This March at the Geneva Auto Show, the French automobile manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroën launched an innovative new vehicle that runs on compressed nitrogen and hydraulic fluid, the Hybrid Air. Although the Hybrid Air is not the first hydraulic hybrid to be invented, it is the first to use compressed nitrogen in liquid form as an energy source.
The nitrogen is stored in a pressurized steel tank that is called an “accumulator.” The four-foot-long accumulator runs down the center of the vehicle’s undercarriage and can hold up to 20 liters (5.3 gallons) of nitrogen. Energy is created when the stored nitrogen is compressed or decompressed. The hydraulic components harness this energy and use it to turn the vehicle’s wheels, creating thrust. Thrust is the force that causes a vehicle to move forward.
Shown above is a cutaway model of Peugeot’s Hybrid Air. Note the aqua-blue air storage containerthe accumulatorwhich compresses and decompresses nitrogen to create the energy necessary to run the vehicle. Credit: PSA Peugeot Citroën.
Hybrid Air combines the accumulator with a three-cylinder petrol engine, a hydraulic pump/motor unit, and automatic transmission.
The vehicle is capable of operating in three different modes: gasoline power, combined power, and Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mode. In gasoline power, Hybrid Air’s petrol engine runs solo. In combined power, both the petrol engine and the accumulator work together to power the vehicle. According to Peugeot, this mode is optimal for high power acceleration and hill climbing. Finally, in ZEV mode, Hybrid Air emits zero-emissions and accumulates power from brake energy regeneration. The automobile manufacturer claims that the vehicle can operate in air power mode for 60% to 80% of city driving cases.
The Hybrid Air project began in 2010. Nearly 200 Peugeot employees contributed to the project, which was completed in secrecy. Four generations of prototypes were created before the final version, the Hybrid Air, was revealed at the Geneva Auto Show in March of this year.
The Hybrid Air will be in production by 2016, and will start at 17,000 Euros (approximately 21,850 US dollars).
Pictured above is a side view of the Hybrid Air, which will be in production by 2016. Credit: PSA Peugeot Citroën.
On March 26, FedEx Express, a division of Federal Express, announced plans to expand its global alternative fuel vehicle fleetwhich now includes more than 650 alternative fuel delivery vehiclesby launching a new all-electric vehicle fleet in Hong Kong, China. The fleet, which will consist of 10 all-electric commercial vehicles, will be FedEx Express’s first zero-emissions all-electric fleet to be deployed in Asia Pacific.
Alternative fuel vehicles, like the ones that will comprise the all-electric fleet in Hong Kong, have helped FedEx Express to surpass the goal they set in 2008 to increase the fuel efficiency of its vehicle fleet by 20% in 12 years. The company has also increased its original fuel efficiency goal by 50%, now setting a target for 30% improvement in fuel efficiency for its global vehicle fleet by the original 2020 target date.
“This is a milestone for FedEx Express in Asia Pacific. The deployment of the new zero emission all-electric vehicles demonstrates the FedEx Express commitment to delivering industry-leading innovation, while reducing our environmental impact. We are proud to build a more sustainable operation in the long-term through fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, and provide our customers with unparalleled connectivity and services. These electric trucks are not only aimed at improving FedEx Express fleet efficiency in Asia Pacific, but also promoting the development of all-electric trucks among all vehicle users for a more sustainable future,” said David L. Cunningham Jr., president of FedEx Express Asia Pacific.
Ten all-electric FedEx Express delivery vans, like the ones pictured above, will be deployed in Hong Kong, China to help lower fuel emissions. Credit: FedEx Express Corporation.
FedEx Express currently has more than 650 alternative fuel vehicles in its global vehicle fleet and will have approximately 200 all-electric vehicles by the end of the fiscal year 2013. In Asia Pacific, FedEx Express has two hybrid vehicles in Hong Kong already in operation since 2010.
The managing director at Hong Kong and Macau, Anthony Leung, commented on why all-electric vehicles are a perfect fit for the region.
“There are many rolling hills in Hong Kong where we deliver and collect packages, but this vehicle can recharge its own battery when going downhill. So the electric vehicle is perfect for the Hong Kong market,” said Leung. “Each of our vehicles is on the road on average around 8-9 hours per day at speeds below 100 kilometers per hour. That’s why this vehicle is ideal.”
On March 18, Indian electric-car manufacturer Mahindra Reva released a new electric four-door hatchback, which it has dubbed the e2o. Pronounced “ee-too-oh,” the electric vehicle has undergone extensive testing and validation and has been certified as roadworthy in India.
The e2owhich has a purported range of 100 kilometers (62 miles)runs on a lithium-ion battery and can be additionally equipped with Sun2Car solar technology.
Mahindra Reva’s new four-door electric hatchback, the e2o, is capable of running on both electric and solar power. Source: Mahindra Reva.
