October 11, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I’m running with this story because I like a good Brighton picture. EDF Energy has taken delivery of 35 Mini Es for use across its UK sites. The cars will be based at offices in Exeter, Plymouth, Gloucester, Hove (actually*), Worthing, Crawley and Doxford (near Sunderland). Charging points have been fitted at each of these sites. 30 of these cars will subsequently be seconded next year onto the BMW Group London 2012 Olympic support fleet; EDF is the official energy supplier to the Games, and will be working with LOCOG (the Olympic Organising Committee) and Source London on an EV recharging infrastructure for the event.
*Brighton joke, for the uninitiated. Anyway, in other snippets for today:
- The UK government’s to invest £15million into the development of lower-carbon cars via the Technology Strategy Board and Office for Low-Emissions Vehicles. Announcement from Energy Secretary Vince Cable at the Innovate11 conference in London v. shortly.
- The German car-makers – Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche, Daimler, BMW – are showing off their Combined Charging System at a congress in Baden-Baden this week. The CCS is a universal interface for EV charging. More at Green Car Congress.
- London black cabs are getting into biodiesel, made from waste cooking oil, on a fairly big scale; output of the fuel is increasing. Nice story – plus video – at The Guardian; thanks to @onewaytheatre, operators of a mobile solar-powered cinema screen, running their van on waste oil for a long time now.
- Electric cars are to be built in Bulgaria; Litex Motors of Lovech will start manufacturing next spring, reports Novinite, a Sofia-based news agency. Plants in Sofia, Plovdiv and Varns are gearing up to make charging points (thanks to @cleancartalk). For further detail; here’s a lengthy and rather interesting history of EV-making in Bulgaria. No word yet as to what these EVs will be, but Litex has signed a deal to build ICE models by China’s Great Wall Motor Company.
August 4, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The final glut of data from the UK MINI E field trial has been released. Numbers to crunch include: 40 cars, given out to 62 private individuals and to 76 fleets as pool cars over two six-month trial periods; more than 250,000 miles covered; average daily distance 29.7 miles; average cost of recharging less than 2p a mile.
“Virtually all” recharging was carried out at home, many users confident enough to only charge a couple of times a week, and “almost all” said they’d consider buying an electric car. Distances travelled were actually greater than for cars in an non-electric control group, and the average single journey was 9.5 miles, compared to the seven miles clocked up by the average Brit. One participant regularly did an 88-mile journey, and another clocked up nearly 8000 miles September-March.
Despite the MINI E’s two-seat layout (the batteries live in the back), users said the car was suitable for 80% of their journeys. 90% said that with four seats and a proper boot, it’d cover all their needs. 81% said that plugging in the car to charge at home suited their routine and it was better than having to go to a petrol station; whilst most thought that an infrastructure of public charging points was essential for general use, 72% were happy that home charging served their needs. Though the pool car users took a bit longer to get used to the car and its characteristics, such as learning how to drive to conserve battery power and make the most of the regenerative braking function, the regular users took only about a week to acclimatise.
All the findings will feed back into BMW’s i3 programme, as well as inform policy-makers, infrastructure providers and other stakeholders in the EV industry.
July 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
More on Nissan’s solar charging system at its HQ: it’s a prototype for a system using end-of-life Leaf batteries, and part of ongoing research into second-life applications of EV batteries. The battery can be reused to store excess power from renewable sources (i.e. solar, wind) for release at peak times and to supplement supply at time when the sun’s not shining and the wind not blowing; a fully-charged Leaf battery could hold enough energy to power a three-bedroom house for three days.
- Daimler’s Car2Go hire-by-the-minute car-sharing scheme is to launch in San Diego with a fleet of 300 electric-drive Smart Fortwos. Users will be able to charge at 1000 charging points in the city installed by California’s ECOtality.
- Mitsubishi has also installed a solar-powered EV recharging station at its US HQ in Cypress, California. This can charge up to four cars at once, do an 80%/25-minute quick-charge, and will support the launch of the i-MiEV Stateside.
- BMW’s fleet division, Alphabet, has bought out ING Car Leasing. This will enable it to expand its leasing operations, and specifically aid the launch of programmes to lease the upcoming i-mobility (electric) models, and their use in car-share and corporate mobility management schemes.
