Category Archives: Green Technology

Nissan’s Fully Electric New Mobility Concept

Nissan has developed a new fully electric vehicle with 0 emissions and is in line with their dream of a “sustainable zero-emissions society.”  The Nissan New Mobility Concept is optimum for individuals with short-distance commutes and who travel down traffic-congested roads.

A very small two person vehicle, the Nissan New Mobility Concept is best used in urban areas.  The vehicle will be able to travel 62 miles on a 15-kilowatt electric motor with a top speed of 47 mph.  Although Nissan is also focusing on the Leaf electric car, the New Mobility Concept shows the auto maker’s interest in diversifying the electric market.

Nissan has not provided much information regarding the new electric vehicle, which is similar to Renault’s Twizy and has the maneuverability of a motorcycle.   However, unlike the Leaf, this vehicle is not yet slated for production, and the auto maker has not yet released their full intentions for the vehicle.

In response to questions regarding the new Nissan Mobility Concept, the company stated it is part of their new “comprehensive approach to promote sustainable mobility.”

Nissan’s entrance into the fully-electric vehicle market with the Nissan Leaf and New Mobility Concept may signify a movement toward electric-powered vehicles in the automotive industry.

High-end Automakers Join Green Vehicle Movement

Following the trend towards more eco-friendly automobiles, exotic car makers such as Ferrari, Porsche, and Bentley have joined the fray, developing high-end green vehicles for environmentally-conscious, wealthy individuals.   While most of us will never see, let alone step foot in these vehicles, the automakers are dedicated to doing what they can to join the green movement.

This month, Ferrari launched a green version of its California coupe-convertible called HELE, which has a stop-start system that cuts the engine at stop lights, saving energy in the process and reducing (according to the automaker) carbon dioxide emissions in the city by as much as 23%.  The sticker price of the HELE is $251,000 dollars.

Bentley plans to release its Continental GT Coupe next year, which boasts a 40% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by reducing the standard 12 cylinder model to a V8 engine.  The auto maker also hopes to create vehicles compatible with ethanol by the year 2012.

Also joining the green movement, Porsche AG is developing the 918 Spyder, a plug-in hybrid vehicle capable of traveling 78 miles per gallon.  Carrying a whopping price tag of approximately $680,000, the Spyder isn’t cheap.

Of these vehicles, Christoph Stuermer, an analyst at IHS Automotive in Frankfurt, said, “These upper-end, high-performance cars have always been examples of the best car technology out here, and being green is now part of being technologically advanced. They have to come up with something so as not to be seen as technical dinosaurs.”

BMW AG joins the movement with a plug-in car due in 2013 or 2014 capable of going from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds and producing 62 mpg.

Damler AG Mercedes is also expected to develop some electric powered models of its SLS AMG, and Lotus, Audi, Lamborghini, and Jaguar are considering greener vehicles.

The addition of high-end autos to the green vehicles movement is a good sign of things to come.  Traditionally leading the way in automotive technology, these auto makers have the potential to further develop green vehicle technology that can be used in less-expensive models.

Audi A2 Electric Car Travels 373 Miles Without Refuel

The new Audi A2, manufactured in Germany, has broken a record for the longest run in a production-ready electric vehicle without refueling.  Traveling from Munich to Berlin, the vehicle went 600 km (373 miles) without refueling.  That’s more than a 30 mpg vehicle with 12 gallons of gasoline can travel, making the Audi A2 competitive with modern gas-powered vehicles where refueling is concerned.

However, an experimental Japanese car has traveled farther, approximately 1000 km (621 miles) without a refuel, but this was not a production vehicle, and it was extremely expensive to create.

In a bold statement, the driver of the Audi A2, Mirko Hannemann, when exiting the new electric vehicle, said, “If any journalists want to charge up their iPhones, we still have some electricity left.”  In the recent past only capable of traveling approximately 70 km (43 miles) before refueling, this statement sums up the confidence electric automakers have in this new technology, which is now competing with gasoline-powered vehicles as far as distance traveled is concerned.

Once a pipe dream of green fanatics, electric vehicles and other hybrid vehicles seem to be well on their way to becoming a realistic mode of travel.

Honda Air – The Air-Powered Concept Vehicle

Premiering at the Los Angeles auto show this month, the Honda Air demonstrates new possibilities in alternative fuel.  Powered by a compressed air and pneumatic regulator system, the Air utilizes a lesser-known alternative fuel – air – to propel the vehicle.  The vehicle was inspired by roller coaster systems and wing suits and can travel an estimated 100 miles before requiring a refuel.

