 2010, has a 60-kW (82-horsepower) electric motor with torque output of 215 Nm (159 foot-pounds). Its 16 kWh battery delivers range of 64 km (40 miles), and top speed of 130 kph (81 mph).

Opel Mervia EV1.

GM said Opel’s engineers integrated the electric drive without making concessions on luggage capacity or comfort.

“The electric Meriva may look like the production car, but is a pure research-vehicle. We are testing charging at high currents in less than one hour, as well as the communication protocols between the vehicle and charging station,” said Opel Vice President of Engineering Rita Forst.

In Korea, on October 2010, it was announced that three Cruzes and seven GM Daewoo Lacetti Premieres were converted to all-electric spec.

The 10 Cruze/Lacetti EVs are equipped with a 31-kWh battery and generates maximum power of 150 kW (201 horsepower). The products in the demonstration fleet have been monitored closely to determine the amount of real-world range achievable by vehicles of their size.

GM Daewoo Lacetti Premiere EV and Chevrolet Cruze EV.

On specific test schedules conducted by LG Chem, the demonstration vehicles may achieve a range of up to 160 km (100 miles). The vehicles can go from 0 to 100 kph (60 mph) in 8.2 seconds with a maximum speed of 165 kph (102.5 miles per hour).

In China, GM said in April this year it would showcase none other than the Volt as well as the Electric Networked-Vehicle (EN-V) concept. We have not heard of any EV conversions there yet.

The Chinese Volt and EN-V were part of a test drive involving officials from the Shanghai Municipal Government, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and the International Energy Agency, along with representatives from Electric Vehicle Initiatives (EVI) member countries and pilot cities.

Gives a new meaning to being green with EN-V. We were not able to confirm whether this one gets five NHTSA stars for frontal impact protection, but kind of doubt it.

GM said it would help promote the demonstration and commercialization of electric vehicles in China by sharing its latest advanced technology achievements and expertise, contributing to the development of electric vehicle infrastructure and standards, facilitating international exchanges and promoting electric vehicles.

“No company has made greater advances in vehicle electrification than GM,” said Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group. “We are pleased to be sharing our achievements and expanding our cooperation to ensure a cleaner, greener future for China and its people.”

While the China, Korea, and Germany stories may be old(er) news for some of you, the big news this week is in India regarding GM’s latest Chevrolet EV presumably made with trickle-down-tech from the Volt.

When we last reported on the India Beat, the rumors were it would be shown in April, but plans were stalled.

Initially, GM and REVA had intended to bring a Spark EV to market, but those ties were severed, and GM built its own Beat EV instead – as a show car for now.

Side view of a standard ICE Beat.

While a price of around $7,771 had been estimated for the GM/REVA e-Spark, Indian Autos Blog observed even if the Beat Electric was offered to the public, it would be a tough sell, as its “L-Ion batteries are way too expensive for the cost-conscious Indian buyer who experiences frequent power cuts at home and work.”

Instead, a Beat diesel is expected to be the new workhorse of the line due later in July.

Tailored for India

As it is, GM said it timed the Beat EV to join its fellow GM EVs in honor of the recent World Environment Day (June 5), and its engineers would evaluate it as a world environmentally sensitive car.

“General Motors is committed to providing customers around the world with electrification technologies that will reduce their fuel consumption, helping them save money. GM India will lead in this ‘tailored for India’ demo program for battery electric technology, with Chevrolet Beat chosen as the best way to evaluate the technology, said Karl Slym, president and managing director, General Motors India. “We are delighted that Chevrolet selected India as an important market to test battery electric technology, while recognizing the capabilities of our engineering team to help identify ways to make this technology more affordable.”

Chevrolet Beat EV. (Photo credit: Indian Autos Blog)

Aside from Beat EV, GM India is already offering a range of alternate fuel vehicles including Chevrolet Beat LPG, Chevrolet Spark LPG and Chevrolet Aveo CNG.

The Beat EV could lead to a viable city car in many markets, and surely there would be buyers for a version of it in the U.S. as well.

Coincidentally, automaker Think Global of Norway declared bankruptcy a couple days ago, and will not be launching its similar purpose $36,495 City minicar in North America.

We know of no plans to bring the Chevrolet Beat EV to North America, but if it could one day be offered in India for around one-quarter to one-third the sidelined U.S. Think’s price, we dare say it could be a seller even at two-to-three times the Indian price in the U.S.

