Luxury Electric to drive a long-range electric car across the U.S.A.

August 27th, 2008

Luxury Electric

Luxury Electric have used the 2008 Democratic National Convention as a platform to announce the company’s intention to drive its fully electric prototype (a retrofitted Acura TL) across the United States in an effort to prove that fully electric vehicles will be practical for longer journeys as well as the short-range commuting at which they already excel.

The prototype vehicle (known simply as “The Electric”) will carry some 24 Lithium-ion cells, which give it a range of around 140 miles. Each time the batteries run out, the car needs to be plugged in to a regular power outlet for about 10 minutes - so the average ‘fuel stop’ time will be longer and more frequent than it would for a petrol powered car, but still not a major hindrance or hassle. (more …)

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Axon announces affordable, 100mpg, carbon-composite passenger car

July 17th, 2008

axon_front_wide

There’s plenty of different things you can look at if you’re trying to make a 100mpg, super-low-emissions passenger car - from alternative fuels like diesel, to hybrids, advanced engine technologies and even the replacement of the combustion engine altogether with battery-electrics. But Britain’s Axon Automotive has taken another direction altogether, and is achieving some pretty amazing results.

Axon has gone simply for an uncomplicated 500cc engine in a low-weight body, which replaces the traditional heavy steel or aluminium frame with recycled carbon fibre composites - as strong as steel but only around 40% as heavy. Extensive use of carbon materials through Axon’s cars makes a massive impact on the power-to-weight ratio, meaning they can get acceptable overall performance using a much smaller, lighter and more frugal engine. (more …)

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Lotus announces hemp-based Eco Elise: a new type of ‘green’ car

July 10th, 2008

Eco_high_angle

 

You wouldn’t read about it… Lotus have gone for a different type of ‘green’ by announcing an ‘Eco Elise’ made largely out of hemp… No need to check your calendar, it’s not April 1. The theory behind this radical new approach is that Lotus feels too much “green” car technology is simply concentrating on CO2 emissions at the tailpipe, where the manufacturing processes and materials in many cars are just as environmentally damaging.

 

To that end, the company is presenting a more holistic environmental focus. The car will be efficient as well as quick due to its light weight and advanced engine technology, but the company has gone further by using completely renewable materials like hemp body panels, eco wool and sisal carpets, cleaner manufacturing technologies, water-based paints and locally-sourced components that reduce the carbon miles inherent in the manufacturing process. (more …)

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Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport - brutally fast electric sports car prototype

October 21st, 2007

i_M_S_image

Six weeks after Mitsubishi announced it would show the i MiEV Sport show car at Tokyo, at the same time as releasing one image that made it look for all the world like a 21st century Goggomobile, more imagery has surfaced. We’re pretty chuffed about this one because everything we have seen suggests it will be an advanced weapon of the highest calibre.

i_M_S_rear

The i MiEV Sport is a small lightweight electric vehicle based on the i MiEV which has been doing the show rounds for a year, except this time, they’ve turned up the juice, and the diminutive lightweight now has a whopping 680 Nm of torque pushing it around. The car features a 20 kW motor inside each front wheel plus another 47 kW sitting centrally at the rear. Controlling the herbs is a computerised E-4WD system that optimises the output of all motors, working in conjunction with Mitsubishi’s S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) vehicle dynamics system, and an E-AYC (Electric Active Yaw Control) system. We know it all sounds like acrnym soup, but there’s also ABS and ASC (Active Stability Control). The massive advantage of having electric motors inside the wheel instead of an Internal Combustion Engine at the other end of the powertrain is that you can do very clever things with dynamic vehicle control systems and Mitsubishi has been working in this area for some time, so we’re expecting big things in terms of handling and stability and power delivery now that driving force, traction and braking can be controlled so precisely at all four wheels.

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On top of all that, the car is built around a lightweight aluminium space frame and the heaviest parts, being the batteries are carried low underneath, availing a low centre of gravity and an interior space much greater than you’d expect for a vehicle of this size.

