Monday, October 31, 2011

New Fiat 500 Abarth - The Next 'Hot Hatch' Sports Mini Car

This time, it's not about cute.

In less than a month, Fiat will unveil the next model of its 500 minicar at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth will be the 'hot hatch' model, with actual performance upgrades for better acceleration, braking, and handling. The current Fiat 500 Sport model combines suspension modification with some unique trim, but has no powertrain changes.

The Abarth name is legendary among Italian car fans, and could be considered roughly the equivalent of "Cooper" for the British Mini line. Abarth was originally an Italian tuning shop that also built low-volume cars; it's now become a factory brand.

Abarths can be recognized by their scorpion graphics, signifying lots of sting packed inside tiny vehicles. Or as founder Karl Abarth said half a century ago: "small, but wicked."

The 2012 Abarth model will add a turbocharger to the 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine used in all North American 500s, along with a six-speed manual gearbox. Fiat hasn't given output specs yet, but they'll likely be close to the European figures of 135 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque.

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

Other changes include stiffer "track-tuned" suspension, larger and better brakes, and body modifications that incorporate a larger front air dam and a rear air diffuser.

We expect the 500 Abarth to be the priciest member of the growing Fiat 500 family, starting above the $19,500 base price of the current top-of-the-line Fiat 500 Lounge in three-door hatchback form--though perhaps not as high as the 500C Lounge cabriolet at $23,500.

Abarth models will start to appear at Fiat dealers after the first of next year.

Source: Green Car Reports

ThyssenKrupp System Engineering building assembly line for Li-ion battery systems for Renault

ThyssenKrupp System Engineering has received the order to plan and build an automatic assembly line for the manufacturing of Li-ion battery systems for Renault electric drive vehicles in France. The work is already underway. Renault has so far announced four electric drive models.

The entire cell production process at the plant and the module and battery assembly will be researched and developed at a technical school near Chemnitz which is being established.

Significant metrics for the plant are product cost and quality.

Source: Green Car Congress

261 MPG Volkswagen XL1 Concept Confirmed for 2013 Production

Production plans for the ultra-fuel-efficient XL1 two-seater are proceeding. Said Winterkorn: “We will start small series production by 2013 – in Germany.” Company sources told Automotive News Europe the car will be produced in either Dresden or Wolfsburg.

Remember the world’s most fuel-efficienct car? Volkswagen has been showing off increasingly-efficient versions of their original 1L concept for the past decade…and now it appears as though VW will do more than tease use. According to one VW exec, the German automaker will start a smaller series of production of the XL1 in Germany starting in 2013.This is the second time rumors of XL1-production have surfaced, in my mind making it more than just hearsay. Powered by a 27-horsepower electric motor and 48-horsepower two-cylinder diesel engine, the XL1 can go 100 km on less than a liter of fuel. That equates to about a 261 mpg rating on the U.S. cycle, thanks to an extremely low weight of just over 1,700 pounds. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of VW Group, told Autonews Europe regarding the XL1 concept that “We will start small series production by 2013 – in Germany.”

With a 0-62 mph time of about 12-seconds, the XL1 isn’t exactly a rocketship. But what it lacks in performance it will make up for in fuel efficiency, or so VW hopes. The reality will hinge on the cost, and I doubt this little foray into extreme fuel efficiency will be cheap. However, it could lead to a future of ultra-efficient commuter vehicles. I also imagine a few of these lightweight pod cars will get a performance boost from thrill-seekers like myself.

What would you pay for a 261 mpg car? And would you be willing to sacrifice any illusion of speed for such extreme efficiency?

Source: Gas2.0

Volta Motorbikes BCN City to debut at Milan Motorcycle Show

The Spanish electric motorcycle company Volta Motorbikes revealed its striking prototype back in May to a local audience, but now armed with a final production version of its BCN City, it's going global at the Milan Motorcycle Show (EICMA).

While there will be three separate models in the BCN line-up, they all reportedly share the same basic components and performance specs. The 35-horsepower motor should offer plenty of snap for city traffic and be good for at least 120 km/h (75 miles per hour). With range thought to be a slightly underwhelming 70 km (43.5 miles), you probably want to avoid opening up the throttle for any sustained length of time, though. Luckily, the battery charges up in a couple hours on the 220 volts available in Europe, so functionality as a city machine stays intact.

With its sexy looks and a not-unreasonable price tag of €7,000 (about $9,900 at current exchange rates), Volta Motorbikes could have a something of a hit on its hands. The company starts taking orders in a couple weeks and should start deliveries in its home market around June. We're looking forward to getting more official info and seeing the bike in action.

Source: Autoblog Green

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Honda to begin sales of refreshed Insight hybrid and new Freed hybrids in Japan; new Insight Exclusive with 1.5-liter engine joins lineup

The Insight Exclusive. Click to enlarge.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. introduced the newly refreshed Insight hybrid model, accompanied by the new Insight Exclusive model featuring a 1.5-liter engine. Honda will begin sales of both hybrid models at dealerships across Japan on 11 November. Honda also will begin sales of the all-new Freed Hybrid minivan and Freed Spike Hybrid tall wagon at dealerships across Japan on 28 October. The Freed Hybrid and Freed Spike Hybrid will be Japan’s first 5-number class (i.e., compact size) minivan and tall wagon hybrid vehicles.

The monthly combined sales target for the Insight and Insight Exclusive is 1,500 units, with prices (before consumption tax) starting at ¥1,838,096 (US$24,221) for the Insight and ¥1,980,953 (US$26,103) for the Insight Exclusive. The monthly sales target for the Freed series in Japan is 10,000 units, with prices starting at ¥2,046,667 (US$26,969). Honda said that in Japan, more than one-third of registered Honda automobiles are hybrids.

Refreshed Insight. The refreshed Insight offers new exterior styling elements and refined interior. With an upgraded 1.3-liter i-VTEC engine plus IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) hybrid system, the Insight offers fuel economy of 27.2 km/L (64 mpg US, 3.7 L/100km) as measured in JC08 mode and 31.0 km/L (73 mpg US, 3.2 L/100km) as measured in 10·15 mode, while maintaining driving performance.

Sound insulation and absorption materials have been added to increase interior quietness. To maximize handling stability and ride comfort, suspension settings have been updated, and application of VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) is now standard.

Insight Exclusive. The new Insight Exclusive model shares the 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine with the CR-Z sport hybrid model, but specially tuned for the new Insight Exclusive model. The Insight Exclusive offers fuel economy of 23.2 km/L (54.6 mpg US, 4.3 L/100km) as measured in JC08 mode and 26.5 km/L (62.3 mpg US, 3.8 L/100km) as measured in 10·15 mode.

