Northern Ireland Police Force Adopts Electric Police Car

New York Police improves with electric car fleet
New York Police improves with electric car fleet

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has confirmed delivery of a Vauxhall Ampera as part of a move towards a more environmentally friendly police service. The electric vehicle is on loan for six weeks as part of a pilot scheme which could see the Police Service of Northern Ireland adopt more electric cars in due course.

How is the Vauxhall Ampera performing?

Despite the fact that many people seem to have reservations about electric vehicles, the feedback from police officers in the PSNI has been very positive, with many impressed by the relatively quiet engine and efficiency of the vehicle. This is yet another way for the electric car industry to achieve more visibility and interact with the general public, which will also showcase the ever improving technology associated with electric cars.

While this particular vehicle is a hybrid, offering electric and petrol assisted transport, the electric motor is able to achieve a 60 mile journey capacity on a full charge. As and when the police officers require further journey capacity they simply switch to the petrol engine offering the perfect hybrid for police services.

Should all public sectors adopt electric vehicles?

This move by the Police Service of Northern Ireland has been welcomed by the electric car industry and is indeed yet another example of public bodies around the world adopting this new technology. The fact is that governments across the globe have committed themselves to various emission reductions in the short, medium and longer term and one of the best ways to achieve this, and perhaps most visible, is via electric vehicles in the public sector.

Quote from ElectricForum.com : "The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has this week confirmed it is using a Vauxhall Ampera hybrid and initial feedback has been very encouraging."

It would be foolish to suggest a blanket adoption of electric vehicles across all public sectors around the world, but this slowly, slowly approach, is certainly beginning to pay dividends. The more people who experience the new technology of the electric car industry, the more impressed they become and the more likely they will be to adopt this in their personal life. There is also the chance that the more visible public sector vehicles become, such as police cars, the more accepted they will be by the general public.

What next?

While there has been no commitment to introducing further electric vehicles in police forces across the UK, the fact that feedback from officers on the ground with regards to the Vauxhall Ampera has been positive is obviously a good start. It does seem almost inevitable that we will see more electric powered police cars in the short, medium and longer term and indeed the UK government has already committed to increasing its use of more efficient transport systems in the future.

The fact that a police car which is electric powered is able to carry out the day-to-day duties of the Police Service of Northern Ireland will surprise many people. The fact that this vehicle is able to keep up with high-speed chases, accommodate the rigourous day-to-day services associated with police cars and ultimately live to fight another day, should not be ignored.

Texas Motorists Going Green

Second Annual National Plug In Day
Second Annual National Plug In Day

Texas is the hotbed of oil and gas exploration in the U.S. and is therefore dominated by the gasoline fuelled vehicles which have been the norm for so many years now. However this situation is changing and a number of dealerships across Texas are reporting a significant increase in demand for hybrid and electric cars. While this will shock many people, it seems that motorists in Texas are finally throwing off their blinkers and looking towards the future.

Gasoline prices

Despite the fact that gasoline prices in America are but a fraction of those in the UK and many other countries around the world, we have seen an increase of late. As a consequence, many American motorists are feeling the pinch in their pocket and looking towards vehicles such as hybrid and electric cars, which on the whole offer better value for money with regards to fuel costs.

It also helps that the U.S. government has recently been offering a variety of financial incentives for those looking towards hybrid and electric cars, although this incentive program is under the microscope with an array of cost-cutting measures to the U.S. budget. However it is interesting to see that Ford dealerships have seen sales of electric and hybrid vehicles more than double between 2011 and 2012, with Houston alone registering a 124% increase.

Could hybrids be the stepping stone to electric vehicles?

The vast majority of motorists in Texas who were now looking towards hybrid vehicles are doing so because of the ever increasing cost of gasoline. They appear to be more and more at home and more and more at ease with hybrids and to a lesser extent electric car technology, which is now growing in popularity. Dealerships across Texas are also reporting motorists intrigued by the various new technology elements added to hybrid and electric vehicles which make them stand out from their traditional gasoline counterparts.

Quote from ElectricForum.com : "Texas Grid is the latest electric grid company to step forward and allay public fears about the ongoing increase in electric car usage."

