News: Nissan e-NV200 launched, e-tricycles + last-mile solutions, + more

June 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

nissan env200Nissan’s launching its e-NV200 electric panel van in Europe this week. This has a 106-mile range and 76mph top speed, and is said to promise 40% lower servicing costs and 4x cheaper energy-refuelling than a comparable diesel van, as well as retaining the ICE version’s 770kg payload and 4.2-cubic metre cargo capacity (two standard Euro pallets). It’s aimed at fleets and comes with the option of a top-hinged single rear door as an alternative to the wide-opening pair of rear doors. Mainland (LHD) Europeans will also be offered the five-seater Combi and plusher-trimmed Evalia people-carrying versions, which will be targeted at customers including taxi firms: a dedicated taxi version will be built (designed to comply with local regulations in specific cities/countries) and a fleet is going into operation first of all in Barcelona, where the e-NV200 is built.

Nissan points out that 70% of compact vans used by fleets in Europe do an average 100km a day, and that 35% of such vans never travel more than 120km, so the 106-mile range of the e-NV200 should be more than sufficient. Overnight single-phase charging takes eight hours, but 32-amp fast-charging just four, and a 50kW CHAdeMO DC quick-charger will zap up to 80% capacity in 30 minutes.

  • Concept of the Day: a sit-down Segway-type vehicle called the Joust. It’s envisaged as a short-distance, wirelessly-charged urban vehicle which could be used in short-term rental schemes, and to be affordable and easily-assembled. Lowdown at the Globe and Mail. The piece is by Charles Bombardier, as in Bombardier Recreational Vehicles and Bombardier Inc., but it’s not an in-house project as such: design is by Michigan-based Boris Schwarzer. More ideas and concepts are showcased at, which describes itself as a “concept vehicle factory” in which renderings are created to CB’s brief.
  • And the Dutch-built Virto and Virto S stand-up electric tricycles have passed the EU Type Approval process for use on public roads, reports Green Car Congress. These promise a range of up to 56 miles, a top speed of 16mph and hydraulic brakes, and feature Li-Fe-Po batteries. Virtu is also planning sales and manufacturing in North America. Again, these have possibilities for on-demand hire/share schemes and as last-mile solutions.
  • Media and mobility – some interesting thoughts coming out of the Transport in the Media symposium at Lancaster University’s CeMoRe (Centre for Mobilities Research), and not just on how different modes of transport are portrayed… #mediatransport is the hashtag.
  • And social media and transport: Monika Buscher is talking about the ‘quantified traveller’, who documents his/her mobility behaviour (rich data) and interacts with software ‘counsellors’ (apps) to devise journeys, etc. “The creative appropriation of social media into the micro-management of mobilities, for example, provides opportunities for a shift from thinking about ‘intelligent transport systems’ and ‘smart cities’ to socio-technical intelligent mobility systems and smart citizens”, she says.
  • But a view from the energy-consumption community (DEMAND Centre) on EVs: developing new powertrain tech, and a ‘techno-fix’ approach, is wrong because we should be looking at alternatives to the car. Blog post here. Because all of those 35 million cars in the UK (not to mention the billions more in the rest of the world, obviously) will then go away and not be needed (yeah, right). Because we haven’t had plenty of academics, multitudes of public bodies, organisations, think-tanks and consultancies looking at how to do this for a long time already, to little avail? And Tesla “the right answer to the wrong question”? No, one right answer to one of very many good questions that we should be asking – including those about electricity generation, other modes of transport, urban design and infrastructure – and an important one regardless of the minorities directly involved right now, because it has impacts on a far wider level. While we wait for this coming mecca in which everyone all over the country can access affordable public transport as and when they need it to go where they want to go, walk or cycle in perfect personal safety at all hours, and the affluent no longer feel the need for status symbols or private chauffeuring away from the great unwashed, I think we’d better get on and clean up the vehicles that continue to be in use, personally.
  • Ford is working with Heinz on a use for waste tomato fibres: these could be used in composite materials for wiring brackets and storage bins, reducing the need for petrochemical plastics in car production. The fibres – from tomato peel, stems and seeds, by-products of Heinz’s ketchup-making – are said to make for lightweight, strong materials. The experiment’s still in the early stages, but Ford is now already making cowl brackets using rice hulls, console components with cellulose fires, coconut-based composites, recycled cotton carpets and seat fabrics, and soy foam seat cushions and head restraints.
  • Interesting feedback from BMW’s sales & marketing chief Ian Robertson on i3 buyers: 80% are new to the brand – and many “never owned a car before but decided to buy a zero-emission vehicle”. More at Automotive News Europe. Interesting because this may hint that the much-hyped ‘end of the Western love affair with the car’ may only mean the ICE car
  • Fleet software-builder CrossChasm has launched an Indiegogo campaign to market its MyEV device and app, reports Transport Evolved. This is said to go beyond current apps and telematics such as GM’s OnStar and Nissan’s CarWings in its tracking of vehicle efficiency and trip logging over time, monitoring state of charge and battery health, mileage, range and usage data, and enabling drivers to identify most energy-efficient routes, improve their technique and share efficiency scores with friends (or fleet managers). It uses a logging device plugged into the car’s diagnostics port and connected to a smartphone. And another neat feature, says TE: buyers get a windscreen sticker with QR code enabling other EV drivers to contact them via smartphone app at a charging station, i.e. to move their vehicle if they’ve finished charging or to ask if it’s OK to unplug them to free up a point.
  • Australians are driving less: fewer trips, with increased use of technology/telecomms a likely large contributing factor (among others), argues Alan Davies of The (Melbourne) Urbanist.
  • BMW is to offer its (US) i customers a new Smart Charging app – integrated with the existing i Remote – to identify best times and rates for domestic charging. Has the potential to save these drivers up to $400 a year, they say. It’s available to the former ‘Electronauts’ (field trial leasees of the ActiveE) first, presumably for sympathetic beta-testing, before being rolled out to further i3 and i8 owners next year.
  •  One to keep an eye on: insinuations of dirty behaviour in a charging infrastructure land-grab, reported here. Apparently Tesla wants exclusive rights to put its exclusive-use superchargers at service stations, shutting out Ecotricity, provider of electricity to any EV driver with the right plug adaptor. That such a battle is going on shows that there’s something in this EV business as an economic proposition, at least…
  • Toyota and Panasonic are to launch their jointly-developed smart home-car link-up service later this year. This uses the cloud-based Toyota Smart Centre for car-to-home communication with appliances, air conditioning systems, heating, etc.




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