Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Have a safe and prosperous New Year's! Out with the old and in with the new.

Cadillac CT6 Will Use Aluminum Body

Once upon a time, car designers didn’t think twice about building land yachts like the 70s Cadillac Eldorado, which was more than 18 feet long and weighed close to 5,000 pounds. These days efficiency is in vogue, and the upcoming Cadillac CT6 full-sized flagship will use an aluminum body to keep the pounds off, reports Automobile Magazine.
Details have been slowly coming out about the CT6 ever since Cadillac poached former Audi US chief Johan de Nysschen, who has made some controversial decisions and remarks in his remake of the luxury brand. Among those is the approval of the CT6 as a tech-heavy flagship meant to launch the brand into the next decade, and will likely include a plug-in hybrid drivetrain with an emphasis on performance.
But performance would be hard to achieve with an excessively high curb weight, so aluminum will be utilized to try and keep the CT6 at or below the 4,000 pound mark, and possibly as low as 3,700 pounds. Compare that to a likely competitor like the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, which ranges in the 4,200 to 4,500 pound range, and Cadillac could carve out a serious advantage for itself.
While GM hasn’t been the fastest automaker to adopt aluminum in an effort to improve efficiency, the automaker could be adopting a top-down mentality by applying it to Cadillac first. Ford on the other hand went straight for volume sales by building an aluminum-bodied F-150, though the fuel economy figures were perhaps not as high as they had hoped. Cadillac has been similarly unlucky with ELR sales, which have only recently surged following huge discounts off the MSRP.
Once reserved for race cars and sportscars, aluminum is definitely becoming a lot more common in the auto industry. It might not be long before even the cheapest cars are made from old beer cans.

First Hybrid Electric Airplane Takes Flight

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have successfully tested the world’s first aircraft powered by both an electric motor and a gasoline engine. Paul Robertson of the Cambridge Department of Engineering says, until quite recently the batteries needed for a hybrid electric airplane were simply too heavy for the job. But newer batteries are substantially lighter, which has allowed research on hybrid powertrains for airplanes to take off, so to speak.
Using a lightweight single seat Czech airplane called the Song, Robertson and his team have replaced the plane’s normal conventional gasoline engine with a smaller four-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor. When full power is required for takeoff, both work together. But when cruising altitude is reached, the electric motor is shut down and the gas engine throttled back for maximum range. The hybrid electric plane is capable of flying much further than it could before it was modified, and much, much further than the few pure electric planes that have taken flight.
The new smaller engine can also be used to recharge the battery in flight so the electric motor can be used again to facilitate a takeoff later in the trip. Think of it as a flying Prius. As researchers continue to improve battery performance and reduce weight, the application of hybrid electric power to airplanes will likely expand to include larger aircraft soon.

Source: Gas2

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Nissan LEAF Dissected, Pinned To Pegboard, Still Runs!

Remember in biology class when you had to dissect a dead amphibian and place and label all of the organs? Kinda gross, but very engaging and enlightening (so long as your stomach could handle it). Well somebody has gone ahead and dissected a Nissan LEAF in the same manner, only in this case the “victim” is still alive, in a sense.
Green Car Reports found this neat video posted by mikeatyouttube, who apparently disassembled a trashed Nissan LEAF and arranged the electric drivetrain components on a pegboard. This includes the electric motor, controller, and all the (many, many) wires that are needed to make it all work in beautiful synchronous harmony. Similar projects have attempted to shed light on the battery in the Tesla Model S, though this appears to be for funsies than anything technical. More than just looking cool though, this disassembled LEAF still works.
While the battery pack is too big to pin to the pegboard, once all the connections were made, the drivetrain proved to be capable of operating outside of the mothership. Pressing on what I can only assume was the throttle pedal sensor, you can hear the electric motor whir to life, sounding far more ferocious than its 107 horsepower rating would seem to indicate. Four years and 150,000 electric vehicles later, and the LEAF has become more than just a cult hit.
This is more than just a cool science experiment though, it’s inspiration if you’re a hot rod kinda guy like me. If the entire drivetrain of a Nissan LEAF can operate without the car, then there’s nothing stopping me from dropping it into a different vehicle. I’m not saying it would be easy per se…but seeing this video, it looks a lot less complicated than performing one of the more “commonplace” swaps, like a fuel-injected LS1 into a classic Chevy Chevelle.
All of the sudden I find myself inspired to buy a trashed Nissan LEAF and figure out a cool car to swap the drivetrain into. I’m open to suggestions…

Monday, December 29, 2014

2016 Chevy Volt Is Quieter, Handles Better, Says Latest Teaser Video

As General Motors works to stoke interest ahead of its 2015 Detroit Auto Show debut, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is getting more teasers than a Hollywood blockbuster.
While the last video confirmed that the new Volt can do something virtually every car can do--drive on snow--this one highlights some even more basic features.

