End-of-the-month news round-up

November 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

mk-nov-busNot only are they getting driverless ‘pod’ cars, the people of Milton Keynes (pioneers that they are!) can commute into the town in wirelessly-charged electric buses. A trial of eight WrightBus StreetLite electric buses will start on the Wolverton-Bletchley route in January. More here. (Pic from Arup, partner in the trial).

  • A useful briefing document on ‘peak car’ has been released by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology for the Transport Select Committee. Conversation on Twitter right now – Scott Le Vine (@scottericlevine, author of report for the RAC Foundation) says: “Youth drive less – but their incomes fell year on year throughout the 2000s. Takes out some of the mystery.”
  • Latest targets for EV charging points: 456,000 across Europe by 2020, at least 70,000 in the UK. More here.
  • The European Commission has released a working document – draft of 2014-15 work programme for transport – titled “Smart, Green and Integrated”. Four key areas of activity: improving efficiency; better mobility, safety and security, and less congestion; reinforcing European transport industry’s global leadership; and doing socio-economic/behavioural research (that’s where people like me come in!) and forward-looking activity for policy-making.
  • Dutch research organisation TNO is working on V2V comms tech connecting cars and trucks with bicycles, including real-time position and speed data to help protect the two-wheelers. More here.
  • But what are the implications of driverless cars and pedestrian/cyclist-sensing tech for cycling and the cyclists themselves? asks the Guardian’s Bike Blog.
  • And an interesting internet-of-things project – using GPS-equipped moving cars to measure rainfall and its density. The University of Hanover says its RainCars project, collecting feedback on wiper speeds, is exploring the collection of detailed precipitation data to help with tasks such as flood prediction.
  • They’ll get it whether they want it or not: BMW will electrify (to some extent) all models in the not-too-distant, even if customers aren’t asking for EVs/hybrids, as a response to regulation. Quotes from BMW’s chief of product development Herbert Diess at Autocar.
  • The Cadillac ELR coupe – a range-extended EV with a version of the Volt/Ampera drivetrain – is to be smartgrid-compatible from the get-go, with GM’s cloud-enabled OnStar RemoteLink. Release posted here.
  • Handy tie-up: UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, has signed a partnership with TomTom for its Global Traffic Index data. Quote from UN-Habitat’s Executive Director Dr Joan Clos: “Urban areas are growing fast; they are now home to half of the world’s population and are predicted to reach 6 billion by 2050. How we plan and manage our cities in terms of basic services, mobility or connectivity is going to be essential to ensure better cities. TomTom’s data will give us vital insight, providing a more accurate analysis of urban traffic congestion. This will help policy makers and local governments develop sustainable, workable and lasting urban solutions”. TomTom’s press release today says its new 6th edition Traffic Index has “revealed a clear pattern of increased congestion. Commuters around the world are spending on average eight working days stuck in traffic. This shows that traditional responses like building new roads or widening existing ones are no longer an effective way of managing urban congestion.”
  • Nissan’s firming-up its customer service commitment to Leaf owners: its Care-EV Leaf pledges (5 of ’em) include free rapid-charging (30min to full charge) at 60 dealerships nationwide and at the rapid-chargers it is installing with Ecotricity at motorway service stations, and the free loan of a petrol or diesel Nissan for up to two weeks (with seven days’ notice, fuel and insurance extra-cost) should you need to do an out-of-range trip. There’s also free pan-European roadside assistance to cover flat/empty batteries, and a battery capacity-loss guarantee up to five years/60,000 miles. Oh, and it’s running a 28-vehicle trial of the e-NV200 van with British Gas.
  • Whoa: new direct-injection petrol engines may be more fuel-efficient and emit less CO2, but they emit 1000x more particulate matter than older lower-pressure indirect-injector-equipped units, and 10x more than comparable diesels, according to a study by TUEV Nord. Cue the particulate filter for petrol models?
  • BMW’s Chinese JV, BMW Brilliance Automotive, has launched an electric X1 to be leased as the Zinoro 1E; it’s to be offered in a pilot programme in Beijing and Shanghai. Pictures, details posted here. And Daimler’s sending the Smart Fortwo electric-drive to China, too (release posted here). But we won’t make jokes about the Nissan Leaf/Venucia Morning Wind, will we now? Other Chinese curiosities on display at the Guangzhou Motor Show this week include the Guangzhou Auto WitStar, a range-extended electric SUV with gullwing doors, autonomous driving tech and, err, a fish tank.
  • More details on the TUM Create Eva electric taxi (see previous post) here.
  • Much pessimism re. EVs this week. High depreciation, says CAP (consistently half-empty on this score), and subsidies not helping. But market should stabilise once new prices come down. More here.
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