Exclusive exterior design elements include a premium front grille with integrated LED accessory lights, front bumper, side sill garnishes, a rear bumper diffuser, and a shark fin antenna.

On the Insight Exclusive XL InterNavi Select Type, Honda’s InterNavi + Linkup Free service is standard with a full-segment (12seg/1seg) high-definition terrestrial digital monitor, allowing users to enjoy a wide variety of functions, including HD TV broadcasts.

The Freed Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Freed hybrids. With a combination of advanced packaging technology and Honda’s lightweight, compact IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) hybrid system, the new models feature one of the best fuel economy ratings among compact minivans and tall wagons, according to Honda: 21.6 km/L (50.8 mpg US, 4.6 L/100km) as measured in JC08 mode and 24.0 km/L (56.5 mpg US, 4.2 L/100km) as measured in 10·15 mode. In addition, all hybrid models and front-wheel-drive gasoline engine models of the refreshed lineup qualify for Japan’s eco-car tax incentives.

The Freed hybrids offer as standard both ECON mode and the Ecological Drive Assist System (Eco Assist)o help the driver develop and maintain a fuel-efficient driving style.

The front windshield with sound-insulating glass and added sound insulation and absorption materials in the body contribute to interior quietness. Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), which contributes to stable driving and reduced driver’s burden, and Hill Start Assist are both standard.

In the Freed Hybrid, the seat legs have been specially designed to accommodate the extra floor height required for the IMA battery, resulting in cabin space equal to that of the gasoline-engine Freed. In the Freed Spike Hybrid, the reversible cargo floor panels have been specially designed to accommodate the extra floor height required for the IMA battery, resulting in cargo area space in full flat mode equal to that of the gasoline-engine Freed Spike.

Freed and Freed Spike gasoline-engine models will also become available on October 28. Furthermore, Honda will launch a new range of Freed special-needs vehicles on 25 November, including a wheelchair-accessible model with a newly developed electric winch, a side lift-up seat model, and a passenger lift-up seat model.

Source: Green Car Congress

Nissan claims average Leaf is driven 37 miles per day, more range not needed

How much range does an electric vehicle really need? A hundred miles... two-hundred miles? We suppose the answer to that question depends on who you're asking, and if you're asking Nissan, the answer you'll get may be surprising.

According to Mark Perry, director of product planning and strategy for Nissan North America, drivers of the Leaf electric car almost never go more than 37 miles in a single day, and the average length of a single trip is just seven miles. In other words, the Leaf's 70-plus-mile range is plenty enough for the all-electric machine to satisfy the requirements of a "primary-use car."

This data has been extracted from the daily use cycles of the roughly 7,500 Leafs currently roaming the streets in the U.S. It's probably safe to assume, though, that the majority of these Leaf drivers knew going in that their average driving routines wouldn't be too much for the electric car to handle.

In any case, the Leaf seemingly proves that, for at least a sizable portion of the population, an electric car is completely viable.

Source: Autoblog Green

SEAT, Ficosa and Sanyo join forces to develop batteries for electric vehicles in Spain and Portugal

Volkswagen Group member SEAT, Ficosa and Sanyo have signed an agreement to promote the development of batteries for electric vehicles in Spain and Portugal. The strategic agreement includes that the three companies will study and prove the technical feasibility and technology of manufacture of batteries for SEAT and Volkswagen plants in the Iberian Peninsula.

Sanyo will develop the cells and the battery pack and make the cells and Ficosa will address the assembly process of the batteries in Viladecavalls facilities (Barcelona) to provide for the SEAT and Volkswagen factories in Spain and Portugal.

To SEAT president James Muir, this partnership represents “a major breakthrough in the bid for the development of SEAT alternative vehicles. The Volkswagen Group is promoting hybrid and electric vehicles at high speed and SEAT, as a member of the consortium is involved in this strategy.

In October 2010 at the Paris Motor Show, SEAT introduced the prototype IBE 2.0; SEAT has also developed the concept car IBx, a plug-in hybrid SUV that appeared at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Ficosa is a leader in the development and production of vehicle components and systems worldwide. Its main strategic areas of innovation are the development of systems for electric vehicles and / or hybrid communication systems and intelligent systems help the driver. Ficosa is a pioneer in the automotive sector in Spain in the development of packaging systems, electronic control and management of electric vehicle batteries and / or hybrids.

The company, in line with its strategic focus on sustainability, actively participates in several cooperative research projects related to electromobility in Europe (POLLUX, led by Spain and Europe by Artemis platform), Spain (Cenit VERDE, led SEAT and promoted by the Ministry of Science and Innovation) and Catalonia (BATTMAN, promoted by the Generalitat of Catalonia and the EC).

Sanyo supplies NiMH batteries for hybrid electric vehicles developed by Volkswagen and also carries out the implementation of the next generation of NiMH and Li-ion batteries with car manufacturers—for example, Volkswagen Group.

Source: Green Car Congress

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The F24 ATLAS based light commercial vehicle featuring EV technology to be exhibited at the 2011 Tokyo Truck Show


Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. will exhibit five models from its Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV) lineup, including trucks equipped with EV-related technologies at the 2011 Tokyo Truck Show, which will be held at Tokyo Big Sight international exhibition center from October 27 to 29.

Nissan is engaged in comprehensive actions towards the achievement of a zero-emission society, and is working on the development and sales of zero-emission vehicles, including the electric vehicle (EV) Nissan LEAF, as well as battery development and production. From July 2011, the company began efforts to widen the EV range into the LCV sector, with the launch of global proving tests for the NV200 based EV.

Extending this initiative further, Nissan is exploring the potential to expand the EV technologies that have been developed to date into the truck sector. Therefore, at the 2011 Tokyo Truck Show Nissan will be exhibiting trucks equipped with Nissan LEAF components and other EV-related technologies. Nissan will exhibit three trucks: the e-NT400 ATLAS Concept, the ATLAS F24 Refrigerator Van by Li-ion Battery, and the ATLAS F24 Power Supply Truck, all based on the ATLAS F24 model. In addition to the above models, Nissan will be showcasing its wide-ranging line-up at the exhibition, including the NV200 Vanette Taxi, the only vehicle in Japan certified as a Universal Design Taxi*, and the Civilian Heart Full Saloon, a version of the Civilian, which is a bus used for multiple purposes including kindergarten transport and customer shuttle services, changed to special specifications for use for welfare purposes.