 

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Someone at Mitsubishi has been really thinking outside the square in getting the most out of the vehicle because the car has several features we haven’t seen before, including an auxiliary photovoltaic unit built into the roof, and a fan inside the front grill that generates electricity from the rush of air flow, both of which put energy back into the battery, just as the vehicle’s regenerative braking also does.

i_M_S_interior-2

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Gizmag has more detail on the finer points.

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Yamaha’s four-wheel motorcycle - the Tesseract

October 20th, 2007

TesseractTesseractTesseractTesseractTesseract

Until I saw images of the Yamaha Tesseract, the vehicle I’d been most looking forward to seeing at the Tokyo Motor Show was Toyota’s i-REAL but now Yamaha’s intriguing hybrid four-wheeled motorcycle really has wrested my attention amidst a plethora of other interesting exhibits. Not a great deal of information has been released about the machine, so we’ll have to speculate a little about just what it might be like to ride, and how nimble it might be. It’s really a four-wheel version of the Vespa, Piaggio and Vectrix three-wheelers except the tilting mechanisms (Yamaha has dubbed them “dual-scythe suspension”) are at both ends, so it’s a carving four-wheeler with both front wheels and both rear wheels very close together and although I’m enthralled by the concept in three-wheel form, there’s something about four wheels which makes me think that the transition will be slow when getting out of one corner and into another but that might just be an aging mind - what really does hold promise is two fat and sticky tyres at each end and the G-forces that might be generated with this machine under cornering. One also wonders just how far the tilting mechanism will allow it to tilt? Given that more than 50 degrees of lean is possible on two wheels with tyres these days, my brain cell is really struggling to picture what will happen when you run out of lean angle. It’s probably some variation along the four-wheel drift theme and although there looks to be lots of traction available, thinking about the possibilities of getting it rubber-side-up looks frightfully expensive. Look at all those suspension components to bend. Modern motorcycles can be so expensive to crash and this one might be doubly so or worse.Tesseract Concept

There’s no power output mentioned for the liquid-cooled V-twin and its electric hybrid mate, but the Raptor-like visuals of the bike indicate a performance machine and a big V-twin with electric booster will mean more than enough torque to leave big black marks on the tarmac and a top speed that will be theoretical everywhere but a racetrack.

There is also a dual arm-lock system that keeps the machine upright when at rest without a stand.

Of course we’re being critical here because we’re still coming to grips with what is really a new class of four-wheel machine. On the surface it offers motorcycle performance, maneuverability and frugality with a machine width roughly equivalent to that of a two-wheeler but four wheels worth of traction and road-holding. Bonus - this is a new and potent form of recreational machine and we cannot wait!

MH

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Vincent Rapide brings US$38K at auction … but what about the US$2K Velocipede

October 18th, 2007

Very original 1954 Vincent Series C V-twin Rapide
Like buried treasure, ‘barn finds’ stir the imagination and such was case with this which hit the block in H&H’s inaugural Duxford Imperial War Museum motorcycle and bicycle sale of October 10. Though only lacking the dynamo drive cover, it was in perfect condition for a total restoration, fetching £18,700 (US$38,200)! For my mind, though the Vincent represents a chance at rebuilding a completely original stunner, the bargain of the sale was an 1870 Velocipede ‘Boneshaker’ at £1,100 (US$2250). I find it hard to believe that something so historically significant can sell for a price that low – surely something that belongs in a museum is woreth more than two grand. Despite more than a century of motoring, the bicycle is still the predominant form of transport on the planet and this baby is the ancestor of the species - IMHO this is grossly undervalued.

The Velocipede ‘Boneshaker’

The next H&H sale of motorcycles, bicycles, registrations and automobilia will take place on November 20/21.

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Mayhem forecast today on British roads

October 18th, 2007

Trafficmaster forecast

It’s amazing what the evolving intelligent monitoring systems can deduce about the world we live in, and for some, the insight offered can be a real incentive to stay at home for the day. Today is such a day if you’re a road user in the UK. Trafficmaster maintains a traffic monitoring network of 7,500 sensors, covering 8,000 miles of UK motorways and trunk roads plus it offers the Smartnav intelligent satellite navigation and traffic information service, so its historic traffic data and analysis carries some weight. The second Trafficmaster/ RAC Foundation UK Congestion Report is warning that today, Friday, October 19th, will be the worst day of the year for travelling by car because of a peak in traffic congestion which it has dubbed ‘Black Friday.’

