Sunday November 13th, 2011 13:57 Subaru Set to Unveil Advanced Tourer Concept Hybrid

Subaru has revealed that it will showcase the Advanced Tourer Concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show in Japan.

The Advanced Tourer Concept is a hybrid car, and is seen as a potential replacement for the Subaru Legacy.

Through the use of a single electric motor, the ATC will have a silent electric mode when travelling at low speeds. The lithium-ion batteries are recharged by a regenerative braking system which kicks in under deceleration.

The Tourer Concept is fitted with a horizontally opposed 1.6-litre turbo boxer engine mated to an electric motor. It may not be as big as the 2.0 and 2.5-litre boxer turbos of the past, but Subaru believe that the 1.6-litre turbo engine is both cleaner and more efficient. Although there are no official statistics for this yet, the word is that the Tourer Concept’s power output will match the 262bhp of the 2.5-litre boxer unit, while both emitting less CO2 and using less fuel at the same time.

Performance figures for the Tourer Concept should be an improvement on those of the current Legacy model, as the engine drives through a Lineartronic CVT transmission. This sends power to all four wheels.

The styling of the car uses Subaru’s “confidence in motion” design language. Visually, the Tourer Concept resembles a cross between a Jaguar XF and an Audi A6. The signature Subaru grille and angular headlights have been restyled to give the car a more aggressive appearance at the front.

The car’s interior features Art Deco style wood and polished aluminium surfaces with leather surfaces. In a fairly strange move, the steering wheel features a built-in digital monitor that displays maps, TV and internet. This is not exactly the safest feature in the world, but it is a concept car after all.

Perhaps with that digital monitor in mind, Subaru’s EyeSight crash avoidance system is incorporated into the design of the Tourer Concept. This system uses two mounted cameras above the rear-view mirror to monitor pedestrians and cyclists.

The Tokyo Motor Show – which runs from the 30th of November to the 11th of December – is a big event for Subaru, as the new BRZ sports car will also allow be on display.

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Saturday November 12th, 2011 20:19 All-Electric Car In the Works for SEAT


SEAT has revealed that it is currently working on prototypes of a fully electric and a plug-in hybrid car. The Spanish car manufacturer anticipates that the plug-in hybrid car will be launched in 2015, followed by the all-electric car in 2016.

In the mean time, units of the all-electric Altea XL Electric Ecomotive and the Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive will both be made available to Spanish government institutions in Catalonia and Madrid. This should enable SEAT to assess the usage of these cars, giving the car manufacturer an idea about the potential for mass production in the future.

Talking about the reasoning behind SEAT’s strategy, SEAT President James Muir said: “Customers demand a more sustainable form of mobility, but their needs are diverse. Therefore, we believe that a parallel strategy of developing two different technologies will put SEAT in the best position to meet their needs.”

So what about some actual information about the two forthcoming green models? Well, the Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive plug-in hybrid has a range of 52 kilometres when full electric mode is engaged. Its top speed in this mode is 120 kph. When it is in its combined mode, it should have a top speed of 170 kph, and an impressive emissions rate of 39g/km of CO2.

In comparison, the Altea XL Electric Ecomotive will have a top speed of 135 kph. The electric engine will produce 115 hp as well as 270 Nm of torque. A climate control system whereby rooftop photovoltaic cells recirculate fresh air inside the passenger compartment will reduce energy needs. Impressive stuff.

It is not just these two new green cars that the Spanish firm has in the pipeline, as in the next year, four new models will be launched next year. The first of these models is the SEAT Mii, set for a European release in spring.

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Sunday October 23rd, 2011 13:04 Electric Vehicle Sales Still Struggling in UK and Europe

Sales of electric cars in the UK are still struggling, according to new data released by the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

Last month, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggested that sales of electric cars in the UK were significantly poorer than had been both hoped and anticipated, and it seems that there has been little improvement since then.

The Office of Low Emission Vehicles’ data reveals that only 308 models were bought using the government’s grant scheme in the third quarter of the year.

The government’s grant scheme offers buyers of low emission vehicles a grant of £5,000, but the quarterly statistics have shown a distinct reluctance on the part of UK car consumers to switch towards green cars. In the first quarter of the year, only 465 were registered. Things were even worse in the second quarter, with only 215 EVs registered.

The electric car grant scheme has a total fund of £43 million – a figure large enough to cover 8,600 EVs – but at this slow rate it will take years to reach that full amount. At the moment, under £4 million of this grant money has been spent.

At a time when the UK’s economy is struggling, you would think that a £5,000 grant would act as a great incentive for UK drivers, but clearly more work has to be done to encourage people to switch to low emission vehicles.

The move towards universal electric car chargers is the type of thing that will hopefully assure drivers that switching to an electric vehicle will not prove to be more hassle than it’s worth.

