Futuristic Fuel-Cell Powered Minivan By Toyota Ready For Prime Time

Toyota will debut its new hydrogen fuel-cell concept, the “Fine-Comfort Ride” futuristic minivan, at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month.

Dubbed a “new form of the premium saloon,” the Fine-Comfort Ride sports sharp angular contours and an absurdly long wheelbase. Its high wheel arches, missing front/rear pillars and bucket seating rest in a diamond-shaped cabin with a wider center that narrows towards the back. Regarding specifications, the concept promises 621-miles (1,000-km) of range using Japan’s ultra-liberal JC08 cycle, promising up to 50-percent more driving range than the current Mirai fuel-cell vehicle launched in late 2014. The Fine-Comfort ride also promises a three-minute refuel.

Its interior is emblematic of future mobility, featuring a six-seat configuration with cavernous seating space and flexible bucket seats. This helps maximize space for one passenger or a group with inward positioning for face-to-face conversations or group work. A “virtual agent” is also integrated into touch displays installed on driver and passenger side windows for a fully immersive experience.

No other specifications have been revealed regarding its powertrain or self-driving features.

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Mitsubishi to Show Us Hyper-Curvaceous Autonomous EV EMIRAI 4

Mitsubishi Electric, the electronic arm of Mitsubishi, has announced plans to introduce its latest autonomous EV concept at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show.

A neo roadster design with hyper-exaggerated curves, Mitsubishi’s EMIRAI 4 is an autonomous “smart mobility” electrified concept car featuring an augmented reality head-up display, 3D mapping/positioning, and a driver sensing system which uses a camera to analyze a driver and passenger’s head position. This cues EMIRAI 4’s smart technology to adjust cabin conditions, such as alerts for sleeping drivers or automatic shifting between autonomous and manual driving modes based on driver behavior.

Other artificial intelligence capabilities include a lighting system to project images onto the road to alert passersby before a door opens, as well as a knob-on display and crossed images display. The two latter items are intuitive dashboards or control systems with sliding knobs and LCD panels enabling 3D imagery in a way to keep the driver from taking his or her eyes off the road.

Other exhibits planned by Mitsubishi Electric include a video presentation on smart mobility outlining the brand’s electrification, autonomous driving, and connected principles, as well as displays on its next-generation electrification systems and the xAUTO autonomous-driving vehicle, now being field tested on Japanese expressways.

The Tokyo Motor Show takes place from Oct. 27 to Nov. 5 at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center. Look for Mitsubishi Electric at Booth No. E5201 in East Hall 5.

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2018 Nissan Rogue SUV Gets Semi-Autonomous Driving This Month

Nissan’s newest driver assistance technology suite, ProPILOT, will be integrated into its best-selling 2018 Rogue SUV to go on sale this month.

One of the carmaker’s most ambitious efforts to evangelize driver assistance technologies to date, ProPilot Assist is a semi-autonomous two-button operation that primarily focuses on optimizing single-lane highway driving using a camera and radar. It helps with lane control and maintaining vehicle speed, in part by measuring the distance of the vehicle ahead of the driver.

A secondary feature includes alarms that sound off when drivers leave steering wheels unattended for 10 seconds, prompting the system to pull the vehicle to a gradual stop with activated hazard lights.

“Nissan continues to democratize technology, bringing our most advanced systems to our highest volume models, rather than reserving them for our most expensive vehicles,” said Michael Bunce, vice president of product planning at Nissan. “Customers are delighted when they realize they can afford technology usually reserved for high-end, expensive luxury vehicles. Bringing unexpected value is core to the Nissan brand and our Nissan Intelligent Mobility mission.”

ProPilot Assist will be available on Nissan’s 2018 Rogue SL Platinum Package. It will arrive in U.S. dealerships on Oct. 24 with a starting price of under $35,000. This precedes its integration into the 2018 Nissan LEAF, which will go on sale in Jan. 2018.

