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Special – 1986 Electric BMW 3-Series

[youtube width="470" height="344"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOo1TnWKVCg[/youtube]

What would you do if the engine of your ’86 3-Series would blow up? Here is an idea – throw out the engine and install an electric motor! That is what Mate Rimac did after the engine of his bimmer blew during a difficult day on the track in Croatia. Most of us would have installed a new power unit or sold the car for parts, he found a third alternative, way better than the first two.

What started as a lark became a serious two-year project for Mate Rimac, whose company – VST Conversions – has brought this 1986 BMW 3-Series through four generations of electrifying improvements, literally.

The latest generation of his car comes with 300 lithium iron phosphate cells gathered in a battery pack that can provide a very impressive range of 110 miles which should be enough for a full day of drifting or drag racing.

The propulsion of this very special BMW comes from a DC motor developed and manufactured by VST that outputs an incredible number of 900 ponies which is enough for a Tesla-beating 0-60 sprint time of only 3.3 seconds! The car can reach a very impressive to speed of 174 mph, pretty good for a car that is 35 years old, wouldn’t you say so? This figure is pretty similar with what you find in today’s sports cars and makes this electric 3-Series a serious rival for high-end electric cars like the Audi eTron.

Rimac will not stop here as he plans to install new upgrades to the car. Pretty soon he will equip the BMW with a “small, light and efficient liquid-cooled AC motor with permanent magnets.” He added that the car is far from “finished” as there is plenty of space remaining for some serious improvements.

Next year he hopes to launch a production car that will output 1,088 hp! This vehicle is supposed to have proprietary liquid-cooled AC motors for all four wheels and each one of them will be fully capable of a quick response that will outperform the torque vectoring possible from a traditional drivetrain that is linked to a regular internal combustion power unit.

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Quick Look – Mission R

Mission R

Unveiled in December at the International Motorcycle Show, the Mission R looked like something that you would have expected from Ducati. Without any doubt, it has to be one of the coolest electric motorcycles ever launched, with a very refined appearance.

Some of the goodies of this electric bike include the liquid-cooled 141 hp engine, the 14.4 kilowatt-hour battery pack (the one you see in front of the Mission R) as well as the high-end components coming from some of the greatest manufacturers in the domain, like Brembo or Marchesini. What is even more interesting is that the guys over at Mission Motors managed to put all these goodies into a motorcycle which is about the same size of a 600cc supersport.

Being an electric motorcycle, the heart of the Mission R is the battery box which does a lot more than simply holding the pack. The machined aluminum box installed in the front is providing a mounting point for the steering head. In the rear, there is a stressed unit which is capable of providing a mount for the motor, countershaft, primary drive and the pivot for the swing arm. The entire box is surrounded by a beautiful steel trellis frame.

The picture uploaded exhibits the Misson R without the battery but the battery plate is in place. In normal conditions, the battery plate and the pack are a single unit removed and installed from above.

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New Details Of The Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric

Although the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt were the big hit as far as electric cars in 2010, Ford is hoping that their new Focus Electric will steal all the thunder of EV cars in 2011. The Focus EV, a zero-emission car will make its official debut at the 2011 CES – Consumer Electronics Show and officials at Ford have said that the car will be available at North American dealerships at the end of this year and as far as Europe is concerned, customers will have to wait until 2013.

Looking at the car, you will notice that it looks a little bit different than the conventional Focus, employing an Aston Martin-inspired front fascia, the necessary charging port that has a LED ring and is located to the left of the driver’s door. In addition, the Focus EV will have a new set of 17-inch 15-spoke rims which will be covered by low-rolling resistance tires. The car will have improved aerodynamics in order to improve the drag. The conventional Focus has a LED eyebrow above the headlamp only for the European model, but Ford said that the North American Focus EV will also be available with this feature.

