Design Concept of the Day: Nissan/Foster + Partners Fuel Station of the Future

August 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

nissan foster fuel stationNissan is working with architects Foster + Partners on a design concept for ‘Fuel Station of the Future’, the idea being to rethink the petrol station for the age of electromobility. The concept will be revealed later this year. Some interesting thinking behind this, perhaps hinting that this could be about more than just substituting plugs for petrol pumps, as Nissan says it “recognises that the refuelling infrastructure of the future represents the perfect opportunity to integrate and engage with local environments in an innovative way – potentially providing an energy and societal hub for modern communities.” Are we talking local/community renewable energy initiatives here?

Nissan goes on to mention “a zero-emissions society, connected communities, autonomous drive and the internet of things” in a “smart EV ecosystem – not just in terms of mobility, but in harnessing the potential of battery storage and vehicle-to-grid systems.” Look forward to seeing this – but let’s not forget the parallel system of people charging vehicles at home/work from their own (renewably-generated) electricity, arguably a potentially more disruptive development. Full blurb from Nissan here. (But will this fuel station’s equipment be as pretty as the Pininfarina Antares EV chargers?)

  • Comment at Forbes on how Tesla has eaten into sales of premium-brand German models, quoting Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer of the University of Duisberg-Essen’s Center for Automotive Research (CAR: of course) on “the blind alley of plug-in hybrids”. Prof Dudenhoeffer says that PHEVs are mostly run on their ICE power, and that the must-have luxury vehicle even in markets with no EV subsidies is the Tesla Model S, its 280-mile-plus battery range rendering the PHEV tech (expensive, heavy, not really eco-friendly) redundant.
  • Vehicle mileage travelled (VMT) in the US hit a record high of 1.54trillion miles in the first half of 2015: lowdown at Green Car Congress, which notes that “this is more than double the amount driven during the same period in 1981, continuing a trend of America’s driving mileage doubling nearly every generation.” Per-capita VMT is still below the peak of June 2005, albeit still trending upward over the last year, with total VMT (incl. commercial traffic) hitting record levels in June and total US driving increasing for 16 months in a row. Full release from US Department of Transportation has links to the Federal Highway administration (FHWA) data.
  • However… the example of “mobility fees” in Florida shows a different approach in US city development: restricting new road-building, concentrating development in areas with existing infrastructure, and attention to vehicle mileage, reports Citylab.

Monday news…

August 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

Heard the one about the sports car that sounds like a space ship? ZZGW-1024x683The GLM ZZ, an electric conversion of the Lotus Elise-alike Tommykaira ZZ roadster (pictured), is built in limited numbers to special order in Japan – and while in itself, it’s not that interesting a car, a fun new optional feature is going on offer: a “neo-futuristic driving sound generation system” courtesy of synth/amplifier-maker Roland. The creator of the popular Cube amp (three variants of this in my household) and keyboards used by some of the best-known names in popular music (no, all about vintage Hammonds, Moogs and Farfizers in my social circle, I’m afraid)  is coming up with real-time “sonically rich, studio quality sounds” to substitute for engine noise and give the unique driving experience “of driving a space ship on the road.” Prog rock on the stereo, please.

