Test driving the 2020 Ford Kuga SUV PHEV

Car Magazine »

Expect to see a lot of these on the roads this year.

Autocar »

Kuga has lost none of its dynamic flair, yet it’s more refined and practical than ever. It’s comfortable, too, Ford’s suspension engineers creating a ride that’s plusher and quieter than most. Perhaps the only real niggle is that the interior fails to achieve that premium feel Ford has been striving for. We also suspect the cheaper petrols will be the pick of the line-up.

But slightly lacklustre straight-line pace and grabby brakes aside, the Kuga PHEV makes a strong case against its less entertaining rivals from Vauxhall, Peugeot and Mitsubishi.

More Photos » AutoExpress

Audi A3 E-Tron plug-in hybrid may be coming to North America

Audi A3 Sedan Rendering

Audi A3 Sedan Rendering

Jens Meiners, MotorTrend »

While all of these models will be offered here exclusively with the four-door sedan body style, the subsequent A3 e-tron, fitted with a plug-in-hybrid powertrain, should come to America as a Sportback, i.e. a compact, five-door hatchback. Power will come from a 1.4-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor for a total of around 240 horsepower. […}

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BMW introducing “ecological geofencing” for it’s hybrid vehicles, automatically switching from fuel-burning to electric motor when it enters urban and environmental sensitive zones

Available in 80 European cities.

eeNews Automotive »

In various plug-in hybrid models from BMW, drivers now can preset so-called “e-drive zones”. When the car enters such an inner-city low emission zone, it automatically switches from combustion to electric mode. For this purpose, the vehicles use geofencing technology via GPS, in which an area is predefined on the map by means of coordinates. The zone is then graphically displayed to the driver on his navigation device. Within this area, the car drives electrically for as long as the battery’s state of charge permits. If the battery’s energy reserves run out, the system switches back to the combustion engine. The driver receives a corresponding signal in the Control Display. […]

By the end of 2021, BMW will be offering five all-electric EVs. By the end of 2023, they may have a new BMW 7 Series, with an all-electric option

BMW i4 Concept

BMW i4 Concept

The BMW Group reports it is living up to its commitment to reduce CO2 levels for its European new car registrations. They also report they are increasing their number of all-electric and plug-in hybrid drivetrains.

Oliver Zipse, chairman of the board, confirmed that the flagship Series 7 sedan will be offered as an all-electric model.

BMW Group News Release »

By the end of 2021, the company intends to have more than one million vehicles with all-electric or plug-in hybrid drivetrains on the roads. At that stage, the BMW Group will offer five all-electric series production vehicles. Alongside the BMW i3, demand for which increased for the sixth year in succession, production of the all-electric MINI Cooper SE was commenced at the Oxford plant (UK) towards the end of 2019. The BMW iX3 will go into production this year at the plant in Shenyang, China, followed in 2021 by the BMW iNEXT in Dingolfing, Germany, and the BMW i4 at the Munich plant – all of which will be equipped with fifth-generation electric drivetrain technology.

The next generation of the BMW 7 Series will mark a new milestone. The BMW brand’s flagship vehicle also offers customers the “Power of Choice” and is set be available with four different types of drivetrain: as a highly efficient diesel- or petrol-driven car, as an electrified plug-in hybrid and, for the first time, as an all-electric BEV model, which will also be equipped with a fifth-generation electric drivetrain. Offering such a comprehensive range is a clear expression of the BMW Group’s aspiration to enable every customer to choose the technology best suited to realise sustainable mobility.

By 2023, the BMW Group will already have 25 electrified models on the roads – more than half of them all-electric. The key to achieving this objective is having intelligent vehicle architectures that, with the aid of a highly flexible production system, enable a model to be powered fully electrically, as a plug-in hybrid or with a combustion engine. With these prerequisites in place, the company is in an ideal position to meet demand in each relevant market segment and offer its customers a genuine power of choice between the various drive types. By 2021, demand for electrified vehicles is predicted to double compared to 2019. The BMW Group then expects to see a steep growth curve up to 2025, with sales of electrified vehicles growing on average by more than 30 percent p.a. […]

More » BMW Blog, Autocar, Robb Report, Green Car Reports, AutoExpress UK

U.K. Dept for Transport plans to deploy 4,000+ zero-emission buses over the next 5 years

The U.K. Government’s Department for Transport (DfT) has stated they are working on a 5-year, €5 billion (US$5.65 billion) plan to enhance bus and bicycle infrastructure in the country – including new routes, expanded bus lanes, more affordable fares together with deployment of at least 4,000 zero-emission buses.

Full details of the bus funding program, with its focus on improving and increasing green mobility journeys, is expected to be announced in a National Bus Strategy to be published later in 2020.

London black cab becomes plug-in hybrid delivery van in Europe

LEVC VN5

LEVC VN5

 Ronan Glon, Autoblog »

LEVC, the company that manufactures London’s emblematic taxi, detailed a plug-in hybrid delivery van that shares many components with its existing people-mover. Called VN5, the model will enter production in late 2020.

It’s all in the name: VN stands for van, and 5 denotes the five-cubic-meter (176-cubic-foot) cargo capacity. The VN5 and the TX taxi share headlights, a front bumper, a grille, a hood, and fenders, so the family resemblance is unmistakable, but the former wears a longer, boxier body that’s better suited to delivery duty. It was developed to compete in the same congested segment as the Mercedes-Benz Metris and the Volkswagen Transporter.

