Sunday, 31 May 2015

Hon Hai expands electric-car rental services in China The world's largest electronics contract manufacturer, Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn), plans to expand its electric-car rental business in ten more cities in China after the business started in Beijing last year, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Commercial Times.

The company has been partnered with Chinese automaker BAIC in the electric-car rental business in Beijing since last year. Now they have 200 charging stations offering more than 1,000 BAIC E150 electric vehicles for rent in the city.

Since the beginning of this year, Hon Hai has launched similar services in Hangzhou and Changzhou in the eastern provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu respectively. Guiyang in southwest Guizhou province will start operations with 100 electric vehicles in July.

The goal is to set up more than ten operation sites around the country before the end of this year. Candidate cities include the megacities of Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as Wuzhou in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

The electric-car rental service is activated through the company's smartphone app, website and the WeChat platform. Customers will be able to use the car with a QR code sent to their smartphones after orders are confirmed. The company works with Alipay for online payment.

The new-generation electric vehicles will be equipped with internet connectivity which warns drivers of low battery and shows the nearest charging station beforehand. The first priority is to solve charging problems for users, the company said.

The electric-car rental business has yet to contribute much revenue for the company as the market is still in early-development in China. Hon Hai is aiming for the bigger contract manufacturing market behind it, one unnamed market analyst said.

Israel's Solar Tree - inspired by Reva?

Great to see the solar panel tree in Israel. Looks remarkably like the Reva solar tree we introduced 5 years ago in India. 

Why light electric vehicles will outpace cars before you know it

Photo Credit: Gi Bike, a purveyor of electric bikes, the most common light electric vehicle. By 2050, two-thirds of the world will live in cities. This global urban takeover is something that will be reflected in many aspects of life, but perhaps most prominently, in transportation.

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities. According to the UN, by 2050, that percentage will increase to two-thirds. This global urban takeover is something that will be reflected in many aspects of life, but perhaps most prominently, in transportation. The car is becoming increasingly less relevant for city life.

Don’t get me wrong, cars are great. They’re spacious, air-conditioned, and are able to travel long distances without stopping. However, movement within the city is very different: You travel shorter distances, there’s more indoor-movement, and you often end up staying in the same spot for hours. When you apply the latter to personal-car use, you start to understand why traffic feels so dense and crowded in the 21st century.

More often than not, a normal person’s daily car use looks like this: A long commute to work from a suburb to a major city, in a vehicle that takes up a lot of space that remains stationary (parked) for the entire day. You don’t need to do be a scientist to understand that cars are the number one reason for congestion, both in cities and on the roads leading to them.

Today, no less than 15 major European cities have limited, or completely banned, the movement of cars. This means that not only are cars the wrong choice for travelling within the city, soon enough, there simply won’t be a choice. That’s why the light electric vehicle (or LEV) is the fastest-growing segment of the automotive industry and, within a few years, is predicted to become the largest segment.
The vehicle of change

Light electric vehicles are commonly defined as “battery, fuel cell, or hybrid-powered 2-or-3-wheel vehicles generally weighing less than 200 pounds.” The most common LEV is an electric bicycle, though there are other kinds, such asscooters, pedicabs, and e-trikes.

However, having green technology is not enough if it’s not used on a wide scale. Therefore, the only natural way for this to occur is if a green vehicle answers the needs of a large group of people. LEV might serve as the literal ‘vehicle’ of green change in urban living.
What’s standing in the way?

Right now, a major issue is price point. A good personal vehicle costs less than a car, but is still more expensive than a bike or scooter. Since the LEV is often a second or third vehicle owned, users are willing to invest less in it. However, as the market begins to realize that LEVs will be a primary means of transport, they just might change their priorities.

As these types of vehicles catch on and increase in numbers, and car numbers decrease, we’ll begin to see and feel real green change. It is possible that the right combination of public transportation and LEVs could render cars in the city totally obsolete.

Unlike electric cars, such as Tesla (which are quite high-end and definitely not affordable to everyone) and Better Place (which failed catastrophically), LEVs present a different use case. They don’t need designated paths or charging stations.
The roads to the future exist now

It’s not just the vehicles that will change; it’s also the city around them. I’m not saying that new roads will be paved for the new type of vehicle (even though there are several cities that have actually done that), but existing roads, and mostly municipal regulation, will change the way people move.

Just like other advances in transportation, the new vehicles will use existing or modified infrastructure, rather than require brand new ones. A great example of this is the fact that when telegraph lines were first introduced, they were positioned alongside railways to allow easy access for maintenance. An advantage these vehicles have is that they can be ridden on the sidewalk, on the road and on bike paths. The urban landscape will stay the same, but new and better paths will form organically.

Take Barcelona for example. Most of the underground stations in the city can be accessed using an elevator. While originally intended for making stations accessible to the disabled population, it is also proving to make it one of the best cities to get around in using a personal vehicle. Ride your vehicle for a short trip, and take it on the train with you for longer ones.

This vehicular revolution will go hand in hand with the smart city and connected car trends. Just like Wi-Fi and Cloud technology made the Internet a constant part of our lives, the Internet of Things will make jumping from one form of transportation to the other seamless.

Since a personal vehicle goes everywhere with you, it becomes a new type of platform. It will be connected to relevant applications and services, but since it is also at your side when it’s not being used, it creates a continuous experience and becomes a new object of desire for urban users.
When will green become mainstream?

The key to ushering in this change is user experience. Right now, ‘going green’ is perceived by some as a burden. We need to make it fun and cool. This can only be achieved by passing the threshold of usability. In many places the infrastructure is there, and all we need is to offer an alternative.

In other markets, it might take longer for people to give up their cars, but this can be addressed at the legislative level. If city hall starts to embrace smart and green city concepts, using LEVs to get around will become a natural thing, which will benefit all city residents in the long run.

Plug-in Hybrid Metrocab to Begin Production in Coventry in 2016 The all-new Metrocab, made by Frazer-Nash Research Ltd and Ecotive Ltd will enter volume production next year in Coventry. The plug-in hybrid taxi will be manufactured by Multimatic.

Multimatic is a Canadian company with worldwide facilities, responsible for the manufacture of components and systems to the automotive industry. The company produces complete vehicles from body to chassis and has built some highly recognisable cars including the Aston Martin One-77, Zagato and GT12 along with the Ford GT and Lagonda Taraf.

Due to the inclusion of Metrocab to its order books, Multimatic will expand their manufacturing facility in Coventry to cope with production demand.

Metrocab chairman, Sir Charles Masefield, said:

“This announcement marks another important step in bringing the all-new electric powered Metrocab to volume production. Our prototype fleet is already operating very successfully in London, proving that our Range Extended Electric taxis are the solution to delivering on the City’s Ultra Low Emission Zones promises from 2018. Next year we will enter volume production with the hugely respected and experienced Multimatic. We are delighted to be working with such an established partner to fulfil our ambitions following our significant investment in developing this product and to bring further skilled jobs to the UK.”

Multimatic Vice President, Larry Holt added:

“We have been following closely the development of zero-emissions capable taxis in the UK, and have worked with Metrocab for a number of years to bring their prototype fleet to the market. We are all delighted with the performance and operational results of this first fleet, and it is very satisfying to now commit to enter series production of the all-new Metrocab. The taxi has clearly been designed and engineered from the ground up with the global market in mind, and Multimatic has the facilities and capabilities to make this a truly international product – a prospect which really excites us.”

Comcab are currently trialling a small fleet of new Metrocabs, which is the first zero-emission capable taxi to be licensed as Hackney Carriages by Transport for London.

Source; Metrocab

Audi Q6 E-Tron With 300+ Mile Range Confirmed The Audi Q6 E-Tron has been confirmed for production, starting in 2018. That announcement came last week at the company’s annual meeting. The Q6 E-Tron will slot in between the company’s Q5 and Q7 SUV offerings.