  • On a differently-futuristic note, car concept-conceptualiser Charles Bombardier (yes, scion of that dynasty of transport designers) has come up with a driverless, on-demand electric people-mover which levitates on magnetic tracks across a city. A modernised version of monorail shuttles, the egg-shaped Katric would be aimed at business commuters going in/out of central business districts. More here.
  • Hyundai is planning a compact EV, with plug-hybrid and hybrid sister models, says Green Car Reports, which describes the car as a rival for the Toyota Prius, next-generation Nissan Leaf and upcoming Chevrolet Bolt EV, and suggests that long-range versions could be offered.
  • The UK is now Europe’s fifth-most traffic-congested country, according to data from Inrix, with congestion rising in 14 of the country’s 18 metropolitan areas last year. Though roadworks are cited as a contributory factor (irony alert?) a growing urban population and a pick-up in the economy are quoted as having increased the demand for more road travel, with an increase in the numbers of both private and commercial vehicles on the road and more people commuting by car, reports Fleet News. London drivers are said to have spent an average 96 hours stuck in traffic last year, making the capital Europe’s most congested city. Kinda questions the whole idea that cities (and people, in general) are falling out of love with cars, doesn’t it? And suggests, perhaps, that we need to get people using cleaner cars rather than thinking we can get them all on bicycles/foot/public transport instead (though of course, a realistic level of modal shift is desirable)? Full UK-slanted release on the Inrix Traffic Scorecard Report (with some nice tables linking traffic to economic growth) here; and for comparison, some lowdown on the German situation here. Germany is the third-most congested European country (behind Belgium and the Netherlands), with congestion up in 17 of 22 metropolitan areas, and Cologne, Stuttgart and Karlsruhe the worst-affected cities.
  • Incidentally, Inrix has just released its On-Street Parking app, guiding drivers to spaces with a colour-coded system indicating availability. Rather than using data from on-street sensors, which proved in trials to be unreliable, this aggregates real-time data from cities, connected car-sharing services, vehicle GPS data, parking and mobile payment companies (including meter transactions) and similar. Full lowdown here. Hoping this Seattle-based firm can look at real-time EV charger status and availability…
  • A new academic book, Sustainable Transportation (previews available) looks at planning, management and decision-making in the sector. There’s a nice distinction in Ch4, Transportation and Sustainability (pp81-2) between the two ways of looking at the concept of sustainable transportation: firstly as a subject in its own right, with transportation as the main focus, or alternatively, taking a holistic, multi-sector view whereby the transportation is looked at in terms of its contribution to sustainable development. Yep, the latter’s what we need to be doing in the electromobility field.
  • This does come under the How Seriously Should I Take This? heading, but… China’s equivalent of Netflix, LeTV, is developing an EV with a view to taking on Tesla, reports FastCo. And has hired 600 people (including staffers from Tesla, GM and BMW) to create this car, a sporty fastback hatch to be revealed at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show, and effectively a vehicle (no pun intended) for the company’s digital content. How seriously, then? Well, LeTV’s founder is said to be a billionaire, having launched best-selling TVs and phones in China, which has to be a good start.
  • Also via FastCo: the school run just went digital. Shuddle Carpool, an extension of an ‘Uber for kids’ service already launched in California, aims to connect families (who know each other already) to ride-share in pre-booked cars with a vetted, probably female, driver. So a shared school taxi, then, as arranged by – and at the expense of – many local councils in the UK for country kids for many years, albeit now in Silicon Valley stylee.
  • A South African firm called Big Boss is aiming to sell low-cost EVs, initially built in China but with a view to local production after the launch, and is working with the government to establish charging infrastructure; more here (via electrive.com).

Friday round-up: #EVs & the grid, integrated energy management, lifecycle analysis, infrastructure + more #mobility, #electromobility…

August 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

LichtBlick_1504_3E-Haus_mw_013Detailed look at the role of EVs in load-shifting at CleanTechnica: this illustrates how domestic charging of cars overnight can make use of night-peaking wind-generated electricity, and how this can complement daytime solar generation in differing degrees according to region/state.  Lots of nice graphs, with links to sources…

And not unrelated to this, German energy provider LichtBlick is running a trial in Hamburg of its SchwarmDirigent IT platform, involving the ‘3E’ apartment building fitted out with rooftop solar panels, a combined heat and power unit (CHP), energy storage plus chargers for two shared EVs (pictured); the ‘swarm management’ system controls the CHP, optimises and forecasts energy consumption in the building and communicates with the grid to sell back excess energy at optimum times. The 3Es, by the way, stand for Eigenerzeugung (internal production/generation), Eigenverbrauch (internal consumption) and Elektromobilitat (electromobility), and further pilot projects of the concept are planned. (Heads-up from CleanTechnica on this one, too).

