Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Nissan Leaf electric car platform to spawn more models, SUV included

Teaser for 2018 Nissan Leaf debuting on September 6, 2017
Teaser for 2018 Nissan Leaf debuting on September 6, 2017

The 2018 Nissan Leaf apparently won't be the brand's lone electric car for much longer, if a new report with details on plans to expand the electric car's underpinnings to additional models proves accurate. Following the introduction of the second-generation 2018 Nissan Leaf, the electric car's platform will spawn multiple models, and an electric SUV is said to be one of Nissan's priorities. Future expansions could see the next-generation Nissan Leaf's architecture also underpin electric Mitsubishi vehicles as well.
A report from Autocar details Nissan's goal to expand its electric-car portfolio with help from the Leaf, which remains the world's highest-selling electric car seven years after its introduction. Specifically, the Japanese brand has filed to protect the "Terra" name, which graced a 2012 concept vehicle. That concept car was all-electric and used the then-current Leaf's electric driveline, plus a hydrogen fuel cell system to power two rear motors that created the Terra concept's all-wheel drive system.
2018 Nissan Leaf spotted during photo shoot - Image via Broom
2018 Nissan Leaf spotted during photo shoot - Image via Broom

A production version of the Terra electric crossover would, of course, benefit from the 2018 Leaf's new battery pack and electric driveline. The 2018 Nissan Leaf will likely offer two battery options: one will boast at least 200 miles of range to rival the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3. The Bolt EV returns an EPA-estimated 238 miles of range, while the base Model 3 returns an EPA-estimated 220 miles.

Aside from the Terra SUV, Nissan could use the Leaf's electric driveline in additional crossover models later on. Previously, reports indicated Nissan has been planning electric versions of the hot-selling Rogue crossover and the smaller Nissan Juke. A Nissan spokesperson previously said the company will combine its crossover and electric-car technology "in the future," which will clearly be after the 2018 Leaf goes on sale late this year or early in 2018.
Mitsubishi eX Concept, 2015 Tokyo Motor Show
Mitsubishi eX Concept, 2015 Tokyo Motor Show

Mitsubishi is the third element of the Renault Nissan Alliance's overarching electric-vehicle strategy. Nissan acquired a 34-percent stake in the Japanese automaker last year, and plans to integrate Mitsubishi into its own electric car plans. If a Nissan Terra electric crossover is in the cards, the automaker's plan could also bring the long-awaited Mitsubishi eX electric crossover concept into production.

The Mitsubishi eX debuted in 2015 as an all-electric compact crossover with a 45-kilowatt-hour battery pack said to produce an estimated 200 miles of range. Since its debut, Mitsubishi hasn't revealed any further plans for the eX, though it did reveal the Eclipse Cross, which shares some design cues from the concept. One thing is certain: Renault-Nissan plans to spread the wealth with its latest electric car into many more vehicles.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Maven Says Uber and Lyft Drivers Love Chevy Bolt

General Motor’s Maven car sharing unit finds that Uber and Lyft drivers love the Chevy Bolt and are putting a lot of miles behind the wheel.
Rachel Bhattacharya, who heads GM’s commercial mobility unit, spoke about it yesterday at a CAR Management Briefing Seminar in Traverse City, Mich.
The Maven fleet brought in 150 Bolts during May, and has 250 more on order.
Bolt rentals have done very well through the Maven Gig program, where ride-hailing and delivery service drivers rent a Maven vehicle for a week at a time. Maven Gig launched in May in San Diego and has expanded to San Francisco.
Drivers pay more for the Chevy Bolt under the program than they would under other Maven rentals; but they end up saving money on fuel costs.
Drivers pay $229 for the weekly rental, which covers insurance, maintenance, and charging. It’s about $40 more than other rentals, but drivers end up saving about $70 a week on fuelcosts, the GM executive said.
“Early interest has been phenomenal,” Bhattacharya said. “For most of them, it’s not about environmentalism. It’s about fuel savings.”
It’s taken off in the past three months. The GM mobility executive said that drivers are putting an average of 30 percent more miles in the Bolt than while driving cars with internal combustion engines.
Maven customers have put in more than 1 million miles during their Bolt rentals since the offer was launched in May.
The car sharing service is doing business now in 17 North America since its startup 18 months ago. Besides Maven Gig, the Maven Home service has done well with customers living in apartment and condo complexes and needing short trips in a shared rental car.
Bhattacharya said established brands like Zipcar helped open the door for Maven.
GM has the advantage of getting young consumers to try out car sharing services and its own vehicle products, which could the first car they end up buying.
It’a also setting the stage for testing self-driving Bolts through its partnership with Lyft and through its Maven subsidiary,
“The whole goal of Maven is we’re the learning laboratory for General Motors as we’re preparing for an autonomous future,” she said. “We’re still very much in startup mode, but we’ve had some positive results to date.”

