fuel cells and batteries

 

ebate over hydrogen fuel cells and battery technology goes on and on. Each of the  OEM’s have taken their respective corners to see which technology will prevail. I remember the days of beta max players vs VHS the battle went on for years in fact I brought a beta max player recorder at the time because they were a better technology and it was, however as we know from history it was not to be, VHS became the standard and that was thatContinued then came DVD’s, now blue ray which is now being overtaken by direct download from Apple TV, NETFLIX, Quickflix etc.

It has alway been that technologies compete against each other for dominance in the market place. The horse and cart gave way to motor car. The debate over diesel vs petrol is still a hot topic, so I’m not surprised that electrification of vehicles and the power source is being debated. Hydrogen Fuel Cells or direct battery power. Which knew will come out on top is truly anyone’s guess. 

Both have their merits and their drawbacks, hydrogen is plentiful but for the most part is made using other hydrocarbons like oil and gas, which in itself is a creator of C02, I’m not sure if that helps or hinders our progress forward. Yes hydrogen can be produced through electrolysis but it’s a bit backwards to use electricity to break H2o into hydrogen and oxygen, to put in a vehicle to make electricity, why not just put the electricity directly into the vehicle.

Now eventually everything will be electric it’s simply inevitable, and again every new technology has those who say “it’s never going to work”, especially those with vested interests in the technology not working. IBM famously said there would only ever be a market for about five computers world wide, why? They were a typewriter company, it was not in their interest at the time. But they quickly innovated and became the dominant computer company in the 20th century. But they didn’t continue to innovate, where are they now?

But like most things in this world innovation costs money. This is the advantage of hydrogen over its rival direct battery power as it is potentially capable of generating a self sustaining economy using most of our existing infrastructure to disseminate the hydrogen to customers at the gas/petrol station, it’s a no brainer the gas stations still need to be able to sell something that we are willing to buy. The gas station owners are not going to line up cars at a charging port for 30mins to 4hrs to charge a vehicle, it’s just not practical. However filling up your hydrogen powered car might take 10mins, walk into the gas station pay the attendant and drive away, now that is probably feasible. 

This year 2015 Toyota will reveal its Fuel cell vehicle the Mirai only time will tell if this will be a winner for Toyota.  I personally think it will take a range of technologies to ween the world off our petrolium dependance. it will also probably not happen in my life time, but it will happen, it must.

 How does the Toyota fuel cell work? Watch the following YouTube link.

My little EV Obsession

I have been known from time to time to over focus and often over think things that have become of interest to me, so much so that my family often say “can we talk about something else?”.

Yes I admit it, this EV (Electric Vehicle) idea does consume large amounts of my thinking at the present, I’m hoping this won’t be one of those things I’ve done in the past that don’t eventuate into a tangible workable driveable vehicle, that I’d be proud to show off to my mates.

Tesla driven to excel
One man at least has shown that Being focused isn’t a bad thing necessarily. I saw an interview with Elon Musk and he said he had trouble dating in college especially when asking the girls about their interest in electric cars, yep that’s a winning dating conversation. However I suspect that Elon was and is, a very focused individual as seen in the ‘Revenge of the Electric Car”. I’m mean who wouldn’t want to work for Tesla? Being on the cutting edge of a new emerging technology. I’d work for them tomorrow, if I could do something of value for the company.

Also see the Video – ‘CHM Revolutionaries: An Evening with Elon Musk’ on the dating thing

http://youtu.be/AHHwXUm3iIg

We need people like Elon willing to push the envelope of innovation and of what’s possible, with total committment and focus. I watched a video where Elon Musk presented their new model X with dual motors, electric everything and AutoPilot, I’ve got to say when I get myself a mere $107,000 I’m getting one of those, yeah, it’s sex on wheels.

http://youtu.be/FZ6lZJWL_Xk

Now the reality is, I’m not Elon Musk, so my modest conversion, at least my initial learning exercise will probably cost me all up between $A 20,000 to $A 40,000 over several years. I know I hear you all saying “you can get a brand new leaf for $A 39,990 drive away at the moment 2015”. Yes I know but where’s the fun in that? The Nissan leaf does look pretty space age. But that startup sound, and only the 2012 model in au,  what’s the story with that? Couldn’t sell them, pretty hard to sell something without any advertising, like not one ad for one, that I’ve ever seen other than online.

Nissan Leaf and the dum, dum ,dum,dar
I’ve watched various leaf videos on youtube and that startup tone, gets to me. Maybe Nissan could put a feature in where you have have your own startup sound like mission impossible or deep purples smoke on the water. Even something classy like AC/DC’s It’s a long way to the top (rock on AC/DC), or classical like Bach’s D Minor Concerto. Anything but dum, dum, dum, dar. I can put a reasonably interesting ring tone on my phone, so I’d expect at least the same from a forty grand investment. I took a Renault Cleo for a test drive, my wife likes them and you can even make the Cleo give you sound as if your driving a V8 or ‘chuckle’ a motorbike. At least Renault are trying, shame Cleo’s not electric.

