Thursday, June 30, 2016

Nissan Set To Produce A Plug-In Hybrid Compact Car

Will the Nissan LEAF become a plug-in hybrid like the Chevy Volt? At Nissan’s annual stockholders meeting on June 22, CEO Carlos Ghosn told listeners that the company will introduce two new technologies this year. First, it will unveil an autonomous driving system that will guide the car in a straight line and around curves without input from the driver. The system, which will be known as ProPilot, will operate only within one travel lane, which means it will not have the automatic lane change feature available in Tesla’s Autopilot system.
Gripz plug-in hybrid concept
Second on the list is a plug-in hybrid powertrain it calls e-Power. It uses a small engine to generate electricity to charge an onboard battery. The battery, in turn, powers an electric motor that turns the wheels. The e-Power system debuted in the Gripz compact crossover concept revealed at the Frankfurt auto show last fall. Regular readers will recognize the e-Power system as equivalent to the powertrain used in the Chevy Volt. With LEAF sales in the toilet, Nissan seems to be raising the white flag and admitting that Chevrolet had the better idea. Both cars came on the market at about the same time in 2010 and 20111
Some members of the press have reported that the LEAF will now become a plug-in hybrid like the Volt, but Ghosn didn’t actually say that. What he did say is the e-Power system will appear first in a “new compact car.” He added, “This new electric vehicle will meet consumer demand for greater autonomy and fuel efficiency. It will utilize a new e-Power system that matches the agility, quietness, strong acceleration and efficiency of the Nissan LEAF.”
Toshiyuki Nakajima, a manager at Nissan’s advanced vehicle engineering department, says the e-Power system has several advantages. It is less expensive because it doesn’t need as big a battery as a purely electric car requires. Also, the range extender engine doesn’t need to be as big as it would be in a conventional car. It acts solely as a generator and can be tuned to operate only at the most efficient engine speed. “We want to simplify the system,” Nakajima said.
Both the e-Power and ProPilot systems are expected in 2017, based on Ghosn’s remarks, but in which vehicles is unknown at this time. Nissan has not announced any plans to put the highly styled Gripz concept into production, although a plug-in hybrid crossover would be a direct hit on the current sweet spot of the new car market.
Source: Automotive News   Photo credit: Nissan

20 Million Autonomous Cars By 2035 Says IHS Automotive

IHS Automotive predicts there will be more than 20,000,000 autonomous vehicles on the road by 2035. That’s a substantial increase from prior estimates. The difference is attributable to a marked increase in research and development by manufacturers, suppliers, and technology companies recently, as well as activity within various regulatory environments.
Autonomous car
IHS says the US will lead the world in initial deployment and early adoption of autonomous vehicles. Japan will be close behind as it gears up to host the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. “Global sales of autonomous vehicles will reach nearly 600,000 units in 2025,” said Egil Juliussen, director of research at IHS Automotive. “Our new forecast reflects a 43% compound annual growth rate between 2025 and 2035 – a decade of substantial growth, as driverless and self-driving cars alike are more widely adopted in all key global automotive markets,” he said.
The latest analysis takes into account new mobility solutions such as ride sharing and car sharing programs and includes a number of factors, including development of new core technologies and the amount of R&D projects under way. It factors in discussions and initiatives by manufacturers with suppliers and ride sharing companies, technology company initiatives, and increased investment in mobility by other entities as well.
The forecast predicts there will be several thousand autonomous cars deployment in the U.S. in 2020. That number will grow to nearly 4.5 million vehicles by 2035, IHS says.  The forecast in China is for more than 5.7 million autonomous vehicles by 2035. China will be the single largest market for autonomous technology, according to analysts. The sheer volume of vehicles expected to be sold there as well as consumer demand for new technologies will drive growth, with more upside possible as regulators assess the potential of autonomous mobility to address safety and environmental concerns.
In western Europe, the forecast predicts about 3,000,000 autonomous cars will by 2035 and another 1.2 million vehicles in Eastern Europe. IHS Automotive also forecasts more than 1 million vehicles with some level of autonomy in the Middle East and Africa in 2035. Another 1.2 million self-driving cars will populate roadways in Japan and Korea.
There may be a few hiccups along the way. Challenges to the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles include issues centering on software reliability and cyber security, Both are showing improvements as technology evolves and the industry recognizes the threat. The other concern is that a hodgepodge of rules and regulations will spring up in various markets, inhibiting the ability of companies to sell autonomous cars to the public. The technological challenges can be managed. Political hurdles may prove harder to overcome.
Source: Electric Cars Report   Photo credit: Nissan