The NV200 Vanette, which is the base model of the NV200 Vanatte Taxi, was selected as the next-generation taxi for New York City in May of this year. This vehicle is a new generation of LCV that was developed to respond to the needs of customers on a global level and is already being sold in nearly 40 countries. Nissan aims to introduce various new LCVs in the future in order to meet the needs of its customers, and by fiscal 2016 to become the leading LCV manufacturer in the industry.

Nissan Corporate Vice President Hideto Murakami, responsible for the Global LCV Business Unit, says: "In addition to passenger EVs such as the Nissan LEAF, Nissan will focus efforts on developing and disseminating commercial EVs with the aim of becoming a leader in the field of zero-emissions. We are currently making preparations to release a new EV based on the LCV NV200. At this year's Tokyo Truck Show we are exhibiting vehicles that adapt a diverse range of EV technologies, including an e-NT400 ATLAS Concept that incorporates Nissan LEAF components. We intend to communicate to visitors the value that EV trucks can produce. Through these and the other models on exhibit, I hope that visitors will be able to get a feel for the diverse value that Nissan's commercial vehicles provide to businesses."

The main vehicles to be exhibited are as follows:

e-NT400 ATLAS Concept (reference exhibit)
The e-NT400 ATLAS Concept is an EV concept vehicle based on the ATLAS F24 and equipped with Nissan LEAF components. Capitalizing on its special characteristic of being totally CO2 and emission free, this truck can enter into areas where emission restrictions prevent the entry of conventional vehicles. Furthermore, the addition of a high-output, high-capacity lithium ion battery and a high-performance electric motor have allowed for realizing smooth, vibration free acceleration, an experience completely different compared to conventional gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles. Because there is no vibration resulting from mechanisms such as engine combustion, every aspect of driving offers a totally new feel, including when stopped, accelerating, and cruising. The vehicle also boasts a cruising range of 100 km in JC08 mode. Delivering technological innovation in concert with environmental consideration, the e-NT400 ATLAS Concept offers infinite potential for trucks of the future.

ATLAS F24 Refrigerator Van by Li-ion Battery (reference exhibit)
The ATLAS F24 Refrigerator Van by Li-ion Battery is the first of its kind in the world. Its refrigerating compressor operates on a combination of an electric motor with a lithium ion battery power system developed by 4R Energy Corporation*. The vehicle's high-efficiency electric compressor makes it possible to keep the chilled/freezer compartments operating even when the vehicle engine is switched off, while also contributing to cutting CO2 emissions. In addition, getting rid of refrigerant piping in the chassis has allowed for reducing the risk of refrigerant gas leaks and preventing global warming.

Moreover, this vehicle offers two more groundbreaking technologies. The first is the multi view monitor, which is an advanced version of the around view monitor modified especially for trucks. The new monitor provides a bird's eye view of your vehicle on LED screen which is located on rearview mirror area, allowing the driver to check to their rear and passenger side, areas that are difficult to see when backing up. Second, the box easy entry system allows the driver to lock and unlock the trunk door and front doors when their hands are full with the simple press of a button, thus improving work efficiency.

The ATLAS F24 Refrigerator Van by Li-ion Battery-a car that delivers convenience, driving ease, and environmental performance-is scheduled for release in Japan in fall 2012. Its featured multi view monitor is scheduled for release in spring 2012, and the box easy entry system in fall 2012.

*4R Energy Corporation (Headquarters: Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture; CEO: Takashi Sakagami), owned by Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (51% ownership) and the Sumitomo Corporation (49%), is a company established in September 2010 with the objective of considering new businesses that utilize EV lithium ion batteries.
Please visit the company's website for more information:

ATLAS F24 Power Supply Truck (reference exhibit)
The ATLAS F24 Power Supply Truck is installed with a 72kWh battery, the same as three Nissan LEAF batteries. This can provide power equivalent to that used at peak day-time periods by a 20-person office space (250m2) over four hours. Recharging can be carried out at night during periods of lower power demand and then used at peak times during the day, thus alleviating pressure on the power grid at peak consumption times. In addition, this system can also be used as an emergency power supply during power shortages or outages.

<2011 Tokyo Truck Show Overview>
Date: Thursday 27 to Saturday 29 October 2011 (10.00 - 17.00)
Venue: West Exhibition Hall and Outdoor Exhibition Area, Tokyo Big Sight
(3-21-1, Ariake, Koto-ku Tokyo)
Host: Nissin Kikaku Corporation
Sponsor: Japan Trucking Association
Entry Fee: 1000 YEN

Model Features
e-NT400 ATLAS Concept Dry van
ATLAS F24 Refrigerator Van by Li-ion Battery Refrigerator Van by Li-ion Battery
Multi view monitor
Box easy entry system
ATLAS F24 Power Supply Truck Dry van
Power back up
NV200 Vanette Taxi -
Civilian Heart Full Saloon -

Nissan Leaf EV's Take On NYC Taxi Fleet

With good reason, it's often said that the toughest auto endurance testing in the world is in taxi duty on the streets of New York City (and Jakarta, and Beijing, and Rio).

While the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission has pushed aggressively for high-mileage hybrids--mostly Ford Escape crossovers--to replace the low-mileage Ford Crown Victoria full-size sedans, there have been no plug-in taxis in the city.

That's about to change.

The city is joining with Nissan to test six 2012 Nissan Leaf hatchbacks in taxi service, starting next spring, and recently issued the official notice of its Electric Taxi Pilot Program to anyone who's interested in taking part.

The partners are seeking owner-drivers and fleet operators who want to participate in the pilot program. Each one will get a leased Leaf, at no cost, for up to a year.

New York City taxi cab

New York City taxi cab

The six Nissan Leaf compact five-door electric cars will go into normal service on the streets, using an existing medallion (to soothe taxi owners worried about additional competition, no doubt).

No word yet on whether the Leafs will have any restrictions on distance or duty, as Tokyo electric taxis sometimes do, or whether they'll operate on just a single shift a day or propose to use DC quick-charging to recharge their lithium-ion battery packs to 80 percent in an hour or less.

The TLC and Nissan will hold information sessions for interested medallion owners on November 9. Applications to be put into the "giant spinning basket" will be due November 30. More information is available on the TLC's website, as is the application

Next time, however, we suggest the TLC not describe the Leafs as provided "free of charge." That gives the wrong impression.

Source: Green Car Reports

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pilot project kicks off with 20 Audi A1 e-tron extended range electric vehicles in Munich

Twenty units of the Audi A1 e-tron extended range electric vehicle are on the roads of the Munich pilot region in a fleet trial by partners Audi, E.ON, the public utility Stadtwerke München (SwM), and Technische Universität München (TUM). E.ON and SWM are in charge of expanding and maintaining the charging infrastructure in the Munich metropolitan area.