Renault and Formula E
Renault is a company that’s putting its money where its mouth is concerning electric cars. If you haven’t seen formula E, have a look it’s awesome. Each race is viewable on youtube, just fantastic and well done Renault, who have supplied all the race cars, batteries and technology. Two cars for each team, because the batteries don’t last an entire race, it’s very exciting, I love it.

Formula E is a new kind of racing, that requires a little techno no how, the first few races everyone’s just getting the hang of it, like clock work after 16th lap they swap over the cars, by the third race some of the drivers are taking some risks on the batteries and going some extra laps, leaving themselves with a little extra juice for the end of the race where things get start getting tight. You want to be able to go faster at the end, not having your battery die. 

There certainly is excitement and some dings, spills and accidents.    

Formula e Round 1 – Beijing China – http://youtu.be/nfRtRpmRXb4
Formula e Round 2 – Putrajaya Malaysia – http://youtu.be/6gqTs4tU_Sw
Formula e Round 3 – Punta Del Este Uruguay – http://youtu.be/-Bh2IVLWzDQ
Formula e Round 4 – Buenos Aires – Argentina – http://youtu.be/V51gFdiH9yo

Next Race: Miami, USA Round 5 – 14/03/2015

Official website: http://www.fiaformulae.com

 

Next time learning more about EV’s 

 

Mazda MX-5 Donor Cars

Mazda MX-5 2000 Model

Mazda MX-5 2000 Model

So I’ve talked about my thoughts and the history of the VW Beetle as a contender for my EV conversion I hope to do. But the other strong contender for me at least is the Mazda MX-5. The MX-5 is without doubt one of the most loved reasonably price sports cars, it’s light, fun to drive, and the wife likes them so that’s got to get a big tick for me.

The Mazda MX-5 burst on to the Australian scene in 1989 and quickly became a popular favourite amongst those who enjoy something a little extra in their driving experience. 

I took an MX-5 2000 model for a test drive and it was awesome. We drove down winding country road by the river with the wind in our hair, shifting through those smooth gears , honestly the most fun I’ve had in a car since I can remember. Now I understand why people love The MX-5 what a beautiful car. If at all possible I’ll convert to electric one of these magnificent machines.

What WikiPedia says this about the MX-5 

The MX-5, released as the MX-5 Miata in North America and as the Roadster in Japan, is a lightweight two-seater roadster with a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. Manufactured by Mazda in Hiroshima, Japan, the model debuted in 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show. The MX-5 was conceived as a small roadster – with light weight and minimal mechanical complexity limited only by legal and safety requirements; technologically modern and reliable. The MX-5 is conceptually an evolution of the small British and Italian sports roadsters of the 1960s such as the Triumph Spitfire, MG MGB, Datsun 2000, Fiat 124 Sport Spider, Alfa Romeo Spider, and particularly the Lotus Elan.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_MX-5

History of the MX-5 as posted on MX-5 CarTalk

NA6 Officially Designated GV1 The original 

NA6 89-late 93 Officially Designated GV1 The original

NA6 89-late 93 Officially Designated GV1 The original

The most raucous. Equipped with a 1.6l DOHC Inline 4 producing 85kW pushing a one tonne roadster, a throwback to the simple days of motoring

Pros
Simplicity – Maintenance is always the simplest on the NA6
The Exhaust note – a highly subjective issue, but most people agree the exhaust note was the sweetest in the stable

Cons
Rarity – Need to put in the hard yards to find one in good condition nowadays, but it isn’t impossible, they are 20 years old at the least and most spend their lives being dríven after all
Creature Comforts – Not comfortable (by todays standards) and definitely not a car for those who want to be pampered

Suits: Traditionalists and the old fashioned, people who appreciated the days of the old british sports car but also the reliability, Also a very good starting point for the DIY warrior but perhaps not a fair representation of what motoring is like today engineering wise 

This is probably my preference for an EV conversion they are relatively cheap, still lots of fun as as Pur157 Racing Driver says  on MX-5 CarTalk it’s simple. It has plenty of space front and back for a battery pack, which is very important for me. 

Mazda turned the sports car world on its ear with the timeless Mk1 MX-5.

Using the original Lotus Elan as inspiration, Mazda added space, comfort, reliability, useability and economy to the lightweight rear-wheel drive concept.

And since driving pleasure was a priority, the MX-5 was engineered with a front mid-mounted engine layout for a 50:50 weight distribution, a very rigid body, quick rack and pinion steering and double wishbone suspension.

