July 29, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s a rolling platform for developing EV power electronics, built by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology (IISB), Erlanger, and it has hit the road for testing. IISB-ONE is said to be a modular concept capable of integrating future technologies, and it showcases Fraunhofer IISB’s portfolio of e-drive systems, converters, chargers and battery storage systems. Interesting note: this is (I think) a second-life application for a rare Artega GT (putative Porsche Cayman rival, designed by Henrik Fisker, originally meant to be Volkswagen-engined, around 150 built before obsoletion/company collapse). Tech spec includes two individually-controlled e-motors delivering 80kW/peak torque of 2000Nm to each driven wheel, a rated 355v lithium-ion battery pack, a high-performance DC-DC converter, flexible AC or DC charging, and wireless inductive-charging capability. Its drivetrain could also accommodate additional batteries or even a fuel cell. (Found via electrive.com)
- Some detail on BMW’s ChargeForward trial at Citylab: 100 i3 drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area are testing an app to report to the utility firm (Pacific Gas and Electric Company) when they want to use their car each day, and for it to then be charged (remotely scheduled) at times to smooth out demand peaks. An early step towards EVs as grid-balancers and in reducing fossil-dependence at peak demand-times.
- A UK survey of 203 EV-drivers by KiWi Power, Carbon Trust and HSSMI (respondents recruited via Zap-Map and Next Green Car) found that: 81% had a dedicated home charging point; 19% had access to charging at work (but only 14% used it); 90% regularly use public charging points – 68% at least once a week, 22% around once a month and 9% less than once a month; 67% use all charger types; 31% use rapid-chargers only; 50% charge on public facilities for less than 2 hours, 37% for 4-6 hours, 5% for 6-8 hours, remainder 8 hrs+ or ‘don’t know'; most plug in with less than 60% battery charge remaining – 24% at 0-20%, 35% at 21-40%, 25% at 41-60%; 95% select a public parking location based on availability of a charger (52% always, 43% sometimes, only 5% saying it’s not a deciding factor); 67% regularly use a particular point; points regularly used are 32% in retail car parks, 25% in public car parks, 21% in local authority car parks, 10% on-street and 6% at workplace locations. Handy infographic, rundown with comments, here.
- Qualcomm has done a deal with Swiss parts-maker Brusa for manufacturing/supply of its induction-charging tech, moving wireless charging a stage closer; its Halo system has been licensed, reports Green Car Congress.
- Report from the Innovative Mobility Research unit at TSRC, UC Berkeley, surveying responses from 23,774 active Zipcar members incl. 523 corporate members (Zipcar for Business accounts for around a quarter of membership in the US). Of the corporate members, two in five sold a vehicle or postponed the purchase of a new one due to their joining Zipcar, equating to a claimed 33,000 fewer cars across N. America. Some interesting stats: of those who had sold/postponed purchase of a private vehicle, 41% said they took public transit or walked more often now, and 22% were more likely to cycle – but 19% were less likely to cycle, 13% were less likely to take public transit, and 7% less likely to walk – Shaheen et al point to a 13% induced-demand effect. 49% said that their likelihood of buying a new car in the future was reduced, and this was unchanged for 41%. Full report here.
- Nice report from TransitCenter (New York), A People’s History of Recent Urban Transportation Innovation, looks at citizen activism and resident- or people-driven innovations. The examples used include introduction of bike lanes, bike-shares, public plazas, mini-parks and pedestrian spaces, but well, same principles for energy transitions or a switch to alt-fuels and installation of infrastructure? It discusses the scaling-up of local initiatives, and identifies three key prerequisites for success: an independent but persuasive citizen-led civic sector; bold mayors and transportation chiefs with a vision and mandate from top-level government; and agency adoption/new practices within city government to ‘perpetuate new norms’. Full report available to download here.
- And (yet) more on Millennials, (via NextCity)… Survey of 3000 18-24-year-old Americans in the country’s 50 biggest cities, by Portland State University, found that they use public transport more than any other age-group, are more likely to walk or cycle, and prefer ‘attached’ housing (apartments) and living in walkable urban environments with short commutes (surprise!). 83% like walking, 71% driving (still high, but there’s a larger gap between the two figures for this age-group).