Traffic jams may be traditionally associated with Bank Holidays or Christmas, but a number of specific factors are expected to combine to make tonight’s rush hour longer and more congested than any of Britain’s regular public holidays. These factors include darker (and possibly wetter) weather encouraging more drivers to use major roads, a high level of commuting and commercial traffic and a rise in accidents.

Elsewhere in the report, the nation’s worst congestion hotspot is revealed. Up from second position six months ago, the Western sector of the M25 is officially the most congested stretch of road in Britain, replacing the M1 in Hertfordshire, where traffic has eased slightly thanks to a higher temporary speed limit.

The report also reveals the real traffic speed of the UK’s motorways. The average traffic flow speed of our motorways is a healthy 67.5 mph, although there are significant differences in their overall efficiency. Scotland can boast both the most efficient motorway – the A74(M), with an overall real average speed of 69.9mph – and the least – the M8, at only 53.4mph.

Copies of the UK Congestion Report are available online here.

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Loeb closes in on Gronholm

October 15th, 2007

It’s ironic that the first post in our shiny new Transport 2 blog is not about the future of transport, but about ICE (Internal Combustion Engine-) - powered WRC rocketships, or more specifically, the quest for the 2007 WRC title. Citroën’s Sébastien Loeb closed the points gap on FIA World Rally Championship leader Marcus Gronholm in the 51st Rallye de France – Tour de Corse on the weekend. The bookies are normally the best guide as to the probability of varying outcomes, and although Ford’s Gronholm holds a four point lead with just three rounds remaining (10 points for a win, 8 points for second), you can’t get better than 8/15 in the betting for Loeb. WRC is clearly the most progressive form of motorsport in providing spectators with virtual tools to understand the capabilities of cars and drivers and the season-long battle between Loeb (and co-driver Daniel Elena) and Gronholm (and his co-driver Rautianen) has been a highlight of the 2007 motorsport season. Loeb and Gronholm resume combat in Japan, on October 26-28 but although the smart money is on Loeb, it must be remembered that Gronholm won his first world title in 2000 in his first season in a nailbiter - he is very good when the pressure is at its most intense.

Gronholm’s third?Ford’s FocusInside the C4Loeb’s title

Finally, WRC is already the most relevant of all four-wheeled motorsport in relationship to roadgoing vehicles - wouldn’t it be wonderful if they framed the regs so that the main contenders, all of whom are already showing electric hybrid roadcars at various shows, could prepare for a hybrid WRC in say 2011 or 2012. All that brainpower focussed on getting the most potent mixture of ICE and electric horsepower on the ground would surely advance hybrid development considerably.

Final Leaderboard for Rallye de France – Tour de Corse

1 S. Loeb/D. Elena (Citroën C4) 3h 28min 31.5s
2 M. Gronholm/ T.Rautianen (Ford Focus) + 23.7s
3 D. Sordo/ M. Marti (Citroën C4) + 44.3s
4 JM. Latvala/ M. Anttila (Ford Focus) + 2min 30.5s
5 P. Solberg/ P. Mills (Subaru Impreza) + 2 min 42.1s
6 C. Atkinson/ S. Prevot (Subaru Impreza) + 3 min 53.8s

FIA World Rally Championship standings after round 13 – Manufacturers

1st. Ford - 179 pts; 2nd. Citroën Total - 147 pts; 3rd. Subaru - 71 pts; 4th. Stobart - 64 pts; 5th. OMV Kronos Citroën - 39 pts; 6th. Munchis – 6 pts

FIA World Rally Championship standings after round 13 – Drivers

1st. M. Gronholm, 104 pts; 2nd. S. Loeb, 100 pts; 3rd. M. Hirvonen, 74 pts; 4th. D. Sordo, 45 pts; 5th. P. Solberg, 38 pts; 6th. C. Atkinson, 29 pts.

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