Between 27 July to 12 August, five prototypes of the BMW C evolution electric scooter will be driving around the city centre of London as part of a road trial, before moving on to other European cities.
More than ever before, individual mobility is defined today in terms of sustainability. Growing traffic volume, rising energy costs and constantly increasingly stringent CO2 restrictions on vehicles in inner cities are some of the biggest challenges facing individual mobility choices.
Until now, electric scooters have been limited in terms of performance and range, leaving them suitable almost solely for inner-city use. But with the C evolution high-performance electric scooters, BMW seeks to over come these limitations and satisfy the mobility needs of today and tomorrow.
The near-production prototype C evolution scooter is conceived of as a future-oriented vehicle for commuting between the urban periphery and the city centre. It offers performance figures comparable to those of a maxi scooter with a combustion engine, reaching a maximum speed of 120 km/h. It also has a range of up to 100 kilometres thanks to its large battery capacity.
BMW is making use of a number of events in Europe – such as the London Olympics – to raise the profile and promote acceptance of single-track electrically powered vehicles, thereby preparing the market for such a vehicle with a view to launching a serial production model. In this pilot phase, the vehicles are being operated in real conditions of use and within areas that reflect their intended environment. The aim is also to explore the infrastructure, such as establishing a network of e-mobility providers which might include vehicle rental companies and car-sharing firms.
Ford will introduce the 1.0 L EcoBoost gasoline engine to two of its popular vehicles in Europe later this year.
Starting in October, Ford Europe will introduce the 1.0 L EcoBoost engine in the C-Max and Grand C-Max. By combining this outstanding engine with the popular multi-activity vehicle, Ford is offering its drivers the lowest fuel consumption and emissions in this vehicle class.
The 1.0 L EcoBoost engine, which was recently awarded "International Engine of the Year 2012", will be available in the C-Max and Grand C-Max in the 100 hp and 125 hp variants. Fuel consumption will be 5.1 L (117 g/km CO2) in the C-Max and 5.2 L/100 km (119 g/km CO2).
"People react very positively to this engine. It conjures up a smile when driving and is amazingly economical", said Roelant de Waard, Vice President Marketing, Sales & Services of Ford Europe. "We sell this engine very well in the Ford Focus, so it is obvious that we should offer it as soon as possible in the C-Max and Grand C-Max".
Since Ford introduced the newest generation of the C-Max and Grand C-Max in 2010 in Europe, already more than 200,000 vehicles have been sold.
The C-Max and Grand C-Max will be produced in Valencia, Spain for the European market.
The first wireless electric vehicle trial in the world has begun in the United States as part of the Apollo Launch Program run by Evatran.
Evatran has successfully completed the first three installations of its Plugless Power wireless electric vehicle (EV) charging technology with Apollo Launch partners The Hertz Corporation, Duke Energy, and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). These installations, on Nissan LEAF vehicles, represent the first passenger electric vehicles in the world with full wireless charging capability.
Drivers at the three installation locations have been using the vehicles on a trial basis for the past month, since installations began in early June, and will continue to test the systems throughout the next three months. An additional three installations will be completed in July with partners from California to Washington, D.C. The Apollo Launch Program, kicked-off in early 2012, follows six commercial partners as they trial wireless charging technology installed on their own Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF vehicles, in a variety of real-world applications.
"Our goal in launching this one-of-a-kind initiative was two-fold," commented Tom Hough, Evatran's Chief Executive Officer and electric vehicle driver, "we wanted to get this game-changing technology into the hands of real electric vehicle drivers and we wanted to show the market that convenient, wireless charging technology can encourage electric vehicle adoption on a large scale. With these first installations, we're well on our way to leading the wireless charging market."
The Plugless Power technology is based on electromagnetic induction, a technology that has been understood for over 100 years. This fundamental technology was enhanced by Evatran engineers with proprietary control software and coil designs in order to extend the efficient transfer of power over an air gap of as much as seven inches. The Company, a start-up based out of Virginia, now leads the industry in providing a low-cost system with robust alignment tolerance at a fraction of the on-board weight as competitors. The prototypes installed with Apollo Program partners require absolutely zero user interaction, charge the vehicles as quickly as traditional corded chargers, and function at over 90 per cent efficiency.
For more information on the wireless charging prototypes installed through the Apollo Launch Program, please visit www.pluglesspower.com.
Volkswagen's "Think Blue. World Championship." Game is a new application that is supposed to make drivers more environmentally aware. Participation is possible via iPhone, iPad and Facebook.
More conscious driving can cut fuel consumption by up to 25 per cent and protect the environment. It can also be fun, as the new virtual fuel saving game from Volkswagen goes to show. The best players can qualify for a national fuel saving competition or win a direct wildcard for the international final, the "Think Blue. World Championship." to be held in California.
The game heightens awareness of more efficient driving and shows that all drivers can make their own personal contribution to environmental protection without sacrificing driving pleasure. The game is available for downloading from the iTunes store for iPhone and iPad users and can also be played directly on the Volkswagen Facebook page.
Until 16 September, participants can play not just alone but also against other international players. In addition, the game trains users for the national fuel saving competitions, the "Think Blue. Challenges." that are to be held in many countries and will pit the best players from a country against each other. The winners of these national challenges as well as holders of a wildcard from the virtual game will all go to California for the "Think Blue. World Championship 2012." from 24 to 28 November, where they will have a chance of becoming world champion.
The international finals will take the best 20 competitors from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The driver who completes the run with the lowest fuel consumption and also demonstrates his or her knowledge of environmental protection and sustainability will become world champion.
AUDI AG has achieved another technological milestone in motorsport. At the 80th Le Mans 24 Hours race, the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro – a vehicle with hybrid drive – has triumphed for the first time.
Around 200,000 spectators witnessed a fascinating race with the drama and incidents that are typical for Le Mans plus an impressive demonstration of "Vorsprung durch Technik." The four Audi R18 cars from Audi Sport Team Joest were the quickest and most reliable vehicles and after 24 hours occupied positions one, two, three and five.
"With the e-tron quattro in combination with ultra lightweight design, we put a completely new technology on the grid and immediately won with it – this cannot be taken for granted by any means, particularly here at Le Mans", commented Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG.
All four Audi R18 cars had the chance to clinch what amounted to the brand's eleventh Le Mans victory in total. After 378 laps, last year's winners Marcel Fässler (CH), André Lotterer (D) and Benoît Tréluyer (F) were the front-runners in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. The runners-up were in a vehicle that uses a conventional drive system in combination with an electrically driven axle. Audi is already testing this technology in which the drive shaft is replaced by electric cables for use in production vehicles.
The two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars were the protagonists at the 80th edition of the endurance classic right from the beginning. They only had to relinquish the leading position to one of the two Toyota hybrid vehicles once for a few laps on Saturday night. After the early retirements of their fiercest rivals the two R18 e-tron quattro cars fought a thrilling duel for victory throughout the night until noon on Sunday during which the lead changed several times and the two diesel hybrid sports cars were often separated by just a few seconds.
An electric vehicle for less than US $20,000? That's exactly what the Indian Tata Group is developing, according to various on-line reports.
In a statement made by Kevin Fisher, Tata Technologies President of Vehicles Programs and Development Group, Tata is working with French 3D design software company Dassault Systemes to "leverage the talents of a global engineering team to meet numerous design and cost constraints, as well as create the targeted user experience, including a final vehicle price tag of under $20,000."
According to Green Car Reports, the Tata group worked with France-based Dassault Systemes to carry out a feasibility study and to design a vehicle with a small footprint that can still comfortably fit four adults.
The project is a global affair, involving collaboration between over 300 Tata Technologies engineers from India, the U.S, Europe and more, reports Firstpost.
No launch date has been provided.
A123 Systems introduces a new lithium ion battery technology that optimises performance even in extreme temperatures.
A123 Systems, a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate® lithium iron phosphate batteries and systems, today introduced Nanophosphate EXT™, a new lithium ion battery technology capable of operating at extreme temperatures without requiring thermal management. Nanophosphate EXT is designed to significantly reduce or eliminate the need for heating or cooling systems, which is expected to create sizeable new opportunities within the transportation and telecommunications markets, among others.
Unlike lead acid or other advanced battery technologies, Nanophosphate EXT is designed to maintain long cycle life at extreme high temperatures and deliver high power at extreme low temperatures.