Unfortunately, Kelly was not at liberty to divulge any North American advanced-tech plans, but he did say GM is looking at all kinds of options for the North American market, including EVs.

He did say GM is figuring out how best to tailor a car for the U.S. but there is “no firm timing” for when GM’s home market will see even an experimental EV like they already have had particularly in Germany, Korea, and now India.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Study: 62 mpg CAFE standard would cost consumers an arm and... $1,450

cafe 62 mpg

Bumping up federal fuel economy standards to 56 miles per gallon in the 2025 would yield fuel savings that offset increased vehicle prices, according to the Center for Automotive Research. However, CAR says, jumping to 62 mpg would increase vehicle prices to such a degree that additional cash needed to buy an auto would exceed the amount of money saved at the pump over a five-year period.

Center for Automotive Research president, Jay Baron, points out that although the research firm is partially financed by the automotive industry, this study was internally funded. With that disclosure out of the way, let's look at some of the numbers:
  • Technological advancements will drive up the average cost of vehicles by $3,810 to $11,390 by 2025, depending on CAFE targets.
  • Fuel savings would range between $5,917 and $8,339, depending on CAFE requirements, over the first five years of owning a 2025 vehicle.
  • Under the 47-mpg, 51-mpg and 56-mpg targets, fuel savings would exceed the increased cost of a new vehicle.
  • Under the 62-mpg standard, increased vehicle prices would top fuel savings by $1,450.
Here's the kicker: Center for Automotive Research chief economist Sean McAlinden says that raising the CAFE target to 62 mpg would force consumers to retain their aging autos, resulting in less fuel-efficient vehicles on U.S. roads, increased fuel consumption and more pollution. Looks like this could turn into a "less is more" scenario if things don't go right.

Source: Autoblog Green

EV maker Think files for bankruptcy in Norway

EV maker Think Global AS filed for bankruptcy Wednesday in Norway after failed attempts at recapitalization and restructuring. This is the fourth time Think has collapsed financially in its 20-year history.

“We needed some additional funding and although we had interested investors they were not able to come to table quickly enough,” Think spokesman James Andrews told Automotive News Europe.

The options for Think are either a liquidation of its assets or the sale of the company to a new investor, Andrews said.

Think sold 1,043 units of its City electric vehicle in 2010.

A court-appointed trustee from Oslo-based commercial law firm Thommessen took control of the company Wednesday afternoon. The trustee has responsibility for managing the company’s assets, including wholly owned US subsidiary Think North America, which has an EV production plant in Elkhart, Indiana. Although Think North America is a separate entity, it is financially supported by headquarters in Norway.

Source: Automotive News Europe

Siemens and partners build first aircraft with series hybrid electric drive

Siemens Drive Technologies Division supplied the integrated drive train for the first series-hybrid electric aircraft. Source: Siemens. Click to enlarge.

Siemens, Diamond Aircraft and EADS have built an aircraft equipped with a series hybrid electric drive system. The partners are presenting the two-seater motor glider DA36 E-Star at the Paris Air Show Le Bourget 2011 (until 26 June) in daily flight shows. The aircraft was built to test the hybrid electric drive concept.

The technology, which is intended for later use also in large-scale aircraft, will cut fuel consumption and emissions by 25%, compared to today’s most efficient aircraft drives, according to Siemens.

Based on Diamond Aircraft’s HK36 Super Dimona, the E-Star’s propeller is powered by a 70 kW electric motor from Siemens. Electricity is supplied by a small Wankel engine from Austro Engine with a generator that functions solely as a power source. A Siemens converter supplies the electric motor with power from the battery and the generator.

Fuel consumption is low since the combustion engine always runs with a constant low output of 30 kW. A battery system from EADS provides the increased power required during takeoff and climb. The battery is recharged during the cruising phase. The plane is able to start noiseless with the electric drive and can fly over long distances. During test flights, it was airborne for about two hours.

The next development step will be to further optimize the entire drive train. Siemens researchers are currently working on a new electric motor that is expected to be five times lighter than conventional drives. In two years, another aircraft is expected to be equipped with an ultra-light electric drive.

Siemens’ Drive Technologies Division has already used integrated drive trains in other applications like marine drives. The know how gained in these areas has now been applied in the aviation industry as well. Combined with the corresponding product portfolio, the components of the drive train can be optimally adjusted to one another.

