Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cummins All Electric Class 7 Truck Revealed

With Tesla ready to roll out its Tesla Semi in September, Cummins stole a bit of the Silicon Valley company’s thunder by unveiling its own all electric Class 7 electric truck on August 29. Cummins does not make trucks, it makes the power trains that make them go.

The trucking industry needs a large variety of trucks. Some are used in stop and go situations such as making deliveries or picking up trash. Some haul cargo trailers and containers over short distances, often from a port to a nearby distribution center. Some haul freight across the continent. Trucking companies are tightly focused on efficiency. Whichever truck can get the job done at the lowest cost is the one they buy.
The Cummins Class 7 electric truck prototype is dubbed AEOS — one of the horses that pulled the golden chariot of Helios across the heavens every day in Greek mythology. It has a 145 kWh battery and can haul a 22 ton trailer for up to 100 miles. Thanks to its advanced technology, recharging takes only an hour using a 140 kW charger. The Cummins power train won’t go into production until 2019 and the company expects charging times will have dropped to around 20 minutes by then.
The company is targeting truck and bus manufacturers that cater to customers who need short range capability. Approximately one year after the all electric power train enters production, the company will also offer a version with an on-board diesel range extender engine. Working together, both components will have a range of up to 300 miles and slash fuel consumption by 50% compared to trucks with conventional diesel hybrid power.
Cummins CEO Thomas Linebarger says the technology isn’t there yet for a Class 8 electric truck with long range capability. But he feels his nearly 100 year old company is intimately familiar with the needs of its customers and will always offer class leading options to its customers.
“There are more technologies coming into economic relevance than we’ve seen in my career, ever,” Linebarger tells Forbes. “This is what we do. We feel we do better when technologies are shifting.” He is well aware of the competition from companies like TeslaProterraNikola, and WrightSpeed. “All those competitors we take very seriously. They’re innovative, well-funded and have a technology mindset, much like Cummins.”
“We know that we cannot have one solution for everybody,” he says. That’s why Cummins will continue to develop more efficient diesel engines while exploring fuel cell technology and alternative fuels line LNG and LPG. “We need to make sure we have the right technology for the right application. Even if the electrified power train replaces the internal combustion engine completely, that’s still a 20 to 25 year transition period customers have to manage through. If we have good technology, they’ll want to buy it from us.”
Source: Forbes

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Proterra Electric Bus Added To Zion National Park Fleet

A Proterra E2 electric bus will be used for a three month trial period starting this month and ending in October at Zion National Park in Utah. Buses at Zion routinely carry up to 105 riders per service hour, compared to an average of 58 riders per service hour for the New City bus system. That means every bus is entirely filled on virtually every trip it makes all day, every day.
The Zion transportation system is operated by RATP Dev, which carries more than 1.5 billion passengers each year in 14 countries on 4 continents. It has been operating the shuttle service at  Zion for almost 30 years and began planning to introduce electric buses at Zion National Park two years ago. In 2000, it replaced all the diesel buses in the system with units powered by LPG in order to reduce smog causing emissions over the park.
Now it wants to convert the entire fleet to electricity to further tame emissions and lower ambient noise levels so visitors can more full appreciate the tranquility of the location. One of the parameters that will challenge the Proterra electric bus is temperatures at the park that can reach as much as 113 degrees. If it can handle the load factor and high temps, the plan to transition to a fully electric bus fleet will move forward.
“We are very excited to see how this new electric unit performs here at the park,” says Frank Austin, RATP Dev’s General Manager of the Park’s transit service. “Sustainability is a crucial goal here, and an electric bus fleet gives us the ability to continue to protect the park. We trained nine drivers to operate the vehicle, which is longer than the rest of units in the fleet.
“Our pilot program will provide us with the necessary data we need to ensure that an electric fleet can reliably support the 5,143,148 riders we transported last year under the extreme conditions of the desert.” Austin calls it. “A true crucible test if there ever was one. ”
“More and more transit agencies are turning to RATP Dev because we have global experience deploying and training teams to operate electric buses,” said Blaine Rigler, Vice President of Bus Services for RATP Dev North America. “Our parent organization, RATP Group, already operates nearly 900 hybrid buses, 55 electric buses, and 140 buses using renewable gas in cities around the globe.
“RATP Group is strongly committed to the transition to low-emission vehicles in major, transit-heavy cities, notably through its Bus 2025 program which consists of a 100% low emission bus fleet throughout Paris, and two fully electric bus routes in London in 2018. We are excited to bring these new models to Zion National Park and helping our clients research and invest in greener transit innovations.”

