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Hybrid VW golf confirmed

48-V belt-integrated starter generator, 48-V battery and DC/DC converter

Volkswagen has confirmed an upcoming hybrid model of the eighth-generation Golf. 

Due to be revealed in 2019, the next-generation Golf will be offered with an all-new 48-V mild hybrid option that will work alongside Volkswagen’s current 12-V system.

Volkswagen already offers a completely electric e-Golf, which is currently one of New Zealand’s best selling electric vehicles (EVs), however, the next-generation Golf will be the first time Volkswagen use the new hybrid option, which will be utilised in further models.

Volkswagen will combine a combustion engine with a new 48-V belt-integrated starter generator and a 48-V battery. The mild hybrid system will enable the new Golf to ‘coast’ while the combustion engine is completely switched off, saving up to 0.3 litres of fuel over 100 kilometres while promising improved dynamics and convenience with an “electric boost.”

“Electrifying conventional drives will enable us to further reduce consumption and emissions while also increasing dynamics and convenience”, says Dr Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management for Volkswagen Passenger Cars with responsibility for Technical Development.

Welsch continues: “We are starting this extensive electrification campaign with Volkswagen’s best-selling vehicle to date – the Golf. Our newly developed, cost-effective 48-V mild hybrid will pave the way for introducing this type of technology to the mainstream”.

Volkswagen states that the 48-V system enables a considerably higher amount of energy to be saved than the 12-V system, e.g. via recuperation when the vehicle brakes. This high level of voltage enables a number of operations, including the actuation of the 48-V belt-integrated starter generator.

The generator performs the role of alternator and starter. At the same time, it functions as a small, lightweight electric motor that immediately increases drive torque upon start-up by means of an electric boost. The power of the generator is transferred via a belt. The generator also starts the combustion engine – which is switched off as much as possible while the vehicle is moving.

Welsch continues: “The basic interaction of different energy sources – electricity, petrol, diesel and natural gas – represents a paradigm shift at Volkswagen. For the first time, the company will simultaneously offer product lines such as the Golf with conventional, electrically assisted drives as well as product lines such as the I.D. with purely electrical drives in the future.”

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Tesla’s new ‘Supercharger Fair Use Policy’

As Tesla continues to increase the number of Supercharger stations available to its customers, the company has introduced a deterrent to limit overcrowding at its current stations.

Called Supercharger Fair Use, the policy bans commercial vehicles from the charging stations. These include taxis and vehicles used for ridesharing, freight delivery, and government purposes. 

“When Superchargers are used beyond their intended purpose, it negatively impacts the availability of Supercharging services for others,” Tesla wrote on its website.

“If you charge your vehicle in a manner that does not comply with this Supercharger Fair Use Policy, we may ask you to modify this behaviour.” Drivers who don’t comply with the policy could have their access to Supercharger stations blocked.

The policy covers all Superchargers, and any car (new or used) bought from December 15th onward.

The Supercharger stations were designed for drivers who make long-distance trips for personal reasons or can’t charge their Teslas at home or work. While Tesla initially didn’t make customers pay to use the stations, it introduced a fee for cars purchased after January 15 as the stations became more congested.

Supercharger Fair Use Policy excerpt:
“To help ensure that Superchargers are available for their intended use, we ask that you not charge your vehicle using a Supercharger if your vehicle is being used:

  • as a taxi;
  • for ridesourcing or ridesharing (through Uber, Lyft or similar services)
  • to commercially deliver or transport goods for government purposes;
  • or for any other commercial venture.

If you charge your vehicle in a manner that does not comply with this Supercharger Fair Use Policy, we may ask you to modify this behaviour. We may also take additional action to protect the availability of Superchargers for their intended purpose, such as limiting or blocking your vehicle’s ability to use Supercharger stations.”

The policy applies to Tesla vehicles purchased after December 15 through Tesla or a third-party seller.

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BMW invests in battery centre

BMW to invest in a battery cell expertise centre, the German luxury carmaker said on Friday. BMW plans to invest 200 million euros into the new competence centre over the next four years. 

The electric BMW i3

The new facility is described as a multi-discipline technical centre which will be tasked with developing the design, packaging, chemical formulations, charging and power delivery characteristics of BMW’s future electric vehicles.

As part of BMW’s strategic outline, electrification is set to play a pivotal part in the company’s future alongside digitalisation and autonomous technology.

Despite the investment in the new Competence Centre For Battery Cells, the facility will be a research and development centre only, with battery production to be contracted to outside suppliers who will produce powertrain systems to BMW specifications.