  • Some lifecycle analysis from Carnegie Mellon University, reported here; a battery-electric vehicle powered by natural gas-based electricity gives an average 40% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle. Plug-in hybrids also showed a reduction (over 20%). Lifecycle GHG emissions from hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and those using CNG had emissions comparable to the petrol vehicles – and liquid fuels such as methanol, ethanol and other biofuels actually had larger lifecycle emissions. So the EVs came out tops – even when using electricity derived from natural gas (methane leakages in the supply pathway taken into account), showing the further potential for overall system reductions using renewable-source electricity. Full paper here.
  • Interesting little snippet at the NY Times: Tesla is partnering with Airbnb to fit (free) Tesla charging stations at key rental properties on the US west coast, the idea being to enable Tesla-driven road trips. The kit will be fitted at 30 popular properties in cities including Los Angeles and Palm Springs in an initial phase, with more locations to follow. Oh, and Tesla is also supplying medium-speed chargers (not Superchargers) to 24 parking garages (many with attendants and valet parking) in New York, reports Wired; this is part of its growing Destination Charging service.
  • Discussion on the expansion of Car2Go in New York at Automotive News, and the role of on-demand, one-way car hire (I refuse to call this sharing – it’s a commercial rental service) in outer city boroughs; could complement the public transport system and “fill a hole”, AN suggests, connecting boroughs and providing first/last-mile solutions, though there are concerns over parking. Data from Car2Go shows heavy usage around subway stations, apparently, suggesting its use in multi-modal journeys.
  • Evolute Drives, a subsidiary of the UK’s Drive Systems Design, is to present a three-speed transmission for EVs in Shanghai next month: this is claimed to show energy efficiency gains of up to 18% in a Mercedes-Benz B-Class demonstrator vehicle. More at Green Car Congress.
  • Leo Motors is to collaborate with LG on a telecomms infrastructure for EVs – and electric boats – to integrate control systems and services, including charging. This will be based on an IoT platform, with services to include battery charging or replacement alerts, range monitoring with alerts on nearest charging facilities, cloud-based power management and fleet management, roadside emergency zap-ups, and payment for charging services. More here.
  • Israeli start-up StoreDot is aiming to make a fast-charging battery for EVs which can give hundreds of miles-worth of charge from a five-minute charge. It has raised $66million to develop its FlashBattery tech, reports Inhabitat.
  • Latest figures on alt-fuel car registrations from ACEA, here. EV sales grew in the EU by 53% in the second quarter of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, to 27,575. The full document shows the largest increases in alt-fuel registrations (including CNG, propane and hybrid vehicles) in the UK (up 62.4%), followed by Spain and France, but a 74.1% rise in Norway – and of the 11,614 new cars registered there last quarter, 77% were electric. Some 27,575 electric cars (including, in this analysis, PHEVs and fuel cell cars) were registered in the EU last quarter, and 52,889 in Q1 and Q2 2015, a 78.4% rise on last year.
  • The Scottish government is offering private drivers and businesses interest-free loans of up to £50,000 and £100,00 respectively to buy an EV or PHEV, funded by the Energy Saving Trust. The loans can cover 100% of a vehicle’s value and are repayable over up to six years; funding to install domestic charging points is also available, and this is in addition to the existing UK-wide Plug-In Vehicle grants of up to £5000. The loan scheme will run till March 2016. More here.

Concept of the Day: Audi e-tron quattro

August 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

audi etron quattro Official pictures and details are out of Audi’s all-electric SUV (310-mile range; production 2018) and another interesting thing about it is its active aerodynamics (0.25cd), said to contribute significantly to its long range in terms of energy-saving. These systems include a movable splitter, rear diffuser and rear wing, movable elements to the side, an enclosed underbody and as Car Design News points out, Audi has incorporated some EV-specific design touches such as overlapping lower rocker surfaces to emphasise the siting of the battery pack.