Source and photo credit: RATP Dev America

Saturday, August 26, 2017

DIY Electric Ferrari 308 is the Best Car Ever - VIDEO

The car you see here is unique. Based on a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS, the car has been fitted with three powerful electric motors and a G50 manual transmission.
That’s right, kids. This Ferrari 308 is a plug in, fully electric car with a manual transmission. It’s a fascinating thing, to be sure and I, for one, can’t help but look at pictures of that shifter and imagine myself blasting through the canyon roads of the Appalachians in this thing. Shifting, downshifting, and listening to the wind scream.

Temptation is a Manual Transmission Ferrari EV

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work like that. Jalopnik’s Andrew Collins, who got to drive the car, writes, “Just like any car ever, the lower gears are where you’ll find the most aggressive acceleration and higher gears make it possible to comfortably cruise at speed. Instead of moving your way from first to fourth as you accelerate, you can basically just pick your acceleration rate from a stop and ride whatever gear you like for your entire drive. Second gives you a nice pull off a stoplight and onto a fast canter. Third gives the car a much gentler reaction time. First is borderline scary.”
Still cool.

Plug-in Classic | Electric Ferrari 308 GTS

This electric Ferrari project was born of tragedy. The ’78 Ferrari 308’s engine bay caught fire a few years ago, effectively destroying the most expensive go-fast bits of the old Italian beauty. It was beyond any means of traditional repair.
That’s when the owner had the genius idea to take the car to EV West. The EV experts there ended up replacing the 32v Ferrari V8 with 330HP worth of HPEVS Custom Electric AC-51 “V-8” motor package, Curtis 1239 controllers and 46 kW-h lithium battery.
If that sounds complicated, it’s because it was.
This one-off Ferrari was a build that went far beyond “complicated”. Far enough, in fact, that the car’s creation spawned a 23 page build thread on the FerrariChat forum. All of which kind of begs the question, though: was it worth it?
Watch the nearly silent-running, all-electric Ferrari do its best Magnum PI impression- along with a few high-torque donuts- in this video, below, then let us know what you think of the car in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Electric Ferrari 308 + Manual Transmission

Source | ImagesElectric GT, via Jalopnik.

Friday, August 25, 2017

How Utterly Awesome Is The 2018 Nissan LEAF?

Being unveiled entirely on September 6, 2017, in Japan, the new Nissan LEAF is ripe with Nissan’s most advanced technologies. Nissan is pitching that its redesigned next-generation LEAF promises to “amaze your senses” while raising the bar for the electric vehicle market. I think the LEAF set a fine standard for years — I’d be hesitant to replace the 2015 version I drive — so the next version must be incredible.
As you can see, “amazing” is the term Nissan is tying to the new LEAF. It’s a significant step beyond the first-generation LEAF’s marketing, which was focused on being green and not using gas. The company has clearly shifted to an approach that brands the LEAF as high-tech, amazing, and peaceful to drive.
Absolutely, the 100% electric car, with its zero tailpipe emissions, offers an effortless, quiet, agile, and most definitely refreshing experience while driving. This is something everyone can understand and will quickly notice in the car. But peaceful perhaps doesn’t attract as many humans as “amazing,” even if it means more in day-to-day life. The new Nissan LEAF, an icon of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, sports all of the available Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies. Drivers will become even more confident with enhanced vision and can better sense what is around the car.
Nissan keeps tantalizing EV lovers with glimpses of the latest version of the well-loved Nissan LEAF. An earlier CleanTechnica report on the specs for the 2018 LEAF indicate the car will maintain its competitive pricing despite the much better tech.
The new Nissan LEAF will come with e-Pedal, a further improvement in regenerative braking. It is one of the “amazing” technologies from the Japanese firm. In actuality, e-Pedal further enables one-pedal driving — one of the benefits of electric cars that drivers quickly learn to love.
“Nissan established itself as a pioneer in the EV movement by launching the LEAF, the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle. Today, the Nissan LEAF is the world’s best-selling electric vehicle with more than 280,000** units sold.
“The world premiere for the new Nissan LEAF will take place on September 6, 2017, in Japan and we will be bringing the unveiling to you live online. Subscribe to Nissan’s Global YouTube account or follow us at @nissanmotor.”
Meanwhile, Nissan LEAF sales keep going and going … and going — in the US, the UK, and elsewhere.

