Awesome news: battery technology is about to get a US$2.4 billion-dollar kick in the pants. US President Barack Obama has announced the single largest funds injection into battery development and electric/hybrid vehicle technology the world has ever seen. Obama's hope is that this huge chunk of stimulus funds will be enough to knock down the biggest wall standing between electric vehicles and the mainstream: the fact that current batteries are still too expensive, take too long to charge, and don't hold enough energy. If the move succeeds, it could put America right at the front of the electric car revolution - but at the least, it could help the next generation of iPhones last more than a day between charges.
With the spiraling cost of fuel and the average cost of diesel in 2008 climbing around 39 percent versus last year, it’s no surprise that truck manufacturers are looking to lighten the burden on trucking operators. To this end Navistar, makers of the LoneStar
, has expanded its line of diesel electric hybrid trucks with the unveiling of their International DuraStar Hybrid tractor at this week’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum in South Bend, Indiana. Navistar claims that the new diesel electric hybrid Class 7 tractor has the proven capability to provide fuel savings of 20-25 percent on standard in-city pickup and delivery applications.
August 28, 2008 Just when you figured that the incremental development of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle was all you’d ever see comes news that Kawasaki is about to release a bombshell on the motorcycling world with the release of a radically different engine. Spanish Motorcycle Magazine SoloMoto
has details of the new motor revealed in an exclusive interview with a Kawasaki executive and plans to print the details in its September 16 issue. Most significantly, the preview interview, (here in Spanish
), indicates that it will feature similar technologies to those employed in the KTM-owned Husaberg 450 we wrote about earlier this year
. The radical Husaberg engine has been reconfigured to put the crankshaft near the motorcycle’s center-of-mass and results in a significant improvement in handling. Kawasaki’s patents predate the Husaberg design by several years and the technologies will be applied to motors with different numbers of cylinders and extending to KHI’s four-wheelers as well.
World-renowned Lotus Engineering has entered into a collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast and Jaguar Cars to develop an engine which maximizes fuel efficiency when running on renewable fuels. The OMNIVORE concept will employ novel engine architecture to achieve a high thermal efficiency when fuelled on any alcohols or gasoline. ideally suited to flex-fuel operation, the design features an innovative variable compression ratio system and uses a two-stroke operating cycle with direct fuel injection.
August 8, 2008 Fuel injection arrived on two wheels with the release of Honda’s CX500 Turbo a quarter of a century ago, and Honda has been developing smarter and more intricate computer controlled fuel injection systems for its two wheelers ever since. These days its advanced PGM-FI (Programmed Fuel Injection) technology
is fitted across the range from 50cc scooters through its MotoGP race machinery, offering broader and smoother power, better throttle response and vastly reduced fuel consumption and emissions. A prototype being quietly shown around Asia suggests that it might also lead to some lightning fast scooters in the near future.
July 20, 2008 As the rate of technological advances continues at an astonishing pace there’s probably one question that gets asked more than any other by the average person in the street – or the average person stuck in traffic anyway - why don’t we have flying cars
yet? Well the simple answer is that developing a flying car is hard. But the long wait for the solution to car clogged streets could be coming to an end with Moller International announcing that it is in the process of completing its fourth M200 “Jetson” volantor airframe and it expects to complete forty of these fly-by-wire, multi-engine flying vehicles in 2009.
July 6, 2008 Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbofan
demonstrator engine has been cleared for flight-testing. By incorporating a gearbox system into the engine, aircraft can achieve a 12% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions, a 50% reduction in NOx emissions, and a 50% reduction in engine noise. The GTF engine has been chosen by Mitsubishi to power the company’s Regional Jet (scheduled to enter service in 2013), and the upcoming Bombardier CSeries.
Texas based Ronn Motor Company has lifted the wraps on a new environmentally friendly hybrid vehicle that features an in-built hydrogen
on demand system. Currently in pre-production and due for release before the end of the year, the sporty “Scorpion” runs on a 30-40 ratio blend of hydrogen and gasoline, promising reduced emissions and 40 mpg plus efficiency.
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
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.
Making headlines earlier this year for its creation of the world’s cheapest new car
, Tata Motors from India is the latest car maker to join the race for the multimillion dollar automotive X PRIZE.