Fuel cell vehicles in California, Transport Evolved.
Reading tip: Michael Lynch takes a critical look at California’s latest move to foster fuel cell vehicles. He calls for choosing an ends (less carbon emissions) rather than a means (fuel cells), to see which technology will prove best.
Video tip: For once, we made news ourselves when our colleague Marc Kudling broke the launch of electrive.com to ‘Transport Evolved’. Apart from his appearance, their latest podcast covers electric developments seen at Detroit’s NAIAS.
Renault, Toyota, Kia.
Fluence ZE cancelled: The production of the electric Renault Fluence has been stopped due to low sales. The battery-swap version had already come to a halt in May 2013, following the closing of Better Place. The re-badged version Samsung SM3, sold in South Korea only, remains in production.
Hybrid minivans: Toyota launched redesigned versions of its Noah and Voxy vans in Japan. The hybrid versions are set to follow in February at a price of 2.85 million Yen (27,300 dollars). Both vans feature the Prius hybrid system. The battery is located in the front cabin, leaving more space for cargo in the rear.
Kia Soul EV exposed: A prototype of the upcoming Korean electric car has been spotted with just little camouflage during winter testing. The Soul EV resembles its conventional parent, except for redesigned bumpers and indicators. The electric Kia is expected in Europe and the U.S. later this year at a price of around 22,000 euros (about 29,800 dollars).
Toyota stays cleanest: The Kraftfahrtbundesamt or KBA (Germany’s Federal Motor Vehicle and Transport Authority) ranks the Japanese as the cleanest high-volume manufacturer on the German market. Toyota’s average carbon emissions in 2013 was 121.2 g/km per car, which is 4.7% less than in 2012. The reduction is a result of the increased demand for hybrids (up 41% from 2012) which made up 28% of Toyota’s sales in Germany last year.
auto-medienportal.net (In German)
Nissan Leaf hits milestone.
Nissan’s Leaf is a best-seller with now 100,000 units sold worldwide. It is available in 35 countries with the U.S. being the biggest market. Europe is closing up fast as the electric Nissan topped sales of conventional cars in Norway in October 2013.
DELFIN project, Falling prices for EV batteries.
More service, more EVs: The DELFIN project is a joined effort between the renowned German research institutes KIT, Fraunhofer IAO and RWTH Aachen university. The researchers aim to develop services designed to further the uptake of electric cars. Customer support is one topic, IT services another. Furthermore, the conglomerate is working on a forecast of future market trends. The project is part of the “Dienstleistungsinnovationen für Elektromobilität” (Innovations in services for e-mobility) initiative funded by the German ministry of education and research.
idw-online.de (In German), emobility-services.com (Project’s webpage in German)
Disruptive price drop: The editors from Cleantechnica.com bolster up the much discussed article of ABB’s director of e-mobility, Hans Streng, with more facts, figures and opinions collected online. Streng’s original piece describes falling prices for EV batteries and predicts this trend as continuous and exponential, thus having enormous effects on the EV market in the near future.
"The word ‘recall’ needs to be recalled.”
Reading tip: Tesla’s recall of a recall that wasn’t a recall in the first place – the wall chargers in question will be reissued to consumers via mail – is a lesson on the scandalising power of modern media and the prejudices EVs are still faced with.
Nissan, Mercedes, Fisker, Mitsubishi, VL Automotive.
Nissan to expand its e-car offering: At the Detroit Auto Show design chief Shiro Nakamura confirmed plans for an exclusive sports-car, which would probably incorporate technologies from the BladeGlider or ESFLOW concept. He also announced a “cheap city commuter type unique EV” below the Nissan Leaf.
motorauthority.com, greencarreports.com, electric-vehiclenews.com
Mercedes S500 Plug-In: In Detroit, Thomas Weber, Daimler’s chief of R&D, said that the luxury PHEV with its electric range of 30 kilometres will work well in urban areas. Sales start in Europe by the end of 2014, followed by the US in 2015. The future C-class plug-in (photo) will likely go “closer to 50 kilometres.”
