Green stuff: Driven by Oil; EEStor super-batteries
Just caught a programme on BBC Radio 4 called Driven by Oil
. The last part of a four part series on the oil industry, the final episode has writer/presenter Tom Mangold taking a look at (or, I suppose, a listen to) non-oil based forms of fuelling and energy for motor vehicles. Only half an hour long, and in spite of some slight naivete about plug-in electric vehicles, it's well worth a listen. The Radio 4 mini-site is here
. If you're quick you may even be able to Listen Again
to last week's segment before they update to this morning's programme - which is repeated on Radio 4 at 9:30 this evening.
Speaking of plug-in "ev"s (that's "electric vehicles", acronym fans; not to be confused with rv
- which is an altogether different kind of American motor-dream), I don't know how I missed this initially, but I did:Never-Ending Potency: Battery Replacement Could Charge Electric-Car Industry
This concerns an apparent breakthrough in battery technology using ceramics that originators EEStor claim could lead to mains rechargable electric cars with a 500 mile range from only "$9" of electricity. Even more impressive/significant/unbelievable is the kicker, where EEStor suggest a full charge would only take "five minutes". A completely fantastic achievement, or just completely fantastic?
Right now it's very difficult to know. Speculation has been bubbling about this company for some time, and there still seems to be very little in the way of actual answers. No major car manufacturers are involved at this stage, that's one thing for sure - but they do have other heavyweight investors. The technology itself appears to be based on capacitors, rather than a more traditional "battery" - not a new concept, but this would represent one of the first proper instances of implementation. I can't help but think that being ceramic, even if it is true it's going to be awfully heavy.... Canadian company Feel Good Cars, makers of the ZENN, above, are reckoning they'll have the tech on the road by 2008, however, so I'll just stand back and wish them luck.
Ignore the indecisive spelling of EEStor in both main pieces (and the typographic formatting war at the Giz), and the commentators at both Jalopnik
have some interesting things to say. I've listed a few other Google sourced references below.Links:Driven by Oil website
and Listen Again
(usually available for one week from broadcast only) [requires RealPlayer
] @ BBC Radio 4Never-Ending Potency: Battery Replacement Could Charge Electric-Car Industry
@ JalopnikEEStor Ceramic Battery: Internal Combustion Replacement?
@ GizmodoEEStor Capacitors- "This could change everything"
EEStor Ultracapacitor Shuns Publicity
@ The Energy BlogGentlemen, stop your engines
@ CNNMoney.comKleiner Perkins' Latest Energy Investment
@ BusinessWeek online
Feel Good Cars Tuning Up For Production; EEStor ESU on Track
@ Green Car CongressThe Silver Bullet?
@ Dymaxian WorldKleiner's secretive battery-ultracapacitor company, EEStor
@ SiliconBeatFeel Good Cars
[official website]What's in store for EEStor?
@ Clean BreakPicture: the ZENN - from the Feel Good Cars website - on the occasion of winning Gold in the Urban Vehicle category of the 2006 Michelin Challenge Bibendum
Lotus: +3 models; -200 jobs.
The negative aspect of recent Lotus announcements doesn't seem to be getting much attention, so I thought I'd raise it here.
Yesterday, the Malaysian-owned, Norfolk-based sportscar manufacturer revealed plans for three new models in the next five years. Since this included plans for a super new range-topping Esprit, I suspect that the most sensible course is to remains skeptical - a new Esprit gets announced with yawning regularity and hasn't yet made it more than about six months before the project is cancelled. Or delayed. Or, whatever. The other two vehicles are something in the mid-range (isn't that the Europa
? No...?), and something high-performance in association with parent company, Proton (*cough* haven't heard that before...).
The day before
yesterday, Lotus released a statement saying it still had a bright future - in spite of plans to cut up to 200 jobs from its Hethel base. Falling sales in the US are being blamed. A report
today suggest that Proton are determined to hold onto their sporty little number no matter what - so I guess things can't be too bad.
