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- 09/30/14--14:00: _Recharge Wrap-up: L...
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- 10/09/14--10:06: _BMW ready to bring ...
- 10/10/14--15:58: _Panasonic ready to ...
- 10/13/14--17:28: _Tesla talking to Sl...
- 10/20/14--15:29: _Recharge Wrap-up: D...
- 10/31/14--11:59: _2016 Chevy Volt pow...
- 11/03/14--15:00: _Recharge Wrap-up: I...
- 11/08/14--14:00: _Hyundai, Kia want t...
- 11/16/14--05:32: _Tesla Model S reduc...
- 11/18/14--12:58: _Recharge Wrap-up: D...
- 11/20/14--06:57: _Recharge Wrap-up: T...
- 11/21/14--07:20: _Is BMW ready to inc...
- 11/24/14--07:30: _Audi boosts A3 Spor...
- 11/26/14--04:54: _Recharge Wrap-up: P...
- 12/01/14--07:57: _Toyota has 200 orde...
- 12/01/14--15:28: _Recharge Wrap-up: H...
- 12/09/14--10:30: _Toyota spending $16...
- 10/07/14--13:58: Recharge Wrap-up: Ethanol fraudster pleads guilty, Denmark funds EVs
- 10/08/14--15:01: Recharge Wrap-up: VW exec predicts EVs with 375-mile range
- 10/09/14--10:06: BMW ready to bring more i3, i8 plug-ins to US
- 10/10/14--15:58: Panasonic ready to start big investment in Tesla Gigafactory
- 10/13/14--17:28: Tesla talking to Slovakia about European EV plant
- 10/31/14--11:59: 2016 Chevy Volt powertrain video teasers
- 11/08/14--14:00: Hyundai, Kia want to improve fuel economy by 25 percent
- 11/16/14--05:32: Tesla Model S reduces colors with new options
- 11/21/14--07:20: Is BMW ready to increase i8 production?
- 12/01/14--07:57: Toyota has 200 orders for 2016 Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car
- 12/09/14--10:30: Toyota spending $168 million to make more Mirai fuel cell vehicles
A Kentucky man has converted his 1939 Dodge pickup to an electric vehicle. Al Gajda of Lexington built the electric truck, which he now uses as his daily driver. "I take advantage of any excuse to drive it; just banging around town, errands, short runs on the interstate, delivering my granddaughter to school in the morning," he says. It is powered by a lithium-ion phosphate battery, which is mounted in a wooden box on the truck bed, and gets about 100 miles per charge. Read more at the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Elon Musk will speak at the Automotive News World Congress in January. The Tesla CEO is a featured speaker for the program, "Setting the Pace in a Thriving Market." The event takes place in Detroit, which could lead to an interesting mix of people in the audience, and Musk will speak on January 13. Read more at Automotive News.
Production of the Toyota Rav4 EV has ended. The shipment of the final Toyota EVs concludes Toyota's deal to source batteries from Tesla. Of the 2,600 Rav4 EVs to be produced, there are probably just a few hundred left to be sold, most of which are likely to be gone by the end of October. Read more at Inside EVs.
Cadillac will likely show an improved version of the ELR at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The 2016 ELR will include unspecified "engineering enhancements," according to Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell. There will be no 2015 model, as the 2014 model will be sold until the 2016 ELR goes on sale in the first half 2015. Read more at Edmunds.
Uber executives, along with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, have announced a major expansion of the ride-hailing company's Chicago headquarters. Uber also plans to add 420 jobs by the end of 2016. "Uber's new expanded headquarters will allow the company to continue its rapid growth and serve its riders and drivers throughout Illinois," says Governor Quinn. Last month, Quinn vetoed legislation that would have put restrictions on companies like Uber in the state. Read more in the press release below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The average fuel economy of new cars sold in the US went down in September. According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research (UMTRI), the average mileage was 25.3 mpg, down from 25.8 mpg in August. The dip is likely from increased sales of light trucks and SUVs. Still, the national average is up 5.2 mpg since UMTRI started tracking it in October 2007. The group's Eco-Driving Index measures average emissions per distance driven (with a lag of two months) and shows that figure at an all-time low in July of 2014. Read more at the UMTRI website, or get a little more analysis at Green Car Congress.
