Nissan Leaf battery survives abuse, Cadillac ELR.
Video tip 1: Just how much abuse can a Nissan Leaf battery cell take? Apparently a lot! This video shows that even after being damaged with a screwdriver and a gas burner, it still runs just fine.
Video tip 2: CNNMoney takes the Cadillac ELR for a spin. Conclusion? A smooth ride with nice acceleration. And the car’s interior also earned points. The only glitch is the 70,000 dollar price tag…
E-Mobility Index, Geely, Lexus, VW, Toyota.
E-Mobility Index: Roland Berger consultancy has published its ‘E-Mobility Index’ for the first quarter of 2014. It places Japan as the leading nation in EV production and private ownership. However, the report sees America as possibly becoming the biggest local cell manufacturer if Tesla’s Gigafactory goes ahead. The index compares seven leading automotive nations in terms of technology, industry and market development. Apparently, the race is still on as McKinsey’s Electric Vehicle Index put Germany on top of Japan (we reported).
rolandberger.com, fka.de (download the index)
Geely acquires Emerald: The Chinese Geely Group, owner of brands such as Volvo and the the London Taxi Company, has bought the British EV startup Emerald Automotive. The purpose of the acquisition was to promote its ability to develop next-generation electric taxis, Geely says.
Lexus Sportcoupé RC: The Japanese carmaker will debut its latest sportscar in Geneva. A hybrid version of the RC coupe named RC 300h comes with the hybrid drivetrain of the IS 300h and is also expected to have its premier at the show this week.
VW Mini-SUV concept: Volkswagen will introduce the 4WD T-ROC SUV concept in Geneva. The diesel-powered T-ROC concept is based on VW’s modular platform (MQB), hence it is likely to come with electric drive options should it ever go into production.
Prius Plug-In cheaper: The 2014 version of Toyota’s PHEV is now up to 11.7% cheaper in the U.S. depending on the variant. Despite the fact that the Prius plug-in ranked among the top four of all electric cars sold in the U.S. in 2013, Toyota still chooses to sell it in only 15 states.
European EV and hybrid sales.
Electric vehicle sales in Europe list 1,243 Nissan Leafs making it the best-selling electric car on the continent in January. Far behind, yet second best is the Volvo V60 plug-in with 439 units followed closely by VW’s E-Up (398). Overall, 4,288 EVs were sold.
ev-sales.blogspot.de (Europe), ev-sales.blogspot.de (worldwide)
Highlifter, Hitachi, LG Chem, Berkeley Lab, Argonne National Lab.
All-electric highlifter: The company ‘German E-Cars’ is currently testing its new ‘Highlifter’ at Kassel-Calden airport, Germany. The eleven-metre vehicle was developed with Doll Fahrzeugbau AG, a specialist for airfield vehicles, and is the first fully electric of its kind. It serves the caterer Gategourmet lifting containers. If the test is successful, the Highlifter will go on further trials in Zürich, Amsterdam and Stockholm.
hna.de (in German, many photos)
Building on synergies: Hitachi is integrating its Vehicle Energy’s design and R&D department for lithium-ion batteries into Hitachi Automotive Systems in April. The company thus hopes to strengthen synergies in developing electric and hybrid drivetrains and to increase battery efficiency.
Battery factory in China: LG Chem is reportedly planning to build a battery factory in China to be able to satisfy the future demand of the Chinese car industry. LG Chem, which is currently supplying batteries to carmakers such as GM and Renault, expects to double it customers to 20 in the near future.
New nanocatalysts discovered by researchers at Berkeley and Argonne National Labs are said to make cheaper and more efficient catalysts for fuel cells than the best platinum catalysts used today. The new bimetallic catalysts of platinum and nickel (Pt3Ni) have a tree-dimensional catalytic surface activity.
Fully Charged, Navigant Research, Kia Soul EV.
Video tip: The Fully Charged show reviewed the second generation Nissan Leaf and explains the main improvements over the first generation. As it is built in British Sunderland they took the chance to look at its production as well.
Study tip: Navigant Research predicts worldwide sales of wireless EV charging equipment for light-duty vehicles to grow by 108%, thus amounting to annual sales of more than 300,000 units in 2022.
Video tip: Before the introduction of its Kia Soul EV later this year, the Korean engineers wanted to make sure it would withstand the Europes’s harshest conditions, namely the Swedish winter with freezing temperatures around -35°C. A truly cool video.
VW Passat, Volvo, BMW, Ford, Urb-e.
