Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Nissan Will Test Public Car Sharing Plan In Yokohama

When is a Renault Twizy not a Renault Twizy? When it is a Nissan New Mobility Concept vehicle based on the Renault Twizy chassis. Nissan will use the tiny two seaters to test a public car sharing program in Yokohama. The year long experiment kicks off in April.
The Ultra Compact Mobility Certification System will take place in Yokohama’s Sakonyama Danchi District in conjunction with housing agency Urban Renaissance. Nissan says the experiment is part of a “method for revitalizing urban and suburban areas.” Presumably, any citizen in need of getting from Point A to Point B in Yokohama will simply hop into the nearest New Mobility Concept vehicle, drive to the desired destination and leave it for the next person.
Movie buffs may be reminded of the line in Beverley Hills Cop when Axel Foley asks childhood friend Jenny Summers if that fire engine red Mercedes SL is her car. “Oh, no,” she says sweetly, “In Beverly Hills, we just take whatever car is closest.”
The Twizy based micro-car is also part of a rental fleet in the Japanese town of Shikano. There, the cars cost the equivalent of $10 per hour after paying $12 for a training license. The New Mobility Concept vehicles are about a foot shorter than the diminutive Smart For Two, or about as long as your typical bicycle. Which means finding a parking space, even in the crowded confines of Japanese urban environments, should be a breeze.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lincoln Continental Concept Debuts

The past ten years will undoubtedly go down as some of the worst in Lincoln’s long history as both its sales and its status as a luxury car leader have plummeted. Even Ford’s venerated former CEO Alan Mulally considered euthanizing Lincoln, but the brand managed to hang on, and it might finally be turning a corner with the Lincoln Continental Concept.
The first thing I noticed is how low the Continental Concept rides to the ground, hovering just a few inches over the blacktop. In a nod to the Tesla Model S, Lincoln designers added pop-out “E-Latch” door handles that contribute to the smooth, uninterrupted lines of the Continental Concept, even while the flared wheel wells give it a broad, muscular look. It’s true to the history of the Continental, without being mired in the past.
One of the major knocks against Lincoln is how it’s been light on luxury features that other automakers are offering buyers, adding to the accusation that the brand is little more than tarted-up Fords. But the Continental could change that with options like a smart-tinting sunroof, reclining rear seats, a “tablet tray” that pops out of the rear center console, and even a champagne storage compartment, because only the uber-wealthy should be allowed to enjoy an alcoholic beverage on the road, apparently. There’s even detachable Venetian leather travel cases that plug into the backs of the front seats.
By now you’ve got to be wondering, “What’s under the hood?” Sorry to disappoint plug-in car fans, but the sole source of motivation in the Continental Concept is the 3.0 liter EcoBoost V6 that is almost certianly based off of the 2.7 liter EcoBoost V6 that debuted in the 2015 Ford F-150 last year. The Continental offers three driving modes, normal, sport, and comfort, but nowhere is there any mention of weight-lightening materials like carbon fiber or aluminum. That seems like a missed opportunity to me, as is not integrating more sustainability into the Lincoln dealer network.
On the whole though? I love the Lincoln Continental Concept, and the directional shift it seems to indicate for the brand. Let’s drop the crappy three-letter “names” and bring back monikers like Continental, Town Car, and Zephyr that clearly seperate themselves from the Ford lineup. Maybe that$5 billion makeover is finally working.
The only thing missing from the Continental Concept is a plug, and that can only be fixed later.

Coming Toyota Supra to forgo hybrid, get a BMW six-cylinder turbo?

For years, almost all of the talk about the Toyota FT-1 concept becoming a resurrected Supra envisioned a hybrid under the hood. And then the latest take on Future Toyota 1 showed up at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show and - although Toyota wouldn't say a word about any engine at all - horizons began to expand. Imaginary fancies were aided by the news that Toyota had partnered with BMW to develop asports car on the next-generation BMW Z4 platform, which would necessarily mean an engine bay designed to accept an old-fashioned hunk of gas-burning iron-working solo.

