Sep 192011
 
By: Wayne Cunningham

Earlier this year, I spent a week driving a preproduction Prius Plug-in hybrid, but little did I realize that Toyota was using me and the other people who got to drive the car as guinea pigs, test subjects to help further refine the car for a 2012 production model. Toyota recently put me behind the wheel of a substantially tweaked Prius Plug-in, this one the result of everything learned from the earlier drive program. Still billed as preproduction, this latest Prius Plug-in boasted enhancements over the previous car, along with a full-blown marketing strategy.

2012 Toyota Prius

In typical Toyota fashion, this new preproduction car was not radically different than the one I drove previously. And I confess to a lack of enthusiasm over this new driving opportunity. Despite that you can plug it in, it is still just a Prius.

2012 Toyota Prius

But that expectation crumbled a bit after seeing some of the improvements made to the car. And, like the previous version, it was a novel experience to drive a Prius at speed with the engine off.

During an initial presentation about the car, Toyota Vice President Bob Carter made it clear that the Prius brand would be a tent pole for the company. He talked up the four different models that will bear the Prius name: the original Prius liftback, Prius V, Prius C, and Prius Plug-in. A fan of the quick and maneuverable, I’m most looking forward to the Prius C, which will hopefully retain the sporty nature of its concept.

2012 Toyota Prius

The presentation covered pricing for the car, which seemed high at $32,000, or $39,525 for a high-trim, fully loaded model. But that price is also subject to a $2,500 federal tax credit, bringing the base car under $30,000. Another journalist at the presentation suggested Toyota tailored the size of the Prius Plug-in’s battery pack, at 4.4 kilowatt-hours, to make the car qualify for the tax credit, which is based on battery capacity.

However, the earlier version of the Prius Plug-in I tested had a larger lithium ion battery, at 5.2 kilowatt-hours. The refined battery pack is smaller than that of the previous version, yet it gives the car more pure electric range, 15 miles versus 13 miles. Not a huge change, but 15 miles is a rounder number. Taking the gasoline tank into account, total range remains at over 500 miles.

2012 Toyota Prius

Toyota also moved the charging port, as was shown by a model it had set up for photos showing the plug-in cable. Where it had previously been at the front fender, Toyota moved it to the right rear, the opposite side of the fuel tank filler. Nobody should have a problem pouring gasoline over the car’s plug, as the hatch cover also has an embossed plug symbol. Similar to the previous test model, charging times are rated at 3 hours for a 110-volt outlet, and 1.5 hours at a 220-volt outlet. Toyota is also partnering with Leviton to offer buyers a level 2 charger, which should take mere minutes to fill the battery.

Once handed the keys to this new, refined Prius Plug-in, I was pleased to note that the cargo area had been restored. Where the previous version’s battery pack caused a slight lift to the cargo load floor, the smaller battery pack in this preproduction model not only allowed a normal load floor level, but also an extra compartment for storing the charging cable.

2012 Toyota Prius

The car started up, in Prius fashion, quietly. EV mode was already engaged and Toyota had charged the car up before this drive. But the range shown in the eyebrow display was only 11.8 miles, less than the promised 15. I wasn’t thrown by the lower number, as trip computers always calculate the range based on how the car was recently driven. Fleet drivers are not always gentle on the accelerator.

2012 Toyota Prius

This Prius Plug-in glided quietly forward under quarter acceleration, lacking even the sound generator Toyota implemented on the Prius V model. Out on the first stretch of the 4.5-mile driving loop, I stepped into it, and the gas engine promptly fired up despite the still glowing green EV mode icon on the instrument cluster. Letting off acceleration, the engine persisted, ruining the promised electric drive experience. Pushing the EV mode button repeatedly turned the EV mode icon off and on, but didn’t shut off the engine.

Read the full Story At CNET news

Sep 162011
 
By Aaron Colter – Earth Techling

Hertz, which recently started offering electric bicycle rentals, and Marriott hotels are partnering to give travelers electric vehicle options while in the San Francisco area.