Although full technical specifications remain under wraps, the fact that the VN5 shares its mechanical components with the TX suggests it’s fitted with a plug-in hybrid powertrain that consists of a turbocharged, 1.5-liter three-cylinder borrowed from Volvo and set up as a range extender. It sends the electricity it generates to a 33-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that in turn zaps a 110-kilowatt motor into motion. The VN5 is capable of driving for up to 63 miles on electricity alone, a figure that will allow owners to avoid paying to drive into London’s emissions-free zone, and its total driving range with a full charge and a full tank checks in at 301 miles.

More » electrive

A hydrogen fuel cell passenger train has been sucessfully tested over 10-days in the Netherlands

The Coradia iLint is the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell passenger train. The Netherlands is the second country in Europe after Germany to test this train.

Aseniya Dimitrova, The Mayor »

The emissions-free solution was tested on the 65 kilometres of line between Groningen and Leeuwarden in the north of the Netherlands. This was possible thanks to a pilot agreement signed last October by Alstom and the Province of Groningen, local operator Arriva, the Dutch railway infrastructure manager ProRail and the energy company Engie.

The train has been developed and produced by Alstom teams located in Salzgitter, Germany and Tarbes, France. The technological company believes that their train, powered on hydrogen, is reliable and highly performant, just like traditional regional trains.

 

Why are hydrogen-fueled cars lagged behind their battery-electric counterparts?

Automakers continue to push into fuel-cell vehicles. But without sufficient infrastructure (fuel stations), I fear their adoption rates have little chance to catch up to battery-powered electric vehicles.

On the flip side, as more people purchase battery-powered electrical vehicles, power utilities will need to up their game and to provide power for these vehicles.

Faiz Siddiqui , Washington Post via Seattle Times »

In California, the vehicles typically come with up to $10,000 in tax savings and a $15,000 fuel card, good for about three years of free hydrogen fuel, lessening the blow of a $60,000 pricetag. Compared to typical plug-in cars that travel about 100 to 370 miles on a single charge, hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles promise 300 to 400 miles per fill-up, similar to the highest-mileage gas-only cars.

But despite those selling points, hydrogen-fueled cars have long lagged behind their battery-electric counterparts in adoption, a gap that they appear increasingly unlikely to overcome. Although Tesla has helped drive widespread consumer adoption, along with easy ways to charge up at home and on the road, hydrogen-fueled vehicles haven’t made it past early buyers. With just 44 public fueling stations in California by January, the fleet has been persistently plagued by sparse coverage; the cars are also more expensive.

A review of U.S. Department of Energy data also showed that outside of California, the build-out of hydrogen refueling infrastructure stagnated over the past decade as electric vehicles rose. While there were 58 public and private hydrogen stations in the country in 2012, the number had grown to only 61 by the end of 2019 – as the share grew more and more concentrated in California, which doubled its network of stations over that time while states such as New York saw their hydrogen pumps close.

Read the whole article »

Washington Post Video »

Honda pulls the plug on the Clarity EV due to poor sales

2019 Honda Clarity Electric

The Clarity EV was the only fully electric vehicle Honda offered in North America.

Announced back in 2017, the Clarity lineup had been offered in three different versions—plug-in hybrid, electric, and fuel-cell. Only the EV is being discontinued, at least through the 2020 model year.

Bengt Halvorson, Green Car Reports »

American Honda Motor confirmed to Green Car Reports last week that the Clarity Electric was discontinued at the end of the 2019 model year and won’t be coming back again.

In what was a very quiet last hurrah, leases for the model, which was limited to California and Oregon, faded out at the start of the year, and then in February, while we awaited what sounded like a refreshed model in the pipeline, at least one forum pointed to indications within Honda that the model wouldn’t be returning.

[…]

At the time the Clarity Electric was introduced, Honda engineers said that they based their decision on its battery size on feedback from California drivers of the former Fit EV; but ultimately that decision may have been what doomed the model, even in California, at a time when EV shoppers are focused on cars with more than 200 miles of range, The Clarity Electric carried an EPA-rated range of 89 miles from its 25.5-kwh battery pack. It was also Honda’s first electric vehicle to use CCS-format fast charging, allowing an 80-percent charge in just 30 minutes.

More » CNet, Autoblog, Engadget, SlashGear, MotorTrend, The Detroit Bureau

Uber has quietly relaunched it’s self-driving cars on streets of San Francisco after a two-year hiatus following one of the company’s autonomous cars fatally crashing into pedestrian in 2018

Only two vehicles with safety drivers behind the wheels will be permitted in San Francisco, and then public roads only during daylight hours.

Dara Kerr, CNET »

To start, Uber said it will have just two Volvo XC90 self-driving cars on the road that will be accompanied by two safety drivers in the front seats. The vehicles will drive on select public streets, only operate during daylight hours and won’t carry passengers. The company said that after it completes an infrastructure update to its system, it’ll expand its program in the city.

After the fatal crash in Arizona, Uber’s self-driving program fell under the scrutiny of local police, lawmakers and federal investigators. The company pulled all its autonomous vehicles from public roads and shuttered its Arizona operations at that time. In November, government officials released their findings on the main cause of the crash, saying the vehicle operator failed to monitor the road, Uber had an “inadequate safety culture” and the federal government hadn’t properly regulated the industry.

More » Reuters, Engadget, The Verge, Venture Beat, TechCrunch