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    Sony has unveiled an electric car -- yes, an actual car -- at CES today. It's the first prototype vehicle under Sony's mobility efforts called the Vision-S initiative, and based on what the tech giant said during its press event, it was built to showcase the automotive technologies it developed and can offer. Sony teamed up with a number of companies such as Bosch, Continental, NVIDIA and Qualcomm, to create the prototype sedan.

It's loaded with 33 sensors, most likely including ones that enable autonomous driving, 360 Reality Audio tech, wide-screen displays and other features. The company didn't reveal much about Vision-S during the event, but we'll get an even closer look at the concept vehicle later this week in Las Vegas. For now, here's what else Sony is sharing about its CES surprise reveal.

The Vision-S prototype pulls together a lot of Sony's imaging and sensing technologies, as well as the company's developments in AI, telecommunication and cloud technologies.

We mentioned those 33 sensors, that are dotted around the interior and exterior of the vehicle. They include high-resolution, HDR-compatible CMOS image sensors (for road sensing, object detection and color identification, Solid State LiDAR (for day- and night-time vision and object detection) and radar for relative velocity detection and distance sensing.

Then there are Time of Flight (ToF) sensors embedded inside can detect and recognize people and objects inside and outside the car. (Those ToF sensors will also have a function with the onboard entertainment systems.) All these sensors and technology combined create what Sony is calling its "Safety Cocoon Concept" that can detect through 360 degrees around the car. The car's autonomous driving skills are Level 2, at this stage. This means the system can take full control of accelerating, braking and steering, but the driver needs to monitor the car respond if the system fails.

While it is only a Tesla-ish prototype, Sony did have a spec sheet at the ready. The car is a four-seater with two 200kW engines, and can go from 0-62 MPH in 4.8 seconds, with a top speed of 149 MPH.

There weren't many details during Sony's press event, but the Vision S will also have a heavy in-car entertainment focus. It'll feature 360 Reality Audio, which Sony is regularly publicizing at CES, offering a richer 360-degree soundstage. Each seat will feature its own speaker.

We've got lots of questions for Sony to answer. We need more details on its pretty elaborate in-car entertainment features, and what is the company planning to do after this concept? Stay tuned for more details later this week.

source

https://www.engadget.com/2020-01-06-sony-vision-s.html

Why it matters to you

Competing directly with Tesla, the new stations offer a universal connection and super high-speed charging.

A new joint venture uniting prominent auto manufacturers is rolling out plans to create a network of fast-charging stations across Europe, paving the way for long-distance travel with electric vehicles.

Ionity is a collaboration between BMW, Ford, Daimler, and Volkswagen, with plans to install 400 high-power charging (HPC) stations across the continent by 2020. The network has already begun, with 20 stations planned in Norway, Germany, and Austria before the end of 2017. The charging stations will be placed at 75-mile intervals, and another 100 are planned for 2018.

The stations will be placed in partnership with European convenience stores Tank & Rast, Circle K, and OMV. CEO Michael Hajech said the effort will expand the range of electric vehicles to make long-distance electric car travel a reality.

“The first pan-European HPC network plays an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles,” he said in a press release. “Ionity will deliver our common goal of providing customers with fast charging and digital payment capability to facilitate long-distance travel.”

, each of the fast charging stations will cost about $233,000. The venture has drawn interest from energy specialists like ChargePoint and global conglomerates such as Siemens.

The network uses the European standard Combined Charging System and several cars can recharge at the same time. The brand-agnostic format means it can be used by a wide array of vehicles. The chargers have a capacity of 350 kilowatts (kW) per station, more than double Tesla’s current “second generation” chargers, which max out at 145 kW. Most other “fast-charging” stations have a capacity of approximately 50 kW.

With this move, the automakers are clearly trying to take on Tesla and its Supercharger Network, which already has 350 stations operating in Europe.

However, CEO David Martell of the British company Chargemaster, which has a 300-station network in the U.K., said the charging speed is a number that needs to be evaluated in context, noting that current models don’t even have that capacity. “While some vehicles in the future may be able to charge at 350kW, this will not be the case for most vehicles,” he told The Telegraph. “Unlike when refueling a car, drivers can do other things while their EV is charging, so the charging time is not as great an issue as it is sometimes portrayed.”

Currently, the four major automotive partners (with VW-owned Audi and Porsche also included) each have equal shares in the venture, although other car companies are invited to join in and add their expertise to help expand the network even further.