Namely, that the 2016 Volt is quieter and handles better than the current model--something that automakers aim for with every redesign.
That assessment comes from GM product chief Mark Reuss, who took the wheel for this short video.
Chief engineer Andrew Farah with camouflaged 2016 Chevrolet Volt prototype
Chief engineer Andrew Farah with camouflaged 2016 Chevrolet Volt prototype
Reuss previously appeared in a video showing off the Volt's variable regenerative braking. Along with the video above, that makes four released so far under the hashtag #NextGenVolt.
The teases started back in August, when GM released a carefully-edited photo of the new Volt's back end and badging.

Then in October, the company released a photo of a fully-camouflaged prototype Volt--and discussed the technique for camouflaging test vehicles driven on public roads.
Roughly a month later at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, a photo of the Volt's partially uncovered front end was released after an owner preview event.
2016 Chevrolet Volt sneak peak for owners, Los Angeles, Nov 2014
2016 Chevrolet Volt sneak peak for owners, Los Angeles, Nov 2014
That's quite a few teases so far, and it's possible GM will squeeze at least one more in before the new Volt is finally revealed to the public.

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt will be formally unveiled Monday, January 12, at the Detroit Auto Show.

Source: Green Car Reports

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Tesla Supercharger Overtakes CHAdeMO

SuperCharger 2
As of December 17, there are more Tesla Supercharger charging points in the US than CHAdeMO, saysInsideEVs. While Tesla has only 141 Supercharger locations, each one of them has up to 12 chargers for a total of 884 individual charging points. Each CHAdeMO charging station has only 1. Worldwide, the CHAdeMO network, which is used exclusively by Nissan for recharging its LEAF EVs, is still far ahead, but Tesla is working quickly to bring new Supercharger facilities on line in Asia and Europe.
At present, there are three competing charging systems for EVs – Tesla’s Superchargers, CHAdeMO and the system chosen by most to the world’s major manufacturers that uses the SAE standard. Over the coming years, one of those networks will become dominant.
But which one? Elon Musk has offered to make all the patents Tesla holds for its Supercharger technology available free of charge to any other company that agrees to use his system. So far, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen have all said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
SuperCharger 1
 Tesla Supercharger System Map As Of December, 2014

Source: InsideEV's

Saturday, December 27, 2014

EV Cash Cow: One Charging Spot Generates $27,000 In Fines

In Raliegh, You Take Your Chances Parking In An EV Spot With Your Gasser!
In Raleigh, You Take Your Chances Parking In An EV Spot With Your Gasser!
So you are worried about electric cars not paying their fair share of tax revenue via the pump?  Doesn’t seem to be an issue for Raleigh, North Carolina, who come well equipped with an able meter-maid contingent.
North Carolina Charges Pure EV Owners $100 Annually To Driver Their Vehicle
North Carolina Charges Pure EV Owners $100 Annually To Driver Their Vehicle
Despite only around 3,000 pure electric vehicles in the state (which are also now required to pay a $100 annual registration fee), some North Carolina cities are finding out what a cash boon EVs can be.
In Raleigh, one space alone (#378 on Fayetteville street to be specific) has netted $27,000 in fines thanks to being “ICEd” over the past 12 month; North Carolina EV parking fines account for as much revenue as the entire state has brought in for registration fees.
Why so much?  It’s a premium downtown spot and if you happen to park your non plug-in car in it, you get a $50 fine, considerably more than the $20 fee for an expired meter.
For the year about 540 tickets have been given out according to the NewsObserver, that is around 1.5 every day and 7 times as many tickets as other curbside spots on the block.
The reason for the high ticket frequency?  Mostly due to the ease of which the infraction can be spotted by authorities – last we checked a Ford F150 didn’t plug in.

