May 30, 2008 Two separate announcements from the automotive world this week have given further impetus to the growth of energy efficient vehicles. Volkswagen has teamed up with Sanyo to develop high-performance lithium-ion based storage systems for use in its hybrid diesel and electric-drive systems and the ongoing Renault-Nissan Alliance has resulted in the Scenic ZEV H2 - a prototype based on a Renault Grand Scenic which features Nissan’s in-house developed fuel cell stack, high-pressure hydrogen storage tank and compact lithium-ion batteries that will be shown in Barcelona in June. This follows on from an earlier commitment from the Renault-Nissan Alliance to mass-market electric vehicles in the US and Japan by the end of 2010 and in Israel and Denmark in 2011.
Volkswagen sees the adoption of lithium-ion technology used so successfully in laptops and portable consumer electronics devices as critical to improving the range and speed capabilities of zero local emissions-free travel, all-electric transportation as well as efficient hybrid platforms demonstrated this year in the showing of the Golf TDI Hybrid design study in Geneva and the Audi A1 project quattro in Tokyo. “Our focus in future,” says Prof Martin Winterkorn, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, “will be directed more strongly at making electrically powered automobiles alongside ones driven by more efficient combustion engines. Drivetrain electrification is the way forward if we wish to secure mobility in tomorrow’s world. This will involve energy recovery. The whole idea will be to no avail, however, as long as we do not have powerful energy storage systems at our disposal and as long as vehicle operations are not in tune with customer demands. This cooperation is an important step for us,” Winterkorn adds.
The Group hopes to be able to employ lithium-ion technology in its first vehicles by 2010.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance has chosen to pursue fuel cell-powered electric vehicles which also incorporate compact lithium-ion batteries. Two prototypes already in an advanced engineering phase with Nissan’s X-Trail fuel cell vehicle having undergone testing for more than two years. The recently announced Renault Scenic ZEV H2 is the second proof-of-concept platform for the zero-emmissions fuel cell system. According to Renault it has been based on the Grand Scenic architecture to allow different FCV elements to be fitted under the floor and to integrate Renault and Nissan electric and electronic systems whilst retaining ample cabin space.
Renault Scenic ZEV H2 and Nissan X-Trail FCV will be shown across Europe this summer - Nissan will demonstrate the X-Trail FCV in six European countries starting from June and Renault will roll-out the Scenic ZEV H2 at its Environmental Workshop in Barcelona during the second half of June.