A third of drivers who don't already own hybrids would consider buying one, according to UMTRI research. The group also found that hybrid owners are happy with their cars, and most (to the tune of 83 percent) will continue to buy them. Of those, a third said they'll be purchasing a plug-in hybrid next, while three percent will opt for a fully electric vehicle. Thirty-three percent of hybrid buyers cited environmental impact as the reason for their purchase, with 28 percent choosing them for long-term costs and 25 percent to use less energy. Of the third of folks who aren't considering a hybrid, more than half would rethink it if the price was right. Read more from the University of Michigan.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is loaning $91 million for an advanced biofuel plant in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. Cool Planet, which will operate this facility, aims to produce an annual 8 million to 10 million gallons of reformate, a renewable fuel additive made from cellulosic material (pine chips, in this case). "USDA's support for renewable energy projects like this helps create jobs in rural areas, promotes US energy independence, and leads to further expansion of the growing and increasingly significant bioeconomy," says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The USDA loan is made possible by a part of the 2008 Farm Bill's Biorefinery Assistance Program. Learn more in the press release below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The Danish Energy Agency is offering funding to get more electric cars on the road. In Denmark, 99 percent of vehicles are still powered by gasoline and diesel, so the government is offering about $6.44 million in grants to help change this. The money will go to projects such as carsharing and leasing programs that can offer EVs at prices comparable to traditionally powered cars. The country aims to add 1,400 electric cars to the roads through 2015. Copenhagen City Council also recently announced it would double the amount of electric cars it uses in the next year and a half. "The goal is for the transport sector to be fossil fuel free by 2050." says Rasmus Helveg Petersen, Denmark's climate and energy minister. Read more at The Copenhagen Post.
Volvo plans to cut carbon emissions at its Gent, Belgium production facility by more than 40 percent. It is partnering with the nearby Stora Enso paper plant to help heat the Volvo factory pictured above. The paper plant converts its own sludge and shipped-in biomass into electricity and heat. It will use this system to heat compressed water, which it will pump to Volvo at over 250 degrees Fahrenheit through an underground pipe. Volvo will use that to heat its buildings and paint rooms. As a result, Volvo will rely less on fossil fuels to heat its facility, and will reduce CO2 emissions. The pipe will be installed next year, and Volvo should be getting its heat from Stora Enso beginning in 2016. Read more in the press release below.
The man behind an ethanol scam has pled guilty to fraud. Businessman Robert J. Braun will have to pay back nearly $1.5 million to people he told were investing in an ethanol plant in Spokane, WA. Braun was also sentenced to three years in federal prison. He promised investors lucrative returns. Instead, Braun used investors' money to pay for three homes, personal shopping and to help fund a shoe store he owned. Read more at The Spokesman-Review.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Volkswagen says EV ranges over 300 miles aren't too far in the future. Plug-in hybrids are merely a bridge to all-electric mobility becoming more practical for people who need to travel longer distances, according to Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Volkswagen's head of powertrain development. Energy density is increasing rapidly in new batteries. Speaking about the e-Golf, Neusser says, "I expect the next generation in 2015-17 will increase to around 300 km [186 miles] and the following step will be around 500-600 km [310-372 miles]." Neusser also says he believes that charging infrastructure will improve to catch up with these more advanced batteries. Read more at Motoring.
