The all-electric car gets closer
For some time, in the technical mags like ASEAN
Autobiz, I have been proposing that the all-electric car is getting
closer. This would be a ‘plug-in’ where you just plug it into the
mains grid to recharge overnight. The only problem stopping the
universal adoption of this concept has been the batteries.
Now remember when mobile phones first became available. The damn
thing fitted into a suitcase, and you had to be Don Athaldo to be
strong enough to carry it. Now the whole shooting match fits into
your shirt pocket. Batteries are getting better and smaller.
However, to store enough energy to propel a car has been the
stumbling block, but that could be a thing of the past.
Ultra-capacitor energy storage systems could be the answer.
AFS Trinity has announced the real world performance specs of its
plug-in Extreme Hybrid (XH) technology. In just completed road
tests, a 2007 Saturn VUE Green Line SUV fitted with an XH drive
train, exceeded 150 mpg (yes, that’s no misprint), and improved the
zero to 100 kays time from 12.5 seconds, to 11.6 second running in
electric-only mode - something it can do for 64 km at a stretch. The
punchline is that in hybrid mode (petrol and electric), it runs
0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds, which is faster than a Porsche Cayenne!
In addition, based on driving 550 km a week, the company’s consumer
payback analysis suggests the technology will pay for itself in less
than four years - to make it the first economically viable,
commercially-available hybrid auto technology. Up till now, you
could never make enough savings to make a hybrid commercially
viable. There were not enough savings, even with 60 mpg vehicles
“Extreme Hybrids don’t need high priced technology and don’t require
new or expensive fuels, such as hydrogen, which, according to
Argonne National Labs, will cost twice as much as gasoline at the
pump and require installation of an infrastructure costing half a
trillion dollars.” “The Extreme Hybrid is not a concept,” said AFS
Trinity CEO Edward W. Furia, “but a practical alternative that
relies on cheap electricity from America’s vast existing energy
infrastructure - the electric power grid.”
“Keep in mind that these results were not in a small two-seater, but
in a medium-size family SUV designed to support a serious
supermarket run or a family’s weekend recreational activities,”
Furia said. According to Furia, the next step for AFS Trinity is to
license its breakthrough technology to carmakers who want to
incorporate the XH drive train into their vehicles. “That would be
our preference,” said Furia. “The SUVs that we just completed that
were outfitted with the XH drive train could have been any SUV made
by anyone. The XH is a new generation of plug-in hybrid drive train
ready to multiply the gas mileage of any SUV or any standard sedan.”
Extreme Hybrid technology in commercial production is expected to
cost around $8,700 more than current, petrol-only SUV’s. The
technology that made these results possible came from the former
space and atomic energy scientists at AFS Trinity’s Livermore,
California, laboratory with integration of the technology into the
American SUVs made possible by respected global automotive
engineering leader, Ricardo. “This has been a collaboration of
rocket scientists and car guys,” Furia said. “They have taken the
best from aerospace and computer science as well as automotive
engineering to produce in a very short time frame and largely with
off-the-shelf components a working vehicle prototype in which the XH
plug-in hybrid drive train has been demonstrated in a family-size
“The XH-150 does not require exotic or controversial fuels, it works
within the present energy infrastructure, and components are
available off-the-shelf at reasonable prices - prices that will only
drop lower as volume demand increases. Just as important, XH
production vehicles are capable of being built now at prices many
people can afford.
“At the heart of this new Fast Energy technology are patent pending
control electronics to cache power for short periods in
ultra-capacitors and provide this power in bursts for all-electric
acceleration that is better, in many cases, than the internal
combustion engine of the host vehicle,” Furia said.
I firmly believe this will be the way of the future. Those people
who think that hydrogen is the answer will have to work out how to
get hydrogen to the mass market, and who is going to pay for the
reticulation system. With plug-ins, the refueling system is as far
away as the power point on the wall!
Last week I asked what was the first air-cooled racing
engine, which had a large fan to force air across the cylinders? Hint: do not
jump to the first conclusion! So it was not a Porsche, but was in fact a 1906
Frayer-Miller. There’s nothing new under the sun!
So to this week. Let’s have a rally question. Which team was disqualified from
the Monte Carlo Rally for having a non-standard headlamp dipping system? This
was after they had won!