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Denso to Show Off Its Latest Mobility and VR Tech at Tokyo Motor Show

Denso is ready to exhibit an exciting slate of new mobility technologies at the upcoming 45th Annual Tokyo Motor Show.

A key automotive supplier of Detroit and Japanese automakers, the presentation will take place at a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 26, led by speaker Koji Arima, president, and CEO of Denso.

This event will offer three experiences, including a virtual reality demonstration called  “Future Tech Lab – Three Secrets of Future Vehicles”  and a mock-up car presentation of Denso’s latest products. The third, Tokyo Connected Lab 2017, is a series of exhibits with a connected mobility theme. A wireless and mobile virtual reality system will be used for the Future Tech Lab session, with the company providing a conceptual image of the experience.

All of the planned exhibits are emblematic of Denso’s core competencies and focus on three of its branded areas: “Denso Automated Driving,” “Denso Efficient Driving,” and “Denso Connected Driving.”

The Tokyo Motor Show takes place from Oct. 27 to Nov. 5 at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center.

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AutoMobility LA Getting Ready For Top Ten Automotive Startups Competition

AutoMobility LA has announced its finalists for its Top Ten Automotive Startups Competition at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

Here are the finalists, in no particular order:

Cerebri AI – A machine learning startup that uses customer behavior and transaction data to predict future  spend and retention.

EV Safe Charge – An LA-based provider of electric charging solutions.

GoKid – A carpool service that uses an app to set up and schedule a carpool and track its progress using notifications, live tracking, and GPS mapping.

GhostWave – Producer of ADAS radars that support blind spot detection and collision avoidance.

Innoviz Technologies Ltd. – A developer of LiDAR solutions for autonomous vehicles.

Mighty AI – A Seattle-based data provider that helps autonomous vehicles with object detection, lane marketing, metadata, and other tasks.

Neteera Technologies Ltd. – A developer of next-generation sensors and cameras.

Ridecell – An autonomous operations platform helping anyone launch and operate a mobile service, such as ride sharing, car sharing, and autonomous fleet operations.

SPLT – A enterprise carpooling service that matches carpoolers with riders.

WayRay – Builder of  “holographic augmented reality technologies for connected cars.”

The finalists were selected from a pool of approximately 300 applicants representing a diverse set of auto-related industries tackling an issue in the automotive ecosystem, from carpool solutions to ADAS radar specialists. As part of the deal, all finalists are awarded massive exposure using exhibit space provided by Automobility LA, along with a VIP reception alongside AutoMobility LA executives. Other awards include a $15,000 cash prize towards business growth and tickets to the 2018 NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference on AI  and self-driving cars.

AutoMobility LA is a four-day Los Angeles-based press and trade event that brings automotive industry influencers, automakers, and other professionals together to discuss the latest trends in the automotive industry. Topping off its festivities is a mega-conference with more than 50 influencers participating in panel discussions and networking opportunities. It takes place from Nov. 27-30 at the LA Convention Center.

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Ford’s First Police Responder Hybrid Sedan Is Now ‘Pursuit-Rated’

Ford’s all-new 2019 Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is now “pursuit-rated,” giving it the green light to chase criminals everywhere.

Modeled after the midsized Fusion, the Ford’s Police Responder hybrid specifications obliterate the Crown Victorias of yesteryear, combining a 2.0-liter I-4 Atkinson-cycle engine with an 88-kW electric A/C motor and a 1.4-kW lithium-ion battery for an EPA rating of 38 combined mpg. It can also reach 60-mph in 6.3 seconds. The term “pursuit-rated” was invented by Ford to certify hybrid police vehicles that have successfully undergone rigorous testing in supporting all of the heavy-duty tasks demanded of traditional police vehicles.

“Our new Fusion-based Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is quicker than our legendary V8-powered Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, while offering fuel efficiency that’s estimated to be double that,” said Stephen Tyler, Ford police brand marketing manager. “Plus, our new F-150 Police Responder offers police customers both on-road pursuit and off-road capability.”

