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Refuel 2014: Shane Turpin sets SportElectric TT record aboard Brammo Empulse RR [w/video]

  • Motorsports
    Refuel 2014: Shane Turpin sets SportElectric TT record aboard Brammo Empulse RR [w/video]
  • Report
    Total government incentives in Japan could top $30,000 for hydrogen cars
  • Translogic
    Translogic 155: 2014 Cadillac ELR
  • Official
    Cadillac ELR next EV to get Plugless Power wireless charging tech
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Audi readying diesel PHEV models for US and Europe

Posted Jul 30th 2014 8:00AM

Audi Q7: Spy Shots

With the racing pedigree provided by the Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the German king of Le Mans is capitalizing on the connection between its road cars and race cars at every opportunity. Maybe there's an entire range of Le Mans Editions for the automakers diesel-hybrid offerings, with perhaps Tom Kristensen acting as the brand's spokesperson for the technology in Europe. You'd be wrong, though, because despite the R18's overwhelming successes in endurance racing, Audi the road-car manufacturer doesn't offer a single diesel-hybrid production car.

This factoid will hopefully be as short lived as it is disappointing, though, as a diesel-electric is around the corner, according to the brand's tech boss, Ulrich Hackenberg. In fact, it gets better than a mere diesel-hybrid; it will be a plug-in diesel-hybrid, only the second to hit the market, alongside the European-market Volvo V60.

According to Hackenberg, the new tech will be the result of a marriage between the brand's well-received 3.0-liter, TDI V6 with an electric motor. The next-generation Audi Q7 (shown above) will be the initial recipient, confirming previous reports that claimed a PHEV TDI could come to the next-gen CUV. Its MLB architecture, meanwhile, would allow the plug-in-hybrid-diesel powertrain to be fitted easily enough to the A8 luxury sedan. While the new Q7 should hit the market at some point in 2015, it's unclear when the PHEV TDI model could see the light of day.

Still, it's a combination that Hackenberg seems bullish on, and based on his comments, it's a virtual certainty that it'll arrive in some capacity in the US market.

"The hybrid will be another argument to go for diesel in the US," Hackenberg told Automotive News Europe. "We have the combination of low CO2 emissions, necessary to meet market demand and regulations, and we have the diesel which gives a lot torque, which is very necessary for driveability."

"In the USA if you look to sportiness it is very important to be quick away from the traffic lights. In combination with the electric engine, a diesel hybrid delivers very good torque from the start," he added. We'd wholeheartedly agree.
Related Gallery2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots
2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots

News Source: Automotive News Europe - sub. req.

Image Credit: CarPix

Refuel 2014: Shane Turpin sets SportElectric TT record aboard Brammo Empulse RR [w/video]

Posted Jul 29th 2014 8:00PM

Shane Turpin lifts the wheel of the Brammo Empulse RR at Refuel

The faded blue eyes of the corner worker lit up and his tanned face, furrows plowed deep by the California sun, cracked a bemused smile as the Brammo Empulse RR, like a yanagi blade taking a sliver of sashimi from a fresh fillet, smoothly sliced its way through the corkscrew. Minutes earlier, I'd overheard his thin lips spit out a lament about racing without its traditional sonic hyperbole. Though his judgment about the electric competitors might stay unchanged until his last breath, it seemed in that moment, at least, a heretical thought had occurred.

I am at the 2014 SportElectric TT, the competitive portion of the Refuel electric vehicle event put on annually by Speed Ventures. From my track-side seat I watch carefully as a number of adventurous souls, each with their own allotment of time and space, sling various vehicles through the curves and corners of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, my camera attempting to freeze fleeting moments of skill, courage, and luck. It's pretty awesome.

News Source: Copyright 2014 Domenick Yoney / AOL

Jaguar XE promises to net 'over 75 mpg,' just not for us [w/video]

Posted Jul 29th 2014 5:31PM

Jaguar XE

Jaguar XE Platform InfographicWith around a month away from its world debut on September 8, Jaguar continues to issue a constant drip of updates about its upcoming XE compact luxury sedan that's aiming to take on the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. Where the company's last bit of info focused on the car's suspension setup, this time Jag's putting the spotlight on the new model's modular platform and making some big promises about it, too. How big? Try over 75 miles per gallon big.