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
By the way, a couple of weeks back I asked about the first race on pneumatic
tyres, and Will Kelsall from Cobra International commented that this was a cycle
race in 1889. (John Boyd) Dunlop was a Scottish vet living in Belfast; he
invented the pneumatic tyre, and persuaded cycle champion Willy Hume to use them
in a race on the Queen’s College playing fields on 18 May 1889. He duly won the
race and the tyres became de rigeur for all cycling. When they hit the motor
race circuits I don’t know.
Apparently (according to the BBC) another Scot, Robert Thompson had patented
almost the same thing in 1845. This was not so popular due to the fact that
there were no bicycles then ... it was used to make horse-drawn vehicles quieter
and easier to pull. It worked OK but was rather expensive.
Thanks for that Will.
Anyone for a brand new Jaguar XK 120 C
When the XK 120 C type was new in 1951 it cost US$6000, twice the
price of an XK120 road variant. A genuine, healthy C-Type will now set you
back more than a million, and the 1953 Le Mans winner would be valued in
excess of US$4 million.
Replicas have been available from a variety of sources but few come with the
heritage of Proteus which has been producing all aluminum bodied sports cars
for two decades. Under new management, the company is looking for
international distribution for its thoroughly authentic US$133,000 replica.
XK 120 C - replica
The big news story in the world of specialist car production in the UK for 2007
was the takeover of Proteus Cars by rival sports car manufacturer Enduro Cars.
With a complete management team changeover and location, the company is now
producing the XK 120 C and planning production of a host of dream cars including
a Light Weight E-Type, the C-Type Coupe, and a variety of period racing
machinery such as the ERA Voiturette and some as-yet-unnamed early F1 cars.
The company only builds fully finished aluminum cars carrying 60,000/5 year
warranties and the current production is approximately 150 cars a year but
output is being ramped up to meet the demands of the worldwide dealer network it
is actively putting in place.
For those who need reminding, the Jaguar C-type (officially designated the
Jaguar XK120-C) was a racing car built by Jaguar and sold from 1951 to 1953.
With an aerodynamic body designed by Malcolm Sayer and a lightweight,
multi-tubular, triangulated frame designed by Bob Knight, a total of 52 were
built. (No wonder there is a thriving market amongst enthusiasts world wide for
replicas of exceptional quality.)
Mechanically, the C Type used the running gear of the contemporary XK120 sports
car (the C stands for ‘competition’). The twin-cam, six cylinder engine was
tuned to around 153 kW rather than the 134 kW of the road car. The custom,
tubular chassis and aluminum body-panels, along with the elimination of creature
comforts, helped the car to shed nearly 454 kg compared to a comparable Jaguar
road car. The later C-Types were more powerful, using triple twin-choke Weber
carburettors and high-lift camshafts. They were also lighter and better braked,
by means of all-round disc brakes.
The Jaguar C-Type won the Le Mans 24 hours race at its first attempt in 1951,
driven by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead and in so doing, became the first car
to win a major race using disc brakes.
In 1952 Jaguar, worried by reports of the speed of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL ,
modified the aerodynamics to increase the top speed. However, this necessitated
a rearrangement of the car’s cooling system, and subsequently all three entries
retired due to overheating. In 1953, the car won again, in a lightened, more
powerful configuration, driven by Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt. This victory
marked the first time the race had been won at an average of over 100 mph
(105.85 mph - 170.34 km/h, to be precise).
Proteus is actively seeking expressions of interest from international
distributors, and has plans to extend the range to include SS100, XKSS, and
D-Type Jaguars, Aston Martin DB3S and the glorious Mercedes Benz 300SLR.
Starved for ‘real’ classics
A friend dropped off the latest Classic and Sports Car magazine,
and immediately I was envious of any enthusiast living in the UK. The
plethora of vehicles available was just stunning. OK, OK, they are expensive
in the main if you are looking for something like a genuine Ferrari GTO, but
there are still loads of bargains for the impecunious enthusiast.
In the February 2008 edition you can buy a Caterham 1700 Supersprint, 27,000
miles, 300 miles since a complete rebuild, and the lot for 12,000 pounds
Sterling (that’s about 875,000 THB). Crying yet?
Or if Sir would like something a little older, there’s a 1925 Lagonda for
7,500 pounds Sterling, or perhaps wanting a little wind in the hair with an
MGB for 2,700 pounds Sterling (and that is 189,000 THB). If you are a Jaguar
fan, there’s an XJS V12 fixed head coupe, totally restored for - wait for it
- 6,495 pounds Sterling, which is well under 500,000 THB. You can even buy a
1976 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow for 8,950 pounds Sterling. I’ll wager you are
crying by now!