The Ford hybrid police sedan is being built in Mexico with additional work at a Chicago assembly plant. To test its mettle, Michigan State Police performed recent testing at the Grattan Raceway that ran the sedan through a 32-lap simulated pursuit, stress testing its suspension, braking, and tire systems before being awarded its “pursuit rating” upon conclusion.

The 2019 Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan constitutes a small fraction of the $4.5 billion in investment dollars Ford plans to spend over the next five years in its quest to bring 13 new electrified vehicles to market. Other expected cars include an all-new fully electric small SUV with a 300-mile EPA-estimated range, a hybrid version of the F-150 by 2020, and a V8 Mustang hybrid by 2020.

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Toyota Provides Glimpse Into Its Mobility Future With The Concept-i Series

Toyota has announced its “Concept-i” series, its artificially intelligence-equipped cars of the future offering a sneak preview into how A.I. and its drivers will interact.

To be unveiled at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show later this month, Toyota’s Concept-i series comprises of three all-electric concepts. They include a city-friendly “i-Ride” show car operating in pedestrian zones, a Segway-style “i-Walk” upright scooter, and the wheelchair user-friendly Concept-i 4-seater from last January’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

All three models will feature an A.I. interface called AI Agent, a piece of software that recognizes and analyzes a driver’s emotions, actions, and tone of voice to learn preferences and perform tasks on its own without verbal commands. Some of these functions may include suggesting a destination, changing cabin conditions, or activation of a rhythmic seat massage if the technology senses its driver to be under stress.

Minimal specifications have been revealed to date. What is known is that the Concept-i will produce a 186-mile driving range, with the i-Ride hitting up to 93 miles and the i-Walk hitting up to 12 miles on a single charge.

AI Agent also processes general information such as social media activity and actual conversations in the vehicle to make these assumptions.

Toyota is planning road testing of other vehicles equipped with its AI technology in or around 2020.

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Green4U To Roll Out Two All-Electric SUVs With Retro Flair

Startup Green4U Technologies, Inc. is ready to showcase two new all-electric vehicle models, the heavy duty MTU-6, and Enova SUV.

Both will be presented at the 2017 AUSA annual meeting in Washington, D.C. and the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association’s 99th Annual Convention in Denver, Co.

Produced in Georgia, both vehicles evoke feelings of rugged retro. The extra long Hummer-clone MTU-6 is a utility SUV riding on an aluminum truck chassis with six doors and three rows of seating, with a projected range of 230-miles on a single charge. The company’s second vehicle to be revealed, the Enova, is a smaller crossover-styled model built on the same chassis, which will also be used to underpin other vehicles. Very little other specifications have been released.

Founded by Don Panoz, head of sports car engineering firm Panoz LLC, Green4U Technologies, Inc. launched last year with the goal of address demand for electric vehicles from sectors such as taxis and the military. This week’s Washington and Denver showcases will work to understand better the needs of fleet operators specializing in military and transport applications.

“Our engineers designed a lightweight and strong aluminum chassis and are optimizing electric drivetrains and systems to deliver the range and performance that fleet operators need,” said Jack Perkowski, Green4U Technologies, Inc. CEO and co-founder. “We’re focusing on fleet operators because they understand how EVs can greatly lower their operating costs. A company that has fleet vehicles traveling 50,000 miles a year can save thousands of dollars through lower fuel and maintenance costs.”

Pricing for the MTU-6 is expected to be around $70,000, delivered by Q2 2018. Other planned vehicles include sedans and an experimental race car.

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Fisker’s Semi-Autonomous All-Electric EMotion Headed To CES 2018

Fisker Automotive has announced plans to unveil its semi-autonomous all-electric EMotion at the January 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev.

The brainchild of mercurial car designer Henrik Fisker, the EMotion promises several Level 4 semi-autonomous features using partner Quanergy’s five S3 LiDar sensors. The EV will be capable of real-time 3-D mapping, object identification and tracking with integration into the body’s design. Other specifications include a carbon fiber and aluminum body, all-wheel-drive, and an otherworldly 400-plus mile range. The EMotion will also use an Ultra Charger™, a new proprietary charging technology that claims to deliver a nine-minute charge of 125-miles.