Very few details have been released yet, but we do know that Audi’s head of engineering, Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, has promised that it will not look like any other Audi that has come before. The closest guess is that it will resemble the Prologue Allroad concept the company unveiled earlier this year at the Shanghai Auto Show. The Prologue design language has also been highlighted in the Prologue Avant and Prologue Coupe concepts. The Q6 E-Tron will share its platform with the 2016 Q7 e-tron and upcoming 2017 Volkswagen Cross-Blue SUV.

The Q6 may be offered with gasoline and diesel engines as well as plug in hybrid variants, according to the folks at Transport Evolved. But the biggest news is that the E-Tron version will have approximately 310 miles of all electric range. It’s closest competitor, of course, will be the much anticipated Tesla Model X. But industry observers think the Model X, which will be heavier than the Model S it is based on, will have “only” 200 miles of range. In the world of electric cars, range is as critical to sales as cubic inches were back when great thumping V-8 engines ruled the road.

Audi will not have a system of dedicated charging stations like the Tesla SuperCharger network that offers drivers free electricity for life, but it is known to be working on wireless recharging technology that will eliminate the need to plug in its car entirely.

Will the Q6 E-Tron be able to compete with the Model X on price and features? We don’t know the answer to that question yet, since no details about either car have been released. The only thing we know for sure is that while Tesla has been struggling to get production of the Model X started, the rest of the world’s auto makers have been hard at work preparing their own electric SUV models to compete with it.

Electric Vehicle Registrations Up 118% In Q1 2015 In European Union

Alternative Fuel Vehicle Registrations Some promising figures coming to us via the European Automobile Manufacturers Association:

In the first quarter of 2015, total alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) registrations in the EU significantly increased (+28.8 %), totalling 144,421. Of these, electric vehicles (EVs) saw their registrations more than double, rising from 11,304 units in Q1 2014 to 24,630 units in Q1 2015 (+117.9%).

Lexus LF-SA Concept - inspired by Reva?

Here is the great looking lexus LF-SA concept car. Introduced at the 2015 Geneva show, it "finds new ways to re-imagine and elevate the driver experience" according to the Lexus website. Great stuff. Except it looks more than a little like it was inspired by the Reva NXG concept we showed at the Frankfurt show in 2010. Beautiful nonetheless.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Ford is opening up its electric vehicle patents to competitors — for a fee Tesla made quite a splash last year when it announced that it was opening up all of its patents to competitors for free. Ford is now doing the same with its own electric vehicle (EV) patents — for a cost.

Ford announced this week that it will be licensing its patents through the AutoHarvest Foundation, a nonprofit that allows the auto industry to trade intellectual property amongst itself.

A Ford representative told Automotive News that licensing will cost somewhere between hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the patent.

"The way to provide the best technology is through constant development and progress," Kevin Layden, director of Ford Electrification Programs, told the publication.

"By sharing our research with other companies, we will accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers."

"By sharing our research with other companies, we will accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers."

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a similar proclamation in a blog post last year when he announced that Tesla would be opening its patents:

"Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport," he said. "If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal."

Ford currently offers six electrified vehicles —both hybrid and fully electric — and is planning on hiring 200 engineers for further EV development.

Automakers are under a lot of pressure to increase fuel efficiency, and producing more hybrid and pure-electric vehicles is certainly one way to do that. The problem, however, is that electrified vehicles are often expensive and don't offer enough of an advantage over their conventional counterparts.

As Automotive News notes, electric vehicles only made up 1.6% of all U.S. car sales from January to April 2015. The recent trend of low fuel prices are also driving customers away from electrified cars.

But don't think that electric vehicles are a flight of fancy. Fuel-efficiency standards are only getting more stringent, and fuel costs won't stay low forever. Electrification, along with investments in turbocharging, diesel engines and lightweight materials like aluminum and carbon fiber will only become more necessary.

My prediction is that powertrains in the cars of our future will resemble BMW's i8 which uses a very small turbocharged three-cylinder engine. That sends 228 horsepower to the rear wheels. It also comes with an electric motor that directs an additional 129 horsepower to the front wheels.

Heavily turbocharged motors, like the one found in the i8, have a delay in power delivery as the turbocharger spools up (called "turbo lag"). However, the instant torque of the electric motor compensates for that. In addition, the electric motor makes the car even more fuel efficient and allows for a limited range of zero-emissions electric driving.

With big commitments to electrification from Ford, BMW, Tesla and many others, don't be surprised if the car of your future is electrified, too.

Friday, 29 May 2015

LG Chem to offer 80 to 120 kWh batteries

 South Korean chemical engineering company LG Chem have announced its intention to be a supplier of larger batteries to car manufacturers who are interested in longer range EVs.

LG Chem is targeting a 300-500 km range battery pack. The company contends that currently most EVs with their 100-150 km range have a limited appeal and that hinders the potential for market growth. Currently, only the Tesla Model S possesses a truly long-range battery pack.

To that end, LG Chem says it would begin to offer large capacity lithium-ion batteries that hold between 80 and 120 kWh.

LG Chem is already a supplier for the Chevrolet Volt. General Motors announced this past January that the Bolt, a new pure EV that will go into production in 2016, will have a 320 km range.

Such long-range EVs have the potential to dramatically shake up the electric-car landscape and appeal to a larger audience.

UK: EV charger market forecast to soar by 2020 The global EV charger (EVC) market is forecast to grow from more than 1m units in 2014 to over 12.7m in 2020, according to a new report.

The study investigates the current and future regional deployments of EV charging stations and identifies factors for future growth.

"Deployments of EV charging stations are critical to enable a widespread adoption of electric plug in vehicles," said IHS Automotive senior analyst Ben Scott. "Most charging stations are expected to be installed in domestic applications, such as a dedicated wall box or simply a charging cord plugged into a household power source."

According to the report, the global production market for pure electric and plug in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles is expected to grow significantly between 2014 and 2020.


An AC charging station supplies current to the on board vehicle charger and typically provides 5-15 miles of electric range per 30 minute charge while a DC charging station supplies current directly to the vehicle battery and typically provides about 80 miles of electric range per hald hour charge.

"AC charging stations are the dominant type of plug in vehicle charging type, and we expect AC charging to retain its position long-term," Scott said. "AC charging is also an inexpensive and convenient way of charging requiring much smaller upgrades of the electricity grid whereas DC charging is best suited for 'en route' charging."

AC charging likely will play a crucial role in the public domain of the EV charging infrastructure. According to the report, approximately 10% of EV charging stations by 2020 will be within the public or semi-public domain while the number of global DC charging stations is expected to be relatively low with locations on the outskirts of cities and highway infrastructure rather than in dense urban areas.

The report finds deployments of the charging stations are dependent on a highly variable price range - from US$395 for a simple domestic wall box to over $35,000 for a DC charging station. This does not include installation costs that could add $10,000 in the case of DC charging, depending on location and accessibility.

Germany and France

"Japan is a key growth region for the EV charging stations and recently passed a key milestone by having more EV charging stations than petrol stations," Scott said.

In Europe, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Norway currently lead the way in terms of number of charging stations.

Scott said Germany and France "are the 'sleeping giants' of e-mobility but their charging networks are currently underdeveloped with respect to the size of those countries".

Sales of EVs in Germany and France have been relatively low in comparison to other European countries.

"In the US, EV charging station deployments are primarily driven at the state level. As an example, the 'greener' states, like California, deploy more EV charging stations than others," Scott said. "This is highly dependent on the individual state’s level of incentives and legislation supporting the adoption of EVs, along with regulations for fuel economy."

Japan leads with CHAdeMO

Japan has more than 2,800 DC fast charging stations using CHAdeMO the local fast charging standard. The country accounts for roughly 50% of the global total of all CHAdeMO stations.

Europe and North America also have their own fast charging standard, Combined Charger System (CCS). This type of a fast-charging station is supported by the majority of OEMs, such as Audi, BMW, Daimler, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Porsche and Volkswagen. Vehicles with fast DC charging capability based on the CCS standard have only been on the road since 2013.