I think for many like myself, the LEAF will be my next car if not the Tesla Model 3. Nothing else compares in value and appeal for many of us.

This Is How The Decline Of The US Auto Industry Begins — Honda Shifts Focus To China

Conventional wisdom holds that everything we do means we can’t be doing something else. If you are working, you can’t be at the beach. If you devote your free time to being in a garage band, you can’t climb Mt. Everest. And if you are a global car maker like Honda, you must choose whether your priority is making cars for Europeans, Americans, or Chinese customers.

Is America Still Primary?

For decades, Honda has regarded America as its primary market. The way its cars look, the features they offer, the colors they come in, and how they drive down the road have all been determined by the tastes of American customers. But things are changing and one of those things is profit margins. In the US, Honda’s gross profit per vehicle is abut 4.9%. That’s good, but in China, is profit margin last year was an eye popping 9.6%.
Let’s say you are a senior manager at Honda. Which market is going to get the majority of  your attention? “China has a high priority, and I think we will likely put more emphasis on listening to Chinese customer voices going forward,” said Kotaru Shimizu, general manager for sales at Dongfeng Honda Automobile Co., one of Honda’s two joint ventures in China. “The rise of China does throw the conventional wisdom of global resource allocation to the wind,” said James Chao, managing director for the Asia Pacific region at IHS Markit, “especially for global automakers who are only now experiencing the success of the China market and who have traditionally centered their strategic product decisions out of the U.S.”

A Clash Of  Cultures

That clash of culture has already played out within Honda. When the company was designing the current Civic — one of the most successful and long running models in automotive history — designers for the Chinese market wanted a traditional three box sedan. American customers prefer a more two box/fastback/hatchback look. Ultimately, the American preference won out but by the time the next generation Civic gets penned, the priorities might be reversed.
Honda sold 1.64 million vehicles in the US last year. 1.34 million of them were manufactured in America. By contrast, it sold 1.26 million vehicles in China last year. But here is the critical difference. The US market for new cars is expected to fall by almost 3% while growth in China is forecast to exceed 24%. Once again, faced with those statistics, which market would you concentrate your energy on if you were guiding a large multinational corporation?

Alcohol Was Involved

China and Japan have not always had the closest of relationships. The Rape Of Nanking is long in the past but not entirely forgotten. But there is no barrier so high that it cannot be conquered by the application of sufficient quantities of alcohol. Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo  was vice president of overall operations in China for many years, where he was in charge of leading purchasing, production and r&d. From 2013 to 2016 he was in charge of Honda’s Chinese business before being tapped to lead the company.
Hachigo developed a fondness for Chinese classical literature and schmoozing with his Chinese counterparts. He has fond memories of the time he spent there. “It wasn’t much of a surprise, but I surely did drink a lot,” Hachigo recalled of the evening rituals with Chinese business partners. “I had drinks with them over and over again. Then I started getting along with them. They got drunk and hugged me.” Sometimes business is about more than just money and keeping one’s nose to the grindstone.