Car and Driver now turns the whole thing around, reporting that there will be an inline-six with forced induction provided by BMW under the hood. What about that hybrid, though? The report states, "there's currently no indication that the Silk Road cars will offer hybrid options" - 'Silk Road' being the codename for the jointly-developed vehicles. CD makes a point to note that said tidbit came from Germany, not Japan. However, designers at Toyota's Calty studio did tell Automotive News last year that they designed the body with an inline-six in mind, a nod to the Supra's history.

Hybrid rumors aren't dead yet, though - remember, we were hearing about all-wheel drive and supercapacitors in May 2014. The coupe is predicted to be a 2018 model, making its appearance sometime in 2017, and be "about 10 percent" smaller than the FT-1 concept.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Audi A7 H-Tron Fuel Cell Vehicle Advertised Using “Disappearing Billboards”

The past six months has seen a flurry of hydrogen fuel cell concepts from automakers across the world, and the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron is arguably the best-looking of the bunch. So how does one go about marketing a car whose only tailpipe emissions are water vapor? Audi came up with an ad campaign that dissipates in the same way as the emissions from the A7 Sportback h-tron.
The “disappearing billboard” for the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron has appeared in several major cities during nighttime hours, using a projector and water vapor to create ads that disappear, but leave a “lasting impression” as Audi puts it. While the arguments for or against hydrogen as a replacement for fossil fuels might still be raging, this unique marketing campaign really gets to the heart of why some people are so in favor of fuel cell vehicles.
Other automakers are utilizing clever ad campaigns for their own hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Hyundai watered a garden with the “emissions” from its fuel cell crossover, and while Toyota has advised against drinking the emissions of the Mirai FCV, they do intend on rally racing their hydrogen sedan. Hydrogen FCVs still face an incredible uphill battle though, especially with the market gains electric vehicles have made in the past five years.
Audi and other hydrogen backers will need more than clever advertising to make hydrogen a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

Source: Gas2

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Kia Soul EV Sales Expanding To Five More States

Though it may have been a late entrant to the electric car market, Kia came out swinging with the well-recieved Soul EV. After the initial limited rollout produced higher-than-expected sales, the Kia has decided to accelerate a nationwide rollout by expanding Soul EV sales to five additional states where EV sales are booming.
The Kia Soul EV initially launched last year in California, and soon buyers in Oregon, Washington, Texas, Georgia, and Hawaii will be able to go to select Kia dealers to get a Soul EV of their own. The expansion is set to happen in the coming months with June tapped as the unofficial rollout, and additional markets will come online to get Kia’s first electric car in 2016. Executives previously said the Soul EV has been a “huge hit”, and its little wonder why the automaker would want to get its first electric car in front of more buyers.
“From the inception of the Soul EV program, Kia’s sales strategy has been progressive and pragmatic,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, KMA. “With the level of demand and supporting infrastructure in the state, California was a natural place to start, but we’ve been carefully studying other markets. Between consumer reaction to the Soul EV and growing infrastructure programs in these five states, this is a logical – and exciting – next step in our rollout plan.”
The Soul EV offers an EPA-rated 105 miles of electric driving range, and drivers could recharge 80% of the Soul’s lithium-ion battery in just 30 minutes using a 50 kW DC fast charger. Soul EV buyers also have the option of choosing from three different home charging stations from Bosch, Aerovironment, and Leviton. The Kia Soul EV has a base price of $33,700 before federal or state tax incentives, as well as a $249 a month lease .