  • Nice read here from UITP on the diverting of car traffic away from key central areas in European cities, and policy to support pedestrianisation and greater use of public transport. With a note about the beginnings of “looking beyond the private car” (think shared, on-demand), and that that “cars are not going away any time soon.” Hence the need for electrification, as I keep saying…
  • Ouch: 86% of US workers get to work by car, according to the latest analysis of census data, outlined here at Citylab, And 76.4% are driving alone, car-pooling has fallen, with only 5.2% taking public transport (“mass transit”, as they call it over there), 2.3% walking, and 0.6% cycling. Younger drivers aged 16-24 are less car-dependent, as are those of all ages living in principal cities, but the 25-29 year-olds are near to the national average when it comes to driving, although more of this age-group are using mass transit. The largest fall in car commuting 2006-2013 has been in San Francisco, though it’s only a 3.8% drop (in the ocean).
  • Was saying only yesterday that there should be an electric Brompton, and lo and behold… The Brompton (arguably the exemplar when it comes to folding bicycles) is not just a push-bike, it’s also a very valuable link in a multi-modal transport system (already, and with great potential for further development). Giving it a bit of extra boost can’t be a bad thing to help those in hillier areas, or to persuade the more reluctant of pedallers to give cycling a go. Fits in a car boot, too, of course, for last-mile and into-the-city-centre journeys, as well as for getting to/from stations.
  • Aston Martin. Electric Rapide to come in two years’ time, e-DBX to follow, reports Automotive News Europe, quoting 800bhp-worth of power and a 200-mile range, and the need for AM to balance out the V8s and V12s in its range in terms of corporate average emissions.
  • Nissan has been working on an audible alert system for pedestrian protection, and has built a Leaf-based concept vehicle for the EC-led eVADER project. The alert compensates for the lack of engine noise from an EV, and has been developed to have as little impact as possible on ambient noise levels, yet to be specifically targeted (via six speakers) for the pedestrian to hear. It depends on a camera built into the windscreen, with recognition of pedestrians, cyclists and other road-users.
  • More than 71% of 500-odd Southern California drivers surveyed expressed an interest in buying an EV, reports CleanTechnica – and 13% already had one. The survey, by NRG EVgo, found only 16% completely disinterested; the biggest barrier was purchase cost (25%+), followed by concerns over limited numbers of charging stations and range (15%) and a lack of basic awareness (7%). And 57% lived in an apartment or condominium, limiting their opportunities for home-charging, with living in rented accommodation a further issue.

 

Friday reading: #EV surveys, #electromobility infrastructure, charger etiquette & more…

August 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

vw eup2Government report out this morning on uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles: full 70-page document here, but a quick summary of findings… In the last quarter of 2014/Q1 2015, they represented over 1% of the UK car market for the first time; two-thirds of these ULEVs were PHEV, one-third all-electric; their 2014 market share was at a similar level as in the US, France and Germany, though Norway reached 17.8%; most EV owners are male, middle-aged, well-educated, affluent and in urban areas in households with two or more cars and the chance to charge at home; this demographic dominance is not expected to change significantly in the next 3-5 years, with more similar buyers anticipated, though these may split into three groups according to whether they’re motivated by environmental concern, new technology or saving money. Private-sector businesses represent the bulk of fleet EV purchases and this is likely to continue.

Privately-owned EVs are being driven for mileages comparable to ICE cars (average 8,850 miles a year, compared to 8,430 for all cars), and are typically used as a main car in a household (82%, for most day-to-day journeys; 20% of EV drivers had no other car); owners are mostly satisfied and positive about buying another, though range is still the biggest perceived downside, followed by purchase price and a lack of knowledge about EVs; home charging is preferred over workplace or public, most owners charging overnight at home, but they consistently report a desire for more extensive and fast public charging to enable them to undertake longer journeys. Fleet EVs are being regularly used, driven for high mileages, and if used as pool cars, are mainly charged at workplaces.

The report also discusses policy on financial incentives (upfront grants have been important; financial incentives may be effective in encouraging further uptake), and investment in public infrastructure (important for encouraging further uptake; more research needed to work out how much/where to put it). It also says that “more up to date evidence is needed on the characteristics, behaviours and attitudes of current EV owners in the UK” (well, maybe I can help…) as well as representing fleet owners and users, and looking into the differences between EV and PHEV owners.

