Airless tires could help Toyota make lighter electric cars

October 30, 2017 by  
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Airless tires could boost performance and cut down the weight of electric cars – and Toyota is interested. The automaker recently unveiled the hydrogen-powered Fine-Comfort Ride concept car fitted with the tires at the Tokyo Motor Show . The Fine-Comfort Ride is about as big as a crossover SUV, but chief engineer Takao Sato said the airless wheels could be used on any electric car. The airless tires on the Fine-Comfort Ride are comprised of a band of rubber around a plastic-aluminum hub, reports Bloomberg . Sumitomo Rubber Industries supplied the tires for Toyota . Sumitomo unveiled their Smart Tyre Concept, which includes the airless component, at the Tokyo Motor Show and said in a press release , “Airless tires contribute to greater safety and peace of mind in transportation by freeing the driver from worries about punctures and the trouble of having to manage tire pressure.” Sumitomo said there’s interest from other Japanese carmakers as well. Related: Michelin unveils airless 3D-printed tires that last virtually forever Sato said, “For automakers, the attraction of airless tires is for electrified vehicles.” At the moment the concept tires still weigh about as much as pneumatic tires, but the technology could develop to trim five kilograms – around 11 pounds – from each tire. That’s around 30 percent of each tire’s weight, and the development could come as early as 2025. Sumitomo airless tire project head Wako Iwamura said he aims to have a commercial product by 2020, according to Bloomberg, and that his tires are already comparable in price with those requiring air. The company has already been testing the tires on golf carts and minicars. Sumitomo also pioneered what they called the world’s first 100 percent fossil resource-free tires using all-natural materials back in 2013, and said since then they’ve been working to create “proprietary biomass materials based on raw materials derived from plants .” Via Bloomberg Images via Toyota

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Nissan debuts IMx electric SUV concept with 373-mile driving range

October 26, 2017 by  
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Nissan is getting ready to expand the number of electric vehicles it offers — and the next model will be a Leaf-based electric SUV. Earlier this year Nissan confirmed that an electric SUV is in the works and now we’re seeing our first preview with the debut of the Nissan IMx concept at the Tokyo Motor Show. The IMx concept features a bold exterior that borrows a few styling details from the new 2018 Nissan Leaf, but its suicide doors are purely concept. The IMx concept is based on Nissan’s new EV platform and it has two electric motors , one at the front and one at the rear to give it all-wheel drive capability. While the Nissan Leaf only has a modest 147 horsepower, the IMx concept has 430 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque on tap from its two motors. Related: 2018 Nissan Leaf debuts with 150 mile driving range for just 30k Nissan hasn’t revealed the size of the IMx’s battery pack , but it does have a driving range of over 373 miles, which is pretty much the same driving range you’d get with a typical gasoline powered SUV. Besides the new electric powertrain , the IMx also features a future version of Nissan’s ProPilot autonomous technology. Nissan’s ProPilot system is already arriving on its 2018 models, but the future version in the IMx concept can fully take over control of the vehicle. When ProPilot drive mode is selected, the system stows the steering wheel inside the dashboard and reclines all seats, giving the driver more space and allowing the vehicle’s occupants to relax. When Manual drive mode is selected, the vehicle returns the steering wheel and seats to their original position. The autonomous technology also gives the IMx concept the ability to drive on its own without the driver in the vehicle. The perfect situation? The IMx concept can drop the driver off at a desired destination and then park itself in a nearby parking spot. When the driver is ready to leave, the IMx concept will pick them up. Nissan hasn’t announced when its new electric SUV will be introduced. Images @Nissan + Nissan

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Tesla-powered trolley spotted charging in Minnesota

