Taxis eléctricos em Lisboa

Mais uma vez em Portugal, os carroseléctricos são notícia. Lisboa é a primeira cidade europeia a ter táxis 100% eléctricos. Para já, trata-se ainda de uma experiência, mas o que é certo é que dois Renault Fluence Z.E. vão ser utilizados em condições reais de utilização por um período de dois meses.

Seis cêntimos por km e 3600 € anuais de poupança por viatura é o que a cooperativa que participa nos testes espera poupar. Este teste é feito através de um protocolo assinado com a Câmara Municipal de Lisboa.

Sensivelmente um ano depois da assinatura da carta de intenções, foi oficializado na semana passada o protocolo, entre a CML e a Autocoope, que permite que o Fluence Z.E. esteja disponível para servir a cidade como meio de transporte público ecológico. Para além do factor ambiental, os reduzidos custos de utilização foram decisivos para que a maior cooperativa de táxis de Lisboa quisesse testar, em utilização real, o automóvel 100% eléctrico da Renault, como táxi.

O administrador-delegado da Renault Portugal, José Caro de Sousa é optimista: “Este é mais um importante passo rumo a um novo paradigma de mobilidade. A aposta no Renault Fluence Z.E., como táxi, pode ajudar a quebrar alguns mitos associados ao veículo eléctrico. E, no que diz respeito aos custos de utilização, uma vez que 120 quilómetros efectuados num automóvel eléctrico apenas representam um valor na ordem dos 1,5 € esta é uma solução economicamente interessante. Esta aposta da Autocoope no Renault Fluence Z.E., deverá também permitir validar que, até em termos deautonomia, um automóvel 100% eléctrico pode servir os interesses de uma actividade tão exigente como a do transporte público de passageiros”.

Este tipo de automóveis obriga também a uma condução mais regrada e ecológica por parte dos condutores para gerir melhor a carga da bateria.

O presidente da Autocoope, Carlos Ramos, deixou no ar a expectativa de que sejam encontradas soluções para as dificuldades já conhecidas: tempos de carga do veículo e limitações na autonomia ao nível dos quilómetros que podem percorrer. Caso sejam encontradas as soluções, o dirigente assume a intenção de mudar a “tradicional frota a gasóleo” para viaturas eléctricas.



Toyota And BMW Developing Next-Generation Battery



Hoping to improve lithium-ion battery chemistries, and to share wealth regarding diesel technology as well, Toyota Motor Corp and BMW AG have reportedly begun joint research into next-generation batteries.

In this East-meets-West match, BMW stands to gain from Asia’s largest automaker which has pioneered and now dominates in the hybrid category – expertise BMW needs to stay competitive with Volkswagen AG’s Audi luxury car division.

Similarly, Toyota also wants to improve its position in Europe by expanding on its diesel engine lineup. BMW has agreed to supply Toyota Europe with oil-burning powerplants beginning in 2014, according to Automotive News.

BMW confirmed today that the two companies are now working under a formal memorandum of understanding based on a partnership first announced Dec. 1, 2011.

Both companies are technological powerhouses, and while today’s news is essentially about Europe, with U.S. growth in automotive electrification – and perhaps also diesels – in coming years this agreement could see benefits to products eventually delivered here.


Fisker Karma Battery Packs To Be Switched


Not long ago, Fisker Automotive took a public relations hit when a Karma battery failed during a Consumer Reports test, but its battery maker A123 Systems has now accepted responsibility and will replace all affected Karma packs at a cost of about $55 million.

In a press release today, Fisker said it has been working closely with A123 Systems regarding the power loss experienced by Consumer Reports. The problem was traced to the A123 battery pack and both companies immediately established teams to work together to find the root cause.

A123 Systems discovered a latent manufacturing defect in some prismatic cells made in its Livonia, Mich. facility that could result in battery underperformance and decreased durability. As a result, A123 is replacing all impacted battery modules and packs for the Fisker Karma.

Following this discovery, Fisker is implementing upgrades to the VIP Customer Care Coverage included with the purchase of all 2012 model year Karmas. This new initiative will apply both to existing and future 2012 Model Year Karma customers and consists in a complete battery replacement at no cost for all affected 2012 Fisker Karma owners; plus a full vehicle warranty extension from 50 months/50,000 miles to 60 months/60,000 miles in North America. In Europe, coverage will be extended from 48 months/100,000 km to 60 months/100,000 km.

Fisker’s Quality SWAT Team has also been working aggressively on the next-generation vehicle software upgrade to improve customer experience, with a release planned in the next few days.

According to Fisker CEO Tom LaSorda, over 630 Karmas have been delivered to customers in North America and Europe since sales began at the end of last year.