"Based on our analysis, the performance of A123's new Nanophosphate EXT at high temperatures is unlike anything we've ever seen from lead acid, lithium ion or any other battery technology", said Dr. Yann Guezennec, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Ohio State University, where the battery was tested. Should the same findings hold true for cold temperatures, too, Dr. Guezennec calls the innovation a "game-changing battery breakthrough for the electrification of transportation, including the emerging micro hybrid vehicle segment."
A123 Systems expects Nanophosphate EXT to enable automakers to significantly reduce or completely eliminate active cooling systems in electric vehicle battery packs. This should lower costs, reduce weight and improve reliability, providing automakers with a cost-effective solution that will increase efficiency and minimize system complexity without sacrificing vehicle performance, battery life or driving range.
The new technology is scheduled to enter volume production during the first half of 2013.
DriveLite is a mobile application that allows you to purchase carbon offsets when you pull into a fuel station – in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, France and elsewhere in Europe.
Here's how it works: when you arrive at a fuel station, the DriveLite application reminds you to purchase a carbon offset. The amount you with to purchase is up to you. The carbon offset is a financial instrument that either removes the equivalent carbon dioxide pollution elsewhere or it creates new clean energy. Some projects that accomplish this include clean energy generation from renewable sources such as wind or solar, or select energy efficiency project initiatives that are verified and validated by reputable standards such as the Gold Standard and VER. DriveLite also purchases offsets generated and validated under of the Kyotoa Protocal Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM).
So whether you drive a hybrid, a compact fuel-efficient vehicle or a gas-guzzling SUV, DriveLite helps clean up the environment, one kg of CO2 pollution at a time.
Click here to learn more.
Toyota Motor Corporation announced its global hybrid vehicle sales totalled four million units through April 2012, marking an impressive milestone for the Japanese automaker.
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announced its global hybrid vehicle sales totalled four million units through April 2012.
Toyota currently sells 18 hybrid passenger vehicles in 80 countries and regions around the world. This year, hybrid vehicle accounted for 15 percent of TMC's global vehicle sales. Prius, Toyota's first hybrid passenger car, went on sale in Japan in 1997. Hybrid technology was later introduced to the U.S. in 2000 with the arrival of the Prius.
Since then, it has sold 1.5 million hybrid vehicles in the U.S., accounting for 65 per cent of all hybrid vehicles sold in the region. Prius, the iconic hybrid brand, comprises half of all hybrids on the road in the U.S., with sales totalling 1.2 million units through April 2012.
The expansion of the Prius has been successful in the U.S. since the Prius v was introduced in to the market in November 2011 followed by Prius c and Prius Plug-in during the first quarter 2012. In that time, Prius family sold 60,859 units in the U.S.
In addition to the Prius Family, Toyota's other U.S. hybrid models include versions of the Camry and Highlander, which feature larger displacement applications of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive.
Toyota calculates that the total number of its hybrid vehicles sold globally since 1997 have produced to approximately 26 million fewer tons of C02 emissions than would have been emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance.
The Volvo Group will launch a 13-litre liquefied natural gas (LNG) engine for the North American market 2014. The engine's high-pressure diesel ignition technology should provide significant fuel efficiency gains compared with current natural gas products, according to a company press release.
Combined with the group's previously announced offering of compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered Volvo VNM and Volvo VNL model daycabs, the new engine will provide customers with a complete range of natural gas-powered transportation solutions. Within the Volvo brand another fuel is being tested that can be produced from natural gas, DME (dimethyl ether), which has the potential to become an attractive alternative for the North American market.
"Despite the near-term infrastructure questions regarding widespread adoption of natural gas as a heavy-duty truck fuel, it's clear this segment will grow over the next several years", said Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Trucks North American Sales & Marketing.
Through advanced high-pressure diesel ignition technology – using trace amounts of diesel to ignite the natural gas – Volvo's LNG engine should deliver a 30 per cent fuel efficiency improvement compared with spark-ignition (SI) engines, making it a viable alternative for demanding long-haul applications. The Volvo 13-litre LNG engine should also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 per cent compared with current diesel products.
The Volvo Group has also conducted field tests of trucks equipped with DME. The results – from ten vehicles operating in a variety of applications in Europe – indicate DME holds much promise as a heavy-truck fuel, and could become a viable alternative in North America to CNG or LNG when it comes to performance, environmental impact, safety and distribution.
"Since we adopted Environmental Care as a core value in 1970s, the Volvo Group has dedicated the resources necessary to lead in alternative fuel technologies", Huibers said.
"We demonstrated in 2007 our ability to run vehicles on seven different fuels, and we continue to refine our work with a variety alternative fuels and drivelines. Our comprehensive strategy – including CNG, LNG, and potentially DME – means we'll have a complete range of natural gas solutions as the infrastructure develops."
Porsche has put the finishing touches on the 918 Spyder prototype, a plug-in hybrid sports car.
Porsche has taken the driving trials of what it calls 'the super sports car of the future' a step further with completion of the initial prototypes. The 918 Spyder will go into production at the end of September 2013 as planned, with the first customers receiving their vehicles before 2013 is out.
"What we are doing with the 918 Spyder is redefining driving fun, efficiency and performance", said Wolfgang Hatz, Member of the Executive Board Research and Development of Porsche AG.
The prototypes signal the final touches to the 918 Spyder. The combination of combustion engine and two independent electric motors – one on the front axle and one in the drive line, acting on the rear wheels – poses completely new demands on the development of the operating strategies.
The super sports car is designed as a plug-in hybrid vehicle combining a high-performance combustion engine with cutting-edge electric motors for extraordinary performance: on the one hand, the dynamics of a racing machine boasting more than 770 hp, on the other hand, fuel consumption in the region of three litres per 100 kilometres.
Porsche is also introducing innovative technologies with the 918 Spyder such as the full carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) monocoque with unit carrier, fully adaptive aerodynamics, adaptive rear-axle steering and the upward-venting 'top pipes' exhaust system. A glimpse, perhaps, of what Porsche may be capable of in the future.
Thanks to its new partnership with one of the world's leading carbon offset companies, the Sauber F1 Team is now greenhouse gas neutral.
The Sauber F1 Team is forging ahead with its commitment to the environment. After ISO 14001 certification was awarded to the company's environmental management system in April, the Swiss team is now offsetting its greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits through Carbon Neutral Investments (CNI).
Offsetting carbon involves companies financing projects that save the equivalent amount of carbon generated by the company. The Sauber F1 Team opted for 30 per cent excess. Through the purchase of CNI's carbon credits, it will be a carbon neutral F1 team for the next three years.
CEO Monisha Kaltenborn explains: "We attach great importance to carbon offsetting, which is a consequence of the environmental policy we have adopted. It allows us to make an important contribution to protecting the environment."
In addition to offsetting carbon, the primary aim of the Sauber F1 Team is to keep emissions as low as possible and reduce them further by applying appropriate measures. The main building in Hinwil, for example, has been supplied by district heating for 20 years now and the wind tunnel since 2004. For many years, 50 per cent of electricity has been drawn from renewable energy sources.
The next milestone will be when the solar park goes on stream at the company's headquarters in the summer.
Maximum performance and minimum fuel consumption – Porsche is focussing on the deployment of plug-in hybrid technology in production, according to a recent company announcement.
The sports car manufacturer has already moved in the direction hybrid technology with the Porsche 918 Spyder and its combustion engine and an electric drive.
The expansion of electrification in hybrid models and the optimization of the conventional combustion engine will play a major role in future drive system developments for Porsche. "With the Panamera and the Cayenne, Porsche has already successfully launched two hybrid models on the market. The sales figures for the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid for 2011 are more than twice as high as the figures of all our competitors combined in this market segment," says Wolfgang Hatz, Member of the Executive Board – Research and Development.
Porsche is developing more solutions to get even greater efficiency and performance from the synergy effects of combustion engine and electric motor. Furthermore, the potential of conventional combustion engines is far from being exhausted, which is why the combustion engine will continue to play a vital role form the drive system of sports cars in the foreseeable future, explains Hatz.
At the Hannover Messe 2012 from 23 to 27 April, Volkswagen is showcasing efficient production processes and intelligent lightweight designs as part of its vision of mobility of the future.