Source: Green Car Congress

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

EREVs by Virginia Tech, Ohio State place one-two, in three-year EcoCAR Challenge

Last Thursday, two student-built extended-range electric vehicles (EREVs) placed first and second overall out of 16 North American college teams entered in the three-year competition known as EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge.

Sponsored by General Motors, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the Argonne National Laboratory, and about two dozen other supporters, the awards given at the Library of Congress saw first and second overall go to a pair of E85/electric-powered conversions from Virginia Tech and The Ohio State University respectively. Third place went to the University of Waterloo, which fielded a hydrogen fuel cell-based, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

Fourth, fifth and sixth overall places were rounded out in order by Penn State University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Mississippi State University.

Virginia Tech’s winning car takes a slalom drive at the Milford Proving Grounds, Mich. Note all the sponsors that were instrumental in helping all the teams.

The broad goal for the challenge begun May 2008 was to reduce a production crossover vehicle’s environmental impact by improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions, while retaining the vehicle’s performance and consumer appeal.

Each team had been given its choice of a hybrid or standard internal combustion engine 2009 Saturn Vue as baseline vehicles – that were subsequently re-badged Chevrolet EcoCARs following GM’s restructuring.

After formulating a plan, the teams gutted the vehicles’ powertrains for a ground-up rebuild with most opting for some variation of petrol-electric, although the University of Ontario Institute of Technology went for all electric. The overall presentations were graded on a number of weighted criteria beyond efficiency and emissions reduction.

While “best tailpipe emissions” went to Missouri University of Science and Technology, Virginia Tech was helped by having the “best fuel consumption” of 81.9 mpg, a 70-percent improvement, and scored well in enough other criteria for the overall win.

First place winners.

“Designing an extended-range electric vehicle using E85 was challenging, but clearly worth it in the end,” said Patrick Walsh, co-team leader for Virginia Tech. “The entire team has put so much time and effort into designing and refining our vehicle, and we’ve gained valuable knowledge and hands-on experience that will prepare us for our engineering careers.”

As they saw fit, the teams approached the project with a variety of internal combustion powertrains including a turbocharged 750cc engine, a number of 1.3-liter versions, 1.6 liter, 1.8 liter, the 2.4 liter in the winning car up to a 3.9 liter. Likewise, a variety of electric powertrains from one to three electric motors were used, along with batteries, hardware, software, and everything else involved in re-engineering the former Saturns.

As for all images, click to expand for larger viewing.

While the central theme of the undergraduate/graduate-student project was engineering, also involved were business students, communications, and other majors working in complementary functions. These included building a Web site, promoting their teams’ cars, answering media inquiries, interacting with vendors, and more. Here is a list of many more awards granted.

In short, this was one extensive learning experience for students who got a real taste for much of what an automaker – particularly GM – goes through to research and develop an advanced-tech vehicle, prove the concept, and test it all the way until ready for production.

Second place finishers.

Around triple the number of colleges had attempted to enter the EcoCAR Challenge. We were not able to find out by deadline why more were not permitted, but imagine it was limited because resources were finite, and the project was comprehensive enough with 16 teams.

As it is, it was a terrific opportunity. According to GM EcoCAR spokesperson Kaileen Connelly, GM has already hired about 40 of the students from various schools, recently interviewed a dozen more, and has job offers pending with 11 of these. Additional students involved with the competition have accepted jobs with other companies as well. Others are going on with respectable bullet points on their resumes for having been part of this most recent among similar competitions the DOE has sponsored for 23 years, and GM has sponsored for over 15 years.

The Challenge

Outside-of-the box thinking was encouraged by removing some of the deadline pressures to be found in real world development. Otherwise, the competition was based on GM’s vehicle development process (VDP) and was broken into three academic years.

Year 1: Vehicle architectures were selected using modeling and simulation, and hardware-in-the loop (HIL) systems are assembled to develop and test the team’s control strategies
Year 2: Virtual designs were turned into functioning prototype vehicles
Year 3: Vehicles were refined to near-showroom quality

Year one was preparation for hands on with the cars which would come later. First thing the students did was learn real-world automotive engineering practices by using Model-Based Design as well as graphical system design technologies. These included HIL and Software in Loop (SIL) to enable concepts to make it to the road.

Third place finishers.

