Tues news: lots on urban mobility and car-sharing

July 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

P1010431_smallI’ve been in Berlin recently, where there’s a wealth of car-sharing options to choose from (pic: a Car2Go Smart Fortwo, on-street in Kreuzberg; other services are available, as they say) as well as a good number of on-street EV charging points, at least in the sort of right-on areas where e-mobility is more likely, excellent public transport and what looks like a pretty decent cycling culture too. (Yes, I would very much like to live there). Appropriately enough, today’s news bulletin contains a fair amount on urban mobility and vehicle-sharing besides things electrified. Not that I’m claiming to be tapping into a zeitgeist or anything…

  • Ridesharing platform BlaBlaCar has secured $100million of funding for its expansion through Europe and worldwide. The Paris-based company is claiming some 8million members in 12 countries now, with a million shared journeys a month made via the membership scheme and social media platform/smartphone app.
  • An interesting snippet about biogas: Finland now has 21 public filling stations, with 20 more to open by 2016. More here.
  • Micro-EV firm ZAP of Santa Rosa, California, has done a deal to sell 1000 URBEEs a month to a firm called SunRa (not to be confused with Sun Ra, though that would be amusing) for sale in China. The URBEE micro-vehicles – commuter cars and utility models – are made by subsidiary firm Jonway Auto in China. SunRa appears to be a division of a firm called Xinri Electric Vehicle Company, also a big EV distributor. ZAP says it intends to sell 8000 vehicles through the SunRa network in the next year, and that ZAP Jonway has the capacity to build up to 50,000 vehicles a year at its facility in Zhejiang Province.
  • Solid-state storage of hydrogen enables it to be carried in tanks at much lower pressures; EU-funded research co-ordinated by the University of Turin has developed a system to work with a fuel cell. At the moment, this only supplies power for an APU (auxilliary power unit), but the demo project does show potential. More at Green Car Congress.
  • The upcoming eighth-generation Volkswagen Passat will come with the option of a PHEV drivetrain. This combines a 154bhp TSI petrol engine with an 80kW motor to give a total 208bhp and an all-electric range of 50km/31 miles; a combined fuel consumption of 188mpg (though this is a pretty meaningless average figure in the context of a PHEV) and carbon dioxide output of 35g/km is claimed.
  • And Volvo’s next-generation XC90 SUV will include a ‘twin engine’ model badged T8: a plug-in hybrid with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine driving its front wheels and a 80bhp/60kW motor driving the rear. An all-electric range of around 25 miles is promised, but with 400bhp/640Nm of power on tap when required
  • Two interesting things about the latest UK car sales report from the SMMT. One, that registrations of EVs more than doubled in the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period last year – up 144% to 2558 vehicles (‘pure’ BEVs). PHEVs and RE-EVs were up by over 90% to 973 vehicles. OK, the numbers are still exceedingly small, but the growth is in the right direction… But secondly, let’s put this in context: 1,287,265 new cars registered in the first six months of the year, 10.6% up on this time last year, the highest half-year total since 2005, and a market on track for 2.4million new cars on the road in the UK in 2014. In June alone, sales reached 228,291 cars. Britain’s appetite for cars does not appear to be slowing down despite the claims of ‘peak car’, and this illustrates the need for better management of this growing vehicle population and shifting people into cleaner, less polluting vehicles (which need not be privately- or individually-owned). Simply thinking that everyone can be persuaded/coerced onto public transport or a bike and hoping that the nasty cars will just go away is not enough.
  • But further to the above, some thought-provoking stuff from Guardian Cities about engineering more liveable cities in which the car is no longer “king” – present, but no longer dominant, enabling more space for pedestrians and cyclists, and for simply hanging out and enjoying the urban environment. It’s about achieving a balance, appropriate means of transport in particular areas and soforth, which all sounds eminently sensible (and, with the right supporting policies, achievable).
  • And continuing on this theme, another interesting snippet from Finland: the City of Helsinki is to trial a multi-modal route-planning system with employers and build a platform for its delivery, in the view that private car ownership will reduce in coming years and that city residents will instead buy transport ‘packages’ to include car rental mileage alongside use of the metro, bus and soforth, much as one buys phone/telecommunications packages. It’s a realistic long-term view which involves reducing driving and the numbers of vehicles on the road in cities, not ruling car use out completely or expecting radical, wholesale behaviour changes.
  • But it isn’t just about cities, either: Sustainable Mobility reports on two new EV-shares launching in France. One, in the small rural town of Gréoux-les-Bains (2,500 inhabitants) is a six-month trial with the slogan “Even in the countryside, I can drive plugged-in” (I think something may have been lost – or confused – in translation) and is targeted not just at the locals but at the 30,000-odd tourists who visit the resort’s spas each year. It’s offering Renault Zoes from 39euros a half-day and will be extended beyond the initial in-season trial if demand proves sufficient.  And back in town, SNCF mainline railway stations in Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille and Paris (Gare de Lyon) are to get an e-mobility service called Wattmobile: subscribers (typically paying 18euros a month) can hop into/onto a Renault Twizy or Peugeot e-vivacity scooter, levied per 15 minutes, to reach their final destinations.
  • Daimler and BMW have signed an agreement to develop a standardised EV induction-charging system. More here.





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