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Chevy Bolt EV user interface: reviewer calls it best of any electric car

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is an amazing, long-range electric vehicle that won multiple awards for good reason.

Driving the EV for an extended test for the first time, it’s obvious this is the future of driving. (Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently predicted that 50 percent of new cars will be electric in 10 years.)
Beyond the surprising acceleration, the spirited feel around corners (possibly because the car feels so light), and the ability to drive 238 miles on one charge, the features that amazed me were all related to the touchscreen interface

I drove the Bolt EV at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a few months ago, and I wasn’t quite as impressed. Back then, Chevy had not fine-tuned the electric motor, and it wasn’t as sporty.
I remember thinking the interface was unique, but I kept wondering if the sluggish speed (compared to a few other electrics) would be an issue.
Driving on the curvy roads north of San Francisco, however, it became obvious the car was ready for production.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

You have to hold on tight when you punch it, which seems counterintuitive in a small hatchback like this.
Then you start using the display and it feels more like an iPad. What’s going on?
The touchscreen feels responsive and doesn’t distract you from the road like a few other touchscreens in cars that have a lag.
Along the top, there’s an obvious home button, one for apps, and one for music. You can customize the layout, colors, and look and feel to one that matches your tastes and driving style.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

For example, the “eco” layout, shown below, includes information about the energy used.
You can further edit the screen by locating the boxes — similar to the tile interface in Windows 10 — in a different pattern or making a “tile” full-screen.
The color scheme Chevy uses made it easy to spot different sections of the UI. I never had to hunt around for the bright blue track control icons.
When I wanted to change how the EV was drawing power, I found that section easily without having to click on smaller icons (as is the case with many other cars).
Chevrolet Bolt EV drives 300 miles [Screenshot from video by owner Glenn Williams]
Chevrolet Bolt EV drives 300 miles [Screenshot from video by owner Glenn Williams]

Someone at Chevy deserves credit because they obviously tested the interface with actual drivers—who have actual fingers.
Instead of having to fine-press on an icon, you can click anywhere in the tile.
That meant, even on rocky terrain as the car was moving around a bit on the road, I was still able to make selections.

Having a clear interface helps with distracted driving problems. You can easily make selections without having to tap-tap-tap on the buttons as you look at the screen for too long.
The UI is one of the best I’ve seen in any recent car, and I’m including a test drive in a Tesla in that comment.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Brompton Folding Electric Bicycle Uses Formula E Technology

Brompton has been building folding bicycles for years. Now it has enhanced the appeal of its products by adding the Brompton Electric, the world’s first production folding electric bicycle. The battery and motor are supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering, the same company that supplies batteries to the Formula E, the international open wheel racing series for electric cars. The battery for the Brompton Electric bicycle clips onto the front of the bike and stores away into a separate bag for easy carrying.

The company says its folding electric bicycle it is the most technically advanced model it has ever produced. “We’ve spent five years taking Williams Racing technology and integrating it into the Brompton,” says company CEO Will Butler-Adams. “It has been harder than any of us imagined but we believe we have created a product that will inspire more people to get out from under the ground, out of their cars and back onto a bike to rediscover their cities.”
Brompton’s folding frames date back to 1975, when Andrew Ritchie built the first one in his flat in London. The brand opened its first factory in 1988, and today makes more than 45,000 folding bikes each year — making it the UK’s largest bicycle manufacturer. Aimed at city dwellers, Brompton bikes fold up to a third of their size, so can be carried on trains by commuters, or packed into the boot of a car.
Typically a Brompton folding bicycle weighs between 20 and 30 pounds. The Brompton Electric bicycle weighs about 36 pounds, but that is still about half what some other electric bicycles weigh. Its battery weighs less than 8 pounds. “The vision for the Brompton Electric was to make a product that was as light as possible without sacrificing durability, and was extremely compact,” says chief design and engineering officer Will Carleysmith.

The Brompton Electric has a range of 50 miles. Riders can select between three power assistance levels depending on their needs and riding style. There is also a smartphone app that lets users track their mileage and customize settings for the bike to their personal preference. The company says sales are strongest in cities, where finding places to park a bicycle safely outdoors are scarce. The folding bike fits easily into elevators and its relatively light weight makes it possible for most people to carry it up stairs as needed.
The Brompton Electric is now available to be reserved – as either two or six speed versions, in white or black – and the first models will be shipped in early 2018. Prices range from $2,900 to $3,400, depending on how the bike is configured. That is no more expensive than many electric bicycles (and some conventional bikes) that do not offer the low weight and convenience of the Brompton Electric.
Source: Dezeen.com