Design Concept of the Day: UPM Biofore Concept Car

January 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

bioforeLatest news and a picture of the UPM-Metropolia University Biofore concept car (first reported here last June): it’ll be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Who’s UPM? A Finnish timber, bio-products and paper-making firm – so the car, a fully operational showcase for techniques and technologies from the forestry industry, features a wood-pulp/plywood frame with wood and cellulose-based biocomposite body components, and runs on timber-derived biodiesel. It’s described as utilising “next generation biomaterials in the automotive value chain”,  is being built by engineering and industrial design students at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki, and is said to meet all standard European safety standards for road-legality. There’s an earlier blog from the team about its build and development here; full low-down on the project here.

  • Latest ‘peak car’ study from UMTRI (University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute): per person, per driver, per household, Americans own fewer cars, are driving them less, and are consuming less fuel (2005-2012 national data; 2007-2012 data from the 30 largest US cities). Main pull-out stats include: 9.2% of US households have no vehicle (2012, compared to 8.7% in 2007); 56.5% of households in New York have no car though only 5.8% in San Jose (2012; no surprise); the general trend of car ownership in cities is downward (Sivak, 2014). Abstract here.
  • Thriev, a new all-electric chauffeur drive/cab service in London, has taken delivery of 20 BYD E6s to add to its existing fleet of Nissan Leafs. The membership service works via smartphone apps and cloud-based vehicle monitoring and tracking, and has its own fast-charger at its Edgware Road HQ.
  • Tesla has opened new Superchargers in its European network, linking the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Austria via the autobahns and Alpine destinations. It now has 81 worldwide fast-charging stations (20min charges), including 14 in Europe and 70 in North America (now enabling coast-to-coast driving, as now tested by several Tesla owner/enthusiasts). Press release posted here. Note to self: must talk to Tesla drivers for fieldwork as their relationship with EV charging infrastructure – and technology – may be different to that of the average EV driver. Any volunteers for interviews?
  • And in the UK: five new Ecotricity rapid-chargers join existing Electric Highway points to connect Southampton to Glasgow or Edinburgh up the motorway network and on major routes, with points at inner-city Ikea stores as well as service stations. More to follow, including on the M11 and A14, later this year; more here.
  • Controlled charging of plug-in hybrids can cut the cost of integrating them into the grid by around 50%, reports a study from Carnegie Mellon University; this is particularly relevant with reference to wind energy, scheduling charging for peak generation times, which also reduces the need to ramp up gas turbines (Weis et al, 2014, in Applied Energy; handy open-access summary plus full academic references at Green Car Congress).
  • But deployment of light-duty electric-drive vehicles won’t have much effect on overall US-wide carbon dioxide emissions to 2050 or until the grid is cleaned up, according to modelling from North Carolina State University/University of Minnesota, because LDVs account for only 20% of the country’s emissions anyway; US electricity generation is typically carbon-heavy; and other sectors have a greater impact on emissions. Handy rundown and full academic references here at Green Car Congress.
  • Cleaning up ICE: a new catalytic converter design could cut fuel consumption by 3%, reduce CO2 emissions, and more far-reaching, use up to 80% less rare metal, as well as being longer-life. Dr Benjamin Kingsley at Imperial College, London, has received funding to develop a prototype with a view to production; more here.
  • The DELFIN project, with partners including Fraunhofer IAO, is looking at how to make electromobility more appealing: it’s working on new consumer services and IT structures to make EV-driving more user-friendly, and implementing projects for a mainstream consumer market. Latest here.
  • Following the (see below) reveals of the Frazer-Nash Metrocab and the Nissan e-NV200 London taxi, the (Geely-owned) London Taxi Company’s plug-in hybrid; picture here. No tech spec as yet.
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