It’s not just in the UK that electric vehicle sales are struggling. Belgians get a subsidy of just under €11,000 euros, yet only 85 electric vehicles were purchased there in the first half of 2011. In Norway, where a grant of €17,524 is offered, only 850 EVs were purchased over the same period.

Hopefully the fourth quarter will show an improvement in green car sales, but with so much economic uncertainty, people need to be made much more aware of these grants and subsidies.

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Monday September 26th, 2011 10:58 Campaign for Uniform Electric Vehicle Charging Gathers Speed

It looks very much like the standardisation of charging plugs for electric cars will become more commonplace throughout Europe in the next few years.

A proposal put forward by ACEA, the automobile manufacturers’ trade association, recommended that the same charging equipment should be used in all countries, regardless of the make of the car, electricity provider or country.

The move towards standardised charging is seen as an important step in helping electric vehicles gain a more viable share of the market. The lack of universal charging equipment is seen as a potential barrier to prospective buyers of electric cars.

The ACEA report looked at a number of factors involving the charging of electric cars, such as the public charging infrastructure as well as the vehicle inlets themselves. The report also looked at the issue of both fast and slow charging.

Ivan Hodac, Secretary General of ACEA, said: “This is a major step towards the broader introduction of electrically-chargeable vehicles in Europe and paves the way for a harmonised solution around the globe.”

“Standardisation provides predictability to investors; it enables economy of scale and reduces costs. We have also ensured a solution that meets the highest safety standards and is easy to use.”

The ACEA hopes that its recommendations will be accepted by the European Commission, as well as standardisation bodies and infrastructure providers across Europe, as quickly as possible. This approval will allow the vehicle manufacturers to start integrating the uniform technology into production cars. The ACEA have set a goal of 2017 for full implementation for new electric vehicles.

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Sunday September 25th, 2011 02:20 Government Grant Fails to Encourage Car Buyers to go Electric


New data from the Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggests that sales of electric cars in the UK are progressing at a rate significantly lower than had been anticipated. To date, only 812 battery models have been bought in the UK in 2011. This is in spite of the incentive of a £5,000 government grant for each buyer of a fully electric or plug-in hybrid car.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular electric car is the Nissan Leaf, with 499 cars being sold. The figures from the SMMT are much bleaker for the other five electric car models currently available in the UK, with none of them managing to sell even a quarter of the Nissan Leaf’s figure.

At a cost of £230 million, the £5,000 subsidy for plug-in cars was initially conceived by the previous Labour government to try and cut the upfront cost of electric vehicles for buyers. Although cheaper to run than a conventional car, the upfront cost of an electric car is typically at least a third more.

The subsidy managed to survive the current coalition government’s swinging cuts, although its funding has only been guaranteed for the first year. With sales of electric cars at such a low rate, there is little chance that the £43 million set aside for this year – the equivalent of 8,600 cars being sold – will be reached.

The poor sales of electric cars in the UK stand in marked contrast to sales of new cars in general. SMMT’s figures show that registrations of new cars in August were up by over 7%.

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Saturday July 9th, 2011 14:16 Renault unveil the concept Frendzy


Renault has unveiled its latest environmentally friendly concept – an electric car-based van called the Frendzy. Designed by Laurens van den Acker, the Frendzy is the fourth in a series of six designs that are based on the different stages of the human life cycle. According to Renault, the Frendzy represents your professional working life.

The French car manufacturers will debut the new green car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Renault are pitching the vehicle as the solution for those drivers who need to use a vehicle for business purposes during the week and for family transportation at the weekend.

With its full width grille and oversized badge, the Frendzy is unmistakably part of the Renault family. The passenger side of the vehicle has a fully sliding door, so work materials can be stored or removed easily. This sliding door incorporates a 37-inch screen that is capable of displaying messages – early pictures of the Frendzy show it displaying the slogan ‘Happy Culture’ – or, for the salesperson in you, advertising. This screen is controlled by a BlackBerry PlayBook. In contrast, the driver’s side of the vehicle is more focused on the needs of a family. Access to the cabin is aided by a rear-opening door.

The car’s interior has a large cargo area which includes rather low-tech magnetic fixings and a fabric roof. This roof adapts to the shape of large, bulky items and objects. A nicely concealed compartment holds a fold-out rear bench seat for when you are wanting to take the family on a trip.

The Frendzy is powered by the same all-electric drivetrain that was used in the Kangoo Z.E. This means that it should have horsepower of 59bhp, coupled with a range in the region of 100 miles. As was mentioned earlier, those looking for a closer inspection of the Renault Frendzy will have to wait until September, when the vehicle debuts at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

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Wednesday May 18th, 2011 19:42 Audi Announce Production of A1 and A3 Green Cars


Audi has announced that from 2013, it will produce the all-electric A1 e-tron, and a gas-powered A3. These models will form the centrepiece of the German car manufacturer’s plans for a new environmentally friendly ‘balanced mobility’ initiative.

