This bit of news won’t affect most drivers in the US market, but it’s interesting just the same. BMW makes an M version of its largest luxury sedan that is powered by a diesel engine. The current 750d uses a 3.0 liter in line 6 cylinder engine with three turbos. Now the company says it will add a another turbo to the mix, bringing the total to 4. The new engine not only increases power, it also uses significantly less fuel.
Electric cars are ideally all about cleaner air and a greener world, but environmentalism just doesn’t sell with everybody. Some people only care about power, and this Nissan LEAF commercial finally taps into the deep well of instant torque to try and sell some cars.
There was once a time when torque could be considered the primary selling point of many American cars, but most green car buyers aren’t looking for the thrill of instant power; that’s just an added side benefit. Sure, the Nissan LEAF isn’t “fast” in the traditional sense, taking about 9.7 seconds to go from 0 to 60 MPH, which is faster than a Toyota Prius, but not much else.
However, right off the line the LEAF has 100% of its available torque ready to use, enabling it to launch off the line quickly, quietly, and out in front of vehicles with much more total power. The drawback of those big engines is they have to rev up to make all that power, while the little LEAF can just…go.
More commercials like this please, and fewer hugging polar bears. Environmentalism is great, but people still want powah.
The world is about to experience Formula E, the first international motor racing series featuring electric race cars. But racing at that level requires tons of money – far more than the typical club racer can afford. Entropy Racing has the answer to that conundrum with their EVSR – Electric Vehicle Sports Racer. Designed to be a high performance full fledged racer that costs no more to own and campaign than similar piston engine cars, the EVSR can stand toe-to-toe with the best club racers.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Entropy brought two of its bright yellow EVSR’s (Fritz and Spark-E) to Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. In a race against 6 conventional Entropy Sports Racers (ESR’s), the electric cars spotted the others a lead at the start and still managed to finish 1st and 3rd in the 30 minute race.
What makes the EVSR’s so potent on track? It’s all about that electric motor, which makes its maximum torque at zero rpm. So from a standing start or when exiting slow corners, it is putting power to the ground while the gasoline engines are waiting for the revs to rise high enough to reach their peak torque. By the time that happens, the EVSR’s are long gone!
The Entropy racer begins with a square tube steel frame that is both strong and light and then adds two lithium ferrous batteries powering an AC electric motor rated at 160 hp and 200 ft/lbs of torque. It is designed to be a nimble yet stable platform that is ideal for novices and experienced racers alike. At Lime Rock, one EVSR was driven by IMSA regular Andy Lally, When the team offered to tune the chassis for increased performance, Lally said the car was just about perfect as it was.
Entropy is committed to electric vehicles because they believe they are an environmentally friendly way to go racing.Their goal is to have a full racing series for its EVSR’s by 2015 which will open the door to all electric racing at the club level while also promoting further research and development of electric vehicles. The company says “Safe, dependable and environmentally friendly is all good … but fast is fun, too!”
Couldn’t agree more.
Source: AutoBlog | Images: Copyright Steve Hanley
The SIM-HAL electric car may share a name with 2001’s AI bad guy, but the only thing villainous about SIM-Drive’s latest EV is the insane torque it makes. With a combined 1,829 ft-lbs of torque sent to the streets and a design straight out of the pages of science-fiction, the SIM-HAL could be a look at how electric cars of the future are built.
I say that because the SIM-HAL uses four electric motors, one on each wheel, to deliver power and control to the drive. The HAL in SIM-HAL stands for “High-efficiency All-wheel Link”, which combines the four 87-horsepower electric motors into a single functional unit, sending power where it is needed, when it is needed. Each motor also delivers over 460 ft-lbs of peak torque, and combined output for the system is about 349 horsepower and the aforementioned 1,829 ft-lbs of torque.
That translates to a 4.7 second 0 to 60 MPH sprint, though top speed is limited to just 111 MPH. But the real story here isn’t acceleration or top speed, but rath efficiency. Using a 35.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, SIM-Drive claims the HAL can go as far as 251 miles per charge. This is, however, on the generous Japanese testing cycle, which rates the Nissan Leaf’s 24 kWh battery pack at 141 miles per charge. While Nissan is almost certainly going to offer a larger battery pack to customers at a high price, SIM-Drive has instead pursued efficiency, and the results are paying off.
