Sunday, July 31, 2011

Prius Coupe Set for 2014 Lauch

The Prius family is growing again. Toyota is already set to bring the seven-seater Prius Plus to UK showrooms early next year – but Auto Express can reveal that it’s also planning to launch a trio of all-new models in the next three years as it moves to turn the Prius into a standalone brand. This bold step will see hybrids sold through specific dealers by 2014.

That’s when the replacement for the current Prius saloon is due to arrive, and our illustrations show the cars that will join it in these new franchises. Readers may be familiar with the first of these, as the Prius C was previewed by the striking Prius C Concept at the Detroit Motor Show in January.

Gone are the blade-like headlamps and distinctive LED running lights seen on the car on the stands. The bold indent running down the flanks has also been axed, as the production C takes on a more conservative design. The idea remains the same, though, with the compact five-door hatch providing a new entry point to the Prius brand and competing with smaller hybrids like Honda’s Insight and CR-Z.

With its compact dimensions and low kerbweight, as well as its combination of a 1.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, the C will be the most efficient Prius. It’s set to deliver economy well in excess of 80mpg. But if you thought the new Prius brand wouldn’t be exciting, think again – a two-door performance hybrid is also earmarked for 2014.

The Sports Coupe is based on a rear-wheel-drive platform taken from the next Lexus GS. It will get a new plug-in hybrid set-up featuring lithium-ion batteries, and be offered with a manual gearbox. Also set to debut in 2014 is a Prius SUV. This high-riding model has been rumoured since the Hybrid X Concept was seen at 2007’s Geneva Motor Show, and it’s set to be based on the Toyota RAV4.

Our sources say it will be the most efficient car in its class, and offer the latest Hybrid Synergy Drive set-up or a version of the Sports Coupe’s plug-in drivetrain.

Source: AutoExpress

Opel may launch new flagship model with fuel cell system

Opel/Vauxhall has started work on a new flagship model that will launch at the end of 2016 or early 2017, company sources told Automotive News Europe. The car may come to market with alternative powertrains such as a fuel cell system to help boost Opel's green image.

According to internal plans, Opel's management board sees an annual sales potential of about 20,000 units. The new model will be positioned above the company's Insignia midsized car.

Klaus Franz, Opel deputy chairman and the company's top labor official, said the flagship should be a "technological spearhead" for the brand with hybrid and fuel-cell propulsion systems and lots of other state-of-the-art technologies.

"Already with the our Ampera electric vehicle, we have shown what we are able to do and enjoy an advantage of two to three years compared to the competition," Franz told ANE.

Franz said unions will press for the car to be built in Germany. "The workers representatives will support this project to the fullest. A flagship like this can only be built on the Epsilon 2 architecture with long wheelbase. We will do everything to build this car at our headquarters in Ruesselsheim, rather than Mexico or elsewhere," he said.

Franz sees annual sales of 20,000 for the model as realistic for Opel/Vauxhall in and outside Europe.

He said it is unlikely to be possible to launch the flagship, which is internally called the TOL (top-of-the-line), before 2016 because of other priorities, such as introducing a new minicar codenamed Junior, as well as new Astra-based convertible and coupe models and a small SUV. "The TOL is a luxury," he said.

In May, Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke said the company was mulling a new flagship model that would improve the brand's image. He told a Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the car would be a crossover between SUV and station wagon, with an attractive design, high functionality and premium features.

An Opel spokesman declined to comment to ANE on the company's future product plans.

Virginia governor signs executive order calling for state's transition to alternative-fuel vehicles

Roush Ford F-150

In a bold and sort of unexpected move, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has signed an executive order calling for widespread use of natural gas, electric or other alternative-fueled vehicles throughout the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Office of Fleet Management Services, which oversees approximately 4,000 passenger-type vehicles used by some 175 state agencies and institutions, will be tasked with replacing much of its fleet with alternative-fuel vehicles.

Effective immediately, Virginia is to, "pursue all practicable and cost-effective options to promote the use of alternative fuel vehicles." Increased use of alternative fuel vehicles holds, according to Governor McDonnel, the potential to, "reduce our dependence on foreign oil, support the expansion of private-sector businesses and create new jobs here in the Commonwealth."

Governor McDonnell says the state's "all fuel approach" provides the Commonwealth with the best opportunity to meet its goals. Hit the jump to check out Virginia's approved list of alt-fuel vehicles.

Source: Autoblog Green

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lux Research Ranks Energy Storage Suppliers for Electric Vehicles


The Lux Innovation Grid shows the top innovators, as looming oversupply of batteries makes forming smart partnerships essential.

The hype around electric vehicles has fueled interest in energy storage technologies, and has attracted an increasing number of competitors to an already crowded market. Soon, it will be impossible for all of these companies to survive, making strong partnerships a necessity. In its latest report, Lux Research ranks technology developers in both Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors on the Lux Innovation Grid to help determine which will make the strongest potential partners as the electric vehicle market matures.

"The electric vehicle value chain is growing so integrated that battery makers must have strong partnerships with one or more automakers"

The report, titled "Using Partnerships to Stay Afloat in the Electric Vehicle Storm," maps the current web of relationships among energy storage developers, integrators, and automakers, and analyzes supply and demand for energy storage in electric vehicles. It then ranks companies on the Lux Innovation Grid, a proprietary framework to help readers assess the relative performance of potential partners.

"The electric vehicle value chain is growing so integrated that battery makers must have strong partnerships with one or more automakers," said Kevin See, a Lux Analyst and the report's lead author. "These relationships are necessary to build credibility and drive new business, as illustrated by Li-ion battery-maker LG Chem, whose strong partnerships propelled it to the top position in our rankings."

To assess the partnership potential of energy storage developers targeting the electric vehicle market, Lux Research assigned scores for each company's technical value, business execution, and maturity. Based on these scores, analysts plotted each company's relative potential on the Lux Innovation Grid, which comprises four quadrants: Dominant, High-Potential, Long-Shot, and Undistinguished. Among the report's highlights:

LG Chem Power leads the Li-ion battery-maker pack. LG Chemical subsidiary LG Chem Power sits atop the grid's Dominant quadrant, with strong technical value, due to its high-energy lithium-manganese-spinel-based cells and strong cycle life – at costs that are among the most competitive in the market. Its multitude of supply partnerships with the likes of GM, Eaton, and Ford, however, are what justify the company's strong business execution score.
A123 and Ener1 garner more headlines than momentum. Media darlings A123 and Ener1 land well out of the Dominant quadrant of the Lux Innovation Grid. Motivated by the potential for major automotive supply deals, both were originally building significant manufacturing capacity. But despite a few minor partnerships, neither has scored a major deal that will drive significant revenue.

