Test Drive of the week: Smart Fortwo

The car is a small, compact two-seater. It is easy to get into and feels spacious inside.
The interior is not really basic; it feels slightly luxurious. The upholstery was a nice patterned grey colour and the dashboard and side doors were also shades of grey.

The dashboard is very clean and easy to read. The GPS seems quite sophisticated and is inlaid, like a TV set.

It starts up just like a normal car. There are only three speeds: neutral, drive and reverse–very simple. You don’t have to press very hard to accelerate. The car will go from 0 to 30mph in 6.5 seconds, and has an electronically limited top speed of 60 mph. Of course, there is no sound when driving since it is electric.

It drives easily and responsively. We drove on a test track with lots of winding roads and a traffic-free straight away and it was a peppy, but not really speedy, ride.

It has a lithium battery which is included in the cost price and should last 8 to 10 years. It also has ESP, ABS brakes two airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners, and also features a NCAP tested tridion safety cell. It is air-conditioned which is a nice, although not that necessary, plus. The 30kW electric motor is built by Zytek Automotive, a UK technology company.

As the first step of its electric drive program, smart has been running 100 demonstration vehicles in the United Kingdom since 2007. The series production of the smart fortwo electric drive has now started with 1,000 vehicles, which will be run in both Europe- starting by the end of 2009- and the United States- starting in the second half of 2010 in several cities. The series production in large numbers will start for model year 2012 vehicles, which can be bought in all smart centers.

The smart fortwo electric drive will be equipped with a 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery powering a 30 kW motor positioned over the rear drive wheels. The battery can be charged with either 100V or 220V systems and will require between 3.5 and 8 hours of charging time, depending on the voltage used and the starting state of the battery charge. An 85 mile range is anticipated.

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Renault Fluence 2010

Renault Fluence is a new model that replaces the Renault Megane Sedan. Is now available at dealers with prices ranging between € 17,400 and € 20,500. Its production is conducted in the Oyak-Renault factory in Bursa (Turkey).

The interior design is exactly the same as that of a Megane. The only difference Fluence a decorative element and the instrumentation (speedometer is analog). The qualities and the components are the same in both models ..

The highest finish of the range has multiple elements such as chrome door handles, fence of the counters, the knob of the shifter or leather upholstery available in dark or light.

FluenceAl Renault Megane As in, has paid special attention to decorative elements for achieving varied environments and differentiated according to trim levels. Thus, customers can choose between light or other environment darker.

The seats of the front seats have 70 mm of enhancement (+ / – 35 mm) and 240 mm of travel. Also you can adjust the seat-back, headrest and lumbar support. The steering wheel is adjustable for height and depth.

The Renault Fluence offers more than 23 liters in a guardaobjetos scattered around the cabin with, among others, an illuminated, refrigerated glovebox (for versions equipped with automatic climate control) of 9 liters, a center console or a 2.2-liter bins in the front doors with capacity of 2.6 liters each.

The luggage compartment volume, of 530 dm3, ranks among the best in the category. The low loading sill and the wide horizontal opening (1,020 mm) which is due to the implementation of part of the taillights in the rear door, facilitating access to the trunk.

2/3-1/3 The rear bench seat allows cargo volume adapt to customer needs, especially for long or bulky loads, the lack of sheet metal bulkhead between the trunk and passenger compartment.

Renault Fluence’s cabin provides more than 23 litres of stowage space, including an illuminated, refrigerated, nine-litre glovebox, a 2.2-litre centre console and a 2.6-litre bin in each front door. The 530dm3 boot capacity is one of the biggest in its class. Access is facilitated by a low sill and a large (1,020mm) aperture, which has been made possible by incorporating one part of the rear light cluster within the boot lid.

The 60/40-split folding rear seat enables the load capacity to be increased to suit the needs of the moment. The absence of any steel partition between the cabin and the boot makes this feature particularly useful when long or bulky items need to be carried

The electric power steering combines precise driver feedback with quick, accurate response to instructions from the wheel. It is easy to use and feels completely natural.

Engines that combine punch with fuel economy

From launch, and depending on market, Renault Fluence will be available with a wide range of thrifty engines which are all a pleasure to drive.

Two petrol engines, each available in two versions:
1.6 16V 110hp, with automatic transmission or manual gearbox2.0 16V 140hp, with continuously variable transmission (CVT) or manual gearbox

A choice of five variants of the 1.5 dCi diesel block:
dCi 85dCi 90 DPFdCi 105dCi 110 DPFdCi 110 DPF with the new dual clutch transmission (DCT)

All diesel-engined versions return CO2 emissions of 119g/km and qualify for the Renault eco² environmental hallmark.