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

ISEA Is Raffling Off a 2016 Tesla Model S

The Illinois Solar Energy Association is dedicated to promoting awareness of solar and other renewable energy programs in the state of Illinois. As part of its fundraising effort for 2016, ISEA is raffling off a 2016 Tesla Model S, the most desirable electric car in the world.
ISEA Tesla Raffle 2016
Tickets may be purchased between now and November 30, 2016. Tickets are $100 each or four for $300. No more than 2,500 tickets will be sold, so each ticket has a 1 in 2,5000 chance of winning. The grand prize drawing will be held on December 8, 2016.
ISEA raffle Tesla
The Tesla Model S is rated one of the best cars in the world. This battery operated luxury automobile has no tailpipe emissions, which fits in perfectly with ISEA’s mission to promote a society that runs on clean, renewable electric power. The Model S is one of the safest vehicles in the world and has a 5 star crash rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Consumer Reports consistently rates the Model S as one of the best automobiles in the world. It also says Tesla owners are more satisfied with the service they get at Tesla service centers than the owners of any other make of car, including luxury brands such as Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, and Lexus.
The grand prize winner will receive enough money to purchase a Tesla Model S, which as of June 1 2016, is valued at $71,200. The winner may may use that money to configure the car in the color and with the options he or she desires. Second and third prize winners will receive a battery operated Radio Flyer Model S for kids.
Tickets may be purchased online at the ISEA store. For complete rules and regulations regarding this raffle, please visit the official contest page at the ISEA website. Please note that raffle winners are responsible for all taxes and fees associated with the purchase of the Tesla Model S grand prize.
About ISEA
ISEALOGO1ISEA is a non-profit organization that is the Illinois chapter of the American Solar Energy Society(ASES). ISEA represents over 400 members, including more than 100 businesses across the state. Its mission is to educate and advocate for the widespread application of solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy technologies for the people of Illinois. ISEA offers public education and professional education courses, and it advocates for strong renewable energy policies on both a state and federal level.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Jaguar J-Pace Diesel Electric Hybrid Caught Testing

Jaguar is known to be working on a battery electric SUV. But it may also have a diesel electric hybrid verson of that car under development. The hybrid, which may be called the J-Pace, has been spotted testing by Autocar. Based on the F-Pace SUV, the test mule appears to be longer than the existing model. A 2.0 liter diesel engine coupled to an electric motor or two is rumored to reside under the camouflaged exterior.
Until the Volkswagen’s diesel emissions cheating scandal exploded last September, diesel engines were hugely popular in the UK and in Europe, thanks to two generations of government policies favoring the more fuel efficient engines. Apparently, the demand for diesels still remains among customers on the Continent. 
Jaguar is reportedly anxious to create a sub-brand for its green vehicles, all of which will have vastly different styling than its traditional models in much the same way that BMW’s offerings from its “i” division are distinctive from other cars from the Bavarian auto maker.  Within that planned family, the diesel-electric hybrid and all electric SUVs may be separate models, each with its own styling.
Autocar suggests the  hybrid J-Pace could be a larger model that will slot above the all-electric SUV. Having a hybid powertrain would eliminate any range concerns  in a larger vehicle. Eventually, there may be as many as four models in Jaguar’s green car offirings. All will probably use the same aluminum-intensive platform as the current F-Pace and XE sedan.
The all electric SUV is expected to go on sale as early as 2017 with the diesel electric hybrid following along about a year later. Jaguar has reportedly trademarked the names E-Pace and I-Pace but no J-Pace. The use of the word “pace” refers back to previous advertising campaigns based on the slogan, “Grace, Pace, And Space.”
Source: Green Car Reports   Photo credit: Jaguar Land Rover