- Yet Americans (cross-agegroups) are actually driving more and more – VMT (vehicle mileage travelled) has just risen for the 14th month in a row, the most since April 2007, and 2015’s set to be a record year for mileage, reports AutoblogGreen. Low oil/fuel prices are fingered as the culprits. So though Millennials may be driving less, we can’t assume a downward trend…
- …which is why we need to get people into cleaner cars. A white paper from the ICCT looks at metro markets (USA) for EVs and concludes that they’re breaking through successfully in cities where there is progressive city policy, effective promotion and incentives, investment in infrastructure, and a broad range of vehicles available.
- Criticising EVs as being only as green as the source of their electricity is not constructive (agreed), takes only a very short-term view (double agreed) and electromobility needs to be looked at as one element in a wider system (agreed again), says Tali Trigg at Scientific American.
July 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
Detailed piece on the E.Go Life, a Renault Twizy-style quadricyle developed at Aachen University, in the latest (bumper) issue of Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International… It’s a follow-on spin-off from the Streetscooter C16 project (reported in this post), with e.Go aiming to produce low-cost 3D-printed, modular-construction microvehicles using Aachen’s Stratasys system, in an ongoing ‘scrum engineering’ process of continual development. Lowdown here. A beta-testing batch of 100 cars will be built at the university; and it also emerges that StreetScooter has now been sold to Deutsche Post DHL, which is currently running 150 of those vehicles on its fleet, an already-successful application.
- On a different note: Audi is to preview its Q6 crossover with a concept codenamed C-BEV at Frankfurt, reports Autocar. High-performance, all-electric (three motors), a 311-mile range, apparently, to rival the Tesla Model X.
- Data from Chargemaster shows that over 90% of electric vehicle charging (UK) is done at home (‘charging events’ data January-May 2015, said to be profiled to be representative of UK infrastructure), and finds that total charging volumes have risen 163% since 2014. The average UK commute is less than 10 miles, and over a third of UK motorists never drive more than 80 miles in one go, it’s claimed in a report for the Go Ultra Low campaign. Chargemaster is also, incidentally, taking over the Plugged-in Midlands network of charging points from Cenex – 870 of them, with another 100 to be added in the next few months. It is also taking over 300 Source London points (from Bolloré).
- A bicycle by-product from BMW: a patent has been released by BMW R&D for an e-drive unit swing arm, now going into production on electric-assist (pedelec) bikes from HNF, Biesenthal. The HNF Heisenberg XF1 e-bike features this BMW unit, which integrates mid-motor, gears and belt-drive into a suspension module with no need for a belt-tensioner. More here.
- BMW is also, in the US, adding in-car integration of an i0S app called EnLighten, which gives real-time traffic signal data and a green light count-down. This info – which can help drivers proceed more smoothly and save fuel – can appear on the dash display with recommendations on whether to stop or slow down, and is based on vehicle position, speed and ‘smart’ traffic signals. At the moment, it’ll only work in Portland and Eugene, Oregon, and Salt Lake City, in cars with the BMW Apps option – but this does mark a new step forward in V2X (car-to-infrastructure) comms. More here.
- The California Air Resources Board has awarded a $1.6million grant to the City of Los Angeles to set up EV-sharing programmes in disadvantaged neighbourhoods said to be “disproportionately impacted by climate change and poor environmental quality” – air pollution. Such districts are also more likely to suffer from poor (or non-existent) public transport infrastructure, so it’s a boost for mobility as well. More from Senate District 24 here.
- And BYD is to supply 50 e6s to a ride-share (shared taxi, in effect) service based at San Diego airport – more here.
- Handy summary/digest of a paper on (US) Millennials and their driving habits at Citylab: Noreen McDonald (University of North Carolina) compares Gens Y & X and reckons 10-25% of driving decline is due to changing demographics (higher unemployment, greater likelihood of living with parents and/or in cities, etc.), 40% due to a general downward shift US-wide and 35-50% to attitudes. But these Millennials aren’t necessarily cycling or using public transport more – they’re just going out less and to fewer places. Full paper at Journal of the American Planning Association.