Source: Gas2

Friday, March 27, 2015

2016 Chevy Malibu Hybrid Teased, Promises 45 MPG

The Chevrolet Malibu has long been a cornerstone of the Chevrolet fleet, and you can find a Malibu in just about every strip mall and rental car lot. The last refresh of the Malibu in 2012 didn’t go over so well though, prompting a complete overhaul. The all-new 2016 Chevy Malibu is already shaping up to be a better car, and GM says the hybrid version will offer 45 MPG.
That would be a tremendous improvement over the outgoing Malibu, which offers fuel economy of up to 36 MPG with a mild-hybrid setup. While not terrible, 36 MPG isn’t exactly impressive in today’s day and age, and many competitors offer conventional sedans nearing 40 MPG. But GM has a secret weapon, the 2016 Chevy Volt’s Voltec drivetrain, which served as the basis for the 2016 Malibu Hybrid.
Now that’s not to say the Malibu hybrid will come with a plug, but it will be able to drive for about one mile or so one electricity alone, all the way up to 55 MPH. This is similar to what many competitor vehicles, like the Kia Optima Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid offer, but the 45 MPG rating would put the Malibu above those and other hybrid sedans. It’d also give the outgoing Toyota Prius a run for its money thanks to features like active grille shutters and GM’s first exhaust-gas heat recovery (EGHR) system, which uses the engine’s excess heat to warm up the car and cabin quicker while providing better cold weather fuel economy.
You won’t find the Chevy Volt’s new 1.5 liter gas generator under the hood though. Instead, the 2016 Malibu Hybrid uses a 1.8 liter engine that, working with the electric motor, pumps out a total of 182 horsepower. Hardly thrilling stuff, but not exactly gutless either. More importantly, GM now has a car to contend with conventional hybrids from competitors, as the General has lacked a dedicated hybrid (besides the Volt) that could really go toe-to-toe with cars like the Toyota Camry Hybrid.
The 2016 Chevy Malibu will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show next week.

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Coming To New York

Next week the world’s biggest automakers will descend on the Big Apple for the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS). Among the many anticipated new debuts will be the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which the Japanese automaker teased with the above photo.
Besides the photo though, Toyota isn’t dropping any hints about the RAV4 Hybrid, and this will be the first time the brand offers a hybrid version of the popular compact crossover. The only hybrid “utility” vehicle with a Toyota badge at the moment is the seven-passenger, $50,000 Highlander Hybrid, and while our review found that it delivered great fuel economy for a big SUV, it’s priced way beyond what most people can afford.
Toyota did build the RAV4 EV briefly in a partnership with Tesla, though it was only available in California as a compliance car (albeit one with a small but devoted following). However, the Lexus 300h shares the same chassis as the RAV4, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for the 2.5 liter engine and Synergy Hybrid system to make the jump into a cheaper Toyota. That could boost the RAV4 to up to 35 MPG, though there’s also a chance an all-new hybrid drivetrain could find its way under the hood.
We’ll find out a week from today!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Volkswagen To Decide On Solid-State Batteries By July

Der neue Volkswagen e-up!
What is the future of EV battery technology? That’s a question many automakers find themselves asking, and as Volkswagen finds itself vying for position of the world’s largest automaker, it’s an increasingly important question to answer. Bloomberg reports that Volkswagen will make a decision this July on whether or not to pursue solid-state batteries.
The lithium battery technology in question comes from U.S.-based QuantumScape, and VW executives were impressed enough to take a 5% stake in the company, with the option to buy more. Rather than rely on a liquid electrolyte solution like batteries used by GM and Tesla, QuantumScape’s solid-state batteries used a solid electrolyte material, which greatly reduces the chance of fire. Both the Chevy Volt and Tesla Model S were subject to federal investigations for fire, though that isn’t the only reason Volkswagen is considering solid-state batteries.
Last year Volkswagen executives said that the automaker sees “great potential” in the ability of solid-state batteries to deliver real-world driving ranges of 400 mile/700 km or more. VW already plans to have a 300 mile/500 km EV ready for production come 2017, but a 400 mile/700 km EV would offer literally five-times the driving range of the Volkswagen e-Golf (rated at 83 miles/130 km). You could pretty much write off range anxiety with that much travelling range, and there’s some serious scienceto back up these bold claims.
There are further implications for solid-state batteries across the industry though. Tesla in particular could find itself producing outdated batteries at the Gigafactory, an embarrassing position for an all-electric automaker. While I’m sure Tesla is monitoring all sorts of battery developments, Elon Musk’s well-laid plans could come crashing down if nobody wants to buy his brand of battery anymore. Other automakers like GM and Volkswagen still have conventional and hybrid vehicles to fall back on, but Elon is all-in with electric vehicles. Without the best battery in the business, Tesla would be hard-pressed to compete.
Are solid-state batteries ready for prime time though? That’s the decision Volkswagen will have to come to this summer. Even if they do go ahead with the technology though, it will probably be another five years before we see it in a production car.
Once that happens? Volkswagen may finally be able to realize its dreams of becoming the world’s largest automaker.