Among supercapacitor suppliers, Maxwell stands alone. Maxwell leads the Dominant quadrant of the Lux Innovation Grid for supercapacitors. Its high score for technical value derives from cost competitiveness and strong device performance, while its high business execution score stems from multiple partnerships – among them, supply deals for applications including hybrid buses and micro-hybrids, and more recently in starter modules for commercial diesel vehicles.

"Using Partnerships to Stay Afloat in the Electric Vehicle Storm," is part of the Lux Electric Vehicles Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Electric Vehicles Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.

About Lux Research

Lux Research provides strategic advice and on-going intelligence for emerging technologies. Leaders in business, finance and government rely on us to help them make informed strategic decisions. Through our unique research approach focused on primary research and our extensive global network, we deliver insight, connections and competitive advantage to our clients. Visit for more information.

New CAFE rules for 2025: How 54.5 mpg generates a lot of numbers (and opposition from VW)

lisa jackson epa

Following the big CAFE announcement this morning – which called for a 54.5 mpg fuel economy standard by model year 2025 – EPA administrator Lisa Jackson (pictured) gave a bit more information on how the proposal will affect the vehicle landscape in the U.S. She said that there is no expected percentage of what kinds of powertrains (diesel or plug-in or more efficient gasoline engines) will make up the fleet of vehicles sold in 2025, just that the rule requires those vehicles need to be cleaner than the ones produced today. Jackson told AutoblogGreen that gasoline and diesel vehicles "are treated the same" under the new proposal, something that Volkswagen is not too happy about since diesel doesn't get any of the miles per gallon equivalency incentives, the way that plug-in and fuel cell vehicles do. The EPA says that the proposal also gives, "Credits for technologies with potential to achieve real-world CO2 reductions and fuel economy improvements that are not captured by the standards test procedures," that's apparently not good enough for VW. The White House proposal also gives a lot of love to big trucks, and Jackson said that, "full-size pickups are where we decided to make some accommodations," since that segment is running a bit behind the rest of the industry in terms of getting better fuel economy.

We also gathered a few numbers from various press releases that were put out today. There have been a some negative comments issued (see VW and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, below), but most are positive:
  • Savings to the consumer of $1.7 trillion at the pump (Source: EPA)
  • Alternate number: Savings of $107 billion at the pump (Ceres)
  • Savings of $8,000 per vehicle by 2025 (EPA)
  • A loss of $65 billion in federal funding for state and local highway, bridge and transit improvements (ARTBA)
  • The entire program will save 12 billion barrels of oil (EPA)
  • By 2025, oil consumption should be reduced by 2.2 million barrels a day (EPA)
  • 54.5 mpg is the same as 163 grams per mile of CO2 emissions
  • 54.5 mpg "would create roughly 484,00 jobs nationwide" (Ceres)

Source: Autoblog Green

Friday, July 29, 2011

Volt production to be at 5,000 per month by January

Recently General Motors conceded it began 2011 Volt roll out too conservatively, but aims to catch up with its now-in-production 2012s to the Nissan LEAF as soon as possible.

“It’s fair to say GM underestimated demand for the Volt,” said Volt Line Director Tony Posawatz. “By January, the capacity we need will be online.”

That capacity at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant is expected to be 5,000 Volts per month, which by the way, is more than GM has sold to date.

A Volt on the line at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

It was expected these kinds of numbers would be announced for calendar year 2012 to meet GM’s commitment to produce 60,000 Volts and Amperas for worldwide sales next year. Of these, three-fourths will go to the U.S. market with the rest divvied up among Chevrolet’s other markets.

Nonetheless, this will be a significant year-over-year increase for the new kind of car, and GM is now expected to be on better footing to compete with Nissan’s all-electric LEAF.

According to the latest end-of-month tallies, Chevrolet’s Volt trails Nissan’s LEAF, having sold 2,745 Volts compared to 3,875.

In fact, these are only the U.S. numbers, which is all GM has had for the U.S.-only Volt, but Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn recently said that 10,100 LEAFs have been delivered worldwide.

Thus, if anyone is keeping score, Nissan is really well ahead in getting it LEAF in the hands of drivers.

All this said – and as we independently observed not long ago – it is not even a race yet. This week our intuitive analysis was confirmed by at least one professional analyst in an interview with Bloomberg.

When will the real race be on? It will start in 2012, said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive, a firm based in Lexington, Mass.

“This is very much about supply constraints as opposed to a sales race,” Lindland said. “Next year will really show true demand for these kinds of cars and which one wins.”

Volts share the road with some other low emission vehicles at a GM event in Brazil.

Bloomberg reported that both vehicles are actually in short supply and both companies have thousands of people in various regions on waiting lists.

As new models of both pure electric and electric-plus-gas-generator equipped vehicles come online to add to the fray, in question will be which approach gets the most votes.

Will it be EVs or extended-range EVs?

And for those who believe the Volt will be the winner, will the 45,000 units for U.S. delivery be enough? Further, will 15,000 Volts and Amperas for the rest of the world be enough to meet that expected demand? Or will it be their turn to wait as Americans have all year under the circumstances of having some Volts, but with excessively pinched availability?

On this supply question, yesterday we asked GM Spokesman Rob Peterson whether Detroit-Hamtramck could significantly escalate production mid-year if GM determined market conditions would allow for more than the forecast production.

“We’re not publicly discussing production capacity or forecasts beyond 2012 at this time,” Peterson said. “The fact that we provided forecasts for 2011 and 2012 is highly unusual for the industry, but publicly stated as part of the transparent communications approach.”

Although he could not offer the information we asked for, Peterson did clarify another issue. Since Chevrolet has said it would produce 10,000 Volts for the U.S. market in 2011, and we know it has not sold nearly that many but has started producing 2012s already, we asked him to confirm that Chevrolet is counting 2012 Volts built from July onward toward the 2011 total.

Peterson said this the case – Chevrolet built fewer than 4,000 2011 model year Volts, and the rest of 16,000 Volts to be distributed worldwide this year are to be 2012s, albeit built in 2011.

“We produced 3,900-plus 2011 Volts. Roughly 500 were sent to dealers as demos, 200 for internal purposes and the remainder delivered to dealerships (fewer than 100 remain unsold),” Peterson said. “We will produce 16,000 Volts in calendar year 2011 – 12,000 of which will be 2012 model years.”

The same scenario will be true next year he said. In short, Chevrolet is counting the widely published “60,000″ 2012 Volts and Amperas due for global distribution based on units made during the 2012 calendar year. He did not disclose when the 2013 model year will begin, but, he said, “60,000 includes both 2012 and 2013 model year vehicles.”