- If industry forecasts are correct, we can expect to see a lot more microvehicles, buggies and quadricycles around in coming years; this Arcimoto buggy’s pretty fun-looking. 65mph, a range of up to 80 miles – and more weather-resistant versions on the way, reports Autoblog Green.
- BMW is launching an electrically-assisted bicycle, the Pedelec, and this will first be seen in the UK in use at the London Olympics. BMW is a major sponsor of the Olympics and will be providing a support fleet of nearly 4000 vehicles, to include 400 push-bikes, EfficientDynamics models, motorbikes, 200 electric Mini Es and 1-series ActiveEs, and hybrids to include the 5-Series ActiveHybrid, to go on sale in small numbers next year.
July 11, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Europcar is to add the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera to its rental fleet. First roll-out is in Germany in November, with Belgium and the Netherlands to follow, and France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK next year.
- BMW is developing an efficient, clean but high-powered turbocharged three-cylinder, 1500cc engine, to go first in the Mini Mk3 and new entry-level BMW hatch, reports Autocar. It’ll be capable of emitting just 95g/km.
- More feedback from the Mini E trial, and some debate on electric cars, at The Guardian this morning. This being the Guardian, most detractors so far are of the changing-the-energy-source-doesn’t-solve-the-problem-that-is-the-car variety, not the climate changer-deniers. Encouraged by the feedback from one user who started commuting by Mini E instead of public transport…
- By the time I get to Phoenix… it will be well-served for EV charging points. Service-provider Ecotality is planning to install 2,100 in Phoenix and Tuscson, Arizona, by September.
- More on the projected growth of the microcar/quadricycle market at just-auto.com. Much demand from ‘Generation Y’ is expected.
- Scottish Borders Council has set up a three-car pool fleet for its social workers, who will now get around in electric Citroen C-Zeros. And others in the area will benefit: SBC’s grant from the Scottish goverment has also paid for “a network” (they don’t say how many) of public-access charging points in the area between Edinburgh and the English border.
- Citroen is adding new C3 and C4 models to its line-up which emit less than 100g/km of carbon dioxide and have improved fuel economy; the C3s feature the HDI 70bhp engine and the C4 the e-HDI 110.
- Nissan has started testing a solar charging system, with lithium-in batteries to store energy on-site, at its HQ in Yokohama. It’ll power the seven charging stations at the facility, with enough juice to run 1800 Leafs a year (Green Car Congress).
June 15, 2011 § Leave a Comment
More data has been released from the BMW Group’s MINI E trial, said to be the largest publicly-available study of electric car users yet conducted. Test fleets have been deployed in the US, Germany, France, Japan and China, and a study carried out in partnership with the University of California, Davis, and including more than 120 households in California, New York and New Jersey running the all-electric MINI E between June 2009 and June 2010 has been a comprehensive piece of research into how the Americans use their EVs and their experiences. Headline figures include:
- 100% of respondents said that electric vehicles are fun to drive, and practical for daily use
- The MINI E met 90% of their daily driving needs
- 71% drove fewer than 40 miles a day, and 95% drove fewer than 80
- 99% said home charging was easy (most charged overnight at home)
- 71% said they are now more likely to purchase an EV than they were a year ago; only 9% said they are less likely
- 88% said they are interested in buying an EV or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in the next five years
- However, most thought that the electricity used should be from renewable sources, i.e. solar, wind or hydro power, and were against using coal-fired electricity to charge their cars.
Researchers also noted that drivers were interested in making their driving more efficient, appreciating the regenerative braking function and that some were inspired to make other energy-saving measures in their lifestyle, such as installing solar panels on their houses.
Ulrich Kranz, head of BMW’s i-mobility project, said: “The results of the UC Davis study have a direct impact on the development of all BMW Group electric vehicles to come. BMW Group now is developing the next generation of full electric cars, with the BMW ActiveE test fleet coming into the market in 2011, and the series-production BMW i3 following in 2013.”
The full findings of the UC Davis study can be read at its Institute of Transportation Studies site.
November 18, 2010 § Leave a Comment
In non-LA Show news:
- Volvo has reduced the carbon dioxide emissions of the C30, S40 and V50 DRIVe models to 99g/km, and all three now return up to 74.3mpg (combined). Exempt from the London congestion charge soon, too.
- Spy shots doing the rounds: a claimed Range Rover plug-in hybrid (Detroit News).
