Toyota has special plans for the Brazilian market: A prototype based on the Prius, but using so-called Flexible Fuel Hybrid technology has been introduced. The Hybrid FFV can run on gasoline, as well as alternative fuel sources, such as ethanol.
The new propulsion system was designed with the specific goal in mind to popularize hybrid vehicles in Brazil, as well as to help provide a more sustainable traffic solution without as much ecological damage.
For ethanol based on sugar cane, Brazil is pretty much sitting on the source. This alone provides the vehicle with a good start. For the next step, Toyota is planning to begin the testing phase, where they will collect data by driving the FFV under realistic conditions. Steve St. Angelo, CEO of Toyota in Latin America, is already talking about the cleanest hybrid in the world using ethanol as a fuel source.
Toyota is well known as a pioneer of hybrid technology, as well as a successful manufacturer of the vehicles themselves. Recently, the Japanese firm announced their European strategy as well. Probably the most important conclusion that can be drawn from a varied strategy is the complete rejection of diesel motors in new vehicles.
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The Indian car manufacturer Tata Motors announced that they are working on electrifying the majority of their current lineup. Currently, Tata only offers a single fully electric passenger car; the Tigor. Next they plan to release an electric version of the Tiago.
The news was broken during the Geneva Motor Show by Mayank Pareek, who is President of the Passenger Vehicle Business Unit at Tata. According to reports, the company is planning to extend their market share with the new range, as well as focus on electrification, among other measures.
At the Geneva Motor Show, Tata impressed with their EVision concept car, which is a purely electric sedan with a 450 km range, which is expected to be commercially available as of 2020.
The Tigor with an electric motor will be manufactured in the Indian state of Gujarat. The model is mainly known due to an immense order by the state energy company Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), who ordered 10,000 EVs last year. Tata won the bid, shortly after which Mahindra got involved. Afterwards, the Tigor was exclusively produced for the massive order, and was not commercially available for purchase.
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Rumors persist that the Italian design firm Pininfarina may begin producing electric vehicles in their own right. An official statement is to be made around the Formula E race in Rome on the 14th of April.
CEO Paulo Pininfarina spoke with visitors in Geneva, where he said that a strategy for producing luxury EVs was in the pipeline, with support from Mahindra. He further garnished the statement reminiscing that his fathers dream was to start an automobile company, as well as his grandfathers. Now he plans to finally make this dream reality.
In September there had already been rumors that Mahindra was planning to start a luxury EV brand, using their subsidiary Pininfarina. Pininfarina was to benefit from Mahindras experience in the Formula E racing league, that much had been suggested at the time. Now it looks like Pininfarina, who had previously only been known as a design brand in the automotive world, may become an entirely new automobile manufacturer.
Most recently Pininfarina and the Hybrid Kinetic Group presented their HK GT Concept at this years Geneva Motor Show, which is their fourth cooperation for an electric concept car, combined with a micro-turbine to extend the range. The newest concept is a Coupé with wing doors and four electric motors.
Aston Martin recently announced that Lagonda will be a purely electric vehicle brand. Their first model will not be the recently presented Vision concept, which we saw at the Geneva Motor Show, but a SUV, which is set to debut in 2021.
While the Lagonda Vision concept car in Geneva was a definite eye-catcher and presented the centerpiece of Aston Martins presentation, there were also two small scale-models of an SUV and a Coupé.
The SUV will be the first all-electric model by the brand, according to reports. The vehicle will likely at least be partially based on Aston Martins DBX. If the vehicle will be produced in St. Athan in Wales, like its conventionally powered counterpart, is unclear. President and CEO of Aston Martin Andy Palmer did not preclude the option.
The luxury sedan concept, which was presented as fully functional, will only be available as of 2023, however. According to the developers, it was designed to work with solid-state batteries to enable a range of up to 400 miles (approx. 640 km), however the technology is not expected to be market-ready for a few years, which explains the delayed market launch of the vehicle for 5 years, at earliest.
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Meet the Volt Drone, a mobile battery that flies to the rescue of stranded EV drivers in need of a charge. The mobile charger does not carry more than 3 kWh, however, so while drivers can use it to get a little more mileage on their EV, the drone will not provide any major charge boosts.
