Concept of the Day: CityMobil2

October 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

robosoft citymobil2French firm Robosoft (“B2B service robots since 1985”) has started a six-month autonomous bus trial in La Rochelle, France. Its prototypes (“Eleanora” and “Mariano”) have already been in action in Sardinia, reports FastCo, where they successfully ferried people along the seafront. They are is a 45kmph 12-seaters (10-seater plus wheelchair passenger) featuring GPS and a laser-guided collision-avoidance system; it has been developed from earlier “cybercars” and shuttles made by the firm.  Further EU-funded demos will happen in Milan, West Lausanne and Vaantaa, Finland, as well as a showcase at CERN; more here. This is part of the wider CityMobil2 project testing and developing a platform for autonomous vehicles, in which research “into the technical, financial, cultural, and behavioural aspects and effects on land use policies and how new systems can fit into existing infrastructure in different cities” will be undertaken, as well as addressing legal concerns and certification of automated transport systems and “cyber-mobility”. It’s real and happening, folks.

  • Nice blog about the implications of driverless cars from Arup’s San Francisco office: “the most significant changes in the movement of people and goods through our cities will come from the convergence of this technology with other emerging trends: car sharing, big data, electric and other forms of propulsion technology, and increasing intermodal connectivity among transit forms”. It’s all interlinked. The writer suggests a reduction in vehicle density due to space-efficiencies, space-saving due to a “road diet” (narrower and fewer traffic lanes), improved safety for pedestrians, cyclists and other road-users (though greater segregation may be needed), an increase in personal mobility for children, the elderly and disabled, a decline in individual vehicle ownership and a freeing-up of parking space, plus further land-use benefits, though there is a risk of suburban sprawl as commuting becomes less of a waste of time.

And a whistle-stop round-up and digest of a few recent-ish EV-related journal articles…

