BMW have unveiled the Vision DC Roadster – a naked electric concept bike that moves the electric boxer story on once again after the radical Vision Next 100 bike shown three years ago. This shock move comes as BMW press the accelerator on their program of electrification, promising 25 models across the business by 2023.
In a standard bike everything pretty much starts with the engine as it’s pretty much the biggest thing to accommodate. On an electric bike the biggest parts are the batteries, while the motor itself is relatively compact.
For the DC Roadster a huge block of longitudinal batteries replace the typical boxer engine block, with the electric motor slung underneath. The two ‘cylinders’ are actually radiators with cooling fans (that retract when the bike is parked), not only giving the bike the appearance of a classic boxer but also retaining that ‘air-cooled cylinders in the wind’ vibe of the original 1932 onward machines.
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Despite its modern features BMW have kept some elements of a traditional design. Up front there’s a Duolever fork, with the ‘tank’ shape flowing back from that.
Out back the tail unit has a typical racing slant, while power is delivered to the ground through a thoroughly BMW shaft drive. Even the lights are sculpted and stylised LEDs that echo existing bikes. The whole bike is everything you expect a BMW to be – but reimagined for the electric age.
The frame itself is milled from aluminium, with huge cut outs giving the bike a lightweight appearance while also echoing the finned cylinders of yesteryear. The rest of the bike is built around the centrepiece of the battery, supported on beams that BMW say make it appear like the extra elements are floating.
Outside of the core bike everything has been designed for both style and safety. The tyres for instance have been made by Metzeler to include fluorescent elements that, just like the frame itself, glow in the dark.
BMW have also designed a riding suit, with near invisible protection as well as light emitting elements to catch the eye of other road users. There’s even a magnetic backpack, naturally.
Now obviously the whole thing is just a concept for now but with BMW’s determination to bring us plenty of new models in the near future, it’s possible that the core battery and motor might well find their way onto a production machine in short order.
Depending how old you are, the name “Lotus Cars” will mean different things. For some, it’s fast-but-fragile F1 cars in the 1960s and 1970s. Or perhaps it’s James Bond’s submarine car. Or it’s the lightweight, nimble Elise, variations of which have made up the bulk of its range since 1996. Regardless of which era you identify with, throughout those decades a common thread has always been the company’s precarious financial situation. But that changed in 2017, when Geely became Lotus’ new corporate parent. Geely is the Chinese company that has been responsible for Volvo’s renaissance since it purchased the Swedish automaker from Ford in 2010. And ever since news of the Lotus purchase broke, we’ve been wondering what the boutique British brand might be able to achieve. After all, the company has never lacked ideas, particularly those involving making cars lighter or making cars handle better (often the two are related).
Many industry watchers have worried that we’d be faced with a souped-up SUV, something derived from Volvo’s SPA or CMA platforms. That may still come to pass; just ask Porsche whether the Cayenne was a bad idea if you’re unsure. FURTHER READING New Tesla Roadster sounds impressive, but it’s not the only game in town But before that happens—and before the Elise gets redesigned for a third generation—there will be the Evija. That’s the name for its new all-electric hypercar, which is to be a low-volume halo car for the rest of the brand. Its specs are eye-opening, even among this rarefied class of vehicles. The Evija will get a carbon fiber chassis (supplied by CPC), which together with subframes weighs just 284lbs (129kg), and Lotus is aiming for an overall weight of 3,703lbs (1,680kg).
The battery pack will come from Williams Advanced Engineering, a spinoff from the Formula 1 team that was responsible for the batteries that powered the first generation of Formula E racers and the batteries that will power the new Extreme E electric off-road racers. At 70kWh, you can be forgiven for thinking it’s nothing special. But Lotus says the Evija’s battery will have a power output of 2,000kW. Four wheels, four motors All that energy will be fed to four motor-generator units, one for each of the Evija’s wheels.
Each motor will have 493hp (368kW) and 314lb-ft (425Nm), giving the car a hefty 1,971hp (1,470kW) and 1,254lb-ft (1,700Nm).
The performance targets are equally impressive. Perhaps not the 0-62mph (0-100km/h)—under three seconds—or the top speed—above 200mph (340km/h)—for there are cars on sale today that can do that and more. But how does 0-186mph (0-300km/h) in under nine seconds sound? Lotus also says that 62-125mph (100-200km/h) will take under three seconds and that 125-180mph (200-300km/h) will be dispatched in less than four seconds. “With the Lotus Evija, we have an extremely efficient electric-powertrain package, capable of delivering power to the road in a manner never seen before.
Our battery, e-motors, and transmission each operate at up to 98% efficiency. This sets new standards for engineering excellence,” said Matt Windle, executive director of sports car engineering at Lotus Cars. Williams has designed the battery to be able to accept a charge at up to 800kW—once someone builds a charger this powerful, it should be able to get the battery up to 100% in nine minutes. Until that happens, Evija owners will have to settle for using some of the new 350kW CCS2 fast chargers, which Lotus says will take an Evija’s state of charge from 0 to 80% in 12 minutes. However, a consequence of using a relatively small-capacity battery is a relatively short range—250 miles (400km) as determined by the (rather inaccurate) WLTP test scheme (which probably means closer to 210 miles when tested by the EPA). Production begins next year, with the production run capped at 130 cars (to match the Evija’s internal designation, the Lotus Type 130).