Think of it more like an emergency fix, but don’t rely on it in cases of acute and real range anxiety. The 3 kW is estimated to provide an extra 10-20 miles of range, depending on the vehicle and conditions, which may not be entirely enough to reach a proper charging station, but if a driver were to plan ahead, a slight miscalculation could be fixed. Otherwise one may have to order a fleet of the drones to get any real range.
It is also not clear how much of the energy would be burned on route to the stranded vehicle, which may also affect charging capacity. Whether the name has any association or issue with the Chevy Bolt is also not clear.
Picnic, the Dutch startup that delivers groceries with a fleet of only electric cars is about to make business in Germany. Several cities have been selected to start what might turn into a Europe-wide movement.
Picnic has been rather successful from the start when it collected 100 million euros in funding shortly after starting its web-based shopping service in the Netherlands. Now neighbouring Germany is on the list.
Picnic selected a few cities to start with, namely Kaars, Neuss, Meerbusch and Oberkassel (part of Düsseldorf’s district 4), where consumers can order groceries online using the Picnic app. After that, further expansion will take place, starting in North Rhine-Westphalia, which has a population of about 18 million people.
The company’s business model builds on sustainability in so far as that they use local distribution centres. In Germany, these centres are in Viersen and Neuss. From there electric cars pick up individual orders to carry them further into town and to the clients, all with zero emissions.
In the Netherlands, Picnic delivers groceries in about 30 cities and most of them are located in the central-western part of the country.
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The French are coming to Portugal and carry the electric car sharing service emov as their baggage. 150 C-Zero are to take to the streets of Lisbon this April and shall be free to roam even beyond the capital’s centre.
Citroen says it is the first all-electric car sharing service in Lisbon. True, although DriveNow also operates a fleet in the city but includes also non-electric cars reportedly. In Lisbon, Citroen is to deploy 150 C-Zero, which both residents and tourists will be able to access through their smartphones.
For Citroen’s emov service, it is the second city in Southern Europe after the scheme launched in Madrid in 2016. In the Spanish capital there are now about 500 Citroen C-Zero vehicles and a 160,000 registered emov users.
“In little more than a year, we’ve consolidated the emov service in Madrid,” said Fernando Izquierdo, Chief Executive Officer of emov, “and it’s always been one of our aims to broaden the scope of the project and operate in other domestic and international cities. Right now we’re focusing our efforts on the launch in Lisbon, but we haven’t ruled out the possibility of extending it to another large Spanish city before the end of the year.”
In Madrid, emov will soon deploy its corporate accounts solution. It gives employees of large companies, SMEs and start-ups cost savings of up to 50% compared with conventional car and driver solutions.
ABB is expanding its portfolio as the Swiss add a range of wallboxes for AC charging at homes and workplaces. The new range includes a total of 52 types and offers charging at 4.6 to 22 kW. It runs on the Open-Charge-Point-Protokoll (OCPP).
Measuring 50 by 25 cm2, the wallbox can be easily installed at homes or offices. ABB says it is “particularly suited to businesses that wish to provide overnight charging facilities for customers, such as those in the hospitality business.”
The wallbox comes with an all-weather enclosure so that it can be installed both indoor or outdoor. The charging stations are available in different versions, offering 4.6 and 11 kW AC charging as well as 22 kW AC 3-phase charging.
Compatible with the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP), the ABB AC wallbox is future-proof and enabled for authentication and load balancing. ABB provides support with the installation of the charging solution.
Connector types include type 2 socket, type 2 socket with shutter and type 1 and type 2 cable. For locations where wall mounting is difficult, a range of pedestals are available including one charger, two chargers back to back or two chargers in a 90 degree angle. The ABB wallboxes are also available with or without energy meter, load balancing, back office integration and UMTS/3G modem.
UPS has launched the ‘Smart Electric Urban Logistics’ (SEUL) initiative in London together with UK Power Networks and Cross River Partnership. Its new technology enables them to recharge an entire fleet of electric vehicles at the same time, thanks to stationery battery units.
