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.




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