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February 23rd, 2008, 02:27 AM
Could travel from coast to coast without refueling

At home I have several folders filled with articles I have clipped or Xeroxed on the "air car". At first it looked impossible, maybe a hoax, but it turned out to be neither - rather it was a legitimate development in the auto industry, albeit for small scale production.

The air car runs on compressed air and consequently does not pollute from its exhaust. Cost less than an electric car from an operational standpoint, and this collaborative enterprise is working on a hybrid version that uses a gasoline engine to generate compressed air for the non-gasoline engine side. Known as MDI, it is being developed in France, but the enterprise is registered in Luxembourg. It has been tested in urban areas of Europe for several years now. The text below is derived from the official website (http://www.theaircar.com/)

- Zephyr

After fourteen years of research and development, Guy Negre has developed an engine that could become one of the biggest technological advances of this century. Its application to Compressed Air Technology(CAT) vehicles gives them significant economical and environmental advantages. With the incorporation of bi-energy (compressed air + fuel) the CAT Vehicles have increased their driving range to close to 2000 km with zero pollution in cities and considerably reduced pollution outside urban areas.

The application of the MDI engine in other areas, outside the automotive sector, opens a multitude of possibilities in nautical fields, co-generation, auxiliary engines, electric generators groups, etc. Compressed air is a new viable form of power that allows the accumulation and transport of energy. MDI is very close to initiating the production of a series of engines and vehicles. The company is financed by the sale of manufacturing licenses and patents all over the world.


http://www.republicaupdate.com/images/2007/06/27/air_car.jpg http://www.toffsworld.com/images/stories/motoring/air_car.jpg
left - Tata Motors in India will market the car in Asia, right - Courtesy Toffs World
centre top two rows from a blog entitled 'Gems Sty'

February 23rd, 2008, 04:07 AM
ZENN (Zero Emissions No Noise) Car
A low speed. "... stop-and-go urban core, neighbourhood type of vehicle," that runs up to 60 minutes between electric charges

CLICK HERE for Official website (http://zenncars.com/)

Courtesy linden hills co-op


Impatiently waiting for Zenn
Canadian Press
December 17, 2007 at 12:32 PM EST

ST-JEROME, Que. — The maker of the Zenn electric car still has to fill up his own vehicle at a gas station.

Ian Clifford, CEO of the Zenn Motor Company (TSX:ZNN), is trying to get his environmentally friendly car on urban streets for short trips because, despite approval from Transport Canada, the province still won't let him. "Your biggest carbon footprint as an individual is probably the car you drive," Clifford told The Canadian Press in an interview at the Zenn car manufacturing facility. This worries Clifford when he gets into his intentionally small "internal combustion car" to get his groceries and do his errands.

Ian Clifford, CEO of Zenn Motor Company, drives an electric Zenn car at the company's plant in St-Jerome, Que. (Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

And it also isn't a calming or Zen-like experience.

"Every time I go to the gas station, I want to choke," he said, his voice full of frustration.

Clifford had just finished test driving a Zenn car on a suburban road in St-Jerome, north of Montreal. The drive included doing circles of doughnuts on a snow-covered parking lot.

The Zenn — short for zero-emissions and no noise — can travel at a speed 40 kilometres an hour for more than 60 minutes at a time, ideal for going to the store, and plugs into an regular electrical outlet to recharge. The car recently received the National Safety Mark from Transport Canada, approving its use in Canada, but each province has to legislate its use as a low-speed vehicle.

It retails between US$12,000 and $15,000 and can be driven legally in 45 of 50 U.S. states, currently its primary destination.

But the Toronto-based company doesn't have a Canadian retail price because Clifford is still waiting on the provinces. British Columbia is supposed to come up with specific legislation that would allow the Zenn car to be driven in that province early in 2008, Clifford said. Ontario has a pilot project that allows electric vehicles only in provincial parks. But Premier Dalton McGuinty's government is specifically interested in the Zenn car and Quebec is looking at the experience of low-speed vehicles internationally, he added.

"It's an absurdity, to be honest, that we cannot sell this in Canada. We are a Canadian company and this just adds insult to injury, if you will."

Al Cormier, executive director of Electric Mobility Canada, said there needs to be more flexibility in regulations for electric cars, which can contribute to environmental well-being without forcing a change of lifestyle. "It's the end of cheap oil," Cormier noted. "As the price of oil goes through the roof, this makes more and more sense."

Industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers said although he's not familiar with the Zenn car, it's difficult to "jump all of the hurdles" to get an electric car on the road because each province and state has to approve it.

"It's a real dog's breath of a problem," said DesRosiers.

Electric cars are a small "niche market" and the battery technology isn't there yet for a mass-market electric vehicle, said DesRosiers, head of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. But gas-electric hybrid technology cars by major auto makers are having some success but that's a niche, too, Clifford added.

"These kinds of things are a lot of fun but how do you manage to make money out of it?" DesRosiers said.

Clifford, 45, started out as a photographer and then had an Internet marketing company. So it has been a long way from pictures to cars. For him, it was the frustration of being stuck and idling in his SUV in Toronto traffic that turned him to the idea of an electric car. "When I couldn't buy one, I said enough of this. I am going to start a car company."

Clifford said more than 200 Zenn cars have been sold in the last eight months. "We're looking really good for next year."

The aluminum and plastic bodies of the Zenn car are shipped from France and the St-Jerome production line staff install the electric drive system. The Zenn has six 12-volt batteries and a 5.5 horsepower engine with plenty of "torque," Clifford said. It takes an overnight recharging to keep it fully charged.

"You get about 55 or 60 kilometres of driving. So as a 40 km/h vehicle, you're good for an hour or an hour-and-a-half of steady driving. But nobody drives this kind of car like that. This is a stop-and-go urban core, neighbourhood type of vehicle."

It also has enough storage space, as was demonstrated on CBC television's The Rick Mercer report by filling the back of a Zenn with beer. "We fit 20 cases of beer in the hatch. So it's an ideal Canadian weekend grocery shopping car," Clifford joked.

Zenn now has a line of cars with an alternating current drive which allows motorists to accelerate when going up hills, which suits markets such as San Francisco, or B.C. The company is launching a model that has air conditioning with the latest coolants that Clifford said aren't ozone-depleting and is also launching heating system to keep the battery pack warm in winter.

Shares in Zenn closed down 22 cents, 5.6 per cent, Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange at $3.74.

© Copyright 2008 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved. (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://images.theglobeandmail.com/archives/RTGAM/images/20071217/wh-zenn-1217/pch101_Zenn_Car_20071216big.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071217.wh-zenn-1217/BNStory/specialGlobeAuto/&h=329&w=500&sz=66&hl=en&start=3&um=1&tbnid=a1tHSOBSrj5jfM:&tbnh=86&tbnw=130&prev=/images%3Fq%3DNoise%2BZENN%2BCar%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den %26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DN)


http://images.theglobeandmail.com/archives/RTGAM/images/20071217/wh-zenn-1217/pch101_Zenn_Car_20071216big.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M88k6Ipp3c)
"ZENN on The Rick Mercer Report" was posted on YouTube by zenntv (23.November.2007)

February 24th, 2008, 02:58 PM
4WS/AWS Vehicles
Four Wheel Steering (4WS) also known as All Wheel Steering or All Wheel Steer (AWS)

PART 1 - What is it?


Definition: A system that uses all four wheels to steer the car. The steering angle is usually limited to 2° or 3°. Turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front at slow speeds can allow faster maneuvering and a much tighter turning radius. Turning the rear wheels in the same direction as those at the front at high speed allows sudden lane changes with much greater stability. Turning the rear wheels in the same direction as the front when parking makes parallel parking much easier.

- about.com (http://autorepair.about.com/library/glossary/bldef-231.htm)

Four wheel steering is a relatively new technology that improves maneuverability in cars, trucks and trailers. It should not be confused with four wheel drive in which all four wheels of a vehicle are powered.

In standard two wheel steering vehicles, the rear set of wheels are always directed forward therefore and do not play an active role in controlling the steering. In four wheel steering systems, the rear wheels can turn left and right. To keep the driving controls as simple as possible, a computer is used to control the rear wheels.

As shown in the drawing below, most four wheel steering systems can control the rear wheels in the following fundamental ways:

At slow speeds, the rear wheels are turned in the opposite direction of the front wheels. This can lessen the turning radius by approximately 20%.


At faster speeds on the highway, the rear wheels are turned in the same direction as the front wheels. This improves lane changing maneuverability and is particularly beneficial for vehicles towing a trailer.


Four wheel steering is growing in popularity and you are likely to see it in more and more new vehicles. As the systems become more commonplace you can expect the cost of four wheel steering to drop.

- wiseGEEK (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-four-wheel-steering.htm)

February 24th, 2008, 03:00 PM
4WS/AWS Vehicles

PART 2 - What it is not!

"Four Wheel Drive and Four Wheel Steering"

http://www.redgreen.com/files/layout/redgreen_sign.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwe4f-8W8LA)

YouTube Video Runtime - 02:48

February 24th, 2008, 03:37 PM
4WS/AWS Vehicles

PART 3a - Honda Re-introduces 4WS via Patents


Patents; Four-Wheel Steering, For Stability

Published: January 14, 1989

The Honda Motor Company this week received the first of what appears to be a series of patents for its system of four-wheel steering in automobiles. The company introduced its first four-wheel steering system last year, as an option in the Prelude, and the new patent sheds considerable light on how it works.

Proponents of four-wheel steering argue that such systems give a car greater stability on the highway and a sharper turning radius in parking. The basic concepts have been around for many years, but car manufacturers have had difficulty in developing practical designs and consumers remain skeptical.

Honda's patent is the first issued in the field since 1981 and only the third over all. The company has filed six related patent applications.

As in previous designs, the car's rear wheels are designed to turn in the same direction as the front wheels when the driver is changing lanes at highway speeds. For sharp turns at slow speeds, as in parking lots, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels. Different Forces Involved

The different turns involve different forces. In parking, the rear wheels follow the arc of the circle started by the front wheels, which means the wheels actually point in opposite directions. The effect, however, is that the car can turn in a much tighter radius than is normally possible.

The same maneuver would prove highly unstable on a highway, however, because a car's rear end would swing out while the front swings in. That would soon cause the driver to lose control.

Thus, at highway speeds the rear wheels are designed to turn very slightly in the same direction as the front wheels. This causes the car to change lanes while its body remains pointed straight ahead. As a result, the car sways less during lane changes than a car with conventional steering.

The new Honda patent includes a computerized control unit that monitors both the speed and the sharpness of turns, and steers the rear wheels according to the nature of each turn.

In addition, however, the system includes the geometry of what is called Ackermann steering, which sets slightly different angles for the wheels facing into and away from the turn. Although this is a standard principle in front-wheel steering systems, earlier rear-wheel designs had not succeeded in incorporating it.

Honda received patent 4,796,904.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE4D8123BF937A25752C0A96F9482 60)

February 24th, 2008, 03:38 PM
4WS/AWS Vehicles

PART 3b - Honda 4WS Prelude


1987 Honda Prelude with 4WS aka AWS

Can We Utilize the Rear Wheels of FF [Front-Wheel Drive] Cars?

The 1960s were a decade of dramatic progress in science and engineering. In space, NASA's Apollo missions fostered boundless dreams and aspirations, as man took his first glorious steps upon the surface of the moon. And on earth, people were beginning to see visions of an ever-advancing automotive technology. It all meant the promise of a bright future.

The rapid popularization of automobiles in the 1960s backlashed in the 1970s, however. Various problems began to emerge, from environmental pollution and traffic congestion to growing numbers of traffic accidents and recalls of defective vehicles. In response to public concerns, significant efforts were made to address these problems. The ESV (Experimental Safety Vehicle) program, led by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a U.S. agency), was one such effort.

The ESV's objective was to conduct a fundamental review of automobile safety, with the intention of lowering the rising tide of traffic accidents. It was a matter of global consensus, with automobile manufacturers around the world joining the program. With its automobile operations finally getting on track, Honda decided to participate in the program as well, though on a semi-official level. As a result, research was begun on an experimental safety vehicle.

Automotive safety generally falls into two categories: "collision avoidance" and "active safety." Honda's themes of research were explored from the perspective of enhanced active safety in the areas of maneuverability, stability and dynamic performance. In other words, the research aimed at developing responsive vehicles that could more easily avoid obstacles and, when necessary, come to a quick, complete stop. It was this research effort that ultimately laid the foundation for subsequent evolutionary developments in power steering. Another of the possibilities examined through Honda's research was a hydraulic suspension system designed to prevent centrifugal force from affecting the driver.

The assurance of active safety, which was the main target of the research, meant that Honda would have to identify fundamentally effective mechanisms in order to achieve better dynamic performance. At the end of 1977, Honda held a brainstorming session in the hope of returning to the basics through a review of fundamental vehicle structures. This brainstorming session gave birth to the concept of a 4-wheel steering (4WS) system.

Honda vehicles were at the time essentially front-engine, front-wheel-drive (FF) models. In an FF vehicle the rear wheels play a relatively minor role, since the front wheels perform around 80 percent of the steering, driving and braking. Compared to the front wheels, the rear wheels are merely in place as a means of support, ensuring that the car moves ahead in a straight and predictable fashion.

The brainstorming session produced certain discussions that led to an interesting fact: although there were cars with four-wheel brake systems and four-wheel drive, steering control was universally given to the front wheels. Naturally, they wondered if they could utilize the idle rear wheels to provide some steering function. With that, an initial concept was defined. The fact that only Honda had vehicles of FF specification made the idea all the more intriguing. If the rear wheels could be employed in a way that provided some steering control, dynamic performance would improve significantly. The research engineers began to ponder that question, and as they did their desire for a new challenge was awakened.

Ideas Become a Theoretical Model


Test equipment in Oguchi's laboratory at Shibaura Institute of Technology.
The development team's research made real progress, thanks to the drum-type bench tester.

At the Sixth Research Block of the Wako R&D Center, Shoichi Sano and Osamu Furukawa were deep in discussion as to how they should approach the concept identified in the brainstorming session.

The idea, after all, had not yet been approved as an official project theme, so the financial and human resources available to them were quite limited. Moreover, several projects were running concurrently at the time, making a proper development team even harder to come by. Data, too, was hardly sufficient, given the uniqueness of such a concept. For example, although they wanted to modify existing models in order to construct test cars, they didn't even know whether the front and rear wheels should turn in the same direction or in opposite directions. There were so many questions, due to the fact that a steering system based on four wheels would allow considerable flexibility in control. The key question was where to start.

Sano and Furukawa decided to build a theoretical model for the four-wheel steering system, believing it would help define the fundamental concept before the actual research started.

"It was interesting just mulling over ideas in my head, simply because it was such a new system," Furukawa recalled. "Nobody had ever driven a car with such a system before. I had fun just imagining myself driving it. I have to admit, it was something of an obsession. I was always thinking about the 4WS system, even when I wasn't working."

The theoretical model created at this stage eventually led the pair to the basic mechanisms, providing a dramatic motivation in the development of the 4WS system.

Four-wheel steering, however, wasn't an unknown concept.

Daimler-Benz had already developed four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering vehicles for the Forest Service. Their rear wheels were designed to turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels so that the vehicle could make sharp turns along narrow mountain roads. However, the specification had yet to be adapted for use in mass-production units. Even though it was effective in mountain driving, maneuverability was less than perfect elsewhere. Consequently, these cars occasionally had stability problems while being driven on Germany's famed Autobahn.

A special committee under Japan's Ministry of Transport once examined the merits of a vehicle whose rear wheels could turn in the direction opposite that of the front wheels, as part of discussions regarding the safety of large trucks. There was mounting public concern at the time regarding the danger of transport vehicles, particularly in instances where wide left turns were called for. The committee, too, concluded that a vehicle with four-wheel steering would be less stable at high speeds.

Furukawa's theoretical model substantiated these concerns, concurrently defining a direction as to how Honda should proceed. The fundamental principle identified by his model was that the front and rear wheels should turn in the same direction at high speeds and opposite directions at low speeds.

"We used figures to express an ideal car," Furukawa said. "It was one that could make quick, sharp turns, for which we made the proper calculations. And this was the answer we came up with."

The ideal control method for the four wheels was examined from a broader perspective, and those findings were then reflected in a concrete, theoretical model. This approach successfully outlined a 4WS system that was unlike anything before it. The principle mechanism won a basic patent in 1978, which further propelled Honda's development of the 4WS system.

The Test Car: From Theory to Reality


The 4WS test car created by fusing the front sections of two Accords.
Putting together two front sections, instead of modifying one complete vehicle to four-wheel steering specifications,
greatly enhanced the progress of development.

Another group outside Honda was studying a similar system at the time Honda had begun its research into 4WS. Oguchi's laboratory at Shibaura Institute of Technology, led by then assistant professor Oguchi was examining a steering-control system that would allow the front and rear wheels to move independently, thus moderating the negative effects of understeer and oversteer. Honda knew about Oguchi's research group, since the company had earlier commissioned studies on maneuverability and stability in mini cars. When Sano and Furukawa learned that the group was conducting research under a similar theme, they proposed that the two join forces. With that, the two-man development team gained a significant measure of support.

A key benefit of the joint research was the drum-type bench tester installed in Oguchi's laboratory. It was a device made of two drums placed in parallel at the front and back. A test car made of pipe frames was placed on top of the tester. The tester could evaluate maneuverability and stability under various conditions by changing the gearbox setting in order to obtain the desired steering ratios for the front and rear wheels. With this device Sano and Furukawa could substantiate their theory through the collection of quantifiable data. They also acquired other data, including an optimal steering ratio for the rear wheels. This proved very useful when filing the patent application for their aforementioned technology.

The two partners made rapid progress, and soon they were ready to test an actual vehicle. In April 1981, the first drive test was carried out on the west course at Suzuka Circuit. The test car was built from two Accords whose front sections were cut off and welded together to make one vehicle. The link mechanism that interconnected the front and rear steering mechanisms came courtesy of Oguchi and his students, who had fashioned it by hand.

"We had a good feeling about the outcome," Furukawa said. "Still, it was our first attempt, so we were very anxious to see what would happen."
Happily, the test results obliterated any concerns they might have had. The test car demonstrated a level of dynamic performance that far exceeded their expectations, in the process transforming a mere theory into reality. And given such a positive outcome, it was now possible for a formal 4WS development project to get under way.

The Shift from Speed to Steering Angle


The operating mechanism of the rear steering gearbox, which connects two crank mechanisms at different phases using a planetary gear

The control mechanism created through the joint effort, which turned the front and rear wheels in the same direction at high speeds but in opposing directions at low speeds, was initially conceived as a "speed-linked 4WS system"-a control mechanism directly dependent on the speed of the vehicle. However, it required a gear-ratio control in order to successively link the wheel-turning actions in two different directions. Accordingly, a new mechanism had to be developed by combining an electronic control device and variable gear-ratio mechanism.

The layout of such a system would prove to be a difficult, but not impossible challenge. However, excessive complexity could result in problems during production, that would be reflected in the market. Therefore, further discussions were held in order to simplify the system. Eventually, the review process led to a theoretical shift in linking the control function to the angle of steering rather than the vehicle's speed. This became the starting point for a "steering-angle sensing 4WS," which would control the rear wheels in accordance with how much the steering wheel was turned.

This is easier to understand by imagining what one does when driving a car. When changing lanes on a highway, the steering wheel is turned only slightly. However, there are situations in which the steering wheel must be turned considerably more, such as when parking the vehicle in a garage. In view of enhanced dynamic performance, the front and rear wheels should turn in the same direction at high speeds and in opposite directions at low speeds. But when steering angles are applied to this principle, the front and rear wheels should turn in the same direction at smaller angles but opposite directions when greater angles are applied.

Honda had, in fact, already included this concept in a patent the company obtained in 1978. However, it all became a reality with the development of a new crank mechanism, which was designed to turn the wheels in the same direction initially but in opposite directions after a certain point. For example, when the steering wheel was turned to a large angle, the wheels would turn in the same direction for a brief moment after the steering wheel starts to rotate. Then, as the angle of steering increased, the rear wheels would turn toward the opposite direction. One problem had to be resolved, though, in order that the mechanism could be utilized. With a single crank mechanism, the wheels could only be turned at certain instances, regardless of whether the front and/or rear wheels were turning in the same or opposite directions. With the car traveling at high speed, the desired control could be achieved with the rear wheels turned just one or two degrees at most in crank angle. On the other hand, an offset of approximately five degrees would provide more effective control during low-speed maneuvers. In that regard it would not make sense to use only one crank. Therefore, it was decided that the combination of two cranks would overcome the drawback. This led to the development of a simple mechanical system that would not rely on an electronic control device or other such complexities.

High scores were given to the complete 4WS system at its initial evaluation. Even Tadashi Kume, then the president of Honda R&D, was impressed by its simplicity and effectiveness. The achievement was the fruit of hard work by the development staff, who at each occurrence of difficulties used a calm, analytical approach in order that the project could move forward. Simplicity was their byword, and in all respects the 4WS system satisfied that.

The New Concept: A Hard Thing to Promote


The rear steering gearbox used in the 1988 Prelude

It is only human nature that people are suspicious and skeptical of things they do not fully understand. This was certainly true of Honda's 4WS system, which would be a challenge to sell in the marketplace. Compounding the problem was that four-wheel steering control is very complex, making the benefits difficult to understand simply by describing the specifications. It would be hard for anyone to understand just how much the maneuverability and stability have improved without actually driving the car and experiencing its effect. When basic research began, there were as many doubters in the company as there were believers. Some expressed their doubts in an outright fashion, saying that the rear wheels should not turn and that using them for steering control could never work. But as the 4WS development project progressed, moving toward the D-development stage, Furukawa, the newly appointed LPL, had to think of ways to promote confidence in the new system.

Problems were nevertheless manifested in the D-development stage that the team hadn't even imagined during the R-development phase.

For instance, the 4WS system would need long link shafts, but those wouldn't fit on the production line because all extraneous space along the line had been eliminated for maximum efficiency. Suspension alignment, too, became an area of concern. With a conventional vehicle, the alignment process simply requires that the front wheels be adjusted against a fixed reference point,-the rear wheels. But in a car equipped with a four-wheel steering system the body would have to serve as the reference, necessitating changes in the equipment and process used.

Regardless of any possible benefits it might offer, a technology can not be applied to products if it requires an excessive investment, since that will only force the cost of those products higher. To solve the problem, the factory had to work hard to find ways of controlling costs.

Furukawa knew he had to do something to alleviate the sense of doubt that was becoming prevalent among the factory personnel and other staff. So, while working to solve the problems at hand, he decided to give his colleag-ues an opportunity to drive the car themselves. After all, it was the only way for them to experience the sensation of a 4WS system, and the only way to understand its potential impact.

Furukawa formed a 4WS promotional committee so that test drives could be arranged for factory and service personnel. It was through such tests that the people who would actually produce the final product came to perceive it as an entirely new level of dynamic performance. In fact, the test drives not only facilitated communication among all involved, they also sparked enthusiasm about Honda's exciting new technology.

Eventually, the associated staff people at Honda's overseas offices, along with journalists and officials from certifying agencies, were invited to try the system, thus nurturing an accurate understanding of 4WS.

Malicious Tests and Local Adaptability Tests

Exhaustive studies were carried out to identify and eliminate the problems that might occur in the marketplace. Even though the cars were to be driven by different users in different ways, it would be impossible to predict every condition the vehicle would encounter. In other words, it was possible that problems could occur outside the context of what the design engineers had anticipated. To minimize that possibility, trial tests were conducted in various practical settings.

A series of "malicious tests" was devised, so named because the test conditions were set to simulate overly adverse situations that were unlikely to occur during normal use. For example, one test examined whether the steering function would work when the driver started the engine and turned the steering wheel without knowing that one of the rear wheels was caught in a ditch only as wide as the wheel's rim. Another test would determine whether the system would break down during operation if the car was used in a cold climate such as Hokkaido's with the rear wheels frozen under a mantle of snow. Numerous other scenarios were considered, during which all system functions were verified in detail.

The development team even held a number of local-adaptability tests in Europe, along with test drives for personnel at Honda's overseas offices. These helped identify problems during actual driving, as well as driver responses to them. This had all been designed to incorporate user feedback into solutions that would further enhance the system's performance. Of course, there were a few mishaps. During one test drive, a driver who was overly confident in the system approached a corner at excessively high speed and smashed right through the guardrail. Nevertheless, marks for the system were very high and every office in Europe gave it a "thumbs-up." The results couldn't have been more satisfying.

The world was now ready for another first. In April 1987, Honda's unique steering angle sensing 4WS debuted in the form of a stunning new, high-performance Prelude. The system had indeed opened doors to an entirely new perception of automotive possibility.

The Importance of a Challenge

Over a ten year period, Honda's new 4WS system had evolved from the basis of a casual comment-a simple idea-to the production of a car that would set a new standard in handling and dynamic performance. Yet, the reason for Honda's technical leadership was equally simple: use a theoretical model to identify the fundamental principle of operation. Once that was achieved, the other aspects of development would follow suit. And in that regard the final outcome was truly an extension of the original idea.

"We were able to define what we could achieve by turning the rear wheels," Furukawa said, "and that understanding proved to be a real boost. Once we had the concept, we only needed to embody it by experimenting with ideas and solving problems."

The theoretical model's significance is reflected in the fact that it is now a popular method among researchers. Simple in form yet applicable to the most advanced theory of control, the model has been used in various studies, including those leading to today's suspension-control technologies and active, left/right braking systems. In that regard, Honda's development of 4WS became the foundation for many subsequent theories of automotive control.

"It was the desire to bring what we believed to the world, and to see it accepted by users," Furukawa explained. "That's the thing that made our R&D process work."

The act of innovating, then, stemmed from the search for ideas the development team could use to realize a goal. Each time they encountered a problem, they had to stop and find a solution. They knew that failures would occur despite their efficiency in seeking the target-that was simply the price of success. Ultimately the technology they had so diligently endeavored to achieve became a product, and it was well received in the market. It was a real benefit to their confidence as engineers.

"When the 4WS system was in development," Furukawa said, "I truly believed that I was creating a technology. But when I look back at it now, perhaps it was the 4WS technology that was nurturing me."

Honda's 4WS system undeniably established a new standard in driving performance, but without a doubt it did something more. It brought creative minds together in a solution that would one day benefit the automotive world.

Copyright, 2008 Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and its subsidiaries and affiliates. All Rights Reserved. (http://world.honda.com/history/challenge/19874ws/text/01.html)

February 24th, 2008, 04:04 PM
4WS/AWS Vehicles

PART 4 - GMC introduces "Quadrasteer" on Sierra Denali



The Sierra Denali sports new roof mounted marker lights and flared rear shoulders. Note the angled rear wheel in this shot.

GMC Unveils Three Technologies That Will Change Your Pickup Truck Forever

By: Michael Levine and John Gillies
08 July 2001

Who says you can't drive concept vehicles? Well, you still might not find GMC's Terradyne parked in your driveway anytime soon but in the near future three cutting-edge, concept-worthy technologies will change the way you drive and use your pickup.

We spent two days with GMC in La Jolla, California getting familiar with four-wheel steering and two new powertrains featuring automatic cylinder shutoff and hybrid gasoline-electric propulsion.


Back in 1988 Honda became the first auto maker to introduce four-wheel steering, in its compact Prelude sedan. About the same time GM was showcasing a much more advanced version of four wheel steering in its Blazer XT-1 concept vehicle. For whatever reason the feature never took off, probably because the Prelude's purely mechanical setup didn't provide much benefit in the already nimble car and the XT-1's system was as complex and expensive as a NASA X-plane.

Enter the 2002 GMC Sierra Denali, the successor to the 2001 Sierra C3. The Sierra Denali makes an already outstanding truck even better with the addition of Quadrasteer four-wheel steering, aka QS4.


Quadrasteer electronically controls the rear wheels at different speeds and under various load bearing conditions to create an amazing amount of agility and maneuverability - especially when towing or parking. The rear wheels turn in proportion to the front up to a maximum 12-degree angle depending on vehicle speed and driving mode. 12-degrees may not seem like a lot but consider the following: at 37.4 feet the Sierra Denali's turning radius in four-wheel steer mode is only three inches greater than that of a three door Saturn coupe! That's almost 10 feet smaller than the 2001 Sierra C3 was capable of performing! Quadrasteer on the 2002 Sierra Denali is a game-changer.


The 2002 Sierra Denali's turning radius is almost 10 feet smaller than the 2001 Sierra C3.

Quadrasteer steer-by-wire rear axle is controlled by two sophisticated microprocessors. At low speeds the rear wheels turn in the opposite, or negative, direction of the front wheels up to a transition zone of around 40 to 45 mph where the rear wheels track neutrally. At speeds over 45 mph the rear wheels turn in concert, or positively, with the front. If at any time the two microprocessors 'disagree' over the steering information they have received QS4 automatically shuts down and reverts back to traditional two-wheel steering.

Located on the dash of the Sierra Denali is a push button Quadrasteer control panel similar to the four-wheel drive control panel found in many trucks today. The driver pushes the button to change steering modes from two-wheel steer (2WS) to four-wheel steer (4WS) to four-wheel steer tow (4WS TOW). In 4WS mode the rear wheels turn up to the maximum allowable amount below 40-45 mph. The wheels transition and turn in the same direction as the front above this speed. When towing, Denali drivers can select 4WS TOW. 4WS TOW reduces the amount of rear wheel steer at slower speeds, when the wheels are turning in opposite directions, but increases it at higher speeds when the wheels turn in the same direction.


With Quadrasteer, drivers can select 2 Wheel Steer, 4 Wheel Steer or 4 Wheel Steer Tow Modes using a push button control panel on the dashboard.

Created in an exclusive partnership with Tier 1 supplier Delphi automotive, GMC won't comment on how long this arrangement will last. Dana Corporation provides the Sierra Denali's axle and Delphi completes the final assembly, adding the electronics and delivering the final unit to GM's Oshwa, Ontario plant where the Denali is produced.

The Quadrasteer system adds a weight penalty of about 285 pounds to the truck but gives back this amount and more in additional towing and hauling capabilities over the C3. The rear axle's weight rating increases by 250 pounds to 4000 pounds and maximum GCWR (gross combined weight rating) climbs from 14000 to 16000 pounds. Trailering capacity has increased from 8700 pounds to 10000 pounds. The wider rear axle also provides more stability when towing.

Sam Mancuso, the Sierra Brand Manager, proudly proclaims, "The Sierra Denali is the most capable _-ton pickup truck available in its class. There is nothing else like it from Ford, Dodge or Toyota."

The addition of Quadrasteer has required some exterior changes to the Denali further setting it apart from the C3 and adding more testosterone to the truck. The first things you notice are the muscular, composite shoulders added over the rear wheels to accommodate the wider rear axle and turning requirements. Overall body width has grown from 78.5-inches to 83.5-inches. Government regulations stipulate the trucks over 80-inches in width also include roof mounted marker lamps and fender mounted clearance lights so the Denali looks almost like an athletic dually at first glance.


Trailer towing becomes much easier with Quadrasteer engaged. The Sierra Denali's pivot point shifts from the front to the rear wheels providing more maneuverability

We took the Sierra Denali out first-hand to test drive the Quadrasteer's towing and trailer-free capabilities.

The first Sierra Denali we drove came with a 30-foot, 7500 pound trailer attached for a GCWR of 14500 pounds.

GMC engineer Gene Rodden took us out to a closed course, marked with cones, to test out Quadrasteer's maneuverability. Attempting to tow in 2WS mode quickly demonstrated how challenging towing can be and the large amount of attentiveness required by the driver to clearances, the length of both vehicles and placement of the trailer axle. Needless to say the course was not optimized for 2WS trailer towing resulting in the senseless mutilation of multiple orange traffic cones.

Switching to 4WS TOW mode to run the same course again, Quadrasteer provided a clear improvement in maneuverability, measurably improving the driver's level of confidence and margin of error in moving the trailer around and meeting clearances in corners. The cones were also a lot happier.

An interesting demonstration of rear wheel movement was shown in response to increased throttle while holding the brake on. Quadrasteer is also sensitive to throttle response not steering alone. 4WS TOW angles ranged from 7 degrees, increasing to 12 with full lock for low speed maneuvers. Reversing the truck lowered the tolerances and reduced the steering angles available for maneuvering the truck. Not that it was a rally course, but rounding the cones at a decent clip seemed to make trailering easier than maneuvering at very low speeds.

We left the trailer course to make our way to Highway 52 outside San Diego.

Navigating surface streets with the trailer and heavy morning commuter traffic proved to be quite easy with Quadrasteer. When making right turns you could actually keep the Denali in the right lane of the street you had just turned onto. No more wide turns into the middle or left lanes. And when making U-turns the only word that came to mind is amazing. We made a U-turn onto a three lane road and were easily able to make the middle lane towing the 30-foot trailer!

On the freeway Quadrasteer shined again. Lane changes at 60 mph were seamless. The synchronized movement of the front and rear wheels at these speeds reduced the articulation angle between the Sierra and trailer. Reduced side forces acting on the trailer made the entire platform more stable.

If you didn't know you were towing a trailer and looked in the rearview mirror, you would think someone was tailgating.

Rodden remarked that during separate road testing on highways in high wind conditions in 4WS TOW mode the truck / trailer combo was also much more stable than in standard 2WS mode.
The Sierra Denali sports new roof mounted marker lights and flared rear shoulders. Note the angled rear wheel in this shot.

The second Sierra Denali we drove was unloaded. Like last year's 2001 Sierra C3 we drove the Denali displayed the same great on-road driving characteristics.

As the only currently produced all-wheel drive pickup, Quadrasteer enhances the driving experience so you feel like you are driving a luxury sport sedan, albeit a very tall one. On twisty mountain roads the truck was outstanding.

There was no mention of pricing for the 2002 Sierra Denali, but we expect the truck to come in somewhere just north of $40,000. That's a hefty price tag for an extended cab truck. Clearly this is a truck for early adopters but we do expect Quadrasteer to quickly appear on other, less expensive, GM trucks.

Copyright © 1995-2008 PickupTruck.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved (http://www.pickuptruck.com/html/stories/gmctech/three1.html)

February 24th, 2008, 04:36 PM
4WS/AWS Vehicles

PART 5 - Jeep Hurricane Concept (4WD with 'Independent' 4WS)

This is a concept car that has been extensively tested. A 4x4, 11.4 L, 4WS with split-axel, 2 engine design. This 4WS, however, goes one step further into something called Four Wheel Independent Steering.

http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/images/2005-Jeep-Hurricane-Concept-RA-1280x960.jpg http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/images/2005-Jeep-Hurricane-Concept-R-Spinning.jpg


http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/images/2005-Jeep-Hurricane-Concept-Dashboard.jpg http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/images/2005-Jeep-Hurricane-Concept-Top-Rendering.jpg

Jeep Hurricane Concept (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/images/jeep-hurricane-steering.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/Jeep-Hurricane-Steering.php&h=410&w=422&sz=34&hl=en&start=2&um=1&tbnid=5uv57WJY1UqpFM:&tbnh=122&tbnw=126&prev=/images%3Fq%3DFour%2BWheel%2BSteering%26um%3D1%26hl %3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DN)

Jeep isn’t new to fabricating … concept vehicles … [When] the Jeep Hurricane made its debut at the [2005?] North American International Auto Show stage, it raised the bar for the Jeep name.

"Jeep Hurricane is simply the most maneuverable, most capable and most powerful 4x4 ever built," said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President - Chrysler Group Design. "It pays homage to the extreme enthusiasts' Jeep vehicles in form and off-road capability, but is a unique interpretation of Jeep design. …

The … vehicle has a 5.7 HEMI engine in the rear of the vehicle and another HEMI in the front! … Each HEMI pumps out 335 horsepower with 370 lb-ft of torque - a total of 670 hp and 740 lb-ft of torque. …[Why] two HEMI engines? The Jeep Hurricane has Multi-Displacement System (MDS). Depending on the drivers needs, either 4, 8, 12, or 16 cylinders will be used. The Jeep Hurricane will have unbelievable torque for climbing obstacles other 4x4 vehicles could only dream of tackling. And if it didn’t sound like it could get any better, the Jeep Hurricane can move from 0-60 less than five seconds …

The vehicles power is delivered through a central transfer case and split axles with a mechanically controlled four-wheel torque distribution system. … Ground clearance for the Hurricane is 14.3 inches, and incredible near vertical degree approach/departure angles of 64.0 /86.7 degrees. Additionally, the Jeep Hurricane has 37 inch tires, so there are few obstacles the Hurricane meets that it can’t climb.

… Jeep Hurricane to date is the only vehicle that provides its own turnable feature. It has a turn radius of absolutely zero, thanks to toe steer and skid steer capabilities: the ability to turn both front and rear tires inward. Additionally, the Jeep Hurricane has two modes of automated four-wheel steering. First is traditional with its rear tires turning in the opposite direction of the front to reduce the turning circle. The second mode is an innovative way to targeted off-road drivers: the Hurricane can turn all four wheels in the same direction for nimble crab steering. This allows the Jeep to move sideways without changing the direction the vehicle is pointing.

While out in the wilderness, changing direction with limited space can mean the difference between an afternoon of adventure, or a distress call after failed winch attempts. "The multi-mode four-wheel steering system on Jeep Hurricane is designed to offer enthusiasts the next level of performance and unexpected maneuverability." Creed said.

The Jeep Hurricane’s body is one-piece shaped of structural carbon fiber. The suspension and powertrain are mounted directly to the body. To act as a skid plate, an aluminum spine runs under the body to both connect the underside directly to the body.

The overall design is light with intense strength offering brute force. The Jeep Hurricane has the signature seven-slot grille, two seats and no doors. On the inside, occupants will be surrounded by exposed carbon fiber and polished aluminum with Black accents.

Jeep Hurricane Steering (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/images/jeep-hurricane-steering.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/Jeep-Hurricane-Steering.php&h=410&w=422&sz=34&hl=en&start=2&um=1&tbnid=5uv57WJY1UqpFM:&tbnh=122&tbnw=126&prev=/images%3Fq%3DFour%2BWheel%2BSteering%26um%3D1%26hl %3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DN)

The Hurricane's steering system is about as complex as most entire cars are all by itself. There are several steering modes using four-wheel independent steering. What this means in simple English is that each wheel can turn separately from the others for this Jeep.

[I]- The Jeep Hurricane's split-axle design -
Each axle can rotate in the same direction to apply a downward force to each wheel simultaneously.

In regular steering mode, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels, which severely tightens the turning radius adding more accurate steering. In second mode, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels, which mean the Jeep Hurricane can "crab-steer" -- move to the side without changing the direction that it faces. This whole concept is amazing in my opinion, not something you'd find on a wrangler or cherokee.

The third mode actually allows the vehicle to rotate in place utilizing the "T-Box Zero Steer" mechanism, allowing all four wheels to "toe-in" and changes the drive direction to each wheel so that they alternate.

Jeep Hurricane Specifications (http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/images/jeep-hurricane-steering.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/Jeep-Hurricane-Steering.php&h=122&w=126&sz=33&tbnid=5uv57WJY1UoJ:&tbnh=122&tbnw=126&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=1&ct=image&cd=3)

Weight (estimated): 3,850 lbs. (1,746 kg)
Length: 151.8 inches (3,856 mm)
Wheelbase: 108.1 inches (2,746 mm)
Front Overhang: 25.0 inches (635 mm)
Rear Overhang: 18.7 inches (475mm)
Width: 80.0 inches (2,033 mm)
Height: 68.2 inches (1,732 mm)
Track, Frt/Rr: 67.5/67.5 inches (1,715/1,715 mm)
Engine: two 5.7-liter HEMI® engines
Transfer Case: Custom multi-mode with 1:1, 2:1 and 4:1 ratios
Transmission: 5-Speed automatic
Front and Rear Suspension: Long-travel, short/long arm independent
Ground Clearance: 14.3 inches (363 mm)
Break-Over Angle: 31.5 degrees
Approach/Depart Angle: 64.0/86.7 degrees
Tire Size: 305/70R20
Wheel Size: 20x10 inches

Jeep Hurricane Facts & Figures (http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/images/jeep-hurricane-steering.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.jeep-hurricane.com/Jeep-Hurricane-Steering.php&h=122&w=126&sz=33&tbnid=5uv57WJY1UoJ:&tbnh=122&tbnw=126&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=1&ct=image&cd=3)

Engine: Two 5.7 liter, 8-cylinder HEMI engines
Horsepower: 670 hp
Torque: 740 ft-lb
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Curb Weight: 3,850 lbs (1,746 kg)
Length: 151.8 inches (385.6 cm) Width: 80 inches (203.2 cm)
Wheelbase: 108.1 inches (274.6 cm)
Wheels: 20x10 inches (51x25 cm)
Tires: 305/70R20 (all four)
0-60 mph (97 kph): 4.9 seconds

All content Copyright© 2006 Jeep-Hurricane.com (Not affiliated with DaimlerChrysler)

February 25th, 2008, 05:45 AM
Amphibious Cars/Vehicles
Designed for land or water, these vehicles started as primarily cars that could be adapted to be boats, complete with masts.
They evolved into military and civilian vehicles that could function as both motor cars and motor boats (mast not normally an option).


Vintage Photos

right - LBJ in an Amphicar

http://www.amphicar.com/images/pg3.jpg http://www.amphicar.com/images/pg6.jpg

left - in Chicago on the river; right in San Francisco near Bay Bridge

http://www.amphicar.com/images/chicagoantiqueshot.jpg http://www.amphicar.com/images/pg8.jpg

Has a driver's licence but no boating equivalent ...


Photos - International Amphicar Owners Club

The Amphicar has a top speed of [7 knots (about 8 mph)]... on water and 70mph on land... When new the Amphicar sold for between $2,800 and $3,300, depending on the year. Later model years actually sold for less than those of early years.

History of the Amphicar

The Amphicar was built in Germany from 1961 to 1968 [from prototypes developed by Hanns Trippel]. Total production was 3,878 vehicles. The Amphicar is the only civilian amphibious passenger automobile ever to be mass produced. 3,046 Amphicars were imported into the United States between 1961 and 1967. The Amphicar is rear engined and uses a 4 cylinder British-built Triumph Herald motor producing 43hp. All Amphicars are convertibles, and the civilian models were originally offered in only 4 colors, Beach White, Regatta Red, Lagoon Blue and Fjord Green (Aqua).

The backbone of the Amphicar's electrics is basically a Lucas 12 volt positive ground system with certain items such as the horn, lighting and switches made by other manufacturers such as Hella and Bosch.

The Amphicar has a top speed of 7mph on water and 70mph on land. Hence, it was dubbed the "Model 770". The Amphicar is moved in the water by its twin nylon propellers. A special two-part land-and-water transmission built by Hermes (makers of the Porsche transmission) allows the wheels and propellers to be operated either independently or simultaneously. The "land transmission" is a 4-speed-plus-reverse unit similar to those found in the old Volkswagen Beetles. The "water transmission" is a 2-speed offering unique to the Amphicar featuring single forward and reverse gears. In the water, the front wheels act as rudders.

When new the Amphicar sold for between $2,800 and $3,300, depending on the year. Later model years actually sold for less than those of early years. No 1968 model year Amphicars were directly imported into the USA. This was because of the U.S. Government's EPA and DOT regulations that went into effect beginning with 1968 model year vehicles. This caused a major financial disaster for the Amphicar Corporation since the USA represented about 90% of all Amphicar sales. The Amphicar factory in Berlin, Germany closed for good in 1968, and the remaining inventory of unused parts was eventually purchased by Hugh Gordon of Sante Fe Springs, California. Hugh's Gordon Imports remains the Amphicar owner's primary source for spare parts.

There are several other excellent sites on the 'Net about the History and Design of the Amphicar...

[More Recent "Random" Photos of Restored Amphicars
on this website]

http://www.amphicar.com/images/german%20yellow2.jpg http://www.amphicar.com/images/amphiFAQtshirt.jpg

Copyright ©2002-2006 International Amphicar Owners Club. All rights reserved. (http://www.amphicar.com/history.htm)

February 25th, 2008, 08:24 AM
Amphibious Cars/Vehicles



http://www.watercar.com/images/13small.jpg http://www.watercar.com/images/9small.jpg http://www.watercar.com/images/15small.jpg http://www.watercar.com/images/14small.jpg


http://www.watercar.com/images/4small.jpg http://www.watercar.com/images/5small.jpg http://www.watercar.com/images/6small.jpg



... The WaterCar can reach speeds of over 125 MPH on land and 45 MPH on water.

Dave March - Builder of the WaterCar


David March

WaterCar, Inc. is the brainchild of Dave March and his two sons. For over thirty years March has been an avid high performance car and boat enthusiast. His passion and desire has been for building and piloting fast planes, boats and cars. To facilitate his obsession for cars and boats he also developed a knack for repairing wrecked cars and boats. For the past twenty years March started and developed his collision repair business into one of the largest, most state of the art facilities in the world. He then took many of the systems and repair techniques that he developed and co-founded the Caliber Collision Center Franchise which currently has annual revenue of over 155 million.

