BMW revamps “i” electric car division to focus on self-driving tech

June 5th, 2016 § Comments Off on BMW revamps “i” electric car division to focus on self-driving tech § permalink

MUNICH, June 2 (Reuters) – BMW has transformed its “i” division into a development centre for self-driving cars, a board member told Reuters, a major strategic shift for the unit previously focused on making a family of lightweight electric vehicles.

While Tesla’s Model 3 will hit showrooms in 2017, and as rivals Porsche and Audi are working on all-electric cars for release by 2019, the German carmaker appears to have put such cars on the back burner. Its next fully-electric car is not due until 2021.
The company has changed tack after its only fully battery-powered car, the i3, failed to gain traction with the public, with only 25,000 sales last year. By contrast, Tesla has already received more than 370,000 orders for its Model 3.
Now, rather than seeking to match the likes of Tesla and Porsche with a new zero-emissions sports limousine for release within the next two years, its main focus will be on developing an electric car with the next generation of technology: autonomous driving.
In an interview at the company’s headquarters in Munich, BMW board member Klaus Froehlich, who is in charge of development, said he had relaunched the i division in April as a unit devoted to producing cars that drive themselves.
“It is now in ramp-up stage. We call it Project i Next.”
The revamp also follows at least four high-profile staff defections from the division this year. Dirk Abendroth, manager of BMW’s “i” powertrain group, Henrik Wenders, vice president product management BMW “i”, and Carsten Breitfeld, vice president engineering, head of the i8 vehicle programme, were poached by a Chinese electric vehicle startup.
As part of its autonomous driving push, BMW is hiring experts in machine learning and artificial intelligence. It is also integrating the functions of existing computer driven assistance systems like cruise control, emergency braking, lane-keeping support and automatic parking.
RIDE-HAILING
With a fully autonomous vehicle, BMW could launch a ride-hailing business without having to pay drivers, Froehlich said, giving carmakers a competitive edge over new ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft which are eroding car sales by making part-time use as convenient as ownership.
Earlier this month Toyota Motor Corp said it would invest in Uber, and Volkswagen announced a $300 million investment in Gett, a smaller ride-sharing company.
BMW too may partner with a ride-hailing firm, particularly in markets like China, but the Bavarian carmaker’s strategy on potential partnerships with companies in this space is still being worked on, Froehlich said.
Sales of highly autonomous vehicles – ones where permanent active input from the driver is not required – are not expected to gain traction until 2020, but could then rise to around 9 million a year by 2025, according to analysts at Exane BNP Paribas.
China, the world’s largest car market, is likely to be the market where autonomous cars will first emerge on a large scale, Froehlich said.
“China is extremely fast implementing technology. Last year more electric cars were sold in China than in all the other global markets combined,” he added.
BMW is also considering expanding in the area of reserving parking spaces and electric car charging stations over mobile phones, a market which is still fragmented within countries. The carmaker has already invested in ParkNow and Parkmobile, two digital parking and payment services.
“We want to actively participate in a consolidation process,” Froehlich said. (Reporting by Edward Taylor and Irene Preisinger; Editing by Pravin Chark)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3623212/BMW-revamps-electric-car-division-focus-self-driving-tech.html

Renault to double electric car range by 2020

April 21st, 2016 § Comments Off on Renault to double electric car range by 2020 § permalink

Renault is planning to double the distance its electric vehicles can travel per charge by 2020, thanks to more efficient batteries with higher energy densities, according to Eric Feunteun, Renault’s head of EV.
This comes as the brand plans to sell two tiers of electric cars: affordable models with limited range and more expensive versions that can travel further on each charge.

“If you ask somebody on the street, ‘do you want a larger battery and greater range?’, the answer is, of course, ‘yes'”, said Feunteun. “But then, when you move from emotion to facts and they have the choice between 100 miles and 200 miles with a different price, then probably the reaction of people is getting more rational,” he continued. Consequently, Renault expects to have two solutions: to satisfy drivers after the greatest range or the lowest price.
With four electric models already on offer – the Zoe, Twizy and Kangoo EV (plus the non-UK Fluence saloon) – the company is looking to develop these models rather than introduce new ones.