The result was a sensational handling roadster that also offered stunning style thanks to a hint of retro design. Worldwide acclaim and huge sales followed.

The beautifully balanced chassis benefited from Mazda’s sweet revving 85kW 1.6L twin-cam 16-valve motor (from the 323 range) mated to a fine five-speed manual gearshift.

The simple manual roof mechanism has not been bettered, while a detachable plastic hardtop was an option.

Beautiful details abounded, from the rorty exhaust note and chrome trim to the gorgeous seven-spoke alloy wheels.

All Australian delivery cars also featured power windows and a radio/cassette player, and most will have air-conditioning.

The only official colours available were red, white and blue, but there were a string of limited edition hues, including 300 British Racing Green cars from October ’90 (which also included a CD player and leather trim), 60 yellow cars called “Malibu Gold” from December ’91 (which coincided with an upgrade which featured a remote boot release, heated rear window and overhead reading light), and 100 “Classic Red” editions, with power steering, leather trim, CD player and BBS alloy rims.

 

1993 – 1997 NA8 Officially Designated NA30P3 (’93) to NA30P5 (’97 final model run)
A more perfected NA6

1993 - 1997 NA8 Officially Designated NA30P3 ('93) to NA30P5

1993 – 1997 NA8 Officially Designated NA30P3 (’93) to NA30P5

 

Pros
An Enhanced NA6 – Bigger brakes, Bigger engine, Stiffer Chassis among the regular evolutionary enhancements
Powerrr – The MX5 now has the BP ZE 1.8l engine with 98kW. Power steering and Air con started becoming much more widespread for the MX5 at this point in the generation

Cons
Rarity – Not as extreme as the NA6, but similar case, they are old, and they are dríven
Comfort – Still not a car to choose if you’re used to the modern day comfortable car

Suits: Very good as a tuning base be it at street or club racer level, those who want the purity of the original NA6 but with a little more ability the NA8 MX5 has the most added lightness, tipping the scales at 980kg dry

 

Second Generation – NB

1998 – 2000 NB8A Officially Designated NB30P1
A more modern evolution of the MX5 mantra, younger, stronger, more comfortable, but nothing the lesser for it

1998 - 2000 NB8A Officially Designated NB30P1

1998 – 2000 NB8A Officially Designated NB30P1

 Pros

Availability – Much more widespread, with years much newer of the NA and the according Mileage advantages Safety – Introduced Airbags as standard and more modern dash

Performance – Enhanced BP engine now puts out 106kW
Comfort – Much less harsh than the original NA, more sound deadened, comfier (and taller seats) , rear wind blocker
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 

Okibi adds: With the introduction of the NB8A also came the introduction of the glass roof soft top, some say it was a blessing to the rest of the MX5 stable as roof lowering is fully able to be a one arm stop light affair

Cons
(Personally I haven’t found much that is overly flawed about the NB8A so I’ll let the owners take this one)

Suits: Those who are worried about the NA ownership experience (mainly concerns to do with age) but still like the want the visceral nature of MX5 motoring

===========================================================================================

2000 – 2003 NB8B Officially Designated NB30P2 – NB30P4
Another evolutionary step for the MX5, small tweaks leading to big differences

2000 - 2003 NB8B Officially Designated NB30P2 - NB30P4

2000 – 2003 NB8B Officially Designated NB30P2 – NB30P4

Pros
Engine power has been bumped up to 113kW thanks to the addition of valve timing control
Addition of 6th speed in gearbox gives the power transmission a greater range of flexibility
Larger brakes than the earlier NBs.

Caffeine adds: along with the additional chassis strengthening, a front suspension strut tower brace is added, it is equipped with a better stereo system and more useable cup holders
Also ’02 year cars and later, are OBDII (on board diagnostic) compatible
Some have argued that this was the best of the breed in terms of the mass produced MX5s, Best Motoring claims that the NB8B represents the MX5 that Mazda Japan was always aiming for and finally had produced in terms of driving experience and dynamics

Cons
The MX5 is starting to grow up, driving experience is starting to soften up (it just won’t feel as fast as an NA to some)

Suits: For the more discerning taste, for those who have grown out of the juvenile character of the NA

===========================================================================================

Trainspotters Guide : The Main difference to note is the treatment of the front of the car, headlights are sharpened in the corners and coloured indicator bulbs are not as obvious, and small cheek scoops added. Also similar to the NA updates, the wheels have changed; 15″ on the earlier gen’ and 16″ on the later

 

Third Generation – NC

2005 – early 2009 Officially Designated NC30F1
A complete revamp of the MX5 mechanicals, but with as much as possible adherence to original philosophy