Emerald Automotive wants to build hybrid delivery van in Missouri - VIDEO

Emerald Automotive Delivery Van
Emerald Automotive delivery van – Click above to watch video after the jump

Hazelwood, MO will apparently soon be adding hundreds of manufacturing jobs to the region thanks to Emerald Automotive, a recent startup that designs and wants to build electric and diesel powered delivery vans there. Before selecting Hazelwood as their North American manufacturing hub, Emerald Automotive looked at locations in 24 other U.S. states. Some of the reasons for selecting Hazelwood were a skilled and available labor force – a Ford plant once operated in the city – and significant financial incentives.

Specific details on the lightweight delivery van are scarce at the moment, but we do know it will contain a hybrid-electric drivetrain and use an aluminum chassis from Lotus. In a setup similar to a Chevy Volt, the van will run on electric power and have a range extender, possibly a diesel engine. According to Emerald Automotive executive Sharon Heaton, a total range of 475 miles is possible with a diesel, although no mention is made of how big a gas tank they were using. Other possibilities include using a range extender that runs on gas, CNG or biofuels.
With the city of Hazelwood planning on loaning $3 million and the state another $2 million, we sincerely hope the company becomes a success and not a repeat of Green Vehicles.

Source: Autoblog Green

Official: BMW i3 and i8 revealed - VIDEO

BMW i3 and i8

We've just touched down in Frankfurt to get all the details on BMW's new electric cars, but before we get into the nitty-gritty of BMW i, its philosophy and the engineering behind it, here's a brief introduction to the first two models, the i3 and i8. Officially, the two artfully greenhoused cars seen above are 'concepts,' but they're actually anything but. Click through to the jump to read all about them.

UPDATE: Added a few live images, along with the first promo vid. More to come.

[Source: BMW]

BMW i3BMW i3


Originally teased as the MegaCity concept, the BMW i3 will be the first vehicle produced under the i brand when it arrives next year. Two structures make up both the i3 and i8's LifeDrive architecture – predictably, the Life and Drive modules.

As its name would suggest, the Life part of the equation is what contains the driver and passengers, and the platforms have been individually developed for each model. In the case of the i3, a lightweight body structure is made up of a combination of aluminum and carbon fiber-reinforced plastics, with the Drive module mounted underneath, obviating the need for a transmission tunnel and allowing BMW to install two bench seats for four occupants in the front and back while providing 200 liters (7.06 cubic-feet) of storage.

BMW i3

Underneath that lightweight body lies the Drive system, comprised of the suspension, battery and drivetrain, along with structural and safety components. A liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery back spans the undercarriage and supplies juice to an electric motor mounted directly above the rear-drive axle. Yup, this a rear-wheel-drive EV hatchback, with the motor putting out 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque through a single-speed gearbox. BMW claims the i3 can reach an electronically limited top speed of 93 miles per hour and make the run from 0-60 in under eight seconds.

An available PRO ECO mode tweaks the throttle and electronics to boost efficiency, and braking regeneration feeds kinetic energy back into the battery pack. Remarkably, BMW also claims that you can charge the battery back to full in six hours using a standard power socket and the i3's batteries can get to 80 percent in one hour using a high-speed charger (we'll be getting more details on both very soon).

If battery power isn't enough for you, the i3 will be available with a range-extending internal combustion engine (dubbed REx) further down the road, although BMW hasn't divulged the exact displacement or how much additional range it will include beyond the projected 80-100 miles on electric power alone.

BMW i8


If a rear-drive, EV hatchback doesn't stoke your enthusiast flames, then the i8 might be more to your tastes.

Unlike the standard i3, the i8 will be a plug-in hybrid, with a turbocharged, 1.5-liter three-cylinder powerplant mounted up front and putting out 220 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. Combined with the electric motor, the run from 0-60 mph is claimed to blow by in under five seconds, with fuel consumption estimated at three liters per 100 kilometers and seven liters per 100 clicks when driven like... well, a BMW.

The three-pot works in tandem with a lithium-ion battery pack and front-mounted electric motor pulled from the i3 and driving the front wheels, allowing an electric-only range of up to 20 miles on a charge. Put both systems together and you've got a front-wheel-drive vehicle for maximum efficiency, a rear-driver for maximum fun and all-wheel drive for maximum grip. And if that isn't enticing enough, the i8 has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution.

We'll have more about both models and the i brand as a whole in the coming days, but in the meantime, check out the gallery below for the first official eyeful.

Source: Autoblog Green

Canada awards C$4.5M to two electric drive research projects; part of C$53M in new funding for 17 clean tech projects from SDTC

Canada will invest C$17M (US$17.9 million) from Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) SD Tech Fund in 17 new clean technology projects in the areas of agriculture, transportation, mining and energy. The awards include C$3.1 million (US$3.3 million) to a consortium led by TM4 Inc. in Boucherville to develop a new electric drive system for a bus, and C$1.2 million (US$1.3 million) to a consortium led by LaCima Corp in Vancouver to develop and ultracapacitor/Li-ion battery hybrid energy storage system for electric vehicles.

TM4. The TM4-led consortium, which includes Centre National du Transport Avancé and Nova Bus, will develop a mid-sized, 200 kW drivetrain and NEURΦ control system that builds on its current technology. This new drivetrain will have almost twice the energy density of current incumbent induction-based motors, while having the potential to be cost competitive with any leading induction or permanent magnet motor alternatives.

The project will specifically demonstrate TM4’s technology in an all-electric bus being developed by a consortium of companies led by Nova Bus (Volvo). The project also aims to develop a prototype pilot production line for the automated assembly of such systems.

LaCima Corp. The LaCima consortium, which also includes Fiat Central Research (CRF), Arcotronics Industries and E-One Moli Energy, is designing a new type of Energy Storage System (ESS) which consists of a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery with an integrated ultracapacitor. By supplying short bursts of power needed for rapid acceleration, torque-assistance, hill climbing and engine starts and absorbing energy more quickly to facilitate regenerative braking, this technology has the potential to maintain or extend driving range while reducing the size of the battery.

The prismatic cells that LaCima will be using in the ultracapacitor are also more compact than the conventional cylindrical format and their manufacture can be more easily automated, leading to reduced cost for high volume production.

The SDTC project will focus on increasing the capacitance of LaCima’s prismatic cell ultracapacitor and increasing its voltage to better match the cell voltage of the Li-ion battery. The aim is to further augment the energy density and to simplify the integration of an ultracapacitor and a Li-ion battery into an ESS and in doing so, provide an efficient means to meet the performance and cost requirements for EVs. The consortium plans to field trial their ultracapacitor ESS technology in a hybrid electric Fiat 500.

