Electric vehicle forum all charged up about the future

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A hybrid and electric vehicle forum that attracted delegates from around the world, has been told that carmakers will soon abandon the idea of fuel cells. Professor Bernard Fleet from Ryerson University Canada, said he was not convinced by several car companies saying they will launch fuel cell cars, saying that, in Canada they had bet most of their money on fuel cells with little to show for it. Professor Fleet is involved with Electrovaya, the Canadian battery company that hopes to turn a profit next year.

The line up of speakers included representatives from the European Commission (EC) who were trying to justify the commission’s 500 million euros expenditure in backing EVs, on the fact that the European auto industry is over 350 billion euros industry that creates 12 million jobs.

According to one presentation, a major EC success was discovering how to reduce rare earths in traction motors by 80% and that the EC plan is for 0.5 million EVs including hybrids by 2016 and five million in 2020.

chargerCuriously defining a mild hybrid as a series hybrid and a full hybrid as a parallel hybrid, the speaker made the interesting point that with people preferring to charge at home, prices of chargers were plummeting.

A faster charger can cost $20,000 with a high cost of installation. On the other hand, power semiconductor prices have not dropped which may lead to them being abandoned if DC chargers become ubiquitous.”

Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx described how all mechanical, electric and electronics components are set to change disruptively and often merge, with structural electronics becoming important.

He also had some concerns about the consumer proposition for fuel cell range extenders. He said that inductive charging will arrive slowly but pointed out that vehicles with two traction motors are now extremely common and other changes are coming earlier than predicted, including availability of GaAs and SiC inverters being on sale this year.

Takanori Toshii of Mitsubishi Motors re-iterated that small vehicles are the first to be viable as pure electric. Another project involved power sharing into the grid. He described new hybrids including SUVs, claiming to have a unique hybrid powertrain that can work as pure electric, series hybrid and parallel hybrid. Note this is yet another two motor system but in a different configuration from the Toyota Prius.

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Takanori noted that the Japanese ChaDeMo standard for contacted charging was creeping around the world with advanced work including a networked solar charging system for agricultural vehicles. He also told the delegates that the Mitsubishi racing car uses a lithium-ion battery not a super capacitor as seen in Toyota and Renault versions.

One of the best presentations was by Adriaan Davidse of Deloitte in Canada, who presented figures showing how electrification could save huge energy costs in the mining industry, especially if the electricity cames from solar power.

He described how one mining company spent one billion dollars a year on energy, a figure increasing sharply, so now the infrastructure, planning and logistics need to be power centric, questioning why over 90% of the giant trucks are diesel.

liebherr-t284-mining-truck_10760230With remote mines, just delivery of diesel can cost 40c/kWh against 7c for local solar. 90% of mining is open pit and he convincingly made the case that fast charging battery swapping for the trucks kept at the bottom and the top of the mine and a rail-veyor for lifting from the mine floor is viable.

Read more at Electric Vehicle Research

Dutch supercar takes to the highway, but doubts surround the return of the Karma

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Four years on from when it first opened it’s doors, Dutch supercar startup Vencer has unveiled its first product, the Sarthe, named after the French race track that plays host to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Vencer say that inspiration for the design came from the race cars of the 1980s Le Mans era, enabling them to created a distinctive, light and pure drivers car, with a clear focus on road-use. This has resulted in a low, purposeful and sleek look, with a truncated front section leading into a long, aerodynamically shaped ‘Kamm’ tail.

The car also features a C-pillar design that allows air to flow through, an active spoiler at the rear, and a new engine cover integrating large air channels to ensure a greater airflow and cooling to the new powerplant.

Previously equipped with a V-8 sourced from General Motors, the Vencer went back to the drawing board and devised a totally new engine. What it came up with is a 6.3-liter V8 supercharged unit that is mounted deep in the chassis to ensure a lower centre of gravity and mated to a conventional six-speed manual gearbox that sends drive to the rear wheels through a limited-slip differential. Vencer quotes a 0-62 mph time of about 3.6 seconds and a top speed in excess of 210 mph.

vencer-sarthe_100481754_hAn all-carbon fibre body sits atop a lightweight chrome-molybdenum chassis with a honeycomb structure for extra strength. The suspension consists of double wishbones front and rear. A two-tone leather interior with Alcantara inserts comes as standard and is available in virtually unlimited color combinations.