Moving on to the most important aspect of the car, the Focus EV will be powered by a 100-kilowatt electric motor that will have a 23-kWh battery which is capable of outputting 123 hp and a respectable torque of 181 pound-feet. Although the company didn’t say anything about the official capable range of the car, they did mention the fact that it will be able to reach a top speed of 84 mph.  Some sources say that the car will be able to do about 100 miles on a single charge, just like the Nissan Leaf. According to Ford, a full charge will take about three hours using a 240-volt outlet and about 20 hours on a 120-volt outlet.

Ford Focus Electric

The most interesting aspect about the car is how the manufacturer will be able to make electric vehicle ownership a piece of cake. The wall-mounted two-piece charging stations will be available for purchase from Best Buy and the people over there will be responsible for install them. In addition, Ford developed the all-new MyFord Mobile application which allows the Focus EV owner to monitor and interact with the car at all times. Ford has formed an alliance with Microsoft for offering value charging, a new system that “allows our customers to reduce their electricity costs by taking advantage of off-peak or other reduced rates from their utility without a complicated set-up process.”

The Ford Focus EV will be built together with the conventional Focus at the company’s Michigan Assembly Plant, located in Wayne, Michigan.  Ford is at the moment thinking where will the European-spec Focus EV be built starting with 2013.

Getting back to the MyFord Mobile application, it will offer the owner of a Focus EV (and other future EV cars from Ford) the following data: info about the vehicle’s status information; capability of performing key functions remotely; monitor the vehicle’s state of charge as well as current range; get alerts when the vehicle should be charged or when the charging has finished and also the possibility to remotely program change settings and download the car’s data for analysis.

Ford Focus Electric

As far as the batteries are concerned, Ford teamed up with supplier LG Chem in order to develop the advanced lithium-ion battery system that uses heated and cooled liquid in order to help maximize the life and fuel-free driving range. This active liquid system is capable of heating or chilling a coolant before pumping it through the system in charge of the battery cooling. This loop will be capable of regulating the temperature throughout the entire system against external conditions. During the hot days of the year, the chilled liquid will absorb the heat coming from the batteries and will disperse it with the help of a radiator, prior to pumping it through the chiller again. During the cold days, the heated liquid will warm the batteries and will bring the system temperature to a level in a gradual manner which will allow it to accept charge energy in an efficient way and will provide the necessary discharge power for expected car performance.

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Volkswagen Taxi Concept

Volkswagen Taxi Concept

Based on the soon to be released Up! city car, the German automaker Volkswagen has revealed the London-style Taxi Concept. The car was designed in order to meet the many challenges that are faced by conventional cars in modern cities, with even tighter restrictions on emissions and space. The heart of the Volkswagen Taxi Concept is an electric motor that is fed by the high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. With a decent capacity of 45 kW/h, the batteries of the Taxi Concept allow the electric motor to output 115 PS which translates in theory to a top speed of about 75 mph.

The Taxi Concept will have an estimated driving range of about 186 miles when the batteries are 100% charged. For an 80% charge level, the batteries will need only one hour of charging. The Taxi Concept measures 1,600 mm in height, 3,730 mm in length and 1,680 mm in width, making it shorter than the current smallest model from the German automaker, the Fox. However, thanks to the fact that it has a longer wheel base and minimal front and rear overhangs, it has a more spacious interior with enough room for two adults to sit in comfort along with some luggage.

The theme implemented in the Volkswagen Taxi Concept is simplicity, with a clutter-free and elegant interior look. The most important functions of the car like the climate, fare and entertainment info are all grouped onto one touch screen display that is installed next to the driver. In the back of the car, the passenger will have a similar screen that shows information about their route and their immediate environment.

Volkswagen Taxi Concept

Although the car has a modest size, the Taxi Concept does not feel cheap, on the contrary, thanks to its cream leather and individual seats, it feels quite elegant. The styling of the car was inspired from the UP!, Space UP!, and the Space UP! Blue concept automobiles and sports deliberately tongue-in-cheek details like the silver Union Jack on the Roof as well as the City of London’s coat of arms resplendent on both sides of the car as well as onto the dashboard of the Taxi Concept.

