Filed under: Electric Cars

Toyota’s Le Mans Racer to Improve the Toyota Prius Hybrid Cars

800px-Toyota_TS30-Hybrid-Le_Mans_2013The concept of capacitors in the industry had just been introduced and it us unbelievable how this technology has brought about a revolution in the motor vehicle industry. This technology has further been improved by making it smaller and more efficient, sufficient to be referred to as a super capacitor. The concept of super capacitors is now being applied in the manufacture of some hybrid car models in the market. The concept of super capacitors has mostly been pushed by Toyota. This has made most of the industry stakeholders the impression that the future of the Toyota Prius is indeed bright.

Toyota is most likely to apply the electric motor technology that has been used in the Le Mans Toyota motor vehicles such as the TS040. This technology is definitely going to be used in future versions of hybrid cars to be rolled into the market.

Super capacitors are very commonly used in racecars. This is because they are very effective in storing energy generated by the vehicle when it is braking and quickly redistributes it when the vehicle is accelerating. Stakeholders at Toyota expect to roll out this technology in the Prius hybrid within the next five years.

The Toyota spokeswoman, Amanda Rice, recently stated that the Le Mans racer car provides a perfect lab environment for the hybrid vehicle and component development. The superconductor technology that is used in super capacitors, with its discharge and charging capability provides the possibility for developing a car for the mass market. This means that the Toyota Prius of the future will have relatively smaller electric motors with increased power density and thermal efficiency. This is sure to be a market leader in the future.

This year, Toyota entered two car models into the Le Mans race. One of the vehicles was doing very well and had even secured itself the pole position before quitting the race after 15 hours. The reason cited for the quitting was an electrical fault. The race was eventually won by Audi. This was the 13th time that the car has won in the French car endurance competition. Despite the disappointment by Toyota, the race has provided a great platform for further improvements to be made on its technologies. With the application of superconductor technology in less stressful normal-car conditions, it is sure going to be a great success story for Toyota.


Leave a Comment July 4, 2014

Tesla Model S Best Hybrid Car According to AAA

01-2012-tesla-model-s-fd-1347336745The Automobile Association of America (AAA) recently released the annual Green Car Guide for motor vehicle enthusiasts. The guide is a detailed 140-page document that gives an insight into what it means to be green, how to shop for green cars, what green cars are available in the market and even how to be a greener driver. It is therefore safe to say that the AAA is a trusted source when it comes to matters of green cars. AA A has established itself over time as the most credible and accurate source of information in the green car industry. The guide also takes an in-depth analysis of over 83 different types of green vehicles in the market. These usually range from high mileage gasoline vehicles to hybrid vehicles. According to the AAA, the most efficient green car in the market is the Tesla Model S.

There are two major baselines that are used to rank these vehicles to determine their level of “greenness.” These include the emissions of the vehicle together with the fuel economy of the car. In both categories, the Tesla was graded 10 out of 10. This is despite the vehicle having a battery capacity of 85-kWh. Other categories used in the evaluation of these vehicles include braking, visibility, ride quality, acceleration, interior size, luggage capacity, crash worthiness, slalom handling, interior noise, ease of entry and exit, and turning circle. It is interesting to note that the Tesla scored over 7 out of 10 points in all of the categories except the last four. This means that the rankings do not exclusively look at the greenest car, but the most all rounded car in the market. This is exactly what most consumers in the market are often looking for.

On top of the tests carried out to determine the greenest cars, the AAA also caries out research on the cost per point for the cars. According to the evaluations recorded by the AAA, the highest rank went to the gasoline powered Chevrolet Spark, which had one liter at $229 per point. It is disappointing to note that the Tesla was among the bottom five in this category with a value of $953 per point. This means that the best green car also come at a price to the consumer.

There are other evaluations out in the market also used to determine the best green cars. Other bodies such as the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) also release similar rankings regularly.