Although Mahindra Reva’s first electric vehicle, the REVAi, has had little success on the market since its introduction in 2001, the company’s founder, Chetan Maini, remains optimistic that the e2o will be successful on the market.
“The Mahindra e2o is a very real solution to power personal mobility for a sustainable future ? This truly is a technologically advanced mobility solution for the future,” Chetan Maini said. “Besides being a true friend of the environment, the Mahindra e2o also brings to the Indian consumer cutting-edge technological innovation that will help them remain connected in a convenient and cost-effective manner.”
Mahindra Reva’s e2o will be produced at the company’s new eco-friendly factory in Bommasandra, a suburb of Bangalore in India. The factory, which was constructed in November of 2012, is capable of producing 30,000 vehicles each year.
In addition to its e2o production and marketing plans, Mahindra Reva has also outlined plans to build a local electric-car charging network with a commercial fast charger. Commercial fast chargers, such as the one that Mahindra Reva is proposing to install, are capable of fully replenishing electric car batteries in a little over an hour.
Mahindra Reva’s solar panel auto canopy, the Sun2Car, is capable of providing enough energy for a solar-powered car to travel up to 30 miles on a sunny day. Source: Mahindra Reva.
Mahindra Reva has also constructed a solar panel auto canopy for its vehicles, which the company calls “the Sun2Car.” Solar-powered vehicles can park underneath the Sun2Car and receive energy from the canopy’s solar panels. Solar panel auto canopies like the Sun2Car are capable of providing enough energy for a solar-powered car to travel up to 50 kilometers (30 miles) on a sunny day.
Aston Martin will run its Rapide luxury sedan on hydrogen fuel during the 24-hour race at Nürburgring in Germany this May. The Rapide racecar was built with a hybrid engine to run on both gasoline and hydrogen. According to Aston Martin head, Ulrich Bez, it will run the very first “race-pace zero emissions lap” powered by hydrogen.
In a press conference at the Geneva Auto Show this March, Bez voiced his support for hydrogen.
“I believe this hydrogen hybrid technology is the way to zero emissions in 20, 30 or 40 years’ time,” Bez said.
Aston Martin’s hybrid Rapide on display at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show. The Rapide has a hybrid engine, allowing it to run on either hydrogen or gasoline. Credit: Aston Martin.
The northern loop of the 13-mile Nordschleife portion of The Nürburgring race course, which is used for this May’s 24-hour Nürburgring race. Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Walter Koch.
Aston Martin’s Rapide will join recent electric racecars, including Toyota’s record-setting P002-EV, that have taken laps around the 13-mile Nürburgring track. The 500-horsepower Aston Martin Rapide will use gasoline, not hydrogen, to run 20% of the 13-mile lap.
The hydrogen-burning Rapide will likely not be made commercially available as a regular-production vehicle but the technology might be applied to Aston Martin vehicles in the near future.
Hyundai Motor Co. began mass production of its ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle February 26th and will debut the hydrogen-powered vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show running from March 7th through March 17th. Hyundai is the first automaker to have an assembly-line production of a hydrogen-powered, zero-emissions vehicle. The first ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle rolled off the assembly line will be displayed at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.
Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell is powered by hydrogen. A fuel cell stack converts the hydrogen into electricity, which turns the vehicle’s motor. The only emission generated by the ix35 Fuel Cell is water. Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell boasts drivability and performance similar to that of the petrol ix35.
Currently the ix35 is being produced for fleet operations and many European cities already placed orders. Copenhagen, Denmark has requested fifteen ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles to further their plan to be carbon-free by 2025 and Skåne, Sweden has requested two.
The first Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle rolled off the assembly line will be displayed at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. Credit: Hyundai.
“With the ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle, Hyundai is leading the way into the zero-emissions future,” Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman, Eok Jo Kim said at the ceremony today. “The ix35 Fuel Cell is the most eco-friendly vehicle in the auto industry and proves that hydrogen fuel cell technology in daily driving is no longer a dream.”
“Assembly-line production of fuel cell vehicle marks a crucial milestone in the history of the automobile industry not just in Korea, but throughout the world,” Mang Woo Park, mayor of Ulsan, Korea, said in his congratulatory message. “By supplying more hydrogen refueling stations to support the eco-friendly fuel cell vehicles produced, we will make Ulsan the landmark for eco-friendly automobiles.”
Hyundai plans to build 1,000 ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles by 2015 for lease to public and private fleets, primarily in Europe, where the European Union has initiated construction of hydrogen fueling stations. This strategy will help to establish refueling stations and prepare the market for mass production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. After 2015, with lowered vehicle production costs and further developed hydrogen infrastructure, Hyundai will begin manufacturing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for consumer retail sales.
A Gloucestershire, England-based company has become the first European company to permanently convert its entire van fleet to hydrogen fuel. The British company, Commercial Group, focuses on providing office supplies, information technology (IT) services, interior design services, and print services to customers in an environmentally-conscious way.