The fancy daytime running lights that are mounted within the headlight units are coupled with a distinctive “Taxi” light located on the roof. The light has two settings – green when the taxi is free and red when it is occupied by a client. On the back of the car, the Taxi Concept’s light units are integrated into the 60/40 split tailgate. Behind, there are a pair of cubbies that will house the personal belongings of the driver.

Although the Volkswagen Taxi Concept does not adhere to the current legal requirements that regulate taxis in England’s capital, it does however offer a glimpse on what will the future small and efficient taxis will look like. By efficient we mean that probably all future taxis will be fitted with electric motors sooner or later in order to be more nature-friendly and efficient at the same time.

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Vauxhall Ampera UK Pricing Published

Vauxhall Ampera

At the beginning of this week Vauxhall announced the pricing for the Ampera model in the United Kingdom, prior to 2012 when this E-REV = Extended-Range Electric Vehicle will be on sale. Running only on batteries, the Ampera is capable of a range up to 50 miles and along with the conventional engine, the range goes up by 310 miles, reaching a total of 360.

The basic price for the 2012 Vauxhall Ampera is 28,995 pounds. The advantages of purchasing the car consist of not having to pay the 5% company car taxation, the TFL congestion charge or the Vehicle Excise Duty payments. In addition, the car benefits from a 5,000 pound reduction offered by the Plug-In Car Grant program.

Vauxhall Ampera

According to the press release published by Vahuxall, the Ampera is the only real-world electric automobile solution for a family. In order to fully charge the batteries of the car you will have to wait for about 4 hours via a household 240v electricity socket with an average cost of approximately 1 pound (depending on the applied tariff). Driving the car within the 50 miles range guaranteed by the electric motor will save you money both on the short and long run.

The car will be available for sale in showrooms in the first months of 2012 with a price of 28,995 pounds, after all of the reductions. Once we will have more details regarding the trim levels available for the car, we will publish them as soon as possible as this is one of the most interesting cars that will be launched in 2012, along with its main rival, the European version of the Chevrolet Volt, which will be available at dealerships in November 2011.

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BMW, Toyota, Daimler Borrow Battery Strategy From Tesla

Toyota RAV4 EV

It seems that BMW, Toyota and Daimler are looking for new and affordable ways of powering their future electric-powered cars that will replace the conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. These carmakers are testing at the moment the lithium-ion battery packs that are assembled by Silicon Valley for Tesla Motors. These units are more affordable than the bigger and car-only models that Nissan, General Motors and Mitsubishi are using. The beautiful and innovative Tesla Roadster that has a price tag of $109,000 is powered by no more than 6,831 cylinder-shaped cells that are manufactured by the Japanese giant Panasonic Corporation. With this battery, the Roadster is capable of doing 295 km (245 miles) on a full charge.

According to Sanyo Electric Company, who is at the moment the biggest producer of batteries in the world, the development of automobiles powered by lithium-ion batteries will triple the sales of these manufacturers in 10 years to $60 billion (5 trillion yen), from only 1, 5 trillion yen in March 2010. A Tokyo analyst that works for Advanced Research Japan stated that these rechargeable consumer-electronics batteries will benefit from an economy of scale which will most likely reduce the costs for manufacturing and cut the prices for electric cars. Endo added that “it may lead to the total component cost of an electric car getting lower than that of a gasoline car. As the cost lowers, there’ll be more likelihood that retail prices of electric cars will drop.”

According to Bloomberg  New Energy Finance, the cost of an electric vehicle at the moment is more than three-quarters higher in comparison to gasoline cars, as the Chevrolet Volt manufactured by General Motors has a base retail price of $41,000 while the Nissan Leaf’s can be bought for a starting price of $32,780. According to consultant Frost & Sullivan, the cost for an electric automobile is almost double to manufacture in comparison to a gasoline-powered vehicle, because of the very expensive batteries that power these vehicles.