  • Findings and conclusions from the eMORAIL trial in Austria, in which the national rail company provided a small fleet of shared EVs for commuters to access stations; the cars were then put to duties during the working day by businesses including postal services and mobile healthcare providers, before becoming available to commuters for their return-home journeys. In a 700-vehicle system at 200 stations (assessed as the intitial potential) over a year, 16.3million fossil-fuel car kilometres could be substituted by zero-emissions electric ones, though 0.7million km would be ‘new’ (i.e. by users not previously driving), and Austria’s per-capital CO2 emissions could be reduced by a third, the study concluded, and most pertinently, there’s a feasible business model for the national rail company.
  • And a field trial with a port operator suggests that operating costs can be reduced by over 65% if diesel vehicles are replaced by EVs, and that electric vehicles have good potential in ‘closed’ transport systems and fleets. The largest cost savings were obtained with strategies to charge off-peak, battery-swapping is effective in this context, and closed-system fleets are well-suited to adopting V2G technology, the researchers conclude. (More on V2G integration in this one and strategies for smart-charging in this one).
  • A breakthrough with lithium-air batteries has been claimed by a BMW-supported team: using a very low overvoltage in an ionic electrolyte delivers an 82% efficiency and showed no deterioration in a 30-cycle test. More here.
  • The benefits of EVs – in terms of both climate change and public health effects – are greatest in the EU countries with the lowest-emissions fuel mixes and cleanest power stations, which could save millions of euros each year, according to this study, which looked at the effects and costs of GHG emissions and particulate matter on health, waste disposal, biodiversity, land use, buildings and materials, agriculture and further categories. However, European countries with high-CO2 and high-emissions grids may not gain (Romania and Poland, in particular), as any benefits from reducing tailpipe emissions are counterweighed by the higher output from their power stations. Gains were seen in countries including Belgium, France, Portugal, Denmark and the UK (for all of which the most detailed data was available).
  • Fleet managers adopting EVs are primarily driven by wanting to trial new technology, according to this one: lowering their environmental impact, the availability of governmental grants and public image were also important factors, but the decision to expand an EV further was very firm-specific. Fleet managers from 14 Dutch and US organisations were questioned.
  • In Germany, the most-likely EV-adopters are middle-aged men with families and technical professions, according to this study – no surprises there, as not only do they state a higher willingness to go electric, they can afford to do so.  But they’re living in rural or suburban households; this study points out that city-dwellers are less likely to own cars anyway, or do too low a mileage for the extra expense to pay off, and are less interested or willing to pay for EVs anyway. Rural and suburban folk are also more likely to have a garage or somewhere to plug in, and will put less pressure on public facilities. The authors recommend a focus on developing family-sized EVs (rather than tiny city cars), but suggest that PHEVs may be more successful in the early market roll-out of electrification.
  • 13% of German privately-owned cars could be substituted by EVs without their owners making any lifestyle/journey compromises, and a further 16% could go electric with few adjustments made, this study claims. However, it notes that many of the cars which could be substituted are second cars in a household, and also that low-mileage cars tend to be owned by lower-income households – which can’t afford to buy new EVs.
  • And even more: a third of all Germany’s annual mileage could be electrically-driven, say these guys. The biggest potential for EV adoption is in suburban areas around cities, but again, PHEVs are modelled as having much higher take-up rates in the short-to-medium term. They see EVs replacing petrol cars first, but with an uptake in diesel substitution from 2025; user-choosers and businesses will take on many EVs at first, but there will be a jump in private ownership once typical three-year new-car lease deals end, releasing a number of affordable secondhand EVs onto the market.
  • However, in Slovenia, researchers found a higher-than-expected potential ‘pool’ of alt-fuel car-buyers, including more enthusiastic older people; purchase price was still the most significant factor in purchase decisions, however.
  • And in Spain, if local governments put incentives in place, there are more positive prospects for EVs in cities with enthusiastic municipalities – but a negative outlook in rural areas with high unemployment; more here.
  • There are six potential conflicts of interest between EV stakeholders when it comes to the development and commercialisation of EVs, according to this Dutch study: the division of tasks in a public charging infrastructure; allocation of charging spots; influences on charging behaviour; the role of fast-charging; technical standards for equipment; and supportive policies for EV and PHEV adoption. A narrative analysis was made of 38 interviews from which themes relating to the different interests, expectations and strategies of the various stakeholder types were identified.
  • And a study in Manitoba (late 2011-early 2012): buyers were unwilling to pay large premiums for EVs, even if told about fuel-saving benefits – unless they already had experience of/exposure to EVs, in which case they were prepared to pay up to $10,000 more. Conclusion: more consumer education needed, and that marketing so far has focused too heavily on tech and not enough on the consumer benefits. Incidentally, Winnipeg (the largest city in the province) is said to be a good place to launch and trial EVs, having the lowest electricity prices in North America, a 98% renewable electric grid-mix (the lowest-GHG grid in North America), available charging infrastructure plus a local population already used to plugging in auxilliary vehicle heaters in winter months.
  • Researchers at the University of Vermont and Sandia National Laboratories claim to have carried out the most extensive quantitative analysis yet of consumer attitudes towards PHEVs. They used the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowd-sourcing platform to survey 1000 US consumers, and concluded: vehicle characteristics (price, fuel economy, performance) were the most important factors in purchase decisions, with social/advertising influences the least important; the most frequently-stated factors in increasing ‘comfort levels’ with buying PHEVs were significant savings on monthly fuel costs, at-home recharging facilities and thirdly, tax rebates of $7000; battery warranties, the availability of public recharging infrastructure, battery exchange and leasing programmes were also important, along with concerns over battery replacement and lifetime, and servicing or repairs; though over 50% of respondents saw reducing carbon emissions and second-life applications for batteries as positive, these were ranked as less important factors. Those left-of-centre in their politics were more likely to adopt a PHEV than right-wingers, as were those concerned about the US’s transportation energy consumption or reliance on foreign oil/gasoline, those who saw climate change as a threat to humanity (and affected by human activity) – but they weren’t willing to spend too much extra up front. Full article here. This all mirrors the findings of many a recent survey, but calculates detailed probabilities and correlations.
  • I can’t pretend to understand much in this one, but it looks as if it has relevance for EV route optimisation and fleet deployment: a Spanish/Italian team has developed heuristic (“learning”) algorithms which take into account partial recharges and the use of different recharging technologies to model where cost-savings and efficiencies can be achieved.
  • And building a more sophisticated model for EV market diffusion entails taking into account more real-life data on driving patterns to determine which specific user groups could go electric, this one notes (with lots of complex statistical equations). Interesting to see how these simulations are constructed…
  • Second-life EV batteries: their potential for home energy storage researched and discussed here. Household energy use may increase, but economic impact is positive and GHG emissions reduced.
  • Discussion of the move to e-mobility in China with reference to power politics; David Tyfield makes the case for top-down ‘landscape’-level interventions, and draws the links with other low-carbon and connectivity/communications developments. In answering why, despite governmental support and investment, and the availability of advanced technologies, EV sales have not met expectations in China, he looks at infrastructural weaknesses (such as poor roads and congestion which affect automobility full stop), the potentially disruptive growth and popularity of electric two-wheelers as an alternative to cars, against the backdrop of the dichotomy between the technologies of mobility/freedom and those of control/monitoring (I think).