From 2010 to 2014, IHS forecasts that just 7% of electric vehicles globally use the CCS charging system and about 65% use the CHAdeMO standard. IHS expects this will change over the short to mid term as more vehicles with the CCS standard enter the vehicle parc. There will gradually be a more even split between the two DC fast charging standards.

PHEVs to exceed EVs

The mix of plug-in vehicles in the parc also has an impact on the rollout of EV charging station deployment. IHS forecasts that in 2016, for the first time, global PHEV production will exceed pure electric vehicle production and is expected to remain that way for the short to mid term.

Accelerated production of PHEVs is motivated by meeting CO2 targets while remaining cost effective.

"Although there will be many more plug-in vehicles on the road, realistically it is the 'pure' EVs which will make most use of available charging points," Scott said. "EV production is also increasing and we expect charging infrastructure to roll out respectively."

Regional markets will encourage EV charging stations as stations in the public domain will be essential for consumers and in turn, a developed charging station network may encourage consumers to purchase a 'greener' EV over a PHEV.

Google’s Self-Driving Electric Car Fleet Is Expanding Google is now planning to expand its fleet of autonomous electric cars currently in use in the area around the company’s Mountain View, California, base of operations.

As it stands, these autonomous cars have been getting around 10,000 miles a week in driving — so you can see why the company thinks expanding its fleet is a good idea. Another reason includes the fact that the company has revealed that it will start sending the fleet into other areas for testing — ones where bad weather, rougher traffic, and varied terrain will all be issues, rather than the rather mild environment where the fleet is being tested currently.

For those who haven’t been following the topic closely, it’s probably worth noting here that the fleet has apparently been involved in 11 minor traffic accidents over the last 5 years. Not terrible, but not great either. The company recently stated that it will “begin posting regular updates on how things are going (eg interesting trends and incidents we’ve experienced).” It’ll be interesting to see how things go in rougher territory.

Gas2 provides a bit more:

The Google autonomous car fleet is being expanded. 25 of the Roush built cars will be placed in service over the next few months. Those cars will be limited to speeds of 25 miles an hour and operated only on city streets near company headquarters. They are equipped with steering wheels, accelerators and brake pedals to comply with California law but those items are removable. The cars will add to Google’s research into how autonomous cars deal with traffic and pedestrians.

Google is interested in exploring how the cars behave in what it calls the 0.001% of situations that are outside of normal parameters. Those are events that most drivers encounter only once every 100,000 miles. Most of the testing of the new autonomous cars will probably take place at the nearby Ames Research Center, where the company will not need to have human drivers on board like it does when the cars are operated on public streets.

While I assume that the technology will end up being put into commercial use (for rich people), I admit that I’m actually fairly skeptical of the technology’s usefulness. How will liability work? Do you really want to get in an accident caused by one of these autonomous cars and then have to deal with a very wealthy company claiming that you were the one at fault, not them? At least with other people, you generally aren’t in the position where a great deal of money is fighting against you. Hmm….

That said, I do expect to see autonomous vehicles enter the consumer market sometime during the 2020s (possibly before then, but I won’t hold my breath).

Thursday, 28 May 2015

2016 Nissan LEAF To Get 25% Larger Battery

Report: A Longer Range, Current Generation, 2016 Nissan LEAF On Sale This Fall It Appears Some “Special” Colors From The 80th Nissan Anniversary In Japan Last Year Have Inspired New US Choices For 2016

With the market demanding a longer range LEAF to better compete against the likes of the next generation of Chevrolet Volt and other new EV offerings, the current generation of Nissan LEAF will be getting a larger 30 kWh battery for the higher trim levels of the car this Fall.

The move to increase the range of the car by the Nissan does not represent the capabilities of the next generation of LEAF – due out in Q2 2017, but does fit with what InsideEVs has been projecting to come along for the past 18 months or so on the current model.

The 2016 Nissan LEAF will also have some new color choices.

Thankfully, Nissan’s take on “Robin’s Egg Blue” (Morningsky Blue) that seems to have plagued been a required color for almost all plug-ins in the past, has been deleted along with Cayenne Red. In its place 3 new colors – Forged Bronze, Coulis Red and Deep Blue Pearl.

2016 Nissan LEAF Colors

As for the stated increase to 30 kWh for both the SV and SL trims (the S continues to come standard with the 24 kWh battery), there has been no official word from Nissan, but we have heard confirmation now from two independent dealers on the coming 2016 model year upgrade.

Nissan LEAF Battery Packs Expand Up To 30 kWh

As for the new battery sizing’s effect on range, we feel the 2016 LEAF (SV/SL) could have an EPA rated range of about 105 to 110 miles. (170 to 180 km of real world driving)

This added 3-digit range will enable the 2016 LEAF to potentially take back control of the inexpensive, all-electric vehicle segment of the market; something it had almost total domination over until about a year ago.

Over the past 12 months, just over 20,000 all-electric cars with a starting MSRP under $45,000, and 93 miles (or less) of electric range, not named “LEAF” have sold in the US. One has to assume those buyers (and therefore future buyers) would have had a much harder look at Nissan’s EV with 100+ miles of range on tap.

The SV trim level also now comes standard with the CHAdeMO quick charge port.

No word yet on pricing for the 2016 trim levels, although it is expected to stay mostly unchanged, as is the appearance of the car overall.

The next generation, 2017 Nissan LEAF has been earlier reported by Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn as gaining at least double the range of the first edition, which now could mean anywhere from 168 miles to 200+ miles. (270 to 320 km of real world driving)

We reached and spoke to Nissan’s Brian Brockman, Senior Manager of Communications, for comment.

Not unexpectedly, and like other automakers, the company lives by a future non-disclosure mantra, “We have made no public announcement about the 2016 Nissan LEAF. We do not comment on future product details.”

500 hp BYD Tang Plug-In Hybrid SUV now Available for Pre-orders

 BYD Company Ltd. has officially announced their much anticipated Dual Mode Electric SUV, the Tang, will become available for pre-order on January 21, 2015 for the anticipated price of 300,000 RMB (before EV incentives) - USD$48,360. The announcement took place at BYD’s Annual International Auto Innovator Conference in Shenzhen. Demand for the BYD Tang is said to be incredibly high after BYD saw record EV sales in 2014 with the BYD Qin now topping the World’s Best Selling EV charts (presently in 5th place in PHEV sales). The BYD Tang is expected to quickly surpass the BYD Qin’s monthly sales figures as China has waited a long time for a PHEV Sport Utility Vehicle.

The BYD Tang, announced at Auto China 2014 (the Beijing Auto Show), is BYD Auto’s second generation DM 2.0 PHEV vehicle, and first of the much touted BYD 5-4-2 platform models:

5: standing for 0-100km/ h (0-60 mph) in less than 5 seconds
4: standing for 4-wheel drive
2: standing for less than 2 liters average consumed over 100 km (best-in-class fuel economy nearly equal to 147 mpg)

Similar to the BYD Qin, Tang gets its name from the Tang Dynasty, and is known throughout the world as the most prosperous of all the great Chinese Dynasties. Also announced during the innovator’s conference were two more Sport Utility offerings from BYD that will become available for order later in 2015:

The “BYD Song”, a mid-size SUV along with the “BYD Yuan”, a compact SUV will both cater to China’s insatiable demand for Sport Utility Vehicles, and when powered by BYD’s industry leading 5-4-2 platform are set to redefine limitations of current PHEVs and SUVs alike.

  • Renault Nissan provides 200 BEVs for COP 21

    • Alliance to provide 200 pure electric vehicles to 2015 Paris climate conference
    • The first fully electric shuttle service for United Nation’s climate conference
    • Fleet to include Renault ZOE and Kangoo Z.E, Nissan LEAF and e-NV200
    • More than 50 charging stations powered by renewable energy to be established in and around Paris.

    PARIS (May 27, 2015) — The Renault-Nissan Alliance, the world leader in zero-emission mobility*, will provide a fleet of 200 all-electric vehicles as the official passenger-car provider for the United Nation’s COP21 climate conference in Paris later this year.

