Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

10 months with my E300e plug-in hybrid

September 29, 2020

Normally I would do about 12,000 – 14,000 km in a year. Typically about 40 – 50% would have been as return trips of less than 100 km. However in these corona times this pattern has been drastically disrupted. I expect that my first year with my Mercedes E300e will see only 50% of my usual total usage.  But the real change is that over 80% of my actual usage has been for return trips of less than 100km. Since April there has been only one “long” trip (480km return).

Nevertheless, I am beginning to draw some conclusions.

The battery of the Mercedes E300e has a total capacity of 13.5 kWh. The usable capacity is about 10.8 kWh. The unused capacity seems to be a permanent reserve kept for all starts and when travelling at less than about 15 km/h. What I actually get is an all-electric range of 40 – 65 km. The 40 km is when trips are predominantly short with very little regenerative charging. This goes up to as much as 65 km during return trips exceeding 150 km where the regenerative charging gives about 10 – 15 km depending upon terrain. Charging the battery (10.8 kWh) takes about 1h 45m.

The nice thing about the hybrid is that running out of battery capacity is of no concern. The petrol tank (55 litres) gives a range of over 1,000 km and  is always there as the back-up for short trips which are longer than expected.  For long trips the battery provides the start/stop economy and with the regenerative capacity, petrol consumption is minimised in the uneconomic range. When operating in hybrid mode the switchover between petrol and the battery, in either direction, is automatic and almost unnoticeable.

The performance in winter still remains to be seen.

Electricity consumption thus varies from about 24 kWh/ 100 km (short trips) to about 18 kWh/100 km for longer trips. Currently my petrol consumption (which is somewhat distorted by the lack of longer trips) is at about 5.1 litres /100 km.

So far so good.




The last car I buy to drive myself

May 19, 2019

My current car is 10 years old. So, I have ordered my new car for delivery in September.

A hybrid with a petrol engine. Range on batteries alone – 60 km. Range with full batteries and full fuel tank is over 2,000 km. Self-parking (but which must be activated by the driver). “Driving assistance” to keep me awake and stop me from drifting on the highway, but has to be manually engaged. Automatic maintenance of distance from other cars when engaged. 360º vision cameras. Live satellite navigation assistance.

I am 71 now. I can feel my reaction times are slowing. My eyesight is still fine but glare at night on wet roads is increasingly bothersome. My neck hurts sometimes when reversing. I feel my concentration dipping on long journeys. My attention strays. With the various “assistances” now available, I reckon that I should be able to keep and drive this car for another 5 – 6 years. At that time -if I am still around – my faculties would, no doubt, have deteriorated further. But advances in technology are surging ahead and will compensate for my deficiencies. By then I expect very smart, virtually self-driving cars to have come a long long way.

This may not be the last car I buy for myself. But it probably is the last car I buy to drive myself.


My next car – if there is a next – will drive me. 


Thermal efficiency and “emissions elsewhere” from electric cars

August 30, 2016

All electric cars shift emissions from the exhaust pipe of the vehicle to the place where the electricity is generated. The actual mix of fuel sources used to feed the grid then represent the emissions profile of electric cars. The efficiency of electric cars from generation of electricity to wheel-power is not much different from gasoline based automobiles and clearly inferior to diesel engines.

Fossil fuels used directly in vehicle internal combustion engines have a thermal efficiency ranging from 37% for gasoline to over 55% for very large marine diesels.

source JSME

source JSME

For electricity generation the thermal efficiency varies from less than 30% to over 60% for coal, oil, gas, solar thermal or nuclear power plants. Thermal efficiency is meaningless (and undefined) for hydropower, wind power or photovoltaic solar.

thermal efficiency of power generation

An electric car being charged from the grid does so after a further 10% of transmission and distribution losses but only accrues a further 2 – 5% losses through the motor(s) to shaft rotation. (There are further mechanical losses in getting to the rotation of the wheels but these are common to all kinds of motive power).

The emissions due to the use of an electric car are entirely dependant upon the emissions involved in the generation of the charging electricity. If the grid is largely dependant upon coal (India), or coal and gas (US) then the gaseous emissions are higher than for diesel engines but slightly better than for gasoline automobiles. If, the grid is primarily hydropower as in Norway, or primarily hydro and nuclear (as in Sweden) then there are virtually no emissions from electric vehicles.

The fundamental reality is that electric cars are not yet commercially viable (range, weight, charging time and cost). Two decades of subsidies also confirms for me my contention, that subsidies are usually counter-productive, always delay commercialisation and nearly always lead to a focus on milking subsidies rather than commercialising a technology.

A recent Forbes article addresses the fantasies surrounding emissions, and Tesla cars. I wouldn’t mind owning a Tesla car where my acquisition price is heavily subsidised. But now that the initial investors have milked the subsidies, and operations – in spite of the subsidies – have yet to show a profit, I would not invest in Tesla shares.

