Monday, April 30, 2012

Dodge Dart will hit 41 MPG with available Aero Package

The Environmental Protection Agency hasn't released its evaluation data for the 2013 Dodge Dart just yet, but Chrysler says the compact should be capable of returning some impressive fuel economy figures, particularly with an available Aero package. When equipped with the turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission, the standard Dart is good for an estimated 27 mpg city and 39 mpg highway, thanks in part to active aero shutters nestled in the grille of every model. Should buyers require a few extra miles per gallon, an optional Aero package will see the highway figure jump to 41 mpg. So far, there's no word on city or combined fuel economy for the package, but there's time before the trim becomes available, as it won't be in dealerships until the third quarter of this year.

Chrysler isn't mentioning how much the Aero package will add to the bottom line or what other tweaks consumers will get for their coin. We do know that with 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, the Dart Aero should be considerably more engaging to drive than the Chevrolet Cruze Eco. While that model is good for 42 mpg highway when equipped with a six-speed manual, it does the deed with 22 fewer horsepower and 36 fewer pound-feet of torque.

Source: Autoblog Green

Toyota to debut new RAV4 EV at EVS 26

Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., will debut the new RAV4 EV (earlier post) at the 26th International Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26) in Los Angeles on 7 May.
TMS unveiled a second-generation Toyota RAV4 EV demonstrator vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2010. Toyota built 35 of these Phase Zero vehicles—essentially converted RAV4s—for a demonstration and evaluation program through 2011. Tesla Motors is supplying the battery and other related components.

The vehicle going on sale this year is a fully re-engineered RAV4 EV (Phase One vehicle), which will be sold to the general public as well as to fleet users.

Toyota Still Looking To Move Prius Production To U.S.

I’m not sure how long ago it was when I first heard that Toyota was looking to move Prius production to the United States. Besides being their biggest market, Toyota was probably hoping to stifle some criticism regarding the green credentials of a car that is produced from parts shipped all over the world (sometimes more than once). That was back in 2008.  
Toyota talking about moving production of the Prius to North America once again, and they’ve set a target date of 2015.
Granted, once the Great Recession hit, a lot of companies, big and small alike, had to change their plans. In the wake of last year’s devastating Japanese tsunami, which crippled Toyota’s ability to build the Prius, Toyota is now looking to secure local suppliers of hybrid components in North America. Not only will that reduce costs (as the high Yen is driving Japanese production costs skyward) but it will also add to the Prii’s green cred.
Alas, sourcing hybrid parts in North America is easier said than done. Many components for hybrid drivetrains come from China, and require Chinese rare earth elements. That said, moving production of the Prius and its components to the U.S. would not only be a big boon for American manufacturing, but it make the Prius more resilient to industry-rattling events like the tsunami, which affected automakers the world over.
Toyota is aiming to open the new plant by 2015, right around when a new generation Prius should be hitting dealerships

 Source: Gas2.0

Michigan Chevrolet Dealership Selling 25 Volts Per Month

We’ve often seen suggestions for how GM could better advertise the Chevrolet Volt. True more could be done, but the actual transaction takes place at the dealership, and regardless of political, economic or corporate marketing factors, one Michigan dealership is consistently delivering 25 Volts per month. In a feature by Forbes yesterday, Serra Chevrolet in Southfield was shown to be capitalizing on the fact it’s on GM’s home turf, and going well beyond, it has honed a sales formula to move inventory proving the Volt need not be merely a showpiece “halo” car. There are nearly 2,600 Volt-selling Chevy dealers in the country, and could you imagine what potential is there if each sold only three Volts month after month? That’s 7,800 units, a little more than the number GM sold last year. But as Forbes observes, that may be a stretch, as the average auto dealer in 2010 sold just 653 vehicles, and last month was the Volt’s best at 2,289 sold. Nonetheless, Serra, which opened only around a year ago, is cranking out the Volts. “We’re getting in 25 a month” from the GM factory in nearby Detroit, “and we’re selling 25 a month,” said Serra’s General Manager, Greg Brown, to Forbes contributor, Dale Buss. “We only have five left on the lot; we should always probably have 15 to 20 here at the dealership. So we just put in an order for another 25.” Boiled down to the basics, Serra has a top-down dedication to the Volt, its own Excel spreadsheet to demonstrate how the car makes sense, plenty of Volts on hand, and all its sales people are proficient at explaining the car. Following are the main points Brown relayed to Forbes that together outline the dealership’s Volt sales formula: • Cross-selling the car • Creating sales-force expertise • Coming up with new sales hooks • Playing the parent card • Keeping Volts in stock • Committing from the top • Using The Windmill Effect • Offering generous lease rates Number one on the list is “cross-selling,” and here is a reversal of the all-too-often told story whereby Chevrolet salespeople steer would-be Volt buyers away from GM’s purportedly expensive halo to easier sales like the Cruze and Malibu. Brown told Forbes the dealership has rapidly become a magnet for Volt shoppers, but about half the customers who purchase a Volt there do not start out with one in mind. “Since we really got to know the vehicle, we’ve been able to switch people from the Cruze, Equinox [crossover] and Malibu [midsize sedan] to Volt,” Brown said. This, he said, is accomplished by not having only one or two Volt-trained salespeople, but every single salesperson is fully comfortable discussing the Volt’s pros and cons. Brown said the dealership uses a consultative sales process to qualify whether the Volt fully makes sense – and often it does – but Brown says Serra’s salespeople are capable of leading a person to see that for themselves. Of course, neither Ralph Nader nor an editor from Consumer Reports is in charge there, so the dealership does rely on old fashioned salesmanship to help with the psychological factors in the decision. That’s where being creative with new sales hooks and playing the parent card come in. A sales hook need not be mind games and manipulation though, rather one example was showing how much gasoline per month the Volt could save compared to a conventional car. “A payment on a Volt might be $150 more a month,” Brown explained. “But we can show them that they’d be saving $150 or $200 a month in gas with a Volt, so it might make sense for them.” The “parent card” was mentioned as a potential aid to closing the deal based on the simple fact that teenagers need not ask the parents for gas money. “And if they are hitting you up for gas money if they’re driving a Volt, then you know that they’re driving the car further than they should be,” Brown joked. Of course, if you are a parent, you can decide whether you are willing to turn your young driver loose with a new Volt … Other factors adding up to Serra’s ability to deliver 25 Volts per month include keeping plenty of cars in stock, and “committing from the top.” Regarding this second point, it simply means sales managers are all about the Volt, and encourage sales people to be also. As for the last two points in Serra’s formula, the “windmill effect” and “offering generous lease rates” the second one probably needs no explaining, but the windmill effect is an environmentalist pitch. Just as GM has been doing from the corporate level – issuing press releases showing how environmentally consciousness it is with solar installations, efficient light bulbs, recycling, etc. – Serra has a little bit of green cred to boast of as well. In this case it has two large windmills reportedly quite visible to passers by that provide 15 percent of its electricity, and it offers a Volt charging station on the premises. “Those aspects of the store, and the mindset of the Volt, go hand-in-hand,” Brown said. “It helps.” All told, the synergy adds up to a whole lot of Volt sales, Brown said. Now just imagine if other Chevy dealerships yet finding it tough to sell Volts – or preferring not to – took these steps too

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hydrogen Powered By Hyundai Coming in 2013

Out of all of the auto makers Hyundai is getting the jump on the coming hydrogen fuel cell powered car game. The hydrogen-powered Hyundai Tucson ix will launch in 2013.

