Jul 112014
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This year, Nissan will use an outstandingly powerful engine to propel their ZEOD RC car at the 24 Hours Of LeMans. It weighs a measly 88 pounds, is equipped with only 3 cylinders, and it produces a whopping 400 HP. Shown below is a man holding the engine up with his bare hands, just to show you how incredibly lightweight and compact it is (minus the turbocharger).

Nissan ZEO 88-pound, 400 HP engine. Image obtained with thanks from NIssan.

Nissan ZEO 88-pound, 400 HP engine.
Image obtained with thanks from Nissan.

Apart from that. The ZEOD RC car is a hybrid-electric one. It will extend the range of the ZEOD RC during the long 24 Hours Of LeMans, and probably make the car outstandingly powerful. Electric motors already have a very high power-to-weight ratio. Imagine combining that with the high power-to-weight ratio of this engine? I don’t know about you, but i’m eager to see how this project performs!

There could be a catch to this design. I know that unusually small and lightweight motor designs often have a partial duty cycle (in other words, they can’t operate 24/7). What do you think it is? Incredible new materials? Maybe it just can’t run for long? Sound off with your opinions in the comment section.

Source: Wired.

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Jun 272014
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Originally published on Cleantechnica By Tina Casey.

Just in time for the 2014 Go Further With Ford auto trend conference in Dearborn, here comes news that Ford’s new super-efficient EcoBoost 1.0-liter engine has just been named International Engine of the Year for the third year in a row, and it also garnered the honor for Best Engine in the under 1.0-liter class. That’s according to a survey of 82 automotive journalists at Engine Expo 2014 in Stuttgart.

We were just talking about a bigger version of the EcoBoost, which is standard on that all new 2015 Ford Edge crossover SUV. The 1.0 version is in the Ford Fiesta available now and it will be available later this year on the 2015 Focus.

The Ford EcoBoost Engine

We happened to be visiting Dearborn (okay, so we were invited by Ford) last December and we caught a hands-on look at the Ford EcoBoost engine, so here are a few more details about the 1.0.

For starters, the three-years-in-a-row achievement is unprecedented. It brings the 1.0 EcoBoost up to 13 awards, including a Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics and a Ward’s 10 Best Engines award in the three-cylinder class, which is a first for any automaker.

Performance-wise, the 1.0 liter EcoBoost has a compact turbocharger that clocks in at a maximum rpm that compares to 2014 Formula 1 engines. We don’t really know what that means in terms of the numbers but we had a chance to experience it on the road when a Ford staffer offered us an “enthusiastic” spin in a Fiesta around the high-speed track at Ford’s Dearborn facility.

For those of you in the know, we’ll admit there’s a 70 mph limit on the high-speed track but hey you can still feel the burn.

Of more interest to the clean tech angle are the efficiency refinements. Some of them relate directly to fuel efficiency, and others help enhance life cycle factors that have more to do with general resource conservation.

As Ford describes it, the 1.0 liter can fit into an airplane overhead luggage compartment, but packed into that space is a system for cooling exhaust temperatures that provides for an optimal fuel-to-air ratio.

Here’s some more green goodies:

An innovative flywheel and front pulley design delivers improved refinement compared with traditional three-cylinder engine designs.

Engine friction is reduced by specially coated pistons, low-tension piston rings, low-friction crank seals and a cam-belt-in-oil design.

A variable-displacement oil pump tailors lubrication to demand and optimizes oil pressure for improved fuel efficiency.

Engines With Benefits

As Ford describes it the 1.0-liter EcoBoost delivers “big-car benefits from a small engine.”

That goes to the heart of a conversation we’ve been having about the future of liquid fuel. While first-generation biofuel has some serious ball-and-chain issues in terms of sustainability, the emergence of next-generation sources means that gasmobiles have the potential for a sustainable supply chain far into the future, even as the electric vehicle market grows.

Efficiency enhancements like the EcoBoost series and the advent of new lightweight materials will also contribute to that trend.

Speaking of contributing, the EcoBoost is the result of an intensive collaborative effort involving more than 200 Ford engineers and designers.

Collaboration also emerged as a running theme throughout the Go Further with Ford conference, and we’ll have more details on that in a later post.

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Jun 092014
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According to Mitsubishi Motors’ website, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is now for sale in Australia. Mitsubishi called it the first plug-in crossover hybrid SUV. The manufacturer’s suggested price for the vehicle is $49,990 to $54,990 AUD. You might wonder why you shouldn’t just purchase a conventional hybrid instead? Aren’t they much cheaper?

