“Electric & Hybrid”
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Spotlight on . . .
[ Electric & Hybrid Kei-cars ]
Electrics: Since 2008, a renaissance in electric vehicle manufacturing has occurred due to advances in batteries and energy management, concerns about increasing oil prices, and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As of December 2015, there were over 30 models of highway legal all-electric passenger cars and utility vans available for retail sales, mainly in North America, China, Japan, and Western European countries. Kei-cars have been instrumental in developing electric technology before being passed on to their bigger counterparts. The electric motor sits between the gasoline powered engine and the transmission unit.
The Daihatsu Mild Hybrid System: (DMHS)
Hybrids: Use two or more distinct types of power, such as internal combustion engines plus electric motors in combination.
PEV’s: Plug-in-electric-vehicles are becoming more and more common. They have the range needed in locations where there are wide gaps with no charging services. The batteries can be plugged into house (mains) electricity for charging, as well being charged while the engine is running.
[ The Major Manufacturers ]
The Daihatsu Motor Co. ( ダイハツ工業株式会社 )
In 1968 – 1969, The Daihatsu Electric vehicle Development Committee (EDC) made 5 electric cars based on the Daihatsu Fellow Van as an experiment. The cars were tested by the Kansai Electric Power Co. The ‘Fellow Van EV‘ went on sale in September 1969 of that year.
The FC Showcase is one of the more interesting concepts, it’s completely rectangular and also completely tiny at 134″ long x 58″ wide and 75″ tall. It also uses Daihatsu’s proprietary ‘zero-precious-metal liquid fuel cell technology‘. Not using precious metals in the fuel cells reduces the resources problem considerably and also reduces the overall cost of the vehicle. The fuel cells are even high density, meaning the FC should have a pretty significant range, though no figures have been quoted.
In 2002, Daihatsu debuted the ‘Hijet Cargo Hybrid Concept‘, using a 660 cc engine. The car is based on the existing non-hybrid Hijet Cargo. Its design called the ‘Daihatsu Mild Hybrid System‘ (DMHS) is based on Toyota hybrid technology and is quite different from many existing hybrid designs whereas the petrol and electric powered components are assembled as one unit. The electric motor sits between the gasoline powered engine and the transmission unit and is 30% more fuel efficient than its gasoline powered counterpart.
(The car above is a private conversion)
Daihatsu Pico Electric Concept
The Pico 2-seater (one behind the other) concept is totally electric. It classifies as a kei-car, but is supposed to fill a gap between kei-cars and 2-wheeled vehicles. Daihatsu’s target market is businesses delivering locally as well as the ever increasing domestic population of elderly citizens. The Pico has a low flat floor to make getting in and out as easy as possible.
In 2005, the Daihatsu Tanto FCHV (fuel cell hybrid vehicle) was introduced at the Tōkyō Motor Show. Based on the 1st Generation Tanto compact MPV currently in production at the time, this prototype has an added hydrogen tank and electric motors.
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (三菱自動車工業株式会社)
Mitsubishi has given the ‘i’ a prominent role in the company’s alternative propulsion research projects, developing a version using their MiEV technology in 2006 and exhibited at the 22nd International Battery / Hybrid and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exposition in Yokohama. MMC provided 3 power companies with vehicles in 2006 and 2007 in order to evaluate how a ‘fast-charge‘ infrastructure might be developed for electric vehicles. Fleet testing by 5 power companies was conducted later in 2007, with a view to future public sales between 2008 and 2010.
On street charging
The ‘i’ won the 2007 Car of the Year award from the Japanese Automotive Researchers and Journalists Conference (RJC), and 2 other ‘Car of the Year’ awards.
Rebadging: The ‘i’ is also badged as a Citroen C-Zero / Peugeot iOn in Europe. In The US, the Miev is dropped to just ‘i’.
In January 2011, Mitsubishi announced the launch of an electric version of the Mitsubishi Minicab, the ‘Minicab MiEV‘ it was launched in December 2011 on the home market. A truck version was also launched in January 2013. ‘MiEV’ is an acronym for ‘Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle‘.
Fuji Heavy Industries (富士重工業株式会社)
The Subaru R1 is the base car for the ‘R1e’ an experimental battery electric vehicle, currently undergoing limited production for selected industrial clients in Japan. There is intense interest in this vehicle within the United States EV community as it employs Lithium Ion batteries which contribute to a significant improvement in range, and which can be 80% recharged in just 15 minutes. The ‘G4e’ is a follow-up to the R1e with an improved battery, range, and bolder styling.
[ Lesser Known Constructors ]
The Eco Beagle
The ‘Eco Beagle‘ is made by a family-run business from Toyama in north-western Japan. The cars are made from scratch in a garage workshop. There are no assembly lines or industrial robots in sight. Instead just a dozen mechanics crafting each model by hand, right up to the finishing touch of adding a set of beady headlights to their ‘Milieu’ range.
The mini electric car comes in red, white, green and and canary yellow, having a price tag of about £7,755 and are “generally viewed as cars for the elderly, or for drivers who had their normal licenses removed due to drunken driving” said Manabu Takeoka, the leader of the company. He wants to change the image of small electric vehicles. “We’ve improved the shape of our latest model to make it cuter, to attract younger clients,” he added.
The Eco Beagle is powered by a lithium-ion battery that can be charged from a conventional wall socket. With a speed of 60 kph, the latest model of this car can drive up to 70 kms (45 miles) on one charge. The company’s lineup includes 6 models made of lightweight fibre-reinforced plastic, ranging from 1 to 4-seater cars. The models weigh between 300 – 740 kgs and measure less than 3 meters. Mr Takeoka began developing electric cars in the 1990’s and the sales are currently at around 100 cars per year.
( Electric Mini Wangan Midnight Datsun Z !!)
This 45 hp mini Blue Demon Z was built by the students of the ‘Saitama Institute of Automotive Technology‘. It mimics as closely as possible, in miniature proportions, the original Blue Demon Z from the anime Wangan Midnight. The show is a lot like Initial D, although it takes place on the tollways of Tōkyō (like Fast and Furious–Tōkyō Drift) rather than the mountains of Gunma.
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