Newer Electric Models of Classics Unveiled

CONCEPTelectricCAR
CONCEPTelectricCAR

The electric car revolution is also changing the current crop of vehicles on the road today.; the classics are now being turned electric with the blessings of their original automaker.

The first one is the Hummer, that beast of a vehicle that took inspiration from the all terrain vehicle the military has in use. Now, a company based out of London named Prindiville has modified this iconic vehicle and has turned it into a two seater electric Hummer. This modification is now an official licensed product of General Motors, the original makers of the Hummer and its later versions. The Prindiville Electric Hummer is just a smaller version of its original design and is allowed to travel in and around London without being charged for London Congestion Charge and other taxes.

The Electric Hummer utilizes a 72V lithium ion battery with a range of sixty miles. The batteries can be recharged using an on-board Delta-QTM Multi-Region charging system that can be plugged into a standard indoor or outdoor socket. Full recharging takes eight hours for a 13 ampere outlet, but higher amperage means shorter charging times. On the average, the Electric Hummer can cost as low as 1.2 pence per mile in electricity.

The chassis is made of lightweight materials and has an introductory Limited Edition series of 25 vehicles before going full blast manufacturing. The materials include carbon fiber detailing on the front hood storage compartment, flared wheel arches, the iconic chrome louver grill, and matte black window surrounds. For safety, there are lockable double skinned doors and injection moulded LED lamps at the front and rear for better lighting under any condition. Other features include, heated sports seats in white trim, LCD digital dashboard display for battery charge indicators and speed, Pioneer CD radio and MP3 in car system with slim line remote control for entertainment.

The price range is from £25,000 to $40,000 depending on the options and this excludes taxes, VAT and shipping. The vehicle comes with a two year or 10,000 mile warranty, with a one year 24 hour roadside recovery/breakdown assistance.

According to Truska Angel, Prindiville Design CEO, “In parallel to being one of the world’s leading luxury coachbuilders, we are fully aware of our responsibility to offer motorists sustainable choices through the provision of exciting transport solutions in this evolving electric sector. The new model is clearly a step in the right direction and the beginning of an exciting journey which promotes individual styling preferences, fun and an all-important sustainable lifestyle. This is clear evidence that greener choices do not have to compromise luxury and beautiful design.”

Fisker Makes Moves

FiskerKarma
FiskerKarma

In an unprecedented move, Fisker Automotive recently hired Joel Ewanick. Ewanick was the former head of marketing at General Motors. His new position with Fisker is Chief of Global Sales and Marketing. The new hire was announced by Richard Beattie, who was the retiring Chief Commercial Officer.

One of the first tasks of Ewanick is to resuscitate the image of Fisker and its U.S. $103,000 luxury plug in hybrid named the Karma. Since last December 2011, issues and incidents have plagued the car and the company, leading to a less than favorable outlook for their product.

When Rusell Datz, spokesperson for Fisker was quizzed on the new appointment, the reply was, “Anytime you start a car company, you’re in for challenge after challenge.”

Before accepting the Fisker post, Ewanick had previous marketing positions at General Motors and Hyundai. His last posting was a bit controversial, as he was ousted last July from GM after he failed to disclose the full cost of the multimillion dollar sponsorship deal with Premiere League club Manchester United. Prior to GM, he held the position of Head of Marketing at Nissan North America for just six short weeks.

In the weeks prior to the announcement, Ewanick was already a consultant to Fisker and will hold the position on an interim basis until a permanent one is found. Ewanick would be directly reporting to Tony Posawatz, the CEO of Fisker. Similarly, Posawatz and Ewanick came fromGM after the former was chief engineer for the iconic Chevrolet Volt.  Both the Volt and the Karma are plug in hybrids, where both operate as electric cars that have engines as range extenders for greater distance travelling.

On other related Karma news, Datz further confirmed the recall of the Karma again, but reiterated that the issues “were small compared to other things that could have happened.” He pointed out that Tesla had also been recalled several times over and even had lawsuits with suppliers. In the end he said, “these problems are nothing new.”

In a formal statement, Posawatz hailed Ewanick’s “wealth of motor industry experience and knowledge to guide us through this interim period.”  The statement further added that the previous experience in marketing the Volt would prove very helpful in allowing Fisker to gain a better foothold in the burgeoning electric vehicle market. Amongst the plans of the company is to build an affordable family oriented vehicle, but this may take some time as the company is seeking additional funds and are sourcing for investments.

Finding Multiple Uses for Electric Car Batteries

Electric car made from batteries
Electric car made from batteries

Many of the advocates of the electric car revolution have discussed about repackaging the battery packs for cars to become energy storage devices once their useful run as car batteries run out. This idea was best shown when ABB and General Motors have been undertaking a project of a similar nature with five (5) Chevy Volts.

The Volt battery back is able to hold sixteen kilowatt hours when brand new and the prototypes from the partnership would be able to carry ten kilowatt hours per pack. The program would have five battery packs placed together in an array that would be able to provide two hours of electricity for three to five houses of average size. The demonstration showcased a lighting and audiovisual equipment in a structure in San Francisco.

The batteries were not even challenged as each pack was able to provide up to 111 kilowatts of power but the five batteries were only able to provide 2.5 kilowatts. This is significant as low power demand for these kinds of batteries would extend their service life.