- Two new research papers from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, again usefully filleted here. Though electrified vehicles currently account for less than 1% of Canadian vehicle sales, over a third of car-buyers do want a plug-in, apparently, with 89-93% of those wanting a PHEV. Axsen, Goldberg et al put this down to low consumer awareness and a current lack of choice, and think the market share is unlikely to exceed 4-5% by 2030 unless new models are launched – in which case it could rise to over 20%. Other take-aways: even with today’s electricity grids, plug-in vehicles could cut GHG emissions by 80-98% in British Columbia, 45% in Alberta and 58-70% in Ontario, they claim. They’ve also identified three groups of plug-in car buyers: PEV Pioneers, potential Early Mainstream (the next to be converted) and Later Mainstream (unlikely). PEV Pioneers tend to have higher-end incomes, are more likely to be graduates and to be engaged with tech and eco lifestyle issues, to be male and to own their own homes; they most own the Nissan Leaf (46%), Chevrolet Volt (24%) or Tesla Model S (10%); their median driving distance is 28 miles with an average 37 miles driven each day. Full report: Electrifying Vehicles – Insights from the Canadian Plug-In Electric Vehicle Study; plus a paper in Energy Economics, Vol. 50 (Axsen, Bailey and Castro, 2015).
- Nissan reckons that air quality is the number one factor driving EV purchases, ahead of running costs and wider environmental concerns: speaking at the launch of the e-NV200 Evalia MPV, Nissan’s director of electric vehicles in Europe, Jean-Pierre Diernaz, said that enquiries about the Nissan Leaf rose dramatically in Paris when the city banned cars from the centre for three days. Reported by Transport Evolved. Wonder whether that was motivated purely by altruism or simply the desire to drive ban-exempted vehicles, though?
July 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
Some holidays snaps for you. The Norwegian economy and its oil/gas industry isn’t up for discussion here, but the country’s doing pretty well when it comes to electromobility. Latest figures: one in three new cars sold in the last quarter of 2015 were EVs (aided, of course, by generous tax breaks and incentives) and the country is now Europe’s leading EV-buyer. Best-sellers in June were the Volkwagen e-Golf and Tesla Model S, followed by Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe (more figures here). Interestingly, there appear – in cities including Bergen and Stavanger, at least – to be a fair few old-school micro-EVs still knocking around as well, particularly the homegrown but long-dead Think but also some odd little microcars I’ve never seen outside the Nordic/Scandinavian countries. However, the likes of the Leaf (too many to shake a stick at) and i3 are rapidly becoming popular, and I spotted plenty even in remote rural western-fjord villages. And where the Norwegians are doing well is hydropower: not only are they charging their cars, powering their homes and industries and much else from it (whilst exporting their fossils) but there are some intriguing proposals to use their reservoir/dam system in a large-scale, pan-European storage network.
And catching-up with other news… The Tesla upgrades and promise of new Roadster, etc, and the not-very-hybrid London buses have already been covered well elsewhere, so moving swiftly on:
- Volkswagen’s previewed its V-Charge tech (developed in partnership with ETH Zurich, Bosch, Braunschweig Technical University and teams from universities of Parma and Oxford) for automated valet parking/charging of electric vehicles. The car ‘looks’ for an empty space with inductive charging facilities, charges, then – very thoughtfully – moves itself on when finished to a conventional space, freeing up the chargers for another EV. All controlled via smartphone app, used again by the driver to summon his/her car back later. It’ll work within defined (but not necessarily enclosed) zones such as multi-storey car parks, demands relatively little new complex infrastructure, and is already functional in Volkswagen’s demonstrator vehicle. More, including link to video, here. And Volkswagen is also working on an automated (robotized) DC quick-charging system called e-smartConnect: the robot connects up/disconnects vehicle with charger and can travel around a car park to connect cars as required, as an alternative to wireless induction tech which can also work in parallel with the automated valet-parking.
