Sunday, 26 April 2015

Renault ZOE Rated Best EV In Driver Power 2015 Survey UK: The 100% electric Renault ZOE EV has been highly commended by owners in the Auto Express Driver Power 2015 survey out finishing an impressive fifth overall out of 200 vehicles and rated as the best electric vehicle to own.

Finishing five places above its nearest all-electric competitor, with a score of 92.87 per cent, the ZOE was also rated the best vehicle in this year’s survey for low running costs as well as second overall for ease of driving. ZOE, in its debut survey year, was ranked second, out of 43 vehicles, in the competitive supermini category.

The ZOE also scored well for In-car technology and performance with owners rating the car ninth and fifteenth respectively out of the 200 entrants.

The Auto Express Driver Power survey had its largest response ever in 2015 with 61,113 car owners, up 20 per cent on 2014, completing the comprehensive survey about their vehicle ownership experience.

The Renault ZOE has won numerous awards since going on sale in 2013 including being named What Car? Magazine’s ‘Best Electric Car for under £20,000’ for the last two consecutive years.

ZOE is one of three all-electric Renault models including the innovative Twizy urban vehicle and the Kangoo Z.E. Van. ZOE can be purchased in two ways, either outright, from £18,443, or from £13,443 with a battery lease from £25 per month (including the Government Plug-In Car Grant) and can charge its batteries in as little as 30 minutes.

A new longer-range version of ZOE, with a new Renault-developed motor, was announced at this year’s Geneva Motor Show which will bring a best-in-class official range of 149 miles when it joins the ZOE line-up in May.

Sales in the UK of Renault’s electric models were up 90 per cent in 2014 to 1,286 vehicles and continued this strong growth in the first three months of 2015 with sales up 148 per cent to 401 vehicles.

Commenting on the ZOE’s performance in the survey, Ben Fletcher, Renault UK Electric Vehicle Product Manager, said: “The Renault ZOE offers the recognized benefits of all-electric vehicles in an ultra-stylish and highly-affordable package. It’s no wonder that owners are so delighted with their cars.”

Steve Fowler, Auto Express Editor-in-chief said: “Breaking into the Driver Power top five is a significant achievement for the Renault ZOE. Owners of electric cars clearly love their vehicles – and the ZOE, in particular, has a winning formula of low running costs and decent performance, plus it’s very easy to drive, too.”

Carlos Ghosn: The Truth About Autonomous Drive Cars

The following is the latest from Carlos Ghosn‘s LinkedIn Influencer series. There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about “Autonomous Drive” technology and a potential future of driverless cars.

No doubt, Autonomous Drive technology will change how we approach driving. I expect it to result a significant transformation in transportation.

But all the talk has left many drivers a bit confused. After years of promoting “eyes on the road, hands on the wheel,” the auto industry is now talking about reading your email or a book while you drive – and the prospect of maybe not even needing a driver.

So it’s a good time to address the questions that arise whenever this subject comes up:

Q: What is Autonomous Drive?

A: Autonomous Drive combines the technology of robotics, artificial intelligence, sensors and car-to-car connectivity. It is a range of technologies that will be added to our cars over the next several years.

The concept already exists in some of the technology in today’s cars: Anti-lock brakes, active cruise control, blind-spot warning or parking assist are examples of technologies that operate autonomously, most without the driver even thinking about them.

Q: When will we start to see this technology?

A: We’re looking at taking the existing technology to the next level, where the driver can cede some control – essentially hands-free driving – while continuing to monitor the car’s operation. Much of this is near-term technology, but it will come in waves, a feature at a time.

At Nissan and Renault, we have pledged by 2020 to have a complete package of Autonomous Drive technologies on multiple models. Starting from late next year, we plan to offer what internally we are calling the “Traffic Jam Pilot,” a feature that allows the car to drive autonomously and safely in heavy, stop-and-go traffic. This eventually will be offered across a wide range of our Nissan, Infiniti and Renault vehicles.

In 2018, we’ll introduce technology that allows a car to autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes. And by 2020, we plan to introduce vehicles that can navigate without driver intervention in nearly all situations, including complex city driving.

Q: When will we see the driverless car?

A: Eventually, a more elaborate combination of these technologies will lead us to the driverless car – one that can operate fully autonomously, even with nobody in it. So you conceivably could send it to pick up your children from school, or to take an ill parent to the doctor’s office.

But that is much further into the future – at least a decade away. In fact, I expect the technology will be perfected well before it hits the street, because there are a host of regulatory, legal and security issues that must be resolved first.

Q: I love driving. Why would I ever want to give up any control over my car?