Different Strokes For Different Folks

Chinese car buyers have different priorities than Americans do. “American customers value practicality,” said Dongfeng Honda’s Shimizu, who spent several years working in the U.S. “They drive to work every day. So cars are an essential tool for American people.” In China by contrast the car is still primarily a status symbol. Chinese customers are drawn to vehicles such as the Avancier, a for sale in China only Honda model that comes with fake hood vents and wild fender creasing.
In the US, we can see some of that influence already in the cars sold here. Take a close look at the latest Civic and Prius Prime models. Both are swathed in precisely those scoops, clashing character lines, and angles that go off in odd patterns. Before you criticize the trend, remember America’s love affair with tail fins, which influenced the styling of cars built worldwide for years afterward.
“Chinese customers are firstly trend-conscious,” “Automobiles are still seen as an asset, not as a tool. They’d like to show off something,” Shimizu says. They also demand higher quality and more features like more sound insulation and better smartphone connectivity than American buyers. Atsushi Fujimoto, president of Dongfeng Honda says, “They assume that foreign carmakers sell lower quality models in China than those sold in North America. On the contrary, we tell them that we spend more money on making cars for China than those North American models.”

More Chinese Imports?

Despite the bluster and blather favored by America’s #FakePresident, more cars for the American market imported from China are likely. Already, Volvo is bringing in some Chinese made models as is Cadillac with its PHEV CT6 sedan. Ford will shift production of its Focus there soon. It takes more than tweeting to govern, apparently.
Some of the models Honda manufacturers specifically for Chinese customers may also cross the Pacific to US showrooms, especially since many of them are small crossover cute utes that American customers seem to crave. “Smaller SUVs and perhaps even sedans could be led by designers in China,” IHS’s Chao said. “If Honda feels that the small SUV segment has a lot more growth potential in China — it does, I think — then they will allocate more resources towards this effort.”
“We may be making a China-only model, but if this sells well in other regions, we should do so,” Fujimoto says. “Our cars will spread globally instead of saying U.S.-only or China-only models.” CEO Hachigo compares Honda’s strategy to serving up ramen noodles that have the same basic ingredients but using recipes tweaked to local tastes. “We tell them to use this kind of noodle and let them decide the flavor,” he says.

China Pushes For Electric Cars

China is also driving the electric car market forward while US manufacturers drag their feet. “I think electrification will likely get moving faster here than in the U.S.,” said Mitsuru Horikoshi, head of Honda’s China r&d center in Guangzhou, which oversees product development and design for both of Honda’s local joint ventures. “We are working on it now.” In fact, Honda’s first all electric car is widely expected to debut in China in 2018, long before a US equivalent arrives. \
The push for electrics is strongly supported by the Chinese government. Many manufacturers say the government’s demands are impossibly high, but their complaints have fallen on deaf ears in Beijing. In a market with a 24% annual growth rate, the car makers have little choice but to comply, no matter how costly or painful the process may be. And if electrics become commonplace in China, there will be enormous pressure on the companies to amortize the costs by selling them in other markets as well.

China Is Catching Up — Fast

Honda is quick to point out that is is not giving up on the US market. “How long do I think it will take for China to overtake the U.S. market? It won’t be so easy,” Hachigo told reporters after a June tour of Honda’s factories, r&d center, design studio and retail network in China. “It remains an important market to us. Just because China grows more doesn’t necessarily mean that North American models will decline.” That may be so, but they may start to look more like they were designed in China because they will be. \
Source: Automotive News

Toyota and 7-11 Partner Up for Hydrogen

7-11 has contract Toyota to develop an exclusive line of hydrogen fuel cell powered delivery trucks. The move is part of a larger effort by 7-11 to reduce its carbon emissions in Japan and promote more environmentally friendly vehicles, in general.
The delivery trucks, themselves, will be built by Toyota’s Hino Motors unit. They will be exclusive to 7-11 (in the beginning, at least) and will be unique to the convenience store at the time of launch. The trucks will ferry goods to 7-11 locations from its delivery centers, with foll scale deployment and testing set to start sometime in 2019.
I know that (despite some positive news, of late) hydrogen has its detractors among Gas 2 readers, and some of you may think this all sounds like a low volume gimmick to generate some PR. Think again. 7-11 has more than 20,000 location in Japan alone, and those are serviced by more than 5,800 delivery trucks. At the moment, hybrids and other alt-fuel solutions make up about 15% of that fleet, but 7-11 has plans to increase that figure to at least 20% by 2020. If those end up being tailor-made for the company by Toyota, that will put almost twelve hundred new hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road.
Granted, even two thousand hydrogen fuel cell vehicles wouldn’t exactly make a landslide, but it’s a good percentage over what’s out there now. Add these delivery trucks in with Toyota’s expanding line of hydrogen powered commercial vehicles and Japan’s commitment to building up that infrastructure using existing gas stations, too, and you might have the makings of a really viable alternative fuel.
Let us know if you think Toyota and 7-11 are on the right path towards reducing emissions and promoting green vehicle technology in the comments section, below.