In 1998 March accepted an offer to sell his business and semi-retired. After putting the finishing touches on his large custom home he built on the golf course in Newport Coast above his 6,000 square foot basement garage/design center equipped with every conceivable tool and piece of equipment imaginable found himself with a lot of spare time and pent up creative juices. This is dangerous combination for Dave March. He was looking for a challenge when his youngest son began looking at amphibious cars. Together they found a 1964 Amphicar and restored it. After all the work, they were disappointed by its performance. It was fun to drive into the water, but once in the water, it was slow and not as much fun as expected.

March threw himself into researching every amphibious vehicle in the world and discovered that amphibious vehicles are much more popular in Europe. And, to his astonishment, he realized that of all the vehicles ever built, no one had successfully built a true high performance amphibious vehicle.

That's when it hit him - why not combine his love of high performance cars and boats into a single, high performance amphibious car? "Everything he needed was right here in Southern California". The best hydraulics are available from the low-rider crowd and the rear-engine drive technology from the high performance sand-rail market. Every drive train combination you could imagine is available for inspection at Glamis. The brakes, suspension and speed accessories come from the hot rod aftermarket industry which is booming in Southern California. The most important part, hull and jet configuration, from the performance- boat industry along with unlimited input from great boat people that are very willing to help. He started thinking he could build a high performance amphibious car from off the shelf parts.

March wanted to build a four-seater, yet still keep the car sporty looking. The 2002 Camaro was the ideal starting point. He purchased a Camaro fiberglass funny-car shell body, added hundreds of labor hours and he had a great looking Camaro car/boat plug. He built the molds from the plug and proceeded to build the first parts.

March built a lightweight stainless frame to mount the suspension and motor to and fit it to the body. The challenge was to make the wheels retractable. He attended a couple of low-rider shows to figure how to make the wheels retractable and settled on using parts from Homies Hydraulics. The motor and jet combo was another significant challenge, particularly getting it all to fit in the trunk area. March wanted the WaterCar to look as much like a stock Camaro as possible.

The first time on the water, the vehicle performed beautifully, with only one significant problem: "It wouldn't plane out!" He made multiple trial trips back and forth to the lake, adding more boost for additional power and tinkering on the jet setup. After some additional work on the bottom, he was finally getting on plane easily and reaching 45 mph. Success at last!

The newest version of March's handiwork drives just like a car on the road and actually handles very well with the Corvette suspension. "It has plenty of power from the Subaru 2.5 Turbo WRX motor. When you go in the water, you simply drive in, put the transmission in neutral, engage the jet, flip the switch to raise the wheels, and you're boating.

March claims he had no idea of the sheer amount of attention the WaterCar would get everywhere it goes. Heads turn, and often when driving down the freeway people are waving. When I'm in the water, the big question is, 'Does it really drive on land?' and when on land, "Does it really go in the water?".

The vehicle's performance hitting speeds of 45 MPH on water and 125 MPH on land have exceeded even March's expectations, whether he is cruising down the freeway or out on the lake. "It has been the subject of literally thousands of thumbs-up and high fives. It is amazing how many people whip out their cameras to get a shot of it."

With all the success March has decided to start producing the WaterCar in limited quantities. He is offering the WaterCars as a finished turn-key version or and a complete rolling chassis version less engine.

WaterCar Specifications

The WaterCar is a fiberglass amphibious vehicle styled after the 2002 Convertible Camaro body style. It is powered by a Turbo charged 2.5 Liter 300 HP Subaru engine. The transmission is a Rancho Type I-4 speed manual transmission. The four wheel independent suspension and brakes are late model C-4 Corvette with stainless steel rotors.

The WaterCar can reach speeds in excess of 125 MPH on land and the drivability with the Corvette suspension is outstanding. Once the WaterCars is driven into the water all four wheels are hydraulically retracted with the flip of a switch. The bottom covers that enclose the wheel well are also hydraulically extended to create a smooth high speed bottom which allows the WaterCar to easily hit speeds of 40 MPH on the water. The Marine Drive is a Berkeley 12JE Jet Drive with a place diverter to control the ride depending on water conditions. The WaterCar has four usable seats and the doors are fully functional. The aircraft style lock assembly assures the doors are completely water tight for water operation. The WaterCar has a removable center mount ski pole which makes it ideal for wake boarding or skiing.

This sporty four-seater makes it possible to drive to the lake, experience an exhilarating boat ride and drive back home again without ever leaving your car!

Copyright © 2005 WaterCar, Inc. (http://www.watercar.com/)

"Amphibious car"

http://www.watercar.com/images/10large.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgv9nqo0kGs&feature=related)

YouTube Video Runtime - 01:30

February 25th, 2008, 08:28 AM
Amphibious Cars/Vehicles



http://www.watercar.com/jeep/gator/image6_th.jpg http://www.watercar.com/jeep/gator/image5_th.jpg http://www.watercar.com/jeep/gator/image6_th.jpg



http://www.watercar.com/jeep/gator/image17_th.jpg http://www.watercar.com/jeep/gator/image18_th.jpg http://www.watercar.com/jeep/gator/image13_th.jpg http://www.watercar.com/jeep/gator/image14_th.jpg http://www.watercar.com/jeep/gator/image15_th.jpg


http://www.watercar.com/jeep/gator/image8_th.jpg http://www.watercar.com/jeep/gator/image19_th.jpg http://www.watercar.com/jeep/gator/image9_th.jpg


All above photos - WaterCar Inc.

February 25th, 2008, 08:44 AM
Amphibious Cars/Vehicles

Gibbs Technologies Aquada

http://image.motortrend.com/f/car-news/gibbs-aquada-amphibious-car-finally-ready-for-production/6436576+w600+cr1+re0+ar1/gibbs-aquada-stationary.jpg http://image.motortrend.com/f/car-news/gibbs-aquada-amphibious-car-finally-ready-for-production/6436540+w600+cr1+re0+ar1/gibbs-aquada.jpg
Courtesy Motortrend

Prototypes have been able to reach speeds of 110 mph on land and 45 mph on water, while transitioning between the two in just five seconds.

Gibbs Aquada amphibious car finally ready for production
by Rory Jurnecka
Posted June 14 2007 05:09 PM

It might look like the last-generation Miata, but you should see it swim.

We've been following the development of the Gibbs Aquada for years while financial issues and drivetrain supply problems have kept the amphibious car from coming to production. Good news has finally been announced from the Gibbs camp as it appears a finished version is ready to be sold in the U.S. The production-version 2009 Gibbs Aquada made its debut today at a press conference in Detroit alongside the Gibbs Quadski, an all-terrain vehicle.

It wouldn't be the first time an amphibious car has been developed. In the 1960s, the German-built Amphicar sold nearly 4000 copies, with more than 3000 of that total being delivered stateside. More recently, the Swiss automaker/tuner Rinspeed built a similar concept, the Rinspeed Splash, for the 2004 Geneva auto show. The Splash never entered production, however.

Gibbs envisions the Aquada selling in much stronger volumes than any amphibious car to have preceded it. After spending more than $100 million and some one million hours of development work over the last decade, the automaker has determined sales could reach over 100,000 Aquadas annually in just five years' time.

While that might seem a bit ambitious, Gibbs certainly doesn't look like it's joking around. The company is currently recruiting an executive staff and expects to employ over 1500 within the next three years in positions ranging from engineering to human resources.

Production of the Aquada is slated for late 2008 with the earliest examples arriving in early 2009. As reported by The Detroit News, the Motor City is under consideration as the headquarters of Gibbs' U.S. operations, the only drawback being difficulty testing the vehicles in Michigan's inclement winter weather.

Prototypes have been able to reach speeds of 110 mph on land and 45 mph on water, while transitioning between the two in just five seconds. In 2004, an Aquada prototype set the record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel, accomplishing the feat in less than two hours. Gibbs also has plans to develop a number of military operations vehicles with Lockheed Martin in the near future.

© 1996-2008 Source Interlink Media, Inc Magazines, Inc. All Rights Reserved (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://image.motortrend.com/f/car-news/gibbs-aquada-amphibious-car-finally-ready-for-production/6436576%2Bw600%2Bcr1%2Bre0%2Bar1/gibbs-aquada-stationary.jpg&imgrefurl=http://blogs.motortrend.com/6209815/car-news/gibbs-aquada-amphibious-car-finally-ready-for-production/index.html&h=349&w=600&sz=35&hl=en&start=7&um=1&tbnid=77DoKsOWVi-TIM:&tbnh=79&tbnw=135&prev=/images%3Fq%3DGIBBS%2BAQUADA%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26s afe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DN)

The design of the Aquada's hull

Courtesy howstuffworks / Gibbs Aquada

February 27th, 2008, 03:40 PM
Flyable Car / Roadable Aircraft
Designed for road or air flight, we start where they are being introduced to the public
as something other than a "pie in the sky" idea (pun intended

Taylor Aerocar I

Moulton “Molt” Taylor, a former U.S. Navy pilot, was the first designer of a “roadable aircraft” (aka “flyable car”), that was eventually certified by the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) – the predecessor to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It took approximately eight years after its first test flight until this invention was certified. During the eight year period, Molt Taylor demonstrated the aircraft to the military, but his efforts were left unrewarded. He called his consumer creation “Aerocar”. The first models were collectively referred to as Aerocar I (only five of which were built).

I find it interesting that Molt Taylor, while in the Navy, worked with amphibious aircraft, since our prior set of posts have outlined amphibious cars. Obvious dovetail aside, this aircraft while not a success in sales, was nevertheless a precursor that established the way.

The car portion, with its 4-cylinder 150 hp engine, could be driven separately. But to take the entire aircraft to the airport one usually employed the car to tow the folded up portion of the rest of the aircraft like a trailer on wheels, albeit folded-up to aid in “navigating” the road. Subtle weight considerations, balancing issues, and aerodynamics were all employed in creating the car/cockpit: the engine was horizontally mounted in the boot; the mounting was further refined to minimise vibration; the exterior wheels were a hybrid of car/aircraft; the sheet metal was aluminium, that was rounded on its corners and gradually reshaped after extensive air testing; the chassis is completely covered as one would expect for the same aerodynamic reasons.

When on-site, and ready to assemble, the car/cockpit/landing wheels into an aircraft, is fascinating. The folded wings are positioned on the top of the car (weight balance over the rear wheels and rear engine). These wings are then unfolded to form what pilots would normally call a “high-wing” monoplane. The rear fuselage is attached to the rear of the car, but two last details are worth noting. The propeller, instead of being on the front of the aircraft, is on the rearmost section. This makes the Aeroplane into what pilots call a “pusher”. And the Y-shaped tail section is also a difference not normally seen.

- Zephyr

Car and Trailer

TO VIEW VINTAGE “News in Brief” on Aerocar VIDEO

http://www.pilotfriend.com/aircraft%20performance/images2/12.gif (http://www.aerocarforsale.com/images/aerocar.wmv)

Aircraft Assembled
Note wing, engine and propeller locations

http://www.pilotfriend.com/aircraft%20performance/images2/10.gif http://www.pilotfriend.com/aircraft%20performance/images2/11.jpg

Above Drawings Courtesy of pilotfriend

Taylor had hoped to sell the Aerocar by appealing to the rich and famous, parades, news releases etc. Robert "Bob" Cummings, American television and film celebrity, was one of the Aerocar's first buyers. Cummings was an amateur pilot and is in the photo below:

Courtesy aerocarforsale.com

Raúl Castro, Fidel’s brother, also tested the Taylor Aerocar.

in Spanish

Raúl Castro in Aerocar

http://www.aerocarforsale.com/Raul%20Castro-a_small.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmY2ubltmIc)
Courtesy aerocarforsale.com

YouTube Running Time 02:44

http://www.aerocarforsale.com/2007%20-%20Left%20side%202a_small.jpg http://www.aerocarforsale.com/1990%20-%20Aerocar%20-%20Towing-a_small.jpg








February 27th, 2008, 03:41 PM
Flyable Car / Roadable Aircraft

Other Aerocars

After Aerocar I, there were other Aerocars. Officially, however, there was no "Aerocar II," since the next Taylor creation was referred to as Aerocar Aero-Plane. Yet, because there was a subsequent Aerocar III (see below), many have attempted to retroactively rename Aerocar Aero-Plane, the "Aerocar II":

Selling the Airplane Only - Aerocar Aero-Plane
(aka Aerocar I-A or Aerocar II)

Courtesy aerofiles

As you can see, Aero-Plane was aircraft only - no car portion, and "no assembly required" in this form. This version had three wheels instead of four, the front wheel allowing the aircraft to taxi. The tyres are noticeably smaller as well.

Next was an unbundled attempt to sell versions of the car from Aerocar I. That led to the "Sky Car," and an optional push-propeller version meant to drive over ice:

Repackaging the Car only - Sky Car / Ice Car
(aka Aerocar I-C)

Courtesy aerofiles

The Aerocar III was a rebuilt Aerocar I, that was more streamlined in the car portion, but otherwise remarkably similar to Aerocar I on the aircraft side, as one would expect for a rebuilt reissue.

Aerocar III
(rebuilt Aerocar I with streamlined car portion)

http://www.museumofflight.org/Images/Uploads/Collections/Aircraft/aerocarmodel_2_lrg.jpg http://www.museumofflight.org/Images/Uploads/Collections/Aircraft/aerocarmodel_1_lrg.jpg
© 2004, The Museum of Flight (Seattle). All Rights Reserved


at Seattle's Museum of Flight

Fully Assembled

Photo - Phil Callihan

one wing up and the other folded


February 27th, 2008, 03:43 PM
Flyable Car / Roadable Aircraft

Sweeney Aerocar 2000

Ed Sweeney's prized possessions
Aerocar I (left) / Aerocar 2000 protype (right)

http://www.planetpatent.com/photos/dslcablephotos/articlephotos/Flight100Years/MoltTaylorAerocar.JPG http://www.planetpatent.com/photos/dslcablephotos/articlephotos/Flight100Years/aerocar2.jpg

Ed Sweeney in Foreground


all photos above - planet patent



Tuesday, February 26, 2008

DRIVING; Where the Chitty Chitty Meets the Bang Bang

Published: August 2, 2002

ED SWEENEY first flew in a car in 1959, when he was 17, an age when all things seem possible. He still thinks they are.

A car is not an airplane. An airplane is not a car. Complex structures have grown up around this assumption of separateness – roads and runways, state departments of motor vehicles and federal air traffic controllers, the Interstate System of highways and the Federal Aviation Administration.

But did it all have to develop this way? Why not a vehicle that both flies in the air and drives on the ground? The technical challenges are not that difficult – the craft's wings fold up or come off, its wheels come out of hiding, and away it goes down the highway. And it's even been done, more than once. It has just never quite caught on with the American public.

But it did catch on with Ed Sweeney. He has been captivated by the idea of a flying automobile for more than 40 years, since that first ride in an Aerocar with its inventor, Moulton B. Taylor, a Navy pilot and missile designer. The Aerocar, a tiny two-seater with detachable wings, was pushing the envelope of personal mobility when it first flew in 1956, one of the few certifiably airworthy vehicles ever built that was capable of traveling both in the air and on the highway. Mr. Taylor built five, but like other flying cars before it, the Aerocar never won the backing of a company that could mass-produce and market it.

Mr. Sweeney was a teenager with an advanced case of model-airplane fever when he went to the small airport that Mr. Taylor was running in Longview, Wash., and introduced himself. Mr. Taylor invited him for a ride in the Aerocar. It was the beginning of a friendship that would last until Mr. Taylor's death in 1995.

Today, Mr. Sweeney, retired in Black Forest, Colo., after a career that included publishing a model-airplane magazine and manufacturing light aircraft, owns the very Aerocar he flew in that day in 1959. He both flies it and drives it – most often at auto and air shows, with his wife a frequent passenger – though keeping auto insurance coverage remains a constant challenge. It's easier to renew the Aerocar's airworthiness certificate every year, he said, than to keep it in license plates. But he manages.

''I've had my Aerocar up to 11,000 feet,'' he said. ''We were flying out of Colorado and that was already 5,000 feet, so we were halfway there.''

The Aerocar can drive at a maximum speed of 45 miles an hour, slower if it's towing its wings, and it gets about 10 miles per gallon, Mr. Sweeney said. Its maximum flying speed is 90 miles an hour, and it can fly 200 miles before needing a fill-up.

He enjoys the reaction of air traffic controllers when he calls to ask for clearance to use an airport: ''You ask the tower, 'Can I drive down your runway really fast and take off?' ''

When he and his wife lived in Florida several years ago, they often flew the Aerocar from Daytona Beach to Orlando. ''The air traffic controllers at Orlando Executive Airport became good friends; we knew all of them,'' he said. ''They would report me as traffic to other aircraft: 'You have an automobile in your 9 o'clock position. Same altitude.' They would hear back reports: 'Say again? What type of aircraft?' and then, 'Oh my Lord, you're not kidding – where did that come from?' ''

He says that his is the only Aerocar – and probably the only flying car of any kind – that's now in active use. The other four Taylor Aerocars are in museums, along with a variety of craft whose inventors tried to bridge the transportation gap between earth and sky. But Mr. Sweeney still believes in the concept. He is building his own modified, modernized Aerocar – he bought the trademark in 1988 – and is serious about its mass-market potential.

THE flying car is an old idea, and when the automobile and the airplane were both in their infancy, it didn't seem farfetched. Cars and planes share similar engines, and planes spend a considerable amount of time taxiing on the ground. Who knew where transportation was headed?

In 1917, Glenn Curtiss, the pioneer airplane builder and a founder of the Curtiss-Wright aircraft company, combined a four-wheel sedan and a triplane with a 40-foot wingspan. It hopped up off the ground but never flew. In the 20's, Henry Ford worked on a ''flying flivver'' – not a car that flew but an everyman's airplane (with a Model A engine) intended to be the aeronautical counterpart to the Model T. The project was abandoned after a prototype crashed in 1928 and killed Ford's friend and test pilot, Harry Brooks. Another project, the 1937 Arrowbile, was a Studebaker that looked like a flying wing with a detachable car pod. It flew but was never produced.

The 1946 Airphibian, one of the more successful efforts, was made by Robert Edison Fulton – an inventor, though no relation to either the Robert Fulton of steamboat fame or to Thomas Edison. The Airphibian was flown to several cities, and a photograph of it in the air over the New York skyline was published in Life magazine in October 1949. After a trip by ship, it was also photographed – this time wingless, in its car guise – in a London street.

But despite its occasional triumphs, the flying car has been stalled by questions of cost, engineering and practicality. For best performance, small planes need to be light, and the extra components and stronger structure needed to make the car drivable create excessive weight. Pragmatists have argued that a cheap airplane and a cheap car would be less complicated and perform better than a hybrid, and they have prevailed. The Aerocar worked, but at a cost of about $25,000 in the 50's, it was more expensive than many light aircraft of its day and 10 times the cost of a car.

One dedicated owner was Bob Cummings, a comic actor who starred in early television sitcoms. In one of them, ''The Bob Cummings Show,'' produced in the late 1950's, the Aerocar was written into the scripts. Cummings, who shared his fictional counterpart's reputation as a ladies' man, kept a logbook that Mr. Taylor preserved after buying the Aerocar back from him; the passengers Cummings recorded included Marilyn Monroe. Ed Sweeney's restored Aerocar – the one that has bracketed his adulthood – is the same one Cummings owned.

To build his modern model, which hasn't yet flown, Mr. Sweeney started with a Lotus Elise, a two-seat sports car that is one of the lightest cars on the road. Installing a smaller engine reduced the car's weight even further, to about 1,500 pounds. To make it fly, he is adding brackets that attach to what he calls a flight module – an assembly with wings and tail, powered by a more powerful Lotus engine. ''The automotive engine is far less expensive than an aircraft engine,'' Mr. Sweeney said. The overall effect is as if a giant pterodactyl had come down and seized the Lotus sports car. But Mr. Sweeney can envision a sky full of them.

Traveling in it wouldn't be quite the free-form experience envisioned by the driver stuck in traffic who fantasizes about shutting off the talking-book tape, pulling back on the steering wheel and just taking off. But Mr. Sweeney thinks it could be convenient. His idea is that an owner would drive the car to the airport, where a supply of flight modules would be available to rent. The module would be attached in a short time (he estimates 15 minutes), and the plane would be ready to go. At its destination airport, the pilot would drop off the flight module for the next renter, and drive away.

''Molt Taylor and I spent years drawing up a list of the technology needed to make a flying car practical today,'' Mr. Sweeney said, and advances in technology have shrunk that list. ''I firmly believe the future of air transportation has to include air vehicles.''

Building the car that makes it happen may be a lonely endeavor, but, Mr. Sweeney said, ''no matter how long it takes, I will do it.''

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C01E4D6113BF931A3575BC0A9649C8B 63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all)

Aerocar 2000

Assembly Rendering

http://www.historiasdelmotor.com/images/2007/07/lotus-elise-volador-1.thumbnail.jpg http://www.historiasdelmotor.com/images/2007/07/lotus-elise-volador-2.thumbnail.jpg
photos - Motor Actual

Final Aircraft Rendering

photo - aerocar next generation

Motor Cars necessary for their respective Roadable Aircrafts

Molt Taylor created Sky Car, on left, for Aerocars I;
Ed Sweeney supervised use of a modified Lotus Elise on right, for his proposed Aerocar 2000

photo credit - Strange Birds

February 28th, 2008, 08:23 AM
Electric/Electronic Concept Cars
Concept Cars that due to their electronic starting point have explored other areas of design previously undeveloped:
such as foldable/stackable cars, pivoting cabins, autonomous and interchangeable motorised components

MIT Media Lab / GM City Car Concept:
Foldable, Stackable, Shareable and Non-Polluting

http://images.businessweek.com/ss/07/05/0530_incars/image/3.jpg http://www.topblogposts.com/files/citycar/7.jpg

Left - Courtesy Business Week / Photo - Franco Vairani; Right - Courtesy TopBlog



The Car, 2.0

Researchers at the MIT Media Lab envision a fleet of lightweight stackable electric cars that can help reduce congestion and urban energy waste.

By Robert Weisman,
[Boston] Globe …
February 18, 2007

CAMBRIDGE -- Will the car of the future be foldable?

That's the vision of a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab. With backing from General Motors Corp., they are building a prototype of a lightweight electric vehicle that can be cheaply mass-produced, rented by commuters under a shared-use business model, and folded and stacked like grocery carts at subway stations or other central sites.

It's called the City Car, and the key to the concept lies in the design of its wheels. Dreamers have been reinventing the wheel since the days of cave dwellers. But the work underway in "the Cube," the Media Lab's basement studio, may be the most ambitious remake yet.

The MIT team has transformed the lowly wheel into a sophisticated robotic drive system that will power the City Car. Embedded in each of its four wheels will be an electric motor, steering and braking mechanisms, suspension, and digital controls, all integrated into sealed units that can be snapped on and off.

And under the hood . . . well, there won't be a hood on the City Car. Just an eggshell-shaped glass plate -- part roof, part windshield -- framing the modular cabin and stretching almost to the chassis.

INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: The City Car (http://www.boston.com/cars/news/articles/2007/02/18/citycar)

"We're eliminating the internal combustion engine," said Media Lab research assistant Ryan Chin , studio coordinator for City Cars. He said the four electric motors will enable a more efficient use of power by also dispensing with the transmission and driveline. "We're removing as much hardware from the car as possible."

In its place will be software that sets passenger preferences, changes the color of the cabin, controls the dashboard look and feel, and even directs drivers to parking spaces. "We think of the car as a big mobile computer with wheels on it," Chin said. "This car should have a lot of computational power. It should know where the potholes are."

And like a computer, the car will start with the push of a button. Instead of a steering wheel, it has handlebars, akin to a scooter or motorbike. But the ride will be more like a traditional car, though smoother and quieter, Chin said. The body of the car will be made of lightweight composite material such as Kevlar or carbon fiber.

Among the car's other design departures are its folding chassis, enabling it to be stacked at designated parking areas across an urban area, where it could also be recharged. It also has a zero-turn radius, courtesy of a wheel configuration that provides omnidirectional motion. For the City Car, the traditional U-turn will be replaced by an O-turn, ideal for fitting into tight spaces.

The concept of the City Car was hatched by the Media Lab's Smart Cities group, as part of a strategy for reducing carbon emissions. The team is being led by William J. Mitchell , professor of architecture and media arts and sciences.

Some of the Jetsonesque design of the City Car was inspired by the researchers' work with pioneering architect Frank Gehry , a friend of Mitchell, and associates at Gehry's architectural firm in Los Angeles. Gehry's firm was initially a partner, but has since scaled back its involvement to an advisory role.

Media Lab researchers are planning to have their prototype completed by the end of the year.

"I think we'll be driving it around the interior of this building," Chin said, "and hopefully ask the MIT police to let us drive it around a parking lot."

The three-year-old project is moving forward under the watchful eyes of liaisons from General Motors, a Media Lab sponsor, and MIT researchers hope the automaker will build a City Car concept vehicle in 2008 to demonstrate at auto shows.

GM devotes a portion of its $6 billion-plus annual research-and-development budget on university projects such as City Car to help its own researchers think out of the box, said Roy J. Mathieu , a GM staff researcher in Warren, Mich., who visits the Media Lab twice a semester and keeps in close contact with Chin's team.

"They're a rich cauldron of ideas we can use to develop concepts for our future cars," Mathieu said. "They're trying to imagine how the car will fit into the city in the future. Their ideas are interesting and intriguing, and we want to see if any of them fit into our technology road map."

Rebecca Lindland , director of automotive research at Global Insight in Lexington, said City Car is one of a number of futuristic designs being developed by automakers and independent labs to demonstrate new technologies and concepts at a time of growing concern about global warming, traffic, and energy efficiency.

"The existing infrastructures can't support the population growth that we're seeing, so we're going to have to find viable alternative vehicles like the one MIT is designing," Lindland said.

Unless the cars can prove crashworthy and meet government speed and emissions standards, however, their applications may be limited to gated communities and entertainment parks, she said.

Chin said the design remains a work in progress, and if necessary the team will reinforce the car to make it crashworthy.

As the MIT researchers envision it, the City Car won't replace private cars or mass transit systems but ease congestion by enabling shared transportation in cities. Commuters could use them for one-way rentals, swiping their credit cards to grab a City Car from the front of a stack at a central point such as a school, day-care center, or office building.

"What you'll be buying is mobility," Chin said.

© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company. (http://www.boston.com/cars/news/articles/2007/02/18/the_car_20/?p1=MEWell_Pos5)

http://www.topblogposts.com/files/citycar/5.jpg http://www.topblogposts.com/files/citycar/6.jpg
Courtesy top blog

February 28th, 2008, 04:59 PM
Electric/Electronic Concept Cars

Nissan Pivo Concept:
Car Cabin rather than Wheels can be turned 360 degrees


Nissan's Pivo concept car

… Powered by a single lithium-ion battery, Nissan's Pivo is one of the first cars to have a spinning cockpit. This tiny car features electric sliding doors and several cameras mounted outside the cabin. Cameras located at either end of the car send a live feed to an 'Around View' dashboard screen that uses the data to generate a 360° image.

Copyright © Virgin Media (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.virginmedia.com/microsites/technology/slideshow/vm-tech-gallery/geekcars/img_7.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.virginmedia.com/digital/galleries/geekcars.php%3Fssid%3D7&h=460&w=430&sz=30&hl=en&start=11&um=1&tbnid=1aqtT0nlN7YHtM:&tbnh=128&tbnw=120&prev=/images%3Fq%3DPivo%2BCars%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe %3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DN)

Illustration of the 90 degree pivot

Courtesy Virgin Media

Other Views of this Version

http://www.ubergizmo.com/photos/pivo.jpg http://images.automobilemag.com/auto_shows/tokyo/0511_tokyo_01+2006_nissan_pivo_concept+rear_view.j pg
Courtesy Uber Gizmo (left) and Automobile Magazine (right)


With the Pivo Concept Nissan presents its vision for a futuristic city car: an electric vehicle compact in dimensions, easy to drive and with an innovative revolving cabin.

Exterior: a pivoting cabin

Pivo Concept headlight detail

Thanks to the multiple drive-by-wire technology, Nisan eliminated the need for mechanical links between cabin and chassis and enabled designers to create the unique pivoting passenger compartment (hence the name "Pivo"), that gives the driver the ability to park while always looking forward.

Because the platform has a longitudinally symmetrical design, the driver’s perception of the car’s corners does not change even when the cabin is rotated through 180 degrees. In addition to this, the drive-by-wire systems can help reduce the vehicle weight and the number of mechanical parts, by replacing mechanical linkages with electronic signals.



Despite an overall length of just 2,700 mm (slighlty larger than a Smart Fortwo), the PIVO seats three passengers comfortably. The driver sits front and centre while two passengers sit side-by-side in the rear. Tall, electrically-powered sliding doors make it easy to get in and out.

http://www.carbodydesign.com/concept-cars/2005/09-30-nissan-pivo-concept/Nissan%20Pivo%20Concept%205-mid.jpg http://www.carbodydesign.com/concept-cars/2005/09-30-nissan-pivo-concept/Nissan%20Pivo%20Concept%203-mid.jpg http://www.carbodydesign.com/concept-cars/2005/09-30-nissan-pivo-concept/Nissan%20Pivo%20Concept%202-mid.jpg

The visibility is enhanced by see-through pillars and Nissan’s Around View technology, an integrated system made of different cameras which generates a 360-degree view of the car’s surroundings on a dashboard monitor. An innovative image processing technique synthesises these images into a single bird’s-eye view.

A dash-mounted infrared (IR) commander allows drivers to operate the navigation system and audio system without taking an eye off the road or fumbling around for controls. It’s a new type of human-machine interface (HMI) that uses an infrared camera and Nissan’s ‘Magic 4’ concept.
You simply point fingers at the infrared commander to choose from any of four items on a menu. If you want item number three, hold up three fingers. Or, for example, if you want the music louder, just motion upwards with your hand.

The Nissan's Horizontal Display system provides information along the bottom of the windscreen, displayed in the manner of movie subtitles. This innovative display system supports Nissan's future telematics interface concept. For example, in ‘City Browsing mode,’ the system can display information transmitted live from nearby locations in a label-like form.


PIVO is powered by a zero emission system made by a high-performance Compact Lithium-ion Battery and Nissan’s unique Super Motor. The electric powertrain enables a highly compact body.

The Compact Lithium-ion Battery is flat and requires much less space than conventional cylindrical cells. Additional space and weight savings are achieved by adopting two motors (one for each axle) instead of four, thanks to Nissan's Super Motor technology, that enables to deliver different powers to two shafts.

Copyright 2003-2008 FTM Studio S.r.L. - All Rights Reserved (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.carbodydesign.com/concept-cars/2005/09-30-nissan-pivo-concept/_Nissan-Pivo-Concept-1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.carbodydesign.com/concept-cars/2005/09-30-nissan-pivo-concept/nissan-pivo-concept.php&h=266&w=355&sz=16&hl=en&start=22&um=1&tbnid=92VlfHqMdTCcpM:&tbnh=91&tbnw=121&prev=/images%3Fq%3DPivo%2BCars%26start%3D21%26ndsp%3D21% 26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari% 26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DN)

February 28th, 2008, 05:54 PM
Wonderful job you have done here. Thanks for these posts. Very informative.

February 29th, 2008, 02:27 PM
Much appreciated Fabrizio ... at least there is one person viewing this.

Obviously, of the car threads - i.e. "Dream Cars" and "Ugly Cars" - this will still be the one that will be threadbare of contributions, save for my own posts. I suspect that my childhood, filled with servo-driven "space cars" and interest in "improving" mechanical objects, has led to this lifelong interest in alternative cars and/or vehicles. This in turn has probably placed me out of touch with what interest people most about cars: namely, how they look.

I also have found that some of what interest me is not on the Internet, or now have dead links, so maybe I should move on, after a few more posts currently in my pipeline.

February 29th, 2008, 03:31 PM
I appreciate this thread also, you have covered it so comprehensively I couldnt possibly have anything to add.

February 29th, 2008, 10:28 PM
Now there are two! Again very grateful for your post alonzo.

April 17th, 2008, 10:07 AM
Whoa. How did I miss this one?

Good stuff here, but I have to confess...

While the socially responsible citizen in me welcomes these concepts, the other side of my brain laments the loss of heel-and-toe rev matching, unaided suspension control, throttle steering - the satisfaction of nailing a series of corners without help from a computer.

April 21st, 2008, 07:26 AM
^ It's like being an analog audiophile. Does anyone do that anymore?

April 21st, 2008, 09:50 AM
Well, only if the analog is sweet and the digital is 128 from a n00b..... ;)

April 21st, 2008, 12:11 PM
^ It's like being an analog audiophile. Does anyone do that anymore?I know a couple, but it's become rare since sampling rates and error correction improvements.

I think it's more about owning classic recording equipment and vinyl - like an old classic car that feels good to be in.

April 21st, 2008, 01:24 PM
Favoring mechanical and analog technology has certain benefits in a world with Electromagnetic Bombs (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1996/apjemp.htm).

In a post EMP world of Gypsy Dianas (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2181669920911563723&hl=en) where the last of the V8 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoqVgTR8bs8) is king, how would you play a CD, much less cob together a workaround for your toasted ECU (http://www.racingskin.com/racingskin/lemons/event.html)?

BTW, Praise the Lord for vinyl records ("http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3091816335721813889&hl=en)!

April 21st, 2008, 04:59 PM
Yeah, a power outage with global warming and you can kiss some of those records good by.

Well, at least their fidelity! ;)

BTW, I would have to check on this, but storage media would not be effected. CD's, DVD's. SO if you are worried about your music after someone attacks the US with an EMP bomb/attack, you can just keep a player and amp in a thick metal box in the cellar JIC.

Oh, don't forget the bicycle powered generator!!!! (Don't want to waste Gas powering an I=pod, I mean, REALLY!)


PS - OT!!!!!!!

May 3rd, 2008, 01:17 PM
I'm still waiting for my flying car. But I may have to settle for a car that rotates:

Nissan's Pivo is one of the first cars to have a spinning cockpit.


But I am glad to see it has circular doors:


Those have been a fixture of futuristic cars since at least 1925:
1925 Rolls Royce Phantom I Aerodynamic Coupe, coachwork by Jonckheere.

...what interests people most about cars: namely, how they look...

Nothing aerodynamic about its interior:

Actually, it's kind of a pimpmobile.

May 3rd, 2008, 06:39 PM

But it is the mechanicals that are 1925... the body was done in the 1930's... styling is in the school of the Delahaye and other aerodynamic cars from the era.

May 3rd, 2008, 07:00 PM
^ 1934.

Here's a Voisin Aerosport from that year:

Corbusier was a great admirer of the Voisin.

To him, it represented l'esprit nouveau: all things modern.

Therefore, when he proposed the demolition of Paris and its replacement by towers in a park ...

... he named it the "Plan Voisin."


May 4th, 2008, 06:57 AM
Crossbreeds of Land Vehicles:
Motor-cycle and Motor Car All in One

Carver's VentureOne DVC Technology does it with either
Hybrid Electric or Electric Only engines!




The VentureOne
Revolutionary. Radical. Innovative. Very Cool.

When true vision meets paradigm, paradigm always blinks first.

Introducing the VentureOne, a revolutionary 3-wheel, tilting, plug-in Hybrid vehicle. This unique 2-passenger flex-fuel Hybrid vehicle is projected to achieve 100 miles per gallon, accelerate from 0-60 in about 7 seconds, and with a top speed of over 100 mph.

And if that weren’t enough, imagine combining the performance feel of a sports car with the agility of a motorcycle. It adds up to an exhilarating driving experience that can only be compared to flying a jet fighter two feet off the ground.

The VentureOne is a fully enclosed vehicle that is surrounded by a steel “safety cell” and other safety features typically found only in cars—things like side impact beams, driver airbag, rear bumper and engine shield.

While the same height and length as the MINI Cooper, the driver in the VentureOne sits as high off the road as a BMW 3-series. When combined with its 360° glass canopy effect, the VentureOne not only provides a driver with tremendous road visibility, but will add to a sense of overall driving confidence.

The VentureOne is a revolutionary new vision in transportation.

http://www.flytheroad.com/images/venture_one_sm.jpg http://www.flytheroad.com/images/Cockpit_day_sm.jpg

“Flying the Road” is the best description for driving this vehicle –
a feeling unlike anything you’ve experienced.

The VentureOne will weigh approximately 1,500 pounds in prototype form, with an overall width of 52 inches, a length of 11' 8", and a 110 inch wheelbase. The engine will be located in the rear of the vehicle at a low height. The passenger compartment and the front wheel will tilt when cornering; however, the forces will be aligned with the vertical axis of the driver’s body, resulting in the driver being pressed into the seat rather than pushed across it.

The VentureOne will have an enclosed body. The reinforced roll-cage construction in combination with front-and-side-impact protection, and a highly efficient passenger restraint system, give the occupants a level of protection comparable to conventional cars.


The VentureOne will contain standard and optional equipment
identical to conventional motor vehicles –
including optional GPS navigation, cruise control,
HVAC, and personal entertainment systems.



For over a decade, Carver Engineering B.V., a Netherlands-based engineering firm, has been developing Dynamic Vehicle Control, or DVC™, technology in order to enable a new class of tilting three-wheeled vehicles. Originally conceived in 1994, DVC technology has gone through 18 different generations, and is now essentially perfected.


The Carver holds the road by leaning in a turn like a motorcycle –
a motorcycle with cupholders, that is.

Carver Engineering was faced with the challenge of designing a slender vehicle that would not fall over, as most slim vehicles were prone. Their solution was to make the vehicle do what two-wheeled vehicles did, tilt when cornering. However, due to the size and weight required to make the vehicle enclosed, the tilting operation could not be left to the driver’s control. Therefore, an automatic system that takes over the balance control was required in order to maintain the ideal tilting angles under all imaginable driving conditions, such as at all speeds and accelerations and during rapid emergency maneuvers, and also on slippery or slanting road surfaces. The result was DVC technology, a hydro-mechanical system that splits the steering input from the driver into a front-wheel steering angle and a tilting angle of the chassis.


This predictable, intuitive, and easy to use system automatically adjusts the distribution between the front-wheel angle and tilting angle at varying speeds and road conditions to ensure balance under all circumstances. At lower speeds the steering input is fully directed to the front wheel and the vehicle remains upright. As the vehicle increases speed, the input is more translated into a tilting angle and not into a front-wheel angle. The DVC system operates on a combination of hydraulic and mechanical technologies for a high reliability, quick response and natural “feel”.


The VentureOne’s Hybrid powertrain presents additional technical advantages. In comparison with a traditional internal combustion engine, hybrid system is relatively simple and far more efficient. The VentureOne will be offered in both HEV and PHEV configurations.

Calculations & Assumptions

Venture Vehicles has made preliminary estimated power calculations using conservative assumptions. The assumptions made include a sub-optimal drag coefficient, 0.32, a heavier vehicle, 1,500 lbs., and a heavier driver, 200 lbs. Even with the aforementioned assumptions, the results show extraordinary acceleration performance, and a maximum speed in excess of 100 mph. The results also show more than adequate performance over grades as great as 12%. As a result of the testing, the company is confident that a 2.4 kWh power reserve is sufficient and would allow for a 10 mile “EV only” range.


Creating Sustainable energy solutions have been part of Venture Vehicle's plans from the very start – Hybrids are just the first part of that goal.

Fuel economy and low emissions are to be expected for small vehicles, and the VentureOne is no exception. With the narrower shape and smaller size of the VentureOne, owners will enjoy dramatically reduce fuel consumption compared to other conventional vehicles –

The VentureOne's Hybrid propulsion system combining a fuel-efficient internal combustion engine with advanced battery technologies – will be also take energy normally lost as heat braking and return it to the battery, increasing the vehicle's overall system efficiency.

Powered by its hybrid or plug-in hybrid drivetrain, and combined with its low weight, the VentureOne is extremely energy-efficient, has low or no emissions, and provides a practical and economical alternative to other low-emission concepts.



Both hybrid versions are targeted to achieve 100 mpg in fuel efficiency, at speeds of over 100mph.


Passenger safety is a primary goal of Venture Vehicles.

The VentureOne will come equipped with a full complement of standard safety features, such as a driver's airbag, side-impact rails, a steel roll cage, and a highly efficient passenger restraint system, giving the occupants a level of protection comparable to conventional cars


Venture Vehicles will also be conducting rigorous safety and crash testing for the VentureOne as well as any future vehicles developed.


Source. (http://www.flytheroad.com/)

May 4th, 2008, 08:59 AM
Videos on Carver's VentureOne

Glimpses of How it was Developed, and How It Works

To Access YouTube Video

http://www.metaefficient.com/images/ventureone.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyQOOY4A-_c&feature=related)
Courtesy Metaefficient

Runtime 04:21

TopGear’s take on VentureOne,
as seen on both BBC and Discovery Channel

To Access YouTube Video

http://www.metaefficient.com/images/ventureOne_01.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6vx98DjcVc)
Courtesy Metaefficient

Runtime 06:33

KTLA in Los Angeles, takes a Pedestrian Look :) -
A Full Tank, meaning Four Gallons, can translate into
350 Miles of Conventional City/Highway Motoring

To Access YouTube Video

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1082/687492212_a16aa722dc.jpg?v=0 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4iS07TLrzI&feature=related)
flickr / siegel_jackie

Runtime 02:47

May 5th, 2008, 01:38 PM
In 2007 the projected prices for VentureOne's official debut in 2009, ranged between $20,000 (E50) and $25,000 (EV). You will also note the company is based in California, although primary research began and continued in the Netherlands until completed. Pictures of vehicle vary due to external reworkings of the model packages. The picture below is a test model.


IN BRIEF: Venture Vehicles to Produce Three-Wheeled Alternative Car ...
Venture Vehicles says two-seater hybrid will hit streets in 2009. ...

by: Rachel Barron and Jennifer Kho
October 25, 2007

Driving Tron-Style

Startup Venture Vehicles said this week it is on track to role out two versions of its three-wheeled alternative vehicle in the second quarter of 2009 (see this video).

The tilting two-seater is Tron-like in appearance and is called VentureOne, the company said at the Dow Jones Alternative Energy Innovations conference Wednesday in Redwood City, Calif.


Venture Vehicles says its alternative three-wheeler will debut in 2009.
Source: Venture Vehicles

Customers will be able to choose between a plug-in hybrid that gets about 100 miles per gallon by replacing some gasoline with electricity and can hit top speeds of 100 mph, or a fully electric version that can drive about 120 miles between charges and reach top speeds of about 70 mph.

The Los Angeles-based company hopes people looking for a cool, energy-efficient first car, or families wanting a second or third commuter car, will be ready to buy.

The plug-in hybrid is expected to cost about $20,000, while the all-electric version will set folks back about $25,000.

Analysts have said the vehicle's unique design, which equates to less cargo room and a one-of-a-kind driving experience as drivers are tilted side-to-side while hugging a turn, might not entice mainstream buyers.

Still, Venture Vehicles has been able to attract $6 million in its first venture round backed by NGEN Partners in July and about $600,000 from friends and family so far.

CEO Howard Levine said the company plans to launch in California and then will expand into New York.

Venture Vehicles isn't the only company pursuing the three-wheeled small-vehicle market. In September, Aptera Motors said it was moving into production for all-electric and hybrid versions of its three-wheeler (see In Brief: What Would Spock Drive?). …

Copyright © 2008 Greentech Media, Inc. All rights reserved. (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.greentechmedia.com/assets/images/VentureVehicles.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/in-brief-venture-vehicles-to-produce-three-wheeled-alternative-car-camsemi-and-finavera-raise-funds-236.html&h=250&w=300&sz=83&hl=en&start=10&um=1&tbnid=JdSNEMaiB6dowM:&tbnh=97&tbnw=116&prev=/images%3Fq%3DAlternative%2Bvehicles%26um%3D1%26hl% 3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DN)

May 15th, 2008, 04:06 PM
Crossbreeds of Land Vehicles:
Motor-cycle and Motor Car All in One



The Aptera was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle, and later as an extended range electric vehicle. After building the proof-of-concept Mk-0, we hired the automotive design firm, 'eleven', to help us further develop the concept vehicle. The 'eleven' team, led by Jason Hill and Nathan Armstrong, made great strides in the development of the Aptera's body styling, interior design, and structural engineering. Meanwhile, we refined the Aptera's shape to maximize

Based on our wheel layout and our weight, the Aptera Typ-1 is registered as a motorcyle.
In fact, Aptera is a motorcycle manufacturer registered with DOT and CA DMV. This means, among other things, that we are able to issue VIN's. Our 'world identifier number' is '5WT', so all of our VIN's begin with '5WT'. Knowing the public perception of motorcycle safety, we made the decision to make safety a fundamental part of the design of our vehicles. For example, the Typ-1 roof is designed to EXCEED rollover strength requirements spelled out in FMVSS 216 for passenger vehicles. The doors EXCEED the strength requirement spelled out in FMVSS 214. We decided not just to meet many of the specs for passenger vehicles, which are set above and beyond the requirements for motorcycles, but we chose to exceed them whenever possible. Just a few of the many parts of the safety systems on the Typ-1 are airbag-in seatbelt technology, a front subframe and a firewall that redirect energy around the occupants.