Earlier this year, Commercial Group also became the first Gloucestershire-based company to test hydrogen-converted transit vans on a trial basis, as part of the ITM Power’s nationwide Hydrogen On-Site Trial (HOST) program Power’s nationwide Hydrogen On-Site Trial (HOST) program. The week-long trial ended up being a success, and less than a month later, Commercial Group made the decision to permanently convert its entire van fleet to hydrogen.
After a week-long trial of ITM’s hydrogen-powered vans, the Gloucestershire-based Commercial Group has made the decision to convert its entire fleet to hydrogen. Credit: ITM Power.
The conversion project fits in well with Commercial Group’s overarching goal of sustainability: the company is part of an environmentally-friendly consortium led by Air Products, the world’s largest hydrogen supplier. The consortium focuses on expanding Britain’s hydrogen refueling network. Through its hydrogen conversion project, Commercial Group seeks to support the consortium’s overarching mission, and also aims to reduce its fleet’s total mileage (and fuel costs), to increase its fleet’s fuel efficiency, and to find viable alternatives to petrol and diesel.
Commercial Group has received funding from the British government to implement the conversion project, which is expected to take up to three years to complete. Part of the company’s funding will also go towards determining exactly where in Britain hydrogen fuel stations should be installed.
Companies such as Honda, BOC Industrial Gases, and ACAL Energy (a fuel cell developer) have also been awarded funds from the British government to facilitate growth in the country’s hydrogen fuel infrastructure.
The British government will provide up to a million pounds (roughly equivalent to 1.5 million U.S. dollars) for these projects.
Although government support for electric vehicles (EVs) in Europe is waning, the increasing availability of vehicle charging infrastructure that enables vehicles to charge at home, at the workplace, and in public places is facilitating market growth. With electric and electrically-assisted vehicles now available in the mainstream market, the fundamental question is no longer if there is a market; rather, the question is how fast that market will grow. According to a new report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, EVs including electrically-assisted hybrids will play an increasingly important role in European markets, growing from 0.7 percent of the market in 2012 to four percent in 2020. While the increase is still a small portion of the market, it represents more than 827,000 vehicles sold annually in the region.
“The European transportation market is significantly different from other world regions,” said Senior Research Analyst David Alexander. “Thanks to fuel prices that are significantly higher than in North America, small, efficient gasoline- and diesel-engine cars have led European sales figures for many years. Today, the market is still testing electric drive technology, waiting for the price premium for EVs compared to conventional vehicles to narrow, and in some cases waiting for electric charging infrastructure to become established.”
European EV sales are projected to rise by more than 827,000 vehicles by 2020. Electric drive charging stations, like the one pictured here in Norway, have had a steady influence on consumer’s purchasing habits. Credit: NAFTC.
Another difference between the European and North American automotive markets is the prevalence of diesel vehicles in Europe. The popularity of diesel has prevented hybrids from achieving the success in Europe that they have had in North America, where the contrast with large V8 vehicles is important to consumers. The biggest growth through 2020 is expected to come in battery electric vehicles, followed by plug-in hybrids, according to the report, while hybrid electric vehicle sales will lag behind in most European countries.
The report, “Electric Vehicles in Europe,” examines key market trends and drivers for the purchase of light duty electric drive vehicles in Europe. The study includes an analysis of business models and demand factors, technology and standards issues, and government policies within the region. Profiles of 23 key automakers in the sector are included, and detailed market forecasts for vehicle sales and registrations are provided for 21 European countries, segmented by powertrain, through 2020. An executive summary of the report is available for free download on the Pike Research website.
The first project from the Japan-based Toyota Automobile Association’s Crazy Car Project was featured at the Detroit Auto Show this January. The project involved converting a 1967 Toyota 2000GT into a solar electric vehicle.
The classic 2000GT was on the market from 1967 to 1970, and was featured in the 1967 James Bond film, You Can Only Live Twice. The rare sports car has sold at auction for as much as $375,000
Japan’s Toyota Automobile Association Crazy Car Project’s 1967 Toyota 2000GT Solar EV. Credit: Green Auto Blog .
For the project, Toyota replaced the 2000GT’s engine with a 161-horsepower electric motor. The company integrated solar panels onto the roof and the hood, which powers the 2000GT’s 345-volt, 40 kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery. In turn, the lithium-ion battery powers a 120 kilowatt electric motor. Toyota claims that the car can reach a top speed of around 125 miles per hour, and that the car weighs about 3,219 pounds.
The Crazy Car Project, led by Toyota, is comprised of over 50 engineers from car dealers, parts suppliers, and car makers, including Panasonic, DENSO, Aisin Seiki, Aisin AW, Kanto Auto Works, Hayashi Telempu, and Chiba Toyopet.