“We have the widest range of [electric] cars, so our focus now is more on improving those cars – the features themselves, the range, charging and costs,” Feunteun claimed. “We have with our four cars strong assets and we’d rather put our energy and technology into improving those four cars than just trying another project.”

Renault, meanwhile, is to recall 999 Zoe EVs in the UK manufactured before 6 October 2014 to correct “the small possibility” of the front wheel arch liner causing damage to the front brake hose.

From : http://www.businesscar.co.uk/news/2016/renault-to-double-electric-car-range-by-2020

Mahindra launches e2o electric car in UK

April 19th, 2016 § Comments Off on Mahindra launches e2o electric car in UK § permalink

Mahindra has launched its e2o REVA successor small electric city car in the UK.

Mahindra said that in addition to its competitive purchase price, e2o owners that drive the UK average of 7,900 miles per year, and who charge at home at night on an Economy 7 tariff, will pay under GBP10 per month on fuel.

Speaking about the e2o’s arrival on British roads, Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group said, “I am very proud to announce that the e2o is now available in the UK and this marks a true milestone for the Mahindra Group. Sustainability is at the heart of Mahindra’s business practices and with the introduction of the e2o to the UK market, we are offering a product that perfectly encapsulates our corporate philosophy.”

The Mahindra UK website http://www.mahindrauk.com is now live and ready to take orders, with first deliveries to UK owners commencing in May this year, Mahindra said.

The car comes with an electric powertrain capable of 79 miles range and a top speed of 63mph.

There are two trim levels and the higher-spec TechX version includes a touchscreen infotainment centre with reversing camera, telematics, revive remote emergency recharging, leather seats, alloy wheels and a rapid charging port.

Mahindra EVThe car is being targeted at commuters and as a second car. Pravin Shah, President & Chief Executive of Mahindra’s Automotive operations  said the e2o is “the ideal urban runabout or second car for the two-and-a-half-million UK households that can charge the car at home in a driveway or garage.”

The car comes with the e2o Remote smartphone app which allows users to remotely control key functions of their e2o, including the ability to pre-heat/cool the car, start and stop charging, route plan and search for nearby charging stations.

Mahindra also said the car offers emergency reserve remote charging for customers suffering ‘range anxiety’. The technology is called REVive. It allows the driver to simply telephone or send a text to Mahindra REVA and the company will electronically contact the vehicle and activate a reserve amount of energy (for an extra 9 miles of range).

The e2o went on sale in India in March 2013. The e2o was the first vehicle to enter production at Reva’s Bommasandra plant in suburban Bangalore. Initial build got underway in September 2012 but full production did not commence until early 2013.

In May 2010, 55% of REVA was acquired by Mahindra & Mahindra. The firm was immediately renamed ‘Mahindra REVA’.
The name of the vehicle is pronounced ‘ee to oh’. The company says the e stands for the energy of the sun, and the o for oxygen.

The car, which was styled by India’s DC Design, does not have painted body panels; instead these are impregnated with colour with the advantage being they are scratch resistant and will also bounce back after impacts of up to 15km/h. It also means the Bangalore plant which makes the e2o can be seen as more environmentally friendly thanks to its lack of a paint shop.

 

FROM: http://www.just-auto.com/news/mahindra-launches-e2o-electric-car-in-uk_id168610.aspx

Tesla VS Dyson, as the latter Challenges Tesla With $1.4 Billion Battery Tech Investment

April 5th, 2016 § Comments Off on Tesla VS Dyson, as the latter Challenges Tesla With $1.4 Billion Battery Tech Investment § permalink

Dyson, the U.K. producer of innovative vacuum cleaners and hand dryers, will spend 1 billion pounds ($1.44 billion) on battery development over the next five years as it increases its efforts to expand into new sectors.

It follows a 2015 acquisition of Satki3, a U.S. maker of solid-state lithium-ion batteries, for $90 million. Dyson Ltd. had previously invested $15 million in the Michigan firm, which said it has found a way to produce batteries with twice the energy storage potential of standard lithium-ion models, at a half to a third of the cost.

Dyson’s battery efforts also received a lift from the U.K.’s 2016 budget, announced last week. As part of the package, the British government awarded Dyson a 16-million-pound grant to undertake research on longer-lasting batteries. The grant came from a regional development fund.