Source: Green Car Congress

Thursday, July 28, 2011

GNA Selected by American Honda to Promote the Honda Civic Natural Gas Sedan


National environmental consulting firm will support market development for the Honda light-duty natural gas vehicle-the world's cleanest internal combustion engine vehicle

July 19, 2011 - Santa Monica, CA - National environmental consulting firm Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA) announced today that it has been selected by American Honda Motor Company (Honda) to promote the newly redesigned Honda Civic Natural Gas sedan. GNA is widely recognized for its efforts in leading the successful deployment of clean, alternative fuel transportation projects across the U.S.

GNA will collaborate with Honda to market the Civic Natural Gas sedan in 19 states spanning the Mid-West to Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions including the District of Columbia. The project will be managed by GNA's East Coast office, based in New York City.

GNA chief executive officer Erik Neandross stated, "GNA is extremely fortunate to have played a role in managing the deployment of a number of nationally recognized NGV projects. We are excited to work with American Honda to promote its Honda Civic Natural Gas sedan, which is the nation's leading light-duty natural gas vehicle product."

Newly redesigned for 2012, the Honda Civic Natural Gas sedan (previously known as the Honda Civic GX) is the world's cleanest internal combustion engine vehicle. The Civic Natural Gas is available in 33 states and will soon be available to consumers in five additional states by the end of the 2011 calendar year with production numbers growing in response to high consumer and fleet demand. With high gasoline prices nationwide, the Honda Civic Natural Gas offers consumers a cleaner transportation alternative that is also cost effective. Purchase incentives currently pending under legislation HR 1380, the NAT GAS Act, would create an even more favorable scenario for the purchase of NGVs with tax credits for vehicle and fuel purchases as well as fleet or home refueling stations.

The Civic Natural Gas is the only OEM-built, compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered passenger car assembled in the U.S. It is built on the same assembly line as the gasoline-powered Civic four-door models at Honda's Greensburg, Indiana manufacturing facility. The Civic Natural Gas is the only vehicle certified by the EPA to meet both Federal Tier 2 Bin 2 and Inherently Low Emission Vehicle (ILEV) zero evaporative emission certification standards. The Civic Natural Gas has earned recognition from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) as the "greenest vehicle of 2010" for the seventh consecutive year.

Purchase incentives for the Honda Natural Gas sedan are currently-pending under federal legislation HR 1380, the NAT GAS Act, which would create tax credits for natural gas vehicle and fuel purchases as well as fleet or home refueling stations.

As an inherently clean-burning fuel, natural gas produces 75 percent fewer smog forming pollutants (oxides of nitrogen) compared to the output of a conventional gasoline engine. Natural gas is also an abundant, domestically sourced fuel that is approximately 30 percent less expensive than gasoline when purchased at a public access CNG refueling station.

About American Honda Motor Company, Inc.

American Honda is glad to do its part to develop sustainable transportation options, striving to be a leader and a company "society wants to exist." Named America's "Greenest Automaker" for the fifth consecutive time by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), American Honda continues to pioneer leading edge technologies to benefit the environment and address energy diversity issues. Among its alternative fuel vehicle offerings are: the Honda Civic Natural Gas, the cleanest internal combustion vehicle in the world (according to the U.S. EPA) and the greenest vehicle in the United States (according to ACEEE); and, the FCX Clarity, the first CARB- and EPA-certified hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle. Scheduled in 2012 to join this environmentally–responsible line-up in the United States are the Fit EV and a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

About Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA)

With headquarters in Santa Monica, California, and in New York, New York, GNA is one of the nation's leading environmental consulting firms specializing in emission reduction, energy and transportation policy, carbon management, and market development for clean, alternative fuel and efficient vehicle technologies. GNA works with businesses, governments and communities to expand markets for environmentally responsible products and services and to develop strategies and raise awareness about projects and technologies that promote a sustainable economy, environment and communities. Over the last 15 years, GNA has successfully secured over $210 million on behalf of its clients and the multiple clean energy and transportation technology projects on which it has collaborated.

Touring the Better Place Visitor Center in Tel Aviv

A quick spin in the Laguna EV at the epicenter of the Better Place project

Renault Laguna EV

Ask any addict why they don't quit, and they'll probably tell you it comes down to one sticking point. The addiction could be to caffeine or cocaine, but whatever the excuse – from work stress and social factors to depression or a general lack of willpower – addicts always have something to blame for their continued use.

The same could be argued for oil addiction. Because when it comes down to it, there really is only one sticking point that prevents a world dependent on petroleum from switching to electric vehicles. It's not about availability, because as any economics student (or drug dealer) will tell you, supply always catches up to demand. It's not about the source of the electricity, or the production and disposal of batteries. More than any other reason, oil addicts blame range anxiety.

For drivers used to getting into their cars and hitting the open road, range is a commodity we're just not willing to give up. While battery technology is constantly improving, it's still a long way from matching the range you can get on a full tank of gas and an endless chain of pump stations. But there's one company that says they've found the solution... or at least a stop-gap. One that could get the world's drivers off of gasoline and on the road to electric propulsion. We headed out to Tel Aviv to see what they were up to. (Continue reading...)

Photos Copyright 2011 Noah Joseph / AOL

Now, Israel is a country that's no stranger to the news, but the automotive section is hardly where you'd expect to find it. That's because, while its tech sector is burgeoning with more NASDAQ-listed companies than any country outside North America, the fledgling Mediterranean enclave has no automotive industry to speak of, and – in stark contrast to its neighbors – no oil, either (recent natural gas discoveries notwithstanding).

What's brought Israel to the attention of the automotive industry is the electric car project started by Shai Agassi, a former SAP executive who found in his homeland an ideal launch-pad for the project known as Better Place – and we'll tell you why.

Better Place Visitor Center - Tel Aviv

For starters, Israel has a vested interest in reducing the world's dependence on foreign oil, much of which comes from its largely hostile neighbors. For another, Israel's gas prices are about 50 percent higher than what Americans wince at shelling out at the pump. Finally, Israel is a tiny country, roughly the same size and population as New Jersey, but with one vital difference: while many residents of the third smallest state in the union regularly drive outside the Garden State, Israelis are bound to relatively short commutes.

Little wonder, then, that Better Place and Israel found in each other an ideal partner. So what's the big idea? When it comes down to it, it's rather simple. Instead of leaving drivers to worry if their batteries will last the day or last the year, Better Place is setting up a network of installations to rival the proliferation of gas stations over the past century. Part of it comes down to a multitude of charging outlets, but the novelty is the battery swap station, which Better Place is building in Israel, Denmark, Tokyo and other locations.