VW Passat plug-in: German newspaper ‘Autobild’ reports that Volkswagen will also introduce its plug-in hybrid drive from the MQB platform in the Passat range. It will be presented at the International Auto Expo (IAA) in 2015 and is said to become by one third more powerful than the Audi e-tron.
autobild.de (in German)
Volvo Estate unveiled: After some teaser images leaked last week, the carmaker has now revealed more details, pictures and a video of the Concept Estate to be officially unveiled in Geneva. Like the last two concept cars, the station wagon is a rather stylish looking car, which “points to the future design” of its V70 and XC70 to come, Volvo says.
carmagazine.co.uk, indianautosblog.com, youtube.com (video)
BMW Cruise E-Bike: The carmaker has not become a bicycle manufacturer yet, as its latest bicycle collection is produced by Spanish BH Bikes but at least it comes with BMW styling. The 2014 version of the Cruise e-bike is fitted with the new Bosch system with the bigger 400 W battery and is priced at 2,799 euros (3,837 dollar).
Updated Ford Fusion Hybrid: The latest version of the hybrid is offered for 26,270 dollars making it 1,000 dollar cheaper than last year’s model. The 2014er Fusion features new material options like titanium and new exterior colours. Its hybrid system can run fully electric on short distances at speeds of up to 85 mph.
Almost a 100,000 dollars have been collected for the Urb-e scooter concept on Indiegogo so far and the company is asking for another 50,000 in the remaining three weeks. The Urb-e, dubbed the “ultimate last-mile vehicle,” is a foldable and very compact vehicle said to run 20 miles on a charge and reaching a top speed of 15 mph.
indiegogo.com (with video)
EV and hybrid registrations in the UK.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) registered 2,512 all-electric and 1,072 plug-in hybrids sold in the UK in 2013. Furthermore, the British bought almost 30,000 hybrids last year, of which 3,114 had a diesel and 26,017 a gas engine.
smmt.co.uk (Motor Industry Facts paper as pdf)
University of Arkansas, Torotrak, Lotus Cars, GreenTrans.
Platinum bonding: A research group at the University of Arkansas led by Peng Xu found that graphene bond with platinum nanoparticles helps the latter to fall into organized patterns. This means that catalysis in future fuel cells might require up to 80% less platinum than today’s.
sciencedaily.com, cleantechnica.com, newswire.uark.edu
Millions for KERS: The UK’s Technology Strategy Board has awarded Torotrak and its technology partner Lotus Cars a grant of 4.3 million pounds (7.2m dollars). The money is for the integration of their Flybrid KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) technology into a manual gearbox.
New central motor: At the upcoming Taipei Cycle Show, Taiwan, GreenTrans will presents its crank drive unit, said to weigh less than four kilos. It comes with a 48 V/8.5 Ah battery and the company’s own torque sensor. GreenTrans further announced it is developing an s-pedelec kit.
Tesla-Gigafactory, BYD, Honda, BMW.
Billions for battery factory: Tesla has now released more details on its Gigafactory plans. The factory is said to employ 6,500 new workers and to ensure the supply of cells and batteries (35 GWh in cells and 50 GWh in packs) for up to 500,000 cars a year by 2020. This will cut today’s battery costs by at least 30%, Tesla says. With Tesla investing 2 billion dollars itself, made possible by a new convertible notes offering worth 1.6bn dollars, other partners are still to be announced. Rumours say Panasonic and Toshiba could be two of the partners to join up and fund the project with 1bn dollars each. Regardless what rumours say, Elon Musk has kept most of his promises to this day and that’s why investors are once again putting their money where his mouth is and help Tesla’s shares to reach just another all time high.
gigaom.com, teslamotors.com (Gigafactory-PDF), green.autoblog.com, forbes.com (stock price)
Boost for BYD: The all-electric e6 is now officially listed as eligible for EV incentives in the Chinese capital Beijing. The same goes for the Denza EV. Also, after BYD’s Qin plug-in hybrid has been listed in Shanghai, the company shares soared 9%.
Insight to be discontinued: Honda has announced to discontinue production of its hybrid model Insight altogether in February due to low demand. Furthermore, the Japanese carmaker confirmed that the Fit EV will only be produced 1,100 times with production coming to a halt in autumn.
bloomberg.com (Insight), transportevolved.com (Fit EV)
Flexible financing for BMW i3: BMW Group Financial Services has created the ‘OwnersChoice with Flex’ for buyers of the electric i3. The aim of the new offer is to give the customer the means to own a new i3 but at the same time offers end-of term options including the optional return of the car.
The U.S. government has invested 900 million dollar in 362 projects included in its ‘ARPA-E’ (Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy) programme so far. Another 625 million were added from private-sector funding following initial investments of 95m dollars by ARPA-E.
Magna, University of Vermont, BASF.
– Research + Technology –
Mila Blue by Magna: The automotive supplier will present a lightweight vehicle concept powered by natural gas at the Geneva Auto Show. The Mila Blue is said to weigh only 670 kilos. A 12 V motor allows for electric cruising at low speed of up to 30 km/h.
