Recharge Wrap-up: London Scrapping Program could cost $488M, Zap sold 2,000 EVs since June

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Metrocab and Frazer-Nash

London Mayor Boris Johnson's desired scrapping program for polluting diesel vehicles could cost £300 million (about $488 million). The program would provide incentives of up to £2,000 (about $3,250) to drivers willing to scrap their cars in order to make it easier to afford cleaner vehicle. It is part of Johnson's plan to create an Ultra Low Emission Zone in the center of London, which would charge diesel polluters a fee to enter. Johnson hopes the plan will help bring the city in line with EU pollution standards. Read more at Auto Express.

Zap and its subsidiary Jonway Autos have sold 2,000 electric vehicles since June. Zap credits China's EV incentives and growing charging infrastructure for the success. The group has also hosted 150 interested dealerships at promotional events in the hopes of building a strong sales network. Zap also introduced a sub-$10k SUV powered by a 1.5-liter engine, which it feels might be a good candidate for CNG power. Read more in the press release below.

The China Automotive Technology and Research Center is teaming up with University of California, Davis to accelerate EV adoption in China and, hopefully, worldwide. As part of the newly established the China-US ZEV Policy Lab, the partners establish cooperation and exchange of knowledge in all things related to new energy vehicles. The two groups will research policy, driving and charging habits, train each other in new energy vehicle information and provide each other with needed information on the relevant research. Get more details at Green Car Congress.

University of California, Riverside has found that a smart navigation system can cut EV energy use by 51 percent. The "eco-routing" navigation system takes into account traffic, grade and road type. Choosing the quickest route option showed energy savings between 25 and 51 percent. Choosing the route using the least energy, though, came with a time tradeoff of up to 186 percent in some cases, and the possibility of 16 percent more distance. The tested eco-routing system could reduce emissions, allow drivers to get more range out of their vehicles, and mitigate range anxiety. Read more at Green Car Congress.

Continue reading Recharge Wrap-up: London Scrapping Program could cost $488M, Zap sold 2,000 EVs since June

Recharge Wrap-up: London Scrapping Program could cost $488M, Zap sold 2,000 EVs since June originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 19:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Nissan not shuttering Leaf EV battery plants, at least not yet

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Japan Nissan

The big news on the electric vehicle front today is that Nissan is considering slowing down EV battery production in the US and UK and source all of Nissan's big packs come from Japan. Nissan may also buy some batteries from the Korean company LG Chem. This is apparently causing dissent within Nissan, but it follows what Alliance partner Renault is doing in the hunt for 180-mile EVs.

This change - officially denied by Nissan - raises a lot of questions here, since Nissan made a huge deal about building the Leaf pack in Tennessee a few years ago. In fact, the car's big price drop was due, in part, to localizing battery production. If the company is really going to give up on building the packs where it makes the cars, then does Nissan not see itself as being capable of producing an energy-dense battery cheap enough to compete with Tesla and its Gigafactory and GM (which, of course, has long worked with LG Chem on batteries)? Whatever Nissan decides, it needs to be ready to compete in a market that offers a $35,000, 200-mile car by 2017.

"We have not taken any decision whatsoever to modify battery sourcing allocation." - Renault-Nissan's Rachel Konrad

Nissan would not comment directly on the reported change, but Rachel Konrad, the Alliance's global director of communications and marketing told AutoblogGreen, "The Renault-Nissan Alliance remains 100 percent committed to its industry-leading EV program. This global commitment continues for the foreseeable future, and we have not taken any decision whatsoever to modify battery sourcing allocation. Nissan has no plans to impair its battery investments. Beyond that,we will not comment on speculation or anonymous sources, and as a matter of policy the Alliance does not confirm or deny procurement reviews."

Continue reading Nissan not shuttering Leaf EV battery plants, at least not yet

Nissan not shuttering Leaf EV battery plants, at least not yet originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Spy Shots: Audi Q7 plug-in hybrid spied, Porsche powertrain possible

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Audi Q7 PHV: Spy Shots

It's no secret that a new Audi Q7 is on the way. The replacement for the aging, three-row luxury CUV has already been spotted once, in December of 2013. Now, though, we have images of the second-generation model lapping Germany's Nürburgring Nordschleife, and it just happens to be showing a feature we reported on at the end of July - a plug-in-hybrid powertrain.

Given away by its high-voltage stickers on the window and a spare door to hide the charger - note how both the driver and passenger sides sport an access point - our spies snapped a series of photos, and put forth the compelling idea that the new Q7 would use the PHV system from the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid.

If that's the case, that should mean at least 320 horsepower from a 3.0-liter, supercharged V6, while an electric motor chips in a further 95 ponies for a total system output of 416 hp.

As for when the first Q7 PHV could arrive, our spies claim that the new model will debut in 2015, with the Hybrid available from the start. As for when it will debut, the Geneva Motor Show is always a solid candidate, although the other big shows - Detroit, New York and Shanghai - remain possibilities. Basically, this debut is still up in the air. Should that change, though, we'll be sure to make sure you know.

