Come along with us to the 2012 mining conference in Toronto. Dive below the waters of the eastern Mediterranean. Climb inside Audi's first generation electric car, the A3 e-tron, and find out how Steve Dallas' excellent electric car adventure is going.
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Back From the Brink
They’re breathing a bit easier at the Unites States Department of Energy and, undoubtedly, the Oval Office. Two of the green tech companies the Obama Administration, through the Energy Department, had either given grants or provided loan guarantees are returning from the brink of bankruptcy. Technically speaking, both Beacon Power, the flywheel energy storage manufacturer, and Ener1, the parent company of lithium battery producer EnerDel, last year filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. This week we learned that Houston-based Rockland Capital is buying Beacon Power for a price that will enable the government to recover up to 70% of the $39 million loaned it before Beacon filed in late October 2011.

Ener1 expects to emerge from its court-approved reorganization with a new $86 million infusion of capital and stronger balance sheet. The federal government awarded them a grant worth $118.5 million to build their battery plant just outside Indianapolis. While the government won’t recoup that investment, it does bode well for the Obama Administration’s green tech policy.

Audi's A3 e-tron
Officially it’s called an engineering pilot program, or as one wag puts it, a currently unknown group of upscale, luxury car buyers are going to be given the opportunity to pay to participate in a “beta” test that Audi acknowledges is intended to “monitor the effect of climate conditions, driving patterns and energy performance and use insight gained in the final development of future EV technology applications.”

The car they will be testing, on their own dime, is an all-electric version of the A3, which is usually outfitted with turbocharged gasoline or clean diesel engines, the former rated at 200 hp and 207 ft lbs of torque, the latter at 140 hp and 236 ft lbs torque. The e-tron version will be powered by an electric drive with 199 ft lbs torque. The battery pack is rated at 26 kWh. Range is up to 90 miles; top speed is 90 mph. The car will retain its full passenger capacity; no batteries will intrude into the cabin area. We don’t yet know about the trunk/boot space.


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