Route 66 Going Solar In Missouri - VIDEO

A section of Route 66 in Missouri will soon be covered in solar panels from Idaho startup, Solar Roadways. “It gets Missouri and MDOT prepared for 21st century innovations,” says Tom Blair, who heads the Road to Tomorrow initiative. “We expect them to be in place, I’m hoping, by the end of this year, maybe before snow flies.”
solar panel roadway for Route 66
Combining road improvement with solar energy generation could be not only a boon for the Missouri but a model for other states as well. Blair says, “If [Solar Roadway’s] version of the future is realistic, if we can make that happen, then roadways can begin paying for themselves.”
Solar Roadways describes their tempered-glass roads as “a modular system of specially engineered solar panels that can be walked and driven upon. Our panels contain LED lights to create lines and signage without paint [and] contain heating elements to prevent snow and ice accumulation.”
The panels also contain microprocessors that make it possible for the panels communicate with each other and with a central control center. They can also communicate with the vehicles driving on them. Because the panels are modular, roads could easily be repaired without major disruptions of traffic.
Solar Roadways says it has already completed two contracts in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Our goal is to modernize the infrastructure with modular, intelligent panels, while producing clean renewable energy for homes and businesses,” the company says on its website. “We’ll be able to charge electric vehicles with clean energy from the sun, first on our solar parking lots and when we have enough highway infrastructure, while driving.”
Solar Roadways is not the only company working on roads that are also solar panels. France is planning to pave 600 miles of roads with solar panels manufactured by Colas, which bills itself as the “World leader in the construction and maintenance of transport infrastructure.”
The Colas panels took 5 years to develop and consist of 7 millimeter thick strips glued to the road surface. The strips use a thin film of polycrystalline silicon to make electricity from sunlight. Colas says they have been tested extensively and can withstand the weight of a 6 axle truck. They are also said to be skid resistant.
Solar roads seem like a great idea. But real world engineering problems may get in the way. In winter, water can collect between the panels and freeze, damaging the connections between them. Traffic may scuff they so badly their ability to make electricity is greatly reduced. Frost heaves and other natural phenomena may cause them to break.
It’s an interesting idea, and one that deserves to be explored. Eliminating the need to plow roads in winter could certainly save cities and states huge amounts of money, more than offsetting the cost of  solar roads. Is this an idea whose time has come? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.

Source: The Free Thought Project  Photo credit: Solar Roadways

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Columbus, OH wins DOT's Smart City Challenge

The US has chosen its city of the future. No, it's not in Silicon Valley, nor is it anywhere near New York, Los Angeles, or Miami. The epicenter of innovation in the fields of electric mobility and connected, autonomous transport is [this is where drum roll would be if you hadn't already read the title of this article] Columbus, Ohio.
Yes, Columbus has earned the nod from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) as the winner of itsSmart City Challenge. As such, the city will have $140 million with which to work as it becomes a living laboratory for self-driving technology, connected vehicles, battery research, and more. Columbus is also planning programs to install EV charging infrastructure, provide transportation to improve prenatal healthcare access in a neighborhood with a high infant mortality rate, and deploy a trio of autonomous shuttles to run between a new transit center and a retail district within the city. In addition to helping people where they live and work by improving the way they (and the goods they use) get around, it will also provide a wealth of data and new ideas that communities around the world will find useful in solving their own problems, whether environmental, economic, or otherwise.

As for that substantial dollar figure coming Columbus' way, $40 million comes directly from the DOT. Vulcan Inc., a company founded by Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen to invest in programs to "solve some of the biggest global issues," will supply another $10 million. Columbus raised an additional $90 million (and an invaluable spirit of collaboration) from other private partners to help it achieve its goals.

In response to winning the Smart City Challenge, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther says, "Our collaboration between public, private, and nonprofit sectors is the perfect example of how we lift up our residents and connect all communities. Smart Columbus will deliver an unprecedented multimodal transportation system that will not only benefit the people of central Ohio, but potentially all mid-sized cities."

When you know a bit more about Columbus, it's not such a surprising pick. In addition to being home toOhio State University, Columbus is also the 15th largest city in the United States. Also nicknamed the Discovery City, it has thriving business and research communities, and is home base to some major players in those fields. In the city's video pitch for the competition (see above), it points out that it is the fastest-growing city in the Midwest, leading the way in both population and job growth.