The interface, dubbed the Central Information System, is Vencer’s own design that relies on a large screen mounted to the centre of the dash with most inputs made using buttons located below the screen. The cars are being built at the rate of just one a month, with each meticulously handcrafted to specific customer requirements. At present the Sarthe is only available in Europe and China with prices starting at around $US350,000.

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If the idea of a V-8-powered Karma wasn’t your speed, you may be pleased to hear that Fisker is looking to gear back up for production of the hybrid form of the car under its new owner, Wanxiang, writes Nelson Ireson of motorauthority.

The Karma went out of production in 2012 before the company went under in 2013 and the new Karma will be built with the defunct model’s specs as the basis with what Wanxiang say will be updates to many key areas. Many similarities will persist, too, however, in order to get the new car into the US market under the old model’s safety certification.

One problem Wanxiang may have in restarting Karma production is the disgruntled—and now disassembled—state of much of its supply network. The companies that delivered many of the parts of the Karma suffered losses during the demise of the original Fisker organisation and may not be eager to re-associate with the new company. For other suppliers, the tooling and assembly may simply no longer exist.

Nevertheless, Wanxiang continues to work toward production of the revived Karma but a goal for re-starting production by February, next year seems unlikely.

Lightweight sports car inspired by classic models

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You may not have heard of Evanta before, but you’re about to hear of them a lot more as the niche British sports car outfit is planning to expand its lineup with even more deliciously retro sports cars as well as work with A. Kahn Design on several projects under the Ant-Kahn label (the Ant part of the name comes from Evanta founder Ant Anstead).

Evanta is based in Essex, England and is known for building lightweight sports cars inspired by classic models—typically those from Aston Martin—but with modern mechanicals. One of the company’s first vehicles was the GT (pictured below), whose design closely resembled that of the legendary Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato.

Now, Evanta has launched what is essentially an open-top version of the GT, the Barchetta, which made its debut over the weekend at the 2014 Goodwood Revival. We got our first look at the Barchetta in concept form back in April, at the 2014 Top Marques Monaco, but now Evanta has revealed the production version.

Like its GT, Evanta’s new Barchetta sits on a tubular frame chassis and wears a body made from Kevlar and other composites. A cheaper aluminum body is also available. The engine is positioned in a front mid-engine configuration and spins the rear wheels, with customers free to choose either a manual or automatic transmission. Evanta’s engine choice is a 6.2-liter V-8 sourced from Geneva Motors Company [NYSE:GM], with output tuned to 450 horsepower.

Evanta will produce both left- and right-hand-drive variants, but production will be limited. Evanta says it will build just 24 Barchettas per year, with a total production run of only 99 units. The car is currently on sale and is priced from £125,000 (approximately $203,000) for the aluminum-bodied version. The Kevlar option adds around $65k to that figure.

Beyond the Barchetta, Evanta is already planning a second vehicle which it plans to preview in 2015. A concept of the new model, which is described only as a grand tourer, will be revealed with much fanfare. The company also says it is looking at building cars for ‘gentleman’ racers. – Source motorauthority

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MUST SEE: Nissan GT-R Blows A Tire At 200 MPH, Driver Keeps It Together: Video

 

BFGoodrich Tyres and the Rentsch boys extend their grip on the AORC

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Australian Off Road Championship leaders Shannon and Ian Rentsch have enhanced their dominance of the event with victory in the Coffs Coast 400 that now puts the pair ten minutes ahead of their closest rival. With heavy rain falling over night and into the morning, the teams had to contend with extremely muddy conditions on Saturday, with the #1 Hogs Breath Café/BFGoodrich Tyres Jimco finishing sixth in the morning prologue.

But courtesy of what is being claimed as superior tyres and no shortage skill, by the end of the three 50km loops of the Lower Bucca Forest stage, the Rentschs were back at the top of the time sheets, securing the pole position for Sunday’s run.