The solar panels on the 1967 Toyota 2000GT power the 161-horsepower electric motor. Credit: Green Auto Blog.
The car was converted in a six month period; all of the electricity needed to power the batteries is generated from the car’s solar panels. The vehicle has no station socket for charging. The zero emission vehicle takes two weeks in the sun to fully charge.
For more information on the Crazy Car Project, a YouTube video is available here.#!
Volkswagen’s new eco up! is a new natural gas car which debuted in Europe early this winter. The eco up! can run on natural gas and biomethane, and consumes just 2.9 kg (approximately 11 gallons) of natural gas per 100 km (62 miles). The Volkswagen gets an approximate equivalent of 56 miles per gallon; the Honda Civic Natural Gas, which is presently the only commercially available natural gas passenger vehicle in the United States, gets 31 mpg.
Volkswagen has been equipping vehicles with natural gas drives since the beginning of the 1990s at first as a retrofit in conjunction with the IAV subsidiary in Berlin. However, with the growth of natural gas cars, Volkswagen increasingly worked on original plant solutions. Volkswagen feels one of the greatest benefits of natural gas cars is their ability to be powered not only by natural gas but by alternative fuels such as renewable biomethane. Produced from plant by-products, biomethane does not compete with food crops; it is also CO2-neutral, because the car only emits as much carbon dioxide in combustion as is absorbed while the plants were growing.
Volkswagen’s eco up! is now commercially available in Europe. The car can run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and biomethane, and gets approximately 56 miles per gallon. Credit: Volkswagen.
Today, Volkswagen offers six natural gas powered vehicles in various classes that are commercially available in Europe: Caddy 2.0 EcoFuel, the extended Caddy Maxi 2.0 EcoFuel, the Touran 1.4 TSI EcoFuel, the Passat, and Passat Estate 1.4 TSI EcoFuel, and the eco up! In the upcoming year, the new Golf will debut in an EcoFuel version.
Brazilian ethanol producer Raízen and Canadian biotechnology firm Iogen Corporation have recently announced plans to collaborate on a commercial cellulosic ethanol project in Piracicaba, Brazil. Raízen has committed an initial investment in the project, after investigating various cellulosic technology companies, and making the decision to collaborate with Iogen.
“We believe Iogen has one of the most robust, well proven, and competitive technologies in the cellulosic ethanol business,” said Vasco Dias, CEO of Raízen. “This is a first step in our strategy to make cellulosic ethanol in association with sugarcane production operations. We see tremendous potential for this technology in meeting the world’s growing demand for cleaner and more sustainable fuels.”
Established in the 1970s, Iogen Corporation is a world leader in creating technology to produce cellulosic ethanol, a fully renewable, advanced biofuel that can be used in today’s cars. Cellulosic ethanol can be produced from grasses, wood, or the inedible parts of plants. Iogen produces cellulosic ethanol from wheat, oat, and barley straw. Their demonstration plant, based in Ottawa, Canada, produces approximately 5,000 to 6,000 liters of cellulosic ethanol per day. Since the late 1970s, more than $425 million in Canadian currency (CAD) has been invested in Iogen’s cellulosic ethanol technology, including more than $75 million CAD in the demonstration plant.
“We’re excited to be working with a major ethanol industry player like Raízen,” said Iogen chairman, Brian Foody. “Large scale commercialization in Brazil will open the door for broader commercialization of our technology.”
A fermentor at Iogen Corporation, used to produce cellulosic ethanol. The company’s demonstration plant has the capacity to produce 5,000 to 6,000 liters of cellulosic ethanol per day. Credit: Iogen.
Raízen is one of Brazil’s largest producers of cellulosic ethanol (produced by fermenting sugarcane), with a total of 23 ethanol-production facilities spread across three Brazilian states: São Paulo, Goiás, and Mato Grosso do Sul. In addition to the company’s ethanol-production facilities, Raízen owns over 4,500 service stations for retail fuel distribution in Brazil, 700 convenience stores, 53 fuel distribution depots, and aviation fuel businesses in 54 Brazilian airports. Raízen is capable of producing 2.2 billion liters of ethanol and 4 million tons of sugar per year.
Raízen’s initial investment in the project will cover the development of a biomass-to-ethanol facility in Piracicaba, São Paulo. The new biomass-to-ethanol facility will be located near Raízen’s Costa Pinto facility.
Iogen Corporation’s partnership with Raízen is occurring at a time of significant change for the biotechnology company; Shell’s longtime commitment to fund research and development activities at Iogen ended this May. The partnership with Raízen offers a promising alternative. According to Biofuels Digest, sugarcane production in Brazil is high, and the Brazilian government is committed to encouraging ethanol production. It has also become common to ban the burning of the tops and leaves of sugarcane, which means that the extra biomass can be collected and used to produce more cellulosic ethanol.