Electric Vehicles, Diesels Take Spotlight at New York Auto Show
March 26, 2008
Several Japanese automakers are displaying electric vehicle concepts at the New York International Auto Show, which opened to the public on March 21, and two of those automakers are planning to test their vehicles in the United States. Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. unveiled the appropriately named Denki Cube Concept ("denki" is Japanese for "electric"), which powers its electric motor with a lithium-ion battery that uses a unique manganese electrode for safer operation. Nissan has joined with NEC Corp. and NEC Tokin Corp. to launch a new company called Automotive Energy Supply Corp. to market the battery. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is displaying its "i MiEV," which is also powered by lithium batteries. The company began testing the vehicle in Japanese fleets in October 2006 and plans to test it in U.S. fleets this fall, working in cooperation with select power companies. See the press releases from Nissan and Mitsubishi.
In addition, Subaru of America, Inc. is displaying its R1e electric vehicle, a minicar powered by a lithium-ion battery and a 40-kilowatt motor. According to Subaru, the battery allows partial charges and quick charges without compromising battery life. The battery can be "quick charged" to 80% capacity in only 15 minutes using a special charging device, or fully charged in eight hours by plugging into a standard electrical outlet. The two-seat vehicle has a top speed of 65 miles per hour and a range of up to 50 miles. The Tokyo Electric Power Company has been testing the Subaru R1e in its fleet since 2006, and the New York Power Authority will soon begin testing two of the vehicles in its fleet. See the Subaru press release.
Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz, a division of Daimler, chose the occasion to introduce three new diesel-powered SUVs that will go on sale in the United States this fall. The ML 320 BlueTEC, the R 320 BlueTEC, and the GL 320 BlueTEC all feature advanced diesel engines and emission controls that will meet stringent emissions standards, including California's Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) standard. Because the vehicles meet such tough standards, they can and will be sold in all 50 states, which will make them among the first "50-state diesels" to be sold in the United States. The New York Auto Show is open to the public through March 30. See the Daimler press release and the New York International Auto Show Web site.