Leave a Comment June 30, 2014

Improvements on the e-NV200 Electric Van

leafIt is no doubt that the highest selling electric car in the market is currently the Nissan Leaf. This has been attributed to a number of factors; most importantly cost being one of them. The Nissan Leaf has managed to reduce its cost of acquisition by eliminating the active cooling system for its lithium-ion battery pack, which significantly reduces the cost of manufacture. The new design Nissan to be rolled into the market has a slightly different design than the conventional Leaf. This is because it makes use of the electric air conditioning of the vehicle to route cold air through the battery management system of the van when the management system of the car detects that it needs to do so. This bespoke cooling pack will be used during quick charging, which usually produces a lot of heat as the battery is recharged within a short time.

The system is also expected to increase the lifespan of the battery by wafting warm air over it. This helps in keeping the battery at the best operating temperature, which reduces discharging. This new battery design will be most helpful to taxis that are often on the road for up to 10 hours in a day and have to endure fast DC charging up to four times a daily.

The vehicle heating, ventilating and air-conditioning system has been used by other companies in the market in the design of their hybrid vehicles. Some of the top companies that have already tried out this technology include BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. It is interesting to note that this technology does stand in contrast with the design approach used in Leaf. The Leaf approach uses only passive conditioning, which means that the battery sheds heat by simply releasing it to the atmosphere.

There is some resistance to this technology from a small vocal group of Nissan Leaf owners in the hot climate areas such as Phoenix, Arizona where temperatures often reach as much as 160 F. These consumers are complaining that their batteries are losing their capacity quicker than expected. This has forced Nissan to rethink the chemical composition of their lithium-ion cell batteries to be able to tolerate higher temperatures. The rolling out of the thermally managed battery back with the e-NV200 has been seen by many as the solution to the problems that have been experienced thus far. The upgrade is expected to be applied on the larger pack sizes of batteries because these are the ones expected to be spending more time on the road. This means more utilization of their potential.


Leave a Comment June 30, 2014

The Innovation of Wireless Charging

800px-Electic_car_wireless_parking_charge_closeupThe hybrid vehicle industry is very much interested and encouraging the technology being developed and tested by Toyota, Volvo, Audi and technology companies: namely the capability of recharging EV vehicles on wireless charging platforms without the need for any wires or connectors. For sure, this wireless battery charging system would make recharging more convenient and accessible. Currently, charging an EV/PHEV involves plugging in to a charge box with cables or connectors, which can be clumsy and, especially in inclement weather, inconvenient. Plus, when in use, charging equipment is susceptible to the elements and vandalism. The technology underlying this concept is not far-fetched; various brands of cellphones already incorporate this concept when using generic charging pads, with no need for charger wires.

Wireless Charging for EV/PHEV

Toyota’s new wireless battery-charging system for plug-in hybrids or pure-electric cars uses magnetic-resonance technology, transmitting electricity by magnetic resonance between a coil positioned on the ground under the car and a receiving coil built into the underside of the vehicle.

Wireless recharging would eliminate the physical cords and connections currently needed to recharge these hybrids. It could also solve the problem of different charging stations for the different makes of vehicles.

Tests of this new technology are not being conducted in R&D labs, but with actual modified Priuses in Japan. Actual owners will evaluate the technology’s performance in reliability, misalignment issues, and quality of charging. After this year long test, Toyota plans to incorporate wireless charging in existing plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Volvo and Audi are also developing wireless charging systems for their hybrids as well, but the difference is the size of the various makes of cars elevates consumers’ concerns that these wireless platforms may not be capable of accommodating more than one make of car. Juiced Hybrid offers numerous accessories and conversions for both Audi and Volvo, and will certainly keep abreast of these research developments.

All of the hybrid, EV auto makers will have to develop car-mounted wireless charging coils that are compatible with the ground-mounted wireless chargers on the in-ground pads.

Qualcomm, a leading wireless technology provider, has also introduced a wireless charging system that they advertise as a superior charging method that will eliminate the plug-in cord used in most electric hybrids today.

The infrastructure of these systems is quite simple: the plate with a coil and an inverter (AC/AC converter) is positioned on a parking spot and connected to the power grid. Alternating magnetic fields on the infrastructure side produces an alternating current across to the secondary coil, built into the vehicle. Charging automatically ends when the battery is fully charged. The wireless charging is as timely as charging with a cable and is not affected by rain or snow. Since the alternating fields are only generated when a car is over the plate, there is no danger for humans or animals.