- Positive feedback from the Mini E trial Stateside: participants reliably achieved an 80-mile range, sometimes getting 100 miles per charge, and three-quarters were keen to go on and buy an EV (Edmunds Green Car Advisor).
- California’s Coda Automotive is displaying its electric saloon at the LA Show this week, but production is delayed (Wired).
November 6, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Standing to the left of the Mini E is, I believe, David Richards (Prodrive boss), and to the right, rally legend Paddy Hopkirk. Tesla, meanwhile, was represented by drivers including Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason – a major player on the historic motorsport circuit these days – and Perry ‘I was The Stig’ McCarthy.
Toyota had an extensive convoy silently rolling to the start-line: plug-in and conventional Priuses, three or four Auris Hybrids, and this hydrogen-fuelled FCEV prototype (fuel cell electric vehicle). Representation from lesser-known Far Eastern manufacturers came with the Tata Indica EV, and electric versions of the Satria Neo and an extended-range EV Exora MPV from Malaysia’s Proton.
September 15, 2010 § Leave a Comment
RLE International and Australian firm Energetique have launched a jointly-developed all-electric light van called the MaxEV. Based on the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi, it has a payload of 600kg and a range of up to 150km (200km in higher-spec form). It’s on display at the Low Carbon Vehicle Show at Millbrook this week and is being marketed to UK fleets.
- Cheaper than carbonfibre: a new material called inrekor, a propylene-based foam sandwiched between sheets of aluminium, could cut vehicle weight by 30%, reports Autocar. Inrekor is said to be suitable for chassis-building and for vehicle structures, bonded together with super-strength adhesives. It has been tested by the Warwick Manufacturing Group and crash-tested at MIRA, achieving results similar to a structure with five NCAP stars. It’s 100% recyclable, as well. Inrekor says that a prototype’s a way off, but a showcase concept (a Porsche 356 Speedster replica) using the material has been built by Dorset’s Chesil Motor Company.
- Daimler is to collaborate with Renault-Nissan on electric vehicle tech; the tie-up will involve vehicles from the Mercedes and Smart brands.
- Nissan’s also announced a partnership with Sumitomo Corporation to find a ‘second life’ for used lithium-ion batteries. The venture’s called 4R Energy – the 4Rs are for Reuse, Resell, Refabricate and Recycle.
- BMW has collected feedback from the Mini E trial in the UK. Mostly good (they say), with few problems and general satisfaction; gripes included some specific issues with range, poor load-space (the batteries took up the rear compartment) and poor performance in very cold weather (Edmunds Green Car Advisor).
- Toyota is to build a new engine factory in Altona, near Melbourne; this facility will make hybrid powertrains and a new four-cylinder petrol engine.
- The University of Colorado at Boulder is to partner with the US Department of Energy and Toyota to trial a fleet of 18 plug-in Prius PHVs. The progress of this two-year trial can be followed on a community blog.
- Ashwoods Automotive of Exeter has developed a retro-fit hybrid system for panel vans which can be fitted in less than four hours, and which can reduce fuel consumption by up to 25%. The company also offers retro-fit stop-start conversions, and has already delivered 130 hybridised Ford Transits to private and public sector fleets. Its clients include the Environment Agency, Transport for London, numerous local councils and Riverford Organics. The company is now working in a consortium funded by the Technology Strategy Board to develop next-generation hybrid powertrains for a variety of applications (Green Car Congress).
September 9, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Mini is to show several electric scooter concepts at the Paris Motor Show, all to the same basic design but with differently-themed styling. One will be finished to resemble the Mini E, and all will feature key Mini design and styling cues. A lithium-ion battery will provide a decent range, and drive comes froma single motor mounted within the rear wheel; the scooter can be plugged into any domestic power socket for recharging. As with the Smart scooter (below), these are part of a programme to offer a diverse range of transport options within the brand’s line-up.
July 29, 2010 § Leave a Comment
- Two lengthy treatises on American life with an EV: Edmunds Inside Line has come to the end of a year with its Mini E, and Autoweek’s man on the West Coast is getting to grips with a Mitsubishi i-MiEV (though the car seems to spend much of its time parked up at Burbank Airport). Range anxiety all round, though no-one’s been stranded as yet; definite second-car potential, they conclude.