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Archive for July, 2020

Nissan Pioneers Alternate Charging With EVs In Australia.

In an Australian first, road to vehicle charging for electric vehicles (EV) has arrived and it’s courtesy of Nissan. The shorthand is V2G, or Vehicle 2 Grid, and it’s a project that Nissan’s support of the Realising Electric Vehicle Services (REVS) project has helped bring to realisation. The project is built around 51 vehicles to be based in the Australian Capital Territory, and they’ll be part of the territory’s government fleet in a trial to measure the Leaf’s bi-directional charging ability by providing power back to an energy grid.

This will bring an energy measurement system to the fore. Known as Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS), it refers to the level of energy that’s required to optimise a power grid when demand fluctuates. The Leaf comes into play, as the world’s only factory built V2G vehicle which makes the car a potential total energy solution, by ensuring the batteries don’t just store power for driving, but can also use that energy to run a home or commercial site, or to feed power back to the grid. The trial will also evaluate the ability of the Leaf to work with the base load stabilisation in both off-peak and peak. By reducing or negating that instability, it could lead to a process to eradicate blackouts from that instability.

This trial has also been backed by ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as part of its Advancing Renewables Program. with battery technology for high load applications improving constantly, this forward looking trial envisions a future where the battery in an EV can become a household energy solution. Like a household oriented battery, the Leaf’s 40kWh battery could assist a house by storing solar provided energy during the day and release that at night, bringing the focus to an eye on zero-cost mobility and zero-cost home energy. In that same focus is remote power access at work or elsewhere that can then be transferred to a household when the vehicle returns to a home environment. It’s then theoretically possible to have a positive offset to a household energy bill.

“As the brand with the only V2G-capable vehicle from factory on the Australian market today, we are exceptionally proud to support this project, and to introduce this technology to Australia,” says Nissan Australia Managing Director, Stephen Lester. “The Nissan LEAF not only offers an exciting EV driving experience, it goes so much further by integrating into the energy system. Nissan has been a global leader in this space, with several successful trials conducted in overseas markets, realizing it in Australia is an important milestone.”The REVS project brings together a consortium of academic, transport and electricity-system partners to deploy the V2G service, including ActewAGL, the Australian National University (ANU), JET Charge, Evoenergy, SG Fleet and Nissan.

 

(Pictures and info courtesy of Nissan Australia.)

BMW Updates And Hyundai Hydrogen Power.

BMW continue to roll out new or updated models at an astonishing rate in 2020. For the brand’s M Pure range, there will be another two models being added. Dubbed M135i xDrive Pure and M235i xDrive Pure, they’ll come with an extensive range of standard equipment and sharp pricing. The M135i xDrive Pure is priced at $63,990 and the M235i xDrive Pure at $67,990. This is a $5K savings in comparison to related models.

Power for both comes from BMW’s TwinPower Turbo four. 225kW and 450Nm spin an eight speed auto Sport Steptronic transmission that send grip to all four paws via the xDrive system with an LSD on the front axle. Steering column paddle shifts are standard. External style cues comes from the sharing of styling packages, wheels, and tyres.

BMW lists the M135i xDrive Pure with M Sport steering, 19 inch alloys in M spec Cerium Grey that wrap M Sport Brakes and blue calipers. Inside there is a BMW specification Head Up Display and the bespoke Driving Assistant package. There is Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning, Approach Control Warning with city-braking intervention, Rear Cross Traffic Warning, Rear Collision Prevention and Speed Limit Info. There is also their Comfort Access System that features Electric Seat Adjustment, driver’s side seat memory function with the seats in Trigon black and Alcantara, and dual zone climate control. On top of that is the M135i xDrive which adds a panoramic glass roof, adaptive LED front lights and “Dakota leather upholstery, plus a thumping Harman Kardo audio system. The value here is over $6K. The same packages apply to the M235i xDrive Pure and M235i xDrive.

The stable now consists of M135i xDrive Pure and M235i xDrive Pure, the M340i xDrive Pure M550i xDrive Pure, before migrating to X2 M35i Pure, X5 M50i Pure, and X6 M50i Pure.

The two new additions will be available in the coming months.

