Archive for the ‘electric’ Category

Orkney Islands routes are front-runners for first commercial electric flights

October 18th, 2018
Eight-seater two-engine propellor plane on a runway.

Enlarge / A Britten Norman Islander plane, similar to the kind used in the Orkney Islands to shuttle people short distances. (credit: Britten Norman)

Up in the remote northeast of Scotland, residents of the Orkney Islands use small island-hopping aircraft to commute around the archipelago. The longest flight in the area is 15 minutes, traveling 33 miles from the city of Kirkwall to the island of North Ronaldsay. The shortest flight takes an average of 80 seconds to travel 1.7 miles between the islands of Westray and Papa Westray. That flight holds the Guinness World Record as the shortest commercial flight route in the world.

Now, Scottish airline Loganair and aircraft modifier Cranfield Aerospace Solutions are working together in the hopes of turning the Orkney Islands' 10 inter-island routes all-electric, perhaps even establishing the world's first all-electric commercial flight routes.

Electric planes are still something of a pipe-dream for environmentalists and technologists. Jet fuel is extremely energy-dense compared to batteries, and flight requires a lot of energy at little additional weight. Electric flight startups are either developing hybrid battery/jet-fuel planes or banking on the continuous improvement of batteries to make their visions viable years down the road. While the most optimistic see the advent of lithium-air batteries and engine efficiency improvement as a path to commercial electric flight, others have focused on decarbonizing jet-fuel synthesis.

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Posted in battery, cars, electric, electric plane, Energy, jet fuel, Policy | Comments (0)

Is a 200-300 mile range enough for Tesla to break into electric trucking?

August 26th, 2017

Enlarge / From the bureau of Transportation Statistics: “Long-haul freight truck traffic in the United States is concentrated on major routes connecting population centers, ports, border crossings, and other major hubs of activity. Except for Route 99 in California and a few toll roads and border connections, most of the heaviest traveled routes are on the Interstate System.” (credit: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration)

On Thursday, Reuters reported that Tesla is building electric semis with ranges of 200-300 miles. Tesla has said it will make all details about the semis public at an announcement in September.

Ars reached out to the company to confirm the report, and a spokesperson responded with a statement saying: “Tesla’s policy is to always decline to comment on speculation, whether true or untrue, as doing so would be silly.”

So if the report is true, would a truck with a range of 200-300 miles be enough to win entry into the freight trucking market? Possibly. A 2013 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado notes that “trucks dominate the market today for freight shipments under 500 miles, which account for almost 80 percent of all domestic freight tonnage.” Freight that needs to travel 500 miles or more tends to be transported by rail, waterways, or pipeline, at least if you’re counting by tonnage (the Bureau of Transportation Statistics counts oil and gas pipeline deliveries as freight).

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Posted in cars, electric, semis, Tesla, trucks | Comments (0)

Hyundai looks to build a >300-mile-range electric car

August 17th, 2017

Enlarge / Signage for an electric car charging booth is displayed at Federation Square car park in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday, April 28, 2017. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images (credit: Bloomberg / Getty Images)

On Thursday, Hyundai said that it intends to produce a long-range electric vehicle by 2021 that will be capable of traveling 310 miles on a charge. That vehicle, a luxury Genesis sedan, will follow an electric version of the Kona sport utility vehicle that the Korean automaker hopes to release in the first half of next year. The electric Kona should have a range of 243 miles, Reuters noted.

Along with affiliate company Kia, Hyundai announced eight electric cars and two fuel-cell vehicles coming to market in the near future—a significant jump in the number of electric vehicles (EVs) that the company has planned to bring to market in years prior. Hyundai, like Toyota, has boosted the fuel cell vehicle for years. Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen as fuel and emit water as a byproduct. But the compressed hydrogen that runs fuel cell vehicles is hard to store and hard to transport, so it has been slow reaching the market, although fuel cell vehicles do have the advantage of being fast to refuel, unlike electric vehicle batteries.

Toyota has also recently shown signs that it’s pouring more resources into mass-producing a long-range electric car as well. In July, an article in The Wall Street Journal noted that the Japanese automaker was working on building a battery with a solid electrolyte that would go into production in 2022. With Tesla and Chevrolet rolling out moderately priced EVs with long-range capabilities, other automakers known for moderately priced cars seem to be ready to get in the ring as well.