Not in the long run. Plug-in hybrids such as this crossover can be recharged using the grid in the comfort of your own home overnight, enabling you to take advantage of the lower cost of electricity, keeping the gasoline engine off for a longer time. Gasoline is far more expensive than electricity, and conventional hybrids rely on gasoline much more often. If you have a solar system at home, that creates even more of an incentive to buy a PHEV!

Apart from that, this spacious 5-seater crossover SUV achieves an impressively low fuel consumption of 1.9 L/100 km (Based on the official ADR 81/02 test cycle).

Other features worth noting include the fact that it can use electric propulsion up to 100 km/h (62 MPH), so you can drive at the speed limit on highways, without burning gasoline.

Other features include:

  • 2.0L DOHC MIVEC engine.
  • 5 seats.
  • HEV & PHEV engine – motor.
  • Front fog lamps.
  • Dusk sensing headlights.
  • Rain sensing wipers.
  • 7 SRS Airbags.

For the Aspire version of this vehicle:

  • Chrome exterior door handles.
  • Leather seats with front seat heaters.
  • Power tailgate.
  • Power sunroof.
  • Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM).
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC).
  • EV Remote System.

Source: Mitsubishi Motors Australia.

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Apr 052014
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By Nicholas Brown.

Matt Farah and Zack Klapman of The Smoking Tire went on an electric car test drive to compare the value of the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR. Zach Klapman drove the Cadillac ELR, and Matt Farah drove the Chevy Volt.

Video Credit: The Smoking Tire on Youtube.

Unsurprisingly, the ELR was found to be more pleasant overall, but the reviewers were disappointed in its value. They agreed that $50,000 would be a much better price for the Cadillac ELR (where value is concerned). There is an enormous price difference of $40,815 between these two electric vehicles. The Chevy Volt MSRP is $34,185, and the Cadillac ELR is $75,000 (as of April 2014 for the base models).

GM-Volt.com asked if this makes me happy I have a Volt, or if I wished for an ELR. If I had a Volt, my answer would be the former.

Source: GM-Volt.com.

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Apr 042014
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By Nicholas Brown.

Panasonic, a major manufacturer of batteries, is hesitant to join Tesla Motors’ ‘Gigafactory’ project, because it would raise investment risks, according to Panasonic’s CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga.

Tesla Model S Drivetrain. Image Credit: Kompulsa.

Tesla Model S Drivetrain.
Image Credit: Kompulsa.

“Our approach is to make investments step by step,” Tsuga said yesterday. “Elon plans to produce more affordable models besides Model S, and I understand his thinking and would like to cooperate as much as we can. But the investment risk is definitely larger.”

I don’t blame them for being cautious, as this is a very large project. It costs $5 billion! (Tesla already raised $2 billion). On the other hand, sometimes big risks result in big rewards.

If this project succeeds as Elon Musk hopes it will, it could reduce lithium-ion battery manufacturing costs, making them more feasible for electric vehicles and home energy storage. It would also enable Tesla to manufacture hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles annually. To top it off, the success of this project could provide peace-of-mind to others who are interested in pursuing similar projects, leading to more large-scale factories that produce low-cost lithium-ion batteries.

Those are big rewards!

Source: Bloomberg.

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Mar 202014
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Brainstorm Project – Home

Autonomous cars open a window of opportunity for amputees, people who suffer from visual impairment, Parkinson’s disease, and any other condition that could have an effect on their safety, such as severe cases of ADHD.

Ford Fusion Automated Research Vehicle. Image Credit: Kompulsa / Nicholas Brown.

Ford Fusion Automated Research Vehicle at the NAIAS (Detroit Auto Show).
Image Credit: Kompulsa / Nicholas Brown.

It enables them to get around privately without soliciting lifts. That’s a godsend, but how is this related to energy or science?

Autonomous vehicles offer the ability to avoid the consequences of typical driving habits, such as reduced fuel efficiency, which is caused by frequent, sudden acceleration, sudden braking, and speeding.

Implications Of Autonomous Vehicles For Electric Propulsion

The electrification of automobiles is impeded by the short range of electric vehicles. Therefore, the improved efficiency achieved by autonomous vehicles (especially due to the fact that they don’t speed) can help to conserve range. As a matter of fact, it can substantially improve average range, making electric vehicles a far more viable and attractive option than they ever have been.

Autonomous vehicles can also be equipped with smaller battery banks and achieve the same range that today’s electric cars do, reducing their cost.