Product offensives, plug-in car forecasts and forthcoming tech

October 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

innoventum giraffeQuick round-up of upcoming electrified vehicles, confirmed, rumoured and otherwise: Porsche – to answer the Tesla Model S challenge, reports Autocar, with an all-electric ‘liftback’ five-door on the Panamera platform; likewise to take on Tesla, a low-roofed crossover-style all-electric Range Rover. Oh, and there are pictures of this Lotus-alike Detroit Electric coupe (£100,500. Forgive me if I don’t get too excited about its significance for electromobility). More significantly, Volkswagen is to launch over 20 EVs and PHEVs in China by 2018, reports Reuters (via Automotive News) – good news for Europe too, what with economies of scale and all that, and getting Beijing to beta-test the tech. These models will encompass everything from small cars to big SUVs. Mercedes-Benz is testing a plug-in hybrid M-Class – spy photos here. And Kia is developing a Prius-rivalling hybrid hatch, the ‘DE’.

  • Frost & Sullivan reckons London could become a leading market for car-sharing and car clubs; membership could rise to 351,000-plus by the end of the decade, a 2.5x rise on current numbers, with both one-way and round-trip services popular, according to its Vision 2020 report (commissioned by Zipcar).
  • And speaking of London… Swedish solar/wind-charger-maker InnoVentum is talking with the Mayoral office over bringing its wooden-structure Giraffe chargers (pictured) to London, reports The Engineer (via Zap-Map). Good idea, obviously, to get the city’s EVs charging off renewables, but… aren’t they a bit big? Especially for on-street use? The Giraffe’s an interesting product, anyway – it’s also developed with a view to getting renewable energy to offgrid areas, including those in developing regions, and towers have already been installed in the Philippines.
  • And you can now get hydrogen in Hendon, at the Sainsbury’s fuel station. The west London store is taking part in the London Hydrogen Network Expansion trial; more here.
  • A count-up of global plug-in car sales from HybridCars: they’ve reckoned up nearly 604,000 in the Top 10 OECD countries, comprising 356,000-plus battery-electric and nearly 248,000 PHEVs, most arriving on the road since 2010 and with a 20% growth in the last four months alone.
  • And the latest forecast from Navigant Research: plug-in vehicles to take 2.4% of the global car market by 2023, about 2.5million vehicles a year, with 50% of these sales to luxury brands, but this growth is contingent upon the launch of products in different sectors, including the SUV and (pick-up) truck sectors. Sales of all electrified light-duty vehicles (including non-plug-in hybrids) are expected to reach 5.8million a year, up from 2014’s 2.7million-odd. Handy rundown at Green Car Congress.
  • Students at Istanbul University have built an EV capable of 500km on a four-hour charge; the T-1 has won a 30-university competition in Turkey and is now touring the country. It weighs 500kg, can do 120kmph and carries four people plus luggage; more here (via Autoblog Green).
  • The UK’s National Grid is confident that EV drivers won’t be causing any brown-outs this winter and that it has sufficient capacity to support plug-in vehicles, reports Transport Evolved. The demands of plug-in vehicles are now built into its forecasting and its Winter Outlook Report.
  • TomTom – a leading data provider as well as sat nav-maker – is incorporating weather condition info into its route calculations. This enables route guidance and arrival time estimation taking into account delays and hold-ups caused by heavy rain, snow, etc; useful for EV route optimisation too, I reckon.
  • On that note, a team at North Carolina State University have developed an algorithm for more accurate range prediction – plugging in data on weather, traffic conditions, gradient and upcoming road type, as well as vehicle-specific data on state of charge and performance characteristics. They’re claiming 95% accuracy, and hope it can help alleviate range anxiety. More, including presentation abstract and academic references, here.
  • The City of Indianapolis is set to have the largest municipal fleet of electrified vehicles in the US by 2016, reports Green Car Congress. 425 of its non-pursuit police vehicles will be replaced by EVs and PHEVs, including the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and Ford Focus Energi.