Hydrogen is being touted by Hyundai as the next thing in vehicle power sources and the Korean company has moved swiftyly into areas outside of passenger vehicles. In a global first, Hyundai have sent to Switzerland 10 units of their hydrogen powered machine called XCIENT. This commences a roll-out which will comprise 50 units to start with. A goal of 1,600 trucks are expected to be released by 2025. Due to the tax structures in Switzerland, Hyundai chose the country with one levy, the LSVA road tax on commercial vehicles which does not apply for zero-emission trucks, as a main consideration. That nearly equalises the hauling costs per kilometre of the fuel cell truck compared to a regular diesel truck. And thanks to the green energy costs from hydropower, it counts towards the eco performance of the country.The power system has a pair of 95kW hydrogen fuel cells. Just on 32 kilos of the fluid form are stored across seven super-strong storage tanks. Hyundai specifically developed the system for the truck with the current and expected infrastructure in Switzerland, and have engineered in a range of 400 kilometres. Refuel time minimises downtime with anywhere from 8 to 20 minutes. Hyundai says that this should work in with obtaining “the optimal balance between the specific requirements” of the customer base and that refuel infrastructure. In Cheol Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Vehicle Division at Hyundai Motor, opines: “XCIENT Fuel Cell is a present-day reality, not as a mere future drawing board project. By putting this groundbreaking vehicle on the road now, Hyundai marks a significant milestone in the history of commercial vehicles and the development of hydrogen society.”

A key attraction of the hydrogen technology is how well, like diesel, that hydrogen is admirably suited to long distance driving and the quick turn-around times required in heavy haulage. Engineering can also build engines, such as they have here, to deal with expected terrain such as the road system in a mountainous country. To that end, Hyundai is developing a unit for a tractor with a mooted range of 1,000 kilometres with markets such as the United States and Europe in mind.

The origination of the program goes back to 2019 with a joint venture named Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility, a partnership between H2 Energy in Switzerland and Hyundai. The basis for the trucks being operated will work around a lease agreement with commercial operators and on a pay-per-use agreement. This helps budget requirements as there is no immediate up-front costs.

Depending on the results, with expected high success levels, the program may be expanded to other European countries.

Iconic Screen Cars That Aren’t 007’s Aston Martin

If you mention iconic screen cars or movie cars, it won’t be long until the Aston Martins driven by the various incarnations of 007 are mentioned. After all, the long-running Bond series or franchise is practically synonymous with the Aston, and there’s debate about which of the Bond cars was the coolest (with a few honourable mentions going to the aquatic Lotus in The Spy Who Loved Me). However, what about all the other movies (and TV series) that have seriously cool sets of wheels? What are some of the other iconic drives, whether they feature in motoring movies or not, that aren’t associated with Bond, James Bond?

Here’s my pick of instantly recognizable cars from the screen, big and little…

Mini Cooper

It carries out the famous chase scene in The Italian Job, it’s Mr Bean’s drive of choice on the small screen and the big screen, it turns up in one of the Bourne movies, and a fleet of them act as the ghosts chasing a giant Pac-Man in Pixels. With the ability to star in thrillers as well as comedy, this makes the beloved Mini a pretty versatile actor.

VW Beetle

OK, how many cars get to star in a movie all of their very own? Or, for that matter, six movies, spanning from the late 1960s through to 2005? And their own TV series? Yes, we’re talking about Herbie the Love Bug, that absolute classic Volkswagen.

DeLorean DMC-12

We may have passed 2015 but the Back To The Future is still a fun watch. If it wasn’t for this movie using the futuristic-looking metallic DeLorean as a time machine, the DeLorean would have been as forgotten as the Geely Rural Nanny but without even the silly name.

Ford Camaro

If you talk to a non-petrolhead about a Ford Camaro, they’re likely to look at you blankly. If you mention the Transformers Bumblebee car, they’ll instantly know what you’re talking about. Bumblebee is so recognizable that it seems unthinkable to have a Ford Camaro that isn’t yellow.

Dodge Charger

If it didn’t feature a Dodge Charger going over a jump, then it wasn’t really a Dukes of Hazzard episode. It’s gathered some controversy about that Confederate flag painted on the roof (let’s face it: a good chunk of us Down Under didn’t realise was the Confederate flag from the US Civil War but just thought of as “The General Lee’s Logo”; we didn’t know who the original General Lee was either). Even if it’s just plain 1970s orange, it’s still instantly recognizable, almost as much as Daisy’s cutoff denim shorts.  Oh yes – it also took centre stage in the first of the Fast and Furious movies (what number are we up to now?).