In year two, the teams received their GM-donated “mule vehicles” and began integrating powertrain and subsystems. The team had access to GM engineers, and were mentored and given feedback along the way. They also competed their developing vehicles in engineering tests similar to those GM conducts in determining a vehicle’s readiness for production.

Year three was about refinement into near production quality prototypes. The teams showcased their vehicles’ reduced greenhouse gases and improved fuel economy at the Year Three Competition Finals in Milford, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. from June 5-16. The vehicles were put through more than a dozen static and dynamic test events.

The winning setup

Virginia Tech’s car is remarkable in that it had more than twice the displacement of some competitors, yet topped the fuel consumption category. It was not necessary to have the highest mpg to win, but the 70-percent improvement was.

Winners all.

Virginia Tech’s car is a “split parallel” EREV. It uses batteries supplied by A123 – one of the several A-list sponsors for this conspicuous investment in American engineering talent. The cells can be recharged with house current. All-electric drive power comes from a rear axle-mounted 125 kW UQM permanent magnet electric motor with regenerative braking capability. After the battery power is depleted, the 2.4 L GM FlexFuel engine provides additional driving range via multi-speed automatic transmission on the front axle. A second 8 kW MES-DEA electric motor is used as a belted alternator starter to allow for engine idle-stop, electric energy generation, and engine loading.

Mutual benefit

The students are seen as some of the cutting edge future engineers this country so badly needs if it is to remain competitive, and they received a fair share of support from vendors.

Vendor participation had solid public relations value for the companies that supplied students with resources and materials their schools’ might not have otherwise been able to afford.

The ongoing consultation with real working professional engineers at GM was an equally big plus for the students, according to Connelly. While the primary goal was the students’ education, the deal was win-win, as GM and others learned in the process of working with fresh thinking on live projects. Undoubtedly it was especially worth it for GM and others which benefited from new hires culled from what amounted to a three-year job interview.

Perhaps GM even learned some things to employ in its own Voltec based SUV we reported as possibly due to be revealed next January in Detroit.

Surely GM engineers involved saw good, better and best approaches with such a variety of talented students given virtual carte blanche to improve the platform.

For more details, including build info on the rest of the cars, judging criteria, and much more, check the links below – particularly the downloadable pdf. Also Green Garage blog and EcoCAR Web site are good sources. Abundant photos on Flickr are linked as well.


Fisker Automotive selects EV Connect as exclusive EVSE services provider

EV Connect has entered into an exclusive services agreement with Fisker Automotive, makers of the Karma premium plug-in hybrid. Under the partnership, EV Connect will install and service electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) for Fisker Karma owners and 47 Fisker dealerships throughout the United States and Canada, providing electric vehicle (EV) readiness across the national network of Fisker retailers and buyers.

Before Fisker Karma owners leave the showroom floor, EV Connect will initiate the installation process for their Fisker-branded charging equipment for home or workplace charging. EV Connect’s automated system is fully integrated with Fisker Automotive’s CRM solution, jumpstarting the EVSE purchase order at the retailer.

EV Connect will serve as the turnkey infrastructure solution for Karma, shipping the charging equipment to the Karma’s owner, performing a home or workplace site assessment and installing the unit while taking care of all permitting requirements. EV Connect serves as the singular point of contact for the purchase and ongoing maintenance of all Fisker EVSE.

EV Connect provides turnkey electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure solutions for individuals, businesses and communities throughout North America.

Source: Green Car Congress

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

GM on making a pure electric vehicle: it's "on the table"

Chevrolet Sail Electric Concept Vehicle
Chevrolet Sail electric concept vehicle

General Motors' halo vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt, sort of blurs the line between a battery-only automobile and a plug-in hybrid. But, as we've pointed out before, the Volt resembles a plug-in Toyota Prius on steroids more so than it does a Nissan Leaf. Since the Volt is not a pure electric vehicle – in fact, it's not even close – and GM has taken swipes at pure EVs, the question is whether The General will ever roll out a pure electric vehicle?

For a vague answer to that question, we'll turn to the words of Dave Barthmuss, GM's western region group manager for environment and energy communications, who recently spoke at a panel entitled "Economic Case for EVs." Plugin Cars' Brad Berman attended the panel and says that his "ears perked up" when Barthmuss admitted that GM is actively working on hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles. Digging for more info, Berman asked Barthmuss if GM would actually launch a pure electric vehicle. Here's Barthmuss' reply:
We've always talked about looking into plug-in hybrids or taking the range extender out and making a battery electric. They're all on the table. It could be a Volt and we could take the range-extender out. The range extender is a wonderful solution, but there are some folks who might want a full-functioning battery electric car. And we have to look at these questions globally. We haven't said that we're doing it, and we haven't said we're not doing it.
So, there's the answer you've been looking for, right? Okay, not quite, but at least we now know that a pure electric vehicle might lie somewhere on GM's worldwide table.