Date for Fisker auction set: On the 12th of February, 2014, China’s Wanxiang Group will be up against Hybrid Tech Holdings in a closed auction in New York. Hybrid has said its initial bid for the remains of Fisker would be worth 55 million dollars.
Outlander PHEV granted: The Mitsubishi PHEV is eligible for the UK Government’s Plug in Car Grant of 5,000 pounds (8,200 dollars), the Office for Low Emission Vehicles confirmed. The Outlander is one of few hybrids qualifying, as it can be driven all-electrically at more than 70 mph over a sizeable distance.
VL Destino deliveries: While the latest ‘Red Concept’ currently on display at NAIAS will never go into production, the first nine Fisker Karma conversions have been sold and are about to be delivered. If a V8 version of the Tesla Model S would sell as good? Bob Lutz might think so.
nytimes.com, detroitnews.com, green.autoblog.com
EV Registrations in Austria.
In Austria, 1,473 electric and 2,581 hybrid cars were registered last year. While the numbers are steadily increasing, EVs still only have a very small share of the market with a total of 415,313 conventional cars sold in 2013.
wienerzeitung.at (In German)
Yasa Motors, E-Force, Bugatti, SkyWhale.
Yasa Motors secures funding: The British company is in for another round of funding worth five million pounds (8.2m dollars), raised by recurring and new investors. The money is intended to increase production capacity for Yasa’s differentiated axial flux electric motors and to sharpen the company’s commercial profile.
Swiss E-Force: Four month ago, Feldschlösschen, the biggest brewery of Switzerland has taken one all-electric E-Force into its fleet to test its performance. So far the 18-tonne lorry has proven highly reliable on its daily delivery trips in the Zurich region. On average, the E-Force covered 65 kilometres and served eleven customers loaded with 4.6 tonnes of beverages a day. The consumption of only 73 kWh per 100 km equals less than eight litres of Diesel. Before giving a final verdict, the company wants to conduct data on winter performance. Meanwhile, new drivers are being trained, to further increase the frequency of use of the e-truck.
cleanthinking.de (In German), eco-way.ch (In German)
Hybrid Bugatti super sports-car: When asked about a hybrid version of the Veyron with its already 1,200 hp, Bugatti CEO Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber simply said “Maybe.” However, he did not want to go into further details just yet. Sounds promising, does it not?!
Giant hybrid plane: The concept for the ‘SkyWhale’ was dreamed up by Spanish designer Oscar Viñals. His super-sized jumbo has three-storeys accommodation for 775 passengers divided by class. The airborne whale is then supposed to “swim” through the air with ‘active wings,’ powered by a hybrid electric propulsion system. It includes generators at the aircraft’s hull transforming the airstream into energy. Somehow, the SkyWhale seems too good to be true.
EV Registrations worldwide, BMW i3 Reviews, Fast Charging Guide.
Click tip: The website Hybridcars.com lists the top six countries for EV adoption. Their rating is based on accumulated registrations dating as far back as 2003. Just comparing the year 2012 and 2013, the Netherlands lead with a spectacular growth rate of 338%, followed by Norway (129%) and Germany with 105%.
Video tip 1: Currently, the BMW i3 is every reviewer’s object of desire. Both ‘Xcar’ and ‘The Verge’ set out to test, if the all-electric BMW would live up to their expectations. The outcome of these first contacts were vividly captured on film and with words.
youtube.com (Xcar video), theverge.com (The Verge)
Video tip 2: In a new video, Chevrolet guides Spark EV owners through the DC fast-charging process, step-by-step. What is essentially plug-and-play comes enriched with information on state-of-charge indicators and even EV charging etiquette. Don’t say, you did not know…
BMW, Infiniti, BYD, Tesla, Ford.
Next electric BMW: The German car maker confirmed that they are planning the next model in the electric i-series and it is likely to be the i5. Meanwhile, the ‘Electronaut’ testing programme is about to end and participants will be the first in line to exchange their ActiveE for the i3 Electronaut edition.
