Saturday, August 10, 2013

CAR TORQUE: Electric supercar unveiled

First came the city car, now the supercar. Following the global launch of the urban-focused i3 electric car last week, BMW has taken the wraps off its second i-brand model: the i8.
The second BMW i-brand model, the i8
The i8 is billed as a prototype, but in BMW tradition it seems very close to production specification. It is a development of the EfficientDynamics concept shown worldwide in 2010-11 – including the Auckland Museum.
The i8 is a plug-in hybrid powered by a combination of a three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbo engine and electric motor. It can drive solely on battery power for up to 35km, but when the full hybrid system is running the 170kW petrol engine drives the rear wheels and the 96kW electric motor drives the front.
Like the i3, the i8 uses high-tech construction methods and materials, including carbon fibre. It weighs less than 1500kg and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds.
The hybrid system is unique to the i8. A full charge takes less than three hours at a convention household wall socket, or just two hours at a dedicated BMW "i Wallbox".
No on-sale date has been announced yet. But BMW New Zealand is hooked into the i-programme and will launch the i3 in the second half of next year.
Opel axed in Australia
Holden New Zealand’s wait-and-see policy on launching the Opel brand now looks like a wise decision.
Holden Australia has announced that it will withdraw Opel from sale across the Tasman immediately, after just one year on the market.
Opel Australia was established in August 2012 with a network of 20 dealerships and a head office team of 15. However, the brand has sold just 1530 vehicles to date – a far cry from its ambition to hit 15,000 by 2015.
With Holden sourcing much of its mainstream small and medium-car product from Korea, the Opel brand was introduced in Australia as a pseudo-premium offering to compete with the likes of Volkswagen and Peugeot.
It launched with the Corsa supermini, Astra small car and Insignia sedan.
Opel Australia cited competitor price reductions and the ongoing investment required to establish the brand as factors in making the business “not financially viable”.
The demise of Opel does open the way for individual models to be marketed under the Holden brand, both in Australia and New Zealand.
That is the way it used to be, of course: in years past, Opel models such as Corsa, Astra and Vectra have all appeared here as Holdens.
Green alliance hits milestone
The Renault-Nissan alliance has sold its 100,000th zero-emission car.
The very first was a Nissan Leaf bought by an engineer living in California’s Silicon Valley in 2010.
The car that took the number of registrations to 100,000 was also sold in the United States, to a college student in Atlanta, Georgia.
Renault-Nissan claims to have sold more zero-emissions Electric vehicles (EVs) than all other carmakers combined.
The company estimates its global EV fleet has travelled 841 million kilometres, saving 53 million litres of oil and 124 million kg of CO2.