Regardless of its credentials, it's an impressive feat to beat 77 other cities for the gig, including the six other finalists: Austin, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland, and San Francisco. While those other cities may not have won this competition, they all stand to benefit from information gathered and partnerships fostered through the Smart City Challenge. Read more in the press release from the DOT below.

Related Video:

Google And FCA To Build Self-Driving Minivans In Partnership | Autoblog Minute
U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Columbus as Winner of Unprecedented $40 Million Smart City Challenge

Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc. awards additional $10 million

COLUMBUS, OH – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today that Columbus, OH has been selected as the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation's (U.S. DOT)'s Smart City Challenge. As winner of the Challenge, Columbus will receive up to $40 million from U.S. DOT and up to $10 million from Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc. to supplement the $90 million that the city has already raised from other private partners to carry out its plan. Using these resources, Columbus will work to reshape its transportation system to become part of a fully-integrated city that harnesses the power and potential of data, technology, and creativity to reimagine how people and goods move throughout their city.

"Each of the seven finalists put forward an array of thoughtful, intelligent, and innovative ideas that defined a vision for the future of the American city and formed a blueprint to show the world what a fully integrated, forward-looking transportation network looks like," said Secretary Foxx. "The Smart City Challenge required each city to think about transportation as cross-functional, not in silos, but as a transportation ecosystem. The bold initiatives they proposed demonstrated that the future of transportation is not just about using technology to make our systems safer and more efficient – it's about using these advanced tools to make life better for all people, especially those living in underserved communities. While Columbus is the winner of the Challenge, we believe each city has come out of this process with a stronger sense of how to address transportation challenges with technology and innovation."

"We are thrilled to be America's first Smart City. Our collaboration between public, private and nonprofit sectors is the perfect example of how we lift up our residents and connect all communities," said Mayor Andrew Ginther. "Smart Columbus will deliver an unprecedented multimodal transportation system that will not only benefit the people of central Ohio, but potentially all mid-sized cities. I am grateful to President Obama, Secretary Foxx, the U.S. Department of Transportation, all of our partners and especially the Smart Columbus team."

The Smart City Challenge generated a significant amount of excitement and interest amongst cities. U.S. DOT received seventy-eight applications in total – one from nearly every mid-sized city in America. The Challenge called on cities to do more than merely introduce new technologies onto city streets, requiring them to boldly envision new solutions that would change the face of transportation in our cities by closing the gap between rich and poor; capturing the needs of both young and old; and bridging the digital divide through smart design so that the future of transportation meets the needs of all city residents.

The seven finalist cities that were announced at South by Southwest (SXSW) in March – Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland, and San Francisco – rose to the Smart City Challenge in an extraordinary way. They presented innovative concepts, proposing to create new first of a kind corridors for autonomous vehicles to move city residents, to electrify city fleets, and to collectively equip over thirteen thousand buses, taxis, and cars with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication.

Columbus was selected as the winner because it put forward an impressive, holistic vision for how technology can help all of the city's residents to move more easily and to access opportunity. The city proposed to deploy three electric self-driving shuttles to link a new bus rapid transit center to a retail district, connecting more residents to jobs. Columbus also plans to use data analytics to improve health care access in a neighborhood that currently has an infant mortality rate four times that of the national average, allowing them to provide improved transportation options to those most in need of prenatal care.

Public-private partnerships were essential to the success of the Smart City Challenge. The Department announced partnerships with some of the most innovative folks in the private sector, including launch partner Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc., cloud partner Amazon Web Services, NXP® Semiconductors, Mobileye, Autodesk, Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs, AT&T, DC Solar and Continental Automotive. In addition, these seven cities were able to leverage U.S. DOT's $40 million grant to raise approximately $500 million more in funding – a vast majority of which comes from a diverse group of over 150 partners. These partnerships illustrated the private-sector enthusiasm to help build an inclusive transportation system of the future.

Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc.:

"Climate change is a complex challenge, and it will take all of us working together to develop innovative, scalable solutions. One of this competition's greatest strengths is how it incentivized leaders across the public, private and nonprofit sectors to collaborate," said Paul G. Allen. "It is my hope that cities across the country will draw from and adapt the ideas from the Smart City Challenge to transform their transportation networks and help put their communities on a more sustainable path."