No upscale Leaf: The Infiniti LE was supposed to become a luxury version of Nissan’s electric car but has now been “delayed indefinitely,” according to Infiniti President Johan de Nyssche. He denied that the delay has anything to do with the efforts to give the car greater range or the planned wireless charging system.
Qin coming to Europe: BYD’s Qin hybrid only recently launched in China and is now set to be offered in Europe by 2015. The PHEV has an all-electric range of 44 miles and a top speed of 115 mph. Moreover, the car can be remotely manoeuvred at very low speed from outside the vehicle. In China, the Qin starts at the equivalent of 32,266 dollars.
Tesla goes Down Under: The Californians are ever further expanding and will launch their Model S in Australia by June this year. First orders have been taken and Tesla plans to develop its familiar network of concept stores across the continent rather than working with traditional dealerships.
Twice as many hybrids: Ford’s top development executive, Raj Nair, announced plans to double the U.S. car maker’s hybrid offerings by 2020. Speaking in Detroit, Nair said the move is driven by the growing demand for green vehicles in China and Europe.
Amprius raised 30 million dollars of funding for the commercialisation of its compact lithium-ion batteries with silicon anodes. In a next step, the silicon will be replaced by silicon nanowire.
Power Electronics Institute, North Carolina State University.
Research initiative: U.S. president Barack Obama announced the creation of a public-private research center, led by North Carolina’s State University. The ‘Next Generation Power Electronics Institute’ will focus on developing cost-competitive wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductor technologies in the next five years.
greencarcongress.com, earthtechling.com, whitehouse.gov
New ecodesign for electric motors: The European Commission has published the amendments to the EC 640/2009 regulation concerning the ecodesign of electric motors in their Official Journal thus making them the new standard. A transitional period of six months has been granted until the new rules outlined in Directive 2005/32/EC apply. The changes concern current exceptions for motors operating at great heights or under extreme temperatures, which will be further limited.
new.eur-lex.europa.eu (Directive text), ec.europa.eu (Ecodesign standard), maschinenmarkt.vogel.de (In German)
Low to no effect: Researchers from the universities of North Carolina and Minnesota modelled the deployment of light-duty electric vehicles (EDV) in the U.S. but could not find a consistent trend towards lower system-wide emissions of CO2. This is due to the small overall share of emissions from the LDV sector (20%) and because EDV charging still produces emissions depending on the grid mix.
All-electric Land Rover, The Electric Car Revolution.
Video tip 1: In his latest episode of ‘Fully Charged,’ Robert Llewellyn is taking an experimental all-electric Land Rover Defender not on a safari, but on a rather wild tour through the English countryside. Do not expect roaring, but reassuring re-gen humming and occasional sounds of excitement from the drivers.
youtube.com (Video) via electric-vehiclenews.com
Video tip 2: While Renault is the producer of this documentary about the history of electric cars, it does not fail to include all pioneers of the past and present regardless of their brand and name.
ev.com (with Video)
Nissan, Audi, Hyundai, Toyota, Cadillac.
America loves the Leaf: Nissan is increasing output of its Leaf by about 50%, now producing 3,000 units a month at its plant in Tennessee. The surge in demand is bolstered up by the growing charging infrastructure as well as customers are increasingly becoming aware about the cost benefits of EVs.
German Tesla-Fighter? The German car magazine ‘Auto Bild’ reports in its print edition about Audi’s plans of an upcoming electric Audi Q8 with a range of up to 700 kilometres. While details are yet scarce, the Q8 with an expected price of at least 100,000 euros (136,000 dollars) is believed to be a direct answer to Tesla’s upcoming Model X – but at least two years later.
‘Auto Bild’ No. 2/2014 p. 10, bild.de (In German)
Hyundai readies FCEV: This spring, Hyundai will introduce its Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle to the US market, initially in the Los Angeles region. The IX35 FCEV, as it is known in Europe, comes with a range of up to 300 miles and refuelling will only take ten minutes. Hyundai launches the FCEV in California as the state recently agreed to build one hundred H2 fueling stations.
