Archive for the ‘electric car’ Category

Aston Martin is the latest car maker to announce an all-hybrid or EV future

August 28th, 2017

Aston Martin

Aston Martin is the latest car maker to announce it’s going to move to an all-hybrid line up. CEO Andy Palmer has told the Financial Times that “We will be 100 per cent hybrid by the middle of the 2020s.” Palmer also told the FT that he expects about 25 percent of Aston Martin sales will be EVs by 2030. A similarly bold announcement was made by Volvo earlier this summer; however in this case Aston Martin will continue to sell non-hybrid versions of its cars as an option.

The first all-electric Aston Martin will be the RapidE, a sleek four-seater due in 2019. But that will be a limited-run model, with only 115 planned. There’s also the hybrid Valkyrie hypercar in the works, an F1 car for the road that’s being designed by Aston Martin in conjunction with Red Bull Racing’s Adrian Newey. But there will be more mainstream (if such a word can apply) hybrid and battery EV Aston Martins coming too. Like Volvo, some of these will just be 48V mild hybrids.

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Ariel—makers of the Atom—have a hybrid hypercar in the works

August 23rd, 2017

Ariel Motor Company

If you watch Top Gear, you’ll know the Ariel Motor Company. It’s the British maker of the Atom, a mid-engined assortment of scaffolding that was dreamt up as a modern answer to the Lotus/Caterham Seven—the same car that gave Jeremy Clarkson an epiglottis full of bees. Ariel also makes the Nomad, an off-road version of the Atom that featured in Matt Le Blanc’s Top Gear debut.

Both of those vehicles are utterly bonkers, stripped down to the very essence of a car but overloaded with excitement. Which makes us rather excited about the fact that the next four-wheeled thrill ride to emerge from its Somerset factory is going to be an electric vehicle.

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Volvo says from 2019 all new models it introduces will be electric or hybrid

July 5th, 2017

Enlarge / Volvo’s current plug-in hybrid range, the S90, V90, XC60 and XC90 T8s. (credit: Volvo Cars)

On Wednesday, Volvo Cars announced that all new models introduced from 2019 will feature some form of electric propulsion. The news follows an announcement in May that diesel engines have no future with the brand, in part because of ever-stricter EU carbon emissions targets, but also because of the growing concern over the health effects of diesel exhaust, which is loaded with particulates and nitrogen oxides.

When it comes to socially responsible car companies, Volvo appears to be leading the pack. The Swedish automaker, which built its reputation on safety, has already committed to a goal of reducing the number of deaths or serious injuries in a new Volvo to zero by the year 2020. And it looks like that concern extends beyond the wellbeing of its customers to the rest of us as well.

Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo plans to launch five new electric vehicles. Details about the new EVs are scarce at present, but the company says that three of them will be badged as Volvos, and the other two will be high-performance EVs badged as Polestars. (Polestar is Volvo’s in-house tuning operation, and you’ll be able to read a review of the S60 Polestar here at Ars in a few weeks.)

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Revealing the Future: Faraday debuts its FF91

January 4th, 2017

Jim Resnick

Financially beleaguered and lacking two top executives—who left just before the end of the year—Faraday Future unveiled its first actual electric car at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. Calling it “a new species” that “reformats the future,” the FF91 (“nine-one”) has a name which will confuse rather than clarify, but the critical numbers are impressive.

Faraday claims the FF91 will have the biggest electric drive system at 130kW of energy (using cells provided by LG Chem but packaged by Faraday). The greatest range, at a minimum of 378 miles using the EPA’s protocol (700km on the EU cycle) before needing a charge. And a power output of 783kW (equivalent to 1,050hp). Charging is important to Faraday, too, and an open charging strategy across networks works at 1.5, 10, and 15kW power levels, though the fastest DC charging will operate over 200kW.

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Volkswagen unveils the I.D., a long-range electric car due in 2020

September 28th, 2016

Within the first few weeks of Volkswagen’s diesel shenanigans becoming public knowledge, the company’s board decided that electrification would have to be the way of the future. And earlier this year, the company got more concrete about those plans, forecasting that 20 to 25 percent of its sales in 2025 would be electric vehicles. While we’d already seen veiled production EV concepts from Audi and Porsche, at the Paris Motor Show on Wednesday VW revealed the I.D. concept, a battery electric vehicle that VW says will go into production in 2020.

The I.D. features a 125kW motor, batteries good for 250 to 375 miles’ range (400 to 600km) according to VW, and it’s the first car to use VW Group’s Modular Electric Drive (MEB) platform. (The Audi e-tron and Porsche Mission-e concepts linked above both predate MEB.) The I.D. will be launched as a model parallel to VW’s very successful Golf, and the dimensions look roughly similar based on the provided images of the car.

VW also tells us that the car is our first look at the marque’s plans for autonomous driving. A self-driving mode will apparently be available from 2025, and when in automated mode, the steering wheel recesses into the dash.

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Riversimple Rasa review: Is this hydrogen car the future—or just a gimmick?

April 20th, 2016

(credit: Alun Taylor)

Specs at a glance: Riversimple Rasa
Body type 2-seat, 3-door hatchback
Power source 8.5kW Hydrogenics hydrogen fuel cell
Transmission Four wheel-mounted electric motors
Power 16kW continuous (55kW peak)
Torque 4x 60Nm continuous (170Nm peak)
Chassis Carbon composite monocoque with aluminium crash structure
Bodywork Self-coloured thermoplastic panels
Steering Unassisted rack and pinion
Suspension Double wishbone (front)
Semi-trailing arm (rear)
Tyres Michelin 115/80R15
Top speed 60mph (97km/h)
0-60mph Under 10 seconds
Fuel tank capacity 1.5kg (hydrogen)
Extra power storage 1.9MJ (lithium-ion hybrid capacitors)
Rated max range 300 miles (485km)
Weight 580kg (1278lbs)
Wheelbase 2272mm (89.4in)
Dimensions 3673mm (144.6in) x 1630mm (64.1in) x 1332 (52.4in) (LWH)
Base price TBA

An industrial estate on the outskirts of a sleepy spa town in deepest Powys, Wales, may not strike you as the obvious place to find an ambitious little hydrogen vehicle maker with plans to revolutionise the way we power, drive, and own our cars. But it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise.