One of numerous eco-friendly vehicles at the Los Angeles auto show, and a top contender for the show’s green award on November 18th, the Air weighs in at just 800 pounds and is designed for maximum open air experience.  The Air can be refueled easily at gas station air filling stations or at home using an air compressor.

Honda incorpotated numerous strategies in order to reduce the weight of the vehicle, including a hub-less wheel and drive system, vegetable-based polymer panels, glass reinforced seating panels, urethane tire composition, and skeletal sub-frame components.

Increased competition for the green award at the auto show from automakers such as Mercedes Benz and Maybech show the great interest in alternative fuels.  While more commonly-known alternative fuels such as electric and hydrogen seem to be leading the way, Honda’s air provides yet another option – air.  Only time will tell which fuel eventually becomes the standard for the future automotive industry.

Electric Taxis Coming to San Francisco

A new project in the San Francisco bay area hopes to develop electric taxis and charging stations.  The project is breaking automotive news and is led by Better Place, an electric vehicle service provider.

According to Jason Wolf, VP of North America for Better Place, “Today marks a significant milestone in our march towards accelerating the mass adoption of electric cars in the Bay Area. This program will enable us to reach a broad audience and demonstrate a solution that offers drivers a more convenient option than today’s gasoline cars.”

Scheduled to take place over a three year period, the program hopes to see four battery switching stations placed between the San Francisco and San Jose corridor, offering green energy solutions to individuals in these communities.  Because charging an electric battery can take a long time, the stations allow electric vehicle users to switch out their existing battery with a new one.  The company has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Having already created a similar program in Tokyo that was very successful, Better Place hopes to create similar success in the US by leading the way in the electric vehicle revolution.  In six months, electric taxis in Tokyo have traveled over 25,000 miles.

According to Better Place, “Taxis are a high-mileage, high-visibility segment that can serve as the on-ramp for technology transfer to the mass-market.”

Urbee: The First 3-D Printed Vehicle

Announcing its partnership with Kor Ecologic, Stratasys is set to create one of the world’s most fuel efficient vehicles.  The Urbee is the first vehicle ever to use entire body 3D printing technology by additive manufacturing process.  This process prints layers of material, which are placed on top of each other until the finished product is created.

Capable of 200mpg on highway and 100 mpg in the city, using gasoline or ethanol, the Urbee is a low-emission vehicle that can be charged overnight using a home electrical outlet, with low cost to your electric bill.

According to Jim Kor, president and chief technology officer at Kor Ecologic, “FDM lets us eliminate tooling, machining, and handwork, and it brings incredible efficiency when a design change is needed.  If you can get to a pilot run without any tooling, you have advantages.”

This low profile (only 40 inches tall) two-passenger hybrid vehicle is also easy to repair, inexpensive to maintain, and safe.  According to the Urbee website, ‘the vehicle will last for decades and be good for the environment.’  Designed to be sustainable, the Urbee uses so little energy that it can be charged by solar cells or wind energy collected from above a one-car garage.

The company is hopeful that the vehicle will be affordable, and according to Popular Mechanics it will run between $18,000 and $21,000

Hanebrink’s Badass Eco-Bike

In the business of building all terrain vehicles for over 40 years, Hanebrink has joined the eco movement and released its new electric bike.  The bike is part bicycle, part motorcycle, and part ATV and has a maximum speed of 40 mph on the road.

The new hybrid vehicle features 8-inch-wide tubeless tires that can navigate the toughest terrain.   With a 600 watt brushless electric motor and a 14-speed gearing system, the electric bike, which is designed using state-of-the-art technology, is capable of hauling up to 300 lbs.

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The specs include:

  • Motor: Aotema 600 Watt Brushless Electric Motor
  • Controller: Controls speed between throttle and motor
  • Battery: Lithium Ion Phosphate 36 volt, 10 amp hour
  • Drive: Dual Range 14-speed gearing
  • Brakes: Avid Elixir Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Handle Bars: Truvativ Carbon Fiber with 1.5 inch rise
  • Frame: 6061- T6 Aircraft Seamless Aluminum Tubing
  • Forks: Hanebrink Dual Crown Triple Clamp 10″ adjustable travel
  • Rear Rack: 8″ x 21″ aluminum
  • Shifter: SRAM MRX
  • Deraileur: Shimano
  • Seatpost: Carbon Fiber
  • Weight: 71 lbs total with one battery pack
  • Wheels/Hubs: Hanebrink handcrafted aluminum
  • Tires: 20″ x 8″ tubeless
  • Price: $7650 at Electric Cyclery – $280 shipping in continental USA

The bike is handcrafted at Hanebrink’s Big Bear, California facility and is designed for all terrains and seasons.  Although best new for their mountain biking innovations, Hanebrink now joins the environmentally-friendly vehicle market, and does so with one badass bike.

