Alternative Fuel auto news

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Nissan shows off new Versa-based electric vehicle prototype

07/27/2009   [Original: Nissan via Autoblog]
Category: Japan, Tech, Hatchbacks, Nissan, Alternative Fuel

Nissan EV-11 prototype - Click above for high-res image gallery

A week before it shows the world what its new dedicated electric vehicle will look like, Nissan is showing off its latest-generation prototype. The company's previous iteration was based on the original Cube, but the new test units are based on the Versa/Tiida. A 108-horsepower / 206 pound-feet electric motor designed in-house at Nissan drives the front wheels, while a lithium ion battery pack created by Automotive Energy Supply Corp. stores electricity. The 24 kWh pack is fitted under the floor and is expected to yield a 100-mile range.

Nissan is aiming to make life as stress-free as possible for its EV drivers. To that end, the navigation system will automatically display the driving radius that the current battery state of charge will support. It can also download information about currently available charging stations. Drivers can also access the charging status of their cars remotely via a cell phone, so no doubt an iPhone app will be on the way. More details after the jump.

Gallery: Nissan EV-11 prototype

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Kia bigwig reportedly says mass-produced fuel cell cars would cost $50,000 if made today

07/24/2009   [Original: Galway Independent via

Kia Borrego FCEV - Click above for high-res image gallery

Let's face it: Hydrogen technology still has a ways to go before there's any real chance that we'll all be driving fuel cell cars in lieu of electric or fossil fuel-burning machines. Chief among the issues confronting the widespread adoption of hydrogen for automotive use is manufacturing cost, though that obstacle is currently being worked on. According to Byung Ki-Ahn, general manager of Kia's Mabuk-ri site, "Even if we were producing 50,000 fuel cell cars a year, they would currently have to cost $50,000 each."

While it would be easy for hydrogen proponents to latch on to this statement as good news - and, if true, that pricing is considerably better than we would have predicted - there's more to overcome than just the pricey fuel cell stack. For instance, even if Kia were indeed building 50,000 fuel cell cars per year, there would need to be an adequate infrastructure to support those vehicles. Further, a low cost and eco-friendly process for capturing, storing and transporting large amounts of hydrogen still needs to be developed.

Regardless, it's clear that Kia, along with corporate cousin Hyundai, believe these issues will be worked out in time. When asked where the Korean automaker currently sits on a production-ready hydrogen vehicle, Ki-Ahn said, "On a scale of one to 10, I'd say we we're at six or seven. Before 2020, many people will be hearing about fuel cell vehicles made by Hyundai-Kia."

Gallery: Kia Borrego FCEV

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GM: No Chevy Volt pricing until mid to late 2010, could sell first cars on eBay

07/24/2009   [Original: General Motors via Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Chevrolet, GM, Alternative Fuel

2011 Chevrolet Volt - Click above for high-res image gallery

During a live webchat the other day, Jon Lauckner, General Motors VP for Global Program Management, said that pricing for the Chevrolet Volt would not be finalized until mid to late 2010. Although cars are generally developed to a target price point, Lauckner responded to a pricing query saying, "We typically do not lock in on pricing until about 3-6 months prior to start of production. The reason is primarily so we have an opportunity to take a look at the market, competitors and other factors. So stay tuned."

As for alternative versions of the Voltec, such as a lower cost non-plug-in version, Lauckner ruled that out as defeating the whole point of the Volt. Without the benefits of running on grid power, the Volt's architecture would likely be less efficient than a current parallel hybrid because of the losses in constantly going from mechanical to electrical and back to mechanical energy.

What does seem likely to eventually change is the configuration of the range extender. Lauckner ruled out the possibility of using a Wankel rotary - an engine design that offers high power density compared to a piston engine but isn't very fuel efficient. One alternative that was highlighted as an alternative that does have promise for increased efficiency was HCCI. In any case, none of these alternatives are likely to appear before the second-gen Volt at the earliest. The first-gen Volt will be e85 capable at launch just as announced when the original concept appeared. More after the jump.

Gallery: 2011 Chevy Volt

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Fisker Karma's public driving debut coming to Monterey's Classic Car Week

07/24/2009   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Fisker, Alternative Fuel, Luxury

Fisker Karma - Click above for high-res image gallery

While we've seen the Fisker Karma surrounded by velvet ropes and models plenty of times, we've yet to experience the sight of the Karma spinning its wheels on the open road. The good news is that this luxury plug-in hybrid will make its public driving debut during the Monterey Peninsula's Classic Car Week (part of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance) in the middle of August. Not only will August 15 mark the first time outsiders get to see the Karma in action, but it'll be first time any plug-in hybrid joins the track cars at the event. The plan right now is to send the Karma on two laps of the Laguna Seca course, starting at 11:10 a.m.

The Karma concept will also be on display at Concorso Italiano on Aug. 14, along with the Karma Sunset convertible, while the Karma S will bask on the 18th hole of Pebble on Aug. 16.