BMW is offering higher incentives for the all-electric i3 than the range-extended version. More buyers are opting for the i3 REx, with its 78 extra miles of range. So, to move the standard i3 (which is already cheaper), BMW is offering $2,000 in incentives for October - double what is offered for the i3 REx. The added incentives help close the price gap between the BMW and other EVs with similar ranges. The deals won't last long, though. According to New Jersey BMW salesman Manny Antunes, BMW's current incentives are "as aggressive as they're going to get" for a while. Read more at Green Car Reports.
Honda is changing its research and development process for all cars after a series of Fit Hybrid recalls. The hybrid version, which makes up more than half of all Fit sales in Japan, was the subject of four recalls within nine months. In response, Honda will change the way it develops cars worldwide, with one extra "gate" to pass in the process. Honda will do prototype testing earlier in the research process to see how separately developed components work together before moving onto the car's development phase. It will add time and cost to making cars, but Honda hopes it will help prevent problems - like those that come with a flurry of recalls - down the road. Read more at Automotive News. Permalink | Email this | Comments
BMW has found a receptive audience for its first batches of plug-in vehicles in the good 'ole USA. The German automaker, which started selling its first mass-produced i plug-ins in Europe late last year, will send a higher percentage of those vehicles to the US because of strong demand here, according to Automotive News, which talked with BMW executive Ian Robertson. And the Americans might cause Bimmer to speed up production, to boot.
BMW makes the i3 electric vehicle and i8 plug-in hybrid in Germany, and has sold about 10,000 units of the former and 280 of the latter worldwide. Since August, BMW has been selling about 1,000 i3s a month in the US (it sold just 58 i8s in September). The bigger story, though, may be that Bimmer has sold out of its US allocation of i8s through the end of next year. Pretty heady stuff for a car that starts at around $137,000.
Currently, BMW builds around 100 i-series vehicles a day in Germany, and may speed up production of the i8 for the aforementioned reason. As for the i3, which comes with an option of a gas-powered range extender, we'd reported earlier this year that the waitlist for that model had grown to about six months. Our i3 First Drive report is here if you'd like to know what all the fuss is about. Permalink | Email this | Comments
To paraphrase Dr. Evil from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, why spend a trillion when you could spend ... billions? That's what Panasonic is saying about its investment in Tesla's gigafactory, though there's a catch. The billions are in Japanese yen.
Yes, Panasonic will invest "tens of billions of yen" into the Gigafactory slated for the great state of Nevada, Reuters says, citing comments from Panasonic Chief Executive Kazuhiro Tsuga. That's not exactly specific, but 10 billion yen is equal to about $92 million. We've heard Panasonic's share of the new factory could be as high as $2-3 billion, but at least now we have a starting point
Whatever Panasonic's kicking in, Nevada is also ponying up a pretty penny. Last month, Tesla said it would build the factory near Reno after reaching an agreement that calls for about $1.2 billion in incentives from the state over a 20-year period.
Tesla and lithium-ion battery maker Panasonic officially announced their gigafactory partnership in late July, though Panasonic wasn't talking numbers at the time. All told, the plant is expected to cost about $5 billion to build and is considered necessary for Tesla to reach the scale to build its planned $35,000 EV, the Model 3. That's because the factory is will have the capacity to produce about a half-million (no, we didn't say "billions") electric vehicles a year. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Ready for some far-flung Tesla news? How about a wild rumor out of Slovakia? You got it.
The Slovak Spectator reports that Tesla might build a manufacturing plant there some day and is already in talks with the Economy Ministry and the Slovak Agency for Development of Investments and Trade. This was apparently confirmed to the newspaper by the EM, which also said the ministry offered Tesla an unspecified amount of investment aid (a smart move). Tesla spokesperson Liz Jarvis-Shean told AutoblogGreen simply, "This story seems quite speculative, and we don't comment on such rumors." Fair enough.