Audi Q7 plug-in hybrid spied, Porsche powertrain possible originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Teased: Ford previews new C-Max ahead of upcoming debut

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2015 Ford C-Max

Looking at a Ford Focus? These days you can get it as a five-door hatch, a four-door sedan, or... that's all. European buyers don't even get our sedan, but they do get a wagon. And while the three-door hatch, two-door coupe and two-door cabrio have long since ended production, buyers around the world can also get the company's larger C-Max. And now, like the Focus upon which it's based, Ford is preparing to roll out a new version.

The tall wagon (or small minivan, depending on your perspective) is being treated to what Ford says is "an extreme makeover." Details to accompany the teaser image above remain few and far between, but following the spy shots we recently posted, it looks destined for some of the same visual updates as Ford rolled out on the 2015 Focus, with "even more refinement, practicality and technology."

Like the Mercedes B-Class, which is only available Stateside as an EV, American buyers can only get the C-Max in electrified form, either as the C-Max Hybrid or C-Max Energi. Overseas buyers, however, will be able to choose from a range of powertrain options and two wheelbase lengths - the longer of which boasts seven seats and the Grand C-Max name. (Remember when Chrysler did the same with its minivans?) Both are set to debut on September 17, so watch this space. After that, we'll expect to see it on display at the Paris Motor Show.

Continue reading Ford previews new C-Max ahead of upcoming debut

Ford previews new C-Max ahead of upcoming debut originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Evo takes flight in BMW’s sultry i8

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BMW i8 and electric car review

Electric cars and hybrids are here to stay, much to the apparent dismay of some auto enthusiasts, but that doesn't mean they have to represent the death of enjoyable driving. Granted, the initial run of hybrids in the US like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius weren't exactly tailor-made for aggressive folks behind the wheel, but things are clearly changing. In its latest video, Evo takes a look at three examples from Europe's new crop of electrified vehicles to show that the future of fun motoring is safe and sound.

Evo editor Henry Catchpole kicks things off with one of the most bizarre EVs of the bunch, the tiny Renault Twizy. Its low power and 50-mile-per-hour top speed might make it miles away from a hot hatch, but there's still fun to be had in extracting the most from this little city car. Next up is the Audi A3 E-Tron, which isn't technically available yet. It's a step in the right direction of eventually creating an affordable, fun-to-drive hybrid hot hatch.

However, the main event is Catchpole getting some seat time in the BMW i8. The Bimmer can really fly -literally in this case - and the butterfly-door coupe offers a clear look at the prospects for electrified sports cars. It might not have the power of hybrid supercar contemporaries like the LaFerrari or Porsche 918 Spyder, but the BMW doesn't cost nearly as much, either. See? Improved efficiency doesn't have to mean boring.

Continue reading Evo takes flight in BMW's sultry i8

Evo takes flight in BMW's sultry i8 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: Lucas di Grassi wins inaugural Formula E race after big crash

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Beijing ePrix kicks off

It's been a long time coming, but the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship finally took place this weekend with the first race in China, officially kicking off a new era of electric racing on the international scene with the 2014 Formula E Beijing ePrix.

Despite starting back in sixth place, Nick Heidfeld quickly made his way up the grid.

With all the seats full, racing scion and former ice racer Nicolas Prost claimed pole position for the Renault-supported e.dams team, followed by former F1 driver Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt for the Audi Sport ABT team. The following slots were also taken by ex-grand prix pilots Karun Chandhok (Mahindra), Franck Montagny (Andretti Autosport), Nick Heidfeld (Venturi), Jaime Alguersuari (Virgin), Charles Pic (Andretti), Sebastien Buemi (e.dams) and the controversial Nelson Piquet Jr (China Racing). Oriol Servia (Dragon Racing), Sam Bird (Virgin), Jérome d'Ambrosio (Dragon), Takuma Sato (Amlin Aguri), Ho-Pin Tung (China) rounded out the rest of the starting grid, while Katherine Legge (Amlin Aguri) and Michela Cerruti (Trulli) started at the back of the grid. Surprisingly, experienced racing drivers Jarno Trulli (Trulli), Bruno Senna (Mahindra) and Stephane Sarrazin (Venturi) failed to meet the qualifying threshold.

Despite starting back in sixth place, Nick Heidfeld quickly made his way up the grid as the race electrified. By the mid-race car swap, Heidfeld - a former grand prix driver, Formula 3 champion, Le Mans class winner and Goodwood lap record holder - was up to second place. That's when things literally took a turn for the worse.

Continue reading Lucas di Grassi wins inaugural Formula E race after big crash

Lucas di Grassi wins inaugural Formula E race after big crash originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Automakers stuck on structural adhesives for new cars

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BMW i3 production

The biggest benefit of adhesives is that they allow automakers to mix and match structural materials.