Hyundai, a Korean auto maker, is not the only car company to be adding hydrogen powered vehicles to its consumer retail fleet. Toyota, Honda, and GM are all planning their hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) to launch in 2015. However, Hyundai will be the first to test the market, with 1,000 units actually going on sale next year. The price tag of the hydrogen Tucson ix will be $88,550. Undoubtedly a steep price, and with the leaps and bounds in electronic vehicle (EV) technology causing lower prices for EVs, hydrogen may have missed the market. Also, if you don’t live near one of the handful of pilot hydrogen filling stations, you are SOL my friend.

Yet for all the naysayers of hydrogen — the fuel cells are expensive and hydrogen fill up stations are not very common–  the fact remains that large amounts of major car manufactures are pursuing the technology. Hyundai has not given details about where the first 1,000 hydrogen FCEVs will ship, but it is most likely that the majority will be sent to Europe.

Unlike in the U.S., hydrogen is a major emerging player in Europe, with FCEVs going beyond cars to include buses and other heavy vehicles. There are a few pilot programs in the U.S., mostly in California and New York, but hydrogen has a much more devout following in Europe.

Hyundai has definitely come a long way from the scrappy car maker they were just a decade ago. But can they become a major player in the hydrogen fuel economy? That remains to be seen. If any of the Hyundai FCEVs do come to America, they are likely to release in limited numbers in the Los Angeles area where many HFCV prototype,s including the Honda FCX Clarity, have been tested.

Source: Gas2.0

China getting ready for 5m plug-in vehicles by 2020

Imagine all of the cars and light-duty trucks in Washington and Oregon combined. Then imagine them all being either battery-electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids. That's what Chinese leaders have in mind by the end of the decade.

The China State Council is pushing for a combination of automotive industry production and public acceptance to allow for as many as five million plug-in vehicles to be on the roads in China by 2020, Green Car Congress reports.

The Chinese government is also looking to boost average new-car fuel economy to about 47 miles per gallon in 2020 from about 34 miles per gallon in 2015, when the State Council is targeting for about a half-million vehicles to be electric drive.

China will enact a combination of research and development funding and subsidies that will be used to boost sales of plug-ins. The government will also speed up the development of an electric-vehicle charging infrastructure and will tilt tax policies to be more plug-in friendly.

China was already expected to account for a substantial chunk of the more than 600,000 plug-in vehicles expected to be sold in Asia Pacific by 2017, as forecast by green-technology research firm Pike Research last year. The auto industry is certainly getting ready. This month, General Motors debuted a demonstration fleet of Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in vehicles in China. GM and the China Automotive Technology Research Center (CATARC) will operate and study the fleet for about a year. At the Beijing Motor Show this week, a number of plug-in vehicles were on display, like the CH Auto Lithia and the Venucia E-Concept.

Source: Autoblog Green

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Model X will have excellent towing capability. Despite photo, Model S will not offer option

A reader with sharp eyes and quicker reflexes sent us a pic of a Tesla Model S they had spotted on the streets of San Francisco sporting a trailer hitch receiver and a pair of portals of some type around back, which had us scratching our heads.

Tesla Model X with falcon doors slightly liftedThe Roadster, of course, doesn't come with a towing option (though the company's CTO JB Straubel does have a hitch on his) and the Model S wasn't slated to offer the option as far as we knew. So, we contacted the California automaker to ask what's up.

In a brief response, a spokesperson said "Tesla's engineering vehicles are constantly undergoing internal testing in a wide variety of circumstances to fine tune and validate performance, safety and durability" and confirmed that there will be no factory towing option. Of course, the Nissan Leaf didn't offer that function either but the aftermarket has stepped in with a solution.

So, if you want an all-electric that will pull your boat over to the bay, what are your options? A Leaf might not have the wherewithal for that sort of heavy-duty application, but there is something coming that will. The Tesla Model X (inset). According to the same spokesperson, "Model X will have towing capability exceeding most SUVs in its class. With all-wheel drive, incredible torque and sophisticated traction control, it will be an excellent towing machine."

Source: Autoblog Green

Rimac Concept One - Video

Rimac Concept One video:

Rimac Concept_One shows up in Monaco with $980k sticker price

It takes a lot to stand apart at an exposition as jam-packed with glitzy treasure as the Frankfurt Motor Show and impress the hordes of automotive journalists there assembled, but we were suitably impressed when we laid eyes upon the Rimac Concept_One at the Messe this past September. The Croatian upstart put together a supercar of (figurative, if not literal) Bugatti proportions, but instead of building it around a fossil-guzzling conventional powerplant, Rimac designed its hypercar with the equivalent of 1,088 horsepower worth of electric motors.

With a 92-kWh battery powering the electric motors at each wheel, the Rimac is said to be capable of rocketing to 62 from a standstill in just 2.8 seconds while traveling as far as 372 miles on a single charge. The team of former Pininfarina designers penned an attractive shape to go with it, the Bulgarian leathercrafters extraordinaires at Vilner were brought in to work on the interior, HRE developed a unique set of monoblock alloys and Vredestein debuted its new Ultrac Vorti tires designed by Giugiaro all for the Concept_One.

Impressive specs, all, but what's most impressive is that the Concept_One is no mere concept – you can actually buy it, assuming you've got the scratch. Upon showcasing the electric supercar at the Top Marques show in Monaco, Rimac announced a limited run of 88 examples will be built, each fetching $980,000 – a price as princely as the regent who was on hand to check it out in Monte Carlo. Which only goes to prove that you can, indeed, have your cake and eat it too, but it'll cost you dearly.

Source: Autoblog Green

Neste Oil sells first batch of NExBTL renewable diesel to the US market

Neste Oil recently supplied its first batch of NExBTL renewable diesel to the US market. The fuel, which qualifies as an advanced biofuel in the US, was produced at the company’s Porvoo refinery in Finland from waste fats. Neste Oil has sold 305,000 tons of NExBTL renewable diesel to several dozens of customers in more than ten countries during the first quarter of 2012.
We are very pleased to see that legislation on renewable fuels and our ability to meet the import regulations for these types of fuels are progressing in various markets. Our entry into the US renewable fuel market is an important milestone for us, as the US represents a major market for premium-quality biofuels. We are also proud of our contribution to the US Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS regulation enables and encourages the reduction of greenhouse gases and diversification of the US fuel supply. NExBTL renewable diesel is an ideal low-carbon fuel for the US market as it is completely fungible with the existing extensive infrastructure—and is accepted within the existing refinery and pipeline distribution system.
In addition to the US, we have also expanded our customer base in Europe as well, opening up new opportunities for NExBTL sales as we go forward.
—Matti Lehmus, Neste Oil’s Executive Vice President, Oil Products and Renewables