In line with the central topic of this year's Hannover Messe, "greentelligence", Volkswagen is giving visitors a comprehensive idea of the resource-conserving automobile production processes of the future. Apart from the environmentally compatible production methods of "Think Blue. Factory.", the main emphasis is on low-consumption vehicles and innovative electro-mobility exhibits.
This includes efficient Volkswagen brand vehicles with BlueMotion technologies, electro-mobility and new mobility concepts such as the "Quicar" car sharing project.
Taking the example of intelligent lightweight construction using hot stamping, already used by Volkswagen in series production, Volkswagen is presenting an advanced production technology that helps conserve resources in a sustainable way. Dry machining, which does not require any cooling and lubricating emulsion thanks to the use of new machines and tools and modified machining processes, also significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions at Volkswagen plants.
The main focus is on the Golf Blue-e-Motion, the electrically powered version of the best-selling Volkswagen model.
Nine Golf Blue-e-Motion vehicles are available for testing at the exhibition hall.
Hannover Messe is one of the world's leading technology showcases. 5,000 exhibitors from about 70 countries are presenting their innovations and world firsts at the 2012 event.
New cars registered in the UK last year were, on average, 18.0 per cent more fuel efficient than the average car on the road, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in its 11th annual New Car CO2 report.
Data analysing the emissions of all new cars registered in the UK showed a continued trend in cutting emissions and improving fuel efficiency. 2011 emissions fell by 4.2 per cent year on year to 138.1g/km CO2, down by more than 23 per cent since reporting began in 2000.
The Report shows that in 2011, almost half of new cars (46.8 per cent) had emissions below the 2015 European legislative target of 130g/km CO2. Additionally, over 65,000 vehicles were exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) with sub-100g/km cars, almost doubling their market share to 3.4 per cent.
Reductions in average emissions were made across all segments (car sizes) compared to 2010, contributing to the significant drop over the past decade.
Achieving record market shares, diesel and alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) continued their rise in popularity, taking 50.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent of the 2011 market respectively. Petrol-electric hybrids accounted for 92 per cent of all AFV volumes in 2011 with an average CO2 output of 104g/km, some 25 per cent below the UK average. Though market development is in its earliest stages, EV registrations rose by 557 per cent in 2011 to 1,098 units, aided by the introduction of new models and the Plug-In Car Grant.
Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "The UK motor industry recognises its responsibilities and the industrial opportunities from the transition to ultra-low carbon vehicles. Future environmental and economic success will be determined by sustained investment in new technology, R&D, infrastructure and consumer incentives."
The Sauber F1 Team takes protecting the environment extremely seriously. On 3rd April 2012 the Sauber Group's environment management system was awarded ISO 14001 certification. ISO 14001 is the most widely established standard in this area worldwide, and certification attests that the team meets all the stated requirements.
The team began the development of their environment management system a little over a year ago with a comprehensive risk analysis and assessment. A set of organisational, technical and operational rules intended to ensure sustainable environmental protection was then put together with the participation of all employees.
"We are very pleased that our environment management system has been awarded certification. It confirms the high priority we attach to this issue", explains CEO Monisha Kaltenborn.
Sauber's environment policy sets out the following principles and guidelines governing its commitment to environmental protection:
• Make the environment a management focus.
• Involve all employees in the process and ensure they have the necessary training.
• Reduce energy consumption and use renewable energy sources in place of fossil fuels.
• Reduce material consumption and ensure consistent recycling of waste materials.
• Use third-party projects to transfer knowledge into ecological mobility concepts.
• Incorporate suppliers and customers into the company's environmental activities.
• Maximise transparency towards employees, authorities and partners (inventory, targets, evaluation).
As well as the development and certification of the environment management system, the implementation of the company's environment policy has also prepared the ground for other projects, such as the construction and activation of a "solar park" at Sauber headquarters in Hinwil, Switzerland, in co-operation with its partner Oerlikon. Generation of solar energy is scheduled to begin as early as this summer.
The following targets have also been set for 2012:
• Reduce and neutralise/offset all the greenhouse gases produced by the company.
• Significantly reduce electricity consumption.
• Improve freight-related environmental performance. Part of the team's circuit infrastructure is now transported by sea (rather than air).
Sauber can look back on a long tradition of protecting the environment. For 20 years now the team has been using district heating from a nearby incineration plant to heat its main building and since 2004, a wind tunnel as well. Around 50 per cent of the electricity used by the team is provided by renewable resources (hydroelectric power).
Over the past few years, an enormous trend towards electric cars has grown with the aim of introducing as many of these vehicles as possible to you. The trend is so prominent that even efficiency-oriented designers of gasoline-fuelled cars are starting to waver as they find that it is becoming easier to get financial support to develop electric cars.
The driving performance of electric cars for city driving is satisfactory; however, driving range and maximum speed are still points of deficiency which prevent them from being accepted widely.
Innovative ideas are important for our environment; however, we should not just go with every new trend wave without first having a closer look at the matter. We need to learn how to apply Systems Thinking and consider what are the influences and effects of a new development.
Let's look at a few examples: When Toyota brought its first hybrid product on the market, the world thought this was the breakthrough technological solution in harmony with the environment. But a significant negative point was simply forgotten here: the increased weight of the vehicle caused by the generator and the heavy batteries. Thanks to Einstein's ingenuity, we all know that bigger mass needs more energy to be set into motion. So in this sense, heavier cars require more fuel. Supplying the vehicles with smaller internal combustion engines to compensate this problem in turn means that hybrid cars can never really go fast. Additionally, the high amount of voltage in the batteries poses great risks in times of accidents – an important point to consider when purchasing something that you and your family will likely use on a daily basis.
In the meantime, most of us have probably by now heard of the 'food vs. fuel' debate: a big issue faced by biofuels. Also here, good fights against evil. Jatropha, for example, is surely one of the most environmentally friendly crops; but only when it is actually grown on scanty land on which food crops cannot be cultivated and only when we do not have to additionally irrigate the fields that it grows on. With these prerequisites in mind, Jatropha's cultivation on land in Ethiopia, for instance, may indeed yield less fuel but, on the other hand, help against erosion, enrich barren soil, and even create new employment opportunities in the area. Irrigation and the cultivation of the plant on land originally meant for food crops will surely increase the harvest and bring in a greater income, but this is where its utopian effect ends.
Now back to our electric cars: It is true that they do not puff out carbon dioxide (CO2) when driven, but significant amounts of CO2-emissions are released during the entire production process, for example during the processing of steel or aluminium. Moreover, to this day we have not been able to generate our electricity from 100% alternative sources. And even if we would have an abundance of hydroelectric, solar and wind energy, the issues would not be solved. With drastically melting glaciers and sinking freshwater levels, less energy is being generated by hydroelectric plants. Solar cell panels may, depending on their production, need as much as two years to compensate for the energy required to manufacture them; only then do they become truly efficient. Wind turbines have their own set of problems. Many of them are installed off shore on floating platforms, for instance. Yet we still do not know what effect this may have on our ocean currents. What we do know is that ocean currents play a major role in our climatic system. These windmills are also usually treated intensively with chemicals to protect against corrosion or the attachment of suspension feeders like barnacles. Don't these toxins end up in our oceans and contribute to its contamination?
And another problem: Every child in our society nowadays knows that batteries should end up as special waste. The rechargeable batteries in our cell phones and computers have a limited lifespan and have to be disposed of accordingly. So the recycling issue is also a matter of concern when we talk about the batteries used in electric cars. And we have to start questioning the amount of energy used to recycle them as well as the toxic substances that could possibly escape into the environment.
Be it for cars, ships, airplanes or trains, one thing is evident: Lower weight is the only reliable solution to reducing energy consumption.
The BMW i8 Concept Spyder combines intelligent lightweight design with eDrive technology. A plug-in hybrid combining two different power sources, it employs the specific advantages of its electric motor and combustion engine to optimum effect.
Barely a year after the unveiling of the 2+2-seater BMW i8 Concept, BMW i is presenting the second variant of this hybrid sports car at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition later this month. Sporty features like large body panels, a hunkered-down stance and numerous aerodynamic elements enhance both efficiency and range. Extensive use of high-tech materials have enabled weight minimisation, structural rigidity and crash safety. This is good news not only for the car's dynamic performance, but also for its range and fuel economy.