October 26, 2017 by  
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Tesla vehicles are the only ones that can charge via a Supercharger , at least at this time. So the sight of what looked like a custom-built orange electric bus charging up at the Oakdale Supercharger station in Minnesota raised a few eyebrows. A battery monitor seemed to show the electric bus actually charging up. Tesla reportedly has talked with other carmakers about utilizing their charging network, but as of this point non-Teslas can’t partake of electricity at Supercharger stations. So the sight of an orange bus charging naturally drew interest. The bus had a Tesla logo on the front, and was equipped with a battery monitor that showed the vehicle drawing power from the Supercharger. Related: Tesla announces plan for world domination: includes trucks, buses, and solar power Electrek said the bus could be equipped with a Tesla powertrain. Internet user Ingineer commented on the Electrek article, saying they did electronics and integration for the bus. Ingineer said the bus is a 1968 Westcoaster “originally built as an EV, but with a 15 mph top speed and lead-acid batteries.” They said now the bus is equipped with a “Tesla pack and drive unit, and a 15,000BTU heat pump.” They said the bus belongs to Minneapolis craft brewery tour company Hoppy Trolley , which shared a picture of the orange bus on their Twitter and Facebook accounts a couple days ago, with the caption, “Teslafied trolley supercharged!” Ingineer said in a comment the orange bus won’t typically utilize Superchargers, and the pictures captured a test. In another comment, they said, “The drive mechanical was done by Concept Motorsports in Grass Valley, California. Tesla component installation, electrical, and software was done in at Ingineerix in Berkeley, California. The final mechanical and Tesla pack installation are being finished by PZ Global Auto in Lino Lakes.” They said the plan was for a large rooftop solar array to generate electricity to help power the trolley. Via Electrek Images via Hoppy Trolley on Twitter and screenshot

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Toshiba lithium-ion battery could offer EVs 200-mile range after 6-minute recharge

October 25, 2017 by  
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The electric vehicle (EV) movement could receive a major boost from a new lithium-ion battery . Toshiba recently announced the battery charges up in a snappy six minutes, providing compact EVs with a 200-mile range. Toshiba said their next-generation SCiB lithium-ion battery comes with an anode comprised of a new material unlike any other on the market. Toshiba’s new 32 kilowatt-hour SCiB battery could triple the travel distance possible for EVs when compared to existing lithium ion batteries thanks to a titanium niobium oxide anode that replaces conventional lithium titanium oxide anodes. Related: ‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery spells bad news for gas-guzzling cars The energy density by volume of this new battery is twice that of Toshiba’s current SCiB, according to the company, but prototype testing shows it is as safe, with a similarly long life cycle. They also say after 5,000 charge and discharge cycles, the battery maintains more than 90 percent of the capacity it had at the start, so it could go through one recharge cycle per day for 14 years, according to Electronics Weekly . The battery can also undergo ultra-rapid recharging when it’s chilly outside – charging up in 10 minutes when the temperature is as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius. The titanium niobium oxide anode is less likely to suffer from lithium metal deposition while recharging quickly or in the cold, which can degrade batteries. Toshiba Corporate Research and Development Center director Osamu Hori said in a statement, “We are very excited by the potential of the new titanium niobium oxide anode and the next-generation SCiB. Rather than an incremental improvement, this is a game-changing advance that will make a significant difference to the range and performance of EV. We will continue to improve the battery’s performance and aim to put the next-generation SCiB into practical application in fiscal year 2019.” Toshiba didn’t give a price for the battery in their release. Via Toshiba and Electronics Weekly Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Toyota and Mazda establish a new company for electric cars

October 18, 2017 by  
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Toyota , Mazda and Denso have signed a new partnership through which they will jointly establish a new company for the development of electric cars. Neither Toyota nor Mazda offer any fully electric vehicles in their lineup yet, so the new partnership will give both automakers the basic structural components for EVs. For automakers to survive the changing automotive industry, they need to be able to produce several types of powertrains, including electric and fuel cell vehicles . Toyota, Mazda and Denso have decided to team up for better capability of developing electric technology that can be applied to a variety of vehicles, improving their response time to the changing market trends. Related: New Toyota concept takes the wheel when drivers get sleepy The new company, called EV Common Architecture Spirit Co Ltd. will leverage Mazda’s product planning and computer modeling-based development, Denso’s electronics technologies, and the Toyota New Global Architecture platform. The TNGA platform is already used by models like the 2018 Toyota Camry and the latest-generation Prius . Toyota will own 90 percent of the company, while Mazda and Denso will each have a 5 percent share. The new agreement covers a diverse range of models, from mini vehicles to passenger vehicles, SUVs, and light trucks. Toyota and Mazda are both behind most other automakers, since neither of them have focused on fully-electric vehicles. Toyota has focused its energies on hybrid powertrains, while Mazda continues to focus on improving the internal combustion engine . With countries now mandating zero-emissions vehicles, the partnership will not only help both automakers catch up to their competitors, but also bring new electric cars to market sooner. Mazda has already announced that it will introduce electrified powertrains as early as 2019. + Toyota All images ©Toyota

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Oxford, UK to create first zero-emissions zone in the world

