DailyTech – “314 MPG” Volkswagen XL1 Confirmed for Production

The car will make its appearance at the Geneva motor show in March next month

Volkswagen has confirmed its XL1 hybrid for production, which will make its appearance at the Geneva motor show next month.

The two-seat Volkswagen XL1 has a plug-in diesel hybrid system that allows it to achieve 314 MPG and 31 miles on electric power alone. The CO2 emissions sits at 21 g/km, and it is considered the most aerodynamic car with a Cd figure of 0.189. It’s also very light at just 1,752 pounds.

The XL1 hybrid features a 47 bhp 0.8-litre, two-cylinder diesel engine with a 27 bhp electric motor and 5.5 kWh battery pack. According to VW, the XL1 can go from 0-62 MPH in 12.7 seconds with a top speed of 98 MPH.

The XL1 also has some other interesting features, such as a design that completely covers the rear wheels to reduce drag; a pair of rear-facing mirrors on the side of the car instead of door mirrors; wing doors that swivel upwards and forwards, and slightly offset seats for the most interior space possible.

As mentioned, the XL1 is very light at just 1,752 pounds because it is mainly made of carbon monocoque. Aluminum is used on the suspension and dampers as well as ceramic for the brakes and magnesium wheels.

A price has not been confirmed yet, but some reports say the XL1 could cost as much as £70,000 ($107,000 USD). The car will make its appearance at the Geneva motor show in March next month.

Source: Autocar

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Progressive optics for side mirrors ends automobile blind spots without distorting view, experts say

These images illustrate the performance between the aspheric and progressive mirror (top) and the flat and progressive mirror (bottom). In (a), the standard aspheric mirror is shown with a blue line to indicate the boundary between the two zones. This illustrates the distortion between the two zones. In (b), the progressive prescription developed by the researchers demonstrates the improved transition between zones, eliminating the blind spot while still giving an undistorted view of objects at a distance. (c) This is the standard flat side view mirror compared with (d) the wider field of view of the progressive mirror. (Credit: Credit: Optics Letters.)

Jan. 28, 2013 — A new optical prescription for automobile side-view mirrors may eliminate the dreaded “blind spot” in traffic without distorting the perceived distance of cars approaching from behind. As described in a new paper in the Optical Society’s (OSA) journal Optics Letters, objects viewed in a mirror using the new design appear larger than in traditional side-view mirrors, so it’s easier to judge their following distance and speed.

Today’s motor vehicles in the United States use two different types of mirrors for the driver and passenger sides. The driver’s side mirror is flat so that objects viewed in it are undistorted and not optically reduced in size, allowing the operator to accurately judge an approaching-from-behind vehicle’s separation distance and speed. Unfortunately, the optics of a flat mirror also create a blind spot, an area of limited vision around a vehicle that often leads to collisions during merges, lane changes, or turns. The passenger side mirror, on the other hand, possesses a spherical convex shape. While the small radius of curvature widens the field of view, it also causes any object seen in it to look smaller in size and farther away than it actually is. Because of this issue, passenger side mirrors on cars and trucks in the United States must be engraved with the safety warning, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” In the European Union, both driver and passenger side mirrors are aspheric (One that bulges more to one side than the other, creating two zones on the same mirror).The inner zone — the section nearest the door — has a nearly perfect spherical shape, while the outer zone — the section farthest from the door — becomes less and less curved toward the edges. The outer zone of this aspheric design also produces a similar distance and size distortion seen in spherical convex designs.

In an attempt to remedy this problem, some automotive manufacturers have installed a separate, small wide-angle mirror in the upper corner of side mirrors. This is a slightly domed square that provides a wide-angle view similar to a camera’s fisheye lens. However, drivers often find this system to be a distracting as well as expensive addition.

A simpler design for a mirror that would be free of blind spots, have a wide field of view, and produce images that are accurately scaled to the true size of an approaching object — and work for both sides of a vehicle — has been proposed by researchers Hocheol Lee and Dohyun Kim at Hanbat National University in Korea and Sung Yi at Portland State University in Oregon. Their solution was to turn to a progressive additive optics technology commonly used in “no-line multifocal” eyeglasses that simultaneously corrects myopia (nearsightedness) and presbyopia (reduced focusing ability).

“Like multifocal glasses that give the wearer a range of focusing abilities from near to far and everything in between, our progressive mirror consists of three resolution zones: one for distance vision, one for close-up viewing and a middle zone making the transition between the two,” says Lee. “However, unlike glasses where the range of focus is vertically stacked [from distance viewing on top to close-up viewing on bottom], our mirror surface is horizontally progressive.”

Lee says that a driver’s side mirror manufactured with his team’s new design would feature a curvature where the inner zone is for distance viewing and the outer zone is for near-field viewing to compensate for what otherwise would be blind spots. “The image of a vehicle approaching from behind would only be reduced in the progressive zone in the center,” Lee says, “while the image sizes in the inner and outer zones are not changed.”