Entry-level Renault Fluence models will be equipped with:

  • ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution,
  • emergency braking assist, with automatic activation of the hazard warning lights,
  • ESC (electronic stability control) with CSV understeer control,
  • three-point inertia-reel seatbelts, with pretensioners and load limiters for the front seatbelts,
  • inertia-reel seatbelts with load limiters for all three rear seats,
  • driver and passenger airbags, two lateral thorax airbags and two curtain airbags,
  • warning alert if driver or passenger seatbelts are unfastened,
  • three-point Isofix anchorage for outer rear seats,
  • cruise control with speed limiter,
  • latest-generation headrests.

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Pininfarina Blue

The B0 (B Zero) electric car created by Italy’s Pininfarina and France’s Bolloré looks quite promising, in good part because it isn’t just a concept car and the partners say that the first units will be delivered in about a year. Leases (€330/month) will be available in six European countries , and you can put your name on the list right now.

The totally 100% electric car’s battery can be recharged by plugging it into a standard home electrical outlet. A full charge will take about five hours, but a five-minute charge will be enough for a 25 km run. A number of roadside recharging electrical outlets already exist in some of the world’s major cities. As sales increase, more will be installed by city governments, service stations and parking facilities. The joint venture plans to build 15,000 vehicles a year.

Its LMP battery, which will be rechargeable in a matter of hours from a standard domestic main socket, will provide it with a range of 250 km (153 miles). The B° will have a top speed that is electronically limited to 130 km/h (80 mph) and will feature potent acceleration, reaching 60 km/h from a standing start (0 to 37 mph) in 6.3 seconds. The B° will also feature solar panels on its roof and hood, so as to help recharge its electrical power reserves.

The BLUECAR is a compact 5-door, 4-seat MPV powered by LMP batteries (Lythium Metal Polymere), which Pininfarina has coupled with a “supercapacity” energy storage device that will give this MPV a range of 250 km on a single charge. Batteries can be re-charged at any 230V outlet and the process takes “a few hours”, a vagueness we’ve come to expect from electric car makers. Pininfarina also claims the batteries will have a life-span of 200,000 km

The zero-emission electric vehicle by Pininfarina and Bolloré is expected to be available for rental by the end of 2010. The vehicle, dubbed the Bluecar, will be launched if the crash tests are successful and the car meets the required safety regulations. The vehicle will also go on sale at a later, yet unknown date.

Bolloré has inaugurated two new battery plants in France, each of which would have an annual production of 15,000 30KWh batteries by the year 2013, which can be used to make 30,000 Pininfarina cars, or 10,000 buses, or 60,000 small urban vehicles. The companies are however planning to build a mix of all three.

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Nissan Leaf 2010

Nissan finally showed off the first of several new electric vehicles this morning at the opening of its new global headquarters in Yokohama. Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, a longtime skeptic on hybrids, is betting that the Leaf and other EVs, will quickly become mass market hits, and even suggested that fully electric models could account for 10% of all car sales by 2020.

Key to its success will be bringing down the cost of the batteries, which currently cost around $10,000 per car to make. Sensibly, Nissan plans to lease the batteries to customers rather than try to sell the car at an inflated price. Initially, the carmaker will share the burden by taking advantage of government subsidies and cheap loans to ensure sales are profitable from day one. The challenge will be to get costs down to a sufficient level by the time governments begin scaling back incentives. Mass production should help. Ghosn, once again emphasizing the importance of affordability, said that the cost of leasing the batteries, plus the electricity used to charge them, will be less than what customers spend on gasoline for regular cars.

The five-seat, electric-blue Leaf hatchback is to be launched in select U.S. and Japanese markets next year to begin what Nissan hopes will become an era of global leadership for the company in a growing EV market.

Leadership shouldn’t be evasive if the Leaf lives up to its performance billing. A top speed of 90 mph, a range of 100 miles per charge with a 30-minute recharge where quick-charging stations are available (6 hours with a 220-volt current) and seat cushion-compressing acceleration that will launch it from zero to 30 mph faster than an Infiniti G37, thanks to 207 pound-feet of torque from its 80 kilowatt (107 horsepower) electric motor are all part of the package.

Specifications

The Leaf uses a front-mounted electric motor driving the wheels, powered by a 24kW·h/90 kW lithium ion battery pack. The expected cruising range is the same as the EV-11 prototype, as is the motor.[5] The battery pack is made of air-cooled stacked modules.

