Brighton in the vanguard for EV use, says British Gas

November 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

A new report from British Gas: the East End of London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Epsom and Brighton are the cities/areas most likely to drive demand for electric cars, apparently. Thanks to regeneration and new eco-developments in the locality, one in six (some 36,000) residents of Stratford are tipped to buy an EV. The report uses data from Experian, and quotes the Frost & Sullivan prediction that one in ten cars sold in the UK could be electric by 2020.  However, though I can’t speak for the other cities, we’re going to have to solve the problem of a lack of off-street parking for domestic charging (or come up with a viable alternative) here in central Brighton first… when it’s rare to even be able to park your car within sight of your home, how can you plug in safely?

  • More research news. Study by New York University for the BMW i project: Urban Mobility in the 21st Century (Rudin Centre for Transportation Policy, Robert F Wagner Graduate School) identifies three key trends – growth of urban populations, growth of single-person households, ageing urban population. It considers cities in the developing world, and points to car-sharing, other access to non-owned/for-hire vehicles, platooning, microvehicles, multiplicity of integrated transport modes, networking, V2V and V2X. Full report here.

…and more EV news

November 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Fiat is to unveil the all-electric 500e at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Sunday, and has confirmed sales in California next year. No more details than that as yet.


  • GM is launching an EV sub-brand called Springo in China; first model is an electrified version of the Chevrolet Sail. It’s all part of the plan to sell 500,000 plug-in vehicles by 2017, a number of these to include the extended-range tech as in the Volt and upcoming Cadillac ELR. The Chevrolet Spark EV (with 20-minute fast-charging capability)  is being launched at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, and GM has also recently demonstrated a second-life application for Volt batteries: a modular unit of five batteries which can be used as back-up for domestic grid supplies in the event of a power outage.
  • Californian start-up KleenSpeed Technologies is starting testing of its KAR GT sub-$10,000 EV, reports Autoweek. The donor car design is China-sourced; the company is now looking for a manufacturing partner. Batteries will be leased separately.
  • Pembroke-based EV Innovations is reporting that its ultralightweight electric delivery vehicle Prototype No 1 ‘has proceeded under its 0wn power for the first time’. 1kWh of electricity = 30 miles driving, they say.
  • Some battery developments: from Dow Energy Materials, lithium manganese iron phosphate, promising a 10-15% hike in energy density over lithium iron phosphate (Green Car Congress); the SmartBatt consortium has shown a battery pack concept meeting tough weight, packaging and cost criteria; Toyota is testing manganese-ion batteries; Rice University (Houston) is experimenting with silicon-nickel electrodes.
  • The US military is working with Southwest Research Institute on a robust microgrid system to support EVs and general power needs in the event of a natural disaster, accident or attack; the EVs themselves act as back-up energy storage devices. More at Green Car Congress.
  • Fuel cell news: the California Energy Commission is to award grants totalling £28.59million to develop a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in 25 selected areas of the state. More here. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Rochester (New York State) have developed a solar hydrogen synthesis process using nanocrystals and a nickel catalyst.

Honda Micro Commuter, more clever city transport stuff

November 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Honda’s getting its micro-EV on the road: the Micro Commuter Prototype is designed to meet the ‘L7’ (quadricycle) regulations for Europe and a similar standard for lightweight vehicles under discussion in Japan. It seats two adults or an adult driver plus two children though its interior is adaptable; it does 50mph and has a 60-mile range. Honda suggests its suitability for short-distance commuting, runaround duties for families with small children and for senior citizens, as well as for car-sharing and delivery services. Testing will start next year, and Honda is researching the application of on-board solar cells as well as the vehicle’s integration with its Smart Home System for energy management.

  • BMW’s latest iVentures investment is in an app called Embark, which supplies information on public transport; it currently covers 12 ‘major transportation systems’ in the US and UK, and is said to be ‘expanding rapidly’. More here.
  • And BMW’s sponsoring a competition called the Urban Driving Experience Challenge, with the Local Motors crowd-sourcing community: in phase two of this, contributors are asked to think about how vehicles can be used for ‘Doing Good’, resolving social challenges and contributing to well-being as well as offering sustainable transport solutions. Full brief from Local Motors. Connectivity, semi-automation and remote communications all to feature.
  • The lines between lift/ride-sharing and private-hire/mini-cabbing could become increasingly blurred: approval and criminal record-checks of drivers/members obviously a good thing, but it appears that drivers may be seeing this as a back-door way to earn a bit of cash without going for a full taxi licence – some examples given in this Detroit News piece, which cites one Lyft member in San Francisco driving people around for 40-50 hours a week. Not quite in the spirit of the original crowd-sourcing/community transport idea.
  • Detail on the Ford EV+ tech here: a development of the Sync GPS, it ‘learns’ frequent destinations for the car and deploys the battery power in the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models accordingly, i.e. going into EV-only mode when it ‘knows’ it’s near home.
  • Further to recent proposals for cable cars and ski lift-type systems for urban transportation, a design firm in Austin, Texas is looking into larger-scale gondolas as an alternative to light rail or trams in the city. More at Wired.
  • Transport researchers in the Brighton & Hove area:  a wealth of data here on how people in the city get to work. Thanks to @ibikebrighton for flagging this up.

Automotive cyber-stalking, more connected car trials – and cable cars

November 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Hyundai is using the cloud for remote vehicle diagnostics, software updates and, potentially, for security monitoring such as the halting of a stolen vehicle. At the moment, trial vehicles are only being cyber-stalked from the point at which they leave the production line to the hand-over to their owner, but the remote monitoring could continue with the owner’s consent. This builds on the current BlueLink telematics, reports Automotive Engineering International, mag from the Society of Automotive Engineers, which is also reporting that the move towards connected cars is going to see some interesting partnership and tie-ups between the car-makers and non-automotive firms. The Society’s also got the low-down on a potential solution from Dassault for mass-manufacturing lightweight composite-structure vehicles (pictured), and Dassault’s simulation packages for developing future-compliant connected cars. Ground-up design starts here.

  • Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is testing V2V and V2X (vehicle-to-infrastructure or device) communications on Interstate 66 and Routes 29 and 50 in Fairfax County; further trials are also underway in south-west Virginia’s Montgomery County, north Virginia and on a closed-circuit track at Blacksburg along with partners including Morgan State University. Ten cars, a semi-truck and a bus, plus 55 roadside units, will stream data back to the Institute to report on and warn of road hazards, congestion, road condition, emergency vehicles and ice; more at Virginia Tech News (via alphagalileo).
  • Cable cars are cool and not just for ski resorts. And several new wire-systems are coming to France, reports The Guardian, including one in Toulouse which connects to a metro station and can carry 7000 people an hour. This  does a 10-minute journey  over a route that takes an hour by car.
  • Nice outline of the SimTD networked-cars trial and its possibilities at New Scientist (a BMW-sponsored piece).
  • Citroen is going to add a peer-to-peer car-share component to its Multicity mobility management/car hire scheme, reports Automotive News Europe.

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