J.D. Power and Associates estimate that the sales of hybrids and electric vehicles will reach by the end of this year 954,000 units worldwide which is about 2.2% of the market share. The biggest shareholder at Sanyo is Panasonic, who is the main supplier of the lithium-ion batteries that power the Tesla. Last month, the Japanese electronics giant bought stakes that value $30 million at the company in Palo Alto, California. Besides Panasonic, other important companies that own stakes at Tesla are Daimler and Toyota.

After opening a new factory in Osaka, Japan; Panasonic raised their annual production rate for small-sized batteries by 9%, reaching 1.4 billion batteries. Due to the tougher competition in the television manufacturing business, Panasonic is searching for ways to increase their sales of energy-related products. The German automaker BMW has leased 450 Minis that will be powered by laptop cells. Volkswagen is at the moment studying the technology in their facility located in California, United States.

Toyota RAV4 EV

Tesla’s founder Martin Eberhard, affirmed that the cost of manufacturing larger lithium-ion batteries is about $700-$800 / kilowatt hour, in comparison to the mass-produced packs that use small laptop cells that cost about $200. He added that “it’s a much more effective approach. There’s a huge advantage in terms of economy of scale.”

He added that in the present, the factories that are manufacturing small cells are running at their maximum capacities in order to fulfill the increasing demand. From this situation will benefit many electric vehicle produces that cannot afford developing their own batteries. General Motors has a partnership with LG Chem Ltd., located in South Korea, for the batteries that power the Chevrolet Volt, while Nissan teamed up with Nec Corporation, who is the largest PC maker in Japan, for making the batteries that power the popular Leaf model.

The Japanese automaker giant Toyota is working side by side with Tesla for the electric version of the small sport utility vehicle RAV 4 model, while the plug-in Prius hybrid as well as the small, electric vehicle that is due in 2012, will employ larger batteries. The president of Toyota Corporation, Akio Toyoda said that “when the customer decides “this is the car I want”, we want to be that full-time marker who has the answers for that customer. By using both car batteries and laptop batteries, we are able to provide customers with a wider variety of choice.”

The Tesla shares rose more than 80% in 2010, compared to an 11% increase in the Russell 1000 Index, although the carmaker delivered less than 1,500 units of their Roadster model since 2008. The shares of Toyota have plummeted 15% in 2010, mostly because of the many car recalls.

The problems that might appear with lithium-ion batteries in the consumer electronics market relate to the fact that they have a long history of recalls due to overheating issues that can cause a fire. The world’s largest cell phone manufacturer, Nokia, offered three years ago to replace no more than 46 million Panasonic phone batteries. In order to reduce the risk of overheating, Panasonic is now using an insulator film located between electrodes, according to a spokesman from the company.

Back in 2006, Sony Corporation recalled about 9.6 million lithium-ion batteries due to metal parts that infiltrated into the cells during the manufacturing process which could have caused overheating and short circuits.

A Roadster owner by the name of Scott Painter stated that he doesn’t have to worry about what is going under the hood of his car as he hasn’t noticed any problems with the battery since he got the car two years ago. He is the CEO of Truecar Incorporated, who is an automotive-sales and data-marketing firm located in Santa Monica, California. He also said that “I’ve never been found wanting on the batteries. I step on the pedal and it goes like a bat out of hell.”

EV Sales Will Reach 20% by 2016 In UK

Nissan Leaf

According to Steve Holliday who is the CEO of the National Grid Plc, the electric cars will make up 20% of the United Kingdom’s automobile sales by 2016 thanks to the fact that drivers will be taking advantage of the lower fuel costs and the government subsidies. Holliday believes that by 2020, United Kingdom will have a million electric vehicles on the road. This number will be possible if one in five cars sold in the United Kingdom from 2016 will be electric.

