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Plugging Away in a Prius

Jonathan Sawyer spent $30 000—and voided the warranty—to add a plug to his Prius hybrid

10 min read
Plugging Away in a Prius
Photo: RayNg

Ten years ago, Jonathan Sawyer wanted an all-electric car badly enough to lease a General Motors EV1 from his sister’s address in Arizona, one of the few states where GM marketed the car. He smuggled it into his hometown of Boulder, Colo., on the back of a flatbed, and periodically returned it to Tempe, Ariz., for maintenance the same way—until his dealer refused to service it, noting that his radio presets weren’t local, the car’s garage-door opener was useless in his sister’s carport, and a photo of his EV1 had appeared in a Boulder newspaper.

Later, relations with GM improved; Sawyer even got the company to lease him two more EV1s in Colorado when Arizona demand proved low. But that low demand gave him an insight: if even environmentalists in Boulder weren’t going for EV1s, what hope did the car have in the mass market? GM was probably right, he reluctantly concluded, when the company apparently decided in 2003 that the market wasn’t ready for a two-seater with a 110-kilometer (70-mile) range and an 8-hour recharge time.

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Chameleon Skins Slash Building Energy Use

Investment of a small amount of energy can deliver big returns in energy savings

3 min read
looking up to high rise buildings and blue sky
iStock

Heating and cooling buildings consumes around 15 percent of the world’s energy supply, and this use is slated to go up in coming decades. The International Energy Agency predicts that the energy demand for cooling will more than triple by 2050 if nothing is done to address energy efficiency.

Now, taking inspiration from the color-changing skins of chameleons, two research groups have made dynamic, color-changing materials for building facades that could significantly reduce the energy footprint of air-conditioning and heating.

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Bosch Powers the Automotive Sector Toward an Electrified Future

The German company has optimized three-phase inverters and their DC link capacitors with a simulation-powered design process

8 min read
Digital art showing a 3D transparent car with the electric engine connected to batteries.

The global transition toward electric cars is getting a boost from industry suppliers like Robert Bosch, which provides electrical components and systems to car manufacturers. The Bosch team optimizes three-phase inverters and their DC link capacitors with a simulation-powered design process, which enables them to identify potentially destructive "hot spots" early in the development cycle.

This sponsored article is brought to you by COMSOL.

Just as tourists in Paris are drawn to the Louvre, visitors to Stuttgart, Germany, also flock to museums displaying the great works of the city. Stuttgart may not boast of Degas or Monet, but its prominent names are perhaps even more famous than Paris’ painters: Mercedes–Benz and Porsche. Each of these iconic automakers maintains a museum in the southwestern German city they call home. Their gleaming galleries feature many historic and influential cars, almost all of them powered by petroleum-fueled internal combustion (IC) engines. Looking ahead, Stuttgart will likely continue to be the heart of the German auto industry, but how long will the IC engine remain the heart of the automobile?

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