E.ON and SWM have installed a demand-oriented charging infrastructure—SWM within Munich city limits and E.ON primarily in outlying areas. All electric fueling stations offer power generated via renewable energies. This fleet trial is part of the Modellregion Elektromobilität München (Electric Mobility in Munich as a Pilot Region) project, sponsored by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development.

The Ministry is providing the region with some 10 million euro (US$14.2 million) for electric mobility. This project will address a number of issues, ranging from the power grid itself to data transfer between drivers, vehicles, and electric fueling stations. For example, the use of a smartphone as a driver’s main interface will be examined.

The Audi A1 e-tron is an electric car with a range extender. Its output of 75 kW (102 hp) enables the A1 e-tron to reach a top speed of 130 km/h (81 mph). The battery comprises a package of lithium-ion modules mounted in the floor assembly in front of the rear axle. If the battery runs out of energy, then a compact combustion engine recharges the battery as needed to boost the vehicle’s operating range to as much as 250 km (155 miles). This compact electric car is a zero-emissions vehicle for the first 50 kilometers (31 miles) of a trip.

The four-seat A1 e-tron was designed for daily driving in metropolitan areas. It consumes 1.9 L/100 km (124 mpg US), for a CO2 equivalent of 45 g/km (72.42 g/mile).

TUM is collecting and analyzing data on people’s mobility during the project. In which situations do people drive electric cars and to what degree? And how will this technology influence the use of other means of transportation? To answer these questions, the departments of Automotive Engineering and of Ergonomics have developed a mobile application that all fleet-trial participants can use on their smartphones. More specifically, these devices will thoroughly document participants’ mobility behavior—from their use of bicycles through electric cars and combustion-engine passenger vehicles to buses and trains.

At the same time, the Department of Services Marketing is conducting a study to ascertain suitable models for billing electric-mobility customers.

For researchers, it is no longer a question of whether electric mobility will catch on, but rather when. Electric mobility constitutes a paradigm shift for companies and society alike. This fleet trial allows us to learn more about people’s mobility habits under a new set of circumstances. Insights from this project can then serve as the basis for worthy approaches to sustainable individual mobility.

—Professor Markus Lienkamp at TU Munich’s Department of Automotive Engineering

Source: Green Car Congress

Tesla Looks to 2015 For New Roadster as well as Series 3 Beaters

Tesla’s first electric car, the 2007-2011 Roadster, may have ceased production after its planned 2,500 (ish) car production run, but the Tesla Roadster will live on in an all-new car for 2014, Tesla has confirmed.

In an interview with Autocar, Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed what we already suspected: that an all-new 2015 Tesla Roadster would come to market some time in 2014.

The news is hardly surprising. After all, Tesla has already detailed how it plans to use the chassis and power train from its 2012 Model S luxury sedan to spawn a whole new range of vehicles, including the Model X Crossover SUV, a van, and a cabriolet.

But the new roadster won’t be based on the Model S platform. Instead, it is most likely going to be built on a brand-new platform produced by shortening the existing Model S chassis.

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

Enlarge Photo

And that shortened chassis, which Musk called a “Third generation platform”, will also give rise to a new range of mass-market [read affordable] cars which will go head-to-head with cars from mainstream automakers.

“This platform will spawn a range of cars in the next four to five years,” Musk told Autocar. It’ll be a more mass-market platform for cars like a 3-series as well as the new Roadster. These cars will supplement the Model S range.”

In other words, Tesla is determined to break out of the niche market and into the mainstream auto industry in the next five years.

And with Tesla’s expansive former NUMMI factory currently operating at just a tiny fraction of its potential capacity, the firm certainly has the potential to simultaneously produce many different models at capacities to rival many other mainstream automakers.

There’s no word on what we can expect from Tesla’s reborn 2015 Roadster, nor is there any indication of cost. But given the 300+ mile capability of its 2012 Model S Sedan, as well as its sporty sub 4.5 second 0-60 time, we can expect the 2015 Tesla Roadster to feature both excellent performance and impressive range.

Source: Green Car Reports

Keep watching, Aptera 2.0 is coming

There seems to be something a brewin' over at Aptera Motors.

Gone is Aptera Motors' former website that displayed info on the automaker's oft-delayed three-wheeled electric 2e. In its place is a lone, non-working homepage with few details aside from this mission statement:
Aptera: The Combination of amazing aerodynamics and advance composites means the coming of a new generation of energy efficient vehicles that will change what we expect from our cars. Keep watching. 2.0 is coming!
We assume 2.0 refers to a site redesign, but nobody will say for sure. Aptera spokesman Marques McCammon simply told Green Car Reports:
All is well in start-up world. Yes, there is something new coming to the web. I would call it a better reflection of how our business is developing. I can't say much more than that at this point. As you can imagine, there is no one more eager to talk about Aptera than I am, but all things in their time.
So, we don't know what it is, but we do know that Aptera 2.0 is coming.

Source: Autoblog Green

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chevrolet Showcases Spark EV Electric Motor GM to be first automaker to domestically produce electric motors


From home appliances to children's toys, electric motors are all around us and have nearly a century of automotive use dating to Charles Kettering's invention of the electric starter first used in 1912. With the emergence of electric vehicles, electric motors also will play a bigger part in future vehicles.

"We've spent the past few years highlighting our in-house battery capability, which will play a significant role as one of our core competencies going forward," said Larry Nitz, GM executive director of Vehicle Electrification Engineering. "Electric motor development and manufacturing is another area of expertise we'll need as we expand vehicle electrification technologies to address the needs of our customers around the world."

Chevrolet is highlighting its expertise in electric motors at a pilot facility in Wixom, a Detroit suburb, in advance of beginning the domestic production of electric motors at GM's plant in White Marsh, Md., near Baltimore in late 2012. Specifically, equipment and processes to be used at White Marsh are being validated and tested in Wixom.

Conventionally powered vehicles on the road today have a variety of electric motors to power seats, windows, windshield washers and other functions. Electric motors are used in hybrid and electric vehicles to move the drive wheels to propel the vehicle. Electricity is stored in a battery and feeds power to the electric motor to drive the wheels.

GM is focused on the development of permanent magnet and induction motors for a variety of applications. During a recent tutorial at the Wixom facility, news media were given the opportunity to hand build portions of a permanent magnet motor, the exact 85 kW (114 hp) permanent magnet motor configuration that will be used in the recently announced Chevrolet Spark electric vehicle to debut in 2013.

The White Marsh facility will produce electric motors for the Spark and other future vehicles. Currently, GM uses electric motors as part of the propulsion system in nine vehicles including the Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Malibu Eco, Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid, Buick Lacrosse eAssist, Buick Regal eAssist, GMC Sierra Hybrid, GMC Yukon and Yukon Denali Hybrid, and Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.

Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial as a global automotive brand with annual sales of about 4.25 million vehicles in more than 120 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. The Chevrolet portfolio includes iconic performance cars such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers such as Sonic, Cruze, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly solutions including Cruze Eco and Volt. Cruze Eco offers 42 mpg highway while Volt offers 35 miles of electric, gasoline-free driving and an additional 344 miles of extended gasoline range, according to EPA estimates. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions, and OnStar availability can be found at

BMW Group and PSA Peugeot Citroën officially launch vehicle electrification joint venture

One year after the two partners signed a memorandum of understanding, the joint venture formed by the BMW Group and PSA Peugeot Citroën to develop and manufacture hybrid and drive technology—BMW Peugeot Citroën Electrification—is now up and running. Production of hybrid components for the electrification of both companies' models is scheduled to begin in 2015.

BMW Peugeot Citroën Electrification aims to become one of the leading players in the field of electric powertrains within a few years, as well as a pacesetter on the road to the mobility of the future. Through the creation of an open technology platform, the joint venture intends to provide crucial support for the European industry as it structures itself in this domain.

The BMW Group and PSA are investing more than €100 million (US$139 million) in the joint venture. Around 400 employees will work at the new Research and Development Centre in Munich by the end of 2011: The main profiles required are engineers specialized in electro-mobility and electronics. The hybrid components designed there will be manufactured at the facility in Mulhouse in France, which will have around 250 employees once ramp-up is complete.

The development and production spectrum of BMW Peugeot Citroën Electrification comprises all relevant components for electric powertrains, including high-voltage batteries; electric motors; generators; power electronics; loading units; and energy management software. As part of its independent activities, the joint venture will create an open technology platform that will allow it to integrate suppliers into the development and purchasing process and sell the hybrid components it produces to third parties.

The BMW Group and PSA Peugeot Citroën have been working together as partners in the field of drive technology for almost ten years. More than 1.8 million 4-cylinder gasoline engines have already been produced for MINI, Peugeot and Citroën brand models as part of the partnership established in 2002. In February 2010, the two companies also agreed to continue their partnership with joint development of the next generation of these 4-cylinder gasoline engines. The joint venture now up and running will speed up the standardization of hybrid components, which should also generate substantial economies of scale in purchasing and production.

Source: Green Car Congress

BYD e6 EV now available for consumers in China

The BYD e6 electric vehicle will now be available for consumer purchases in China; previously, the e6 was only available for fleet purchases. Consumers in Shenzhen will receive a substantial government subsidy—equivalent to about US$18,000 (or 120,000 RMB)—and the e6 unsubsidized price will start at ~$56,900 (or 369,800 RMB). The final price to consumers will be ~$38,430 (or 249,800 RMB).

This is the first domestic all-electric vehicle for sale to consumers in China. BYD e6s have been in operation in government and taxi fleets for nearly 18 months. The Shenzhen taxi fleet, using BYD’s e6 exclusively, have accumulated more than 3.8 million fleet miles (or 6 million km).

Powered by BYD’s independently developed lithium iron-phosphate batteries, BYD’s e6 has a driving range of more than 190 miles (or 300 km), according to the company.

With the launch of the consumer e6, BYD is also deploying some new breakthrough technologies and high-end equipment as standard in this model. This launched e6 will implement the newly developed “i” System (also called “BYD-i”). BYD-i was researched and developed by BYD independently, allowing many vehicle functions to be performed remotely by smartphone and using cloud-data for driving assistance. “i” is an in-vehicle network platform, capable of wirelessly communicating vehicle systems’ information and providing remote-control access through secure wireless devices.

The new e6 is continuously connected to the internet and the mobile communication network through BYD-i, and owners can utilize their smart phones to lock and unlock car doors remotely, initiate air-conditioning (to heat or cool the interior), location-based services (and vehicle location), search for news, or real-time information (stocks/flights/weather), as well as communicate with a service call center for help or time of accident.

Source: Green Car Congress

Toyota Developing 600+ Mile Battery; Nissan Says Long Range EV’s Unnecessary

As the world’s automakers slowly move to embrace electric vehicles, each brand or group is taking a decidedly different approach to EV’s and hybrids. Just look at the vastly different approaches of Toyota and Nissan. While Toyota is working to develop a battery with 600+ miles of range, Nissan says that 95% of Americans only need 100 miles of range a day.

Driver’s Don’t Need Long Range EV’s…

Batteries are by far the biggest expense factor when it comes to electric cars, and contribute to the bloated MSRP’s of cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. Another supposed shortcoming of electric vehicles are their limited range, with the Leaf officially rated at just 73 miles in average driving. And while many consumers claim they want more range, according to Nissan, they don’t actually need it.

Nissan cites data it collected from Leaf drivers that shows the average Leaf driver only travels about 37 miles per day, and the average trip was only seven or so miles. Nationwide, 72% of drivers travel less than 40 miles a day, and 95% of Americans travel less than 100 miles a day. The problem is that if you do want to travel a significant distance, you are limited by an EV’s range. American consumers may not need that extra range…but they want it available should they need it, some day.

…But Consumers Want Long Range EV’s

Toyota meanwhile is taking the opposite approach. Japan’s largest automaker is close to finishing a solid-state battery with 600 miles or more of range on a single charge in a compact electric vehicle. In “existing” vehicles the battery would only provide 124 miles or so of range…but that’s still a major improvement over just 73 miles provided by the current Nissan Leaf. T

he battery could be ready for production between 2015 and 2020, though there is no mention of costs or charging time, two huge factors in EV acceptance. And while 600 miles of range on a single charge sounds nice, the huge difference in range between “compact” and “existing” cars raised my eyebrows. When they say compact, do they mean a car…or a golf cart?

I like Tesla’s scheme best; base pricing on range. The Model S sedan will be available in 160 mile, 230 mile, and 300+ mile flavors, with a $10,000 price bump between models. I think the major OEM’s need to take a look at this pricing strategy, as some people may only need that 60 or 70 miles a day. Other people will surely pay a premium for extra mileage if it is priced right.

Source: Gas2.0

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Executive says Opel working on more EVs and will dominate Europe

Yesterday we learned how Renault-Nissan has outlined a plan to take over the world electrified auto market, but it won’t own Europe if GM’s Opel division has anything to say about it.

For that matter, GM has also said it aims for world dominance, but unlike the Japanese company, it has not blown a trumpet in advance with a bullet list of initiatives.

The Europeans have been a little more forthcoming however, and Opel has published what it calls its “e-mobility unlimited” solution.

