News round-up: e-scooters, PHEVs, car-sharing – + advantages of electromobility

March 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

04_Motorman_red1-1024x768Its retro design might not be for everyone, but the Dutch-made Meijs Motorman electric scooter is, according to Wired, “taking over Europe”. No bad thing, the use of clean two-wheeled commuting solutions, and stylish, design-led products in the marketplace can only help raise the profile of e-scooters, mopeds and electromobility in general. Prices start from 4,750 euros (excl. VAT), with customisation options available from this Maastricht-based bike-builder. Rather nice-looking, in my opinion, but then I do like a bit of stripped-down vintage-look styling with the benefit of modern technology, modern maintenance demands and modern-day attention to air quality.

  • BMW’s confirmed UK sales in the autumn for the X5 xDrive40e, a plug-hybrid (why am I less excited about this than the above e-scooter?). Its total output is 313hp (245hp from its four-cyl 2.0-litre petrol engine, 113hp from its e-motor), with combined CO2 emissions of 77g/km and fuel economy up to 85.6mpg; it’ll still do 0-62 in 6.8 seconds and 130mph (up to 75mpg in all-electric mode). All-electric range, varies – “short, everyday journeys in urban areas can easily be completed with zero tailpipe emissions”, says BMW, promising an equivalent 94.2mpg for 15 mile-odd trips in city traffic or a return of 43.5mpg over a commute of up to 37 miles. In the optimised MAX eDrive mode, 19 all-electric miles are possible. However, long-distance (and higher-speed), fuel consumption is “above 25.7mpg”, more in line with a conventional SUV of this size. There’s eight-speed Steptronic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive, too, and a battery-save mode enabling a build-up of charge (giving range) for later deployment, i.e. when entering a zero-emissions city centre zone (when such things arrive and are enforced). Owners are further offered the BMW 360° ELECTRIC service, with a choice of Wallbox home chargers, membership of the ChargeNow scheme, ParkNow Longterm parking/charging space-booking and further customer services. More details here.
  • Ford’s car-sharing trial in London is going well, reports CleanTechnica, with users of the 17p-a-minute City Driving On-Demand service initially opting for the ICE Fiestas, but switching to the Focus Electrics when they are familiar with the app-driven booking process – and not going back.
  • Research at Imperial College, London, has untangled (some of) the chain of cause-effect linking diesel particulates and respiratory distress – the diesel particles are found to activate sensory nerves in the airways. More here.
  • And a new study from NYU (outlined here) linking fine particulate matter (PM2.5) with artery-narrowing and strokes: PM2.5s mostly come from diesel exhaust (as well as from non-transport sources such as wood-burning stoves) but gasoline direct-injection engines are increasingly the culprits as well (more on that here). T&E reports that EU-wide, vehicle traffic contributes a fifth of PM2.5s to the atmosphere.
  • Congestion on UK roads is the worst it has been for over 10 years, according to a survey by the Freight Transport Association (and they should know…). The FTA is noting an increase in domestic road freight but a 55% rate of decline in reliability on the motorway network; also, an expectation of “robust growth in domestic road freight activity” in most industry sectors and regions in the first quarter of this year. Its proposed solution is more investment in the road network, however, rather than, um, fewer vehicles (of all types?) and smarter use of the roads we have. Reminder, too, that transport issues ain’t just about cars.
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