In other news today:

  • Zap-Map is reporting 132 new rapid-chargers (AC and DC) installed in the UK in the last 30 days, bringing the total up to 1345. These are 43 CHAdeMo (i.e. Nissan Leaf), 41 CCS (BMW i3), 34 Type 2 Mennekes and 14 Tesla. Don’t get me started on the different connector types
  • There’s a joke in here somewhere about an electrified yellow brick road… Kansas City Power and Light has a plan for 1,100 EV-charging stations and removing range anxiety, and is working with partners to install a network and promote EV uptake. Report from Forbes (via electrive.com).
  • Closer to (my) home, Oxford City Council is the latest to moot a ban on petrol and diesel cars in its centre by 2020, with a city-wide ban proposed for 2035. More here.
  • Audi’s upcoming all-electric SUV is to have a 500km range; batteries will be sourced from LG Chem and Samsung SDI. More here. This car – Q6 e-tron – is expected to be previewed in concept form at the Frankfurt Motor Show this autumn.
  • Millennials aren’t the only demographic group out there, of course, but the automotive industry is rather obsessed with these youngsters (born 1982-2004, by common definition) right now. Some nice number-crunching from a UCLA student (reported here at Citylab) who looked at  US national travel surveys in 1995, 2001 and 2009 and the habits of 16-36 year-olds at each point; Kelcie Ralph identified four groups, the car-less (14%), multi-modals (4%, going 30-60% of their journeys by a non-car mode), trekkers (3%, high-mileage drivers doing twice the mileage of the main proportion, which is…) and, yes, drivers (79%, doing the majority of their travelling by car and averaging 24 miles a day across four trips). However, these stats (the 2009 data) show little change since 1995, with drivers down only 4% from 83%, the car-less up 4% and multi-modals only up 1% (from 2.5 to 3.5%). So on this analysis, Generation Y isn’t exactly shunning motor transport wholesale, although Ralph’s data does only look up to 2009.
  • Some feedback from Finland on its progressive intelligent mobility programmes, notably in Helsinki: apparently the Kutsuplus on-demand shared taxi service isn’t actually being used much, because short round-the-city journeys are already well-served by public transport or other means, i.e. walking. The writer, who also discusses autonomous vehicles, warns against relying on tech-fix solutions, pointing out that, in cities, very good low-tech transportation modes already exist – walking and cycling – and notes: “much of the tech visioning within the transportation circles is way too disinterested about integrating the enormous amount of work that still needs to be done with the physical realities of our cities to their future scenarios. Apps are not going to help you ride a bike to the nearest transit stop if the physical infrastructure doesn’t exist.” A thought-provoking Friday read.
  • Montreal’s second-largest taxi operator is aiming to put 2000 electric taxis on the city’s roads by 2019, with the first in action by the end of this year; more here. Green Car Reports also has the lowdown on an EV rental/sharing scheme in rural Japan, aimed at tourists touring the country’s onsen (hot springs).
  • And DEWA, the electricity and water authority in Dubai, is to set up 100 EV-charging stations this year as part of its Smart Dubai initiative (for when the oil runs out?). These will include fast-chargers at petrol stations and on highways, at commercial zones, parks and offices, and domestic chargers will also be supplied, reports Intelligent Mobility Insight.
  • An issue of charging etiquette: Tesla appears to now have concerns that some of its ‘frequent’ Supercharger users (USA) are taking advantage of the provided free electricity when they could be charging at home, and blocking up facilities for others. This does raise questions about the viability of the whole free-charging thing, how it can be scaled up as numbers of EVs increase, and how this affects the commercialisation of the network. Problem is in this case, there is some debate as to what ‘frequent’ use entails, and some unrest has ensued among the Teslerati… debate outlined here at Cleantechnica.
  • Report from the Royal Town Planning Institute, using commuting data from the 2011 Census, claims that adding 1million new homes by building on the green belt around London could mean up to 7.5million more car journeys each week. The RTPI says that it challenges the assumption that these new residents would commute by train, analysing data from Hemel Hempstead, High Wycombe, Bracknell, Maidenhead and Watford to show that only 7.4% of commuters travelled to London by train despite living within easy cycling/walking distance of a station. 72% went to work by private vehicle, though mostly to jobs within their home town rather than driving into London. More here; full report here.

