Friday news round-up: trend reports, connected cars, research review

July 18, 2014 § 2 Comments

smart fortwo and forfourSome mobility trend-reporting from Frost & Sullivan’s Martyn Briggs, in light of the launch of the new-generation Smart Fortwo and ForFour (pictured): city cars are increasingly important given the trend towards urbanisation; there’s an opportunity for Smart in micro-mobility and ‘last-mile’ solutions; personalisation is a key business opportunity; integration into wider mobility services, i.e. via smartphone apps such as Daimler’s moovel should be integral to the offering and attract younger “digital native” buyers; access to car-sharing and cars on-demand, i.e. through Car2Go is a growing opportunity; and “urban mobility poses one of the largest opportunities to the sector in the coming decades”.

  • On a not-dissimilar note to the above: connected-car services are already being used by 71% of drivers, reports a survey by Telefonica, and 80% expect in the future to have the same online services in-car as they have at home, at work and on their smartphones. Safety and diagnostics features were seen as the most important, with early-warning and smarter navigation systems also popular. In many ways most interesting, however, was that 35% of the drivers anticipated that they would not own their own car by 2034, instead using other options such as car-sharing.


  • An energy-optimisation system combining driver strategies, assistance systems and powertrain optimisation has resulted in energy savings of 27-36% in tests, with slower journey time trade-offs of 8-21%; eco-routing via the sat nav and prompts on driving style featured, as well as ‘smart’ torque distribution between front and rear axles, the Bosch iBooster regenerative braking system, EV-specific stability control and adaptive cruise control, and car-to-infrastructure communications. The test vehicles were Peugeot 3008 e-HDis. More on the OpEneR project here.
  • Although the UK’s low-carbon policy has helped revitalisation of the country’s automotive industry, the truck sector and biofuels have been neglected, according to a new report for the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership. The report, by the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at the Cardiff Business School and E4tech, concludes that there have been sustained improvements in CO2 emissions and fuel economy, there is a favourable environment for low-carbon technology investment and revived R&D spending, among other positives, but that “the journey has only just started”. More – and links to download full report – here.
  • Researchers at the University of Twente (Netherlands) have developed a catalyst which improves the energy content and quality of biofuel from biomass waste; the oil is heated in nitrogen to 500 degrees Celsius with a sodium carbonate/aluminia catalyst, which boosts its energy content from 20 to 33-37 megajoules per kilogramme. Tests are currently being carried out in Texas; more details here.
  • Ferrari goes electric – not exactly, but “electrification is an integral part of the all-new Ferrari architectures which are due to come on stream from 2017 (front-engined cars) and 2019 (mid-engined cars), respectively”, reports Car magazine. This could mean anything from 48-volt circuits to plug-in hybrids, informed by the LaFerrari prototype, apparently.
  • Have been writing a few pieces about CNG as a transport fuel recently; research piece here suggests that there is a potential niche market for it as a fuel for light vans in the UK, with only minor policy intervention needed to kick-start demand. Barriers at this stage are a lack of refuelling infrastructure, and the cost of vehicles, the researchers say.
  • A six-month field trial of 79 EV drivers in the Berlin metropolitan area found a positive response to going electric, but that barriers remained. Questioned before receiving their car, then at 3 and 6 months of usage, the drivers reported more positivity as they progressed, with factors such as driving pleasure and low refuelling costs cited; barriers including acquisition costs remained. Conclusion: experience of EVs enhanced positive perceptions, and the likelihood of recommending them to others, but had no effect on actual purchase intentions.
  • A case study in Delhi found that 96% of commuters would be willing to shift from private to public transport – if certain criteria or services were considered. Safety was the most important factor, followed by reliability, cost and comfort. And in the Greater Toronto/Hamilton area, attitudes and psychosocial factors – rather than the built environment itself – were found to be the most likely indicators of whether children were driven to school. However, for adolescents in Norway, household structure and parental employment influenced how much they were driven around to leisure activities – basically, teenagers from more affluent two-parent families were driven further and to more activities. And in Flanders, land use (spatial characteristics) were found to be interrelated with residential decisions (where to live), influencing car ownership/availability. However, issues of life-stages and attitudes towards travel modes were also important.





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