I like Lotus. Let's hope their long-term strategy people know what they're doing.Links:200 jobs to go at Lotus car factory
@ EDP24Lotus plans to cut up to 200 jobs
@ BBC News
Lotus 5 Year Plan Heralds 3 New Models
]Malaysia'a Proton says will not sell Lotus unit even if things get tough
@ Life Style ExtraLotus Europa S gallery
@ New Car NetPicture from here. They have a bunch of other pictures, too (scroll right down to the bottom of the page).
Happy day for Hamster fans - Richard Hammond out of intensive care.
Just seen a BBC television news update that reports Top Gear
presenter Richard Hammond is now out of intensive care, and doctors are "satisfied" with his progress. The Telegraph
website is confirming this here:Hammond moved out of intensive careGuardian Unlimited
has an article that's also worth a look for some further optimism-boosters:Hammond recovery is likely-experts
They've spoken to some neurological experts who reckon the fact the Hamster was able to talk to rescuers at the scene indicates his brain was already beginning to fight the injury. He's no-where near out of of danger yet, but this at least gives ground for hope. He always gives the impression of being a tenacious fellow - so this all sounds like good news.Links:Hammond moved out of intensive care
Hammond recovery is likely-experts
@ Guardian UnlimitedRichard Hammond update
[internal]Picture from the Telegraph.co.uk
Richard Hammond update
Just a quick post to catch up with the current status of seriously injured Top Gear
presenter, Richard Hammond.
All the news reports are suggesting that he remains stable. That's the good news. Less good is the accompanying information that reveals he has suffered a significant brain injury. A recovery is expected - but it seems this is guardly expected to be "good" rather than full.
Beyond this personal element of the story, the BBC is unsurprisingly about to find itself under serious scrutiny regarding the circumstances surrounding the occurrance of the accident. ITV's television evening news has just suggested that Hammond was not initially supposed to the Top Gear
presenter driving the car - although they have not named who he was replacing. The use of language within the programme is a little, uh, suspect, however - as how "late" a replacement he was seems to be in some doubt. The change was reportedly due to a diary clash.
Finally, confusion seems to remain about whether or not he was attempting to break the British Land Speed Record. IrishExaminer.com reports
the organisers say he was not; ITV continues to speculate that he was; the BBC is saying nothing either way.
I guess it really doesn't matter. We're all thinking: get well soon
The readers of PistonHeads have set up a donation page
for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. You can get to it here; amazingly it's already raised over £10,000, enough for a dozen rescure flights.Links:Hammond 'was not attempting land speed record'
@ IrishExaminer.comTV presenter suffers brain injury
@BBC NewsGet Well Soon Hamster
@ JustgivingHammond: BBC update again
[internal]Picture: Sky One
Just a couple of quick environmentally responsible mentions.
First off there's this:Green-Car-Guide.com
A website, launched today (so the press release claims, anyway), which purports to be the first UK guide to green motoring. It includes a top ten of green cars you can buy (woo!), and other cool green-motoring goodness. My personal favourite is the Honda Insight rally car
- which they claim is the world's only hybrid competition vehicle of this type.
Then there's the bizarre-seeming situation that sees the American state of California suing six of the world's largest car makers. GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan have all been hit with a lawsuit concerning their contribution to global warming. ITV has a brief intro to the story here
. How the other manufacturers escaped I have no idea...Links:
Green-Car-Guide.comCalifornia sues car manufacturers
@ ITVPicture from the hybrid rally car page @ Green-Car-Guide.com
New Gran Turismo - no cars or courses? Has Sony finally lost the plot?
Eh? Ok, ok, so it is just a rumour - based on a forum translation
(hmmm...) of an interview with Kazunori Yamauchi
, the creator of the best car racing game ever, Gran Turismo
. But, it seems so bonkers at first glance that...well, let me explain.
It's claimed Gran Turismo
for the forthcoming PlayStation 3 Sony games console - already troubled
- is going to come initially in two versions. The first of these, Gran Turismo HD: Premium
, is pretty much a just a demo for GT 5
proper, containing a measly 30 cars and only two (two!