Source  : https://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/ionity-european-charging-station-partnership/

“It’s a vicious circle, right? You need quick charging to make EVs happen, but that also raises a whole bunch of infrastructure constraints.”

In the last two years, nearly everyone has drastically increased their electric vehicle (EV) projections. Oil and gas majors, research organizations, and even car manufacturers are betting that the future is electric, with some automakers such as Volvo and General Motors announcing dramatic production increases for electric cars.

“What people were envisioning would happen three years back by 2030 in a high technology case has already happened. We’re 20 years ahead of time as cost projections go,” said Prajit Ghosh, head of Americas Power and Renewables Research at Wood Mackenzie. “It’s obviously made EVs a lot more attractive.”

Falling lithium-ion battery costs, as well as regulatory pressures in states such as California and countries like France and Norway, have solidified the place of electric vehicles in the car market. “For awhile, there were questions of whether we would be moving to an electrified transportation future,” explained Brett Hauser, CEO at EV charging company Greenlots. “Now I don’t think it’s a matter of if -- it’s a matter of when.”

But with great opportunity comes great challenge. The industry is just beginning to confront how a proliferation of electric vehicles will remake how we drive. 

“The first hurdle, I would say, is the infrastructure or the charging needs,” said Ghosh. “It’s a vicious circle, right? You need quick charging to make EVs happen, but that also raises a whole bunch of infrastructure constraints.”

According to Ghosh, the challenge is twofold: making sure the system can supply enough energy to quickly charge a great number of new vehicles and making sure the distribution system is in place to transport those electrons to the right cars at the right time. 

He describes the challenge of infrastructure as a chicken-and-egg problem. In order for electric vehicles to dramatically expand, consumers need to have access to charging infrastructure. But before investors are willing to pour large chunks of money into charging, they want to be assured there’s significant demand. 

That’s where utilities and traditional oil and gas players come in, according to the electric vehicle industry. 

“If you look at the move toward electrified transportation, and how we’re going to get there, we need to have a broad-based deployment and equitable access to infrastructure, irrespective of what kind of house you live in…or whether you’re buying a brand new Tesla or maybe a secondhand Leaf or Volt,” said Hauser. “The organizations that are in the best position to provide that are the utilities, because their mandate is to serve the public interest.”

He describes the challenge of infrastructure as a chicken-and-egg problem. In order for electric vehicles to dramatically expand, consumers need to have access to charging infrastructure. But before investors are willing to pour large chunks of money into charging, they want to be assured there’s significant demand. 

That’s where utilities and traditional oil and gas players come in, according to the electric vehicle industry. 

“If you look at the move toward electrified transportation, and how we’re going to get there, we need to have a broad-based deployment and equitable access to infrastructure, irrespective of what kind of house you live in…or whether you’re buying a brand new Tesla or maybe a secondhand Leaf or Volt,” said Hauser. “The organizations that are in the best position to provide that are the utilities, because their mandate is to serve the public interest.”

Hauser said auto manufacturers and utilities working together on infrastructure makes the most sense to provide the best value to customers. Greenlots recently got an unspecified infusion of cash from Energy Impact Partners, a collective of utilities investing in renewable technologies. 

That investment, as well as Shell’s recent acquisition of EV charging company NewMotion and Total’s purchase of natural gas and electric charging company Pitpoint, demonstrate that oil and gas majors are beginning to reckon with electrification even if returns are uncertain.

“Personally, from my interactions with Total and Shell all the way up to the highest levels of their senior executives, they thought five years ago, 'Oh, maybe there is an alternative,'” said Brook Porter, a founding partner at G2VP, a spinoff fund from Kleiner Perkins’ Green Growth Fund. “That is not how they view the world today. They have stated that their current business of extracting oil from the ground is a short-term business.”

Joshua Castaneda, a Wood Mackenzie power and renewables analyst, noted that some utilities are experimenting with offering time-of-use rates to incentivize owners to charge their electric vehicle at night. Utilities in states such as California and Washington have also dabbled in rate-basing charging infrastructure. Currently, these programs are small scale, though. 

“They need to play a big role, whether it’s oil and gas companies or it’s utilities,” said Ghosh. “Utilities, specifically, need to play a huge role to ensure this infrastructure is adequate from a power supply standpoint as well as a distribution standpoint.”

“Personally, from my interactions with Total and Shell all the way up to the highest levels of their senior executives, they thought five years ago, 'Oh, maybe there is an alternative,'” said Brook Porter, a founding partner at G2VP, a spinoff fund from Kleiner Perkins’ Green Growth Fund. “That is not how they view the world today. They have stated that their current business of extracting oil from the ground is a short-term business.”