Crash Testing
Aptera has been working quietly with CD-Adapco and ABAQUS for several months, conducting frontal offset crash test simulations. Using these incredibly powerful tools, we are continually refining and testing our vehicles in software, performing numerous 'virtual crashes' on computers. Our next step is to corroborate the data with live crash tests.


Electric & Gasoline Hybrid
The Typ-1 uses a commoditized, 'ruggedized' 3-phase motor controller designed for vehicular applications, and a 3-phase motor made for us by a company here in Southern California. The rear drive suspension, and the drive reduction, are all designed and made by Aptera. Since the Typ-1e (electric) and the Typ-1h (series plug in hybrid) have different battery needs, this may result in different battery manufacturers for the two models. The Typ-1e is designed to use a 10 KWh pack, while the Typ-1h uses a smaller pack. The cycles and DOD are different for both applications. We will announce further information regarding the battery lifespan and warranty policy well before we begin manufacturing the Typ-1 next October.

Diesel or Gasoline? Our first prototype, the Mk-0, was a parallel hybrid Diesel and achieved an average of 230 MPG at a steady state of 55 MPH. This was pure Diesel/mechanical drive with no electric assist. Diesel is attractive for its Carnot efficiency and the increased enthalpy of Diesel fuel vs gasoline. However, diesel contains lots of unburned hydrocarbons and NOX compounds, and it's impossible to get a small Diesel engine certified for emissions in California. Therefore, the typ-h uses a small, water-cooled EFI Gasoline engine with closed loop oxygen feedback and cataly tic converter. This engine is coupled to a lightweight 12KW starter/generator. It's very clean and quiet.


The real deal about Aptera's Mileage
With the All Electric Aptera, it is very easy to figure out the mileage range. The mileage is determined by the distance you can drive, under normal circumstances, until the batteries are effectively drained. In the case of the first Aptera typ-1e, we have calculated the range to be about 120miles.

With the Plug-in Electric Hybrid version of the Aptera(typ-1h) the mileage of the vehicle is difficult to describe with one number. For example, the Typ-1h can drive 40 to 60 miles on electric power alone. Perhaps for such a trip, the engine may only be duty-cycled for a few seconds or minutes. This would produce a fantastic number, an incredible number that, though factually true, would have no useful context, i.e. it's just a point on a graph.

An asymptotic decaying exponential is an accurate way to describe the fuel mileage of the Typ-1h. For example driving say, 50 miles, one might calculate a MPG number that's 2 or 3 times higher, say, 1000 MPG. As battery energy is depleted, the frequency of the engine duty cycle is increased. More fuel is used. at 75 miles, the MPG might be closer to 400 MPG. Again, we're using battery energy mostly, but turning the engine on more and more. Just over 100 miles we're just over 300 MPG, and just beyond 120 miles, we're around 300 MPG.


So why pick a number at 120 miles? Well, it's more than double of most available plug-in hybrid ranges that achieve over 100 MPG. It's three times the distance of the typical American daily commute. It's a meaningful distance that represents the driving needs of 99% of Americans on a daily basis. Sure, it's asymptotic, after 350-400 miles it eventually plummets to around 130 MPG at highway speeds where it will stay all day until you plug it back in and charge it up.

© Aptera Motors 2007 (http://www.aptera.com/details.php)

May 15th, 2008, 04:23 PM
This is often cited as the most read article on this "trike". No way to confirm it statistically. I have placed the video of the test drive in a subsequent post.


Aptera's Super-MPG Electric Typ-1 e: Exclusive Video Test Drive

PM [Popular Mechanics] hits the streets and gets looked at more than ever before, then heads to the shop for first-look details on a futuristic car so efficient it’ll make your jaw drop. The good news? It’s coming next year.

By Ben Stewart
Popular Mechanics
December 21, 2007

Three hundred miles per gallon and a Jetsons-style look are enough to get anyone excited. But ever since the word got out on it last month, Aptera’s innovative Typ-1 three-wheeler has been the target of relentless theorizing and conjecture across the Web. Is it real? Does it have what it takes to be a practical vehicle for daily transport? Is it stable enough to drive? Does it even actually drive? Well we wondered some of those things, too, so we scouted out if a drivable prototype really exists.

It does.

This week we visited Aptera’s headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., and became the very first outside of the company to hit the street in the Typ-1 e. And, as you can see from the video of our 20-mile test drive above, we’re impressed.

Aptera has two innovative models that are almost production-ready at $30,000 and below: for next year, the all-electric, 120-mile-range Typ-1 e that we drove; and, by 2009, the range-extended series gasoline Typ-1 h, which Aptera says will hit 300 mpg. A more conventional third model, called “Project X” or perhaps Typ-2, is now in the design phase, with plans for a four-wheeled chassis and seating up for to five passengers.

For now, though, the Typ-1 will certainly do. Check out a full gallery for the inside scoop on all the specs from the shop and the street …


The Typ-1’s exposed chassis shows how the company has taken inspiration from aircraft, boats and high-performance cars. For durability as well as weight and cost savings, the majority of the Typ-1 is constructed from a top and bottom advanced composite structures bonded together along the midsection. With the top and bottom weighing in at a mere 160 and 180 pounds, respectively, the entire vehicle sits at approximately 1480 pounds today.

The chassis has steel reinforcements in key areas: at the roll hoop, along the bottom of the windshield, in the doors (for side impact protection) and, of course, in the front subframe (for the suspension system as well as the engine and battery cradle).

On the all-electric model, the battery pack lives in the center space of the subframe. A tiny gasoline internal combustion engine in the hybrid models shares that space. In fact, this chassis has part of the hybrid’s exhaust, which you can see just below and to the left of the subframe.


The rear-drive wheel is mounted to a steel swing arm similar to that of motorcycle—but with a design optimized to handle the Aptera’s loads. The rear wheel has 3 in. of up travel and 2 in. of droop.

A belt drive system connects to an electric motor that has regenerative braking to help charge the battery pack. The tires on the prototype are the same 165/65R14 tires from the Honda Insight.


The Typ-1 e is expected to have a target range of 120 miles per charge. A ful1 recharge of the pack will take about 4 to 6 hours with a standard 110-volt outlet. Aptera’s team is still evaluating lithium phosphate battery packs from a few suppliers, so the final specs of the 10-kWh batteries remain confidential. (The hybrid model will use a smaller battery pack.)

This wall of equipment is part of the battery test station. Twin super capacitors augment the battery pack for when you neeed quick boosts of power (think passing stupefied fellow drivers on the highway).


Think the Typ-1 looks funny? Well its shape is designed for maximum aero efficiency—the coefficient of drag is an astounding 0.11. Aptera founder and CEO Steve Fambro says sticking your hand out the window of an average car driving 55 mph creates more drag than the Aptera’s entire body.

The prototype’s wheel skirts may be modified in production for better aerodynamic performance, as well as for front-wheel accessibility. The front windshield is laminated safety glass, and so are the side windows. But the production car could use polycarbonate for the side windows, saving additional weight.


Aptera’s cabin comes furnished with sustainable EcoSpun materials on the dash, door panels and seats. You can toggle a small switch between the seats for Park, Drive, Neutral and Reverse.

Cooler still: the Typ-1 e uses a rearview system with three cameras that display images on small dash panels where analog gauges would normally sit. (Traditional rearview mirrors will still probably make it to production as well.)

The vehicle’s vital information (speed, battery life, etc.) is displayed on one of these screens, too. The large central screen, meanwhile, houses a navigation and audio system.


Aptera’s climate-control components are downsized from that of normal cars. That’s because the roof-mounted solar panel powers the A/C system when the vehicle is resting. It then pipes hot cabin air out through twin exhaust ports at the rear of the vehicle. The panels can also help charge the battery pack. The clamshell trunk can hold 15.9 cu.-ft. of cargo.


Swing open the gullwing doors, and you soon realize that getting inside the Aptera is like getting inside an exotic car. You slide your backside into the seat first, then swing your legs inside. Once you’re strapped in, the driving position is slightly reclined—and very comfortable, thanks to the tilted steering wheel.

The seats on this prototype are like those on a concept car—a little too hard and unsupportive. For production, Aptera will put in more traditional seats, plus windows that actually roll down. Typ-1 will also have a provision for a child’s seat mounted in the center of the vehicle behind the two front seats.

Turn the dial to the “D” position, and the Aptera accelerates like many other pure EVs, with a constant rush of torque. The powertrain pulls strongly up to 50 mph or so (the fastest the streets on our route would allow). Interestingly, when you floor the accelerator, there’s a moment when the reareand jacks up slightly as the torque is applied. It’s a slight feeling, as it is on some shaft-drive motorcycles—and it’s kind of fun. It makes the acceleration feel stronger than it is.

Our 20-mile test drive had a few higher-speed corners. And even while we were exceeding the street’s speed limit by a good margin, Aptera’s prototype felt stable and planted. The non-assisted rack and pinion steering takes a little muscle when parking (as most cars do); once you’re up to speed, however, Typ-1 e feels quick and direct.

The vehicle rides much like a soft sports coupe—composed but not overly stiff. Step on the non-power brakes, and they do require a bit of leg muscle. But they also stop Aptera’s car quickly. All of these calibrations will likely improve and evolve as the car develops. After all, this is a prototype.


The view through the windshield is panoramic. But it’s easy to forget that there are two front wheels sticking out 16 in. past the bodywork. We kept far away from right-side curbs until we got used to the wheel placement.

The large front windshield lets you see everyone and everything. And in this car, what you see is everyone staring back at you: Aptera’s three-wheeler attracted more attention than anything we’ve ever driven—anything. People will roll down their windows at every stoplight and want to know what this weirdly futuristic thing is. If you’re parked, they swarm the car. It’s really a lot of fun.


The rearview cameras provide a good indication of what’s going on behind you, but the Aptera does have a bit of a blind spot—so it takes some practice and planning to pass. And that was especially true for us, since this is a $1-million prototyp


Since the Aptera is a three-wheeler, you don’t need a motorcycle license to drive one (even though it’s technically classified as a bike). And since it has a roof, you don’t need a helmet either.

For now, Aptera’s plan is to first sell cars only in California, with distributors in San Diego, Los Angeles and Menlo Park. But they’ll also have a fleet of Dodge Sprinter biodiesel service trucks to maintain customer cars and provide quick-charge service.

Fambro says Aptera only needs to sell 300 vehicles to make the company profitable. So far the company has over 580 orders for the $27,000 Typ-1 e and the $30,000 Typ-1 h. Pilot production is set to begin with 30 Typ-1 e vehicles next year, though eventually Aptera expects to build 2000 vehicles annually. Sign us up for a long-term test.

Copyright © 2008 Hearst Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://gadgets.boingboing.net/gimages/aptera-4-doors.jpg&imgrefurl=http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2007/12/21/popmech-gets-first-d.html&start=20&h=325&w=470&sz=39&tbnid=C-q1JeFgKNl2dM:&tbnh=89&tbnw=129&hl=en&prev=/images%3Fq%3DAptera%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dof f%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DN&um=1)

May 15th, 2008, 04:54 PM
Videos on Aptera

Popular Mechanics’ Road Test

To Access YouTube Video

http://media.popularmechanics.com/images/aptera-7-typ-1-e.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YPTWWxQUGc)

Runtime 06:25

Aptera guided tour: Introduction

To Access YouTube Video

http://www.cuelgatuinvento.com/ideas/uploads/img47022bae8d616.jpg ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeN1Okyy05Q&feature=related)
Courtesy cuelgatuinvento.com

Runtime 02:24

May 15th, 2008, 05:31 PM
Aptera Gallery of Images

Concept Cars

Left - Early Version (Actual); Right - Evolving into Aerodynamic Version (Rendering)

http://www.crunchgear.com/wp-content/uploads/nmg_yellow.jpg http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/4/2006/08/aptera.jpg
left - Crunch Gear; right - Gawker

3D Scale Model of Aerodynamic Version
Courtesy Gawker

Street Version

http://www.product-reviews.net/wp-content/userimages/2008/03/aptera2.jpg http://www.product-reviews.net/wp-content/userimages/2008/03/aptera-movie.jpg
IT Blog

Coutesy gearcrave


Popular Mechanics

May 16th, 2008, 08:23 AM
Motorised Tricycles (Trikes)

Aerorider / HYSUN3000

Aerorider: Low Emission Commuter

by Warren McLaren
Treehugger - Cars & Transportation
10.21.05 / Sydney, Australia


The photo would suggest some slick new concept car to excite the revheads. But look closely at the wheels and you see that it’s pedal pushers who are more likely to get a racing pulse The Aerorider is a fully enclosed (and ventilated) semi-recumbent trike that comes an electric-assist drive. Combining the 17Ah 36Volt DC SLA (Sealed Lead Acid) battery power, with the 7 speed bicycle internal hub, you can attain speeds of 45 km/h (28mph), with the battery giving a range of 25 - 50 km. In Europe this classifies the Aerorider as a moped. In the US the motor can be limited to a 20mph maximum to retain ‘bicycle’ status. Conceived as “clean and efficient propulsion” assisted commuting, the Aerorider is a cut or two above many trikes. iIt has front and rear lights and indicators, rear view mirrors. windscreen wipers, a tacho and speedo, bucketseat and headrest. And it can store 120 Litres of luggage too. All this does not add up to mere pocket money.


Your wallet will need to be fattened up with € 7.000 for the basic model and its SAL battery, more for the significantly lighter 30 cell NiMH battery. Yet it’s exceptional streamlined detailing saw the Dutch designed Aerorider adapted for the European Hysun project. Who managed to get one to travel 3,000 km (1,900 mile) on just 3.3kg (7.25 lb) of hydrogen. And for this it won a special award at the Fuel Cell Congress (“f-cell 2005”) held in Stuttgart, Germany last month.

© TreeHugger.com 2008 (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://i.treehugger.com/files/aeroridersideview.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/10/aerorider_low_e.php&start=7&h=168&w=266&sz=15&tbnid=5OalYs5BUrncfM:&tbnh=71&tbnw=113&hl=en&prev=/images%3Fq%3DHysun%2B3000%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26saf e%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DN&um=1)

May 16th, 2008, 08:25 AM
Aerorider / HYSUN3000


http://www.hysun.de/technologie/BZ2.jpg http://www.hysun.de/technologie/tanks.jpg http://www.hysun.de/technologie/Batterie.jpg http://www.hysun.de/technologie/E-Motor.jpg
....................Fuel Cell System............................................ ......Hydrogen Tanks........................................Super Caps.....................................E-Motor..........
..............1,2 kW, Power Electronics....................................... .....2 x 39l, 350 bar.......................................44 Wh / 60V......................................3 kW............



The basic contruction is a recumbent bike. Its aerodynamic shape is optimised. The value of the aerodynamic resistance cw is 0,15. The weight is reduced dramatically by using carbon fiber reinforced plastics.

Fuel Cell:

The heart of the vehicle is a PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) - Fuel Cell. Its nominal output power is 1,2 kW. Its efficiency is appr. 60 %. That is a big advantage compared with the appr. 35 % efficiency of an internal combustion engine based on fossil fuels. The Lithium-Ion-Battery complements the fuel cell as a power buffer. Fuel Cell and battery are building a hybrid system.


The 2 kg hydrogen is stored in carbon fiber reinforced aluminium pressure vessels. The volume of 78l is stored with a pressure of 350 bar.


The Electric Traction Motor of the Hysun3000 has a power of 3kW.

SOURCE (http://www.hysun.de/technologie_eng.php)

May 16th, 2008, 09:14 AM
Thanks for the post about the Aptera. Fascinating. I was not aware of this car.

Funny, as you probably have seen, 3 wheeled work vehicles are still a common sight on city streets here in Italy. The most famous brand also begins with the letters Ap.... the Ape:


May 16th, 2008, 01:05 PM
^ A wasp in Ape's clothing? Weren't these once called Vespas?

May 16th, 2008, 01:29 PM
It may be exciting, but I do not see wide acceptance of these machines in the US anytime soon. they look to different, not just in size. The screens instead of the analog gages, the bubble/teardrop shape, the plain flat dash/interior.

The only real thing keeping vehicles like this from making any significant inroad in the US is thatmost people would feel uncomfortable being seen in one.

Sometimes when progressive designers think, they either fail, or refuse to acnowledge who their audience is. Or, rather, should be.

May 16th, 2008, 03:29 PM
Ablarc: The Ape ("bee" in English) is made by Piaggio. They also make the Vespa ("wasp") the famous motorbike.


In 1974 another start-up company was poised to launch a 3 wheeled car called the Dale.


The story behind the Dale is fascinating. At one time there was even rumour that the saga would be made into a Hollywood film. Certainly all of the elements are there.

The car:

Believe me, this is a must read (wikipedia):

The Dale, designed by Dale Clift, was a prototype three-wheeled two-seater automobile announced in 1974. It was powered by an 850 cc air-cooled engine. It had an estimated 70 mpg (US) (3.4 L/100 km/84 mpg imp) fuel economy and a $2,000 (in 1974 U.S. dollars) price.

The brainchild of Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, it was to be followed by a $2,450 car called the Revelle that would give 50 MPG, and an eight-seater station wagon, Vanagon, for the same amount that would deliver 40 mpg (US) (5.9 L/100 km/48 mpg imp). All of these vehicles were to be three-wheelers. The company behind this was Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation.

Carmichael, 37 (in 1974), was said to be widow of a NASA structural engineer and a mother of five. 6-foot (1.8 m) tall, and 200 lb (91 kg) in weight, she was believed to be a farm girl from Indiana. In reality, Mrs. Carmichael was a transsexual, born Jerry Dean Michael.

The Dale prototype was built by Dale Clift and the project was marketed by Carmichael. Much of the interest in the Dale had been as a result of the 1973 oil crisis and higher economy automobiles like the Dale was believed by some to be a solution to the oil crunch. Speaking to reporter Dan Jedlicka of Chicago Sun-Times in November 1974, Mrs Carmichael said she was on the way to taking on General Motors or any other car manufacturer for that matter. She said she had millions of dollars in backing "from private parties", and also talked of a 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m²) assembly plant in Burbank, California and over 100 employees on the rolls.

"By eliminating a wheel in the rear, we saved 300 pounds and knocked more than $300 from the car's price. The Dale is 190 inches long, 51 inches high, and weighs less than 1,000 pounds", said Mrs. Carmichael. She maintained that the car's lightness did not affect its stability or safety. The low center of gravity always remained inside the triangle of the three wheels making it nearly impossible for it to tip over. She also went on record to say that she drove it into a wall at 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) and there was no structural damage to the car (or her). She said the Dale was powered by a thoroughly revamped BMW two-cylinder motorcycle, which turned out 40 horsepower (30 kW) and would hit 85 miles per hour (137 km/h). She expected sales of 88,000 cars in the first year and 250,000 in the second year.

None of the three vehicles (Dale, Revelle or Vanagon) were ever believed to have been manufactured apart from two prototype vehicles, and only one of those was able to run under its own power. It is alleged that there were rumors of fraud and the authorities began to investigate.

Clift said he still believed in the project and that he would receive $3 million in royalties once the Dale went into production. In all, he received $1,001, plus a $2,000 check, which bounced.

Elizabeth Carmichael went into hiding and was featured in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries which detailed the fraud behind the Dale as well as the fact Carmichael was wanted for fraud. Elizabeth Carmichael was found working under an alias in a flower shop and was arrested shortly after the episode's airing.

Elizabeth Carmichael, as a result, went to prison.



May 16th, 2008, 06:05 PM
Aerorider / HYSUN3000

European Tour:
Testing Prototype; Visiting Expos and Fairs; Test Drives; Striving for World Record; etc.


The prototype in the wind tunnel

Thanks to the aid of Daimler Chrysler the HYSUN3000 was tested in the wind tunnel the 26th of September 2003. Film teams of the ZDF and fechnermedia accompanied these tests.

The goal was to identify the influence of modifications on the chassis to the aerodynamics of the vehicle and to optimize the cw-value. The airflow was visualized with the aid of haze and filaments. The speed parameter was between 60 and 100 km/h.

The following modifications were tested:

Change of the wheelbase
With and without Finn
Covering of the wheels
Variation of the air in- and outlets (feeding of the air to the fuel cell to the driver)
Different installations of exterior mirrors and blinkers

On the bases of these examinations we could collect various experiences, which we are going to use for the further simulation. The cw-value is already at 0,15 - a satisfying result. In the case of side wind it will even be more reduced.


Review of the H2 Expo in Hamburg

The exposition of the Hysun3000 on the H2-Expo was a big success. It was ideal to get in contact with interested people and optional sponsors. The interest of the visitors was great. The enthusiasm was to feel on the place.

Peter Rehag, the Hamburg senator for environmental affairs and Simone Probst, German Minister for environmental affairs, were also visiting our stand. They did a test drive and convinced themselves that this record drive is possible.


Visit of the Fachhochschule Esslingen in Nabern

The Fachhochschule Esslingen (FHTE) will support us in the development and optimization of the body of the Hysun3000.

Four students will solve technical details like the air vent for the fuel cell module and the way of boarding.

A further group will develop a proper gear which copes easily with uphill and even rides during the tour.

A third group will create a simulation of the driving dynamic.

Therefore we`d like to thank Prof. Dr. Panik, Prof. Wolfmaier, Prof. Gabel and Prof. Gipser for their engagement.


Visit of the Hannover Fair

We could socialise with many companies

In order to realise the communication between vehicle and accompanying vehicle or main station via Bluetooth.

A new sensor is chosen for speed measurement

A light-weight material for the body was found

Cooperation with Fraunhofer-Technologie-Developmentgroup (TEG) in Stuttgart

Mr. Mark Ital from the TEG gives support for the design of the operation system, the fin and the body gap for the wheel. We will also get support for the lights. Therefore, we have split an order to TEG.

Visit of Bike-Fair in Germersheim, Germany 24.04.04

First inspection of the new vehicle body design which will be used for the Hysun3000. The body is produced by Aerorider in series using the vacuum technology.

With Thorax we discussed about the suspension of the front wheel, the mounting of the rear wheel-drive and its damping. Special thanks to Axel and Ralf Conrad for the successful cooperation.
A new integral monocoque truss with rectangular shape will be stabilized by an Aluminium sheet. This new design will cause a higher stability. The new truss will be assembled in the Hysun3000.


Attendance in the kindergarden Egelsberg in Weilheim u.T. (30.06.2004)

Environmental protection and alternative of driving drives are also for the recent generation an interesting topic. The Hysun team visited the kindergarden Egelsberg in Weilheim u.T., where 3 groups á approx. 20 children had their first contact with the Hysun3000. They could have a look at the vehicle close-by, admire the technic and learn to understand the technology, sit inside and get so a first driving feeling. In easy and understandable way the technic has been explained very descriptive by Rolf-Peter Essling that the Hysun3000 is driven by a gas which is called hydrogen. It can’t be seen, smelled or touched - however its energy is used. For illustration they received multicoloured balloons filled with helium. The children brim over with enthusiasm for the vehicle, particularly as it doesn’t produce any harmful exhausts and they looked for a long time to find the exhaust pipe of the Hysun3000. When it was finally discovered, the children were completely surprised that only water comes out as exhaust. Again we approached a little our goal to make also the recent generation attentive on pollution free energy systems. The children were pointed out new ways and alternatives for a carefully handling with energy and its use for their future.

The HYSUN3000-tour will start soon: the 3000-km-record-drive will begin on 7th of September in Berlin

The HYSUN3000 will start its 3000-km-record-drive on 7th of September in Berlin and will reach Barcelona on 23rd of September.
Several stops with press conferences are planned in

Berlin (7.9.)
Schwerin (8.9.)
Hamburg (9.9)
Osnabrück (10.9.)
Petten/Amsterdam (11.9.)
Cologne (13.9.)
Mainz (14.9.)
Freiburg (15.9.)
Besancon (17.9.)
Lyon (18.9.)
Marseille (19.9.)
Perpignan (20.9.)
Barcelona (22.9.)

State Secretary Simone Probst represents Ministry of the Environment during HYSUN-Start in Berlin (07.09.2004)

State Secretary Simone Probst represents the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and will attend the press conference on 7th of September in Berlin, where the opening of the HYSUN3000-record drive will take place. The record drive is under the patronage of the Ministry. Simone Probst is Physicist and since 1998 she acts as parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

Last test drives before approval by TÜV on 27th of August

The HYSUN3000 comes to its last test drives in order to check the electronics. On Friday, 27th of August, TÜV Rheinland will permit the HYSUN3000 for road traffic. The prototype of HYSUN3000 has already the permission for the road traffic and completed several test drives on the road. The vehicle for the record drive will be heavier and more stable and will be the only vehicle driving from Berlin to Barcelona.

The HYSUN3000 is fuelled with hydrogen (30.08.2004)

The HYSUN3000 has been prepared for its record drive and has been filled with gaseous hydrogen under a pressure of 350bar. The tank volume consists of 78l.


TÜV gave the official approval for road admission of HYSUN3000

The approval for road service for HYSUN3000 given by TÜV Rheinland is the first in the category of a fuel cell vehicle with an empty weight of 187 kilograms. The max. speed is restricted to 80 km/h. The HYSUN´s approval for road admission is the success of the HYSUN-Team developing the vehicle self dependently and complimentarily.

World record with HYSUN3000, Freiburg 14.9.2004

The HYSUN3000 is the first fuel cell vehicle of the world with official approval and homologation for road service, passing a distance of 1643 kilometers with just one tank filling of hydrogen. The consumption of hydrogen of the HYSUN3000 is 110g per 100km and the equivalence of gasoline is 0.41 Liters per 100km.

The current results point out, passing the distance of 3000km with 3kg hydrogen is a realistic target.

Second World record with HYSUN3000, Barcelona 23.09.2004

The HYSUN3000 is the first fuel cell vehicle with official approval and homologation for road service of the world passing a distance of 3000km with 3,3kg hydrogen consumption in total. The vehicle kept its consumption of 110g hydrogen per 100km throughout the entire tour (equivalent to 0.4l gasoline per 100 km).

Therewith the HYSUN-team has achieved its main goal with the fuel cell vehicle: the distance of 3000 km was passed with only 3,265kg of hydrogen.

HYSUN3000 on World Mobility Forum in Stuttgart

The World Mobility Forum took place from 1.-3. of February 2005 with the topic 'China and the Asian region'. Decision-makers from all sectors of society and science discussed at the World Mobility Forum in order to address the burning issues of mobility worldwide and to indicate how they should be tackled in the near and distant future. Also the team of HYSUN3000 presented the vehicle and project in Stuttgart.


HYSUN3000 at Thüringen Exhibition

Der HYSUN3000 was at the Thüringen Exhibition in Erfurt from 26.02.-06.03.2005.

Prime Minister of Thüringen Althaus (photo) sat into the HYSUN3000 and projekt manager Frieder Herb (photo left) explained the basic skills of driving the vehicle. Professor Bley (mid of photo) - joint founder of the Solar-Village Kettenmannshausen e.V.- was also interested in the vehicle.

The Thüringen Exhibition is the biggest exhibition in Thüringen and is targeted on demanding visitors.


HYSUN3000 at f-cell symposium in Stuttgart

After coming back back from Barcelona, the HYSUN3000 was presented on the 'f-cell' Symposium in Stuttgart (28th of September). The forum adresses europe-wide manufacturer and user of fuel cells. Project Manager Frieder Herb referred about the results of the tour. The project met with approval under the experts.

The 'f-cell' Symposium associated with a fair takes place since 4 years. In the year 2004 more than 32 exhibtors and approx. 500 international visitors attended the event.


HYSUN3000 presentation at VDI - 18.03.05 in Stuttgart

Frieder Herb and Jörg Schweigard lectured about the record drive of the HYSUN3000 at the VDI-event organised by the Württembergischer Ingenieursverein e.V. (WIV) / working package for society and technologies. The event took place on 18th of March 2005 in Stuttgart-Vaihingen. More than 70 people attended the lecture and were very interested into the project.

The HYSUN3000 was to view in the VDI-building in Stuttgart-Vaihingen until 21st of March.


HYSUN3000 at Hannover Fair from 10.04.-15.04.2005

The HYSUN3000 was to view at the Hannover Fair at the booth of IGUS GmbH, a sponsor of the HYSUN-project. Sincere thanks to IGUS GmbH for the exhibition of the vehicle. Many visitors were attracted by the HYSUN3000.


European Fuel Cell Forum 2005 with HYSUN3000

The Lucerne FUEL CELL FORUM 2005 was a highlight of the European fuel cell year. Venue place was again the new 'Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern' on the waterfront of the Lake of Lucerne in the heart of Switzerland.

Two parallel conferences, a fuel cell product exhibition and an optional fuel cell tutorial are offered under the same roof. There was unlimited access to both symposia and the exhibition. Many exhibitors and prospective customers attended this important event in order to bring forward the seminal fuel cell technology.

Aaward 'region's sights' for HYSUN-Team

The „Forum Region Stuttgart“ offered an event 'Tour of Know-how' with focus of 'energy' from 29.07. until 31.07.2005. Finally the Forum honoured the HYSUN-Team for its project, the construction of the HYSUN3000 and its Europe-wide tour in order to inform the public about the fuel cell technology.

With the award 'region’s sights' the Forum emphasized the meaning of this engagement.


f-cell award for HYSUN3000 in Stuttgart

In Germany f-cell is one of the most important events for fuel cell and hybride technologies. f-cell offers a broad program with an international Symposium and a trade fair covering the total topic. ...

SOURCE (http://www.hysun.de/news_eng.php)

May 16th, 2008, 07:49 PM
Videos on Aerorider / HYSUN3000

Danish Television Personality:
Tests Aerorider on Damp Roads during an Overcast Day,
then Examines Interior Components while in a Garage

To Access YouTube Video

http://www.hysun.de/news/pics/DSC00587.jpg ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfL18FoBB5c&feature=related)
Courtesy hysun.de

Runtime 03:43

This reads: "The worlds first sustainable aerodynamic
and fun hybrid of electric engine and muscle
... this is the future of alternative vehicles."

To Access YouTube Video

http://www.hysun.de/technologie/Aerorider.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orrOIoZKPgs)
Courtesy hysun.de

Runtime 01:40

May 17th, 2008, 03:57 AM
Aerorider /HYSUN3000 Gallery of Images
Courtesy Sustainable Design Update

http://www.solarmobil.net/Bilder/hysun098-350B.jpg http://www.solarmobil.net/Bilder/hysun-108-350b.jpg http://www.solarmobil.net/Bilder/hysun-128-350b.jpg http://www.solarmobil.net/Bilder/hysun-141-350b.jpg http://www.solarmobil.net/Bilder/hysun-4183-350b.jpg http://www.solarmobil.net/Bilder/hysun-022-350b.jpg
Courtesy solarmobil.net

Courtesy Metaefficient

http://readytoride.biz/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/_MG_3352.jpg http://readytoride.biz/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/_MG_3355.jpg http://readytoride.biz/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/_MG_3351.jpg http://readytoride.biz/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/_MG_33491.jpg
Courtesy Ready to Ride - Mind. Body. Bike.

May 20th, 2008, 06:06 AM
Solar Concept Cars/Vehicles
Solar Cars or Solar Vehicles are usually Electric Cars or Vehicle
that are charged and/or re-charged primarily,
if not exclusively, from the sun's ultraviolet rays.

GM Sunraycer

The historic General Motors Sunraycer was created in the late 1980s for the first worldwide solar-vehicle challenge race, held in Australia. According to one account: the GM Sunraycer “…won the 1,950-mile World Solar Challenge in 1987, finishing more than 620 miles ahead of the nearest competitor.” [from Smithsonian Catalog] They could have also added that the Sunraycer came in a full two days before the next competitor.

Historical Photograph of Sunraycer

Smithsonian Institution

Although the GM Sunraycer won that race, the effort represented more than just a vehicle created for a single contest. It was one the first seriously pursued project to create a solar vehicle by a major American automobile manufacturer.

Pre-Charging the Sunraycer Batteries

Electrick Publications and NJK

BTW, in the interest of more accurate disclosure – aside from General Motors proper – GM Hughes Electronics, AeroVironment, Aerodynamics, and several other GM Divisions and Official GM Suppliers also contributed.

To place a face on an endless list of companies and divisions of companies, we turn to the spirit behind them as represented by Paul Beattie McCready. No … I am not making this name up.

- Zephyr


Paul B. MacCready
Chairman, AeroVironment Inc.
Monrovia, CA

Paul MacCready was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1925. During his adolescence he was a serious model airplane enthusiast, who set many records for experimental craft. At age 16, he soloed in powered planes. In World War II, he flew in the U.S. Navy flight training program.

In 1943 MacCready graduated from Hopkins School in New Haven. In 1947 he received his Bachelor of Science in physics from Yale University. His interest in flight grew to include gliders. He won the 1948, 1949 and 1953 U.S. National Soaring Championships, pioneered high-altitude wave soaring in the United States; and in 1947 was the first American in 14 years to establish an international soaring record. (The 1999 National Soaring Convention of the Soaring Society of America was dedicated to him.) He represented the United States at contests in Europe four times, becoming International Champion in France in 1956, the first American to achieve this goal.

During the decade 1946-56, MacCready worked on sailplane development, soaring techniques, meteorology, and invented the Speed Ring Airspeed Selector that is used by glider pilots worldwide to select the optimum flight speed between thermals (commonly called the "MacCready Speed"). Concurrently, he earned a master's degree in physics in 1948 and a Ph.D. in aeronautics in 1952 from the California Institute of Technology, and in 1950-51 managed a weather modification program in Arizona. He founded Meteorology Research Inc., that became a leading firm in weather modification and atmospheric science research. He pioneered the use of small instrumented aircraft to study storm interiors and performed many of the piloting duties.

In 1971, MacCready started AeroVironment, Inc., a diversified company headquartered in Monrovia, California. The company provides services, developments, and products in the fields of alternative energy, power electronics, and energy efficient vehicles for operation on land and in air and water. Products include environmental instrumentation, surveillance aircraft, and power electronic systems for stationary and mobile uses. MacCready is Chairman of the Board of AeroVironment, and active in all the technology areas.

MacCready became internationally known in 1977 as the "father of human-powered flight" when his Gossamer Condor made the first sustained, controlled flight by a heavier-than-air craft powered solely by its pilot's muscles. For the feat he received the $95,000 Henry Kremer Prize. Two years later, his team created the Gossamer Albatross, another 70-pound craft with a 96-foot wingspan that, with DuPont sponsorship, achieved a human-powered flight across the English Channel. That flight, made by "pilot-engine" Bryan Allen, took almost three hours. It won the new Kremer prize of $213,000, at the time the largest cash prize in aviation history.

Subsequently, the AeroVironment team led by MacCready developed, under DuPont sponsorship, two more aircraft, this time powered by the sun. In 1980, the Gossamer Penguin made the first climbing flight powered solely by sunbeams. In 1981, the rugged Solar Challenger was piloted 163 miles from Paris, France to England, at an altitude of 11,000 feet. These solar-powered aircraft were built and flown to draw world attention to photovoltaic cells as a renewable and non-polluting energy source for home and industry and to demonstrate the use of DuPont's advanced materials for lightweight structures.

Courtesy skeptic.com

Paul MacCready speaking at Caltech;
MacCready inventions including: a solar-powered airplane;
the cab of a human-powered airplane;
and a wind turbine*

In 1983, his team built the 70-pound, human-powered (with on-board battery energy storage) Bionic Bat, partly to vie for new Kremer speed prizes and partly to explore new technologies leading toward practical, long-duration, unmanned vehicles and quiet, slow-speed, piloted aircraft. In 1984, the Bionic Bat won two of the speed prizes.

Starting in 1984, the team developed a large radio-controlled, wing-flapping, flying replica of the largest animal that ever flew: the long-extinct pterodactyl Quetzalcoatlus northropi, whose giant wings spanned 36 feet. This QN replica became the lead "actor" in a 1986 wide-screen IMAX film titled "On the Wing", a film depicting the interrelation between the developments of biological flight and aircraft. The film and the QN replica were sponsored by Johnson Wax and the National Air and Space Museum.

Recent "cover story" type aircraft of his AeroVironment groups start with the 100 foot remotely-piloted solar powered Pathfinder that, in 1997, reached the stratospheric altitude of 71,500'. In 1998, the 120 foot Pathfinder Plus reached over 80,000 feet (the highest any powered airplane has maintained level flight), and the 206 foot Centurion, designed for 100,000 feet, started low altitude tests. The Centurion then evolved into the 247 foot prototype Helios. This underwent low altitude tests in 1999 as a step toward "near-eternal" (6 month) flights when the solar cells and the regenerative fuel cell system power the final Helios. These NASA-supported developments are steps toward non-polluting flights in the stratosphere for environmental studies and surveillance. The largest potential is for Helios to serve as an 11-mile-high "SkyTower"™ that relays multichannel wide bandwidth communications. Other widely publicized pioneering aircraft are at the other end of the size range: tiny (6" span) surveillance drones, microplanes with on-board video cameras, featuring gross weight under 2 ounces.

His team's first land vehicle was the GM Sunraycer, for which AeroVironment provided project management, systems engineering, aerodynamics and structural design, power electronics development, as well as construction and testing for General Motors and Hughes Aircraft. In November 1987, this solar-powered car won the 1,867 mile race across Australia, averaging 41.6 mph (50 percent faster than the second place vehicle in the field of 24 contestants). The goal of the Sunraycer, in addition to winning the race, was to advance transportation technology that makes fewer demands on the earth's resources and environment, and to inspire students to become engineers. AeroVironment also helped with the GM-sponsored educational tour of the Sunraycer, spearheaded a course at Caltech on the Sunraycer engineering design (course notes were distributed in book form by SAE), and helped manage, for GM, the Sunrayce, in which solar-powered cars from 32 university groups raced from Florida to Michigan in July 1990. In January 1990, the GM Impact was introduced, a battery-powered sports car with snappy "0 to 60 mph in 8 seconds" performance. GM later turned the Impact into the production vehicle EV-1. The AV team provided the initial concept for the Impact; performed program management, systems engineering, and design of the electrical and mechanical elements; and built the vehicle, integrating the participation of a dozen GM divisions. This pioneering car became a catalyst for the present intense global developments of battery-powered and alternatively-fueled vehicles.


Courtesy AirShip Technologies Group

Physical Description
19'9" long, 6'7" wide, 3'8" high. 390 pounds. Seats one person.*

The unique vehicles produced by MacCready's teams have received international attention through exhibits, books, television documentaries, and innumerable articles and cover stories in magazines and newspapers. They, MacCready, and AeroVironment have become symbols for creativity. The Gossamer Condor is on permanent display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the Wright Brothers' 1903 airplane and Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. A film about it, "The Flight of the Gossamer Condor", won the Academy Award for Best Documentary - Short Subject in 1978. The Gossamer Albatross, after touring U.S. science museums, was for some years hung in the central atrium of the London Science Museum. Now in storage, it is slated for a forthcoming NASM facility at Dulles. The almost-identical backup vehicle, Gossamer Albatross II, was flown in the Houston Astrodome, and on a NASA research project. It now hangs at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The Gossamer Penguin was exhibited in the U.S. Pavilion of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Solar Challenger was displayed at the National Air and Space Museum, and at Expo '86, and is now at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond. The QN flight replica, after being on display at the National Air and Space Museum in conjunction with showing the "On the Wing" film, now rests at the Smithsonian Zoo. A full size static display version is at the Museum of Flying at Santa Monica airport. The Sunraycer is stored at the Smithsonian American History Museum, and is displayed occasionally.

MacCready's achievements have brought him many recent honors, including:

• Distinguished Alumni Award, 1978, California Institute of Technology
• Collier Trophy, 1979, by the National Aeronautics Association ("awarded annually for the greatest achievement in Aeronautics and Astronautics in America"
• Reed Aeronautical Award, 1979, by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics ("the most notable achievement in the field of aeronautical science and engineering"
• Edward Longstreth Medal, 1979, by the Franklin Institute
• Ingenieur of the Century Gold Medal, 1980, by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; also the Spirit of St. Louis Medal, 1980
• Inventor of the Year Award, 1981, by the Association for the Advancement of Invention and Innovation
• Klemperer Award, 1981, OSTIV, Paderborn, Germany
• I.B. Laskowitz Award, 1981, New York Academy of Science
• The Lindbergh Award, 1982, by the Lindbergh Foundation ("to a person who contributes significantly to achieving a balance between technology and the environment")
• Golden Plate Award, 1982, American Academy of Achievement
• Gold Air Medal, by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale
• Distinguished Service Award, Federal Aviation Administration
• Public Service Grand Achievement Award, NASA
• Frontiers of Science and Technology Award, 1986, first award in this category given by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
• The "Lipper Award", 1986, for outstanding contribution to creativity, by the O-M Association (Odyssey of the Mind)
• Guggenheim Medal, 1987, jointly by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Society of Automotive Engineers, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
• National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement, 1988
• Enshrinement in The National Aviation Hall of Fame, July 1991, Dayton, Ohio
• SAE Edward N. Cole Award for Automotive Engineering Innovation, September 1991
• Scientist of the Year, 1992 ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists), San Diego Chapter
• Pioneer of Invention, 1992, United Inventors Association
• Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design, 1993
• Honorary Member designation, American Meteorological Society, 1995
• American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Ralph Coats Roe Medal, November 1998
• Howard Hughes Memorial Award, Aero Club of Southern California, January 1999
• Calstart’s 1998 Blue Sky Merit Award, February 1999
• 1999 National Convention of the Soaring Society of America, dedicated to Paul MacCready, Feb. 1999
• Special Achievement Award, Design News, March 1999
• Included in Time magazine’s "The Century’s Greatest Minds" (March 29, 1999) series "on the 100 most influential people of the century"
• Lifetime Achievement Aviation Week Laureate Award, April 1999
• Commemorated in Palau stamp, 1 of 16 "Environmental Heroes of the 20th Century", Jan. 2000
• Institute for the Advancement of Engineering William B. Johnson Memorial Award, Feb. 2000

In 1999, MacCready directed prize money from the Design News Special Achievement Award to Harvey Mudd College, initiating an industry/student development of a two-legged walking robot.

MacCready has many professional affiliations, including the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Fellow status in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Meteorological Society (he is also an AMS Certified Consulting Meteorologist and a member of the AMS Council), and the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. He is a Humanist Laureate of the Academy of Humanism. For two decades he has been International President of the International Human-Powered Vehicle Association; and in 1999 helped create the Dempsey-MacCready One Hour Distance Prize He has served on many technical advisory committees and Boards of Directors for government, industry (public and private corporations), educational institutions, and foundations; and is at present a Director of the Lindbergh Foundation and the Society for Amateur Scientists. He has a dozen patents.

He has been awarded five honorary degrees (including Yale 1983) and made numerous commencement addresses. He has written many popular articles, and authored or co-authored over one hundred formal papers and reports in the fields of aeronautics; soaring and ultralight aircraft; biological flight; drag reduction; surface transportation; wind energy; weather modification; cloud physics; turbulence, diffusion, and wakes; equipment and measurement techniques; and perspectives on technology, efficiency, and global consequences and opportunities. He lectures widely for industry and educational institutions, emphasizing creativity and the development of broad thinking skills, and also treating issues such as future paths for energy and transportation, and the changing relationship between nature and technology.

MacCready lives in Pasadena, California, with his wife Judy. Their three sons, all of whom were involved in the early human- and solar-powered aircraft developments, are now following their independent career paths.**

SOURCE (http://www.ucar.edu/governance/meetings/oct00/maccready.html)

* - Picture and/or caption do not appear on original website citation - Z.
** - Unfortunately, I must add this update: Paul B. MacCready died of advanced melanoma in August of 2007. RIP (http://www.avinc.com/dr.maccready.asp) - Z.

May 20th, 2008, 06:09 AM
Solar Concept Cars/Vehicles

Solar Wing:
Aerodynamics refined


SOLAR WING is designed like the airfoil section on an aeroplane wing to give a pleasing shape and striking look.

http://www.speedace.info/solar_cars/solar_car_images/solar_wing_electric_racing_car_project_team_member s.jpg

Solar Wing - project team members

Dimensions: total length 6m x 1.9m total height x 1.05m which
Weight: body 128kg - battery 72kg (1.95kw/h) - total 200kg
Solar Cells: Polycrystaline type, Kyocera PSF50H-361 giving 798.84W
Motor: DC brush less DR086S /3.5Kw
Batteries: YUASA lead-acid pack which operates @ 108V with a capacity of 1.957kw/h.


Solar Wing - canopy open


The team wanted to make a contribution to solving the energy problem for transport while being considerate to the environment and providing general engineering interest to the participating students. The hope is that in adult life these students will have good opportunities as a result of their experience and that the interaction between humans and nature will be better understood and integrated as an obligation to the future of the planet

SPONSORS: Many thanks to:-



Solar Wing - side view

SOURCE: Solar Wing - PV Racing Car Project (http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.speedace.info/solar_cars/solar_car_images/Solar_Wing_front_Japanese_electric_powered_car.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.speedace.info/solar_cars/solar_wing.htm&h=493&w=753&sz=31&tbnid=K2zq0axfOFUJ:&tbnh=93&tbnw=142&prev=/images%3Fq%3DSolar%2BCars&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=1&ct=image&cd=1)

May 20th, 2008, 06:11 AM
Solar Concept Cars/Vehicles

MIT Tesseract*:
Evolution of Solar Cells

This prototype vehicle consists of a solar array with space grade "triple-junction" solar cells,
which are the same type solar cells used on NASA satellites.

