Japanese and Chinese Companies Team Up to Reuse old EV Batteries

Itochu (Japanese trading house) and BYD (China’s top EV producer) have come together on a project that seeks to find a second life for automotive batteries as storage for renewable energy. Disposing of these batteries improperly can be an environmental hazard.

As we move into the electronic vehicle age, what to do with used auto batteries, most of which use lithium ion cells, is a question the Itochu/BYD venture seeks to answer. The power duo will team with Shenzhen Pandpower who recycle vehicle batteries. By 2020 the trio want to create global business in which the reused auto batteries become container-type storage for renewable energy.

The typical battery lasts about 8-10 years and that means the first fleets from Nissan and BYD will start aging into needing new batteries. Even though these batteries can no longer power a vehicle, their capacity remains at a level that they can be used for simple storage. To store solar or wind energy for fluctuations in weather and usage many of these small batteries would be put inside a 40-foot container and become a 1,000 kWh storage battery.

It is expected that these will be used primarily in the industrial and commercial sectors, though the Itochu/BYD says one container, fully charged, could meet one day of energy needs for 100 households.

Mazda EV Details Leaked Just Before Tokyo Motor Show

The Japanese media has leaked info on the new Mazda EV just before the official reveal at the Tokyo Motor Show. The new model will be called the MX-30. It will feature a 35.5kWh battery and will be powered by a single electric motor at 138bhp and 195lb ft of torque. It will be front-wheel drive and a single speed transmission.

The MX-30 will follow in the direction of the recently available Mazda3. The MX-30, available next year, features a coupe style cabin and gets its light look from a unique door concept. The front end is meant to have a friendly expression, according to Mazda.

Mazda chose interior materials that are supposed to be comfortable, yet eco-friendly. And the cabin, pin pointed around the center console, is supposed to create a closeness between the driver and passenger seats.

The leaked imagine shows the MX-30 has adopted an SUV type body to make room for underfloor battery packs. The range will be somewhere in the 120-150 mile range, which lands the new EV’s range around average in the market. It will take both a domestic 6.6kW charge as well as public rapid charge at 50kW.

See you on the streets next year MX-30!

Porsche and Boeing Working on Flying Car Prototype

Just when it seems that the flying cars Futurism promised us sink back into the fog of fiction, someone resurrects the idea into a prototype that makes it feel as if flying cars are in our near-future reality.

Now Porsche and Boeing have teamed up to see how far they can push the concept into reality. The duo announced recently that they are in the planning stages of a concept vehicle that would feature a “fully electric” vertical takeoff and landing ability they are calling EVTOL.

As one might expect from Porsche concept designers the sketches of the version so far look like something a superhero might drive. This project actually involves three partners (kind of)—Porsche, Boeing and the Boeing owned Aurora Flight Sciences. AFS works on unmanned aerial vehicles. And AFS did release a new one recently, but it looks more like a traditional aircraft. Together the three are going to explore what kind of market might exist for premium flying vehicles.

Boeing’s NeXt unit is in charge of their so-called urban air mobility projects and use Aurora’s resources to develop the EVTOL craft.

Among the EVTOL rivals are Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk project which was granted testing approval from New Zealand and NFT which has developed an SUV sized vehicle that can drive and fly. NFT thinks it will begin selling vehicles around 2025 which is approximately when Porsche believes their sales will begin.

Smart Cars, Dumb Drivers

If you weren’t already aware Tesla has been working on a feature they’ve dubbed “Smart Summon.” This feature allows Tesla’s to navigate a parking lot to an owner’s location totally unmanned. Which might immediately sound like a scary idea to some, while anyone who has every forgotten whether they parked in area Blue 7 or Pink 9 of a giant amusement park lot might look at it as a godsend.

Not without a shade of irony and probably not to the surprise of some, people have already started doing some really stupid things with “Smart Summon” (which isn’t even out of beta yet).

One YouTube user “Dirty Tesla” (who is a Model 3 owner) uploaded a video in which he tries to walk in front of the vehicle while the Smart Summon feature is engaged. Luckily, the Model 3 is smarter than this particular owner and its cameras see Dirty Tesla before it runs him over. However, on the second try the vehicle looks as if it is going to roll over its owner’s toes as he comes at the car from a blind spot.

Undoubtedly this is not the kind of beta testing Tesla is encouraging. And does it need to be said that this is a terrible, awful idea? (Just in case, this is a really bad idea!)
Tesla’s own release notes on their Version 10 upgrade (the one featuring Smart Summon) states specifically that the owner is responsible for the vehicle at all times and should keep it in their line of site as it may not see all obstacles.

Even drivers using the Smart Summon feature responsibly have had minor accidents using the new Smart Summon. One Twitter user, David Guajardo, reported someone dinged his Model 3’s bumper while he was trying to test Smart Summon.

Jaguar Develops 3D Printed Glove to Aid and Protect Workers

In recent news a variety of automakers like BMW, Ford, General Motors et al have announced prototypes or trials of exoskeletons or other worker-aid devices. Jaguar has joined the party with something simple, but innovative: a glove, 3D-printed, that helps prevent musculoskeletal disorders.

These types of injuries are about 30% of workplace injury according to Jaguar. The glove is lattice-type structure meant to protect the hands of workers on assembly lines.

Initially Jaguar’s glove was meant specifically just for workers who deal with clips and fasteners but Jaguar found the glove useful for many workers.

Understandable. There are 100s of conditions and injuries that make up one third of employee compensation payouts.

Jaguar’s Gaydon site in the UK where the company is developing 3D printing technology invented the glove whose structure supports the hand to reduce muscle fatigue but also had to be comfortable enough to wear and flexible enough so workers could complete their task.

The glove team is already working on a second-generation glove that includes padding intended to absorb impacts. The future of the glove could include not only preventing injury and repetitive movement injuries but also help patients recover.