Whether shedding pounds to gain speed or points of fuel economy, weight is always the enemy when it comes to automotive efficiency. With increasing regulation forcing automakers worldwide to find ways to reduce emissions and boost mileage while simultaneously improving crash-test results, the challenge of shaving off mass while adding strength is one of the toughest challenges facing the industry. One way that automakers are finding ways to cut the fat includes replacing old-fashioned bolts, screws and even welds in favor of structural adhesives.

The average vehicle today uses 27 pounds of these bonding agents, which is up nearly 10 pounds in as many years, according to The Wall Street Journal. In all likelihood, that figure is only poised to grow. According to the report, global demand for the bonding agents is accelerating at about four to five percent annually.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the adhesives is that they allow automakers to mix and match structural materials to make their vehicles light and strong. Various types of aluminum, steel, carbon fiber can all get combined together to take advantage of each of their strengths. However, this medley can't just be welded together in many cases. Instead, bonding agents come into play to fasten them all together. The 2015 Ford F-150, for example, with its significant amount of aluminum panels uses three times more structural adhesive than the current model, notes the WSJ.

These bonding agents have other potential advantages as well. BMW, for its part, claims that they can make repairs cheaper for the carbon fiber reinforced plastic on its i3 city car (pictured above). The car's passenger cell is made from over 30 components, and if one is damaged, it can often be cut out and a replacement glued in.

According to the report, the next frontier is using adhesives to hold together engine components. Because of the extreme heat and oily environment, bonding parts together there is difficult, but given the industry's dogged pursuit of weight savings, it's likely we'll see someone crack the code eventually.

Automakers stuck on structural adhesives for new cars originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 10:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Teased: Toyota previews new C-HR crossover concept bound for Paris

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Toyota C-HR concept teaser

We're now just a few weeks away from the start of the Paris Motor Show, and when the doors open at the Porte de Versailles, Toyota will be among the many automakers with new wares to show - including the new concept car pictured in this latest teaser image.

Called the C-HR, the concept is designed to represent an "innovative vision for a compact crossover model", incorporating "a new design language with an engaging driving experience and a hybrid powertrain." The Japanese industrial giant isn't saying much else, but the C-HR is set to debut alongside the finalized exterior design for its upcoming new fuel cell sedan.

Toyota, of course, became a pioneer in the compact crossover segment when it introduced the first-generation RAV4 way back in 1994. If the silhouette is anything to go by, however, the C-HR concept appears to adopt a far more streamlined form. Watch this space for more.

Continue reading Toyota previews new C-HR crossover concept bound for Paris

Toyota previews new C-HR crossover concept bound for Paris originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: PowerHydrant makes robots charge your EV

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powerhydrant

A Massachusetts company is taking a futuristic approach to hands-free plug-in vehicle charging: robot appendages. A product called PowerHydrant uses a robotic arm to connect a charging station to the vehicle, allowing for an easy kind of customer charging experience that is also offered by wireless charging systems. PowerHydrant, which is in its testing phase, will be shown off at the EV Tech Expo in Michigan this week.

The device features robotics that allow for as many as four plug-in vehicles to be recharged at a time. PowerHydrant, which was patented and trademarked in 2010, uses image-sensing technology to connect the station to the vehicle without human interaction, so there are some cameras involved in addition to those robotic arms. The devices also allow for charging levels ranging from Level 1 to fast-charging, and the company boasts 99 percent efficiency in the product's charging.

The company appears to be in fund-raising mode, so details such as mass production and pricing haven't been revealed. PowerHydrant estimates that it'll take about $5 million to get the device to production mode. The curious can check out a few videos about our fancy new robot overlords arms below. The non-animated one has a soundtrack straight out of the '80s, but was released in 2012. Just don't get any dogs to close to those hydrants. That could be dangerous.

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PowerHydrant makes robots charge your EV originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Say hello to Hy-Cycle, Australia’s first hydrogen fuel cell bicycle

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hy-cycle hydrogen bicycle

Fuel-cell bicycles. It's an idea that comes around every couple of years. Or about seven. It's a complicated process, but then again, so is procuring a little hydrogen.

The newest version of the two-wheeled hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is from Australia's University of New South Wales. The school's researchers are touting the Hy-Cycle, a hydrogen fuel-cell bicycle that can go about 80 miles on a full tank, which is about $2 worth of hydrogen. Now, getting the hydrogen to fill the bike's 2.5-kilogram-capacity canister may take some doing, but at least the researchers are working on ways to boost hydrogen-storage capacity.

Full-cell bikes have been in the works for a number of years but have a hard time gaining momentum. In 2006, we found a company called Veloform that was working on a methanol fuel-cell three-wheeled bicycle dubbed City Cruiser II. The following year, China-based Shanghai Pearl Hydrogen Power Source Technology Co. went live with a hydrogen fuel-cell bike that had a full-tank range of about 60 miles. The bike coast about $2,600. If you're curious about the Aussie FCEB (we made up that acronym), you can check out a video on the new product below.

Continue reading Say hello to Hy-Cycle, Australia's first hydrogen fuel cell bicycle

Say hello to Hy-Cycle, Australia's first hydrogen fuel cell bicycle originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Sun, 14 Sep 2014 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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