We do know that Tesla is looking to open a manufacturing center in Europe, but that's unlikely to happen in the next few years, given that the CEO Elon Musk said recently that Tesla would need to sell 160,000 vehicles a year in Europe before building them there makes sense. Hard numbers of difficult to come by, but in the first four months of 2014, Tesla sold around 3,500 EVs in Europe, according to research firm JATO Dynamics. So, we have some time to cultivate some Slovakian sources. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Detroit Electric has a new teaser video and has updated its brand in preparation of the introduction of the SP:01. The refreshed logo uses a blue and white color palette, and the company has also given its website a new look. The teaser video, which gives a sneak peek at the exterior of the SP:01, shows the car taking form in the midst of an electrical storm. Watch the video or learn more in the press release below.
Abengoa is celebrating the grand opening of a commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, KS. When running at full scale, the refinery will produce up to 25 million gallons of ethanol a year. The plant will also generate enough electricity to power itself and put some back into the grid. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was on hand for the dedication, saying, "Every gallon of cellulosic ethanol produced and used to fuel our vehicles reduces the impact of harmful greenhouse gas emissions by greater than 60 percent as compared to conventional gasoline." Learn more at Energy.gov.
Good Housekeeping has named the Nissan Leaf one of its "Tried and Tested" vehicles. The magazine called the Leaf SL its top "Roomy Electric" vehicle in its November issue. The magazine's research institute evaluated the EV based on track and road driving, ergonomics and convenience features. Good Housekeeping made note of the car's "impressive" range, but according to Nissan's Fred Diaz, "the real beauty of the Nissan Leaf is that it's roomy and, best of all, fun to drive." Read more in the press release below.
Quasar Energy Group produces compressed natural gas from sewage and garbage. It uses things like grains leftover from brewing Budweiser, food waste from a baseball stadium and sewage sludge to produce the gas through anaerobic digestion. The compressed gas can then be used to power cars like Chevrolet's Bi-fuel Impala, which goes on sale later this year. Chevrolet likens the situation to the Delorean time machine in the Back To The Future movie series, which uses garbage to fuel its fusion generator. Watch the video and read the press release below to learn more.Permalink | Email this | Comments
If there's one thing we've learned about plug-in vehicle fans, you have a thing for seeing your cars get made. The series of videos showing BMW i3 production was strangely popular, as were the shots from inside the VW e-Golf plant. Well, with General Motors pulling the veil off of the 2016 Chevy Volt this week, it's time to take a peek at the production process for that vehicle as well. You're welcome.
Up first we've got a clip from CNN Money showing a little bit about how the new Volt's new battery pack and other powertrain components are made. Those of you who are trying to read the lithium tea leaves and see if the new shape reveals that the 2016 Volt will have five seats might want to check it out.
Then we've got two clips from GM itself, one showing an animation about the updated Voltec powertrain and another with some B Roll of the old Volt. Since GM doesn't want us to see the new car quite yet, we'll have to enjoy this for now. Watch below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Indianapolis will deploy 425 battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles as part of its municipal fleet by 2016. The fleet will include such cars as the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and Ford Fusion Energi. The city will also reduce its overall fleet by 100 vehicles. In all, the revised group - called the "Freedom Fleet" - will save $8.7 million and 2.2 million gallons of gasoline over 10 years. Read more at Hybrid Cars.
EVs with longer range would make vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-grid energy management systems more practical for the US. The idea of using EVs as energy storage for emergencies or times of high grid demand is currently being tested in Japan with Nissan's Leaf-to-Home system. The US is also interested in such capabilities, but the higher average energy use of American households would make larger batteries in EVs ideal for grid storage applications. Read more at Green Car Reports.
LG Chem has broken ground on its EV battery plant in Nanjing, China. The factory, when constructed, will have a capacity of producing batteries for 100,000 cars per year according to the Korean company. The plant will supply batteries for Chinese automakers such as SAIC and Qoros. Construction is expected to be finished by the end of 2015 and LG Chem expects revenue of more than $933 million by 2020. Read more in the press release below.