The 96 kW (131 hp) electric motor on the front axle works in tandem with a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine sending 164 kW (223 hp) through the rear wheels. Both units generate an aggregate system output of 260 kW (354 hp) and peak torque of 550 Newton metres. That is enough to accelerate the BMW i8 Concept Spyder from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in five seconds on the way to an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Despite this performance, the two-seater burns just three litres of petrol per 100 kilometres (equivalent to fuel economy of 94 mpg imp) in the European test cycle.
The electric motor sources its energy from a lithium-ion battery which can be fully charged from a domestic power socket in less than two hours. The high-output battery is located in the energy tunnel between the front and rear axle modules in order to keep the car's centre of gravity as low as possible – and therefore to maximise the car's dynamic performance.
With its battery fully charged, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder can cover up to 30 kilometres (19 miles) on electric power alone. As such, far from filling in as a bit-part player, the electric motor plays a role equal to that of the petrol engine. If required, a high-voltage alternator hooked up to the combustion engine generates extra power, which is then stored in the hybrid battery. This range-extending function during the course of a journey allows the two-seater to travel further between charging stations.
Intelligent control electronics ensure that the optimum drive configuration is available for the situation at hand. The driver can view the driving mode currently engaged and monitor the activity of the two drive sources on the large information display in the cockpit.
Remote functions accessed via a smartphone help users to locate nearby charging stations, allow the battery to be charged at pre-set times and inform drivers on the current status of their vehicle. Plus, the battery and interior can be brought up to peak operating temperature before the driver sets off on a journey.
Sustainability also plays a paramount role in the BMW i concept. The Leipzig production plant will see an additional 70 per cent reduction in water use and 50 per cent drop in energy consumption per vehicle over the years ahead. And the energy that is used will be sourced 100 per cent from renewable sources.
A series of tests by the Touring Club Switzerland confirms an average driving range of 431.3 kilometres at a constant speed of 90 km/h.
After tests done at TÜV Süd, the Touring Club Switzerland (TCS) confirms that the electric vehicle mindset has achieved an average driving range of 431.3 km at a constant speed of 90 km/h. Three additional range tests according to NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) result in an average of 352 km. The battery capacity as measured by TCS is 64.1 kWh.
The result confirms the technological potential of H-Tech AG in electric mobility. The battery pack, which has been pre-conditioned by Jörg Hempel (H-Tech) and was realised for the first time for mindset, weighs only 200.25 kg (230 kg with BMS and housing), according to manufacturer specifications.
Equipped with those light batteries, the curb weight (VTS) of the electric vehicle mindset – a compact class four-seater commuter coupe for everyday use – amounts to just 1298 kg (according to TCS).
The ratio between weight and determined capacity of the energy storage unit represents a considerable competitive advantage and opens new perspectives in the development of everyday use electric mobiles.
Mindset and H-Tech have an exclusive cooperation in the implementation of this technological innovation in the field of electric mobility. This grants Mindset the right to firstly use the H-Tech battery technology in its vehicles on an exclusive basis.
BMW Group, the Official Automotive Partner to the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games, has now delivered the first 40 of its zero and low emissions vehicles that will be used for this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.
The first cars delivered to the Olympic organisers are the BMW 520d EfficientDynamics and 320d EfficientDynamics diesel sedans that consume between 4.0-4.0 litres/100 km.
The full 4,000-strong fleet consists of around 200 electric vehicles as well as diesel and hybrid cars, and will even include a range of motorcycles and bicycles. The fleet has been designed with BMW's EfficientDynamics technologies and meets the strict emissions threshold of less than 120g CO2/km set by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games.
The rally, organised by the Automobile Club de Monaco, begins today and finishes in Monaco, Monte Carlo on Sunday.
This year's competitors include the Fisker Karma, Opel Ampera (winner of Car of the Year at this year's Geneva Motor Show held earlier this month), Toyota Prius, Lexus CT 200h; Toyota Auris, Tesla Roadster, Honda Insight, Honda Jazz, Renault Twizy, Renault Fluence ZE and many many more.
Like other eco-focused rally events, the winner won't necessarily be the competitor who arrives first. Instead, points are awarded for consumption and performance in regularity tests, and the winner will be the team which covers the set distances within allocated time limits while using as little energy as possible.
In order to participate in the rally, vehicles must emit less than 115g of CO2 per kilometre for all fuel used, except fossil fuels. Vehicles are grouped into several categories: electric-powered series production vehicles; electric-powered series production vehicles for daily use; hybrid electric vehicles; and other alternative energy vehicles
As in the previous year, the three starting locations are Lugano (CH), Clermont-Ferrand (FR) and Annecy (FR). The three different route options – which all meet in Digne les Bains, the capital of the Alpes de Haute Provence for a Time Control before continuing to Monaco – range from around 355 km to 524 km. The Urban Electric Challenge, for electric vehicles with autonomy not exceeding 250 km on one charge, will take place on Saturday the 24th, with the manoeuvrability test held on Sunday the 25th in the port area.
Volvo Construction Equipment and Volvo Buses have joined the Volvo Group's cooperation with WWF´s Climate Savers program, pledging to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 million tons from construction equipment, buses and trucks through 2014.
"By expanding the partnership with WWF to include our buses and construction equipment, the Volvo Group will demonstrate that it is serious about continuously raising our targets in terms of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from our products, by complying with our vision for sustainable and carbon-neutral future transportation", said Volvo's CEO Olof Persson.
The Volvo Group became the world's first auto manufacturer to join WWF Climate Savers in November 2010 with a commitment to reduce the lifetime carbon dioxide emissions of its trucks sold from 2009 to 2014 by 13 million tons compared to 2008 models.
Thanks to improved fuel efficiency, the goal has now been increased to 30 million tons and will include the company's buses and construction equipment. Thirty million tons is the same amount of carbon dioxide emitted by Sweden in its entirety in seven months.
Volvo's joint venture company, SDLG, will also become the first leading Chinese construction equipment company to be a member of Climate Savers family.
"Emissions in the transport sector have a major impact on the climate and must be met with vigorous initiatives. It is therefore very encouraging that the Volvo Group now wants to broaden their cooperation with WWF by expanding to new business areas", said Håkan Wirtén, Secretary General of WWF Sweden.
Climate Savers and the Volvo Group
WWF's Climate Savers program involves multinational companies in the battle to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The companies that are included in Climate Savers pledge to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions pursuant to an agreement between the WWF and the company. Independent technical experts review the results, and agreed targets must be more ambitious than the company originally planned. Meanwhile, Climate Savers are also required to play a leading role in their industry in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The agreement between Volvo and the WWF applies to AB Volvo and the Volvo Group's brands, Volvo Construction Equipment, Volvo Buses, Volvo Trucks, Mack Trucks, Renault Trucks, UD Trucks and SDLG. SDLG manufactures construction equipment in China and seeks to become the leading Chinese company in handling climate change towards low carbon economy.
Rinspeed will present its innovative "Dock+Go" mobility system at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
Switzerland's Rinspeed has invented a 'backpack on wheels' for electric vehicles. The concept will be on display at the Geneva Motor show, 8-18 March 2012.
The modular system is meant to solve the much-debated operating range problem that electric vehicles suffer from. An 'energy pack', fitted with a range extender or additional batteries and powered by a fuel cell or equipped with a combustion engine, can be attached as a rear extension for compact electric cars. Once attached, it provides a docked range extender and provides the crucial extra kilometers to reach more distant destinations.
Even more clever is that the docked third axle drives the rotating second axle and in doing so also recharges the on-board batteries of the city speedster. And when the pack with auxiliary batteries is docked and the vehicle is not in use, the pack will even provide electricity to the owner's private residence or serve as a buffer for the public energy grid, in effect turning it into a 'smart grid'.
The 'backpacks' or trailers can be used for other purposes, too: for pizza delivery (complete with a built-in isothermal box), a ski transporter, or even a 'sound pack' complete with the latest, high-end sound solutions.
Perhaps Rinspeed's vision is a bit much for some (a pizza, after all, can be delivered easily by bicycle), but you can't accuse Frank M. Rinderknecht, founder and CEO, of not pushing the envelope. That is because Rinderknecht's credo is that a car must provoke emotions and visions, especially if it is to serve as a vehicle for communicating new technologies and innovative materials.