Earlier this summer, SolarCity, Elon Musk’s rooftop solar company, appeared to be headed toward bankruptcy. So it shocked investors everywhere when Musk’s other brainchild, Tesla Motors TSLA -2.21%, itself struggling, announced plans to acquire the struggling panel maker and installer.

“Tesla Talks Big, Falls Short,” read a headline last week on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The subtitle: “Car maker has failed to meet more than 20 of CEO Elon Musk’s projections in the past five years.”

Surely combining two wrong businesses won’t make a right one. True, they’re both politically correct. But they’re economically incorrect.

Tesla’s operating losses, along with its fishy accounting practices and unrealistic investor promises, have led Devonshire Research Group to liken the car company’s business model to Enron’s.

Bad entrepreneurship is normally punished by market losses and contraction. But Musk’s market is rigged. A mountain of taxpayer subsidies is allowing Tesla’s bad show to go on — and even expand.

Musk’s various ventures have received almost $5 billion worth of government assistance. Nevada recently chimed in with $1.3 billion to incentivize Tesla to build its “gigafactory” — a new battery producing facility — near Reno. Each car sold by Tesla receives a federal income tax credit of $7,500. And California allows an additional $2,500 rebate to its citizens.

Even the White House is throwing cash Musk’s way. President Obama just announced $4.5 billion in loan guarantees for electric vehicle entrepreneurs. According to the president, the money will help fill garages with EVs and make charging stations ubiquitous.

Tesla is redefining “too big to fail” as “politically correct, so bail.”


So-called zero-emission vehicles reflect the fuel-profile of electricity generation. 2015 U.S. electricity generation consisted of 33% coal; 33% natural gas; 20% nuclear; 13% renewables; and 1% oil.

Fossil fuels, in other words, have a two-thirds market share for EVs, wind and solar just 5%. Nuclear power, hydropower, and biomass, account for the remainder. …..



You gotta have a dream

November 2, 2015


You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?

2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600

2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600. 523-hp, 6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12 and the world’s quietest car

Das Auto – Unpimped and “It’s definitely sucking”

September 22, 2015

“It’s definitely sucking”.
German ingenuity!
The harder they fall …


VW – Das Auto – Unpimped

Electric vehicles have no impact on emissions

January 22, 2014

If electric vehicles are to succeed they will have to provide the consumer with some real benefits by way of cost or convenience which are more than for feeling good. That in turn depends upon the further development of battery technology and increasing the range of the vehicle on a single charge. The cost of the vehicle and the speed of charging are other key factors.

The supposed environmental benefits are largely illusory since they merely shift the source of power generation (combustion from the internal combustion engine in a vehicle) to a power plant. In the United States this power generation is most likely to be fossil fired (coal or shale gas). A new study shows that even if electric vehicles made up more than 40% of all vehicles, emissions would be largely unchanged. As of 2012 electric vehicles made up about 0.5% of new vehicle sales and about 0.06% (170,000 of 254 million) of all vehicles on the road in the US.

( new study from North Carolina State University indicates that even a sharp increase in the use of electric drive passenger vehicles (EDVs) by 2050 would not significantly reduce emissions of high-profile air pollutants carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides. … The researchers ran 108 different scenarios in a powerful energy systems model to determine the impact of EDV use on emissions between now and 2050. They found that, even if EDVs made up 42 percent of passenger vehicles in the U.S., there would be little or no reduction in the emission of key air pollutants. …..

The energy systems model also showed that key factors in encouraging use of EDVs are oil price and battery cost. If batteries are cheap and oil is expensive, EDVs become more attractive to consumers.

“How Much Do Electric Drive Vehicles Matter to Future U.S. Emissions?” Published: online January 2014 in Environmental Science & Technology

Abstract Image

Energy System Model

Hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles—known collectively as electric drive vehicles (EDVs)—may represent a clean and affordable option to meet growing U.S. light duty vehicle (LDV) demand. The goal of this study is twofold: identify the conditions under which EDVs achieve high LDV market penetration in the U.S. and quantify the associated change in CO2, SO2, and NOX emissions through mid-century. We employ the Integrated MARKAL-EFOM System (TIMES), a bottom-up energy system model, along with a U.S. dataset developed for this analysis. To characterize EDV deployment through 2050, varying assumptions related to crude oil and natural gas prices, a CO2 policy, a federal renewable portfolio standard, and vehicle battery cost were combined to form 108 different scenarios. Across these scenarios, oil prices and battery cost have the biggest effect on EDV deployment. The model results do not demonstrate a clear and consistent trend towards lower system-wide emissions as EDV deployment increases. In addition to the tradeoff between lower tailpipe and higher electric sector emissions associated with plug-in vehicles, the scenarios produce system-wide emissions effects that often mask the effect of EDV deployment.