Packetised charging: Researchers from the University of Vermont have applied for a patent for their new charging concept based on smart meters. With their method charging times of electric vehicles would be broken down into chunks. Charging would be interrupted if local demand (e.g. in one neighbourhood) was high and continued as soon as demand decreases.
Battery sales to soar: Chemical company BASF aims to make 500 million euros (684m dollars) from selling battery materials by the end of the decade. This is five times more than today as turnover stands at about 100m euros. While EV sales are currently not as strong as predicted by many, BASF said it will stay “committed” to its long-term strategy.
Study on nanotechnology, Tesla Roadtrip.
Study tip: The Fraunhofer ISI, Germany, published a study on nanotechnology in photovoltaic and energy storage applications and predicts that it will soon become more widely used for electric transport.
iec.ch (complete study as pdf)
Video tip: Electric cars are first and foremost fun, is what these jolly Dutch wanted to prove when going on a road trip in a Tesla Model S. From Amsterdam they headed towards Paris with one thing in mind: party! But first, they had to overcome a few charging obstacles…
youtube.com (video in Dutch), thenewmotion.com (blog in Dutch)
EU, Volkswagen, Ford, Hyundai, Nissan.
The EU made its final decision on car carbon emissions. The initial target of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre still stands but has been pushed back by one year to 2021. Parliament also approved the ‘super-credit scheme’, which was proposed by Germany, allowing carmakers to collect credits for producing EVs but only between 2020 and 2022. A car emitting less than 50g/km will count as two cars in 2020, 1.67 in 2021 and 1.33 cars in 2022.
E-Golf skyrocketing in Norway: Only 3.5 hours after VW’s importer in Norway had officially started its sale of the anticipated VW E-Golf, already 1,500 orders were placed. First deliveries are scheduled for June with prices starting at 244,200 kroner (40,400 dollars).
abcnyheter.no (In Norwegian)
Ford bicycles: The American carmaker has now signed a licensing agreement with Taiwanese bike manufacturer Dahon. Together, they will create a full range of Ford-inspired folding and standard bicycles, some of which will be shown at the upcoming Taipei Cycle Show. The agreement includes electric bikes and accessories.
Details on Intrado: Hyundai’s latest fuel cell concept to be presented at Geneva is the first development under the new head of design, Peter Schreyer. It is inspired by aircraft design features and supposed to be easy and intuitive to use as well as versatile. The Intrado’s interior allows for glimpses of the lightweight materials used.
Nissan (surv-)eying Tesla: The Japanese carmaker has asked Model S owners in California to participate in a survey to establish what is so likable about their competitor. Not only is Nissan asking its questions on customer satisfaction online but would also like to see a driving diary and personal interviews. Tesla will probably take this as a compliment rather than a threat.
The New Motion.
The New Motion hast just opened its 10,000th charging point in The Hague, Netherlands. TNM was founded in 2011 as part of the “Green Deal,” a green initiative by the Dutch government to erect the network. Its stations can now also be found in Belgium and Germany.
thenewmotion.com (In Dutch)
Oerlikon Fairfield, ZF Friedrichshafen, Accell Group, Lawless Industries.
Off-highway hybrid: A new drivetrain from Oerlikon Fairfield is said to save 30% fuel and will be introduced in March. Initially, the hybrid system was developed to power a wheel loader but the company says it may be used in other off-highway applications as well.
New test centre: German ZF Friedrichshafen announced plans for a new testing centre for transmissions in Friedrichshafen. The automotive supplier will merge departments of its current R&D Center to gain office space but will also build a new building to house workshops, labs and test benches.
New e-bike middle motor: Dutch Accell Group will extend its own e-bike drive system ‘Ion’ to include a mid-motor. The system will be presented this autumn and follows predictions that pedelecs with middle motors will dominate in the future while demand for front hub drives is believed to decrease.
Electric dragster: The SR-37 now features a 1.5 megawatt electric drive system fitted by ‘Lawless Industries’ from Poland. The custom-built General Electric motor has been tuned to be strong enough for the 200 mph+, 6-second drag race over 1/4 mile.
Volvo, Smart, Ford, Paice.
Volvo-Trilogy of concept cars: After having presented the Concept Coupé and the Concept XC Coupé, Volvo will showcase the Concept Estate in Geneva next week. Leaked images are teasing a station wagon which could become the new V90 with plug-in hybrid drive.
autoevolution.com, indianautosblog.com, carbuzz.com
Spy shots Smart Forfour: The latest mini Mercedes with four seats has now been spotted. It is based on the Renault Twingo platform and is expected to go on sale in the last quarter of this year. An electric version is almost certain as its predecessor, the Fourjoy concept, already featured an electric drive.