Friday, April 27, 2012

Let's Face it, Electric Cars Are Simply Fun to Drive

Plug-in electric cars are now on sale from several carmakers, and their sales will rise slowly over the next decade.
Right now, most of the marketing for those electric cars focuses on green themes or cost savings on the gasoline drivers don't have to buy.
But there's one factor no electric-car maker has yet used to market cars powered by electric motors:
They're just nicer and more fun to drive.
First, the numbers: Recent Ford research says if electric cars cost the same as gasoline cars, 60 percent of buyers would consider one.
But if the financial breakeven point were eight years, that number falls to 8 percent. And depending on the assumptions you use, many electric cars don't deliver even an eight-year payback today.
Nonetheless, ads for electric cars tend to focus either on the moral benefits of zero emissions (e.g. polar bears hugging Nissan Leaf owners) or higher gas-mileage numbers for plug-in cars with gasoline motors too (e.g. recent Chevy Volt TV ads--including one that neglects to note that you plug it in).
Nissan Leaf 'polar bear' adNissan Leaf 'polar bear' ad
But here are the reasons that electric cars have a secret advantage:
  • Tons of torque: Electric motors develop their peak torque (or "turning force") from 0 rpm, meaning that the cars they propel tend to have great acceleration from a stop.
  • Sounds of silence: When electric-car makers suppress or silence the motor whine, electric cars are remarkably quiet--so much so, regulations will require them to emit noise at low speeds.
  • Smooth, calm, vibration-free travel: A reciprocating gasoline engine vibrates constantly, changing as it revs up and slows down; transmissions make their own noises as they match a narrow band of engine speed to road speed over four to nine different ratios. Electric cars don't need any of that.
Anyone who spends a day in an electric car, then returns to one with a combustion engine, will suddenly become aware of all kinds of noises and vibrations we've trained ourselves to ignore as part of normal driving.
Seriously: Try it. Rent an electric car for a day and drive it around.
You'll notice that it's smooth, quiet, and punchy off the line. Sure, you may experience range anxiety, but no matter what the car is, you'll get 25 miles of electric range, maybe as much as 80 miles. That's enough.
Angry Driver with Road RageAngry Driver with Road Rage
Then jump right back into whatever you drive.
Notice the rising and falling sounds? Feel the vibrations in the car and through the controls that carmakers take such pains to muffle?
There's one final benefit: A smoother, calmer, quieter car may just produce a calmer, quieter driver who's less prone to aggressive driving and road rage. Which would be a very good thing.
Anecdotally, electric-car drivers report being calmer during frustrating commutes--but confident that their cars' torque will give them a quick spurt of acceleration if they need it.
So while we may not see it for several years yet, eventually one adventurous electric-car maker will launch an ad campaign something like the following.
Our new electric car: Faster. Punchier. Quieter. Smoother. BETTER.

Cadillac Converj / ELR - VIDEO

Cadillac Converj video:

The Cadillac ELR could be launched as a 2014 model

Do not be surprised if GM announces at what it deems the appropriate time that the Cadillac ELR will be launched as a 2014 model year vehicle.
Since Wednesday, conjecture has been mixed with what little has so far been divulged about the extended-range Cadillac based on an unintended GM OnStar revelation – while in related news, it has been said the ELR will be made available in China.
As for the unintended revelation story, a blogger named Christopher Price reportedly checked the OnStar Web site to see whether his Pontiac G6 was due for service and whether it was compatible with OnStar’s RemoteLink smartphone technology.
On the list of compatible cars he discovered the 2014 Cadillac ELR, and thus far, this is the only possible confirmation that the extended-range Cadillac will be produced for that year.
<br />
The 2009 Converj relabeled the “ELR.”
Previous statements made last year by GM of Europe head Nick Reilly had been that no new Voltec models would be spun off before 2015. We now have reason to believe that Reilly’s assertions might have only pertained to Europe, given the 2014 ELR.
The OnStar revelation also listed a “Chevrolet SS Performance” model which could be used as a platform for a NASCAR racer, and that has the GM enthusiasts’ rumor mill also swirling.
As for the plug-in Caddy, so far it’s still being said it will share the same powertrain the Volt has – a 1.4-liter gasoline generator plus electric motor and 16-kwh lithium-ion T-shaped battery.
The 2+2 coupe is to be considerably more upscale, more aesthetically pleasing, and positioned as a global halo vehicle for GM. But the company has been silent as to whether it will boast more power – as some think it should – or whether a new generation Volt would also see more power, range or both.
Yesterday in a phone interview, Cadillac spokesman Brian Corbett said only that “production is not imminent,” and GM will make an announcement with more info on ELR specs, launch date, and more, at a time closer to production.

The ELR is based on the Converj Concept as this 2009 video shows.
In other news this week, GM has revealed – deliberately, not as a rumor – that the global halo Cadillac will indeed be sold in China, the brand’s second-largest market. GM said both the ELR and full-sized XTS gasoline-powered sedan were confirmed as due for launch, although naturally, the date for the ELR introduction remains shrouded until GM decides to let us all know.
Since debuting in China in 2005, Cadillac’s market acceptance there has steadily grown, its fortunes as a prestigious American status symbol rising also with that of what is now the world’s largest auto market – and major market for all manner of trappings necessary to feed a growing trend toward conspicuous consumption.
Don Butler, Cadillac vice president of marketing, said by the end of the decade GM expects China to account for half of all luxury purchases in the world – in all categories, not just cars. But of course it does like its cars too.
“China has quickly become the fastest-growing market for Cadillac. Last year, sales rose by 73 percent,” said GM CEO Dan Akerson. “Introducing the XTS is part of our strategy of adding one new model per year to our Cadillac lineup in China through 2016 to address the needs of luxury car buyers nationwide.
We have seen speculative reports that the ELR could be launched in China as early as 2013, but have no reason to believe this would happen until GM actually confirms that – and, again, it’s more likely the car will be produced by 2014. Corbett also would not confirm whether the U.S. would get the car first, but as that was the case with the Volt, it’s likely with the ELR.

Also awaiting confirmation is whether Cadillac will build the ELR – or Volt, for that matter – in China. Thus far it has not yet said it would build the Volt in China, but it will build Cadillac’s “new definition of luxury,” the 2013 XTS there with joint venture partner Shanghai General Motors (SGM), and is quite unequivocal about the allure of that market.
Presently there are 68 Cadillac dealers in China, and by the end of the year, GM projects this to nearly double to 120.
“Our dealers in China are experiencing strong growth, with some of them quickly becoming among the largest and best we have in the world,” said Butler.
“The average age of a Cadillac buyer in China is 35, signifying the explosive growth of the luxury marketplace and consumer perceptions of Cadillac,” GM said.
“We’re very encouraged by the positive response Chinese luxury consumers have to Cadillac,” said Butler.
“Qualities like innovation and entrepreneurship are admired by many luxury consumers in China, which aligns well with Cadillac. The American spirit of Cadillac creates a distinct and compelling position in the luxury marketplace.”
It sounds like many in the upwardly mobile, electric-vehicle friendly country would be eager to get their hands on the premier Cadillac, the ELR, and no doubt GM will make it so just as soon as it deems the appropriate time has come.
The U.S. is however still Cadillac’s number one market – at least for now – so keep your eyes open for more news as the days count down to a 2014 model-year announcement.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Porsche focusing on deployment of plug-in hybrid technology

Porsche is focusing on the deployment of plug-in hybrid technology in production,” according to Wolfgang Hatz, Member of the Executive Board - Research and Development, Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. Hatz made the announcement at this year’s Vienna Motor Symposium.
Porsche began taking orders for the 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid drive super sports car in March 2011, even as production development proceeded; first customer cars begin arriving in the United States near the end of 2013. (Earlier post.)
In addition, Hatz underscored the expansion of electrification in hybrid models and the optimization of the conventional combustion engine will play a major role in future drive system developments.
With the Panamera and the Cayenne, Porsche has already successfully launched two hybrid models on the market. The sales figures for the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid for 2011 are more than twice as high as the figures of all our competitors combined in this market segment.
—Wolfgang Hatz
Porsche is developing more solutions to get even greater efficiency and performance from the synergy effects of combustion engine and electric motor, Hatz said. Furthermore, he added, the potential of conventional combustion engines is far from being exhausted.
That's why, for Porsche, the combustion engine will continue to play a vital role for the drive system of sports cars in the foreseeable future.
—Wolfgang Hatz