Honda Fit EV Leases Extended As Hydrogen FCV Delayed

Make no mistake about it, as cool as the Honda Fit EV is, it was clearly designed as a compliance car, a placeholder for when Honda’s first production hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) comes to market. With its FCV possibly delayed until 2017 or later, Honda has opted to extend the lease options on the Fit EV both both existing and new buyers.
It’s an interesting turn of events, especially considering that the Fit EV went out of production last fall. Yet the popular compact electric car has proven to be something of a hit, with a months-long waiting list in some parts of California (the only place you can buy a Fit EV I believe). With the earliest leases on the verge of ending, and no replacement in sight, Honda has offered up a $199 a month extended lease deal. That’s down from the $259 monthly payment and extends the free maintenance and unlimited milage offers of the original lease.
Considering the Honda Fit EV first arrived in 2012 as a 2013 model, the Japanese automaker should have had some kind of replacement by now. That hasn’t happened despite the promise of a new EV though, and with its hydrogen FCV plans pushed back as well, Honda could end up paying hefty fines to California’s Air Resource Board for failing to put enough zero-emissions vehicles on the road.
Maybe Honda should just commit to building the Fit EV instead? People seem to love it, it’s competitive with many other electric cars on the market, and consumers are clearly turned on by the idea of an electrified Honda. Why not just give us what we want?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Integrated Propellers Could Power Electric Airplanes

Integrated propellers may make electric airplanes possible
In the same week when the Solar Impulse 2 — an electric airplane powered by the sun — began its quest to circumnavigate the world, NASA announced it has developed a new design that integrates many slow turning electric motors into the wings of light aircraft. The result is that electric airplanes may actually fly someday, although they will only be 1 or 2 passenger planes to begin with.
Integrated propellers provide a 60 percent boost in wing efficiency and a significant reduction in drag. The NASA project envisions 32 electric motors — 16 on each wing — turning small propellers. Each motor can be placed precisely on the wing for maximum efficiency and reduced drag, reports Jalopnik.
Integrated propellers may make electric airplanes possibleThe pilot would have many options during flight never before possible. Each motor could be operated independently at different speeds to optimize performance, depending on the phase of flight. In cruise mode, some motors could be shut down and their propellers folded to reduce drag even further. Computers could determine the optimum speed for each motor from takeoff through landing. Having so many motors available would provide critical redundancy and emergency backup in case of failure.
With the government penchant for cool sounding acronyms, NASA is calling the project Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology (LEAPTech). NASA has mounted the wing on a specially modified truck at Edwards Air Force Base, where it can operate on a dry lake bed at speeds up to 70 mph. The truck has its own acronym, of course. It is known as the Hybrid-Electric Integrated Systems Testbed (HEIST). Researchers are focusing primarily on the takeoff and landing phases of flight.
After the initial research is complete, NASA plans to mount its experimental wings on an Italian-built Tecnam P2006T. Using an existing airframe will allow engineers to compare the performance of the flight demonstrator with that of the original P2006T. Because the technology is easily scalable, it could then be applied to small passenger planes and eventually be tried on commercial aircraft.
Will we be flying to the Bahamas on vacation aboard electric airplanes any time soon? Probably not. But when you consider that commercial airliners spew enormous amounts of CO2 emission behind them everywhere they go, the NASA research could prove to be enormously important for the environment.
Images: NASA

Richard Branson Hints At Electric Car From Virgin

How much weight can you place on a few words spoken in an unguarded moment during an informal press interview? If the speaker is billionaire Richard Branson, the answer is, “Quite a lot.”
Branson was in Miami last week to watch his Virgin Racing team compete in the 5th round of the Formula E championship. He happened to be speaking with a reporter from Bloomberg News who asked him what racing in Formula E might lead to. Branson replied with this unscripted, off hand remark (via Bloomberg):
“We have teams of people working on electric cars. So you never know. You may find Virgin competing with the Tesla in the car business as we do in the space business. We will see what happens.”
It’s true that Branson’s Virgin Galactic company is working hard on commercial space flight, as is Elon Musk’s SpaceX corporation. He’s also big into renewable energy these days. It’s not unusual for billionaires to compete fiercely with each other as a way of measuring their power, influence and manhood. Perhaps the irrepressible Branson is miffed that Musk is enjoying so much success in the car business with Tesla and just wants to divert the media attention his way a little bit.
Anything is possible, but one thing is for sure. If Richard Branson wants to jump into the car business, he has the means to do so. He is no stranger to challenges such as being the first man to travel around the world in a helium balloon. If he says “Do it!”, it will be done.
For the present season, Formula E rules do not allow any variations in motors, batteries, inverters. gearboxes or cooling systems. But starting next year, development of motors, inverters and gearboxes will be allowed and the following year, improved batteries will be permitted. So Branson and Virgin Racing will need to have some very talented engineers to remain competitive with the rest of the field. Could those same engineers be put to work on building a passenger car or two?
What do you think?