Sunday saw the return of bright sunshine bringing with it the added challenge of dust clouds. For Shannon though, it was head down and smart driving to bring his buggy home. He started the day with a 27 second lead over Jack Rhodes and was able to stretch this to over ten minutes on the five loops of the stage.

“Yesterday was really tough and extremely slippery in places, but my tyres were up to the challenge,” said Shannon. “Today the conditions were much better and it was all about consistency and not making mistakes.”

The Australian Off Road Championship has no restrictions on which tyre manufacturer a team uses which resulted five tyre makers being represented in the race, which according to BFGoodrich Tyres, makes its dominance all the more impressive. The company’s race partners lock out the top three places in the event that now heads to the final round in Lockyer Valley just an hour out of Brisbane on October 17-19.

For more information on BFGoodrich Tires, head to www.bfgoodrich.com.au or visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/BFGoodrichAUNZ

Mobile app wins Design Festival award

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A mobile app that allows fitters to accurately identify brake pads on the job was mentioned in dispatches at the recent Design Festival in Sydney. Using a mobile phone, the fitter takes a photograph of the pad then either selecting the make and model of the vehicle, or entering the dimensions of the brake pad. The app then calculates the most likely part number of the item. Detailed specifications are available for each part number including the vehicle manufacturer’s part numbers.

“The Australian Mobile & App Design Awards are part of a grand slam series where apps from the UK, Asia and Australia compete,” said Bendix’s Ian Bott, “The awards cover 30 categories highlighting recognition across the app design spectrum and provide a unique opportunity to see the best start-ups.”

Ian claims that the launch of the Bendix app has been outstandingly successful due to the company’s consistent marketing across a range of media channels targeting the broadest field of mechanics and specialist brake fitters.

“This included promotion through our website, an email campaign, social media, competitions, direct mailing of printed material with QR download codes and interaction and training,” he added.

Government springs into action on modifications to motorcycle rear mudguards.

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It’s been said that the current federal government is little more a pack of wankers to frightened to move their collective hands from underneath their fat arses and make some meaningful decisions. But this is certainly not the case when it comes to the motorcycle industry following the huge announcement that the government has abolished the need for modifications to motorcycle rear mudguards to meet Australian Design Rules.

Wow!

According to the industry, abolishing the provision will achieve significant efficiencies, with nearly 70,000 new motorcycles no longer required to be retro-fitted with rear mudguard extensions. The change is said to deliver $14.4 million in industry compliance and manufacturing savings every year, which should lead to lower prices for new motorcycle owners…ha! ha!

“Consumers in Australia will finally have access to motorcycles as originally designed by the manufacturers, bringing Australia into line with other major markets including the European Union and Japan,” said Liberal MP Josh Frydenburgh.

The ruling follows a Productivity Commission report calling for the harmonising of ADRs with United Nations vehicle regulations.

“Harmonisation ensures we strike the balance between appropriate safety standards, in line with international best practice, and consumer access to vehicles at the lowest possible cost.”

 We realise that the magnificent Royal Enfield Classic pictured above has little to do with this story other than it having been extensively modified…the bike that is…and it does add a bit of glam to an otherwise whatever sort of story.

AROUND THE TRAPS; Record profit for world’s biggest brand; Forbidden profits from Middle(man) Kingdom; Engine leaks and Parisian forecasts

 

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While the general trend in the industry, even among luxury makes, appears to be to increase sales with little regard to exclusivity or whether a vehicle fits a brand, Ferrari is going against the tide and limiting the number of cars it sells each year.

After reaching ‘Peak Ferrari in 2012 with a record 7318 sales, the Italian brand decided to limit sales to 7000 units per year in order to boost exclusivity and in the process help protect margins and residual values for customers.

Ferrari has now revealed that it sold 6922 cars in 2013, which was down 5.4% on 2012’s figure. Despite the decrease in sales, revenues were up 5% on the previous year at 2.3 billion euros ($US3.16 billion) and net profit was up 5.4% at 246 million euros ($338.5 million). The company also ended 2013 with 1.36 billion euros ($1.87 billion) in the bank, its highest net cash position ever.