Six million hybrids: Toyota hit yet another milestone right at the end of 2013 when billing 6,072 million hybrids. This last million took Toyota only nine months after celebrating five millions in April ’13. The Japanese currently offer 24 hybrid models and one plug-in hybrid worldwide with another 15 in the pipeline.
Volt owners test Caddy ELR: Is a fancy name and hefty price tag enough to make a difference? Two Volt owners set out to drive the Cadillac ELR, which has the Volt system under the hood. Both drivers found the Electrified Luxury Coupe (ELR) to be “luxurious” indeed.
Plug-in EV Sales in Canada.
Plug-in electric vehicle sales rose by 50 per cent last year in Canada. This positive trend should continue this year, when – for example – the Nissan Leaf availability to Canadian dealerships is improving.
Intertek, Boeing, SwRI, Chevrolet.
Intertek Test Center grows: The corporation expands its ‘Center for E-Mobility and Transportation Technologies’ in Kaufbeuren, Germany. An abuse bunker with a volume of 160 cbm for batteries with up to 1,000 Volt is set to be finished in April. Other new battery testing facilities will follow in summer.
Dreamliner grounded again: The 787 continues to be a nightmare for Boeing. White smoke from a melted battery cell was discovered in a 787 on Tuesday and the jet has been grounded in Tokyo since. Dreamliners were taken out of service last year already due to battery overheating. Boeing is currently examining the incident while other 787 remain in the air.
Autonomous charging: The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has deployed the first V2G aggregation system that is qualified by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). The system detects if grid frequency is dropping below a level specified by ERCOT when charging a fleet of EVs and automatically suspends charging until grid stability recovers.
Moving hotspots: This summer, Chevrolet will add high speed data connections to some of its cars, including the Volt and Spark EV. To offer 4G LTE connectivity, GM is pairing their OnStar infotainment system with AT&T’s 4G network.
Chevrolet Volt Review, Hybrids in Jamaica.
Video tip: Chris Harris reviews the Chevrolet Volt and while first speaking of “controversy” he soon calls it a “game changer” that has the potential to make people very happy, especially in suburbia.
Reading tip: The uptake of hybrids in Jamaica is very slow and dealers know the reasons. One is that people are worrying about were to charge the new hybrids even though the cars on offer have no plug.
BMW, Audi, VW, Tesla, European Parliament.
BMW i3 sparks interest: At the Detroit Auto Show, Ian Robertson, member of the board for sales and marketing at BMW, said they had received 11,000 orders for the all-electric car. The German head of sales, Roland Krüger, spoke of “numerous test ride requests” which have become a “logistical challenge” lately. The BMW i3 is expected to go on sale in the U.S. by May, with the i8 following this summer.
automobilwoche.de (In German), europe.autonews.com (General numbers)
Technology flagship: According to Audi’s head of technical development, Ulrich Hackenberg, the R8 e-tron will have its comeback and eventually go into production. Offering a better range and cost performance, he wants to convince the Audi board to make the electric supercar the brand‘s “technology flagship.”
autocar.co.uk via greencarreports.com
VW shows e-Golf in Detroit: At NAIAS, Volkswagen unveiled the electric Golf for the U.S. market. The e-Golf will go on sale in selected states in late 2014. To tackle range anxiety, VW will offer a ‘Roadside Assistance Plan’ to assist drivers in case they get stranded with an empty battery.
Tesla exceeding goals: Tesla delivered a whopping 6,900 cars to its customers in the last quarter of 2013. That is 20% higher than Tesla expected, VP Jerome Guillen yesterday said in Detroit. But he also admitted that sales are not going as well as expected in Germany. Interesting: The upcoming Model X is reportedly having more than 6,000 reservation holders so far.
New CO2 limit: The European Parliament approved a draft yesterday that is outlining new CO2 emission limits for light commercial vehicles sold in the EU. By 2020 the limit will go down from today’s 203 g/km to 147 g/km. Probably it will not take long before we see small hybrid vans on our roads.
Toyota Hybrid Sales 2013.
Toyota and Lexus together sold 156,863 hybrids in Europe last year. This is an increase of 43 per cent compared to 2012 and grows the companies‘ marketshare in Europe to 4.7% (+ 0,2%).