) tracks, with two more courses and 30 additional cars available only via download. The second, Gran Turismo HD: Classic
, is a specced-up edition of the last PS2 GT
release - except, they've taken away all the cars and race circuits. Instead you're supposed to purchase these from Sony, using the 'microtransaction' system built into the Sony online network.
In the great world wide web, some
are embracing such a concept - and I can sort of see the appeal, like virtual card collecting, only using real money - while others
are claiming it's merely 'an entertaining vilification of the microtransaction and nothing more'. The skepticism is based soundly on the cost, figuring it likely to be in excess of $400 to complete the set, so to speak - and that's at the low-end of the scale. The PS3 is already predicted to be ultra expensive. I guess it would be total genius if Sony could get the scheme to work...
The download element is likely to exist in some form - simply because it will allow the games' producers and even car manufacturers to add to the available rolling stock as new models are created, as well as offer additional courses. There's even talk of limited releases on some vehicles, which frankly I find rather enthralling. Can you imagine how much these will start going for on eBay? (And, I'm not joking.)
But the concept of a racing game you can't actually play straight out of the box? Seems pretty unlikely to me.Links:Dubious Rumour: Gran Turismo HD to ship without cars or tracks
@ joystiqGran Turismo HD: Classic - the first driving game without cars?
@ APC MagazineGran Turismo to be sold without cars?
@ Fragland.netBeyond3d Forum thread
[the rumour originator?]Gran Turismo World
[official site]Gran Turismo (video game)
@ WikipediaKazunori Yamauchi
@ WikipediaPlayStation Global
[official PS site]PlayStation 3
[official PS3 site]Picture from Gran Turismo World downloads page.
The Moonbeam. Have you got a license for that, sunshine?
What's the best thing you could do with a couple of clapped-out Honda scooters?
No, not that. A chap named Jory Squibb in the United States has built himself...well BusinessWeek
describes it as a car, so I guess I'll go with that. Squibb calls it the Moonbeam. It uses a 150cc motor from a 1987 Honda Elite 150, cost $500 in scooter parts, another $2,000 in additional bits, and
1,000 man-hours. But, more positively, apparently gets 105 US-mpg when on an 'economy run', and 80-85mpg around town. Which is kind of impressive.
Mr Squibb is even willing to help you build your own, and has set up a website
to show you the way. Perhaps not recommended for very hilly areas...can't imagine it has very much torque to tug all that extra bodyweight around.Links:$2,500 DIY Cars
@ BusinessWeek OnlineJory Squibb
(Moonbeam website)Picture from the Moonbeam website
Hammond *was* trying to break British Land Speed Record?
Last post of the night. These articles seem to confirm the British Land Speed Record theory
Top Gear's Richard Hammond Critical After 280mph CrashTop Gear presenter was 'trying to break record'
[although be aware that this Times online
article seems to have some of the facts about the car wrong - saying it was only capable of 280mph, when other sources
are suggesting that 370mph was the theoretical limit, for example]
The accident apparently took place on the last run of the day, at Elivington Air Field near York. The car is said to have rolled over - perhaps twice - after careering off the road in a cloud of smoke.Links:Top Gear's Richard Hammond Critical After 280mph Crash
@ Daily Mail onlineTop Gear host critical after crash
@ Daily Express onlineRichard Hammond injured in car crash
@ Motor TorqueTop Gear presenter was 'trying to break record'
@ The Times online
And you can probably catch all the latest after I've gone to bed here
Hammond now "stable"...
...or at least, so the UK news channels are telling us. It also appears they agree with my suposition
that he was trying to break the British Land Speed Record, too.
A friend of mine has just commented it'll make a hell of a Top Gear
episode. Not sure what exactly to make of that.