Batteries are a key component in Dyson’s cordless vacuum cleaners, a category that grew 66 percent globally in 2015 and in which Dyson currently holds about a 25 percent share of the market, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

While the immediate application for new batteries would probably be in Dyson’s existing cordless products, they have potential uses in everything from electric cars to tablet computers. In moving into the battery field, Dyson is taking on the likes of Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors, which is also developing advanced cells to power vehicles and home appliances.

From: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-21/dyson-challenges-tesla-with-1-4-billion-battery-tech-investment

…Some Secrets We Think We Know About Tesla’s Model 3

March 29th, 2016 § Comments Off on …Some Secrets We Think We Know About Tesla’s Model 3 § permalink

Tesla is getting ready for its biggest-ever unveiling: the Model 3, the $35,000 sedan designed to take electric cars mainstream. As the fateful date approaches, the company has been dropping hints about what to expect from a project that has been a decade in the making. With just a few days left before the big show, here’s everything we know, as well as a few things we’ll be watching for on March 31:
Roomy, Like an Audi A4
The Model 3 will be about 20 percent smaller than the Model S, or roughly the size of an Audi A4, said Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk. The A4 is a five-seater that feels a bit roomier than some of its rivals in the compact luxury category. (The Model 3 will compete with BMW’s 3 series in the class of entry luxury cars). Backseat riders might gain some leg room because an electric drive-train obviates the need for a transmission tunnel, the hump in the middle of the floor. There’s also no engine in an electric car, and Tesla likes to use that empty space for a “frunk”—front trunk—for extra storage. Will that feature survive in the smaller Model 3?
Ready to Ride
The Model 3 is now the company’s top priority and is “going to be probably the most profound car that we make,” according to Musk. At this week’s event, a working prototype will be ready onsite to take reporters for “a quick spin,” according to invitations sent out March 15. Musk had previously indicated he might not show the full car, which won’t officially go on sale until late 2017. It will be interesting to see how “finished” the prototype is and determine how much is still being worked out.
A Mini Model S?
The biggest unknown about the Model 3 is its look. Will it have the distinctive oval front end of the Model S or the tight-lipped mouth of the Model X? What about those huge windshields? Tesla may have given a clue with the invitations, which feature pictures of the Model S, the Model X, and a silhouette in place of the Model 3. As some Tesla watchers have pointed out, the silhouette is a perfect match for the Model S. So was the image just a Photoshop trick, or will the Model 3 look very much like a shorter version of the Model S? When asked via e-mail if the company would like to clarify, a Tesla spokesperson simply replied: “Ha.”

» Read the rest of this entry «

Better Late than Never: Renault Twizy, or rather Nissan “New Mobility Concept” gets kudos

March 24th, 2016 § Comments Off on Better Late than Never: Renault Twizy, or rather Nissan “New Mobility Concept” gets kudos § permalink

The Verge Covers this story here: http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/23/11291566/nissan-new-mobility-concept-car-video-electric-vehicle

The future of transportation is a tough thing to peg down. It could involve Hyperloops, or self-driving cars, or some strange mix of both. Two years ago, Nissan started up an experimental wing called “Future Lab” to address this shifting landscape. And the first project is the Nissan New Mobility Concept — a squat, four-wheel electric vehicle that Nissan has taken from Renault and modified for the United States.

Aside from different plugs, and a slower top speed of 25 miles per hour, it’s essentially the same thing as the original Renault Twizy. The doors swing open like they would on a Lamborghini, which is cool, but the rest of the vehicle is rather spartan. It has a tiny screen that shows you the battery level, range (up to 40 miles), and speed — but there’s no smartphone connectivity. One of the models comes with a rear seat, but good luck comfortably fitting a full-grown adult back there for more than a few miles. And there are no side windows, so you’re probably going to want to avoid driving one in anything other than the best weather.

Nissan brought a few of the New Mobility Concepts to Manhattan for the New York International Auto Show, and I got to drive one on a quick tour of Midtown. It’s nowhere near as fun as some of the other electric vehicles I’ve tried, like the Arcimoto SRK trike, or even an electric longboard. And sure, it doesn’t do well over bumps and potholes, the open-air design is sure to turn off a number of people, and I had to make myself forget what might happen if I got sideswiped by a bus. But it was otherwise a relatively enjoyable way to maneuver around the traffic that plagues 7th and 8th Avenues.

