Electric Joule coming from South African Company

The Joule is a 6-seater hatchback, designed by Optimal Energy, a privately-owned South African company based in Cape Town that specializes in urban transportation. The exterior and interior design is the work of Jaguar XJ220 designer, Keith Helfet. The Joule is expected to have a 120 mile range with the option of expanding that to 240 miles.
JouleJoule

Joule’s first assembly plant is expected to be in Gauteng, South Africa. Joule will be sold in all major South African centers; Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban and will be available towards the end of 2010. The company intends to distribute on a global scale shortly afterward. You can see a neat video on the Joule here.

Smart ED introduced at Paris Auto Show

Smart ED

Daimler has been working on electric smart cars for a couple years now. The company has been testing an earlier version of the Smart ED in London since the end of 2007, leasing 100 vehicles to get real-world experience with electric drives.  Their success has led to Daimler to expand the project into Berlin, with the help of utility giant RWE. Daimler will test 100 EDs, which run on lithium-ion batteries, while RWE will install 500 electricity charging stations through the city.  Small series production of the electric two-seater will start at the end of 2009 and Smart will then deliver the first vehicles to selected customers.

The Smart ED will get 70-90 miles on a charge.  The Zytec electric motor is “electronically limited” at 60 mph and Smart claims the ED has a 0-30mph in an “impressive 6.5 seconds”.  Either that is a typo or Diamler has an extremely lenient definition of “impressive”.  I would be wary to take this car on the highway.  Let’s hope they make some performance improvements before 2009.

Venturi Volage revealed at Paris Motor Show

Venturi Volage

Venturi Volage

Venturi has finally revealed the successor to the Venturi Fetish and they do not disappoint. Working closely with Michelin, they designed a car that redefines the traditional concept of a vehicle. Instead of connecting wheels to a motor and chassis, Venturi and Michelin miniaturized the electric motors and suspension and put them inside every wheel:

MIchelin Active Wheel

The Volage body is basically carbon fiber wrapped around the battery for optimum aerodynamics. The driver will be sitting inside a tub that is the battery and its components, as you can see here:
Venturi Volage

The Volage will have a top speed of 93 mph and a 0-60 in under 5 seconds. It’s not quite as fast as it looks, but it will feature cutting edge technology. The driver will be able to customize the drive settings for speed, economy, or comfort. Each vehicle will be created by hand and the price will most likely be around half a million dollars. You can find out more at the Venturi Volage website.

PRESS RELEASE:

VENTURI VOLAGE

WORLD PREMIERES
The result of close technological collaboration between Venturi Automobiles and Michelin, the Venturi Volage, presented for the first time at the “Mondial 2008” (Paris Motor Show), marks a major step forward in the evolution of the Automobile. This new Venturi incorporates innovations which have enabled radical changes in terms of the vehicle’s architecture, style, dynamic behaviour and, more generally, the design of a modern vehicle.
All these changes constitute several world premières which, with the presentation of the Venturi Volage, reinforce Venturi’s capability for constant innovation, as well as its position as the most advanced company in the field of electric vehicles.

POWER TRANSMISSION & ACTIVE SUSPENSION
With 4 drive wheels with active suspension, the Venturi Volage has no equivalent. “Michelin Active Wheel” technology in fact incorporates 2 electric motors per wheel (1 for suspension and 1 for drive), ie. a total of 8 electric motors piloted in real time by spearhead electronics.
Like the mechanism of a watch, all the components, motors, gear reduction units and suspensions, are miniaturized and built into the wheels.
The active electric shock absorber system allows for total adaptation to the type of road surface and driving. Combining Michelin’s experience in the area of surface liaison with that of Venturi for the chassis, the Venturi Volage represents in its road holding, drivability and silent functioning, the summum of today’s automotive technology.

THE CAR OF THE DIGITAL ERA
Playing down the mechanical aspect in favor of electronics, close to the concept of a robot, this car belongs to a new era, the digital era. Thanks to a dashboard touch screen, the driver can configure the vehicle entirely as he wishes. This total control marks significant progress in terms of management, particularly of the energy stored in the car’s batteries: the driver can, for example, decide to give preference in certain cases to range rather than power, comfort rather than speed, an important factor for an electric car.