Cutting down on consumption will save more than a billion litres of water and cost only 2.3 million euro.
The Ford Motor Company is committed to further reducing resource consumption. By 2016, the average volume of unusable waste per vehicle, currently at five kilograms, will be reduced to only 1.5 kilograms—particularly at production sites in Europe. It also plans to reduce water consumption by 30 per cent. With 1.2 million Ford vehicles produced per year, this will save around 1.3 billion litres of water, which corresponds to a reduction of 1,100 litres per vehicle and a cost saving of no less than 2.3 million euro.
"This plan represents a commitment by Ford to protect the environment – from the development of vehicles, over the entire product life cycle and to the final recycling of old vehicles", said Stephen T. Odell, President and CEO of Ford of Europe. "This commitment goes hand in hand with our goal to manufacture the most efficient and lowest-consumption vehicles. Sustainability at Ford has not only a positive impact on business success, but also on our environment."
The announcement builds on existing activities, in which Ford of Europe is the branch within the Ford Motor Company that generates the least amount of waste. Since 2007 alone, the amount of unusable waste could be reduced by 40 per cent. During the same period, water consumption was reduced by 37 percent by Ford of Europe.
Plans to further reduce the impact on the environmental are in place for the German plants in Cologne and Saarlouis, production facilities in Genk (Belgium) and Valencia (Spain), as well as for sites in Southhampton, Bridgend and Dagenham in England. In Cologne and Saarlouis, recent measures to significantly protect the environment were achieved. A good example of this is the state-of-the-art production line in the Cologne plant for the new 1.0-litre Ford EcoBoost petrol engine with direct injection, which requires 37 per cent less water compared to the old system. In addition, the amount of coolant in the production of aluminium engine parts could be reduced from two litres to only 5 millilitres per part.
"Sustainability allows for a leaner production process and cost-efficiency at the same time. Sustainability is good for both the company's success and the environment", says Dirk Heller, Director of Manufacturing, Ford of Europe.
The environmental performance of vehicles is becoming increasingly significant in the commercial procurement of service or fleet vehicles. This is one finding of Oeko-Institut's survey of more than 30 fleet operators, which focused on the acceptance of battery electric vehicles in the commercial sector. Around one-fifth of those surveyed stated that they are willing to accept up to 20 per cent higher costs for the 'green operation' of their passenger car fleet. Nonetheless the combination of purchase and operating costs remains the key criterion in commercial procurement.
The researchers calculated the total costs of commercial fleet vehicles, which – compared to conventionally powered passenger cars – are currently comparatively high. The reason for this is that investment costs are higher for electric vehicles. However, at the same time they determined that the current cost disadvantage will fall to approximately 20 per cent by 2020. By 2030 electric vehicles will even have a cost advantage in most vehicle categories compared to vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.
Cost advantages for electric vehicles from 2030
"In view of the cost advantages that electric vehicles in the commercial sector are estimated to have to by 2030, the acceptance of car-buyers is growing", says Florian Hacker, a researcher at Oeko-Institut and expert on electric mobility. "Our analyses of the usage patterns of vehicles in commercial fleets – which were based on transport data from 'Kraftfahrzeugverkehr in Deutschland' – also show that commercial service vehicles cover 13,000 km per year on average. In this way the low operating costs of electric vehicles in particular can take effect, bringing down the total costs."
The survey of companies was conducted within the scope of the project "Accompanying research for E-Mobility Berlin" [Begleitforschung E-Mobility Berlin]. Oeko-Institut carried out an ecological assessment of the pilot fleet of Daimler AG, which tested the use of approximately 150 electric vehicles by private and commercial customers in day-to-day operation over the past two years in Berlin.
Oeko-Institut's researchers also analysed the limits of the use of electric vehicles. The greatest barrier in terms of private use – i.e. that the infrequent, long holiday journeys cannot be made with an electric vehicle – is only of secondary importance in the commercial sector. Larger fleets encompassing electric and conventional propulsion systems can react more flexibly to different types of journey: shorter journeys can be made with an electric vehicle and longer ones with petrol powered vehicles. The comparatively long charging times for electric vehicles were assessed by those surveyed to be relatively unproblematic.
One million battery electric vehicles in Germany by 2030
Alongside the analysis for the commercial sector, the researchers at Oeko-Institut also estimated the total potential for the use of battery electric vehicles in the households and commercial sectors in Germany for the next two decades. According to these calculations around one million electric vehicles can be on Germany's roads by 2030, corresponding to approximately two per cent of all passenger cars in Germany. Commercial service vehicles only have a share of around five per cent of the total passenger car stock. It is estimated that the majority of the one million electric vehicles will come from the households sector (private use). In spite of high potentials only four per cent of electric vehicles in 2020 and 14 per cent in 2030 will come from the commercial sector.
On the climate protection potential of battery electric vehicles overall, Hacker added: "When all these vehicles are powered by electricity from additional renewable energies, they can save approximately 0.75 million tonnes of CO2 overall. That corresponds to almost one per cent of CO2 emissions of all passenger cars in Germany."
The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development. Project coordination is carried out by NOW GmbH National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology.
Mindset and H-TECH jointly report a major breakthrough in the field of battery technology for electric vehicles due to a newly developed battery pack technology.
A prototype of the mindset electric vehicle (www.mindset.ch) has been fitted with the H-TECH technology and achieved previously unmatched performances on a TÜV-Germany rolling road test block.
In the context of a conventional test within the sector of electric vehicles a lab-tested, newly developed battery pack technology based on lithium-ion cells was applied on a rolling road test block of TÜV-Süd on 24 January 2012. With this test, a battery pack with a weight of 200 kg achieved a energy density of 52 kWh with one charge. The measured energy comes down to 0,26 kW/kg. Although this result represents almost a doubling of the energy density, the total weight increase was less than 15 per cent, including the battery management system.
The added value in energy density compared to their competitors is considerably higher than 100 per cent:
|Vehicle energy density of batter pack
||kWh per kg
|Smart (equipped by Tesla)
The relation of power output to weight of the battery pack sets a new benchmark for the performance of battery-powered cars. The achieved performance resulted in an extension of the available range above 75 per cent. Additional tests will specify valuable features of the technology over the next weeks to come. Added value can be expected in: stable thermic conditions during charging and discharging, and cutting charging times.
In addition the battery packs will be measured on test stands as well as in the vehicle in order to evaluate their consistency over multiple charge/discharge cycles.
The technology of H-TECH is based on a newly developed method of charging of pre-conditioned lithium ion cells. A patent is pending. This technology has been applied for the first time in an electric vehicle.
H-TECH, domiciled in Liechtenstein, owns all rights and intends to exclusively commercialize these. The new technology of conditioning and charging of battery packs opens a wide field of industrial applications for H-TECH far beyond the automotive industry.
H-TECH and Mindset have agreed to cooperate on an exclusive basis for the realization of this innovation in the field of electric cars. Simultaneously, Mindset has been granted the right to exclusively initiate the application of the H-TECH battery technology in its electric vehicles.
Generation Y's strong affinity for hybrid vehicles could make it the generation that leads the automotive market away from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, according to an annual survey by Deloitte and Michigan State University.
A majority (59 per cent) of Gen Y respondents surveyed prefer an "electrified vehicle" over any other type of car or truck. Moreover, Gen Y consumers heavily favour hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles (57 per cent) over pure battery electric vehicles (2 per cent) or vehicles with a traditional gasoline-only powertrain (37 per cent).
The annual survey, now in its fourth year, canvassed 1,500 Gen Y, Gen X and baby boomer consumers in the United States, as well as 250 Gen Y consumers in China and 300 Gen Y consumers in Western Europe. The survey defines Gen Y consumers as those ranging in age from 19 to 31.
Deloitte conducted the survey in September and October 2011. Deloitte announced the preliminary results of the survey on 18 January. Full survey findings will be released in February.
Craig Giffi, vice chairman and automotive practice leader at Deloitte LLP, said Gen Y consumers may be the game changers in the United States, because, at nearly 80 million strong, they are one of the biggest automobile buying market segments and the largest consumer segment since the baby boomers. According to projections, 40 per cent of vehicles sold in the next 10 years will be bought by Gen Y consumers.