Chrysler Group launches second phase of PHEV minivan project

Three plug-in hybrid-electric Chrysler Town & Country minivans (earlier post) went into service with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), bringing to 25 the total number of such vehicles on US roads. With this completion of the demonstration fleet’s deployment, the second, data-collection phase of Chrysler Group LLC’s plug-in hybrid minivan project now begins.
Components of the flex-fuel PHEV minivan. Click to enlarge.
The focus shifts from engineering design and development to real-world testing and evaluation, said Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of Chrysler Group’s advanced hybrid vehicle project. The plug-in hybrids will be subjected to temperature extremes and variations of drive cycles. Other deployments are in Arizona, North Carolina and Michigan.
Two additional plug-in hybrid minivans will be retained by Chrysler Group engineers. One of those vehicles will be subject to a short-duration test by Argonne National Laboratory.
The two-year project stems from a Chrysler Group’s partnership with the US Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE has invested $10 million to further the research.
Each plug-in hybrid Town & Country is equipped with an E85-compatible 3.6L Pentastar engine mated to a front-wheel-drive, two-mode hybrid transmission. It also is powered by a liquid-cooled 12.1 kWh lithium-ion battery supplied by Electrovaya. Total system output is 290 hp (216 kW) and total range is 700 miles (1,127 km).
The minivans have an electric drive range in the city of 22 miles, and charge depleting fuel economy (city) of 53 mpg US (4.43 l/100 km). Charge times are two-to-four hours at 220 volts with a Level 2 charge cord unit, and eight-to-15 hours at 110 volts with a Level 1 charge unit.
A fleet of plug-in hybrid Ram pickups also is being evaluated as part of a wider project. Chrysler Group dominates the minivan market, selling 13.4 million units globally since inventing the segment in 1983.

Source: Green Car Congress

Honda Chooses Leviton To Make EVs Go


American Honda Motor Co., Inc. has chosen its EV supply equipment provider – the company announced this week that it will be working with Leviton Manufacturing Company. Leviton is the largest privately held global provider of electrical wiring devices, data center connectivity solutions, and lighting energy management systems – all of which tie in fairly well to powering an electric car, although as of yet Leviton has little experience in the automotive field.
Honda’s VP of the Environmental Business Development Office at American Honda spoke briefly about the potential for both Leviton and Honda to work well together:
“As leaders in the fields of advanced technology for mobility and energy solutions, Leviton and Honda both have unique missions to create a more sustainable future. Pairing Leviton’s EV charging solutions with Honda’s advanced Fit EV and Accord Plug-In Hybrid Sedan electric vehicles will enable a more convenient and seamless ownership experience for our customers.”

Innovation From Honda

Honda, of course, has been running with alternatively powered vehicles for some time now (the CNG Civic is a particular favorite of mine, despite the lack of trunk space). The two battery-powered vehicles soon to be available from Honda are the 2013 Fit EV (out this summer) and the plug-in hybrid version of the Accord (next winter).
The Fit EV – which is super cute, I might add – is supposed to have a 120 mile range in the city (that goes down to 76 miles for combined adjusted city/highway), and will charge in 3 hours if you’ve got a 240 volt circuit to plug it into. The hybrid Accord has about 15 miles worth of driving on its electric motor alone (which is pretty far for a hybrid).

Source: Gas2.0

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ferrari Previews V12 Hybrid-KERS System For Upcoming Supercar

For fans of performance cars, there is nothing in the world quite like a Ferrari. You don’t even have to like cars at all to love the Ferrari, the epitome of European excess and luxury wrapped in a sleek supercar package. Yet unlike other European automakers, like Porsche, who has embraced hybrid and clean-diesel technology, Ferrari has only utilized green-tech on the race track for the performance advantage it confers. Until now.
Ferrari has now confirmed what many were speculating; a new V12 motor linked to a kinetic energy recovery system, also known as a KERS or flywheel hybrid. This engine is slated to be introduced in the next-generation successor to the popular (and wickedly expensive) Ferrari Enzo.
The prancing horse brand has utilized a KERS hybrid system in Formula 1, using the energy recovered from braking to spin a flywheel. The stored energy can then be dumped into electric motors, giving the cars a brief power boost. Ferrari had shown off a similar system back in their 599 HY-KERS Concept in 2010, and speculation has been swirling that the next mid-engine supercar would be a hybrid of one sort or another.
For a while now, Ferrari has managed to become a leader in efforts to curb individual automaker emissions (mostly because its emissions were so high to begin with) without going hybrid, electric, or diesel
Exciting news for greenies and gearheads alike. Ferrari now joins other supercar makers including Jaguar and McLaren in bringing high-powered green supercars to the table. This is the direction more green cars need to go. Almost everyone idolizes a Ferrari, and the wealth it embodies. Whether the new Ferrari gets a power boost button or not remains to be seen, but I can already tell you that a hybrid Ferrari will piss off some people, while being the envy of many, many more.
I don’t care how much you hate hybrids, I doubt that any of you would turn down a ride in a Ferrari hybrid. 

Source: Gas2.0

General Electric CEO says electric vehicles will reach 'tipping point'

True belief or wishful thinking?

That's the question some may ask about General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and his statement that electric vehicles will become more than a just niche market in the U.S.

Immelt, speaking at a Detroit automotive conference on Tuesday, said GE will continue to invest in battery-electric vehicle technology with the belief that lower costs and improved performance will allow EVs to reach "a tipping point," Reuters reported. Immelt stressed the fact that GE's decision was based on his belief in what will be a substantial market, adding that "novelties don't work."

Last year, electric-drive vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and Nissan Leaf battery-electric accounted for less than one in 500 new cars sold. By comparison, hybrids account for about one in 50 new cars sold.

GE was an early supporter of electric-drive vehicles, agreeing in November 2010 to order 12,000 Volts and work with its fleet customers to purchase 10,000 more electric-drive vehicles by 2015. GE said at the time that electric-drive vehicle adoption could create $500 million in revenue for the company during the ensuing three years.

Source: Autoblog Green

Ford releases photos of Focus Electric NASCAR pace car


APRIL 16, 2012

* Ford's innovative marketing campaign for the 2012 Focus Electric continues as NASCAR selected the car to be the first-ever all-electric pace car, leading the field for the Sprint Cup Richmond 400 on April 28

* Ford was also first to use a hybrid to start a NASCAR event when the Fusion Hybrid served as pace car for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2008

* Ford research shows that approximately 35 percent of new car intenders are motorsports fans and 78 percent of them support NASCAR. Additionally, Ford race fans are 67 percent more likely to consider Ford products than general market consumers

* Ford also was the first to show off a 2013 model race car when it unveiled its new 2013 Fusion stock car in January

DEARBORN, Mich. -- Ford Motor Company is again making NASCAR history this month as the all-new Focus Electric becomes the first all-electric pace car to ever lead the field for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Richmond 400.

The all-new Focus Electric will perform all pace care duties at Richmond International Raceway on April 28.

"Ford research shows the majority of Americans would consider buying an electrified vehicle but do not yet understand the different technologies," said Mark Fields, president of The Americas. "Highlighting the Focus Electric as a pace car is a fun way to educate consumers about the kinds of benefits our electrified vehicles deliver and show people our commitment to provide Ford customers the power of choice for leading fuel economy in the vehicle that best meets their needs – from EcoBoost®-powered gasoline vehicles and hybrids to plug-in hybrids and full electrics."

Approximately 35 percent of new car intenders are motorsports fans and 78 percent of them support NASCAR, according to Ford research. Additionally, Ford race fans are 67 percent more likely to consider Ford products than general market consumers.

This marks the latest in a line of groundbreaking moments for Ford in NASCAR. In addition to being the first manufacturer to compete with a four-door sedan as its flagship model in 1998, Ford was also first to use a hybrid to start a NASCAR event when the Fusion Hybrid served as pace car for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2008.

In January, Ford became the first manufacturer to show off its 2013 NASCAR race car when it unveiled the new 2013 Fusion racer to media in Charlotte, N.C.