- BMW has released details about the activities of its newly-established Centre of Urban Mobility Competence (in Berlin, and yes, I’d be very interested in working there) which is looking at the future of services/technologies including (electric) car-sharing, smart navigation, intermodal connections, etc. and developing/implementing new concepts. “We are setting out to establish ourselves as the leading supplier of premium products and premium services for personal mobility worldwide,” says Dr Bernhard Blättel, Vice President Mobility Services. No kidding… Top priority, apparently, “is to safeguard mobility for all users at its current level at the very least. Deprivation or coercion are not an option.” Basically, it’s about creating better transport options for people to choose – and why wouldn’t they, if these are convenient, accessible and, indeed, desirable? – which can only be a Good Thing.
- And BMW’s also been talking about its hydrogen-powered fuel cell future (tech co-developed with Toyota): large-scale production by 2020, with a fleet of test vehicles based on the 5-Series GT on the road, plus a prototype based on the i8 under test. Full details here. Plug-in hybrid versions of the 2-Series Active Tourer are also on their way to showrooms, it seems. Some hedging of bets, or a clear differentiation of different types of powertrain for different types of vehicle/usage?
- Detailed discussion of role of PHEV as a transition technology to fossil-free transport published here, with reference to the role of PHEVs in grid-balancing. Inference is that focusing on PHEVs – which can function as a household’s only or main vehicle in higher-mileage applications – will move electromobility on much faster than relying on or trying to push all-electric vehicles.
- Freewire Technologies is partnering with Siemens to commercialise its MobiCharger – a mobile EV-charging unit with different outputs which utilises second-life EV batteries. Trials are starting at the LinkedIn HQ in Mountain View, California (where 100s of employees commute to work in EVs, apparently). More here.
- This week’s EV’s start-up news: Faraday Futures, featuring recruits from plenty of high-profile OEMs, including Lotus and Tesla, promising a high-tech, premium-level vehicle for 2017. Motor Trend analyses.
- Smart move or sad indictment? Blink, EV network operator in the US, is introducing post-charging fees to deter EV owners from hogging charging points/parking spaces once they’ve topped up their batteries, reports Transport Evolved.
July 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
A car called Alex… it’s a composite-bodied EV concept, and there’s a plan to build it in Dunleer, County Louth, Ireland. The firm behind is called Swift Composite Prototypes (does what it says on the tin), and a running prototype has been developed using a Lotus Seven chassis/body. The eroadster looks like a functional little runaround with a wedge-like shape to it and a lift-up front canopy, and they’re promising 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds, fast-charging capability and a range of over 350km, plus light weight but higher safety standards than other ‘light’ cars (quadricycle category). Power comes from two 15kW/80kW AC motors, and intriguingly, “revolutionary new batteries.” The programme appears to be well-funded, and the chassis is being developed by Danish firm Ecomove (creator of the somewhat stillborn Qbeak). Reported here; production by the end of 2016 is quoted, at the rate of a car a week. (via electrive.com).
- BMW has embarked upon more research with Nanyang Technical University, Singapore; the Future Mobility Research lab at NTU will explore a future materials programme, plus a project called Electromobility in Asia, alongside the battery, intelligent mobility and ‘driver enhancement’ research already underway. The Electromobility project will look at the way people interact with the i3 and i8, to inform future development with a view to using EVs and PHEVs in global megacities. More here.
- Engineers from University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed tech to harvest energy from tyre-friction: the triboelectric nanogenerator could improve a vehicle’s fuel economy by up to 10%, they reckon. More here.
- Opel has launched a car-sharing app called CarUnity for peer-to-peer vehicle-sharing; it can be downloaded free, and vehicle rentals are insured. Users do not need to be Opel owner/drivers; initial trials are taking place in the Rhine-Main region. More here. (An overview from Norway on car-sharing here; nothing new, but a summing-up of current thinking).
- Not quite convinced of the desirability of towing extra power sources behind an EV (except for emergency call-outs, this seems rather self-defeating), but the EC is funding Germany’s Nomadic Power to develop its portable battery pack, which can also be used as static energy storage. More here.
- London’s first all-electric bus (a BYD) will go into action in the autumn on the Victoria-Cricklewood route. More here.