“The Fisker EMotion is set to be the next leader in electric vehicles and we are honored to be a part of this groundbreaking opportunity by providing our LiDAR sensors to help guide drivers on the road,” said Louay Eldada, Quanergy CEO. “Our leading LiDAR sensors will elevate the autonomous capabilities of the EMotion to support Henrik’s vision of a truly autonomous and connected experience in a luxury automobile that will further advance the world’s view of autonomous and electric vehicles.”

Over the years, Fisker has not been without controversy. Fisker’s first company, Fisker Automotive, filed for bankruptcy before being sold off to Wanxiang Group Corporation, one of China’s largest automotive component companies. The bankruptcy was spurred by mismanagement and poor production, with a batch of 2,000 vehicles rife with mechanical and software issues. Later, Henrik Fisker started a second company, Fisker Inc, which is behind EMotion’s development today.

The Emotion is expected to ship in 2019 with a $129,000 asking price, with plans to produce a more affordable model in the $30,000 range by 2020.

Cars.com

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Volvo’s Electric Buses Cruising UK Streets On Demonstration Tour

Volvo, in collaboration with Manchester’s transport authority, is now conducting a public trial and demonstration tour of its Volvo 7900e “Metroshuttle” on Manchester’s streets.

The demonstration tour started in mid-September, serving the city of Manchester as a free transport service for eight weeks. From Manchester, the Metroshuttle is expected to head to London’s Heathrow Airport for an additional eight weeks to transport passengers and staff to and from designated areas, such as garages and terminals.

“Congestion is a crippling problem facing so many roads in Greater Manchester,” said Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester. “It affects people’s quality of life, it costs our businesses and it creates poor air quality that contributes to illness and premature death. This can’t carry on.”

Volvo’s e-bus on the street in the UK.

On a larger scale, the United Kingdom has also rolled out a set of initiatives to assess its readiness in accommodating electric vehicles. In mid-September, the United Kingdom’s Business, Energy and Industry Strategy Committee launched an investigation assessing key challenges in bringing electric vehicles to its cities. The initiative also intends to evaluate and suggest improvements to existing energy infrastructure to better support demand.

The U.K. government is expected to unveil its Clean Growth energy strategy on Oct. 12, which will outline a series of 50-plus measures to develop regulatory frameworks and rules that will contribute towards lower emissions.

The Volvo 7900e is an all-electric bus available as a single deck or double deck. Rounding out its features are a five-liter diesel engine and an electric motor contributing to 80 percent lower emissions than traditional diesel buses. Charging time is between three to six minutes using Oppcharger, a charging technology provider which uses overhead charging stations and lightweight roof mounted connector rails to feed electricity, similar to how a tram works.

Look for the first fleet of 7900es to hit the U.K. in early 2018 before expanding to other markets such as Norway and Sweden.

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Eazy Bike Crowdfunding To Convert That Ol’ Bike Into An E-Bike

Eazy Bike, a Swedish startup that develops kits turning any bicycle into an electric bike, is now on Indiegogo to raise funds for a first production run of approximately 9,000 kits.

As of Wednesday morning, roughly $27,000 has been raised from 137 backers, or 69 percent of its $40,000 goal with more than a month remaining. As is popular with the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform, several perks are up for grabs depending on one’s contribution amount. A $20 donation promises an Eazy Bike charger and a $29 donation awards an optional thumb throttle.

Backers also have the option of purchasing the Eazy Bike with limited early bird discounts and family packs of two to four bikes, with the choice of U.S. or European versions.

“For many, biking is the best way to get around. The problem? We don’t love arriving at our destination out of breath, sweaty and exhausted. Uphill, wind, age, and fitness are also obstacles that make biking less enjoyable for many,” said EAZY Bike founder, Alexander Lundqvist. “EAZY Bike is the perfect solution. You can lean back and relax; you now have the peace of mind to bike anywhere you wait with minimal effort. Why do the hard work yourself? Let EAZY Bike do it.”