(BTW if you are at all interested in the name,
Impossible World characterises the "tesseract" as an alternate name for "hypercube".
To quote IW directly, "... tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square;
or, more formally, the tesseract can be described as
a regular convex 4-polytope whose boundary consists of eight cubical cells."
[See IW's website on "Hypercube (http://im-possible.info/english/articles/hypercube/)" for more details.])

Courtesy MIT Education

MIT Tesseract in 2005

"A group of MIT students were taking out the Tesseract - a solar powered car that took third place in the 2003 World Solar Challenge in Australia - for a spin on Mount Auburn Street when a state trooper pulled them over for not displaying a license plate yesterday morning. Other problems the trooper noticed: no headlights, no rearview mirror, overly tinted windows and no windshield wipers. For the record, it also looks a little like a stealth bomber."

Boston Herald (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://web.mit.edu/madmatt/Public/Pics/tesseract.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.mitadmissions.org/topics/life/student_organizations/solar_car_pulled_over.shtml&start=1&h=318&w=500&sz=29&tbnid=hTgvF0xCjX9qEM:&tbnh=83&tbnw=130&hl=en&prev=/images%3Fq%3DTesseract%2Bsolar%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den% 26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DN&um=1)

Below: "MIT's solar car Tesseract ...
crosses the border at Winnipeg, Manitoba."

Photo courtesy / NASC


About the solar electric vehicle team (sevt)

The Solar Electric Vehicle Team is a recognized student organization at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working under the auspices of the Edgerton Center. The team draws on a broad range of technical knowledge encompassing all fields of engineering and science. Team membership provides an intense educational experience which teaches practical skills impossible to communicate in the classroom environment, turning students into engineers. In addition to providing real-world design and manufacturing experience, involvement in the team develops project management and business skills. The team also gives students the opportunity to work closely with professors and members of the business community, including those on the board of consultants, when developing the vehicles.

The MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team sets its goals beyond just winning races. The team is dedicated to promoting alternatively powered vehicles. Members participate in seminars, lectures, museum displays, conferences dedicated to alternative energy, and numerous Earth Day and ecological fairs. Team members answer questions about electric transportation at these events as well as during race-sponsored demonstrations.

Present vehicle: tesseract

Tesseract is a single-seat high performance solar race car. Because we’re trying to attain highway speeds on the same power as a hairdryer, everything on the car has a necessary and specific purpose. If it isn’t essential, we leave it out. All together, the car weighs about 375 lbs without driver.

Courtesy Sungroper Association**

How it works

Solar Array

The solar array consists of 2732 space grade triple-junction solar cells. These are the same cells that NASA puts on its satellites. We use them for the same reason they do, weight is at a premium, so we want the most power per area that we can get. The cells are connected into 40 different series strings of varying length on the car to optimize collection over the curved surface of Tesseract. Immediately after the solar array, there are 12 maximum-power-point trackers, which ensure we are drawing the max power possible from our array at any given time. These also act like a power conditioner to deal with the fluctuating battery voltage.


Tesseract is powered by a 6 hp axial flux brushless DC motor. By using and axial flux configuration, the motor is thin and flat like a pancake, and can produce large amounts of torque. Because this motor was specially designed for solar cars, it can be run in a direct-drive configuration. There is no transmission, the motor is attached directly to the hub of the rear wheel. This motor is coupled with a special controller that monitors the rotor position and fires 3 phase bursts of DC energy in sequence. This eliminates the need for brushes, a large source of energy loss. As a system, the motor and controller peak at 94% efficiency from stored electrical energy to mechanical energy at the wheels. When compared with passenger cars, which have an efficiency of about 15% from stored energy in gasoline to mechanical energy at the wheels.


Tesseract uses 512 li-ion batteries. These are the same type of batteries found in most laptops, only laptops use 6 or 8 cells in a battery pack instead of 512. Our pack is broken down into twelve modules, which are each equivalent to a car battery, but only weigh 5 lbs each. Through an innovative pack design, we ventilate the batteries with even airflow to minimize temperature differences between the modules. Because li-ion batteries are so energy-dense, we build our own battery protection circuitry to monitor each module voltage and temperature. This data is fed into a power controller that will disconnect the batteries in case they near a dangerous operating condition.

Chassis and suspension

The car is held together by a chromoly steel space frame. This is employed to provide the driver with a safe roll cage while minimizing the weight of the structure. The frame weighs about 35 lbs, and is fabricated by the team. the suspension is a familiar design, double a-arms with coil-over shocks in the front, and a trailing arm with coil-over shock in the rear. It’s a car/mountain bike hybrid suspension, using lightweight bike shocks, while using steel control arms and aluminum uprights.

Steering and brakes

The driver controls the car with center mounted handlebars, much like that on a bicycle, that connect to a rack-and-pinion steering system. The car stops (only when necessary) with 4 mountain bike brakes on the front wheels connected to go-kart master cylinders and pedal. There are two redundant hydraulic systems so the car can still be stopped in case one system fails.


The body of Tesseract is made of Kevlar and carbon fiber fabric, Nomex honeycomb, and epoxy resin. By laminating these together in a special process and reinforcing them properly, the shell of Tesseract weighs only 60 lbs. The body was designed for super-streamlined aerodynamics, and has been thoroughly wind tunnel tested.

Courtesy ccn1.net**

Control electronics and telemetry

With all the subsystems of the car working, the driver has his work cut out for him — keeping the car on the road. This is because of a specially developed cruise control system developed by the team. The team’s tactical strategy is programmed into the cruise control, so the car adjusts speed according to race conditions. All the data from the car is collected over an industry standard CAN bus, and is relayed to the support crew, where the strategy team analyzes the data and picks the car’s target speed.

Technical Specifications

Vehicle Dimensions

Length 4980 mm
Width 1780 mm
Height 960 mm
Total Weight (With driver) 254 kg (Driver 80 kg)


Drag Coefficient .12
Frontal Area .85 m2


Type 4130 chromoly steel spaceframe
Body Materials Kevlar, carbon fiber, nomex honeycomb
Wheel-Base 86 inches
Wheel-Track 50 inches
Ground Clearance 12 inches

Mechanical Components

Front Suspension Double a-arm, coil over shock
Rear Suspension Trailing arm, coil over shock
Wheels Front – GH Craft custom carbon fiber
Tires Michelin solar car tire, 65/80-16
Front Brakes HOPE C2 MTB calipers, 2 per wheel. Enginetics master cylinders.
Rear Brakes regenerative
Steering System Handlebars, rack and pinion

Solar Array

Manufacturer Emcore/SunCat Solar
Emcore/SunCat Solar Cell Type Triple junction – GaInP/GaAs/Ge
Power 1850 W
Cell Efficiency 25 %
Solar Surface Area 7.5 m2
No. of Strings 40
Weight ~15 kg
Power Tracker
Manufacturer AERL

Our next project

During summer 2007, the SEVT has been working hard on the design of our next vehicle, currently named "Eleanor." With Eleanor, we are aiming to improve upon the technology used in Tesseract. Eleanor's design is based around the regulations for our upcoming races.

Several of the most drastic changes are detailed below:

Seating angle

In previous years, solar car drivers have had to lay down in their vehicles to drive. This helped to minimize the thickness of the cars, which lowered the aerodynamic drag. To bring solar cars closer to commercial passenger cars, a new regulation requires that the driver is seated upright: the seat back must be less than 27 degrees away from vertical. The SEVT has had to rethink the shape of the aerodynamic car body and the layout of items within the car in order to comply with the new rules.

Steering wheel

Eleanor's steering system, like Tesseract's, will use a rack-and-pinion steering mechanism to connect the driver input to the wheels. But while Tesseract's drivers used handlebars to steer, Eleanor will feature a conventional circular steering wheel.

Parking Brake

In the past, the SEVT has simply chocked the wheels to keep vehicles in place when stopped. This year we will be developing a mechanical parking brake that can be operated by the driver. The driver will be able to bring the car to a stop, engage the parking brake and then exit the vehicle without waiting for other team members to stabilize the car with chalks.

Source (http://www.mit.edu/~solar-cars/flash/index.html)

* - This is also the name of a four-wheel motorcycle - the Yamaha Tesseract (more on that later) - Z.
** - Picture inserted, does not appear on original website citation - Z.

May 20th, 2008, 06:13 AM
Solar Cars/Vehicles
Market-Ready in this case refers to a vehicle in which the Automaker has either
set a Production Date or is already in Production.

Venturi Astrolab


Venturi … Astrolab … solar commuter is capable of working with very little energy … and of recharging even when in motion, and does not need to be permanently exposed to the sun in order to move. …

Venturi is hoping for even higher yields in the years to come. The car uses liquid cooled NiMH Venturi NIV-7 batteries and enable it to be plugged into the electricity grid, making it the first electro-solar hybrid vehicle.

World’s First Commercially-Available Electric-Solar hybrid,
and a sporty one at that

October 2, 2006 It’s not often we get lead stories on consecutive days from the same company (never before in fact) but French transportation futurists Venturi have done it again – this time with the first solar electric hybrid to be commercialised in the world.


Named Astrolab (latin astro = star, labe = to take) because it takes its energy from the sun in order to move, the solar commuter is capable of working with very little energy (16 kW engine) and of recharging even when in motion, and does not need to be permanently exposed to the sun in order to move. The car’s performance is remarkably close to that of a petrol-engined vehicle as it has a top speed of 120 kmh and a minimum range of 110 km.


To attain this level of performance while using very little energy, the Astrolab has been designed like a Formula 1 car with an ultra-light carbon monocoque chassis serving as an oversized protection cell in the event of a collision and at the same time offering a large surface for the 3.6 square metres of photovoltaic cells.


Its profile recalls the aqua-dynamic design of great racing yachts and Venturi draws the parallel between Astrolab and a sailboat : both advance silently while making best use of the elements and both offer sensations unlike any other. Its designer Sacha Lakic describes Astrolab as “a flying wing set on four wheels.”Astoundingly, it’s not just a show car - EUR92,000 will buy you one and the first vehicles are scheduled for delivery in January, 2008. … Venturi, we salute you!


One of the many tricks involved in the Astrolab is the efficiency of the photovoltaic cells which offer an exceptional yield of 21%, as they are covered by a film composed of nano-prisms, enabling denser concentration of solar energy. Venturi is hoping for even higher yields in the years to come. The car uses liquid cooled NiMH Venturi NIV-7 batteries and enable it to be plugged into the electricity grid, making it the first electro-solar hybrid vehicle.

This is also the first vehicle that consumes no fossil resources in order to work (depending of course on where you live and how the electricity is made in your neck of the woods): the emissions of CO2 required for its construction will even be compensated for by Venturi’s environmental actions.


Astrolab also opens up a new era as regards automobile architecture : light and high-profiled, it offers the rays of the sun 3.6 m2 of today’s most sophisticated photovoltaic cells (for an overall vehicle length under 4 m).

Optimised to incorporate its solar cells, the Astrolab’s design takes into account the effect of passengers’ weight on the vehicle’s dynamic behaviour. Very light when empty, the tandem architecture makes for perfect balance, whether the vehicle is occupied by one person or two.


All content copyright © gizmag 2003-2008 (http://www.gizmag.com/go/6256/)

May 20th, 2008, 06:16 AM
Solar Cars/Vehicles

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Sport (Part 1 of 2)


i-MIEV SPORT: Mitsubishi Launches
New Electric Sports Car

by Jorge Chapa
November 6, 2007

One of the most innovative electric sports cars by Mitsubishi, the i-MIEV Sport, was just shown off at the Tokyo Motor Show. This cute and sporty beetle-esque electric car comes with optional photovoltaics for solar power, and will be powered by a pack of Li-ions that will allow drivers to go about 100 miles before needing to recharge. While concept electric vehicles are released every year that never make it into production, this snappy little vehicle gives us hope for the future, because it will go into production in 2009.

The i-MIEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) is Mitsubishi’s flagship environmentally friendly vehicle. Amongst the technologies to which it is privy to, the electric plug-in lithium battery powered vehicle offers energy saving LEDs, heat absorbing glass to reduce heat gain within the vehicle and the interior components of the vehicle use plant-based resin technology developed by Mitsubishi, which they claim is environmentally friendly.


And then, there’s the way in which the vehicle gets power. Sure, it is an in-wheel motored, plug-in vehicle, a technology which is gaining traction from most auto makers. But the i-MIEV also comes equipped with an auxiliary photovoltaic generator on the roof, a power generating fan inside the front grill and is also able to recharge its lithium battery when the car brakes, recuperating wasted energy.

Whether or not this vehicle is what ends up on the road in 2009 remains to be seen. But it appears that Misubishi, at least in principle is commited to thinking slightly outside the box.

SOURCE (http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/11/06/transportation-tuesday-toyota-i-miev-sport/)


After it's out of juice, it'll take around 7-hours at 200V or 14-hours at 100V to charge it back up. Most notable about this ride, however, is the proposed release date: 2009. This figure was recently moved up a year from the original 2010 projection, but unfortunately, no details surrounding a price or specific launch markets have been disclosed.


Courtesy techon.nikkeibp.co.jp

May 20th, 2008, 06:18 AM
Solar Cars/Vehicles

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Sport (Part 2 of 2)

Jorge Chapa, Inhabitat:

"Whether or not this vehicle is what ends up on the road in 2009
remains to be seen.

Richard S. Chang, New York Times:

"People ... meet the ultimate environmental fantasy:
It’s electric! It’s solar! It’s wind-powered! No, it’s not real."


Auto Show

Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport
Mitsubishi’s Electric Pu Pu Platter

Published: March 22, 2008

Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

Introduced on Thursday: Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport

Is it real? People, meet the ultimate environmental fantasy: It’s electric! It’s solar! It’s wind-powered! No, it’s not real.

What they said: “Mitsubishi has been working on electric vehicles since 1970,” said Tetsuro Aikawa, vice president of product development. The i MiEV Sport, making its North American show debut in New York, combines the electric technology that’s in the i MiEV, which is being fleet-tested as we dream, with other alternative energy sources.

What they didn’t say: Even if it were possible to harness the power of the sun and the wind, and have functioning, durable and safe motors in the wheels, the cost of such technology would be exorbitant.

What makes it tick? It’s powered by three electric motors. There are small motors inside each of the front wheels and a single motor placed in front of the rear axle, as in the i MiEV, driving the rear wheels. So you could say it’s an electric four-wheel drive of the future. The lithium-ion battery, which powers the motors, is supplemented by a solar panel on the roof and two wind turbines located in the front grille.

How much, how soon? The better question might be: When will we see in-wheel motors in a production vehicle? While in-wheel motor technology has been in development for several decades, it still has several obstacles to overcome, including weight and cost. Then there’s the question of durability — keeping the electric motors in working order inside the most abused part of a car.

How’s it look? From the outside, it actually looks like a production vehicle (and one of the brightest designs in Mitsubishi’s history). It’s a different story inside, which has the smooth glossy feel of most advanced concept vehicles.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/03/22/automobiles/autoshow/600-miev.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/22/automobiles/autoshow/NY-iMIEV.html&start=20&h=362&w=600&sz=42&tbnid=CTdk_29li1aI-M:&tbnh=81&tbnw=135&hl=en&prev=/images%3Fq%3DMitsubishi%2BMiEV%2Bsolar%2Bcar%26um% 3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls %3Den-us%26sa%3DN&um=1)

May 20th, 2008, 06:20 AM
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Sport Gallery of Images
http://www.psfk.com/wp-content/uploads/images.worldcarfans.com/articles/2007/9/7/9070907.010/9070907.010.1M.jpg http://image.motortrend.com/f/car-news/mitsubishi-announces-tokyo-show-concepts/7077379+w600+cr1+re0+ar1/mitsubishi-i-miev-sport-concept-rear.jpg
Left - courtesy psfk; Right - courtesy Motor Trend

Courtesy Motor Trend

http://www.pinktentacle.com/images/concept_9.jpg http://es.motorfull.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/_a__1661.jpg
Left - courtesy Pink Tentacle; Right - courtesy Motorfull


http://www.thedailygreen.com/cm/thedailygreen/images/sv/mitsubishi-imiev-blog.jpg http://www.egmcartech.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/2008_ny_auto_show_mitsu_imieve_image_main.jpg
Left - courtesy the Daily Green; Right - courtesy e GM CarTech

Courtesy Jalopnik

May 20th, 2008, 06:23 AM
Solar Concept Cars/Vehicles

"Production of a Solar Car"

To Access YouTube Video

http://www.speedace.info/solar_cars/solar_car_images/auburn_university_solar_car_banked_road_test.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al25qj3cLLs)
Courtesy Speed Ace Info / Auburn University

Runtime: 04:25

May 20th, 2008, 06:25 AM
Electric/Electronic Cars
Market-Ready in this case refers to a vehicle in which the Automaker has either
set a Production Date or is already in Production.

Tesla Roadster

Posted on:
The Tesla Roadster: Electric Sports Car
by Sean Fisher
Cincinnati, Ohio

21 July 2006


[This car has the followinf statistics:] 130 mph. 13,500 RPM. 0-60mph in about four seconds. H-O-T! Meet the Tesla Roadster, the car that hopes to elevate plug-in electrics to lustworthy status. Judging from car-guru Jalopnik's first impressions, we feel it should have no difficulty in doing so. Not only does it have a design pedigree from famed UK sports car company Lotus, the engine, though quiet, promises to push you back into your seat. Even better, the battery technology seems to be relatively painless, something that will go a long way in pushing electric mainstream. In a measely 3.5 hour charge (into a standard outlet), the Roadster will take you 250 miles...more than long enough for most of us and farther than you could go on a tank of gas in your typical gas-guzzling sports car.

Of course, when you want to compete with Porsche and Lamborgini, there is certainly going to be $$$ involved. However, the damage isn't as bad as some might expect. Depending on who you listen to, the Roadster should be going for $80-100,000. Looks like most of us might need to wait at least a couple years - that is when Telsa plans to come out with a plug-in electric sedan for about half the price of the Roadster. However, if you have the cash, the Roadster could turn into a relative sports car bargain once you take it on the road. According to the company, it should only cost approximately $.01/mile in energy costs. Compare that to conventional gasoline engines...well, let's just say gas is a bit more expensive (not to mention the obvious environmental costs). Look for the Tesla Roadster to hit the US sometime "early" next year.

Copyright TreeHugger.com (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/07/the_tesla_roads.php)


Posted on:
Tesla Roadster: The Electric Car that Redefines "Power"

by Michael Graham Richard,
Gatineau, Canada

28 August 2006

Image created by www.candylab.co.uk

… Engine trouble? Forgot to change the oil and air filter--again? Or did the transmission give out? Need any other major repair job? Someday you may never have these headaches again. Enter Tesla's Roadster. It's electric and its features eclectic. This new uber sports car–launched in July, 2006—will never require a call to Car Talk. The two popular Boston radio hosts might be scratching their heads between calls.

We've profiled the car at TreeHugger already, but given its paradigm-shifting design, we feel its technical side merits a review in itself; here we’ll demonstrate what actually makes it tick.

We're looking at an electric car that is fundamentally different in probably almost every conceivable way from any other vehicle you've heard of or driven. Taking a closer look inside, we examine the mechanical specifications of the car as discussed in the whitepaper co-authored by founder and CEO Martin Eberhard; it is available at Tesla's website.


Tesla's flagship Roadster sports a very unique design—in more ways than one. The power system comes most immediately to mind. Historically battery capacity was limited by its unweildly mass as well as of the inconvenience of finding recharging stations and then waiting to get the juice refreshed. In this marque, those employed are based on essentially the same Lithium-ion variety found in the typical laptop PC. Chosen due to their superior charge capacity as well as longevity, the batteries themselves are far superior to the lead-acid variety (well over 100,000 miles—a four to one advantage).

The power supply is partitioned into 11 sectors of 621 cells, each of which is linked to its own processor, serving to monitor both the rates of charge and discharge for each cell. This structure makes for “intelligent,” dynamic charging throughout to coordinate optimal performance of the system as a whole.

The inverter relies upon 72 insulated transistors to convert DC energy into AC power. Since transistors generate little heat, the air cooling system is simple and not heavy. As for heating inside, electric-generated heat can be delivered “immediately” on demand—no more waiting for the engine to warm up on a sub-freezing winter morning!

The regenerative braking system (popularized by cars such as the Prius but discussed in scientific journals for decades) captures some of the vast amount of energy typically lost in automotive systems. As a by-product of this integrated system, it places virtually no wear on the brakes themselves since gears in the generators capture much of energy normally wasted when the typical car brakes.


More importantly still, there are far fewer moving parts to repair or maintain, since it has no internal combustion engine. According to the whitepaper, “The only work that a well designed electric car will need for its first 100,000 miles is tire service and inspection.” The battery longevity is rated for the same distance.

Owing to enhanced technology, the Roadster gives its driver nearly 80% greater power than the now-defunct EV1, GM's famous flagship electric car. The rotor at the center of the AC motor is made of brazed copper, which is more efficient than the conventional construction made of aluminum. A revolutionary design, it represents a new “plateau” of sorts in the electric car world. The start-up derives its name from the famous engineer Nicholas Tesla who invented the AC induction motor, a breakthrough in his time.

To ensure optimal safety, a host of sophisticated features are always on the watch for signs of trouble. A computer works in conjunction with the drive train and sensors to deliver optimal road traction and reduced wear on the tires. Some other devices include a smoke detector, voltage meter, temperature gage, water sensor, and accelerometer to detect rapid changes in car velocity typical of accidents. Upon impact in such an event, the batteries’ built-in “intelligence” enables them to shut themselves off to avoid an explosion or fire.


If Tesla's philosophy seems revolutionary, it's because it is. It's unabashedly here to "make waves," to redefine the rules throughout the industry. It’s simply not meant to be like any other car on the road today.

Fast (sometimes referred to as "muscle") cars have always won the hearts of the driving public. But the perception of speed has driven many to purchase cars that sport acceleration they don't really need and top speeds that are—well, (ecologically and economically) unsustainable. Based on the spiritual precept that “time is an illusion,” speed and acceleration become dubious notions or values, as well, since they are both functions of time. But the love of cars won’t die easily. We must concede the fact that America still adores its cars, and probably always will--particularly sporty ones.

What if you could enjoy the pick-up without sacrificing the wallet? With Tesla, drivers can actually have their cake and "drive it," too--if you will. You sacrifice only driving range (albeit a generous 250 miles) and just over three hours charging time. But you would never have to wait in line at another gas station again or worry about finding gas. Electric rates should be essentially the same (almost "free") wherever you go.

Perhaps implicit in Tesla’s mission, it would appear that from now on the new definition of “power” inherent in automotive technology should be shifted to acknowledge the relative savings they afford you as you travel from points A to B in comfort and style and the luxury of not having to decide which gas is the cheapest.

Behind the Design Coup: Disruptive Technology

In most industries, a radically different design or technology comes to the fore every so often. Such a design, coming seemingly "out of nowhere" and attaining what author Malcolm Gladwell refers to in his book of the same name a "tipping point," can "take over" almost overnight. Market analysts refer to this as a "disruptive" technology or business practice.


Disruptive technologies--such as those found under the Roadster's back seat—may be coming just around the corner now in the automotive industry. Anyone who has read Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator Dilemma will recall dramatic examples of these in a number of divergent industries. Cars' internal combustion engines have--curiously--resisted such disruptions with respect to their engine designs since their inception in the late 1800s. (We probably have the fossil fuels industry to thank for this.) These engines are still overwhelmingly dominant after just over a century. However, with declining supplies of oil in these tense times in the Middle East, and the damage Katrina wrought to the oil ports in the Gulf of Mexico, the climate may be ready for a dramatic shift away from fossil fuels, or a disruption.


Winning Marketing Strategy

Eberhard’s game plan may be to introduce a true enthusiast’s car where money is not an issue for its intended demographic segment. The Roadster, not yet publicly available, is projected to cost some $80-$100,000. As a class, the wealthy can most readily buy the cars to help pay the high expenses of a product not yet enjoying the benefits of economies of scale. The intended result is getting them out into the mainstream while the public warms up to its perhaps even bigger market potential for the non-wealthy just a couple years down the road.

Once he has established a phalanx of support from high performance enthusiasts, he can then send out a contingent of moderately priced sedans. Conservatively appointed vehicles with scaled down versions of the Roadster’s power system will target the average person’s needs and budgets. They are expected to arrive on the scene in 2008. Far more affordable than the Roadster, the sedan just might help Tesla claim even more solid market share far more quickly than the Roadster has. Also, it would stand to greatly broaden the market for Tesla's vehicles. In fact, a third and even more affordable car model may well hit the market within the next three years.

In so doing, he hopes to dispel the myth that electric cars are by definition inherently “punishment cars,” the phrase Eberhard likes to use to refer to his Roadster’s erstwhile second cousins sporting mediocre styling and room inside. One thing is likely: even without advertising, many automotive enthusiasts will have heard of Tesla before too long.*

*Within less than a month of the Roadster’s release, the first 100 vehicle orders for a slightly more expensive limited edition already have been placed.

Copyright TreeHugger.com (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://i.treehugger.com/files/th_images/tesla-eckh-01.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/08/tesla_roadster.php&start=9&h=404&w=468&sz=40&tbnid=JWhNsGCEWflQpM:&tbnh=110&tbnw=128&hl=en&prev=/images%3Fq%3DTesla%2BRoadster%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%2 6safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DG&um=1)

May 20th, 2008, 09:49 AM
Videos on Tesla Roadster

This is an ABC News "Nightline" segment on Tesla Roadster.
This segment occurred during the Test Marketing phase,
and went over the Airways on the 21st of May, 2007.
Reporter, Vicki Mabrey, talked with
each founder separately.

To Access YouTube Video

http://mymotorshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/2008-tesla-roadster4.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRd7ER7u-KU&feature=related)
Courtesy MyMotorShow.com

Runtime 07:33

Netscape and Autoblog Green were at a private unveiling
of the Tesla Roadster, with several VIPs ...
including Arnold Schwarzenegger.

To Access YouTube Video

http://reviews.cnet.com/i/ss/tesla/Tesla_roadster8_440.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt1AdfgcNiQ&eurl=http://www.momist.com/blog/2006_07_22_archive.html)
Courtesy CNET Networks

Runtime 03:01

Commercial on Tesla Roadster

To Access YouTube Video

http://mymotorshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/2008-tesla-roadster7.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1C44JQU7Pc)
Courtesy MyMotorShow.com

Runtime 01:43

Tim Reha, the Interviewer, and Aaron Plashton, both take a drive in a Tesla Roadster on a cramped beach. Mr. Plashton of Tesla mentions that 400 Tesla Roadsters have been sold to date. He also chats about a Lotus / Tesla Motors collaboration. Somewhere near the end, he gets around to price -and it is steep. At just under 100,000 USD, it may save you gas, but not money.

To Access YouTube Video

http://www.litteringand.com/la/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/_v9r8477.jpg ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4tW9V64sBA&feature=related )
Courtesy Littering and…

Runtime 05:54

May 20th, 2008, 10:04 AM
Looks really nice.

This is probably the only market that will be viable for something like this right now. One where you can spend the extra $$ for a machine you will not (and really cannot) take across country with you.

Toned down versions for the daily commuter (<100 miles) would probably be the next step, as well as supplimentary home power stations (solar, wind) to help you charge.

Aside from that the only thing I see as a weakness is its 3+ hour (is that right) charge time. It is much faster than the old school Ni-Cd batteries of yesteryear, but it still mekes it so that even at regulated highway speeds, you can only put in 4 hours before you call it a day. That is barely enough to get you to Boston or DC.

City dwellers would also be at a disadvantage in not having things like garages or places to plug in at night, but they would be a small part of the market.

I think this is a great first step, and I am looking forward to it. Maybe if/when I move to the 'burbs this will be the car for me! ;) (Or its cheaper, larger second cousin twice removed...)

May 21st, 2008, 09:35 AM
From their website's FAQs (this material needs to be updated however):

How long does it take to recharge?

That depends on how far the battery has been discharged and what source is being used to charge the batteries. A full charge using the Home Charging Station (included in the price of the Tesla Roadster) can be achieved in as little as 3.5 hours.

However, an electric car is a bit like a cell phone: it does not matter how long it takes to charge as long as a charge lasts all day. You plug it in when you get home, and unplug it when you leave in the morning.

How do you recharge it?

Unlike EVs of the past, the Tesla Roadster has a built-in battery charging system that can basically plug into any outlet. The car ships with a particularly easy-to-use Home Charging Station that is installed in your garage by a qualified electrician. There is also an optional mobile charging kit that allows you to charge from any available electrical outlet (110V or 220V) wherever you happen to be.

How far can the Tesla Roadster drive between charges?

Actual range depends on driving style and conditions. During testing of prototypes cars, Tesla Motors has seen between 170 miles per charge for very spirited driving to 267 miles per charge for city driving that makes use of the Roadster's regenerative braking. Our most recent EPA driving cycle tests, conducted November 26-30, 2007, at an EPA-certified facility, resulted in the following numbers:

• 230 mi EPA city
• 211 mi EPA highway
• 221 mi EPA combined (city/highway)

Keep in mind that Tesla Motors is in the midst of final development and testing for the Tesla Roadster. While we are confident in our most recent numbers, the final results will be dependent on the car's specifications at series production. We will update our EPA range numbers once we have fully tested a production Roadster, expected in early 2008.

SOURCE (http://www.teslamotors.com/learn_more/faqs.php)

May 21st, 2008, 12:36 PM
Electric/Electronic Cars

Tesla Roadster Dealerships
Starting with a Flagship in Los Angeles California, this will soon be followed by a
Stanford California Dealership, on the northern end of the state.


T. O'Leary


Tesla Store Los Angeles
by Tom OLeary
General Manager, Tesla Store

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Last week we opened our first ever Tesla Store in Los Angeles on Santa Monica Blvd.

The Tesla Roadster is a revolutionary car and our Tesla Stores will be no less revolutionary as an automotive retail experience.


Store Front

What’s so different? Well, pretty much everything, but here’s the main idea. We want to create welcoming spaces, where our guests feel comfortable and in their element. And we want to create a sense of unity about the whole operation where there’s no wall of separation between the showroom and service.

One of the very first things you’ll notice about our new store is that the service area is side-by-side with the showroom and connected to it in a very open way. Service actually has the bigger window onto Santa Monica Blvd. Electric cars are cleaner around the shop. Less oil, no fumes. We knew our service area would be a showpiece, so we figured: why not put it out front where everyone can see? Plus, it just fits with our feeling that more public transparency is a good thing.




Service Area

The same is true in a way with the showroom experience. In the traditional car-buying world, the object of the seller is control.

Control of information and control of you, from the minute you get on the lot until you finally pull yourself free. As a manufacturer, our approach will be radically different. We feel it’s our job to build products that you fall in love with. So when you come to the Tesla Store we want to be completely transparent and be as accommodating as possible.We like to think it’s our job to get out of the way and let the car do the talking, then help out wherever we can. In that kind of environment, you have the space to decide for yourself if this is the right car for you.

Look for our next store to open at
in the San Francisco Bay Area
this summer.

© 2008 Tesla Motors, Inc. All rights reserved. ‘Tesla Motors’ and ‘Tesla Roadster’ are trademarks of Tesla Motors, Inc. (http://www.teslamotors.com/blog3/?p=78)

May 21st, 2008, 12:39 PM
Electric/Electronic Cars

Tesla Roadster Specifications:
Measuring an Electric sports car that is surprisingly quick, quiet, and fun.


Acceleration & Torque

Instant Freedom

The first time you drive the Tesla Roadster, prepare to be surprised. You're at freeway speed in seconds without even thinking about it. There is no clutch pedal to contend with and no race-car driving techniques to perform. Just the touch of your foot and you're off, without any of the sluggishness of an automatic.

How powerful is the acceleration? A quick story to illustrate. A favorite trick here at Tesla Motors is to invite a passenger along and ask him to turn on the radio. At the precise moment we ask, we accelerate. Our passenger simply can't sit forward enough to reach the dials. But who needs music when you're experiencing such a symphony of motion.

Rest assured that this responsiveness works at all speeds, as noticeable when you're inching your way through parking lots as when flying along freeways.

100% Torque, 100% of the Time

The Tesla Roadster delivers full availability of performance every moment you are in the car, even while at a stoplight. Its peak torque begins at 0 rpm and stays powerful at 13,000 rpm.

This is the precise opposite of what you experience with a gasoline engine, which has very little torque at a low rpm and only reaches peak torque in a narrow rpm range. This forces you to make frequent gear changes to maintain optimal torque. With the Tesla Roadster, you get great acceleration and the highest energy efficiency at the same time. All while requiring no special driving skills to enjoy it. This makes the Tesla Roadster six times as efficient as the best sports cars while producing one-tenth of the pollution.



Electric Power

Drive Quickly, Tread Lightly

Most electric vehicles operate under the assumption that driving is merely a necessary evil if you need to get someplace you can’t reach on foot or bike. The result has been cars that are designed, built, and marketed in ways that refuse to glorify driving.

We respectfully disagree. We believe driving is exhilarating. Just watch any child on a go-cart and the joy is plain to see. And when you can soar along at top speed, knowing the only oil in the car is in the transmission, the only emissions are the songs from the radio, the ride becomes more enjoyable still.

The Ultimate Multi-Fuel Vehicle

Electric cars equal freedom. Not simply from oil reliance, but from dependence on any specific power source. Electric power can be generated from natural gas, coal, solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear sources — or a combination of all of them — without changing the design of the car. No matter how or when the world changes, the car adapts, making it immune from obsolescence.

We foresee a day when all cars run on electric power and when people will struggle to remember a time when a love of driving came with a side order of guilt.

No More Tradeoffs

Up until now, if you wanted a car with amazing gas mileage, you’d pick something like the leading hybrid; but when you pressed down the gas pedal to zip up a freeway on-ramp, you'd likely be a little disappointed — it takes over 10 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour. On the other hand, if you demanded the 0 to 60 times of a $300,000 supercar, you'd wind up with an embarrassing 9 miles to the gallon in the city.

The graph below shows the Tesla Roadster (upper right) in a class by itself with better acceleration than a Lamborghini Murcielago and twice the mile-per-gallon equivalent of popular hybrids. The highly efficient Tesla Roadster gets the equivalent of 135 miles per gallon with an enviable 0 to 60 time of less than four seconds.



Performance Specs - 2008 Model Year

The Tesla Roadster’s specs illustrate what it does (0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds) — as well as what it doesn’t (zero emissions, zero motor oil). With one moving part in the motor, no clutch pedal, and two gears, it’s not only a joy to drive, but to own as well. There is no motor oil to change; no filters, belts, or spark plugs to replace; no oxygen sensors to mistrust before an emissions test.

Tesla Roadster Specifications*

2-seat, open-top, rear-drive roadster

Electric motor with 2-speed electrically-actuated-manual-shift transmission with integral differential

3-phase, 4-pole electric motor, 248hp peak (185kW), redline 13,000 rpm, regenerative "engine braking"

Bonded extruded aluminum with 4-wheel wishbone suspension

4-wheel disc brakes with ABS

0 to 60 in under 4 seconds

Top Speed
125 mph

About 220 miles
(based on EPA combined city/highway cycle)

Battery Life
Useful battery, 100,000 miles

Energy Storage System
Custom microprocessor-controlled lithium-ion battery pack

Full Charge
About 3.5 hours

• - [Tesla is] ... currently in the midst of final safety and durability testing for the Tesla Roadster. While [Tesla is] ... confident of [the] ... numbers, this testing may require design changes that affect the final specifications.

© 2008 Tesla Motors, Inc. All rights reserved. ‘Tesla Motors’ and ‘Tesla Roadster’ are trademarks of Tesla Motors, Inc. (http://www.teslamotors.com/)

May 22nd, 2008, 04:53 AM
Gallery of Images:
Spiritual Legacy of Tesla Motors

Nikola Tesla
1856 - 1943

Courtesy left - Tesla Memorial Society of NY, right - ancient minds

Mr. Tesla modified this vehicle below
to run with Electrical power

elektroauto.ba / Courtesy Rudolf Bosnjak

__________ Tesla Motors __________

Named in honour of the multi-talented,
Serbo-Croatian Nikola Tesla,
for his work in Physics and a number of other Scientific areas,
but especially in the area of Electric Motor Cars:

Tesla Motors / Courtesy edmunds.com

Original Co-Founders
Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard


Reformed with new Co-Partner to Mr. Eberhard -
Elon Musk
(Mr. Musk is left, background)

Tflickr / Reobert Scoble

May 22nd, 2008, 05:33 AM
Tesla Roadster
Gallery of Images 1


flickr / Mdominy

flickr / ShutterFlick

flickr / JDRedding

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/198/483400436_7815c0ba5b.jpg http://farm1.static.flickr.com/167/483433833_1360669f5c.jpg

Both photos: flickr / mhuang

Courtesy greengeek

May 22nd, 2008, 07:59 AM
Tesla Roadster
Gallery of Images 2

Courtesy Arlen Ward dot com

Marketplace Public Radio

flickr / rnair

http://www.uturnmegreen.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/tesla.jpg http://yungchin.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/scoble_tesla_448x299.jpg
Courtesy left - u turn me green; right - oei.yungchin.NL

flickr bradlauster

Courtesy sobeid.zapato.com

May 22nd, 2008, 11:28 PM
Electric/Electronic Cars

Martin Eberhard discusses Tesla Roadster's Electric Motor:
(Includes selective links, underlined and bolded, for more detail.)
Mr. Eberhard, as we know from prior posts, is one of the founders
and now CEO of Tesla Motors. Many feel, that despite his technical
perspective, Mr. Eberhard has a talent for explaining
complex topics in a understandable way.


Motor City
by Martin Eberhard

M. Eberhard

published Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

A bit about motors, magnets, AC and DC, and weird little widgets called IGBTs, all the while trying to answer some more of your questions. (And yes, we are opening a Detroit office, but that’s another story.)

Nikola Tesla (http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/alabaster/A486182) was a strong believer in AC (alternating current) as a means of distributing electricity because it was more efficient than DC (direct current, as favored by Thomas Edison), and because it was easy to step an AC voltage up or down using a transformer made of nothing more than a stack of steel sheets and some coiled-up wire. Plenty has been written on this subject. I recommend the following books.

Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World by Jill Jonnes (http://www.amazon.com/Empires-Light-Edison-Westinghouse-Electrify/dp/0375758844/sr=8-4/qid=1160283048/ref=sr_1_4/102-4374656-9510523?ie=UTF8&s=books)

Tesla: Man out of Time, by Margaret Cheney (http://www.amazon.com/Tesla-Man-Time-Margaret-Cheney/dp/0743215362/sr=8-1/qid=1160282059/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-4374656-9510523?ie=UTF8&s=books)

Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla : Biography of a Genius, by Marc J. Seifer (http://www.amazon.com/Wizard-Nikola-Biography-Genius-Citadel/dp/0806519606/sr=8-7/qid=1160282059/ref=pd_bbs_7/102-4374656-9510523?ie=UTF8&s=books)

The Tesla Rotating Magnetic Field by Thomas Commerford Martin and Nikola Tesla (http://www.amazon.com/Tesla-Rotating-Magnetic-Field/dp/1425318738/sr=8-38/qid=1160282855/ref=sr_1_38/102-4374656-9510523?ie=UTF8&s=books)

The Complete Patents of Nikola Tesla, by Jim Glenn (http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Patents-Nikola-Tesla/dp/B000CPMQAK/sr=8-16/qid=1160282059/ref=sr_1_16/102-4374656-9510523?ie=UTF8&s=books)

Rewind all the way to 1888: Nikola Tesla invented the polyphase AC induction motor (US Patent numbers 381968, 381969, 382279, 433700, 433701, and 555190). Tesla was interested in such a motor because it was simpler, and because it could be driven directly from AC transmission lines or from a dynamo without need for rectification. Tesla worked to perfect the AC induction motor, and most of the motors we use in plug-in appliances and equipment are directly derived from his work.

AC Induction motors (http://www.coolmagnetman.com/magacmot.htm) have several advantages over DC motors: they have no field windings or permanent magnets of any sort; they have no brushes or commutators to wear out; they can be highly efficient. Tesla himself recognized that AC induction motors could work well in cars (http://www.nuenergy.org/rare/tesla_car.htm). However, they were never used in production cars in his time because it was nearly impossible to convert DC from batteries into AC to drive the motor. (The vacuum tube was still pretty neat stuff –silicon was most useful as a beach topping, no decent diodes, no transistors, etc.)

So AC induction motors found their way into industry and into appliances, using AC as generated by dynamos. For the last 100 years they were mostly designed and optimized to work at a fixed frequency: 60 Hertz here in the USA, the frequency of the alternating current in every electrical outlet in our homes. (This frequency — still used today — was chosen over a hundred years ago by Tesla.)


(For the less technical, what does AC mean? AC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_current) means that the current changes direction smoothly back and forth like waves on the beach – flowing in, then back out. If you could listen to 60 Hertz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_hum), it would sound like a low, smooth tone. Higher frequency means higher pitch; those annoying beeps from microwaves and other electronic goodies are around 2,000 Hertz. Your hearing probably tops out around 20,000 Hertz.)


Electric cars used simple-to-control DC motors all the way into the 1990’s, See a long list here (http://www.didik.com/ev_hist.htm).

DC motors don’t need much to make them turn – hook ‘em up to a battery, and they go. Maybe you played with a dc motor yourself in school, in a slot car, whatever. If you take one apart, you will find the same thing whether it is big or small, old or new: a rotor (the part that spins), made up of a bunch of wire wrapped around a frame on a shaft, and a casing that has a couple of magnets attached to it. The wires to the motor attach to “brushes” that ride on a dohicky on the rotor’s shaft, called a commutator. The brushes and the commutator conspire to run current through the coiled wire of the rotor (creating magnetism), and flipping the direction of the current (and therefore the magnetism) back and forth as the rotor spins. There has been plenty of optimization over the years – fancy “rare earth” magnets, better commutators, even tricky elimination of the brushes in (cleverly named) brushless DC motors.

JB warns me:

“Be a bit careful here. The brushless DC motor is actually an AC motor. You need an inverter to drive it! A better name for this type of motor would be: “synchronous permanent-magnet AC motor.” Most people ask why we don’t use a brushless DC permanent magnet motor, like all hybrids today use. We chose not to use one of these mainly because of the wide efficiency plateau that we get from an AC induction motor (which means high efficiency over a wide RPM and power range), not because it is really a DC motor.” (Some of you have asked about the use of niobium or other advanced magnets in our car. If we used a brushless DC motor, we’d have such magnets. But we don’t ) Even today, practically all hobbyists who are making their own electric car use DC motors because control is so easy. …

But Nikola Tesla was right: an AC induction motor is inherently more efficient, lighter, simpler, and more reliable than a DC motor – and would make a better electric car if only it were feasible to convert the battery’s DC into AC easily.

Fast forward to 1986. Transistor technology has come along and been refined enough that it is possible to create high-power AC from DC without a lot of wasted energy. Aerovironment (http://www.avinc.com/about.asp) was developing the Sunraycer, a solar-powered racer for GM. Al Cocconi (http://www.acpropulsion.com/message.htm) (the “A.C.” of AC Propulsion), was working for Aerovironment, at the time. There, he figured out how to gang a whole lot of MOSFET (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOSFET)s (fancy transistors) together to make an “inverter” for the Sunraycer so they could use a light weight AC induction motor.

But this was not your ordinary inverter. If you bought an inverter for your car or RV to power household appliances, that inverter would simply make good old 60-Hertz like what you get from your wall outlets. In contrast, Cocconi’s inverter created a variable-frequency AC waveform for the motor. (In the same era, several others created similar variable-frequency inverters for EVs and other applications – decent power transistors changed everything.)

Why variable frequency? A little digression into how an AC motor works:


The AC electricity driving the motor powers the stator (the stationary windings around the spinning rotor) and creates a rotating magnetic field. Tesla’s original motors used 3 “phases” of AC to drive the motor: 3 wires to the motor, each with the same frequency AC, but at a different phase. (Sorry – I can’t think of an easy way to explain this!) Lower-power motors today use a single phase, which (annoyingly) use two wires.

Motor engineers coined a concept called “slip,” which is the difference in rotational speed between this rotating field and the rotational speed of the rotor. The torque of the motor is proportional to the slip. So – if you want a certain amount of torque from an AC motor, you measure the speed of its rotor, and adjust the AC frequency to cause the magnetic field to rotate the right amount faster than the rotor (or slower for regen braking).

An AC induction motor is sometimes called a “squirrel cage motor” because the working part of the rotor looks like one of those cages that pet rodents run around in – a shaft with two metal rings connected together by a bunch of metal bars. (Note: there are generally no wire windings in the rotor of an AC induction motor.) Early on, Tesla figured out that he could fill up the squirrel cage (where the squirrels might run) with a stack of steel laminations to increase the power of the motor.