Renault Laguna EVRenault Laguna EV

The Better Place model encompasses swap stations that are as simple to use as an automated car wash. Drive up in your electric car and the mechanism positions the vehicle, drops the spent battery out the bottom and replaces it with a charged one. The entire process, from arrival to departure, takes three to five minutes (depending on the car), of which 50-90 seconds are spent actually swapping the battery. Then you're on your way, without having to wait for the battery to charge.

As long as there's a switch station along your route, range anxiety is eliminated, and Better Place has already opened the first of over 50 slated to open across Israel. And to eliminate the concern of buying a battery that will deteriorate with every use, Better Place owns and maintains the packs themselves. The idea is to sell miles, not big battery packs.

Renault Laguna EV

The process is demonstrated at the Glilot interchange just outside Tel Aviv at a location that could hardly be more symbolic: The facility used to house Israel's strategic oil reserves, which were relocated following a botched terrorist attack. Better Place has converted it into a center for visitors to peer into a future that dispenses with the internal combustion engine and all that entails.

Once launched, the location will also serve as the central dealership for the network of cars that are expected to fill the country's motor ways and parking lots. Even before pricing and final specifications were announced, Better Place had already received preliminary orders from over 10,000 customers, plus another 60,000 from 150 of the 300 largest corporate fleets in the country.

Renault Laguna EVRenault Laguna EV
Renault Laguna EVRenault Laguna EV

In the meantime, the visitors have been coming: Since opening in February 2010, the facility has attracted schools, tourists, political leaders like French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Senator Joe Lieberman and celebrities like Leonardo di Caprio and Bar Rafaeli.

The tour starts with a video in a theater furnished with the reupholstered seats of old cars, after which the Renault Fluence ZE that will be the first vehicle offered under the program spins out on a turntable. Then it's off to the neighboring structure where the battery swap is demonstrated, in our case, on a Nissan Rogue converted to electric power before eligible drivers can take to the wheel of one of Better Place's electric vehicles.

As we were there before the Fluence Z.E. was launched, our drive took place in a converted Renault Laguna prototype. FEV swapped out the 2.0-liter diesel engine and 6-speed manual transmission and installed an 18-kWh battery juicing a 125 kW (168 hp) electric motor – only slightly less power than the top-spec diesel Laguna from the factory. Tipping the scales post-conversion at 1,735 kg (3,825 lbs), the EV is heavier than the 1,507-kg (3,322-lb) Laguna III Dynamique sedan on which it's based, but can still run 0-60 in under 11 seconds and cruise to a range of over 60 miles.

That proved more than enough to get us up and down the track a few times, providing smooth acceleration uninterrupted by changing gears. While the weight is higher than stock, its lower center of gravity made it feel flatter through the corners. And the lower revs at which the power comes in, even compared to a torquey diesel, means the pedal can be put down earlier, too. Otherwise, the driving experience is much as you'd expect from a conventional or hybrid vehicle.

Renault Laguna EVs

The Fluence Z.E. that will actually be offered on the market, by comparison, is both smaller and – at 1,543 (3,402 lbs) – lighter than the Laguna EV. Its 70-kW (94-hp) electric motor isn't nearly as powerful, but that's purportedly enough to take it from 0-62 mph in about 9 seconds. With a 100-mile range, the Fluence Z.E. is capable of traveling much farther between charges or battery swaps.

The Better Place model, at the end of the day, is a good start, but it's no magic solution. But then, nothing is. Because like kicking any addiction, weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels will take time. But after seeing first-hand what Better Place has in store, that long arduous road ahead looks just a little smoother.

Source: Autoblog Green

Fisker delivers first extended-range Karma

The “world’s first extended-range EV” was launched recently by its American-based company to the applause of techies and green-oriented people of many stripes.

Old news you say? Not so fast. This was not the Chevrolet Volt, but a Fisker Karma delivered July 26 – not to Leonardo DiCaprio as had been reported – but to another VIP.

We will get to the delivery shortly, but first will explain that according to the Irvine, Calif.-based company, a subtle but significant distinction defines the petrol-electric-powered Karma as “extended range” – a description that Chevrolet has contended that it pioneered.

2012 Fisker Karma.

This assertion notwithstanding, these were opening lines to Fisker’s recent press release:

“The Fisker Karma is the world’s first extended range EV – offering responsible luxury, incomparable performance and seating for four. Powered by twin 201 HP electric motors that may be augmented by an on-board engine generator, the Karma is capable of delivering over 300 miles of responsible driving – and a top speed of 125 mph.”

The press release does not say whether “responsible drivingincludes a top speed of 125 mph on American roads. The likely answer is probably not, but and if you have not noticed, it is very easy to misunderstand or react to things read in cyberspace.

Case in point: Since this looked like an example of one-upmanship being played by a company that sourced its engine from GM, and is working to re-purpose one of its old assembly plants, we put in an inquiry to GM’s two media reps assigned to it. Unfortunately, we were told, “Sorry Jeff. We don’t have a comment to respond to this.”

Next we tried Fisker’s Spokesman, Roger Ormisher, and he answered his cell phone – minutes before he said he was ready to call it a day at his hotel room in Milan, Italy. We had been told to direct inquiries to him, but not that he was in Italy instead of California, thus inadvertently managed to get him at 11:45 p.m. Oops.

Although he said he had worked a long day answering questions at a European media driving event, Ormisher instantly forgave apologies for the inopportune timing, and, cheerfully invited a several-minute interview.

It’s not an EREV, it’s an EVer.

We told him GM had refused to comment, so he dove right into that topic to diffuse some of the feelings his company’s press release might have stirred up.

“We don’t see it as competitive, we see it as us, GM, others,” Ormisher said. “We don’t see us as direct competitors, we see us as people involved in the future.”

GM has one solution, Fisker has another, Tesla has another, and so on, he said. Development of electric cars of various sorts is collaborative; the effort is toward a common goal – but Ormisher was otherwise clear that there is a difference between Fisker’s solution and GM’s.

Ormisher said the Karma is truer to the “extended range” concept in that petrol power never mechanically contributes to the wheels turning in the way that the Volt can at times.

“Our understanding is that’s different from the way the Chevrolet Volt is configured,” he said, and there is “no direct connection with the driving wheels.”


Given Chevrolet is not touching this one, we don’t know if there is a debate, but we can report that without controversy Fisker is now fully open for business and working on delivering cars as fast as it can.

This effort began two days ago when Ray Lane became the first person to get one. In addition to being the company’s chairman of the board, and despite being not as famous as Leonardo DiCaprio, Lane is quite accomplished in his own right.

Plush, snappy and functional interior.

Fisker says Lane is a managing partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers in Menlo Park, Calif., also serves as chairman of Carnegie Mellon University and Hewlett-Packard Corporation and as vice chairman of Special Olympics International.

