Electric vans, fuel cell buses, EV-sharing, and more…

January 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

1956-dkw-elektro-wagen-restoration-001-1A bit of nostalgia and a pretty picture to end the working week: Audi’s Tradition division (supply of classic-car parts) has restored one of only two remaining DKW Schnellaster Elektro-Wagen vans. DKW – one of the companies folded into Auto Union, which then became Audi – made around 100 of these between 1955-62, alongside the conventional two-stroke Schnellaster. Most were sold to energy companies and public utility firms, it seems, and this one (built 1956) went to serve in the East Frisian island of Wangerooge, where ICE vehicles are banned. Its lead-acid batteries gave an 80km range (enough for an island of less than five square km) and its 5kW motor a perfectly sufficient 40kmph.

  • Though yet to launch in London, Bollore is considering taking its Autolib’ EV-share to LA and Singapore. In interview with Bloomberg (via Automotive News), Vincent Bollore said that Autolib’ should become profitable this year – the break-even point in Paris will be 82,000 subscribers, up from the current 70,000 – and that its Bluesummer convertible  could join the Bluecar hatches on the US West Coast. The Autolib’ business is based around having cheap, durable vehicles (and batteries), the report notes.
  • Nice discussion, and plenty of good references, on “the invention of America’s ‘Love Affair’ with the automobile” – quote marks entirely justified – at Citylab.
  • Van Hool is working with Ballard to build 21 new fuel cell buses in an EU-funded programme. Belgian manufacturer Van Hool has already put 27 fuel cell buses on the road, but this new batch features Ballard’s latest fuel cell stack said to be 30-40% cheaper, more reliable and durable. Ballard has also recently supplied fuel cells for a range-extended plug-in hybrid powertrain in a two-bus trial by Solaris in Hamburg, reports Green Car Congress.
  • And BYD has launched its latest battery-electric bus: the C9 coach, capable of carrying 47 people at highway speeds (up to 62.5mph) for 190 miles. The longer C10 (58 seats) and the smaller, faster but shorter-range C6 (21 seats) will follow by the end of the year. More here.
  • Yet more buses: the city of Bristol is to trial hybrids with GPS ‘geofencing’ to ensure electric operation in areas of particularly poor air quality. More here.
  • Latest forecasts from Navigant Research: by 2023, the global market for electric-drive and hybrid commercial vehicles (including buses) will rise tenfold from today’s sales to 160,000 (just under 3% of the market, but with ‘spikes’ in urban areas and regions with clean-air policies). Diesel-hybrid drive is expected to dominate in the medium- and heavy-duty sector, however, but battery-electric will become in greater demand for lower-mileage urban fleets. More here.
  • Speaking of low-mileage urban fleets, DHL Express Italia has just deployed the first of 50 Nissan e-NV200 vans in Italy following successful trials in Paris. More here. (There’s four e-NV200s doing dairy deliveries in Lancashire now, too, reports EV Fleet World).
  • A Samsung/University of Rome team has developed a lithium-sulphur (Li-S) battery giving 98% efficiency, using solid electrolyte which overcomes polysulfide migration and the typical discharge-cycle plateau: science bit and references here.
  • And a simple-sounding but clever device from the University of Illinois at Chicago: a series of air pumps, compressors and fan belts embedded in a road surface, activated as a car drives over to capture energy. The Traffic Powered Renewable Energy System (TRES) could be deployed at intersections, traffic lights, tollbooths and other entry/exit ramps, they say; more here.
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