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Metal Casting Technologies : March 2009
TECHNOLOGY FEATURE Automobiles NewWorldOF THE Technological turning points T urning points: Technological turning points tend to be heralded by bubble economies followed by crisis, which drives the impetus for change. Such a structural shift may emerge with the current economic crisis: shifting consumer preferences and politics are pushing the car industry towards more environmentally benign technologies. Several key countries are positioning themselves to be leaders in the EV market: United States: US President Barack Obama has set out a national target of deploying 1 million plug-in hybrids capable of 150 miles per gallon (64 km per liter) by 2015, with a $7,000 tax concession for those who purchase an “advanced” vehicle. Japan: Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has pledged that by 2020, 50% of all cars sold will be non-petrol, and aims to convert Japan Post’s fleet of 21,000 to EV. Israel: Israel intends to deploy 100,000 electric cars by 2011 supported by 500,000 recharging points. Under the banner of entrepreneur Shai Agassi’s “Better Place,” Nissan-Renault has been brought together in a public-private partnership with the Israeli government and private investors such as Morgan Stanley. With some of the highest petrol prices in the world and 90% of motorists traveling less than 70 km a day between closely positioned urban centers, Israel is ideally placed to lead the world in EV deployment. Solar energy from the Negev Dessert will meet the increased demand on the grid. Europe: Both Portugal and Denmark have signed deals with the Shai Agassi consortium in order to deploy EVs by 2011. London has provided 200 million pounds (297 billion) to manufacturers for low-emission cars. Paris has provided 400 million euros specifically for the support of low-emission vehicles. Plug-in cars hit NZ The first plug-in electric cars have appeared in New Zealand with two brands trying to steal the limelight from each other. Two brands chose the same day in February to reveal their plug-products. Mitsubishi Motors unveiled the iMiev, a five seater hatchback, claimed to have a range of 160km per charge and can reach Plug-in electric car speeds of 130km/hr. It is factory designed and built in Japan. Mitsubishi Motors chief executive John Leighton says the cars will be trialled here before going on sale to the public, probably next year. Electric cars take centre stage at Chicago auto show You can barely hear the Dodge Circuit concept as it races toward you. The electric two-seat sports car can go from zero to 60 miles an hour in less than five seconds, and do it all without consuming a drop of gasoline. Electric cars are the future of the American automotive industry, and they will be well represented at the Chicago Auto Show. Electric vehicle engine 28 www.metals.rala.com.au