“We will be concentrating all our in-house expertise along the battery-cell value chain at our new high-tech competence centre,” Klaus Froehlich, head of development for BMW Group said.

“International experts working in the new development labs and facilities will conduct important research to refine cell chemistry and cell design. We will focus on further improvements in battery performance, lifespan, safety, charging and also costs. We will set the benchmark for the industry.”

“By producing battery-cell prototypes, we can analyse and fully understand the cell’s value-creation processes. With this build-to-print expertise, we can enable potential suppliers to produce cells to our specifications,” BMW board member Oliver Zipse said.

“The knowledge we gain is very important to us, regardless of whether we produce the battery cells ourselves, or not.”

The centre will open in early 2019, BMW said.

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EV registrations continue to grow

The week starting 30 October 2017 saw 182 electric vehicles (EVs) registered, the highest number in a single week. 

There were 430 EV registrations in October, the highest registered in a single month. 

The total number of EV registrations in New Zealand is 5,401. 

That puts the country ahead of its target of having 4000 EVs on our roads by the end of 2017. That goal was a step towards the national target of 64,000 EVs by the end of 2021, around two per cent of the number of cars in the country.

Driving an electric vehicle in New Zealand allows for 80 per cent fewer carbon emissions than a petrol or diesel car due to New Zealand’s abundant renewable electricity.

There are also about 50 fast chargers available throughout the length of the country, with more coming, giving EV driver’s greater confidence on longer journeys.


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Musk unveils world’s fastest production car

Using the launch of the new electric semi-truck, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the new Tesla Roadster, the world’s fastest production car.

Roadster open convertible – Tesla Motors

Musk told the crowd at the company’s design studio, “I won’t say what the actual speed is, but it’s above 250 mph.”

“The point of this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars.”

While no specific details have been formally released, Musk showed off a prototype of the pricey new vehicle, a convertible which he said will go from zero to 100 kmh in 1.9 seconds and from zero to 160 kmh in 4.2 seconds, as well as covering 400 metres in 8.9 seconds.

Rear profile of Roadster – Tesla Motors

“These are all world records,” Musk said.

The battery pack will allow the three-motor, four-seat car to travel 1000 kilometres on one charge, enough to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back, Musk said.

Making this the first ever production electric car to cover 1000 kilometres on a single charge.

Roadster Steering Wheel – Tesla Motors

According to Musk, the Roadster will be available in 2020 and the car will cost around US$200,000.


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GM challenges Tesla

General Motors Co plans to launch a series of electric vehicles in 2021 that will cost less to develop and build, and will furthermore, make a profit for the U.S. No. 1 automaker, Chief Executive Mary Barra told investors earlier this week.

Mary Barra at the 2017 GM Annual Stockholders Meeting

Her plans demonstrate an aggressive electrification strategy and direct challenge to electric vehicle specialist Tesla Inc, which is struggling to get its more affordable Model 3 launched.

“We are committed to a future electric vehicle portfolio that will be profitable,” Barra said at the Barclays Global Automotive Conference in New York.

Electric and autonomous vehicles will underpin the future of transport; however, Tesla and other manufacturers are still trying to understand how to gain a profit from them.

GM is looking to break through this by creating an all-new electric vehicle family that will accommodate multiple sizes and variations, to be sold by different GM brands in the United States and China, Barra said.

GM’s cost reduction efforts on electric vehicles revolve around the creation of a cheaper new battery system.

By 2021 the company aims to make its lithium-ion batteries less than $100 per kilowatt-hour, instead of the current $145 per kilowatt-hour battery. This would bring the overall cost of electric vehicles closer to gasoline-engine equivalents.

GM announced that the batteries would be able to hold more energy and charge quicker. With the aim to boost the kilometre range to more than 483 km with the new batteries.

GM’s new electric vehicle platform will act as a base for at least nine derivatives, ranging from a compact crossover to a large seven-passenger luxury sports utility vehicle and a large commercial van.

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GM’s electric car sales will meet quotas by 2019

General Motors China announces that they will be able to generate enough new energy vehicle (NEV) units to meet the NEV production quotas set by the Chinese government.  

China is wanting to meet its promise to cap its carbon emissions by 2030.

China has set stringent production quotas for NEVs which automakers must meet by 2019, a move that is prompting an increase of electric car deals and launches of electric battery and plug-in hybrid car models.

General Motors produces vehicles in China through a joint venture with SAIC, the country’s largest automaker.

Matthew Tsien, president and chief executive of GM China, said both SAIC-GM Corp are working to meet, if not exceed, those credit mandate requirements, without having to purchase new electric vehicle credits from other automakers.