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Opel Ampera Orders Surpass 7,000 units


GM’s European subsidiary, Opel, has found the going tough in recent years. Struggling with high labor costs in its native country Germany and limited opportunity for expansion against such rivals as Volkswagen and Ford, Opel has finally received some good news, at least on the EV front.

Besides winning the coveted European Car of the Year Award at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, the Opel Ampera, is now doing better than projected on the sales front, with orders having passed the 7,000 mark. According to Opel’s e-mobility launch director Enno Fuchs, “this news shows us that our sales target of 10,000 units for 2012 is well within reach.”

The scenario contrasts with the Ampera’s cousin, the Chevy Volt which has suffered from lower than expected demand in the U.S., not helped by highly publicized battery fire investigations, resulting in the car becoming, what General Motors’ CEO Dan Akerson dubbed “a political punching bag.”

Nonetheless, with GM essentially re-launching the Volt, which includes a plan of meeting demand rather than pegging output to a specific target (like the 10,000 units originally projected last year), the company has ordered a five-week production shutdown of both the Ampera and Volt to “maintain our proper inventory levels,” according to a company spokesman.

The closure was mainly due to U.S. issues over the Volt, but at this juncture, it appears things for the Ampera are still off to a more positive overall reception.

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Mitsubishi "very interested" in electric F1 racing league

Mitsubishi i

In early April, Jean Todt, president of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), made it known that he hopes to launch a couple of racing events (electric car, go-kart and single-seat vehicles) that will eventually lead to an electrified Formula One series. Though Todt’s plans will likely be opposed by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, that hasn’t prevented Mitsubishi from declaring that it’s “very interested” in a racing series for electric vehicles. Japan Today reports that Mitsubishi president Osamu Masuko is intrigued by the notion of electric racecars. Masuko supposedly told the newspaper that:

The development costs for electric vehicles seem much lower than for gasoline cars, and it would also contribute to the technological development of cars that are already on the market. I’m said to be unenthusiastic about motorsports, but with electric vehicles, I want to promote them.

Open-wheel racing, at any level, would be uncharted territory for Mitsubishi, but the Japanese automaker has invested a significant amount into developing its own electric vehicles. If the company is going to enter the world of open-wheel racing, it’s fitting that it would go electric.


Mitsubishi taking orders for Minicab MiEV in Japan

Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV

The Minicab MiEV, one of eight plug-in vehicles that Mitsubishi intends to launch by the end of 2015, is now available to order in Japan. The Minicab MiEV is an electric commercial van that’s offered with a choice of either a 10.5 kWh or a 16.0 kWh Toshiba-supplied battery pack. Mitsubishi says that the 10.5 kWh version of the Minicab MiEV can be purchased for approximately 1,700,000 yen ($20,621 U.S. at the current exchange rate), while the 16.0 kWh version rings up at 2,050,000 yen ($24,867 U.S.)
Powered by Toshiba’s SCiB lithium-ion battery technology, the Minicab MiEV boasts a range of 100 kilometers (62 miles) with the 10 kWh pack and 150 km (93 miles) with the optional 16 kWh unit. Apparently, Mitsubishi was drawn to Toshiba’s SCiB tech for its low cost, long life expectancy and quick-charging capability. The Japanese automaker aims to sell or lease 10,000 of the electrified Minicabs per year in its home market. The commercial electric van is slated to hit dealerships in Japan toward the end of 2011.


Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt get top safety ratings


DETROIT — The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf got top safety ratings in some of the first-ever tests of electric cars by an insurer-funded research group.

Both cars earned top scores for front, side and rear-impact crashes and for rollover crash protection, according to results released Tuesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

While both the Leaf and Volt are classified as small cars, the institute said their heavy battery packs put their weight closer to large sedans. The Volt, for example, weighs 3,760 pounds, which is close to the weight of the Chevrolet Impala. The Leaf weighs 3,370 pounds, which is similar to a Nissan Altima midsize car. That extra mass helps protect their occupants, since heavier cars are less likely to be pushed around in a crash.

The Leaf runs solely on battery power and has a range of around 100 miles. The Volt can go around 40 miles on an electric charge before a small gas engine kicks in.

The institute said it was the first time it has tested road-worthy plug-in cars. Two golf cart-like electric vehicles, the Gem e2 and Wheego Whip, were tested for research purposes but performed poorly in side-impact tests, the group said. But those cars run at very low speeds and aren’t required to meet federal safety standards.

The federal government hasn’t yet released crash-test results for the Volt and Leaf.

“What powers the wheels is different, but the level of safety for the Volt and Leaf is as high as any of our other top crash test performers,” said Joe Nolan, the institute’s chief administrative officer.

The institute, which is funded by insurance companies, buys the cars it tests directly from dealers.

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