Source: AutoBlog Green

Odyne Systems introduces new plug-in hybrid system for medium- and heavy-duty work trucks

Odyne’s plug-in hybrid system. Click to enlarge.

Waukesha based Odyne Systems, LLC, a manufacturer of hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty work trucks, introduced its new advanced hybrid propulsion system at the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference (EUFMC) in Williamsburg. The new parallel plug-in hybrid system features a Remy HVH250 electric motor—80 hp continuous, 110 hp peak—and a choice of 14 kWh or 28 kWh lithium-ion battery packs.

Odyne was formed in 2001 for the sole purpose of developing and producing electric and hybrid electric propulsion systems for Class 5, 6, 7 and 8 vehicles. In January 2009, Odyne’s assets were acquired by the parent company of DUECO, Inc. and Utility Equipment Leasing Corporation (UELC), and relocated to a production facility in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Earlier post.)

Odyne’s system is targeted to medium- and heavy-duty work trucks with extended stationary PTO job site functions. It is also the only plug-in hybrid system to power a gas compressor truck. The Odyne system provides launch assist and regenerative braking. Once stationary at the job site, work trucks are able to operate worksite equipment applications for up to several hours without using engine power, depending upon the application.

Examples of continuous minutes of all-electric operation
EquipmentPower (hp)14 kWh
Time (min)
29 kWh
Time (min)
Digger Derrick 54 39
60' Bucket truck 25 38 85
Articulating Telescopic Crane 14 66 147
40' Bucket Truck 9 106 325
Time may vary depending on application

The 300V parallel plug-in hybrid system can be applied to most new chassis or applied as a retrofit, and is compatible with most chassis over 14,000-lb GVW. No drive train modifications are required; the OEM chassis components can be serviced through the chassis manufacturer’s service network. The hybrid system propulsion components are placed within chassis frame rails for ease of body installation; battery packs are situated in a variety of locations to suit application. The electric motor can drive both a PTO and hydraulic pump.

This new system delivers improved performance for medium and large work vehicles. Odyne’s unique system helps reduce operating costs through higher efficiency, and depending on duty cycle, enables large trucks to obtain fuel economy improvements of up to 50%, compared to traditional diesel or gasoline engines. Odyne has developed proprietary and patent pending hybrid technology combining reliable electric power conversion, power control with advanced electric propulsion motors and modular lithium ion battery systems.

—Joe Dalum, President and Chief Executive Officer of Odyne Systems

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ford Transit Connect CNG taxis headed to LA, Chicago, Las Vegas and St. Louis

Ford Transit Connect CNG taxi
Ford Transit Connect compressed natural gas taxi – Click above for high-res image gallery

The next time you hail a cab in Chicago, IL or Los Angeles, CA you could be jumping into the back seat of a vehicle that's fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG). That's because in Chicago, Taxi Medallion Management will put a dozen Ford Transit Connect CNG taxis into service as part of an event celebrating the increased presence of CNG in the city. T. Boone Pickens will be there!

Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles-area, cab companies have ordered nearly 120 Ford Transit Connect CNG taxis. Other places are jumping on the CNG taxi bandwagon, too. In Connecticut, two cab companies have ordered a total of 70 CNG-fueled Transit Connect Taxis and soon, some CNG-burnin' Transits will ship out to Las Vegas, NV and St. Louis, MO. Even Philadelphia, PA is expected to join that list after city officials there approve the CNG-fueled people-hauling machine for taxi service.

Source: Autoblog Green

Interview With Geoff Allison - Smith Electric Vehicles - VIDEO

Smith Electric Vehicles interview with Geoff Allison:

Renault and Better Place partner in Australia to launch Fluence Z.E. with switchable battery in 2012

Renault Fluence Z.E.

Renault and Better Place formed a strategic partnership in Australia, expanding their global relationship. Under this agreement, Renault will import the first electric car equipped with a switchable battery, the Fluence Z.E., into Australia, and Better Place will provide the electric car charging network and services that make the car more convenient and affordable for the mass market.