Eazy Bike’s Indiegogo page lists many advantages over its competition, your average Joe bike. Using a battery and motor that installs to your frame and between the pedal and back wheel in under two minutes, Eazy Bike-equipped bikes are capable of cruising at a top speed of 20-mph for the U.S. version and top speed of 16-mph for the European version. Pricing is also of note, with the company citing its cost as being one-tenth of a fully configured e-bike.

Additional specifications include a full recharge in two to three hours along with a friction roller drive which shifts the rider’s weight away from the wheels and towards the middle for improved weight distribution and ride.

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Hyliion Continues To Attract Funding To Convert Tractor Trailers To Hybrids

Hyliion, a startup that converts tractor-trailers to hybrids using a proprietary slide-in intelligent electric drive axle with regenerative braking power, has closed its latest investment round to drive production.

The latest funding round saw a respectable infusion of money to keep the vision going from Sumitomo Corporation of Americas and Axioma Ventures. Specifically, the Series A investment round generated $21 million, which will be used to fund its product and product line expansion. Sumitomo Corporation of Americas has previously made investments in automotive technology, bankrolling Transfix, Inc. and Veritread, an on-demand trucking freight brokerage and construction equipment marketplace, respectively.

“For years, we have invested alongside successful transportation and construction-related businesses throughout the United States,” said Sam Kato, senior vice president and general manager of the Auto and Aerospace Group at Sumitomo Corporation of Americas. “We believe that the technology Hyliion is bringing to this marketplace will not only be attractive to long-haulers seeking to reduce fuel consumption and expenses – but will also make a positive global impact.”

Started by former race car driver Thomas Healy, Hyliion was initially developed as a prototype during his tenure as a Carnegie Mellon University engineering student. Healy first saw the opportunity when as a youth he had observed tractor trailers carrying race cars and realized this fuel-intensive market was under-served by hybridization.

Hyliion’s technology is not an actual tractor-trailer, but a slide-in intelligence electric drive axle that can be applied to tractor-trailers as a new installation or retrofitted to existing vehicles.

Specifically, its hybrid electric system promises to cut fuel costs and emissions by up to 30 percent on the back of three main features: a hybrid engine, an auxiliary power unit to optimize engine idling, and aerodynamic improvements. Hyliion’s website statistics claims its product is compatible with approximately 6 million trailers in the U.S. contributing to $29,000 in annual fuel savings per trailer.

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Swedish Electric Car Startup Uniti Crowdfunding Its Dream

Swedish electric car startup Uniti is now live with its second public crowdfunding campaign to fulfill its dream of building a working prototype of its flagship all-electric model, the L7e, and introducing it to market.

In Oct. 2016, Uniti ran its first crowdfunding campaign on FundedByMe, which raised $1,444,250 (€1,230,080) from 569 investors in 45 countries, or the equivalent of 11% of the company’s shares. A second crowdfunding campaign, now live on Uniti’s website, Uniti.earth, has seen an additional $16,000,000 from 696 investors with 895 pre-orders, as of Oct. 10. A third fundraising round is expected in Q1 of 2018, led by institutional investors.

Currently, the Uniti team is planning on using the funds to build a working prototype, a two or four-seater called L7e. The model is constructed out of lightweight carbon fiber and biomaterials, reporting a 186-mile (300-km) range. Additional specifications include an 80 percent charge in under 15 minutes using a standard EU DC charger, a solar roof option, a 3.5 second 0-to-50 time, a full-screen heads-up display with head and hand tracking, and a removable battery. It will also feature electronic steering via a steer-by-wire system. The cost of the Uniti is expected to be around $23,000 (€20,000).

Founded by Australian Lewis Horne, a serial entrepreneur, Uniti has formed partnerships with Williams Advanced Engineering, a Formula 1 race group, as well as Siemens and a team of Nordic product designers for its design and engineering efforts, with the goal of shipping cars in early 2019.