That's the headline figure that Jaguar is claiming for its new sedan, but it's keeping mum on just what powertrain will realize that figure. Furthermore, that result is on the European test cycle, which is more lenient than America's EPA testing regime. In any case, when the XE hits the road, Jag says it will be the most efficient vehicle from the company, ever.

That's thanks in no small part to the aluminum-intensive monocoque chassis underpinning the sedan. It's constructed from a new grade of the lightweight metal called RC 5754 that uses a high portion of recycled material. "The Jaguar XE body uses over 75-percent aluminum content, which far exceeds any other car in its class. This gives us a body structure with unrivaled low weight: it's light but also immensely strong with extremely high levels of torsional stiffness," said Dr. Mark White, Jaguar Chief Technical Specialist; Body Complete.

Considering that the XE is also using some of Jag's cutting-edge Ingenium family of engines, maintaining a low mass and high efficiency should be easier goals reach. The real question is still how it feels will feel to drive. Europeans get to find out in 2015, but North American buyers will have to remain patient until 2016. Hopefully, it'll be worth the wait. Scroll down for a video explaining more about the platform and for the full release.
Related GalleryJaguar XE teaser
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News Source: Jaguar via YouTube

Recharge Wrap-up: Panasonic, Tesla on Gigafactory deal?

CO2 Capture Vs. Fuel Cycle Analysis; MBAs Get Chevy Volts; 2035 Fuel Consumption Predictions

Posted Jul 29th 2014 4:37PM

chevrolet volt mbas across america

Bentley has been awarded the Carbon Trust Standard for reductions of carbon, water use and waste production in manufacturing. The Carbon Trust is an organization that helps groups such as businesses and governments reduce carbon emissions, use of energy and resources, and waste output. From 2011 to 2013, Bentley reduced CO2 emissions by 16 percent per car manufactured, curtailed water use by 35.7 percent, and saw significant waste reductions. Darran Messem of Carbon trust says, "Bentley is clearly passionate about continuing to improve its environmental performance, which is reflected by the fact the company has consistently invested in new technology." Read more in the press release below.

Chevrolet is giving 12 Volts to MBAs Across America. The organization will use the range-extended electric cars in its efforts to help MBA students learn from and work with small business owners. As part of the MBAs Across America program's first year, four students drove 8,000 miles to provide entrepreneurs with free business counseling. The program has expanded, and this year, teams of MBAs will use the Volts to travel to 25 cities to offer their services. Learn more about the partnership between Chevrolet and MBAs Across America in the press release below.

A professor from the University of Michigan has found fuel cycle analysis to be too flawed to be relied upon for measuring CO2 impacts of transportation fuels. Professor John DeCicco of the university's Energy Institute feels that the flaws in calculating the carbon footprint of liquid fuel production and combustion make such lifecycle analysis impractical. He suggests, instead, to focus to carbon capture. Since capturing CO2 directly from a vehicle is probably never going to happen, DiCicco believes the solution is to capture carbon from the atmosphere in sectors outside of transportation. Says DiCicco, "Research should be ramped up on options for increasing the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and on programs to manage and utilize carbon fixed in the biosphere, which offers the best CO2 removal mechanism now at hand. Such strategies can complement measures that control the demand for liquid fuels by reducing travel activity, improving vehicle efficiency and shifting to non-carbon fuels." Read more at Green Car Congress.

Global transportation energy consumption is expected to increase by 25.4 percent by 2035, according to a report by Navigant Research. That represents an increase from 81.1 quadrillion British thermal units (BTU) in 2014 to 101.7 quadrillion BTU in 2035, with 85 percent of that coming from conventional fuels. Alternative fuels are expected to make up 16.4 percent of global consumption in 2035, up from the current 7.4 percent. And while the global 0.5-percent figure for the electric and hydrogen sounds (and is, frankly) dismal, that number also represents the efficiency of those types of fuel. According to the report, though, "The most impactful fuel savings strategy is likely to come from fuel efficiency improvements in the conventional vehicle platform and the internal combustion engine." Read more at Green Car Congress.

Panasonic has reached an agreement with Tesla to supply manufacturing equipment for Tesla's battery production plant, according to the Nikkei. Panasonic will invest around $1 billion of the total expected $5 billion for the plant. Does this mean we'll soon know where the proposed Gigafactory will be? Read more at Reuters.