Monday, March 23, 2015

New VW Transporter Due April 15

Volkswagen has been teasing us about a new version of the iconic VW Transporter for years now, starting with the eCO-Motion electric concept van in 2013. But according to CarScoops, the new T6 Transporter will be officially unveiled on April 15 and go on sale in Europe later this year. Will it make it across the pond to American shores? Volkswagen hasn’t told us that but don’t hold your breath.
There is only so much you can do with a box on wheels. You can throw in some creases in the sheetmetal here and there or play with the design of the headlights and the grille, but when you are done, it is still going to look like a box on wheels. The official VW design sketch you see here doesn’t tell us anything about what the front of the new Transporter will look like.
We do know that mechanically, the T6 Transporter will be based on the chassis of the current T5 model, so don’t expect any big changes in  length, width or height. It will be powered by Volkswagen’s current gasoline and diesel engines. There is also a possibility it may offer the company’s 237 horsepower 2.0-liter TDI that debuted on the new Passat as an option.
Most of the differences will be on the inside, which is expected to offer a redesigned dashboard complete with an integrated screen for VW’s latest infotainment system. We will have more on the new T6 Transporter after its official introduction.

Tesla's Roadside Assurance Plan

Never Worry About Your Model S Range Again
Two new features make it easier than ever to take a trip in your Model S by ensuring that you never unintentionally run out of charge. With Range Assurance and Trip Planner, you have peace of mind at all times and maximum freedom to travel. Here’s how they work:
Range Assurance
Now your Model S automatically warns you before you drive out of range of known charging locations. The navigation system then shows a map of the most convenient charging locations and guides you to the closest one. No need to think ahead or do any calculations. This software update makes it effectively impossible for a Model S driver to run out of charge unintentionally. Your car always takes care of you.
Trip Planner Interface
Trip Planner
Model S will now automatically navigate you to your destination by integrating the best charging options into your route. The software figures out the fastest and most convenient path to your destination, including how long to stop at each charging location. As soon as your car is ready to go, it will message you via the Tesla phone app. As always, the Supercharger network provides free long distance travel to Model S owners. You arrive, plug in and it just works.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Canada Offering EV Rebate Via Cash-For-Clunkers Program


In the summer of 2009, America’s official Cash for Clunkers program got underway, with the hopes of propping up a floundering auto industry and getting old, polluting cars off the road. The Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) has launched it’s own Cash-For-Clunkers program, but with the $3,250 rebates only good towards the purchase of a plug-in car, reports Autos.ca.
British Columbia actually ended up a test case for what happens when local governments remove incentives for buying plug-in cars. The results made it clear that incentives for plug-in car drivers really do make a difference, which encouraged BC to develop a new Scrap-It program targeting cars age 15 years or older. Drivers who turn in their old cars to be recycled will receive a $3,250 rebate towards the purchase of an electric car or Chevy Volt/Cadillac ELR, but interestingly enough, no other plug–in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Considering Vancouver recently scrapped about $90 million worth of hydrogen buses, it seems like maybe Canada has gotten its fill of fuel cells.
The $3,000 rebate (plus $250 from car dealers) is more than the book value of many pre-200 vehicles. That’s not the only incentive BC has to offer plug-in car buyers though, as the provincial government is expected to re-introduce an up-to $5,000 rebate for the purchase of a plug-in car, though it’s unclear whether the $2,500 rebate for plug-in hybrids will also make a comeback. For those willing to go pure electric though, the rebates could add up to more than $8,000 off the MSRP of an electric car, though other parts of the land of hockey and maple syrup can get up to $11,000 in incentives.
That’s Canadian dollars, I should note, and the $8,000 BC incentive works out to about $6,400 in America. U.S. citizens benefit from a $7,500 tax rebate, plus state incentives like Georgia’s $5,000 rebate that can reduce the price of some EVs like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV by more than half. Considering what a difference rebates make to plug-in car sales though, and that this program can take some real inefficient cars off the road, this program is a win-win for environmentalists.