Concept of the Day: Visio.M

October 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

visio.m.projectSome more news from the Visio.M project: the finished research car (developed from the MUTE, a concept from Technical University Munich) is to be showcased at the eCarTec event in Munich. Exploring technologies for lightweighting and cost-cutting in an affordable EV, the prototype weighs just 450kg (minus battery), is aerodynamically-optimised and features all-round camera monitoring, torque-vectoring, polycarbonate windows, a CFRP passenger cell, low-energy air conditioning/heating and cloud connectivity for entertainment, route optimisation and suchlike. It has a 99-mile range, a 15kW motor delivering up to 75mph, and can be recharged in three to four hours from a 230V connection; it’s only a two-seater, however. Lowdown at Green Car Congress. As is evident in the car’s styling (scaled-down i3-meets-old-Compact? ), BMW was the lead partner in this project.

  • You’ve heard of iDrive – now how ’bout pieDrive? Not some kind of pastry-based award system for eco-driving (how good would that be?) but a pointer-based touchscreen operating interface with a projected pie chart-like display, developed at TU Darmstadt. More here.
  • Interesting: @DrGregMarsden, tweeting from the Sustainable Transport 2014 conference, reports: “BMW data suggests that households buy EVs as a second car. Within 3 weeks it is used as the first car.” NB: Main sponsor of the event = BMW. Anyway, apparently presentations from the day are to be uploaded to the website shortly.
  • Daimler has sold off its remaining 4% stake in Tesla, but Tesla will continue to supply the powertrain for the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. Full statement here.
  • Six hydrogen-fuelled Hyundai ix35s have joined fleets in the government-backed London Hydrogen Network Expansion (LHNE) project. More here.

Solar trikes, e-taxis, grid-balancing trials and more electromobility news…

October 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

foodlogica trikesHere’s a good little business model: solar-powered electric trikes for ‘last-mile’ deliveries of (locally-produced) food to restaurants and cafes. Foodlogica has a shipping container at base for storage of the trikes (made by German firm Radkutsche), kitted out with solar panels for recharging; the trikes have a cargo box good for 300kg. It’s said to be a replicable, up-scalable system and is a commercial spin-off from the Netherlands’ CITIES Foundation Farming The City project, which has been exploring and promoting sustainable and local food consumption, production, transportation and processing. (via Treehugger).