The Focus Electric pace car will be unveiled for the public at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond on April 25. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling will deliver the Focus Electric to Richmond International Raceway, where it will serve as pace car for that weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.

"Our fans are customers," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. "And just like in racing, they expect both fuel economy and performance from their daily drivers, and that's what Ford is delivering."

Fuel-economy leadership

The all-new Fusion range, which includes EcoBoost, a hybrid and the Energi plug-in hybrid version, is the best example of how Ford is giving customers true power of choice for fuel-efficient vehicles.

This year, Ford will offer nine vehicles reaching an anticipated 40 mpg or more. Plus, the company is building six new electrified vehicles by the end of this year.

"The Focus and Fusion are great examples of how we transformed our fleet of cars, utilities and trucks with leading fuel efficiency -- by electrifying entire vehicle platforms, instead of one-off specialty models," said Eric Kuehn, chief nameplate engineer, Focus Electric.

Ford will offer fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines in 11 vehicles in 2012, up from seven in 2011, tripling the production capacity of EcoBoost-equipped Ford vehicles. This expansion of fuel-efficient offerings will be led by the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine in the high-volume Escape compact utility vehicle and Fusion sedan.

Delivering up to 20 percent better fuel economy than conventional engines, EcoBoost uses smaller overall size combined with turbocharging and gasoline direct injection to bring customers the power they want and the fuel economy they need.

Focus Electric is America's most fuel-efficient five-seat car that offers the equivalent of 110 miles per gallon (MPGe) city, 99 MPGe highway and operates entirely on battery-generated power. Focus Electric has been certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to offer 105 MPGe combined.

By comparison, the Nissan Leaf is certified at 106 MPGe city, 92 MPGe highway and 99 MPGe combined. Focus Electric features more passenger room, more motor power and a faster charging system that can nearly halve the charging time of the Leaf.

Production of the Focus Electric began in December at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. More information about MAP can be found here.

Ford is ramping up Focus Electric retail production in the first half of this year for dealership availability in California, New York and New Jersey. By the end of the year, Focus Electric will be available in 19 markets across the U.S.

More information about Ford's electrified vehicle lineup -- including press releases, technical specifications and other related material -- can be found online here. Photos of the Focus Electric can be found here.

"The Ford Focus Electric is a major statement of Ford's commitment to bring green innovation and performance together, demonstrating for NASCAR fans how conserving the environment, creating jobs and strengthening our country can be made to happen without compromise," said Mike Lynch, managing director of Green Innovation for NASCAR. "With the largest sustainability program in sports, the NASCAR family is proud of Ford Motor Company's accomplishment with the Focus Electric pace car and what that means in terms of the tremendous impact of American innovation now and in the future."

FEV displays Ford 1.0L EcoBoost engine at SAE World Congress; provided early development support

FEV, Inc., is showing the 1.0L I3 Ford EcoBoost at the SAE 2012 World Congress. (Earlier post.) FEV provided early development stage support for the engine in the area of design and CAE, combustion development, and engine build for 36 engines. We have been very fortunate to have supported Ford Motor Company in the development of this breakthrough powertrain. This is a prime example of FEV’s business model, which is designed to integrate its expertise into the development process for customer propulsion systems on an as-needed basis. The EcoBoost engine represents one of the recent trends in the automotive industry, a move towards downsized and highly boosted engines that deliver higher power and better fuel economy than the larger engines they replace. And these engines are capable of doing that with very low exhaust emissions levels. —Gary Rogers, president and CEO of FEV The three-cylinder engine is designed for Ford vehicles such as the Focus, the B-MAX and the C-MAX. The engine will initially be offered with power ratings of 73.5 and 92kW (98 and 123HP, respectively), providing the power of the 1.6L four-cylinder, naturally aspirated engine in the Ford Focus. Both versions will deliver 170 nm (125 lb-ft) of torque between 1,300 and 4,500 rpm, which is an improvement over the 1.6L engine. The smaller power plant also provides an overall weight reduction of approximately 20 lbs. According to Ford, the Focus with the 73.5 kW engine achieves CO 2 emissions of 109 g/km. Source: Green Car Congress

UQM introduces PowerPhase HD 220 electric propulsion system for heavy-duty trucks and buses

UQM Technologies, Inc. is introducing its most powerful electric propulsion system yet: the PowerPhase HD 220 electric propulsion system. The production-ready HD 220 will make its debut at the Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26) conference in Los Angeles, 6-9 May 2012. The system is targeted for the heavy-duty truck and bus markets. Delivering a maximum output of 220kW, and 120kW on a continuous basis, the HD 220 is production-ready and would be built in the UQM volume-production manufacturing facility in Colorado. The PowerPhase HD 220 joins PowerPhase Pro 100 and 135 production-validated, automotive-qualified electric propulsion systems for battery electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. UQM PowerPhase electric propulsion systems have been selected to power the CODA all electric passenger car, Proterra’s all-electric composite transit buses, as well as Electric Vehicles International’s all-electric medium-duty truck and walk-in van, including a fleet of 100 UPS delivery vans. UQM also was selected to power the Audi A1 e-tron and Rolls-Royce 102EX Electric Phantom pre-production test fleet vehicles.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another Look at the 2012 Ford Focus Electric Sedan

You know those "spot the difference" side-by-side photos that are commonly reserved for Highlights magazines in a dentist's waiting room? "Can you find seven differences between these two pictures?" Park a 2012 Ford Focus Electric next to its gasoline-powered kin and you'll essentially be playing a three-dimensional version.

But that's exactly why we like this zero-emission, battery-powered compact. It doesn't have a funky name, it isn't all bubbly shaped, and it's still as functional as any new Focus we've sampled to date.

So, does this whole package of anonymous electrification work? It looks like a Focus, but does it drive like one and offer the same refinement, too? We headed to the southern California coast to find out.

To the trained eye, Electric-specific changes like the new grille (Aston Martin influence, anyone?), more aerodynamic front fascia, special badges, front charging point, and new 17-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Energy Saver tires are immediately noticeable, but to the general public, this five-door simply blends in with the rest of the cars on the road. EVs like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i certainly stand out in a crowd, and until electric vehicles become more mainstream, we can appreciate the fact that some drivers don't want to make a huge eco-statement every time they drive through town. We can't tell you how often we were stared and pointed at while driving the Nissan and Mitsubishi, and being the center of attention gets old. Fast.

2012 Ford Focus Electric side view2012 Ford Focus Electric front view2012 Ford Focus Electric rear view

Much like the exterior, there aren't that many changes to the Focus Electric's cabin. Up front, the design and layout of the center stack is unchanged, with the eight-inch MyFord Touch screen – standard on the Electric – prominently displayed front and center. One change of note is the revised instrument cluster, which now uses a center-mounted speedometer with two LCD displays flanking either side. This is very similar to what we first saw on the Fusion Hybrid, with different displays that grow out from the dash, all of which are configurable. Remember the efficiency leaves from the Fusion? They've now been replaced with cutesy blue butterflies here in the Focus.

The only options for the Focus Electric are two new paint colors – Blue Candy for $395 and White Platinum for $495 – as well as leather upholstery. Standard cars come with the cloth seats (partially made from recycled materials) seen in our test car, but if leather is more your thing, Ford will gladly sew it in for $995. The front cloth buckets are comfortable and supportive, and since they come standard with bun warmers, we suspect most buyers will opt to save the cows – and a few bucks.