“To be one of the first to have a Fisker Karma in the world is a uniquely satisfying honor for me. Our country, and our business environment – especially here in the Silicon Valley – has been inspired by those who dream and then commit themselves to making their passion real. Henrik Fisker and his devoted team have done just that – combining my passion for driving and the environment,” Lane said. “This is so much more than just another car. The Fisker Karma represents a new era for the automotive industry and I am proud to be driving the dream of all those who have worked so hard to bring this uniquely green and elegant vehicle to market,” Lane concluded.

Good Karma

The Fisker Karma’s 260-horsepower, 2.0-liter, turbocharged, GM-sourced engine feed power to the two electric traction motors when the approximately 50 miles of all-electric range runs out.

Given a 9.5-gallon fuel tank, Fisker says the Karma should be able to cover about 300 miles in all. Ormisher believes the engine was intended for a Pontiac that was never built, and otherwise spec’d for the Karma.

When in Sport mode which the driver must select, Fisker says the Karma’s engine provides maximum electric power to hit a limited speed of 125 mph, and 0-60 time of 5.9 seconds. In the default all-electric Stealth mode, performance is tuned for range and efficiency, these being 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds and top speed limited to 95 mph.

Ormisher said the company has 45 dealers in the U.S. so far, and did not speak of restrictions in any American regional markets, as Nissan and Chevrolet made by limiting initial roll out of their LEAF and Volt to several states.

Solar roof.

More limiting may be that the California designed and engineered, Finnish-made Karma is still rare, although Ormisher said it will be produced at about 300 units per week.

If interested in test driving one, you may have a better chance in the near term – better than the media, in fact.

Ormisher said Fisker is reversing the usual order of preference and giving dealers first dibs at test drives, then customers, then media.

We at GM-Volt may be able to sample one by October in Pennsylvania, he said, but you might be able to sooner.

Ormisher said Fisker will be doing a “retail road show” with two cars offering demo drives in 45 cities over a period of 104 days.

So far 2,800 test rides are booked for the two cars. Do you think the Karmas will be hammered after a few thousand people hop in and punch-it?

Such is the cost of doing business – one which Ormisher said he feels very good about being a part of. Fisker was founded in 2007, and Ormisher said it is very much an American company and over the past 18 months it has created 550 American jobs.

Fisker also intends to start production of its “project NINA” which for you to read more about, we will break policy and link to Wikipedia because Fisker itself links to it. In short, plans in The First State are to begin production by 2012 of a sub-$40,000 family friendly plug-in hybrid, and by 2014 Fisker expects to be producing 75,000-100,000 vehicles per year.

Well-proportioned from just about every angle.

Ormisher said also the company wants to succeed globally, which explains what he was doing in Italy besides being commendably polite in answering questions so late.

“We believe in the brand,” Ormisher said with enthusiasm. “I think what we are trying to do is redefine luxury so people can define luxury without guilt.”

The Karma starts at just under $100,000. A very thorough media site has all specs, photos, videos and more.


Chevy Volt production to hit 5,000 units a month by January

2011 Chevrolet Volt
2011 Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

General Motors is trailing Nissan in plug-in vehicle sales. For now. GM plans to crank up production volume of its Chevrolet Volt to 5,000 a month by January 2012, and the company might have a shot at regaining its spot atop the plug-in leaderboard. That's the opinion of Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director for the Volt, who told Bloomberg that:
It's fair to say GM underestimated demand for the Volt. By January, the capacity we need will be online.
At today's production levels, the Volt and the Leaf are in extremely short supply, but with both Nissan and GM racing to ramp up output, shortages could soon be a non-issue. Rebecca Lindland, a research analyst at IHS Automotive, says:
This is very much about supply constraints as opposed to a sales race. Next year will really show true demand for these kinds of cars and which one wins.
So, if sales of neither the Leaf nor the Volt are restricted by supply in 2012, which vehicle will do you suppose will be crowned the plug-in champ?

Source: Autoblog Green

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Azure Dynamics to begin integrating plug-in hybrid technology in Ford F-Series Super-Duty Trucks; F-550 is first in 2013

Azure Dynamics Corporation has entered an agreement with Ford Motor Company whereby Azure will integrate its proprietary plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology into the Ford F-Series Super Duty product line.

In collaboration with Ford, Azure’s plug-in hybrid technology will be initially integrated on Ford’s F-Series Super Duty cab and chassis, the F-550, which is expected to be available in early 2013. The agreement also allows Azure to perform hybrid powertrain conversions on other Super Duty platforms including F-350 and F-450 models and spans all engine, frame length and regular production options and configurations.

The Super Duty program will allow Azure to further expand its product line-up in its targeted medium duty commercial truck segment.

The Azure/Ford agreement includes a ‘ship-thru’ provision that permits Azure to place vehicles in the Ford transportation system and allows qualified Ford Commercial Truck dealerships to sell and service the product in key markets in North America.

The Ford F-Series Super Duty has a more than 50% share in the North American market. The commercial cab and chassis industry supports approximately 100,000 vehicles per year and is the preferred active work-truck for thousands of commercial fleets managing a broad range of logistical needs. The Super Duty offers several diesel and gasoline engine options and a variety of cab, bed and accessories options.

The new PHEV F-Series program further expands the Azure/Ford business relationship. Azure and Ford teamed up in 2009 to bring the Transit Connect Electric to market in just 13 months after the program was first announced. Prior to the Transit Connect Electric development, Azure and Ford collaborated on the E-450 cutaway and strip chassis to create the Balance Hybrid Electric, a truck or shuttle that achieves up to 40% fuel improvement while reducing emissions and maintenance costs by up to 30% each.

Balance Hybrid Electric has 60% share in the medium duty (class 2c – V) hybrid commercial truck market in North America and is deployed in fleets such as AT&T, CINTAS, DHL, FedEx Express, and Purolator.

Source: Green Car Congress

Johnson Controls invests in Odyne; JCS to be preferred supplier for Li-ion for Odyne PHEV systems

Odyne Systems, LLC, a provider of hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, and Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI) have completed both an investment agreement and a long-term hybrid master supply agreement. Under the new agreements, Johnson Controls has made a strategic investment in Odyne to fund expansion and to accelerate wide-scale commercialization of Odyne’s hybrid systems for work trucks. Additionally, Odyne designates Johnson Controls-Saft as a Preferred Supplier of advanced lithium-ion battery systems for its plug-in hybrid system.

The Odyne plug-in hybrid system significantly increases a large truck’s efficiency through operation of the hybrid system on the road and use of the large battery system at the job site. Odyne’s modular system can be installed on a wide variety of new and existing vehicles to reduce fuel consumption, lower emissions and operate quietly at the job site.