To me, sticking an electric motor on each wheel makes the most sense, delivering variable all-wheel drive system without the need for power-sucking transmissions or driveshafts. The SIM-HAL gets this much right, though it still looks like a comic supervillain’s getaway car. At least it’s an improvement over previous SIM-EV designs…
Source: SIM-Drive | Autoblog Green
Winter is coming, as the popular meme goes, and if last year’s mega snowstorms are any indication, then there’s a whole lot of frozen precipitation heading our way. Not even the beefiest 4×4 can handle these brutal winters, but a mechanized, all-electric armchair with tank-like treads and 295 ft-lbs of torque? Now we’re talking.
The Ziesel, which is German for “land squirrel”, is the ultimate armchair for seeing the endangered polar bears without ever having to stand up. A 6 kWh battery pack sents 295 ft-lbs of twist the the treads, which are operated via a simple joystick system that any armchair gamer could figure out in all of five seconds.
Still in concept form, no other specs like range or price have been released, though the Ziesel has been wisely limited to a top speed of just 22 mph. Seriously though, throw some laser tag cannons on a dozen of these and open up a tank-themed amusement center. I’d pay good money to play a couple of rounds with my friends in some Laser Tank battles.
Of course, more practical soluations, like using it as a search-and-rescue vehicle in cold climates, should probably have first priority. Weighing in at just 462 pounds, the Ziesel can certainly scoot along at an impressive pace. It’s a lightweight armchair roundabout with a myriad of uses limited only by you imagination.
Finnish drifter Teemu Peltoa has a very good reason for taking his Mercedes W128 drift wagon sideways in a spectacular fashion. He has crafted quite the reputation for himself by drifting one of the least likely vehicles to plenty of sideways successes. A member of the Black Swan Racing team, Peltoa is a working-class hero for his unique racing ride and style.
This is no stock Mercedes wagon, as the anemic stock turbodiesel is gone. In its place is a 600-horsepower, 3.0 liter Mercedes turbodiesel V6 with more than 700 ft-lbs of torque. Peltoa built the diesel drifter himself, further setting himself apart from the big-name sponsors on the racing circuit. See, Europe knows how to Get’R’Done with diesels, and I think it’s about time America follows suit. With diesel car sales on the rise and an increasing abundance of diesel engines to choose from, how long before America’s diesel fans has its own Teemu to cheer for?
And hey, while we’re at it, why not make it some homegrown biodiesel to boot? Who’s going to be the first biodiesel drifter in some off-beat ride to make it big in America? Why, it could be just about anybody…
Silex Power, a Chinese automaker, claims that an electric car they designed called the Chreos EV, achieves several jaw-dropping feats, including a driving range of over 600 miles, a charge time of ten minutes, and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 3 seconds. Everybody else can go home now; Silex Power has won the electric car.
To wit, the exact specifications of this wunder-EV are;
- 621 miles (1,000 km) of driving range.
- Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds.
- 10 minute charge time.
- 4,400 Newton-metres (3,245 pound-feet) of torque.
So, Silex Power solved all the EV issues except cost? Sounds outstanding, and almost certainly not true. Let’s count the reasons why.
10 Minute Charge Time
This is highly unusual, but it is perfectly possible, and such battery technology is in the prototype stage. There are, however, multiple technologies that come close to this charge time, and one which blows it out of the water. The Toshiba SuperCharge (lithium titanate) battery is already on the market, and charges in 15 minutes. A battery was developed at MIT which charged in 20 seconds (no, that wasn’t an error, it really is 20 seconds). But has Silex Power also developed the technology to charge such a massive battery pack in so little time?
621 Miles of Range
This is also highly unusual, but might be possible via the use of an extremely large battery bank, or, more likely, a new and improved battery technology. Technology developed at Stanford that can store ten times as much energy as typical lithium-ion batteries can probably achieve this. That said, being able to add more than 600 miles of range to a car in ten minutes or less seems highly, highly suspect. If such technology existed, why haven’t any other automakers developed similar results? One answer could be immense cost, or a very short-lived battery.
0-60 MPH in 2.9 Seconds
The White Zombie has almost achieved this already, with a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 3 seconds, only 0.1 seconds slower. But that battery pack is purpose built, and provides much less range than the claimed range of the Silex Chreos EV. Such a battery pack would be huge, and heavy, really dragging acceleration down. Sure, the Tesla Model S weighs more than 2.5 tons and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. But it doesn’t have even half the projected range, and it takes an hour from a fastcharger to juice the Tesla up to 90% range.
As you probably gathered from this, outstandingly powerful, lightweight, and overall stupendous battery technologies are sitting in laboratories being developed by scientists, so we cannot be certain that Silex Power’s claims are false (although, manufacturers lie about this all the time), because the technology required to achieve it does exist, but at what cost?