Performance

Nissan claims that the car has a top speed of over 140 km/h (87 mph).

The battery can be charged with 480 Volt, 220 Volt and 110 Volt sources. With 480 Volts, it can be charged to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes with a special quick charger that sends 480 volt 125 amp direct current to the battery.With 220 Volt, it can be charged in 4 hours, and in North America and Japan using standard household 110 Volt outlets it can be charged in 16 hours.

Powered by a unique array of thin, laminated lithium ion cells capable of delivering over 90 kW of power, the Leaf’s front-mounted electric motor delivers 80 kW (107 horsepower) and a healthy 280 Nm of torque (208 pound-feet), and it promises brisk and silent off-the-line power, with acceleration from a stop comparable to that of the company’s Infiniti G35. And as Nakamura-san noted, the Leaf has a top speed of over 140 km/h (87 mph).

Perhaps more important than the Leaf’s top speed are its battery’s charging characteristics. In this regard, the car’s under-floor mounted assembly of 48 lithium ion modules (each laptop-sized module is comprised of four magazine-sized cells) offers a number of charging strategies. To yield a full charge, a 200-volt, single-phase AC charger takes less than eight hours, and topping off the battery from a 100 volt single-phase standard home wall outlet will take somewhere around twice that time, so prospective Leafmakers would do well to get 220 volt hookup like their clothes dryer uses out in their garage.

Connected Mobility

Nissan Leaf will employ an advanced IT system. Connected to a global data center, the system provides support, information, and entertainment for drivers 24 hours a day. The dash-mounted monitor displays the Leaf’s remaining power, in addition to showing a selection of nearby charging stations.

Users’ mobile phones can be used to turn on air-conditioning, the heater and re-set charging functions even when the vehicle is powered down. An on-board remote-controlled timer can also be pre-programmed to recharge batteries.

While Nissan promises to deliver the Leaf to its first American customers in late 2010, it isn’t immediately clear where it will be made available, to whom, and how. By that we mean the zero-emissions vehicle will likely be marketed in select stateside cities that have already committed to building some of the necessary infrastructure to support electric vehicles, and the Leaf likely won’t be available for purchase, it will probably be a lease-only proposition – at least initially.

Officials are still working out the specifics on a global market-by-market basis, but in the U.S., at least, they are aiming for a cost similar to their midsize Altima offering – presumably after all local and federal government incentives for ZEV are factored in. Initial allotments of the Leaf will probably be leased, with the batteries also being a leased proposition, minimizing consumers’ up-front risks for adopting this new style of vehicle and allowing for easier, more cost-effective upgrades as technology improves. As has been done with other automakers’ alternative energy pilot programs in the past, the Leaf will probably be distributed to fleets and very select customers at first – a more widespread commercial push isn’t expected until 2012.

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BMW Megacity

By 2015, BMW will build an all electric city car with two engines available, one will be a very efficient internal combustion engine and the other will be a purely electric model.

The two-powertrain vehicle will be electric powered and it will represent the ideal solution for congested city motoring.

The felows at Autocar UK are following the steps of other publications that hurried to come up with computer generated images of the BMW’s electric car. The first ones to adventure into this CGI game, were the folks at Autobild, who came up with this interesting concept.

BMW’s first all-electric regular series production vehicle, the Megacity EV, has now been set in stone and inserted into the company’s roadmap for a commercial launch in 2012 or 2013. The Bavarian automaker has gone official with word that it plans to use its Leipzig assembly plant to produce the car and further notes that it’ll feature a similar setup to the ActiveE concept (pictured above), which is set for field testing in 2011. Essentially a 1 series that feeds off the electric grid rather than the nearest diesel pump, the ActiveE runs off an array of lithium-ion batteries á la the well liked but recently troubled Tesla Roadster, and will serve as a test mule for refining the underlying technology. Generating up to 170bhp might not sound all that impressive, but it should be more than sufficient for the urban commuters these vehicles will be aimed at. Now we just need Mercedes and Audi to match that release schedule and the electric car should finally have its day in the mainstream sun.

Nissan Leaf 2010

Designed as a four-to-five seat, front-drive C-segment hatchback, Nissan says the Leaf is not just for use as a specialty urban runabout, but rather, it was designed as an everyday vehicle – a “real car” whose 160-kilometer+ (100 mile) range meets the needs of 70% of the world’s motorists. In the case of U.S. consumers, Nissan says that fully 80% of drivers travel less than 100km per day (62 miles), making the Leaf a solid fit for America’s motoring majority, even taking into account power-sapping external factors like hilly terrain, accessory draw, and extreme temperatures.