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

Another beauty from the 1970s, commonly known as KITT and as much a star of Knight Rider as Michael Knight. It’s not for nothing that a few people of a certain age have opted to have the navigation system of their vehicles talk with this voice. Pontiac really ought to make a limited edition version using modern tech that was just a fantasy in the original series… but not the turbo thruster that practically made the Firebird do suspension-wrecking jumps. A Trans Am also featured in Smokey and the Bandit.

Ford Anglia

This is another vehicle that would have been forgotten by all except a few classic car enthusiasts but was re-introduced to a new generation by the Harry Potter books and films. For you muggles who haven’t read or seen them, the 1962 Ford Anglia belonging to Arthur Weasley was enchanted to fly, turns feral after crashing, then saves Ron and Harry from a tight spot involving giant spiders. People of a certain age are likely to turn to look twice at all light greeny-blue cars of this era just in case it’s a Harry Potter Anglia.

Mazda Launches Their First Hybrids

Mazda Australia has recently provided details of their new Skyactiv-X M-Hybrid powertrain. It will be available in August with the Mazda3 (the 2020 World Design Car of the Year) and in the CX-30 from September, with that car also a finalist in the WCOTY. It will, for the moment, be available only in the top of the range Astina, dubbed X20, for each trim level. Pricing for the Mazda3 X20 Astina starts from $40,590 with it being available in both manual and auto, and the CX-30 X20 Astina starts from $46,490. Both are before dealer delivery and government charges at the time of writing.

SkyActiv hybrid 1

The powerplant is a continuation of Mazda’s search to improve power, torque, and fuel consumption. The new engine is the world’s first mass production unit that combines compression ignition like a diesel, the torque of a diesel, and the free revving ability of a petrol nature.

Mazda has developed a proprietary ignition system. It’s called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, or SPCCI. The engine can fire via a compression or traditional spark ignition. This is how Mazda says it works: “In SPCCI mode, a split injection process creates separate zones of fuel-air mixture inside the combustion chamber. First, a very lean fuel to air mixture is injected into the combustion chamber during the intake stroke, then a zone of atomised fuel is precisely injected directly around the spark plug during the compression stroke. The small injection of atomised fuel directly around the spark plug builds a richer core. When the spark fires, it ignites this core of fuel and air. This increases pressure in the combustion chamber to the point where the lean mixture rapidly combusts.”

SkyActiv Hybrid 2

Vinesh Bhindi, the managing director of Mazda Australia is excited by the new engine. “With every customer’s circumstances being unique, we need to offer a variety of ways to reduce vehicle emissions to suit individual needs and lifestyles. Skyactiv-X offers customers a lower emission engine option, while retaining the same joy of driving that Mazda vehicles have always offered.”

Contact your local Mazda dealer for more details.

(Pictures courtesy of Mazda)

Maserati’s New Engine Finds The Right Formula.

Italian luxury sports car maker Maserati has declared its interest in rejoining motorsport. It’s done so in emphatic fashion by trickling details of the upcoming MC20 super-sportscar, and now the company has released details of the engine, called “Nettuno”, that will be the heartbeat of the machine.It’s got some real oomph; capacity is 3.0L, in a 90 degree twin-turbo V6 configuration. The dry-sumped design provides a peak power figure of 463kW and torque of 730Nm. 7,500rpm is where the power comes in whilst torque is at a very useable 3,000rpm. It’s close to a square-bore design too, with bore and stroke 88mm x 82mm. It will run a 11:1 compression ratio. Looking to Formula 1, Maserati have employed the use of a pre-chamber combustion system featuring twin-spark plugs. This will mark the first time this kind of technology will be provided for a road-going vehicle.Three features define the MC20’s engine. The pre-chamber is located between the “normal” combustion chamber and the electrode of the ignition system. A set of specially engineered holes connect the two sections. A traditional sparkplug is utilised as a backup to to the new ignition system, and is designed to make sure combustion is ongoing when load is such the pre-chamber’s services are not required. The final step is an innovative fuel injection system, with a direct and indirect system lowering consumption and emissions whilst ensuring fuel is appropriate across the rev range.