A: I love driving, too! As we develop our Autonomous Drive technologies, our focus is on eliminating the drudgery of driving, not the joy of driving.

The fact is most drivers do not enjoy commuting in grindingly slow, stop-and-go traffic. It’s the same thing with long trips along monotonously straight expressways.

With our cars, the driver will decide whether to use the technology when it’s appropriate. It will be optional. Nothing will stop you from being in full control as you enjoy driving the twisty turns of California’s Pacific Coast Highway or the beautiful mountain passes in the Alps.

Our goal is to enhance the driving experience, not detract from it. We want to build cars that give drivers more freedom, more options and more control, but improve the driver’s ability to avoid an accident.

Q: So is improved safety the main advantage?

A: Yes. At the Renault-Nissan Alliance, one of our internal mantras is “Zero Emissions, Zero Fatalities.” We have made tremendous progress with electric vehicles. Autonomous Drive technology is a big step toward achieving the “zero fatalities” part.

Over time, this technology holds the promise of virtually eliminating avoidable crashes. Cars have become much safer over the past 50 years. But in the United States alone, there are still about 6 million crashes annually. And that exacts a huge cost to those affected and on everybody’s insurance rates – a loss in total of about $160 billion a year just in the U.S.

Autonomous Drive will mean far fewer crashes. The car will be able to react faster than you can, just as anti-lock brakes can bring a car to a safe stop faster and prevent it from going into a slide much better than any human.

Q: Are there other benefits?

A: Convenience is one. This technology will allow you to make your commuting time more productive and less stressful. Consider this: Europeans on average spend 300 hours a year in their car; Americans on average spend 750 hours a year inside their car – that’s more than two hours a day. I think most people would rather use that time to check their emails, make a phone call, read an article or listen to a podcast and relax.

Another big benefit is improved mobility for the elderly. It will allow those of us getting older to drive longer. And if you look out further into the future of driverless cars, it will offer the elderly the ability to get around even after they can no longer drive by themselves.

Q: Are you working with other companies on this technology?

A: Yes, no one company has the ability to do this alone. For example, in January we announced a partnership with NASA through Nissan’s Silicon Valley Research Center in California to work on many aspects of this technology, including remote controls. This is in addition to several universities that we’re collaborating with, including Stanford, MIT, Oxford and the University of Tokyo.

Q: It sounds like the auto industry has become a high-tech industry.

A: Indeed, it has. As I travel around the world, I try to meet every few months with university students. And I’ve been telling them that I really can’t remember a more exciting time to be in the auto industry, due to the potential of all this new technology. This really is going to result in a big change in how we approach mobility. It will make our cars smarter, it will expand our ability to get around as we grow older, and above all, it will make driving far safer

All Public Buses In Amsterdam Will Be EVs By 2025 The Dutch city of Amsterdam is going all electric, with regards to public buses that is.

The city is planning for the transition from diesel buses (what’s in use now) to electric ones to be complete by 2025, reportedly.

As humorously put by the city’s transport alderman Abdeluheb Choho in an interview with the Volkskrant, the city has decided to simply go all out rather than be conservative (a bit out of character for the Dutch, I’d say ).

“This project means we are saying goodbye to symbolic behaviour and pilot projects. We have decided to just do it, not to experiment with five buses.”

The plan is reportedly that the first 40 electric buses will be delivered in roughly 2 years time, with all diesel buses being slowly phased out, until there are none left (by 2025 at the latest).

Choho also noted: “We will make Amsterdam more sustainable on a large scale, and we do that with partners who have big ambitions. Front-runners such as the GVB deserve a podium and imitation.” provides a bit more information:

The ferries over the IJ between the city centre and Noord will also be powered by green electricity.

Amsterdam is not the first city to focus on electricity-powered public transport. Brabant has introduced some battery-driven buses and small-scale experiments are under way in Utrecht and Maastricht. Bus company Abellio, which is 100% owned by Dutch national railway firm NS, has also pledged to ensure the 300 buses operating in Limburg province are electric if it wins the concession. The six buses on the Wadden Sea island of Schiermonnikoog are also electric.

Good call, I’d say. With the substantial savings to be had, why not just make the transition relatively rapidly? Why stick with behavior that is more or less just “symbolic” (as Choho put it)? Sure, there is a sunk cost the city will lose (the non-electric buses it has already purchased). But there are daily costs to resident health that come from the diesel pollution.

Lithium launches all-electric car fleet service in Bangalore Lithium Urban Technologies has launched an all-electric car fleet service in Bangalore. The company will use Mahindra e2os to provide fleet services to organisations with the need for employee and inter-campus transportation with more vehicles to join the fleet in the future. The company’s first customers in Bangalore are TESCO, VMware and Total Environment.