At this moment in time hybrid and electric cars account for less than 2% of the overall Texas automobile market. Experts believe that the ongoing lift in hybrid and electric car sales represents an overall increase in the market and the market share of these vehicles is unlikely to rise above 2% in the short term. However, one plus point, there is no doubt that motorists are now more at ease with hybrid and electric cars than they ever have been, they are willing to take advantage of the various financial incentives recently on offer and alternatives to gasoline are a real option to motorists across the state.

Conclusion

The very fact that the likes of Ford, General Motors and an array of other U.S. automobile companies have reported growing interest in hybrid and electric vehicles is certainly interesting. Some experts believe the uplift is purely and simply down to more demand for vehicles as a whole but the truth is that this is an area of the automobile industry which has struggled to hit the mass market and has struggled to convert traditional motorists but is looking more to be a viable option at this moment in time.

We will continue to monitor the situation with regards to hybrid and electric vehicles across Texas and other areas of America. Whether or not the introduction of new hybrids will increase demand and increase popularity, with a potential stepping stone towards full electric cars, remains to be seen.

Recent Moves Sign of EV Death Knell Again?

electric motor
electric motor

Many pundits of the electric car revolution are singing the blues again as major moves from supporters seem to undertake measures to back away from fully realizing the revolution.

In similar moves, two of the largest electric car makers are taking what is called pragmatic decisions regarding the future of their respective electric car fleets. These carmakers are Nissan and Toyota respectively and their recent moves are being describes as the death knell again for the electric car.

Nissan, through its chairperson Charles Ghosn has invested billions of dollars into the electric car revolution. These include providing models such as the Altra and the Hypermini and its flagship vehicle the Nissan Leaf, which is fully battery powered. Now, the Japanese car giant is shifting its gears towards the model followed by Toyota, which is the promotion of gasoline powered hybrid cars. Toyota for its part, shunned developing fully electric vehicles for a variety of reasons and this has proven very successful for them, retaining the market lead with its powerhouse Prius line.

Part of the disenchantment with electric cars is range anxiety. At its peak, the best electric cars can only run just a fraction of an internal combustion engine’s ability. This is compounded by the fact that it takes five times longer to fully charge an electric vehicle and the lack of infrastructure to support electric cars, such as repair shops, charging stations and other services. Another major factor is the higher front end cost of the electric vehicle compared to a regular gasoline powered vehicle, even with the benefits and other incentives, still makes it an expensive option.

All these put together has created a very lukewarm response by the buying market. For Nissan, 9,819 Leaf electric cars were sold in the market, with under 50,000 already on the road now. Since its unveiling, the Leaf has successively failed to meet its sales projections, even with all the add-ons and improvements added on to the vehicle.

Toyota on the other hand with its hybrid formula, already has twelve models under its wing, four of them just for the Prius line alone. In 2012, a total of 327,413 hybrids were sold in the United States alone, while 1.2 million were sold worldwide. Total worldwide sales have reached five million for the Prius.

As Nissan cuts back on its EV investments and Toyota refuses to go all electric, it is clear that the electric car is having issues with the market. Does this mean that the electric car revolution is in its death throes again?

Nissan’s Luxury Line

nssan
nssan

Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury line, continues its legendary design, performance and technology with the all new 2014 Infiniti Q50. According to Infiniti President Johan de Nysschen, “This exciting new Infiniti Q50 stretches the boundaries of what a sports sedan can be, propelling Infiniti in a bold new direction.”

One of the iconic features of the Infiniti line is the ‘double arch’ grille design along with the arch roofline and crescent cut C pillar. Like its predecessors, the Q50 provides sporty aggressive styling with the distinctive LED headlamps and marker lights further highlighting the sharp outlines of the car. Other improvements include the narrow, roll formed, A and B pillar doors that help provide better entry and exit from the car and more space within the cabin itself. The Q50 contours of the body line provide better airflow and decreased drag with zero front and rear lift effects. All these exterior improvements have been designed to provide greater strength and agility for better overall performance.