Renault and Better Place will commence a joint marketing campaign in the lead up to launch in 2012. The cars will arrive in Australia by the middle of 2012 for the first customers in Canberra, with general sales due to commence later in the year. Customers will buy the Fluence Z.E. from Renault and sign up for a Better Place membership package that is tailored for their driving needs.

As the first production mid-size sedan electric vehicle, Renault Fluence Z.E. is targeting both private motorists and fleet operators who are looking for a vehicle that is both economical to run and more respectful of the environment.

The switchable battery technology offsets the range limitation of traditional EVs, as a depleted battery can be exchanged for a fully charged one at Better Place’s fully automated battery switch stations. The car will be fully compliant with ADR. The Fluence Z.E. will offer Australian drivers a range of 185 kilometers (115 miles) on a full charge, under the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

Better Place is building and operating the first fully integrated electric car charging network in Australia, and it will be the infrastructure provider for the innovative Fluence Z.E. Better Place has announced its plans to begin the deployment of its infrastructure in Canberra, Australia’s capital city, starting in late 2011, with a progressive national rollout to follow. By 2013, Better Place says it will give Australia the largest electric car charge network in the world, which is expected to outpace current deployment plans in market-leading countries including the US and China.

The Better Place membership provides unlimited access to batteries, the network of public charge spots and battery switch stations, and personal charge spots at home or work. The membership also includes supply of 100% renewable electricity, personalized energy management and navigation services via in-car and network software and 24-hour access to customer service and support. The membership packages give drivers a fixed price for their mobility, freeing them form the constant volatility of gasoline prices.

Customers will be able to purchase Fluence Z.E. in selected Renault dealers, as well as through Better Place Experience Centres. Most Renault dealers will provide after sales support for Fluence Z.E., both for regular service and specific repairs.

Australian homes have an average of 2.7 cars per household and one million new passenger and light commercial vehicles are sold every year. Average fuel consumption is 11 L/100 km (21.4 mpg US) and average mileage 20,000 to 25,000 km (12,400 to 15,500 miles) a year.

Electric mobility is a key strategic move from Renault. Together with Nissan, Renault will be investing 4 billion euros in electric cars. Fluence Z.E. is the first electric car that enables virtually unlimited mileage, thanks to the battery swap technology. It will be sold everywhere in Europe and together with Better Place, in Israel and Denmark. We think Fluence Z.E., together with Better Place switch stations, will be a very attractive offer for Australian customers, who traditionally commute long distances.

—Thierry Koskas, Renault’s VP for Electric Vehicle program

Source: Green Car Congress

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Renault-Nissan Alliance opens Silicon Valley research office


The automotive group's Mountain View facility will focus on vehicle IT, advanced engineering research, and technology recruitment.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance will open a research office later this month in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Directly across from the Google campus and minutes from leading hardware and software companies, the offices in Mountain View will allow one of the world's largest automotive groups to capitalize on the region's world-class engineering talent and stay ahead of trends that are reshaping the way people interact with their cars.

The office will build staff organically to focus on specific projects and business developments as they emerge. Small, highly efficient teams will initially work on vehicle IT development, advanced engineering research and technology recruitment.

"The Alliance is at the vanguard of the auto industry's shift to sustainable transportation. Having a greater footprint in one of the world's headquarters for clean tech research will extend our lead further," said Carlos Ghosn, CEO and Chairman of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, who is giving a talk at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) today. Ghosn's "Clean Cars" presentation at Stanford will focus on how and why zero-emission technologies is leading to unprecedented opportunities in the auto industry and economy.

Created in 1999, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is a unique partnership between two of the largest automakers in Europe and Japan. Renault and Nissan, which together employ more than 350,000 workers, sold 7.2 million cars in 2010 – about one in 10 cars worldwide. Paris-based Renault and Yokohama-based Nissan collaborate through joint purchasing, platform sharing and cross-shareholding. They maintain separate brands and cultural identities.

$5.4 Billion Commitment to Sustainable Mobility
The Nissan LEAF, which debuted last year, is the world's first affordable, mass-marketed pure electric vehicle, and it's the first product from the Alliance's $5.4 billion investment in zero-emission cars. Upcoming debuts include an Infiniti premium electric sedan, the Renault Twizy urban commuter car for Europe, and utility vans for commercial fleets. All can be charged purely with renewable energy, for 100 percent zero emissions "well to wheel."