The horizontal progressive mirror, Lee says, does have some problems with binocular disparity (the slight difference between the viewpoints of a person’s two eyes) and astigmatism (blurring of a viewed image due to the difference between the focusing power in the horizontal and vertical directions). These minor errors are a positive trade off, the researchers feel, to gain a mirror with a greatly expanded field of view, more reliable depth perception, and no blind spot.

To prove the merits of their design, the researchers used a conventional glass molding process to manufacture a prototype horizontal progressive mirror. They were able to produce a mirror with more than double the field of view of a traditional flat mirror.

Other wide-angle designs have also been proposed, but the new design described January 28 in the Optics Letters paper offers a particularly easy-to-manufacture approach to the problem of blind spots by seamlessly integrating just three zones.

The researchers claim that the manufacturing cost of their proposed mirror design would be cheaper than the mirror design with the added small wide-angle viewing section. Since mirror designs are stipulated by national automobile regulations, the new design would need to be approved for use in the United States before appearing on cars here.

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Eye-catching Future Car Designs

There are already a growing number of cars on the road with technology and designs that were seen as the work of science fiction not too long ago. Hybrid cars are growing in number, and there now exists sports cars that are exclusively electric. The US state of Nevada has even allowed street-legal driverless cars. But what are the next advances in the automobile industry? Take a look at the following.

The Designs of Brian Malczewski

A recent contest created by EcoMotors asked designers to come up with models based on their opposed piston, opposed cylinder (OPOC) engine. Because the shape of an OPOC engine is lower, shorter, and wider compared to a normal internal combustion engine, the cars had a very unique shape. The winner of the contest was industrial designer Brian Malczewski with this sedan concept:

https://i2.wp.com/www.carbodydesign.com/media/2012/12/C-Segment-Sedan-Concept-by-Brian-Malczewski-02-720x378.jpg
Source: Car Body Design

Malczewski also creates models with interesting interiors such as this one for a Kia Sportage concept:

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Source: Brian Malczewski

Exotic Materials, Unorthodox Cars

Innovation can also come in the materials used. There are many that mention carbon nanotubes, which are stronger than still but thinner than hair. It use is twofold – it can be used for exteriors and for updating the batteries in electric vehicles. An even stranger material is the one Swiss car design firm Rinspeed used for their BamBoo electric car. Its interior uses, as you can guess, bamboo.

rinspeed-bamboo-concept-113-626x382

 Source: Car and Driver

Drive Different

Could you imagine that Steve Jobs was also fascinated by automobiles? As part of his overall plan to spread the Apple brand past computers as he had with the iPod and iPhone, he at some point considered driving his car obsession right into the automobile industry though an iCar. This only came to light during the trial between Samsung and Apple over smartphones. With his death, the iCar may not come to pass, but maybe current CEO Tim Cook might take the idea seriously again.

icar

Source: Intelligent Computing

These are just the beginning of advanced cars. New ventures like Volkswagen’s People’s Car Project are already producing ideas like music-tuned Beetles and cars that hover. Will those outrageous concepts send other future cars to used car dealerships before they even leave the factory? The only way to know is to go to one and find out.

Story by: Jesus Garay

Volvo to Test KERS Flywheel Tech with Grant from Swedish Government

Shane McGlaun (Blog)

KERS system will propel the vehicle from a stop

In the automotive world, a lot of manpower and money is being put into research and development of systems to help boost fuel economy. The most common system today is a hybrid arrangement that uses batteries and electric motors to help propel the vehicle. Another green system is a KERS flywheel like the one used on the Porsche 918 RSR racecar.

The KERS system on the Porsche is activated with a push button to give the car added performance. Volvo is set to start testing its own version of KERS on the public roads of Sweden after receive a grant from the Swedish Energy Agency.

“Our aim is to develop a complete system for kinetic energy recovery. Tests in a Volvo car will get under way in the second half of 2011. This technology has the potential for reducing fuel consumption by up to 20 percent. What is more, it gives the driver an extra horsepower boost, giving a four-cylinder engine acceleration like a six-cylinder unit,” relates Derek Crabb, Vice President VCC Powertrain Engineering.

The KERS flywheel that Volvo will use spins at up to 60,000 RPM and gets its energy for the forces created when braking. That rotational inertia is then transferred to the rear wheels via a special transmission. In the Volvo system, the combustion engine will be switched off as soon as braking starts and then the energy in the flywheel will be used to propel the vehicle from a stop and help it accelerate.

This sort of system will be most effective in stop and go city driving. Volvo estimates that the combustion engine might be able to be turned off as much as half the time. When combined with the combustion engine the energy in the flywheel could add as much as 80hp to the vehicle and increase performance while allowing the car to be more fuel-efficient.

The Volvo flywheel will be made from carbon fiber instead of steel for maximum efficiency. The flywheel measures a diameter of 20cm and weighs 13 pounds. It also spins in a vacuum to minimize losses.

