Forbes writes about the coming world of self-driving cars. “…there will be a lot of changes including how cars are designed, how they are powered, and even who is likely to own them…let’s imagine what the future of self-driving cars is likely to look like.  I’m guessing a lot like the 1800s…”

hybridcars reports that second generation fuel cell buses are on the road in Switzerland. Over the next five years, PostAuto Schweiz AG will test the new generation fuel-cell bus, using hydrogen as fuel, in and around the city of Brugg. The silent vehicles are Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid buses. The fuel cells generate the electricity for the drive motors, without producing any CO2 emissions. Excess energy is stored in lithium-ion batteries and the buses can travel for several kilometers on battery power alone. The operating range of the buses is about 250 kilometers. 35 kg of hydrogen is stored in 7 tanks on the roof of each bus.

As we have noted in earlier posts, the internal combustion engine is not throwing in the towel to electricity or hydrogen quite yet. USA Today tells us about the efforts to improve turbochargers to increase fuel efficiency while OILPRICE focuses on a new fuel injection system that will make petrol engines as efficient as hybrids.

Automotive Business Review posts about the growing global low emission fuel market. A new report from MarketsandMarkets expects this market to grow 30% a year over the next five years. The number of low emission vehicles worldwide is anticipated to increase from 827,000 in 2011 to 3.5 million by 2017. Battery and hybrid electric vehicle share will continue to grow as government initiatives support investments in infrastructure and battery technology. Digital Journal refers us to a similar study by Frost & Sullivan here. The consulting firm predicts that in the year 2018 there will be 900,000 low emission alternative fuel vehicles sold in Europe and 250,000 in North America.

Digital Journal lets us in on four predictions for the automotive and transportation industry f0r 2012. Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan surveyed several hundred firms to find out their views on what will happen this year in this part of the economy and coupled this information with its own analysis and that of industry experts. The firm sees market growth everywhere but Europe where decline is forecast. There will continue to be accelerated growth of electric cars (plug-in and hybrid) as fossil fuel prices rise. Some 15 new electric vehicles are expected to debut this year. The smart phone will be integrated into our driving experience as more and more automotive/transportation apps appear (e.g eco driving, dynamic routing, real time traffic information). In addition there will be new business models as alternative vehicle car sharing expands. “The convergence between automotive and the electronics, information and communication technologies as well as energy markets finally is also highly significant and relates primarily to the emergence of the smartphone, electric vehicles and e-mobility driving innovation in connectivity, batteries, energy storage, transmission and distribution infrastructure, battery charging and integration of mobility into the smart home.”

The UK Telegraph says that EVs are just not economical. Diesel needs to cost £32 a gallon (£7.04 per liter) before electric cars are cost competitive according to Lex Autolease, which owns and manages about one in every 100 vehicles on UK roads. The company says that unless this happens, EV prices need to drop by more than a third.

The UK community of Wolverton will pilot an electric car sharing club in an effort to reduce CO2 emissions. The BBC says the program is aimed at occasional drivers who need a car for a short period of time during the day. 5 EVs will be made available and can be booked in advance. Membership of the club will be £4.50 a month with an hourly hire charge on top, likely to be about £5.00.



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