640 Horsepower, 3,245 Ft-Lbs Torque, 186 MPH Top Speed
This is not far-fetched. Electric motors can already do this, and other electric cars are pushing the boundaries of speed everyday. But can the Cheros EV specifically make this sort of power? Who knows? At the very least, this project is ambitious, wouldn’t you say?
Source: Autoblog Green
Ethanol has lost a lot of support in the past few years for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest knocks against corn-derived ethanol is the reduced horsepower and fuel economy, causing some to be wary of an alternative fuel promises. But a new study shows that algae-based biodiesel has nearly the same horsepower and torque output as petrol and soybean diesel.
The study compared standard petrol-derived diesel with yeast, bacteria, and microalgae biodiesels, as well as a soybean-derived biodiesel. Compared with the standard diesel, all of the biodiesels delivered output of between 93% and 96.5%, resulting in little loss of horsepower, though torque was barely affected.
Fuel consumption was higher, but emissions were lower, especially for the microalgae biodiesel. Researchers estimate that the lower NoX emissions, especially in the microalgae biodiesel, came from the lack of polyunsaturated fatty acids. With algae biodiesel now available for purchase at select gas stations in California, algae may become a hot commodity now that ethanol seems to be falling out of favor. Even the military seems to think algae might be a viable replacement for petrol, and is even testing it on jets.
With tests like these showing that power is mostly unaffected, and that emissions might actually go down, adds to the fact that algae biodiesel blends have achieved price-parity with standard diesel fuels. Is algae fuel the future?
Source: Green Car Congress
By the time you finish this sentence, you’ll have figured out that there is more than one sentence to my review of the 2012 Kia Rio hatchback. But I wanted to try and do something different, and I think I can boil down the five major aspects of every car review to just a single summary sentence. So lets get down to it, shall we?
Writer’s Disclosure: Kia was kind enough to drop off the 2012 Rio in my driveway with a full tank of gas and minimal direction. You’ve been warned.
The 2012 Kia Rio entered the sub-compact car market about the same time as at least a half-dozen other equally competitive cars, so standing out was never going to be easy. Competition includes new cars like the Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta, as well as solid-but-older contenders like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris.
That said, the 17-inch wheels are a nice upgrade, and the furrowed look of the headlights help it a stand-out in any parking lot. To my eyes though it is too egg-shaped, and from either side it is reminiscent of economy compact cars of the past. The front end is the best angle on this car, while the side profile is the worst. The LED tail lights and dual-tip exhaust save the back end from being boring, though the rear spoiler feels phoned in.
One easily-corrected oversight; even the top-end SX model only comes in five colors, a paltry offering when three of the five are white, black, and silver. Two metallic tones, one red, the other blue, round out the color palette.
One Sentence Review: A distinctly-designed car in an increasingly crowded segment, but one that could have used a little more exterior excitement.
No place is more important on a car than the interior, and here the Rio really shines. The dashboard is covered in a soft, leather-like substance that gives the car a more expensive feel, and the dash layout is effective, if not terribly clever. There are enough nooks and crevices to store plenty of devices, and the glove box is exceptionally deep; I felt like I was almost reaching into the engine bay.
I had a chance to take the Kia on a 5+ hour drive, and I found the front seat to be comfortable enough, though not luxurious. Rear legroom was adequate, as was cargo room in the hatchback. The seats do fold down for even more room, though the Rio has some awkward blind spots and doesn’t sit quite as tall as other entrants in the segment.
One Sentence Review: A well-appointed and designed interior give the Rio a leg-up on much of the competition.
Kia did its homework when it came to the Uvo infotainment system, and they really nailed the touchscreen unit. It’s small, responsive, and when you shift into reverse it turns into a rearview camera. Very awesome. As an added bonus, the scan feature was perfectly placed for long road trips, and like most new cars satellite radio is an optional service. The steering wheel was not burdened with too many buttons, nor were the door handles.
Power windows and locks are standard, though a side mirror retractor was cool but kind of unnecessary feature. Bluetooth/MP3 connectivity is a must-have these days, and the Rio has them both. But it’s the well-crafted touch screen that puts the Rio over the top.
One Sentence Review: The touchscreen in this price bracket could be a deal maker for many millennials like me, and Kia made it count.