InMotion, Sway, Oregon.
Lean in there: At this year‘s CES, the Chinese company InMotion introduced its SCV-R1, basically a stripped-down Segway that weighs only 15.5 kilos. Also shown at CES was the three-wheeled electric scooter called Sway. With its patented tilting system, riders can literally sway from left to right.
technologicvehicles.com (InMotion), trendhunter.com (Sway)
Matching EV grants: Drive Oregon has named three projects receiving a total of 85,000 dollars of the Matching Grants scheme. The projects range from electric forklifts over the electrification of New York‘s ambulances to general EV marketing. The programme will be open for application again at the end of February.
Video tip: In this video BYD showcases its new Qin plug-in hybrid from the inside-out. At times, one might feel like watching a computer game but the overall message is definitely futuristic. As the Chinese can start ‘playing’ now, the rest of the world has to wait until at least 2015.
youtube.com (Video), hybridcars.com (Details)
Mercedes, VW, Toyota, Fisker, Green Automotive, Viridian Motors.
Mercedes C-class unveiled: Daimler unveiled its new C-class at the Detroit Auto Show yesterday. The new model is bigger but at the same time 100 kilos less heavy. It will come as a C300 Bluetec Hybrid, which uses the diesel hybrid drive of the E-class while a plug-in hybrid version has been confirmed for 2015. Mercedes will build its best-selling car in the US, which is also the C-class’ biggest market.
VW SUV seats seven: Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn confirmed that the CrossBlue will be available by 2016. The concept was first introduced at last year‘s NAIAS and the production model is said to be very close to that concept. The CrossBlue is likely to come as a plug-in diesel hybrid with plenty of room to seat seven adults.
Future Toyota: The Japanese are debuting their FT-1 Concept at the Detroit Motor Show. The sports car, that some are calling the successor of the ‘Supra,’ was designed by the Calty Design studio based in California. Toyota said the FT-1 will not be available as a hybrid. Therefore, it has nothing to do with the upcoming cooperation between BMW and the Japanese car maker.
Fisker to be auctioned: On Friday a court ordered a competitive auction of Fisker assets. The judge followed a last-minute bid by Wanxiang and rejected the initial offer of 25 million dollars by Hybrid Tech led by Richard Li (we reported). The auction is due in February.
greencarreports.com, just-auto.com, green.autoblog.com
Safety downgrade: Because the Federal New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) revised their safety rating system, the 2014 Toyota Prius lost one of its five stars. A frontal crash test was rated with four stars – as before – but under the new system this also lowered the overall score of the hybrid to four.
E-truck cooperation: The Green Automotive Company (GAC) now owns one fifth of Viridian Motors Corporation (VMC). The latter builds light-duty trucks using their own electric motor and batteries. GAC said it hopes for synergies regarding its subsidiary Newport Coachworks, which is about to launch its first electric bus in February.
German hybrids in the U.S.
German car makers sold 7,600 hybrids in America last year according to the the German car industry association VDA – a fairly low share of the total sales of 470,000 hybrids in the U.S. in 2013. However, in 2012 only 1,900 hybrids were made in Germany and sold in the U.S..
Roland Berger, ElectroForce, MIT.
Roland Berger dampens fuel cell hopes: A new study by the german consulting firm suggests that a mass market breakthrough for fuel cells is not to be expected in the near future. However, until 2025 the firm predicts production costs to lower considerably by up to 80% with cost per unit going down to about 1,000 euros (1,370 dollars). The big question will remain the price of platinum.
New e-motorcycles: ElectroForce Motors is based in Shanghai where it wants to fill a niche in the market for electric two-wheelers. Their models called Mu and Tau are both offered for less than 5,000 dollars. They come with a power of either 8 or 11 kW and a range between 115 and 150 kilometres.
Stability through disorder: A new study by Researchers at MIT suggests, that Li-ion battery cathodes made of disordered lithium compounds can outperform perfectly ordered ones. A combination of computer modeling and lab experiments showed, that certain kinds of disorder and the use of an excess amount of lithium can boost cathode performance.