A CHASSIS UNIQUE WORLDWIDE
The only part that the Venturi Volage shares with the Venturi Fétish is its carbon fiber bodywork. Developed by the Venturi Design Office, this body is still a unique concept worldwide, as it is the only one to have been specifically designed to be that of an electric car and thus carry batteries within its very structure.
Thanks to this innovative design, both the Fétish and the Volage benefit from an unequalled level of safety, for both the cars’ passengers and also the batteries they carry.
The ideal distribution of the Venturi Volage’s masses – 45% at the front, 55% at the rear – and its perfectly mastered weight of 1,075 kilos enable it to attain 100 km/hr (62 mph) in less than 5 seconds.

PRODUCTION MODELS
A real demonstration of spearhead technology, the car presented in its world première is entirely operational and prefigures the production of a limited series of this model, scheduled as from 2012.
Like the Venturi Fétish assembled in our workshops in Monaco, the Venturi Volage will be assembled by hand, in the form of very limited production.
The technological repercussions of these two cars positioned at the very top end of the market are to be found on other vehicles bearing the Venturi brand, enabling as many people as possible to benefit from the firm’s advances in the field of sustainable mobility.

DESIGN OF VOLAGE, BY SACHA LAKIC
“Like a light and sensual veil, the Volage’s bodywork clings close to its exceptional technical features.
Active suspensions and motors incorporated into the wheels, a flat bottom, aerodynamic tunnels: these choices and technological advances have enabled me to “design the void” usually occupied by the engine and suspensions, and thus explore audacious new paths in terms of styling.
The void is part of the Volage style; it has been designed by subtraction.
Volage has been fashioned by the wind.
The science of aerodynamics is the main tool that has been used to elaborate its shape.
It is easy and enjoyable to imagine the movement of flows of air, on and across its bodywork.
Volage finds itself in a totally original and decidedly contemporary formal category. The relationship with Venturi’s other models is obvious, though it is also possible to see, in a few details, a subtle tribute to certain icons among French cars of the pre-war era, the most elegant, the ones that were way before their time. Volage inspires passion: its powers of seduction are immense.”

PRESS RELATIONS
Marianne HOLLANDE / Clément DORANCE
Email : press@venturi.fr
M : +33.6.78.63.23.52
Venturi Automobiles
Ph : +377 99 99 52 00
Fax : +377 99 99 52 01
THE WORLD OF VENTURI
The Venturi stand is certified « BILAN CARBONE »:
Venturi presents its new range at the “Mondial de L’Automobile 2008” on its stand of 500 m2 in Hall 5/1. The creation of the stand, just like our participation in this event, is certified “Bilan Carbone” which means that all emissions of CO2 connected with our activity have been compensated for.
Our industrial partners :
– MICHELIN Group for the Venturi Volage
– PSA Group for the Berlingo “Powered by Venturi”
– ZEBRA batteries for the Berlingo “Powered by Venturi”
Our partners for the Mondial are:
– The company VESTAS, N°1 in modern energy
– AUTODESK, world leader in 2D and 3D application software
– Our models wear STELLA MC CARTNEY’s dresses
Website:
With the arrival of its new vehicles Volage and Eclectic, Venturi is launching its new dedicated sites www.venturivolage.fr and www.venturieclectic.fr
Venturi spin-off products (including the “Black Feather” longboard www.venturiboards.com) are available from the on-line boutique on the website.

On the Mitsubishi iMiev

iMiev

The Mitsubishi iMiev is a highway capable, compact electric car that will get have a 75-100 mile ev range and a top speed of 80mph.  It is uncertain if the iMiev will reach the US, but it is expected to be released for commercial sale in Japan by 2009.  Test fleets are already on the road in Japan and will soon hit the streets of Iceland.  Nearly all of Icelands power comes from geothermal and hydro power; electric cars are the logical next step in being emission free and energy independant.

The iMiev is expected to be priced at around $37,000.  Should the car ever reach the US, I would expect it to be successful in urban areas and among the well endowed environmentally conscious.  The car shares very similar ev performance and price range as the GM EV1, a car that was leased in California over ten years ago. I don’t see why recent technological advances are not translating to higher ev ranges than 75 miles.

Here is an informational Popular Mechanics video:

The Energy Revolution: Could America get left behind?

Wind Turbines

With our stock market faltering, our investment firms sinking, involvement in frustratingly unproductive conflicts, and our entire southern region battered by hurricanes, America seems to have a lot more to worry about than our environment.  What many don’t realize is that all of these issues can be tied to America’s insistence  that energy sustainability has little more purpose than appeasing tree huggers.  Investing in clean, cheap, renewable electric energy is imperative in situating America on the top of the impending energy revolution. America will continue its downward spiral if we continue to adhere to our wasteful, dirty, traditional methods of energy production.