"We were impressed with how well the finalists demonstrated their commitment to transforming their respective cities into a fully-integrated city of the future, especially where safety was concerned." said Mobileye Co-Founder, CTO and Chairman Professor Amnon Shashua. "We anticipate significant advancements from each finalist as a result of this challenge and hope they continue to embrace forward-looking solutions, like Mobileye, and transform transportation infrastructure and safety in their cities. We are more than ready to play our part in ushering in the nation's first truly smart city and look forward to working with the winner through our participation with Secretary Foxx and the DOT's Smart City Challenge"

NXP Semiconductors:

"At NXP, we are honored to be able to provide Columbus with innovations that will truly make a difference to how its citizens live and work," said NXP CEO and President Rick Clemmer. "Through vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) technology as well as RFID tagging and smart card ICs, NXP will help Columbus keep its roads safer, reduce pollution, and create more streamlined traffic and toll payments. We look forward to partnering with Columbus and to watch it become a real, tangible example of what the secure, smarter world will look like."


"The public and private sectors are generally viewed as at odds with one another, but Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx's Smart City Challenge proves that we can indeed work together to address the challenges facing our cities," said Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk. "The Smart City Challenge offered the tech industry and city leaders a common platform to envision and plan a more intelligent, sustainable urban future. We applaud Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx for his leadership in creating this collaborative effort."

Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs:

"The DOT Smart City Challenge has inspired cities to shift away from operating in traditional agency silos and towards creating a coordinated, outcome-focused transportation system that reduces congestion and enhances transport equity," says Anand Babu, COO of Sidewalk Labs. "Data is the key to enabling this transformation, and Sidewalk Labs is excited to partner with cities to provide data-driven applications to better manage roads, parking, and mass transit, and to encourage shared mobility. When governments and technologists collaborate, there is an enormous potential to reimagine the way we approach urban mobility, and Secretary Foxx and the DOT should be commended for moving this critical conversation in a new direction."

Amazon Web Services:

"Amazon Web Services collaborated with the seven finalist cities during the challenge, and will work closely with Columbus to help implement their smart city vision. Cloud technology is enabling collaboration and the creation of citizen services at an unprecedented rate."


"AT&T congratulates Columbus on a job well done by showing the vision of what a smart city can accomplish for its citizens," said Mike Zeto, general manager and executive director, AT&T Smart Cities. "While we look forward to continuing to work with all 78 cities that entered the Challenge, AT&T is especially thrilled to help Columbus bring to life its winning smart cities vision by providing a framework for success that can be scaled across the region and other cities as well."

DC Solar:

"The Smart City Challenge is a visionary initiative and DC Solar is proud to be named a partner with the DOT," said Jeff Carpoff, DC Solar's CEO. "We look forward to working with the city of Columbus to provide solar energy access through mobile solar solutions and EV infrastructure. DC Solar is excited to work with all the finalist and applicant cities who seek clean energy solutions. We applaud Secretary Foxx's innovative leadership, and we believe the Smart City Challenge will become a model for encouraging clean technologies in communities throughout the U.S."


"At Continental, safety is at the cornerstone of everything that we do. That is why we are proud to join the USDOT's national Smart City Challenge as a provider of active safety technology and secure connectivity to help advance the development of future mobility services such as automated driving infrastructure solutions, Intelligent Transportation Systems and V2X technology," said Samir Salman, CEO of Continental North America. "The Smart City Challenge aligns with our company's mission of Vision Zero, which is our goal to globally eliminate traffic and road fatalities, making mobility safer, more convenient and more efficient for everyone."

The Department of Transportation and its federal partners, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology, have committed to keep working collaboratively with all seven finalist cities to identify potential federal, state, local, and private resources to help carry out their Smart City plans. In addition, Vulcan Inc. has announced a new commitment to provide additional funding to support the climate and electrification efforts of all seven cities.

To learn more about the Smart City Challenge, visit

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Life After Brexit: What Happens Now?