Lithium offers a cloud-based transportation management system and a multi-level security system including a live-feed camera on all its cars to monitor all vehicles at all times inside the operation area. The cars are also fitted with WiFi available for the passengers to use. All cars will also come with tamper-proof data tablets with a travel card swiping system to prevent unauthorised passengers from using the service. The tablet will also act as the journey log for distance and payment information.

Clients will have access to the Lithium app on their mobile phones for detailed pre-trip reminders, in-trip information, easy communication with the driver without sharing phone numbers and a 24-hour connection to the central control room along with the availability of a panic button installed inside the vehicle for added security.

Inside the vehicle, passengers will get access to productivity apps which will provide journey updates, inter-city bus information, flight schedules and check-in services, train schedules and access to the latest news, music and videos.

Lithium has also set up over a hundred slow charging stations across the city with the information stored on the vehicle’s GPS for easy locating. The company will also set up fast charge stations at client locations.

The service will only be available to the corporate sector as of now with Lithium offering unlimited kilometre deals to interested companies.

Lithium claims that its car fleet service will save corporate companies between Rs 2-3 crore on an annual basis in transportation costs as its all-electric vehicle service incurs lower running costs as compared to conventional vehicles.

Lithium aims to have 400 cars operating in the first year itself. The company has also planned to expand to other cities along with having 2,000 all-electric cars operating nationwide in the next two years.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

UK: EV sales surging

In the first 3 months of 2015 8,573 electric vehicles were registered, a YOY increase of 366%.
The top 5 sellers were the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Nissan Leaf, BMW I3, Renault Zoe and the. BMW i8.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Qoros 2 PHEV compact SUV concept unveiled The Qoros 2 PHEV concept was unveiled at the Shanghai International Auto Show this week. The compact crossover SUV features a turbocharged 4 cylinder engine for the front wheels and a separate electric motor for each rear wheel. The car can operate in electric only mode or in all wheel drive mode. The driver can also select Hybrid mode, which allows an onboard computer to optimize the input from both the engine and the electric motors for maximum fuel economy in all conditions.

Qoros is an Israeli/Chinese company with international ambitions. In its press release for the Qoros 2 PHEV concept, it offers few particulars about the drivetrain, range, type of battery or other technical specifications but goes on at length about how bold and rugged the styling is. All SUV owners like to imagine their vehicle could win a battle with a charging rhinoceros on the way to work and the Qoros 2 certainly looks capable of doing exactly that.

Chinese cars are virtually unknown in the US market at present, but that is going to change. There was a time when Japanese and Korean cars were unknown here but both have risen over time to become top sellers. Few Americans realize the importance of tradition in every aspect of Chinese culture. The Qoros press release offers numerous examples of how many cultural references are incorporated into the concept car. Here are a few examples:

“The Qoros 2 SUV PHEV Concept features a panoramic glass roof, which makes for a light and airy passenger cabin while incorporating a Chinese pattern in white jade. The pattern is traditionally used in Chinese windows, and synonymous with the layout of ‘Siheyuan’ a historical unique folk house in the Hutongs in Beijing with a long history in Chinese architecture. A QR code has been embedded within the design of the roof graphics, directing viewers to the Qoros website. The driver’s side rear wheel also pays homage to the Chinese Year of the Goat celebration with a special rim inlay design.”

“Looking more closely at the car, there are nine name ‘stamps’ featured throughout the exterior and interior. These reflect the nine design team members that worked on the car, but also have a deeper meaning. In mandarin, Nine九 (pinyin: jiŭ) sounds exactly like 久 (jiǔ) – which means ‘long lasting’ or ‘a long time’ and therefore is often used in weddings. But the number nine also describes something ‘big’ or ‘more’. This reflects the fact that more than just nine designers and technicians were involved to make this project happen.”

The concept features software that constantly updates the driver about projected range using electric or gasoline power. It also has an elaborate charging port that rises up from the base of the windshield so the owner never has to touch a charging cable. Inductive charging equipment is mounted underneath the car for wireless charging at home or on the electrified highways of the future.

Will the Qoros 2 concept ever enter production? And if so, will it ever make it to the US? There is a large pent up demand for plug in hybrid SUVs. If the world’s major manufacturers won’t give the people what they want, perhaps Qoros will.

China: Pateo Project N Concept

Pateo, a telematic and car connectivity provider from China, presented its Project N concept at the Auto Shanghai. The all-electric sports car sits two and is said to have a 650-kW motor, while going for 800 kilometres on one charge. Autonomous driving is a given, too.