From the study, Giffi found that Gen Y consumers are drawn to hybrids for several reasons. Most notably, fuel efficiency: 89 per cent of Gen Y consumers are considering buying a vehicle that gets better mileage. This is especially true when gasoline prices rise above US $2.75 per gallon – the median price Gen Y consumers see as 'fair.'
"Gen Y consumers also view hybrid technology as proven and reliable", says Giffi. "Almost six in 10 Gen Y respondents prefer a hybrid over any other type of vehicle."
In addition, in-dash technology is the most important part of a vehicle's interior for a majority (59 per cent) of Gen Y respondents, with almost three-quarters (73 per cent) seeking touchscreen interfaces. Gen Y consumers also rank smartphone applications as highly desirable in a new automobile (72 per cent).
"Gen Y consumers prefer automobiles that are an extension of their social-media and digital lifestyles", said Joe Vitale, global automotive sector leader, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.
On average, Gen Y consumers are willing to spend more than US $3,000 for hardware that delivers connectivity.
Automakers have made great strides in fuel efficiency in recent decades — but the mileage numbers of individual vehicles have barely increased. An economist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explains the conundrum.
Contrary to common perception, the major automakers have produced large increases in fuel efficiency through better technology in recent decades. There's just one catch: All those advances have barely increased the mileage per gallon that autos actually achieve on the road.
Sound perplexing? This situation is the result of a trend newly quantified by MIT economist Christopher Knittel: Because automobiles are bigger and more powerful than they were three decades ago, major innovations in fuel efficiency have only produced minor gains in gas mileage.
Specifically, between 1980 and 2006, the average gas mileage of vehicles sold in the United States increased by slightly more than 15 percent — a relatively modest improvement. But during that time, Knittel has found, the average curb weight of those vehicles increased 26 percent, while their horsepower rose 107 percent. All factors being equal, fuel economy actually increased by 60 percent between 1980 and 2006, as Knittel shows in a new research paper, "Automobiles on Steroids", recently published in the American Economic Review.
Thus if Americans today were driving cars of the same size and power that were typical in 1980, the country's fleet of autos would have jumped from an average of about 23 miles per gallon (mpg) to roughly 37 mpg, well above the current average of around 27 mpg. Instead, Knittel says, "Most of that technological progress has gone into [compensating for] weight and horsepower."
And considering that the transportation sector produces more than 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, turning that innovation into increased overall mileage would produce notable environmental benefits. For his part, Knittel thinks it is understandable that consumers would opt for large, powerful vehicles, and that the most logical way to reduce emissions is through an increased gas tax that leads consumers to value fuel efficiency more highly.
"When it comes to climate change, leaving the market alone isn't going to lead to the efficient outcome", Knittel says. "The right starting point is a gas tax."
Giving the people what they want
While auto-industry critics have long called for new types of vehicles, such as gas-electric hybrids, Knittel's research underscores the many ways that conventional internal-combustion engines have improved.
Among other innovations, as Knittel notes, efficient fuel-injection systems have replaced carburetors; most vehicles now have multiple camshafts (which control the valves in an engine), rather than just one, allowing for a smoother flow of fuel, air and exhaust in and out of engines; and variable-speed transmissions have let engines better regulate their revolutions per minute, saving fuel.
To be sure, the recent introduction of hybrids is also helping fleet-wide fuel efficiency. Of the thousands of autos Knittel scrutinized, the most fuel-efficient was the 2000 Honda Insight, the first hybrid model to enter mass production, at more than 70 mpg. (The least fuel-efficient car sold in the United States that Knittel found was the 1990 Lamborghini Countach, a high-end sports car that averaged fewer than nine mpg).
To conduct his study, Knittel drew upon data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, auto manufacturers and trade journals. As those numbers showed, a major reason fleet-wide mileage has only slowly increased is that so many Americans have chosen to buy bigger, less fuel-efficient vehicles. In 1980, light trucks represented about 20 percent of passenger vehicles sold in the United States. By 2004, light trucks — including SUVs — accounted for 51 percent of passenger-vehicle sales.
"I find little fault with the auto manufacturers, because there has been no incentive to put technologies into overall fuel economy", Knittel says. "Firms are going to give consumers what they want, and if gas prices are low, consumers are going to want big, fast cars." And between 1980 and 2004, gas prices dropped by 30 percent when adjusted for inflation.
The road ahead
Knittel's research has impressed other scholars in the field of environmental economics. "I think this is a very convincing and important paper", says Severin Borenstein, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. "The fact that cars have muscled up rather than become more efficient in the last three decades is known, but Chris has done the most credible job of measuring that tradeoff." Adds Borenstein: "This paper should get a lot of attention when policymakers are thinking about what is achievable in improved automobile fuel economy."
Indeed, Knittel asserts, given consumer preferences in autos, larger changes in fleet-wide gas mileage will occur only when policies change, too. "It's the policymakers' responsibility to create a structure that leads to these technologies being put toward fuel economy", he says.
Among environmental policy analysts, the notion of a surcharge on fuel is widely supported. "I think 98 percent of economists would say that we need higher gas taxes", Knittel says.
Instead, the major policy advance in this area occurring under the current administration has been a mandated rise in CAFE standards, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy of cars and trucks. In July, President Barack Obama announced new standards calling for a fleet-wide average of 35.5 mpg by 2016, and 54.5 mpg by 2025.
According to Knittel's calculations, the automakers could meet the new CAFE standards by simply maintaining the rate of technological innovation experienced since 1980 while reducing the weight and horsepower of the average vehicle sold by 25 percent. Alternately, Knittel notes, a shift back to the average weight and power seen in 1980, along with a continuation of the trend toward greater fuel efficiency, would lead to a fleet-wide average of 52 mpg by 2020.
That said, Knittel is skeptical that CAFE standards by themselves will have the impact a new gas tax would. Such mileage regulations, he says, "end up reducing the cost of driving. If you force people to buy more fuel-efficient cars through CAFE standards, you actually get what's called 'rebound,' and they drive more than they would have." A gas tax, he believes, would create demand for more fuel-efficient cars without as much rebound, the phenomenon through which greater efficiency leads to potentially greater consumption.
Fuel efficiency, Knittel says, has come a long way in recent decades. But when it comes to getting those advances to have an impact out on the road, there is still a long way to go.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) released a new video this week called "Energy 101: Electric Vehicles", which highlights the benefits of electric vehicles, including improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and lower maintenance costs.
The educational video is designed to encourage people to make the switch-over to electric vehicles. President Obama announced in January 2011 his goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on US roads by 2015.
While touring the US automakers' at the Detroit Auto show on 10 January, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu called this goal still "possible". "Whether it's 2015 or 2016, I don't know", Chu told reports. "We have a good shot of making that."
As part of its "Think Blue. Factory." Initiative, the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand has set itself clear targets for the environmentally sustainable positioning of all its plants. By 2018, the environmental impact of all Volkswagen plants is to be reduced by 25 percent (on the basis of annual values for 2010). This applies especially to energy consumption in megawatt-hours per vehicle produced, waste volumes, air-borne emissions, overall water consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
"Sustainable, efficient production is a clear competitive advantage," said Prof. Werner Neubauer, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen brand with responsibility for Components. "Our ambitious targets for sustainable vehicle production have now been defined in a way which is clear and comprehensible for our customers."
"Think Blue. Factory." is an addition to the Volkswagen "Think Blue." portfolio including key measures in the area of vehicle production. The program, which is concerned with efficiency improvements in production and the expansion of environmentally aware energy supplies, addresses all employees at the plants.
Only a few weeks ago, the new Volkswagen plant at Chattanooga, Tennessee, was the first automobile factory worldwide to receive platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Platinum certification confirms compliance with the most demanding standards for sustainable, environmentally compatible production.
Several carmakers need to make their fleets even more carbon-efficient in order to meet 2012 carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions target, according to updated data published by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The data also show that almost all manufacturers must reduce emissions to meet 2015 targets under European legislation for new passenger cars, based on average CO2 emissions for each manufacturer.