When Racing Tradition Meets Toy Cars

The Little Car Company and Bugatti teamed up to create luxury level toy car and possibly the ultra-high-end holiday gift of the year—a ¾ scale, electric powered, 1924 Type 35 Lyon Grand Prix replica.

The Baby II takes its que from the Baby, a 1920s ½ scale 35 Lyon. The features include everything a classic racing fan could want. Hollow front axle, Michelin tires, aluminum dash, eight spoke wheels. In short: the works.

While Bugatti chose French Racing Blue for the prototype they say the production run can be painted any modern color in the Chiron range. Historic colors and those attached to famous racers can also be ordered. However the production run will be limited to just 500 Baby IIs.

And like you might expect from a toy car starting just a tick over $37K the customization possibilities continue. The basic Bugatti Baby II will come stock with a composite body. The Baby II Vitesse gets a carbon fiber body, while the third option of the Baby II Pur Sang gets a hand-crafted aluminum body. Both the Pur Sang and Vitesse will come with speed keys that get child drivers an extra 10kW of power and turn-ff the speed limiters. So watch out for speeding toddlers.

The Baby IIs will see production from 2020 to 2021.

Toyota Testing Solar Prius

A super team consisting of Sharp Corp, Toyota Motor Corp, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization of Japan (NEDO) have come together to develop a Prius that could someday completely change the face of transportation. This Prius would be 100% solar powered, would run day and night and might, theoretically, run forever.

While fully electric cars might take over fossil fueled market, it would require a total infrastructure remodel with the need for charging stations to be built world-wide. The sun, obviously, is everywhere and free. If solar collection and power storage are up to the task of running solar cars at night the solar car could jump ahead of hybrids, plug-ins and hydrogen fuel cell to make its bid as the alternative, renewable energy source.

Don’t get too excited though—the solar car is more dream and theory than tangible at the moment. However, this is for lack of effort on auto makers’ parts—both Hyundai and Toyota do offer solar panels on some commercial models, but they can’t even power the stereo systems on their own.

Since testing began in July, Toyota is the first to admit that a solar car that runs 24 hours a day is still in the future. Meanwhile, the technology to needed to make this happen is advancing.

Sharp has seen the most advancement by increasing their experimental solar panels light conversion efficiency by about 1.7 times—from 20% to 34%. The amazing solar panel tech is only .03 mm thick meaning it can be placed on plenty of surfaces. Even something like a curved roof or hood. These panels can charge the vehicle while in motion (current Prius solar panels only charge while the vehicle is parked).

Mazda (Finally) Announces EV Prototype

Mazda has been strangely tight-lipped about building electric vehicles of any kind. It was only in the past months they even announced any plans for an electric engine or hybrids. Now they have finally revealed a prototype all electric vehicle.

On the outside the new prototype looks nearly like their new CX-30 SUV which is due out this year. The prototype has Mazda e-TPB 2 on its sides and underneath the hood there is a brand new electric engine. With the CX-30 shell some people are guessing the new vehicle will be a crossover SUV while others are guessing it’ll be a hatchback.

The battery it employs is on the smaller side at 35.5kWh and a 105kW/265Nm motor. Mazda has been 100% quiet about what the range of a full-charge will be, but they did announce that they will make a rotary range extender available.

Since there is a bit of a misconception about the environmental impact of constructing EV batteries among the public, this smaller battery could be in response to that. Some believe that EV battery production actually makes EV production worse for the environment than an internal combustion car. This is not entirely true.

When Autos Meet Art

The Bonhams’ Goodwood Revival, a premier car auction in the UK, will be filled with highly desirable (and very expensive) Porsches, Aston Martins Buegattis et al and one 17-ton truck that will cost you more than any vehicle at the auction.

It also happens to be Banksy’s largest artwork to date.

The truck was graffitied by outlaw street artist Banksy in 2000. At this time Banksy was largely unknown to the art world let alone the world renown he now garners. The average used Volvo box truck Banksy used as his canvas would cost someone just in the lower thousand of pounds. This Volvo FL6, however, is expected to sell for as much as one and a half million.

Banksy was at an open-air, millennium celebration in Spain when the co-founder of Turbozone, International Circus, Mojo, gave him the truck. He began that night and the piece took him two weeks to finish. It became the Turbozone International Circus’ transportation for years.

Banksy fans will notice the piece includes many Banksy tropes. Foremost of these are monkeys. In addition to the monkeys Banksy borrows the styling of Soviet-era industrial work posters—in this piece features a factory worker with a Mohican haircut destroying a T.V.

The auction will be held 14 September 2019.

New Museum Memorializes the World of Fossil Fuels

There is a future not too far off in which the smell of gasoline filling the tank of your passenger vehicle at your neighborhood gas station will be a thing of the past. Just as there are now young adults who don’t remember a world without the internet, smart phones and social media, soon their will be a generation who won’t have lived in a world largely powered by fossil fuels.

Though most experts agree this fossil fuel free world is more than one generation away, it is already being memorialized in a museum. On August 23, 2019 the Museum of Fossil Fuels will open its doors for the first time to the public. It is located in Stockholm, Sweden.
The museum is unique in that in addition to the typical museum fair that comes in the form of physical artifacts, it will include the audio accounts of eyewitnesses to the age of fossil fuels, the sounds of highways and engines. Visitors will even be able to explore a replica gas station to experience the pop culture of the time (as Styrofoam big gulps with plastic straws are going the way of the dodo too).

The goal of the museum is to be totally immersive and demonstrate to those who didn’t experience it the role fossil fuels played in the transportation industry and the effect it had on everyday people and their lives.

The museum will take visitors on journey from a world where metropolis were choked with smog to the fossil fuel free world we are trying to create.