October 12, 2017 by  
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Oxford , England, with its history of learning dating back to the 11th century, is now shifting into the future with an electric-vehicle only zone in the city center. In banning all internal combustion engine vehicles, the city is establishing what it says is the first zero-emissions zone in the world. Starting in 2020, six streets in Oxford’s city center will be free of smaller gas-guzzling vehicles, including buses and taxis. By 2035, the ban will have expanded to all fossil-fuel powered vehicles and will encompass the entire city center. While such a dramatic change in the city center’s urban design may encourage less driving, thus less greenhouse gas emissions, the zone was inspired by a need to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide, most of which comes from car exhaust, by three-fourths. Chronic exposure to nitrogen dioxide can cause respiratory problems and eye irritation. Data from the World Health Organization also indicates that Oxford is one of eleven British cities to exceed the safe limits of toxic particles known as PM10s and PM2.5s. A “step change” is urgently needed to prevent air pollution from “damaging the health” of Oxford residents, said city councilor John Tanner. Related: GM’s plans for “all-electric-future” spell doom for fossil fuel industry The switch-over plan is expected to cost Oxford city government, bus companies, and local businesses approximately £7 million to replace the fossil-fuel consuming vehicles, including all municipal vehicles, with electric vehicles. An additional £7 million will be spent to build compliance infrastructure , such as CCTV cameras with plate number recognition technology. Those who still choose to bring their old fashioned vehicles into the city center after the ban will face a significant fine. To sustain such a project, Oxford would require sustained commitment from local, regional, and perhaps federal government. Via The Guardian Images via  Martijn van Sabben ,  Giuseppe Milo

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New EV charging system lets Nissan Leaf owners sell power back to the grid

October 11, 2017 by  
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UK residents who plan to purchase an electric vehicle (EV) next year should hold out for a Nissan Leaf. Energy company Ovo has partnered with the automaker to allow anyone with a garage to receive a special charger that facilitates a “vehicle-to-grid” energy exchange. During off-peak hours, when electricity costs are low, the charger will power up batteries, and switch back to charging up a home or even selling energy back to the grid during peak hours. Essentially, this means EV owners may never have to pay to charge their eco-friendly car. In off-peak hours in the UK, electricity costs approximately 5 cents a kilowatt ($0.07). At peak hours, that increases to as much as 25 cents. “In other words, the value of the electricity that’s stored in the battery goes up by a factor of five,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO of Ovo. “It provides an economic benefit for electric vehicle owners, so they get more use of out of the vehicle that they’ve got parked in the driveway.” By no means is the Nissan Leaf inexpensive. The brand-new car costs £26,490, or $35,064. However, by taking advantage of Ovo’s new program, car owners could save thousands of dollars in energy costs in the long-term. According to Fitzpatrick, the “vehicle-to-grid” technology is not complicated, which is why “other electric car manufacturers are looking at this.” He said, “If it lowers the cost of vehicle ownership, if it lowers the cost of driving the vehicle per mile, I think there will be a lot of consumer demand for it, and that will translate into agreement on technical standards with other car manufacturers.” As FastCompany reports, using the battery automatically in this way — instead of leaving it plugged in, is also better for its battery life. Related: 2018 Nissan Leaf debuts with 150-mile driving range for just 30k By 2021, there will be approximately 1 million electric cars on the road in the UK. If every single vehicle were to be plugged in at the same time, there would be a demand for seven gigawatts of power — or the equivalent of 10 power stations. On the contrary, if the cars were plugged in and charging at a peak time, the power stations would be obsolete. Clearly, technology such as this is needed. And, not only will “vehicle-to-grid” tech help solve the challenge of providing enough electricity to the growing number of EVs, it will also save vehicle owners money. “The flexible use of car batteries is a perfect complement for renewable generation,” said Fitzpatrick. “You can imagine as we see more electric vehicles on the road, we can have more and more renewable generation without compromising the grid stability…renewable energy and electric vehicles are the perfect complement, just like oil and the internal combustion engine.” Via FastCompany Images via Pixabay , Nissan Leaf

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Nissan’s new EV ecosystem could give free power to EV owners