Still, stable is good, right?UPDATE:
The BBC has revamped their news (and changed the title) again (same link), confirming Richard Hammond is now in a stable condition:TV host seriously hurt in crash
@ BBC news
Hammond: BBC Update Again
The BBC has updated its coverage some more. This is the link:TV presenter critical after crash
Although it does seem as if they are updating within the same article, so whichever link you click you'll get the latest news.Links:TV presenter critical after crash
@ BBC NewsHammond: Sky has more details
[internal]Richard Hammond update
[internal]Richard Hammond critically ill after car crash
Hammond: Sky has more details
I'm going to stop writing this stuff up in a moment, before it gets a little too morbidly obsessive.Jalopnik
caught up with Sky's coverage - which in some kind of bizarre irony seems to be scooping the BBC on this story (although he did work for them, too). You can read additional details - including first hand from those on the scene here:Top Gear man in crash
Glad news from this report suggests that Hammond was able to speak to people in the aftermath of the crash. Sky also has Quentin Wilson
commenting on the nature of the show:'This shows the risks'
Hammond was filming for Top Gear
at the time - and the Beeb's car prog has gained some notoriety for increasingly outlandish stunts. Jalopnik [update: they got that off Sky, too
] has dredged up details of the vehicle he was driving, too. The Vampire jet-car is apparently capable of 0-272mph in six seconds, and holds the British Land Speed Record at 300.3mph. It's been around for years
- I just Googled Imaged it and got something from 1985!
I don't mean to create any inappropriate speculation, but I would not be at all surprised to discover that he was attempting to break that record for a segement on the show. The accident is apparently reckoned to have occurred at around 270mph.
Jeez.Links:Top Gear man in crash
@ Sky News'This shows the risks'
@ Sky NewsUpdate! Sky News Reports Top Gear's Richard Hammond Driving Vampire Jet Car At 280 MPH At Time Of Accident
Richard Hammond update
And, in the space of time it took Blogger to load the previous
post, there's an udpate:TV presenter critical after crash
There are precious few more details, but it seems that Mr Hammond was trapped in the overturned car when the fire service arrived on the scene. The hospital has been confirmed as Leeds General Infirmary.
Again: all the best, Hamster.Links:TV presenter critical after crash
@ BBC news
Richard Hammond critically ill after car crash
Details are currently sketchy - you can read the BBC's initial brief statement here
- but it is apparently confirmed that Top Gear
presenter Richard Hammond has been seriously hurt while filming a segment for the show. It seems something went horribly wrong when he was testing a jet-powered car. An air ambulance crew said he was unconscious at the scene.
He's been flown to Leeds hospital (which the BBC grimly notes has a neurological unit), where he has begun to regain consciousness. He remains in a critical condition, however.
It's inadequate to say it - especially as a stranger - but I wish him and his family all the best. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.Links:
Top Gear presenter hurt in crash
@ BBC newsPicture: Sky One
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It's a MONSTER
I have a confession to make. I've always
thought the Audi Q7 looks like it's about to devour everything in front of it on the road - it doesn't just seem aggressive, but hungry
, too. Um, so it makes me kind of wonder if the new 6.0-litre V12 TDI version isn't taking things a little too far...
Showing no signs of just being a publicity stunt for the upcoming Paris motorshow
, this bulging beasty is apparently already in pre-production; it's no shock that Audi is looking to cash in on the phenomenal performance of its R10 diesel race-car, I just didn't quite expect it to roll out the scheme in an SUV. The V12 TDI Q7 uses tech-sorcery derived from the R10 to deliver 500ps (493bhp) and 1,000Nm of torque (that's 737lb ft) - the latter from only 1,750rpm - making it the most powerful diesel passanger car ever seen. 0-62? 5.5 seconds. Top speed thankfully limited to 155mph. It's got a six-speed auto, twin-turbos, makes an actually quite remarkable 23.7mpg, and meets all current and near-future European emissions regulations.
The sheer hilarity of such an achievement should definitely not be overlooked. I imagine the in-gear acceleration will be monumental enough to have all but the most extreme AMG and Brabus-tuned Mercedes drivers sweating when they see this thing's gaping intakes appear in the mirror behind them. I think it probably needs the even more aggressive new bodykit, just so people know to get out of the way - before it's too late. Munch.