UK, similar with other European countries, is using subsidies in order to promote EV so that the carbon dioxide emission levels will reduce in the future. From January 2011, an electric car buyer will save up to $7,795 (5,000 pounds). The same money will be saved by people that purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles. About 8.8 million pounds have been earmarked in order to sustain the development of a national recharging network which by 2013 will have about 11,000 plug-in points, in comparison to this moment when there approximately 300.

Within the next few weeks, United Kingdom will start selling the first two electric cars – the Nissan Leaf, and the Mitsubishi iMiEV. The cars will have a basic price of about 29,000 pounds and can be charged using the standard household plug.

Mitsubishi iMiEV

The SMMT – Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trades in United Kingdom said that in 2009 there were 31 million vehicles in the country and the average daily distance traveled by a driver is about 25 miles and the length of a single trip is 8.6 miles.

Holliday said that the National Grid high-voltage electricity transmission is able to face the demand of one million electric vehicles, but “penetration up and above that becomes a real issue.” He also mentioned that the local distribution networks in London for example might have problems of balancing their grids if electric car owners plug in their vehicles at the same time.

According to a SMMT report, the cost of fully charging an EV like the LEAF (which has a 100 miles range) could cost about 96 pence and take between 6 to 8 hours. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst by the name of Albert Cheung wrote in an e-mail that “depending on how fast it charges, an electric vehicle can draw as much power as a house. So if half a dozen neighbors plug in electric vehicles on the same street, it could push the local transformer over its rated capacity.”

The United Kingdom government is offering other incentives in order to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles, by eliminating the demand of paying the 8 pound / day congestion charge and in some neighborhoods, electric car owners have the possibility to park for free.

Another SMTT report says that the total fuel costs of a normal conventional car that is driven 10,000 miles per year over a period of three years are approximately 2,767 pounds in comparison to only 756 pounds needed for an electric vehicle that is used over the same amount of time.

By 2014, the European emissions standards will be taking effect which means that all new cars must cut their nitrogen-oxide emissions by 56% (for diesel engines). This will most likely lead to an increase in popularity of hybrid and electric cars. At the moment there are very few cars that comply with the requirements of the Euro 6 regulations. According to HIS, the introduction of the Euro 6 rules will most likely help the electric / hybrid cars share rise across the Europe to 13% by 2020. Today the hybrid / electric cars share is approximately 0.1%.

To keep up with these new changes in regulations and standards; BMW, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Dailmer are at the moment developing hybrid and electric cars to fulfill the future environmental regulations and at the same time, increase sales with new and attractive cars that are not only eco-friendly, but also cheaper to use.

10 Facts About The Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf is probably one of the most interesting cars of the year and opens a new era for electric automobiles thanks to its 99 mpg EPA ratings. Here are 10 interesting facts (courtesy of PopularMechanics.com) about the car, some of them you might know while others are new to you.