Drivetrain And Performance
Unfortunately, all this interior awesomeness only makes the buzzy drivetrain seem cheap in comparison. Kia included an optional Eco mode that diminishes power in order to improve fuel economy, and over the course of a 300+ mile trip I managed to pull down over 35 mpg. The Rio’s official rating is 30 city/40 highway, and I wasn’t exactly easy on the accelerator, so 40 mpg sould be very doable.
Yet even in “normal” mode, the Kia Rio’s 1.6 liter direct injection engine is loud-but-underwhelming. The Rio isn’t slow per-se, but at no time did I find myself thinking “This is a fun car to drive!” It was more like “This is a car to drive”, especially when climbing a hill. The 138 horsepower and 123 ft-lbs of torque is merely adequate at best.
The six-speed automatic transmission performed well-enough, though at times the engine and transmission seemed to have a hard time meshing up, resulting in even more buzzing. There is more fun and less engine noise to be had in other cars.
One Sentence Review: While the rest of the Rio sings a sweet song, it falls flat when it comes to performance.
Perceived value is the driving factor behind the purchase of an economy car, and the Rio packs a lot of value for sure. My SX-model test car came well equipped with the 17-inch wheels, UVO infotainment system, the soft-touch dash, and lots of other upscale features for a MSRP of $17,995.
The 5-door Rio starts at just $13,800 however, with the automatic ringing in at $14,900. While lower models lack the above-mentioned wheels and infotainment system, the build quality for a car of this segment cannot be understated. For the money, you can get a lot of car with a premium feel, though for some the lackluster performance might be reason to look elsewhere.
One Sentence Review: A well-crafted car with a quality interior at a competitive price, though far from the most exciting car in its segment.
In the midst of a long weekend for many of our U.S. readers, I have one more reason for you to love electric cars. That reason is torque.
An electric motor generates torque on a flat curve – maximum torque right off the line – as opposed to a combustion engine, which has a curve of torque increasing with the revs. In other words, the IC engine has to get going before it can make any significant amount of torque. The electric motor generates its torque by running current through the wire, generating a magnetic field, which pushes against another magnet, and there’s the force.
The practical aspect of this – or why it is that we care about quickly generating torque at all – is it directly affects how quickly a car can get off the line. This is of great importance if you’re trying to drag race someone (we all do that, right?).
This Is Not Just Idle Speculation
As a demonstration of just how much better an electric car is at getting off the line and zooming ahead of the gas-driven competition, the automotive version of the Mythbusters, the Stuntbusters, performed two tests. One pitted a Porsche 911 Carrera (6-cylinder engine, 385HP) against a Tesla Roadster (288HP). The Tesla is also lighter than the 911, which undoubtedly helps, but the Roadster totally smoked the Carrera anyway (which, incidentally, is also good press for anyone wanting the Model S).
But those are luxury cars, you may be saying, not something I’d ever have in my driveway. Well, in that case you’re in luck – the second pair took a ’69 Chevy Camaro, with a 427 big block engine, and pitted it against a ’65 Coupe Kit Car converted to run all electric. 1,400 lithium ion batteries gave the ’65 Coupe 250HP and 1300 ft/lbs. of torque.
If you guessed that the DIY electric car conversion beat the pants off the Camaro, you would be right – super speed right off the line. Check out the video below:
Any comments or questions? Let us know below.
Unlike many American automakers who are shying away from diesel cars, Volkswagen has embraced them, even earning a nomination (though not a trophy) for its Passat TDI. The 2013 VW Beetle has bolder looks and more masculine styling that appeals to people like, well, me. And I never thought I’d say that about a Bug.
What is even more appealing though is VW’s promise of 39 mpg highway (29 city) from a 2.0 liter TDI engine. That is about par for course for other non-diesel compact cars, but what sets the 2013 Beetle TDI apart is torque. 236 ft-lbs of torque, in fact, and 140 horsepower available through either a dual-clutch automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. Music to my freakin’ ears.
The 29/39 rating is also about a 25% increase over the petrol-powered versions of the Beetle, which average around 22/30 mpg. And with all that torque on tap, the 2013 Beetle TDI is just begging for a biodiesel conversion into a badass Bug race car. Price will be important, of course, and with the current Beetle starting at $18,995, it could be difficult to keep a TDI Beetle in the “cheap” price range.
If VW can knock the Beetle TDI out of the park, it may convince other automakers that there is indeed a market for performance diesel coupes here in America. Outside of just your humble writer, of course. Tune in next week when two of our intrepid writers, Jo Borras and Charis Michelsen, take on the Chicago Auto Show in person. And if Charis can pull Jo away from the NSX hybrid long enough, he may even have time to cover the TDI Beetle!
