Shifts in automobility: today’s news

February 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

peugeot vlvFrench MP Denis Baupin (Green Party, VP of the French National Assembly), reckons that “the automotive model is now experiencing a shift that can be likened to the era of changing from typewriters to computers”. He’s co-written a big report, ‘New quiet and sustainable mobility: Designing ecological vehicles’, and says in an interview with Sustainable Mobility  “the mobility needs of our citizens can never be completely met by public transport or cycling, even though I’m a keen supporter of them”. Three main limits to the current automobility system are ecological, economic (incl. the rising age of new vehicle buyers, now 54 in France) and vehicle design itself – cars are too big, consume too much energy, are too expensive to buy and maintain, and sit parked 95% of the time. He’s therefore for car-sharing, car-pooling, multi-modal mobility hubs, innovations in small vehicles/microcars –  and the mobilisation of public and private partners to make it all happen. (The pic’s of a Peugeot VLV electric microcar, 1942, btw. More on that here).

  • EV charging infrastructure – relative to population – is the most significant predictor of EV/PHEV take-up, along with financial incentives, reports a 30-country study from Delft University of Technology; the presence of a local manufacturing facility was also positive and significant. Country-specific factors such as government procurement plans, and subsidies, also had an effect, but there was no single cause found. Summary and quotes at Green Car Congress plus academic citations (full study – Sierzchula et al in Energy Policy).
  • Germany’s the world’s biggest user of one-way car-shares, according to this blog at the HuffPo; average age of German car buyers is now over 52, and a 20-year decline in sales continues. Some interesting quotes, including one from a user who’s a member of several different schemes (to cover all options?).
  • BMW’s been giving out drives in the X5 eDrive plug-in hybrid – 74.4mpg, 90g/km of CO2, an 18-mile all-electric range, probably on sale 2015. Good lowdown at Car, more detail at Autocar.
  • In the UK, a tie-up between Alphabet and Chargemaster gives drivers (mostly fleet) access to 85% of the UK’s public charging points with one RFID card. It’s PAYG with monthly invoicing; private memberships also available. Marks the move to paid-for charging. More at Fleet World.
  • British firm Drive System Design has announced a three-speed all-in-one powertrain for EVs which can give 10-15% improvements in range; the MSYS transmission integrates a 55kW YASA axial-flux motor with the transmission, simplifying architecture, control systems and weight-saving. Science bit lowdown at Green Car Congress. DSD plans to offer a range of different power outputs for supply to OEMs from 2016.
  • OK, it’s not car-related, but in terms of methodology and fieldwork, this study of long-distance bus travel is interesting – an ethnography of transport users. Insights from the research – the social profile of long-haul bus travellers, the on-bus community, the driver/passenger relationship and more – informed a programme of improvements at SNCF’s iDBUS operations.

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