Gallery: Fisker Karma

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REPORT: Dodge Circuit production hints, possibly coming in 2010

07/22/2009   [Original: Car and Driver via All Cars Electric via Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Dodge, Lotus, Alternative Fuel

Dodge Circuit EV concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

With all of the recent upheaval at Chrysler, it's no surprise that the fate of the very cool Dodge Circuit is not exactly certain. In May, Chrysler assured everyone that the program was not DOA, and Chrylser ENVI president Lou Rhodes recently said something similar to Car and Driver. Rhodes even gave C&D a few details about how the program is shaping up.

Chrysler's plan involves having the vehicle produced by Lotus in the UK (sounds familiar) and then shipped to the U.S. for the electric powertrain. Chrysler's sales target is 100,000 EVs in order to benefit from economies of scale for all the expensive EV bits. By selling that many vehicles, Chrysler's efforts could make the Circuit "tens of thousands" of dollars less than the somewhat similar Tesla Roadster. The Circuit is still likely to be Chrysler's first EV, and could start production next year.

Gallery: SAE 2009: Dodge Circuit quick drive

Photos copyright (C)2009 Sebastian Blanco / Weblogs, Inc.

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British government drags its feet, Tata threatens to cancel Indica EV for the UK

07/22/2009   [Original: Guardian via Autoblog]
Category: Government/Legal, Hatchbacks, Jaguar, Land Rover, UK, Tata, Alternative Fuel

In January, the UK government set aside £2.3 billion for loan guarantees to help automakers start producing electric cars on the island. In April, Tata applied for £10 billion from the program to build its Indica Vista EV. Last week the Indian firm was told that it would be another eight weeks before the Department for Business Innovation and Skills would decide on Tata's application.

Tata can't understand what the holdup is and plans to deliver a petition to the minister in charge of the program to make its case. It can't help that while Tata waits it's watching UK government figures give speeches at Nissan facilities in an attempt to woo the Japanese automaker to produce electric cars in England. Nor can it help that Tata's Norwegian arm has already been approved by for a loan by the Norwegian government to make electric cars there.

Tata is also waiting on its €340 billion European Investment Bank loan to be approved by the UK government. That loan was for Jaguar and Land Rover aid, but the issue of both loans is said to be about the British government wanting to make sure that Tata can repay the money. If the government doesn't decide soon, they might have much bigger things to deliberate on -- like more job losses at JLR...

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AutoblogGreen for 07.22.09

07/22/2009   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Alternative Fuel

Shweeb, the human-powered monorail, makes hamsters jealous

It's cool, but does it have to have a name so similar to "dweeb"?

REPORT: Dodge Circuit production hints, possibly coming in 2010

Does it have a chance if it's "tens of thousands" less than a Tesla Roadster?

Toyota uses 18-foot solar flowers to market 2010 Prius

Crazy, but they make you look.

Other news:

  • Prius takes out town's electricity, driver flees
  • Ford announces 2.0l EcoBoost and dual clutch gear box for 2010
  • REPORT: future Mistubishi iMiEVs could include optional range distances
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Automotive Engineer commissions Lotus to design tiny city EV [w/VIDEO]

07/21/2009   [Original: Automotive Engineer via Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Economy, Hybrids/Alternative, Lotus, Alternative Fuel

Lotus city car design - click above to watch video after the jump

Developing cars quickly is nothing new to the designers and engineers at Lotus - the British firm does contract development for automakers around the world on a regular basis. With that in mind - and knowing that Lotus has been actively involved in many electric and hybrid vehicle projects in recent years - the editors at Automotive Engineer magazine naturally chose to approach Lotus with a project idea: design a brief on what a new city car might look like five years from now.

After two weeks of work, Lotus design chief Russell Carr produced a concept that defined a car 3.74 inches shorter than a Smart ForTwo and nearly 16 inches shorter than the new Toyota iQ. Somehow, in that tiny space, Carr has managed to squeeze in space for four adults. The sketches show two different iterations of the vehicle, both with two sliding doors on its flanks and electrically-driven by a liquid-cooled 37 kW motor and a 10 kWh lithium ion battery pack under the floor. See more in the video after the jump.

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AutoblogGreen for 07.21.09

07/21/2009   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Alternative Fuel, Diesel

REPORT: Toyota's first fuel cell vehicle will be priced "shockingly" low

Not sure what qualifies as shockingly low quite yet.

Suspicious eBay find of the Day: EVE Motors' all-electric SUV

Warning signs? Oh, we got your warning signs.

Mercedes adds efficient four cylinders to E-Class, 45 mpg (U.S.) diesel

Good mileage, but not for Americans.

Other news:

  • Lexus HS250h officially priced, starting at $34,200
  • Boulder Electric Vehicle makes trucks with Killacyclers [w/VIDEO]
  • House of Representative restoring more of DOE's hydrogen funding
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