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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
If your cell phone has ever run out of battery power midday, you know how frustrating it can be to charge on the go. Imagine having to do the same for your car.
Driving an electric vehicle (EV) means you’re always thinking about when and where you can charge next. At current charging times that can be significant - DC fast-charge systems on the market today need 30 minutes to achieve an 80 percent charge.
Nissan’s Leaf is one of the EVs available on the market today, and thanks to a recent tech development the automaker hopes to change charging times for the better.
According to a report, researchers at Japan’s Kansai University working with Nissan engineers sped up the charging process by tweaking a capacitor using tungsten oxide and vanadium oxide instead of the usual carbon. The result— a 10-minute charge.
The faster charging process allowed the capacitor to retain almost the same capacity and voltage as lithium ion batteries and appeared to retain durability during charging and discharging tests.
In light of their latest achievement, the same researchers hope to alter the capacitor’s structure to further decrease charging times to three minutes. If they can achieve their goal, charging times will be on par with average fueling times for gasoline vehicles.
The same report also mentioned that while this development will help bring such technology to consumers faster, it probably won’t be widely available for another decade.
According to the latest Kelley Blue Book survey regarding gas prices, new cars and used cars, consumers feel gas prices will improve.
In a recent May 2011 survey by KBB, more than half of car shoppers (52 percent) say they think gas prices will either stay the same or go down in the next 30 days. As well, consumers that said gas prices would affect their choice of vehicle has decreased by five percent from April (35%) to May (30%).
“Prices at the pump have halted their steep rise and now gas prices are slowly going down in many parts of the country, and the latest kbb.com survey results show that car shoppers are taking note,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com. “If consumers feel more optimistic about the near-future state of gas prices and more confident in their personal economic situations, this will bode well for the automotive industry, though declining home values present a continuing concern. Vehicle availability issues caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami also could blunt gains to be expected from increased car-buyer confidence.”
[Source: Kelley Blue Book]
Audi can’t get ‘em out the door fast enough. The comapny’s factories are running at full capacity to meet record demand for the A6 sedan and A3 hatchback, forcing buyers to wait an average of three to four months to take delivery.
During normal sales periods customers usually take delivery of their cars within eight to ten weeks, says an Audi spokesperson. But Germany’s three largest manufacturers BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen have reported record sales throughout January, while the Volkswagen Group has both the highest sales figures and the strongest share values.
Likewise, the situation at Audi is more tense; they are delivering vehicles to consumers two months after their competitors. BMW’s customers wait three months at most, with up to six months for the popular BMW X3. Mercedes sales are close to 2007 levels, just as they were before the recession. But at Audi, “if sales continue to grow like this,” says Audi sales chief Peter Schwarzenbauer, ”it’ll be difficult to say how long it could take to reduce waiting times.”
Audi expects double-digit growth in both China and the U.S., coming after record sales figures of 1.09 million cars last year. Growing demand in Germany, the United States, and powerhouse market China are putting the pressure on the manufacturers. And in response, Audi, BMW and Mercedes are all planning to add or expand their factories.
Can the momentum carry on without a deluge of angry customers? It might seem like a blessing to have so much demand that they can’t build them fast enough. But the company needs to act fast to keep buyers happy, otherwise soon they’ll be wishing they were back in this position.
We’ve been seeing a glut of stories lately about Generation Y and their increasing distance from the automobile. A new study shows that while Generation X made up 21% of the miles driven in 1995, Generation Y made up only 14% of them in 2010.
The usual reasons have been trotted out, like the economic downturn, the rise of electronic gadgets replacing the car as a status symbol and the graduated licensing program making it harder for new drivers to get on the road. The latest trend of prolonging education, via grad school or taking longer to do an undergrad degree, also means that owning a car becomes more difficult.
Interestingly, car sharing services like Zipcar have been cited as an obstacle to car ownership, but is also seen as a more attractive alternative, meaning that the costs of car ownership, rather than driving itself, is what’s really bothering young people.
[Source: Kicking Tires]