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Electric Car Navigation Gets New GPS Systems

Nowadays, each car in the market comes with built-in GPS systems, which help disoriented drivers not to get lost and also to look for alternative routes to avoid traffic jams. This technological system is one of the greatest inventions of our times, but what about the “future” times? We all know that electric vehicles are the new trend in cars, and apparently the current GPS systems don’t go well together, because the latter are designed to be used only in gasoline cars.

In addition to this, many routes displayed by the current generation of in-car satellite navigation systems don’t take into account energy efficient routes. For example, 100 mile range electric cars are barely capable of 50 on steep inclines and fast roads (routes which demand larger amounts of power from an electric car’s battery pack), which can delay your EV’s cross-country trip quite a lot.

This is why the Japanese electronics company, Pioneer, has developed AVIC-ZH09-MEV Satellite Navigation System, which they claim to be the first ever on the market satellite system for electric vehicles. What this GPS system brings in addition to the conventional ones is the route planning based on energy consumption, driving style and the charging stations available in the area.

What other options do you think this GPS system for EV should have in order to improve even more the driving of electric cars?

[Source: Allcarselectric]

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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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Top 10 EV Manufacturers In 2011

Think is another EV manufacturer and they have been selling their City model in Europe for a couple of years now. The company is planning on introducing the City onto the United States market in late 2011 / early 2012.

Chrysler managed to deliver approximately 40,000 units of their GEM 25-mph LEV – light electric vehicles and these are found in university towns, fleets as well as retirement communities. The net cost for this car is under the $10,000 with the federal and local tax reductions and cuts. Due to the significant growth of EVs and charging stations, sales of the model might increase. Next year in the United States, the Fiat 500 EV will be available at a price of about $35,000.

BYD is another important player in the world of hybrid and electrical cars and it is at the moment selling its E6 battery-electric car along with a plug-in hybrid in China, the second largest automotive market in the world. The plug-in hybrid version for the US will most likely be a freeway-speed electric price leader this year while the E6 will be more expensive and will offer a respectable 250 electric range.

Accenture estimates that more than 1.5 million EVs will be sold in the US by 2015 and more than 10 million units by 2020. The single electric utilities have scenarios for charging more than one million EVs in their own service area in 10 years and with the significant investment in renewable energy in 30 states of the US, these utilities will focus on night-time charging with wind, geothermal and hydropower.

By the end of this year the competition in the electric / hybrid car segment will be very intense and the above 10 mentioned manufacturers will be the most important market share leaders, at least for this year. It is a very tough deal to create these electric cars and one example of this difficulty comes from Tesla Motors as they had to postpone the launch of their Roadster model for 2 years and the product model is 700 pounds heavier in comparison with what they planned originally.

2012 will be even more competitive as Honda will start rolling up their own lineup of both hybrid and electric cars, some based on their current models while others brand new.

This year we will see 250 Smart ForTwo ED on the United States highways as they will undergo some serious tests.  All of these cars feature Tesla battery packs and the production model will be launched in 2013.

Volkswagen is currently planning on lowering the weight of their models in order to make them more fuel efficient. Their Concept Up model has a curb weight of just over 1,500 pounds, but there are slim chances that we will see a production model soon.

All things considered, these upcoming years seem to be very interesting for the automotive industry as more and more car makers will start rolling out vehicles that are very efficient and nature-friendly. Hopefully, as technology will progress, the price tags for these hybrids and EVs will be lowered.

Source: CleanFeetReport.com

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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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Tesla S Alpha Prototype

[vimeo width="470" height="300"]http://vimeo.com/18614767[/vimeo]

A few days ago, one of the employees at Tesla Motors said that the first prototype of the much-anticipated and very beautiful all-electric Model S is up and running. Although the company didn’t confirm any of this, they have however quietly launched a small video of the very first prototype, also known as Model S Alpha. At the moment Tesla Motors is working on the second prototype, dubbed Beta.

Tesla Motors has built at least three of these alpha units which will be used for testing the components and the subsystems. In addition, they will do a whole bunch of test drives. The aforementioned second prototype is under development at the company’s factory located in Fremont, California.