Leave a Comment June 3, 2014

Hybrids Have Become Popular With All Age Groups

800px-2011_Chevrolet_Volt_NRMA_croppedThe number of hybrids available has grown steadily over the past 5 years, with every major car manufacture now offering several models, or, at least, developing prototypes for the near future. The growing number of buyers of the Toyota Prius has been joined by those choosing the Honda Insight, the Ford Fusion, the Volkswagen Touareg, and the Kia Optima, just to name a few. Sales of hybrids were up 40% last year, with competitive pricing and reliability greatly influencing buyers. Hybrids are the attractive, acceptable alternatives to gas powered cars and more and more car buyers are choosing hybrids. In fact, the Toyota Prius out sold all types of vehicles in California, hybrid or conventional, in 2013.

Various Age Groups Buy Hybrids for Numerous Reasons

Hybrids are attracting buyers from every age group and every economic level, for a variety of reasons. Obviously, younger car buyers (25-35) are purchasing hybrids for their eco-friendly impact. These consumers are keenly sensitive to the pollution and global-warming effects conventional cars produce. Their main motives are personal convictions and environmental concerns. They are willing to put their hard earned dollars where their personal principles dictate.

Older hybrid buyers, however, have somewhat different reasons for their purchases. According to several recent studies on consumer trends, the older generations (Baby Boomers especially) are purchasing hybrids for their “image” impact, as well as their environmental contributions. They view these cars as personal statements, expressing to external observers the owner’s concern for the world’s wellbeing and commitment to safeguarding the future of the planet. Over half of a group of 60+ buyers listed “image” as their main motive for purchasing a hybrid according to Popular Mechanics magazine. These older buyers recognize the quality of the technology, but also value the impact ownership can convey.

This consumer segment’s buying power is huge, influencing design and model variety. They have expressed their preferences for roomier, more predictably designed vehicles. So too, their ability to customize these vehicles is exceptional. They will purchase customized mats, steering wheels, seat covers, tinting, and upgraded suspension systems and winterizing features; they have the income and the incentives to make these hybrids their very own. There is also a loyalty factor influencing these older buyers; they have been owners of models from the major car manufactures (Toyota and Ford for example) for years and are willing to buy the new hybrids because of brand loyalty in many cases. These buyers accept the hybrids ability to help the planet, but also recognize its ability to enhance their status and prestige in the community.


Leave a Comment June 3, 2014

Car Companies Take Their Expertise Past the Garage

fitMost people are increasingly looking for alternative sources of energy to meet their daily energy consumption. One of the most popular energy sources at the moment is solar energy. The drawback to this is that the device may not store enough energy to carry you through the night in case you have high-energy consumption. Motor vehicle manufacturers have come up with a solution to this problem. They have developed carbon-free energy stored in car batteries that can also serve as an energy reserve for electric devices within the home.

Buildings and the transport industry account for about 44% of greenhouse emissions in the United States. There has been increased awareness regarding the importance of keeping the environment safe by developing alternative sources of energy.

Honda has been in the forefront of the development of this technology. At the center of the Honda headquarters is a room that contains a black house that holds a 10-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Next to the battery is a bigger white box referred to as the home-energy management system. This is the intelligence center for the house. It makes intelligent decisions such as when to tap the renewable electric power produced by the 9.5-kilowatt solar panel placed on the home’s roof to charge the battery or put the energy into storage.

The home transfers the excess energy into the grid. When the utility becomes overloaded, which often happens during the summer, the local electric power provider simply sends a signal to the home to make the home direct its solar power to the grid and help avoid blackouts. A similar house will consume up to 1.3 megawatt-hours of electricity yearly. This smart house can generate energy of up to .6-megawatt hours in a year.

The Honda Fit EV in the garage has also been configured to accept energy directly from a solar array. The company also looked into ways of reducing the power consumption of the overall technology. They installed a geothermal system that traps the heat in the ground under the house to cool or heat the house. There is also an automated light adjustment that seeks to mimic natural daylight conditions and thus reduces the actual energy consumption on lighting.