    The partnership agreement was signed today between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and the General Secretary in charge of the preparation and organization of the 21st annual Conference of Parties (better known as COP21). The fully electric car fleet will shuttle delegates during the event from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

    More than 20,000 U.N. participants from 195 countries are expected to attend the annual climate summit. It will be the first time the U.N. will use a zero-emission fleet for its entire passenger car shuttle at a COP event.

    The goals of the Paris summit are to have a new global climate-change agreement in place by the end of 2015 and to have the Climate Green Fund, established to help developing countries adapt to climate change and reduce emissions, start allocating funds.

    "We are delighted to announce that the Renault-Nissan Alliance is an official partner of COP21 in Paris. The Alliance’s fleet of 100% electric vehicles will contribute to our goal of achieving a carbon neutral event. The technology of electric vehicles helps reduce greenhouse gases in the transportation sector efficiently,” said Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, President of COP21.

    “Electric vehicle technology is an efficient solution for a practical and affordable mode of transportation. This solution has a positive impact on the climate and air quality in our cities,” said Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. “It’s time to accelerate the shift to zero-emission mobility by working together with all parties concerned.”

    The COP21 car fleet will feature the Renault ZOE subcompact car, the Renault Kangoo Z.E. van, the Renault Fluence Z.E. sedan, the Nissan LEAF compact car and the 7-seater Nissan e-NV200 van. The vehicles will be available to shuttle delegates 24 hours, seven days week to key venues around the conference, as a complement to public transportation.

    The Renault-Nissan Alliance will work with companies in France to set up a network of more than 50 quick and standard charging stations powered by 100% renewable energy in strategic locations. The quick charging stations will be able to charge the EVs from 0 to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes.

    Renault-Nissan Alliance: The world leader in electric vehicle sales

    The Renault-Nissan Alliance is the global leader in zero-emission vehicles and the only automaker with a full range of 100% electric vehicles. The Alliance has sold more than 238,000 EVs globally since December 2010, when the Alliance’s first electric vehicle – the Nissan LEAF - went on sale. The Alliance sells about one out of two electric vehicles worldwide, including Twizy, Renault’s two-seater urban commuter vehicle, and the Nissan e-NV200 van, which has been on sale in Europe and Japan since 2014.

    The Renault Nissan Alliance will also participate in Solutions COP21, an international exhibition on climate-change solutions, at the Grand Palais in Paris. The exhibition, which will take place Dec. 4-10, will feature CO2 solutions from cities, businesses and other organizations around the world. In addition to an EV display, the Alliance will have more than 10 EVs available for the public to test drive.

    Rimac at Monte Carlo!

    Uber launches UberGreen

    Uber adds electric cars to its fleet in China with launch of UberGreen In the Chinese city of Wuhan, ride service Uber is going green. The company is introducing ten hybrid electric vehicles to its fleet of cars through a partnership with Guangzhou Automobile.

    The hybrid car service is expected to roll out this week and will be called UberGREEN, according to Tech in Asia. The new service will use Guangzhou Automobile’s Trumpchi GA5 REV car.

    In April, the city of Wuhaun announced plans to add 1,000 electric vehicles to its fleet of taxis. Always keen to compete, Uber seems to be bringing out green car service just to stay up on the competition.

    But Uber is also testing its UberGREEN service in other cities. So far the company appears to have tested electric car service in Chicago in the U.S. and Prague in the Czech Republic.

    Tuesday, 26 May 2015

    EU to mandate Real Driving Emissions test The European Commission has made an historic decision to try and bridge the gap between laboratory testing of a car's emissions and fuel consumption and the huge, yawning gap between those figures and what might be achieved in the real world. From 2017 onwards a new Real Driving Emissions test (RDE) will be introduced that will examine the emissions of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) from a car being driven on actual, genuine roads, and not just on a rolling road in a lab. The move is part of a new crusade against NOx, which is a major pollutant causing serious respiratory disease, and is one of the main reasons that some cities are talking about banning diesel cars from their centres.

    Predictably, the car makers are wary of these new rules. Erik Jonnaert, Secretary General of the European car maker's alliance, the ACEA, said: "we call on the Commission to urgently deliver a complete proposal for Real Driving Emissions (RDE) by June or July at the latest for a positive decision in the regulatory committee. We need to make more progress on clarifying all testing conditions to ensure a robust RDE regulation could commence from September 2017. Automobile manufacturers remain concerned about the piecemeal approach the Commission is taking in preparing this proposal. This is not smart regulation. We need clarity in advance so that we can plan the development and design of vehicles in line with the new requirements."

    But according to the analysts at Emissions Analytics, the car companies may already be ahead of the curve when it comes to keeping emissions to a minimum. "Our data on the very latest Euro 6 diesels shows an improvement on Euro 5 of 49 per cent," explains Nick Molden, CEO of Emissions Analytics. "We believe the manufacturers, anticipating this legislative change, have really stepped up their game and the results are encouraging, although still mixed. We think this is a good decision by the Commission and member states. Emissions Analytics started testing tailpipe emissions on the road four years ago as we identified this was the only way to truly understand real-world performance. It is good to see this is now being recognised in the legislation."

    London calls for anti-diesel pollution controls

    The Bi-Car This EV crosses genres. It looks like a hooded Segway, drives like a car, and is almost as small as a bicycle. Developed by researchers at the School of Engineering at the ZHAW in Zurich, the three-wheeled BiCar is designed for sharing, only goes 30 kph, and is compact enough to fit eight of it in one parking space. A test fleet of 20 is said to be issued over the next two years while ZHAW is looking for sponsors.

    Audi says connectivity 50% of value creation

    Audi sales chief Luca de Meo: “By 2020, 50 percent of value creation will be based on apps, software, electronic systems and digital services.”

    May 26, 2015 12:29 CET

    FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- Audi expects that electronics and digital features will become just as important as sheer horsepower for global automakers as they brace for a fundamental industry shift and new competitors and potential allies emerge.

    “By 2020, 50 percent of value creation will be based on apps, software, electronic systems and digital services,” and opportunities are “endless,” Luca de Meo, Audi’s sales chief, said Sunday in the text of a speech prepared for the Consumer Electronics Show in Shanghai. “This will totally change our industry and our offering.”

    Audi said last week that it’s open to other carmakers joining a group bidding for Nokia Oyj’s HERE digital-map division in competition with technology companies. The auto industry has been grappling with how to integrate electronic functions such as in-car connectivity and automated driving.

    Volkswagen Group, Audi’s owner, set up a task force last year to speed up adaptation of technology in new models. VW said Friday that its Car-Net system will package applications for on-board use of drivers’ smartphones or tablets operating on Google’s Android Auto software or Apple’s CarPlay and including voice recognition.

    At the electronics show, Audi is offering a 5-mile piloted drive in an Audi A7 sedan from the Shanghai Expo area to the city’s Bund riverside district to showcase the technology. Audi is also presenting new connectivity features developed together with Baidu, and tablet computers from its revamped Q7 SUV that customers can operate by gesture.

    “Never before in nearly 130 years of automotive history has our industry changed as fast and as completely as now: How we engineer our cars, how we produce them, how we present a new model, where we sell it, who we sell our cars to and who we work with in the future,” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said in Shanghai.

    Invest in Fastned, charge your EV free forever About $27,000 Buys Eternal Fast-Charging Rights In Europe

    French novelist and playwright Honre de Balzac famously wrote about true love being eternal. Now, another European institution is pledging eternity for something else that will have green-car advocates all aflutter. Yes, it's free fast charging. Mon dieu!

    Amsterdam-based Fastned is looking to gin up some extra startup cash to expand its fast-charging station network beyond its current count of 31 stations throughout Europe. The company is launching Fastned Founders Club, which is reserved for those who buy more than 2,500 shares of the company. At 10 euros a pop, that's at least a $27,500 investment. The prize? Free charging for the rest of that shareholder's life.

    Fastned's efforts received a boost last December when the European Union committed to funding Fastned fast-charging "corridors" throughout Germany. The EU said at the time that it would earmark about two million euros for Fastned as part of the EU's Trans-European Transport Networks program. As of late last year, there were plans for 155 fast-charging stations for Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Holland. Fastned was slated to build 94 of those stations. Take a look at Fastned's press release below.

