AutoGuide News Blog
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.
E for Electricity
As fuel prices continue to test the limits of infinity, small cars are becoming more appealing to more new car shoppers; this downward spiral is evident. Many people that used to drive full-size SUVs a decade ago have opted for more efficient crossovers. Large-sedan buyers have traded in their tugboats for midsize models and compact-car owners are thinking even smaller, or outside the box all together. Schwinn is a great way to save money, both on gas and gym memberships.
Along with diesels and hybrids, pure-electric vehicles are a great way to avoid getting “pump palpitations” brought on by astronomical fuel prices. Naturally, EVs are the best remedy for this ailment because they use no fuel at all, unless you count all the coal burned at the cross-town powerplant.
But for all of their potential savings electrics tend to be pretty dreary, not to mention expensive. Adding a big dash of excitement to this perpetually overcast vehicle segment is the Fiat 500e, an amped-up A-Segment car with design flair only an Italian could deliver.
Venturi Automobiles is once again teaming up with The Ohio State University to push the limits on the FIA world speed record for electric vehicles.
Hurricane Sandy gave the Eastern portion of the United States a what for last week, not to mention the Caribbean and points far beyond. Amid all the destruction and misery the automotive industry was impacted in a number of ways. In particular, the safety of electric cars has been brought up.
Those anxiously awaiting for Ford‘s first electric car will be pleased to know the American automaker hopes to have its EV available nationwide by the end of this year.
The Focus Electric will launch in California, New York, and New Jersey first and later this summer we will see it expand to 14 other states including Texas, Washington, and Virginia. According to Ford, there will be four phases of rollout in total with the third phase opening up another nine states including Hawaii, New Mexico, and Ohio. The final phase will bring the new EV to the rest of America to enjoy emissions-free driving.
Only select dealerships will have the Focus Electric on hand initially, as the American automaker requires each dealer to have at least two onsite charging stations as well as highly-specialized training, and one Focus Electric in stock at all times for demonstration purposes.
Priced from $39,200, the Focus Electric packs 143-hp with a 23 kWh lithium-ion battery and is currently America’s most fuel-efficient, five-passenger vehicle with a 110 MPGe rating in the city. Ford also likes to brag that its Focus can be charged in nearly half the time of its competitor, the Nissan Leaf.
“Ford is giving customers the power of choice for leading fuel economy regardless of what type of vehicle or powertrain technology they choose,” said Eric Kuehn, chief nameplate engineer, Focus Electric.
Ford Focus Electric Launch Map
10. Cadillac ELR
Sports cars have often set the bar in new automotive technology and trends. Things like dual-clutch transmissions and forced induction engines were practically engineered for the sole purpose of taking a sports car to the absolute edge of excitement and danger.
Out in Shenzhen, China, tourists can rent a BYD E6 electric vehicle from Hertz and it appears that the EV will be making its way to America as part of Hertz’s rental fleet in the U.S.
Jack Hidary, the global EV leader for Hertz, spoke about the Chinese government’s support of electric vehicles while explaining the reason behind the BYD E6′s popularity. Shenzhen governors have deployed charging stations throughout the city and residents purchasing EVs are currently getting a rebate of around $19,000. The E6 isn’t cheap in China however, priced at around $58,000 – but when it makes its way to America it should be cheaper.
The Volt set its best sales month yet, with 2,289 units sold in March 2012. That’s more than double what they sold in February 2012. Before March, the most Volts Chevy had sold in a single month was back in December 2011, when it sold 1,529 units.
In comparison, the Volts biggest competitor, the pure-electric Nissan Leaf sold just 579 models in March. That is an increase from their February numbers, but is a far cry from their best selling month back in June 2011 when they sold 1,708.
Hopefully if sales of the Volt keep climbing, perhaps Chevy could consider canceling that extra week off in the summer at their Volt plant.
For those not in the know, the i8 is BMW’s most advanced car yet. It features a 170-hp electric motor which powers the front wheels. Powering the rear wheels is a 1.5 liter, three cylinder engine which produces 223 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque.
With numbers like that, the i8 manages a 0-60 time in about 4.9 seconds, thanks to the cars relatively light weight. It’s also very quiet, something you can witness for yourself in the video.
With the car’s fuel-economic credentials, the i8 has an all electric range of 20 miles, before the three-cylinder range extender kicks in, which will apparently achieve something close to 78.5 mpg.
Check out the concept in action in the video below.