News Source: Bentley, Chevrolet, Green Car Congress, Navigant Research, Green Car Congress, Reuters

Image Credit: Chevrolet

How platform problems are delaying next-gen Prius

Posted Jul 29th 2014 2:33PM

Toyota Prius

Short-term pain for longer-term gain? That may be the prognosis for the next-generation Toyota Prius, the world's best-selling hybrid. But, hey, the new version might get holiday season debut, now.

Toyota is upgrading some of its most popular models and trying to cut long-term costs with components that can be used on multiple models on the new Toyota New Global Architecture platform, Automotive News says. That means more parts that can be used for the Camry, Avalon (not big stretch, since the Avalon is basically a rich man's Camry) and Corolla in addition to the Prius. The downside, of course, is that this takes a bit more engineering and certainly more time. In the case of the Prius, that means pushing back the start of production from next summer to December 2015. But Automotive News also says the Prius may have an all-wheel-drive option. Happy Holidays.

The report is in update from Automotive News Europe, which cited folks familiar with the process who were not identified and said late last month that the production of the fourth-gen Prius would be pushed back by about six months as engineers continue to tweak the hybrid powertrain for maximum efficiency. The goal is around a 10 percent improvement in fuel-efficiency thanks to an upgraded powertrain and lower vehicle weight. Toyota spokeswoman Amanda Rice told AutoblogGreen in an email that the company doesn't comment on future products, so we'll just have to keep an eye out.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: KGP Photography

Total government incentives in Japan could top $30,000 for hydrogen cars

Posted Jul 29th 2014 11:52AM

Honda FCEV Hydrogen Concept

With the two main Japanese automakers, Toyota and Honda, leading the charge for hydrogen vehicles (along with Korea's Hyundai), we shouldn't be too surprised that the Japanese government is supporting the technology big time. We knew the national government is ready to kick in the equivalent of $20,000 for a new FCV, but now we learn that at least one prefectural government is ready to chip in another substantial sum: $10,000.

Yes, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, Aichi prefecture is considering hydrogen fuel cell vehicle incentives worth around one million yen (just under 10,000 US) on top of the two million already discussed. Various government and stakeholder groups are also pledging to install around 100 hydrogen refueling stations in Japan. In Japan, national incentives for electric vehicles only climb to around $8,500.

According to the SMH, lopping $30,000 off the price of Toyota's new, $69,000 hydrogen car means a roughly 40 percent discount and is enough to drop the price of the newfangled car into the same category as a luxury hybrid like the Lexus CT200h in Japan. No price for hydrogen cars has been announced in the US (where we offer a $4,000 incentive), but can you imagine how popular current plug-in vehicles would be with a $30,000 discount? Whew. Oprah would make sure we all get a Tesla.

News Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

Fisker's new owner working out Karma's 250 'bugs' before introducing second model

Posted Jul 29th 2014 10:01AM

Fisker Atlantic

Fisker may be down, but it might not stay down forever. The company behind the Karma luxury hybrid shut down late last year and was purchased by Chinese OEM supplier Wanxiang Group, which intends to restart production. It just can't tell us when.

Speaking with Automotive News Europe, Wanxgiang executives indicated they have some work on their hands, sorting out 250 "bugs" it has found in the existing Karma. Once it has those sorted out, it plans to start production again at the Valmet plant in Finland before potentially moving assembly to the plant in Delaware that Fisker had acquired from General Motors. The executives were touring the United States to inspect their battery factory in Michigan, visit the plant in Delaware and meet with government officials in Washington.

Wanxiang apparently has even bigger ambitions than that, however. The latest news is that it intends to expand the rebooted Fisker with a second model sometime in 2017. The company has not provided any details as to what that form that model might take, but prior to its bankruptcy, Fisker displayed a smaller concept sedan called the Atlantic at the 2012 New York Auto Show.

Fisker had previously revealed the Surf wagon and Sunset convertible concepts based on the Karma as well, but there's no telling at this point if Wanxiang has any intent on putting those into production any time in the near future.
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Fisker AtlanticFisker AtlanticFisker AtlanticFisker AtlanticFisker AtlanticFisker AtlanticFisker AtlanticFisker Atlantic

RFA tells DOE to get with the E85 program already

Posted Jul 29th 2014 7:58AM

e85 ethanol gas pump

As is its job, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) continues to bang the drum of what it says is a stacked deck against alternative fuels like ethanol. Earlier this month it took on Big Oil. Now, it's the US Department of Energy (DOE). Go big or go home, huh?