2012 Ford Focus Electric interior2012 Ford Focus Electric gauges2012 Ford Focus Electric navigation system2012 Ford Focus Electric shifter

Of course, cargo space is compromised slightly by the addition of the large battery pack behind the rear seats, but Ford has developed a rather clever solution to still make the hatch as useful as possible. The load floor is separated into two parts, the rear of which can be raised up to create a flat floor, and also features a small hidden storage compartment underneath. Even so, cargo space isn't too bad in the Electric – there's 14.5 cubic feet of available room behind the rear seats, and additional 1.5 cubic feet in the hidden compartment. By comparison, a Nissan Leaf also offers 14.5 cubic feet of space, while the smaller Mitsubishi i only registers 13.2.

So, it looks like a Focus, is as nicely refined inside as a Focus, and – surprise, surprise – it drives like a Focus, too. That is to say, it's smooth, predictable and easy to manage, while offering a surprising amount of driver engagement. If we're honest, in some cases, we actually prefer its dynamics to that of the gasoline version. The Electric model does away with the annoying PowerShift dual-clutch transmission, the added heft of the battery pack in the rear allows for better weight distribution, and the more powerful motor does an adequate job of hustling all 3,642 pounds – 694 more than a base five-door Focus – around with decent pep.

2012 Ford Focus Electric battery2012 Ford Focus Electric charging port2012 Ford Focus Electric rear cargo area2012 Ford Focus Electric rear cargo area

A 23-kWh battery pack powers the electric motor, which is rated at 141 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque and, like the base Focus, sends its power to the front wheels. We weren't always driving for efficiency during our test, and when we did remove our frugality shoes, we found it immensely fun to mash the throttle off the line, delivering the full whallop of torque to the front wheels right from 0 RPM. It's easy to get those eco-friendly tires to skip a beat, though – especially when accelerating into a turn. But when it's time to slow things down, the brakes aren't super touchy like some hybrids and EVs with overly obtrusive regenerative braking. In fact, we had fun playing with the gauge cluster's Brake Coach function, which shows you how much of the available reusable energy was saved during each stint of braking. Go easy on the binders and you'll get 100 percent nearly every time.

All in, the Focus Electric is substantially more fun to drive than a Nissan Leaf, which has a tendency to feel more appliance-like than anything. Sure, this Focus EV is no sport's car, but if you're not one to sacrifice driving dynamics for the sake of maximum efficiency, it absolutely delivers. And it's far, far better than the golf-cart-on-steroids Mitsubishi i.

2012 Ford Focus Electric grille2012 Ford Focus Electric headlight2012 Ford Focus Electric wheel2012 Ford Focus Electric taillight

The EPA rates the Focus Electric at 110 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) highway, 99 MPGe city and 105 MPGe combined. Ford says that you can travel about 80 miles between charges, but of course, your mileage will vary. And when it comes time to recharge, the Focus Electric offers a substantial win over the Leaf. The charging mechanism itself is twice as powerful as the one in the Nissan, meaning it's possible to fully recharge the Focus Electric in as little as four hours from a 240-volt Level 2 charging station (it can take as long as 20 hours on a normal 120-volt plug).

Don't forget about the MyFord Mobile smartphone compatibility, too, which gives Focus Electric owners an array of information about charging status, location information, vehicle statistics and how your personal driving style affects the range you're getting. We've already had a chance to get hands-on with this system, so for the full skinny, click here to read our deep dive.

2012 Ford Focus Electric rear 3/4 view

Ford will launch the Focus Electric in three waves, beginning with key areas like New York and California first, with all markets being able to take delivery by the end of the year. The all-electric Focus is priced at $39,995, including $795 for destination, which means that after the maximum $7,500 federal tax credit, you're looking at a base price of $32,495. Yes, that's $3,945 more than the base price of a 2012 Nissan Leaf, but Ford believes the added interior space, performance and quicker charging time is worth the price.

Perhaps the biggest win for the Electric is that it largely acts the same as any Focus you'll find at a Ford dealer – it's comfortable, nicely appointed, handsome and quite engaging to drive. It's the EV incognito, and in a world where electric vehicles are still slowly gaining traction, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Nissan's Venucia JV will build Leaf look-alike electric car in China by 2015


Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Company ("Dongfeng Nissan"), the Passenger Vehicle business unit of Nissan's joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Corporation, today launched D50, the first production model of the company's new VENUCIA brand, at the Beijing Motor Show.

D50 is powered by a 1.6-liter gasoline engine, and four grades are available with prices ranging between RMB 67,800 and RMB 83,800. The car is built at the new Zhengzhou plant to global standards of quality and will be available at 100 exclusive VENUCIA dealers nationwide. D50's features include a spacious interior and a powertrain that delivers both high performance and fuel economy.

"The launch of 'D50' is a new start for us," said Ren Yong, deputy managing director of Dongfeng Nissan. "We will continue to enhance our engineering capability and launch a new model every year. Our objective for VENUCIA is to reach sales of 1 million units over the next five years."

Another highlight was the unveil of the brand's very first EV concept vehicle, "e-concept". "e-concept" will be built locally in China under the VENUCIA brand by 2015.

The sales target for VENUCIA will be 300,000 units annually, with a target of five models and 250 outlets by 2015.

The brand name, VENUCIA, is derived from the ancient Roman "Venus." The five stars of the brand logo represent the company's five brand promises - respect customers, create value, do the best, achieve world-class quality and seek the dream.

About Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Company (Dongfeng Nissan)
Dongfeng Nissan is a business unit of Dongfeng Motor Co., Ltd., Nissan's joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group Co., Ltd. Dongfeng Nissan is engaged in research and development operations, manufacturing and distribution of passenger vehicles.

Nissan Global Company Limited ("NGL") is a fully owned subsidiary of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., the second-largest Japanese automotive company. NGL was established in April 2012 in Hong Kong as the new Global Headquarter of the Infiniti brand. NGL also plays an important role in market research, product planning, and marketing and communications for the Nissan brand for Asia. Taking into account the geographical benefits of Hong Kong, the establishment of NGL is a key strategic milestone to realize the goals of Nissan Power 88, Nissan's corporate mid-term business plan.

CODA Holdings and Great Wall Motors to jointly co-develop global entry-level EV

CODA Holdings, a developer of battery-electric vehicles (CODA Sedan) and advanced battery systems signed a contract with Great Wall Motors Company to co-develop a lower-cost, entry-level battery-electric vehicle for worldwide distribution. The two had signed a Letter of Intent in August 2011.
Designed for the North American, Chinese, and European markets, this co-developed EV--which will be the second in CODA’s portfolio—is intended to be the most affordable EV on the market, comparable to entry-level internal combustion engine vehicles.
The joint effort will blend CODA’s battery technology, knowledge of the US market and experience with global joint ventures with the expertise of China's fastest growing and most profitable automotive producer. Great Wall Motors delivered nearly 500,000 vehicles in 2011 worldwide.
Products will be developed by employees of both companies in their research facilities in LA and Baoding, China. Vehicles will be sub-assembled in Great Wall’s manufacturing facilities in Baoding. Final assembly of US destined vehicles will take place in Coda’s facility in the US.

