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7 Automakers Agree to Standardization of Electric-Car Charging

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Seven automakers have agreed to standardize electric-car charging: Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen. These automakers will implement a universal system with one port that will work with all current charging methods. This agreement comes after the ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association) urged carmakers to pursue a universal charging standard last month.

The seven carmakers said, “standardization will reduce build complexity for manufacturers, accelerate the installation of common systems internationally and most importantly, improve the ownership for EV drivers.”

At the moment, car manufacturers each use their own type of charger, making it difficult for EV users to locate charging stations that match their model. Electric charging stations are already rare enough, without having to worry about what type of charger you use. According to a poll done last May by USA Today, 60% of Americans have no desire to purchase an all-electric car because they worry about the range of the charge, finding recharging stations within that range, and amount of time it takes to recharge.

The difficulty in locating refueling stations is an issue all alternative-fuel options face. Currently, the only compressed natural gas vehicle, the Honda Civic Natural Gas, is offered in a mere four states (although this will change October 18, when the Civic Natural Gas rolls out in 36 states across the country). No wonder there’s not enough fueling stations across the country. Without refueling stations, there’s little incentive to purchase these alternative-fuel vehicles.

While “going green” and buying hybrid or electric vehicles is certainly a trend, on the whole people are sticking with gasoline cars, despite desires to reduce dependence on oil and use more domestic fuel alternatives. Many alternatives to regular gasoline exist, from the aforementioned hybrid and electric options, to compressed natural gas, and even biodiesel. However, despite increased appeal in niche markets, none of them have seen mainstream popularity.

Carmakers hope standardization of electric vehicle charging stations will help boost sales for electric vehicles. It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but other manufacturers will have to jump on board to make this movement towards standardization most effective. In the coming weeks, we will have to keep an eye out for what other car manufacturers will join the seven.

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BMW Announces March 2012 Release for Active5 Hybrid

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BMW has announced the roll out date for the Active5 Hybrid: March 2012.  First revealed at the Geneva Auto Show in 2010, the BMW Active5 Hybrid is based on the 5-series and uses the chassis of the BMW 535i.

As a hybrid, the Active5 uses both a 3-liter TwinPower Turbo six-cylinder in-line engine and a 40-kilowatt electric motor.  Together they work to produce a total of 340 hp and allow the vehicle to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds.  The Active5 has an 8-speed automatic transmission and is expected to get 40 to 44 mpg, although no specific announcement has been made for the American version.

The Active5, which is BMW’s third hybrid, also includes automatic stop-start technology.  When the vehicle is stopped, it turns off the engine, and turns it back on once the vehicle starts moving again.  The car’s lithium ion battery also charges while the car is coasting or braking.

To conserve energy, the Active5 uses satellite navigation, which scans the road ahead.  It then takes that information and adjusts its energy usage accordingly.  For example, if the car will be climbing uphill, the system conserves battery power so it can kick in to help the engine once the car reaches the incline.  The car can also use only electric power to drive 2.4 miles at a top speed of 37 mph.

 

While the car has all the features of a hybrid vehicle, it still retains the look of luxury that BMW drivers have come to expect.  It also includes a four-zone climate control system.

The pricing hasn’t been announced yet for the Active5’s US roll out; however, in Europe it will start at 62,900 euro.  Be on the look out for this new hybrid in March 2012.

 

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