Britain says it doesn’t want to be part of the European Union anymore. Voters in the so-called Brexit referendum yesterday voted to say tootle-oo to the EU. What does that mean for the British automotive industry? Actually, there is no British automotive industry any more. All the major brands that used to define the English motorcar business are now owned by foreign companies.
Brexit vote
Volkswagen owns Bentley. BMW owns Rolls Royce and MINI. Jaguar and Land Rover are owned by Tata Motors of India. The company that makes those iconic black taxis roaming the streets of London is Chinese. An investment firm from Kuwait is a major investor in Aston Martin. Even MG, the company that started the sports car revolution in the United States after World War II, is now under Chinese ownership.
Part of the reason for the Common Market idea that grew into the European Union was a desire to promote trade between the countries of Europe by eliminating import tariffs. What happens now is anyone’s guess, but the stock markets are not looking kindly on the future. The Dow is down over 500 points as I write this.
Many Asian car makers have built factories in England specifically for export. More than two thirds of the cars built by Nissan, Toyota, and Honda in England are exported to European countries. England is Germany’s largest trading partner. More than half of the new cars sold in England every year are made there.
With uncertainty now the dominant mood of the day, “We don’t have any choice but to be more cautious with our investment decisions, including moves like whether to produce a new or significantly redesigned vehicle model in the UK,” said one Asian automaker executive with manufacturing capacity in Britain, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Automakers are calling for tariff-free trade to be maintained between Britain and the EU.  But European nations may not be inclined to allow British-made goods to enter their markets duty free after England has given them all the proverbial finger. If you want out, that means you’re out, doesn’t it?  If you take your ball and go home, can you really expect the other kids to play with you?
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said he did not expect any impact the fortunes of Mercedes Benz. But he said in an e-mail, “This is not a good day for Europe and in my view, certainly not for the UK. Geographically, the country may be an island; politically and economically, it is not. It is now even more essential that Europe does not continue to drift further apart.”
England may have cut off its nose to spite its face, as my old Irish grandmother was fond of saying. Industry analyst Evercore now expects the British car industry to suffer a 7% contraction compared to the 3% growth it had been forecasting previously. That 10% swing will deprive the UK of billions of dollars worth of economic activity, something that British voters are apparently quite comfortable with.
Much of England’s displeasure with the EU stems from years of  having regulations crafted in Brussels crammed down its throat. Similar concerns are a factor in political discord around the globe as people begin to finally realize that all the lovely free trade agreements they entered into over the past decades come with a loss of sovereignty over their own affairs. That is certainly a factor in the widespread opposition to the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership.
There is a feeling that those treaties may have done wonders for the income of CEOs but little for ordinary people.  In the US, real wages have not kept pace with inflation for the past 30 years while executive compensation has exploded. British voters have said enough is enough. But have they carefully thought out the consequences of their decision? Free trade agreements may have undesirable side effects, yet unwinding the economic and social ties between England and its neighbors is going to be a long and painful process.
Perhaps today the people of England would be wise to consider the words of the Zen master: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.”
Source: Automotive News

Rumor: All Electric BMW i8 In Development

Klaus Fröhlich, head of development at BMW, tells Autocar that the firm’s i division is working on a prototype that could lead the way to an all electric BMW i8 in the near future. At the heart of the prototype are three high revving but compact electric motors — two in the rear and one in front.
BMW i8 may become all electric
“Revs are the route to making electric motors smaller,” sources within the company say. “BMW has a great history of high-revving combustion engines. We’re looking to take this tradition into the electric car arena with electric motors that rev far higher than those seen in production today.” The proposal to build the prototype is said to be on Froehlich’s desk, awaiting approval.
The prototype will be based on the carbon fiber structure developed for the i division’s fuel cell concept car. In order to make room for the hydrogen storage tanks, it had a wider center tunnel than the production car. “The idea is to use the space within the widened center tunnel to house the battery instead of the hydrogen tanks,” the source says.
Even with the larger battery, ditching the internal combustion engine means the electric car will weigh the same as the current i8 at 3,274 pounds. Range is projected to be 249 miles in the European test cycle, which is considerably more optimistic than the US standard. That number would translate to about 185 miles in US numbers.
The production i8 has a total of 357 horsepower on tap. Autocar’s source says the new brushless motors may be capable of spinning out 268 horsepwer — each!
BMW is working on a revised i8 that incorporates many of the upgrades used in the safety car it provides for the Formula E racing series. The improvements include a larger 26 kWh battery borrowed from the X5 xDrive40e. The onboard wireless charging system from QualComm operates at 7.2 kW instead of the 3.6 kW power level in use previously. Reports are that the updated car will get a 10% increase in total power, a rumor that BMW refuses to confirm. The refreshed i8 is expected to go on sale next year.
Source: Autocar    Photo credit: Autoblog