General Motors is using adhesive used in the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray to create habitat for threatened bat species. Artificial bat caves could help alleviate white-nose fungus that leads to diminished bat populations. Leftover adhesive is used to create stalactites in the artificial caves, allowing them more structure to hang from. GM has also provided Volt battery covers to create nesting habitats for bats, which eat harmful insects and help pollinate plants. See the videos and read more in the press release below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Hyundai and sister company Kia are giving themselves a little bit of time to make up a lot of ground in the fight for better fuel economy. We wonder if a recent multi-million fine might have something to do with this public target.
The connected South Korean companies are vowing to increase their fleetwide fuel economy by 25 percent by 2020, Reuters reports. This will be done by further advancing their powertrains, looking at other ways to reduce weight, upgrading diesel engines and improving transmissions. That will all take money, but Kia and Hyundai will have $300 million less to invest thanks to a recent fine of more than $300 million from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for incorrect fuel economy numbers on around 1.2 million vehicles from the 2011-2013 model years. The civil penalties - $100 million of the total - are the largest in EPA history. In late 2012, Hyundai and Kia admitted to overstating the fuel economy of a number of models and said they'd change the official MPG figures and compensate owners.
Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford confirmed to AutoblogGreen that the company set the dramatic fuel-economy improvement targets. In the US, where Hyundai and Kia are operated as separate entities, Hyundai "remains committed to meeting the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) requirements that have been set out by the US government," Hosford said
The EPA recently released a report on fuel-economy and put Hyundai fourth in overall fleetwide fuel economy in the US among vehicle makers for the 2014 model year. The top three were Mazda, Honda and Subaru. Permalink | Email this | Comments
The Tesla Model S is no longer a "green" car. Or brown, for that matter. Call it a case of streamlining.
The California-based automaker will reduce the option choices for the Model S by reducing the number of variants and colors available on its only production vehicle. Elon Musk made the announcement on the company's conference call with analysts earlier this month. Musk said:
Additionally, there will no longer be an all-wheel-drive version of the 60-kilowatt-hour Model S.
We've had to make some tough decisions on essentially having fewer versions of the Model S in order to streamline manufacturing and thus be able to ramp production better and have better control in logistics and not have like a million variations on the Model S. The dual motors, we're not going to produce the dual motor 60-kilowatt hour car at all.
We're not taking additional orders for the performance 85. We're only doing the performance 85 dual motor and we're cancelling green and brown as colors. These are a few examples, but this helps us streamline the manufacturing and supply chain logistics and enables us to better ramp production.
Tesla announced its third-quarter results earlier this month, saying it had a record-high 7,785 deliveries for the three-month period. By the end of next year, the company hopes to be knocking out 2,000 vehicles a week, which would put Tesla over the 100,000-annual-vehicle threshold. And with fewer colors to choose from, too. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Andromeda Interfaces has launched its Electric Vehicle Interface Controller (EVIC), which displays and allows the user to visualize various vehicle systems. Users can monitor their EVs battery usage, motor controllers and vehicle charging. The EVIC gathers various data - voltage, cell temperatures, amperage, etc. - from the car and displays it in a user-friendly way using easy-to-understand graphics. The EVIC is currently available through Andromeda Interfaces' website. Read more in the press release below.
The US House of Representatives has passed a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline. The bill now moves on to the Senate, where it is unsure if the bill will pass. If it does make it through Congress, President Obama has said he might veto the bill, but that is also uncertain. The Keystone XL pipeline would be used to move oil from Canada's oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico. Read more at Reuters.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) believes that ethanol production will increase in 2015. In the November issue of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, the EIA predicted an average of 934,000 barrels of ethanol produced per day in 2015, up from the predicted 2014 average of 927,000 barrels per day. This prediction is up slightly from the October issue, which estimated 933,000 barrels per day next year. Biodiesel production is expected to average 84,000 barrels per day in 2015. Read more at Ethanol Producer Magazine.