For UPS, this set up is necessary in order for them to grow their fleet from 65 to 170 electric delivery vans in London and without upgrading the grid. Curently, the solution uses new batteries but in a next step, these may be replaced with batteries that were first used in UPS vehicles.
While such installations are not new, UPS believes its may be the “first time in the world on this scale.” The energy management comes from UK Power Networks Services that says it combines an “Active Network Management system with battery storage, ensuring the depot’s electricity demand will not exceed the network’s limit and prevent significant investment in network electrical infrastructure.”
Over in Germany, MAN and Hamburg’s public transport provider announced a similar prototype today. Their 2nd life energy storage and charging station is to use batteries from electric buses in order to charge e-buses in return rather than electric vans or small trucks.
The Smart Electric Urban Logistics project in partnership with UPS, UK Power Networks and Cross River Partnership has received funding from the UK’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles through a competition led by Innovate UK.
Rolls-Royce has signed a collaboration agreement with Superdielectrics, a UK startup that has been working on novel polymers. Together they want to create what they call “very high energy storage technology,” in other words, supercapacitors.
The agreement will see Rolls-Royce combine its material science and technical expertise with Superdielectrics’ novel hydrophilic polymers. The latter have been developed together with researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Surrey, where they have been shown to have “potentially outstanding energy storage properties” according to the press release.
Superdielectrics’ hydrophilic materials are similar to those originally designed for soft contact lenses. The startup however, uses them to increase the electricity storage capabilities of capacitors. The aim is to create capacitors that rival the storage capacity of traditional rechargeable batteries. The resulting supercapacitors may also be able to charge much faster than existing lithium-ion batteries. The exact terms of the agreement between Rolls-Royce and Superdielectrics remain confidential.
Rolls-Royce has yet to deliver an electric model but has shown openness. CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvos signalled last summer that the luxury brand would go in with all-electric or nothing.
U.S. American Artisan Vehicles has discovered the utility vehicle market and developed a 40-ton electric truck. Its use case is specific as the Z40 is an underground haul truck used by mining companies all over the world.
Artisan Vehicles’ Z40 boast four electric motors. Rather than charging, the idea is to swap the battery and the company says this would make the electric trucks range comparable to that of a diesel truck. Also, Artisan has redesigned the hauler and made it smaller and says the electric power gives it more torque.
The company with bases in California and Ontario is new to the mining industry. However, Mike Kasaba, Artisan’s CEO said in a statement: “We are astonished and thankful for the reception we have received both locally and throughout the mining industry. It’s clear that the mining industry is ready for the transformation that we are enabling.”
Artisan’s Z40 has already found a first customer at the Kirkland Lake Gold mine. Artisan also wants to establish a customer service and information centre for miners.
Indeed, there have been some electric vehicles targeted at mining such as those from Canada’s Medatech or the Swiss Komatsu rework. Working underground, both the heat as well as poisonous exhausts generated by fossil-fuel powered models add to the health hazards of an already dangerous industry.
Furthermore, the car, or better battery industry is turning to miners as they look to strike deals for increasingly rare materials. Chile’s Corfo recently rearranged the country’s lithium resources anew when accepting and rejecting bids from Chinese and Korean companies for example. Also Toyota renewed its deal with Australian miner Orocobre early this year.
While those deals over materials to build electric car components do not include sustainable extraction techniques, this might as well become a topic of debate in the future.
MAN Truck & Bus and Hamburg’s public transport provider VHH are jointly testing the second life of batteries first used in electric buses in a stationary storage facility. They signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Munich.
MAN estimates its electric bus batteries to last about six years in active service, However, together with Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein GmbH (VHH) they want to come up with a reuse scenario. The idea of the trial is to put the used eBus batteries as energy storage units. The latter shall then serve as back up for an electric bus charging station at the depot.
It could be a perfect circle. The prototype of the stationary storage facility is to start operating in Hamburg-Bergedorf before the year’s end. Testing will work with batteries using the same cells that will be applied in MAN’s electric buses. This second life storage is designed to prevent power consumption peaks during bus charging (peak shaving) by filling up on charge during quieter periods, which the buses can then use at peak times.