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Toyota Aims High For Prius Prime, Expects 60,000 Sales

The first version of the Toyota’s plug-in hybrid Prius was “a failure,” says Koji Toyoshima, the chief engineer for the car. But he fully expects thing to turn around when the Prius Prime, the second generation Prius plug-in hybrid, goes on sale later this year.
Prius Prime plug-in hybrid
Known as Prius Prime in the US and Prius PHV in other markets, Toyoshima says his company is targeting sales of 60,000 cars a year. That is more than the prior model sold in in the 3+ years it was on the market. Half of those sales are expected in the North American market and the other half in Japan. The company expects only a few will be sold in Europe.
Getting to 60,000 sales annually is a must for the upcoming Prime, says Toyoshima. “Going forward, there will be much broader competition in plug-in hybrids,” he says. “We have to sell this much. Otherwise, we will not be able to win in the next round.”
The Toyota Prius Prime will face stiff competition from new models coming to market from Honda and Hyundai. A plug-in hybrid version of the Clarity will arrive sometime next year as well as a similar car based on the Ioniq chassis. In addition, the Chevy Volt and Hyundai Sonata PHEV are also in the mix. A host of offerings from Germany will be arriving soon as well.
Toyota targeted three areas of improvement for the second generation Prius Prime plug-in hybrid:
1. Longer electric only cruising range.
2. Clearer differentiation from the standard Prius.
3. Easier battery recharging.
The new car will have 22 miles of electric only range, double that of the old car but less than half what the Chevy Volt offers. Toyoshima says Toyota carefully struck a careful balance between electric only range and overall fuel economy. Adding batteries would boost range but also increase the weight of the car, hurting fuel economy. More batteries would also sacrifice cabin and cargo space, he added.
The new Prius PHEV can reach speeds up to 84 mph on the electric motor alone. In the first generation car, the gasoline engine kicked in whenever the car was travelling at 62 miles per hour or more. That will be useful for people who commute short distances on the highway to complete their trip using electric power alone.
The new Prius Prime will also be more visually distinct from its traditional hybrid cousin. It will get a different headlight treatment, tail lights that are set further apart, and an optional tablet sized touchscreen on the inside. It will also offer a rooftop solar panel to help recharge the battery and extend range. That option will not be available at first on cars sold in the US because the panel does not yet meet US rollover crash standards.
Will the changes be enough to reinvigorate Prius PHEV sales? Toyota needs this car to help it meet ever tightening fuel economy and emissions standards. It has invested a lot of time and effort in making the new car more appealing to shoppers. We won’t know for about a year whether all that hard work will pay off for Toyota.
Source: Automotive News

Next BMW i3 Will Come In Two Flavors

Starting this fall, BMW i3 buyers will have three options: a new i3 with upgraded 33 kWh battery pack, a new REx i3 with the larger battery pack and range extender gasoline engine, or an i3 with the original 22 kWh battery pack. Prices are $44,595,, $48,350, and $43,350 respectively.
All three versions have the same 170 horsepower electric motor rated at 184 lb-ft of torque. 0 to 60 times of just over 7 seconds will remain for both cars without the range extender engine. REx models take about a second longer. With the upgraded battery, BMW will be able to unlock the full capacity of the 2.4 gallon gas tank. In the US, the capacity of the fuel tank was previously limited electronically to 1.9 gallons.
Offering customers different battery sizes is becoming a trend in the world of electric automobiles. The Nissan LEAF is now available either with a 24 kWh battery with 82 miles of range or a 30 kWh battery with 107 miles of range. Tesla has just announced the return of the 60 kWh battery in the Model S. The new model lists for $4,000 less than the original Tesla Model S 60, which was withdrawn from the lineup just a few months ago. The Tesla actually comes with a 75 kWh battery pack, but it issoftware limited to only 60 kWh of capacity. An upgrade to the full 75 kWh capacity is an $8,500 option.
The new i3 battery pack fits in the same space as the old one but uses new 94 amp-hour lithium ion cells with higher energy density than the 60 amp-hour cells used previously. Range is now listed at 114 miles.
The base i3 will continue to be offered in three trim levels—Mega World, Giga World, and Tera World. The i3 with the larger battery will be offered in new Deka World trim level standard. Cars with the 22 kWh battery will not be available with the eye catching Protonic Blue paint that debuted on the i8 last year. They will also not be available with the much sought after sunroof — a $1,000 option on cars fitted with the larger battery.

