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Pininfarina B0 Electric Car

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The famous Italian design group Pininfarina, who is best known for their exotic sports cars, is set to produce an all electric city car called the Pininfarina B0 (B-Zero). The 5 door, 4 passenger electric car is a joint venture with the Bolloré Group, who is involved in Lithium Metal Polymer (LMP) battery production. These high energy, low weight batteries can be quickly charged in a few hours and claim to have a maintenance free life of 125,000 miles.

Another key to the design is the use of supercapacitors, which gather energy from regenerative braking and deliver that energy is rapid bursts needed during acceleration. This allows for 45 kWh of power to the front wheels and a top speed of 80 MPH. The range is an impressive 150 miles. 0-37 mph acceleration is 6.3 seconds.

Another unique feature is its photovoltaic solar roof which captures energy to feed the battery. Pininfarina expects to release the car in the Western Europe market in late 2009. Then possibly the U.S. and Asia in 2010.

Here is a link to Pininfarina’s site (in Italian)

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Posted in Electric, Pininfarina on 10-22-08
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BMW Mini E coming to the US

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BMW announced yesterday that they will indeed be releasing their new Mini E to the US market. They will be making 500 cars for a limited release by the end of 2008, then ramping up production after that. BMW has developed a special wallbox outlet charging system that the claim car fully charge the car in 2-3 hours rather than the 8+ hours of most EVs. The car can also charge from a normal outlet. The Mini E will have a beefed up weight of 3,230 lbs which is about 700 lbs more than the standard gas powered Mini.   In order to accommodate  the extra weight and space requirements, BMW has scrapped the 4 seater and made the Mini E a 2 seater.

Here are some quick specs:

Batteries: Lithium Ion

Range: 150 miles

Top Speed: 90 MPH

0-60 time: 8.5 seconds

Charge time: 2-3 hours using special “wallbox” outlet

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Posted in BMW, Electric on 10-20-08
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2010 Toyota Prius Pictures

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Photos of the 2010 Toyota Prius leaked out on the Internet this morning. Details remain sketchy but Toyota has indeed confirmed that these are the real pictures of the popular Prius model. They go on to say “This new Prius will retain all of the virtues of the model that precedes it. It’s about the same size as its forebear, but with more interior room and better fuel economy. But you expected nothing less, right?”

Bigger and better mileage is always a good thing, especially when they will be going head to head with the Honda Insight.


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Posted in General, Hybrids, Toyota on 10-17-08
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Tesla not immune from credit crunch

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Tesla’s planned S sedan that we wrote about last month looks like it might be delayed 6 months. The horrible economic downturn is causing Tesla to go into capital preservation mode which includes possible layoffs and delays. The company was relying taxpayer backed loans to cover most of the development costs, and with those loans rapidly drying up, they may have to go to plan B for the “S” sedan.

Tesla still expects to make 15,000 sedans a year by the end of 2011. The US Dept. of Energy has approved a loan of $150 billion to Tesla which appears to still be on track. The 5 passenger sedan is expected to have a $60,000 price tag, much lower than the $110,000 Tesla Roadster.

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Posted in Electric, Tesla on 10-16-08
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The 2010 Mitsubishi MiEV

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Mitsubishi’s MiEV concept vehicle began as showcase their in-wheel technology which placed small electric motors in each of the front wheels, and 1 to drive the rears. They have since ditched that concept for more traditional drivetrain. The car has a 330-volt Li-Ion battery pack that powers a 47 kW electric motor.

The EV puts out 132 lb-ft of torque and 63 HP, which is allows this small car surprising acceleration. 0-60 mph time is under 9.0 seconds. Its top speed is a respectable 80mph making it capably on any freeway.

The car can be charged in 7 hours on a 200v plug in, but Mitsubishi is working with Japanese power companies on a quick charge system that is said to produce an 80% in just 30 minutes.

The MiEV is currently on the road in Tokyo as a 30 car test fleet. It is expected to be on sale in Japan at the end of 2009 for around $24,000. Mitsubishi then plans to release the MiEV in other markets like Europe and North America possibly in 2010.

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Posted in Electric, Mitsubishi on 10-14-08
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Volkswagen Twin Drive Electric Hybrid

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Not to be left out of the plug in electric race, Volkswagen is working on a “Twin Drive” model based on the Golf. The twin drive uses the electric motor as its primary power source and a clean diesel engine as a backup and regenerative source. This is similar to the operation of the GM Volt, which allows for a longer range. VW says it will run the first 31 miles on pure electric from its lithium ion batteries before switching over to the diesel. The Germans are very eager to get this technology rolling down the roads as soon as possible. The Interior Ministry in Germany gave VW a $23.5 million grant to help spur the development. VW hopes to have the car ready in 2010.

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Posted in Electric, Hybrids, VW on 10-11-08
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The 5 biggest electric car myths

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As with any new emerging technology, there are many misconceptions about electric cars. Today we focus on the 5 most common myths regarding plug in electric cars.

Myth #1 - The electrical grid will be overloaded if everyone tries to charge their plug in cars.

This concern often arises as people think of blackouts caused by overloaded power grids in summer months. How can there be enough capacity to take on even more power usage? First of all, those blackouts are usually cause during heat waves when everyone is running enormously power hungry air conditioners all at the same time. Plug in cars on the other hand, pull a small trickle charge similar to your home’s refrigerator, and that charge is usually spread over an 8 hour period. Secondly the charging is mostly done at night, during off peak hours when the electrical grid is operating at a fraction of its capacity.