If you’re wondering how Ferrari manages to grow profits while selling fewer cars, all while continuing to invest in new products and an extensive motorsport program, there are actually several reasons.

Most of the revenue growth has been brought about by the increased rate of personalisation done on the cars, such as through the Tailor-Made Program and Special Projects division. Every car Ferrari sold last year featured some kind of personalisation, which can often be quite costly.

Also growing this year was Ferrari’s restoration division, Ferrari Classiche, and its Corse Clienti customer-racing program, which was recently merged with the Formula One program through the new Sporting Activities Department.

Revenues from the company’s brand-related activities, such as merchandising and theme park licenses, also hit a new record, coming in at 54 million euros ($US74.3 million).

The US remains Ferrari’s single biggest market, with sales of sales of 2035 units, followed by China (700) and the UK (6770.

In related news, British research firm Brand Finance named Ferrari the world’s most powerful brand for the second year in a row, putting it ahead of much larger firms such as Apple and Google. – Source http://www.motorauthority.com

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Meanwhile foreign brands own more than 70% of the world’s largest car market China, and according to the Middle Kingdom, are taking home outsized profits. So the China’s government is putting an end to this. China’s antitrust regulator has found Audi and Chrysler guilty of monopoly practices. The still unannounced fines can be up to 10% of the automaker’s domestic annual sales revenue.

In 2008, China passed new competition laws, which up until now were mostly ignored. The antitrust regulator is first targeting imported luxury brands because the government believes that the problem is most severe in this area.

According to the new rules makers may not dictate dealers minimum sales prices. Investigators have been raiding dealers and offices of various auto and parts makers and claim to have found minimum price fixing.

Audi sells approximately one third of its worldwide volume in China and Volkswagen booked pretax profits of €2.6 billion came from China.  Both companies, along with other auto manufacturers, have since reduced prices in China, but fines for other automakers appear to be imminent, it is unclear, however, how such fines will affect the Chinese joint venture partners. – Source – Reuters

burgularGeneral Motors say that South Korean prosecutors are investigating whether a contractor leaked the US carmaker’s engine technology overseas. According to a spokesman at GM Korea, prosecutors raided a design company on Tuesday in a search for evidence. Prosecutors in South Korea learned about the possible leak through its own intelligence network, News1 reported, citing the division at Supreme Prosecutors’ Office that looks into high technology and financial crimes. Source – Bloomberg

 

just-auto.com has compiled a list of what to expect at next month’s Paris Motor Show. Information on the majority of the following models can be found by searching PLDB, just-auto’s global vehicle database. Simply click on the link at the end of this list to buy a subscription, or to try PLDB for free.

Audi A6, A6 Hybrid, S6, RS 6 & allroad quattro facelifts: and S tronic replaces CVT; Audi TT Roadster: details under embargo; BMW 2 Series Convertible: M235i, 228i, 220i & 220d will be the first versions; BMW X6: second generation model is bigger, wider, taller, uses carryover platform;

Divine DS concept: no rear window, similarly sized to today’s Citroën DS4;

Fiat 500X: to be built alongside Renegade at Melfi, other info is yet to be released; Hyundai i20: ‘Elite i20′ in India, built in Chennai and Turkey, European sales from Q1; Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept: preview of potential four-seater GT future model; Infiniti Q70 2.2d: same 2,143cc Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder diesel as Q50 2.2d; Mercedes-Benz B-Class facelift: first update since its debut at 2011 Frankfurt IAA; Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Concept-S: Outlander PHEV-based design study;

Opel-Vauxhall Adam S: 110kW (150PS) 1.4 turbo, prototype was at Geneva ’14 show; Opel-Vauxhall Corsa: S4500 series model, will use evolution of current car’s platform; Opel-Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 diesel: new engine, 125kW (170PS) replaces 120kW 2.0; Opel-Vauxhall Mokka 1.6 CDTI: debut of the ‘Whisper’ diesel in this model; Opel-Vauxhall Zafira Tourer 2.0 diesel: new 125kW 2.0 engine replaces 120kW 2.0;