This is the first phase of a multi-stage investment on the part of JCI and is in line with a broader investment and growth strategy at Odyne. Johnson Controls shares our passion for innovation and delivery of reliable, advanced hybrid system solutions, and we look forward to the new partnership.

—Joe Dalum, President and CEO of Odyne Systems

Source: Green Car Congress

Mazda reveals electric Demio prototype in Japan

2010 Mazda Demio
2010 Mazda Demio – Click above for high-res image gallery

Though trailing competitors General Motors and Nissan, Mazda will eventually enter the plug-in vehicle segment in 2012. The Japanese automaker intends to launch a battery-powered subcompact based on the Demio (aka Mazda2) in spring 2012. With the debut of the production electric hatchback still nearly two years away, Mazda decided to wheel out two prototypes of the Demio electric in Japan.

The prototype version sports a lithium-ion battery pack wedged into the vehicle's engine bay, according to Integrity Exports. That chunk of li-ion reportedly makes the electric version ten percent heavier than its gasoline-engined counterpart. Regardless, Mazda still claims the electric Demio will have a range of approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles).

The prototype Demios will initially be used to ferry local dignitaries to the reopening of the Miyajima Aquarium in Japan on August 1st. Then, the battery-powered hatchbacks will take to the streets of Hiroshima for some real-world testing

It should be noted that, at least for now, Mazda only intends to offer its battery-powered Demio to lessees – mostly government organizations and corporate fleet customers – in Japan. Mazda is mum on pricing and production volume for this subcompact electric hatch.

Source: Autoblog Green

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fisker to hand over keys to first production Karma tomorrow

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

Tomorrow afternoon, Fisker Automotive will officially hand over the keys to the first production Karma to Ray Lane (sorry Leonardo DiCaprio) at Kleiner Perkins Headquarters in Menlo Park, CA. Designed by Henrik Fisker and constructed at Valmet Automotive in Finland, Fisker says the Karma is:
... the world's first extended-range electric vehicle – offering responsible luxury, incomparable performance and seating for four. Powered by twin 201-horsepower electric motors that may be augmented by an on-board engine generator, the Karma is capable of delivering over 300 miles of responsible driving – and a top speed of 125 miles per hour.
Augmented by an on-board engine generator? What does that mean, exactly?

Moving on, the Signature Series, Silver Mirage-colored Fisker Karma will be handed over to Ray Lane – chairman of the board of directors at Fisker Automotive and an advocate of advanced technology vehicles – in less than 24 hours. Of the occasion, Henrik Fisker says, "It is an exciting day for Fisker to hand over the keys of our first production vehicle and to know that our dream and Ray Lane's imagination have enabled this milestone in automotive history." What a long, strange trip it's been.

Source: Autoblog Green

Translogic drives the 232SE all-electric wakeboard boat from Epic Boats - VIDEO

Here is a look at the the EPIC 232se Electric Sport Boat...what is next?

Energy Conversion Devices seeking to sell Ovonic Battery Company; focus on solar

Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD), a global manufacturer of thin-film flexible solar laminate products and systems for the building-integrated and commercial rooftop markets, has initiated a process to divest its Ovonic Battery Company (OBC) subsidiary. OBC invented NiMH rechargeable battery technology that is used globally in hybrid-electric vehicles, and in many consumer and commercial rechargeable batteries.

Among ECD/OBC’s past milestones are that in 1992, ECD was awarded the first USABC contract to develop EV batteries; first application of Ovonic EV NiMH battery pack was in the Chrysler TE van in 1993; a four-passenger car with Ovonic NiMH batteries won the Tour de Sol Race in 1996; and the first GM Ovonic NiMH batteries were installed in EV1 electric vehicles for lease customers in 1998.

OBC’s principal activities are licensing its advanced battery technologies (including NiMH and Li-ion technologies), participating in joint development programs to support application of these technologies, and manufacturing mixed-metal hydroxide cathode materials for sale to its licensees for use in battery production.

OBC has an established patent position and world-class manufacturing capability for its proprietary nickel hydroxide cathode materials. OBC is also developing a new technology, the Proton-ion battery, with higher energy density and lower cost than today’s battery technologies.

ECD’s Ovonic Battery Company is a pioneer in developing advanced battery technologies for consumer, stationary and vehicle applications, and enjoys tremendous success licensing its technologies worldwide. Given ECD’s focus on its solar business, we have elected to seek a buyer that will leverage Ovonic Battery Company’s substantial technology portfolio and provide it with a platform for expanding the commercialization and licensing of its advanced battery technologies.

—Jay Knoll, Interim President of ECD

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Daihatsu develops e:S Technology for 30 km/l in JC08 Mode; equivalent to 71 mpg US or 3.3 L/100km

Daihatsu, the minivehicle specialist in the Toyota Group, has developed “e:S Technology (Energy Saving Technology) that it says will be at the heart of production of future motor vehicles with high fuel efficiency, low prices, and resource-saving features. In the process of this development, Daihatsu overhauled all aspects of the engine, the transmission, and the body structure, to maximize energy efficiency and achieve almost a 40% increase in fuel efficiency comparison with the Mira 2WD/CVT without idle reduction functions.

Daihatsu will introduced the new technology in a fuel-efficient vehicle model due to be released in September this year. The company anticipates that it will be the only gasoline-powered vehicle delivering fuel economy of 30 kilometers per liter (equivalent to 71 mpg US or 3.3 L/100km) in JC08 mode. This new mini vehicle will have an entry price of less than ¥800,000 (US$10,200).

The main features of :S Technology include:

  • A new engine with maximized combustion efficiency and minimized energy loss. Combustion efficiency has been boosted through eight main improvements, including an enhancement in the compression ratio from 10.8 to 11.3 and the downsizing of the particles sprayed from the injector.

    The engine uses an i-EGR system. It applies the ion current combustion control, in which ions in the combustion chamber are used to identify the state of combustion, to EGR control. Through close control according to engine characteristics, EGR gas is fed in larger quantities to massively reduce the pumping loss.

    Mechanical loss has been minimized by combining 11 improvements, including a reduction in chain tension by cutting the chain width, a tension reduction in the piston rings and modification of the oil seal.

    An electronic throttle body made of a lightweight resin has been utilized. Coordinated control of the engine and the CVT using the electronic throttle is performed precisely according to the speed range to maintain a state of the highest efficiency, irrespective of the gear ratio in the CVT.

  • Thermal management. The layout of the bumper openings and air cleaner ducts has been optimized and the air flow route has been improved to implement thermal management and lower the temperature of the intake air into the engine. A decline in air intake volume resulting from volume expansion of the intake air is suppressed to boost the engine combustion efficiency.