  • BYD is supplying 34 e6 taxis to Brussels, its biggest order so far; the cars’ 190-mile range, as well as their size and comfort, won the tender, reports Automotive News Europe. Oh, and there’s a fleet of 167 (!) Tesla Model S taxis at Amsterdam Schipol airport now, reports EV Fleet World.
  • The future according to Mercedes-Benz: all vehicles electrified, to different degrees from mild hybrids with starter-generators to PHEVs (10 in the M-B range by 2017) and battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles. The cost of batteries will be halved and energy density doubled by 2020, thinks R&D chief Thomas Weber, with the range of the B-Class e-drive up to 185 or even 250 miles. M-B is also anticipating lithium-sulphur and then perhaps lithium-air batteries. More at Autocar. (And Kia’s said to be launching plug-in hybrid versions of the K5/Optima and Sonata next year, btw).
  • Less excitingly – of minority interest, really, beyond some EV awareness-raising among petrolheads – an Italian start-up has created (yet another) low-volume electric supercar. The Tecnicar Lavinia will be launched at next year’s Top Marques show in Monaco, reports Inhabitat.
  • Nissan is testing a demand response system integrated with its Leaf To Home tech at dealerships in Japan; this will analyse grid-balancing and the potential for incentives to encourage businesses (or individuals) to use their vehicles as energy storage and for energy supply at times of peak demand. More here.
  • Siemens has developed an integrated motor-inverter drive system which saves up to seven litres of space as well as weight and production costs; this has a single housing and an innovative water-cooling system, reports Green Car Congress.
  • Titanium dioxide nanotubes at a battery anode could bring charging time down to two minutes for a 70% charge, and give battery life up to 20 years, according to research from Nanyang Technical University (NTU Singapore). Professor Chen Xiaodong says: “With our nanotechnology, electric cars would be able to increase their range dramatically with just five minutes of charging, which is on par with the time needed to pump petrol for current cars”. The technology is being licensed, and Prof Chen’s team is looking for funding to build a larger-scale proof-of-concept battery.
  • Some feedback from a real-life driver which backs up some of my (research-related) suspicions: driving an EV has made her a more energy-efficient (and safer) driver, says ThereseWD, who uses her dash display to monitor her range and how driving quickly depletes it…
  • And the sharing economy: a group of British Tesla owners have started a non-profit plug-sharing scheme called TesLowJuice, reports Auto Express. 66 people with 50 home or workplace chargers have signed up so far via and they’re planning to roll it out across Europe and the US. OK, this is very much a People Like Us sort of club (posh plug-surfing) but shows the power of collaboration and role of community in EV adoption…


The biggest electric bus, and more…

October 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

byd lancaster ebusBYD has unveiled a 60-foot articulated battery-electric bus, the California-built Lancaster, said to have a range of 170-odd miles with 120 passengers on board, and to charge in 2-4 hours. This – claimed as the world’s largest battery-electric vehicle to date – features BYD’s iron-phosphate batteries. Also on display at the American Public Transportation Association Expo in Houston was BYD’s 40-foot Transit electric bus  – which was driven 1500 miles from Los Angeles using $200-worth of electricity. More here.  And on a similarly 60-foot note, New Flyer Industries is working on an electric/hydrogen fuel cell hybrid bus in partnership with Ballard Systems; this is to go on a 22-month trial in Connecticut. New Flyer also has a 40-foot all-electric bus compatible with overhead pantograph charging, reports Green Car Congress. And more e-bus news: four 12m Solaris electric buses charged via the Bombardier PRIMOVE induction system are to go on trial in Berlin next year, reports Green Car Congress.