Tesla mostly used copper to make his squirrel cages, but had a difficult time fabricating them. For this reason, Tesla came to advocate aluminum for the rotor instead of copper, even though this reduced the motor’s efficiency considerably.

As noted above, AC motors designed for appliances usually run at one speed. Some of you have commented that we should use a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) to match our motor speed to the desired speed of the car. This would be true if we ran our motor on a fixed frequency.

But we don’t. Like the GM cars, and like other AC electric car motors, we feed the motor with a variable frequency AC waveform, using frequency to regulate torque and therefore speed.


Skip to 1988: The team at Aeroviroment got the GM contract to create the Impact (the precursor to the GM EV-1), so they designed a custom AC induction motor to go with Cocconi’s MOSFET-based variable frequency inverter.

The folks at Hughes/GM didn’t like the large number of MOSFETs that Cocconi used, and proposed instead to use the new-fangled IGBT transistors like those from International Rectifier (http://www.irf.com/product-info/igbt/). You can read about all this in the book The Car That Could (http://www.amazon.com/Car-That-Could-Revolutionary-Electric/dp/067942105X). The Hughes/GM engineers liked these better because they were easier to control and many fewer transistors were needed. According to legend, Cocconi was at first resistant to using IGBTs rather than the MOSFETS he already understood. True or not, the EV-1 used IGBTs.

Fast forward again to 1992: Al Cocconi started AC Propulsion (http://www.acpropulsion.com/history.htm) to make EV motors and matching inverters. AC Propulsion developed their Power Electronics Unit (PEU) using IGBTs similar to what Cocconi learned about from the guys at Hughes/GM.

Fast forward once more to 2003: Tesla Motors’s Power Electronics Module (PEM), in turn, uses a similar kind of variable frequency, IGBT inverter, based on what we learned from our friends Al Cocconi and the rest of the team at AC Propulsion, as well as from what JB and I had learned in our own careers as electrical engineers. Over the last 3 years, this PEM has been refined and improved by Tesla’s team of electrical, firmware, and manufacturing engineers.

At the same time, Tesla’s motor engineering team developed our own custom 3-phase AC induction motor – based on Tesla’s patents, based on the EV-1 motor, based on the AC Propulsion motor. Like Tesla’s motors, the EV-1 motor, and the AC Propulsion motor, ours gets its incredible efficiency largely due to its copper rotor.

We’ve studied the EV-1 motor carefully. The technique they used to construct their copper rotor was not great, resulting in suboptimal efficiency, and (I suspect) low manufacturing yield.

We have studied AC Propulsion’s rotor manufacturing technique. Their process creates a motor with much better efficiency. But there is quite a bit of hand labor and tweekmanship in the process, and it would not work for the production volumes we forecast at Tesla.

We studied other companies who cast copper rotors like Favi (http://www.favi.com/ang/accueil.php?msg=rotor). But their process yielded rotors with lower efficiency than AC Propulsion’s.


So we set out to create our own copper rotor fabrication process. It took us a few years, but it worked: our rotors are readily mass produced in our own factory in Taiwan, and their performance is quite nice. (How we do it is a secret. I don’t keep a lot of things secret from you, but this is some of our secret sauce! That’s why we didn’t outsource the construction of this piece.)

Here’s the cool thing: if you handed one of our motors to Nikola Tesla (http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/index.html), he’d recognize it immediately as his own invention (http://www.mdc.hr/tehnicki/en/07-velikani/07-velikani-5.htm). Nice job of optimization, but clearly his.

That’s why we’re Tesla Motors.

© 2008 Tesla Motors, Inc. All rights reserved. ‘Tesla Motors’ and ‘Tesla Roadster’ are trademarks of Tesla Motors, Inc. (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.teslamotors.com/blog1/display_data/blog_motor.jpeg&imgrefurl=http://www.teslamotors.com/blog2/%3Fp%3D30&start=33&h=480&w=640&sz=94&tbnid=fz6kCiYWdpqKuM:&tbnh=103&tbnw=137&hl=en&prev=/images%3Fq%3DTesla%2BMotors%26start%3D20%26um%3D1% 26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3De n-us%26sa%3DN&um=1)

May 27th, 2008, 10:04 AM
Crossbreeds of Land Vehicles 2 -
Motorcycle Teams
Electric Engine with Segway Principles
Initially sounds like a conventional motorcycle:
it has two wheels and must be balanced by the person driving it.
Then you hear these intriguing twists:

WHEEL CONFIGURATION: It has two wheels, but they are configured unlike traditional wheels in which a front wheel is inline with a rear wheel

"WHEELIE" OR NOT: It is technically incapable of doing a "wheelie," yet it looks and feels as though it is in a perpetual wheelie - whether at rest, or in motion

GYROSCOPE OR BUST: In order to function at all with its wheel configuration, it must use a gyroscopic assembly

Ben Gulak's Uno aka 'The Uno' (1 of 2)


A young Canadian inventor named Ben Gulak has created an innovative new electric motorbike ... Gulak, who’s 18 years old, says that the Uno is relatively simple to ride but, “takes a bit of getting used to because you have to learn to trust it.”

Electric Uno Bike: A Clean Commute?

By Justin Thomas (Virginia)
05 January 2008

A young Canadian inventor named Ben Gulak has created an innovative new electric motorbike that takes some of the lessons learned from the Segway device, but implements them in cooler package. The bike, called the Uno, looks from its profile like a strange powered unicycle but actually employs two wheels side-by-side. Riders lean forward to accelerate -- a feature used by the Segway, and can hit a top speed of 25 mph in its current configuration. The Uno also makes use of a set of gyros to enhance ease of balance, and the wheels are independently operated making turning much more precise.



Gulak, who’s 18 years old, says that the Uno is relatively simple to ride but, “takes a bit of getting used to because you have to learn to trust it.” The young inventor is currently courting investors for his Uno project, and truly believes that the vehicle might one day provide a green alternative for urban commuters.

“It has a range of about 2.5 hours and it is designed for the commute to work through busy towns” says Gulak. “ I believe this could be electrical alternative to the car. I’m just looking for an investor to help me get it into production.”

© TreeHugger.com 2008 (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/05/electric_uno_bike.php)

May 27th, 2008, 10:06 AM
Crossbreeds of Land Vehicles 2

Gulak's Uno (2 of 2)

I must say, that in many respects, this youngster's upbringing and interests were eerily similar to my own. :)



The 2008 National Motorcycle Show in Toronto has always been heavily influenced by the American V-twin crowd and highlights some of the area's top custom builders who have on display a fine array of one-off custom machines.

This year's show, however, had one very unusual one-off custom, the Uno. The orange and grey coloured Uno made its first public appearance balanced on its two side-by-side wheels and its footpegs. Looking more like it should have been ridden by George Jetson as he pulled up to his space platform, it looked out of place amid the other custom creations in the building. Perhaps that's why it garnered so much attention. Since no one has ever seen a machine like this, the first question asked by on-lookers was:

"What is it?"

Ultra Modern Meets Ultra Custom

The Uno and its inventor, 18-year-old Ben J. Poss Gulak, hung out in a booth neighbouring the show's special guest, Russell Mitchell of Exile Cycles and was the ultimate in contrast of custom creations. In fact, heavily tattooed Mitchell was seen riding the Uno around the show on Saturday evening. Ben, as you would expect, fielded a multitude of questions about his strange vehicle once people got over his young age. As Ben will tell you, the most common question was, "What's your background, how did you get into doing something like this?" A worthy question, and also my first question to Ben.

Ben grew up around his grand-father's basement machine shop. While he doesn't have any formal training, yet, Ben has spent much of his life making projects like 'model trains, rockets and other cool stuff.'

The education he gleaned from his grandfather, who was an engineer, and from simply being a tinkerer prompted Ben to enter into a grade nine school science fair with a 'real simple magnetic car that shot around a track using accelerator coils.' This is where I started to worry that this guy is going to start speaking a language that is way over my head. He must have noticed my eyes starting to glaze over and came back to earth for me. He did well at the grade nine science fair, and as a result, he was chosen to move up to the Regionals, then to the Nationals. He was then chosen to represent Canada at an International level.

"Team Canada consists of 18 people that compete against 54 other countries. The judges at this level all carry PHD's in their respective fields," Ben said. The 18-year-old continued, "There were astronauts and Nobel laureates speaking to the kids in attendance. It was a real eye opener, and after the competition I realized I really wanted to get into engineering."

About a month after the competition, Ben's grandfather passed away and his machine shop was willed to Ben. He continued to compete in science fairs with progressively more complicated projects thanks to the increased knowledge he gained as every year of high school passed.

A 2006 trip to China prompted Ben to consider a project in electric transportation after seeing the damage done by the internal combustion engine. "The smog was so thick, we never saw the sun," Ben said. He then realized that some form of electric transport was desperately needed in the same compact form as a motorcycle or bicycle to help ease congestion and save the environment.

Since Ben had competed at the International level of the science fair before, he was able to apply to Team Canada directly without going through the Regional and National levels of competition. It was this competition that he submitted his first Uno. A simple frame made from angle iron and mountain bike wheels, which were of course powered by electric motors.

The First Public Viewing

The Uno model you see here, Ben's third prototype, was unveiled at the National Show. After many hand drawn sketches and complex drawings, he began the machining work of building the basic drive/suspension assembly. He didn't know CAD software, but instead used the free Google software called Google SketchUp. Ironically, a salesman came knocking shortly after, trying to sell SolidWorks, a 3-D CAD software package. Ben explained he couldn't afford anything like that, but he did show the salesman what he was working on. The next day a copy of SolidWorks and a SolidWorks for Dummies book arrived, (smart salesman, he probably has a customer for life now).

Sometimes You Need a Little Help

While Ben did all the work to get the Uno this far, he was in need of some help. He needed tires mounted on his custom-made wheels and had heard of Motorcycle Enhancements in Oakville, Ontario. Ben called and spoke with owner, John Cosentini. It must have been fate as this was a call that would have a major impact on the finishing touches of the Uno. Cosentini, a well-known figure in the Oakville motorcycle scene, and an accomplished custom bike builder, mounted the tires and since he has an inquiring mind, he began asking a few questions. Ben sensed the curiosity and a couple of days later brought in his project. This time, with questions of his own for John. Ben needed a frame to complete the skeletal structure of the Uno and John suggested a Yamaha R1 frame because of its width between frame spars, a requirement needed to hold the drive/suspension portion of the Uno.

Ben also needed a body to wrap around the framework. Cosentini, a mechanic and never being one to turn down a challenge, took on the project. John and Ben began by making a simple frame which they could mount Styrofoam onto. They carved the Styrofoam into the general shape they were looking for and then began to apply drywall compound over top of the styrofoam. The drywall mud was used for a couple of reasons; if fiberglass was applied directly to the styrofoam, it would chemically melt it; also, the drywall mud could then be fine tuned by building up and sanding for the final shape. Latex primer and paint was applied to create a smooth surface and the latex would also allow for easier removal of the fiberglass from the mold.

The molding took six weeks to complete and only two hours to destroy once the fiberglass was set.

The body was then cut in half and sent to Roger Pouw at Extreme Measures Kustom Paint for final bodywork and paint.

Ben was now well on his way to having a physical entity, but had a lot of fine-tuning to do on the computer side of things. He had programmed the software to understand what the digital gyros were feeding into the ECU (electronic control unit) but couldn't quite get it right, after all, it's a pretty grey area. Soon he was on a plane to meet Trevor Blackwell in California. Blackwell is a robotics and gyro expert. After a couple of visits to Blackwell, Ben had the Uno in full operation mode. Ben claims a single gyro was easy to program, but this project was more complicated because the Uno has two gyros, one for forward and backward motion and the other is for turning, while keeping the forward or reverse momentum constant.

The Operation of the Uno

Operation of the 54.4 kg (120 lb) machine is simple, in fact it's so simple there are no controls except for an on-off switch. To go forward you simply push your body weight forward to tilt the machine. To back up, just lean back on the seat to tilt it backwards and back it goes. The farther you lean, the faster it accelerates. The gyro tells the ECU how much to accelerate and that in turn delivers the proper amount of current to the electric motors, one for each wheel. ...

Copyright © 2002-2008 Motorcycle Mojo Magazine. All Rights Reserved. (http://www.motorcyclemojo.com/articles/the-uno/)

May 27th, 2008, 10:24 AM
Gallery of Images 1

http://www.mojodropbox.com/the-uno/images/_MG_0650.jpg http://www.mojodropbox.com/the-uno/images/_MG_0648.jpg




All above photos are by Glenn Roberts

May 27th, 2008, 10:34 AM
Gallery of Images 2


http://www.mojodropbox.com/the-uno/images/_MG_0640.jpg http://www.mojodropbox.com/the-uno/images/_MG_0636.jpg




All above photos are by Glenn Roberts

May 27th, 2008, 10:59 AM
Gallery of Images 3

http://www.mojodropbox.com/the-uno/images/_MG_0616.jpg http://www.mojodropbox.com/the-uno/images/_MG_0567.jpg


http://www.mojodropbox.com/the-uno/images/_MG_0566.jpg http://www.mojodropbox.com/the-uno/images/_MG_0563.jpg

All above photos are by Glenn Roberts

May 27th, 2008, 11:53 AM
Crossbreeds of Land Vehicles 2

Postscript to Ben Gulak


Gulak first applied to MIT last year, but was waitlisted and decided to take a year off rather than settle for another school. So he spent the intervening year working on his invention--designed to be a practical commuting vehicle for dense urban areas--before applying again to MIT.

MIT news

Incoming frosh numero 'uno' on invention list

David Chandler, MIT News Office
May 14, 2008

Canadian teenager Ben Gulak got a bit of a head start on his training in mechanical engineering. As an incoming freshman in the MIT Class of 2012, he's already been featured on the cover of Popular Science magazine for having come up with one of the year's top 10 inventions.

In fact, his was number one.

Photo courtesy / Glenn Roberts,
Motorcycle Mojo Magazine

Gulak, who is just 18, will also be a guest on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno later this month, demonstrating his unique electric unicycle-like vehicle. He has been working on the project for two years, initially as a science fair project that made it all the way to second place in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (where he also won a special award for the project with the most marketability).

Gulak first applied to MIT last year, but was waitlisted and decided to take a year off rather than settle for another school. So he spent the intervening year working on his invention--designed to be a practical commuting vehicle for dense urban areas--before applying again to MIT.

"The perspective that MIT brings to engineering is really unique," he says. "I really like the experience that MIT brings to engineering, especially the hands-on approach."

The inspiration for the cycle came when Gulak visited China in 2006 and was amazed at the overwhelming pollution that completely blocked the view of the surrounding country as his airplane came in for landing. He realized that much of that smog was coming from the thousands of motor scooters whizzing through the streets and figured that there had to be a better way.

The design he came up with has two wheels mounted side by side, very close together, and powered by electric motors. A computerized control system keeps the vehicle balanced, in a system similar to the Segway personal transporter. But unlike that vehicle, which is ridden in a standing position and is not considered a street vehicle, Gulak's "Uno" is ridden like a motorcycle and designed for ordinary roads.

Photo courtesy / Glenn Roberts, Motorcycle Mojo Magazine

Ben Gulak, an incoming member of the MIT Class of 2012,
rides the 'Uno' - a scooter-like vehicle he invented
that was named the top invention of the year
by Popular Science.

Operating the Uno is so simple that it requires no controls at all. There is only an on-off switch. Once it's on, the driver accelerates by leaning forward, stops by leaning back, and steers by leaning to the side. By sitting upright, the driver can balance in one spot.

Gulak, who grew up just outside Toronto, has been tinkering most of his life. He started working with machine tools with his grandfather, who had a fully equipped machine shop in his house, "as early as I can remember, certainly by the time I was 5," he says. When his grandfather died in 2004, Gulak inherited all the equipment. "I only wish he was here now, for all the things that are going on," he says. "The more I get into engineering, the more I miss him."

Gulak knows that despite his achievements so far, he still has a lot to learn, and that's why he was determined to study at MIT, where he plans to take a dual major in mechanical engineering and business. But he's not abandoning his pet project: He has already formed a company to develop the Uno, set up a web site and filed for patents in several countries (the United States, Canada and the European Union for starters). And as a result of the recent publicity he has already started to get calls from "quite a few investors," some able to provide production facilities for the vehicle.

When he found out Jay Leno wanted him on his show, Gulak rushed to complete a whole new version of his prototype bike, incorporating several new features in time to demonstrate it on the program.

Why bother with school with such business prospects already in front of him? Gulak takes the long view. "I think the Uno has a lot of possibilities, and people really seem to like it. The reaction from the public and the press has been quite overwhelming. However, I really wouldn't want to jeopardize my future or limit my options by just going ahead without getting a degree. So I'm very committed to coming in the fall--MIT has a lot to offer and I'm really looking forward to it.

"The Uno has taught me how important it is to have a deep and varied knowledge base and a solid grounding in all the basic engineering principles," he says. "When I was working on the bike, much of what I learned came through through trial and error, so I know first hand the value and importance of increasing my knowledge base through education."

SOURCE (http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/gulak-tt0514.html)

June 4th, 2008, 05:02 PM
Hydrogen / Fuel-Cell Concept Cars/Vehicles
Uses either Hydrogen gas or Electro-Chemical Fuel-Cells
to motor a Concept Car / Vehicle. The intended output is
electrical power. Typical exhaust by-product is water -
either in liquid or vapour form.

Hydrogen Z.Car Concept:
Architect Zaha Hadid Designed Exterior to this Tri-Wheeled
Car/Vehicle before an Engine was


Hydrogen Z.CAR with speed adjusted wheelbase


August 1, 2006

The Z.CAR is a three-wheeled two-seat city car by prolific Iraki (1) designer Zaha Hadid and it’s one of the most interesting new designs we have seen in a while, using the hinged rear suspension to facilitate a variable (speed adjusted) wheelbase so the car can be better at both country and city driving. In town, the drive-by-wire Z.CAR sits more upright to offer the driver a better view in traffic and to make parking easier - a shortened wheelbase requires less space. At higher speeds the pod lowers around 10 degrees, on the hinged rear suspension, lengthening the wheelbase for greater high speed stability, moving the car’s centre of gravity closer to the road for better handling and tilting the teardrop shape backwards for lower frontal area and improved aerodynamics. The lightweight carbon-fibre composite Z.CAR is hydrogen powered by design, but “there is a functional prototype in development with a British manufacturer, with the fruits expected to be unveiled within 7-12 months” according to inside sources. We think the Z.CAR is ready for prime-time, but not in hydrogen format – there are alternatives but let’s hope a path to market is negotiated because this vehicle promises much. The projected price of the Z.CAR is said to be approximately UKP35,000 (US$65,000).

We’ve written about designer Zaha Hadid before, most recently about her futuristic Z. Island Kitchen. Hadid became the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004 and her work is becoming more prolific and prominent by the day.

The Z.CAR was commissioned by London art dealer Kenny Schachter who now has hopes that the car will make it to limited production. It recently debuted to the European public at the British International Motor Show 2006 and is currently on display as part of a major exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Not a great deal of information has been released about the Z.CAR’s finer details, though it is known that occupants can adjust the tint of the windows, which is probably a good thing given the size of the massive asymmetrical windscreen which swings upward to allow access and requires both passenger and driver to enter from the left of the vehicle. Using a thin LED film on the window surface means that the opacity of the windows can be varied by adjusting the voltage to the windows – the same concept is being introduced on some aircraft at present and smart glass is being increasingly used in architecture too. Similarly, video cameras point rearward and display their view scene on a small video screen.

Like almost every other car will a decade from now, the Z.CAR uses drive-by-wire technology.

All content copyright © gizmag 2003-2008 (http://www.gizmag.com/go/5940/)


Also Known As "Iraqi".

June 4th, 2008, 05:30 PM
Z.Car Gallery of Images 1
Assembly and Display of Physical Design Only

Architect Zaha Hadid

Courtesy Always Inspiring More


http://www.dezeen.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/bild8.jpg http://www.dezeen.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/bild11.jpg

Above are courtesy Dezeen Design Magazine



Above are courtesy Gizmag

June 4th, 2008, 06:30 PM
Hydrogen / Fuel-Cell Concept Cars/Vehicles

Hydrogen Z.Car Concept:
Art versus Car/Vehicle? Hydrogen or Other?


Art and erotica? Sleazy does it

By Anthony Haden-Guest
Published: June 10 2006

…Zaha Hadid, the Baghdad-born British architect whose paintings, drawings, plans and models now occupy most of New York's Guggenheim Museum, also blurs frontiers. Her work mostly relates to projects, built or unbuilt, and they are clearly "about" architecture, but they go way beyond being renderings. Even the more conventional projects look wholly at home on the wall as paintings.

So when Kenny Schachter, a New Yorker who runs Rove, a gallery in London's Kings Cross, decided to make a car that would be both a work of art and feasible transport, Hadid seemed the right choice. The result is the Z-car.

"We've been working with an engineering firm in Coventry [in the UK Midlands]," says Schachter. "The idea was to make this futuristic asymmetrical vehicle that would be green. There's a programme at Coventry University. They designed an engine that works on hydrogen fuel cells and has zero emissions. But the hydrogen is not readily available yet, so we're looking at a hybrid of electric and gas or some other technology with the capacity to switch to hydrogen when it becomes more widely disseminated."

The models of the Z-car at the Guggenheim have no engineering innards. They will be sold as sculpture in an edition of two.

"We're working on building one functioning, road-going prototype," says Schachter. "The goal is that within seven months from today we will have one, fully licensed in the UK. And if it works, there's a good response and we can discern some kind of demand for the vehicle, we'll have all the moulds and everything. We'll be in place to take it forwards to low-volume manufacture."

The Z-Car sits near the top of the seventh ring of the Guggenheim ramp. Peering down the ramp, I remembered that the architect Frank Lloyd Wright had first intended this design for a car park.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008 (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4fae7954-f819-11da-9481-0000779e2340.html?nclick_check=1)

June 4th, 2008, 09:22 PM
Requires no editorial comment or lead in. In fact it is probably best that none are offered. From salon.com. Please hold your cards and letters.


A giant vulva bicycle taxi hits the streets of Finland

What more is there to say?
Catherine Price

Jun. 04, 2008 | We were just alerted, via Metafilter, to one of the more unusual means of transport I've ever seen: a bicycle taxi topped with a giant vulva. Look at the photo ( 5C3%25A4%2Bkansaa/1135232714017. I can't make this shit up.

(*Do not click on this link at work unless you are prepared to explain to your boss why you are checking out photographs of an enormous rubber vagina.)

The best part about that particular article is that it was written in Finnish and translated for me by the Internet. I hear technology is getting better, but for the moment, I wouldn't give up your Rosetta Stone. To quote:

"According to the Mobile Female Monument has been surreal, and at the same time, a very humane work of art, which speaks the same time as the public the personal status. Far from view, wheeled vehicle crossing gogolilainen jättiläisnenä reveal a closer as seen from a woman's synnytyselimiksi. Pale invite passers-by ryömimään in the book and the birth there again."

But at least that selection is better than another Internet-produced quote. After claiming that "art has become much more diversified, then golden," my Google translator asserts that "Cunt brings the art of anything."

According to Jalopnik, the taxi is actually a creation of a Finnish artist named Mimosa Pale, who peddles the disembodied vagina through the streets three times a week as a protest against a world she thinks is too "man-parts-centric." (She encourages people to take a ride in its satin-lined folds -- providing a very funny photo opportunity for anyone brave enough to climb inside.)

Speaking of a world that is too man-parts-centric, Pale's creation reminds me of Jonathan Ames' contest to find the most phallic building in the world. (He had to include a special award for non-circumcised buildings.) It makes me want to launch a female version. So let's do it. Post links to the most yonic architectural creations you can find, and if we get enough participation, I'll follow up with a winner. My submission: the Cathedral of Christ the Light that's going up in Oakland. It looks like a giant glass vagina. Other entries?

-- Catherine Price

June 21st, 2008, 01:33 PM
Ford 'to make fewer big vehicles'


Ford will make 90,000 fewer vehicles this year

Car giant Ford has said it will cut its production of large trucks and large sports utility vehicles (SUVs) in favour of more fuel efficient models.

It will also delay the introduction of its new pick-up truck by two months.

The US economic slowdown has reduced sales and soaring fuel prices have put consumers off buying bigger vehicles.

Ford said it will make a loss this year and predicted that the worsening US economic situation would make it difficult for it to break even in 2009.

We view the move to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles as permanent
Ford president and chief executive Alan Mulally

"Demand for large trucks and SUVs [is] at one of the lowest levels in decades," said Ford president and chief executive Alan Mulally.

Ford's sales were down 16.8% last month compared to May 2007, according to industry analysts Autodata.

The company's new F-150 pick-up truck will now go on sale two months later than anticipated in the autumn of next year.

Ford said it expected to produce 90,000 fewer vehicles in the second half of 2008.

Production in the third quarter will now be 475,000 vehicles, 25% fewer than during the same period in 2007, Ford said.

'Responding to demand'

The company will increase the production of smaller vehicles including the Ford Focus sedan, the Ford Escape and the Mercury Mariner.

"We view the move to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles as permanent, and we are responding to customer demand," Mr Mulally said in a statement.

Ford: down 15.8%
General Motors: down 27.5%
Chrysler: down 25.4%
Honda: up 15.6%
Nissan: up 8.4%
Source: Autodata

Most of the production cuts will be achieved by extending the summer shut-downs, reducing production line speeds and cutting the number of shifts at some plants. Shifts will be added at factories making the smaller vehicles.

Ford has said it wants to reduce its workforce by 12% and further cuts cannot be ruled out. The company will announce further details of its restructuring plan when it announces its next set of financial results in July.

As a result of Ford's announcement, Standard and Poor's said it was reviewing its ratings for major car producers including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.

If it downgrades their investment ratings, their borrowing costs could increase.

Ford shares closed down 8.1% and General Motors fell 6.8%.

Earlier this month, General Motors said it was closing four SUV and truck factories in the US, Canada and Mexico in response to falling demand.

June 22nd, 2008, 06:15 AM
Hybrid Cars, SUVs and Trucks



Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid 2008
Honda Accord Hybrid Now
Honda Civic Hybrid Now
Honda Insight Hybrid Now
Hyundai Accent Hybrid 2008
Kia Rio Hybrid 2008
Lexus GS 450h Sedan Hybrid Now
Lexus GS 600h Sedan Hybrid 2008
Nissan Altima Hybrid Now
Saturn Aura Hybrid Now
Toyota Camry Hybrid Now
Toyota Prius Hybrid Now


Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid 2008
Ford Escape Hybrid Now
GMC Yukon Hybrid 2008
Lexus SUV RX 400h Hybrid Now
Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2008
Mercury Mariner Hybrid Now
Saturn VUE Hybrid Now
Toyota Highlander Hybrid Now


Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Now
GMC Sierra Hybrid Now

© 2008 NewWaveCars.com All Rights Reserved. (http://www.newwavecars.com/hybrid-cars.htm)

June 22nd, 2008, 06:13 PM
We must acknowledge that there are alternative cars/vehicles herein cited - such as roadable aircraft and water cars - that are oriented toward flexible design, not environmentally-friendly matters.

Nevertheless, a majority of the cars/vehicles are spurred on by these same environmental concerns.

Paradoxically, the article ahead is at odds with most types of cars/vehicles on the road, but would be in-line with the cars/vehicles just referenced. Specifically one vehicle mentioned in this piece, has been posted already, the Aptera ( We could have added many more to Alex Steffen's list.


Special Report
Cities: A Smart Alternative to Cars

Creating compact communities—and eliminating the need to drive everywhere—may be the best way to slash greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles

by Alex Steffen
11 February, 2008

The answer to the problem of the American car is not under its hood.

Today's cars are costly, dangerous, and an ecological nightmare. Transportation generates more than a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gases, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A portion of that comes from moving freight around but more than 20% is personal transportation. Our vehicle emissions are a major climate change contributor, but what comes out of the tailpipe is only a fraction of the total climate impact of driving a car, and the climate impact is in turn only a part of the environmental and social damage cars cause. Improving mileage will not fix these problems.

The best car-related innovation we have is not to improve the car but to eliminate the need to drive it everywhere we go. In the U.S,, we need to stop sprawl and build well-designed compact communities. The land-use patterns in our communities dictate not only how much we drive, but how sustainable we can be on all sorts of fronts. And sprawled-out land uses generate enormous amounts of automotive greenhouse gases. A recent major study, Growing Cooler, published by Smart Growth America, a coalition of national, state, and local organizations that addresses urban planning, makes the point clearly: If 60% of new developments were even modestly more compact, we'd emit 85 million fewer metric tons of tailpipe [car emissions] CO2 each year by 2030—as much as would be saved by raising the national mileage standards to 32 mpg.

So we know that density reduces driving. We know we're capable of building really dense new neighborhoods with plenty of open space, welcoming public places, thriving neighborhood retail, and a tangible sense of place. Just look at Vancouver, which has redeveloped its downtown core into a dense mix of retail, jobs, and housing. Not only is the result one of the most liveable cities in North America, but 40% of all downtown Vancouver households are car-free.

Overhauling the American City

We're also capable of using good design, infill development (new, denser development in vacant or underused lots), and infrastructure investments to transform existing medium-low density neighborhoods into walkable compact communities. Creating communities dense enough to save those 85 million metric tons of tailpipe emissions is (politics aside) easy. It is within our power to go much farther: to build whole metropolitan regions where the vast majority of residents live in communities that eliminate the need for daily driving, and make it possible for many people to live without private cars altogether.

Generally, we think of cars as things which are quickly replaced and buildings as things which rarely change. That will not be the case over the next few decades. Because of population growth, the ongoing development churn in cities with buildings being remodeled or replaced, citywide infrastructure projects and changing tastes, half of the American-built environment will be rebuilt between now and 2030. Done right, that new construction could enable a complete overhaul of the American city.

This is especially true since we don't need to change every home to transform a neighborhood. Many cities prevent denser development through bad building codes. But many inner-ring suburban neighborhoods, for instance, could become terrific places simply by allowing infill development. Strip-mall arterials could be converted to walkable mixed-use streets. This transition can happen in a few years.

We Can't Wait For Changing Auto Design

In comparison, it takes at least 16 years to replace 90% of our automotive fleet, and since it takes years to move a car design from prototype to production, it looks likely that the cars most people in the U.S. have available to drive in 2030 will not be all that different from the more efficient cars today. I'm optimistic that at least some radically engineered, nontoxic, fully recyclable electric cars will be on the road by then, but it's extremely unlikely that (barring massive government intervention) they'll be anything like the norm. We should not wait for automobile design to fix this problem.

There's no need to delay building bright green cities. Better design solutions for buildings, communities and, in many cases, infrastructure either already exist or are mid-development. And new innovation is exploding. Car-sharing is the best-known and perhaps most illustrative example but it's far from the only one. Barcelona runs the phenomenally successful "Bicing" program, renting bikes to anyone with a swipe card. Wired urban living might very well soon evolve into a series of systems for letting us live affluent, convenient lives without actually owning a lot of things.

When you build closer together, you also create the conditions for dramatic energy and cost savings. Researchers at Brookings note: "Transportation costs are a significant part of the average household budget. The average transportation expenditures for the median income household in the U.S. in 2003 was 19.1%, the highest expenditure after housing."

Dense Can Mean Efficient

But that 19.1% figure is the median. How much individual households spend varies enormously, and how much we pay for transportation is determined largely by the location of our homes. People who are living in extremely dense areas, getting around mostly on foot, by bike, and by transit, with the occasional use of a car-share vehicle, can find themselves paying a small fraction of that 19.1%.

What's more, the public burdens created by car-free or car-light lifestyles are so minimal that some municipalities (like Seattle) are actually finding that it makes good fiscal sense to encourage people to give up their cars by subsidizing transit passes and car-sharing memberships.

People in compact urban areas also pay substantially less in other energy costs. Dense neighborhoods are far more energy-efficient than even "green" sprawl, and innovation trends in green building seem to me to benefit compact development. Carbon taxes can incentivize even more energy-efficient developments—as they may soon in Portland.

Compact Communities Can Enhance Quality of Life

Pollution from a car isn't limited to its emissions and leakages. That new car smell? Toxic. We currently have no replacements for most of the bad components, and we don't appear to be much closer to a truly recyclable car. The best try of which I'm aware is the Model U, William McDonough's collaboration with Ford (F), which is an interesting start but a long, long way from a closed-loop car. Yes, there are a bunch of smart folks hard at work on these issues and on some pretty exciting designs — the 100-mpg Aptera, for instance, (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_11/b4025403.htm) or the proposed VDS Vision 200, a "hyperefficient four-to-six-passenger vehicle earmarked for India that will demonstrate a 95% reduction in embodied energy, materials, and toxicity," according to the Vehicle Design Summit.

But whether green cars arrive, building bright green cities is a winning strategy. Most arguments against land-use change presume that building compact communities is a trade-off; that by investing in walkable, denser neighborhoods we lose some or a lot of our affluence or quality of life. But what if the gains actually far outweigh the costs not only in ecological and fiscal terms but in lifestyle and prosperity terms as well?

Green, compact communities, smaller, well-built homes, walkable streets, and smart infrastructure can actually offer a far better quality of life than living in McMansion hintersprawl in purely material terms: more comfort, more security, more true prosperity. But even more to the point, they offer all sorts of nonmaterialistic but extremely real benefits that suburbs cannot. Opponents of smart growth talk about sacrificing our way of life, but it's not a sacrifice if what you get in exchange is superior.

Just as a home is more than the building in which it resides, a life is more than the stuff we pile up around it. We all know this to be true. In building bright green cities we do more than help avert a monstrous disaster for which we are largely responsible. We might just awaken on the other side of this fight to find ourselves prosperously at home in the sort of communities we thought lost forever, leading more creative, connected, and carefree lives.

This is an edited version of an article (http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007800.html) that first appeared on Worldchanging.com.

Alex Steffen has been the Executive Editor of Worldchanging (http://worldchanging.com/) since he co-founded the organization in 2003. He was the editor of Worldchanging's first book, Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century (Abrams, 2006).

Copyright 2000-2008 by The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. All rights reserved. (http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/feb2008/id20080211_959496.htm)

August 22nd, 2008, 05:16 AM
Vehicles that use Natural Gas

Honda Civic GX CNG aka
Honda Civic GX NGV

As you may know, the gas of choice for Alternative Motor Cars is Hydrogen NOT Natural Gas. And there are several reasons why, not the least of which Hydrogen can be made to be relatively safe in the worse case scenario of an accident.

Nevertheless, there are pluses for Natural Gas cars that will be brought out in the following post on this version being sold on a Honda Civic platform. Perhaps the three leading pluses, in no particular order: convenience (same gas as you probably use at home), relatively low operating cost, and significant reduction in pollutants.

Note that CNG refers to "Compressed Natural Gas," and NPV substitutes for "Natural Gas Vehicle." As these terms relate to this Honda they are more or less interchangeable. NGV, however, is the more common of the two terms in referencing vehicles of this type.


March 2008

2008 Honda Civic GX CNG: First Drive
This natural gas car is like the regular sedan but cleaner, on a gasoline-free diet, and with a shorter range

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/resources/images/cars/new-cars/first-drives/2008-honda-civic-gx-cng-first-look-3-08/overview/21180_honda-civic-ngv-2008-l-3-4.jpg http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/resources/images/cars/new-cars/first-drives/2008-honda-civic-gx-cng-first-look-3-08/overview/21182_honda-civic-ngv-2008_rear.jpg


Overview. The Honda Civic GX has one trick up its sleeve: Its four-cylinder engine runs on compressed natural gas instead of gasoline. The resulting emissions are negligible enough to earn the car California's partial zero-emissions (PZEV) status, and the one we bought has been attaining a gasoline-equivalent of nearly 32 mpg, which is very good.

But this green adaptation of the Civic sedan brings a few compromises. The most serious is that natural-gas refueling stations are few and far between. There are only three in Connecticut, although some other states have many more. Currently, there are about 1,600 CNG stations nationwide, versus almost 200,000 gasoline stations.

The GX's CNG tank also occupies a good deal of trunk space and once filled, it holds the energy of just eight gallons of gasoline. Honda rates the GX's cruising range at 220 to 250 miles, but that might be optimistic. In our car, the low-fuel light has been coming on after only 150 miles of driving. That warning indicates only 30 miles left, which provides little leeway to look for a fill-up location given their scarcity in our area. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine boasts only 113 horsepower instead of the gasoline models' 140 horsepower, so the GX is a little lazy when merging. The initial price is a little steep—we paid $25,185 for ours—but right now that's offset by a sales-tax exemption and a generous $4,000 federal tax credit.

Initial impressions. The GX drives similarly to a regular Civic, with a good ride and sound handling, although the handling does feel a little less crisp than in the EX version we've tested. The powertrain, with its five-speed automatic transmission, operates smoothly. The reduced engine power makes merging onto a highway a little slower than it is with the Civic LX. As in other Civics, road noise remains pronounced.

As for the economics of running a natural-gas engine, that varies from place to place. Prices per gasoline gallon-equivalent range from $1.65 to $3.49 right now. Some stations keep the cost low, comparable to the price of domestic natural gas, some artificially raise it to the price of diesel.

To fill up the GX, you connect a thin rubber hose from the dispensing pump to a snap-on receiving nozzle on the car. Then you rotate a valve and lift a handle on the pump. The process is just a little slower than pumping gasoline. Consumers in California and New York who have natural gas piped to their home can opt for the "Phill," a device that hooks up to a household natural gas line. Since it has to pressurize household gas to 3,600 psi, it takes the Phill several hours to replenish the GX's tank. The Phill costs about $3,500 to buy. A $1,000 federal tax credit defrays some of the cost, and additional subsidies of up to $2,000 are available from various environmental authorities. The ability to refuel overnight helps address the limitations with fuel pump availability.

CR's Take. If the natural gas infrastructure in your area is well developed, and if you plan to use the car mostly for routine commuting, then the GX makes sense economically and environmentally. But taking a long trip requires prior knowledge of refueling sites and the tiny trunk means you'll also be traveling light.

Copyright © 2005-2008 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/first-drives/2008-honda-civic-gx-cng-first-look-3-08/overview/honda-civic-gx-cng-first-look.htm)

August 22nd, 2008, 07:34 AM
Vehicles that use Natural Gas

Honda Civic GX CNG aka
Honda Civic GX NGV


American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) awarded the Civic the green ribbon as the greenest vehicle of 2008. That’s the fifth consecutive year it’s taken the top prize.

The Cleanest Cars on Earth?: Honda Civic GX and Other Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs)

Written by Clayton B. Cornell
Published on May 5th, 2008


Clean Burning Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) are hot commodities in some parts of the country, where fuel can sell for as low as $0.63 per gallon.

Unlike the world’s most fuel efficient car (VW’s 285 MPG bullet), the Honda Civic GX looks like a standard passenger vehicle. What makes it special is what you don’t see: tailpipe emissions that are often cleaner than ambient air.

The Civic GX is powered by compressed natural gas—methane—the simplest and cleanest-burning hydrocarbon available. With an economical 113-hp, 1.8-Liter engine, the EPA has called the Civic the “world’s cleanest internal-combustion vehicle” with 90% cleaner emissions than the average gasoline-powered car on the road in 2004.

And get this: in Utah, natural gas can be purchased for $0.63 per gallon.

At $24,590, buying a new Civic GX won’t exactly break your bank account, especially since up to $7,000 will come back to you in the form of state and federal tax credits. But don’t expect to find one easily. The car is only sold in two states, New York and California, and Honda can’t build them fast enough. One dealership said they have over 80 people waiting to buy.

It’s fairly obvious why densely populated states would be interested, especially since natural gas is a readily available source of heating fuel for many parts of the country. Most importantly, the Civic is the Eagle Scout of emissions certifications: it qualified for the California Air Resources Board’s Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) status, which means that it’s a Super-Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle (SULEV) with zero-evaporative emissions. To qualify for AT-PZEV, the Civic must also carry a 15-year/150,000-mile warranty on emissions equipment. It also meets EPA’s strict Tier-2, Bin-2 and ILEV certification.

Despite getting the equivalent of a good but not quite amazing 36 MPG highway/24 MPG city, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) awarded the Civic the green ribbon as the greenest vehicle of 2008. That’s the fifth consecutive year it’s taken the top prize.

So what’s the downside?

Drawbacks to the Civic GX and other Compressed Natural Gas Vehicles

Earlier this week I was clued-in to the explosion in popularity of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles in Southern Utah, and their potential to overwhelm the 91 refueling stations already in place there.

That’s the biggest drawback to NGVs: There are only about 1,600 CNG stations nationwide (compared to 200,000 gas stations), though some areas (like Utah and California) are better served than others. To see where these stations are, see the alternative fuel locater from Mapquest (under #2 on that post).

One way to get around this is to buy your own natural gas refueling station. Since a large number of us burn natural gas for heat, this doesn’t require much more than setting up a pump. The refueling kits, made by FuelMaker, will set you back about $3,500, but that can be offset by substantial tax credits.

Second drawback: since natural gas is a compressed fuel, the tank takes up some trunk space, and only holds the equivalent of 8 gallons of gasoline. Honda estimates the vehicle’s range to be 220 to 250 miles, although Consumer Reports claimed it was closer to 180 miles.

NGV enthusiasts are getting around range limitations (and vehicle scarcity) by converting their own vehicles to run on natural gas and adding spare tank capacity. Throwing extra tanks in the bed of a truck, for example, can boost driving range to around 600 miles. The best part about converting a vehicle (as opposed to the Civic GX) is that if you run out of CNG, the system automatically switches back to gasoline.

Third drawback: NGVs don’t provide that great of a reduction in greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions when compared to their gasoline counterparts.

According to the industry group Natural Gas Vehicles for America (NGVA), the reduction is only 20%, which is about the same GHG reduction you get from corn-based ethanol. That doesn’t sound too impressive, but it’s still a reduction, and clean air could be worth it.

The big question mark is natural gas supply. If large amounts of biomethane can be produced from biomass (which is probably already done at your local landfill), the emissions reductions would be much greater.

But What About Natural Gas Supply?

Natural gas supplies 20% of all energy use in the US. According to NGVA: “Even if the number of NGVs were to increase 100-fold in the next ten years to 11,000,000 or roughly 5% of the entire vehicle market (a formidable goal), the impact on natural gas supplies and the natural gas delivery infrastructure would be small — equating to about 4 percent of total U.S. natural gas consumption.”

At first glance, that sounds pretty good, but any increase in natural gas usage means importing more fuel.

Taking a look at data from the Energy Information Administration, the US uses about 21.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year, most of which is produced domestically (18.5 trillion cubic feet) with the difference being imported (4.2 trillion cubic feet). Proved natural gas reserves in the US amount to about 211 trillion cubic feet. If my math is correct, without taking into account any increase in demand, the US only has about 11.5 years of natural gas left. After that, we’re back to square one: importing oil from Russia, Qatar, Iran, and Saudi Arabia

Like petroleum, two-thirds of world natural gas supply exists in just a few countries. If we’re at all worried about having domestic (let alone renewable) energy sources, basing the future of US transportation on natural gas puts us right back in the same position we’re in now.

Also like petroleum, there is an “infinite supply” argument: “Don’t worry, we won’t run out… promise.” NGVA says that if we can tap into methane hydrate ice formations that exist under 1000 feet of water at the bottom of the arctic oceans, we’ll be just fine. Right now, this is about as plausible as time travel, and methane hydrates serve a very important function—they’re a crucial sink for carbon dioxide in the global carbon cycle.


Whether or not we’ve learned our lesson about importing foreign energy, natural gas could still provide a functional infrastructure and technology for transition to hydrogen fuel cells. Natural gas is currently the number one feedstock for producing hydrogen, and refueling stations along California’s hydrogen highway may produce the fuel by reforming natural gas on-site. Basically, this gives us a transition fuel until we figure out how to make hydrogen sustainably.

As for the Honda Civic GX, it may be the cleanest-burning vehicle on the market, but the drawbacks listed above are likely to keep NGVs out of mainstream production for the forseeable future. It seems unlikely that natural gas will stay as cheap as it currently is in Utah, but relatively low pricing could keep the car’s popularity high in some areas. It will be interesting to see how things resolve there. …


Photo Credit: Honda

Gas 2.0 is a Green Options Media Production. Some Rights Reserved. (http://gas2.org/2008/05/05/the-cleanest-cars-on-earth-honda-civic-gx-and-other-natural-gas-vehicles-ngvs/#more-401)

August 22nd, 2008, 09:20 AM
They need to work on it a bit, but it sounds pretty neat.

Why they are selling the home-pumps for so much ($3500) i do not know. Maybe they have additional compressor pumps...

Also, when they talk about availability of stations, are they including any place that SELLS compressed gas (Propane, CO2, etc) in their lists? Maybe instead of depending on a special pump or nozzle, these guys should get teh message and try to use something a bit more standard so, if worst came to worst, you could hook up your barbeque's tank to your car to get that last 20 miles to the depot/station.

Oh, 118 HP is seriously lagging. I know that it is hard to get efficient power, but still, 118?