    Fastned offers shareholders lifetime free charging

    Amsterdam, 19 mei 2015. Starting today, the Dutch company Fastned offers their shareholders the unique benefit of free fast-charging at all Fastned stations for the rest of their life. For this purpose the fast growing company today launched the Fastned Founders Club. Investors that purchase more than 2500 certificates of shares of Fastned of 10 euro apiece automatically become a member of this club and can immediately start charging for free. Joining the Founders Club is a unique and once in a lifetime opportunity for everyone who thinks about driving an electric car and sees opportunities in investing in the service stations of the future.

    Fastned already has 31 stations operational, and is adding one new station every week. Co-founder and CEO Michiel Langezaal: "Our goal is similar to mobile telephony - to create a national network of fast charging stations with national coverage, which allows electric cars to go anywhere with peace of mind. Anyone who invests a substantial amount today becomes co-owner of the infrastructure of the future and can use it for free, forever." Apart from being a shareholder and the privilege of free lifetime charging, members of the Fastned Founders Club are invited to the annual Founders Dinner. Here they can meet other like minded investors and pioneers. The Fastned Founders Club will only be open for a limited time, and for a finite number of investors. At launch the club already has 17 members. Investing is possible via the Fastned website: Free charging will automatically be enabled for shareholders who own more than 2500 certificates.

    "Our goal is similar to mobile telephony - to create a national network of fast chargers, which allows electric cars to go everywhere with peace of mind. Anyone who invests a substantial amount today becomes co-owner of the infrastructure of the future and can use it for free, forever. Michiel Langezaal, CEO and co-founder Fastned

    EVs - unprofitable for 5-10 years? Mass-market electric cars will go 200 miles, but are still a long way from being profitable

    Several major automobile makers are racing to create electric cars within an upper-mass-market sweet spot—traveling 200 miles or more on a charge, and costing $30,000 to $40,000. But a new report adds to doubts that they will make money, especially at first.

    Electric cars are currently in a variation of the innovation world’s infamous “valley of death,” the pre-profit period when most new products die. In this case, relatively few electric cars are selling well, mainly because they cost too much, go too short a distance before running out of charge, or both.

    The 200-mile electric costing roughly $35,000 is supposed to help lead the automakers out of the treacherous valley. So far, GM and Tesla have both announced plans to launch such vehicles in 2017 or so, and three more companies—Nissan, BMW, and Volkswagen—also seem likely to at some point.

    But Lux Research, a respected technology research firm, suggests that GM’s planned $37,500 Bolt won’t be profitable before 2020. And the $35,000 Tesla Model 3 won’t make money until 2025, it says.

    Lux is basing its calculations largely on a forecast for a steady, year-by-year drop in the price of lithium-ion batteries. Greater manufacturing efficiency will drive much of the price decline; in Tesla’s case, it will be economies of scale once it opens its gargantuan gigafactory, the Nevada plant at which it will double the global supply of lithium-ion batteries. But Lux estimates that the batteries need to drop below $200 per kilowatt hour for a car priced below $40,000 to pay off for the manufacturer.

    The report adds to skepticism about the shift of electrics into the mass market. A number of industry analysts have especially cast doubt on Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s ability to deliver on the market’s tall expectations for his cars at a price in the $30,000 to $40,000 range. One expert has forecast that Musk cannot do it at a price tag under $50,000, and may have to charge $80,000 to make money.

    And, at whatever price Musk does deliver his Model 3, there also is skepticism that the traditionally tardy entrepreneur will produce it by 2017. In fact, if the Telsa S is illustrative, he could be two years late and even longer.

    4 minute charge from graphene supercapacitors Breakthrough for electric cars: Supercapacitors from miracle substance graphene charges batteries in 4 minutes

    Charging up an electric cars: better batteries might be in store.(Reuters)

    The problem of limited range has been an important factor curbing the wide-spread adoption of electric cars. But scientists in South Korea have developed a new technology which could solve the problem.

    The lithium-ion batteries used in most of the current generation of electric cars have limitations. They are expensive and store insufficient power for the needs of many drivers, requiring frequent top-ups. And when they have to be recharged the charging process is time consuming.

    The technological breakthrough could solve these problems. And in the process, Dr Lu Wu of the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea has discovered a new use for the miracle substance graphene.

    Strictly speaking the new battery technology uses a supercapacitor, rather than a battery, but both supercapacitors and batteries store electricity. A supercapacitor stores energy on the surfaces of materials in the form of static electricity.

    Graphene is a form of carbon which is a single atom thick. It is therefore particularly suitable as material for a supercapacitor, because a small amount of it has a staggering surface area: one gram can cover 2,675m sq.

    In theory, graphene supercapacitors could be used to store much more energy per kilogram than lithium-ion batteries.

    Dr Lu has managed to produce sufficient quantities of graphene in a form that can be used in a supercapacitor, The Economist reports. First he produced graphite oxide. Next, he heated it to split the graphite into graphene sheets. Then he removed the surplus oxygen. Finally he incorporated the graphene sheets into a supercapacitor.

    The supercapacitor worked well. It stored as much energy per kilogram as a lithium-ion battery and could be charged up in less than four minutes. It is likely that a refined version of the supercapacitor will exceed lithium-ion batteries' storage capacities in due course.

    The next stage will be to scale up the technology and commercialise it.

    Germany: Low Emissions Vehicle Lane Pilot

    German State Piloting “Umweltstreifen” Program — Lane For Low-Emissions Vehicles Drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) and other types of low-emissions vehicles in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg will soon have access to “Umweltstreifen,” which are, to put a rough translation to it, “eco lanes” — in other words, lanes that are reserved for use by low-emissions vehicles (amongst other qualifiers).

    For the time being, though, this access will come as part of a feasibility study, rather than a full-out immediate change. But hey, that’s the German way, right? Cautious and arguably over-organized? Still, it is certainly better than nothing — it’s nice to see support coming along, despite the many “good” reasons that German automakers might have for wanting to slow down the rate of EV adoption by the wider public there.

    Californian residents, Norway residents, and those in some other places should recognize the approach, as similar programs are already in use, and have been for some time. The predecessor of EV lanes — carpool lanes — date back several decades, and have long proven their worth.

    Green Car Reports provides some more information:

    In the German test, however, the lanes would be open to electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and any vehicle that met the latest Euro 6 emissions regulations that went into effect last year — and carpools too, of course.

    The Euro 6 rules had their greatest effect on the diesel vehicles that comprise roughly half of Europe’s new car sales, bringing them up to the standard in effect for US sales since 2008.

    The study will attempt to ascertain the effect of the “eco lane” on air quality as well as looking at ways to limit access to qualifying vehicles. In general, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars usually have at least a few exterior features — badges and labels, if nothing else — that distinguish them from gasoline vehicles. But it could prove almost impossible to determine just by looking whether a vehicle meets the Euro 6 rules. And model year is usually not reflected by a car’s registration number.

    It’s probably worth noting here that one similar proposal for electric vehicles by the country’s transport ministry (in 2013) ended up not being approved. Considering that the new proposal is open to any vehicles that qualify as low-emissions, though, even “conventional” ones, perhaps this one will get broader support?

    The pilot study is currently expected to last for 6 months.

    Monday, 25 May 2015

    Oslo to ban diesel cars after 2 days of high pollution

    Oslo gets diesel ban on days with high air pollution

    DIESEL PROHIBITION: Oslo City Council does not want that asthmatics should have to remain at home because of high air pollution. (translation) - The goal is that we do not need to go out with recommendations that asthmatics should stay home because of high air pollution, says transport commissioner Kathy Melby (V) to Aftenposten .

    Diesel ban is one of several immediate measures being introduced on days with high air pollution for Oslo. The high air pollution must persist for at least two days for it to be bans on driving diesel cars in all or part of Oslo.

