Former green-energy darling A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy today. Though A123 has been struggling in several areas for the past few months, the speed of the filing has caught many observers by surprise. Just yesterday, A123 warned that it would have to default on several loan issues and that bankruptcy was a possibility, but less than a day later, that possibility became a reality.
Remember when plasma TVs were $10,000? Well, now they’re less than $400 – and that’s for a Panasonic 42″ model at Wal-Mart, not even a Chinese knockoff unknown brand.
Well, if a report from McKinsey released today (via Automotive News) is to be believed, we may see a similar price reduction in lithium ion battery technology, used in the newest hybrids and EVs. And just as a $10,000 price tag on a plasma TV is a huge barrier to mainstream adoption and a $398 price tag invites it, falling EV/hybrid battery prices could spur EV adoption fairly rapidly, as long as manufacturers’ product plans, battery availability and costs, and consumer demand all stay in sync.
By Kevin Miller
Just as Mercedes-Benz introduced its S 400 BlueHYBRID last week, now BMW has released details about its compound-word-named hybrid large luxury sedan, though BMW’s vehicle is only a concept at this point. The Concept 7 Series ActiveHybrid comes with a turbocharged V8 gasoline engine and electric drive as a mild hybrid concept. The drivetrain technology featured in the concept car allows enhanced driving dynamics together with a reduction of fuel consumption and emissions by about 15 percent (in the EU test cycle) compared to the same car running on a combustion engine only.
The drivetrain of the BMW Concept 7 Series ActiveHybrid is made up of a V8 gasoline engine with Twin Turbo and High Precision Injection based on the power unit of the BMW 750i. Maximum output of the conventional engine in the regular production model is 407 hp, with peak torque of 442 lb-ft. This engine is combined with an electric motor fully integrated in the transmission housing, developing maximum output of 20 hp and peak torque of 155 lb-ft.
As in the Mercedes-Benz S 400 BlueHYBRID, the electric motor integrated in the transmission housing replaces the starter as well as the conventional alternator driven by the engine. Electrical energy is generated through brake energy regeneration. Integrated power electronics control the flow of electrons to and from the motor/generator. A high-performance lithium-ion battery integrated in the luggage compartment of the 7 Series Concept stores the energy generated and supplies power to the on-board electrical circuitry.
Let’s hope it shares nothing with Chrysler’s GEM lineup
By Chris Haak
Chrysler LLC, under assault for questionable quality, questionable finances, and a questionable (truck- and gas guzzler-heavy) product mix, plans to announce an electric vehicle at a webcast for dealers on Tuesday. While news of the announcement leaked out over the past few days, word also came out that some dealers had been given preview drives in prototypes of electric cars. Aside from this evidence, Vice Chairman Jim Press said last month that Chrysler would launch seven new vehicles in 2010 – far more new models than most had expected, which means that Chrysler had some surprises up its sleeve over the next two years. Or, it could be a simple matter of counting line extensions such as a Ram Hybrid as a “new model,” which certainly would be a stretch to label it as a new model.
Chrysler showed three electric vehicle concepts at the 2008 NAIAS in Detroit this past January, so it’s possible that the vehicle to be shown to dealers on Tuesday (which will surely be leaked on the Internet within hours, if not minutes, even if it’s not officially sent to the media) could be a production version of the Chrysler ecoVoyager, Jeep Rampage, or Dodge ZEO – or a completely new vehicle we’ve never seen or heard of before.
Last week on the Charlie Rose Show, Chrysler LLC CEO Bob Nardelli said that he was confident that his company would be as competitive as GM in the electric vehicle space, mentioning that his company has been producing electric vehicles for 10 years with its GEM subsidiary, so they have all of the fundamental technology necessary for an electric vehicle.
By Kevin Miller
Mercedes-Benz has released information today about its upcoming S 400 BlueHYBRID sedan. Based on a modified S 350 drivetrain, the S 400 BlueHYBRID empolys a combination of a modified V6 gasoline engine and a compact hybrid module, making it the world’s most economical luxury sedan with a gasoline engine. The 3.5-liter V6 develops 279 HP, and the electric motor generates 20 HP with a starting torque of 118 lb-ft. The combined output is 299 HP with a combined maximum torque of 283 lb-ft. The S 400 BlueHYBRID accelerates from zero to 62 MPH in 7.2 seconds, and reaches an electronically governed top speed of 155 MPH.
The European combined fuel consumption rating is 7.9 liters per 100 kilometers (29.7 MPG), compared to the 23.3 MPG combined rating of the standard S 350. It also boasts the world’s lowest CO2 emissions in this vehicle and performance class, emitting just 190 grams per kilometer. The hybrid system adds a reasonable 75 kilograms (165 lbs) to the standard S 350. Mercedes-Benz’s first hybrid will launch in Europe in the summer of 2009, followed by a US launch in September 2009.
The S 400 BlueHYBRID is the first series-production vehicle to be equipped with a lithium-ion battery developed specifically for automotive use. Combined with modifications to the existing V6 engine, the BlueHYBRID system uses a magneto-electric motor, 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission specially configured for the hybrid module, high-voltage lithium-ion battery and transformer, plus the necessary operating and control electronics.