I wonder if the - surprise, surprise - LED-strip running lights are six-a-side, rather than the V10 Audis' five...Links:Paris motorshowPictures: Audi
There's real work, if you can get it
Oh, oh - and I have also got some work published elsewhere:500 horsepower Vauxhall announced
I really enjoy writing newsy stuff like that, so I hope you enjoy reading it. It's also nice when genuine professionals think your stuff is good enough to go out to the general public, so I was really pleased to see these little items make it onto the web. Ace.Links:500 horsepower Vauxhall announced
@ MSN Cars UKPicture: Vauxhall
Quentin Wilson says...
Heh. Well, the UK's roads are always entertaining. I've been doing a lot of motorway work recently, and the above is just one of the amusing sights I've seen in the process. Poor image quality due to using a camera phone (which I would NOT recommend while driving...etc, etc).
Hum, so long time no post. I know. I have actually finished with my university course now, and the plan has always been to spend September regrouping and figuring out exactly what I'm going to do next. I've even already had one interview - which I think went quite well. I'm leaving the description of the site alone for the moment, since I'm still officially a student until the end of the month, I think. I will try and update the sites with RSS tags, though - something I didn't know I had until a reader pointed them out to me (d'oh)! My internet access is currently a little patchy, but I'm still aiming to get some more regular posting done as possible.
'K, that's it for now - just wanted to let people know I'm still alive. ;-)
PistonHeads on the Weineck Cobra
Well, I wasn't planning on posting anything else this week, but when I saw this
I couldn't resist.
It's Ian Kuah driving the Weineck Cobra
. Now, you might not have heard of this thing, but, well, you should want to know about it - just incase you think your Veyron's going to have it easy when it pulls up next to you at the lights.
Looks like an AC Cobra that got a little further carried away with the steriods (I mean, let's face it, more ordinary specimins of the beastie already look like substance abusers), but the shape is about all it's got in common with the original design. Custom built by "master mechanic" (I'm quoting Kuah here) Klaus Weineck, it features an aluminium/titanium chassis, independent double wishbone suspension, and a 12.9 litre bespoke block V8. The mill makes 1,100bhp at 7,000rpm and generates 1,299lb-ft of torque - while the car weighs only 1,000kg. Fortunately it also has enormous brakes, oil coolers everywhere, and is intended to withstand Dubai-grade levels of heat.
My favourite part is the 427 badge it's still sporting on the side. You can look to buy one here
. The site should bring a smile to your face, at the very least - but make sure you have the sound turned up!Links:Weineck Cobra
@ PistonHeadsWeineck official sitePicture from the PistonHeads article - as if you couldn't tell from the banner...
I'm in the final few days of my degree at the moment, and things are moving...smoothly. Yes, actually, smoothly. I'm still anticipating a little bif of last minute chaos, but at the time of writing it's all good.
Two reasons for this post. Firstly, I just wanted to make a quick mention of the JCB DieselMAX, which has broken the diesel engine land speed record three times in the last six days. Pretty awesome achievement. The last set of runs - first thing this am, Utah Saltflats, USA - averaged just over 350mph (although it's yet to be officially verified). You can read all about the speed record bid at the DieselMAX site, here
. My favourite part about their most recent press release
is the quote from pilot (in every sense of the word) Andy Green...350mph and they still haven't gotten the thing into top gear. Magic. There are some brilliant photographs
on the site, too. Which leads me neatly onto the second reason.
In the process of putting together a website for the course and my final MA project I discovered today that I have a really neat photograph of the Lamborghini Miura concept
, which I took at the Geneva Motorshow
this year. And I just wanted to share it with you. Click the image for a bigger view.
Alright, catch you later - and soon.Links:JCB DIESELMAX
official site#14: Let's go retro
[internal]#19: The Geneva Motorshow
[internal]DieselMAX photo from the images section of the official site. Miura courtesy of yours truly - and with no photochoping at all, I promise. It's not even cropped. And maybe you'll think it's a little washed out...but I just love it. And my Canon 300D. *is pleased with self*. Notes: is lucky sometimes.