    Driving ban will have exceptions for certain groups of vehicles. This will include inter alia deliveries to Oslo, emergency vehicles, vehicles used in public service, patient transport, vehicles used for executive employment and exit and entry of foreign ferries.

    Although the city council has agreed to ban diesel, so this must be approved by the NPRA, writes Aftenposten.

    Last December it was revealed in a research report that mortality among those with heart and lung ailments rose after days of high pollution in Oslo.

    "Overruns are particularly high along the main roads and in other congested areas. An important reason why the levels have not fallen in recent years is an increased proportion of diesel cars, "wrote The City of Oslo in 2013 report on local air quality.

    Daimler Working with Qualcomm on Wireless Charging

    Daimler announced Saturday that it will be working with Qualcomm to give electric cars the ability to charge without the need for cables.

    Daimler announced Saturday that it will be working with Qualcomm to give electric cars the ability to charge without the need for cables.

    The partnership between the German automaker and the American mobile technologies company will also focus on giving smartphones and tablets inside these vehicles to charge wirelessly, according to SlashGear. Another objective of the deal will be to improve cars' ability to connect with each other through high-speed 3G/4G connectivity, which allows drivers to go online while on the road.

    Working with Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, will give Qualcomm the chance to take some time off from competing with Apple and Samsung in the smartphone chipset market and get involved in a different venture.

    The team-up will also give Daimler a chance to get ahead of German rivals BMW and Audi in its quest to become the top high-tech automaker, Reuters reported.

    Daimler and Qualcomm said they want their electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid EVs to be able to charge without having to be plugged in.

    "It's important that we remain on the cutting edge of technology and continue to deliver unparalleled experiences to our customers," Thomas Weber, board member for research and development at Daimler, said in a statement.

    "With this in mind, we are eager to jointly explore possible fields of future cooperation with an internationally leading tech firm like Qualcomm," Weber added.

    Norway EV sales continue past 50000, 20% share of new car sales again in April

    New all-electric passenger cars registrations in Norway – April 2015

    2015 VW e-Golf

    Norway plug-in electric car sales again reached 20% last month with 1,975 passenger all-electric cars and 584 plug-in hybrids for a total of 2,559.

    Data includes 282 used imported zero-emission passenger cars and 35 new vans.

    In other words,almost 3,000 new/used plug-ins added to already over 50,000.

    We don’t have confirmation yet, but probably more than half of all passenger BEVs were Volkswagen e-Golf and e-up! (expected over 1,100 – usually about 60-70% of total for those models).

    Tesla Model S would be second then – 230 in April and 1,762 YTD (3.7% overall market share).

    Then we see Nissan LEAF at 167 and 1,249 YTD (2.6% overall market share).

    Renault ZOE, with 154 last month and 515 YTD, managed to exceed BMW i3, which had 102 and 438 respectively.

    But let’s turn our attention back for a while to the Nissan LEAF, which seems to weaken almost every month, scoring in April its worst result since December 2012.

    The Japanese flagship monopolized the market in the early days taking market share from Mitsubishi i-MiEV, but then since new models entered Norway (Tesla Model S, BMW i3, Reanult ZOE, Volkswagen e-up! & e-Golf, etc.) is losing ground. Now, only 8% of new passenger BEVs are Nissan LEAF and e-Golf is finding almost 3-times more customers.

    Nissan LEAF registrations in Norway – April 2015

    Sunday, 24 May 2015

    EV drivers test drive a petrol car

    TeslaClubSweden: Having heard so much good about petrol cars, we decided to test drive one. They are said to combine cheap price with long range and fast charging. A winning formula on paper – but how are they in real life?

    We sat us in the loaner car at the car salesman’s office. Automakers do not sell the cars themselves, only through independent car repair shops as middlemen. It may sound like a bad omen to buy the car from a car repair shop that you want to visit as seldom as possible. But you apparently can’t buy the car directly from the manufacturer but must go through such intermediaries. The seller was very ”pushy” and tried to convince us to buy the car very forcibly, but the experience is perhaps better elsewhere.

    So we sat in the car and pressed the START button. The car’s gasoline engine coughed to life and started to operate. One could hear the engine’s sound and the car’s whole body vibrated as if something was broken, but the seller assured us that everything was as it should. The car actually has an electric motor and a microscopically small battery, but they are only used to start the petrol engine – the electric motor does not drive the wheels. The petrol engine then uses a tank full of gasoline, a fossil liquid, to propel the car by exploding small drops of it. It is apparently the small explosions that you hear and feel when the engine is running.

    The petrol engine consists of literally hundreds of moving parts that must have tolerance of hundredths of a millimeter to function. We begun to understand why it is car repair shops that sell the cars – they might hope for something to break in the car that they can mend?

    We put in a gear and drove away with a jerk. The jerk came not from any extreme acceleration, but gasoline engines apparently cannot be driven as smoothly as electric motors. The acceleration did not occur at all, because we could not get the car to go faster than 40 km/h! By then the petrol engine literally howled and the whole car shook violently. Convinced that something must have broken we stopped the car. The seller then explained that with petrol engines you need to ”change gears” on a regular basis. Between the engine and the wheels are not a fixed ratio gear, but a variable one. The petrol engine can produce power only in a limited speed range, and must therefore be geared with different ratios in order to continue to accelerate. There are 5 different gears we can select with increasing speed as result. It is -as we learned quickly- very important that each time select a suitable gear otherwise the engine will either stop or get seriously damaged! You need a lot of training to learn to select the right gear at the right time – though there are also models with automatic transmissions that can do this themselves. In the manual transmission car, we needed to constantly guard the engine from damaging it. Very stressful.

    We asked if the constant sound of the engine -that frankly disturbed us from being able to listen to the radio- could be turned off. But it couldn’t. Very distracting.

    After getting the car up to speed through intricate changing of gears we approached a traffic light. Releasing the accelerator pedal resulted in no significant braking, we had to use the brake pedal very much to slow down the car. We were surprised to hear the brakes are completely mechanical! The only thing they generate is heat – braking gives no regeneration of gasoline back into the tank! Sounds like a huge waste, but it would soon get even worse.

    When we came to a stop the engine continued to run and the car vibrate – even though the car was standing still! The engine continued to burn gasoline without moving the car forward. Can it really be true? Yes, the seller explained, it is so with gasoline cars: the engine is always running and burning gasoline – even when the car is stationary. Some models however switches off the engine at a red light, he explained. Well that certainly makes more sense.

    After a while we came to a gas station where we could charge the car. The car claimed that it still had half a tank left, but we wanted to try the famous super-fast charging of petrol cars!

    So we drove to the gas station and opened the fuel cap. The filling nozzle is very similar to a charging connector, but it is not electrons that come out of it but gasoline. Gasoline is a highly carcinogenic, smelly and flammable liquid derived from plants and animals extinct since millions of years ago. The gasoline is pumped to a tank in the car, which then drives around with about 50 liters of this hazardous liquid in it.

    We put the nozzle to the car, but nothing happened. The seller then explained that we must pay to fuel! Much like those extremely expensive fast chargers some electric utility companies have set up. After we put the credit card in the reader we could start fueling. It was extremely fast! In just two minutes we filled the gas tank to the max! But there were two counters on the pump: one that showed the number of liters we have fueled and one that showed how much it would cost us. And that counter was spinning so fast that we could hardly keep up with its pace! Sure we filled the tank full in two minutes, but it did cost us an unbelievable €30! A full charge would thus cost us double that – a whopping €60! We cursed our luck that we apparently have chosen one of the most expensive gas stations, and began to ask the seller what other alternatives are there? How much does it cost to fill up at home, and how many free stations are there?

    The seller looked very puzzled at us and explained that it is not possible to refuel gasoline cars at home, and there are no free gas stations. We tried to explain our questions, in case he had misunderstood, but he insisted that you can not. Apparently youhave to several times a month drive to the gas station to recharge your petrol car at extortionate prices – there are no alternatives! We thought it was very strange that no gasoline car manufacturers have launched their own free gas stations?