As someone who commutes more than an hour total every day, I’m constantly thinking about better ways I could get around this city. Uber and Lyft are popular options here, but so are CitiBike, ZipCar, and Car2Go. Something like the Nissan New Mobility Concept might someday have a home here, and by the time I parked it back in front of Madison Square Garden I found myself wishing that were the case.

What exactly Nissan will get out of the New Mobility Concept is hard to say because it’s still a young project. Josh Westerhold, Future Lab’s senior manager, tells The Verge that right now the team is focused on asking a lot of questions.

In fact, Westerhold rattled off a handful in a matter of seconds: “Is this a real trend? What would make a better product [for Nissan], if we need a better product? Is there interest? What are the demographic breakdowns? How do younger people use it, how do older people use it? How do females use it? How do males use it? How do those that are mobility challenged use it?”

But the most important questions, at least concerning Nissan’s involvement, are the last two Westerhold poses: what would the product and the business model have to look like?

Nissan is already searching for the answer to these last two. The company is six months into an exploratory program in San Francisco with the New Mobility Concept car. Future Lab partnered up with Scoot Networks, a sharing service akin to ZipCar or CitiBike that lets people rent electric scooters all around San Francisco. Nissan gave Scoot 10 of the little electric cars (branded as Scoot Quads in the city), and both sides are still trying to tease out answers to the rest of those bigger, broader questions.

Westerhold describes the contract between Nissan and Scoot as “semi-indefinite,” and that it’s still too early to say what the next step for the program will be. Nissan could give 100 more cars to Scoot just as easily as it could wrap up pilot program and move onto something else. (For what it’s worth, Westerhold says it hasn’t been easy — or cheap — for Nissan to import and convert the dozen or so vehicles that are here.)

For now, the two sides are happy to continue benefiting from the hands-on research and feedback that the program provides. That also means it’s not going to be sold here any time soon, so if the idea strikes you, you’re going to have to move to Europe and lay down €6,000 or so.

The New Mobility Concept is just one take on what urban transportation will look like in the future. It’s not the fastest or the sexiest, but after taking a spin in one it’s easy to see how it could play a part in the miniaturization, electrification, and personalization of our future cities.

» Read the rest of this entry «

woop: Dyson to build electric cars

March 24th, 2016 § Comments Off on woop: Dyson to build electric cars § permalink

Dyson is developing an electric car at its headquarters in Wiltshire with help from public money, according to government documents.

The company, which makes a range of products that utilise the sort of highly efficient motors needed for an electric car such as vacuum cleaners, hand dryers and bladeless fans, last year refused to rule out rumours it was building one.

But on Wednesday, the government appeared to have accidentally disclosed Dyson is working on one, along with other big companies outside of the automotive industry, such as Apple.

“The government is funding Dyson to develop a new battery electric vehicle at their headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. This will secure £174m of investment in the area, creating over 500 jobs, mostly in engineering,” said the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan, published on Wednesday.

When Dyson CEO, Max Conze, was asked last year if the company was working on an electric car, he said: “We are ruling nothing out. Like our friends in Cupertino [Apple] we are also unhealthily obsessive when it comes to taking apart our products to make them better.”

Dyson recently reported profits up 20% in 2015, driven by strong growth in China, and said it plans to invest £1bn in battery technology over the next five years. Last October, Dyson bought solid-state battery company, Sakti3, for $90m, which founder Sir James Dyson said had “developed a breakthrough in battery technology.”

Asked if the company was, as the government suggested, developing an electric car, a Dyson spokesman said: “We never comment on products that are in development.”

The Guardian has also contacted the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles, which encourages the roll-out of electric vehicles as a way to cut air pollution and lower carbon emissions, and is awaiting details on the exact level of funding.

Dyson, 68, has a long history of inventions. He designed the Rotork Sea Truck, a fast cargo boat in 1970, which has been used by the military and is still sold today. In 1974, he designed the Ballbarrow, a barrow with a ball replacing the wheel, having been frustrated by wheelbarrows getting stuck in mud on a building site.

His breakthrough was the bagless vaucum cleaner, which was inspired by air cyclones used in sawmills to suck up sawdust. Since then, he has created bladeless fans and the Airblade hand dryer.