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Mar 192014
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By: Rachel DiFranco, Sustainability Coordinator, City of Fremont

The City of Fremont has made a number of local headlines this month for reports on the high number of electric vehicle owners living within its boundaries. With a population of 221,986, Fremont holds 14.3 percent of Alameda County’s 1,554,720 residents.1 But with 3,870 electric vehicle rebates issued in Alameda County since 2010 under the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, Fremont, with its 1,143 rebates to date, represents 29.4 percent of all-electric vehicles owned within the County.2

Pie Chart

Fremont's EV Rebated By Month

The reason for the heightened media attention is that many people were surprised that this southern Alameda County suburb could be “the East Bay’s epicenter for electric vehicles,” questioning, “What makes it so special?” The news of increasing EV ownership in Fremont, however, is less of a surprise to those responsible for City development. As the City’s deputy director of Community Development, Dan Schoenholz, stated when pointing out that a slightly larger number of electric vehicle rebates had been issued in Fremont than in San Francisco, “San Francisco has the reputation for being a super-green city, but this shows that Fremont is quietly pushing the envelope.”

The story, in fact, fits nicely into the future vision that the City has created for itself. This is a future of sustainable urbanism, one in which Fremont has evolved beyond its early agricultural roots and post-war suburban sprawl into a center for clean technology, a mecca of cultural diversity, and the home of eco-conscious citizens. Beginning in 2011 with the City’s award-winning General Plan that strategically positioned “Sustainability” as the opening chapter for its 2030 vision, and gaining momentum with the adoption of its Climate Action Plan in 2012 to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25 percent by the year 2020, the City of Fremont continues to challenge the conventional model of development with an alternative one that places the health and well-being of future generations at the forefront of policy-making.

Continue reading »

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Mar 042014
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People have driven more than 1 billion miles in Tesla, Nissan Leaf, and Chevy Volt electric vehicles. This signifies that the public, and the electric vehicle manufacturers now have over 1 billion miles of EV driving experience and test data.

Tesla Model S touch Screen Interface.

Tesla Model S touch Screen Interface. Image Credit: Kompulsa.

This is critical to the electrification of the automobile, as early adopters are putting EVs to the test. When they fail, manufacturers learn of the mistakes they made, and enhance their electric vehicle designs further.

This also entails that many more than the billion people have been exposed to electric vehicles (due to the fact that they give their friends lifts and test drives in their electric vehicles).

Early adopters got today’s big industries where they are, and they are doing the same for the EV industry.

Source: Cleantechnica.

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Mar 022014
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Originally published on Cleantechnica.
By James Ayre.

Tesla’s stock has exploded upwards once again, climbing up to about $264 a share at about 10:00 am on February 26th — that’s a climb of over 15%, and only a week or so after a separate large percentage jump.

The most recent big boost that the stock received is largely down to all of the talk going around about Tesla’s soon-to-be-built Gigafactory, and a report that the market analysts over at Morgan Stanley released about that.

The expectations expressed in the report are very optimistic — anyone who trusts the judgement of the authors would be hard-pressed not to invest further, given the great potential for further growth that is noted.

AutoblogGreen provides more details about the report:

Authored by analyst Adam Jonas, the document looks forward to a Utopian future (around 2026, for those anxious for such a thing) where it is predicted that Tesla will enjoy a commanding share of both the battery and autonomous automobile market, and its revenues will be sixty times that of today. Sixty times. That’s a pretty sunny outlook. Not incidentally, the financial services company also has doubled its target price for TSLA, from $153 to a nice, round $320.

That rosy outlook report is not necessarily the only thing filling the sails of the California automaker today. Consumer Reports has also added to the momentum, naming the Tesla Model S its best overall top pick for 2014. And now we hear that Panasonic and some partners are interested in investing almost a billion dollars into Tesla’s new gigafactory.

It’s of course hard to say exactly what will happen when talking about something as volatile as stock prices, but, that said, it does look as though Tesla has placed itself on a solid course for growth, one that will likely make the company’s stock continue to appear as a strong choice for investors.

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Feb 282014
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Tesla Motors Takes Another Step Forward

Tesla Motors’ electric vehicles are among the best-selling EVs, and that means they need many batteries to build their cars. The company intends to construct an enormous ‘Gigafactory’ (possibly in Nevada) which could produce up to 500,000 electric vehicle batteries annually.

The batteries are to be constructed from the ground up in the new factory, potentially increasing their profits by a factor of two, and drive down the cost of the batteries via economies of scale, another step forward for the EV industry which will force the rest of the automobile manufacturers to kick their R&D into high gear.

Elon Musk, the CEO, hinted that the factory will utilize solar and wind power, making their electric cars greener than ever, or maybe it could make the rest of the car brands’ batteries greener, as it could sell those batteries to them. After all, this factories production capacity far exceeds their current battery demand.

Source: Gas 2.

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