Mercedes-Benz zeroes in
Mercedes-Benz claims it is showing the way ahead
in environmentally responsible ways, presenting its near-series
Concept BlueZERO at the North American International Auto Show in
Detroit. Based on a single vehicle architecture, this intelligent,
modular concept allows three models with different drive
configurations, all of which are able to meet customer requirements
in terms of sustainable mobility:
The three types are
1: the BlueZERO E-CELL with battery-electric drive and a range of up
to 200 kilometers using electric drive alone
2: the BlueZERO F-CELL (fuel cell) with a range of well over 400
kilometers using electric drive
3: the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS with electric drive and additional
internal combustion engine as power generator (range extender). This
version has an overall range of up to 600 kilometers and can cover a
distance of up to 100 kilometers using electric drive alone.
“Our modular system allows different drive configurations for every
customer requirement,” says Dr Thomas Weber, the member of the
Daimler AG Board of Management responsible for corporate research
and development at Mercedes-Benz Cars. “The modified sandwich-floor
platform provides the perfect basis for a wide model range with
electric drive systems. We are also developing a new, additional
platform for future compact models with power units based on
optimized internal combustion engines. The intelligent networking of
both architectures enables us to develop our product portfolio
extremely flexibly and efficiently. From 2009, we will be producing
the first Mercedes fuel-cell cars on a small scale. Small-scale
production of Mercedes-Benz cars with battery-electric drive alone
will then commence in 2010. This means we are extremely well
equipped for the future.”
All three BlueZERO variants share the same key technical components,
while the design and vehicle dimensions are identical. Measuring
just 4.22 meters in length, the BlueZERO models combine compact
exterior dimensions with a generously proportioned and variable
interior and luggage compartment. Five fully-fledged seats, a
payload of around 450 kilograms and a luggage compartment capacity
of over 500 liters make for outstanding everyday practicality.
Thanks to their sandwich construction with a raised sitting
position, the cars also offer an exceptionally high level of crash
safety for the passengers and the technology, not to mention
excellent all-round visibility.
These BlueZERO vehicles have been designed from the ground up as
electric cars, compared to electric cars based on conventional
vehicle platforms and originally only designed for use in
combination with internal combustion engines, Concept BlueZERO
offers the following conclusive advantages:
* Interior space is retained in full. As the energy
accumulators/generators are integrated into the spacious sandwich
floor, no compromises are necessary when it comes to passenger
space, luggage capacity or variability.
* The powertrain technology built into the sandwich floor ensures a
low center of gravity and, consequently, extremely reliable and
* Crash safety is of the extremely high standard associated with
Mercedes thanks to the sandwich concept and the housing of major
powertrain components between the axles.
As a result, the BlueZERO models are very different to
conventionally constructed electric cars, which have the heavy and
voluminous storage battery housed in the boot or in the rear-seat
area, for example.
All three BlueZERO models feature front-wheel drive, which is
typical for this class of car. The Mercedes engineers have put
together a modular system comprising several flexibly combinable
drive components. These include state-of-the-art liquid-cooled
lithium-ion batteries with a storage capacity of up to 35 kWh and
the compact electric motor with a maximum output of 100 kW
(continuous output 70 kW), which develops a peak torque of 320 Nm.
All three variants accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 11
seconds. Their top speed is electronically limited to 150 km/h in
the interests of optimal range and energy efficiency.
These vehicles will bring practicality to the electric mobility -
most people use their cars for short-range commuting most of the
time, with only the occasional longer trip. This configuration
allows most people the ability to go petrol-free 90 percent of the
time without restricting them on longer trips.
2010 is increasingly shaping up as the launch date for
much-anticipated electric vehicles from major manufacturers around
the world. Bring on the alternatives, I say! I’ve had enough from
the pimps at the pumps.
week I mentioned that Honda has pulled out of F1. I asked what other Japanese
companies have just pulled out of international level motor sport? The answer
was Subaru and Suzuki from the world rally championship.
So to this week. What do you know about windscreens? Which car came out with the
first curved windscreen without a central divider? Clue: think American and
think in trouble.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Sat-Nav voted best in-car device
A poll has just been carried out in the UK, with 54 percent of
Sat-Nav users saying it to be the best device they have ever had in their car.
So what can those who got a new Sat-Nav for Christmas look forward to?
61 percent of respondents agreed that their Sat-Nav had stopped them getting
lost countless times.
Only 10 percent disagreed.
44 percent use it very frequently.
Almost half (49 percent) are worried that it might get stolen.
Only 4 percent strongly agree they are worried it might take them to somewhere
they do not want to go.
Almost half (47 percent) disagree that they are worried.