The EIA also warned that global oil production will not continue to be able to keep up with demand in coming years. The EIA expects demand to increase by 37 percent by 2040, which would require 14 million more barrels of oil to be extracted per day. The EIA doesn't believe the current oil boom will last that long, likely tapering off in the mid-2020s. "A well-supplied oil market in the short-term should not disguise the challenges that lie ahead, as the world is set to rely more heavily on a relatively small number of producing countries," says EIA Chief Economist Fatih Birol. Read more at Green Car Congress.
Daimler subsidiary Li-Tec will stop production of lithium ion battery cells. Instead, Daimler plans to source its cells from LG Chem, while it uses Li-Tec for research. While Daimler seems happy with the quality of cells being produced by Li-Tec, it seems more financially viable to source the cells from elsewhere than to produce them itself. Read more at Green Car Congress.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Tesla has revealed the details of the upgrade of its Fremont, CA factory. One major change is the addition of a dedicated production space for the dual-motor P85D version of the Model S. Robots will be doing the battery installation on the Model S to save some time, and new export docks allow Tesla to get the cars out the door and on the way to their new owners more quickly. The new robots that move the cars around the factory have been named after X-Men characters, which makes our inner geeks smile. Check out the factory upgrade in the time-lapse video below and read more at Teslarati or at the Tesla Motors Blog.
A program in Beijing for privileged registrations for EVs hasn't had much success. Of the 1,424 lottery winners, only about 30 percent went on to register an electric car despite a two-month extension of the deadline to do so. Buyers are likely discouraged by the lack of charging infrastructure, which the city hopes to ameliorate with the addition of 1,000 new charging stations by the end of the year, and by requiring new and renovated developments to set aside parking specifically for EV charging. Read more at Green Car Reports.
The UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies suggests that laws designed to protect dealers and consumers are stymieing the adoption of EVs. Laws like the ones certain states have in place that block or otherwise restrict Tesla's direct-to-consumer business model are not helpful for companies that want to introduce new products to the market. They prevent companies from passing on savings to customers for whom they would likely make the difference in a purchasing decision. One possible solution would be to allow exemptions to certain selling restrictions for a certain number of vehicles sold. "This could give automakers the degree of control needed to work out kinks with early customers, develop scalable processes for supporting PEVs, and ensure that effective dealer performance standards are in place before handing the reins over to wholly independent retailers," according to UC Davis ITS. Read more at the UC Davis website.
Volkswagen says its environmental program, called "Think Blue. Factory," is meeting the automaker's own sustainability targets. The main purpose of the program is to move toward eco-friendlier carmaking at each of its plants worldwide. Volkswagen aims to reduce water and energy consumption, waste output and CO2 and solvent emissions by 25 percent, with 5,000 measures toward this goal to be put in place by 2018. In the last three years, Volkswagen has made production "17 percent more environmentally compatible," to use the marque's own words. Examples of measures already put in place have been reducing water usage for tightness tests at its Zwickau and Pamplona plants, and creating a process to filter cooling emulsion to save energy, water and lubricants at its Chemnitz engine plant. Learn more in the press release below.
Ford and SunPower's Drive Green For Life program aims to save customers money on solar power and, now, also raise funds for Sierra Club. Through the program, Ford EV and hybrid customers can get a $750 rebate on a SunPower residential solar system. For each rooftop system installed, SunPower will also donate $500 to environmental and conservation organization Sierra Club. Installing solar power allows drivers to charge their EVs and power their homes using clean energy, while the Drive Green For Life program also helps Sierra club continue its environmental advocacy, including its EV initiatives. Read more in the press release below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The BMW i8 plug-in hybrid is really fast. But the car is getting to customers really slowly. The German automaker might be doing something about that.
Bimmer executive Ian Robertson, speaking with reports at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, commented on the high demand for the super-PHEV and said the company may step up production in Germany, Automotive News Europe says. That's because the wait list for the i8 is approaching 18 months in some global markets. And Robertson would like to get that timeframe down to about six months.
