It not easy building a true high-performance electric vehicle. Even if money isn't a problem, there is a dearth of component suppliers with the kind of equipment and expertise you would need to succeed. Tesla Motors is unlikely to hand out examples of the secret sauce that gives its Model S Performance 416 horsepower, for example. Similarly, the system that motivates the Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS Electric Drive is jealously guarded and not for sale. Enter Rimac Automobili.
Following in the footsteps of Toyota, Japanese automaker Honda will reportedly manufacture components, including batteries and electric motors, for some of its hybrid vehicles in China, starting in 2012. The production shift is meant to reduce the cost of Honda's hybrid vehicles sold in China and, hopefully, boost sales there, too.
A group of specialist engineering technology firms is set to embark on the development of next-generation electric-drive systems that do not require rare earth metals. UK-based Sevcon will lead the collaborative project that includes Cummins Generator Technologies and Newcastle University's Power Electronics and Drives Research Group to develop traction drive units for use in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric-only vehicles.
Government officials in China have reportedly ordered three rare earth mines to halt extraction by year's end. According to Xinhua, Jiangxi, a province in southern China, has reportedly issued a notice to three of its eight major rare earth-producing counties ordering the halt, says Li Guoqing, director of the mining management bureau in Ganzhou, China.
Oxford YASA Motors has announced it's expanding and will move from Abingdon in Oxfordshire county in the South East region of England to a facility located in the nearby business district of Milton Park. The phased relocation process will be complete by the first quarter of 2012.
German automaker Daimler AG and parts supplier Robert Bosch GmbH have announced plans to establish a 50:50 joint venture (JV) focused on electric motors for advanced technology vehicles. Terms of the JV should be finalized by mid-2011, with joint production of electric motors scheduled to commence in 2012. Daimler's press release reads:
Toyota Prius C Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery
With the launch of real EV's for mass market consumption comes the inevitable question: What's next? There are two big areas in which we're likely to see the engineering might of the world's automakers focus their attention for the next generation of electric-drive vehicles. The first is improving the packaging of the electric motors, while the second is improving charging.