October 5, 2017 by  
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The future looks bright for electric vehicle (EV) owners. Nissan recently unveiled plans for the four pillars of their EV ecosystem, including a commitment to expand what they called the biggest fast charger network in Europe by 20 percent. They also aim to offer free power for EV owners who have a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) system, which feeds power from a car’s battery pack to the grid or a home. Nissan sketched plans for the future recently at the Nissan Futures 3.0 event in Norway. They showed off the new Nissan Leaf , which they said can travel 378 kilometers, or around 235 miles, on one charge. They also announced a longer-range all-electric e-NV200 van, which has a 280-kilometer, or 174-mile, range. Related: People in Denmark are earning up to $1,530 just by parking their EVs The second pillar of their plan is their commitment to infrastructure . During the upcoming 18 months, they plan to increase the number of fast chargers in Europe from 4,600 to 5,600. Their third pillar is new home and business chargers; their double-speed seven kilowatt (kW) home charger can recharge a vehicle in five and a half hours. Meanwhile, their 22 kW charger, targeted at businesses, can charge an EV in two hours. They also showcased the xStorage , their home energy storage system. And they have a scheme to get owners free power. xStorage is bidirectional, which means with it EV owners can send power to the grid from a car battery pack. They have been testing the free energy idea in Denmark. Nissan explained in a press release, “Using Nissan bidirectional charging, customers can draw energy from the grid to power their car or van and then ‘sell’ back to the grid for others to use. This means, once a nominal charge has been paid by the business for the installation of a V2G charger there are no fuel or energy costs – just free power for your EV.” They announced a United Kingdom collaboration with OVO allowing owners to buy xStorage at a discounted price, enabling them to charge an EV or start selling power to the grid. Nissan said these owners could make around £350, or around $461, a year. They hope to explore the idea of free power for EV owners in other regions of Europe. Via Nissan and Electrek Images via Nissan

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GM’s plans for "all-electric-future" spell doom for fossil fuel industry

October 3, 2017 by  
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General Motors , a symbol of 20th century automotive domination, has decided to embrace the “all-electric future” of the 21st century and beyond, declaring that someday in the near future, it will produce and sell only electric cars . “General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s chief of global product development. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.” To accelerate into this future, GM announced two new electric car models, scheduled to be released next year, followed by an additional 18 all-electric models by 2023. General Motors is riding high as it shifts gear into electric; the car company was the third-largest in the world in 2016. Because of its immense size, the company would not yet commit to a specific year in which it would make the transition away from combustion engine cars. However, its recent actions speak as loud as its words. At a press event on Monday, GM revealed several concept designs for upcoming electric vehicles, including an SUV, a crossover, a non-traditional model which resembled a small, boxy bus, and Surus, a heavy-duty truck with two electric motors, powered by fuel cells. Related: Renault’s Trezor is the electric car of the future Though renowned already as a pioneer in the field, thanks in part to its Chevy Bolt, GM will face heavy traffic on the road ahead. Tesla , Volvo, Nissan, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover have all made various moves into the electric car industry, with more expected in the future. Ford, a fellow Big Three American automaker, announced on Monday, the same day as GM’s press event, that it will form an “Edison Group,” focused on the development of electric cars. “We see an inflection point in the major markets toward battery electric vehicles,” said Sherif Marakby, head of electrification and autonomous vehicles at Ford. “We feel it’s important to have a cross-functional team all the way from defining the strategy plans and implementation to advanced marketing.” Via Washington Post Images via Car and Driver  and Wikipedia

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New York City to install around 1,000 fast-chargers for EVs

September 21, 2017 by  
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New York City aims to majorly expand their electric vehicle (EV) charging network with a $10 million investment. They recently introduced a plan to bring 50 fast-charging hubs to the city by 2020 – and each hub could have 20 chargers . The city hopes to encourage more people to drive EVs, with the goal that by 2025, 20 percent of new car registrations will be electric cars. New York City is working to become a more EV-friendly region. They want to install fast-charging hubs in each one of the five boroughs. Starting next year, the city will work with energy company Con Edison to pick one site in each borough – and together those five hubs could charge over 12,000 EVs a week. Ultimately, under the plan, there could be around 1,000 high-speed chargers in the city. Related: Germany unveils plans for the world’s largest EV charging station Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement, “New York will continue to invest in the new technologies we need to reduce our emissions , especially in the face of Trump’s abdication of leadership on climate. By helping develop the infrastructure necessary for electric vehicles, we’re going to make it easier than ever for New Yorkers to switch. This is another step towards aligning our action on climate change with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree stretch goal.” Many public EV charging stations currently offer only a few chargers – International Business Times pointed out even Tesla Supercharger stations typically don’t have more than six chargers. Also, there are level two chargers at around 300 sites in New York, but these aren’t as rapid as high-speed chargers. The 526 level two chargers in New York City are ideal for charging an EV overnight, but not for topping off a car in hour or two while a driver is shopping or eating lunch. In contrast, fast chargers are closer in function to a Tesla Supercharger, providing what International Business Times described as a meaningful amount of range in less than an hour. Right now, New York City only has 16 of these fast chargers. Via The City of New York and International Business Times Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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