No details were disclosed about how fast the i8 is being produced or how much faster that production rate may get. The i8, which retails for about $135,000, started sales in Europe in June and in the US two months later.
As for the smaller, slower i3 electric vehicle, BMW is making about 2,000 units a month, and wait lists are down to about four months. Part of the reason for that is because BMW shifted distribution rates for that model towards the US to meet higher-than-expected demand from stateside consumers and slow German sales. Through the end of October in the US, BMW had sold almost 4,300 i3 vehicles and 271 i8 models, including 204 i8 units last month alone. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Should we try to translate "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" into German? Audi might force us to do that. That's because the German automaker has stepped up production of its new plug-in vehicle - the A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid - which is never a bad thing.
Audi was circulating prototypes of the PHEV as early as 2012 and launched production this summer at a clip of 30 vehicles a day. Now, the company is saying that it's upped that daily production rate to 50. That's not exactly Ford F-150 manufacturing territory, but it's a pretty good sign that more Europeans are clamoring for the plug-in than Audi expected.
The A3 E-Tron is priced at about $51,000 in Germany and pairs a 1.4-liter gas-powered engine with an electric motor to produce 204 horsepower and get the car from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than seven and a half seconds. More impressively, the A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid can go 30 miles on electricity alone plus another 550 miles on gas power, and gets a Euro-based fuel-economy rating of a monstrous 156 miles per gallon. Check out Audi's press release below and take a look at our drive impressions here.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Porsche will be running a third 919 Hybrid LMP1 car in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. The extra Porsche will race in the six-hour May 2 WEC race at Spa-Francorchamps as a lead-up to the legendary 24-hour race on June 13 and 14. Porsche hasn't announced the driver lineup for the third 919 Hybrid, but drivers will remain the same for the other two cars. Including the third car is meant to help further test performance and efficiency as part of development for future hybrid systems. Read more at Green Car Congress.
BMW i Ventures is investing in Zendrive, a driving focused data and analytics company. The cooperation of the two companies is meant to help advance safety and efficiency by making the "in-car mobility experience even smoother by optimizing commuting and driving patterns," according to BMW i's Ulrich Quay. The venture capital arm of BMW's i brand also invests in JustPark, Chargepoint, Life360, Chargemaster and MyCityWay, and says it will have more strategic investment announcements in the coming months. Read more in the press release below.
The Audi Hungaria factory in Győr, Hungary will soon be getting geothermal energy from a nearby plant being constructed in Pér. When the facility is finished, Audi expects to source 82,000 megawatt hours of geothermal energy per year from it, or about six percent of its total heating needs. The clean energy helps Audi move "step by step along a path to developing a CO2‑neutral production plant," says Audi's Dr. Hubert Waltl. "The mobility of the future must be CO2‑neutral - and that applies not only to the use of our vehicles, but also to their production." Read more in the press release below.
Supporters have begun a petition drive for the passage of an E15 ordinance in Chicago. Despite pushback from oil companies, the city council is close to passing the "Chicago Clean Air Choice Ordinance," which includes the requirement by retailers to sell the 15-percent ethanol gasoline blend in the city. The ordinance includes an exception for stations selling less than 850,000 gallons of fuel per year. More than 4,000 people have signed the petition so far, with others leaving messages to voice their opinion on the matter in opposition to Big Oil's attempt to block it. Read more at Domestic Fuel.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Toyota built 500 Lexus LFA supercars between 2010 and 2012 in what Automotive News has called a "secretive workshop." The automaker has been wondering what to do with that production line since the last LFA rolled off in December 2012 and, like so much else for Toyota these days, the answer is a hydrogen car - and in about the same small numbers.