The RFA is accusing the DOE of under-reporting the number of US gas stations that offer the 85-percent ethanol blend E85 and the group isn't splitting hairs, here. The RFA says the DOE's count is about 1,000 stations off. The comparison is between, which lists about 3,450 stations that sell E85, and the DOE, which as of late last week listed about 2,400 stations. Besides making it more difficult for people to find E85, the RFA says that the DOE's under-reporting could impact upcoming biofuel rules, specifically the final 2014 blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Earlier this month, the RFA went on record as saying that some of the largest oil companies were blocking E85 and E15 (i.e., the 15-percent ethanol blend) from their gas stations. That accusation spurred two senators – Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar – to request that the Federal Trade Commission investigate. Big Oil has maintained that the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates an increasing amount of renewable fuel in the national fuel blend, should be repealed. Check out the RFA's press release below and find the RFA's letter to the DOE here.

News Source: Renewable Fuels Association

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

BMW's new i DC Fast Charger will give free juice to i3 drivers

No Cost Charging Until End Of 2015

Posted Jul 28th 2014 7:52PM

BMW i3

BMW i DC Fast ChargerFrom solar chargeports to the first SAE Combo Fast Charger, BMW is offering or promoting more charging options for the i3 than most people will know what to do with. This is not a bad thing.

At the Plug-In 2014 conference happening in San Jose, CA this week, BMW announced a new i DC Fast Charging unit as well as the ChargeNow DC Fast program, which is similar in some ways to Nissan's No Charge To Charge.

Let's start with the chargers. Smaller and much cheaper than other DC fast chargers, an i DC Fast Charger costs just $6,548 plus installation. Remember, it was a big deal in 2011 when Nissan's DC fast charger was less than $10,000. The i DC Fast Chargers use the SAE Combo connector, so will also work in EVs from Ford, VW and Chevy and other automakers, when available. They take 30 minutes to charge an empty i3 to 80 percent full. All a driver will need in order to use the charger is a ChargePoint (or ChargeNow) card. Most of the first units will likely end up at BMW i dealers across the US.

In a separate announcement, the ChargeNow DC Fast program will allow BMW i3 drivers to get free charging until the end of 2015 at participating NRG eVgo Freedom Stations. The catch is that they need to use the ChargeNow card at least once by the end of 2014. eVgo is promising to install at least 100 compatible DC fast chargers in California by the end of next year, so this should be relatively easy in at least one of the 50 states.

We will have more from San Jose soon.
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News Source: BMW

BMW planning six-cylinder i9 hybrid to celebrate centenary?

Posted Jul 28th 2014 4:29PM

2015 BMW i8

On the prospect of a new BMW M1 based on the company's new i8 hybrid, the jury has been in and out so much that we can't even tell which way it's likely to go. However, the latest reports coming in from Germany suggest that BMW may have something else up its sleeves. Rather than make a conventional gas-powered version of the i8, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport says BMW will make a more powerful one.

Tentatively dubbed i9, the hybrid sports car is rumored to pack a six-cylinder internal-combustion engine instead of the i8's turbo three. Coupled to more potent electric motors, it would figure to produce even more than the 357 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque already on tap in the i8, with further weight reductions to offset the bulkier engine.

Auto Motor und Sport says the mooted model will be produced to celebrate the Bavarian automaker's 100th anniversary and eclipse the i8's performance, with a projected 0-60 run in under four seconds en-route to taking the gloves off to crunch the Autobahn in electric bliss. The new i flagship would be another member of the company's growing electrified family, joining the existing i3 hatchback, upcoming i5 minivan and possible i8 Spyder down the line.
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Recharge Wrap-up: Control Tesla Model S from your wrist, NASCAR's E15 milestone

More Toyota Hybrid Battery Production; Pennsylvania Keeps Incentives

Posted Jul 28th 2014 1:56PM

tesla model s

Tesla Model S owners can now control their car with Android Wear. A new, free app for the Android wrist devices, called Tesla Command, allows the user to control car functions such as the locks, horn, and sunroof from outside the vehicle. The developer promises more features are coming soon. Watch the video below for a demonstration, or head over to 9 to 5 Google to read more.