Source: Inside EV's 

Tesla Announces Roadster 3.0 Upgrade: 70 kWh Battery and New Aero Kit

16 hours ago by Jay Cole 27
Roadster 3.0 Upgrade Package Includes 31% Larger Battery Pack And Aero Kit
Roadster 3.0 Upgrade Package Includes 31% Larger Battery Pack And Aero Kit
Tesla CEO Elon Musk's Earlier Tweet Announcing The...Uh, Announcement
Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Earlier Tweet Announcing The…Uh, Announcement
As foretold earlier this week, Tesla has rolled out the prototype “Roadster 3.0 Package“.
With precious few days left in 2014 to make good on an earlier promise to update the battery technology found in the Roadster, which first hit the market in 2008, Elon Musk tweeted that all would be revealed after Christmas.
That day turned out to be today, as Tesla Motors announced that current Roadster owners (~2,500 of them) are looking at being able to swap out their old batteries  (53 kWh) for new ones with improved technology providing 70 kWh of power.
In addition, and also somewhat unexpected, a Roadster 3.0 retrofit aero kit is part of the package that will make the 2 seater 15% more efficient slipping through the air, along with a new available set of tires, wheel bearings etc. that will aid the car in achieving more range.
How much more range is now on tap? the company says to expect 40-50% more miles.  The original iteration of Roadster had been rated by the EPA at 244 miles.   Under the right set of circumstance, the company says one could expect to get more than 400 miles.
Tesla will demo the long-range Roadster 3.0 in early 2015.  We expect this prototype package to be identical to that which is offered to owners in 2015 (otherwise why do it?).   Pricing has yet to be announced.  Tesla also says this will not be the last of the upgrades available to owners in the future.
Our own off-the-cuff estimate would be that, given the limit amount of cars to potentially upgrade, Tesla doesn’t want to price the retrofit too exorbitantly but also doesn’t want to lose money either.  $25,000-$30,000 sounds about right to us.

Full Tesla Release on Roadster 3.0:

A Slightly New Look For The Roadster Aids In Reaching The Mythical 400 Mile Range Figure
A Slightly New Look For The Roadster Aids In Reaching The Mythical 400 Mile Range Figure
The Roadster 3.0 package applies what we’ve learned in Model S to Roadster. No new Model S battery pack or major range upgrade is expected in the near term.
Battery technology has continued a steady improvement in recent years, as has our experience in optimizing total vehicle efficiency through Model S development. We have long been excited to apply our learning back to our first vehicle, and are thrilled to do just that with the prototype Roadster 3.0 package. It consists of three main improvement areas.
1. Batteries
The original Roadster battery was the very first lithium ion battery put into production in any vehicle. It was state of the art in 2008, but cell technology has improved substantially since then. We have identified a new cell that has 31% more energy than the original Roadster cell. Using this new cell we have created a battery pack that delivers roughly 70kWh in the same package as the original battery.
2. Aerodynamics
The original Roadster had a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.36. Using modern computational methods we expect to make a 15% improvement, dropping the total Cd down to 0.31 with a retrofit aero kit.
3. Rolling Resistance
The original Roadster tires have a rolling resistance coefficient (Crr) of 11.0 kg/ton. New tires that we will use on the Roadster 3.0 have a Crr of roughly 8.9 kg/ton, about a 20% improvement. We are also making improvements in the wheel bearings and residual brake drag that further reduce overall rolling resistance of the car.
Combining all of these improvements we can achieve a predicted 40-50% improvement on range between the original Roadster and Roadster 3.0. There is a set of speeds and driving conditions where we can confidently drive the Roadster 3.0 over 400 miles. We will be demonstrating this in the real world during a non-stop drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the early weeks of 2015.
We are confident that this will not be the last update the Roadster will receive in the many years to come.
Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Gas Cars Parked In One Electric-Car Spot Earn Raleigh $27,000 A Year

EV parking sign, Portland OR
EV parking sign, Portland OR

The problem of gasoline cars parking in spaces reserved for plug-in electric cars to recharge at is nothing new.
It's known as "ICE-ing," referring to cars with internal combustion engines parking where they shouldn't.

But the problem has proved to be lucrative for Raleigh, North Carolina.

That city earned $27,000 in the year ended November 30 from parking tickets on one single electric-car charging spot, located on the city's busy downtown Fayetteville Street.
That represents 540 tickets, at $50 apiece, placed on gasoline vehicles that ignored the signs warning that the spot was reserved for electric cars.
MetLife electric-car charging station for employee use - Dayton, Ohio
MetLife electric-car charging station for employee use - Dayton, Ohio
They also ignored the presence of a 240-Volt Level 2 charging station at the curb as well, apparently.
And as the Charlotte News Observer noted in an article, more gasoline cars were ticketed for parking that space than there were electric cars that actually used it to recharge.

Raleigh has a total of 23 public parking spaces reserved for electric-car charging, out of a total of several thousand.
But the space on Fayetteville Street--known as No 378--generated parking tickets seven times as frequently as any other space produced the lower $20 fine for an expired meter.
Electric vehicle parking by Flickr user aaron_anderer, used under Creative Commons license
Electric vehicle parking by Flickr user aaron_anderer, used under Creative Commons license

To address complaints that the warning sign wasn't obvious enough, the city moved the sign closer to the street.
Part of the issue may be training: Although it installed its first electric-car charging stations in 2009, the city only began to issue tickets for ICE-ing after complaints by city councilperson Gaylord Bonner, who drives a Nissan Leaf.

