Green Update–>Concepts from Nissan, Audi, BMW, Protoscar and Renault

NY Solar Charger

Before we get to the concepts, here’s a reality: Beautiful Earth Group in New York (Brooklyn, actually) has built a solar charging station out of a pair of old cargo containers. A large solar panel array plus batteries charge the group’s MINI-E, giving it a 100-mile range on a 3-hour charge. So you’ve got recycled containers, a solar-powered car, and one of relatively few EV charging stations in the world—all of which are great. No word, however, on how much sunlight they can get in Brooklyn.

Some of what we write about on this 2013 Nissan GT-Rblog is necessarily based on rumors and hints from the carmakers—stuff which may or may not become reality. Well, we hope the Nissan GT-R Hybrid will be produced, because it could be the essential green state-of-the-art supercar. Inside Line profiles the rumors and the likelihood of how this 600-hp, Infiniti Essence-based car might be built. Nissan’s target seems to be the Porsche 911 Turbo, and we may well see this car in 2012 at a cost of around $100,000.

Audi E-tron conceptAnd some of what we write here reports contradictions between carmaker claims and the realities of testing. Such is the case with the Audi E-tron concept EV supercar (which may end up costing twice the projected cost of the GT-R Hybrid). The factory claimed the four electric motors on this beast could produce 3,319 lb-ft of torque—an incredible claim and one in fact that Autobloggreen and Automobile Magazine successfully challenged. The true figure, apparently, is 501.5 lb-ft, still no mean achievement. Autoweek’s test drive was less than positive, but the concept is still far from production (late 2011).

BMW ActiveETaking off from a 1 Series coupe, BMW has created the ActiveE concept, a follow-on to the MINI-E. This car, however, is a four-passenger, rear-drive electric with a motor in the rear axle, batteries in the former engine compartment, and a 100-mile range. Performance seems fairly brisk (0-62 in 9 seconds). It looks like a standard 1 Series, actually has good luggage space, and keeps the weight distribution close to the gas-powered version’s. (Go here for a really dumb video.) EVs don’t always have to be redesigned or radical.

Protoscar LAMPO2 teaserBut the radical ones are a lot of fun, of course, and we hope some get built—like the Protoscar LAMPO2, an EV sports car to be shown at Geneva in March of 2010. The car is said to “reach a world-class energy consumption of less than 100Wh/km-ton under real conditions.” per the company’s website, and the car has two electric motors which can propel it to 60 mph in 5 seconds. Also, it has four separate charging modes: an overnight slow charge, single-phase public charging, three-phase industrial (fleet) charging, and a DC interface for fast charge, “where up to 100 km of additional range can be charged within just 10 minutes.” If the latter is indeed true, it may be some kind of breakthrough.

Renault Fluence ZEFinally, back to reality and Renault, which is indeed developing its Fluence EV to sell for under $20,000 (before tax rebates). Incredible, if they can bring that off. The company is in partnership with Better Place, as we reported a while back, which will produce swap-out batteries for this car. “Better Place’s first battery swap station will be installed in Tokyo next month, and the cars could come to the U.S. (starting in Hawaii and San Francisco) in 2012.”

Reality bites, as they say, but which of these concepts seems to you most likely to see the light of day? Bite off a comment or two.

—jgoods

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