Article Continues -> Volvo to Test KERS Flywheel Tech with Grant from Swedish Government

Formula 1 electric racing car hits 162 MPH

by Aaron Colter, EarthTechling

FCI, a global electric connector manufacturer, has signed a partnership with Formulec to sponsor its Formula 1 electric race car.

Dubbed the EF01, the electric vehicle took two and half years to develop in conjunction with automotive professionals from the Segula Technologies consulting firm and the Formula 1 team for Merceds – GP Petronas.

The EF01 is built with batteries from French company Saft, an engine from Siemens, and a high performance connector from FCI that transmits power from the battery to the engine.

Able to go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in a stunning three seconds flat, the EF01 has a top speed of 162 miles per hour.

At this point, the EF01 is one of the fastest electric cars on the planet. 

Even high-end automaker Tesla Motors hasn’t released a vehicle with such impressive speed, although the races the vehicles compete in are much different.

Story Continues -> Formula 1 electric racing car hits 162 MPH

A Car Battery at Half the Price

Battery prototype: Two sludge-like electrode materials are fed into the device shown here. The anode material flows into the top half, and the cathode flows into the bottom. Lithium ions pass from one material to the other, and electrons flow through the black and red leads.  Credit: Yet-Ming Chiang

A startup hopes to commercialize a novel design that features a liquid electrolyte.

Last year, the battery startup A123 Systems spun out another company, called 24M, to develop a new kind of battery meant to make electric vehicles go farther and cost less. Now a research paper published in Advanced Energy Materials reveals the first details about how that battery would work. It also addresses the challenges in bringing the battery to market.

A big problem with the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids is that only about 25 percent of the battery’s volume is taken up by materials that store energy. The rest is made up of inactive materials, such as packaging, conductive foils, and glues, which make the batteries bulky and account for a significant part of the cost.

24M intends to greatly reduce the inactive material in a battery.  According to estimates in the new paper, its batteries could achieve almost twice the energy densities of today’s vehicle battery packs. Batteries with a higher energy density would be smaller and cheaper, which means electric and hybrid cars would be less expensive. The paper estimates that the batteries could cost as little as $250 per kilowatt hour—less than half what they cost now.

A conventional battery pack is made up of hundreds of cells. Each cell contains a stack of many thin, solid electrodes. These electrodes are paired with metal foil current collectors and separated from each other by plastic films. Increasing the energy storagerequires adding more layers of electrode material—which in turn requires more layers of metal foil and plastic film.

24M’s design makes it possible to increase energy storage without the extra metal foil and plastic film. The key difference is that the electrodes are not solid films stacked in a cell, but sludge-like materials stored in tanks—one for the positive electrode material and another for the negative electrode.

The materials are pumped from the tanks into a small device, where they move through channels carved into blocks of metal. As this happens, ions move from one electrode to the other through the same kind of separator material used in a conventional battery. Electrons make their way out of the material to an external circuit. In this design, increasing energy storage is as simple as increasing the size of the storage tanks—the device that allows the electrodes to interact stays the same size. The design also does away with the need to wire together hundreds of cells to achieve adequate energy storage.

Story Continues -> A car battery at half the price

Powering Your Car with Waste Heat

Power from heat: A thermoelectric generator that converts waste heat from a car’s exhaust system into electricity could improve fuel economy.  Credit: General Motors

New thermoelectric materials will be tested in BMW, Ford, and Chevrolet vehicles by the end of summer.

At least two-thirds of the energy in gasoline used in cars and trucks is wasted as heat. Thermoelectrics, semiconductor materials that convert heat into electricity, could capture this waste heat, reducing the fuel needs of the vehicle and improving fuel economy by at least 5 percent. But the low efficiency and high cost of existing thermoelectric materials has kept such devices from becoming practical in vehicles.

Now researchers are assembling the first prototype thermoelectric generators for tests in commercial cars and SUVs. The devices are a culmination of several advances made independently at thermoelectric device-maker BSST in Irwindale, California, and at General Motors Global R&D in Warren, Michigan. Both companies plan to install and test their prototypes by the end of the summer—BSST in BMW and Ford cars, and GM in a Chevrolet SUV.

BSST is using  new materials. Bismuth telluride, a common thermoelectric, contains expensive tellurium and works at temperatures of only up to 250 °C, whereas  thermoelectric generators  can reach 500 °C. So BSST is using another family of thermoelectrics—blends of hafnium and zirconium—that work well at high temperatures. This has increased the generator efficiency by about 40 percent.

At GM, researchers are assembling a final prototype based on a promising new class of thermoelectrics called skutterudites, which are cheaper than tellurides and perform better at high temperatures. The company’s computer models show that in its Chevrolet Suburban test vehicle, this device could generate 350 watts, improving fuel economy by 3 percent.

Story Continues -> Powering your car with waste heat