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Posted in cars, Chevrolet, electric, hyundai, Tesla, Toyota | Comments (0)

Reuters: Tesla looking to start testing autonomous semi in “platoon” formation

August 9th, 2017

Enlarge (credit: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in April that the company is working on pushing a long-haul electric semi truck to market, which is set to be formally revealed in September. Now, Reuters has viewed e-mail correspondence between Tesla and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles that indicate that the company has discussed testing semi trucks on the state’s roads.

The Reuters report also mentioned that the semis would be outfitted with autonomous functions, so they could traverse the nation’s highways without a driver in the front seat. The e-mails seemed to indicate that Tesla’s semis would “platoon,” that is, drive in a formation such that a number of trucks could follow a lead vehicle. It’s unclear whether the lead vehicle would have a driver, or operate autonomously with a person in the front seat to monitor safety.

The idea of “platooning” autonomous semis is an old one. More than a year ago, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment held an autonomous truck platooning demo that involved automakers such as DAF Trucks, Daimler, IVECO, MAN, Scania, and Volvo. The advantages of platooning is that it’s theoretically safer—if the lead truck slows down, the rest automatically follow. It also offers most of the trucks decreased wind resistance, which could help increase an EV semi’s range—a major concern given the weight freight companies load semis with. Of course, there are social ramifications too. Platooning reduces the number of drivers that a shipping company would have to employ.

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Posted in autonomy, battery, Biz & IT, cars, electric, semi, Tesla | Comments (0)

France wants Tesla to transform its old nuclear plant into an auto factory

April 6th, 2016

(credit: Florival fr )

Tesla has “no current plans to open a factory in Europe,” a spokesperson for the company told Ars. But that hasn’t stopped French Energy and Environment Minister Ségolène Royal from saying that her best idea for repurposing an old nuclear power plant in northeastern France is to try to convince Tesla to build a factory there for its electric vehicles.

The Fessenheim plant, which sits on the France/Germany border, went into operation in 1978 and is currently operated by French energy company EDF. Today, it’s the oldest working nuclear power plant in France, but after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the French government decided to close the facility by 2017 in the interest of safety. German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported earlier this week that in 2014, a water leak was discovered coming from one of the reactors, but jammed control rods forced EDF to shut the reactor down using unconventional methods. Deutsche Welle says that the incident was played down by EDF in 2014.

Still, many people oppose the closure of the power plant, with Royal noting in previous interviews that the nuclear plant supports some 2,000 jobs. France currently relies on nuclear power to supply 75 percent of its electricity nationwide, but the French government has said it wants to reduce this share to 50 percent by 2025, according to Deutsche Welle.

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Posted in auto manufacturing, cars, Cars Technica, electric, Energy, nuclear energy, Tesla | Comments (0)

VW starts recall in Europe, gets serious about “BUDD-e” electric concept van

January 28th, 2016

A conceptualization of the electric BUDD-e. (credit: Volkswagen)

As Volkswagen began its European recall of hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles with defeat devices, it’s also pushing forward with publicity for its forthcoming electric vehicles. A company official recently made a comment to a reporter at Car Magazine to indicate that Volkswagen would be moving forward with a concept design for an electric van that was on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month.

According to Car Magazine, Volkswagen’s head of electronic development, Dr. Volkmar Tanneberger, said that by 2020, Volkswagen would start serial production of an electric van using Volkswagen’s “Modular Electric Toolkit” (abbreviated MEB from the German) called the BUDD-e. “You will see a car that looks a lot like this,” Tanneberger said, referring to the car’s “microbus” design.

In a press release at the beginning of January, Volkswagen said that its BUDD-e concept car had a range of 233 miles, based on a drive-cycle estimate using the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines, and incorporated a flat battery with a motor at the front and rear axles. The concept car envisioned a high level of Internet connectivity, with touch panels instead of buttons and digital screens instead of analog mirrors. At the time, Volkswagen said its MEB platform would be the basis for its electric vehicles by 2019, but the BUDD-e vehicle was merely referred to as a concept.

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Posted in Cars Technica, diesel, electric, EV, Volkswagen | Comments (0)