February 27th, 2015

Bits and Bytes

There was a lot of buzz in the world of electric vehicles this month with advancements and new concepts that seem taken from the world of science fiction.

Glow in the Dark Nissan Leaf

Nissan in Europe is the first manufacturer to apply glow-in-the-dark car paint to showcase how its market-leading, all-electric LEAF is helping more and more people convert to solar energy at home.

The manufacturer worked with inventor, Hamish Scott, creator of STARPATH, which is a spray-applied coating that absorbs UV energy during the day so that it glows for between eight and 10 hours when the sun goes down.

While glowing car paint is already available, as are glow-in-the-dark car wraps, the ultraviolet-energized paint created especially for Nissan is unique thanks to its secret formula made up of entirely organic materials. It contains a very rare natural earth product called Strontium Aluminate, which is solid, odorless and chemically and biologically inert.

Nissan currently has no plans to offer the STARPATH paint to customers.

Apple Electric Vehicle

Apple Inc. is rumored to be working secretly on an electric vehicle and pushing its team to begin production as early as 2020.

Although Apple hasn’t officially announced its intentions to build and market an electric vehicle, Bloomberg reported earlier this month citing anonymous sources, that Apple has a team of about 200 employees working on the vehicle. The team includes experts in technologies such as batteries and robotics.

The report is the latest bit of mounting evidence suggesting Apple intends to produce an electric car, perhaps one that will be self-driving. Other talks claim that Apple has plans to develop a new large-scale battery division.

Last year Morgan Stanley Auto Analyst Adam Jonas predicted autonomous vehicles will be commonplace by 2026 as the industry works through issues related to liability, infrastructure and consumer acceptance.

“Autonomous cars are no longer just the realm of science fiction,” Jonas wrote in a research note to clients. “They are real and will be on roads sooner than you think.”

Chicago Auto Show

Visitors to the first Chicago Auto Show in 1901 visited displays about a new invention called the automobile, a four-wheeled machine designed to replace the horse as the most prevalent form of transportation in the U.S.

Though only a handful of cars were on display at that first Chicago Auto Show, not all were powered by gas. Some ran on electricity.

More than 100 years later, visitors at the Chicago Auto Show got a chance to see some of the vehicles of the future through the Concept Vehicle Displays. A few of those vehicles include:

KIA TRAIL’STER CONCEPT: The Kia Trail’ster prototype, a near-future glimpse of a production Kia Soul, is an AWD vehicle with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, matched to an electric powertrain. The Trail’ster’s electric propulsion system draws energy from a 1.2 kWh Lithium ion Polymer battery powering a 27 kW 270 volt AC synchronous permanent magnet electric motor.

Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV CONCEPT: The Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV concept is a full-size SUV with a 335-horsepower supercharged MIVEC V-6. The gasoline engine works with a 94-hp electric motor plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) drivetrain. A 12-kWh lithium-ion battery setup is capable to provide up to 25 miles on pure electric-only motoring. The system is completed with an eight-speed automatic transmission, Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) full-time all-wheel drive and advanced next-generation high-tech features.

TOYOTA i-ROAD CONCEPT: Making its second appearance at the Chicago Auto Show (CAS), the innovative Toyota’s i-Road is an ultra-compact mobility package that provides the convenience of a motorcycle and the comfort and stability of a two-passenger car. Each of the front-wheels is powered by 2.7-horsepower electric motors that share a lithium-ion battery. The set-up delivers a top speed of about 30-mph and driving range of 30-miles for short trips around the neighborhood. The three-wheeler seats two in tandem within the fully enclosed passenger cell, which means no helmets are necessary for safety to protect or during foul-weather conditions.

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