Mobility solutions, intelligent transport systems & #EV-related news…

August 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

BMW-i3-drivenow copenhagenDriveNow (joint venture between BMW and car rental firm Sixt) is launching 400 BMW i3s on its new on-demand fleet in Copenhagen. These will go into service next month, complete with BMW’s app for intermodal routing combining public transport/active travel information and mapping into the sat nav. This is in collaboration with the Arriva Group, bus operators in Denmark, the aim being to offer integrated multi-modal journey planning using the most means of transport at each stage. More here.

In and among other news, thoughts and notes to self this week…

  • Open data alert! A new resource, imdata, is aiming to be a one-stop shop index for data related to intelligent mobility; it comes out of the Transport Systems Catapult, and is intended to “support innovation.” Not a lot there at the moment under the ‘personal automobility’ heading – quite a bit on car park usage, feeds from Glasgow Council and, um, Vancouver, on EV charging point usage and locations, and links to some samples from Waze and INRIX. Hopefully this will grow.
  • EVX Ventures, a start-up from Melbourne, is taking a scaled-down model of its solar-powered sports car concept to the SEMA show in Las Vegas in November. Produced in collaboration with a group at Swinburne University of Technology, the Immortus concept is described as a limited-edition bespoke sports car, designed to be tough and durable, but probably of more relevance to the world at large are the associated technologies also developed by the team. These include a plug-in hybrid retro-fit kit, a lightweight air-cooled battery box and regenerative shock absorbing tech (energy from absorbing bumps in the road).
  • Sheffield-based battery-maker Faradion has developed some low-cost sodium-ion batteries, which have been tested in e-bikes and could be suitable for cars, but have best short-term potential in static storage applications, reports The Guardian.
  • News from Chargemaster, which is claiming to be the UK’s largest operator of EV charging points (currently 4000+): it’s launching a new subscription programme called Polar Plus. Membership is £7.85 a month with the first six months free, giving access to over 80% of the network free of charge, and the remaining 20% at a tariff of around 9p a unit. Chargemaster says that an 80% charge on a Polar rapid-charger, taking about 20 minutes, will now cost about £2, down from the current £6. Oh, and members can collect points towards borrowing a car from the Polar Experience fleet –  which includes the BMW 8, Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and Twizy, with the upcoming Tesla Model X and others promised. More here. Also promised: 2000 new destination-charge points across the country (half of these in London) and free replacement of any faulty points installed by other providers.
  • Private car ownership is down and car-share membership is rising in the big German cities, reports Bloomberg, with vehicle density falling, albeit at a low rate (down to 491 cars per 1000 residents in Munich from, err, 493) and a reported fall in households buying second cars. Meanwhile, car-share members now tot up to 1.04million across Germany as of the end of last year (about 2% of the country’s licence-holders). Not quite the end of private automobility just yet, then, but a notable trend nonetheless…
  • Audi, BMW and Daimler have teamed up: to buy the HERE digital mapping and location services business from Nokia.The platform will remain open to other customers and industries to host cloud-based maps and other mobility services, with real-time and location-based data and services forming “the basis for the mobility of tomorrow”.  Think ‘swarm intelligence’ – anonymised data from the network-connected vehicles – to give real-time hazard warnings, pick up on dangers such as icy roads (i.e. via data from electronic braking systems), and remote activation of assistance systems as well as smoothed-out ‘green wave’ progress through cities.
  • Highways England (eh? formerly known as the Highways Agency) is to start off-road trials of wireless induction charging for EVs and hybrids (presumably at a test-track facility such as Millbrook or TRL, though full details of project partners are yet to be announced). The 18-month trials will look at charging equipment embedded beneath a road surface. And embedded within this announcement came another note that the government is committed to the installment of plug-in charging points every 20 miles on the motorway. More here.
  • Anecdotal evidence to suggest that EV drivers are actually seeing lower electricity bills, via CleanTechnica… Yes, switching to more favourable tariffs (US) is involved, but they’re also citing greater awareness of energy consumption, and getting/adding domestic solar panels. Some 39% of Tesla owners of 789 in a survey had solar panels, incidentally.
  • Some more detail on the Ford-commissioned survey (by PlugInsights, part of PlugShare) at Cleantechnica: 92% of all-electric vehicle owners and 94% of PHEV owners would buy another plug-in car in the future; the all-electric drivers liked the driving experience best, and appreciated clean technology; PHEV owners were more inclined to switch to an all-electric car next time around; 90% of EV/PHEV-owning households had a second car, usually a petrol vehicle which they tended to use for longer trips; 73% of PHEV owners said that they were considering an electrified car as their next second car; all-electric drivers were more aware of/concerned about global warming issues “and chose their cars as part of their lifestyle decision-making” while PHEV drivers were more motivated by saving money  on fuel; 83% of respondents had solar panels or would consider installing them.