  • Continuously variable transmission (CVT) with higher power transmission efficiency. Power transmission efficiency has been increased by combining eight improvements, including utilizing a high efficiency oil pump and lowering the CVT control pressure. The engine load has been lowered by optimizing the transmission gear ratio on the basis of increased power transmission efficiency, reduced running resistance and vehicle weight cuts.

  • The shell body has been streamlined without impairing the body rigidity necessary for safety and onboard comfort. This has achieved a weight reduction of approximately 30 kg while maintaining vehicle length. As many components as possible have been made straight in form to reduce reinforcements.

    Weight reduction is achieved by redesigning every interior part. For example, a new structure sheet frame is utilized and the thickness of the instrument panel and door trims is reduced. The weight of the CVT unit for idle reduction is cut by utilizing a thinner-walled CVT case, an aluminum oil pump cover and an aluminum planetary carrier, and by introducing integrated molding for the secondary sensing gear and the piston.

  • Running resistance lowered. Rolling resistance has been lowered by utilizing low rolling resistance tires with new tread rubber, and by enhancing the drive parts. A CAE simulation and a wind tunnel test were conducted in the design phase to improve the forms of the front corners and slow the underfloor flow. Air resistance has thus been reduced.

  • Energy Management. The new car will be the first CVT vehicle equipped with the pre-stop idle reduction function, Daihatsu says. It applies a brake and stops the engine when the vehicle speed is 7 km/h or less to increase the idle reduction duration and improve fuel efficiency.

    Dedicated components for idle reduction systems have been decreased to achieve weight and size reductions. An ECU for the CVT has been incorporated into the idle reduction computer integrated with auxiliary power supply to prevent the navigation system from being reset upon engine restart.

    The function of converting the kinetic energy of the slowing vehicle into electric energy with an alternator and feeding it back into the battery has been enhanced. The power output of the alternator at the time of vehicle slowdown has been increased and the charge acceptance properties of the battery have been improved to substantially cut power generation from the alternator at the time of normal operation and acceleration, and to reduce the burden on the engine.

Source: Green Car Congress

Zinc tungstate nanorods show promise as higher-capacity anode materials for Li-ion batteries

Researchers in S. Korea have synthesized a divalent wolframite-structure zinc tungstate (ZnWO4) in the form of one-dimensional nanorods; used as anode material in Li-ion batteries, the nanorods deliver reversibly sustained high capacities of more than 420 mAh g–1 after 150 cycles—much higher than the capacities of graphite-based anodes which are limited to 372 mAh g-1.

Wolframite, a principal ore of tungsten, is an iron and manganese tungstate mineral that is monoclinic, with tabular crystals.

So far, research on metal oxides as anode materials has been focused on two approaches: those metal oxides that react with Li via the metal and subsequently form alloys (MO + 2Li→M + Li2O and M + xLi+ + xe-↔LixM, alloying/dealloying reaction) and those that react with Li via a displaced redox reaction, including Li2O and nanosized metal particles (MxOy + ne- + nLi+↔xM0 + LinOy, conversion reaction). Indeed, nanostructured metal oxides have shown high capacities and have therefore been identified as good candidates for use as anode materials. These nanometer-sized metal oxides have the advantages of high surface-to-volume ratio and short path length for Li+ transport compared with their bulk counterparts.

More recently, nanostructured ternary metal oxides containing transition metals (Ca3Co4O9 nanoplates, Zn2Ti3O8 nanowires, and so on) have been reported as promising anode materials, as well as other complex isostructural metal oxides. Therefore, the diverse crystal structures or phases of transition metal oxides can provide a large number of options for the study of Li-ion storage technologies.

In this context, the metal tungstates (AWO4-type compounds where A is a divalent metal ion) are an attractive group of materials because of their similarity to ternary oxides and the high oxidation state observed in the tungsten atom. This tungstate family is an important group of inorganic materials with high technological applications in various fields.

—Shim et al.

Even after galvanostatic cycling over 30 cycles, the ZnWO4 nanorods sustained their 1-D nanostructure morphologies. The researchers suggested that these ZnWO4 nanorods may offer exciting possibilities for the development of new anode materials for Li-ion batteries. Their paper is published in the ACS Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

Source: Green Car Congress

GM Green-lights EN-V Electric Commuter Pod - VIDEO

Apparently, GM is giving the green light for production of this oddity. We suppose it would be useful if you traveled along alleys all day.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Coming to America: Ford's 3-cylinder Fiesta

Ford will bring a three-cylinder Fiesta to America. All it took was a little deductive reasoning to figure that out. Various Ford executives have dropped hints -- or pointedly not ruled it out as U.S. gasoline prices rose toward $4 a gallon this year.

And Ford has developed a new 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine dripping with Ford's EcoBoost fuel-sipping technology: turbocharging, variable-valve timing, offset crankshaft and other goodies.

So here's the logic for a U.S. three-banger Fiesta:

-- Production of the 1.0-liter engine starts in Europe in the spring of 2012.

-- The three-cylinder engine will be offered in the United States, Ford powertrain executive Greg Johnson said last week.

-- Ford says it fits only in its three global small cars: The Ka, Figo and Fiesta.

-- Ford will not sell the Ka or Figo in the United States. The Ka, made at Fiat's Tychy, Poland, plant, is too small; and the India-built Figo is a Fiesta derivative aimed at developing markets.

No word on timing. Ford hasn't rated the 1.0-liter's output. But Johnson said Ford's new turbo designs are approaching 120-hp per liter.

The output of the U.S. Fiesta's current 1.6-liter four: 120 hp.

Fully Charged drives the Vauxhall Ampera - VIDEO

Here is a test drive in the Vauxhall Ampera from Fully Charged:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Toyota sets 2012 Prius Plug-in U.S. sales target at 16,000+

2010 Toyota Plug-in Prius prototype
2010 Plug-in Prius Prototype – Click above for high-res image gallery

Toyota says it expects U.S. sales of its Prius Plug-in to hit at least 16,000 in 2012.

Toyota spokesman, John Hanson, told Bloomberg News that:
We think it's going to be a strong seller and we'll deliver to whatever level the market wants. We're certainly on line to sell 16,000 to 17,000 in 2012.
Hanson says the Prius Plug-in will have an electric-only range of at least 13 miles and claims that, like a standard Prius, the plug-in version will return approximately 50 miles per gallon in city and highway driving.

Unlike the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf, the Prius Plug-in will likely have a price tag that's below $30,000. The Prius Plug-in is expected to sell for $3,000 to $5,000 more than the standard Prius, which starts at $23,520, according to Toyota spokeswoman, Jana Hartline. Toyota sold 140,928 Priuses in 2010. Though Hanson didn't really elaborate on the release date of the Prius Plug-in, he did say that it will launch "very early" in 2012.

Source: Autoblog Green