The Tesla S can be charged from any 120v, 208v or 240v outlets. Depending on the chosen trim level, this all-electric sedan will be capable of providing a total range of 160, 230 or 300 miles. The car will be able to sprint to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, onto a limited top speed of 130 mph.

The base price for the car will be around $49,900 (after a $7,500 federal tax credit). A $5,000 reservation fee will be necessary but the money will be refundable.

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Ben Collins Will Race EVs

Ben Collins

For those of you that haven’t heard of Ben Collins, he was the least-known man on the most popular automotive TV show. Also known as the Stig, he decided to do a little bit of EV racing after he left Top Gear. He will participate in the newly introduced EVCup which was created entirely for electric vehicles. The cars that will participate in the competition will be modified THINK City EVs for the City EV class and also modified Westfield iRacers for the Sports EV class.

Although this new type of competition wasn’t able to round up more than 20 electric supercars for the first season, the truth of the matter is that there aren’t many robust examples as you might have expected. The top speed of the aforementioned Sports EV class will be 115 mph which is just about the same in the Spec Miata racing. Even slow cars can be a lot of fun so why shouldn’t EVs fit in this category?

Think City racer

Collin affirmed that motorsports is probably the best crucible for testing and developing new automotive technology, regardless of how many horsepower are available under the hood. I for one totally agree with him because it is not all about the power of the car, there are other things maybe just as important that will have a tremendous effect in the future.

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Electric Superbike Obtains Great Results

Chip Yates is responsible for creating an electric superbike that will beat the hell out of many gas-powered high-performance bikes. He definitely has made racing history by proving the viability of electric-powered motorcycles by going on track head-to-head with race-ready conventional bikes, and beating them, at least some of them.

His project took several months to complete and he managed to grab a podium finish in two classes at the WERA Heavyweight Twins races. He beat most of the Suzukis, like the SV650, most of the KTMs, like the RC8 as well as most of the very fast Ducati 848s. His TTXGP electric bike benefits from a lot of innovations and shows all of us the enormous potential of the technology which will certainly develop in the years to come.

He has been in motorcycles races since 2007 and in 2009 he moved to the AMA. Last year he started thinking about what alternative fuels would be the most suitable and he teamed up with Swigz.com Pro Racing USA and started working on an electric motorcycle that can churn 194 hp and 295 pound feet of torque. Although this superbike was designed in order to meet the TTXGP requirements, it is now ineligible due to the fact that TTXGP recently adopted a 250-kg weight limit for the new open class.

Yates took his creation and did a couple of laps in December at the Infineon Raceway, located north of San Francisco. However, doing a few laps on your own is one thing while racing with a bunch of worthy competitors is another. For this reason, the guys over at Swigz took the bike to the WERA Motorcycle Road Racing Heavyweight Twins races which are organized in Fontana, sunny Cali.

On Saturday they did about six practice laps of the circuit and they were basically pleased with how the e-moto ran. However, one of the 102 lithium-polymer cells started creating problems so they decided to take the bike back to Aliso Viejo, where the shop is, in order to find out what is wrong with it. They found out what the problem was: a cell in the pack was the issue and they replaced it.

On Sunday, Yates managed to finish with his e-moto on second place in the superstock expert class and after that he managed to grab the third position in the superbike expert class against heavy names like the Ducati 848.

Although the bike is not certainly one of the most beautiful you have ever seen, it is blazing fast. Yates managed to reach a top speed of 158 mph while on the AutoClub Speedway, managing to grab a fastest lap of 1:39,792, quite impressive. However, Yates is not completely satisfied with the bike and with the addition of a new motor controller and the updated software; he believes that his e-moto is capable of punching 240 hp, which is more than a MotoGP bike. His goal isn’t exclusively to see how much power such an electrical bike can have, but to further improve the power-to-weight ratio of his electrical machine which has a curb weight of 585 pounds.

It is quite a heavy bike mainly because of the heavy batteries but there isn’t much he can do in shaving off a few pounds from these cells. However, he is working on reducing the bike’s weight in other areas while at the same time improving the aerodynamics. He has strong hopes of going to the WERA race which will occur in May at the Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, USA; with the help of a couple of sponsors.