2015 Zenos E10 S review

No other country on earth props up a national car-building cottage industry with the enthusiasm of England. Beneath the larger firms you’ve definitely heard of - Caterham, Ariel, Lotus - there are dozens more tinkering and imagining and kit-creating in an oil-stained niche of splendidness. Few, though, threaten to break the big time.
Zenos is different. Its story we’ve told elsewhere, but the bare bones are that it was started by old hands and known faces, both well weathered from years of toil in Surrey and Norfolk. Crucially, they began with a clear vision and concrete bottom line. The E10, in its more powerful S guise here, is what has popped out 24 months down the line.
Built around an innovative ‘backbone’ of aluminum - with a carbon-composite tub and an extruded rear subframe to house the engine - the car is a mid-engined, rear-driven and track-enabled but also road-focused two-seater. There are no doors and there is no roof. So we’re talking strictly second car, summer fun adventure here. But we’re talking a lot of it, with power coming from Ford’s 250bhp 2.0-litre Ecoboost unit.
We’ve already had an introduction to the E10 on circuit, in prototype format. Now, with the model moving into the manufacturing stage, we get a chance to try it out on the road for the first time - which is where Zenos expects the majority of its customers to spend most of their time. Served up without race dampers but with the optional six-speed manual gearbox (over the standard five-speed), uprated brakes and heated windscreen, the car is very much as the initial 100 or so buyers have reportedly chosen to spec it, too. 

What's it like?: 

Important to characterise the car’s innards first, because - rather pointedly - they’re quite unlike anything else currently on offer at this price bracket. Where the Elise is all extruded aluminum and sharp edges, an Atom scaffolding and a Caterham the 1950s, Zenos has moulded a thermoplastic tub of clever angles and miniature TV screens. Not only does it feel like something born in this decade but it also fits together with the kind of harmony that suggests it was considered integral to the car’s appeal from the outset rather than merely somewhere to sit and steer. 
No, it’s not put together with a McLaren’s tolerances, and there’s a bathtub flex to some of the panels, but that’s to be expected. Likewise the parts-bin gear lever and indicator stalks. But the driving position is near perfect. The readout in front shows revs, speed and gear - so all you’ll ever need, then. Crucially, the right arm - cramped in an Elise; virtually the crumple zone in a Seven - slots onto the windowless sill with an at-homeness normally the preserve of a Range Rover. 
The ergonomic finesse is no coincidence. Despite an obvious lack of shelter overhead, Zenos has sought a tremendous degree of usability from the E10. As standard, the car comes with an aeroscreen, but the full windscreen seen here was conceived very early in the design stage and therefore tallies perfectly with the styling. It also affords a decent amount of protection: there is wind in your hair, but not of the teeth-shattering potential you’d equate with a doorless Caterham. 
There is noise, however. A huge amount of it. While Zenos may have (sensibly) left the engine tune alone, the Ecoboost’s turbocharger has been rendered a gulping, hissing, Group B-emulating monster. And because Ford has it come online so early, even gentle throttle inputs will have it sucking the oxygen from beneath your eardrums. In a helmet, it’s a phenomenal soundtrack. Without a buffer, it’s just phenomenal - although your drowned-out significant other may conjure up a different adjective. 
The noise, of course, signals the E10's defining party trick: an almost lag-free industrial bungee rope of torque. The S has a torque-to-weight ratio well in excess of that of a Porsche 911 Turbo. However, the thing to get all incredulous and giddy about is the way that this manifests at the back axle. The mechanical grip and traction levels summoned up by the chassis (and some sticky Avons) is startling. In the good weather we were afforded, on the public road, the quality of adhesion makes full throttle exploits endlessly manageable. 
That confidence is crucial because, with speed limits restricting the amount of pace you can legitimately carry, fierce acceleration is second only to handling on a featherweight wish list. Happily, the E10 has the latter covered, too. The steering, a massive wrist-straining effort at low speeds, is more Caterham than Lotus - and although not quite as quick as the former, I’d take the Zenos's communicative and very direct brand of heft over the latter. 
Conceivably, the unassisted connection to such a surfeit of grip may have rendered the car a little too benign on the road, but the sense of supreme balance - the mass at the midriff, you rotating around it - is unmistakable in something 150kg lighter than an Elise. It’s a more elemental experience, too, that early whiff of understeer and subsequent straightener tweak of oversteer being more pronounced - if short of the kind of kart-like adjustability you get from an Atom. 
Comfort-wise, it doesn’t quite manage the counter-intuitive, magic carpet ride you’d get from the Lotus. But on its more congenial street dampers, the E10 S manages to be something engagingly in between its mid-engined rivals. And you rather feel that’s the point. Attached to the supreme tractability of the engine, and the mass-produced simplicity of its six-speed gearbox, the car’s resistance to intrusive bumps and wayward tracking makes it equally capable of something approaching mellow. With ear plugs, that is.