Peugeot 208 HYbrid Air 2L technology demonstrator: carbon panels, weighs 860kg; Peugeot 308 GT: 205PS 1.6 petrol turbo and 180PS 2.0 diesel, hatch and SW (estate); Peugeot 508 RXH facelift: 180PS 2.0-litre diesel is also new; Peugeot Exalt concept: interior updated since its debut at April’s Beijing show; Porsche Cayenne facelift: S now has a 309kW 3.6 biturbo V6, on sale from October; Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid: same 416hp PHEV powertrain as Panamera S E-Hybrid; Renault concept: lightweight design study, more details to follow;

Renault Espace successor: may be called Ondelios, built at Douai, JFC code name; SEAT León X-Perience: ‘a family-sized crossover based on the ST’, on sale from Q4; Škoda Fabia: new three- & four-cylinder engines, production started in August; SsangYong XIV-Air and XIV-Adventure concepts: final previews of X100 project; Suzuki Vitara: production version of the YAD project, challenger for Juke/EcoSport; Volkswagen Passat: smaller yet roomier, loses up to 85kg, new 240PS/500Nm diesel. – source just-auto (UK).

 

 

Holden unwraps Special Edition Craig Lowndes Commodore

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In September 1994, a 20-year-old rookie made his first appearance for Holden in a V8 Supercar at Sandown, and just one month later became a household name when he and team mate Brad Jones finished second in Australia’s great race, the Bathurst 1000. That rookie was the one and only Craig Lowndes.

On the eve of Lowndes’ 20th anniversary in V8 Supercars, Holden is commemorating with a Craig Lowndes SS V Special Edition Commodore. On sale next month, at a price to be determined…in other words whatever the fans will pay…the CL SS V S E C is really an SS V Redline Commodore with a few ‘unique specifications’ that should keep the punters happy.

Each car will be hand-finished and individually numbered and come with a framed certificate of authenticity with build plate. Owners will get an invite to a Red Bull Racing private function and tour hosted by Craig and a couple of general admission tickets to customers’ local 2015 V8 Supercar race and a Red Bull Racing pit tour.

Audi Richmond moves up, up the road

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Audi Richmond has moved a hundred yards up Swan Street into a new 3000 square metre facility that can show off up to 35 new, demonstrator and Audi approved plus vehicles at any one time and still have plenty of room for customer parking.

The Melbourne dealership is equipped with all the usual things that are expected of a modern-day retail outlet including a swish service department with 11 vehicle hoists, reception areas where owners, with nothing better to do, can watch their vehicle being serviced and of course, an Audi Café.

According to Audi boss Andrew Doyle, Audi is a very strong brand in Melbourne, and he sees potential for significant growth over the next few years supported by premium new facilities such as Audi Richmond.

Going over the top with a Commando

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Over here, in our cramped little shed with no windows, we dream of the open road, which for some reason or other immediately brings together thoughts of vintage motorbikes and lost youth. A bit of cobblers really, but not a bad intro into a piece about the Norton Commando.

In many ways, it’s remarkable the Commando was successful at all. Introduced in 1968 and powered by the parallel twin developed 20 years earlier by Bert Hopwood (he’d helped design the game-changing Triumph Speed Twin in 1937) the Commando was in many ways the sad proof that the British motorcycle industry had been sitting on its hands while the Japanese and European competition blazed new trails.

Where Hondas had overhead cams, four cylinders and disc brakes, Nortons had overhead valves, only two cylinders and, until 1972, drum brakes. The wave of the future they weren’t.

But that doesn’t mean they weren’t good bikes. When Norton decided, out of necessity, to continue with its old twin, it had the good sense to house it in a new frame, suspended by an entirely new isolating mounting system.

Designed by former Rolls-Royce engineer Dr. Stefan Bauer, the Norton Isolastic system fixed the swing arm to an engine/transmission subframe, isolating the powertrain from the main frame and the rider. It was brilliantly simple, and it transformed the rough and vibratory Norton 745cc twin into a smooth operator whose performance belied its aged origins. And while conventional wisdom said Norton had stretched the old twin beyond its limits, it was bumped up yet one more time, to 828cc in 1973, and proved up to the task.

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