Overnight guests at the San Francisco Marriott Waterfront, or dinner guests in the hotel’s restaurant, have the ability to receive free valet parking and time at one of the company’s charging stations.

Currently, Hertz offers electric car models such as the Nissan Leaf and the Smart Fortwo (in photo above), and in the future is expecting to offer the Chevy Volt as well as a plug-in hybrid option.

Visitors can join Hertz’s green car rental program online, available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, to reserve one of the vehicles at an hourly rate of $6 to $8. We’ve seen similar electric car rental programs across California, giving eco-conscious travelers several options while on the road.

Read the full Story At Earth Techling

Sep 132011
 

“Concept_One” EV Super Car Boasts 1,088 HP, 600 Km Range

Electric cars have quickly gone from sideshow attraction to main stage in the global auto industry, and the wealthy are especially interested in electric luxury cars from companies like Rimac Automobili, whose Concept_One EV supercar boasts nearly 1,000 horsepower.

The Concept_One officially debuts this week at the Frankfurt Auto Show, and these initial images show a car that is sleek, edgy, and designed with an upper class clientele in mind. A unique drive system divides the propulsion units into four separate sub systems, each with its own motor, inverter, and reduction gearbox, each sub system driving a single wheel. Some basic math tells me that if the 1,088 horsepower claim is to be believed, then each electric motor is capable of delivering 272 horsepower to each wheel, independent of the others. That kind of power output puts it in the class of “hyper cars” like the Bugatti Veyron, Koenigsegg CCX, and the McLaren F1.

Of course a world-class interior and infotainment system is mandatory for a car of this caliber, and while no price point has yet been set…let’s just say if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. No doubt much of the pricing will come from the battery pack, which will purportedly offer600 km(about370 miles) of driving range, while providing a top speed of around190 mph.

Concept One

Concept One - Front

Concept One - Profile

Concept One - Profile

Concept One - Wheel

Concept One - Wheel

Concept One - Unveiled

Concept One - Unveiled

Read the full Story At Gas 2.o

Sep 132011
 

First Electric Car Arrives in R.I. Showroom

PROVIDENCE — The first mass-produced electric car arrived at a Rhode Island dealership last week. A Chevy Volt, which is technically classified as a plug-in hybrid, will be available for test drives through the end of the year at Balise Chevrolet in Warwick.

In November, Balise will start selling the cars.

Nationally, demand for EVs appears mixed. Both Chevy and Nissan’s all-electric Leaf have been conducting slow rollouts of their sedans, reportedly to work out glitches and build buzz for their high-tech, battery-powered cars. But independent surveys show interest from potential customers is dropping while their arrival in Rhode Island is months overdue.

Perhaps in response to slow demand, Chevy has reduced the Volt’s price somewhat, to about $33,000 after the $7,500 federal tax credit. The Leaf boosted its cost slightly for its 2012 models to about $28,500 after the credit. Both are selling in select markets across the country. Since December, nearly 6,200 Leafs and 3,500 Volts have been sold.

The Leaf is already for sale at some dealers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Rhode Island dealers will have to wait until early 2012.

The demo Volt was parked outside a meeting of the Rhode Island chapter of Project Get Ready on Sept. 8 at Save The Bay’s headquarters. The nonprofit advocacy group, run locally by Al Dahlberg, is helping EVs get a foothold in the state by encouraging public and private investment in EV education and infrastructure, such as charging stations, electrical capacity upgrades and signage.

Read the full Story At ECO RI News

Sep 082011
 

First CODA Experience Center Opens in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — CODA Holdings, a California based leading developer of advanced Lithium-ion power battery systems for its all-electric CODA sedan, EV propulsion system and stationary energy storage applications announced the opening of its first consumer store, located in the Westfield Century City Shopping Center in Los Angeles County.