  • Detroit Electric – which says its SP:01 sports car, to be assembled in Leamington Spa, is due to go on sale next year – has teamed up with South Korea’s Integrated Energy on a V2X project. Integrated Energy is placing an order for 300 vehicles and will run a pilot project on Jeju Island in which second-life battery usage for energy storage will also be explored. Jeju Island is said to have the most comprehensive EV-charging infrastructure in South Korea and aims to be a zero-emissions car zone by 2020; the tech to be trialled is looking into vehicle-to-grid, vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-vehicle communications. It’ll use Detroit Electric’s ‘360-Powerback’ system* enabling bi-directional charge and discharge. An MOU has been signed. Chairman and Group CEO Albert Lam (a former Group Lotus CEO) says: “It’s our bi-directional charge and discharge technology and Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment system – ‘SAMI’ – that will revolutionize the way we use electric cars. Soon customers will be able to earn money from stored energy in their car’s battery, power their home or business, and even charge other EVs.” *NB: I suspect this is where Detroit Electric’s main business may be, not in making the cars (which we’re yet to see) themselves.
  • The Visio.M project at TUM (Technical University Munich) has come up with an EV-optimised torque-vectoring system, using regenerated brake energy to enhance stability and handling as well as increase energy recovery – especially on curves. This features an additional spur differential and enables a reduction in gearbox weight of 10%;  more details here.
  • Los Angeles County is deploying 82 Schneider Electric EVlink charging points, available to the public and free (for up to four hours’ use) for the first year. Locations include hospitals, sheriff stations and LA’s Civic Center. And on a private note, Sony is putting in 60 chargers for its EV-driving employees in So-Cal, reports EV Fleet World.
  • 50 electric/hydrogen hybrids – Renault Kangoo ZEs with added hydrogen-fuelled range-extender – are going on trial in Grenoble and Lyon, in an area with a hydrogen-industry cluster of businesses. The Hyway project also includes the opening of two hydrogen refuelling stations in these cities, and study of energy use across the hydrogen lifecycle. The converted Kangoo ZEs are said to have a 300km (city) range.
  • Why have EVs taken off in Norway? Massive tax breaks, very cheap hydropower versus high petrol/diesel costs, perks such as toll exemption and bus lane use… More details in this piece.
  • Those Millennials again… Research from US PIRG looking at their lower car-mileage, preferences for public transport/walking/cycling, urban-dwelling, later marriage and moving away from parents, smartphone-lovin’ and other trends, and their implication for transportation planning.
  • Adding an oxidisation catalyst to the electrolyte doubles the cycle life of lithium-air batteries, according to a journal paper reported at Green Car Congress (click through for the science bit).
  • Summary and overview of CityLab’s thoughtful Future Transportation series of articles here, btw.
  • America’s Electric Power Research Institute and Sumitro Electronics are demo-ing an open-source software platform for vehicle-grid integration (VGI), said to be a step towards common standards in demand management and grid-balancing. More here. A trial, supported by Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda and Ford, will take place in Sacramento, California.

EVs, PHEVs, mobility and carsharing…

October 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

madeira-drive-charging-pointYear-t0-date car sales in the UK: alt-fuel vehicles (mostly EVs, PHEVs and hybrids, though the number also includes a handful of CNG-fuelled vehicles) have reached nearly 38,000, over 50% up on this time last year and a 1.9% market share. ‘Pure’ EV sales are up 181% (4,500 YTD), PHEVs up 1101% (!) – not least due to the wider choice of models now available. Rundown here; table of figures here.