- EVs are only as clean as the electricity that goes into them (though zero local tailpipe emissions still stand): reasons electricity grids need to go greener are illustrated here.
- They can do it in the US: West Coast EV drivers using the AeroVironment fast-chargers can pay on a PAYG basis via the Recargo/Plugshare app. More here.
- Solid-state batteries for EVs: already fitted in the Bollore Bluecar, and now Volkswagen could be considering them. More here.
June 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
One that slipped through the net at the Shanghai Auto Show but which has just come to my attention: the Neo “sets out to explore the inspirations and daily challenges of life in a busy metropolis such as Shanghai,” says Icona, an Italian design studio/consultancy based in the city. Shades of Lexus LF-SA in this tiddler, I think, in some of its geometric lines, though it adds an asymmetric door layout (rear-seat passenger access only from the right side, which also lacks a B-pillar).
Anyway, it’s a four-seater, 1.5m-long EV, designed as such ground-up, featuring a 21kW in-wheel motor. It weighs just 720kg in total, and is said to have a range of 150km during city driving, plus a 120kph top speed. This is none too hypothetical, either: Neo has been developed by Icona’s Italian technical partners, Actua and Italtecnica, and it turns out that other divisions in the firm’s Italian parent company worked on development and build of the Bollore Bluecar (of Paris Autolib’, and soon London, EV-share, fame).
- Six rather nice ideas here from design students, shortlisted entries in a DHL-sponsored competition: I’m liking the ‘water strider’ – a solar panel-driven small cargo boat which could help switch freight off roads, ‘London’s urban vehicle of 2065′, a modular autonomous pod, and the neat ‘Light commercial vehicle’ with four in-wheel motors and large cargo bay. Winner to be announced tomorrow as part of the Formula E festivities.
- Some stats and feedback from the My Electric Avenue project, presented yesterday at the LowCVP conference in London. In less than 18 months, the Nissan Leafs involved (100+ in ten ‘clusters’, trialling their effects on local electricity networks, plus 100 more on other trials) have driven over 2.7million km and have been charged for 94million hours; there’s 20,000 hours-worth of data recorded by the Esprit tech (which controls EV charging if the grid becomes overloaded); Esprit has curtained charging 17,000 times (5.2% of the total recorded charging time).
- Possible applications for V2X tech include ‘wrong way warnings’ for drivers and other road users, report the conclusions of the CONVERGE project, as well as intelligent and efficient routing of freight transport. CONVERGE has aimed to develop a secure, decentralised and scalable systems architecture which enables communication between different network operators, agencies, service providers and other stakeholders. Handy summary here.
- Road noise: linked to cardiovascular problems, stroke, and ‘all-cause’ mortality, in a study in London; noise in decibels was linked in a separate correlation from air pollution by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Reported here.
June 24, 2015 § Leave a comment
And a quickfire round-up of the 2015 end-of-year show at the Royal College of Art, and the work of the Vehicle Design graduates – a lot of futuristic visions, with shared vehicles and autonomy strong themes as well as biotechology. Lots of car design types wandering around at the private view (from consultancies and OEMs, probably scouting out the talent); also, many ‘fashion-forward’ outfits and haircuts, but then that’s art colleges for you… Anyway, the vehicle design projects are all showcased here; ones that particularly caught my eye from a more than aesthetic point of view (and for which there are some info on the RCA website) were: Farhana Safa’s Kinesis, an application for a shape-shifting liquid metal with sculptural qualities, suitable for housing electric drivetrains; Simon Haynes’ ‘No Infrastructure Needed’, a ‘4D-printed’ simple vehicle for local assembly, and Yibo Wu’s friendly little ‘Happie’ autonomous commuter car for 2040.
Shout-out too for Service Design student Nawar Almutlaq and her ‘Weave’ proposal for an integrated multimodal transport ticketing system for Doha, with an incentives scheme and “designed to facilitate the transition from car-based to mass transit commuting” – a nice example of location-specific design. Also, Yongkwan Yoon’s Delectricity (pictured) was well-thought-out – a scheme of portable EV chargers, charged up at central hubs but deployed to domestic ‘mobile’ or leisure (‘joyful’) locations, or used in emergency out-of-charge ‘rescue’ scenarios. “Convenience is key to scaling up electric mobility”, he says, pointing out that his mobile chargers can deliver charge to cars on a daily basis like taking delivery of a newspaper – wake up, and it’s arrived. Were I handing out Best In Show prizes, I’d probably pick this one as a really useful service which could be easily and quickly implemented.