    There are no gas stations either where you can fill up more slowly at a cheaper price. We started calculating price versus consumption and came to the shocking conclusion that a petrol car costs unimaginable €12 per 100km! Sure, electric cars could also theoretically come up to these amounts if they quick charged at one of the most expensive charging stations in the country – but for petrol cars there are no cheaper alternatives! While electric cars are comfortably charged at home every night for €2 per 100km petrol cars must make detours several times a month to fill up at these extortionate rates – without exception! Monthly cost for a petrol car can -just for the gasoline alone- easily exceed one hundred Euros! We begun to understand why they are so cheap to purchase – operating them is extremely expensive instead.

    We also begun to understand why there must be so many petrol stations everywhere, if all petrol cars always have to drive to them to refuel. Imagine if you could charge your electric car only at the power companies’ most expensive fast chargers – and nowhere else!

    With this in mind we ended up in a traffic jam and was horrified that the gasoline engine continued to burn these expensive gasoline drops even when the car was standing still or moving very little. With gasoline vehicles it is easy to run into cost anxiety – the feeling that the car literally burns up your money! No cheap home charging and no regeneration of gasoline back to the fuel tank when braking sounds like economic madness – especially given that all gasoline must be imported from abroad.

    We returned the car to the dealer’s premises, pulled the handbrake and step out of the car. The petrol engine continued to run! Apparently one must manually switch off the combustion of the precious liquid. But we wanted to see the petrol engine, so the seller opened the bonnet. The entire front portion of the car was completely cluttered with hoses, fittings, fluid reservoirs, and amid all a huge shaking cast iron block which apparently constituted the motor’s frame. There was no space for luggage in the front of the car! Despite its enormous size, high noise and vibration, the engine barely delivered one hundred horsepower. The engine was also extremely hot, we burned ourselves when we touched it. Even though this was on a warm summer day so the engine did not need to generate heat to the passenger compartment.

    We became also worried about what would happen if we crashed with a petrol car? The cast iron block that occupied most of the engine compartment was sitting in the middle of the collision zone! Where would it go if we collided – would we get it in our lap? The salesman assured us that the motor in such case somehow gets folded down under the car but we could not escape the impression that the engine block was very much in the way at the front – the safety beams were built around it, which surely impairs their functionality. Avoiding that one hundred kilo iron lump in the front of the car makes it so much easier to build safe cars. In addition, we have seen on the Internet hundreds of pictures and videos of burning gasoline cars. The petrol tank apparently often leaks after an accident so the flammable liquid pours out and becomes ignited!

    From the engine, under the car runs an exhaust system – a kind of chimney for engine exhausts. When you burn the carcinogenic gasoline a lots of noxious gases are produced. The car cleans away the most dangerous gases, but what remains is released into the open air behind the car. It is still unhealthy to breathe in – and smells very bad! And petrol cars are allowed to emit these harmful gases in the middle of our cities? Do not confuse petrol cars’ exhaust pipes with fuel cell cars’ – while hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles emit only water vapor gasoline cars spew out noxious gasses, and even fossil carbon dioxide that contribute to Earth’s future-catastrophic warming!

    We thanked the seller for the display, shook our heads and gave back the ignition key (yes, it’s called that) to him. He realized that there would be no business for him so except for one lame attempt he did not try to sell us the car any more.

    On the way home in our electric car we looked with completely different eyes at our poor fellow commuters, who still had to put up with their gasoline cars. But soon it will be their turn to trade up, too!

    Volvo Introduces Electric Concept Bus in Sweden

    Volvo Electric Concept Bus

    InsideEVs: Volvo launched its first all-electric bus, which now can be spotted in Gothenburg, Sweden.

    Awaiting its official premier in mid-June, we don’t as of yet know any details on the powetrain or battery technology.

    Three such 10.7 meter long vehicles will operate on route 55 between Lindholmen and Chalmers/Johanneberg, altogether with seven plug-in hybrids Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid.

    One of the interesting features is extra-wide doors and new design style.

    Series production of battery-electric only buses is scheduled for 2017.

    “The vehicles are equipped with battery packs that can be quick-charged with renewable electricity at their end terminals. Energy consumption of the electric buses is about 80 per cent lower than that of corresponding diesel buses. The new route is the result of a cooperative venture known as ElectriCity, which develops, demonstrates and evaluates innovative solutions for future sustainable public transport.

    Before it enters regular operations Volvo’s new electric bus will also be shown at the large UITP public-transport show in Milan on June 8-10. UITP brings together public transport purchasers from all over the world who come to see the latest developments in the industry.”

    “Volvo’s designers aimed to give the bus a modern and welcoming atmosphere. The interior is bright and airy and there are electrical power sockets for passengers to recharge their mobile phones. The bus features onboard Wi-Fi. Although the bus is just 10.7 metres long (more than a metre shorter than a conventional bus) it can carry up to 86 passengers. The central driver’s seat contributes to high passenger capacity.”

    Håkan Agnevall, President Volvo Buses said:
    “Right now we are carrying out final testing to ensure everything works just as it should when regular traffic gets under way. This marks a major milestone in our development of new solutions for electrified buses. Quiet and entirely exhaust-free operation will contribute both to a better urban environment and reduced climate impact, while passengers get a more pleasant ride,”.

    “For instance, all boarding and exiting is quick and convenient via an extra-wide door opening with a low entry in the middle of the bus. Here there is a large area with a low, flat floor, to make things easier for passengers with child buggies or wheelchairs.”

    Volvo 7900 Plug-In Hybrid Bus

    Global revenue from EVSE charging services to $2.9 billion by 2023

    Navigant Research: The global plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging market consists of two segments: residential and commercial. Residential charging is closely tied to the state of PEV sales and continues to grow in tandem with the PEV market. Commercial charging is dependent on a viable business model or major policy push for its success. Both markets exhibit different trends at a national or state level, depending on factors such as population density, utility involvement, and policy push for PEV adoption.

    The residential charging market is entering a phase where the chargers are simply a commodity, with a focus on bringing down the price. The commercial charging space continues to test various business models, especially for the public charging market, including free charging to draw in customers, fees for usage by the hour or kilowatt, and the use of advertising. In some countries, public charging is driven by supportive policies; in others, public networks are being built out by automakers or utilities. The commercial charging market is still in flux, representing a competitive environment for PEV charging service providers. According to Navigant Research, global revenue from electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) charging services will grow from $81.1 million in 2014 to $2.9 billion by 2023.

    Saturday, 23 May 2015

    Recharging without cables: the road ahead for electric cars "As far as electronics are concerned, we've developed 99 percent of its full potential and we have what is needed to produce an efficient wireless charging station"

    Electric vehicles are undoubtedly a form of transport with a future, but many technical challenges have to be overcome before they replace petrol and diesel-fuelled cars.

    Researchers in Zaragoza in northern Spain are working on resolving one of the biggest problems; how to efficiently recharge batteries.

    The scientists involved in the EU-supported Unplugged project have developed an innovative wireless charging station for electric vehicles. Unlike other systems it can charge electric cars or vans in around 20 minutes.

    Lourdes García, an industrial engineer with Endesa, said the position of the coils is key: “The system works with coils that are buried under the tarmac of the charging station. It’s use inductive technology. The coil is energized from the electric grid. When the vehicle is positioned correctly on the charging station, a connection is made between the coils and the car. The coils transfer energy to the car. It’s a very flexible, modular system. You can charge cars, vans or electric buses”.

    Researchers say the method is easier, safer, more vandalism-proof and has less visual impact than charging with cables.

    José Francisco Sanz Osorio, an industrial engineer with the Research Centre for Energy Resources and Consumption said they are now turning to industry to help complete the testing: “As far as electronics are concerned, we’ve developed 99 percent of its full potential and we have what is needed to produce an efficient wireless charging station.

    “The remaining work concerns coils; that is where we are lagging behind. We need to find coil manufacturers interested in this product. But these coils are so innovative, that it is still hard to find those manufacturers,” he said.