Why not? Well, if you drive seventy-five miles to the south-west from Riversimple’s HQ in Llandrindod Wells, you end up in Swansea, once the home of William Robert Grove who in 1842 pretty much invented the hydrogen fuel cell. And it’s a hydrogen fuel cell that part-powers the Rasa, Riversimple’s funky little two-seater prototype.

“Part-powers?” I hear you ask. While the majority of electric and hydrogen cars currently on the market are essentially conventional designs with battery or fuel-cell-and-battery power sources, the Rasa—the name comes from tabula rasa, the Latin for blank or clean slate—is the result of altogether more clever thinking. I’m inclined to use a word I usually avoid like the plague—holistic—to describe Riversimple’s view of automotive design.

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Chevrolet’s Bolt is an electric vehicle for the masses—and we’ve driven it

January 6th, 2016

Jonathan test drives a pre-production Chevy Bolt. Video shot/edited by Jennifer Hahn, additional camera by Nathan Fitch. (video link)

LAS VEGAS—Today at CES, General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra will formally unveil one of the most significant new cars in the company’s history. It’s called the Chevrolet Bolt, and when it goes on sale later this year it will be the first long-range battery electric vehicle that’s truly affordable. In fact, GM says that after the $7500 IRS EV tax credit, the Bolt will cost under $30,000, making it cheaper than the average new-car price ($33,560 in 2015, according to Kelley Blue Book). Not bad at all for an EV with a 200-mile range.

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One in three new cars sold in Norway is an electric vehicle

July 16th, 2015

Norway continues to lead the way in electric vehicle (EV) sales, at least as a percentage of all new car sales, according to industry analysts IHS Automotive. One in three new cars sold in the oil-rich Nordic nation was an EV in the first quarter of the year, and Volkswagen’s e-Golf was the best seller.

Although EVs made up fewer than one percent of all new cars registered in the US over the same time frame, that accounted for almost 15,000 of them, making it the largest market in terms of overall numbers. China was runner-up, with 12,550. IHS’ data shows the wisdom of Tesla’s EV strategy, too. In the US, Model S sales in Q1 outstripped every other EV. While the report doesn’t give us an actual number of Tesla Model S vehicles sold in the US, Autoblog reports that it must have been at least 4,086, since Nissan sold 4,085 Leafs (Leaves?) over the same period.

IHS attributes strong sales in Norway, the Netherlands, China, and the US to powerful incentives, something we’ve explored recently at Ars. Within the US, EV sales are heavily skewed toward states like California and Georgia that offer large local incentives on top of federal EV tax credits. The analysts also point to a lack of good incentives for Germany’s poor showing on the league table, although they note that France did equally poor even though that country does incentivize EV purchases.

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1970s electric city car finds new life as 12-second drag EV

June 22nd, 2015

The Flux Capacitor gets its first track workout.

There’s an unlikely-looking contender for the title of Europe’s fastest street-legal electric vehicle (EV). It started life as an Enfield 8000, a small electric city car built in the mid-1970s. Now it’s the Flux Capacitor, the latest (and orange-ist) automotive project from Johnny Smith, a UK car journalist probably best known to American readers from his BBC America show.

The Enfield 8000 was commissioned by a Greek tycoon after the oil shock in 1973, and it was designed by John Ackroyd, who was later responsible for the 1982 “Thrust 2” land speed record car. Fewer than 120 Enfields were built off the southern coast of England on the Isle of Wight. They were competent EVs for their time, with all the provisos that statement brings. Eight 12V batteries fed an 8 hp (6 kW) motor, giving the car a top speed of 40 mph (64 km/h) and a range between 35-55 miles (56-89 km).

Smith decided to give an Enfield 8000 a new life as a drag racer, with thoroughly up-to-date internals. A pair of electric motors provide 500 hp (373 kW) and 1,000 ft lb (1356 Nm), fed by a custom Li-ion battery. The suspension and brakes have been suitably upgraded, as has the top speed (120 mph/193 km/h). Smith’s goal is a quarter-mile time under 12 seconds.

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Chevrolet’s autonomous, electric concept car has a swivel chair driver’s seat

April 21st, 2015

Chevrolet showed off its latest concept car this week in Shanghai with a nod to the not-so-distant future. The Chevrolet-FNR is an electric vehicle that can also drive autonomously, but the real eye-catcher is the car’s design, marked by dragonfly dual swing doors and a hubcap-free set of wheels.

Within the car, the front seats swivel 180 degrees to face the rear seats, allowing the driver to give complete control of the act of driving over to the car’s computer. Obviously, this is just a concept car, but it’s not absurd to imagine that this kind of trust in the car’s driving might be possible in several years. That would be pending government approval, of course: autonomous cars are already on US roads today, but several US states have ruled that the driver of an autonomous vehicle must stay alert and in complete control of the vehicle at all times. Component-maker Delphi recently did a cross-country trek in an autonomous vehicle, and in a few states, the driver was required to keep at least one hand on the wheel.

The Chevrolet-FNR also includes an iris-recognition start, as well as a wireless charging system (so your garage can be clear of unsightly power cords, presumably). A roof-mounted radar system maps out the surrounding environment as you drive.

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