by admin on 19 January 2012

Renault Kangoo ZE

Last year in the UK there were just over 1,000 plug-in electric car registrations, the majority of which took advantage of a generous 25% plug-in car grant (up to £5,000).  Now the UK Department for Transport has announced that despite these austere times they intend to extend the grant until 2015 and also expand it to a cover plug-in vans with a grant of 20% (up to £8,000).  It's encouraging to see that despite the recent government-wide cut-backs such (relatively inexpensive, but important) incentives remain. More »

by admin on 19 January 2012

Nissan e-NV200

Having been to Japan many times before I can atest that they really do have quite different taste in cars, which probably explains why the the e-NV200 Concept looks so (ahem) 'different'.  With that out of the way it's all good news, the e-NV200 basically has the underpinnings of a Leaf; a 80 kW electric motor and a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery (anywhere between 47 and 105 miles).  It also features a very nice looking driver console with two large LCD screens.  The e-NV200 quite obviously has lots of space inside, two foldable rows of seating and with them folded away lots and lots of cargo space.  Nissan are pitching the e-NV200 as a truly multi-purpose vehicle suitable for families, delivery and as a taxi.  Yes, this is basically the passenger version of the vehicle FedEx are trailing in London (there it's being called the NV200 EV and has a slightly prettier front end). More »

by admin on 19 January 2012

Ford Fusion Energi

Ford's 2013 Fusion sedan (with its unapologetic Aston Martin grille) will be available in three different fuel models; gas (petrol), hybrid and a plug-in hybrid called the Energi.  Very few technical details have yet been revealed by Ford on the Energi model apart from an equivalent efficiency of 100 MPGe, a higher electric-only speed of 62 mph and a switch to Lithium-Ion batteries for longer electric range (currently quoted as 20 miles - and many more if they'd been brave enough to go electric only).  The Fusion will be packed with lots of tech normally associated with luxury models such as lane warning/keeping, adaptive cruise control, park assist and a blind spot warning system.  Availability currently slated as 'Autumn'. More »

by admin on 11 January 2012

Volkswagen E-Bugster concept, slower than it looks

If you like the look of the new Beetle then you're going to love the lowered-roofline (removable hardtop), raked-screen look of Volkswagen's concept plug-in electric E-Bugster.  It's a great 'fun' looking car with just a few Porsche hints (wheel design, name stripe, mini-whale tail) and by its looks you'd think this was Volkswagen's sporty foray into the electric sports car world.  Sadly no, the E-Bugster isn't a small car and so its 114 horsepower electric motor can only drag it up to 60 mph in 11 seconds, not shameful by any means but not perhaps belying its appearance somewhat.  Range from its 315 kg lithium-ion battery is quote as 100 miles and the E-Bugster concept will support Level 3 charging which will get the pack back up to 80% in just 30 minutes. More »

by admin on 22 December 2011

Tesla Model S Options

Tesla has revealed pricing, specifications and options for its electric-from-the-ground-up Model S sedan which will begin shipping next summer.  All prices are after the US$ 7,500 Federal Tax Credit - the based model starts at US$ 49,900 with the 160 mile battery (0-60 mph 6.5 sec), US$ 59,900 for the 230 mile battery (0-60 mph 5.9 sec) and rises to US$ 69,900 with the largest 300 mile battery (0-60 mpg 5.6 sec).  Also available is the US$ 79,900 performance model which has the same 300 mile battery but a 0-60 time of just 4.4 seconds and the limited edition Signature models.  All models come with 19" wheels and 17" LCD control panel on the dashboard, options include wheels, paints, glass panoramic roof, leather interior, tech packages, air suspension (standard on Performance and Signature models) and rear facing seats.  Jump over to Tesla's Model S options page to spec your car. More »

by admin on 22 December 2011

Nissan launch 'The Planet Zero' with cute Plug character, animation shorts

It's so Miyazaki meets Little Big Planet, The Planet Zero is Nissan's latest 'Zero Emissions' marketing campaign (aimed squarely at high school and college students) and spurred on by the catchline "Imagine if, in the not so distant future, we were living in a world where the cars being driven were mostly electric vehicles and didn't emit any harmful gases such as CO2".  On The Planet Zero you navigate a cute character called 'Plug' around the an imaginary planet filled with cute games designed to project an eco-friendly message (solar power, wind power, electric drive).  Along with the interactive site Nissan has also produced a couple of animation shorts to support their message.  Nice Nissan, we approve. More »

by admin on 22 December 2011

Nissan NV200 EV FedEx

The Nissan NV200 EV is effectively a Nissan Leaf drivetrain (and battery) with a larger chassis and body.  FedEx will be evaluating the NV200 EV in London alongside its other electric-powered delivery vehicles (totalling 43 in London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Memphis).  The NV200 EV is already being used by Japan Post Service in Yokohama and Kanagawa prefectures.  Beth Galetti, vice president of Planning and Engineering, FedEx Express EMEA  said, "FedEx is proud to collaborate with Nissan on this initiative. Our cross-sector approach to reduce dependence on petroleum, reduce carbon impact and eliminate tailpipe emissions remains unwavering. At FedEx, we seek to connect the world in responsible and resourceful ways and we will continue to work closely with Nissan to change what is possible." More »

by admin on 22 December 2011

Graphene electrode battery diagramEngineers at Northwestern University led by professor Harold H. Kung have produced a lithium-ion battery with a graphene /silicon electrode which can store ten times as much charge, charge ten times faster and last longer than current best-technology batteries. Traditional lithium-ion batteries use a graphite anode (+ve), a metal oxide cathode (-ve) and a lithium salt electrolyte, when discharging lithium jumps from the anode to the cathode.  The anode is the key to total capacity, output voltage and charging speed.  The Northwestern University engineers have replaced the graphite anode with a sandwich made up of sheets of graphene with 'nanoholes' and silicon which are capable of storing ten times the number of lithium ion's as traditional graphite as well as being able to be charged ten times quicker.  Imagine a Tesla Roadster with the same range (245 miles) but a battery pack which weighs just 45 kg which can be fully charged in just over 20 minutes (about 10 miles per charge minute). (Click here for the full paper - chargeable). More »

by admin on 8 December 2011

Aptera 2

Could it have been the aerodynamic-but-unappealing looks which scared potential buyers away?  Quite possibly, but in such a new industry there will always be casualties.  Now Aptera Motors CEO, Paul Wilbur, has announced that they have finally run "out of resources" and that their vision of building a $30K electric "midsized sedan" is now at an end.  Despite everything Wilbur tries to end on a positive note "We remain confident, even as this chapter closes, that Aptera has contributed tech new technologies to build a future for more efficient driving. Through the dedicated staff at Aptera, our board and suppliers we have touched this future. All that remains is for someone to grab it. We still believe it will happen." More »

by admin on 3 December 2011

Fisker Karma

In a rather bizarre (and amusing) turn of events the electric-vehicle-hating / hyrdogen-is-the-future behemoth that is Top Gear has crowned the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid their "Luxury Car of the Year" and also overall "Car of the Year".  Top Gear editor Charlie Turner said, "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.  It’s the top-of-the-line spec that features no leather, just textiles and reclaimed wood. And it’s more convincing than it sounds, managing to look, feel and smell premium without any cow peel in it at all."  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’s luxuriousness.”  Perhaps next year they'll crown the Tesla Model S "Car of the Year" (sometime after they demonstrate it running out of electricity in the middle of a desert somewhere). More »