Week-end round-up, incl. reports from trials and research…

August 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

smart electric drive erobert China //  smart electric drive arrives on the streets of China

Some data from the Daimler eMERGE trial – 146 Smart Fortwo electric-drives in Berlin, Potsdam and North Rhine-Westphalia, over 1million km May 2013-June 2015. Longest range achieved was 161km (compared to claimed 145km); conclusions were that EVs become financially attractive from 50km a day; typical target groups are educated, tech-savvy people with above-average incomes; the less people knew about e-mobility, the more negative they were about it; purchase price was a key criterion but interviewees were often unaware of savings in running costs; purchase decisions were mainly due to reasons of image with eco-awareness of minor importance; but another important influence was access to public charging infrastructure. The Daimler researchers reckon that about a quarter of infrastructure is needed in public places and over half in ‘semi-public’ spots such as leisure or shopping centres, but overnight charging availability is the overall determinant. The trial also tested the Plug&Charge smart-charging system in combination with participants’ domestic solar panels. And next phase – eMERGE2 – will involve 200 B-Class 250e and other Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid models. Lowdown from Daimler here.

  • Ford polled 10,000 EV owners in the US and found that over 80% either already had solar panels or are considering their installation, and that smartphones are the most commonly-used platform for EV owners, over half frequently or very frequently using apps like MyFord Mobile to check their battery charge, remotely start their air con and check vehicle range – as reported in an infographic released on Twitter. AutoblogGreen also reports that owners want public charging station locators and the ability to reserve and pay for charging stations in advance, and that nearly half of the drivers use conventional (US) 110-volt outlets for home charging, though it’s unclear if this info came from the Ford survey (am chasing down the official details).
  • However, Mini has “pared-down” its Mini Connected app, with the focus “clearly placed on the essentials”. Mmmm… There is a new feature, Mini Streetwise, which enables users to preview an optimised route (with alternatives) on their smartphone before starting out, using personal data on past journeys with info on duration and fuel consumption. The routing can then be displayed in-car if the phone is connected during the journey. Continuing features include Status (vehicle location, potential range, last journey), Profile (uploading photo, personal driving stats), performance data and Force Meter (graphics indicating longitudinal and lateral acceleration), online search for the navigation, and in-car integration with a smartphone calendar.
  • GoAhead London has ordered 51 all-electric buses: these will be built on BYD-supplied chassis by ADL (Alexander Dennis) in Falkirk with bodies based on the ADL Enviro200 MMC single-decker. They will feature BYD’s iron-phosphate batteries, have a 90-passenger capacity, and go into service by August 2016, reports Bus And Coach.
  • And speaking of buses… latest concept from Charles Bombardier is a ‘see-through’ electric bus (with side-screens projecting images of the scene behind it). The Pixi is also driverless, inductively-charged, and (theoretically) fitted with pedestrian airbags. Interesting thing about it is that Bombardier envisions such a bus as a ‘bridge’ between cars and subway, i.e. on-demand, for short distances/connections to other modes of transport, to suit personalised/individual needs rather than running a fixed scheduled route.
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