Should I buy one?: 

Zenos, in just two years of fettling from clean piece of paper to production model, has landed its first go with laser-guided accuracy. At the one end this is the Lotus rival we imagined; born of Norfolk, by people imbibed in the same culture, meaning it rides well enough for its owner to consume mile after mile, and steers well enough to remain totally engaging while doing so. 
But, equally, it feels as though those same people have been free to express themselves in the wider experience. Ideas that have clearly been percolating for years have been brought to bear. It therefore aims slightly away from the Elise, at a patch of open market space begging to be filled with something supremely fast, usable, exploitable and, crucially, affordable. It may very well be the English sports car hundreds of us have been waiting for. 
Zenos E10 S 
Location Bedford; On sale Now; Price £29,995; Engine 4 cyls, 1999cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 250bhp at 7000rpm;Torque 295lb ft at 2500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight725kg; Top speed 145mph; 0 60mph 4.0sec; Economy na; CO2 and tax band rating na

Friday, March 20, 2015

BMW Releases New Video On First Electric Car: 1972 BMW 1602e

Today's BMW i3 may be the first electric car available to the public in large quantities from the Bavarian brand, but it's certainly not BMW's first-ever electricvehicle.
Over the past four decades, BMW has built numerous concepts and prototypes to experiment with electric propulsion.
And it all started with a boxy orange model, the 1602e developed 43 years ago, in 1972.
While the i3 can be seen as a response to tightening global emissions standards and concerns over climate change, the 1602e was a response to the geopolitical issues of its own time.
While the 1973 OPEC oil embargo hadn't yet hit, continuing turmoil in the Middle East had already led to concern over the potential for shortages and disruptions in the supply of oil.
1972 BMW 1602e
1972 BMW 1602e
Based on the now-classic "02"-series sedan, the 1602e featured a bank of lead-acid batteries under its hood, and a 32-kilowatt (42 horsepower) electric motor.
The batteries were essentially the same type used to power the 12-volt electrical system of a typical internal combustion car. They were grouped together as (very large) cells into one pack.

This arrangement yielded just 37 miles of range, with a weight penalty of around 770 pounds.
Only two examples of the 1602e were built, and they were both used at the 1972 Olympic Games in BMW's in hometown of Munich.
1972 BMW 1602e
1972 BMW 1602e
They were used to shuttle dignitaries, and to pace athletes in long-distance running events.
The advantage of that, BMW notes in the above video, is that runners didn't have to breath exhaust fumes while being paced by the cars.
That's an advantage shared by the Nissan Leaf when a prototype paced the world-famous New York City Marathon in November 2010, a month before the car went on sale to the public.

Forty years later, BMW electric cars also performed supported duties at the 2012 London Olympics.
In between, BMW built and tested several more electric prototypes--including the fleets of MINI E and Active E released to customers as test beds for the i3.

In other words, you could say the i3 was four decades in the making.

Source: Green Car Reports