    The project also aims to convince the public of the benefits of electric vehicles.

    But firstly, there were major technical challenges to overcome, as Axel Barkow, an electronics engineer and project coordinator explained: “First on the level of communication, that is, how to make operable the communication between the car and the infrastructure. “Then on the level of energy transmission. That is: How can a 3,7 KW car be charged at a 50 KW charging station. And finally we were addressing the problem of positioning, because positioning the car correctly – that means positioning the coils under the station in line with those on the car. That has a big impact on charging efficiency.”

    So how can drivers get the full potential of this technology?

    The answer lies in developing a system that assists drivers to position their cars exactly over the charging coils, so no energy is wasted. Barkow’s colleague Jörg Küfen said their solution involves magnetic fields, optics systems and algorithms: “At the end of the project we’re now at a point where we can say, that with a camera and a radio frequency identification (RFID) support system we can enable a driver to approach the inductive charging system in the correct way.”

    More research is needed to increase the charging station’s potential and to optimise its operability, according to José Francisco Sanz Osorio: “We’re working at a given frequency, but in other countries they can be working with a different frequency. So we need to harmonize those frequencies. We also need to agree on the size of the coils, on the distances of electric emissions. All this is needed for the system to be fully interoperable”.

    “I think as far as cars are concerned we are very close to a serial production, said Barkow. “That is, I think, we will see cars that are equipped with this technology within the next one or two years”.

    The next big issue, researchers say, is how to develop a dynamic charging system, that will allow vehicles to be charged on the move on motorways and streets.

    Friday, 22 May 2015

    Hyundai Sonata PHEV

    Sonata plug-in-hybrid electric vehicle Hyundai Motor will begin selling the Sonata plug-in-hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) by as early as July in order to secure an upper hand in Korea's rapidly-expanding eco-friendly vehicle market.

    GM Korea and other automakers are expected to introduce PHEVs in 2016 when the government will begin extending subsidies to buyers.

    The country's largest automaker said Thursday that it will make the Sonata PHEV available for Korean consumers in the third quarter, stressing that it will make every effort to lead in the country's growing environment-friendly automobile market.

    "We first unveiled the vehicle during the Seoul Motor Show 2015 in April, attracting a great deal of attention from auto enthusiasts," a Hyundai Motor spokesman said. "To stay ahead of our competitors in this growing segment, we decided to put the Sonata PHEV on the market in the third quarter of this year."

    PHEV shares characteristics of both a conventional hybrid electric vehicle, which has an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, and of all-electric vehicles, which have a plug to connect to the electrical grid. They are an upgraded model of hybrid cars currently available in the market as they can run longer distance by electricity.

    The Sonata PHEV, powered by a 2.0-liter Nu GDI engine, 50-kilowatt electric motor and six-speed transmission, can run more than 40 kilometers only using electricity.

    Hyundai's planned launch of the PHEV marks the ongoing market shift toward more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly vehicles. GM Korea, Audi and Volkswagen said they will introduce their latest plug-in hybrid models in Korea next year.

    Auto industry watchers say that the level of government subsidies and the availability of charging facilities will determine whether PHEVs will take a root here or not.

    The Ministry of Environment is considering extending up to 6 million won in subsidies and tax benefits to those purchasing PHEVs in 2016. Currently, motorists buying hybrid cars receive a 1 million won subsidy and save about 3.1 million won in registration taxes.

    "The government will likely offer about 2 million won more in subsidies and tax benefits to the buyers of the PHEVs in 2016, compared to those driving conventional hybrid vehicles," the spokesman said. "This means we need to find ways of slashing the price tag by 2 million won for those buying the Sonata PHEV this year. We haven't yet decided how to do it."

    Tesla: Mobile Stores Electric-car maker Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA ) is already known for its unique approach to selling its cars, bypassing dealerships and instead selling its vehicles directly to consumers in company-owned retail locations in upscale shopping areas. But it wants to push the boundaries of what consumers are accustomed to in the auto retail experience even further. Showing off the flexibility of Tesla's direct-to-consumer model, the electric-car maker is meeting customers at popular summer locations with a touring, full-fledged store experience -- a feat auto dealers may have difficulty matching.

    Inside Tesla's brand-new touring mobile store, currently in Santa Barbara, California. Image source: Tesla Motors.

    Tesla's mobile store
    When transported, Tesla's new mobile store fits on a single flatbed truck and is about the size of four shipping containers sitting side by side. Once expanded and transformed, the store is about 20 feet deep and 34.5 feet wide.

    "Designed in-house, the shipping container arrives and unfolds to double its size in just a few hours," Tesla said in a media release. "The mobility and convenience of the design allows Tesla to bring our unique retail approach to customers in new locations where we do not yet have a brick-and-mortar location."

    The store will highlight Model S components, including the Model S's electric powertrain and battery architecture. People visiting the store will be able to "learn about electric driving with enticing visuals and interactive displays," as well as to test-drive the Model S.

    Just in time for the busy Memorial Day weekend shopping, Tesla's mobile container store landed in Santa Barbara, California, today, and will have its public grand opening tomorrow. After finishing up the month in Santa Barbara, Tesla will then transport its mobile store to its next stop in the Hamptons.

    As Twitter user @TonyJGiannini pointed out, Tesla's mobile store is already touring in Europe. Mostly slipping under the radar in the media, the pop-up store made an appearance in England at the Bluewater shopping center in November and December.

    Tesla mobile store in Santa Barbara. Image source: Tesla Motors.

    There are three of these mobile stores in Europe and one in the U.S. The three in Europe are currently in Denmark, France, and Switzerland. Going forward, Tesla could very well expand its investment in these stores, Tesla spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson told The Motley Fool.

    Tesla's secret weapon?
    During Tesla's fourth-quarter earnings call, CEO Elon Musk said the company had "a secret weapon on the demand side that we'll probably start to deploy later this year for demand generation," adding that it could be a "good weapon against the dealers."

    Is this unique touring retail experience the company's "secret weapon"? It's quite possible.

    It would be difficult for traditional automakers to set up similar direct-to-consumer pop-up shops to sell their vehicles. Doing so would likely require the vehicle manufacturer to refer visitors to nearby dealers for test drives and sales, in order not to interfere with the local dealer network. Dealers, too, could have trouble matching Tesla's mobile store. They probably wouldn't want to set up shop far from their dealership, since the majority of dealer profits come from servicing cars -- not auto sales.

    There's good reason to believe Tesla's investment in mobile stores is likely to pay off handsomely

    First, Tesla's demand is arguably limited by the company's small retail footprint. So, every additional store is important.
    Tesla stores and galleries in the U.S. Image source: Tesla Motors.

    Not spending a dime on advertising, Tesla relies heavily on its limited yet fast-growing retail locations for sales. Touring its mobile stores in high-foot-traffic locations could help Tesla expand its retail footprint to key areas without having to take the time to set up a physical brick-and-mortar location.

    Second, Tesla's spending on retail locations to date has proven to be a lucrative investment. Musk said last year that sales per square foot for its retail stores are double Apple's. Apple was previously thought to have the highest sales per square foot in the world.

    Last, customer education plays an important role in Tesla's selling process. In Tesla stores, customers ask employees many questions about driving electrically. By bringing mobile locations to popular destinations where Tesla doesn't have a retail footprint, the company can educate more people who are unfamiliar with the company's fully electric vehicles.

    Tesla's growing footprint of retail locations has been a key driver in sales growth. Model S deliveries were up 56% year over year in the company's most recent quarter.

    Is Tesla's production catching up with demand?
    With Tesla constantly ramping up the pace of production for the Model S, the company's further investment in these mobile stores could be a sign that its production is finally catching up to demand. While Tesla did say orders continued to grow in Q1 and that it expects global order growth for Model S to continue to rise throughout the year, perhaps the level and rate of Tesla's production ramp-up is getting closer to the level and rate of order growth.

    If Tesla's production ramp-up for Model S is catching up with orders, will an investment in mobile stores help Tesla achieve its goal to increase Model S sales by about 50% for the entire year?