Fiat will launch three new environmental friendly versions of its biggest and smallest vans at the Hanover International Commercial Vehicle Show next week (25 September 2008) with the Ducato making its debut in natural gas form and the Fiorino, the Fiat’s smallest van which is set to arrive in Australia in mid-2009, launched in both natural gas and electric versions.
The Fiat Fiorino Electric
The Fiat Fiorino Electric is a development of the Doblo Electric, the electric version of Fiorino’s bigger brother that is widely used in Europe and produced by Micro-Vett, Europe’s leading Zero Emission Vehicle company, in association with the Fiat Research Centre.
Therefore, the Fiorino Electric is not a show van but a practical solution for customers that wish to combine their transport needs and protect the environment. In particular, the new vehicle is ideal for distribution and transport services in urban areas where the technical features of an electric traction vehicle are enhanced.
The Fiorino Electric will be on sale in Europe at the end of year and is equipped with a three-phase asynchronous electric motor with an output of 30 / 60 kW achieving acceleration from 0 to 50 kmh in 6.4 seconds and can reach a maximum speed that exceeds 100 kmh. An outstanding performance (a 20% gradient can be climbed at full load) confirming that electric traction represents a valid alternative to vehicles equipped with conventional engines in the town/city.
The motor is supplied by the batteries via the interposition of a three-phase DC/AC inverter to maximise performance and to ensure high efficiency.
The motor has a nominal torque of 130 Nm, made available when stationary up to 2,300 rpm In addition, the motor can provide a transition torque of 260 Nm, to ensure brilliant starting when stationary and peak power when climbing gradients. As regards the power output, the 30 kW delivered continuously by the motor (starting from 2,200 rpm) enables the town/city traffic to be addressed with agility and safety.
Moreover, the peak power is twice the value compared with the nominal power, enabling the vehicle to perform brilliantly when overtaking. The Fiorino Electric will be also be available with a 65 Nm nominal torque motor (130 Nm peak torque value) and with a maximum power output of 15/30 kW.
Therefore, a generous performance that is combined with a spacious loading area (usable volume: 2.5 m3 that can become 2.8 m3 with the front passenger seat folded down) and a maximum payload of 450 kg, enabling the new Fiorino Electric to be particularly well-suited to transporting small/medium size parcels in urban areas, restricted traffic areas which on zero emission vehicles may be used, markets and hospitals.
The energy storage system is worthy of a separate mention, since the batteries have been chosen on a global ‘best practice’ basis. In particular, lithium ion accumulators are used: they are characterised by a distinctly superior duration in terms of recharge cycles compared with other battery types, and are capable of being recharged without being damaged and rapidly even if not fully discharged and without harmful or hazardous gas emissions. In particular, the batteries are housed in three high-resistance steel structures positioned in areas which, in the case of the base vehicle, house the mechanical components, the spare wheel and the exhaust system, therefore without reducing the volume and without increasing the vehicle's overall dimensions (the spare wheel is replaced by the fix&go tire inflating kit).
It is important to mention that the batteries ensure a range that exceeds 100 km according to the ECE 101 urban cycle and are recharged in 6-8 hours using the domestic mains supply with a 3 kW socket (the recharging operation is completed in only 3 hours if a 9 kW mains supply is available).
The Fiorino Electric inherits all the points of strength of the base model: the same original exterior design, the same interior solutions greatly appreciated for the excellent ergonomic features, visibility and flexibility. The scheme adopted for the suspensions has not been changed compared with the base version: Mc Pherson type independent wheels (front suspension), torsion bar (rear suspension). In the same way the dynamic features of the electric traction vehicle are fully comparable with the features of the Fiorino version equipped with a thermal engine. The driving comfort is excellent, thanks to the detailed fine tuning of the electronic system, with special attention being paid to the motor management solutions, to proportion the torque delivered gradually, to the full advantage of the drivability and driving pleasure.
Ducato Natural Power
The dual fuel natural gas-petrol Ducato assures excellent performance, limited consumption and above all minimum emissions. This provided by the 3.0 litre engine that develops a maximum output of 136 HP (100 kW) in the natural gas mode from 2,750 to 3,500 rpm and a maximum torque of 350 Nm at 1,500 rpm When using natural gas fuel, the Ducato Natural Power reaches a maximum speed of 153 kmh; accelerates from 0 to 100 kmh in 13.9 seconds; accelerates from 60 to 100 kmh (in 5th gear) in 10.1 seconds; can climb a 21.5% gradient; and, lastly, consumes 9.3 kg of natural gas every 100 km.
This engine was developed and produced by FPT – Fiat Powertrain Technologies – a solution that was produced to run on natural gas from the initial design phases by adopting various specific components to maximise the reliability and efficiency when using both Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and petrol.
The vehicle is configured to operate normally on natural gas, whereas the petrol mode intervenes when the natural gas supply is running out. In this latter situation the petrol tank (15 litres) assures a range that exceeds 100 km in the ‘recovery’ mode, in order to reach the nearest natural gas supply station.
The gas cylinders are located under the floor, thereby maintaining full use of the loading area. The fuel system comprises 5 gas cylinders: two 50 litre cylinders (equivalent to 8.5 kg each) and three 40 litre cylinders (equivalent to 6.8 kg each) providing an overall capacity of 220 litres (corresponding to 37.4 kg) that assures a range of 400 km.
The natural gas is stored under pressure inside the gas cylinders (200 bar nominal at 15°C), and flows into a special pipe to the pressure reducer/regulator that supplies the 4 low-pressure injectors (at approximately 7 bar). These are mounted on the cylinder heads and are activated by the specific electronic control unit. The control unit automatically switches the fuel supply to the petrol mode if the natural gas supply runs low.
Fiorino Combi Natural Power
A prototype of the Fiorino Combi Natural Power is also on show near the Ducato Natural Power with a dual petrol/natural gas fuel supply; the two systems are independent. The vehicle runs on natural gas and only the engine start phase is always performed when in the petrol mode, subsequently and automatically switching to the other fuel system. In this way the petrol supply system remains efficient and its intervention is only required when the gas in the gas cylinders has almost run out. The changeover from natural gas to petrol and vice versa, however, can always be performed manually by pressing a button on the dashboard.
The new vehicle is ideal for transport services in urban areas - also thanks to its compact dimensions -, has a minimum environmental impact and is equipped with a 1.4 litre petrol engine that adopts a Multipoint sequential phased system. This is a distinctive technical feature that enables the engine to achieve a performance comparable with the performance of diesel engines when operating in the natural gas mode: in fact, the maximum speed is approximately 150 kmh.
The Fiorino Combi Natural Power ensures excellent drivability: the engine's maximum output is 48 kW at 5,200 rpm when running in the natural gas mode, while the maximum torque is 104 Nm at 2,600 rpm. Whereas, the performance is 54 kW at 5,200 rpm and 118 Nm at 2,600 rpm, respectively, when the engine runs in petrol mode. The Fiorino Combi Natural Power records minimum emissions: the CO2 emissions correspond to 136 g/km in the natural gas mode compared with 164 g/km when in the petrol mode.
The natural gas is stored in two steel gas cylinders, positioned under the floor, which have an overall capacity of 86 litres (corresponding to approximately 15 kg of gas) and assure a maximum range of 300 km, thanks to a consumption of 5 kg/100 km in the combined cycle.
In addition, the petrol tank (45 litres) enables a further 600 km to be travelled: therefore, in total, the overall range is a remarkable 900 km.
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