Nissan will use the Silicon Valley office to focus on vehicle IT research, including graphical user-interface displays, in-car Internet connectivity and smart-grid research. Nissan's "Carwings" telematics system, a standard in every Nissan LEAF, includes a seven-inch touchscreen with maps of recharging stations and real-time reports on energy consumption. Nissan has delivered more than 7,500 LEAFs worldwide.

Renault, one of the largest carmakers in Europe, will be launching a broad range of affordable, zero-emission cars for overseas markets. Renault Fluence ZE, which debuts later this year in Europe and the Middle East, has a folding floor that enables a battery swap in less time than it takes to fill a car with gasoline. The Renault Twizy ZE is a two-seat urban commuter car, and the Renault Kangoo ZE is a utility van that is convenient and cost-effective for deliveries and other fleet uses.

Renault's Silicon Valley work will focus on research and advanced engineering, in particular electric vehicles and their supplier and infrastructure ecosystem, on-board services and business development.

Renault-Nissan Alliance is a strategic partnership between Paris-based Renault and Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan. The companies have 350,000 employees and account for one in 10 new cars sold annually around the world. The Alliance is committed to developing a wide range of cars and trucks for consumers in every major price and size segment -- including low-cost cars, urban commuter cars, commercial vans, premium vehicles and SUVs. The Alliance is the global auto industry leader in sustainable transportation and the only car group mass-producing zero-emission vehicles. For more details, visit

225 car2go vehicles deploy in Vancouver for car-sharing service

A fleet of 225 car2go smart “car2go edition” vehicles in Vancouver, British Columbia, is now ready for use in the free-floating carsharing service. Vancouver is Canada’s first city to host the car2go service, in which cars have no reservations time limits, and members are allowed to make one-way trips instead of returning cars to their pickup location.

Since the announcement, approximately 2,000 Vancouverites have registered and received their membership cards. Members could begin driving the vehicles starting Saturday 18 June. car2go has extended the free registration period (a $35 value) until 3 July.

Members can rent a car2go “on-demand” or reserve a vehicle up to 24 hours in advance. The car2go vehicles that are readily available to be driven can be viewed on the internet or with a smartphone app, and can be driven for as long as needed without committing to a return time.

To end the rental, a driver leaves the vehicle at any “permit only” on-street parking spot in downtown or residential neighborhoods within the defined business area, or in one of the specially marked car2go parking spaces.

Members pay for what they use by the minute with discounted rates for hourly and daily use and are only charged for the time they use the car2go. Rates include fuel, parking, mileage, insurance, maintenance and GPS navigation.

car2go now has a global network of more than 40,000 members and 1,000 smart vehicles. car2go says it will further expand in other North American and European cities in 2011.

Source: Green Car Congress

A Few More Details about Honda’s Upcoming Plug-in Hybrid

Honda announced at last year’s L.A. auto show that it make and sell an all-electric Honda Fit, as well as a full-size sedan using plug-in hybrid technology. The Fit should make a fantastic platform for a pure EV, but we haven’t had many details about what the plug-in hybrid will look like, or its features. This week’s Automotive News fills in a few of those blanks, while leaving lots of questions unanswered.

For all the promise of plug-in hybrid technology—offering a lot of electric driving capabilities, but still providing driving range on par with an ICE car—there are only two competing designs: the Chevy Volt with a relatively large battery pack, and a Prius Plug-in Hybrid with a smaller pack and a blended approach to using electric and gas. The Honda system bears more resemblance to Toyota’s approach.

Here are a few snippets about Honda’s entry into the plug-in hybrid market.

Platform – Honda is currently using an Accord as a test platform. The Accord was modified with an aluminum hood as well as other unspecified weight reductions. The plug-in hybrid still weighs 330 pounds more than the gas version of the Accord.

Battery & Range – Its 6 kWh lithium ion battery pack is placed behind the back seat, and encroaches upon the truck space. It’s about the size of a “suitcase,” and currently configured to run up to 62 mph in all-electric mode for about 15 miles, which Honda believes will “satisfy about 70 percent of its users.”

System – The large sedan plug-in hybrid will use a two motor system (unlike Honda’s current single motor hybrid system). The traction motor is 120 kilowatts (compared to Volt’s 111 kW). It’s combined with a 2-liter four-cylinder engine and a CVT transmission.