The city plans to investigate better markings for the spot, including painting spots a different color--as they are at a retail-office-residential center called North Hills.
And advocates note that Raleigh's $50 fine is far less than those in other cities for parking in handicapped spaces; in Illinois, those fines range from $500 to $2,500.
Still, cities scrambling to boost local revenues in the face of a stagnant economy and a surly electorate may find easy cash in aggressive ticketing of ICE-d charging station parking.
At least temporarily, that is, until the word gets out.

Source: Green Car Reports

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

HO HO HO Merry Christmas!


Have a wonderful day and enjoy the time with your families.

Tesla Roadster Upgrade Coming Next Week

Earlier this year Elon Musk mentioned that an upgrade for Tesla Roadster owners was in the works, and the popular theory is it will be 400+ mile battery pack. In a recent tweet Musk revealed that the Tesla Roadster upgrade would be revealed next week, having been delayed by several “crisis issues” that required immediate attention.
What are those issues? Musk can’t say, though one could infer that these “crisis issues” have to do with the again-delayed Tesla Model X. Musk also just revealed that the first battery swapping pilot project would be open for business next week as well, making good on two big promises he made earlier in the year. Better late than never, and he certainly addressed a couple of issues I was starting to take with the man.
As far as the upgrade for the Tesla Roadster, a new battery pack makes the most sense. Some Roadster owners have complained of diminishing range levels, and while the 245+ miles of EPA-rated range is second only to the Model S, the 53 kWh battery pack leaves room for improvement. Potentially shoehorning the 85 kWh battery pack would almost certainly deliver 400 miles of real-world range.
Another possibility is the addition of the Supercharging capability to the Roadster, adding the ability to travel across the U.S. on free energy (courtesy of Tesla). A third possibility is additional battery armor, same as what the Model S received, though there haven’t been any reports of battery fires relating to the Roadster as far as I know.
For Tesla Roadster owners, this belated Christmas gift is welcome news indeed, whatever it is. With all the hubbub around the Model S these days, it’s easy to forget the car that came before it. Unless you’re Elon Musk that is.

Source: Gas2

Why Americans Will Overpay for Cuba's Vintage Cars

Photographer: Jim Graham/Redux

Many vintage American cars survived, as if in a time warp, in Cuba. Barred from importing newer models, Cubans have repaired the vehicles, which are now considered a national treasure.

When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, he made it illegal for anyone to import cars without government permission. The mandate arrested automotive history on the island, and curvaceous mid-century Chevys, Studebakers, and Buicks still rumble down Havana's Malec√≥n, much as they did half a century ago. Now, with the easing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, some of the nearly 60,000 vintage cars in Cuba could eventually make their way into collectors’ hands stateside. 
Cuba loosened some trade restrictions on automobiles earlier this year, allowing new cars to be bought and sold on the island. Lifting the U.S. trade embargo on the island—a decision that must be made by Congress, not President Barack Obama—would let Cuba's classic automobiles return to the U.S. after so long. If that does happen, the buyers won’t be traditional car collectors, who prize low mileage and automobiles in pristine condition. For one thing, Castro’s restriction on auto imports stopped the flow of replacement parts, so while a Cadillac convertible in Cuba may look authentic at first blush, a closer look reveals both hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometer and a bevy of makeshift fixes, perhaps even (gasp!) a Peugeot diesel engine under the hood. That said, experts anticipate a niche market of buyers willing to pay a premium to own a piece of Cuban history.

Photographer: Paul Hahn/LAIF via Redux

“Most people would want them as a sort of art piece,” says McKeel Hagerty, chief executive officer of car insurer Hagerty. Even immaculately restored examples of 1950s-era American cars aren't terribly valuable, Hagerty says, but interested buyers should expect to pay two or three times as much for the jerry-rigged Cuban examples. His company estimates that a top-of-the-line 1954 Chevrolet 210 Delray club coupe would fetch $20,000, while the Cuban version might command $40,000 to $60,000. Similarly, one could pay more than $60,000 for a 1955 Buick Century sedan re-imported from Cuba that would ordinarily be valued at $20,600.
While some Cuban car owners will undoubtedly jump at the chance to make quick cash by offloading their American behemoths, Hagerty doesn’t expect a flood of cars to leave the island. “These cars are part of their culture,” he says. “They are integral to the image of who they are, so it would be hard to imagine [the cars] all going away.”