But 30 percent of respondents say that their sat nav has taken them to a place
that they did not want to go with 44 percent disagreeing.
Three-quarters with a sat nav still carry a road atlas.
22 percent of respondents agree that their Sat-Nav sometimes distracts them when
they are driving (3 percent strongly agree) but almost half (45 percent)
38 percent of respondents with a Sat-Nav would prefer a female voice to a male
voice although 44 percent didn’t mind either way.
Commenting, Edmund King, Automobile Association president in the UK said,
“Satellite Navigation systems are brilliant devices if used safely. A majority
of those that have them think they are the best in-car device ever. These
devices can enhance safety by reassuring drivers they are on the right route.
Often roads are poorly signed so the Sat-Nav helps as a guide. However, the road
atlas is still alive and well. We recommend that every driver should have an
atlas to back up the Sat-Nav. You don’t want to end up in Stratford, East London
if you really wanted the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon.” Ah yes, but will it find
the difference between Soi Sam and Sai Sam I wonder?
Some other interesting facts from the survey included:
Men were much more likely to own one than women, with almost half (47 percent)
owning one compared to less than one-in-three women (30 percent)
The age group most likely to own a Sat-Nav were 18-24 year olds (43 percent).
Drivers in Northern Ireland were least likely to say that Sat-Nav had prevented
them getting lost countless times (50 percent) and those in London Wales and
East Anglia most likely (64 percent).
The AA’s Top Ten sat nav tips:
1. You are driving the car, not the Sat-Nav. If you have an accident or commit
an offence, it’s your fault.
2. What you see through the windscreen must take priority over what the Sat Nav
says. If the road doesn’t look suitable, don’t use it.
3. You know what sort of vehicle you are driving, the Sat-Nav probably doesn’t.
Watch for signs that could tell you the road isn’t suitable for your vehicle.
4. Don’t let the Sat-Nav dominate your driving - watch the road not the Sat-Nav.
5. Put the Sat-Nav in a sensible place. Don’t create a blind spot, or put it
where it could cause injury.
6. Don’t try to program the Sat-Nav while you are driving. You know it will take
one hand from the wheel, two eyes from the road and a brain from driving.
7. Use all the Sat-Nav’s features. When driving gets complicated, use the spoken
instructions, and/or the simplest display.
8. Check the route is practical before you start. Are you being taken to the
right place? If you put in the wrong destination, it will take you to there.
Does the route look right?
9. Update the Sat-Nav regularly. Old information can be wrong information.
10. Remember, thieves like Sat-Navs! If it is detachable, always take it out
when you leave the car. People tend to hide them in the car, so mounts or
suction cap marks attract thieves.
The electric performance car of 2008 is the American Tesla, which
goes from zero to 100 kays in four seconds! That is true supercar
performance. However, over in der fatherland, German Porsche tuner Ruf has
produced the world’s first professionally built electric 911, modestly known
as the eRUF.
The electric 911 prototype replaces the flat six engine with a brushless
three-phase motor powered by lithium-ion batteries. Although not as quick as
a petrol-engined 911, Ruf’s engineers say the eRUF is still good for a
0-100km/h time of under seven seconds and has a top speed of 255km/h. More
importantly it’s claimed to have a maximum range of nearly 320km.
The battery pack provides 317-volts and 480-amps and consists of 96x 160Ah
Axeon lithium-ion iron-phosphate cells, each weighing 5.6 kg. Total weight
of the pack is 550 kg. The pack is constantly monitored by a battery
management system from Axeon. Each individual cell is coupled with a sensor
that sends information on cell temperature and voltage to the central
control system. The cells, with a nominal voltage of 3.3 V, have a lifespan
of 3,000 charging cycles. Pack capacity is 50.72 kWh which is around the
same capacity as the battery pack found in the Tesla Roadster but at 318 kg
the Tesla pack is 232 kg lighter than the eRUF battery pack. In fact the
complete Tesla weighs in at 1247 kg as opposed to the eRUF’s 1920 kg.
The eRUF prototype utilizes a 150 kW brushless three-phase BLDC motor
supplied by UQM in place of Porsche’s traditional 345 hp flat six. The
electric motor makes around 650 Nm of torque that, like other electric cars
can be had immediately from zero rpm. Unfortunately though, because of the
weight of the batteries, Ruf’s modifications push its weight up to 1920 kg
versus a base 911 Carrera S weight of 1420 kg. The eRUF remains rear wheel
drive with the motor and the bulk of the batteries positioned over and
behind the car’s rear axle. The eRUF also retains the standard six speed
manual gearbox which contributes to the car being overweight, no doubt to be
replaced with a lighter and more energy efficient single speed transmission
in the production version.