  • EV use could bring greater benefits in the suburbs and countryside than in urban areas, according to a journal article from Cardiff Business School, which argues that the greatest eco-gains in terms of energy efficiency are seen under intense usage, higher mileages and higher speeds than in stop-start city traffic and on short-distance trips; rural/suburban users are also more likely to have somewhere to plug a car in for recharging. You could also make the point about congestion and parking/land use, too, to argue against EVs in the city (except for delivery and service vehicles, of course).  A note’s made about the cost of EVs and transport poverty, however.
  • But… shared electric vehicles are “the true superheroes of the city”, according to a report from the Frauenhofer Institutes. The GeMo project team is showing a prototype with eight tech innovations to make electric car-sharing easier; these include bi-directional induction charging (energy back to grid as well), cloud-based charging management, vehicle-to-vehicle communications across the fleet, cloud-based mobility services and apps for users (bookings, profiles, invoicing), plus wi-fi positioning and GPS to locate and track vehicles. “To make shared mobility a reality, we have to link vehicles, data and infrastructure. That was the core of our project,” says Florian Rothfuss, project leader at Fraunhofer IAO. “What we need are applicable information and communication solutions that are both very reliable and easy to use. However, everything depends on having a convenient charging infrastructure integrated within the city.”
  • A review of travel demands in London from TfL: car travel is down 15% since 1999; tube travel is up 20%, National Rail use up 50% and bus use up 70% since 2000. It’s down to investment in public transport and declining road capacity (plus increased parking charges, the congestion charge etc), they say, also pointing to stagnation in incomes, falling driving licence-holding amongst younger people, and the finding that migrants are less likely to own cars as factors in reducing driving. Cycling has grown, too. The report pulls apart the different trends, looks at effects of policy and fare pricing, motoring costs and the effects of the recession, and concludes that though general theory on income and transport/modal choice still hold true, demand for car travel (and ownership) saturates at the level of £35-50K incomes despite overall demand for travel rising. The self-employed drive the most, apparently, and if population growth/density in Outer London continues, car travel could start to rise again even if more central residents are driving less. It’s not simple… But while the trends are, by and large, reasonably positive, a 15% fall in car travel is still pretty small, ain’t it?
  • And on a London note, here’s a story… BluePoint London (the name given to Bollore’s upcoming EV-share operators) has found that a third of the Source London charging points are inoperable, with some unmaintained by their original installers and broken – the fall-out from the original borough-by-borough and privately run networks. And they don’t have the resources to sort it out, they told Transport Evolved.
  • The UK Government’s putting £11million into establishing a 15-station hydrogen refuelling network by the end of 2015, and funding fuel cell vehicles for the public sector (£2million of that investment). £7.5mill of the 11 is from government, £3.5mill from industry; a further £2mill is for upgrading 6-8 existing refuelling stations and making them publicly accessible. The idea is to provide mobile stations as well as stand-alone sites and others integrated onto existing petrol forecourts.
  • Denmark, meanwhile, is putting up 38million kroner to support EV take-up; the country’s been slower to e-mobility than others in the Scando/Nordic region, and is aiming for 1,400 m0re EVs on the road next year as well as a doubling of Copenhagen’s municipal fleet of EVs (to 250-odd). More here.
  • New Ford Mondeo: the Hybrid version – Ford’s first made in Europe – features two e-motors, one for traction and the other for regeneratively-charging the lithium-ion battery, and can do up to 85mph in electric mode; its 2.0-litre petrol engine delivers 187hp with electric assist, and an average 67.3mpg/99g/km of CO2. There’s an interface called Smartgauge for eco-driving tips and help to monitor, manage and reduce fuel/energy consumption, plus electrically-driven air con and an exhaust gas heat recovery system. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi is to add plug-in hybrid versions of the next-generation ASX crossover (2017) and Pajero/Shogun (2018) to its line-up, reports Automotive News Europe, and Tesla’s adding a ‘D’ dual-motor all-wheel-drive version of the Model S – with advanced automated-driving and auto-parking tech – to its range (more here). Chrysler’s also to launch a PHEV Town & Country MPV (minivan), with crossover to follow; more here.
  • Still, PHEVs – and fuel cell vehicles – are just a bridge to electromobility proper, thinks Volkswagen’s chief of powertrain development, and EV ranges are going to reach 500-600km by 2020: speech by Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser reported here.
  • …which could make battery-swapping obsolete (not that it ever took off the the first place); but UC San Diego has a project called M-Beam, exploring the swapping of modules within a battery rather than the whole thing. Applications for static batteries, storage of renewables, portable generators, etc; more here, and release posted here.
  • Detailed creative-writing exercise from NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management: Re-programming Mobility: The Digital Transformation of Transportation in the United States. This looks at the new digitally-enabled technologies and services which will have the most impact, including effects on land use and organisational change, and how transport planners should prepare; it considers four possible scenarios or ‘alternative futures’, growth (present system extended/expanded), collapse (deterioration/failing of system), constraint (a resource-limited reorganisation) and transformation (disruption, emergence of new technologies and patterns, innovation and growth). A  narrative is then developed for each. Meant to inspire planners to develop a story to guide their work, I guess.
  • Twin turbos not enough? Volvo’s developed a ‘triple boost’ technology with two parallel turbos fed by an electrically-powered turbo-compressor, and created a 450hp high-performance powertrain. The trick is that this output is from a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine: boosted power density, notable engine downsizing and vehicle light-weighting (hence lowered fuel consumption and emissions), plus compatibility with electrification further down the line, apparently.