The Infiniti Q50 would have two options for powertrains. While there is a conventional powertrain, the main focus of the line would be its hybrid powertrain system. The Q50 would feature the latest Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid System with Intelligent Dual Clutch Control. This system features a 3.5 24 valve DOHC aluminum alloy V6 engine and a one motor/two clutch motor control powered by laminated lithium battery array. The V6 engine provides an estimated 296 horsepower and can turn an estimated 255 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor on the other hand, is rated at 50 kW with an estimated output of 67 horsepower and turn 199 lb-ft of torque. Thus the net power output of the Q50 is at 354 horsepower, making it quick to accelerate with fuel economy in mind.

The Q50 powertrain is controlled by a seven speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, allowing for manual shifting or steering column mounted paddle shifters built from magnesium. Options include rear wheel drive or the intelligent All Wheel Drive system that Infiniti provides. The handling is governed by Infiniti’s four wheel independent multilink suspension where the front is a single pivot double wishbone design while the rear has a multi-link coil spring designed Dual Flow Path shock absorbing system providing greater camber stiffness and better riding comfort. The suspension is tuned for sport purposes, creating a more agile and stiff vehicle drive compared to its predecessors.

For safety, the Q50 has the very first Active Lane Control system that utilizes a camera based straight line stability system to improve vehicle stability and driving capability. This is a level up from the Lane Departure Prevention system to prevent lane drifting but also to adjust to driving conditions as well as road surfaces.

Let’s all wait for this new hybrid luxury car design from Nissan.

Ferrari Hy-KERS Showcased at Geneva Motor Show

eco-car
eco-car

For many years now, Ferrari has been looking at the hybrid market and promising to release a vehicle which will be both more environmentally friendly, while also ensuring that no power is lost. This is no mean feat when you bear in mind the power behind a modern day Ferrari, although thankfully in the shape of the Ferrari Hy-KERS the company seems to have moved a step nearer.

The Geneva Motor Show

The Geneva Motor Show was the location for Ferrari to finally unveil the Ferrari Hy-KERS which many believe will propel the company into a relatively new market. It is a hybrid vehicle, although many people will be surprised to learn that the new system has managed to squeeze out a further 100 hp, reduce CO2 emissions by 30%, and also reduce the weight of the vehicle. It is this reduction in the weight of the vehicle which has allowed the increase in horsepower and improved the power to weight ratio.

When is the Ferrari Hy-KERS due for release?

The prototype of the vehicle was on display at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2012 and while the company is adamant that it will reach the mass market in due course, there is no specific date for launch. The vehicle itself will not only make use of the latest electric engine technology but also the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) of which Formula One fans will be very aware.

It is the ability to use each and every available power source within the shell of the Ferrari Hy-KERS that gives it that extra boost and helps the company to maintain its extremely high standards going forward. There was no way on earth that Ferrari would ever release a hybrid vehicle, or for that matter an electric vehicle, which did not have the Ferrari stamp of approval and the characteristics which the company has built up over many years.

Ferrari moves into the eco-friendly era

Aside from the fact that Ferrari has introduced a whole host of eco-friendly elements to the Ferrari Hy-KERS, the company itself is also moved into the eco-friendly era. From the structure of the company's factory, to the materials used on the vehicle, where an eco-friendly angle can be obtained without reducing the quality and drive experience, the company has been very keen to take this up.

There is still the opportunity to mix and match various gadgets and interior designs for your Ferrari Hy-KERS which is something that has long been associated with Ferrari. It is the sleek body, the reduced body weight, the extended horsepower capacity and the fact that this vehicle will reduce CO2 emissions by 30% which will help the company sell the idea. It will be interesting to see what kind of take up we see on the Ferrari Hy-KERS because this may well be the start of something very exciting for the company.

Conclusion

There was no way that Ferrari would ever give up its basic characteristics that have been built up over many years. An excellent driving experience, sleek bodywork, instant acceleration, and unimaginable power under the bonnet have all been trademarks of the company in years gone by. Whether or not the Ferrari Hy-KERS will actually make it to the main market remains to be seen but this Ferrari concept vehicle certainly set tongues wagging at the Geneva Motor Show in March.