In fact a report by the Department of Energy concluded that if all the nations cars and trucks suddenly switched from oil to electrics, the idle capacity of the electric grid could generate most of the energy needed by the electrics. That is assuming a total immediate switchover, while such a transition would take decades in reality. Further studies by Oak Ridge National labs confirm that off peak charging could handle the extra load of plug in electrics with no additional power plants required.

Myth #2 - The power must come from somewhere, you are just exchanging a polluting car for a polluting power plant.

Simple mathematics show that it is much more efficient to generate power in a central location rather than having the pollutants dispersed by millions of cars. Even if the power used by an electric car comes 100% directly from a coal burning power plant, the net emissions are dramatically lower. A study by the Los Angeles dept of Water and Power concluded that over a 100,000 mile life cycle, a normal gas powered car would produce 3,000 pounds of pollutants, while a electric powered car from today’s power plants would produce just under 100. These numbers are from coal burning power plants. Power plants running on natural gas, solar, wind or nuclear vastly improve the net pollution output even more. For example a single large wind turbine can produce enough energy to power 3,000 electric cars.

Myth #3 - They are too slow to be on the roads

This one probably arises from most people’s only experience with electric powered vehicles - the golf cart. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Electric vehicles can be fast! The linear power delivery characteristics of electric vehicles can make them extremely quick. Torque is instantly available at all RPM ranges, without the usual lag we are used to with combustion engines. Videos like this of the Wrightspeed X-1 electric beating Ferrari and Porsche supercars should convince reassure people of electric’s power potential. Of course there is always the currently produced Tesla roadster, with its 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds.

Myth #4 - Batteries are environmentally disasterous

It’s true that older nickel-metal hydrid batteries have some toxic components. But if properly disoposed, recycling programs can break down almost every component of the battery for reuse. Current lithium ion batteries are getting cleaner all the time. Case in point - the lithium ion battery used in the electric motorcycle in production by Zero Motorcycles is sodium based and completely free of toxic metals. It can be completely recycled and is even rated for direct landfill disposal.

Myth #5 - Aren’t electric cars dangerous, will I get shocked?

This one is more urban legend than anything. Not one case of shocking by electric or hybrid car has ever occurred. Hybrid and electric cars have many redundant systems in place to cut power and break the circuit in the event of collisions, short circuits or power surges. Even completely submerging a electric car in water would do nothing more than cut the power from the batteries. In fact electric cars are much safer overall that internal combustion engines. Not surprising when you compare a closed cell battery system to rolling down the road with a large tank of highly flammable and combustible liquid and an engine that runs by sparking that liquid! Injury and deaths from fire and explosions are projected to dramatically decrease with an electric car fleet on the road.


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Posted in Electric, General on 10-09-08
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Can’t wait until 2010 for an electric car?

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If you simply can’t wait the major car makers roll out their electric cars in 2010, Hybrid Technologies wants to sell you a 100% electric car today. The only catch is, it will cost you. But if you want to be the first one in your neighborhood to silently cruise by gas stations and laugh, the cars are available. Hybrid technologies has been making headlines lately with their litium ion battery powered electric cars, motorcycles, mopeds, even home systems.

They currently market 5 EVs, from city commuters to a super sports car. Their most popular model is the LiV Flash, which is based on the BMW Mini Cooper. For $57,500 they will deliver you a brand new plug in electric version of the Mini Cooper.

Specs include a top speed of 80+ MPH, 0-60 in 9 seconds, range of 100-120 miles and a charge time of just 6 hours.

Need a little more room to haul the kids? Another model uses Chrysler’s PT cruiser model as the basis for the electric conversion.

Specs include a top speed of 80+ MPH, 0-60 in 9.9 seconds, range of 100-120 miles and a charge time of just 6 hours.

If you really have to make a statement with your EV, the LiV Rush could be your answer. This exotic sports car boasts all electric performance of 0-60 in 5 seconds and a top speed of 110 MPH. All for the price of $100,000. Roughly the same price as a similar Tesla.

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Posted in BMW, Chrysler, Electric on 10-07-08
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Electric car story on 60 Minutes

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On 10/5/08 CBS’s 60 minutes aired a segment about the electric car race. The story highlights the Tesla Roadster, and GM Volt. Also shown are the Fisker Karma, and some smaller electric models. There are interviews with Tesla founder Elon Musk, and Volt VP Bob Lutz. Although there are some inaccuracies about the electric car industry, overall a well done story.

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Posted in Electric on 10-06-08
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Honda Insight hybrid looking to capture Prius market

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Honda recently unveiled their answer to the wildly successful Toyota Prius: the 2010 Insight. Set to be released in mid 2009 for the 2010 model year, this hybrid should carry a price tag of $20k or less. Which would undercut the Prius by several thousand dollars in the lucrative hybrid market.

The car uses a less complex form of hybrid technology called IMA, that does not allow electric only operation, but utilizes a full time hybrid mode for increased efficiency. Sources at Honda say they aren’t interested in pursuing a plug in type electric car currently. “We’re not planning to make a pure battery-based electric vehicle,” a company rep said. “The next phase we see is the fuel-cell vehicle.”

Performance and mileage is expected to be similar to the current Civic hybrid at around 42 mpg. Will Honda dominate the hybrid market with the Insight? We’ll have to wait until 2010 to see, but it should be interesting.

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Posted in Honda, Hybrids, Manufacturers on 10-03-08
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