March 31, 2009
Ford Motor Company introduced its own most comprehensive consumer confidence program, the “Ford Advantage Plan”. GM released its plan earlier today (earlier post), and Hyundai has had a consumer protection plan (Hyundai Assurance Plus) since mid-February.
General Motors announced the most comprehensive customer protection in the industry with “GM Total Confidence”. Elements of the plan include:
Plug In America Challenges Obama Auto Task Force Conclusion on GM Volt, Proposes Reduction in Warranty Terms to Reduce Manufacturer Cost
In response to the Presidential Auto Task Force Report that concluded that the plug-in Chevrolet Volt was unlikely to be commercially successful in the short-term due to its cost (earlier post), Plug In America is proposing a plan to make GM’s Chevy Volt and other plug-in cars more affordable. Plug In America also noted that most advanced new technologies are initially more costly.
California law requires that the Volt and other plug-in hybrids come with a 10-year warranty. To ensure this longer life, automakers are as much as doubling the size of the battery pack, increasing cost to manufacturer and consumer. But not a single production plug-in electric vehicle sold to date, from GM’s early EV1 to today’s Tesla, has had a warranty of more than five years, noted Plug In America advisory board member Chelsea Sexton.
Volkswagen has officially opened a new plant in Pune, India on Tuesday in the presence of some 500 international guests. The Pune plant will begin building the Skoda Fabia compact car in May 2009. Production of a hatchback version of the Volkswagen Polo specially developed for the Indian market will be added from 2010.
Emission testing performed by Cyclone Power Technologies on its Mark II pre-production prototype 18 hp (13 kW) external combustion engine running on diesel fuel showed near-zero emissions of NOx: 16.20 parts per million (.0016%). (Earlier post.)
|The Solo EV. Click to enlarge.|
UK-based Optare PLC has introduced the Solo EV, a full battery-electric bus. The Solo EV is a progression of the established Solo family of buses. The Solo EV is available in lengths of 8.1m, 8.8m and 9.5m and widths of either 2.3m or 2.5m.
Replacing the usual diesel engine is an all-new electric drive, featuring an Enova Systems P120 AC induction motor rated at 120 kW and powered by two banks of Valence Lithium Ion Phosphate batteries. The two packs work in parallel and provide 307V with a total capacity of 80 kWh. The batteries are housed in two steel crates set either side of the centrally mounted motor for excellent weight distribution.
|The Hydrid drivetrain. Click to enlarge.|
At the Hannover Messe, 20-24 April, Innas BV and NOAX BV will introduce the latest design of the Innas hydraulic transformer (IHT) and the “Hydrid”, a hydraulic series hybrid drive train for passenger cars and off-road equipment. With this new design, the fuel consumption of a vehicle can be more than halved, with a corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions of 50%, without compromise on weight, size, traction or top speed, according to the companies.
In a Hydrid, the complete mechanical drive train of a car is replaced by a full hydrostatic transmission, allowing energy recuperation and more efficient operation of the engine operation. The backbone of the Hydrid is the hydraulic common pressure rail (CPR) system, which collects and distributes the power inside the vehicle. The accumulators determine the pressure levels in the system. On the high pressure side, the pressure varies between 200 and 400 bar (20 to 40 MPa).
Presidential Auto Task Force Concluded Plug-In GM Volt Likely “Too Expensive To Be Commercially Successful in the Short-Term”
Following the short address on Monday during which President Barack Obama outlined the next steps for GM and Chrysler (earlier post), the White House posted summaries of the Presidential Auto Task Force’s assessment of the business plans provided by the two struggling automakers, which led to the terms that are currently unfolding.
Among the highlights of the brief summaries was the conclusion that while the Chevy Volt extended range electric vehicle holds promise, “it will likely be too expensive to be commercially successful in the short-term.”
Capstone Turbine Corporation has demonstrated with its 30 kW microturbine emission levels compliant with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) 2010 requirements for Heavy Duty Diesel Engine (HDDE). Tests were conducted at Capstone’s development test facilities in Van Nuys, California.
Honda, ATR and Shimadzu Jointly Develop Non-Invasive Brain-Machine Interface Technology Enabling Control of a Robot by Human Thought Alone
|The test process for Honda’s Brain-Machine Interface technology including conceptual diagram of the brain activity measuring device, example of obtained data, and example of distinguishing results. Click to enlarge.|
Honda Research Institute Japan Co., Ltd. (HRI-JP), a subsidiary of Honda R&D Co., Ltd., Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) and Shimadzu Corporation have collaboratively developed what they believe is the world’s first Brain Machine Interface (BMI) technology that uses electroencephalography (EEG) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) along with newly developed information extraction technology to enable control of a robot by human thought alone.
It does not require any physical movement such as pressing buttons. This technology will be further developed for the application to human-friendly products in the future by integrating it with intelligent technologies and/or robotic technologies.