August 23rd, 2008, 05:23 AM
Sorry Ninjahedge, but it is not 118hp, it is 113hp ... so it is worse than you thought. :D

There is no other way to put it: the horsepower is meager, no matter which way you phrase it - even if it is only compared to other Civic models. And keep in mind, that this is currently the most expensive Civic sold, with regard to base price.

But when you compare this Honda NGV to Toyota’s hybrid Prius - since there is no CNG equivalent – the Honda GX comes out better: 113hp@6300rpm versus Toyota’s 110hp@5000rpm. (The torque/rpm translates to 109@4300 for Honda GX versus 82@4200 for Toyota Prius.) The price differential is not much different between these two models if you compare the 4 Door versions, and both vehicles are touting environmental responsibility, not performance.

Where Toyota Prius is markedly superior, however, is MPG, and that is probably the result of Honda benchmarking against the standard Civic, not the hybrid - which they already directly compete with a separate model. Moreover, that inability to fuel "on the go" in most places, makes the GX even more of a commuter car than any hybrid.

With any kind of serious "National Energy Plan," including a built-in "bridge strategy," this could all easily change in a hurry, given that Natural Gas is already available in most areas of this nation from a sourcing standpoint. Just a matter of building appropriate fueling stations, or additions to current stations, by adapting current techniques to that purpose. But the "devil is in the details": how would you encourage and then properly regulate this emergent industry?; could a bridge strategy prevent a more fundamental change?; could this idea further accelerate the decline of this American automobile industry, and things associated with it? Then there is that nagging import problem a few years out that would have to be accounted for in some way.

Yet we have the example of Honda, going ahead with this NGV strategy for almost ten years now, and a number of other alternatives in the pipeline that haven't made it to market yet, like "solar assist." Clearly this effort isn't motivated by pure altruism. I suspect that this company, along with several others, will develop these sundried technologies into a post-gasoline world, for which some nations will be ill prepared to join in and take advantage.


August 23rd, 2008, 07:58 AM
Videos of
Honda Civic GX CNG/NGV and "Phill"

Jay Leno Tests Honda NGV

To Access Video
(preceded by commercial)

http://media.popularmechanics.com/images/leno-green-garage-pt6.gif (http://www.jaylenosgarage.com/video/video_player.shtml?vid=193319)
photograph – Courtesy Popular Mechanics; video – NBC Universal and Honda

Runtime: 07:35
(including 30 second commercial)

Honda Civic GX Natural Gas Vehicle:
Kelley Blue Book's Take

To Access Video

http://automobiles.honda.com/images/2008/civic-gx/exterior-gallery/gal_lg01.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qy5gNJO2pNM)
photograph – Courtesy Honda; video – YouTube / kbb

Runtime: 07:01

MotorWeek (2005 Models) -
Home "Phill" Up ... With Natural Gas

To Access Video

http://z.about.com/d/alternativefuels/1/7/R/2/-/-/Phill_appliance.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgcNJWaO_Fw)
photograph – Courtesy z.about.com; video – YouTube / edmundjenks

Runtime: 05:09

August 24th, 2008, 08:42 AM
Gallery of Images
Honda Civic GX CNG/NGV

Honda Motors, courtesy city-data / nico7

Pacific Honda

Courtesy Honda

Courtesy Desinformado

August 24th, 2008, 05:24 PM
This fits into this thread I believe...

Today I had the pleasure of driving the Bronx Zoo MadagasCAR. It's a promotional car offered through Zipcar. I have been wanting to drive a Prius for a long time so this was the perfect opportunity.

P.S. I have no idea who the fellow to the right is. He was pulling weeds (I think) from the sidewalk cracks when I pulled up.

August 25th, 2008, 09:54 AM
Zeph, my bad on the 5 horses, but it goes further to illustrate my point.

I think the whol auto industry should start looking more into this though. We have PRODUCTION SEDANS that get over 300HP! Why? What reason in Gods Green Earth do we have for a 4 door to go from 0-60 in less than 6 seconds? (no specific stat there, just illustrative).

The obvious thing is that we want something that has power. Like MANY things in our lives, they start to embody who we want to be, who we want to be seen as, what we want to represent. But with gas getting expensive, we might get a pushback on this.

I would love to see a 200hp hybrid that could get 40mpg compared to a similar 250 or 300hp standard that gets 20. The two biggest problems that hybrids, economy cars, and electrics have had is their (well fitting) stereotype as geeky/granola Green vehicles that have no real spunk, handling, towing or other capacities.

No ba.....male reproductive organs. ;)

Now, it can be argued that these, um, round thnigs are not needed, but need and want are two different things that don't always walk hand-in-hand.

If some of these guys will jump on this gas crunch now, maybe we can get even STANDARD gasolene powered vehicles up and over 30MPG without any loss to power or performance.

Until that happens, you will only get the typical "someone" to buy a hybrid, or NGV, or electric, when their "need" overpowers their "want".

August 25th, 2008, 07:59 PM
An NGV - Gasoline car is very interesting to me. Most driving would be done on the Nat Gas, while long trips would be on gasoline. A conversion kit plus a Phill station would be approx $ 7k. A lot of gas can be purchased for $7k though.

Liberating myself from the gas station does appeal to my Inner-Geek.

Maybe I should convert my Hot-Rod to Nat Gas. It's higher octane would allow me to bump up the compression on that monster mill. :cool:

October 25th, 2008, 06:56 AM
Tesla Section starts here (, and spans pages 4 through 5.
Tesla update ahead:


Extraordinary times require focus

by Elon Musk
Chairman of the Board, Product Architect and CEO
Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

These are extraordinary times. The global financial system has gone through the worst crisis since the Great Depression, and the effects are only beginning to wind their way through every facet of the economy. It’s not an understatement to say that nearly every business will be impacted by what has unfolded in the past weeks, and this is true for Silicon Valley as well.

At Tesla, we have decided that the wise course of action is to focus on our two revenue producing business lines - the Roadster and powertrain sales to other car companies. In the Roadster, Tesla has a unique product with a large order book that continues to grow, despite softness in the automobile sector. Our powertrain business is profitable today and is also growing rapidly.

Our goal as a company is to be cash-flow positive within six to nine months. To do so, we must continue to ramp up our production rate, improve Roadster contribution margin and reduce operating expenses. At the same time, we must maintain high production quality and excellent customer service.

For this critical phase of the company, the scope of my role at Tesla will expand from executive chairman and product architect to CEO. With SpaceX now having reached orbit and about to enter its third year of profitability, I can afford to increase time allocated to Tesla. Ze’ev Drori, who has made extraordinary progress with the company over the last year as CEO, will stay on the board of directors as vice-chairman and continue to help Tesla make the right decisions. It has been and will continue to be a pleasure and an honor working with Ze’ev.

Special Forces Philosophy and Consolidation of Operations

One of the steps I will be taking is raising the performance bar at Tesla to a very high level, which will result in a modest reduction in near term headcount. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that the people that depart Tesla for this reason wouldn’t be considered good performers at most companies – almost all would. However, I believe Tesla must adhere more closely to a special forces philosophy at this stage of its life if we aspire to become one of the great car companies of the 21st century.

There will also be some headcount reduction due to consolidation of operations. In anticipation of moving vehicle engineering to our new HQ in San Jose, we are ramping down and will close our Rochester Hills office near Detroit. Good communication, tightly knit engineering and a common company culture are of paramount importance as Tesla grows.

What Does This Mean for the Model S?

Tesla is absolutely committed to development of our next generation vehicle, to be unveiled early next year. However, we are going to reduce activity on detailed production engineering, tooling and commitments to suppliers until our Department of Energy loan guarantee becomes effective.

The DOE loan guarantee will cover most of the Model S program at a very low cost of capital compared with raising equity financing in what could quaintly be described as a “bear market.” The loan funding can only be drawn down after we receive environmental approval for our new 89-acre consolidated headquarters in the city of San Jose. If all goes reasonably well, we will receive that approval in Q2 next year.

The net result will be a delay in start of production of the Model S of roughly six months to mid-2011. On the plus side, we will spend the extra time refining the vehicle design and powertrain technology, so the car will end up being slightly better.


The Tesla investors and I are unequivocally dedicated to ensuring the success of Tesla. If you have bought a car from Tesla or are thinking of doing so, please know that I personally stand behind delivering a product that you will love and continuing to develop new models in the future. We are not far from being cash flow positive, but, even if that threshold ends up being further than expected, I will do whatever is needed to ensure that Tesla has more than sufficient capital to get there.

I’d like to thank the loyal customers of Tesla that have stood by us through thick and thin. Beyond delivering a great Roadster, Tesla will find other ways to reward that loyalty, including among other things an exclusive preview of our upcoming Model S sedan.

© 2008 Tesla Motors, Inc. All rights reserved. (http://www.teslamotors.com/blog2/?p=65)

October 31st, 2008, 02:18 PM

10/30/2008 10:16 PM

It Could Be A Gas To Own An Electric Car


Chevrolet promises that a car that runs purely on electricity will be available by 2010. NY1’s Technology reporter Adam Balkin filed the following report.

Chevrolet has unveiled the Volt, an “extended range electric vehicle” that can be plugged in and recharged at night, like a cell phone. Fully recharged, the Volt is designed to take the average American to and from work or errands without ever using a single drop of gasoline.

“What it means is you have the ability to drive pure electric for 40 miles,” said Frank Webber of Chevrolet. “But after 40 miles, even after the battery is depleted, you have a small engine generator set generating electricity and providing you with several hundred miles of driving. It's a flex-fuel engine, so it can run off ethanol or gasoline.”

However, if the air conditioning is running in a Volt, its ratio of 40 miles in one charge could drop.

Unlike its plug-in hybrid competitors, the Volt’s engine is never directly fed by gasoline. Instead, the gas feeds a generator, which in turn feeds the engine electricity.

In terms of performance, the Volt goes zero to 60 in under nine seconds and tops out at 100 mph.

“You can experience a launch feeling in the volt like a V6, 150-horsepower engine but the big difference is everything happens without noise,” said Webber.

There are also no harmful emissions.

Some may be concerned about a spike in their electric bill, but developers say the cost of charging up the car each night would be much less that what it cost to run an air conditioner or home heating. Developers estimate it will cost about 80 cents a day to operate the car, somewhere between the cost of running a water heater and a clothes dryer.

“Adding a Volt to your household, if you get off-peak rates from your utility company, is probably only adding a little more than 10 percent to your electricity bill,” said Webber.

Possibly the best thing about the Volt is that will go on sale in 2010, about a year after competing plug-in hybrids hit the market. Its price has not yet been set.

Copyright © 2008 NY1 News. All rights reserved.

October 31st, 2008, 03:36 PM
And it does not look half bad either!

They are starting to get the right message, but the charge time is still long, the HP modest and the range kind of limiting.....

Hopefully they will get better by the time I am looking for a new car!

November 11th, 2008, 11:28 PM


November 11, 2008, 12:26 pm
Does Natural Gas Have an Ally in Rahm Emanuel?

By Clifford Krauss

(Photo: Associated Press)

Rahm Emanuel has Barack Obama’s ear.
Will he fill it with notions of natural gas cars?

Just a few months ago, momentum appeared to be building for cars fueled by compressed natural gas as a way to replace foreign oil imports.

T. Boone Pickens, the former oil magnate with a big stake in natural gas distribution, and Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas producer, poured tens of millions of dollars into television commercials promoting the idea, and a number of bills were introduced in Congress offering tax incentives to automakers and consumers to switch to natural gas vehicles.

None of those bills have gone very far and the natural gas boom on the airwaves has gone quiet.

Meanwhile, natural gas was dealt a major blow in California with the defeat of Proposition 10. That ballot initiative, which would have created $5 billion in general obligation bonds to promote purchases of compressed natural gas and other alternative-fuel vehicles, went down in a landslide at the polls — despite heavy financial backing from Mr. Pickens.

But new hope for natural gas fuel interests may be on the way: When President-elect Barack Obama chose Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois to be his chief of staff, he chose one of Congress’s biggest proponents of compressed natural gas cars.

Last summer Mr. Emanuel introduced legislation (PDF) that would mandate automakers to build 10 percent of their fleet with natural gas fueled vehicles by 2018. His bill also included tax credits and other incentives and mandates to spread natural gas pumps to filling stations across the country.

The bill has gone nowhere, but natural gas stalwarts have expressed optimism upon Mr. Emanuel’s selection. Tom Price, a Chesapeake vice president, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying it “could be quite advantageous” having Mr. Emanuel at the president’s side as one of his closest advisers.

And with the auto industry looking for help urgently, Mr. Emanuel is going to have a chance to press his case.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/11/does-natural-gas-have-an-ally-in-rahm-emanuel/)

November 12th, 2008, 07:21 AM
Air Cars: A New Wind for America's Roads

A new carmaker has a plan for cheap, environmentally friendly cars to be built all over the country.

By Jim Ostroff, Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter

October 28, 2008

An air-powered car? It may be available sooner than you think at a price tag that will hardly be a budget buster. The vehicle may not run like a speed racer on back road highways, but developer Zero Pollution Motors is betting consumers will be willing to fork over $20,000 for a vehicle that can motor around all day on nothing but air and a splash of salad oil, alcohol or possibly a pint of gasoline.

The expertise needed to build a compressed air car, or CAV, is not rocket science, either. Years-old, off-the-shelf technology uses compressed air to drive old-fashioned car engine pistons instead of combusting gas or diesel fuel to create a burst of air to do the same thing. Indian carmaker Tata has no qualms about the technology. It has already bought the rights to make the car for the huge Indian market.

The air car can tool along at a top speed of 35 mph for some 60 miles or so on a tank of compressed air, a sufficient distance for 80% of consumers to commute to work and back and complete daily chores.

On highways, the CAV can cruise at interstate speeds for nearly 800 miles with a small motor that compresses outside air to keep the tank filled. The motor isn't finicky about fuel. It will burn gasoline or diesel as well as biodiesel, ethanol or vegetable oil.

This car leaves the highest-mpg vehicles you can buy right now in the dust. Even if it used only regular gasoline, the air car would average 106 mpg, more than double today's fuel sipping champ, the Toyota Prius. The air tank also can be refilled when it's not in use by being plugged into a wall socket and recharged with electricity as the motor compresses air.

Automakers aren't quite ready yet to gear up huge assembly line operations churning out air cars or set up glitzy dealer showrooms where you can ooh and aah over the color or style. But the vehicles will be built in factories that will make up to 8,000 vehicles a year, likely starting in 2011, and be sold directly to consumers.

There will be plants in nearly every state, based on the number of drivers in the state. California will have as many as 17 air car manufacturing plants, and there'll be around 12 in Florida, eight in New York, four in Georgia, while two in Connecticut will serve that state and Rhode Island.

The technology goes back decades, but is coming together courtesy of two converging forces. First, new laws are likely to be enacted in a few years that will limit carbon dioxide emissions and force automakers to develop ultra-high mileage cars and those that emit minuscule amounts of or no gases linked with global warming. Plug-in electric hybrids will slash these emissions, but they'll be pricey at around $40,000 each and require some changes in infrastructure -- such as widespread recharge stations -- to be practical. Fuel cells that burn hydrogen to produce only water vapor still face daunting technical challenges.

Second, the relatively high cost of gas has expedited the air car's development. Yes, pump prices have plunged since July from record levels, but remain way higher than just a few years ago and continue to take a bite out of disposable income. Refiners will face carbon emission restraints, too, and steeply higher costs will be passed along at the pump.

Zero Pollution Motors doesn't plan to produce the cars in the U.S. Instead, it plans to charge $15 million for the rights to the technology, a fully built turnkey auto assembly plant, tools, machinery, training and rights to use trademarks.

The CAV has a big hurdle: proving it can pass federal crash tests. Shiva Vencat, president and CEO of Zero Pollution Motors, says he's not worried. "The requirements can be modeled [on a computer] before anything is built and adjusted to ensure that the cars will pass" the crash tests. Vencat also is a vice president of MDI Inc., a French company that developed the air car.


November 12th, 2008, 07:45 AM
Back to the Future ... (

November 12th, 2008, 09:38 AM
Ugly Ugly little cars.

No matter how good a meal tastes, you still have to make sure it does not look like a pile of dog turds to get people to buy it en masse.

All these econocars have one major flaw, they look like toys. You HAVE to check your ego at the door to pony up for one of these guys.

I just hope that they use this as a base for their design and go further with it. Make a car that can compare with what is available now with combustion engines. Once yuo get close to that, people will be willing to lose a bit of face to save a bit of $$ or feel better about themselves environmentally.

November 20th, 2008, 11:05 AM

Mini E concept | LA Auto Show
Coming Soon, Mini’s Electric Kool Aid Test


The Mini E concept in Los Angeles.

Published: November 19, 2008

Is it real? Is Mini, the iconic minicar maker, ready to take the plunge into electric vehicles? Only time, and 500 models set to be released for long-term test drives, will tell.

What they said: “The know-how gained from this project will help us perfect the Mini E’s innovative drive system and speed production of a mega city car,” said Natalie Bauters, a Mini spokeswoman.

What they didn’t say: While General Motors has been plodding along and burning through the dollars developing its Chevrolet Volt “extended-range” electric vehicle (now due in late 2010), Mini, with help from its parent, BMW, took a mere 10 months to develop the Mini E.

What makes it tick? A 150-kilowatt electric motor that produces 204 horsepower, a high-performance lithium-ion battery pack (good for 150 miles on a full charge) and a single-stage helical gearbox that sends the power out to the front wheels. From a standing start, it will hit 60 m.p.h. in about 8.5 seconds; maximum speed is limited to 95 m.p.h. Unfortunately, the battery pack’s size wipes out the two rear seats, making the Mini E a somewhat impractical two-seater.

How much, how soon? Not available in any store. But the Mini E will start appearing on a street near you (if you live in the Los Angeles or New York City metro areas) early next year. You can sign up on a special Web site {here (http://www.minispace.com/en_us/projects/electric-mini-e/)} for a place in line, to be considered to lease one of the 500 test vehicles for a year. Warning: some 9,500 people have already signed up, the company says. But don’t despair, the field could be winnowed down considerably by the monthly lease fee of $850.

How’s it look? Like good green fun, in a convenient to-go size container.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/automobiles/autoshow/mini-e.html)

November 20th, 2008, 11:13 AM

BMW launches Mini E electric car


BMW's Mini brand has joined the growing number of car-makers saying they will have EVs ready for private individuals to buy. BMW announced Oct 18 it will build 500 units of the Mini E model by the end of 2008, for a US pilot program.

The car will make its public debut at the Los Angeles car show next month, which -- at a guess -- means the battery powered Minis will start to hit streets in early 2009. It will be sold to both corporate customers and some private individuals in California, New York and New Jersey, BMW said.

BMW says the Mini E's lithium-ion batteries can be recharged in only two-and-a-half hours -- most EVs today take 6-8 hours -- using a special 'wallbox' outlet. The wallbox is one touch that makes the Mini E stand out from the EV crowd. Mini will install the boxes in tester's garages and they'll provide greater amperage than a standard mains socket. Hence the fast charging time.

One obvious drawback here is that the batteries are bulky, even though they’re a big improvement over earlier generations of batteries. The conventional Mini Cooper is a four-seater, but the Mini E is only a two-seater, with the rear seat taken up by batteries.

The Mini E’s electric motor generates 204 hp and BMW says the car has a range of up to 150 miles. Top speed is 95 mph, but driving that fast cuts the range.

Copyright © 2008 CBS Interactive Limited. All rights reserved. (http://www.smartplanet.com/news/transport/10001775/bmw-launches-mini-e-electric-car.htm)

November 20th, 2008, 11:25 AM
What makes it tick? A 150-kilowatt electric motor that produces 204 horsepower, a high-performance lithium-ion battery pack (good for 150 miles on a full charge) and a single-stage helical gearbox that sends the power out to the front wheels. From a standing start, it will hit 60 m.p.h. in about 8.5 seconds; maximum speed is limited to 95 m.p.h. Unfortunately, the battery pack’s size wipes out the two rear seats, making the Mini E a somewhat impractical two-seater.

Very nice, but a frown on the battery pack size. Hopefully we will find a way to get around that, but for a city vehicle (with no real NEED for a full back seat) this looks really sweet.

I wonder if they tooled around with the idea of solar powered roof... They probably can't get that to look good (or cost less) yet though....

(I was trying to figure out how they were going to plug it in here in the city though. Not many streets or garages have outlets available.......)

November 20th, 2008, 11:26 AM

http://www.smartplanet.com/i/s/news/transport/bmw_mini_e_09.jpg http://www.smartplanet.com/i/s/news/transport/bmw_mini_e_01.jpg

http://www.smartplanet.com/i/s/news/transport/bmw_mini_e_08.jpg http://www.smartplanet.com/i/s/news/transport/bmw_mini_e_02.jpg

http://www.smartplanet.com/i/s/news/transport/bmw_mini_e_03.jpg http://www.smartplanet.com/i/s/news/transport/bmw_mini_e_04.jpg

http://www.smartplanet.com/i/s/news/transport/bmw_mini_e_06.jpg http://www.smartplanet.com/i/s/news/transport/bmw_mini_e_05.jpg


All above are courtesy of smart planet

November 20th, 2008, 11:52 AM
Very nice, but a frown on the battery pack size. ...

(I was trying to figure out how they were going to plug it in here in the city though. Not many streets or garages have outlets available.......)



A new Experience - Driving Pleasure Without Emissions: The MINI E.

MINI E - Technical Specifications.

The BMW Group will be the world's first manufacturer of premium automobiles to deploy a fleet of some 500 all-electric vehicles for private use in daily traffic. The MINI E will be powered by a 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor fed by a high-performance rechargeable lithium-ion battery, transferring its power to the front wheels via a single-stage helical gearbox nearly without a sound and entirely free of emissions. Specially engineered for automobile use, the battery technology will have a range of more than 250 kilometers, or 156 miles. The MINI E will initially be made available to select private and corporate customers as part of a pilot project in the US states of California, New York and New Jersey. The company is looking into expanding the MINI E pilot to include Europe. The MINI E will celebrate its world premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19 and 20.

The MINI E's electric drive train produces a peak torque of 220 Newton meters, delivering seamless acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.5 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 152 km/h (95 mph). Featuring a suspension system tuned to match its weight distribution, the MINI E sports the brand's hallmark agility and outstanding handling.

By introducing the MINI E, the BMW Group is underscoring the resolve with which it works towards reducing energy consumption and emissions in road traffic. The BMW Group is drawing on its unique technological expertise in the field of drive systems to develop a vehicle concept enabling zero emissions without renouncing the joy of driving. Putting some 500 cars on the road under real daily traffic conditions will make it possible to gain widely applicable hands-on experience. Evaluating these findings will generate valuable know-how, which will be factored into the engineering of mass-produced vehicles. The BMW Group aims to start series production of all-electric vehicles over the medium term as part of its Number ONE strategy. The development of innovative concepts for mobility in big-city conurbations within the scope of "project i" has a similar thrust, as its objective also includes making use of an all-electric power train.

The energy storage unit: cutting-edge lithium-ion technology engineered specifically for use in the MINI.

Based on the current MINI, the car will initially be available as a two-seater. The space taken up by back-seat passengers in the series model has been reserved for the lithium-ion battery. When in use in the zero-emissions MINI, the battery unit combines high output with ample storage capacity and a small footprint with power ratios that are unrivalled in this field of application so far. The lithium-ion storage unit will have a maximum capacity of 35 kilowatt hours (kWh) and transmit energy to the electric motor as direct current at a nominal 380 volts. The rechargeable battery is made up of 5,088 cells grouped into 48 modules. These modules are packaged into three battery elements that are compactly arranged inside the MINI E.

The energy storage unit's basic components are based on the technological principle that has proven itself in practice in power supplies for mobile phones and portable computers. The MINI E's lithium-ion battery can be plugged into all standard power outlets. Its charge time is strongly dependent on the voltage and amperage of the electricity flowing through the grid. In the USA, users can recharge a battery that has been completely drained within a very short period of time using a wallbox that will ship with every MINI E. The wallbox will be installed in the customer's garage, enable higher amperage, and thus provide for extremely short charging times. Wallboxes fully recharge batteries after a mere two-and-a-half hours.

Driven by electricity: reliably, affordably and free of emissions.

A full recharge draws a maximum of 28 kilowatt hours of electricity from the grid. Based on the car's range, a kilowatt hour translates into 5.4 miles. Besides the benefit of zero-emissions driving, the MINI E thus offers significant economic advantages over a vehicle powered by a conventional internal combustion engine as well.

The heavy-duty battery delivers its power to an electric motor, which transforms it into thrilling agility. Mounted transversely under the MINI E's bonnet, the drive train unleashes its full thrust from a dead standstill. This provides for the car's fascinating launch capability. The MINI E's intense driving experience is augmented by its dynamic deceleration potential, which is also directly coupled to the accelerator pedal. As soon as the driver releases the gas pedal, the electric motor acts as a generator. This results in braking force, and the power recovered from the kinetic energy is fed back to the battery. This interaction ensures extremely comfortable drives - especially at medium speed with constant, but marginal, variation. In city traffic, some 75 percent of all deceleration can be done without the brakes. Making substantial use of this energy recuperation feature extends the car's range by up to 20 percent.

Signature MINI agility in a new guise.

Weighing in at 1,465 kilograms (3,230 lbs), the MINI E has an even weight distribution. Minor modifications made to the suspension ensure safe handling at all times. The Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system has been adapted to this model's specific wheel loads.

The MINI E's brake system comes with a newly developed electric underpressure pump. Its Electrical Power Assisted Steering (EPS) is the same as the one used in mass-produced MINIs. Both brake and steering assistance react to driving conditions and are thus extremely efficient. Even the air conditioning's electrical compressor only operates if desired or necessary.

Design: unmistakably MINI, undoubtedly new.

At first glance, the MINI E is obviously an iteration of the brand. But its design, which is the blueprint for the zero-emissions two-seater, has been complemented by a number of visual cues that point to its revolutionary drive concept. All of the units produced for the pilot project will have the same paintwork and bear a serial number next to their side turn signal lights.

The MINI E's coachwork sports an exclusive combination of metallic Dark Silver on all panels but the roof, which is clad in Pure Silver. What distinguishes the zero-emissions MINI is a specially designed logo in Interchange Yellow, depicting a stylized power plug in the shape of an "E" set against the silver backdrop. It has been applied to the roof, in smaller dimensions to the front and back, to the charger port lid, the dashboard trim, and - combined with the MINI logo - to the door jamb, in slightly modified form. The color of the roof edges, mirror housings, interior style cues and seat seams will match the logo's yellow tone as well.

Moreover, the central gauge and the battery level indicator behind the wheel of the MINI E, which replaces the MINI's rev counter, feature yellow lettering against a dark grey background. The battery level is displayed in percentage figures. The central gauge includes an LED display indicating power consumption in red and power recuperation in green.

MINI E customers will be part of a pioneering mission.

A 500-unit, limited-production MINI E series will be manufactured through the end of 2008. The project will thus attain an order of magnitude that clearly exceeds the size of currently comparable test series. Putting the MINI E on the road on a daily basis will be a pioneering feat to which both the drivers and engineers of the first zero-emissions MINI will contribute as a team.

MINI E customers will join forces with BMW Group experts to assist in the project's scientific evaluation. MINI E engineers accord high importance to staying in touch with the drivers on a regular basis, as this will help them analyze driver behavior besides vehicle characteristics in order to gain the most accurate and realistic picture of the demands placed on a vehicle with a purely electrical drive in the select usage areas.

Special charging station and full service for every MINI E.

The cars will change hands based on a one-year lease with an extension option. Monthly lease installments will cover any required technical service including all necessary maintenance and the replacement of wearing parts. At the end of the lease, all of the automobiles belonging to the project will be returned to the BMW Group's engineering fleet where they will be subjected to comparative tests.

The MINI E's lithium-ion battery can be charged using a wallbox provided to MINI customers. Only lockable garages or similar buildings will qualify as homebases and power stations for the MINI E.

Maintenance by qualified specialists.

The electric drive's high-voltage technology requires that maintenance work be done by qualified personnel using special tools that are not included in MINI service partners' standard toolboxes. In light of this, a service base will be set up on both coasts, staffed by service engineers that are specially trained to perform maintenance and repair work on the MINI E's electrical components. In the event of drive malfunction, these experts will provide professional support at the customer's local MINI dealer or the service base's specially equipped workshop. Technical inspections will take place after 3,000 miles (just under 5,000 kilometers) and at least after six months.

Production in Oxford and Munich.

The MINI E has already gone through the major phases of product development for mass-produced vehicles and passed numerous crash tests on the way. Aspects investigated besides passenger protection were the impact of collision forces on the lithium-ion battery and finding a non-hazardous location for it in the car. The MINI E's energy storage unit emerged completely unscathed from all of the crash tests mandated by US standards, which are especially high.

Production of the approximately 500 cars will take place at the company's Oxford and Munich sites and is scheduled for completion before the end of 2008. MINI's UK plant will be responsible for manufacturing the entire vehicle with the exception of the drive components and the lithium-ion battery, with the brand's series models rolling off its assembly lines concurrently. The units will then be transferred to a specially equipped manufacturing complex situated on BMW plant premises where the electric motor, battery units, performance electronics and transmission will be integrated.

© BMW of North America, LLC (http://www.press.bmwgroup.com/pressclub/us02.nsf)

November 20th, 2008, 01:49 PM
Sounds good, I kind of missed the "can be used on standard outlets" part because of the way they kind of tagged it onto the special outlet description.....

Unfortunately, it still does not deal with the ability/inability to charge it while in a more urban setting. But I guess that is what Extension cords are for!!! ;)

(BTW, I am really excited about this. I was wondering why they did not use the Mini for an electric car model! AAMOF, I told my wife about it a few weeks ago!!!!! Spooky! Maybe I should tell her about the stock market jumping up a few thousand and wait and see what happens.... ;) )

November 26th, 2008, 11:45 AM

HONDA http://automobiles.honda.com/images/2008/fcx-clarity/modelnav-menutitle.gif (http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/)
Zero Emission Hydrogen Powered
Fuel Cell Sedan


Review by Jason H. Harper
Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601093&sid=atizckxemqGw&refer=home) -- It’s not every day that you get to kick the wheels on the car of tomorrow. After all, the question of what will power future automobiles is a guessing game, with candidates ranging from electricity and compressed natural gas to hydrogen fuel cells.

Honda made an expensive bet in that guessing game by designing the hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity. It’s costly (perhaps $500,000 each to produce), yet the sedan emits only water.

Both Honda and Chevy are testing fuel-cell vehicles by making them available for lease by select customers. Hydrogen’s big upside is its cleanliness and ability to be produced from many sources, even water and human waste.

Fuel-cell stacks are akin to mini power stations in which the chemical energy of hydrogen and oxygen is converted into electricity, which then powers an electric motor. Since hydrogen is a gas, it’s stored under pressure in reinforced tanks.

There are big hurdles to clear because the technology is expensive and an entire hydrogen refueling infrastructure will need to be created. (Honda’s previous FCX, first delivered in 2002, cost about $1 million each to produce. Executives are coy but say the Clarity costs about half that.)

I pick up the Clarity in Manhattan with the intent of driving it dry, as I’m curious about the refueling process itself. Is it complicated?

I turn the key, push the start button and the center gauges soon turn blue, indicating it’s ready to drive. Like a hybrid or electric car, there’s no start-up noise.

I motor into traffic, trying not to ignore the fact that while the Clarity is as exotic and expensive as an Italian supercar, nobody else -- including errant yellow taxis -- knows this. Best to avoid fender benders.

Refueling Station

I’m on my way to Allentown, Pennsylvania, about 90 miles away. There I will find Air Products & Chemicals Inc. and its hydrogen refilling station. The Clarity has a range of 190 miles of highway driving, 280 of combined city/freeway. (Like hybrids, fuel-cell vehicles get better mileage in town, at slow speeds with less wind resistance.) A full tank is just enough for one back-and-forth trip.

In the Clarity’s case, hydrogen is delivered as pressurized gas, and one kilogram is roughly equivalent to one gallon of gas. Over 200 miles in the day, I average 55 miles per “gallon.” Yet the tank only holds about four kilograms of hydrogen, and if you run out, a flatbed truck is in your immediate future.

Only in California

The Clarity has its own production line, which over the next three years will put out some 200 cars. Only Southern California customers are currently getting them since the state has the most hydrogen stations. Customers are pre-vetted, and leases cost $600 a month for three years, including maintenance and insurance. (So far, only a few have been delivered.) Honda is obviously not making money on the project, but it does suggest a certain seriousness.

New York won’t see the Clarity soon. General Motors Corp., though, is offering its fuel-cell Chevy Equinox SUV at no cost to some 100 drivers in New York, Southern California and Washington, D.C. New York drivers can use a Shell station in White Plains.

The Clarity was expressly designed as a fuel-cell vehicle, and the result is an elegant and handsome four-door sedan. With no big engine in the front, the hood and overhang are quite short and offset by a raked windshield. The Clarity is basically one long swoop, with a high back trunk to minimize air drag. Futuristic, though not aggressively so.

Easy Handling

I’m surprised to find that it drives just about like any other Honda. It’s easy to negotiate in traffic, handles nicely and doesn’t feel especially sluggish. Nor did I have any problem keeping up with fast traffic on the highway.

It looks like a real car, too. The test version has a metallic burgundy paint job, attractive wheel rims and an interior that would make an Acura proud, with GPS navigation, cooled and heated seats and tons of room.

Electronic gauges monitor gas mileage, hydrogen levels and range, and how much power is recaptured while braking (a technology shared with hybrids). A small circle at the center expands and contracts depending on how much power is being used -- an intuitive way of gauging how efficiently you’re driving.

My range is dwindling as I near Allentown, and I’m glad to find Air Products, which has some 85 hydrogen stations in 15 countries. They’re expecting me, and representatives explain the simple refueling process.

I insert a narrow hose onto a nozzle inside the car’s gas latch and then turn a locking lever. It’s a “closed system,” so the hydrogen neither leaks nor releases fumes. The pump performs a check of the pressure inside the car’s hydrogen chamber, then begins fueling.

Minutes later, I’m back on the road to New York.

No doubt hydrogen technology has a long way to go to become practical, yet if the Clarity is any indication, the actual process of driving and refueling could be a painless one.

The Honda FCX Clarity at a Glance

Engine: Fuel-cell stack and electric drive motor, with 134 horsepower and 189 pound-feet of torque.

Transmission: One-speed direct drive.

Speed: 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 10 seconds.

Gas mileage per kilogram: 77 city; 67 highway.

Best features: Emits only water but drives like a gas-fueled car.

Worst feature: The fear of running out of hydrogen and being stranded.

Target buyer: The true environmental front runner (who also lives in Southern California).


(Jason H. Harper writes about autos for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this column: Jason H. Harper at Jason@JasonHharper.com.

December 3rd, 2008, 07:16 AM
^ If any company could sell this idea, it would be Honda.

December 3rd, 2008, 07:51 AM
Of all alternative vehicles I have posted on this thread, the type with most upside for future development are electric-motor vehicles. (At least if you read the press that churns out most of the literature on this topic.)

Tesla is a personal favourite because it is being sold at this moment, has both classic sport-car design and performance to match. But will it survive short or long term, when luxury-sport itself is in a troubled period worldwide, and electric vehicles are still associated mostly with fuel economy and not performance?

I have held back on the very fringes of electric vehicle exotica because I convinced myself that they were beyond ambitious. But in the interest of getting a few more of them out here before they possibly disappear from any discussion, I begin with this British idea - "Lightning GT".


Lightning GT

British maker unveils unique electric-powered supercar.

23rd July 2008


There’s no shortage of electric cars at this year's British Motor Show, but none are quite like the stunning Lightning.

Built by the Lightning Car Company, based in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, this running prototype combines elegant GT looks with electric power. With styling that has hints of Corvette, Aston Martin and Marcos, the Lightning looks fantastic. And this British firm has big plans to develop its new car into the first fully zero-emissions supercar.

Powered by 30 batteries, it generates 36kW and can be charged in only 10 minutes. With the help of regenerative braking, the firm hopes the car will have a range of nearly 200 miles and a 0-60mph time of less than four seconds. It’s powered by four electric motors - one on each wheel - and if investors are found to help develop this unique car, the firm hopes to start sales by the end of next year. Prices are expected to be around the £120,000 mark.

© 2008 Dennis Publishing Limited. All rights reserved. Licensed by Felden (http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/news/autoexpressnews/225486/lightning_gt.html)

December 3rd, 2008, 08:15 AM


Lightning GT - The World's First Green Supercar?

By Chuck Squatriglia
March 03, 2008

The all-electric Lightning GT might just be the world's first green supercar. It's as clean as the Tesla Roadster, as quick as the Porsche 911 GT3 RS and as pricey as the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640.

The Lightning Motor Co. is Britain's equivalent to Tesla Motors -- a small company that believes electric vehicles are the future and the best way to sell them is to make them as fast as they are sexy.

"Without a significant positive shift in perception," the company says, "electric motoring will remain a large compromise in the eyes of driving enthusiasts and therefore fail to impress the masses."

The Lightning is impressive indeed.

http://blog.wired.com/cars/images/2008/03/03/lightning_07_2.jpg http://blog.wired.com/cars/images/2008/03/03/lightning_10.jpg

The company says four in-wheel motors generate 553 lb-ft of torque -- that's about as much as the tire-shredding Dodge Viper SRT produces -- and 120 kilowatts apiece (for a combined total of about 643 horsepower, putting it in the same ballpark as the Corvette ZR1). Lightning claims the car will do 0 to 60 in 4.0 seconds and hit a top speed of 130 mph. Range is 250 miles.

The car features an aluminum honeycomb chassis, carbon-kevlar bodywork, regenerative braking and 36 kilowatt nano lithium titanate battery the company says will charge in just 10 minutes and maintain 85 percent capacity after 15,000 charges. Look for a full slate of features, from anti-lock braking and traction control to air conditioning and leather.

What's all this speed and luxury cost? Almost $300,000.

Lightning seems serious about building the car. It's spent the past two years refining the design and lining up suppliers like Altairnano and PML Flightlink to provide the batteries and motors, respectively. Altairnano's Nanosafe batteries power the world's fastest EV dragster, and Volvo is using PML's Hi-Pa drive wheel motors in its ReCharge plug-in hybrid concept, so there's no question the hardware works. But as Tesla has shown, building a car from scratch is no easy feat, and Lightning's got its work cut out for it.

We'll keep you posted.

http://blog.wired.com/cars/images/2008/03/03/lightning_01_2.jpg http://blog.wired.com/cars/images/2008/03/03/lightning_04.jpg


http://blog.wired.com/cars/images/2008/03/03/lightning_03.jpg http://blog.wired.com/cars/images/2008/03/03/lightning_05.jpg

© 2008 CondéNet, Inc. All rights reserved. (http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/03/all-electric-li.html)

December 3rd, 2008, 09:12 AM
Sweet looking vehicle.

I guess they found something that the military proved years ago, when you are making a prototype, make it as expensive and as impressive looking as possible! ;) (Well, SOME military developments.......).

Hopefully these uber-toys will eventually translate down to what Joe the Joe can use w/o taking out a now-hard-to-find home equity loan!

December 4th, 2008, 04:51 AM

Ferrari Reveals Its Strategy for Fuel Efficiency
By Alistair Weaver, Contributor Email

It would seem that the environmental message has even reached the hallowed halls of Maranello. Over the next decade, Ferrari will introduce a host of new technology that will make its cars lighter, smaller and more aerodynamic in a bid to improve their fuel efficiency. The company famous for its scarlet cars is going green.

"Ferrari has always been a byword for innovation," said Ferrari's general director, Amedeo Felisa, during an exclusive presentation at the company's Fiorano test track. "Traditionally, our strategy has concentrated on power density and the power/weight ratio. Now we must focus on energy efficiency. We must rethink everything to create a new mindset and a new paradigm."

Felisa acknowledges that if the Prancing Horse is to live to be a hundred, then it must breathe cleaner air. This is the future of Ferrari.

Since the early 1990s, Ferrari has focused its attention on generating aerodynamic downforce. "The F355 of 1994 represented our first attempt to generate downforce," explains Ferdinando Cannizzo, formerly an engineer for the Ferrari Formula 1 team. "Its predecessor, the 348 of 1989, still generated lift." The 1999 F360 Modena that followed the F355 was the first Ferrari to feature a sculptured aerodynamic underbody, while the 2002 Enzo introduced front and rear air diffusers.

The lessons learned in the past decade will not be wasted, but there will be a change of focus. "There will be a dramatic reduction in aerodynamic drag," says Cannizzo. Lower drag means lower fuel consumption and a higher top speed, but it does create problems. By creating a slippery, low-drag shape, you risk compromising aerodynamic downforce, reducing cornering speeds and also creating dangerous instability at higher velocities. This is the inherent contradiction that causes heartache for race teams the world over.

Ferrari's solution is to employ technology that's banned in racing — movable aerodynamic parts or "active flow control." In other words, you create downforce only when it's needed. "We will use the car's energy in a more efficient way," says Cannizzo. Ferrari is working on a new "humped" underbody design and will also seek to match the air intake to the airflow needed by the radiators.

Rolling Resistance and Weight Reduction
The rolling resistance of today's tires has been reduced fourfold since 1900, but Ferrari is targeting a further 33 percent reduction at 150 kph (93 mph). This will require a philosophical shift. Traditionally, the tire has been developed and set up for the car, but in the future, the car will be set up to suit the tire. In other words, Ferrari will adopt the same philosophy for its street cars that it has employed for its Formula 1 cars.

Felisa admits that Ferrari has targeted a curb weight for its future sports cars of just 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds), which is 300 kg (661 pounds) less than the Enzo supercar. This would offer a dramatic increase in performance without the need for more powerful engines. At the Fiorano event, Ferrari showed a plastic-and-cardboard mock-up of a 1,000-kg car called the FXX Mille-Chili ("1,000 kilos," in Italian), which looked like a scaled-down Enzo.

In pursuit of this goal, Ferrari is advocating a broad portfolio of solutions, the most radical of which is the introduction of a fixed driving position — only the pedals and steering wheel will move to accommodate different drivers. Ferrari estimates that this will allow the designers to reduce the length of the passenger compartment by around 3.1 inches. The driver will also sit in a more reclined position, which helps reduce the height of the cabin by 2.4 inches. The steering wheel will adjust for reach and rake, but it will have a fixed hub featuring a greater array of controls. Such refinements should reduce the overall vehicle mass, lower the center of gravity and improve aerodynamics.

We can also expect to see increased use of lightweight carbon-fiber construction, particularly for suspension components and the nose box. The use of carbon fiber for the latter will also improve crash protection. Ferrari is also working with Brembo to lower the weight of the brakes, further reducing unsprung mass and improving the center of gravity. Even brake-by-wire technology is being considered.

Ferrari is no stranger to turbocharged engines. The legendary F40 supercar of 1987 notably featured a twin-turbo V8, and Ferrari even produced 2.0-liter turbo cars in the 1980s in response to idiosyncratic Italian tax legislation. Jean-Jacques His, Ferrari's engine guru, says, "Although turbocharging was abandoned by Ferrari, it is something we might come back to." Ferrari also is hoping to improve the throttle response of a turbo engine relative to the normally aspirated alternative, while also lowering its fuel consumption. "We want a turbo engine that can achieve high revs," says His.

Other engine technologies in the pipeline include direct injection and lower (700 rpm) idling speeds. The technicians are also working with Shell to ensure that future engines can run on fuel with a higher percentage (up to 20 percent) of bioethanol.

Ferrari also expects to have developed a prototype road car with a regenerative braking system by the end of the year, technology scheduled to be introduced in Formula 1 in 2009.

Contemporary F1 cars use a seamless-shift transmission system that provides an uninterrupted flow of power. While Ferrari does not believe such a system would be viable on a road car for reasons of refinement and durability, the company is targeting a reduction in shift times. The F599 GTB Fiorano is Ferrari's current speed king with shift times of just 100 milliseconds, but the new F430 Scuderia will swap cogs in just 60 milliseconds thanks to the introduction of new software. This is as quick as Michael Schumacher's F1 Ferrari achieved in 1999.

The next target is 30 milliseconds, which Ferrari believes is the quickest time possible using current technology. In the future, it might even be possible to use the energy produced by regenerative braking technology to fill in the torque gap between gearshifts.

The Ferrari Future
A green Ferrari is a very interesting development, but it's important not to overstate the impact of green technology on the formula for speed to which we've become accustomed.

Ferrari intends to reduce the carbon-dioxide emissions of its cars to around 250 grams per kilometer (402 grams/mile). This would be a major achievement — the F599 GTB Fiorano currently emits 490 g/km (788 grams/mile) — but it would still make any Ferrari one of the dirtiest air polluters on the road. After all, a Toyota Prius emits carbon-dioxide emissions of just 104 g/km (167 grams/mile).

Yet there can also be no denying that this initiative has not come a moment too soon. There are already rumors that the European Union may impose a carbon limit of 250 g/km on road cars in the not-too-distant future. Other supercar manufacturers will have to follow Ferrari's lead.