China’s CH-Auto plans first home-grown electric sports car

CH Auto plans to begin production of its 'Event’ electric supercar late next year. China’s CH-Auto Technology Co. aims to create the nation’s first domestically developed electric sports car, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The company, steered by a former Beijing Jeep executive Lu Qun, hopes to design and build a battery-powered sports car that is cheaper than imported European gasoline-engine roadsters, it said.

If the plans succeed, the first car will go into production in late 2016.

CH-Auto had earlier designed gasoline-powered cars for Chinese manufacturers such as Zhejiang Geely Group, Jiangling Motors and a Dongfeng Motor Group joint venture.

Electric cars are in focus as the Chinese government has pledged substantial support for their development to address air pollution produced by conventional-engine vehicles.

Lu plans to initially target the high-end of the market with Event, the name given to the company’s first battery-powered sports car.

Once the brand is established, CH-Auto will follow with cheaper electric cars made in greater volumes, the report said.

This week, CH-Auto displayed three cars, including a high-tech two-seater that it said runs on a 48-kilowatt-hour battery and can go from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in 4.6 seconds.

It claims a range of 250 kilometres and can be recharged in six hours using a standard 220-volt power supply, the Journal noted.

The company didn’t reveal the price, but said it will be significantly cheaper than imported sports cars.

Indonesia Planning To Create Electric “National Cars”

The country of Indonesia is now planning to create a “national car” — an electric one, not a fossil fuel powered one — according to recent reports.

The Research Technology and High Educational Institute Minister for the plan, Muhammad Nasir, commented on the plan (and was pretty clear in his choice of words): “Yes, only electric cars, not ones fueled with oil or other fuels.” Amongst Nasir’s other comments, he noted that one of the primary reasons for the initiative is that oil supplies are fast “dwindling.” Certainly true — but I admit, it’s still a bit surreal to hear a government official admit as much.

The initiative will include the help of the Malaysian auto manufacturer Proton Holdings Berhard; but is still expected to create a fair number of jobs in Indonesia, despite this.

Proton’s CEO, Datuk Abdul Harith Abdullah, commented:

The collaboration will be good as both nations specifically work together to develop products for the larger market. Furthermore, Proton, which has the facilities, capabilities and technology know-how in design, development and manufacturing of cars, is the only company in the ASEAN region with a research and development facility in-house.

No other countries in this region have their own national car project other than providing manufacturing and assembly services.

The CEO of PT Adiperkasa Citra Lestari, Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, (the recent signee of a Memorandum of Understanding with Proton) commented as well:

“We are very happy to be working with Proton and Malaysia in this project. With the expertise that Proton has and our similar culture and environment, we are confident that Proton can help to train and develop a pool of specialist workforce for our automotive industry. This collaboration when materialized will not only spur the Indonesian automotive industry further but also expand knowledge and capabilities of our people.”

Worth noting, is that the two companies won’t be legally joined in obligation, but rather the partnership holds “potential for supplementary business openings,” as InsideEVs worded it in its recent coverage.

Interesting. Partial disengagement from the global economy with a refocusing on national industry and decreased resource use (imported resources, in particular) — where have I heard that combination before?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

World’s First Electric Super Bike The 2015 Sora Signature Series Motorcycle May Be the World’s First Electric Super Bike

Last year’s release of the roughly $50,000 Lito Green Motion Sora, which the Montreal manufacturer proclaims is the world’s first electric cruiser, gave the motorcycle industry a welcome jolt of energy by providing a stylish design and sound performance for an electric two-wheeler. Now, for about twice the price, the more than $100,000 Lito Green Motion Sora Signature Series electric motorcycle offers various improvements that could very well elevate it to the status of the world’s first electric super bike.

Like its predecessor, the Signature Series bike features an electronically adjustable seat that can be operated while in motion to switch from comfortable cruising to race-ready body positioning. Enhancements include new Beringer brakes and Rizoma components. Lito also outfitted it with even more carbon fiber (for the wheels and body) than its predecessor, giving it a stealthier look and lighter weight, which helps the bike reach 60 mph from a standstill in about 4 seconds. The new Sora can reach speeds as fast as 118 mph.

Lito also improved the 2015 Sora bike with LED headlights and a decreased battery-charge time, from nine hours for last year’s model to just three hours for the new bike. The Sora can travel as far as 120 miles on a single charge. The new bike’s Safe Range System, which works in tandem with its 5.7-inch touchscreen display and GPS system, manages speed and acceleration to ensure the bike has enough juice to reach its destination.