Source | ImagesNikkei Asian Review.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Elio to sell $100 million in stock; 3-wheeler price raised, production delayed

Elio Motors prototype at New York Auto Show press conference, Apr 2015
Elio Motors prototype at New York Auto Show press conference, Apr 2015

Entrepreneur Paul Elio's concept for a simple three-wheeled car that would cost only $6,800 has now been with us for eight years. During that time, he has shown the car hundreds of times to diverse groups of people, taken tens of thousands of reservations, sold stock in the company, and suggested an EPA fuel-economy rating of 84 mpg highway. Elio Motors still doesn't have the money to put the car into production, however.
The company said in April 2014 that it had taken deposits for more than 15,000 Elios. In July 2015, it said it had raised $22 million through "crowdfunded" small-investor stock sales. But as The Drive reported on Friday, Elio still needs more than $100 million to launch production of the fuel-efficient three-wheeler. So the company has filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to launch a secondary public offering of Elio Motors common stock that would raise that amount.
Elio Motors founder Paul Elio at New York Auto Show press conference, Apr 2015
Elio Motors founder Paul Elio at New York Auto Show press conference, Apr 2015

Elio says its current reservation total has risen to 65,000. The price of the car has risen, too: it's now $7,450, still little more than half the price of a modestly equipped subcompact sedan or hatchback. Production, originally intended for 2014 or thereabouts, is now to start in 2019 at the earliest, according to the offering documents.

If production of the Elio three-wheeler does launch two years hence, it will be at a former GM plant the company bought in Shreveport, Louisiana. Formerly the site of Hummer assembly, the plant has been vacant for most of a decade, and some local residents have pinned their hopes for new jobs on Elio's success. Local media have remained somewhat skeptical about the company's prospects and finances over that time.
Elio E1A test vehicle under construction, June 2016
Elio E1A test vehicle under construction, June 2016

Elio had suggested two years ago that the company's need for capital could be supplied by loans from the Department of Energy's advanced technology vehicle manufacturing fund.
That program loaned roughly $8 billion to Fisker, Ford, Nissan, and Tesla in 2009; it lost more than $100 million when Fisker declared bankruptcy.

Tesla paid back its ATVM loan in full ahead of time, while Ford and Nissan continue to make payments on their loans, which make up the bulk of the $8 billion loaned out. The ATVM has been a source of political controversy since its Fisker loss, however, and D.C. insiders have suggested it is highly unlikely to make any further loans to startup automakers.

Audi switches to power output designations on its models; kW-based performance levels for all power types