High-Speed Rail May be Solution to Transportation Woes

With growing gas prices and the worst economic crisis in 60 years, many are wondering what the solution to transportation issues in the U.S. may be.  Increased traffic congestion is a glaring sign that something needs to be done, and many feel that high-speed rail systems may be the solution.  Economically friendly high-speed rail systems could bring a second boon in the transportation industry in the United States, which first experienced increased growth in 1940, when the first freeway was built in the LA area.

Considered one of the factors that sent the economy over the edge, gas and dependence on foreign oil is a major topic among economists these days, and the U.S. is scrambling to create alternative fuel sources and vehicles, including hydrogen-powered vehicles and electric vehicles, which seem to be the next step after hybrid vehicles and are possibly the most likely source of travel in the automotive industry.

Robert Cruickshank and Danial Krause of Californians for High Speed Rail feel that the high-speed rail will do for Californians what the interstate did in the 1940s, stimulate growth in transportation.  Not only will high-speed rails revolutionize transportation, they will promote economic growth in construction in the areas where they are developed.  The high-speed rail systems have better cost-benefits than automobiles and, according to many, are a solution to our transportation issues.

Intelligent Energy Release Hydrogen-Powered Motorcycle

Intelligent Energy, a company that focuses on creating environmentally friendly energy solutions, has produced a new hydrogen-powered motorcycle.  Lightweight, stylish and eco-friendly, the motorcycle, named the ENV, utilizes hydrogen fuel cells and releases only water and air into the atmosphere.

Intelligent Design, a British company, releases its new fuel cell motorcycle before any major automobile producer.  The stylish design of the vehicle is attributed to Seymourpowell.  The vehicle functions like any other motorcycle on the market, and the hydrogen fuel cell is completely removable and replaceable.

Nick Talbot of Seymourpowerll noted, ‘It has good ground clearance, great off-road suspension travel and a very carefully considered power to weight ratio.  I have ridden motorcycles for years, and, in the process of designing the bike, I have become a convert to fuel cell technology.  The bike is usable, useful and great-looking.  It was important on this project to demonstrate that new technologies don’t have to be wrapped up in a dull product – engaging public imagination and enthusiasm is key.’

Here are the bike’s performance stats:

  • Acceleration 0 – 20 mph in 4.3s (32kph)
  • 0 – 30 mph in 7.3s (48 kph)
  • 0 – 50 mph in 12.1s (80kph)
  • Top speed 50 mph (80kph)
  • (note: ENV has been tested to 50mph – however, with further refinements and redevelopments, this top speed is expected to be exceeded)
  • Range At least 100 miles (160km)
  • Physical
    Bike mass 80 kg (Total mass including CORE)

However, the United States is not a likely location for this motorcycle, because hydrogen is not yet a viable environmental vehicle source, and the U.S. is mostly focused on creating electric eco-friendly vehicles.

Best Buy Goes Green with Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

In an effort to support greener energy, Best Buy has agreed to allow electric vehicle charging stations at twelve of its Arizona, California, and Washington stores by March 2011.  Announced by ECOtality, a charging infrastructure developer, the Blink charging stations, referred to by Blink CEO Jonathan Read as  the “Swiss army knife of telecommunication,” will also have access to local networks, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and cell phone networks.

The announcement helps put into effect ECOtality’s vision of placing Blink stations at large retail stores throughout the country, providing a first point of contact for electric car drivers.

Having already installed 6,000 charge stations for vehicles such as forklifts and ground-support vehicles at airports, this new development demonstrates a push to reach consumers directly.  With $230 million dollars in investment funds in the company, both from the Department of Energy and private investors, ECOtality is poised for the next step.

Analyst John Gartner of Pike Research estimates that the electric vehicle charging industry will generate nearly 300 million dollars by the year 2015 in addition to revenue already accumulated by the automotive industry.

Best Buy, which began selling electric scooters and motorcycles last year, plans to have stations installed in Tucson, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle.

While the value you vehicle charging stations is not yet known to large retailers, the agreement between Best Buy and ECOtality shows increasing interest by retailers in alternative fuel and vehicles and perhaps the start of a new, greener trend.