Source: Wired.com

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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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Tesla Motors – Present & Future

2012 Tesla S

First of all I would like to say that I find the Tesla S to be one of the most beautiful cars in the world, next to my personal favorite, the now archaic Peugeot 607. Tesla Motors became famous with the introduction of the Roadster which showed the world that the company is fully capable of designing a top-notch electric car. With the Model S, they showed us that they are able to come up with an extraordinary, almost perfect design. However, building the S model is somewhat problematic.

Tesla has already made three “alpha build” Model S cars and all of them were assembled at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, sunny California. The bodies of the car were made by a supplier located in Michigan. In the months to come, the company will test the hell out of these cars to find out the good and bad parts of the subsystems and components. In the near future (hopefully), Tesla Motors will enter the “beta builds” stage by making the cars at its factory located in Fremont, California. The cars that will roll out of the factory will be most likely used for federal crash-testing and certification as well as for various additional tests and system integration.

Some people say that the entire fate of the company relies on the success or failure of the Model S. The officials at the company promised some time ago that the S will be able to offer a range of up to 300 miles. In addition, they said that the car will feature all the luxury of a BMW 7-series and space for seven passengers. Speaking of the interior cabin, I really doubt that seven people will fit in the car, maybe five adults and two midgets. Moving on, the company received $465 million from the United States Department of Energy for building the S model; we hope that the money were put to good use and the car will get the green light for production in the near future.

The Tesla S will feature an aluminum body and the company targets a curb weight of about 4,000 pounds, similar to the Audi A8, another all-aluminum model that is considered to be a benchmark for Tesla’s car. Another promise made by the company regards the fact that the S will have the “best in class” aerodynamics from a body designed in-house with the help of Franz Von Holzhausen, the guy responsible for the beautiful Pontiac Solstice and for the bold Mazda Furai concept car. In addition, the aerodynamics of the car will be further tweaked by Robert Palin (ex Williams F1 driver) and Shaun Johnson (ex Ferrari driver).

2012 Tesla S

What we don’t know about the S is the size of the battery pack, but taking into consideration that the Roadster sports a 53 kilowatt-hour unit, the S should have one just about the same. Although the new S model will be a lot more heavier than the Roadster, people over at Tesla Motors said that the two models will use just about the same amount of energy to cover a given distance. Most likely, the S will be capable of reaching the autonomy of the Roadster thanks to its efficient drivertain and superior aerodynamics.

Kurt Kelty, who is the director of Tesla’s storage technologies, said that the car will get more performance out of the battery packs. The pack used for the Roadster offers an energy density of 120 watts-hour / kg that was boosted to more than 135 in the packs that Tesla made for the Smart Electric Drive prototypes.

As far as the suspension is concerned, it was designed by Huibert Mees, a man that worked on the legendary Ford GT and it is tuned by a Lotus employee, Malcolm Burgess. Tesla Motors decided to design its own suspension configuration, although they could have very well chosen to pass this responsibility to Toyota or Mercedes-Benz, companies that have a partnership with Tesla. In the front, the suspension consists of double control arms whereas in the back the S will be fitted with a multilink configuration. Basically all of the major and important components of the car were made in-house – bushings, steering knuckles, control arms and so on, all of them made out of cast and extruded aluminum. The company borrowed other components from big time suppliers like Bilstein, Bosch and Brembo.

2012 Tesla S

Thanks to the fact that all of the above mentioned major components will be placed under the car, the cabin will be more than spacious. According to Tesla, the S will have a trunk where the engine is installed on most cars and will feature an optional rear-facing third row jumpseat, offering the car room for seven people. The company promises to offer 29 cubic feet of cargo space which should be more than enough for most of us.

In addition to all of these goodies, the S promises to be “a driver’s car”. Officials at Tesla said that their new car will offer the best handling capabilities in its class, better than what Lexus, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are offering in the segment. We are very eager to find out if this statement will come to life. But in order to find this one out, Tesla needs to make the car, a production model not an alpha/beta one.