Source: Green Car Congress

GM shows design of Chevrolet EN-V 2.0 mobility concept vehicle in Beijing

General Motors showed the company’s vision of the Chevrolet EN-V 2.0 concept at Auto China 2012 today. It is an evolved design of the company’s mobility concept revealed at World Expo 2010 Shanghai. The EN-V 2.0 concept would use technologies such as the mobility Internet, electrification and telematics to help change the automotive landscape and ensure a sustainable future for our industry. —Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group The original EN-V (Electric Networked-Vehicle) concept was a centerpiece of the SAIC-GM Pavilion at World Expo 2010 Shanghai. The two-seat electric vehicle was based on the convergence of electrification and connectivity. It was developed to show the possibilities for alleviating concerns surrounding traffic congestion, parking availability, air quality and affordability for tomorrow’s cities. The EN-V 2.0 concept adds features that consumers demand such as in-vehicle climate control and personal storage space. In addition, it would be capable of driving in all weather and city road conditions. GM expects to use EN-V 2.0 prototype models in pilot studies throughout China. Source: Green Car Congress

IBM Welcomes Japanese Partners to Potentially World Changing "Battery 500" Project

On Friday, IBM announced it has taken on two major Japanese research partners to help with its Battery 500 lithium-air project intended to make internal combustion powered vehicles obsolete in around a decade or so from now. Begun in 2009, the project has the none-too-bashful goal of developing an electric passenger vehicle battery technology capable of delivering 500 miles on a charge. The round number of “500” represents how far a present-day internal combustion vehicle can go assuming a sizable fuel tank. The assumption is consumers do not want to sacrifice, and to be sure, IBM says 64 percent say they have range anxiety with today’s 75-125 mile battery electric vehicle performance. To overcome this, IBM’s researchers have been quoted as saying energy density deemed acceptable by a battery they produce should be 10-13 times above the lithium-ion batteries in a Tesla Roadster. The new R&D partners are Asahi Kasei and Central Glass. Of Asahi, IBM says it is “one of Japan’s leading chemical manufacturers and a leading global supplier of separator membrane for lithium-ion batteries.” Of Central Glass, IBM says it is “a leading global electrolyte manufacturer for lithium-ion batteries, will use its chemical expertise in this field to create a new class of electrolytes and high-performance additives specifically designed to improve lithium-air batteries.” IBM says together, the Japanese scientific talent will expand the project’s scope and explore several chemistries simultaneously to increase chances for success. At the same time, IBM states this is a “high risk” project that also stands to be high reward. The company speaks of its role in historical terms as a potential facilitator to humankind’s energy reliance away from fossil fuels toward reliable, viable electrical power. Reasons for the goal are not just the normally cited energy security, reduction of carbon footprint, and need for replacements in light of oil having peaked. These reasons are compounded by the not-too-distant future scenario of rapid population growth and where things are going to go if internal combustion power is not replaced. Studies have globally projected many more humans crammed into mega cities, and sprawling suburbs. And having become accustomed to standards set in the 20th and early 21st centuries, these people will likewise demand personal transportation, some – including IBM – have said. All this points to crisis scenarios if replacement for gasoline and diesel is not found. Calmly acknowledging these looming possibilities, IBM has said its “lithium-air” battery has shown enough promise to put its company reputation on the line and says it sees its goals as attainable, and a worthwhile endeavor at any rate. Not to sound too new agey, but the premise is there is energy in the air all around us – OK, with a little help from chemistry that can make use of it, that is … In short, IBM’s lightweight and energy dense lithium-air battery uses air – specifically oxygen –from the atmosphere as a reagent much like a gasoline engine does (see videos also). IBM says it hopes li-air will be the next evolutionary leap beyond today’s lithium-ion chemistries which it says are inadequate for widespread EV acceptance. Back to the Tesla Roadster example, IBM noted its battery pack has energy density of about 150 watt-hours per kilogram. IBM’s researchers have said they are shooting for 1,500-2,000 watt-hours per kilogram, at which point the world can say sayonara to grungy fuel burners without need for a wistful looking back. We reported on this project in January, and today’s announcement is just more potentially positive news for what IBM says is still in the early stages of research, and it is not over-hyping this work. After IBM proves an already promised prototype – hoped for in a couple years or so – it says the goal is to enter an “engineering phase” to develop commercial-grade batteries that would be ready for manufacturing into electric vehicles. Following are questions we sent via e-mail, and (brief) answers received from IBM Communications Spokesperson Ari Entin: Q: I read the press release, but on a scale of 1-10, what is the actual value these new partners bring to the project to seeing a 500 mile range battery? A: We’ve made a number of important scientific discoveries and demonstrated the science behind our battery technology works. These partners bring critical expertise necessary to scale up to a larger lab prototype. Q: I’ve read IBM has made good progress so far, can you update me on a hoped-for/projected timeline to production ready status? A: We’re looking to have a significant lab prototype around the end of 2013 but want to be very clear that we won’t see these being sold in a showroom this decade. The soonest one would see these on city streets would be between 2020 – 2030. Q: What would be the next step if IBM had a production-ready battery? – after all, it is not a car manufacturer. A: We’re still in the science phase, not engineering, but you’re right in that IBM is not a battery manufacturing company, nor will it become one. When the time is right, we’ll seek out, develop and license this technology with partners. I want to believe So, what do we make of this? You can joke about rumored Eestor super capacitors, tell us you’ll believe it when you see it, if you wish. We get that. We’ll merely note this is not a fly by night operation, we already are living in a world of amazing technology brought about by science, and IBM’s collaboration is international between leading U.S., Swiss, and other scientists. In the States, the effort includes research by national labs with such names as Argonne, Lawrence Livermore, Pacific Northwest, and Oak Ridge. The flip side to all this is one can deduce IBM essentially thinks a car like the Nissan Leaf has energy density of maybe only one-tenth of what is needed for a full-on paradigm shift away from fossil fuels. On the other hand again, we hear from plenty of happy EVers today who say the Leaf’s range is acceptable, but even executives at companies like Ford have lately been acting like their own Focus EV is a hit-or-miss proposition. Given many brilliant and capable minds are working on IBM’s 8 to 18-year project portrayed as urgently needed if human civilization is to continue expanding with acceptable quality of life, we are eager to see where this goes. But like you, we’ll just have to wait and see. You can learn more about Battery 500 by watching the videos, and can read further on IBM’s Web site. Source:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Audi presents A6 L e-tron PHEV concept at Auto China in Beijing

Audi is presenting the Audi A6 L e-tron concept at Auto China 2012 in Beijing. The plug-in hybrid has an all-electric driving range of 80 km (50 miles), and was specifically designed for the China market. Audi says that with its first e-tron technology study in the luxury class, it is showing what a locally produced New Energy Vehicle from Audi might look like. The A6L e-tronPHEV concept.Click to enlarge. The basis for this study is the new A6 L, Audi’s bestselling model in China. Audi produces this business sedan at the Changchun plant in a joint venture with FAW. The A6 L e-tron features a parallel hybrid system combining a 2.0 TFSI that outputs 155 kW (211 hp) and an electric motor with 70 kW (95 hp) peak power. The liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery is located in a collision-protected space at the rear of the vehicle. In electric mode, the Audi A6 L e-tron concept can travel up to 80 km at a constant speed of 60 km/h (37.28 mph). At any given moment, the hybrid control module chooses the best suited operating mode with the focus on driving range. This technology platform can be operated with only the internal combustion engine, only the electric drive, or in hybrid mode. In addition, it can recover energy during deceleration, or it can boost output power for strong acceleration by combining the two drives. The Audi A6 L e-tron concept delivers sporty performance. Audi has already launched electrified drive systems in volume production with full hybrid models with lithium-ion battery technology. The Q5 hybrid quattro, A6 hybrid and A8 hybrid can drive up to 3 km (1.9 miles) on electric power. In combined mode, which uses the internal combustion engine and electric motor, customers experience sporty driving performance and better fuel economy. The power steering, like the brake booster and the air conditioning compressor, utilizes an electromechanical drive. The body of the A6 L e-tron concept is identical to that of the Audi A6 L. Consisting of approximately 10% aluminum, it weighs about 15% less than a comparable all-steel design. Aluminum components in the load-bearing structure and exterior skin, as well as the high-tech steels used in the occupant cell, make the body significantly lighter. Each new future Audi model will be lighter in weight than the previous model. This makes the brand a frontrunner in reversing the upward weight spiral. In designing car bodies, developers will intelligently use new combinations of materials, including carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). e-tron. The term Audi e-tron refers to technologies ranging from PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) to range extenders and finally vehicles powered purely by electric batteries or fuel cells. Audi is using A1 e-tron and A3 e-tron test vehicles to acquire important customer feedback, which can be incorporated in later production cars. The first product will be the A3 e-tron in 2014. It will be followed by other New Energy Vehicles. In this way, Audi intends for e-tron to become established as a further attractive drive technology option alongside TDI and TFSI. Source: Green Car Congress