The interior is at once handsome and spacious, with what appears to be plenty of room both front and rear for real-sized adults, and the cargo area is very deep, as it is unencumbered by a gas tank assembly (the batteries are mounted beneath the seats within the wheelbase). The center stack is production and looks slick, but its smooth finish flush buttons may also be hard to operate by feel on the move. The digital instrument cluster display and the drive controller (we can’t really call it a gearshift in an EV now, can we?) are also production pieces, and they look well finished and inviting, as does the interior as a whole.

Powered by a unique array of thin, laminated lithium ion cells capable of delivering over 90 kW of power, the Leaf’s front-mounted electric motor delivers 80 kW (107 horsepower) and a healthy 280 Nm of torque (208 pound-feet), and it promises brisk and silent off-the-line power, with acceleration from a stop comparable to that of the company’s Infiniti G35. And as Nakamura-san noted, the Leaf has a top speed of over 140 km/h (87 mph).

Perhaps more important than the Leaf’s top speed are its battery’s charging characteristics. In this regard, the car’s under-floor mounted assembly of 48 lithium ion modules (each laptop-sized module is comprised of four magazine-sized cells) offers a number of charging strategies. To yield a full charge, a 200-volt, single-phase AC charger takes less than eight hours, and topping off the battery from a 100 volt single-phase standard home wall outlet will take somewhere around twice that time, so prospective Leafmakers would do well to get 220 volt hookup like their clothes dryer uses out in their garage.

While Nissan promises to deliver the Leaf to its first American customers in late 2010, it isn’t immediately clear where it will be made available, to whom, and how. By that we mean the zero-emissions vehicle will likely be marketed in select stateside cities that have already committed to building some of the necessary infrastructure to support electric vehicles, and the Leaf likely won’t be available for purchase, it will probably be a lease-only proposition – at least initially.

In 2010, the Nissan will first be available in CA, OR, WA, AZ, TN, and NC.

Nissan’s leadership will accelerate the manufacturing of fully-functional electric vehicles in volume. Manufacturing volume will drive down cost, making zero-emission vehicles cost competitive with gasoline counterparts. Electric vehicles will likely be less expensive for people to drive with low-cost nighttime charging. It will be easy for people to save on emissions when they are saving money at the same time.

Chevy Volt 2010

Volt is an electric car that can create its own electricity. Plug it in, let it charge overnight, and it’s ready to run on a pure electric charge for up to 40 miles(3) — gas and emissions free. After that, Volt keeps going, even if you can’t plug it in. Volt uses a range-extending gas generator that produces enough energy to power it for hundreds of miles on a single tank of gas.

General Motors believes the Volt will earn an EPA rating of 230 mpg in city driving.  The company hasn’t provided an estimate on the car’s highway mileage, in part because the EPA is developing a new mileage testing procedure specifically for Volt-like vehicles.  GM CEO Fritz Henderson, however, has said the car would carry a combined mileage rating of more than 100 mpg.

The Volt is designed to finish most drives with its batteries holding as little as 30 percent of a full charge. If the Volt is allowed to run the EPA’s circuits that way, designers say, it can complete the tests using its gasoline engine less than 15 percent of the time — and receive an MPG rating in the hundreds.

Owners will plug the Volt into a standard household outlet to recharge its batteries.   It can be plugged into either a standard 120-volt wall outlet, or into a 240-volt outlet like those used to power large appliances.  Plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet, the Volt will recharge fully in about eight hours.  Plugging the Volt into a 240-volt outlet cuts charging time to less than three hours.

The batteries can also be charged by the gasoline engine onboard the Volt, which will kick in when the battery charge is below 30 percent. As in other hybrids, regenerative braking will help to capture brake energy to recharge batteries as well.

The Volt’s gasoline engine is a 1.4-liter four-cylinder model. It can use gasoline or E85 as fuel.  This engine, however, doesn’t power the wheels of the car. It acts as a generator to recharge the batteries while the car is in motion.

That gasoline engine is connected to a fuel tank that holds only six gallons of gas — but, working with the car’s batteries, that should be sufficient to give it a 400 mile range between fill-ups.

Price Range: Pricing for the 2010 Chevrolet Volt has not been finalized. The most recent estimate places the price at $40,000, with a $7,500 federal tax rebate available after that price.

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Top electric cars

If you look under the hood of an electric car, you’ll see some major differences from what you could expect to see under the hood of a gasoline-powered car.