“We’re thrilled to be opening our first CODA Experience Center in such a consumer rich environment,” said Phil Murtaugh, CEO of CODA Holdings. “We want to open dialogue between consumers, provide a stress-free purchase experience and ultimately accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).”

Staying consistent with a green message, the CODA store features eco-tech building materials, such as salvaged wood from Utah’s Lucin Cutoff Railroad Trestle, energy efficient lighting, neutral concrete flooring, formaldehyde free plywood and recycled stainless steel. Both convenient and functional, the bright 900 square foot space is located adjacent to a multiplex theatre, dining terrace, and valet parking, and features an engaging and interactive in-store environment:

Electric Vehicle Bar – An interactive educational area focused on communicating the benefits of electric cars.

Technology Display – A full-scale replica and explanation of CODA’s industry-leading battery and propulsion system.

Test Drive Check-in Counter – A one-stop shop for interested consumers who can sign-up for a test-drive at the time of their visit, make an appointment for a future date, or check-in from an online inquiry (www.codaautomotive.com).

Located in the parking garage directly below the store, CODA’s Test Drive Center will offer customers the chance to take a CODA for a test drive. Drivers can also become comfortable using an EV charger and the installation process, at the six reserved CODA parking spaces with dedicated EV chargers.

Read the full Story At Alaska Dispatch

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110908/LA65112)

Apr 202011
 

BMW gambles sporty image on electric cars

NEW YORK — BMW, gambling its image as a high-performance brand, will put 700 of its 1 Series coupes on the streets this fall with an all-electric drive that it says will satisfy sports car fans and also use no petroleum.
BMW promised the ActiveE will be “100% electric and 100% BMW.” And it will go about 100 miles on a charge, the automaker says.

It is the start of a move toward electric power by the car company famous for its smooth, powerful gasoline engines and its crisp-handling sedans.

If the test of the so-called ActiveE coupe is successful, BMW will follow in 2013 with an electric vehicle it has designed from scratch to run on battery power, using a lightweight aluminum chassis and a strong, light carbon-fiber passenger-compartment cell.

That car will be called i3, even though BMW says it won’t resemble the current 3-Series sedan.The company’s first test was of a handful of electric Mini Coopers.

The 170-hp ActiveE was shown Monday at a Manhattan dealership at an event ahead of the New York International Auto Show that begins later this week.

BMW will lease 700 ActiveE’s to interested drivers in U.S. coastal cities this fall for 24 months at $499 per month, plus a $2,250 payment at the start of the lease.

Read the full Story At USA Today

Apr 192011
 

New ‘EVolve’ App From BMW Decides Whether You’re Ready For An EV

Electric vehicles and other alt-fuel rides are big news these days. Tech fans and greenenthusiasts can’t wait to get their hands on ‘em, while others think that hybrids and their eco-friendly kin are part of a vast communist conspiracy.

No matter where you fall on that spectrum, there are many things to consider before dumping your conventional ride for something greener. EVs, for example, are fine for most work commutes, but current models aren’t practical for longer trips because of range limitations and long recharge times. If you’re on the fence, there’s now a tool that can evaluate your lifestyle and decide whether or not you’re ready for an EV.

The tool in question is an app from BMW called “EVolve” (see what they did there?). At the moment, it’s only for Apple devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, but we’d expect to see it in Android form soon.

Using EVolve is pretty straightforward: when you’re ready to start your commute or run your errands or leave on that cross-country road trip, just click the “start tracking” button, and EVolve will keep tabs on you using Google Maps. When you’re done, click “finish tracking”, and you’ll see a breakdown of your travel details, including the time you spent on the road, the distance you’ve gone, and how much charge is left in your battery. (No word, exactly, on what battery standard BMW uses for the app.) A few clicks more, and you can get EV-friendly driving tips, a full travel log, and an estimate of your savings versus a conventional gas-powered vehicle.

