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News & Events - April '10
28.4.2010Lexus applies hybrid system to two wheels
Lexus has established itself as an industry leader in bringing advanced technologies to the premium car market. Now it has applied the same thinking on a smaller scale to create the Lexus Hybrid Bicycle, a design concept that captures the fundamental engineering and design values of the brand, but with two wheels rather than four.
In every aspect this is Lexus, from the L-finesse design language of the engaging and elegant frame, to the application of hybrid power, an electric eight-speed transmission and lightweight carbon fibre construction.
Lexus has brought what is one of the only two examples in existence to the UK for the first time, following the bicycle's debut at the 2009 Tokyo motor show. Its arrival coincides with the announcement of Lexus's title sponsorship of the Great British Bike Ride, a four-day charity fun ride that will see hundreds of cyclists following a course from Land's End to the home of English rugby at Twickenham.
Lexus has pioneered high performance, low emissions and optimum fuel efficiency with its full hybrid Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain technology. The Hybrid Bicycle adopts similar principles, with the pedal power of the rider boosted by assistance to the front wheel from a 240W electric motor, via a 25.9V/4.0Ah Lithium-ion battery, with a choice of Eco or Power modes. And, as with Lexus Hybrid Drive, there is an energy regeneration function that helps recharge the battery by capturing kinetic energy generated under braking. The battery can be fully charged in just 2 hours.
The Lexus Hybrid Bicycle has all-wheel drive, by means of a belt system. It is equipped with an electric eight-speed Shimano internal gear system, which references the sophisticated eight-speed shift-by-wire automatic transmission of Lexus's LS 600h limousine. The carbon fibre construction shares the same light-but-strong composite materials technology that was used on Valentino Rossi's MotoGP-winning motorcycle.
As yet there are no current plans for the Lexus Hybrid Bicycle to become a production model.
23.4.2010EV road map for Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes and the Renault-Nissan Alliance have signed an agreement which sets out a road map for the roll-out of electric vehicles and infrastructure in the Borough.
The agreement forms part of the council's Low Carbon Living agenda which aims to put Milton Keynes at the forefront of low carbon living.
Already a member of the Joined-Cities Plan which aims to create a network of vehicle recharging points across the country, Milton Keynes have also secured funding through the Government's £30-million Plugged-in-Places scheme to help build the charging infrastructure.
The agreement details the commitments that both parties are making in order to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles in Milton Keynes: The council will support the development of a network of charging posts and the Renault-Nissan Alliance will make electric vehicles available for the public to buy.
Milton Keynes Council will facilitate the installation of 430 electric vehicle charging points in a mixture of public and private locations in the city, plus up to two thousand points in homes. Drivers will receive local incentives to switch to electric vehicles, such as free charging and free parking at city centre posts, as well as national Government incentives which could include up to £5,000 towards the cost of an electric car.
Nissan will supply the Nissan LEAF, the world's first affordable electric vehicle for the global mass market - the LEAF will go on sale in Japan, the US and select markets in Europe in late 2010 and will be available in Milton Keynes from early 2011.
Designed specifically for a lithium-ion battery-powered chassis, the medium-size hatchback comfortably seats five adults and has a range of 160 km (100 miles - US-LA 4 mode) to satisfy real-world consumer requirements. European technical support for the launch of LEAF will be centred at Nissan's Technical Centre in Cranfield, which is located close to Milton Keynes and is part of Nissan's global vehicle design and development network and home to Nissan's 750-strong UK design, development and support team.
Roland Bouchara, Renault UK's Managing Director, said, "In partnership with Nissan we are excited to be working with Milton Keynes Council as one of the first to be involved with Plugged-in-Places programme. The agreement between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Milton Keynes Council presents a great opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of our range of electric vehicles in a realistic environment and is a significant step towards our goal of bringing affordable electric mobility to the mass market."
