Friday, July 2, 2010

Electro-Auto

I haven't done a car story in a while, not since Driving Green back in March. So I figured I would take a few minutes and post an update on a bit of electro-auto news.

Back in 2003 BMW held a design competition for a new building and distribution center. BMW Welt (funny name, neat building), in Munich, Germany, was the result - a modern, green plant that houses production and exhibition spaces along with restaurants and shops. It saves energy through solar heating and natural ventilation. Now, BMW is presenting their first electric car, the Megacity Vehicle, to be released in 2013. The car will be built using BMW's "LifeDrive structure." Basically, the car is made out of aluminum and lightweight carbon fiber hardened with epoxy, a technique that offsets the additional weight that batteries add to the car. Despite its flimsy-sounding description it is supposed to be as strong as steel yet about 50% lighter than standard aluminum, and has already passed crash tests. The electric motor itself is much more compact than gasoline engines as it doesn't need things like a transmission, exhaust, or a muffler. This smaller, lighter engine will also offset battery weight and increase range. The batteries themselves will be 35-kWh lithium-ion, and the company hopes to develop a plug-in hybrid version.

Read many many more details about the car here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/business/global/02bmw.html

Tesla Motors is a company that I check in on from time to time. They have some really interesting ideas and classic yet unique ways of designing vehicles. Enter the newest version of the Roaster - the Tesla Roaster 2.5. This all-electric, zero emissions sports car packs a dense lithium-ion battery (56 kWh of energy) and can go up to 245 miles per charge. 295 lbs-ft of torque and 288 horsepower are produced as the car accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds! It includes software that monitors the car, a charge port that plugs into any outlet, and 'regenerative breaking' (recharges battery when foot lets off the accelerator or you go downhill). Its chassis is composed of resin-bonded and riveted extruded aluminum and is covered with carbon fiber body panels, which offsets the weight of the batteries.

Additional electric cars include the Chevy Volt and previously blogged about Nissan LEAF.

And now we get to what inspired me to write this post to begin with - the I-5. The governor of Washington, Chris Gregoire, announced plans for installing electric car charging stations along the portion of Interstate 5 that runs through the state. Owners of electric cars will be able to dive the full width of the state, 276 miles. The stations are to be funded by $1.3 million in federal stimulus money. The stations will be similar to existing rest stops where you can fast-charge your car (full charge in 15-30 minutes). This effort furthers the agreement Washington made with Oregon, California and British Columbia in agreeing to work together to turn I-5 in a 1,350-mile green highway. The goal is to establish recharging stations and distribution of alternative fuels along the highway's entire length.

Read more here:
http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/washington-plans-its-own-electric-highway/
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