Many of Dyson’s devices use small, light and efficient electric motors developed over 10 years by his company, which may find application in developing a new electric car. Dyson is a now worth several billion pounds and in 2014 pledged his company would spend £1.5bn on research and development to create future products, aiming to launch 100 new electrical products by 2018.

 

From: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/23/dyson-developing-electric-car-government-documents

BMW prepping for next generation of electric cars

February 29th, 2016 § Comments Off on BMW prepping for next generation of electric cars § permalink

A new generation of electric cars is coming, whether we like it or not. Some experts are claiming that by 2050, only about 10 percent of all vehicles on the road will be powered solely by internal combustion engines. Hybrids and EVs are becoming the future of the automotive world and it’s happening rather quickly. So BMW must be ready and it’s doing so by investing heavily into an electric future.

We’ve already seen the new concepts from BMW of what the future holds and that’s just the beginning. BMW is working very hard to implement electric and hybrid technology into almost every single model line possible and it must do so to survive.

Reason being is that BMW isn’t the only German car company that’s doing this, as both the entire Volkswagen Group and Mercedes-Benz are working hard on this new generation of EVs as well.
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Aftermarket: Tesla Model S to get wireless charging from April

February 23rd, 2016 § Comments Off on Aftermarket: Tesla Model S to get wireless charging from April § permalink

Aftermarket specialists can now add wireless charging functionality to your Tesla Model S

Wireless charging specialists Plugless have announced plans to introduce a system that can top up your Tesla EV without the need for lengthy and cumbersome cables.

Owners will be able to charge their Tesla Model S by simply parking on top of the inductive charging pad. Parent company Evatran is taking pre-orders in the US now for first installations in April, though there is no word on when the technology will reach the UK.

In the US, however, a similar system for a Nissan Leaf costs around £1,000. As the Tesla has bigger batteries, you would expect the relevant Plugless pad to command a slight price premium – though installation is included in the price.

For now, the setup is only available for rear-wheel drive Model S cars. The Dual Motor all-wheel drive models aren’t currently compatible, though Evatran says it is working to make Plugless available on all Tesla models in the near future. This will include the Model X and forthcoming Model 3 in due course.

The Plugless system is totally weatherproof, so can be installed both in garages and on driveways. It’s not as fast as Tesla’s innovative Supercharger network, though, with the company claiming only 20 miles of added range for every hour the car is left charging. That means a Model S with the 70 kWh battery would take 13 hours to realise its 260-mile maximum.

We’ll have more information on the Evatan’s wireless charging system – including any plans for UK release – in the coming months.

from: http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/tesla/model-s/94505/tesla-model-s-to-get-wireless-charging-from-april

Electric-only Opel Ampera: Charged up and almost ready to go

February 12th, 2016 § Comments Off on Electric-only Opel Ampera: Charged up and almost ready to go § permalink

As From: http://www.techradar.com/news/car-tech/opel-s-ampera-e-affordable-electric-car-arriving-in-2017-1314749

General Motor’s European division, Opel (which is in turn the parent company of Vauxhall), has announced plans for an “affordable” five-seat electric car in 2017.The Ampera-e, as it will be known, will be based on the US Chevrolet Bolt, and the company expects the car to have a longer range than previous electric cars.

As we mentioned in our review, The Bolt can do 200 miles on one charge, whereas rival Nissan Leaf (which arguably leads the affordable EV field at the moment) can only manage 155 miles, despite having a larger battery.

The announcement was made by GM Chief Executive Mary Barra, who was speaking in Germany. According to Reuters, she said:

“Like its twin, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Ampera-e promises to transform the electric vehicle market in Europe as the first EV that combines long range at an affordable price.”

Educated guesses

The expectation is that the new vehicle will offer more boot space compared to other EVs too – by storing the batteries under the seats. And while there are no other details just yet, looking at what the Bolt is capable of, we can make some educated guesses.

For example, the Bolt can be plugged into a normal power socket and will charge up in just over 9 hours – so we can probably expect similar. AutoCar notes that the Bolt is capable of doing 0-60mph in just 7 seconds.

Notably.

2017 looks set to be a busy year for electric cars, as the “affordable” Tesla 3 will also be going on sale too.

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