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Rolls Royce and Google Team Up To Solve AI Challenges for Ships

Rolls-Royce Ltd has advanced a partnership with Google to continue building intelligent awareness systems, one of the first steps towards producing autonomous ships.

According to Rolls Royce, which is more commonly known for automobiles, but which has also the marine propulsion division, the autonomous tech will make them safer and easier to operate.

The partnership will see the use of Google’s Cloud Machine Engine in enhancing Rolls Royce’s artificial intelligence capabilities using its object classification system, a functionality that enables the luxury brand’s ships to detect, identify, and track objects at sea. Specifically, both companies will work with data from sensors and existing ship radar and identification systems to make vessels safer and easier to operate. With the partnership, smaller objects current radar tracking capabilities miss such as small boats would be easily spotted, as opposed to relying on crew members to keep watch around the clock.

Google and Rolls Royce will also work together to create machine learning models that will help to distill sizeable marine data sets collected by Rolls Royce, with a longer-term effort by both companies to conduct joint research on unsupervised learning systems and the optimization of local neural network computing mechanisms on board ships.

“While intelligent awareness systems will help to facilitate an autonomous future, they can benefit maritime businesses right now making vessels and their crews safer and more efficient,” said Karno Tenovuo, senior vice president of ship intelligence at Rolls Royce. “By working with Google Cloud, we can make these systems better faster, saving lives.”

Earlier this year, Rolls Royce announced plans to release a fleet of autonomous ships by 2020. One of its primary objectives is to cut sea transportation costs up to 20 percent by removing ship crews and relying on sensors and data. The company has claimed that autonomous ships will be more efficient to operate than crew-led vessels and help create new jobs. Research projects with Norwegian and Finnish governments are already underway to influence regulations for automated cargo vessels.

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Denso Investing $1 Billion in US Electrified and Autonomous Vehicle Supply

Automotive supplier Denso has announced it will invest $1 billion toward the future of electrified and autonomous vehicles.

The money will be used to expand manufacturing operations at a Maryville, Tenn. plant that specializes in electrification and safety systems.

Denso supplies Detroit automakers and Japanese brands.

Several production lines in its factory will grow and the move is expected to produce 1,000 new jobs filled by technical, production, engineering, and other support positions. The funds comprise a significant yet small portion of Denso’s global sales for the 2016-2017 fiscal year of $40.4 billion with 8.8 percent of it going towards research and development.

“This is an investment in the future of Denso, and also the future of transportation,” said Kenichiro Ito, chairman of Denso’s North America Board of Directors and chief executive officer of Denso International America. “We are seeing dramatic shifts in the role of transportation in society, and this investment will help position us to meet those changing demands.”

Among items produced at Denso’s Maryville factory are self-driving radar sensors, data control modules for over-the-air software updates, and other electrification products for hybrid and electric cars. Its expansion will make it one of the largest automotive factories in America.

This isn’t the first time Denso has expanded in U.S. territory. Last August, it announced its intention to invest $75.5 million toward its research and development regional headquarters in Southfield, Mich. with 120 new employees. Out of the $75.5 million investment, a small portion went toward a Dublin, Ohio plant specializing in the research and development of infotainment technology. An earlier 2015 investment saw DENSO add $400 million to Maryville’s coffers, which merged multiple warehouse operations into a single location and added 500 jobs.

Automotive News

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Hyundai Launches Electric Car Sharing Service in Amsterdam

Hyundai Motor Company has launched its electric car-sharing service in Amsterdam, making it the first of its kind in Europe.

The service will launch with an initial fleet of 100 Ioniq electric vehicles dispersed in pickup locations throughout the city. Users will be able to pay and open Ioniq rental doors using a smartphone app. The app will show where the closest car is with options to reserve or book. Rental rates will be 12 euros an hour with a waived registration fee during the program’s first two weeks. Afterwards, the registration fee will be 10 euros. Cars can be picked up at one location and returned to a different, designated location within Amsterdam city limits.

