The US Department of Energy has launched the $1 million H2 Refuel H-Prize competition to create small- to medium-scale hydrogen refueling systems. The systems could be home-scale systems that produce hydrogen using utilities at home for refueling, or medium-scale systems to supply locations such as retail centers, apartment complexes or small fleets. The DOE sees hydrogen fueling infrastructure as the biggest obstacle to fuel-cell vehicle adoption and putting the production and refueling in the hands of the consumer could be a way around that obstacle. Read more at Energy.gov and at Green Car Congress.
Hyundai has announced a new six-speed automatic transmission with integrated electric motor for new hybrid models. The new configuration puts most of the hybrid powertrain components within the transmission, and the torque converter has been eliminated. The new engine clutch reduces drag with fewer clutch discs, and the mechanical oil pump has been replaced with an electric one. The result is fewer energy losses, improved efficiency and greater mileage. Read more at Hybrid Cars in Reuters or in the press release from Hyundai below.
Zelectric Motors has completed its electric 1966 Volkswagen Beetle rebuild, and has put it up for sale. The '66 ZelectricBug, as it's called, is powered by a 50-kW electric motor and 20-kWh battery pack, and offers 120 pound-feet of torque. It has a range of 80 miles, and is capable of at least 100 mph. The stock transmission has been rebuilt. It also has some new goodies like high-performance sway bars, custom shocks, and LED lighting. The '66 ZelectricBug is priced at $45,000. Check it out in the video below and read more at Hybrid Cars.
A startup called Alevo says it will build a billion-dollar factory in North Carolina to make longer-lasting lithium iron phosphate batteries. Alevo has purchased an old cigarette factory in Concord for $68.5 million, but it's unclear whether or not the company has secured the $1 billion investment to begin producing batteries. The company plans to create 2,500 to 6,000 jobs and produce several gigawatts worth of batteries per year, which is a tall order for a relatively unknown company. Read more at Gigaom, or in Alevo's press release below.
Tesla owners in Shanghai will be exempt from the city's $12,000 registration fee. About 400 people have already received the free license plates in Shanghai, where the government wants to encourage alternative fuel vehicles. Hangzhou also offers free plates to Tesla owners, and more Chinese cities might offer the same in an effort to reduce harmful emissions. Read more at Automotive News.