Dreamliner battery fix fails as Tesla recalls 29,000 cars for battery charger fault

January 14, 2014

The overheating problems of lithium-ion batteries and their chargers seem to more serious than just teething problems. Boeing and Tesla continue to have issues with thermal runaway and permanent fixes are proving elusive.

Boeing’s problems with the Dreamliner batteries are not yet over. The fix for its battery problem in March  does not seem to have worked for yet another Japan Airlines aircraft. The lithium-ion batteries are now having issues even with Tesla who have recalled “29,000 Model S vehicle 240-volt charging adapters that could overheat and cause a fire. The company will update software in the electric vehicles and send owners replacement adapters.”

The Telegraph: 

Japan Airlines has temporarily grounded one of its 787 Dreamliners after white smoke was spotted outside the plane, warning lights in the cockpit indicated possible faults with the main battery and charger, and one battery cell appeared to be leaking.

Boeing said it was “aware of the 787 issue that occurred Tuesday afternoon at Narita, which appears to have involved the venting of a single battery cell”.

The incident comes nearly a year to the day after Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways grounded their 787 fleets after two 787 batteries overheated on two different planes in less than two weeks.

Global regulators grounded the worldwide fleet on January 16, 2013. The planes remained grounded for more than three months while Boeing redesigned the battery, charger and containment system to ensure battery fires would not put the airplane at risk. The cause of the battery problems has not been determined.

On Tuesday, Japan Airlines said maintenance engineers who were in the cockpit saw white smoke from the cockpit. When they went outside the aircraft the smoke had dispersed.

Detroit News:

…. The Palo Alto, Calif., automaker told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that its review found that defective or improperly installed wall receptacles that the adapter plugged into could cause problems, including melted adapters and or a fire. While the number of incidents remains small, and Tesla’s review to date points to the building or wiring as the primary cause of failed adapters, “the company has determined that a voluntary recall is appropriate as a precautionary measure,” Tesla said.

Since late 2012, Tesla said 2.7 percent of universal mobile connector adapters have been returned and “showed signs of internal damage only and that stopped vehicle charging.” …

….. In November, NHTSA opened a formal investigation into 13,100 Tesla Motors Model S electric cars after three reports of battery fires that occurred after accidents. ……. The announcement of the investigation came after NHTSA had said in October it would not open a formal investigation after a fire in Kent, Wash., occurred when debris struck the underside of a Model S and caused the battery to catch fire. After a fire in Mexico and a fire earlier this month near Smyrna, Tenn., NHTSA decided to open an investigation.

NHTSA said in both of the incidents in the U.S., fires occurred after the undercarriage of the cars hit metal debris on the road, which damaged the battery tray and caused “thermal runaway.” “In each incident, the vehicle’s battery monitoring system provided escalating visible and audible warnings, allowing the driver to execute a controlled stop and exit the vehicle before the battery emitted smoke and fire,” NHTSA said.

Jaguar Land Rover now the jewel in the Tata Motors crown

January 12, 2014

When the Tata Group acquired Jaguar Land Rover from Ford Motors in 2008 there were many voices in the UK which were highly sceptical. Shareholders in India were concerned that group debt would be too high. They were scared that managing JLR from India could be too big a mouthful and would jeopardise the growth of Tata Motors and its core business in India. In the UK there were fears that the British automotive tradition and history would be threatened.

But five years on, this acquisition has been a resounding success. So much so that it is JLR and its growth which is now providing the bulk of the revenue (72%) and the profit (88%) for Tata Motors and which has more than compensated for the Indian operations which are stagnating in the current downturn.

It is JLR which is now truly the jewel in the Tata Motors crown.

The all-aluminum F-TYPE Coupe range will deliver, in production form, the uncompromised design vision of the Jaguar C-X16 concept, and will complement the existing  F-TYPE Convertible, winner of the 2013 ‘World Car Design of the Year’ award.

The all-aluminum F-TYPE Coupe range will deliver, in production form, the uncompromised design vision of the Jaguar C-X16 concept, and will complement the existing F-TYPE Convertible, winner of the 2013 ‘World Car Design of the Year’ award.


Jaguar Land Rover, the luxury-vehicle division of India’s Tata Motors Ltd. (TTMT), reported record global sales last year, driven by growth in the Asia Pacific and China region.

Jaguar Land Rover’s total worldwide sales rose 19 percent last year to 425,006 vehicles, according to an e-mailed statement. Jaguar brand sales jumped 42% to 76,668 vehicles, the most since 2005, while Land Rover increased 15% for an annual record of 348,338 vehicles, the company said.