The plug-in hybrid will reportedly weigh in at 3,197 lbs with a 2+2 seating configuration and pop-up door design. Powering the i8 will be a 170-hp electric motor driving the front wheels, while a turbocharged 1.5L three-cylinder powers the rear wheels with 223-hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Despite earlier rumors that a non-hybrid, M-variant of the i8 would be in production, ideas of a V8- or V10-powered i8 has been tossed out the window. That’s no real surprise as BMW really wishes to push the future of its technology with their i-model lineup.
And speaking of that technology, the new i8 can be front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive thanks to a clever black box. Fully charged, the BMW i8 can cover 20 miles in full-electric mode. 0-62 mph is in a mere 4.9 seconds when all 393-hp and 406 lb-ft of torque is in effect. The i8 will feature a four-speed transmission and in the European driving cycle it’s reporting 104.2-mpg.
As with most plug-in hybrids, recharge time depends on which voltage you are able to get. Standard charging time will be around six hours with high voltage allowing it to be done in less than an hour.
The German automaker anticipates the i8 to sell around 10,000 units a year and pricing will be over $130,000 (€100,000).
The production model of the BMW i8 is scheduled to make its official debut in 2014.
GALLERY: BMW i8 Spy Shots
[Source: CAR Magazine]
It has been almost two years since we first heard about the Electric RaceAbout (E-RA), but it appears that this research project by the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences is now the fastest electric car on ice.
Equipped with Nokian Tyres, the E-RA headed out to the frozen Lake Ukonjärvi in northern Finland and hit an average speed of 156.67-mph (252.09-km/h). Behind the wheel was Nokian Tyres’ test driver Janne Laitinen and the E-RA had actually topped out at 161.63-mph (260.06-km/h) on its record-setting run.
The E-RA is equipped with a 33-kWh Altairnano lithium-titanate battery, powering four electric motors with a peak output of 378-hp and a ridiculous 2,360 lb-ft of torque. Weighing in at 3,747 lbs, the prototype electric vehicle can go about 124 miles on a single charge. The E-RA also holds the record on the Nürburgring for a street-legal electric vehicle.
Watch a video of the Electric RaceAbout after the break.
[Source: Nokian Tyres]
In 2008 when President Barack Obama was a senator, he pledged a goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on U.S. streets by 2015. Four years later, that goal seems far away at best.
In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama said “with more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.” Even though there is the capacity to build 1 million EVs by 2015, sales and overall demand for electric vehicles will keep that goal out of reach.
The Chevrolet Volt, for example, hasn’t done as well as anyone hoped, with production stopping at times to help match supply and demand. In fact, the Volt is selling at about 10 percent of the Department of Energy’s projected 120,000 units per year. The Nissan Leaf, despite its selling better than the Volt, won’t meet 100,000 sales until 2014.
Rather than admitting the goal is out of reach, the White House changed the wording in its “Blueprint For A Secure Energy Agenda” from aiming to have 1 million EVs on the streets to saying “by 2015, the United States will be able to produce enough batteries and components to support one million plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.”
Even without the fire fiasco of the Volt, the million EV goal by 2015 would be a challenging one. Electric vehicles will continual to fight an uphill battle until the technology is widely accepted and is convenient.
[Source: Left Lane News]
The recent stories of the Tesla Roadster “bricking” will likely cause owners of other electric vehicles to worry. We’ve managed to track down and get a comment about the measures in place that can prevent other EVs from becoming damaged like the Tesla.
A “bricked” car is a lot like a bricked gadget. It can’t and won’t turn on, and is essentially useless (unless you want to use it as a giant and expensive paperweight).
The story is that an owner let his Roadster die and left it uncharged for two months. The car then couldn’t be turned on or started, or re-charged. When the car was taken for repairs it was found that it would cost $40,000 to fix the vehicle.
It’s stated several times in the Roadster’s owner’s manual not to leave the vehicle discharged for an extended period of time. Specifically: “Situations may arise when in which you must leave your vehicle unplugged for an extended period of time. If this is the case, it is your responsibility to ensure that the battery does not become fully depleted.” Lastly, “Over-discharge can permanently damage the battery.” While it’s clear that owner negligence caused this damage, some blame can be put on the manufacturer to have more safety measures to protect the vehicle.
Nissan states that the Leaf cannot be fully discharged “thanks to an advanced battery management system designed to protect the battery from damage. One element of the battery management system is a failsafe wall that stops the battery from reaching absolute zero state-of-charge, even after a period of unplugged storage,”Steve Yaegar, Nissan’s technology communications manager said.