  1. It is made from recycled water bottles – 60% of the plastic used for the interior is made out of recycled material. Most of it comes from water bottles and after the lifespan of the car ends, the vehicle’s weight which is 3375 pounds is recyclable and can be used to make other Leafs or water bottles.
  2. 100,000 miles warranty for the batteries – we all know that batteries are not what we would expect them to be after years of developing, but the Leaf has lithium-ion units that have a 100,000 mile / 8 year warranty. According to the estimates made by the engineers at Nissan, after using the Leaf for 10 years, the batteries will most likely maintain 70-80% of their capacity. Thanks to the fact that lithium will not chemically change while using the car, the batteries of the Leaf are also recyclable, just like the car.
  3. Leaf’s headlights make it quieter – first of all, the LED headlights are 50% more power efficient in comparison to halogens. What is more interesting is that their winged form will direct the air away from the side mirrors which will reduce the level of the interior noise. The car is known to be more quiet even then premium luxury cars.
  4. Batteries Charge 80% in 30 minutes – the battery only needs 8 hours to be charged at a 220-volt outlet, and 16 hours at a 110 one. By using a 3-phase, quick-charging station, the Leaf’s lithium-ion batteries can reach 80% charging level in half an hour.
  5. Leaf can communicate with the driver – with the help of an E-mail-based system that is able to manage the charging system of the car, the Leaf can text info about the battery level to its owner. What it will do is to notify the owner when the batteries are charged, and at which point the driver can manage the AC system so that the interior of the car can reach the desired temperature level, before he gets inside of it. If the charging is interrupted, the driver will be notified via SMS.
  6. The navigation system is able to show your reachable area in real time – the Nissan Leaf comes standard with a navigation system that is capable of displaying the range in a graphic form, with a intuitive halo around the car’s current location, providing a real-time visual estimate of how much farther the driver of the car can go before he runs out of batteries. This can be done as the Leaf’s navigation system constantly communicates with Nissan’s databases by using satellite networks and is capable of displaying on the screen which nearby charging stations are available.
  7. Top speed of 95 mph – although it is a small-sized electric car, the Leaf is able to reach a top speed of 95 mph.
  8. The car offers driving tips – the energy menu of the Nissan Leaf can advise the driver to shut down the climate control under certain circumstances. This will allow more efficient energy consumption for the Leaf.
  9. $0.03 operating cost per mile – a conventional car that has a combustion engine that does 25 mpg will need about $1,800 in gasoline (for a $3 / gallon price tag) over a year of driving (15,000 miles), which doing the math works out to about $0.12 / mile. A useful innovation of the Leaf is that it can be pre-programmed to start charging during the wee hours (when the off-peak electric rates are active). For a $0.11 / kwh, The Nissan Leaf costs about $0.026 / mile to drive, or about $396 for 15,000 miles, which is about $1.400 less in comparison to a combustion engine powered cars.
  10. Its affordable too – the Nissan Leaf has a base price of $25.280, after the significant $7,500 federal rebate, which means that it is cheaper in comparison with the average new car sold in the United States. In addition, there are some states in USA that will offer extra incentives, like California – $5,000 or Colorado – $6,000. More than that, if the costumer of the Leaf wants to get a $2,200 charging station, the government will give him a $2,000 tax credit. In a year, Nissan is hoping that there will be 12,000 public charging stations in the United States.

Nissan Leaf

Source: PopularMechanics.com

2011 Electric Ford Focus Announced

2011 EV Ford Focus

The electric Ford Focus compact will be launched at the end of 2011 and will be available in 19 major metro markets in the United States. The first areas that will get the EV Focus will be: Atlanta; Houston &  Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Los Angeles; San Francisco; San Diego; New York; Orlando; Phoenix & Tucson, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Vancouver; Seattle; and Washington.

According to Ford’s president in America, Mark Fields, “this is the first step in rolling out the Focus Electric. As the country continues to build up its electric-vehicle infrastructure and demand for the Focus Electric grows, Ford will continue to evaluate additional markets and consider making this vehicle available in more cities across the country.”

2011 EV Ford Focus

The decision to choose these 19 metro markets was based upon the current trends regarding hybrid sales, the local government commitment to electrification, but also the company collaboration.

As we have mentioned before, the Focus Electric will be available for sale starting with the fourth quarter of 2011 and will be manufactured at the Michigan plant and it will be done on the same assembly line as the normal gasoline-powered Focus.

The United States Department of Energy gave to Ford a $5.9 billion loan so that the automaker could be able to retool two truck plants in order to make more fuel-efficient vehicles as well as update other Ford facilities next year.

The 2011 EV Focus will use a 23 kW lithium ion battery instead of the conventional gasoline power unit. In order to enhance the driving range and the lifespan of the battery, the car will feature a system that will use cooling systems and liquid heating. The officials at Ford said that the electric Focus will be able to have 100 miles autonomy and no CO2 emissions.