Read the full story at All Car Tech

Apr 192011
 

AUDI A3 E-TRON PLUG-IN HYBRID CONCEPT UNVEILED IN SHANGHAI

And for those who think they’ve seen this story before, Audi was keen to point out that this latest concept has nothing to do with the A3 e-tron Sportback pure-electric car TheChargingPoint.com wrote about last week. That car is a running prototype based on the current generation A3 Sportback. A spokesman said that the two different concepts are simply “an exploration of different approaches.”

A 211hp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine supplemented by a 27hp electric motor powers the Shanghai concept car. The A3 e-tron’s lithium ion batteries are stored behind the rear seats and pack a charge capacity of 12kWh – they can be charged from a household socket.

That combination gives the e-tron enough punch to get to 62mph in just 6.8secs and on to a top speed of 144mph. Oddly, though, Audi isn’t prepared to quote mpg or CO2 figures for the e-tron concept.

Read the full story at The Charging Point

Apr 182011
 

Secretary of Energy to Join Earth Week Kick-Off

“Innovation Motorcade” to Parade Electric Drive Vehicles Through the Streets of Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — With gas prices hitting $4 a gallon and the one-year anniversary of the Gulf oil disaster this week, on Tuesday Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu will headline a motorcade of battery, hybrid and fuel cell powered vehicles through Washington D.C. The parade takes place during Earth Week and is part of the Electric Drive Transportation Association’s (EDTA) annual conference – in order to highlight alternatives to oil dependence.

The Honorable Steven Chu, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, will kick-off the “Innovation Motorcade” from L’Enfant Plaza Promenade at 10 a.m. with a press conference. He will be joined by EDTA President Brian Wynne, Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) renowned explorer and environmentalist Fabien Cousteau. They will discuss what needs to happen to reach President Obama’s goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the roads by 2015, how electric drive technology means clean American jobs, and our overreliance on oil in light of the Gulf oil disaster. After the press conference, the vehicles will tour our nation’s capital and end at the EDTA Conference Ride, Drive and Charge event at the Washington Convention Center.

The following day, the Honorable Ray H. LaHood, Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation, will be the keynote speaker at the opening plenary of the 2011 EDTA Conference, where leading government and industry experts will discuss the latest advances in electric drive technology and policies to accelerate the electrification of transportation.
“We are excited to show consumers and policymakers how many electric drive choices are available and how rapidly innovations are being brought to the market place,” said Brian Wynne, the President of EDTA. “These cars and trucks, and the technology that supports them, are helping to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, reducing driving costs and pollution, improving our national security and creating advanced energy jobs.”

The documentary film Revenge of the Electric Car premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival on Earth Day, April 22. This week also features the New York Auto Show, where new models of electric vehicles will be the buzz of the show.

EVENT FLOW

10:00 AM: Opening press conference (with Secretary Chu, Rep. Ed Markey, EDTA President Brian Wynne, EDTA co-chair Ted Craver, and Fabien Cousteau) followed by Q&A (approx 25 cars will be present); LOCATION: L’Enfant Promenade just south of the intersection of Independence Avenue and 10th Street SW
11:00 AM – 11:45 PM: Cars and trucks depart for Innovation Motorcade through Washington, D.C.
12:15 PM: Walter E. Washington Convention Center “Ride, Drive and Charge” event, where the public can interact with the vehicles and charging stations.

About EDTA

The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) is the trade association representing battery, plug-in, hybrid and fuel cell electric drive technologies and infrastructure companies. EDTA conducts public policy advocacy, education, industry networking, and international conferences. EDTA’s membership includes vehicle and equipment manufacturers, energy companies, technology developers, component suppliers, and others. For more information about EDTA and its members, visit www.electricdrive.org. For consumer information about owning and operating electric vehicles, please visit www.GoElectricDrive.com.

SOURCE The Electric Drive Transportation Association

RELATED LINKS
http://www.electricdrive.org