Road transport is responsible for 17.5 percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, and its emissions increased by 23 percent between 1990 and 2009. To reduce the CO2 emissions of the road transport sector, European legislation has introduced mandatory CO2 emissions limits for new passenger cars. The average emission level of a new car registered in the European Union in 2010 was 140.3 gCO2/km. Overall, car manufacturers must achieve a CO2 emission target of 130 g CO2/km by 2015 as an average value for the fleet of new cars registered in the EU. This target will be gradually phased in from 2012.
Specific emission targets (expressed as an amount of CO2 emissions per vehicle kilometre) are assigned to each car manufacturer (or pools of manufacturers) depending on the average mass of the fleet. A manufacturer (or pools of manufacturers) producing on average larger new cars has a higher target.
The new data published by the EEA considers the distance to the 2012 and 2015 targets for the vehicles sold in 2010, showing which manufacturers must make further progress towards the targets. Fines for failing to meet the target (also known as 'excess emissions premiums') will be calculated on a progressive scale for each additional gram of CO2 above the target, multiplied by the number of cars sold.
"Today people use many forms of transport, but cars still represent a big part of everyday life", EEA Executive Director Prof. Jacqueline McGlade said. "The data show that most car manufacturers have already met their individual 2012 targets. However, several others need to continue their current trend of year-on-year efficiency improvements."
Some of the key findings include:
- Thirty-two manufacturers, representing almost 80 percent of 2010 registrations in the EU, already achieve their 2012 specific emissions targets two years in advance.
- If car manufacturers make no further improvements in carbon efficiency of new cars between 2010 and 2012, non-compliant manufacturers could face fines which in total would add up to 10 billion Euro.
- Toyota Motor Europe is already compliant with its 2012 target, and also less than 1g CO2/km from the more stringent 2015 target. Automobiles Peugeot and Automobiles Citroën are also both close to reaching their 2015 target already. These manufacturers need to cut their emissions by less than 5g CO2/km to meet the target, a value corresponding to the average reduction of emissions from new passenger cars between 2009 and 2010 in Europe.
- Among the larger manufacturers, Daimler AG, Honda Motor Co, Nissan International SA, General Motors Company, Mazda Motor Corporation and Dacia will have to reduce the average emissions of their fleets by more than 14 g CO2/km over the next five years.
- There are three manufacturers which produce only electric vehicles – so their emissions are listed as zero. Of the manufacturers producing some conventional-fuelled cars, MarutiSuzuki India Ltd had the lowest CO2 emission level overall (104 g CO2/Km). The average mass of its fleet is the lowest among all the car manufacturers registering vehicles in Europe. Among the larger manufacturers, Fiat Group Automobiles Spa had the lowest average CO2 emissions in 2010 (125 g CO2/km).
- At the other end of the spectrum, some carmakers will need to halve emissions in the next four years in order to comply with the legislation.
The legislation provides for incentives to car manufacturers to reduce the CO2 emissions of their vehicles. For calculating average emissions, certain types of vehicles receive additional incentives, including super credits for low emitting vehicles (<50g CO2/km) and other credits for biofuels and certain efficiency measures. Manufacturers' progress will be monitored each year by the European Commission and the EEA in order to track the performance against individual targets.
Volvo IT's web and mobile service for environmentally friendly commuting, Commute Greener, has been named the 2011 most environmentally friendly project by the CIO Magazine in Sweden.
Commute Greener serves as a personal CO2 calculator where people are encouraged to reduce their environmental impact when commuting to and from work. To increase motivation, the results can be published on Facebook and people can also form groups to challenge others in a friendly way.
Commute Greener allows people to set targets to reduce their carbon emissions and it encourages each individual to choose cleaner forms of transportation, such as bus, trains or bicycle. Those that are dependent on the automobile for transportation can still reduce their emissions by carpooling.
It all started as an idea among some Volvo employees who wanted to develop an IT solution that would help improve the environment. Commute Greener is now used in cities such as Gothenburg, San Francisco and Mexico City. It is changing the travel habits of residents and has a direct effect in terms of better air, less congestion and higher utilization of public transportation. At an individual level, there are economic benefits and the sense of being able to contribute to protecting the environment in a concrete way.
According to the prize jury: "By pairing mobile solutions, social media and people's natural desire to both compete and do well, Commute Greener succeeds in affecting individuals' choice of transport modes, which has made an effective contribution to reducing carbon emissions in both Gothenburg (Sweden) and Mexico City."
BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announced on 1 December 2011 that they signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) concerning a mid-to-long-term collaboration on next-generation environmentally friendly technologies.
Under the MOU, the two companies agreed on a collaborative research in the field of next-generation lithium-ion battery technologies. They also agreed to identify and discuss other possible collaborative projects.
In addition, Toyota Motor Europe (TME), TMC's European subsidiary, and BMW Group have entered into a contract under which BMW Group is to supply 1.6 litre and 2.0 litre diesel engines to TME starting in 2014. The engines will be installed in certain Toyota-produced vehicles planned for sale in the European market. Through this agreement, Toyota plans to expand its European line-up and sales of fuel-efficient, low CO2-emission diesel-powered vehicles.
The Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid sedan has been crowned 'Luxury Car of the Year' by BBC Top Gear magazine as well as 'Car of the Year' by Top Gear TV presenter, James May. Top Gear is one of the world's leading global automotive magazines and television shows.
This is the first time an electric or hybrid vehicle has won the award. And it's come as a surprise to many green car supporters who have remarked that the BBC show has expressed outright disdain in the past for electric vehicles.
The Karma – Fisker's first production car – is a four-door four-passenger sedan. Although it has an award-winning design and has clearly impressed Top Gear, it has left green car reviewers wishing for more with its mediocre EPA ratings: 20 miles per gallon (MPG) when running on fuel, 52 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) when driven by the dual electric motors, and an official battery range of 32 miles.
Charlie Turner, BBC Top Gear magazine editor, explained why the Karma was a worthy winner: "Cleverness abounds in the Fisker and adds to the air of intelligent luxury. It works well, it looks good and it must be a genuinely exciting thing to own.
Henrik Fisker, co-founder, CEO and executive design director of Fisker Automotive, commented: "It is fantastic news that the Karma has won two awards from Top Gear. We realize that we are at the beginning of our journey and awards like this remind us we are on the right road - building enticing green cars that people actually want to own. It's particularly pleasing that this award recognizes the Karma as the world's first luxury hybrid electric car."
In winning the Top Gear 'Luxury Car of the Year' award, the Karma joins an exclusive group of prestigious previous winners, such as the Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupe, Jaguar XJ and Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe.
18% less wind resistance, 5% less fuel consumption – the Mercedes-Benz "aero trailer" lowers CO2 emissions on state-of-the-art trucks such as the new Actros.
The aero trailer is the flagship of the new "Truck and Trailer 7plus" initiative being launched by Mercedes-Benz. By taking a holistic approach to the tractor unit and trailer it aims to considerably cut the fuel consumption – and thus also the CO2 emissions of semitrailer tractors at the same time – even further than is currently the case.
The basis of the "Truck and Trailer 7plus" formula is the fuel consumption of the new Mercedes-Benz Actros, which is proven to be more than 7% lower than its predecessor model, itself recognised as being frugal.
This consumption advantage was achieved by the Actros earlier this year: during the "Record Run" it totalled 7.6% less consumption – with 25.1 to 27.1 litres /100 km. The values were determined by Mercedes-Benz under neutral supervision: semitrailer tractors bearing 40-tonne loads were each driven 10,000 km in identical conditions between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Szczecin in Poland. "Truck and Trailer 7plus" stands for the fact that Mercedes-Benz wants to extend the consumption advantage achieved here by closely cooperating with the trailer manufacturers.
Intensive tests in the wind tunnel and on the road prove that considerable further consumption progress is possible for semitrailer tractors. By way of example, measurements taken in the wind tunnel at Mercedes-Benz have shown that a side trim panel on the trailer cuts wind resistance by 8%.
During test drives on the Record Run route this translated into a real-life consumption benefit of some 2% for a semitrailer tractor weighing 40 tonnes. In the case of an average annual mileage of 150,000 km in long-distance transport this results in a saving of around 750 litres of fuel and relieves the burden on the environment to the tune of approximately 2000 kg of CO2 emissions.
There is a long tradition of adopting a holistic approach to the truck and trailer at Mercedes-Benz. Even back in the mid-1980s the development engineers were carrying out in-depth investigations into the aerodynamics of entire vehicle combinations. These involved research into the effect of air deflector panels, side trim panels, edge radii and rear end tapers.