Jaguar Land Rover, which Mumbai-based Tata Motors bought from Ford Motor Co. in 2008 for $2.5 billion, accounted for 72 percent of group revenue and 88 percent of operating profit for the year ended March 31. In the quarter ended in September, Tata Motors posted profit that beat analyst estimates as rising Jaguar Land Rover sales outweighed a loss at the parent company’s Indian business. …… 

…. Sales in Asia Pacific and the China region jumped 30 percent during 2013, North America rose 21 percent, the U.K. grew 14 percent, Europe 6 percent and other overseas markets increased 23 percent, according to the statement. 

Under Tata, Jaguar and Land Rover have targeted emerging markets such as China and Russia for growth. In 2013, Jaguar Land Rover had record sales in 38 markets, including Russia, Brazil, Korea and Canada.

The sales growth in 2013 was driven by Jaguar’s F-Type convertible and Land Rover’s Range Rover and Range Rover Evoque models, it said. The F-Type began shipping in May.

It was “a great year in which we have seen some incredibly exciting new models launched to customers across the world,” Andy Goss, Jaguar Land Rover Group sales operations director, said in the statement. “The Range Rover Sport, F-Type, new engines and drivetrains, and a number of 14 Model Year enhancements to our existing lineup have seen Jaguar Land Rover continue to build strong sales momentum in every global region.”

Volvo to test self-driving cars on Gothenburg streets in 2017

December 2, 2013

It is only a matter of time. As I get older it gets easier to drive. As it is, I already rely heavily on the car’s sensors and cameras when parking or reversing and especially at night. For parking in tight spots and getting as close to a wall as possible the proximity sensors work exceedingly well. And I miss them badly in very cold icy weather when my sensors are iced over. In 2017, 100 self-driving (autonomous) cars will be let loose on selected highways around Gothenburg with ordinary individuals as a test driver .

And it will not be long before the cars talk to each other.

Swedish Radio: (free translation)

Claes Tingvall, the Swedish Transport Administration’s Traffic Safety Director says that self-driving cars  cars are a prerequisite to achieving the “zero vision” of no fatalities due to traffic accidents. “One should be very careful with the word paradigm shift but for once, I think, it applies in the case of self-driving cars. If you look a little more into the long run, this is really like a fundamental solution to the problem of safety in a traffic system”, he says. To the question if this is what is needed to finally achieve zero fatalities he says, “Yes it is. And we are getting there”.

Self-driving cars thanks to cameras , GPS and various sensors detect the environment around the car . Therefore they can, all by themselves, can get around in traffic, so that the man behind the wheel can indulge in other things – read a book, for example. These robotic cars can virtually eliminate traffic accidents because computers are better at driving than humans and do not take unnecessary risks. “It is a fact that a machine, in most situations, is better able to deal with driving than a human”, says Claes Tingvall. “It will also be quite a careful driver. It is not going to take the risks that we as individuals are sometimes inclined to take. It will not be racing at 150 km/h at night with a drunken operator behind the wheel”.

Volvo’s autonomous car technology

Automakers around the world are right now intensively researching  self-driving cars. Among others Japanese Nissan has announced its intention of having self-driving models on the roads before 2020. Now Volvo has also joined the party.

The project, called “Drive Me” kicks off next year, and is a collaboration between Volvo, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Authority , the City of Gothenburg and Lindholmen science park . In 2017, 100 self-driving cars will be let loose on selected highways around Gothenburg with ordinary individuals as a test driver .

“That’s what this kind of self- driving car provides, where it works with and supports the driver. It has its ears and eyes open and can intervene in situations when necessary. The effects will be enormous”, says Claes Tingvall.

Androids will dream of this electric “J”

November 22, 2013
Android on a Kawasaki J

Android on a Kawasaki J

It will never go into production.

It’s electric (note the artistic and symbolic flashes of green), but they are sticking to a NiMH battery rather than a lithium-ion fire hazard.

It’s what some androids will dream of instead of electric sheep.

It’s the Kawasaki J-concept motor cycle being displayed at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

DigitalTrends: The Kawasaki J technically has three wheels, but in Sport Mode the two front wheels are pushed together, and the entire machine hunkers down to lower the center of gravity. In Comfort Mode, the stance is raised and the front wheels separate, giving the ride a more upright position that is, well, more comfortable.

Instead of handlebars, steering is accomplished with two levers, one attached to each of the front wheels. It’s a decidedly Steampunk mechanism, compared to the bike’s Cyberpunk styling.

In three-wheeled Comfort Mode, the J concept looks like a scooter used by mall cops in the futuristic Grid city from Tron. In maximum-attack Sport Mode, it looks completely otherworldly.

Powering the Kawasaki J is an electric motor hooked to a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack. The packaging advantages of an electric powertrain were probably needed to accomplish the J’s transformation stunt. Note that it doesn’t use the lithium-ion batteries that are found in most electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

The Kawasaki J looks awesome on the show stand, and it won’t be going anywhere else. Kawasaki has no plans to put it into production. That’s just as well; it’ll save owners from having to try to explain it to their neighbors.

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