There are huge differences in the way a standard automobile operates versus an electric vehicle, mostly to the advantage of EV’s. Electric cars and even hybrids have a wider range of options when it comes to turning the wheels, including in-wheel electric motors. Protean Electric claims their in-wheel motor plug-in hybrid system improved the fuel efficiency of a diesel van by 300%.
Called the Through-The-Road-Hybrid system, it features two in-wheel electric motors plugged into a computer brain and a 21 kWh battery pack. The motors can deliver up to 1,180 ft-lbs of torque to the rear wheels of the front-wheel drive Vauxhall Vivaro diesel van, and the electric-only range is good for up to 55 miles.
The biggest achievement though is that in hybrid mode, the Vivaro TTRH was able to achieve up to 114 mpg, more than three times its official fuel economy rating. No mention of whether that includes the 55-mile EV range or not, but impressive nonetheless.
The advantages of having an electric motor mounted directly to the wheel are huge, eliminating the parasitic loss associated with transmissions and driveshafts and putting more power to the road. Proteans system has the brake rotor on the outside (nearer the wheel) and the electronics on the inside, allowing it to be bolted on to new or existing vehicles with relative ease and leaving the original drive train intact. Drivers can switch between two or four-wheel drive, EV or gas-only modes, and there is even regenerative braking. The Vauxhall Vivaro TTRH will be on display for the first time in North America
No price has been set…and already I am wondering if it’ll work on one of my old muscle cars. Who couldn’t use an extra 1,180 ft-lbs of torque??
What’s as fast as a Tesla Roadster, has more range than a Nissan Life, and costs about as much as a Chevy Volt? The answer is the Sora by Lito Green Motion, an electric motorcycle that’s just badass.
Lito Green Motion, based out of Barthélémy Longueuil, Quebec, Canada, built this bullet of a bike to have a top speed of 124 mph, or 200 kph. That’s just 1 mph shy of the Tesla Roadster’s electronically limited top speed of 125 mph. Power comes a 12 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack that puts down a claimed 708 ft-lbs of torque at the wheels, and while they don’t list a 0-60 mph time, I’m gonna go ahead and just say “pretty damn fast.”
What really helps this electric motorcycle stand out from the crowd is its claimed 185 miles of range. That’s probably “best case scenario,” but even a 100 mile range is something to brag about on an electric motorcycle. The Brammo Enertia Plus, which hasn’t hit showrooms yet, will yield around 80 miles of range, while the Empulse sport bike will have around 100 miles of range of a 100 mph top speed. The Brammo also lacks the 5.7-inch LCD touchscreen with integrated GPS, three-performance modes (performance, eco, and safe range), and the lightweight carbon fiber fairing and high-tech aluminum chassis.
Then again, the Enertia Plus will have a price around $10,000, and the Empulse a bit more, while the Batman of electric motorcycles will cost C$42,399, or about $43,750. Yee-ouch. Even with tax credits pooled in from different sources, you’re talking about a motorcycle with the price tag of a Chevy Volt, seating for one, and perhaps even a fill-in-the-blanks death certificate, ’cause ya might just kill yourself on this thing. It ain’t always cheap going green, but at least you can be quick about it if your pockets are deep enough. I’m glad to see the Canadians getting in on the electric motorcycle action. Maybe Jo can lay off the Canadians for a little while. Then again, maybe not.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.
The proverbial cat is out of the bag, as Autoblog reports it heard straight from the mouth of Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne that by 2013, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee will get the European 3.0 liter turbodiesel V6.
The European Grand Cherokee is already slated to get this oil-burning powerplant, what with its 241 horsepower, 406 ft-lbs of torque, and nearly 20% improvement in fuel efficiency. However, American automakers have been slow to offer diesel engines as an option on domestic vehicles, and while there have been a handful of diesel Jeeps in the past, there was very little marketing behind them.
With $4.00 a gallon gas just about here though, the 28 mpg (Euro standard) diesel-powered Cherokee will be a big boon for SUV owners. In addition to better gas mileage, more torque, and a 7,000 lb tow rating, a diesel-powered Grand Cherokee will pump out 20% less CO emissions. It’s win-win-win, though what kind of cost premium is (or isn’t?) placed on the diesel powerplant could have huge ramifications for its acceptance. Right now though, I am just stoked that Chrysler is actually making a move towards diesels while the rest of the American auto industry seems reluctant to move away from gasoline.
So does this mean we’ll get a diesel Wrangler as well? I can only hope.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.