David Hill, Milton Keynes Council's Chief Executive said, "We are delighted to be working with the Renault-Nissan Alliance to give Milton Keynes people the opportunity to be at the forefront of electric vehicle use. We have always been a pioneer for green technologies and initiatives, and this agreement is yet another positive step for Milton Keynes as a showcase low carbon city."
Renault's launch into the zero-emission electric vehicle arena begins in mid-2011 with the launch of two models from an initial four-model affordable Z.E. family. The two models are the Kangoo Van Z.E., a light commercial vehicle, and the two-seater city car Twizy Z.E. In 2012, the four-door Fluence Z.E. and the five-door supermini Zoe Z.E. will be launched.Newspress
14.4.2010Drivers wanted for MINI E trial
The search is on for 20 drivers to take part in phase two of a pioneering trial to test the UK's first ever electric MINIs.
Phase one of the trial is currently underway, the first 20 MINI E pioneers took ownership of their electric MINIs in December 2009 and are due to hand them back in June.
People living in a triangular geographical area between Andover, Oxford and West London will be able to take part in the ground-breaking project and so interested drivers are being urged to fill out the online application form at electricMINI.co.uk
The Government-backed trial, run by a BMW Group-led consortium including Southern Electric and regional development agency SEEDA, will evaluate the technical and social aspects of living with an all-electric car in everyday life.
The drivers chosen will be able to lease the two-seater cars from September 2010 for six months. Southern Electric will install a free home charging point for each car, as well as a network of public charging points, so the cars can be 'topped up' whilst drivers are out and about. The car can also be charged from a standard three pin socket.
The monthly lease fee will be £330 a month, including VAT, insurance (subject to conditions) and maintenance. Thanks to the consortium being awarded part of a £25 million fund by the British Government's Technology Strategy Board, this is £220 less than the standard monthly lease for this type of high tech car. The MINI E driver only pays for the electricity used - and obviously has no petrol costs. In addition MINI E drivers are eligible for other benefits like zero congestion charges in London.
The MINI E has all the good looks of a standard MINI Hatch, with the performance close to that of the MINI John Cooper Works and MINI's renowned go-kart handling. The space normally taken by rear passengers is reserved for the powerful lithium-ion battery.
Maintenance, servicing and technical assistance will be provided by dedicated BMW Group UK 'flying doctors'. These technicians will be supported by selected MINI dealers within the MINI E research area.
Suzanne Gray, Project Manager for MINI E, said: "We were overwhelmed by the level of interest in the first phase of the trial, and we are confident that we will attract a similar level of applicants for the second phase. We would love to hear from people who have the enthusiasm and curiosity required to take part in a 'real world' research study. Their experiences and the feedback that they provide will ultimately help in the development of the BMW Group's zero emissions mega city vehicle due for production mid this decade as well as UK infrastructure and policy development for electric vehicles."
In addition to living in the set geographical area, MINI E test drivers must also have a private garage, car port or driveway, so a wall-mounted high power charging unit can be installed by Southern Electric. The 240V/32 amp supply provided by the unit can fully charge the MINI E's lithium-ion battery pack in just 4.5 hours. An adaptor for use with an ordinary 13 amp socket will also be supplied for occasional use. The lower capacity charge takes just over 10 hours to provide a full charge. Therefore it is only appropriate for occasional use.
Southern Electric will be responsible for the electricity infrastructure in the research area and are committed to supplying 'green energy' to all drivers of the MINI E. The region in which Southern Electric owns the electricity network is behind the decision to work with a research sample in South East England. Southern Electric guarantees that it will put a unit of 100% clean, green hydro electricity back into the national grid for every unit of electricity used by MINI E UK.
Oxford Brookes University's Sustainable Vehicle Engineering Centre will manage the collation of qualitative and quantitative research throughout the UK project. This will include analysis of driver experiences with the MINI E, as well as reviewing the technical information provided by the data-logging units fitted to every MINI E.
Additionally, the consortium is strengthened by public sector organisations including the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council. Each will support the establishment of a technical infrastructure in their local areas, through a common objective to be at the forefront of sustainable transport initiatives. These organisations will also test MINI E's in a fleet environment.