I happened to be watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on September 23rd, 2008 when he had President Bill Clinton on the show.  Clinton explained the importance of renewable energy so precisely I had to find his exact words again:

Bill Clinton- If you remember, in my second term, we had lots of jobs in part because all these high tech industries were booming.  So like every boom, it led to a downturn.  When the downturn occurred, the federal reserve left a lot of money in America, but the only thing that was then making money was housing…. In 2001, all this money was out there; and it all went into houses and construction.  So we had to keep finding funny ways to have more houses, like, the sub prime mortgages or the derivatives. What if we had put a lot of this money into solar, and wind energy, and hybrid electric vehicles, and all these things that are making all of our cities as energy efficient as possible?  We would have created millions of jobs, raised incomes, had the revenues to provide healthcare to everybody, and there would have been competition for investment.”

[Cheers and applause from the crowd]

Jon Stewart- If we had the presidential election today, what do you think you’d win by? 20? …. You would pretty much crush them.

There are three ways of succeeding in the business world: you have to be the first, the best, or the cheapest.  America has the opportunity to succeed in energy sustainability the same way it has in many other industries.  Some pundits say the any efforts by the US to slow global warming won’t matter because China and other developing countries are creating more pollution than ever.  Well advancing clean energy is more than being green, it is about setting ourselves up in a leading role in developing technology that allows us to live cheaper and more efficiently, that will someday be utilized by everyone.

Masdar City:

Masdar City
Take, for example, the United Arab Emirates and the Masdar initiative.  In this initiative, the UAE has begun building cities that rely entirely on clean transit and renewable means of energy production.  More can be read about it here.  Now, why would a world leader in hydrocarbon production be investing in renewable energy that, if widely used, would hurt their chief export?  Well, for one, they know that their chief export is finite and will run out some time in the future.  Instead of spending their cash flow on more consumable fossil fuels, they are investing in cheap, renewable energy that will power their cities when the oil, and most of their income runs dry.

This trend of Middle Eastern countries, rich off of our addiction to oil, and making wise investments is not mitigating our current financial crisis.  The weak dollar has led to an influx of foreign investors buying up our assets.  Middle eastern firms are buying our most prestigious US landmarks, such as the Chrysler Building in NYC.

“We are buying in the U.S. … Somebody’s problem is somebody’s profit. Something you want to buy, you can buy cheaper now,” Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem (Reuters)

New York City:

BumGovernment and corporate greed supported America’s addiction to oil and derailed the alternatives long enough to run our economy into the ground, all this while endowing Middle Eastern countries with the resources necessary to buy our biggest assets and make it a world leader in clean, renewable energy.  Last week, we just passed a spending bill to open up offshore drilling and bail out faltering US auto companies, GM and Ford, whom have, so far, shown absolutely no understanding of hybrid electric vehicles, what consumers want.  The most prominent renewable energy manufacturers are coming from Europe. A Danish company, Vestas is the world leader in designing and manufacturing wind turbines.  A Scottish company, Pelamis, is developing the world’s wave energy converters. If we do not restructure how we develop energy, we will be stuck in the 20th century with our “clean” coal and offshore drilling that will give us more oil 30 years down the road, by then it should be a worthless commodity; while the rest of the world develops into clean, efficient, renewable, and cheap energy producers. Our current economy, and our persistence in traditional means of energy production could cause America to be left behind, never crawling out of the hole we have dug.

On the Venturi Fetish

Venturi Fetish

The Venturi Fetish became the world’s first production electric sports car when it was unveiled at the 2002 Geneva Motor Show. To this day, it remains the worlds most expensive and rare electric sports car, as only 25 were delivered worldwide. The price range has been around $400,000 to $500,000 over the years. Performance is relatively pedestrian when compared to the electric supercars in development and on the streets now. The Fetish accelerates from 0-60 in just under 5 seconds, with a top speed of only 100 mph and a 150 mile electric range. More information can be found at the Venturi Fetish website.

This is a cool video of the car in action:

The Monoco based Venturi company has since teamed up with French tire maker Michelin, and is going to introduce its next generation electric supercar extremely soon at this year’s Paris Auto show on October 2, 2008. Venturi has two other project cars that heavily utilize solar power, the Venturi Eclectic and the Venturi Astrolab. More can be read about them at the Venturi website here. More info on those vehicles will come soon.