Lateral sparkplug: a traditional sparkplug acts as a support to ensure constant combustion when the engine is operating at a level that doesn’t need the pre-chamber to kick in. Twin injection system – direct and indirect: linked to the fuel supply pressure at 350bar, the system reduces noise low down on the rev range, lowering emissions and improving consumption.The MC20 itself will make its world debut proper in September and will showcase the work done at Maserati’s Modena HQ division There is the Maserati’s Modena facilities: the Maserati Innovation Lab on Via Emilia Ovest, the workshops on Via Delle Nazioni and developed at the Engine Hub, situated at the famous Viale Ciro Menotti address where it will be built. Currently the new production line and new paint shop are being modified to host the much-anticipated MC20. MC20 means Maserati Corse 2020.

Mercedes-Benz GLB Ready To Roll For Australia.

Mercedes-Benz has released to the Australian market the GLB. For the brand, it’s the first compact vehicle they manufacture to include a third row of seats. There’s enough space, by the way, for anyone up to 1.68 metres to suit the rear two seats. Conveniences such as a pair of drink holders, storage, and USB ports will be fitted, plus the seats will fold flush with the GLB’s cargo floor. These can be accessed by a 40:20:40 split fold centre row that moves by up to 140mm.

There will be three models available, the GLB 200, GLB 250, and GLB 45 Matic. Both the Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 and the GLB 250 4MATIC are available to order now. Deliveries are expect for July as a starting point. The manufacturer’s list prices are: GLB 200 from $59,900 (MRLP) and GLB 250 4MATIC from $73,900 (MRLP). The Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4 MATIC will be priced at $88,900 (MRLP) when it arrives in Australia later this year.The Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 sees 120kW and 250Nm from a direct injection turbocharged 1.3L four cylinder. A dual clutch automatic with seven ratios sends drive to the front wheels. The GLB 250 amps that with a 2.0L engine that produces 165kW and 350Nm. Transmission is the 8G-DCT eight-speed auto, and grip comes from the 4MATIC all wheel drive system.

AMG step in for the GLB 35 4MATIC and have waved their wand over the 2.0L petrol engine. 225 kW and 400 Nm power down via AMG’s SPEEDSHIFT DCT eight-speed auto with their Dynamic Select drive system. There will also be the AMG exhaust system, their bespoke braking system, plus their Sports suspension called Ride Control with electronically controlled damping. AMG’s power steering with speed sensitive adjustment is also on board.Mercedes-Benz have their highly regarded MBUX multimedia system as standard and the front seat occupants will be able to access infotainment via a pair of side by side 10.25 inch screens. Keyless entry, remote tailgate and engine start, the THERMOTRONIC climate control system, and “Comfort” seats will be standard. The door sills will be internally illuminated, and again convenience is standard thanks to satnav, smartapps including the Mercedes-Benz Me Control app and a charge pad, auto wipers, 19 inch alloys, and aluminuim roof rails. PARKTRONIC parking assist is backed up in the safety stakes with Blind Spot assist, Lane Keep Assist, and Traffic Sign Assist. Active Brake Assist with semi-autonomous braking is standard as are nine airbags.

The GLB 250 factors in a sunroof, powered memory front seats with heating, twin spoke 19 inch alloys and an adjustable suspension. Steering is aligned with the all wheel drive system with Sports Direct-Steer, and even a form of off-road suspension. Downhill Speed Regulation and the cornering lamps come into play as well, with the lights on each lower corner coming into play at speeds of up to 50kph. There are a few extra touches for the GLB 35 4MATIC, such as an AMG steering wheel with Nappa leather, Lugano leather on the seats, brushed stainless steel AMG foot pedals, and Carbon Structure interior trim. Outside is AMG’s Night Package trim, 20 inch diameter five spoke alloys, AMG body additions and dark tinted rear window glass.
The arrival of the GLB brings to six the number of models in the Mercedes-Benz compact car portfolio, which includes the A-Class hatch and sedan, B-Class, CLA Coupé and GLA compact SUV. Says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales: “Every third Mercedes-Benz is now an SUV, every fourth a compact car. So a compact SUV such as the GLB blends all the success factors of our two highest-volume segments.”