Car companies that have so far been focusing on the production of hybrid cars in an attempt to conserver the environment are also going a step further in investing in alternative sources of energy. This is a complimentary move that helps them meet the overall vision behind the development of hybrid cars.


Leave a Comment April 25, 2014

Hybrid Cars More Fuel Efficient In India than the United States

electric-cars-395According to research carried out by a group of scientists in the United States, the hybrid cars in the United States consume relatively more fuel compared to their counterparts in India and China. This was mostly attributed to the difference in the traffic conditions of the two countries. The heavy traffic, aggressive driving, and freeways in India and China make these roads quite difficult to drive on. These conditions make them ideal for the fuel efficient hybrid cars.

According to the researchers, these findings were likely to have a great impact in the countries that were experiencing an explosion in the sale of personal vehicles. The research shows that the fuel savings in countries such as India are greatly understated. There is over 29% savings realized over the conventional vehicles.

At the moment, the amounts of greenhouse gases produced by India are relatively low when compared to those produced by other developing countries. The worrying trend however, is the fact that the emission of these gases has been on the increase over the past few years. Scientists estimate that in the next five years the rate of emissions of these harmful gases would equal that produced by a developed country. The realization that the hybrid cars can help in the reduction of emission of these harmful gases is sure to have a positive reception in the country. As much as the hybrid cars have not been very efficient in the United States, they have played some role in the reduction of the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment annually.

The researchers used the power train simulation model to carry out their research. This model created a hypothetical hybrid version of some of the top selling vehicles in the market of each country. The researchers then went ahead and simulated drive cycles in two cities in India. The researchers also used the modified Indian drive cycle. This is the test for the official fuel economy rating.

The researchers simulated drives in 11 cities and used three types of hybrid power trains. The researchers also performed the same test in the United States. This included 55% city driving and 45% highway driving.

The findings were that the hybrid car would achieve about a 48% fuel saving in India and about 55% fuel savings in China. The results in the United States showed that the hybrid cars achieved 40% fuel savings. These results prove the hypothesis that hybrids are relatively more suited for these emerging markets. The hybrid car explosion in these countries is sure going to be justified.


Leave a Comment April 25, 2014

Plug-In Hybrid for Chinese Market Launched by Audi and FAW Group Partnership

The latest foreign auto maker whose aim is to assist China in achieving its clean-car ambitions is the Audi AG. This is following an announcement that the car maker had plans of building plug-in hybrid car in collaboration with its neighboring partner. A unit of Volkswagen AG, the German luxury car maker claimed that it would begin the production of a China-based plug in sedan. The car maker would work in collaboration with FAW Group, its Chinese partner. The new hybrid car model will be referred to as Audi A6 e-tron, whose basis will be the Audi A6 sedan’s long-wheel version.

China has, for a long time, pushed for pure electric cars as a means for the country to achieve its auto industry’s long-term vision. The country views electric cars as attractive and beneficial because they can play a major role in addressing environmental issues. Additionally, electric cars can help in reducing the extent at which the nation depends on imported gasoline.

Pure electric cars have been promoted by Chinese auto companies such as SAIC Motor Company and BYD Company. In recent months, a marketing drive in China was launched by a United States car maker, Tesla Motors Inc. in China. A major setback that has been reported by industry observers and auto makers is lack of essential charging infrastructure. For this reason, it has been challenging to attain large-scale electric car sales.

Several auto makers are of a different opinion or stance, in that, they are laying emphasis on plug-in hybrids. They are advocating for vehicles that allow users to plug into electric outlets. Such vehicles can operate on either electricity or gasoline. Plug-in hybrids slightly differ from complete hybrids. The most popular model is the Toyota Prius, which has batteries to support traditional engines.

According to the managing director of consulting firm Automotive Foresight, Yale Zhang, the popularity of plug-in hybrids is still low in China’s car market. Approximately 11, 410 electric and 1,500 plug-in hybrid cars were sold in China in 2013. The plans to roll out more models have been announced by other companies including Volkswagen. In November, Volkswagen made clear its intentions to launch 15 electric and plug-in hybrid car models by the year 2018 in China. The government of China hopes to have at least five hundred thousand electric and plug-in hybrid cars by next year on its road. The country aims at having five million of such car models by the year 2020.