The Focus is not the only electric vehicle Ford will launch in the near feature. The company is planning on introducing the Transit Connect Electric, a plug-in hybrid and two next-generation lithium ion battery cars.

Kia Launches Optima Hybrid

Kia Optima Hybrid

For 2011, Kia will offer the mid-sized Optima sedan with a gasoline-electric Hybrid Blue Driver engine that can also be found on the Hyundai Sonata hybrid. Kia engineers are estimating that this new model will do 36 mpg city / 40 mpg highway which is way better in comparison with the standard Optima that does 24 mpg city / 34 mpg highway. More than that, it does a lot better when put side to side with the Ford Fusion hybrid that does 36 mpg city / 41 mpg highway.

The Optima hybrid will be available for sale starting with 2011 at an estimated price of $26,000 for the basic model. This price puts the Optima hybrid as the most affordable mid-size gasoline-electric sedan on the market at the moment. The car will be less expensive than the Nissan Altima hybrid which goes for $27, 530 and the Ford Fusion hybrid which is on sale for $28, 990. The Kia hybrid is near the top of the line of the Optima lineup, prices starting from $19, 690 and go up to $26, 690 for the full option model.

Hyundai and Kia have the possibility to offer their hybrid cars and such good prices thanks to their full-parallel hybrid system that uses a modular approach, implementing the hybrid hardware onto the current powertrains and engines. In this case we are talking about a 2.4-liter four-cylinder power unit that was modified with Atkinson-cycle operation to provide improved efficiency linked to a modern six-speed automatic gearbox. Combining the power of the gasoline-electric engine, the car offers 206 hp and a decent torque of 195 lb-ft.

Kia Optima Hybrid

The modifications brought over the gasoline powered engine do not end here as the exterior of the Kia Optima has been aerodynamically modified in order to allow better wind penetration. The car now rides on 16-inch alloy rims covered by lower-rolling-resistance tires. The hybrid version of the Optima will have similar features with the mid-level LX gasoline model but with keyless start, dual-zone automatic climate system and 8-way power sights for your comfort.

The car has a rather innovative feature – the Virtual Engine Sound System. The Optima has a small speaker up front that will play a pre-recorded engine sound when the car is running only on the electric engine. This feature has been added in order to warn the pedestrians and to avoid unfortunate accidents.

In conclusion, the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid has all the ingredients to become a hit in terms of sales. In our opinion it looks very good, the fuel consumption levels are very economical plus the price range of the hybrid model is the best in its class.

Pro-Series PS07225 Electric 10″ Car Polisher


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BMW’s electric vehicles will target the premium segment, may or may not have radical design

BMW, as any respectable carmaker, is preparing to enter the electric vehicle market, largely through its Project i (or iSetta) program, which is currently trying on different ideas to see which will work best with BMW’s history.

Among these new plans, one is quite definitive, as BMW will generate only upmarket models, with a certain premium feeling attached to them, as it is currently doing with its conventional cars. By doing so, the company plans to establish itself right off the bat as the go-to manufacturer for exclusive models, which ares scheduled to hit around 2014 or 2015.

But one aspect that is still giving a lot of headaches and causing much debate among the engineers is the design of the future models, and where they will fit in the current lineup of vehicles and brands. “Whether Project i cars fit below Mini, between Mini and BMW or above BMW is one of the important things we’re still deciding,” said Marc Gerard, boss of BMW interiors.

The representative suggests that people currently interested in electric vehicles are quite open minded, and won’t necessarily be put off by a radical design. But the general direction amongst the team of the Bavarian manufacturer is that the design should be kept more conventional, as to not alienate the mainstream crowd only mildly interested in electric cars.