Photographer: Stefano Biliotti/Ovoworks via Getty Images

For diehard car collectors, the prospect of an open Cuba holds the intrigue of a rare find—a mothballed, broken-down beauty abandoned by an owner who lacked the financial means or ingenuity to fix it. “I’m of the belief that there is something over there to be found,” says Rick Drewry, a collector car claims specialist at American Modern Insurance Group. “Some people are going to be on the hunt for those diamonds in the rough.”
Those mythical diamonds in the rough won't be old Fords—or any other U.S.-made car—but the Mercedes, Ferraris, and Maseratis that raced in the Cuban Grand Prix. A photographer touring the island recently uncovered a gull-wing Mercedes-Benz 300 SL—examples of which fetch over $1 million at auction—rusting under a banana tree. Hagerty dismisses that discovery as a one-off. “Trust me,” he says, “that is going to be the search. But best I can tell, most of the cars that raced there exited the country around the time of the revolution.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Spied: 2016 Mercedes Plug-in Hybrid E Class

2016 Mercedes Hybrid Plug-in
According to Paul Tan, the “flap” on the back end of this 2016 Mercedes-Benz E Class tester (caught during cold-weather testing) is proof positive that Mercedes is bringing a plug-in hybrid version of its bread-and-butter mid-size sedan to market … maybe before the end of 2015!
That small flap is visually similar to the one snapped on a prototype C Class plug-in hybrid earlier this year, and follows industry speculation that Mercedes’ upcoming plug-ins won’t be radical departures, styling-wise, from their internal-combustion counterparts.
So, a plug-in hybrid version of the 2016 Mercedes E Class is definitely coming. Which means that the big question, now, is whether or not the car will be called an E350 … or an E500.
If it’s an E350, we can probably look forward to the same 2.0 liter 4-cyl/electric motor combination we saw in Mercedes’ C Class hybrids. If it’s an E500- well, that’s another story.
To Mercedes fans, the E500 (or, in old-school Benz-speak, the 500E) is a storied name. It implies effortless Autobahn cruising at 155 MPH for hours and hours. It implies a car that can keep up with- if not beat!- Porsches in a straight line, and it suggests that the feat would require no sacrifice in comfort, quiet, or serenity. Such was the promise, and the legend, of the W124 E500.
If we get an all-new 2016 Mercedes E500, it could feature the 3.0 liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine fitted to the $122,000 Mercedes SL400. In that car, without electric assist, the engine is good enough to take you and yours from 0 to 60 MPG in nearly 5 seconds, flat. With electric assist and all-wheel-drive?
This, ladies and germs, could be one of the all-time great Mercedes-Benz sedans. And it won’t even punish you at the pump!

2016 Mercedes Plug-in Hybrid E Class

Source | ImagesPaul Tan.

Monday, December 22, 2014

2015 Yamaha eVino Arrives in Taiwan - VIDEO

When Yamaha announced plans to offer a full, cradle-to-grave ecosystem of 100% electric motorcycles, many dismissed its plans as overly-ambitious green-washing. Here we are, barely a year later, however, and Yamaha has delivered on the first of its electrified promises. Meet the 2015 Yamaha eVino electric scooter.
Currently available for sale for the ultra-cheap price of just 58,500 New Taiwan Dollars (about $1850, USD), the 2015 Yamaha eVino features a large, practical cargo basket at the front along with a deep, under-seat storage space that- and I can speak from the sort of personal experience that comes with owning 3 of the things- will easily fit an XL 3/4 face helmet. Combined, the two storage spaces should make the little eVino an enormously competent grocery-getter and errand-runner.
Stylistically, the 2015 Yamaha eVino looks just like the standard Vino from the handlebars back. Up front, the large basket gives it a bit of a look, sure- but the star of the show for vintage scooter lovers is the fender-mounted headlight.
Fenderlight scooters are a thing, people. Trust me.
Beyond looking good and being immensely practical, capacity-wise, the new Yamaha eVino also features a clever removable battery pack, allowing apartment-dwellers or commuters to easily carry the battery pack into their homes or offices for all-day charging. Our more clever readers have already figured out that a small, removable battery pack could be placed at each location pre-charged, enabling all kinds of extended-range adventures for more interesting eVino riders.
The 2015 Yamaha eVino has a 20-25 MPH “moped” top speed, and a range of just over 15 miles on a single battery pack. With enough cargo capacity for a few dozen batteries, however, I can already think of some fun road test challenges for next year. Here’s hoping the little bike comes to the US, and that the super kick-ass Yamaha PES1 electric street fighter comes with it!