Meet the Volvo C30 Electric

no thumb

Last week, Volvo announced an agreement to demonstrate the C30 Electric in Shanghai, China. The Volvo C30 Electric has been on the roads in Europe for testing. Slowly, but surely, Volvo has begun dabbling in the electric car market.  The Swedish auto manufacturer known for its safety will build 400 prototype models that will be available on a 3-year lease, starting next year.

Volvo has had an electric vehicle in the works for a couple years now.  In September of 2009, they first showed their prototype for an electric C30, and later presented an updated prototype at the 2010 North American International Auto Show.  Later in 2010, the concept car was exhibited at the Paris Motor Show.

Using a lithium-ion battery and 82kW motor, the electric C30 gets a top speed of about 81mph and can go from 0 to 60mph in about 12 seconds.  It has a range of up to 100 miles per charge.

Reviews of the Volvo C30 Electric seem promising. Last spring, Engadget’s Tim Stevens had many positive things to say during his test drive of the Volvo C30 Electric, and considers it to be “one of the few genuinely good looking electric cars.”  According to Stevens, the C30 electric drives just like the non-electric, and the quiet environment makes for a pleasant drive.

A unique aspect that the review focuses on is the climate control system.  It certainly sounds attractive: apparently there is an ethanol based heater under the dash that will warm the car up in three minutes, without requiring the engine to be warmed up.  This is a great innovation for electric cars because it means the car can be warmed without drawing off the electricity from the battery, so more power can be used for driving.

Unfortunately for interested Volvo fans, the prototypes are mainly meant for corporations and government fleet users to lease, and not really for individual fans.  This is reflected in the price of about $2,100 per month.  Volvo is apparently working on a model that will hopefully be more marketable to individual users, which will be revealed next year.  This model is expected to be more competitive with the Nissan Leaf.

Source: Endadget

read more

i3 Demonstrates Leadership in Sustainability

no thumb

With the production of the BMW i3, BMW is demonstrating why they are one of the top manufacturers in sustainability. The i3 is their first mass-produced electric car, and while it may seem like a somewhat late entrance into the electric vehicle market, compared to other manufacturers, BMW has taken their time to ensure they do it right.

To start with, BMW has pursued a goal to rethink and redesign an electric transport that’s smart and innovative, not just in the vehicle itself, but in the way it’s produced. For raw materials, the company uses recycled materials or materials produced with renewable energy for aluminum and plastic elements. For carbon fiber elements, they use components manufactured with hydro power.

Both the i3 and the i3 are produced in BMW’s Leipzig plant, which uses 100% renewable energy. This plant uses more natural lighting, and has eliminated the need for a steel press in order to reduce sound levels.

Beyond the assembly line, the i3 continues to make strides in reducing its environmental impact. BMW hasn’t just replaced a combustion engine with an electric motor; there’s more to the i3 than that. Its lightweight design aids in its range and performance.

Part of the i3’s success is BMW’s long history in electric vehicle development. Since 1969, when BMW introduced the electric 1602 at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, the German automotive company has been actively developing electric technology in pursuit of their “electro-mobility concept.”

Recently, BMW has conducted many field tests of different iterations of EV models in order to ensure they get it right. In the development of the ActiveE, the company studied the performance of their MINI E, a 100 percent electric two-seater. During the field tests, the studied multiple aspects of the performance, including the impact of the range of the car, how people behave when they drive it, and how they use the EV infrastructure to recharge their vehicle. The company then took the information ascertained from those tests and applied it to the i3.

The BMW i3 is due for release in 2013. BMW is also developed a plug-in hybrid, the i8, which is scheduled for release in 2014.

Source: TriplePundit

read more

7 Automakers Agree to Standardization of Electric-Car Charging

no thumb

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.

read more