Lexus Hybrid becomes Toyota Hydrogen Prototype – available to buy in 2015

Lexus Hybrid becomes Toyota Hydrogen Prototype – available to buy in 2015

As widely reported in the automotive press this week; Toyota have unveiled their latest working prototype hydrogen car to journalists in Japan. Apparently based on the discontinued Lexus HS 250h, the car has received positive feedback on ride and performance, and Toyota say a production version will be available to buy in 2015.

A similar concept vehicle that will give a better clue as to what the production car might look like, is expected to be unveiled at the upcoming Tokyo Motor show (22 Nov – 1 Dec). Toyota don’t say how much it will cost, but the unveiling of this working prototype comes shortly after Toyota announced they would knock $1m USD from the price of their hydrogen vehicles.

Somewhere between £50,000 and $75,000 USD seems to be the ball-park figure, which if true would be a massive step for fuel cell vehicles: it has been estimated that Honda’s FCX-Clarity (the only current series production fuel cell car) costs more than $120,000 per car just to build.

Much of 2013 has been dominated by EV news and launches, and now it seems the headlines are owned by hydrogen vehicles: the major manufacturers are developing power-trains, often in (more…)

Malaysia: Hybrid and EV industry anticipates National Automotive Policy update

Malaysia: Hybrid and EV industry anticipates National Automotive Policy update

With Malaysia’s exemption of import and excise duties on hybrid and electric cars expiring at the end of this year, a National Automotive Policy update is widely expected, and industry experts are predicting that a New Policy Could Make Malaysia The Next Big EV Market.

The infrastructure of Malaysia is one of the most developed in Asia and it has had one of the best economic records in the region, with GDP growing an average 6.5 per cent annually, making it the third largest economy in ASEAN and the 29th largest in the world. The country has shifted towards an industrial/manufacturing based economy and aims to attain developed country status in 2018 – most economists agree that it has all the right ingredients to achieve that.

Automotive manufacturing is a key part of Malaysia’s economic development plans, and in particular the manufacture and development of low emissions vehicles that will also help it to realise it’s COP15 commitment to reduce its CO2 emission’s to 40 per cent by the year 2020.

According to regional press: Datuk Takashi Hibi, Deputy Chairman of UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd, says [Toyota] are considering the possibility of assembling hybrid vehicles in Malaysia – The company (more…)

Tesla Battery Fire update

Tesla Battery Fire update

Latest update [8th October]: “Tesla Motors had regained most of the value it lost in the wake of the accident” after Jefferies analyst Elaine Kwei boosted her price target on the company’s stock to $210 after visiting Tesla and test driving a Model S.

Key points:

  • Tesla shares fall 6% 24 hours after the news broke
  • Drop is shares may also have been caused by an analyst downgrade
  • Incident report suggested the fire was started in the battery
  • Driver is said to have hit a large piece of metal debris that caused the crash
  • firefighters said to have struggled to contain the flames
  • [8th October]Tesla’s stock value recovers almost to the pre-fire value

Statement from Tesla:

“The vehicle performed as it was designed to do…

…On Tuesday, a Model S collided with a large metallic object in the middle of the road, causing significant damage to the vehicle, the car’s alert system signalled a problem and instructed the driver to pull over safely, which he did. No one was injured, and the sole occupant had sufficient time to exit the vehicle safely and call the authorities.

The fire occurred after one of the 12 batteries used to power the vehicle was ruptured, and ignited. Each of (more…)

Policy explained: UK Government strategy for ultra low emission vehicles until 2020

Policy explained: UK Government strategy for ultra low emission vehicles until 2020

The UK Government’s Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) is a cross Government, industry-endorsed team combining policy and funding streams to simplify policy development and delivery for ultra low emission vehicles, setup in 2009.

OLEV currently comprises people and funding from the Departments for Transport (DfT), Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The core purpose is to support the early market for electric and other ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs).

In September 2013 the coalition government published an updated, 104-page report outlining their ambitions, funding and policy support for ultra low emission vehicles in the UK: “Driving the Future Today – A strategy for ultra low emission vehicles in the UK”

Here is a summary of the report by to explain how much money is being committed, the structure of the funding and the schemes in place to support the EV and ULEV industries…

Summary of funding and investments:

Total claimed investment between 2009 and 2020: £1bn GBP ($1.6bn USD €1.19bn EUR), as follows:

  • £400 million initial funding from 2009 to 2015
  • Creation of a £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre, funded by Government (£500m) and industry

Detailed breakdown of funding and support packages:

Contratulations Angela, now about those vehicle CO2 emmissions
Clean air & anti-polution

Contratulations Angela, now about those vehicle CO2 emmissions

So Angela Merkel has won a historic German federal election with the highest single party vote since the 1950′s. Clearly the German electorate are pleased with Angela’s handling of the eurozone crisis, which sets Germany apart from the rest of Europe, where most voters have punished their political leadership.

But what does this mean to the EV industry and clean vehicles in general?

Germany are the biggest manufacturers and exporters in Europe, and one of their largest manufacturing sectors is cars, which is one of the largest employers in the country, with a strong labour force of over 870,000 and an annual output over 6 million and a 35.6% share of the European Union. Germany is the fourth largest car manufacturer behind to China, the US and Japan.

If you read the European member states various policies on clean vehicles, in particular the German, UK, French and Italian policies, all of whom are major vehicle manufacturing countries/economies; there is an outward intention to support the automotive industry.

Policy-backed investment designed to support and drive the inevitable transition to ultra low emmission vehicles, is being progressed in a way that offers maximum benefit to the manufacturers and employers within those respective member states – all (more…)

Carbon composites bring many advantages for EVs, but at what cost?
Charging standards

Carbon composites bring many advantages for EVs, but at what cost?

The BMW i3 electric car made a bit of a splash at the Frankfurt Auto Show last week, because it is highly innovative in a number of ways. One of the headline innovations is the Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) passenger compartment – a first use of carbon composite materials in the core structure of the body shell for a mass-market production vehicle.

But it comes at a cost. Using the UK pricing as an example, the i3 starts a £29,950 ($47,807 USD, €35,810 EUR) for the base model, although it will be eligible for Government subsidies such as the £5,000 ($7,981 USD, €5,978 EUR) grant in the UK.

Even with the subsidy that will make it £7,440 ($11,876 USD, €8,896 EUR) more expensive than the entry level 1-series, and a staggering £13,081 ($20,880 USD, 15,641 EUR) more than the similarly sized BMW mini, for a car with less than a 100 mile (161km) range.

How much of that price difference is down to the composites used in the body?

It’s hard to do more than speculate with the data I have, but I’m going to attempt some un-educated guesswork: Carbon fibre costs between 20 and 80 USD/Kg depending on quality. Carbon Fibre composites (more…)