Sources say that the S will enter the production line next year, but the company still needs to finish the car, equip the factory and train the employees. Automotive experts are a little bit concerned regarding the bold 2012 target, although Tesla does not have any problems with money or talent. Basically we will have to wait and see when the car will be launched and if it will stand a chance against the electric 7-Series from BMW which has a starting price of $70,650. The S model will have a base price tag of $57,400 which is very attractive in my opinion.

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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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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.”

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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.

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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

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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.

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Chevrolet Volt Gets 93 MPG EPA Rating

2011 Chevrolet Volt

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt is one of the most interesting plug-in hybrids launched this year and today it was an interesting day for the hybrid as it received not one but three different EPA ratings today. Running exclusively on the electric engine, the Volt is capable of doing 93 mpg, which is quite impressive, very similar to the Nissan Leaf (99 mpg) which will be available for sale in five states, starting with December.  Using only the gasoline engine, the Volt is capable of doing 37 mpg and combining both engines, the Chevy will do an equivalent of 60 mpg, according to the EPA ratings.

The General Motors Co. has been showcasing the Chevrolet Volt for four years now as a revolutionary car in terms of the technology implemented. The American compact is capable of driving on the electric engine alone and is able to offer an extra driving range thanks to the 1.4-liter conventional gasoline power unit. The Volt already won various important awards, including the one for the “Green Car Journal’s Car of the Year.”

The EPA ratings show us that the Chevy offers a 35 miles range on electricity and 379 miles autonomy, using both the electric and the gasoline engines. The officials at General Motors affirmed that the car can do 35 to 50 miles with a full battery charge. During a conference call today with the press, GM’s vehicle line executive in charge of the Volt, Doug Parks – “We have said that the range is variable on how you drive.”

According to EPA, the Chevrolet Volt belongs to the compact automobile segment, next to the Toyota Corolla, the Chevrolet Cruze and the Ford Focus. The Volt’s EPA mpg ratings are at this moment the best in its class. Due to the reason that the technology used in the Volt is not available from another manufacturer, EPA came up with another mileage label with direct input from General Motors.

Scott Miller who is the vehicle performance manager for the Chevrolet Volt said that “The label helps customers understand the uniqueness of the Volt and how it applies to their routine.” Although the Volt is the only car at the moment to feature this type of label, in the near future it is most likely that other cars with similar powertrains will have this kind of label, according to Parks.

2011 Chevrolet Volt EPA Rating

The label shows “charging routines” which approximates the cost for gasoline and electricity based upon the number of miles driven between two charges. To give a relevant example, a Volt driver living in an urban area that usually travels 30 miles between charges, would not use gasoline at all (according to the estimates made by EPA). In this situation, the automobile will consume 10.9 kW of electricity for an estimated cost of about 4c / mile. A Volt driver that uses a car for 75 miles will consume 12.9 kilowatts for the electricity and the rest for the gasoline giving a combined result of 7 cents / mile.

General Motor’s global product chief, Tom Stephens, said earlier this month that the Volt would start shipping to the dealerships as soon as possible after EPA issues a mileage label for the car. However, Park did not give any exact date about when the shipping of the Volt will actually start. The Hamtrack assembly plant in Detroit owned by General Motors has been building Volts since early November and the first cars will be sold in Michigan, California; Austin, Texas; Washington D.C. and metropolitan New York. Starting with 2010, the Volt will be available for sale in the entire United States. The base price for the Chevy will be $41,000 (including the shipping taxes and without the $7,500 federal tax credit).

Stephenes affirmed that the Chevrolet Volt is the most aerodynamic vehicle that was ever created by General Motors. Officials at the company affirmed that the automobile can travel 25 up to 50 miles running only with the battery and can offer an extra 310 miles of autonomy when the car is assisted by the 1.4-liter engine.

He also said that The Volt “does everything we said it was going to do the very first day we announced it — and more. If you recall back then how many people were saying that they don’t even have a battery, they don’t have motors or any of this, can this be real? The fact is it is real and you can drive it now.”

Stephens declared that General Motors is planning on producing about 10,000 units next year and 45,000 cars in 2012. These figures are not set in stone, because depending on the ability of the supplier to provide parts for the vehicle and the customer demand, the figures might change accordingly.

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