It is reassuring that while these changes will have a dramatic impact on future Ferraris, they do not sound the death knell of the high-performance supercar. Ferrari's core philosophy has not changed. "Ferrari will continue to sell a dream, not a means of transport," says Ferrari's president, Luca di Montezemolo. "A Ferrari is like a woman. You have to desire and want her."


December 4th, 2008, 09:16 AM
I wonder if the racing ban is for active only systems.

What if they found a way to make the system passive? Once air pressures reach a certain amount, they push certain pieces into place, rather than a speed gague activating pneumatic actuators or servos?

IOW, the wind pushes the car into the shape it needs rather than the car doing it regardless?

(And why is this forbidden in racing? they have the strangest rules for these things sometimes...)

December 4th, 2008, 09:53 AM
What bugs me is that the jerk-offs at GM should be announcing an electric powered Corvette. Even if it's a concept... even a stock Corvette with an electric cord to nowhere. At least create excitement, some press, some good-will. GM could do a Tesla thing with some special Corvettes... why not?

In fact: while GM kills Pontiac and Saturn... they should make Corvette a seperate brand... have it all about high technology, research. Do some limited edition stratospherically priced electrics. Corvette is one GM brand whose name has not been ruined. They should run with it.


December 4th, 2008, 10:20 AM
Corvette needs to find some direction (http://www.autoblog.com/2008/11/28/with-gm-on-the-brink-what-will-happen-to-the-corvette/) since they've scrapped their mid-engine plans (http://www.autoblog.com/2008/10/07/no-future-for-the-mid-engine-corvette/). Twin-turbo V6? (http://www.autoblog.com/2008/08/20/enter-the-rumormill-2012-c7-corvette-zr1-with-twin-turbo-v6/)

I think the Saturn nameplate could fetch them good value, what with their history of lightweight composite body panels - being the future (http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/amory-lovins-to-car-industry-lighten-up/). Of course they'd have to forget about trying to be conventional and go back to:

"What Kind Of Car Is That? It's A Saturn!"

"A Different Kind of Company, A Different Kind of Car."

Saturn Flextreme (http://www.roadandtrack.com/article.asp?section_id=15&article_id=6337) hybrid concept

December 4th, 2008, 11:04 AM
I thought Saturn was a success story, why would they be scrapping it?

Also, I cannot believe, for ONE SECOND, that all the big automakers will spontaneously stop and close, thus stranding millions. You would think they would propose, as Jason and Fab are suggesting, some viable alternate plans that would require some downsizing rather than just saying "hey we are closing all these things, go tell your congressman!".

BTW, I think Corvette would be a good brand to branch off. It is not the greatest sports car out there, but it has held more rep than the Mustang lost through the 80's and 90's and probably could be a successful offshoot.

Thing is, I do not know if it can go the same way as the Tesla and start talking future techie. Corvettes always seemed like a ritzy muscle car. Like pure HP with a bit of style, it may be hard to adapt that to an electric, even one as powerful as the Tesla or Lightning.

December 4th, 2008, 11:29 AM
Ford has announced that it has enough funds to get through but would like a loan. GM and Chrysler talk of bankruptcy.

And they have all spoke of plans for downsizing as has been mentioned here: GM is killing brands.

Re: Saturn: They are re-badged Opels... they do not design their own cars anymore. It's basically an Opel import division. And sales are not a success.

If Ferrari can announce going green... so can Corvette.

December 4th, 2008, 11:34 AM
Corvettes in the 60s were more than muscle cars. They were innovative, a bargain-priced alternative to foreign exotics. "Bargain" was strictly relative.

Fiberglas body panels, a unique transverse leaf spring for the independent rear.

They should have gone to a lighter, high output engine in the 90s. Take some weight off the front wheels. Maybe an inline 6.

But by that time, the Arkus-Duntov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zora_Arkus-Duntov) group was long gone, and the bean-counters who replaced the car-enthusiasts deemed the old iron V8 the cheaper alternative.

December 4th, 2008, 12:28 PM
...and the bean-counters who replaced the car-enthusiasts deemed the old iron V8 the cheaper alternative.
...and that's what GM's business plan has been: saving money on every car. But if you're not making money, because no one's buying your cars, because all that economizing is so obvious... then there's no money to save.

December 4th, 2008, 12:48 PM
My question is what US carmaker is going to get serious and step up to the 4-cylinder turbo diesel (http://blogs.edmunds.com/greencaradvisor/2008/09/bmw-executive-confirms-automaker-is-developing-4-cylinder-turbo-diesel-engine-in-strange-twist-he-says-us-delivery-will-hinge-on-outcome-of-presidential-race.html) plate?

(So we can move toward industrial hemp composites (http://www.hempline.com/applications/composites/) and hemp seed biodiesel (http://willienelsonpri.com/peace/265/a-peaceful-solution-hemp-biofuel.html).)

December 4th, 2008, 02:23 PM
Hemp will never get passed.

It is too easy to be produced independently, so they will never go for it.

What I keep seeing now from companies like shell are the Gaseous liquid fuel or some thing lik ethat, where they are trying to use natural gas, but convert it into a liquid form for use.

Basically, something that is not easily produced and refined by the small-time production crew.

If we allowed hemp farms and processing plants, correct me if I am wrong (like I have to ask), wouldn't it be feasable to almost have small private or municipal fuel production plants? Kind of like what they have now for recycled veggie oil?

But back on topic. Zip, I am just going on what I have seen during my driving life (20 years or so). Vette's were seen as the mid-grade muscle car. More than a Mustang, but classier too. Cheaper than a euro sport car, but not something to be ashamed of when seen in one even in a more affluent area.

It still says more muscle than pure style hough.

And that is the only reason I say that it would have a harder time marketing the alternative green model development. In order to get the same performance, they will not be able to charge the same price (yet). Ferrari can because they can charge $250K for a car and no-one will blink. They also have a more eclectic feel to them. Elite, different.

Vette's now feel like the American Sports Car, good bad or otherwise, I don't know if they could successfully market that to their target markets....

When do you think that the next tier of performance electrics wil hit the market? Could you imagine a 300HP sport sedan, 200 mile range that could charge in less than 20 min? when would something like that, at the current development rate, be a realistic possibility?

More importantly, when would it be comparable to similar gas powered vehicles in terms of price? $60K for a luxury performance electric? $20K for a Miata sized fun-car?

December 4th, 2008, 02:30 PM
Vettes were/are not muscle cars. They are sports cars.

A muscle car is a standard mid-size coupe with a big engine: GTO, GTX, Chevelle SS, RoadRunner etc.


Pricing: the Corvette Z51 costs around $100,000. The idea is to up the brand. Is this such a hard concept to grasp?


December 4th, 2008, 02:45 PM
How Corvette was marketed in its hey day: the emphasis was engineering, refinement, class, handling, esclusivity :


If you can make out the text... it's all about engineering:




December 4th, 2008, 02:50 PM
Vettes were/are not muscle cars. They are sports cars.

A muscle car is a standard mid-size coupe with a big engine: GTO, GTX, Chevelle SS, RoadRunner etc.


Pricing: the Corvette Z51 costs around $100,000. The idea is to up the brand. Is this such a hard concept to grasp?


To the American consumer? Yes.

PS, the 2009 2 door coupe is listed at $50K, significantly less than Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porche, and even a great deal of BMW or Mercedes....

To the general car-buying public, it is seen as a beefy sports car. More style than the generic muscle car you defined, but more "beef" and weight than the fancier bretheren.

I think it would be difficult to make that market think green.

December 4th, 2008, 02:55 PM
(oh boy...)

Ferrari's market is multi- multi-millionares. Right now lots of Saudis, Russians, Chinese.

They don't give a ratz ass about the environment or green Ferraris.

So you tell me: why is Ferrari even bothering. You tell me.

December 4th, 2008, 02:56 PM
How Corvette was marketed in its hey day: the emphasis was engineering, refinement, class, handling, esclusivity :

If you can make out the text... it's all about engineering:

That's great. And what does it stand for today?

December 4th, 2008, 02:59 PM
(oh boy...)

Ferrari's market is multi- multi-millionares. Right now lots of Saudis, Russians, Chinese.

They don't give a ratz ass about the environment or green Ferraris.

So you tell me: why is Ferrari even bothering. You tell me.

I will! ;)

Because it is different, AND the electric, if done right, can beat a gas powered vehicle in acceleration. Making it so the wheels do not slip AND being able to give full torque at 0 rpm gives electric a distinct advantage (as shown by both the Tesla and Lightning).

It is also seen as something new and different. I doubt, seriously, that they are pushing the green standard on these cars as much as they are pushing the performance and style. The green is like the "salad" at the side when you order your steak. They know this.

When I see the "smart" car, I think "green" (and not in a flattering way). When I see the Tesla, I think fast.

December 4th, 2008, 03:00 PM
10 years ago what did Cadillac stand for? Who was it's target?

So why is it building the CTS-V now?

You tell me.


About why Corvette should do an electric ... let me explain it this way: Because it is different, AND the electric, if done right, can beat a gas powered vehicle in acceleration. Making it so the wheels do not slip AND being able to give full torque at 0 rpm gives electric a distinct advantage (as shown by both the Tesla and Lightning).

It is also seen as something new and different. I doubt, seriously, that they are pushing the green standard on these cars as much as they are pushing the performance and style. The green is like the "salad" at the side when you order your steak. They know this.

When I see the "smart" car, I think "green" (and not in a flattering way). When I see the Tesla, I think fast.

So that's why I think it would be a great idea for the Corvette.


December 4th, 2008, 04:28 PM

I just don't think it will sell. ;)

December 17th, 2008, 02:07 AM

Comparing Alternative Fuels For Cars

ScienceDaily (Apr. 29, 2007) — Norwegian scientists have drawn up a league table of alternative fuels for cars. Their analysis is based on a well-to-wheel approach that takes into account manufacturing, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and local and regional pollutants.

Bottom of the table, unsurprisingly, are petrol vehicles, but coming in a close second last are hybrid vehicles that can run on compressed natural gas or petrol. Top of their league are fuel cell powered vehicles using hydrogen gas obtained from natural gas methane.

Karl Høyer of Oslo University College and Erling Holden of Western Norway Research Institute, Norway, and reported in Inderscience's International Journal of Alternative Propulsion their analysis of fuel chains including petrol, natural gas, and alternative fuel sources such as methanol and ethanol, hydrogen and biofuels.

"Alternative fuels are not in themselves a road towards sustainable mobility," the researchers say. However, their analysis places petrol and hybrid vehicles firmly at the bottom of the league table when all energy factors from source to consumer use are taken into account. "Any alternative fuel we considered is better than the cars that are used mostly today," they add.

Currently, there is no consensus regarding sustainable transport development. Even if a particular energy reduction goal is set for the transport sector there is no agreement on actions that should be taken to achieve this goal. Different lobbying groups have different approaches to the problem and opponents of any particular approach can usually find evidence to suggest a particular approach is not sustainable. The ongoing biofuel debate is a case in point.

Nevertheless, there are several factors that must be considered in assessing a particular alternative fuel: the efficiency route, the substitution route and the reduction route. Each has its strong defenders, say Høyer and Holden, but in reality there are substantial grey areas between them. One important facet of the debate that is often overlooked, is to ensure the three impact categories - energy use, carbon emissions, and nitrogen oxide pollution - are considered together. "This is a highly problematic task and should only be carried out with great care," the team adds.

They used a simple ranking system to create their league table, based on giving each energy form a weight from 1 to 16 depending on its impact in these three areas. When the weights are added up from well to wheel, they provide an overall value for each energy chain. For example, extraction of natural gas, processing into liquefied hydrogen, storage, and end use in a fuel cell car. The energy chains giving the lowest sum-figures are the highest in the league table and those with largest figures are considered potentially the most environmentally harmful.

Interestingly, the team's analysis puts a fossil-based alternative, natural gas conversion into hydrogen for fuel cells at the top of the list. In contrast the direct use of natural gas in hybrid cars is lower down the list in terms of efficiency, energy, and pollution. Biological methanol for use in fuel cell vehicles is way down the list despite biomethanol being a potentially renewable resource unlike natural gas. "It must be emphasised that no single chain comes out with the best score on all impact categories," the researchers say, "There are always some sorts of trade offs involved. Thus, there are no obvious winners; only good or bad trade offs between different impact categories."

Reference: Int. J. Alternative Propulsion,
Vol. 1, No. 4, 2007 pp 352-368


Adapted from materials provided by Inderscience Publishers.

Copyright © 1995-2008 ScienceDaily LLC — All rights reserved. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070427103843.htm)

December 18th, 2008, 12:36 PM


Feature: Alternative-Fuel Technologies
Alternative Fuels are Making News, Thanks to Anxiety Over Oil Volatility and Global Warming. Will One of them Power the Family Sedan of 2020?

By Frank Markus

At the dawn of the motoring age, there were no paradigms to break, no well-trodden paths to follow. Entrepreneurial automakers made things up as they went along, trying different sorts of internal and external-combustion engines fueled by everything from wood and kerosene, to naptha, diesel fuel, peanut oil, alcohol, electricity, and a refinery byproduct that had been marketed under the trade name "Petrol" as a lice treatment and grease remover-gasoline. With a bit of work on the formula, gasoline quickly shook out as the fuel of choice for the personal automobile, owing to its abundant supply, cheap price, and high-energy content.

http://image.motortrend.com/f/9237251/112_0705_01z+2020_foresight+holding_ball_of_energy .jpg

Illustration by Doug Fraser

A century later, the paradigms are shifting. Securing enough cheap, easy-to-reach oil to feed our 400-million-gallon-per-day gasoline habit is proving geopolitically challenging, and competing with China and India for the cheap oil isn't simplifying matters. Ideas like conservation and energy independence are migrating from the hippie fringe to the patriotic mainstream in the name of national security. Then there's the growing global concern that human consumption of fossil fuels may be warming the planet catastrophically. This world view, valid or otherwise-and we're not touching that hot-potato here-is shaping the public discourse with an eye toward regulating carbon-dioxide emissions. Might the traditional gasoline engine's grip on the future of personal mobility be loosening? Hybrid-electric vehicle sales are snowballing. Sophisticated new diesels are reemerging as a premium engine choice capable of improving performance a little and fuel economy a lot, with agricultural biodiesel playing the energy-independence card. And with some help from corn-belt lobbyists, homegrown ethanol is now making a major power-play with over six million flex-fuel vehicles on the road and refining capacity increasing rapidly.

Can any of these alternatives do to gasoline what Petrol did to its rivals a century ago and become the fuel of choice among mainstream sedan buyers in 2020? Or will the tried-and-true spark-ignition engine evolve sufficiently to retain sales dominance? We've polished our crystal ball, spoken to myriad experts, and rounded up sedans representing each technology to answer that question. Let's meet the players.

The Defender: Gasoline Pros

It's everywhere, powering most of the 201,496,000 cars and light trucks on the road.
Boasts high-energy density (see "Energy Content in a Gallon") and emissions that are easily cleaned.
Functions well in all temperatures from Alaskan cold to Death Valley hot.
Well-understood technology presents ample opportunity for further performance, economy, and emissions advances.

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Volkswagen Passat

Gasoline Cons

A nonrenewable resource.
Foreign-supplies increasingly volatile, greater competition for them coming from India and China, domestic reserves expensive to extract and refine.
Hydrocarbon and NOX emissions can be further reduced, but each gallon produces 19.4 pounds of CO2, so improved efficiency is the only CO2 -abatement option, and diesel and hybrid technologies are more efficient.

Wild Card: Several companies are at work on homogeneous-charge compression-ignition gasoline engines. This clever system runs like a diesel engine under certain conditions-unthrottled, lean, direct-injected with compression ignition-deriving about 80 percent of diesel's fuel economy benefit (13 to 17 percent better than traditional gas engines) at about half of diesel's cost penalty (thanks to cheaper fuel-injectors and emissions gear). There are a number of unconventional gasoline engine designs on drawing boards around the world, some of which promise more dramatic improvements in fuel economy and emissions. All would require extensive retooling investment, but under the right pricing or regulatory conditions, one of these may make sense. See motortrend.com for links to the Scuderi Split-Cycle, APT OPOC, Radmax Rotary, and other thought-provoking designs.

Gas/Electric Hybrids Pros

Recovers braking energy for reuse when accelerating to deliver 50-percent fuel savings in town without compromising performance.
Approximates diesel economy at a similar cost with far lower NOX and particulate emissions.
Proven reliable over millions of customer-use miles, so high battery costs haven't plagued midlife resale values.
Gas engine can be finely tuned for max efficiency over a narrower engine-speed range, negating need for pricey variable-intake geometry and valve timing hardware.


Toyota Camry Hybrid

Gas/Electric Hybrids Cons

Upfront costs ranging from $1000 to $4000 today (see "What You Pay For").
Battery pricing ($600-$3000 per car) unlikely to drop, given rising nickel prices.
Battery pack adds 200-300 pounds-a lot of extra mass when cruising, hence most full hybrids earn higher economy figures in town than on the highway.
Hybridizing offers few benefits to larger vehicles for towing or long driving trips.
Cold weather diminishes battery performance, causes engine to run more to warm heater, reducing fuel economy in the winter.

Wild Card: Plug-in hybrids promise miles of purely electric in-town commuting on battery power before the combustion engine kicks in, delivering 40-50 mpg. But the fine print cautions that even a 20-mile electric range requires six times the on-board energy storage that a full hybrid totes. Lithium-ion batteries promise to triple the energy density of nickel-metal-hydride, and they tolerate deeper discharges when powering laptop computers, but they suffer "unfriendly failure modes" (such as catching fire), and they haven't demonstrated longevity beyond the lifespan of a laptop battery. Thermal management during recharging will be another key problem to solve, cautions Bill Reinert of Toyota's Advanced Technology group, who believes viable plug-in hybrids are at least five to eight years off.

Diesel Pros

Compression-ignition design is roughly 20 to 40 percent more efficient than spark-ignited Otto cycle, thanks to high-energy fuel, high compression/expansion ratios, reduced pumping losses.
Advantage applies in town, at idle, on the freeway, in hot or cold weather.
Reinforced to withstand high combustion pressures, diesels generally last longer.
Fuel is heavier, oilier, more carbon dense, hence less inflammable and safer to handle than gasoline or ethanol.

http://image.motortrend.com/f/9237281/112_0705_05z+mercedes_benz_E320_bluetec+front_thre e_quarter_view.jpg

Mercedes Benz E320 Bluetec [Diesel]

Diesel Cons

Cost penalty of up to 30-plus percent.
Ever tightening NOX and particulate emissions regulations threaten long-term viability (see "Technologue," page 36).
Fuel is slimy, smelly if you get any on you during refueling, though the exhaust of a 2007-compliant diesel has little or no odor.
Even high-pressure pilot-injected diesel engines are noisier, requiring more sound-deadening material.
Biodiesel requires standards defining the quality of B2, B5, and B20 blends (referring to the percent of biodiesel in the blend), as it can be made from various feed stocks with differing chemical compositions.

Wild Card: Thermal depolymerization refineries promise to take discarded biomass, old tires, vehicle shredder-residue, and other carbon-rich waste that otherwise presents disposal challenges and make clean, renewable, domestic oil out of them. The process simulates what time has done to dinosaurs and dead plants by cooking the material under high pressure to produce clean oil and could provide a viable alternative domestic source of diesel fuel. Pilot plants are up and running, but recent estimates peg the per-barrel cost at around $80-not quite economically viable.

Ethanol/E85 Pros

A renewable source and growing feedstock recycles carbon.
Can be grown at home, improving national energy security.
Pure ethanol has a 116-octane rating, so it burns slower and cooler, produces fewer emissions in the cylinder, and is tolerant of higher compression ratios.
Liquid fuel easily distributed throughout the existing infrastructure, but must take care to keep water out of the fuel.
Gasoline engines require no modifications to run on a 10-percent ethanol/gasoline blend and only modest changes to burn an 85-percent blend (E85).

Ethanol/E85 Cons

Low-energy content drops flex-fuel vehicle fuel economy by about 30 percent on E85 (optimizing an engine to run on E85 only could recover much of that penalty, improving performance as well.
Fuel not widely distributed, though station count is 1300, up from 400 in early 2006.
Sandia Labs cautions that growing ethanol could overstress water supplies (See "Can We Eat, Drink, and Drive Merrily on Biofuels?").

Wild Card: While cellulosic ethanol production is being discussed as a slam-dunk, done deal, according to Bruce Dale, a biotechnology professor at Michigan State University, there are four or five competing technologies under development now, using various feed stocks, and the first billion gallons of cellulosic production won't arrive for four to five years. Bill Reinert also points out that moving tons of biomass material around will be trickier than piping crude oil and that seasonal growth and year-round demand may present storage challenges. Cellulosic production is ethanol's holy grail, because the parts of the plants that don't yield alcohol can be used to fuel the refining process, dramatically improving the fossil-energy input and CO2 footprint of the resulting ethanol (see "Well-to-Wheel Energy & Emissions").

Test-Driving the Future

To help forecast the future prospects of each technology, we rounded up four sedans, close in size and shape, representing the state of the art in each category. Our traditional gasoline nominee is the VW Passat 2.0T. Turbocharging a small-displacement direct-injected engine is a great way to couple the cruising efficiency of a small engine with the performance of a big one. Expect to see more of this in the future.

Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, as featured in our Camry tester, is an economy-optimized full hybrid, so we chose it over the Honda Accord's Integrated Motor Assist system, which is geared toward performance.Mercedes-Benz is first to market with a next-generation diesel engine-albeit one that as yet meets only 45-state emissions compliance. Next year, pending EPA approval, a urea tank and a new catalyst will be added to achieve 50-state compliance (see "Technologue"), but that shouldn't affect performance noticeably.

Our choice of E85 sedans was fairly slim (trucks compose most of the E85 fleet): Chevy's Impala/Monte Carlo, FoMoCo's taxicab Crown Vic and its siblings, Mercedes-Benz's C230, and the new Chrysler Sebring.

Chrysler's DOHC V-6 produces considerably more horsepower per liter than the lower-tech domestics, and the Mercedes uses an antiquated fuel-line sensor to determine the fuel blend, so we opted for the Chrysler. Ironically, flex-fuel Sebrings are available only in the California-emissions states, and at the time of publication there's only one public E85 station in California; New York has six; Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont have none (see motortrend.com for a chart of alt-fuel availability by state).

We drove the cars around our SoCal offices for two weeks in search of peculiarities and frankly found few. The Camry Hybrid feels the most different from a normal gasoline-engine car, in that it seldom accelerates from rest on electric power only, and its engine sounds don't always correlate with vehicle speed. Its regenerative brakes also feel a bit peculiar, though one adjusts to them quickly. The Bluetec Benz never sounds or smells like a truck, it accelerates ferociously, and if one didn't notice the lower redline and shift speeds, it could pass for a gas engine. Apart from the faint whiff of moonshine when refueling, the Sebring transitions from gas to 85 operation seamlessly. According to Loren Beard, Chrysler's manager of environmental and energy planning, and Roger Clark, of GM's Energy Center, neither company reports a change in peak output ratings when running on E85, but both advance spark timing, which improves torque and responsiveness at low speeds (on the order of 20 percent under 1500 rpm).

For purposes of this test, we're not that interested in comparing vehicle performance, we want to zoom in on the engines (and motors). In an ideal world, our performance testing regimen would've involved buying the cars, ripping their engines out, installing each on a dynamometer, and running an identical battery of power and efficiency tests, thereby eliminating such variables as transmission ratios (CVT, four- and six-speed automatics), differing aerodynamics, and curb weights ranging from 3413 to 4036 pounds (happy to say, our fleet's peak output ratings were tightly clustered between 187 and 208 horsepower). We're not rich enough to swing that, but we might just be clever enough to simulate that approach.

We put each car through our standard battery of acceleration tests (running the Sebring on both E85 and gasoline, registering a 0.1-second advantage in 0-to-60-mph and quarter-mile acceleration when running on the higher-octane E85-see motortrend.com for full performance specs). We also performed rigorous fuel- economy comparisons, driving in convoy for 90 miles on the freeway at nearly constant speeds averaging 58 mph, then in San Diego city traffic for 57 miles averaging 21 mph. Our final test was a 12-mile-long 2890-foot climb up Mount Palomar averaging 32 mph-a test conceived to see if we could deplete the Camry's battery, rendering it a lumbering obstacle. (We couldn't. Partway up the mountain the system recharged the battery, drawing more power from the gas engine and plunging gas mileage to below that of the diesel-15.8 versus 16.2 mpg.)

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To focus on the engine technology, we calculated the amount of work each drivetrain performed during eight seconds of full-power acceleration, taking into account measured vehicle curb weights and factory aerodynamic drag data. (Power is the rate of doing work over time, which is why we chose a time interval, rather than a distance or velocity mark, and eight seconds gets each car to around 60 or 70 mph, above which potential inaccuracies in our aero-drag estimates grow in significance.)

To normalize the fuel-economy figures, we corrected highway ratings to an average aerodynamic drag area and altered city and hillclimb data to an average vehicle weight. It's as if we slipped identical NASCAR-spec body shells on each car, hacked 383 pounds out of the Mercedes, and ballasted the others to an average 3653 pounds. These normalized figures were combined into a single economy rating, weighted 50 percent city, 40 percent highway, and 10 percent hillclimb. (The EPA's Combined rating is 55 percent city/45 percent highway.) Then we multiplied our peak work number by this fuel-economy number to conceive a work-efficiency figure (BTU-mpg) to represent the envelope of performance each technology offers. Finally, we divided that figure by the energy content in each car's fuel to get an index of carbon efficiency to gauge bang-for-the-carbon-buck, expressed in carbon-miles.


Studying the results, we see that, while the gas-electric hybrid achieved the best city, highway, and normalized combined gas-mileage figures, diesel is the most work-efficient technology. This is primarily because, as the heaviest and quickest-accelerating car in the test, the diesel engine did the most work (814 BTU). That's 26 percent more than the lighter, slower Camry and 24 percent more than the lighter, almost equally quick VW. By achieving the second-best normalized fuel economy (27.8 mpg), trailing the hybrid by just 15 percent, the diesel's work-efficiency topped the field at 22,643 BTU-mpg-a narrow eight-percent lead over the hybrid. Accounting for the fuel energy reverses this finishing order, giving the hybrid a narrow 3.5-percent lead in carbon efficiency. The E85 engine accelerated the slowest, registering the least amount of work (534 BTU). Its low-energy fuel predictably delivered the poorest fuel economy (18.8 mpg), sewing up a work-efficiency figure 31 percent behind the gasoline VW engine's-that's almost exactly the difference in fuel energy, as the nearly equal carbon-miles ratings suggest. Similarly, we calculated the Sebring's work efficiency on gasoline (substituting EPA Combined figures, as the Sebring didn't make the econ runs on gasoline) and found an almost identical index of efficiency.

Diesel and hybrid are closely matched winners in the efficiency race, but both have a long way to go before achieving price parity with gasoline or E85. Current E85 flex-fuel technology has what it takes to match gasoline on carbon-efficiency, and we can assume that engines optimized for use exclusively with E85 could eclipse today's gasoline engines on carbon-efficiency and performance. An E85/electric hybrid, with an engine tailored to operate exclusively on E85, within a full- or plug-in hybrid's narrow rev range would be a formidable competitor on carbon efficiency and would be utterly untouchable on fossil-carbon efficiency. But in today's flex-fuel context, E85 has no market-driven future until the fuel is priced more than 30 percent less than gasoline.

Handicapping the Race for 2020

Ask any futurist to make a prediction, and if he isn't wearing a pointy hat and carrying a staff, he'll likely ask what your assumptions are. The three assumption scenarios relevant to this discussion are:Status quo, incremental changes in emissions and fuel-economy regulations, predictable increases in global demand, no catastrophic geopolitical or natural disasters.

An unforeseen and dramatic change in the supply or cost of oil.
A sudden, dramatic change in public policy regarding climate change (CO2 caps, a hefty carbon tax, etc.).

Our government bets heavily on the first scenario, and a study by Oak Ridge National Laboratories determined that, as long as diesel manufacturers meet the current emissions regulations in reasonable numbers, and if hybrid manufacturers can cut another 15-20 percent out of their cost, then by 2012 they see diesel taking a 7.2 percent share of the market with hybrids accounting for 14.9 percent. With another eight years of linear growth (our math, not the government's research), diesels would achieve almost 10 percent and hybrids a quarter of the market in 2020. Perhaps not surprisingly, Toyota's Bill Reinert is similarly bullish on hybrids. "Hybridization greatly improves the overall efficiency, regardless of the fuel of the engine while preserving performance. There's no silver-bullet fuel, so we have to make powertrains as efficient as possible." GM's Roger Clark opines, "Diesel is also in the running, but for heavier vehicles. It depends on the performance objective. In light-duty pickups, it's ideal. In a small [commuter] car, hybrids-especially E85 fueled ones-are ideal." Diesel's future will depend largely on emissions regulations. If fuel saving (or CO2 reduction) becomes a national priority, we may see some relaxation-or at least no further tightening-of NOX control beyond the current 2012 regulations in order to encourage diesel proliferation. But if regulators act on health research findings that suggest smaller particulates are even more damaging than the large ones being trapped by today's emissions controls, diesel could be in trouble.

Throw in either of the other scenarios, and most pundits go bullish on ethanol and biodiesel. Clark believes, "E85 is probably the number-one way to reduce CO2, by upward of 60 percent, especially with switchgrass or other cellulosic material. E85 hybrids are the way to go." His colleague, Mary Beth Stanek, GM's director of environment and energy, quotes research showing that ethanol from biomass could offset 35 percent of our transportation needs with grain-based ethanol meeting another four percent. "So of the 160 billion gallons [the transportation sector will] need by 2020, 39 percent or 60 billion gallons can be met by ethanol without being disruptive to land or food sources." Reinert is less convinced. "E85 trades geopolitical issues for drought and other agricultural problems." Chrysler's Loren Beard is optimistic about biodiesel, especially when biomass-to-liquid processes are perfected that don't rely on pricey soybean oil.

So what will the new-vehicle fleet look like in 2020? The optimist places faith in our world leaders to keep us in scenario number one, in our automotive engineers to keep diesels and hybrids legal and affordable, and in our biochemists to deliver affordable cellulosic ethanol and biomass diesel in sufficient quantities to cover the growth in our nation's demand for fuel. Such optimism envisions a market in which the upper-middle-class suburban garage has a diesel SUV, wagon, or lux-sedan that the family uses for vacations and long highway commuting, plus a hybrid runabout for stop-and-go grocery-getting.

Pricey plug-in E85 hybrids (and pure electric or hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles) will sell in boutique volumes to septuagenarian Ed Begley Jr. and others like him on the enviro-fringe. The widest, most price-conscious slice of the market (65-percent-plus) will continue to buy gasoline-powered vehicles, and the gas going into them will contain up to 10-percent ethanol. E85 will be more widely available and more gas-engine cars will accept it, but hefty government incentives likely will be required to drop the price below 70 percent of regular-unleaded and encourage market acceptance.

The pessimist's view in this matter is a whole lot less cheerful, way more expensive, and perhaps best left to alarmist filmmakers to present.

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The Uninvited Alternative Fuels

Methanol/M85 So-called "wood alcohol," also can be made from natural gas or coal. Various M85 flex-fuel vehicles were sold in the 1990s, but methanol has been largely abandoned because it's corrosive and more volatile than ethanol and has even lower energy content (62,500 BTU/gal).

Natural gas & LP gas It's clean, plentiful, and even reasonably cheap. Taxis and buses use it, as does Honda's Civic GX (earning buyers a $4000 federal tax credit). But public "gas" pumps are few and far between, the tank eats half the trunk, and it affords only 200-300 miles of range, so it's not destined for the mainstream.

P-series fuels We never heard of them, either. These natural-gas derived liquids (pentanes, ethanol, and biomass-derived methyltetrahydrofuran) are clear, colorless, 89-93-octane blends that could be used in flex-fuel vehicles if they ever see wider production.

Hydrogen We'll get letters, but the sad truth is that despite the squillions of dollars being invested in fuel-cell vehicles, the horizon for their cost, efficiency, and fuel availability to reach the point of widespread customer acceptance is, on purely practical terms, well beyond our 2020 timeframe.

Argonne National Laboratories developed the definitive model for measuring a fuel's total life-cycle energy input and emissions output, from the fuel source to the pump, then from the pump to the wheels when the fuel is burned. In the energy-per-mile analysis, ethanol suffers by comparison with petro-fuels, due to the energy consumed farming, shipping, and refining it. Cellulosic refining requires even more energy, but burning the unfermented leftover wood or switchgrass material provides most of the energy, which is renewable and CO2 neutral (hence the negative bars on the CO2 graph).

If fuels were priced strictly on their energy content, the sign on the left shows how each would relate to gasoline, while the other sign reflects reality pricing influenced by supply-and-demand peaks (gasoline), the general health of the economy (diesel, which is primarily an industrial fuel), localized supply (biodiesel and E85), and disparate taxation (all).

Now: $1250-$4100* Future: $1000-$5000

High-voltage battery pack sized according to the level of hybridization, increasing in size/cost from mild, to full, to plug-in
A generator and one or more electric motors, depending on design, AWD, etc.
Sophisticated power controller directing voltage into and out of the battery pack
Cooling system for powertrain electrical system
(Note that engine cost can be reduced, due to smaller size, narrower operating range)
Between now and 2020, the cost of batteries and other hardware for today's charge-sustaining hybrids is likely to drop, but larger plug-in hybrid batteries capable of tolerating charge-sustaining and charge-depleting strategies will be expensive (an Advanced Automotive Battery report to congress suggested $3000-$5000 for the battery alone).

Now: $1750-$2500* Future: $2300-$3250*

Water separator in the fuel line (moisture emulsifies in the fuel and is corrosive to injectors)
Sophisticated direct fuel injectors capable of metering multiple squirts per cycle at 20,000-30,000 psi
Engine block, pistons, rods, crank strengthened to withstand extremely high-combustion pressures
Extensive sound deadening required to quiet clatter at idle
Turbocharger(s), often with intercoolers and/or variable-nozzle turbines
Costly emissions controls to clean NOX and soot
We can probably expect emissions regs to ratchet even tighter between 2012 and 2020, probably to 0.02 grams/mile NOX. Smaller particulates also may be controlled, all of which will drive diesel costs up.

Now: $100-$200 Future: NEGLIGIBLE

Fuel-system materials upgraded to resist corrosive alcohol
A water separator in the fuel line (alcohol attracts water, even from atmospheric humidity)
Fuel pump and injectors rated for higher flow during E85 operation
Fuel sensor or engine-control programming to detect fuel composition via oxygen-sensor feedback
Flex-fuel E85 capability is likely to become standard across mainstream gasoline drivelines, so the modest price differential will disappear. Traditional gas engines will likely gain in sophistication and cost as well.

© 2008 MotorTrend Magazine (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://image.motortrend.com/f/9237299/112_0705_07z%2B2020_foresight%2Bfuture_alternative _fuel_cars.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.motortrend.com/features/112_0705_alternative_fuel_technology/photo_07.html&usg=__SuY7KNWYiQnXdhMdHY2ubWJ77yM=&h=469&w=750&sz=61&hl=en&start=41&tbnid=6rUEOwIdYD6NrM:&tbnh=88&tbnw=141&prev=/images%3Fq%3DAlternative%2BCars%26start%3D40%26um% 3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls %3Den-us%26sa%3DN&um=1)

December 19th, 2008, 06:12 AM

U.S. will fail to meet biofuels mandate: EIA

Wed Dec 17, 2008 3:17pm EST
By Timothy Gardner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States will fall well short of biofuels mandates on the uncertain development of next-generation fuels made from grasses and wood chips, the government's top energy forecasting agency said on Wednesday. "The key risk factor is rate of development of cellulosic biofuels technology," Howard Gruenspecht, the Energy Information Administration's acting head, said at press conference in Washington introducing the agency's annual energy forecast. "Near term growth of cellulosic ... is certainly a question mark."

The country, the world's top producer of the main biofuel ethanol, will only blend about 30 billion gallons of fuels like corn-based ethanol and the advanced fuels into gasoline by 2022. That is about 17 percent short of the U.S. mandate of 36 billion gallons by that year, the EIA said in the forecast.

The United States enacted the mandate, known as the Renewable Fuels Standard, late last year in an effort to provide jobs and begin to wean the country off foreign oil. It calls for corn ethanol, but also an increasing amount cellulosic ethanol made from fast-growing grasses and trees, and biodiesel made from non-food sources. Cellulosic is not yet made commercially.

Loopholes in the mandate that allow regulators to waive the requirements, if needed, could also result in lower blending, Gruenspecht, said. So far, such waivers have not been approved. In August, U.S. environmental regulators rejected a request from Texas Gov. Rick Perry to halve the mandate, which he blamed for boosting corn prices and making it costly for farmers to feed livestock.


Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the ethanol industry group the Renewable Fuels Association, said, "Is the mandate ambitious? Absolutely." But research in cellulosic production being carried out on college campuses and federal research labs will help the country meet the target, he said.

Meeting the mandate could provide President-elect Barack Obama with challenges if he does not adjust policies. Obama has said he wants to boost the use of alternative motor fuels above the mandates.

His choice for agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, the top ethanol producing state, has recommended phasing out subsidies for corn-based ethanol and reducing tariffs on imports of Brazilian ethanol made from sugar cane. Steven Chu, Obama's pick for energy secretary, is also a strong proponent of advanced biofuels.

This year's oil price collapse and the credit crunch has hurt many biofuel companies financially and cut the amount of fuel some of them are making. VeraSun Energy Corp, the largest publicly traded ethanol company, filed for bankruptcy protection in late October. This month, company lawyers said eight of VeraSun's 16 plants were in "hot idle" mode, or ready to operate but not currently producing ethanol.

Ethanol producers are also pushing for changes in blending regulations to allow more of the fuel to blended into gasoline that is burned in regular cars. Currently rules limit gasoline to 10 percent ethanol, while specially made "flex- fuel" cars can burn fuel that is 85 percent ethanol. For the moment U.S. ethanol capacity is too high, which is helping to make distilling ethanol barely profitable. U.S. capacity to make ethanol is slightly above the 2009 mandate for blending of 11.1 billion gallons of biofuels into gasoline.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe in Washington; editing by Marguerita Choy)

© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved (http://www.reuters.com/article/internal_ReutersNewsRoom_BehindTheScenes_MOLT/idUSTRE4BG4EQ20081217)

December 22nd, 2008, 09:51 AM

Alternative Fuel Car Explodes in Fiery Ball After Driver Lights Up

Written by Nick Chambers
Published on October 31st, 2008


A London manager for an energy saving company has found himself the recipient of some incredible luck after walking away from his converted Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Peugeot that had, moments before, exploded. The incident occurred while he was driving at 30 miles per hour after lighting a cigarette.

As a manager for a company that deals in providing energy savings solutions to their customers, Peter Tidbury thought it made perfect sense to purchase a Peugeot 607 that had been converted to LPG. From an article in the Daily Mail, Mr. Tidbury had this to say:

“I changed to LPG because it is a lot cheaper and as well as money saving is a lot greener than petrol. I work in the energy saving field and we all have to be more environmentally conscious these days.”

He had just filled up on LPG at a local gas station and was told that there would be a funny smell after filling up, so he though nothing of the fumes. He rolled down the window to air out the smell, and then closed it. A bit later he rolled down the window again to light a cigarette and that’s when the explosion occurred.

In his own words from the Daily Mail:

“I was doing about 30 mph and as I lit the cigarette there was an almighty explosion. The windows went out, the bonnet went up and the boot went up just as you see in the Hollywood movies.”

“I was belted in and braked sharply. I can’t remember this but I was told that I was directing traffic around the car whilst my suit jacket was still smoking.”

“For me it is miraculous. It was not my day to die. I firmly believe that the hand of God was on me that day.”

The cause of the accident is purely speculation at this point, but it seems that the leading theory is that a leak somewhere in the line between the LPG tank and the filler cap allowed the gas to seep into his cabin.

Mr. Tidbury says that he won’t buy an LPG car again, but would consider riding in one as a passenger. He has his current sights set on a larger BMW diesel car as a replacement.

Apparently, the accident has set Peter Tidbury on a healthier path too. He says, “My immediate thought after the accident was also to quit smoking. I’ve tried before but have now set myself a target to quit by Christmas.”

Source & Image Credit: Daily Mail Online

Gas 2.0 is a Green Options Media Production. Some Rights Reserved (http://gas2.org/2008/10/31/alternative-fuel-car-explodes-in-fiery-ball-after-driver-lights-up/)

December 23rd, 2008, 07:09 AM
A well-done article indeed, on another intriguing entry into hydrogen fuel alternatives, although less boldly. And it is from a marque I have especially admired over the years.

Hydrogen is not LPG, and we do have Honda ( to compare this BMW. But we must note that this is not exclusively hydrogen, as is the case with the Honda version, but rather a dual-fuel use: hydrogen and gasoline.

We don't have hydrogen stations here yet, nor a plan that commits us to this technology in the works. I reflect on the fact that I have enough problems getting nitrogen for my tyres locally - which is preferred over air - so I doubt if we will get as far as having a hydrogen source in any near term. BMW is, nevertheless, in its sixth generation, which demonstrates that they are determined to push this technology, wherever they can.


September 9, 2008
Feature: A short drive in the BMW Hydrogen 7

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh


BMW Hydrogen 7.

Imagine a vehicle that performs the same as your gasoline car, but sends nothing more harmful than water vapour out its tailpipe. Does it sound too good to be true? Some people believe it is; others, like engineers at BMW, think it's the way of the future, and they say they've got the car to prove it.

The car is the Hydrogen 7, and the automaker recently brought several of them to Canada for journalists to drive. They're part of a fleet that the company is testing, including giving them to high-profile drivers to use in their daily activities, ranging from car collector Jay Leno to opera singer Placido Domingo. These models are actually the sixth generation of BMW hydrogen vehicles, and the first hydrogen car in the luxury class to pass through the standard development process for volume production. But don't run down to the dealer to trade in your 3 Series just yet: while these cars work, and work very well, it will be a long time before hydrogen vehicles become a daily reality, if they ever get there at all.


BMW Hydrogen 7.

"This is about sustainable energy, air pollution and global warming," said Jason Perron, an engineer with BMW's Clean Energy Project. "Fossil fuels are finite, and there are geo-political issues surrounding them. Energy independence is important, and this is the direction we are taking. We feel that the internal combustion engine still has a future, especially with renewable fuels like this one. We expect a future with all types of vehicles, such as electric, fuel cells, hydrogen and biofuel capability."

The Hydrogen 7 is a dual-fuel vehicle with a regular internal combustion engine that burns either hydrogen or gasoline; it carries both, fuelled through separate fillers on its flank. Other hydrogen vehicles, including those currently being tested in real-world conditions by Honda and Ford, use a fuel cell that converts hydrogen to electricity, and then uses that electricity to power an electric motor that drives the car.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the systems. In its favour, hydrogen is virtually free of harmful emissions, sending only heat and water out the tailpipe (putting your hand behind the Hydrogen 7's pipe is similar to putting it over a kettle). Unlike oil, hydrogen can be produced almost everywhere - even in your driveway, should Honda prove successful with its experimental Home Energy Station, which will produce it from the house's natural gas supply. And a fuel cell can be combined with a plug-in electric system to produce a car that runs exclusively on batteries charged on household current, and then switches to a clean-emission system to continue driving the electric motor once the batteries wear down. One concept version of the Chevrolet Volt uses this.

But right now, the disadvantages to hydrogen are daunting, so much so that some critics say they are insurmountable.


BMW Hydrogen 7.

The price of fuel cells will have to come down considerably before they'll be viable for consumers: Perron said they're between $150,000 and $175,000, which is one of the reasons why BMW uses a conventional engine. Secondly, storage is a major problem: the Hydrogen 7 can only carry enough liquid hydrogen to go about 200 km (a button on the steering wheel seamlessly switches between hydrogen and petroleum at any speed, so the car overall has a range of about 700 km). And finding the fuel is almost impossible, as a network of consumer liquid hydrogen filling stations simply doesn't exist. In order to demonstrate the vehicles in Toronto, BMW had to set up a mobile station. The Canadian National Exhibition grounds, where the presentation was made, has a hydrogen production station powered by a wind turbine, but it produces gaseous hydrogen and couldn't be used to fill the cars.

There's also considerable controversy over hydrogen itself, which isn't necessarily a "green" fuel. It can be made from water, using electricity to crack the hydrogen and oxygen apart; that's renewable if the electricity comes from water or wind turbines, or from solar panels, but many power plants are coal-fired. Today, though, hydrogen is most commonly (and most cheaply) made from natural gas, which is a fossil fuel; it can also be produced from other sources such as biomass, methanol, coal or oil. Hydrogen is also an energy carrier, not an energy source, and there's always a question of whether the method used to produce it requires more energy than the hydrogen ultimately provides. The production and distribution of hydrogen may be out of the automaker's hands, but it will be a major factor in whether vehicles like these are ever a common sight on our roads.



A special mobile filling station was set up (top);
The hydrogen tank sits in the trunk.