Additionally, a few comments were offered in an Automotive News Europe interview last week by Opel’s sales and marketing chief, Alain Visser

The RAK-e was previously reported as the Opel One when it appeared at the Frankfurt Motor show in September.

“We want the Opel brand to be the market leader in electric mobility,” Visser said last week.

Opel has been encouraged by pre-orders of 60-percent of its first year’s 10,000 Volt-based Ampera allocation and the company is also working on at least a couple other small battery-powered vehicles.

One of the electric vehicles Visser said Opel may actually build is the wild-looking RAK-e vehicle featured at the Frankfurt motor show. It is intended to be low priced and entry level for drivers age 16 and up.

“By the year’s end, we’ll decide whether to bring the RAK-e into regular production,” Visser said. “If the decision turns out to be positive, the RAK-e could reach the market as early as 2013.”

Sources told Automotive News that the tandem two-seater – which is barely more than an enclosed four-wheeled electric motorcycle – will likely be priced between 10,000-12,000 euros ($13,932-$16,715), and may be built by KTM subsidiary Kiska in Salzburg, Austria, which helped develop the vehicle.

GM says the “dynamic lightweight concept” offers 62 miles of range and a top speed of 75 mph.

The RAK-e can be governed to just 28 mph in order to make the vehicle legal for young drivers in markets where 18 is the minimum age for full licensing privileges.

“The emission-free electric city car even looks good on the highway,” Opel said. “The groundbreaking concept reaches far beyond any conventional vehicle. To drive 100 kilometers would cost just 1 euro.”

The second electric “minicar” Automotive News reported Opel is also working will be little more familiar to GM-Volt readers, which is good, as Opel and GM in the U.S. have otherwise declined to share more about it.

Sources in Europe have said Opel’s other project may be a sister to the Spark EV which GM will launch in the U.S. in 2013.

As a side note, American pundits are also guessing where the Spark EV will be built. GM has not said whether it will be assembled in the U.S. or imported. One speculation is GM could very well bring in Spark EV “glider” rolling chassis from Korea to fit with their American-made A123 batteries and GM co-developed powertrain.

Rather than jump into the fray with other intrepid sleuths, we tried to go to the source, but yesterday GM spokesman Kevin Kelly said GM is not prepared to share more about this or other electric vehicle news at this time.

When the Spark EV was announced, another GM spokesman told us more news will come next year, but the pundits are still trying to discover GM’s secrets.

As for Opel and the European question, small e-cars are in keeping with its position on electric cars.

“Batteries have a relatively low energy density, so we believe a pure battery-powered car is primarily suited for use in urban areas where limited ranges are sufficient,” said Dr. Lars Peter Thiesen, Manager Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Deployment Strategy.

Thus, Opel’s e-mobility solution is a three-pronged approach involving a “complete range of electric vehicles,” according to an editorial by Rita Forst, Member of the Management Board, dam Opel AG and Vice President, Engineering Europe.

The range includes: Small, purely battery-powered electric cars for short distances, as covered above, the Ampera and future versions, and electric cars with hydrogen fuel cells “with no restrictions on vehicle size or use.”

Will the Spark EV be re-badged as an Opel?

This said, Automotive News notes that the aforementioned Renault-Nissan alliance will be standing in the way of its intention to dominate the growing electrified auto industry.

If Opel is to succeed, the company will have to outdo plans by Renault-Nissan which include investing 4 billion euros ($5.57 billion) on electrified vehicle development.

“Some people might think our EV strategy is a big bet, said Renault Chief Operating Officer Carlos Tavares. “For me, it is not a bet, but a big insurance policy.”

If we learn more about GM’s electric insurance policy, we will be sure to let you know.


EVs will still be the people's business in 2012

Yesterday, electric vehicle pioneer Bob Beaumont passed away. For those of you who don't know, Beaumont created the Citicar (which then birthed the Comutacar) in the 1970s. Small, frugal and unlike anything else on the road, the Citicar eventually sold 2,000 units. More importantly, it gave the community of green car advocates a vehicle to rally around. The idea that plug-in vehicles are a grassroots sort of effort is something that will remain true at least through 2012, says PlugIn Cars.

Even though we're in the beginnings of an era where plug-in vehicles are promoted by big corporations, the day-to-day work is being done by the "rank-and-file EV drivers ... that will pave the way to an electrified auto future," writes Brad Berman. We have to agree, after reading how DIYers are improving the cars that companies like Tesla, Nissan and Chevrolet are bringing to market. Whether that's making a Leaf charge faster or giving it a more accurate battery state-of-charge meter, some drivers are turning these cars into what they want to drive, not what's been given them.

What's interesting is how automakers are, in some cases, working with these regular folks to co-promote plug-in cars. Berman's compelling article ends with this thought: "2012 could be a make-or-break year for electric cars. The honeymoon year for electric cars is almost over." What's your reaction?

Source: Autoblog Green

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2012 Kia Rio, Featuring 40 MPG and Start/Stop Technology

If we asked you to name a car that featured class-leading horsepower with 40-mpg highway fuel economy, the detail-obsessed among you would quickly say the 2012 Hyundai Accent or the 2012 Kia Rio.

If we took that one step further and asked you to name a car that costs less than $15,500, gets 40 mpg highway and comes with a segment first Idle Stop and Go system, that would probably stump the majority of readers.

The answer is the 2012 Kia Rio, which will become the first non-hybrid and non-luxury car to incorporate a fuel-saving stop and start system, although this feature won’t hit the market until some time in 2012.

It’s likely that only automatic transmission models will be so equipped, which is why the price of entry jumps from from $14,150 to “under $15,500.” The lowest priced Kia Rio sedan starts at $14,150 with a six-speed manual transmission, but that price does include a $750 destination charge.

The 2012 Kia Rio sedan with a six-speed automatic transmission will start at $15,250 including destination charge. All models get a Hyundai-sourced 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which gets an EPA rating of 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway while delivering a best-in-class 138 horsepower.

Unlike earlier Rio models, which made features like air conditioning and electronic stability control optional, the 2012 Kia Rio sedan comes well equipped. All trim levels get A/C and a range of safety features that includes anti-lock brakes, stability control and vehicle stability management.

Kia builds the Rio with an eye on the environment as well: 85 percent of the materials used in the Rio’s construction are recyclable at end of life, and the Rio’s seat foam is made from renewable, plant-based castor oil instead of petroleum.