Ford sued over patent infringement: Paice LLC is accusing the carmaker to use its hybrid system in the C-Max, Fusion and Lincoln MKZ thus infringing patents. Paice had successfully sued Toyota over the same patent infringement in 2005 and has pending complaints against Hyundai and Kia.
Elio trike reservations.
Elio announced it has received 10,000 orders for its super-efficient trike even though production is only set to start next year. The promise that the Elio will do 84 miles to the gallon (3,4 l/100 km) and 670 miles on a tank seems to at attract buyers. Reservations start at 100 dollars.
Kia, Aaglander, Knapheide.
Battery of the Soul EV: Together with SK Innovation, Kia has developed a battery consisting of 192 lithium-ion polymer battery cells in eight modules making for a total capacity of 27 kWh. The cathode is made from nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) providing energy density of 200 Wh/kg.
Electric carriage: Shown for the first time at the Hannover Messe fair last year, Linde Material Handling has equipped a coach of German Aaglander manufacturer with an electric motor. In Geneva, an updated version will be presented that uses a rear servo drive that comes without gearbox and differential. The carriage as such serves more as a technology test bed as the ‘Connected Dual Servo-Drive’ rear axle by Inmares could also be used in sports cars.
nordbayern.de (in German)
100 hybrid truck conversions: Knapheide announced that it has completed more than 100 installations of XL Hybrids’ XL3 drivetrains on fleet vehicles, namely the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans.
Range anxiety, History of electric cars.
Study tip: Research by the TU Chemnitz, Germany, identifies different types of EV drivers with subjective levels of range anxiety and respective charging patterns. The study finds that drivers artificially limit their drivable range and usually leave 20% to 25% as a safety buffer.
Reading tip: No less than three waves of EVs counts Ken Green Burridge. The latest was started by Tesla’s Roadster and Toyota’s Prius and resembles a tsunami.
Hyundai, Subaru, Nissan, Toyota.
Hyundai H2 concept leaked: Images of the ‘Intrado’ concept emerged ahead of its debut at this year’s Auto Salon in Geneva. Apparently, Hyundai is determined to take hydrogen on to the next level. The drivetrain, based on ix35′s Fuel Cell (called Tucson overseas), is said to offer a range of 600 kilometres.
Viziv 2 to come: Subaru released a teaser image of its updated Viziv Concept which debuted in Geneva last year. The new version will again be unveiled at the Auto Salon and while details are not yet known, it is most likely to come with the same setup of all-wheel drive hybrid with CVT.
Electric revelations by Nissan: Also in Geneva next month, will the arrow-shaped electric sports car BladeGlider have its first European appearance. Furthermore, the Japanese carmaker will present the production version of its e-NV200 which will go on sale in May. A modified version of the transporter will be offered as a people carrier under the name Evalia.
Service issues: Owner’s of Toyota’s RAV4 EV are currently venting their anger in online forums. Their complaints range from a lack of Toyota workshops actually qualified to maintain the electric car to technical problems concerning the ECU gateway supplied by Tesla. With the RAV4 EV being a Toyota product and Tesla only a supplier, customers can not expect support from Tesla’s service centres either.
Review Subaru XV Crosstrek: It is the first hybrid by the Japanese carmaker and as thus welcomed by Matt Keegan as an attempt to go green. He is however not entirely sold (yet) as “fuel economy disappoints and seating comfort falls short.” Keegan remains hopeful though for future improvements.
E-bike sales Accell Group.
An increase of 23 per cent in e-bike sales made 2013 another successful year for Dutch Accell Group. Pedelecs thus accounted for 35% of Accell’s total bicycle sales last year, compared with 32% in 2012.
Rawlemon, Drive System Design, Yamaha, Zytek, Local Motors.
Moonlight charging: Rawlemon from Barcelona, Spain, has designed a round, compact concentrator for sun and even moon rays. While the ‘Beta.ey’ is currently a small scale phone charger, it could soon be used to charge EVs. The crowdfunding campaign only ends in a week but has already collected more than the initial 124,000 dollars.
indiegogo.com (Campaign), periscopepost.com
New testing centre: Drive System Design (DSD) has opened a new testing facility for transmissions and drivetrains in Southam, UK. The new centre comes with workshops and equipment to test mechanical parts but also features two environmental chambers.
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Details about Motiv.e: At the Tokyo Motor Show 2013, Yamaha presented an electric city car concept. Its motor is a design by Zytek, a subsidiary of Continental, and weighs only 13 kilos while providing up to 25 kW. The lightweight Motiv.e is said to have a range of up to 100 kilometres.
Print an electric car: This September, Local Motors will present the first 3-D printed production EV at IMTS in Chicago. Its first customer is the Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT) and the electric car will be “manufactured” at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).