Still there are some warnings in the Leaf’s manual that advises owners to take proper care of its battery. One of the more conspicuous warnings says: “Avoid leaving your vehicle for over 14 days where the Li-ion battery available charge gauge reaches a zero or near zero (state of charge)”
When pushed, Yaegar skirted the issue of what would happen to a Leaf if a user ignored that advice.
While the Chevrolet has a gas generator to help keep the battery charged, what would happen if the battery is discharged completely? Nothing really. Chevrolet spokesperson Robert Peterson told us “This isn’t an issue for the Volt. The Volt uses only 10.4 kW of its 16 kWh battery. The rest of the battery space serves as a buffer to prevent overcharging or deep discharging.”
In the i-MiEV’s warranty manual, Mitsubishi states that the standard warranty does not cover any damages to the Li-Ion battery resulting from “failure to keep the main drive lithium-ion battery charged during storage of the vehicle.”
John Arnone a representative from Mitsubishi, said that while the i-MiEV battery can be fully discharged, if left for a long period of time it will still be able to be recharged by the usual means.
It’s true that electric Smart cars aren’t really on sale (lease-only), a member of customer relations told us that the upcoming 2013 model shouldn’t encounter any issues if left discharged. She did warn us that it may take a bit longer to fully charge back up again though.
It’s clear that electric vehicles are in their infancy. Being able to drive about without paying for gas certainly is a huge benefit. However, potential electric car buyers are already concerned about cost, range anxiety and charge times. Looks like its time to add battery maintenance to that list of concerns.
British performance car maker Morgan will unveil an electric car called the Morgan Plus E at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show next month.
The company is using an electric drivetrain from Zytek, the same group they went to for their previous EV (pictured above). Like the last time, this car will also come with a manual gearbox. It’s an unusual combination considering most electric cars we see today have either a single speed or at most two.
Regardless of convention, using a manual system in an electric performance car can multiply the already instant torque electric motors offer.
“If there is enough public interest, it will go into production,” a Zytek spokesman told Automotive News.
Few further details are available on the Plus E, but Steve Morris, Morgan’s operations director, said it will have near-super car performance. We’ll bring you coverage live from Geneva next month during the press preview.
[Source: Automotive News]
Parking spots in the city are often hard to find and they always come at a price. And sometimes those spots are so small, there’s no way you can fit your car into the space. Engineers at Hiriko Driving Mobility have come up with a solution – a car that folds up to fit into even the smallest gaps.
The Hiriko Citycar as it’s called, is set to make its public debut in Europe next week when it’s shown to European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso. And it gets better – the Citycar could be available for the public by mid-2013 and hopes are it will cut pollution and road rage.
The idea for this foldable EV started out at Boston’s MIT-Media lab before being picked up by Hiriko Driving Mobility. Think of the Citycar as a child stroller. Of course, it’s a bit more complex than that, but the concept is the same – you fold it up so it’s manageable, compact and easier to store. Since it’s so small, it can only fit two people, but the Hiriko Citycar can go for 75 miles before you have to charge it. One idea for the Citycar’s usage will be a rental system, where drivers can rent one for the day. Of course, you can always buy one – the Citycar can be yours for about 12,500 euros (US$16,000).
The Toyota 2000GT was a limited production, front-engine, rear-wheel drive two-seater that was developed by Toyota in collaboration with Yamaha. It first made its debut in 1965 at the Tokyo Motor Show and proved that Japanese automakers could indeed make formidable sports cars.
Nowadays, the 2000GT is considered one of the first seriously collectible Japanese cars, having sold at auction for as much as $375,000. But given its rich tradition and history, it’s hard to imagine that when the vehicle was first developed close to 50 years ago, that they’d imagine someone would convert it to an electric car.
The crazy car project took a 2000GT, pulled out its 2.0L inline-six powerplant and outfitted it with a 35-kWh lithium-ion battery along with a 161-hp electric motor. What is really awesome though is that the hood has been modified with large photovoltaic solar panels while the rear windscreen has received translucent solar cells. So yes, this is a solar-powered electric Toyota 2000GT classic.
They even put some new modern touches in the interior, adding a new battery gauge, bio-fiber carpets and a rear-view mirror that doubles as a digital information screen.
Check out a video of the Crazy Car Project after the break.
[Source: Green Motor UK]