They won’t be cheap. Prices start at $2.1 million (£1.7 million), and if you want to make absolutely sure one of those 130 cars will be yours, Lotus will gladly secure you a production slot as soon as you give it $310,177 (£250,000) as a deposit.
Wind turbines in Scotland generated almost twice the entire country’s domestic power requirements In the first six months of the year.
Enough energy was created by the country’s renewables to power homes from all the way up in Harris in the Outer Hebrides down to Harrogate in Yorkshire, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Scotland said.
The figures, from Weather Energy, show between January and June wind turbines provided enough electricity to power the equivalent of 4.47million homes for those six months.
That is nearly twice the number of homes in Scotland.
“These are amazing figures, Scotland’s wind energy revolution is clearly continuing to power ahead. Up and down the country, we are all benefitting from cleaner energy and so is the climate,” said Robin Parker, climate and energy policy manager at the WWF.
“These figures show harnessing Scotland’s plentiful onshore wind potential can provide clean green electricity for millions of homes across not only Scotland, but England as well.”
He added: “It’s about time the UK government stepped up and gave Scottish onshore wind a route to market.”
Alex Wilcox Brooke, weather energy project manager at Severn Wye Energy Agency said: “These figures really highlight the consistency of wind energy in Scotland and why it now plays a major part in the UK energy market.”
The figures released come hot on the heels of the UK enjoying the longest ever period without coal power.
Last year Scottish Power became the first major UK energy firm to completely drop fossil fuels in favour of wind power, after selling off its remaining gas and hydro stations to Drax for £702m.
The company said it planned to invest £5.2bn over four years to more than double its renewable capacity.
Just one more reason to change the way you travel, whether that’s getting to and from work, or going for a spin at the weekend. Ditching the car and public transport for an electric bike gives you the chance to save money, improve fitness and do your bit to help the planet. Here are 10 good reasons why it makes sense to make changes to the way you travel – today!
When it comes to getting about, we can’t go on as we have been going – so say the planet’s children, and they’re right. Which is why, in 2017, cyclists in the UK covered a whopping 3.27 billion miles of road, and why cycling has increased every year since 2008.
The magic of an e-bike is that the motor only assists you up to a speed of 15.5mph. Any higher than that, and it’ll be you doing all the work. So it aids you when you’re feeling the strain, without ever preventing you from getting a good workout. Talking of which…
According to a 2017 Glasgow University study published by the BMJ and involving more than a quarter of a million people1, cycling to work was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to commuting by car or public transport.
4. It’s cleaner
E-bikes can be ridden under your own steam, of course, but if you need that extra push, there’s an internal battery powering a discrete electric motor system, using energy that’s clean, green and leaves no footprint.
Not everyone is at peak fitness all the time, and that includes cyclists. For people with health issues, who are just a little older and may struggle to get “over the hill” with that dodgy knee, assisted cycling can be a godsend.
6. No sweat
A lot more people use a bike to get to work, but with them trails a bouquet of sweaty scents that don’t settle well in an open-plan setting. Assisted cycling takes the sweat out of your ride. You could even complete it in a silk suit…
7. Save money
HOW much is that fare again? Whether you’re hitting your daily Oyster limit or having to squirrel money away for an annual season ticket of train delays and cancellations, e-biking is a real alternative to commuting by public transport with all its costs and frequent delays. And by taking advantage of Cycle to Work schemes in place across the UK, you could save almost half the price of a new e-bike.
8. Something for the weekend
The good things in life are worth waiting for – and that includes the weekend, whether that be a leisurely assisted cycle around town or a ride into the countryside – wherever it is you’d like to go.
E-bike designs are some of the most cutting-edge, sleek and neat models on the road, whether you choose a compact and foldable commuter bike like the Carrera Crosscity or the more sturdy Carrera Subway E for more extended rides.
10 New improved models
As the technology that goes into the motors and batteries keeps advancing all the time, riders can expect longer distances between recharging – as well as lighter frames and sturdier rides.
It’s the future. Oil-fuelled internal combustion is a Victorian technology, bizarrely still in use in the 21st century, despite being well past its sell-by date. The future is electric, clean and green – and travelling down the road on power-assisted two wheels.
Honda has confirmed more details on its cutesy electric car. The confusingly named Honda e will get a 36kWh lithium-ion battery which will ensure a range of ‘over 125 miles,’ the company announced today.
The low skateboard battery, which is water-cooled to maintain the optimum operating temperature, is positioned in the box-fresh electric car architecture to ensure 50:50 weight distribution, all the better for perky handling. It’s rear-wheel drive to boot.
Honda has also confirmed the new EV can be charged using the regular Type 2 AC connection or a CCS2 DC rapid charge plug (an 80% charge in 30 minutes is promised – if you can find a suitably powerful charger. The car will be in action at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed in July.