Bright Automotive’s New Plug-In Car

battery_2Having branched from the Rocky Mountain Institute this January, Bright Automotive is currently building a concept hybrid electric car that can achieve 100 miles to the gallon. The most important part is that the automobile builder will be keeping the car reasonably prices for the consumer, thanks to a reduction in the battery size. This reduction is also how the car can reach 100 miles to the gallon. This is what has been holding back consumer interest in electric hybrids - the prohibitive cost of batteries.

This is part of a larger scheme to drop weight and focus more on aerodynamics, friction from rolling, building with new materials and other factors. The overall wind resistance has been reduced, which combined with the lost weight lead to a car capable of much longer distances and a more energy efficient design. The engine will not have to accelerate as hard, which in turns allows the car to rely less on the batteries. Overall, the design is a modern evolution of concepts that was born a century ago.

Now improving the aerodynamics is not anything new, it has been done by many companies who are also looking to use new materials. However, on the side of Bright Automotive is the work experience stemming from working on the GE EV1 battery and the lithium ion battery manufacturer Ener1. Many of the executives possess training and work experience from the automotive industry.

What causes cars to spend excess fuel is that the vehicle is too heavy and the design increases wind resistance to an extraordinary degree. For example, the USPS fleet of mail trucks is over an eighth of a million strong and each gets only 10 miles to the gallon, with 18 miles a day per. Assuming a 300 day work year, the USPS consumes almost 90 million gallons of gas, just for the little white mail trucks. The technology and design offered by the Bright Automotive group could save 80 million gallons. To put it in financial terms, a single dime increase in the gas price is equivalent to the USPS needing an additional $80 million dollars of tax payer money.

Right now, the technical details are sparse, but a working prototype was shown to a VIP crowd in December. The new vehicle will be shown off at a car show in May, and a commercial release can happen in two to three years. The vehicle will run for 30 miles on the battery before the gas engine kicks in, and both engines will have a combined 400 mile range. The vehicle is based around a parallel architecture, where both the gas and electric engines are capable of propulsion. This is as opposed to series vehicles which are electric propelled and the gas motor serves to keep the battery charged. The series style is thought to be a cheaper hybrid, but the complexity of the system design and the fact that the electric motor has to be much more powerful causes the series design to be more expensive.

Originally posted 2009-03-04 15:00:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Honda Increases its Commitment to Hybrids

hondaAs automakers are unveiling plans for battery-operated, plug-in automobiles, Honda Motor Co. released news that is will increase its commitment to the movement by working to supply new lithium ion batteries for hybrid vehicles. This joint venture with GS Yuasa Corporation will use over $170 million dollars of capital to introduce new, high power lithium batteries. In their current agreement, Honda will hold a 49 percent share of the operation.

Honda's hopes are to take current hybrid solutions and truly bring them into vehicles in the mid to larger size range. This will provide a good short term solution to reduction carbon dioxide emissions. The lithium ion battery packs being built will provide the power needed for hybrids in these sizes of vehicles, but the technology and powered density of these batteries will be too much for the purely electric cars. This will be the first time that Honda will offer lithium packs in hybrid vehicles, given that lithium ion batteries are smaller and lighter for a given energy density (but are more expensive).

The Toyota Prius will be under going numerous tests for a lithium ion, plug in only car model in 2009, while GM hopes to release plug in volts by 2010. In 2010, Nissan has plans to introduce a new model of plug in cars that have the ability to travel up to 100 miles on a single charge.

Setup and finalizing the venture with GS Yuasa has caused a set back in Honda's other plans for clean-diesel autos, and has suspended for an indeterminate amount of time the plans for the release of fuel efficient diesel cars in 2009. The reasoning is that cleaning up diesel is a much more expensive process, especially with the ever increasing gap between gas and diesel prices. Honda's plans for offering more hybrids are expected to bring down the price of individual components, which may ultimately help in working with diesel and using its cleaner carbon content with out extra cost.

Current hybrids utilize nickel-metal-hydride batteries, which are heavier and only hold little more than half of what lithium ion battery can provide. The problem lies in the difficulty in producing large lithium ion packs, which is a more costly than other batteries. GS Yuasa is a supplier for lead-acid batteries and lithium ion packs for the Asimo robots. The batteries of today are not good enough to make the electric hybrid a viable option for electrical cars. The technology has to move forward, taking batteries with it.

Honda is looking to obtain aid from the government as the current economy is crumbling all over. This has cut into car production and profits for the automaker. Honda's profits have dropped by a third over the last fiscal year. With the development of these new lithium ion packs, a venture that will begin in the spring 2009 it is hopeful that Honda can pull itself out of a tough place.

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Originally posted 2008-12-31 05:38:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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