Source: Green Car Reports

Revenge of the Electric Car - Review

This is one sequel where you don’t have to see the first movie, but it certainly helps. Watching “Who Killed The Electric Car” first will give you an idea of how hopeless the EV industry was only 5 years ago. In the mid-90′s, California had mandated that a certain percentage of all vehicles sold in the state be EV’s. The major automakers complied, but only leased the vehicles, meanwhile lobbying their hearts out to get the law rescinded. When they were successful, they collected and destroyed the leased EV’s, while also successfully lobbying to get tax credits in place for their high-profit, low-MPG light trucks.

Now it’s time for Revenge…Revenge of the Electric Car, Now Showing

Fast forward not too far into the future, and you’ll learn why GM developed the Chevy Volt, the Hell Tesla went through to even get any vehicles delivered to customers, and Carlos Ghosn’s exceptionally bold strategy to beat the competition. He certainly succeeded, as I saw more Nissan LEAF’s at the Plug In Day Parade last week than any other brand. At less than $30,000 after tax credits, it’s no wonder they’ve got such a long waiting list. Their Drive Across America Tour continues through January.

The film was exceptionally well done, far more riveting (and of course more uplifting) than “Who Killed.” It followed the rise of four automakers- Tesla, GM, Nissan and Left Coast Electric, as they developed their cars. Then it did an excellent job of conveying the challenges each of them faced during the recession. From GM’s executives flying private jets to Washington to beg for handouts to Reverend Gadget having to start all over after his workshop was decimated by vandals to Elon Musk’s well publicized difficulties getting the Teslas to market.

Then there was the redemption/salvation as the economy started to pick up, things turned around for each of the star players, and if last weekend’s parades throughout the nation are any indication, the industry is definitely hitting its stride. The movie was very engaging, uplifting and beautifully shot. At the Q&A afterward, Director Chris Paine explained that Elon Musk and Bob Lutz had both refused to be interviewed together. So the director engineered a chance meeting at the Detroit Auto Show, where the two automakers happened to pass by the Nissan LEAF. You’ll have to see the film to find out what ensues…

The Airstream Lounge and EV Charging Lot

After the screening, we adjourned to a parking lot around the corner to see Reverend Gadget’s converted Porsche, Chris Paine’s Tesla, and other EV’s present. I especially love the creative license plates I see on some of them around LA: CHAARGE, LOL GAS, and more. Brandon pulled up on his Zero S electric motorcycle and immediately drew a crowd. It was great to see so many people who might never dare to ride show an interest in a motorcycle. As much as I’d love to see all commuter cars converted to electric, I’d rather see more Angelenos on two wheels. It’s more fun and if more of us rode, there’d be less traffic.

I also asked Reverend Gadget to tell me more about his plans for Left Coast Electric, as they’re quite interesting…

Photo Gallery | The Airstream Lounge & EV Charging Lot

Brandon answers questions about his Zero Motorcycle

Outside the Airstream Lounge

A crowd gathered around Gadget as he answered questions

Gadget’s Battery Array

The doorway of the Airstream

Inside the Airstream Lounge (on the screen is their rejected intro for the film, see it here.)

Solar City’s Solar Truck

Source: Gas2.0

Monday, October 24, 2011

Honda to Debut Two All-New Models at the Los Angeles Auto Show


Honda will debut two all-new models, the 2012 CR-V and 2013 Fit EV, at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 16th at 1:05 pm PST. As one of the best-selling SUV's in the United States, the fourth-generation 2012 CR-V will showcase new exterior and interior styling, improved fuel economy and added technology features. The all electric zero-emissions Fit EV concept vehicle debuted at last year's Los Angeles Auto Show and the production model will be revealed this year.

Fiat 500 EV Spied in Michigan, Could be Introduced in 2013

Almost two years ago, in January 2010, a mysterious electric version of the Fiat 500 Fiat 500 appeared the Detroit Auto Show on the Chrysler stand.

Then, two months later, Chrysler said it would sell an electric 500 in the U.S. market. Engineers at the company's Auburn Hills, Michigan, headquarters would develop and test the electric powertrain.

Now, a development prototype of that car has been spotted undergoing testing in Michigan.

The test car not only sported "EV" stickers (for electric vehicle) but also a standard J-1772 charging port inside the open fuel filler cap.

The all-electric minicar is expected to go into production late next year, probably as a 2013 model, and it may be called the Fiat 500 Elettra--from the Italian word for, no suprise, "electric."

Fiat 500 BEV Concept on Chrysler standard, 2010 Detroit Auto Show

Fiat 500 BEV Concept on Chrysler standard, 2010 Detroit Auto Show

We know very little about the car's technical specs, but lithium-ion cell maker A123 Systems--with whom Chrysler has worked on more than one project--is providing lithium-ion cells for the battery pack.

Chrysler's PR manager for technology, Nick Cappa, also said last year that it was "safe to assume" that the engine-less Fiat 500 vehicles that will be converted to electric drive will be built in Mexico alongside standard 500s.

Potential buyers of a Fiat 500 Elettra, he said, may be "daily commuters who don't travel more than 40 miles a day"--though Cappa hastened to add that the electric Fiat 500 would both be highway capable and have a range that extended "well beyond that" number.

Chrysler has said the price would be "competitive with similar electric vehicles in the market," which could range from the $29,125 2012 Mitsubishi 'i' minicar to the 2012 Nissan Leaf, starting at $35,200.

2010 Fiat 500 BEV

2010 Fiat 500 BEV

Volumes of the electric Fiat will likely be low, perhaps only a few thousand--just enough to allow Chrysler-Fiat to meet its Zero Emission Vehicle mandate in the state of California. Other vehicles that will probably be limited to that purpose include the upcoming Toyota RAV4 EV and the Chevrolet Spark EV.

It's hardly the first time a Fiat 500 Elettra has been photographed on the street, however. We actually saw one in Palo Alto, California--the center of Silicon Valley (and hometown of High Gear Media)--in May 2010.

But perhaps the oddest twist to the 500 Elettra story is that recently executed Libyan strongman Muammar Khaddafi turned out to be a fan of electric Fiat 500 conversions.

Source: Green Car Reports

Nissan Looking to Build Plug-In Hybrid by 2015, 1.5 Million EV's by 2017

It might be celebrating a global total of 15,000 all-electric Nissan Leafs since the model was launched last year, but Nissan isn’t planning to keep its plug-in technology inside pure electric cars, it has revealed today.

Talking at an event in Yokohama, Japan earlier, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn confirmed that Nissan has been working on a plug-in hybrid model which it plans to bring to market in 2015.

That’s one year later than the expected 2014 Nissan Altima Hybrid, which will be based on the new Xtronic CVT hybrid system found in the 2012 infiniti M35h.