Leave a Comment April 18, 2014

A Simple Password Hack May be a Key to Hijacking Tesla Electric Cars

Experts have warned that there is a possibility for Tesla electric cars worth $100,000 to be hijacked using a simple password hack. A six-digit password can be used for accessing the car’s system. Security experts have further claimed that the six digits can be cracked easily and this would allow hackers to access the electronic systems of a car. In this way, these hackers can use a remote sensor to not only track, but also unlock cars.

During a presentation at a security conference in Singapore, a corporate security consultant, Nitesh Dhanjani, said that cars cannot be protected in the same way as computers or workstations. Dhanjani went to further claim that the findings obtained had been passed on to Tesla. Patrick Jones, the Tesla spokesman did not give any comment regarding the findings. However, he said that the automaker would make a thorough review on the research and findings regarding security issues.

Jones said that the automaker is committed towards protecting its systems and products against vulnerabilities. It has an experienced team comprising of information security experts. The automaker continues to work collaboratively with security researchers while encouraging them to communicate via a reporting process that is responsible. To drive Tesla’s Model S, a key fob has to be present. The car can however, be unlocked through a signal that is transmitted over the Internet wirelessly.

Dhanjani further added that in case there is hacking or stealing of a password, a person could not only locate, but also access the car and steal contents. Other than that, the car cannot be driven by a hacker. It is fundamental for users to open an account using a six-character password as the security. The account needs to be set up when the car is ordered. The password in question is used for unlocking a phone application and accessing the user’s Tesla account over the Internet.

The mobile application is freely available and serves a remote sensor for locating and unlocking the car. The application can also control other car functions. Evidence has shown that the password is susceptible to a wide range of attacks that are the same as those used to access an online account or computer. An attacker can easily make password guesses through the online Tesla website. Apparently, there are no restrictions to the number of wrong login trials. Password-stealing viruses can be used by attackers in attempting to access the password from the user’s computer. Dhanjani concluded by saying that the fact that $100,000 car should be depending on a six-character password is a big issue of security concern.



Leave a Comment April 11, 2014

Tesla Upgrades Battery Protection

From extensive research on what most consumers would prefer Tesla to improve on, most users preferred to have an improvement on the armor of the vehicle. The good news is that Tesla recently announced that they had taken steps towards implementing this. The electric sedans that are produced now by the company come equipped with a triple-shield aluminium and titanium shield. These are designed in a way that makes it easy to protect the under body and prevent puncturing of the underside and precipitate fires. Despite the vehicle being under investigation earlier for its failure to prevent battery fires, the transportation agency eventually dropped their charges after the release of this upgrade.

This new shield has been reported to deflect a wide range of objects in the artificially controlled simulations that have been conducted on the car. One of the most notable tests carried out on the Tesla was letting it run over a spear implanted on the road and the body did not display any sparks during the contact. Other objects used in the test include concrete blocks, and an automotive alternator, all of which were deflected from the vehicle.

The vehicle boasts of triple shield architecture. The first layer of the shield is a rounded hollow bar that is made from aluminium. This is meant to completely deflect objects with the magnitude of a three ball trailer. The next layer in the shield is a high strength titanium plate that protects the front under body components. These two layers alone are enough to deflect 80% of the objects that come into contact with the vehicle most of the time.

The third shield is the solid aluminium extrusion that further absorbs the impact energy and gives an additional layer of protection. This layer was added to take care of the rare debris that often remains intact after contact. In general, these shields have about 0.1% impact on the range of the car and have no effect on the ride or handling of the car. Further tests carried out indicated that the additional protection does not have any effect on the drag or lift of the car.

Despite the blown out headline coverage that suggested that the Model S was not safe, the company states that the chances of Model S actually catching fire are 1 in 8000. This is five times lower the chances of an average gasoline powered car catching fire. This means that we can comfortably say that the car is by far safer than most of the gas powered cars running along our roads.


Leave a Comment April 6, 2014

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