News round-up: car-sharing, EV-shares, batteries, #EV-related research and more…

July 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

toyota smart city grenobleThe Smart City ‘Citélib by Ha:mo’ project kicks off in Grenoble in October, using 70 Toyota i-ROAD and COMS micro-EVs. This three-year test programme, mirroring Toyota’s Ha:mo (Harmonious Mobility) trials in Japan, is a partnership between local authorities, the EDF Group, Toyota and local car-share operator Citélib, and is now open for registration. EDF/Sodetrol is installing 30 charging stations close to public transport stops and hubs.

The aim is to promote interconnectivity between public/private (electrified) transport, complementing the existing Citélib service, and the Toyota EVs are intended to act as ‘last-mile’ solutions for people arriving/departing the city on trams, trains and buses – in this one-way system, they can be driven from one location and left in another. Reservations are via a smartphone app which also enables multi-modal route planning. Full news release here, more details at

  • Car-sharing: it’s not just about private individuals/travellers. The corporate market for car-sharing and car-pooling is growing rapidly as businesses and fleets look to cut costs (financial and carbon) and streamline operations; app-enabled integrated multi-modal solutions are an important part of all this. Frost & Sullivan and Smart Mobility Management are carrying out a big research programme to inform the development of next-gen products and their marketing – more here. SMM says that there are now more than 13 providers offering Europe-wide solutions, including existing fleet/leasing providers (i.e. Alphabet/AlphaCity), OEMs (Peugeot/Mu, Daimler ShareYourFleet) as well as third-party telematics and technology providers. It points out “an appetite” for retrospective charging to expense accounts rather than the consumer-oriented PAYG model, as well as for on-demand travel. They’re especially keen on all this in the Netherlands, apparently.
  • An interesting snippet of news from the Volkswagen Group: it’s taking over the Blackberry R&D centre in Bochum for its new Volkswagen Infotainment GmbH division, to develop “new strategies and innovations”… “in order that interlinking driver and automobile with the infrastructure can be further optimised”.
  • Bike-share schemes like London’s Boris bikes, the Paris Velib’, Montreal Bixi etc, do reduce vehicle mileage in city centres – except in London, finds a new study (Fishman, Washington and Haworth, Transportation Research Part D Vol 31/August 2014). In London, there was a low rate of bike-for-car substitution, and a lot of truck mileage involved in moving the bikes around. So basically, great as the Boris bikes (really Ken’s, but we won’t quibble) are, I’d read that as meaning that their users weren’t previously travelling by car anyway, that there are still logistical issues to be overcome, and that they haven’t actually done anything to reduce London’s traffic and air pollution. And I wonder what the car-to-cycling conversion rate is like among private bike-riders, too – again, are London cyclists on their own bikes mostly former public transport users/pedestrians, rather than drivers?
  • Detroit Electric, a reborn brand-name from the early days of motoring, is going to build its Lotus-based SP:01 sports car in… Leamington Spa, where an 80-strong team will be recruited for production. Sales will  start later this year in Europe and Asia, with the US launch to follow; the car (155mph, 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds) is “currently undergoing engineering sign-off tests” and its final styling will shortly be revealed.  The company is also opening a European sales and marketing HQ in Houten, the Netherlands. The original plans to manufacture in the brand’s home town were shelved due to problems with US regulatory processes, a spokesman said, though the main HQ remains in Detroit with the intention to start assembly and engineering work there at a later date. Further models in the pipeline are a 2+2 e-supercar and a saloon, all to be “engineered, developed and assembled at a planned facility in Michigan”.
  • A bold move in Madrid: smart parking meters which charge according to a vehicle’s emissions. Drivers have to input their numberplate to pay for parking, and the connection to the national licensing database charges a 20% surcharge for dirtier, older vehicles and gives a 20% reduction for hybrids and particularly fuel-efficient or low-CO2 models… (Bloomberg).
  • Ammonia could be an effective source of hydrogen and can be safely stored at low pressures in a vehicle, reports the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council, which has developed chemical processes to ‘crack’ ammonia into nitrogen and hydrogen. It can work in a conventional ICE engine, and as ammonia is already widely supplied and transported – mainly for use in industry and agriculture – a supply and refuelling infrastructure need not be expensive, the STFC claims.
  • Another new name to remember in the electric motorcycles game: Brutus Electric Motorcycles, born out of Bell Custom Cycles, Nevada and proffering a range including a stripped-down cafe racer and a Pikes Peak-climber.
  • Leicester University is researching air quality and pollution in the city – using sensors on EVs. It’s also installing chargers on-campus and aiming to promote and encourage EV use; more here.
  • A new porous nanofibre for lithium-sulphur batteries has been developed by  LMU Munich and the University of Waterloo (Ontario); this could make Li-S tech more stable and resistant to charge/discharge fading, thus improving its suitability for automotive application. More here.
  • A 20-car, two-year EV trial in the north-east found that battery reliability, economy and durability were better than expected: the Peugeot iOns covered over 200,000 miles between them as part of the SwitchEV programme, and retained over 99% of their original battery capacity. More here.






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