“We are proud to have initiated our first pure-electric car-sharing service in Europe and, in so doing, to help the city government of Amsterdam achieve its climate targets,” said Thomas Schmid, chief operating officer at Hyundai Motor Europe. “With the launch of 15 eco-cars by 2020 Hyundai Motor is further demonstrating its pioneering role in eco-mobility. By offering the greatest variety of powertrains – electric, hybrid, and fuel cell – our brand is committed to future mobility and to matching our customers’ lifestyles.”

Hyundai also cited Amsterdam’s 2,200+ public charging stations and an advanced electric car infrastructure as reasons for the city’s selection. The city’s ambitious goal to eliminate carbon emissions by 2025 and curtail high parking costs are also important objectives.

The Ioniq Electric uses a 28-kWh lithium-ion battery. According to the European NEDC test cycle it can travel 174 miles (280 kilometers) on a single charge. The U.S> EPA says 124 miles for the same car.

In any case, its range will be enough to accommodate popular day trips, such as Amsterdam-Rotterdam or Amsterdam-Eindhoven, both with round-trip distances of 99 miles (160 kilometers) and 77 miles (125 kilometers), respectively.

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GM To Showcase SURUS Autonomous Fuel-Cell Truck Concept

In a bid to address commercial and military challenges caused by natural disasters, construction, and other large-scale needs, GM has stepped forward with its first-ever fuel-cell-powered platform.

Dubbed SURUS, short for Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure, the concept is comprised of an autonomous hydrogen fuel-cell platform with self-driving capabilities.

It is not to be confused for a truck, but a platform capable of carrying large loads. SURUS will be powered by GM’s second-generation Hydrotec fuel-cell system, an alternative propulsion method to electricity, as well as two electric drive units and an undescribed, “advanced” suspension. Its range will be more than 400 miles.

“Benefits include quiet and odor-free operation, off-road mobility, field configuration, instantaneous high torque, exportable power generation, water generation and quick refueling times,” says GM. The SURUS will be shown at the fall meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) from Oct. 9-11.

“SURUS redefines fuel cell electric technology for both highway and off-road environments,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Business. “General Motors is committed to bringing new high-performance, zero-emission systems to solve complex challenges for a variety of customers.”

There are a variety of uses that can be accommodated with SURUS. It can underpin light to medium-sized utility and service trucks, serve as a self-driving cargo hauler or double as a mobile medical unit or power generator. As an open platform not obstructed by a driver’s cabin or other ancillary structure, and with an appearance resembling a skateboard, SURUS’ potential uses are nearly endless.

“SURUS will deliver highly mobile autonomous capability and agility in unpredictable terrain,” says GM which has been working with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) to find best uses for the technology. “Operating multiple vehicles in a leader-follower configuration could reduce manpower needed. For future potential military uses, the system’s inherent low heat signature and quiet operation offer benefits in environments to reduce detection and risks.”

Past GM projects utilizing hydrogen fuel cells have been met with some progress. In 2013, a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered Chevrolet Equinox completed 100,000 miles of real-world driving, saving more than 5,000 gallons of gasoline. Later that year, GM and Honda worked on a deal to build a fuel cell and hydrogen storage system with a 2020 release. Last April, GM also releases the Colorado ZH2, an off-road 4×4 truck considered the first ground-mobility combat vehicle using hydrogen fuel-cell technology.

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Toyota To Showcase the GR HV Sports Concept This Month

Toyota is preparing its last Powerpoint presentation slide in anticipation of its highly anticipated GR HV Sports concept car to be revealed at next month’s Tokyo Motor Show.

In an ode to Toyota GAZOO Racing’s TS050 hybrid racing car from the FIA World Endurance Championships, the open-car GR HV Sports Concept will use its patented THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System-Racing) hybrid technology. There is no word yet on the amount of horsepower and composition of its has and electric motor combination.