And noticeable for a quite different reason was the quite literally stomach-churning and very visceral Digestive Car by Yi-Wen Tseng, a Design Interactions student: this has four cow-like ‘stomachs’ digesting biowaste to create methane on which it runs.
June 24, 2015 § Leave a comment
Never let it be said that Morgan lives entirely in the past: its EV3 – to be revealed shortly at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – is a zero-emissions sport roadster. Based on the 3 Wheeler “reintroduced” in 2011, it has a rear-mounted 45kW motor surely sufficiently powerful to propel a 450kg lightweight, and giving a promised range of around 150 miles. It’s undergoing formal testing and development, presumably including the Euro-homologation procedures, and production (the usual Morgan hand-build process) is expected towards the end of 2016. It builds on the firm’s experience with the Plus E prototypes (four wheels), I guess.
- Another idea from Paris which could come to London: operators of the CityScoot electric scooter hire scheme want to bring it over here next, reports the Standard. And incidentally, in central Montreal, proximity to a Bixi (bike-hire, as per Boris bikes) station is increasing property prices…
- BMW is expanding its DriveNow car-share and app to allow Mini owners to hire out their cars, adding a peer-to-peer element as well as the on-demand service using cars on-street. More here. Oh, and Ford, too – Ford Credit customers in six US cities plus London can now lend out their vehicles. Both companies are citing the chance for owners to offset the purchase/lease costs of their new vehicle. Ford’s also unveiled its MoDe:Flex electrically-assisted fold-up bike, for further multi-modal/last-mile solutions, complete with MoDe:Link app for maps, routing, info including weather, congestion, public transport and various health/fitness functions. Full Fordext on both announcements here.
- Shared mobility and autonomous tech could help EVs “stage a comeback” (in shareholding/business terms), according to an analyst at Morgan Stanley (no relation to the above). Car-share schemes will help OEMs achieve economies of scale, says Adam Jonas, and autonomous tech – in an on-demand shared context – helps overcome short range, charging downtime and low charging station density. He also suggests that if Apple were to make an EV, they would effectively ‘sponsor’ the industry and transform the market.
- Norwegian start-up Meshcrafts AS is launching a trading platform for energy with charging app and secure payment system – and is looking for beta-testers. The Smart Charge system enables charging point owners and EV drivers to interact, with automatic metering, load management and billing; they have hardware for data monitoring at charge points; and ‘Ergo’, an automatic identification system for EVs including their charging preferences.
- Further to all the above, the global market for smart urban mobility infrastructure/services is expected to grow from 2015’s $5.1billion to $25.1billion in 2024, says the latest report from Navigant Research. Growth is expected in ITS, public EV charging, smart parking, car- and bike-sharing, ride-sharing and congestion charging schemes, with connectivity a focus; both public investment and private enterprise will play a role, with different solutions predominating in different regions. Report handily summarised here.
- Research at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has found that end-of-life lithium-ion EV batteries retain 70% of their charge capacity, and is modelling cost-savings of redeploying them in static energy storage; it identifies suitable applications and reckons that batteries could have a 10-year ‘second-life’ application. More detail here.
- Confirmation of the ending of the UK Plug-In Car grant at the end of the year: grants will be honoured for nine months now if orders have been taken and cars allocated to customers. Scheme to be changed but will run – in some form, with graduated bandings in three categories, though grant sums yet to be confirmed – till 2020. More at Fleet News.
- Most households with second cars in the UK could run an EV as their second car, according to research by the AA, which looks at typical mileage and access to off-street parking; more here. And nearly half of “EV stakeholders” – people working for/with the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, so not ‘real’ consumers, then – expect their next car to be an EV or PHEV, apparently (14% already have one). Lowdown at EV Fleet World.