This is a list of some Top Electric Cars 2010.

1
Electricity That Takes You Further. Learn More Here.
2
Nissan Leaf – Official Site
100% Electric Zero Emissions Vehicle. Learn More at Nissan.
3
Honda Insight Hybrid
On KBB.com’s Top 10 Green Cars list for 2009. Official Honda Site.

What Is An Electric Car?

An electric car is, quite simply, an automobile that is powered by electricity. These cars usually look just like their gasoline-guzzling counterparts, at least on the outside. This is especially true of gasoline-powered cars that are converted into electric cars. However, there is one thing that may serve to make identifying an electric car easier, even before taking a look under the hood. Sound can help in identification, as electric cars are practically silent.

If you look under the hood of an electric car, you’ll see some major differences from what you could expect to see under the hood of a gasoline-powered car. An electric car has an electric motor and a controller for powering the motor. Rechargeable batteries are used to provide power to the controller. In comparison to traditional cars, electric cars have more wires. Gas-powered cars, on the other hand, have an abundance of hoses, pipes, and fuel lines.

Many people think the electric car is a new invention. This is a misconception, as they’ve been around for many years. In fact, electric cars were among the first automobiles and dominated the market at one point in time. In the early years of the twentieth century, electric cars held records for both speed and distance over land.

The electric car is gaining in popularity once more as people search for ways to cut transportation costs and reduce pollution. However, electric cars tend to be pricey in comparison to traditional gas-powered vehicles. Many predict that costs will eventually decrease in response to higher production volumes and improvements in the manufacturing process.

Another factor is convenience. In one trip to the gas station, you can pump 330 kilowatt-hours of energy into a 10-gallon tank. It would take about 9 days to get the same amount of energy from household electric current. Fortunately, it takes hours and not days to recharge an electric car, because it’s much more efficient. Speaking of convenience, let’s not forget two important points: charging up at home means never going to a gas station—and electric cars require almost none of the maintenance, like oil changes and emissions checks, that internal combustion cars require.

If you’re interested in purchasing an electric car, you might choose to buy one that has been converted from a gas-powered vehicle. There are companies that specialize in converting cars, as well as businesses that sell electric car conversion kits. However, an individual should do research before buying such a kit to ensure that the converted vehicle meets federal crash safety standards.

If you want to find & Compare Top electric cars of the year click here

AT&T will buy Connect Electric vans

AT&T announced about a year ago that it would spend up to $565 million to introduce 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles to the company’s fleet over the next decade, starting with CNG vehicles. AT&T’s first electric vehicle, a Smith Electric Vehicles Newton, joined the fleet last November. For the run-down on the Transit Connect Electric, including our first drive report,

he Transit Connect Electric will operate like any other Transit Connect, except that running costs should be far lower than versions that burn CNG or gasoline (or, in Europe, diesel fuel). Turning the key, as in a standard vehicle, brings up the dashboard lights and turns the van on. At this point, the range and battery state of charge gauge come to life. While the Transit Connect Electric has an official range of 80 miles (depending on drive cycle), when we sat down in the driver’s seat, we had just under 50 miles on the range gauge and just over half of the battery left in the state-of-charge indicator. This seemed a bit high to us, and reminds us that companies that opt to add some of these vans to their fleets shouldn’t rely on these indicators until they’ve had some experience with just how quickly the last 20 miles might drop away. We’re not saying drivers will get stranded, just that we’re heard an ounce of prevention makes a lot of sense.

The Transit Connect is small, but there’s a lot of practical room in back. Furniture stores probably won’t want to invest in a fleet of these, but we can see telephone repair crews and food delivery companies seriously considering them. Scott Staley, chief engineer of HEV/FCV technology development for Ford and the leader of the technical team from the Ford side, rode with us and said the whole reason the Transit Connect Electric exists today is because customers came to Ford and expressed an interest in an electric delivery van. Fleet operators like the post office and AT&T are the most interested in the electric van, he said. For companies looking for something a bit larger, Azure does offer Ford’s E-450 chassis vans and shuttle buses upfitted with the Balance hybrid electric drive system. 

Driving the city-sized Transit Connect Electric, though, proves just how well all of the bits fit together well and it feels like you’d want a production EV to feel. This isn’t a highway-ready long haul vehicle, but for scooting around corners and fitting in with traffic, the Transit Connect Electric performs as expected. The 0-60 is about the same as the gas version, for example, and the electric version has the same 39 foot curb-to-curb turning radius.

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