NASCAR drivers have raced 6 million miles on E15 fuel. The stock car series reached the milestone on July 20 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR has been using Sunoco Green E15 gasoline since the start of the 2011 season, which the group credits with increasing horsepower and reducing emissions. The US Department of Energy notably approved the 15-percent corn ethanol blend after 6 million miles of testing. Read more at Domestic Fuel.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has decided to continue its incentive program for alternative fuel vehicles. Buyers of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids with batteries larger than 10 kWh will continue to get a $2,000 rebate (until December 31 or until 500 are sold, whichever comes first). Various EVs with batteries less than 10 kWh, as well as natural gas, propane and hydrogen-powered cars, will get $1,000 back. Electric motorcycles and scooters are offered a $500 rebate. Get more details at ABC 27.

Toyota subsidiary Primearth EV Energy is set to expand production of nickel metal hydride batteries for hybrid cars. Due to high demand, production capacity will ramp up from 300,000 to provide batteries for 500,000 vehicles at its Miyagi prefecture plant. The company eventually plans to be able to produce batteries for 1.4 million hybrids per year. Primearth EV Energy currently supplies batteries for the Toyota Prius and Yaris hybrids, as well as Mazda's Axela (AKA Mazda3 in the US) hybrid. Read more at Economic Times.

News Source: 9 to 5 Google, Domestic Fuel, ABC 27, Economic Times

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Translogic 155: 2014 Cadillac ELR

Posted Jul 28th 2014 12:45PM

Cadillac ELR

For the past decade, Cadillac has been searching for ways to breathe life into its lineup of luxury sedans and SUVs. While it has enjoyed recent success with the CTS and Escalade, brand perception still skews older and stuffier than Caddy's German and Japanese counterparts.

Can the electrified Cadillac ELR shock the system and return a pulse to this storied American brand, or will the Chevy Volt-based plug-in price itself out of the market?

Host Jonathon Buckley heads to Los Angeles to test the 2014 Cadillac ELR.

China's Google is working on its own autonomous car

Posted Jul 28th 2014 11:01AM

Chinese motorists pass  by the Chinese W

If you had told us a decade ago that Google, of all companies, would be developing a driverless car, we likely would have asked you what you were smoking. But here we are, watching the Internet giant not only testing such systems on existing cars, but designing its own vehicles. It won't be the only one, it seems, as reports from China indicate that one of its own is following suit.

That company is Baidu, which for all intents and purposes is China's Google. Only, you know... it hasn't been banned in China. Baidu has a search engine, open-source online encyclopedia, searchable multimedia database... the works. It's the fifth most visited website on the internet behind Google, Facebook, YouTube and Yahoo!, and ahead of Wikipedia, Twitter, Amazon and even Autoblog, hard as it is to believe. It was the first Chinese company to be indexed on the NASDAQ 100, and now, just like Google, it's developing its own driverless car technology.

Baidu's system reportedly uses radar, lasers, cameras and GPS to recognize its surroundings and pilot the car without driver intervention. It can read traffic signs, recognize voice commands and whatever else it needs to do in order to drive itself around.

That's about all we know at the moment, with the company scheduled to begin testing before the year's end. Baidu previously announced it was developing a driverless bicycle as well, though we can scarcely imagine how that would work.

News Source:

Image Credit: Simon Lim/AFP/Getty

Cadillac ELR next EV to get Plugless Power wireless charging tech

Evatran Says Two More Premium Vehicles Will Be Compatible By End Of 2014

Posted Jul 28th 2014 10:19AM

Caddy ELR

Evatran has been testing its Plugless Power wireless charging systems for electric vehicles in the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf for years now and made the tech commercially available early this year. With the growth of the EV market, Evatran is getting ready to expand as well. The company announced today that it will add three premium EVs to the Plugless Power system by the end of the year, with the first (and so far only) named model being the Cadillac ELR.

We expect it was not difficult for Evatran to adapt the Plugless Power system to the ELR, since the vehicle's powertrain is so similar to the one in the Volt. The main problem we see is that Cadillac has only sold 390 ELRs (as of the end of June), so this first Plugless Power expansion isn't exactly going to ignite sales, even if every ELR owner opts for the cool tech. If one of the next two announcement is for the Tesla Model S, though, then you're talking numbers. Speaking of the future, what models do you think will be next?

The Plugless Power L2 wireless systems were recently declared safe by the Intertek and start at $2,470, not including installation or government incentives. All the online/smartphone connectivity features that work with the car when it's got a cord stuck in it work with the L2 system, Evatran says. Orders start today, and the ELR package will be available September 1. There's more, including a local news report on the technology, below.

News Source: Evatran

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL


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