8.4.2010E-scooter launched with portable batteries
The British company, Econogo, has launched the world's first electric scooter to be powered by a detachable lithium iron phosphate battery.
The Yogo e-scooter has been developed for people without access to an exterior ground-floor sited power supply. The portable power supply is fully portable and can be charged anywhere in just 1 hour. It also allows the option of carrying a fully charged spare, so doubling the scooters range.
The Yogo's power is equivalent to that of a 100cc petrol engine and is on sale for around £2,000. The 11kg battery provides a range of 22 miles when fully charged. There are two power options, a 100 cc equivalent with a top speed of 38 mph or a 50 cc alternative that tops out at 27 mph.
The idea was born when James South, 28 year old English business man, returned from Vietnam where electric scooters have become more mainstream. When searching for an electric scooter to buy in the UK he realized that all options here were often impractical due to contraints on outdoor power sockets. He spent some time developing his ideas and realised that a portable battery pack would solve many of the problems related to electric transport.
6.4.2010Ford and Microsoft team up for a more energy efficient future
Announced today at the New York Auto Show, Ford Motor and Microsoft will lead the way toward a more energy-efficient future with a new solution that will make electric vehicle ownership easier and more affordable for consumers.
The two companies are teaming up to implement the Microsoft Hohm energy management application for Ford's electric vehicles. Ford is the first automaker announcing the use of Hohm, starting with the Focus Electric next year. Hohm will help owners determine when and how to most efficiently and affordably recharge battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). It also should help utility companies manage the added demands of electric vehicles on the electrical grid.
"Ford and Microsoft both share a strong commitment to contributing to a better world. Today, we begin the next major step in our working together and leading the way for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability," said Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. "For Ford, this is a needed step in the development of the infrastructure that will make electric vehicles viable."
Both companies agree that effective management of the energy ecosystem is critical for electric vehicles to be successful and for consumer interest to grow. In a recent Accenture survey, 42 percent of consumers said they are likely to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle in the next two years. Increasing numbers of electric vehicles, however, will have a significant impact on energy demand. That is because the addition of an electric vehicle to a household could effectively double home energy consumption while the vehicle is charging.
"Electric vehicles will play an important role in the global effort to improve energy efficiency and address the issues of climate change and sustainability," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. "But as the market for electric vehicles expands, it will have a significant impact on home energy consumption and demand across the nation's energy grid. With Microsoft Hohm, Ford and Microsoft will deliver a solution that will make it easier for car owners to make smart decisions about the most affordable and efficient ways to recharge electric vehicles, while giving utilities better tools for managing the expected changes in energy demand."
Introducing Hohm to Ford's electric vehicles supports Ford's aggressive global electrification plan, which will put five new electrified vehicles on the road in North America and Europe by 2013. In North America, they include the Transit Connect Electric later this year, Focus Electric in 2011, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and two next-generation hybrids in 2012.
Hohm, an Internet-based service, is designed to help customers avoid unnecessary expense by providing insight into their energy usage patterns and suggesting recommendations to increase conservation. With Ford electric vehicles, Hohm also will help drivers to determine the best time to charge their vehicle. Smart recharging habits will help utility companies understand and better manage the increased demands placed upon the electrical grid because of electrified vehicles.
Microsoft Hohm is available today for free to all U.S. residential energy consumers and has multiple partnerships with utilities and other stakeholders already in place. Ford is the first automaker to join in collaboration with Hohm.
Ford and Microsoft also plan to continue to work with utility partners and municipalities to help further develop the energy ecosystem. Ford's work includes collaboration with a dozen North American energy companies to road-test a fleet of 21 Ford Escape plug-in hybrid vehicles. The research has accumulated more than 160,000 miles of real-world data, which provided important groundwork for the new Hohm application.
"Rechargeable vehicles represent a new frontier. Their commercialization will take broad-based collaboration and systems solutions," said Mulally. "Working together, Ford and Microsoft will provide the systems solutions to help facilitate this exciting future."