Honda unveils demonstration test house featuring Honda smart home system; gas, solar power and electromobility

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. unveiled a house Honda built in the city of Saitama, Japan, for the demonstration testing of the Honda Smart Home System (HSHS). (Earlier post.) HSHS controls in-house energy supply and demand, and helps manage both the generation and consumption of energy for the home such as heat and electricity, while utilizing mobility products. HSHS is also designed to enable users to secure their own supply of energy and mobility in a time of disaster. The HSHS installed in this demonstration test house consists of CIGS (copper, indium, gallium, selenium) thin-film solar cell panels; a home battery unit (rechargeable battery); household gas-engine cogeneration unit and hot-water supply system; and the Smart e Mix Manager. The Smart e Mix Manager, the core of the HSHS, is an energy management device which applies optimal control to electricity supplied from the commercial grid and generated by each energy device that composes the system. The Smart e Mix Manager reduces CO 2 emissions from the home and, at the same time, provides a backup supply of electricity so that the house can be self-sufficient in the event of a power outage or disaster. Honda will conduct demonstration testing of the HSHS that is linked with electromotive mobility products such as electric vehicles and the Internavi system. Through this demonstration testing, Honda will aim to reduce CO 2 by 50% (in comparison to year 2000). In addition, Honda will verify the backup function for household energy supply, which will provide a sense of security and comfort to the customers. The gas-engine cogeneration system features a multi-link type high expansion ratio engine, the EXlink (Extended Expansion Linkage Engine). The gas-engine cogeneration system offers combined efficiency—the combination of power generation efficiency and heat recovery efficiency—of 92% and enables the efficient use of electricity and heat using city gas or liquid petroleum gas. In the demonstration testing, Honda will study the automatic activation of the cogeneration unit using a battery and verify its effectiveness in the time of an emergency. Envisioning the reuse of electric motorcycle/automobile batteries, Honda will facilitate the development of a home battery unit and verify the functionality of the unit. The Smart e Mix Manager obtains the operation information of each energy device and coordinates each of the devices that compose the HSHS, while it analyzes total household energy usage. Honda will verify the optimal use of household energy, provided by the Smart e Mix Manager, to charge EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Source: Green Car Congress

Sunday, April 22, 2012

BYD's two new models and three world-class technologies to premiere at 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition


At the upcoming 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition from April 23th to May 2nd, BYD will unveil its products in Hall W2 with the theme of Technology, Quality, Responsibility. Aside from traditional fuel vehicles, new energy vehicles, electronic intelligence technology and powertrain technology, BYD is going to showcase the F3 Plus (the second-generation F3) and Chin models for the first time in a world exclusive at the auto show. In addition, three world-class technologies including Remote Control Driving technology, Dual Mode II system, and the Bi-directional Inverter Charging and Discharging technology will also be showcased.
BYD will have its press conference from 11:30 - 12:00 am on April 23 at the BYD booth.

Chin – Lead the EV Way
The Chin adopts BYD's new Dual Mode II system, with improvements on the current dual mode electric model F3DM in efficiency, power and energy-saving. With a high voltage, high-speed motor and high-density batteries, the Chin requires just 16RMB of energy per 100km, which equates to 2 liters of fuel per hundred kilometers.

F3 Plus – Enjoy Remote Control Pleasure
Based on the current F3 model, the best-selling sedan in China for years since its launch in 2005, the second-generation BYD F3 is officially named the F3 Plus for the overseas market. The F3 Plus a classic model from BYD – with significant improvement in the exterior, equipment and interior workmanship. While many high-end configurations are available, the highlight of the F3 Plus is the world-leading Remote Control Driving technology, which makes the F3 Plus the first mass-produced model in the world to feature this cutting-edge technology. The Remote Control Driving technology allows many vehicle functions of the F3 Plus to be performed remotely only by a key. With the key in his or her hands, the driver can make the car start, move forward and back, turn left and right, and travel at a restricted speed all by itself, without the driver even being in the vehicle. It is a perfect solution when the parking space is not wide enough for the driver to exit the car once parked. In windy and rainy weather, drivers can even remotely move the car to his or her side without getting wet.

Bi-directional Inverter Charging and Discharging Technology
The Bi-directional Inverter Charging and Discharging Technology will be a world-class and subversive technology. It allows the electric vehicles independent of specialist charging stations, meanwhile turns the vehicles into mobile power storage stations, which will be very conductive to the electric vehicle promotion.

About BYD
BYD Co., Ltd, the Exclusive Transportation Service Supplier of the Universiade Shenzhen 2011, is a leading-edge provider of green energy technologies that specializes in the IT, automotive, and new energy industries. Being the world's biggest rechargeable battery manufacturer, BYD branched out into the auto business in 2003, and has kept a robust yearly growth rate successively. In 2008, Warren Buffett invested $232 million to take a 9.89% stake in BYD. Today, BYD is the fastest-growing Chinese auto company and a global pioneer in the field of new energy vehicles including Dual Mode Electric Models and Pure Electric Models. In 2010, BYD and Daimler AG set up a 50-50, 600 million Yuan ($88 million) electric car joint venture in China. BYD has also focused on the Research & Development and manufacturing of a wide range of new energy products, including energy storage system, solar energy products and LED lighting.

Ampera may outsell Volt in its first year

The Volt’s Euro twin siblings, the Ampera variants, are on track to surpass first-year Volt sales.
This news for the Opel/Vauxhall twins may come as little surprise, but as you’ll recall, GM missed its 10,000-unit target last year after the federal battery investigation and American politics were blamed on slowing momentum to 7,761 units sold.
Well, the Ampera just being introduced has over 7,000 orders, of these a good 60 percent are fleet customers, and the Detroit News reported that Enno Fuchs, e-mobility launch director for Adam Opel AG, said it will be no sweat topping 10,000 Amperas by year’s end.

“We are quite sure that our sales target of 10,000 units (in 2012) is within reach,” Fuchs wrote in an email to the publication.
We’ve been hearing similar things from European GM executives since last year, and even if things for the Volt were off to a rocky start here, the Amperas and European Chevrolet-badged Volts are being comparatively better received.
No doubt it has partly to do with high fuel prices there, and that the Volt has already passed a gauntlet in its home country further proving to progressive Europeans – particularly deeper-pocketed fleet buyers – that the car is a safe bet.
Also not hurting the situation, the Volt/Ampera was recently named the first American car to receive European Car of the Year, and – although priced like a modest luxury car – it is taking sales from competitors, including diesels, even in some countries where no tax credits exist, but a VAT tax does.
Months ago there was some talk of asking GM for more than the first year’s Ampera allocation, so we shall see whether this is deemed feasible in months to come.
The Ampera sells for 41,900 Euros (about $55,300) and it is noteworthy that from the beginning GM has invested in more Voltec variants in Europe than it has in America.
In Europe you can choose between an Ampera or Volt, whereas in the States, we have just the Volt. Perhaps we should also comb news there for test mule sitings or other clues to the second generation Volt?
Meanwhile, Volt sales are picking up here, and GM will sell more than 10,000 in the U.S, having delivered 3,915 year to date through March, and more of these were individual consumer sales.