That means that Nissan’s first plug-in hybrid will most likely be a marriage of its new high-mileage hybrid-CVT system and Nissan’s pre-existing Leaf technology.

The big question however, is which vehicle Nissan will introduce as a plug-in hybrid.

Let’s look at the clues.

2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid

2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

Firstly, Nissan isn’t offering a hybrid Altima for the 2012 model year, but is rumored to be working on an Altima hybrid to conincide with the fifth generation Altima launch in 2013.

Arguably, It makes sense that a newly redesigned Altima hybrid could be built with the expectation that a plug-in option be offered later on.

Secondly, if Nissan wants to compete in the plug-in hybrid market, it needs a car that can compete directly with the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid. An Altima-sized sedan fits the bill perfectly.

Thirdly, a mid-sized car is a lot easier to turn into a successful plug-in hybrid than a compact or sub-compact car. While Nissan’s Leaf is an example of what can be achieved when a car is designed exclusively as a plug-in vehicle, we think Nissan would be hard pushed to successfully build a plug-in hybrid offering more than a token all-electric range in such a small form factor.

As part of the announcement, Ghosn also reiterated the joint goal of the Renault-Nissan alliance to sell over 1.5 million plug-in electric vehicles by the end of the 2016/17 financial year.

Source: Green Car Reports

GM to invest $325 million in electric vehicle parts manufacturing

On Friday General Motors announced it would be investing $325 million to support production of future electric vehicle components in its Warren, Mich. plant.

The money is to go toward tooling and equipment and would add or retain 418 jobs at the facility which currently has 679 employees.

“This investment in the future recognizes the excellent work force and operation of this plant,” said GM Manufacturing Manager Gerald Johnson. “While we aren’t sharing many details about this product, I can tell you that this investment demonstrates how GM, working with our UAW partners, continues to innovate and bring new electrification solutions to our customers.”

GM Warren Transmission employee Michael Burrows assembles a six-speed transmission on Friday in Warren, Mich.

No timing was given for when these EV-oriented upgrades would be made. Presently most of the plant’s employees are engaged in building six-speed automatic transmissions for the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia crossover vehicles and Chevy Malibu sedan.

The suburban Detroit facility has 2.1 million square-feet of space, equivalent to the area of 15 city blocks, and in 2010 produced more than 338,000 transmissions.

Partial credit for adding EV parts to its production was taken by the United Auto Workers union, which negotiated the project and jobs during recently settled contract talks.

“We are very proud of the membership of UAW Local 909 whose hard work and dedication to building quality products is why this new electric drive unit module is being built in the United States,” said Joe Ashton, UAW vice president representing the GM Department. “These good paying, middle class jobs are very important for the State of Michigan and the Metro Detroit area. It is the UAW’s goal to increase employment at GM and show the world that we can compete with anyone.”

These are strong words that – added to GM’s comments – could partially allay concern among those who question GM’s commitment to electrification following news that it would introduce no new Voltec models until 2015.

The decision to build EV parts also adds a piece to the information puzzle following GM’s announced plans to co-develop electric vehicles with battery maker A123 Systems.

We do not know if Voltec parts would also be made at Warren, or if this is for the Spark EV, or battery electric vehicles yet to be made known.

The company has said it would build the Voltec-based Cadillac ELR and Spark EV, but has not specified their timing either.

Nor did GM disclose how many new jobs would be created to make electrified vehicle parts versus jobs that are merely being retained, so we have no idea of the scope of this initiative.

So go figure. At the rate of announcements in the past weeks and months, we would not be surprised to hear more dribs and drabs of EV news not long from now, but GM is being careful not to release information ahead of time.

The only story the company is telling loud in clear is regarding its big picture commitment to create more electrified vehicles, and to remain competitive with them on a world scale.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

KIT researchers develop fluoride-ion batteries; potential for much higher energy densities than conventional Li-ion batteries

Setup of the fluoride-ion battery: A fluoride-containing electrolyte separates the metal anode from the metal fluoride cathode. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) have developed and demonstrated secondary (i.e., rechargeable) battery cells based on a fluoride shuttle. A paper on their work is published in the RSC Journal of Materials Chemistry. The team also presented the work at the recent 220th meeting of the Electrochemical Society (ECS) in Boston.

Metal fluorides may be applied as conversion materials in lithium-ion batteries. They also can enable lithium-free batteries comprising a fluoride-containing electrolyte; a metal anode; and metal fluoride cathode. Instead of the lithium cation (as in Li-ion batteries), the fluoride anion takes over charge transfer. The resulting fluoride-ion batteries can reach a much better storage capacity and possess improved safety properties, according to the team.

In the search for new concepts to build batteries with high energy densities it may be interesting to transfer the well-established, so-called rocking-chair principle of Li-ion batteries also to other ions so that electrochemical cells can be built which do not necessarily contain lithium but have the potential to reach theoretical energy densities which are considerably beyond the state-of-the art.

Fluoride ion batteries are capable of meeting this high energy density demands. The reaction of highly electronegative fluorine with metal leads to the formation of metal fluorides which are accompanied by large change in free energy and thus the high voltage. By choosing appropriate metal/metal fluorides, high voltage electrochemical cells can be built. Though few reports are known towards this end, such battery chemistry was largely overlooked in the past years. The recent report by Potanin et al. revised the interest in this field.

—Reddy et al., ECS 220

The fluoride anion acts as a charge transfer ion between a metal/metal fluoride pair where it will react with metal or evolve from metal fluoride depending on the flow of current—i.e. at the cathode and anode, a metal fluoride is formed or reduced, depending on whether the battery is charging or discharging. The fluoride-ion batteries could surpass the storage capacity reached by lithium-ion batteries, according to Drs. Maximilian Fichtner and Munnangi Anji Reddy.

As several electrons per metal atom can be transferred, this concept allows to reach extraordinarily high energy densities—up to ten times as high as those of conventional lithium-ion batteries.

—Dr. Maximilian Fichtner
Composition of the electrodes and architecture of the samples used in the study. Credit: RSC, Reddy et al. Click to enlarge.

In the Journal of Materials Chemistry study, they prepared five different cathode composites comprising a metal fluoride, carbon, and La0.9Ba0.1F2.9 electrolyte, and paired those with the La0.9Ba0.1F2.9 electrolyte and a cesium metal (Ce) anode.

The KIT researchers are now working on the further development of material design and battery architecture in order to improve the initial capacity and cyclic stability of the fluoride-ion battery.

Another challenge lies in the further development of the electrolyte. The solid electrolyte applied so far is suited for applications at elevated temperatures only; the researchers are looking for a liquid electrolyte that is suited for use at room temperature.

Source: Green Car Congress