They certainly weren't during my test-drive, and the car got more than its share of stares, although it was due almost entirely to the large decals put on the doors specifically for such events: normally, only discreet badges and the large chrome secondary filler door give any clue as to the Hydrogen 7's alter ego. Inside, the only differences are the hydrogen/petroleum button on the wheel, a gauge in the driver information centre that indicates the remaining hydrogen, and slightly less legroom in the rear seat, which has been moved forward to accommodate the hydrogen tank. (Although the system can be fitted to any model, BMW chose its largest sedan because it could hold the largest possible tank.)

That tank mounts in the trunk, and even if it has a long way to go before it can hold enough hydrogen for everyday use, it's certainly a marvel of engineering. To stay liquid, hydrogen must be a beyond-bone-chilling minus-250C. BMW says the tank has an insulating effect equivalent to a 17-metre-thick jacket of Styrofoam, and if it held regular ice, it would take around 13 years for the block to thaw completely. I don't know about you, but I'm seeing a tremendous market opportunity for BMW-brand beer coolers.


A button on the wheel switches between hydrogen and gasoline.

The tank has also been extensively crash-tested - including being hit from behind by a truck - as well as dropped and shot, but the company says it has yet to rupture one (tests on the "injuries" to the crash-test dummy suggest that the tank even helps provide extra rear crash protection). Should it be necessary, an emergency system expels hydrogen through safety lines in the C-pillar and out through a vent in the roof; if the car lands on its top, there are secondary lines to a vent in the bumper. Special lock buttons on each door are hooked to sensors that continually check for hydrogen in the cabin, and should any be detected, the buttons will flash a red warning. (It isn't hazardous to breathe gaseous hydrogen, but any spark will ignite it.) Perron says that hydrogen isn't any more or less dangerous than gasoline, "just different."

Driving the Hydrogen 7 is similar to driving the regular model, except that the V12 engine has been dialed back from 438 hp to 260 hp to run smoothly on both fuels. It also takes longer to crank over when it starts, because it's purging the system, and there is a slight clattery noise when it switches from one fuel to the other, because the port injection system lacks sound insulation (it's inherent to this particular engine, not to hydrogen itself). Overall, it's business as usual behind the wheel, with smooth acceleration and performance on par with a luxury sedan; only those familiar with the V12's regular rocket acceleration will notice any difference. It's tough to give an exact figure because hydrogen is measured in kilograms, but the engineers estimate that the car averages the equivalent of 13.0 L/100 km on hydrogen, which is about what the regular 760Li gets on gasoline.



The filler clamps securely to the vehicle (top);
BMW says the filling system may one day be completely automated.

Fuelling it up is another story. The hose clamps to the car's filler neck, purges the system, and then dispenses the liquid hydrogen. At the temporary station, it takes between six and eight minutes to go from empty to full; at permanent stations, which BMW has available in Munich, a cryo-pump pushes the fuel in, requiring only three to four minutes. The company says that the fuelling process can be done by the driver and doesn't require a trained attendant, such as with propane; in future, stations might be completely automated, with hoses that find the filler necks and fuel the car without the driver getting out from behind the wheel.

But if such a service station is still in the future, so is the car it will eventually fill. BMW is already looking ahead: its next hydrogen vehicle will be a version of the new X6. And it's not the only one, as the U.S. Department of Energy recently announced up to US$15.3 million over the next five years for hydrogen storage research and development, part of an overall US$1.2 billion the government has committed to hydrogen fuel cells. Perhaps one day you might put a fuel made from water into your tank, and get the same back out from the tailpipe. But don't give up your gasoline card just yet.

Jil McIntosh is a freelance writer, a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and Assistant Editor for CanadianDriver.com

© 1999-2007, CanadianDriver Communications Inc., all rights reserved. (http://www.canadiandriver.com/articles/jm/bmw-hydrogen-7.php)

December 23rd, 2008, 08:40 AM
Test Drive BMW Hydrogen Car

to Access YouTube Video

http://www.ecochauffeur.co.uk/a/i/bmw-hydrogen-7-car.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N675mHss_uQ)
Video – Courtesy YouTube / gabemac;
Image – Courtesy Eco Chauffeur

Runtime - 10:33

December 23rd, 2008, 04:20 PM

Science News

BMW Hydrogen 7 Emissions Well-below Super-ultra Low-emission Vehicle Standards, Government Tests Confirm

(Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Argonne National Laboratory)

The BMW Hydrogen 7 Mono-Fuel demonstration vehicle, a near-zero emissions
car, undergoes testing at Argonne's Advanced Powertrain Research Facility
(APRF), the principal U.S. Department of Energy facility for assessing
advanced hybrid electric vehicle technologies. APRF is a unique facility in
North America because it is the able to detect trace levels of emissions.

ScienceDaily (Mar. 31, 2008) — Independent tests conducted by engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory on a BMW Hydrogen 7 Mono-Fuel demonstration vehicle have found that the car's hydrogen-powered engine surpasses the super-ultra low-emission vehicle (SULEV) level, the most stringent emissions performance standard to date.

"The BMW Hydrogen 7's emissions were only a fraction of SULEV level, making it one of the lowest emitting combustion engine vehicles that have been manufactured," said Thomas Wallner, a mechanical engineer who leads Argonne's hydrogen vehicle testing activities. "Moreover, the car's engine actively cleans the air. Argonne's testing shows that the Hydrogen 7's 12-cylinder engine actually shows emissions levels that, for certain components, are cleaner than the ambient air that comes into the car's engine."

It was not an easy task to measure the Hydrogen 7's emissions. "A gross polluter is easy to measure, but the cleaner the car the harder it is to test," said Don Hillebrand, director of Argonne's Center for Transportation Research. "Most labs test at the SULEV level. Argonne's vehicle testing facilities are unique in that they are able to detect even trace levels of emissions. In this case, it was near-zero emissions."

After an extensive evaluation by BMW, "Argonne's Advanced Powertrain Research Facility was found to be the only public test facility in North America capable of testing hydrogen vehicles at these low emissions levels," said BMW's Wolfgang Thiel, manager, operating support emissions analysis. "Zero is a very small precise number -- we are pushing the boundaries of emissions testing."

Technical and program information about the Hydrogen 7 tests will be presented by Wallner and BMW North America's Jason P. Perron Wednesday, April 2 during the National Hydrogen Association Annual Hydrogen Conference, March 30-April 3, in Sacramento, Calif. Argonne will join BMW's Christoph Huss, senior vice president, science, traffic and vehicles regulations, in a press conference to present the test results during the Society of Automotive Engineers 2008 World Congress, April 14-17, in Detroit.

BMW has put the hydrogen model into limited series production. Although the vehicle is not yet available for sale to the general public, it is being made available to "influential public figures," whose use demonstrate a new era in clean energy, BMW has said. In the meantime, the greatest challenge to widespread use of hydrogen cars is the limited number of hydrogen refueling stations.

Argonne's transportation research program and facilities are primarily funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which supports the development of vehicle technologies and alternative fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil, and enables the U.S. transportation industry to sustain a strong, competitive position in domestic and world markets.

Copyright © 1995-2008 ScienceDaily LLC — All rights reserved (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080328070103.htm)

December 25th, 2008, 04:48 AM

Tama Electric Vehicle (1947)

After the war, Tachikawa Airplane Company (later the Prince Motor Company) diversified into automobiles, building an electric car at a borrowed factory in the town of Kitatamagun Chofu, Tokyo. Since gasoline was rationed in this period and the availability of fuel was low, the company focused on electric vehicles. Two prototypes (EOT-46) were completed in 1946, consisting of a converted Ohta truck with a battery stored under the cargo bed and a motor replacing the engine under the hood. The next year, in 1947, the EOT-47 prototype was completed with an independently designed body. It incorporated new ideas such as headlamps that were directly connected to the fender and an alligator style hood. The much-awaited ES-47 passenger version was completed in May and named "Tama" after the site of the factory.

The Tama was a 2-door sedan with a top speed of 35 km/h and a maximum range of 65 km on a single charge. In June, the company changed its name to Tokyo Electric Motorcar Co. and continued to release a succession of improved models. The 1949 model known as the Senior was capable of 200 km on a single charge.

http://www.jsae.or.jp/autotech/images/footer.gif (http://www.jsae.or.jp/autotech/data_e/1-12e.html)

photo by baku13, 23 Oct 2006

photo by baku13, 23 Oct 2006

Courtesy of Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc.

December 25th, 2008, 11:53 AM
Amazing how with today's technology, automakers make it seem impossible to build modern EV's.

December 28th, 2008, 10:25 AM
Fascinating: I was not aware of the Stir-lec I. Read the copy. This is 1969!

Why o why did GM not go through with these ideas?


December 28th, 2008, 03:50 PM
So an external combustion engine charges the batteries and the batteries run the car through an electric motor. Pollution goes down, but I bet efficiency doesn't; every time you convert energy you lose some of it. I'll wager this car got the mileage of a standard Opel Kadett.

But it topped out at 55 mph!

No wonder the idea went nowhere.

December 31st, 2008, 12:25 PM

Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Concept Trucks by Luigi Colani

Sexiest Truck on the Planet

"Luigi Colani is a legendary Swiss-German industrial designer, whose concepts have rounded, organic forms, which he claims are ergonomically superior to traditional designs."

Words fail me as I gaze on the audacious curves of these full-size trucks, some of which seem to float above the ground. First "Colani Trucks" (based on Mercedes platform) appeared at the end of the Eighties, and several variations were made since then.

(photos by (c) W. Heix, NeueWeltClub and JSDI, Japan) Click to enlarge.

Spitzer / Colani model:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/123/335919980_89d689cd77.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/123/335919980_89d689cd77_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/146/335919707_e0abe605f8.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/146/335919707_e0abe605f8_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/155/335919690_d63468e045.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/155/335919690_d63468e045_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/147/335919726_34952e7d9c.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/147/335919726_34952e7d9c_o.jpg)

Mercedes-based model:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/127/335919501_644b924dc3.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/127/335919501_644b924dc3_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/141/335919463_89c3367ae0.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/141/335919463_89c3367ae0_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/165/335919453_a6bf8f635c.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/165/335919453_a6bf8f635c_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/157/335919484_697154cf89.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/157/335919484_697154cf89_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/130/335919494_1fe4273ddd.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/130/335919494_1fe4273ddd_o.jpg)

Other variations:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/156/335919795_f99c5ab7a5_m.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/156/335919795_f99c5ab7a5_o.jpg) http://farm1.static.flickr.com/143/335919846_7abcf17dd7_m.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/143/335919846_7abcf17dd7_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/141/335919773_14f3547a64.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/141/335919773_14f3547a64_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/155/335919875_af372d8c6d.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/155/335919875_af372d8c6d_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/139/335919635_ea2a0316f0.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/139/335919635_ea2a0316f0_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/156/335919754_fc328c9e44.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/156/335919754_fc328c9e44_o.jpg)

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1021/1058969924_2d5f5cc887.jpg (http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1021/1058969924_d6fe470ddd_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/162/336025341_4eec5e803d.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/162/336025341_4eec5e803d_o.jpg)

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/149/336025342_74eca48a35.jpg (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/149/336025342_74eca48a35_o.jpg)

Avi Abrams - IAN MEDIA Co.- All Rights Reserved.

December 31st, 2008, 06:33 PM

Luigi Colani - Translating Nature

by Brett Patterson
13 Jun 2007

One of the most influential designers of the past half-century, Luigi Colani, is the subject of an exhibition at the Design Museum in London. With a career spanning almost six decades, Colani has applied his unique design style to produce cars, trucks, boats, aircraft, ceramics and consumer goods, as well as creating futuristic concepts for as-yet unrealized transport systems and architecture. There are Colani tea pots, mineral water bottles and sun glasses, but much of his work remains in the form of dream-like models or photographic montages. While operating firmly outside the mainstream of the automotive design industry, Colani's work has had a huge influence on automotive designers. CDN met with Colani in London, where he explained his design philosophy.

Born Lutz Colani in Berlin in 1928, his father was a movie set designer from Switzerland, his mother an actress from Poland. Colani studied sculpture at the Akademie der Kuenste, Berlin, and moved to Paris in 1947 to study aerodynamics at Universite de Paris-Sorbonne. Lutz became 'Luigi' with his 1952 newspaper feature on a jet-powered motorbike, under the brand name 'LuCo'. At the 1954 Geneva Motor Show he presented a sports coupe based on the Fiat 1100, for which he won the Golden Rose prize. He later won the 'Golden Shoe' fashion prize for his 'elevator' high-heel shoe design.

Colani explained to CDN that in his early studies he was strongly influenced by the world of classical sculpture, and that he "frantically tried to mix both high technology and beauty", to mix function and form in a way found in nature... "I respect nature".

A prime characteristic of Colani's design work is rounded, organic forms, which he terms 'biodynamic'. He is famous for avoiding straight lines in his work: "Everything on the microcosmic as well as the macroscopic plane is made up of curves... I can only obey the laws of nature."


'Yellow egg' city car (2006)

The exhibition 'Translating Nature' includes Colani's studies of sea life, and animations that mix aquatic life with Colani's own 'bioform' designs. Colani explains that his father advised him as a child: "Try to go in the garden and look at the plants and animals, and try to imagine, all the problems were solved over millions of years". Colani sketches a cross-section through a bird's wing, explaining how all the aeronautics design answers are already there, shaped by evolution, from variable wing geometry to wing leading-edge slats.

Colani presented an ideal vehicle aerodynamic form with his 'C-Form' concept in 1968, a vehicle where the whole body forms an inverted wing. The concept was featured in Stern magazine, and has influenced a generation of student designers with its architecture of four wheel-pods suspending a central cabin form. The 1982 'Le Mans 82' sports coupe and BMW 'M2' were studies that while somewhat baroque, defined a unique form language seen years later in vehicles such as the Corvette Indy and Porsche 959.


'C-Form' aerodynamic study (1968)

Colani's aircraft designs have ranged from lightweight personal aircraft to huge heavy-lift flying wings and re-usable spacecraft, all photographed by Colani in a distinctive style that presents scale models as if full-size, with meticulously modeled sets and tiny figures to complete the illusion. Colani has also been involved in production aircraft design, his 1976 Fanliner the first plastic sports airplane with a Wankel rotary engine.

Colani moved to Japan in 1982, where he was named 'Designer of the Year' in 1984. "I stayed 10 years in Japan, with the aim to help them extrapolate from their own culture, instead of trying to copy Europe". He designed the groundbreaking 1986 Canon T90 camera, which applied bio-forms to previously angular camera design, and featured a prominent forward-set hand-grip with ergonomic controls that has become a standard architecture for most cameras since.

Colani comments that his vacation time while in Japan was spent diving, studying the forms of undersea life. "What an institute!" he exclaims.

Colani has some strong views on the mainstream automotive industry: "Amongst today's car industry management there is not one that understands the real problems". Colani believes the whole emphasis on new vehicle development is wrong: "We have hundreds of electric motors to do jobs normally done by human hands. Car design should not be about the small details. It should be about the bigger picture... Cars should be "simpler, less features, streamlined, lightly built." He uses a slogan (in German): "langsam, leise, lustig, liecht" - meaning slow, quiet, spirited, light. Colani believes the mainstream manufacturers are all missing the point, "to build cars to go from A to B with a smile... to give answers to problems of our time".


Luigi Colani in signature white attire

We asked Colani if he considered himself to be a designer or an artist. He answers: "I'm not a designer, I'm a 3D philosopher".

Colani sketches a crankshaft from a Jaguar racecar, showing how he modified it with smoothly shaped counterweights to reduce drag within the crankcase. The car went on to win LeMans. Colani explains that he "looks at, and works with the philosophy of the machine", and is often involved in areas some would consider the realm of the engineer, but which really come within the realm of '3D philosophy' and a broader view of the role of the designer. "We need a new generation of thinkers - philosophers," says Colani. He is currently assisting in the development of a new BMW aircraft engine for a Russian commercial airliner.

30 years ago Colani built the first streamlined trucks, during periods of 'fahrverbot' (driving bans) in Germany. The trucks achieved a 25% reduction in fuel usage. In the Shell marathon "we covered 1800km with 1 liter of fuel". Colani is the world record holder since 1991 with a four-seater using 1.7 liters/100km of gasoline.


Streamlined bulk tanker truck (2002)

Colani is currently working on new truck with Siemens, aiming for a 50% reduction in fuel consumption. His prototype build facility in Karlsruhe, Germany, employs between 5 and 30 people depending on the projects underway. Colani lives in a baroque castle in Harkotten.

He is currently on a global publicity trip. He explains that if Europe doesn't react positively to his proposals following this trip, then he will be going ahead with projects in Shanghai, where the Chinese government has offered space and support. Colani has lived in Shanghai for 10 years, and is Professor of transport Design at Tsinghua University.

Commenting on design in China: "Chinese designers will only need 3-4 years more to catch up to world standards". His message to China, as it was for Japan, "Don't copy European influences". Colani believes that China will fast become the most advanced in ecological solutions "because they will have no other choice".

Colani is currently doing research for Air China, for a flying wing airliner. China needs high-capacity passenger aircraft: "There are 12 747's flying in each direction between Shanghai and Beijing every day". A flying wing has 5 times the capacity of a conventional aircraft.

He explains he is looking for "capital to sell his life's work, to stay in Europe, and to found a 'club of Europe's brains', to fight the coming challenge from Asia". "If I go to China, and they jump on me with their ability to build quality... If they can get first hand information on what the world needs, they could wipe out Europe".

At 79, Colani shows no sign of slowing down. His recent projects included a sidestick controller for the Airbus A320, a gas-powered truck for Qatar, police uniforms, and a "logical and healthy (and nice looking)" shoe collection in Japan. Colani says he may get into more fashion work, a field which he regards as "even more stupid" than the other fields of design.

We asked Colani which is his 'favourite' amongst his past work. "All were advanced thinking in their time, but there is not one I love best, the focus is always on the child I am nursing at that time."

© 2008 Car Design News Ltd (http://www.cardesignnews.com/site/designers/designer_interviews/display/store4/item78606/)

January 1st, 2009, 11:22 AM

First CNG Alternative-Fuel Trucks Arrive at Southern California Ports to Combat Air Pollution

Last update: 12:19 p.m. EST Dec. 2, 2008

LOS ANGELES, CA, Dec 02, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- To help reduce air pollution at the busiest container seaports in the United States, Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) – joined by officials from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) – today launched a 12-month demonstration of the nation's first clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled drayage trucks to transport containers off-loaded from ships.

To study the use of natural gas in port operations, four heavy-duty CNG trucks will move containers between the San Pedro Bay ports to nearby freight-consolidation yards. The CNG truck engines are certified to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's stringent 2010 on-road emission standards. The trucks are expected to reduce nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emissions -- a precursor to smog -- by 80 percent, as compared with the cleanest diesel truck.

"We envision these clean-fuel trucks playing an important role in the ongoing efforts to improve air quality around Southern California's busy ports," said Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer programs at The Gas Company, who is serving as project lead.

About two-thirds of the 15 million container units coming into the San Pedro Bay ports annually are moved by truck within a 25-mile radius of the docks. In an unprecedented environmental program to clean up pollution from diesel big rigs by 80 percent by 2010, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, working with trucking companies and other stakeholders, launched the Clean Trucks Program Oct. 1. According to port officials, this is the most ambitious anti-pollution plan ever developed at a global seaport. The natural gas-fueled trucks launched into service today, with co-funding from both ports, will play an important role in that effort. The demonstration project's overall cost is about $1.7 million. The ports each contributed about $112,000, with $1.1 million from The Gas Company and $421,000 from the AQMD.

"Long Beach welcomes the new CNG trucks to our port service," said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. "These four trucks will be added to the growing number of clean trucks that will help make the Port of Long Beach one of the cleanest ports in the world."

As a low-carbon fuel choice, the use of CNG in these trucks also will help California achieve its goals under its Low-Carbon Fuel Standard and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by approximately 20 percent.

“AQMD's funding of the Cal Cartage fueling facility will help reduce drayage truck emissions at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which are the largest fixed source of air pollution in the Southland," said Barry Wallerstein, AQMD's executive officer. "This effort also will help the ports implement their clean port initiative goal of converting half of the truck fleet working in and around the ports to clean-burning natural gas."

Following the initial 12-month demonstration project, The Gas Company hopes to then further reduce emissions from the CNG drayage trucks by switching the fuel from CNG to a CNG/hydrogen blend. This CNG/hydrogen fuel blend is widely regarded as an important gateway to a hydrogen future for the transportation sector, because the fuel has been proven to reduce nitrogen-oxide emissions from natural gas vehicle engines by an additional 30 percent to 50 percent.

The Port of Long Beach is one of the world's premier seaports, a pioneer in goods movement and a trailblazer in environmental stewardship. One of Southern California's key economic engines, the Port with its precedent-setting Green Port Policy is protecting wildlife habitats, improving air quality and making positive contributions to the greater Long Beach community.

The Port of Los Angeles, also known as "America's Port," has a strong commitment to developing innovative strategic and sustainable operations that benefit the economy and the quality of life for the region and the nation it serves. A recipient of numerous environmental awards, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2007 Clean Air Excellence Award, the Port of Los Angeles is committed to innovating cleaner, greener ways of doing business. As the leading seaport in North America in terms of shipping container volume and cargo value, the Port generates 919,000 regional jobs and $39.1 billion in annual wages and tax revenues. A proprietary department of the City of Los Angeles, the Port is self-supporting and does not receive taxpayer dollars. The Port of Los Angeles - A cleaner port. A brighter future.

AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Copyright 2008 Market Wire, All rights reserved. (http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/First-CNG-Alternative-Fuel-Trucks/story.aspx?guid=%7B74C36761-5B94-40B0-A7BD-7B5E71D4BE63%7D)

January 1st, 2009, 05:39 PM
Report: Toyota developing solar powered green car

By YURI KAGEYAMA (AP Business Writer)
From Associated Press
January 01, 2009 2:31 AM EST (http://enews.earthlink.net/article/top?guid=20081231/495c4dd0_3ca6_15526200901011844638978)

TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp. is secretly developing a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy in an effort to turn around its struggling business with a futuristic ecological car, a top business daily reported Thursday.

The Nikkei newspaper, however, said it will be years before the planned vehicle will be available on the market. Toyota's offices were closed Thursday and officials were not immediately available for comment.

According to The Nikkei, Toyota is working on an electric vehicle that will get some of its power from solar cells equipped on the vehicle, and that can be recharged with electricity generated from solar panels on the roofs of homes. The automaker later hopes to develop a model totally powered by solar cells on the vehicle, the newspaper said without citing sources.

The solar car is part of efforts by Japan's top automaker to grow during hard times, The Nikkei said.

In December, Toyota stunned the nation by announcing it will slip into its first operating loss in 70 years, as it gets battered by a global slump, especially in the key U.S. market. The surging yen has also hurt the earnings of Japanese automakers.

Still, Toyota is a leader in green technology and executives have stressed they won't cut back on environmental research despite its troubles.

Toyota, the manufacturer of the Lexus luxury car and Camry sedan, has already begun using solar panels at its Tsutsumi plant in central Japan to produce some of its own electricity.

The solar panels on the roofs add up in size to the equivalent of 60 tennis courts and produce enough electricity to power 500 homes, according to Toyota. That reduces 740 tons a year of carbon dioxide emissions and is equal to using 1,500 barrels of crude oil.

Toyota is also likely to indirectly gain expertise in solar energy when its partner in developing and producing hybrid batteries, Panasonic Corp., takes over Japanese rival Sanyo Electric Co., a leader in solar energy, early next year.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

January 2nd, 2009, 11:21 AM


At highway speeds, most of the energy needed to move a car down the road goes to pushing air out of its way. On the EPA highway cycle with an average speed of 48 mph, 54% of the energy required to move a car goes to aerodynamic drag. Because drag increases with the square of speed, more than twice as much energy would be required to overcome drag at 70 mph.

Three factors determine a vehicle's drag: 1) its speed, 2) the cross-sectional area it presents to the wind, and 3) its drag coefficient or Cd. The drag coefficient is a measure of the "overall slipperiness" of a vehicles shape.

Aerodynamic Vehicles of the Future

Concept vehicles developed as a part of the government/industry cooperative partnership for a new generation of vehicles have 40% less aerodynamic drag than a conventional vehicle.



Idling Losses – 17.2%

In urban driving, significant energy is lost to idling at stop lights or in traffic. Technologies such as Integrated Starter/Generator (ISG) systems help reduce these losses by automatically turning the engine off when the vehicle comes to a stop and restarting it instantaneously when the accelerator is pressed.

Integrated Starter/Generator (ISG)

These systems automatically turn the engine off when the vehicle comes to a stop and restart it instantaneously when the accelerator is pressed so that fuel isn't wasted for idling. In addition, regenerative braking is often used to convert mechanical energy lost in braking into electricity, which is stored in a battery and used to power the automatic starter.

Potential Efficiency Improvement: 8%
Savings Over Vehicle Lifetime: $1,200*

Accessories – 2.2%

Air conditioning, power steering, windshield wipers, and other accessories use energy generated from the engine. Fuel economy improvements of up to 1% may be achievable with more efficient alternator systems and power steering pumps.

Driveline Losses – 5.6%

Energy is lost in the transmission and other parts of the driveline. Technologies, such as Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) and Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), are being developed to reduce these losses.

Automated Manual Transmission (AMT)

Automated manual transmissions combine the best features of manual and automatic transmissions. Manual transmissions are lighter than conventional automatic transmissions and suffer fewer energy losses. However, most drivers prefer the convenience of an automatic.

AMT operates similarly to a manual transmission except that it does not require clutch actuation or shifting by the driver. Automatic shifting is controlled electronically (shift-by-wire) and performed by a hydraulic system or electric motor. In addition, technologies can be employed to make the shifting process smoother than conventional manual transmissions.

Efficiency Improvement: 7%
Savings Over Vehicle Lifetime: $1,000

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

Most conventional transmission systems control the ratio between engine speed and wheel speed using a fixed number of metal gears.

Rather than using gears, the CVTs in currently available vehicles utilize a pair of variable-diameter pulleys connected by a belt or chain that can produce an infinite number of engine/wheel speed ratios.

This system has several advantages over conventional transmission designs:

• Seamless acceleration without the jerk or jolt from changing gears
• No frequent downshifting or "gear hunting" on hills
• Better fuel efficiency

Efficiency Improvement: 6%
Savings Over Vehicle Lifetime: $900*

Engine Losses – 62.4%

In gasoline-powered vehicles, over 62% of the fuel's energy is lost in the internal combustion engine (ICE). ICE engines are very inefficient at converting the fuel's chemical energy to mechanical energy, losing energy to engine friction, pumping air into and out of the engine, and wasted heat.

Advanced engine technologies such as Variable Valve Timing & Lift (VVT&L), Turbocharging & Supercharging, Direct Fuel Injection, and Cylinder Deactivation can be used to reduce these losses.

In addition, diesels are about 30-35% more efficient than gasoline engines, and new advances in diesel technologies and fuels are making these vehicles more attractive.

Variable Valve Timing & Lift (VVT&L)

Also called variable valve actuation (VVT), variable-cam timing and variable valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC®)

Valves control the flow of air and fuel, into the cylinders and exhaust out of them. When and how long the valves open (timing) and how much the valves move (lift) both affect engine efficiency.

Optimum timing and lift settings are different for high and low engine speeds. Traditional designs, however, use fixed timing and lift settings, which are a compromise between the optimum for high and low speeds. VVT&L systems automatically alter timing and lift to
the optimum settings for the engine speed.

Potential Efficiency Improvement:

Savings Over Vehicle Lifetime:

Turbocharging & Supercharging

Turbochargers and superchargers are fans that force compressed air into an engine’s cylinders. A turbocharger fan is powered by exhaust from the engine, while a supercharger fan is powered by the engine itself.

Both technologies allow more compressed air and fuel to be injected into the cylinders, generating extra power from each explosion. A turbocharged or supercharged engine produces more power than the same engine without the charging, allowing manufacturers to user smaller engines without sacrificing performance.

Potential Efficiency Improvement: 7.5%
Savings Over Vehicle Lifetime: $1,100*

Direct Fuel Injection (with Turbocharging/Supercharging)

Also called fuel stratified injection or direct injection stratified charge

In conventional multi-port fuel injection systems, fuel is injected into the port and mixed with air before the air-fuel mixture is pumped into the cylinder. In direct injection systems, fuel is injected directly into the cylinder so that the timing and shape of the fuel mist can be precisely controlled. This allows higher compression ratios and more efficient fuel intake, which deliver higher performance with lower fuel consumption.

Potential Efficiency Improvement: 12%
Savings Over Vehicle Lifetime: $1,800*

Cylinder Deactivation

Also called multiple displacement, displacement on demand (DOD), and variable cylinder management

This technology merely deactives some of the engine's cylinders when they are not needed. This temporarily turns a 8- or 6-cylinder engine into a 4- or 3-cylinder engine. This technology is not used on 4-cylinder engines since it would cause a noticeable decrease in engine smoothness.

Potential Efficiency Improvement: 7.5%
Savings Over Vehicle Lifetime: $1,100*

Overcoming Inertia; Braking Losses– 5.8%

To move forward, a vehicle's drivetrain must provide enough energy to overcome the vehicle's inertia, which is directly related to its weight. The less a vehicle weighs, the less energy it takes to move it. Weight can be reduced by using lightweight materials and lighter-weight technologies (e.g., Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) weigh less than conventional automatics).

In addition, any time you use your brakes, energy initially used to overcome inertia is lost.

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/2004indeximages/EERE.gif (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/)


Fuel cost savings are estimated assuming an average vehicle lifetime of 185,000 miles, a fuel price of $1.66, and an average fuel economy of 21 MPG. All estimates are rounded to the nearest hundred dollars.

January 10th, 2009, 05:56 PM
Toyota to Sell Tiny U.S. ‘Urban Commuter’ Battery Car by 2012

By Alan Ohnsman

Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp., working to hold a lead in advanced vehicles over General Motors Corp. and smaller startups, plans to sell a tiny, battery-powered car in the U.S. by 2012 that can be recharged at electrical outlets.

A concept version of the FT-EV “urban commuter” car will be at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit starting tomorrow, Toyota said in a statement. The world’s largest seller of hybrids didn’t say how much the model, a modified version of the iQ minicar sold in Japan, may cost.

Toyota is readying the FT-EV as alternatives to gasoline expand. They range from plug-ins, including a version of Toyota’s Prius and GM’s Volt, to electric cars from Nissan Motor Co., Tesla Motors Inc. and Fisker Automotive Inc. Gasoline prices, which set a record in the U.S. last year, and pressure from governments to trim carbon dioxide emissions, are driving demand.

“Last summer’s $4-a-gallon gasoline was no anomaly, it was a brief glimpse of our future,” Irv Miller, U.S. group vice president of environmental and public affairs for the Toyota City, Japan-based company, said in the statement today.

“We must address the inevitability of peak oil by developing vehicles powered by alternatives to liquid-oil fuel, as well as new concepts, like the iQ, that are lighter in weight and smaller in size,” he said. “This kind of vehicle, electrified or not, is where our industry must focus its creativity.”

Plug-In Prius

Toyota’s two-door electric car, similar in size to Daimler AG’s Smart minicar, seats four people and would travel at least 50 miles “between home and work,” the company said. Toyota hasn’t yet set a total driving range per charge for the FT-EV, said Jana Hartline, a spokeswoman.

The company also said today that later this year it will begin delivering an initial 500 plug-in Prius hybrids with lithium-ion battery packs. Of the fleet customers that will lease them, 150 will be in the U.S.

Toyota hasn’t yet said when such Priuses, which can be recharged at household electric outlets, will be sold to individuals. Its current hybrids, as well as those sold by Honda Motor Co., GM, Nissan, Ford Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp., use nickel-metal-hydride batteries that recharge from braking and deceleration when the vehicle is moving.

Toyota plans to unveil a new Lexus hybrid tomorrow in Detroit and a restyled Prius on Jan. 12. The company will have as many as 10 U.S. hybrids on sale in the early 2010s, Miller said. Toyota’s U.S. sales unit is based in Torrance, California.

U.S. hybrid sales fell 11 percent last year to 316,013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Toyota sold 158,884 Prius hatchbacks, a 12 percent drop from a year earlier. Toyota’s share of all hybrid sales fell to 76 percent, from 78 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

Toyota Press Release


EV Concept Confirms Battery-Electric Vehicle in 2012;

First of 150 Plug-ins Arrive Late '09 to Lease-Fleet Customers;

As Many As 10 New Gas-Electric Hybrids by early 2010s

Detroit, January 10, 2009 - - Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. today announced that it will display the Toyota FT-EV concept on opening Media Day at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), confirming its plan to launch an urban commuter battery-electric vehicle (BEV) by 2012. This announcement, coupled with its compressed natural gas powered Camry Hybrid concept display at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, signal Toyota's intention to broaden the scope of its advanced alternative-fuel vehicle development.

"Now, more than ever, while we are so focused on the pressing issues of the moment, we cannot lose sight of our future," said Irv Miller, TMS Group Vice President, Environmental and Public Affairs. "Nowhere is this more important than with our industry's duty and commitment to provide true sustainable mobility with vehicles that significantly reduce fuel consumption, our carbon footprint and overall greenhouse gases."

The FT-EV concept shares its platform with the revolutionary-new iQ urban commuter vehicle. Already a huge hit in Japan, the iQ is lightweight and seats four passengers in comfort and security, while delivering exceptional mileage, sporty performance, unique refinements and a fun, youthful image.

Toyota's FT-EV concept imagines an urban dweller, driving up to 50 miles between home, work and other forms of public transportation, such as high-speed rail. Although, for now, the FT-EV remains a pure concept, it represents a natural pairing of product strategies.

"Last summer's four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline was no anomaly. It was a brief glimpse of our future," said Miller. "We must address the inevitability of peak oil by developing vehicles powered by alternatives to liquid-oil fuel, as well as new concepts, like the iQ, that are lighter in weight and smaller in size. This kind of vehicle, electrified or not, is where our industry must focus its creativity."

Although BEVs and new smaller vehicles like the iQ will be a key component of Toyota's sustainable mobility strategy, the conventional gas-electric hybrid, like the all new third-generation Prius, is considered Toyota's long-term core powertrain technology.

Last year, Toyota announced that it planned to sell one million gas-electric hybrids per year sometime during the early 2010s. To accomplish this, Toyota will launch as many as 10 new hybrid models by the early 2010s, in various global markets. The new third-generation Toyota Prius and all new Lexus HS250h, both debuting in Detroit, are the first two examples of that effort.

Also, last year, Toyota announced that it would roll-out a large number of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) to global lease-fleet customers in 2010. That schedule has been moved up.

Beginning in late 2009, Toyota will start global delivery of 500 Prius PHVs powered by lithium-ion batteries. Of these initial vehicles, 150 will be placed with U.S. lease-fleet customers.

The first-generation lithium-ion batteries powering these PHVs will be built on an assembly line at Toyota's PEVE (Panasonic EV Energy Company, LTD) battery plant, a joint-venture production facility in which Toyota owns 60 percent equity. During its development, the new Prius was designed and engineered to package either the lithium-ion battery pack with plug-in capability, or the nickel-metal hydride battery for the conventional gas-electric system.

The 500 PHVs arriving globally in late 2009 will be used for market and engineering analysis. Lease–fleet customers will monitor the performance and durability of the first-generation lithium-ion battery, while offering real world feedback on how future customers might respond to the plug-in process.

"Future customers will have high expectations for these emerging technologies. This Prius PHV fleet program is a key first step in confirming how and when we might bring large numbers of plug-in hybrids to global markets," said Miller.

"Our business is no longer about simply building and selling cars and trucks. It is about finding solutions to mobility challenges today and being prepared for more daunting challenges in our very near future."

January 10th, 2009, 06:31 PM
Lithium Supply & Markets 2009 (http://www.indmin.com/events/EventDetails.aspx?EventID=736)
Santiago, Chile | 26 January 2009 - 28 January 2009

January 10th, 2009, 07:23 PM
Toyota to Sell Tiny U.S. ‘Urban Commuter’ Battery Car by 2012
Glad to see a glimmer of creative formatting survives on this thread. ^

Halo effect?

January 12th, 2009, 09:45 AM
One question.

If this car is being designed as an "urban commuter", where do they think they will be able to plug in?

Run an extension cord? :confused:

January 12th, 2009, 01:57 PM
Exactly, what if you live on the 6th floor?

January 12th, 2009, 03:20 PM
Alonzo, I guess it means all OTHER urban commuters outside the NYC area. You know, like Austin! ;)

I can see this being a problem if they want to do it. You would have to install sockets in garages and have some sort of lockable extension and timer for the outlet....

Hmmm, parking meters with outlets..........

January 12th, 2009, 04:37 PM
Thats what I pictured, in garages. IE the suburbs.

January 12th, 2009, 04:42 PM
It's a niche-market concept.

Described as an urban commuter, the target would not be a place like Manhattan or a distant suburb, but a city with poor mass-transit. Also would be good as a suburban go-shopping car.

One and two-family homes with off street parking. I doubt the company is looking for high volume, rather establishing a presence in the marketplace.

April 7th, 2009, 08:46 AM
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/nytlogo153x23.gif (http://www.nytimes.com/)

April 6, 2009, 9:17 pm

G.M. Conjures Up a People-Moving Pod

By Jim Motavalli

G.M.’s P.U.M.A. prototype in Manhattan.

General Motors may be so short of cash that bankruptcy is among its dwindling options, but the company is still in the business of creating dreams.

Its latest dream, the P.U.M.A. mobility pod, to be unveiled Tuesday in New York, is pretty far out — and as such, requires no big immediate investments. Indeed, Larry Burns, G.M.’s vice president for research and development and strategic planning, said the P.U.M.A. prototype cost “only one half of one percent of G.M’s typical engineering budget” for a year.

Of course, the P.U.M.A. (for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility) is not really a car, and it’s not really being introduced, except as a bit of blue-sky thinking about better ways to move around crowded urban areas than driving an automobile.

Mr. Burns has used the phrase “reinvention of the automobile” before, in relation to fuel-cell vehicles like the G.M. Sequel. But the P.U.M.A., a joint project with Segway, the New Hampshire-based creator of self-balancing two-wheel scooters, is quite different. Think of a larger, two-passenger, sit-down version of the Segway PT, with two gyroscopically balanced wheels. The prototype has minimal bodywork, but podlike enclosures (which look like computer mice on wheels) are imagined for production. If it gets that far.

If all of this conjures visions of a rickshaw, well, the prototype does somewhat resemble one. Mr. Burns imagines Singapore, which has rickshaws, as one possible early market.

The P.U.M.A., which will be displayed at the New York International Auto Show (which opens to the public on Friday), is an electric vehicle powered by lithium-ion batteries. James D. Norrod, the president and chief executive of Segway, says it has a 35-mile range and 35 m.p.h. top speed. A three-hour charge costs, not surprisingly, 35 cents. It is, in essence, a neighborhood electric vehicle, or N.E.V., whose limited speed keeps it off highways (and, in most states, off roads with speed limits over 35).

Mr. Burns said that six P.U.M.A.’s would fit in a standard parking space.

A new N.E.V. — many are little more than glorified golf carts— is not going to reinvent the automobile. Despite the claims by proponents of such vehicles that they serve the driving needs of many millions, they have failed to make much of a dent in the car market. Ford abandoned its Neighbor N.E.V. when it sold the Norwegian company that made it, Think Nordic, at the end of 2002. Fewer than 6,000 Neighbors were sold in the United States that year. Chrysler still sells Global Electric Motorcars vehicles, which have had some success in gated communities.

In a meeting Monday with editors and reporters at The New York Times, Mr. Burns pulled out his cellphone to make a point: Project P.U.M.A. vehicles would be designed to tap into the two-way communications made possible by G.M.’s OnStar technology, which has six million North American subscribers. The vision is expansive: using “vehicle to vehicle,” or V2V, communications, these “100 percent digital” devices would communicate with one another over a quarter-mile range to prevent collisions, eventually allowing what G.M. calls “autonomous driving and parking.”

Mr. Burns imagines a hands-free urban driver ignoring dense city traffic to concentrate on sending text messages from a PDA clipped in to serve as a dashboard, while the mobile Internet pod moves toward its destination. “My daughter sleeps with her iPhone in her hand,” Mr. Burns said. “At this point, is using a cellphone the distraction, or has driving become the distraction?”

There’s more: the pods would also be equipped to communicate with the smart grid of the future (as is the Aptera EV, another podlike electric vehicle that is due to be introduced in the fall), returning electricity to utilities during times of peak demand. That’s not V2V, it’s V2G — vehicle to grid.


The Segway PT costs $5,000, so the more capable 600-pound P.U.M.A. would presumably be priced considerably higher, though Mr. Burns declined to speculate where the sweet spot might be. “This is a prototype, not a product,” said Mr. Norrod of Segway. “We have not made a decision to commercialize it.”

Mr. Burns concluded his remarks by offering a glimmer of what his company could become if it managed to transform the urban roadscape. “We were the S.U.V. company, and we accept that,” he said. “We want to become the U.S.V. company — known for ultra-small vehicles.”



Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

April 7th, 2009, 09:16 AM
They need a LOT of work on those.

The image is complete geek/loser, and unles they market it as something fun, they will get very few people using them to get into and out of the city. I wuold feel very uncomfortable giong through the tunnel in one of those!

Now, OTOH, if they made incentives such as reduced taxes on parking spots for them, and something like a $1 toll for the bridges/tunnels (you think they contribute to the wear and tear of the infrastructure?) They might become the popular little vehicle for the short-range suburban and other-borough commuters. Maybe even an opportunity for something like a park-and-ride....

Still, the look needs major work.

April 7th, 2009, 08:21 PM


e'mo is a lightweight electric car for town and local traffic, of a totally new design. Consistent with the motto of "less is more" e'mo renounces all superfluous unnecessary burdens and places in pole position the original purpose of the automobile, that is individual mobility. The name itself stands equally for electric motion, efficient mobility and for emotion. Thus the central concerns for e'mo are optimal energy efficiency with high suitability for everyday use, an attractive and distinctive package, and all this at an affordable price.


e'mo began with a vision: to create a contemporary form of individual mobility for local traffic. A small light vehicle, environmentally friendly and highly energy-efficient while making no compromises as regards utility and safety, to be cool and sexy, practical and manoeuvrable and above all affordable to every man and woman. A car in fact that today's market has not yet seen.

Today's motor vehicles are big and heavy and hence have low fuel efficiency. Even most of the electric vehicles the motor industry is presently planning or has already announced are very heavy, because they are fundamentally based on existing designs using the internal combustion engine, and/or give pride of place to high power instead of high energy-efficiency. Such designs are far from realising the potential of electric vehicles for saving energy. e'mo is a new concept from the ground up, aiming at the target of energy-efficient lightweight construction. Lightweight materials and a thoughtful design that renounces all unnecessary components lead to a uniquely low weight. Furthermore, simple construction with few parts, the use of standard components and uncomplicated technology make for low production costs.


daily use
e'mo is the perfect companion for daily travel over short distances. Whether on the way to work, doing the shopping or for a short trip to the countryside, e'mo makes it fun to drive in and around town. As a 2+1-seater e'mo has room enough for most everyday needs. Small and nippy, an efficient money-saver but chic and stylish as well, e'mo is an attractive alternative to the existing range of motor or electric vehicles. Moreover, e'mo is ideal for transport within a closed perimeter, such as the site of a private firm or an airport.


the vehicle
e'mo is a lightweight three-seater electrically-driven car. Thanks to its very low ready-for-the-road weight of only 325 km, e'mo is very energy-efficient and so extremely inexpensive to run. A fully-charged battery gives it a normal range of 100 km, but the battery pack can be augmented according to need to extend this range. With the top folded down in summer it's a pure joy to drive, but with the fabric top up there's no problem even on the wettest days. The cheeky little e'mo is very practical, and gives a novel feeling of carefree mobility.

technical data
Lightweight electric vehicle
Load-bearing structure of sandwich panels
Overall dimensions: L x W x H:
2725 mm x 1495 mm x 1500 mm ~ (9' x 5' x 5')
Weight ready for the road: 325 kg ~ (715 lbs)
Working load: 275 kg ~ (605 lbs)
Drive: synchronous motor
Batteries: Rechargeable lithium'ion
On board battery charger input voltage:
200 - 240 V
Charging time:
100%: 6h / 80%: 2.5h / 50%: 1.5h
Energy consumption: about 4kWh/100km
Range: 100km ~ (60 mi)
Maximum speed: 80 km/h ~ (50 mph)
Target selling price: 15,000 Swiss francs. ~ ($13,000)


April 7th, 2009, 08:36 PM
^ I clicked on that thinking it was another Mariah Carey video. I thought maybe my speakers were broken. What's going on here? Where am I?

April 7th, 2009, 09:14 PM
^ I clicked on that thinking it was another Mariah Carey video. I thought maybe my speakers were broken. What's going on here? Where am I?
^ I almost wet myself when I read that! :D

April 8th, 2009, 10:00 AM
For some strange reason, the first thing that came to my mind was:


April 8th, 2009, 05:38 PM
Video of the GM/Segway PUMA.