For now, Audi plans to build only 1,500 e-gas A3s, and these will all run on synthetic methane gas. Forming part of Audi’s wider green energy plans, this gas will come from purpose built off-shore wind farms. One of the clear advantages of using synthetic gas to power a car is that it removes the extra weight and performance limitations that battery-based electric cars face.

The four-seater A1 e-tron runs exclusively on the power of its electric motor, and draws its energy from a package of lithium-ion batteries. Storing 12 kWh of energy, the battery should be sufficient for around 31 miles of driving. With a peak torque of 240Nm, Audi’s electric car sprints from 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds and has a top speed of greater than 80mph.

The A3 e-gas uses a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine in conjunction with two fuel tanks, one for gas and one for petrol. With gas tanks that store the e-gas at a pressure of 200 bar, the A3 should, in theory, have enough capacity to cope with drives of over 250 miles. In the event that the natural-gas tanks run empty and there is no CNG station nearby, the Audi A3 can run on conventional gas with no drop in performance.

In addition to developing and producing the A1 and A3 models, Audi is building a new synthetic e-gas plant. Audi believes that by taking this approach, well-to-wheel emissions will be reduced by up to 85% over the latest crop of gas-powered vehicles.

With Audi’s A1 and A3 models on the horizon, the next few years should be an exciting time in terms of the continuing development of environmentally friendly green cars.


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Monday May 9th, 2011 20:29 Jaguar Announce Production of C-X75 Supercar


On Friday, Jaguar announced that it would be building a limited run of its Project C-X75 electric supercar. Built in conjunction with the Williams F1 team, the four-wheel-drive C-X75 was first revealed at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. Described as “the ultimate expression of Jaguar design and engineering innovation,” it is being built to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Coventry-based manufacturer.

With a chassis made of carbon-fibre, the C-X75′s body will weigh just 1,350kg. That is lighter than a Ford Focus. Jaguar anticipates that the hybrid will produce CO2 emissions of less than 99g/km, making it one of the most efficient supercars in the world. In certain modes, Jaguar claim that the car can emit just 70g/km of CO2. Incorporating a Kinetic Energy Regeneration System (KERS), the C-X75 will be capable of silent electric running with an extensive range in excess of 50km. It will also have a zero emission mode where it can run solely on electric power for around 30 miles.

Whereas the concept car revealed at the 2010 Paris Road Show included jet engines, the production version will instead sport a highly-boosted 1.6-litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine developed by Williams. Williams will also provide assistance with aerodynamics, carbon composite manufacture and hybrid technologies. Although there has been no official word on the power output of the Jaguar, it is expected to be in excess of 900bhp.

Aided by its lightweight chassis and ceramic brakes, the Jaguar C-X75 will go from 0-60mph in less than 3 seconds and from 0-100 in less than six seconds. Its top speed is expected to be in excess of 200mph.

Expected to go on sale some time in 2013, the Jaguar C-X75 should provide stern competition to any Ferrari or Lamborghini, and is likely to cost somewhere between £700,000 and £900,000.


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Friday May 6th, 2011 17:41 Peugeot’s EX1 Smashes Nurburgring Record

Peugeot EX1


Peugeot’s EX1 concept roadster has just set the record for the fastest lap at the Nurburgring by an electric vehicle. The record previously stood at 9 minutes and 51.45 seconds, and was held by the Mini E Race, a lightweight version of the Mini E two-seat EV. Despite weather conditions being “far from favourable,” the EX1 managed to cut over 50 seconds off the previous record, clocking a lap time of 9 minutes and 1.338 seconds. The electric car managed to do this with an average of speed of 86mph.

Although it is supposedly styled to look like a water droplet, the EX1 has, in terms of its appearance, been likened to the batmobile. Based on the Asphalte and the 20cup concept, it is powered by two electric motors. While one motor is located at the front of the car, the other is located at the back. It has a 30kWh lithium-Ion battery pack, and can be recharged from a standard electric outlet. Alternatively, it can be recharged simply by parking it inside the custom-built garage that Peugeot has built to go with it. According to Peugeot, under normal driving conditions, the EX1 can run for a maximum of 174 miles.

In comparison to other green cars, the Peugeot EX1′s performance statistics are certainly very impressive. Its horsepower stands at 340bhp, nearly 100bhp more than the Tesla Roadster, and its maximum torque stands at 240Nm, 40Nm more than the Roadster. It goes from 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds and, from a standing start, can reach its maximum speed of 162mph in just 6.6 seconds. That top speed of 162mph is 37mph faster than Tesla’s Roadster.

Built as part of Peugeot’s 200th anniversary, the EX1 has already set 6 new world acceleration records, and looks to be a significant step forward in terms of high performance green cars.


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