Audi is adopting a standardized nomenclature for the power output designations of its worldwide range of automobiles. While the names of the model series—from Audi A1 to Audi Q7—will remain unchanged, within the model families, combinations of two numbers will replace the various type designations previously used. The new designations stand for the specific power output and apply both to cars with combustion engines and to e-tron models with hybrid and electric drives.
The reference value for the new model designations is the power output of the individual model in kilowatts (kW). Audi is thus subclassifying its model range into different performance levels—each identified by a two-numeral combination.
For example, “30” will appear on the rear of all models with power output between 81 and 96 kW, “45” stands for power output between 169 and 185 kW, and “70” for the performance class above 400 kW. In each case the numerals appear along with the engine technology: TFSI, TDI, g-tron or e-tron.
The number combinations identifying the performance levels in the Audi product range increase in increments of five, and they represent the hierarchy within both the respective model series and the brand’s overall model range.
According to the new nomenclature, in the future the spectrum will range from the Audi Q2 30 TFSI with 85 kW to the Audi Q7 50 TDI with 200 kW. A special place in the line-up is occupied by the high-end, high-performance S and RS models and the Audi R8. They will retain their classic names in reference to their top position in the model range.
As alternative drive technologies become increasingly relevant, engine displacement as a performance attribute is becoming less important to our customers. The clarity and logic of structuring the designations according to power output makes it possible to distinguish between the various performance levels.
—Dr. Dietmar Voggenreiter, Board of Management Member for Sales and Marketing at Audi AG
The changes will kick off with the new Audi A8 generation in the fall of 2017. First among the two six-cylinder engines to be redesignated will be the 3.0 TDI with 210 kW – as the Audi A8 50 TDI, and the 3.0 TFSI with 250 kW – as the Audi A8 55 TFSI.
In the coming months, all Audi model series launched on the market will be assigned the new performance designations beginning when they are offered for sale. Audi will change the designations of the remaining model series in the current product range in time for the new model year changeover in summer of 2018.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hyundai-Kia: eight electric cars by 2022, dedicated EV platform

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric - frame from video road test
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric - frame from video road test

It's long been said in the auto industry that Hyundai-Kia is the only competitor that truly scares industry colossus Toyota.
Thirty years ago, the Korean company was a bit player, producing designs adapted from obsolete Mitsubishi technology.

Today it's a major global player, reacting fast to market swings—and its goal is to be second only to Toyota itself in global production of green cars by 2020.
One more example of Hyundai's adaptation to changing market conditions came today in an announcement Thursday that it would place electric cars at the center of its future product strategy.
As part of that shift, it will expand its portfolio of battery-electric vehicles to newly independent luxury brand Genesis, which will get a long-range electric car to compete directly with Tesla as well as several future German electric models.
The new Hyundai electric car will be a luxury sedan to arrive in 2021, according to a Reuters report early Thursday that expanded on the Hyundai release.
2017 Kia Soul EV
2017 Kia Soul EV

The future Genesis competitor for the Tesla Model S may be the company's first "long range" electric vehicle (meaning 200 to 300 miles on a charge), but it won't be the last.
Before that, an all-electric Hyundai Kona subcompact crossover utility vehicle will launch next year, perhaps with a range of 125 to 200 miles.
The combined Hyundai and Kia brands have added three further models to their green-car lineup (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electrics, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles), for a total of 31 separate vehicle versions by 2020.

In 2014, when Hyundai announced its plan to become the world's second-largest maker of green cars by 2020, just two of 22 planned models were to be pure battery-electrics.
Now, fully eight of the expanded roster of 31 cars will be all-electric, with the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Kia Soul EV already in production jointed by the battery-powered Kona and an all-electric Kia Niro that may replace the Soul EV.
While Hyundai also released images of its future hydrogen-powered large crossover vehicle, which will be formally unveiled next year, only two of the planned 31 vehicles will use fuel cells.
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric (European spec), 2016 Geneva Motor Show
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric (European spec), 2016 Geneva Motor Show

The company also confirmed earlier reports that it would create its first dedicated electric-car platform, a strategy so far only followed by General Motors (with its Bolt EV and future derivatives), Tesla, and arguably Nissan for its Leaf.
Some coverage of Hyundai's announcement has presented it as a strategic shift, but it can be more accurately viewed as an evolution and expansion of the company's green-car plans.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric, launched over the last 12 months in several markets around the world, has proven more popular than expected, Hyundai says, leading to short supplies in several countries.

With 124 miles of EPA-rated range, the electric Ioniq combines a conventional and intuitive interior design with a high-tailed hatchback body that doesn't particularly read as either "green" or "electric."
That may be a winning combination, and Hyundai's use of its underpinnings for a conventional hybrid (the highest volume model by far) and a plug-in hybrid variant as well should provide economies of scale.
Hyundai is historically strong in value for money even as new generations of its cars and crossovers go from strength to strength, and the Ioniq may be viewed as a cost-effective alternative for buyers who dislike the latest Prius design.