Joshua Castaneda, a Wood Mackenzie power and renewables analyst, noted that some utilities are experimenting with offering time-of-use rates to incentivize owners to charge their electric vehicle at night. Utilities in states such as California and Washington have also dabbled in rate-basing charging infrastructure. Currently, these programs are small scale, though. 

“They need to play a big role, whether it’s oil and gas companies or it’s utilities,” said Ghosh. “Utilities, specifically, need to play a huge role to ensure this infrastructure is adequate from a power supply standpoint as well as a distribution standpoint.”

“The energy sector is undergoing a transformation unlike anything that has been seen in generations before us,” said Hauser. “Utilities realize they need to get closer to this, if not bleeding-edge, cutting-edge technology and the innovative business models.”

Source : https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-next-big-obstacle-for-electric-vehicles-charging-infrastructure#gs.S8qBoDc

 

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TOKYO -- Mazda Motor plans to release electric vehicles equipped with range-extending rotary engines in the U.S. and Europe in 2019, bringing back a signature technology as it responds to tougher environmental rules in key auto markets.

 
 

A gas-fueled rotary engine can generate power to run the motor in an electric vehicle, letting automakers get by with a smaller battery or increasing the distance the car can travel. Mazda in 2013 equipped a prototype electric car with a rotary engine that doubled its range compared with a standard electric compact. BMW offers a similar gas-fueled range extender for its i3.

The rotary engine, which uses rotors rather than the pistons seen in conventional combustion engines, is small but powerful. Mazda released the world's first car equipped with this unusual engine, the Cosmo Sport, in 1967. The automaker ceased production of vehicles with rotary engines in 2012.

With California and other U.S. states adopting stricter quotas for zero-emission vehicles next year and Europe tightening environmental regulations as well, demand for electrified vehicles is set to grow. Mazda hopes to capitalize on this trend with the new model, its first mass-market electric vehicle.

The new car, expected to be a compact, will likely be produced at existing Japanese facilities. Mazda will determine when it will go on sale in Japan based on local demand. 

Source  : https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Mazda-s-rotary-engine-to-double-range-for-electric-cars

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Electric motors are coming whether we want them or not. So let’s not pout, but instead celebrate the ways in which electric vehicles actually outperform their conventional internal combustion engine-driven counterparts.

Coming at us again on this fine fall afternoon is Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained with a short and sweet video detailing the main performance benefits of an electric car over a conventional one.

His main points are actually fairly straightforward. The first is that EVs produce peak torque at zero RPM, meaning acceleration figures tend to be stellar. It’s because of that low end torque (and just generally high torque output across a large rev range), low inertia, and high redlines that electric motors tend to be mated to single-speed gearboxes instead of complex transmissions. This means less weight in the drivetrain, more reliability, and no drivability or acceleration sacrifices associated with shifts.

 

His third point deals with throttle response. In particular, Jason talks about the physical limitations of center-pivoting round throttle plates, and the fact that rotating the throttle from five to 15 percent yields an increased opening area of three times, whereas rotating the plate from 95 percent to 100 percent yields only a change in opening area of just over 1 percent. With electric vehicles, though, calibrating the throttle with the power output is simply a matter of software, with Jason stating:

With an electric vehicle you can get exactly what you ask for with that throttle pedal because you can choose exactly how much power you want it to deliver at any given position, versus internal combustion engines which are more sensitive when you’re at low partial throttle.

The final point deals with the ability to use an electric motor to slow a vehicle down. By simply allowing the wheels to turn the motor (and use its inertial as drag), the forward motion of the car charges batteries instead of heating up brake rotors and pads. This means less fade and wear on the brakes, and even the ability to downsize calibers and rotors for less unsprung mass.

 

The last point, and the one I find most interesting, deals with the ability to flexibly package battery packs. Batteries can be oriented flat on the ground to allow for a low center of gravity, and they can be thin and of strange shapes because they neither require a fuel pump (which takes up space), nor do they require liquid to flow “downhill” to that pump. Plus, it’s not strange to have multiple battery locations (with a gas tank, you’d need a transfer pump between the multiple tanks). Yes, batteries are heavy, but they can be packaged in a way that helps maximize interior volume, and minimize the effect of that mass, yielding better handling.

Source Here Are Five Major Performance Benefits Of An Electric Car