The concept behind the prototype is to provide for a market for used batteries as well as allowing for resale value that would lower cost of ownership. It would also provide for a distributed storage system that would provide backups for areas with low energy supply or have a storage system for intermittent energy sources such as solar panels and wind machines until its delivery for use in the power grid.

The concept can also be quite useful in an area with a high population of electric cars as the electricity required to charge vehicles arrives at a steady stream and be stored in the battery array available to be tapped when needed. In this set up, the battery pack would work like a tank on a toilet, readily available for a quick supply.

The package set up also provides an inverter that would convert direct current from a battery to an alternating current, usable as electricity from an electric socket.  The requirement to be allowed into the program, according to Pablo Valencia, Senior Manager for Battery Life Cycle Management at GM would be the battery pack is no longer suitable for a car, where only thirty percent or less of its life has been used.

He added, “This leaves a tremendous amount of life that can be applied to other applications.”

Unveiling the Chevrolet Malibu

Chevrolet Volt
Chevrolet Volt

The Chevrolet Malibu has undergone a roller coaster ride regarding its market success. In the early part of the millennium, the midsize sedan’s performance is at most lukewarm. When 2008 came around though, with the generation seven Malibu, has success become synonymous with this model?

Now, the 2013 Malibu is trying to keep the success continue for the line. The new standard 2013 is a new direct injected 2.5 liter base engine produces 197 horsepower and the V-6 is replaced with a two liter four cylinder engine. What takes center stage though is the Eco model, which is a mild hybrid with a premium placed on efficiency.

The Malibu platform is quite wide, with a wheelbase four and half inches shorter than the previous model with a two inch expanded track width. The overall length is the same and interior is well stocked, especially when two tone leather is used for trimmings. There is also a seven inch dashboard touch screen that pivots to open a hidden storage compartment.

Chevrolet says this version of the Malibu is the quietest car the company has ever built. The car has a few sound deadening tricks, especially the ability to keep the 182 horsepower four cylinder spinning at a high rate of revolution. When stopping, the gas engine shuts down automatically and this is where the fifteen horsepower electric motor runs at low revolutions per minute. The car is able to produce seventy nine pound feet of torque to assist the gas engine. This means that the Malibu Eco is never run solely on electric power, as it has only a low capacity of 0.5 kilowatt hour. This makes dashboard checking important especially in recharging the battery using the regenerative braking system.

There is also an attempt by the Malibu Eco to be the middle ground choice between conventionally powered sedans and the full on efficiency marvels such as the Toyota Camry and the Ford Fusion hybrids. While this is a good intention, the high efficiency of current drive trains maximizes efficiency and this is further enhanced by the eAssist system patented by General Motors.

As for the price, the Malibu Eco has a sticker price of U.S. $26,065, which is about six and half hundred dollars of a Toyota Camry Hybrid. The conventional Malibu is about U.S. $1,600 cheaper than the Eco model.

Schools Adjusting to the Electric Car Revolution

Diploma with red ribbon and books
Diploma with red ribbon and books

The electric car revolution is not only affecting the consumer car market as to EPA regulations and mileage efficiency. It does not only affect the infrastructure for electric vehicles but also is also influencing common designs for charging technology. Now, even the higher education system is adjusting to provide the necessary workforce for the electric car revolution.

One of the newer adjustments is in actual courses provided in colleges, such as Ohio State, providing a course on thermodynamics and internal combustion engines. Now, the university is deeply engaged in creating an electric vehicle to represent the university in EcoCAR, a green technology competition sponsored by the Department of Energy and General Motors.

This how one of the most prestigious mechanical engineering programs in the country is answering the call of the electric vehicle revolution. The university’s Center for Automotive Research is conducting itself to solve real world problems together with interaction with automakers in order to provide better vehicles in the future.

One such project is a three year program aimed to find means to reduce the fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions in Chevrolet Malibus. For its part, Ohio State would be utilizing plug-in hybrid platform maximizing the distribution of battery energy throughout the vehicle.

This shift in focus in the field of education is but a response to the onset of the market and industry demand. Automakers for its part put in great investment in the design of fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle platforms. To fuel this drive, schools need to provide graduates that are not only technologically adept with regards to engineering, but must also have understanding as to computer management as well as environmental impact analysis of the vehicles to be built in the future.

One such market is the hybrid vehicle. Future designers and engineers need a deep understanding as to battery technology, computer management and diagnostic systems that create the interfaced systems in these kinds of vehicular platforms. This requires a need for a collaborative approach in the design and development process, requiring engineers to work with others to create the whole vehicle and not just the individual moving parts.

The increasing complexity of these vehicle designs is what moves many domestic carmakers to work together with educational institutions to augment their bare bones research and development departments. While donations were the norm then, nowadays automakers put up internship programs and other partnership means to help students in creating alternative power trains for the cars of the future.

According to Thomas Stephens, former Chief Technology Officer of General Motors, “GM needs to be much more externally focused because technology is going to move so rapidly that we need to gather new innovations from anybody and everybody. To compete, you’re going to have this innovation and you’re not going to be able to do it all yourself.”

Aside from GM, other automakers such as Honda and Ford, as well as electric vehicle components manufacturers such as Allison, Delphi and Cummins, have all been taking the work to the universities. In exchange, experimental programs would be provided to students as well as internships that later on are hired as employees of these companies.

The future looks bright right?