The research is part of a partnership between the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the Volkswagen Group, which also includes MAN. The partnership has also initiated Volkswagen’s latest delivery of 50 e-Golf (we reported). Furthermore, MOIA, VW’s ride-sharing shuttle started a partnership with the Hamburger Hochbahn AG and is to arrive in town later this year. Part of the project is an app-based on-demand electric shuttle service that allows people heading in the same direction to connect.
Hamburg is on a mission to electrify its entire public transport though. The electric buses from MAN are to take up service by the end of 2018. Additionally, Hamburg Hochbahn has also ordered 30 electric buses reportedly. VHH on the other hand has been testing two electric buses and is investigating whether to electrify its fleet entirely.
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Ten years ago, almost to the day, Tesla started producing the Roadster. The mission to make electric cars sexy has since changed from r-evolutionising the car industry to turning the world’s energy supply around, while some problems remain the same.
While Tesla is still working on the latter, the Roadster is about to be revived. An even hotter version is to hit the shelves by 2020 reportedly. On top, Musk has used the most phallic of symbols, his roly-poly rocket to shoot the Roadster into the sky on a mission to Mars. No wonder Tesla is advertising the new Roadster as “the fastest production car ever.”
But back to earth, where the success of the rooky EV maker from California has indeed spurred the industry’s electrification. Surely other factors such as tightening regulations and Volkswagen’s homemade diesel-gate have accelerated the making of electrified vehicles as well. But none other model has managed to feed the fantasy of so many owners and even more aspiring buyers waiting for the Model 3.
Production delays which Musk had called “manufacturing hell” are plagueing Tesla to this day. However, they are not new. The San Francisco Chronicle has dug out an old company update from March, 17, 2008 in which Tesla informed very early adopters of their progress and explaining what they mean with the term “slow ramp,” saying they have moved even “more slowly than our planned pace of 1 car per week.”
Writes Tesla: “After an initial period of slow production rates, the pace of production starts to pick up until we are producing in excess of 100 cars per month by November (2008). For this reason, the delivery of the approximately 600 MY2008 cars is weighted toward the end of this year and beginning of next year.”
Compare those humble beginnings to the latest target in which Tesla aims to churn out 5,000 Model 3 a week and one wonders where they will be in 2028. Keep on rolling and happy anniversary, Roadster!
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Renault’s latest and strongest version of the Zoe EV can now be pre-ordered in Great Britain. Prices start below the 20,000 pound threshold, after subsidies and before opting to lease or buy the battery.
Pricing and UK specification has been announced for the MY18 Renault ZOE. Starting from £18,420 OTR (including Plug-in Car Grant, excluding battery rental), the latest version features the new R110 electric motor, while adding just 250 pounds compared to the Zoe R90.
Range for the 110 kW version of the Zoe 4.0 remains the same 186-mile real-world range, according to Reanult. The order books are now open with the first deliveries expected in late summer on the Isles.
The updated electric motor allows the 2018 Zoe to accelerate two seconds faster (from 49.7-to-74.5mph / 80-to-120kph) than its predecessor and offer 12 kW more. When driving in a city, the R110 motor offers a peak torque of 225Nm.
With the launch of the Zoe 4.0, Renault had changed its battery scheme, that now includes the option to lease or buy the battery. Only French buyers are still required to rent the power pack but this will reportedly change this April.
In the UK Zoe pricing starts at £18,420 (OTR) after the Government Plug-in Car Grant, with battery leasing from £59 per month. The other option is to buy the ZOE outright. The ‘full purchase’ model start from £24,020 (OTR) after the Government Plug-in Car Grant, giving the buyer full ownership of the battery with no monthly battery lease payments.
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Hyundai has put its updated SUV called Santa Fe in the spotlight at the Auto Salon and said, that there will be both a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid variant. When the electrified models will hit the shelves is as of yet unknown though.
The Hyundai press release reads: “At the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, Hyundai Motor announced its plan to launch the New-Generation Santa Fe also in a hybrid and plug-in hybrid version.”