2005 - early 2009 Officially Designated NC30F1

2005 – early 2009 Officially Designated NC30F1

Pros
Newest, still perfectly possible to be under factory warranty
Much more comfortable than previous iterations of MX5, suspension and damper settings
Now with a 2.0 MZR putting out 118kW
Even more capable than previous generations of MX5 with subtle suspension tweaks as it has the most recently honed dynamics
Easiest MX5 to live with with auto being widespread and the option of powered plastic roof
Also ’07 models onwards (thanks AJ!) come with Traction control and Dynamic Stability control as standard, making emergency management of the MX5 just that… much more manageable
Availability of a folding fibreglass hardtop adds extra security with a very little weight penalty, but the option of the ragtop soldiers on

Cons
Questionable suspension settings from factory, some were just not adjusted right, many motoring publications state that suspension behaves in a very unsettled manner, but easily sorted with a good wheel alignment
Driving experience much more muted compared to previous generations of MX5, definitely not as raw

Suits: Those who are looking for the newest possible representation of the MX5 mantra, much more diluted over the years, but no less able

===========================================================================================

early 2009 to early 2015 Officially Designated NC30F2

early 2009 to date Officially Designated NC30F2

early 2009 to date Officially Designated NC30F2

Solid Pros and Cons are yet to be seen, but a general rundown follows

The NC has taken a similar evolutionary step up from the F1 to the F2 as the MX5 did all those years ago in the 1st and 2nd gen NBs
Lines have been sharpened and the overall styling theme changed and refined slightly (but whether or not this is pro or con is up to the beholder)
There is the availability of Recaro recliners albeit only in the higher specification hardtop model, and the BBS rims from the previous edition LE also make a return
The crankshaft is now forged for added strength and the redline has been stretched to 7500RPM (increased over the previous gen’s 7000) to give the engine a little more sparkle if not added power. There are also other various powertrain components that have been honed
A Torque Sensing LSD is standard on all manual models
In a bid to win over previous NC owners complaints over creature comforts, the placement of the cupholders has been moved so that they no longer clash with the legs sitting closest to the doors

Suits: The people this MX5 suits are mostly the same as the NC30F1, a further refinement of the overall package that some say strayed a little from the original MX5 mantra, modern compromises due to tightening safety and emissions regulations are evident (and unavoidable) when comparing this to the originals, but it is clear that Mazda have done the best job they can. The philosophy behind it is still firmly Jinba Ittai, MX5.

===========================================================================================

Trainspotters Guide : Once again, similar to the previous generation, the front treatment is the main giveaway.
The front cheek scoops are sharpened and now recess fog lights in all models, the headlights are sharpened, and the corners of the grille have been stretched.
Wheels are different however sizing is the same, Mazda continues its newfound fondness of the “snowflake” wheel design in the NC2.
On the NC1 the rear light lenses are clear and the housing for the lights are chrome, but on the NC2 the rear light lenses are now an opaque orange.
Also inside the engine bay of the NC2 if you look at the air filter/intake setup you will spot the “harmonic enhancer” leading to the firewall

 

2015 fourth-generation ‘ND’ 2015 Mazda MX-5 roadster

fourth-generation ‘ND’ 2015 Mazda MX-5 roadster

fourth-generation ‘ND’ 2015 Mazda MX-5 roadster

Pros

TBA 

 

cons

TBA 

 

 

 

 

 

MX-5 Club NSW

MX-5 Club SA

 

Next time My Little EV Obsession

 

VW Beetle Donor Cars

So I’m going to look for a donor car to use for my EV conversion this should be easy enough. I thought through what I might like to drive or even something I could start with, just as a learning exercise. 

Vehicle 1976 Volkswagen Beetle 1600 L

Vehicle 1976 Volkswagen Beetle 1600 L

There is so much information on VW beetles on the web but mostly USA, which is fine, however the US imported all of their VW’s direct from Germany as many as half a million a year from Wolfsburg, Hanover and Emden.

The US was VW’s Largest export market in the air-cooled era. Check out the www.thesamba.com which documents the changing evolution of VW in the States. So getting a VW Beetle in the States is easy and they are relatively cheap as there are so many.

However not quite So in Australia, I started looking to my astonishment these things are not cheap, in fact they seem to have somewhat a cult following here in Oz. After a bit of research I found out more about the VW story here in Australia.

 
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Start of the Journey

The start of any journey starts with a single step, in my case I like to learn as much as I can about a topic before I dive head first into something I may not be quite equipped to take on.

I’ve had a thought for some time that I would like to own an EV. I’ve been following the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) for quite awhile the likes of Tesla, Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi iMiev, Holden (GM) and others just to see where this EV thing may lead.

Thus far they all seem to be quite on the expensive side at least here in Australia. A Tesla S in Oz depending on your state and the various taxes imposed, say around $100,000 for base model, Holden Volt $69,990, Mitsubishi iMiev $48,800. There are others but let’s say these are the closest to my pay packet.
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