The 2016 Mirai fuel cell vehicle will go into production later this month at the old LFA workshop, which is located behind Toyota's Motomachi assembly plant in Toyota City. The skilled workers there have been doing other things (like building bicycles) since the last LFA was finished and now Automotive News says they will hand-build the Mirai so that the car can get the attention to detail Toyota wants and because there won't be that many of the hydrogen cars made for a while.
The 200 Mirai orders are "mostly from government and corporate fleets." - Masamoto Maekawa
Toyota has already said it will sell only 3,000 Mirai FCVs in the US by the end of 2017 (it won't arrive here until late 2015, with deliveries in Japan starting earlier). With 200 orders already in and a plan to build only 700 in 2016, Toyota is already talking about delivery delays. Toyota's executive vice president for domestic sales, Masamoto Maekawa, said that, "the 200 orders are mostly from government and corporate fleets."
Production could remain at LFA Works for a while. One Toyota exec said that even if the company makes 2,000 Mirais a year, that would still be only 10 each day. Doesn't sound like there's going to be anyone working weekends for a while.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The Mercedes-Benz S-500 Plug-In Hybrid has earned an Environmental Certificate from the TÜV Süd technical inspection authority. The award is based on a lifecycle assessment of the vehicle. This includes the ability to reduce CO2 emissions by 43 percent through charging, and by 56 percent if charged using hydroelectricity. Read more in the press release below.
Daimler is expanding its production capacity for lithium-ion batteries. The company is investing around 100 million euros in its subsidiary Deutsche ACCUmotive, who will provide batteries for the electric Smart Fortwo and Forfour, as well as various Mercedes-Benz models. By the end of the construction, Deutsche ACCUmotive will have quadrupled production and logistics space since 2011. Read more in the press release below.
Honda has begun sales of its Grace hybrid sedan in Japan. The Grace is based on the Honda Fit and uses the automaker's Sport Hybrid i-DCD system. It comes in front- and four-wheel-drive versions and uses a seven-speed DCT with built-in motor. The Honda Grace starts at the equivalent of about $16,500. Read more in the press release below.
Honda has begun operation of its wind farm in Brazil. The farm consists of nine wind turbines, expected to produce about 95,000 MWh of electricity per year, which is on par with Honda's consumption for automobile production in the country. Honda is aiming to cut its CO2 production by 30 percent by 2020 compared to 2000 levels. Read more in the press release below.
Toyota has won the 2014 World Endurance Championship's Driver and Manufacturer categories with hybrid technology. Toyota celebrated the win after the final race in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Toyota uses the same hybrid technology in its racing cars as it does in its production vehicles. Read more in the press release below.
Controlled Power Technologies and other groups are calling for an international 48-volt electrical standard for vehicles. The groups called for the standard at the International Conference Automotive 48 V Power Supply Systems, saying that the 48V standard for mild hybrids would help make the systems more affordable. This will make it easier for automakers to meet the more stringent CO2 standards anticipated in coming years along with the introduction of the World Light vehicles Test Procedures. Read more at Green Car Congress.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The last semi-official number we had for pre-orders for the 2016 Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle was around 200. But demand is strong enough that Toyota is saying that it will spend 20 billion yen ($168 million US) to expand annual production capacity at the "secretive workshop" where the Mirai will be built from 700 in the first year (2015) to around 2,000 after that.
Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported the increase and also breaks down where Toyota expects to sell the small number of Mirai vehicles it will make in the first few years: 400 in Japan by the end of 2015, 200 or 300 In the US in 2015 (and then 3,000 by the end of 2017) and between 50 and 100 in Europe annually starting around 2016. To make all of these hydrogen cars, Toyota will add two lines to the factory where the fuel cell stacks and tanks are built and it will also upgrade the assembly location.
In the US, the Mirai will initially only be sold in California next year and will start at $57,500 or lease for $499 a month for 36 months (with $3,649 due at signing). The Japanese automaker is including hydrogen fuel for "up to three years" at that price, mostly because no one knows how to accurately measure and sell H2 for cars quite yet.Permalink | Email this | Comments