China officially unveiled NEV requirements for automakers back in September. When the green car quotas take effect in 2019, automakers will need to accumulate enough credits by producing and selling enough NEVs to hit a threshold equivalent of ten per cent of annual sales.

In October, GM sold a total of 1,724 E100s, with cumulative volume hitting nearly 4,000 units since July. 

“Sales so far have largely met our expectations, perhaps even slightly above our expectations,” Tsien said. The car is one of the three electric battery car models GM already has available in China.

GM plans to launch at least seven more NEVs in China by 2020.

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Tesla launches Chill Mode update

The Tesla Model S

A software update has been released to allow Tesla drivers to choose a gentler acceleration set up.

Tesla has introduced a ‘Chill Mode’ for its Model S and Model X electric vehicles, so drivers can tone down the rapid acceleration that the EV’s produce.

The setting will prove especially useful in the Model S, which can accelerate from 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds. Making it faster than almost any vehicle currently on sale. In Chill Mode the driver can’t utilise the full electric jolt of 603bhp and 967Nm of torque from its 100kWh battery pack.

“You can now choose between two acceleration options in your vehicle: Chill and Standard. Chill makes acceleration more gradual – ideal for smoother driving and a gentler ride for your passengers,” Tesla says about the new mode.

The software update also came with an ‘Easy Entry’ system, which gives drivers’ easier access getting in and out of their Tesla.

When parked the vehicle automatically adjusts the steering wheel and driver’s seat so the driver has more room when exiting.

Furthermore, the setting will remember the driver settings so that when you get back into the vehicle and step on the brake, it will return to the driver’s preferred driving position.

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Kia to join the EV market

Kia is set to become the next major car company to join the electric vehicle market with the launch of hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of a small SUV called Niro.

Kia Motors New Zealand has announced that the model will go on sale during the opening quarter of next year, however no prices have been released for the new vehicle

After a ten-month evaluation of the Niro, where the model was reviewed by selected consumers and motoring journalists, a business case was created in order for the vehicle to be sold here in New Zealand.

The Korean built Niro was intended only for the European market, but after a ten-month evaluation of the Niro, where the model was reviewed by selected consumers and motoring journalists, a business case was created in order for the vehicle to be sold here in New Zealand.

Kia claims the Niro is the first dedicated hybrid SUV produced anywhere in the world, built to run on both the power of a petrol engine and an electric motor.

The fuel economy of the hybrid is 3.8L/100km, which was put to the test when driven across the USA where the Niro achieved 3.69L/100km, a world record low for fuel consumption.

The plug-in version is even better, thanks to its larger battery pack and electric motor. Factory figures for the Niro PHEV suggest 1.3L/100km.

The Niro hybrid is powered by a 1.6 litre petrol engine in combination with an electric drive unit.

The new plug-in version of the Niro, which has been released just recently to the international market, has a larger battery pack and can travel up to 40km on batter power alone, with no assistance of its petrol engine.

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Self-driving cars by 2020

Consumer car brands are hinting they could be bringing in electrically powered self-driving cars as early as 2020. With cities around the world becoming more environmentally aware, it’s no surprise that the once far-fetched technology is closer than ever before. 

This year’s Tokyo Road Show revolves around the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which includes the ability for cars to drive themselves as well as assist the driver.

It also showcased that hybrid petrol/electric, fully electric (EV) and Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV) are going to be a driving force for a cleaner environment and more cost-effective motoring.

The word ‘concept’ in the automotive industry has always been associated as a far-fetched idea manufactured in a way that showcases current design prowess. But this time the term ‘concept’ couldn’t be anymore real and not as crazy as one might think. 

Toyota Concept-i Series

Toyota’s Concept-I incorporates AI and connected technologies designed to help your car better understand people and therefore providing a safer driving experience. 

The car’s emotion recognition and “alertness level estimation” feature can tell the driver’s mood by analysing facial expressions and body language.
The Lexus LS+ concept also adopts AI technology, called ‘Urban Teammate’, that allows for fully automated, hands-free driving on regular roads, as well as ‘Highway Teammate’ for automated driving on fast expressways. 

Both of these technologies are due to come online for selected Toyota and Lexus models by 2020 and will provide automated steering along with automatic lane merging, lane changing and diverging as well as constantly keeping a safe distance to the car in front.

Like the Toyota Concept-i, the LS+ Concept both learns and ‘grows’ with its driver’s habits and styles over time.

Lexus LS+ Concept





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The Honda EV Sports Concept

Honda’s latest concept car is an all-electric, two-seat sports car, combining EV performance and AI in a compact form. (more…)

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