Paris prototypes and exotica, more plug-in car news…

October 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

vw xl sportSome handpicked snippets from the Paris Motor Show and a few other random bits ‘n’ pieces to follow… A show concept to catch my eye – Volkswagen XL Sport, featuring the Ducati Superleggera ‘twin’ V2 engine (200hp). This sports coupe (pictured), good for 270kmph,0-62mph in 5.7seconds and revs up to 11,000rpm, is developed from the XL1 and just 500 will be made. OK, it’s not necessarily a planet-saver, and it’s not electrified – but an indicator that the next generation of sports cars need not be about brute power? There’s got to be some trickle-down tech from this in terms of lightweighting, materials and aerodynamics, too. (On a different note, we have the Lamborghini Asterion LPI910-4, a plug-in hybrid ‘technology demonstrator’ with three motors supplementing its 5.2 V10 and a 31-mile electric-only range. Which just leaves me slightly bemused). Similarly exclusive and even more exotic in its own way – the Venturi America EV, a two-seater, 400bhp beach buggy costing some £290,000 (yes, really). Just 25 of these will be made, perhaps for a handful of Monaco’s wealthy to nip between mansion and yacht. The Toyota CH-R concept – an Auris-derived hybrid sports crossover – looks a bit more useful in terms of a vehicle for the masses, however. Phew.

  • Hyundai: its 48-volt i40 Hybrid shows the advent of ‘mild’ hybridisation in the passenger car market. Its belt-driven starter-generator system (in place of a conventional alternator) gives stop-start, a short low-speed and cruising electric-only mode, plus 1okW to boost engine power; CO2 emissions are down by up to 20% and power up 15% in combination with the 1.7-litre diesel engine to give a total 155hp/360Nm, but the cost of the system is said to be a quarter that of a full hybrid. Energy from regenerative braking and deceleration is stored in the lead-carbon battery pack, no external charging needed. Hyundai also showed a 1.4 T-GDI i30 CNG (with new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission), the ix35 and Intrado fuel cell vehicles, and its new three-cylinder 1.0 T-GDI petrol engine (in the latest i20).
  • Here’s an interesting claim: that car-makers (and the Danish government) want transport to be included in the European emissions-trading system, because they think it’ll weaken or even lead to the abolition of fuel economy standards. Lowdown here
  • Catching up with some news from Flanders’ Drive: a two-and-a-half year wireless EV-charging trial with 9 companies and 2 universities concluded induction charging was safe, efficient and user-friendly. Static and dynamic charging of a passenger car (Volvo C30 Electric) and Van Hool buses – both fitted with the Bombardier PRIMOVE tech – were tested in Lommel. More detail here.
  • Plug-in cars could create a new business model for the energy supply industry, reports The Economist (October 4th), which also notes research finding that 32% of plug-in drivers in the US (southern states) have rooftop solar panels.
  • EVs now account for 0.5% of the French car market, and France is aiming for 7million charging points (including private and workplace!) by 2030, according to the latest report from ADEME, the country’s Agency for the Environment.
  • Electrification in the camper van sector: a Derby converter is to show a sleep-in Nissan e-NV200 at an event at the NEC next week, reports the Birmingham Mail. It’s only got a 106-mile range, so it might be best-suited to staycations as yet, but an interesting point is made about the need for campsites/caravan parks to start including EV-charging in their electricity hook-up provision.
  • Nice story at Wired about the Wrightspeed-converted FedEx trucks, whose electric powertrains are supplemented by a diesel turbine range-extender.
  • 83% current owners of hybrid vehicles (1000 surveyed) plan to own another hybrid as their next car; a third of these are planning to buy a plug-in next time, and of those who aren’t planning to buy a hybrid, 3% are going to go for an all-EV instead, according to research by Sivak & Schoettle (UMTRI). And of 1000 non-hybrid owners questioned, 31% planned to buy a hybrid next time around, and more than half of those not thinking about hybrids would reconsider if prices came down. More here.
  • Researchers at Ohio State University have come up with a solar-assisted non-aqueous lithium-air battery; the solar voltage mitigates against the formation of lithium peroxides on the electrode, a problem with Li-O2, and ‘overpotential’ inefficiencies. More, including academic citations, here.
  • Gnewt Cargo is doubling its fleet of EVs and expanding across the UK, reports EV Fleet World: it is operating 55 Renault Kangoo ZEs and now doing 5000 deliveries a day under contract for myHermes.

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