But besides the design choices, BMW is also working on quite a few gadgets and technologies for the interior of future Project i vehicles, including head-up displays, as seen on current BMW and future Mini models, or multi-function TFT screens.

We still have plenty of time to wait until a production-ready EV from BMW will appear though, meaning that plenty of other ideas might be adopted.


Electric cars pollute more due to electricity being made from charcoals, study says

Sigh, here we are with yet another study blaming electric cars for slaughtering baby seals, chopping down the rain forest and all around killing this hunk of rock we call Earth. It seems that a new study made by the US National Research Council is claiming that because electricity is predominantly obtained through the use of charcoal in countries like the US, electric vehicles are in fact responsible for more pollution than regular cars.

The researchers claim that because most of the electric plants in the US and many other territories all around the world are obtaining that power mostly from charcoals, through burning them, the more electricity we consume, the more we pollute the Earth. Ergo, through some pretty biased logic, electric cars are responsible for more overall pollution than regular cars.

Add to this the old debate about how hurtful the process of making batteries for electric cars is to the planet, and it seems that Prius owners should go and buy a Hummer from its new Chinese owners if they really want to save the Earth.

The study also says that electric power plants need to be reconverted to use other sources of energy, preferably ones like solar or wind power, so that electric vehicles will actually start to make a good impact on the planet.

Are you an owner of a hybrid or electric car? What do you believe about this new study? Leave a comment with your thoughts.


Hybrid and electric vehicles to be forced to make engine noises?

The hybrid and electric car revolution has brought forth a lot of interesting debates. From the efficiency of the batteries, to how much the environment is damaged when making such a car or what type of power should be used.

But one new question is quickly becoming more and more important, not only in the public media but also in the governments of many countries. Should hybrid and electric cars be forced to make noises associated to a regular car?

Imagine this, you are walking down the road, perhaps with headphones in your ears and listening to your favorite songs, and you want to cross the road, but forget (for the sake of this example) to double check, relying only on your sense of sound. According to a study made by the University of California, people were able to hear normal cars from as far as 28 feet (8.5 meters), while silent-running electric ones were barely noticed at 7 feet (2 meters).

This could lead to quite a few accidents, and now the US government is considering imposing a “minimum noise” standard, as to “warn” others of the vehicle’s presence. It will also be a balancing act, as cars also need to prevent noise pollution. This has led to many companies already considering sound systems, like the Fisher Karma, which will have speakers in its bumpers. Other companies will deliver multiple types of engine sounds, or even the possibility to upload your own, in order to inform others.

What do you think? Should hybrid and electric cars be left silent or should we hear the Toyota Prius as an Aston Martin supercar? Leave a comment with your opinion.


Audi e-Tron-based R4 electric sports car will rival Tesla Roadster

Audi e-Tron-based R4 electric sports car will rival Tesla Roadster

Seeing how popular the Audi e-Tron became after its unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show, it seems that Audi will create a production-ready vehicle by 2012. Confirmed by Audi of America’s president Johan de Nysschen, the R4 sports car will feature a top of the range electric version while gasoline-powered ones will also appear after it.

The report, revealed by the guys at AutoExpress, which also published these drafts of a possible design of the future Audi R4, show that it will most likely rival the Tesla Roadster, and will be based on the Boxster and Cayman platform from sister company Porsche.

The model, which will be situated between the TT and the R8, will be available in multiple body types, including a soft top convertible (shown here), a hard top one and a coupe. In terms of design, it will be quite aggressive and touch the futuristic side of things.

According to AutoExpress, it seems that an upgraded version of the drivetrain featured on the e-Tron will be built into the production R4 model, with the power coming from four engines, two on each axle, and offering around 300 HP and a massive 4,500 Nm of torque. The top speed will also be upgraded to about 140 mph (225 km/h).

Overall, it the news from the website is good, we can expect the electric Audi R4 to appear around 2012 or 2013, depending on the way the development of the model goes. Until then, we can only dream of this electric roadster.


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