The fundamental knowledge gained back then is still valid to this day and forms the basis for the current investigations. In those days the focus was merely on saving fuel for economic reasons; priority had not yet been given to protecting the environment by reducing CO2 output. Today, some 25 years later, environment relief, conservation of resources and economy represent seamless additions, in the form of the "Truck and Trailer 7plus" initiative.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have ranked the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV as the most efficient vehicle in the US market. With a city economy of 126 Miles-Per-Gallon equivalent (MPGe) and a highway economy of 99 MPGe, it beat last year's winner – the 2011 Nissan Leaf – by a substantial margin.
The ranking is part of the 2012 Fuel Economy Guide, an annual guide produced by the DOE and EPA to provide consumers with information that can help them choose a more efficient new vehicle that saves money and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
The top 10 fuel economy leaders are:
1. Mitsubishi i-MiEV (electric)
2. Nissan Leaf (electric)
3. Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Electric Van (electric)
4. Chevrolet Volt (plug-in hybrid)
5. Toyota Prius (hybrid)
6. Honda Civic Hybrid
7. Toyota Prius (hybrid)
8. Lexus CT 200h (hybrid)
9. Honda Insight (hybrid)
10. Toyota Camry Hybrid LE
While fuel efficient vehicles come in a variety of fuel types, classes and sizes, many new advanced technology vehicles debuted on the 2012 annual list of top fuel economy performers. Fuel economy leaders within each vehicle category – from two-seaters to large SUVs – include widely available products such as conventional gasoline models and clean diesels.
Some 2012 models display a new fuel economy and environment label that provides consumers with more comprehensive fuel efficiency information, including five-year fuel costs or savings compared to the average vehicle, as well as new greenhouse gas and smog ratings. These labels are actually required in model year 2013, but automakers may voluntarily adopt the new labels in model year 2012.
Each vehicle listing in the guide provides an estimated annual fuel cost. The estimate is calculated based on the vehicle's miles per gallon (mpg) rating and national estimates for annual mileage and fuel prices. The online version of the guide allows consumers to input their local gasoline prices and typical driving habits to receive a personalized fuel cost estimate.
Better Place, a leading global provider of electric car networks, has secured USD 200 million through a Series C equity financing from a consortium of investors and partners, nearly doubling the company's valuation to USD 2.25 billion (postmoney valuation on a fully diluted basis) since the last financing in January 2010. The company will use the proceeds to expand into Western Europe. It also plans to launch its initial commercial service in Israel and Denmark in early 2012 and in Australia in the second quarter of 2012.
New investors in the SeriesC round include GE and UBS AG, among others. Existing shareholders, including Israel Corp., HSBC Group, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Ofer Group and Maniv Energy Capital, also joined the round. The Series C financing transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2011.
With the Series C financing, Better Place will expand its geographic footprint beyond Denmark and further into Western Europe where government policy supporting electric cars and interest in public / private partnership are the strongest. The company currently has more than 100 employees in Europe and opened an office in Paris in September 2011 to serve as its European headquarters.
Better Place will launch initial commercial service to a select group of customers in Israel and Denmark in the first quarter of 2012, expanding to full commercial operations over the following months. A similar process will follow in Canberra, Australia in the second quarter of 2012. The company is currently in the final technical validation stage of its solution along with the Renault Fluence Z.E. cars. Interest and demand for Better Place mobility services and the Renault Fluence Z.E. electric sedans continues to be very strong across all three initial markets. Better Place's goal is to help make the switchable battery electric car the top selling car in the markets it enters.
The US-based electric car maker is expanding its retail footprint as reservations for Model S pick up speed.
Tesla Motors is expanding its retail network to new locations in Bellevue, WA, Chicago, IL, and Newport Beach, CA, in November, laying the groundwork for Model S, the world's first electric premium sedan, to start customer deliveries next year.
Tesla stores are designed to demonstrate the benefits of driving electric and Tesla's advanced technology. The Tesla locations include hands-on exhibits, interactive touch-screen experiences, and a design centre where customers can customize their own Model S.
Model S seats five adults and two children. It comes with three battery pack options, 160, 230 or 300 mile range. It can be recharged using any conventional outlet and is capable of a fast charge of 45 minutes. With no internal combustion engine or transmission tunnel, the interior of the car has class-leading cargo space, including a trunk under the hood. The centrepiece of the interior is a 17-inch touchscreen with wireless connectivity for streaming radio, web browsing and navigation.
Tesla has received more than 6,000 reservations for Model S.
Twenty Audi A1 e-trons have now taken to the roads as part of this innovative Munich pilot region.
The fleet trial is part of the "Modellregion Elektromobilität München" (Electric Mobility in Munich as a Pilot Region) project, sponsored by Germany's Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development. The Ministry is providing the region with some ten million euros to be used to introduce different forms of electric mobility. The project will address a number of issues, ranging from the power grid itself to data transfer between drivers, vehicles, and electric fueling stations. For example, the use of a smartphone as a driver's main interface will be examined.
Audi, E.ON, the public utility Stadtwerke München and Technische Universität München (TUM) are project partners in this fleet trial. E.ON and SWM are in charge of expanding and maintaining the charging infrastructure in the Munich metropolitan area.
E.ON and SWM have installed a demand-oriented charging infrastructure; SWM within the Bavarian capital's city limits and E.ON primarily in outlying areas. All electric fueling stations offer power generated via renewable energies.
"We want to use this fleet trial to learn more about our customers' usage of electric cars, and their expectations in this regard. We are planning additional fleet endeavours in strategically important markets," announced Franciscus van Meel, Head of Electric Mobility Strategy at AUDI AG.
The Audi A1 e-tron is an electric car with a range extender. Its output of 75 kW (102 hp) enables the A1 e-tron to reach a top speed of 130 km/h (80.78 mph). If the battery runs out of energy, then a compact combustion engine – the range extender – recharges the battery as needed to boost the vehicle's operating range to as much as 250 km (155 miles). This compact electric car is a zero-emissions vehicle for the first 50 kilometers (31 miles) of a trip – in city traffic, for instance. The battery comprises a package of lithium-ion modules mounted in the floor assembly in front of the rear axle. In short, the four-seat A1 e-tron was designed for daily driving in metropolitan areas. It consumes a mere 1.9 l/100 km (123.80 US mpg), for a CO2 equivalent of just 45 g/km (72.42 g/mile).
Toyota Motor Europe announces a three-year framework agreement (2011-2014) with the Société Nouvelle d'Affinage des Métaux for the European-wide take back and sustainable recycling of high voltage industrial nickel-metal hydride batteries.
Since 2000, some 370,000 Toyota and Lexus full hybrid vehicles have been sold in Europe – all of which are equipped with NiMH batteries to drive the electric motor. A cornerstone in Toyota's environmental activities is the protection of natural resources, making sustainable recycling of high voltage batteries a key priority, with the aim of decreasing everything from energy consumption to emission of greenhouse gasses, and the reduction in disposing hazardous materials. Under the agreement, SNAM will ensure that the process for the treatment of NiMH batteries through the optimal recycling channels will ensure the maximum output on secondary raw materials.
The agreement between TME and SNAM also ensures recovered NiMH batteries can be taken back from any of Toyota's European operations, including: Toyota's European head office in Belgium, any of the nine manufacturing facilities in seven countries, 30 National Marketing and Sales Companies (NMSCs), over 3,000 Toyota and Lexus dealerships, as well as any authorised end-of-life vehicle treatment operator.
Toyota's approach to conform with the European Commission "Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe" and the European Union (EU) "Raw Material Initiative" meets the highest environmental, safety standards, and social expectations, making Toyota one of the first to take such an initiative. The framework agreement with SNAM complies with all requirements set out by the EU Battery Directive.
On a national level, SNAM will provide all required documentation to NMSCs, such as reports on recycling efficiency) to ensure accurate and timely reporting to national authorities in accordance with the Battery Directive.
The take back and treatment of industrial batteries in Europe is regulated by the EU Battery Directive 2006/66/EC which came into force on 26 September 2006, requiring Member States to transpose into national legislation within two years. Although the Directive specifies no particular collection targets for industrial batteries, recycling efficiency targets must reach a weight minimum of 50% as of September 2011.