It should not be too long though as Hyundai is pushing for electrification. Together with Kia, the Koreans plan to launch 14 new all-electric models by 2025 reportedly. Updates on the hybrid front should thus be quick and have already started with the latest Sonata for example.
Audi is planning to to take the lead for VW’s hydrogen cars and wants to launch a production fuel cell model by 2020, albeit in a small series. Rupert Stadler announced the news at the annual press conference and also said to go serial with their latest autonomous concept.
The Aicon concept had made its debut at last year’s IAA, where it displayed no stirring wheel nor pedals. A rather radical autonomous design, at least for a production series in the current regulatory climate. Accordingly, Stadler called it a “luxurious lounge for long-distance travel” which Audi has included in its “longterm production plan”.
On a more imminent note, Rupert Stadler confirmed the launch of the e-tron this year and Audi will ask German buyers to pay 80,000 euros for it. He also updated the pre order count with orders from Norway reaching 3,700 units. Furthermore, expect to see a sporty version by 2020, when the e-tron GT is to hit the roads (we reported).
That same year will also see the launch of said small series of a fuel cell Audi. Stadler did not go into detail other than saying that “hydrogen is another perfect energy source for tomorrow’s e-mobility.”
However, the idea for fuel cell cars is not new for Audi but in fact a refocus. Stadler had announced back in 2016 that Audi would take over the lead in developing fuel cell technology within the VW Group. They had presented the H-tron quattro concept in January 2016 but had not said anything about a series. So 2020 it will be. If in form of the H-tron quattro remains to be seen.
audi-mediacenter.com (in German)
Volkswagen’s utility vehicle division will offer an electrified variant for each model in the future. Brand chief Eckhard Scholz told media to “expect a lot” over the next few years and also commented on Deutsche Post/ DHL’s StreetScooter van.
Germany’s postal service has advanced to the country’s largest electric vehicle producer with the StreetScooter after established carmakers had not returned their calls for an electric delivery van.
Times are changing and Scholz said he would see the StreetScooter as an “incentive” for Volkswagen’s own efforts. While he would not go into detail, VW Utility Vehicles is currently running trials with the e-Crafter at selected clients in Europe. The commercial roll-out is expected this September (we reported).
Regarding the announced electrification of Volkswagen’s other utility vehicles, Scholz admitted that it is always a compromise to electrify an existing model like an afterthought. Yet, he said that especially in the market for lighter commercial vehicles, an electric drive that lasts for about 150 kilometres would be ideal. At the same time, Scholz believes that it will be impossible to replace diesel or petrol fuelled vehicles entirely, at least within the next ten years.
heise.de (in German)
China’s Qifeng Auto is among those new car companies that cast a glance westwards to find some inspiration for their own designs. In their case, their gaze travelled all the way to Stuttgart and settled on one of Daimler’s series.
And so the Qifeng K7 resembles the Mercedes G-Class closely. There are two differences though. The Chinese version is much more compact if not a little squashed so it is a copy kitten rather than a copy cat. But also it purrs very silently as it drives all-electrically.
The San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) has ordered 10 electric buses from Proterra, which will replace 10 diesel buses. It’s the agency’s first such order of many more to come, as SamTrans wants to electrify its entire bus fleet by 2033.
The ten buses ordered are of the Catalyst E2 type and 12 metres long. The battery pack has got an energy density at 160 Wh/kg and 260 Wh/L, Proterra says.
For SamTrans, the new buses which are due to go into service by 2019, will operate on a number of routes in San Mateo County. The agancy wants to electrify the entire fleet by 2033.
New Flyer is working hard to deliver another 100 hybrid buses for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). It is the third instalment of a five-year contract. Once fulfilled, SEPTA’s fleet will be 95% electrified.
The total order is for a total of 525 buses of the type Xcelsior diesel-electric hybrid and has been approved by SEPTA in May 2016 (we reported). The hybrid buses will be deployed in Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs, supporting four million people living in and around southeastern Pennsylvania.
The “mega deal” for New Flyer has seen the company build and deliver over a hundred hybrid buses each year. The order shall be completed by 2021.
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