The GR HV concept’s design is a head turner. Its all-matte black scheme contributes to the cars “expression of power and aggressiveness” as Toyota describes it. Also, it features a hyper-aggressive hood scoop, a protruding boxy nose, a Le Mans-inspired large rear diffuser, and stacked LED headlights.

On the inside, the GR HV oozes race car, with red accented instrument panels, five large rounded shift buttons that appear to illuminate in red when pressed, a push-button ignition switch resting on a red shift knob, and a targa top popularized by the Toyota Sports 800 and the Supra. Drivers can enjoy a six-speed manual with H-pattern shifting and a button allowing a quick switch to manual mode. The inside also features the hybrid battery mounted in the center, which Toyota claims improves performance.

Look for the GR HV Sports Concept at the 45th annual Tokyo Motor Show from Oct. 25 through Nov. 5.

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Zunum Aero to Develop Hybrid-Electric Airplanes

Look out easyJet. Following recent news of easyJet and Wright Electric’s development of the first electric commercial airplane, Zunum Aero has also emerged with an ambitious plan to deliver regional hybrid-electric airplanes by the early 2020s.

In collaboration with Boeing and JetBlue Technology Ventures, Zunum Aero is working aggressively to build a new regional electrified air network. Its hopes are for greater flexibility over the traditional highway and train options while improving door-to-door times for smaller communities susceptible to unfavorable air routes, higher fares, and little proximity to large airports.

“Boeing HorizonX is investing in Zunum because we feel its technology development is leading this emerging and exciting hybrid-electric market space,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president of Boeing Horizon X. “This technology and customer approach has the potential to transform the market for small, short-haul aircraft that can use smaller regional airports.”

SEE ALSO: EasyJet Planning Electric Planes In the Next Decade

Official specifications include a max cruise speed of 340 mph, a 700-plus mile maximum range, a max altitude of 25,000 feet, and a rate of climb of 1,600 feet per minute. Seating is for 12 economy, nine premium, and six in executive models. Operational costs are expected to clock in at eight cents per seat mile or $250 an hour.

According to Zunum Aero, the new airplanes are created to meet four goals: fast regional transit, improved airliner economics, low emissions, and best-in-class safety. More rapid regional transportation calls for the increased use of underutilized regional airports over larger airport hubs, citing the statistic that 140 airport hubs carry more than 97 percent of all traffic, creating isolated communities with little travel options. Low emissions and cabin noise will see an 80 percent and 20 percent cut, respectively, with fares expected to drop between 40 and 80 percent.

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Toyota to Present The Third Generation Century at the Tokyo Motor Show

The revered Toyota Century limousine, a symbol of Japanese aristocracy and sophistication, is now showing up in hybrid form at the 45th annual Tokyo Motor Show.

In an ode to high-quality monozukuri (all-encompassing manufacturing), a popular Toyota term, the latest iteration of the Century will see many changes over its predecessor. Among them is a Rolls-Royce-inspired, longer body at 17.5 feet long and six feet wide, missing the Mercedes-Benz S-Class by 6 inches. The Century’s exterior features a conservative rear pillar and longer wheelbase for ease of access. Rounding out its exterior are three projector headlamps that accentuate the rear, a projector of coolness with simplistic undertones.

The 3rd generation Century also features a direct injection 5.0-liter V8 engine with a two-stage electric motor. Driving range details remain under wraps. Its inside upholstery is made out of 100% wool with LCD panels embedded in the armrests. Toyota’s safety suite, Safety Sense, comes with pre-crash auto-braking, traffic alerts, and blind spot monitoring.

The third generation Century marks more than 60 years of royal heritage with its status as the official car of the Japanese emperor in the 1970’s, as well as famous dignitaries, government heads, and aristocrats. Launched in 1967 and last redesigned in 1997, the Century badge has mostly remained in Japan. It will go on sale in Japan-only in mid-2018.

Pricing is unknown, although the 2nd generation should provide a clue with its $130,000 retail price.

Look for the third generation Toyota Century at the Tokyo Motor Show taking place from Oct. 25 through Nov. 5.

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