The 2017 BMW i3 is expected to go on sale in late summer or early fall.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Nissan Exec Confirms 60 kWh LEAF Is Coming - VIDEO

New 60 kWh Battry Found In IDS Concept Fits Snugly Into Almost The Same Space As Current 30 kWh Version (new pack is slightly taller) - photo courtesy of Daily Kanban
New 60 kWh Battry Found In IDS Concept Fits Snugly Into Almost The Same Space As Current 30 kWh Version (new pack is slightly taller)
The writing has been on the wall forever, but Nissan has been reluctant to make any official announcement. That is, until now.
We’re talking about the next-generation Nissan LEAF, which will have a 60 kWh battery pack, as shown quite some time ago.
This new pack should bump range up to somewhere in the ~225 mile/365 km (EPA) area for the new LEAF.
Nissan LEAF Range Chart Snapped By Mr. Schmitt
Nissan LEAF Range Chart Snapped By Mr. Schmitt
We still don’t have a precise timeframe for the launch of the next-generation LEAF with the 60 kWh pack, but Autoblog got confirmation that “it’s coming” while attending EVS29 in Montreal, Canada.
Here’s what Autoblog states:
“Today, we finally got confirmation that the next-gen Leaf will indeed have a 60-kWh pack. Kazuo Yajima, Nissan’s global director of EV and HEV engineering, told AutoblogGreen that “It’s coming,” referring to a 60-kWh Leaf. “I’m sorry I cannot say when,” he said. We spoke with Yajima at EVS29, a large electric vehicle symposium happening this week in Montreal, Canada.”
Next Generation IDS/LEAF 60 kWh Battery - Cells In This Case Made By LG Chem
Next Generation IDS/LEAF 60 kWh Battery – Cells In This Case Made By LG Chem
Nissan has been using the IDS Concept to show off some of the tech that will be in the next-gen LEAF. However, IDS is not believed to preview the actual look of the upcoming LEAF. Regardless, here’s a look at IDS once again for your viewingpleasure/displeasure:
Nissan IDS Concept foreshadowing next generation LEAF for 2017
Nissan IDS Concept foreshadowing next generation LEAF for 2017
Here is some peaks at the components/modules in the next generation LEAF’s 60 kWh battery we’ve picked up:
Nissan 60 kWh Module Stack
Nissan 60 kWh Module Stack
Nissan's new high density module stack
Even larger high density module stack more
…one more
The Autoblog video below captures the words of Kazuo Yajima, Nissan’s global director of EV and HEV engineering. He speaks of the LEAF starting at around the 3-minute mark.
Source: Autoblog

Model 3 Spotted Testing Near Tesla HQ – Video

A rare Tesla Model 3 in the wild was spotted today out testing near Tesla’s HQ in Palo Alto, California, on Highway 280 by reddit user jeffklak who added some back-story on his sharp-eyed find.
Tesla Model 3 Spotted Testing Near Palo Alto
Tesla Model 3 Spotted Testing Near Palo Alto
“I was driving on Highway 280 toward Palo Alto when I saw three Teslas merging on to the highway. It took me a second before I realized the middle one was a Model 3. I stood in line the first morning to reserve one so was pretty pumped to see one in the flesh. In fact, when I first saw it I cut across three lanes of traffic pretty quickly to get closer and am pretty sure I scared the crap out of the Model 3 driver. Sorry for my overexuberance Tesla!”
Overall reaction to seeing the 215+ mile Tesla in the flesh?
“Overall, the car looks amazing in person. I have gone back and forth a bit with the pictures I’ve seen, but now I am absolutely sold on it.
I’ll take mine in this color please!”
We agree, the matte black is a fine choice.