Sales Target - According to Automotive News, Honda’s new larger two-motor hybrid system—which comes out first as a plug-in hybrid but will also be used on conventional hybrids as well—will help the company expand hybrid sales from its current 5 percent take rate, to around 10 percent of global sales by 2015.

Source: Plugin Cars

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Remy awarded electric motor contract by ALTe

Remy HVH 250Plug-in hybrid conversion specialist ALTe Powertrain Technologies says that it has inked a three-year deal with Remy Electric Motors. Terms of the agreement call for Remy's HVH 250 electric motor (sure seems like this powerhouse of a motor is used in a fair amount of vehicles) to provide motive power and act as an on-board generator for ALTe's converted plug-in vehicles. Technically speaking, ALTe calls their system a "range-extended electric powertrain." We'll call it a plug-in hybrid.

ALTe will develop plug-in hybrids for the commercial, government and utility fleet industry. Initially, the conversion specialist will focus solely on light- to medium-duty delivery trucks, vans and shuttle buses. ALTe claims that its electric propulsion systems can be installed in less than 14 hours and says that its powertrain will provide up to 30 miles of electric-only range, followed by an estimated 275 miles in charge-sustaining mode. ALTe says that Job Number 1 will roll out in the spring of 2012.

Source: Autoblog Green

Volkswagen rolling out test fleet of 80 Golf Blue-e-motions

Volkswagen Golf Blue-e-motion
2014 Volkswagen Golf Blue-e-motion – Click above for high-res image gallery

Volkswagen has begun to deliver its second batch of Golf Blue-e-motion test vehicles to customers in Germany. Of the 80 plug-in Golfs hitting the streets, 53 will be handed over to individuals and businesses in Berlin with the rest headed for Hannover and Wolfsburg.

The electric Golfs will be distributed to businesses, public institutions, private motorists and corporations. Companies participating in the Blue-e-motion field tests include Coca-Cola, Continental, Deutsche Bahn AG and Deutsche Telekom AG.

Rudolf Krebs, VW's chief officer for electric traction, released this statement:
The Golf blue-e-motion fleet ... is an important milestone within our development plans for electric mobility. It allows us at this stage to secure all aspects regarding technical detail, everyday drive-ability and user requirements ahead of series production.
Speaking of series production, VW says that the Golf Blue-e-motion will hit U.S. turf as a lease-only vehicle in 2014.

Source: Autoblog Green

Friday, June 17, 2011

Honda Launches 71 mgp Fit Shuttle in Japan - Possibly Headed to US

honda fit hybrid shuttle photo
Photo: Honda

You Can Fit More Stuff and More People...
The Honda Fit is turning out to be quite the versatile little car. After the hybrid version and the electric version, Honda is now launching - in Japan only for now - the Shuttle and Shuttle hybrid versions. Honda's real coup was keeping fuel economy for the compact wagon equal to the non-Shuttle Fit by improving things like engine friction and front brake drag, and this in both the hybrid and non-hybrid versions.

Honda Fit image
Photo: Honda

  • The Fit Shuttle features a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine and offers best-in-class fuel economy of 18.6 km/litre as measured in JC08 mode and 20 km/litre as measured in 10・15 mode - the same as the Fit.
  • The Fit Shuttle Hybrid features Honda's original compact, lightweight hybrid system, 1.3-litre i-VTEC engine plus IMA (Integrated Motor Assist), and offers fuel economy of 25.0 km/litre as measured in JC08 mode and 30 km/litre as measured in 10・15 mode - the same as the Fit Hybrid.

If you convert the 30 km/liter in the JC08 Japanese test-cycle in US miles per gallon, you get 71 MPG. Of course, the EPA's test methodology usually gives lower results than the Japanese one, but it's still a pretty impressive number.

honda fit hybrid shuttle photo
Photo: Honda

The Fit Shuttle offers a combined 590 liters of cargo space above and below the floor. The Fit Shuttle Hybrid offers the same cabin space as the Fit Shuttle, as well as cargo capacity of 517 liters.

Pricing of the Fit Shuttle starts at ¥1,610,000 (US$19,900), and the Fit Shuttle Hybrid starts at ¥1,810,000 (US$22,400). Honda's initial sales target is 4,000 units per month.

No word yet on when it will be available in North-America or Europe, or at what price.

Source: Treehugger