Concept of the Day: Volkswagen Hybrid-Electric City Taxi

March 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

1977-VW-Hybrid-BusOh, what could have been… Volkswagen was experimenting with hybrid and electric vehicles in the 1970s including this Type 2 Microbus-based hybrid reports Jalopnik – featuring a system based around the original air-cooled 1600cc flat-four plus Bosch motor-generator. The pictured drawing (found in a 1979 book on electric vehicles) depicts this ‘bus kitted out as a wheelchair-accessible taxi with an electrically-operated side door, as well as a bullet-proof glass screen between driver and passenger; Volkswagen apparently considered this “the taxi of the future”.

Anyway, in 2015’s electromobility-related news, today’s snippets…

  • A handy side-effect of EV usage: as they emit less than 20% of the heat, mile-for-mile, emitted by ICE vehicles, they could help keep city temperatures down and save on the energy usage/carbon emissions from air conditioning systems. A paper from Michigan State University takes Beijing as the example.
  • Dyson has invested $15million into a JV with solid state battery-maker Sakti3, a company with ambitions to supply batteries for automotive application. More here. Meanwhile, collapsed-then-rescued lithium-ion battery-maker A123, embroiled in the whole ongoing saga of Fisker Automotive, doesn’t see a viable market for EV batteries for a while yet…
  • Here’s a tie-up of two ambitious contenders: Chinese car-maker BYD is supplying 200 e6 electric minivans on lease to Uber in Chicago. More here.
  • Awareness of public EV-charging facilities is not a strong indicator of interest in plug-in vehicles, according to research from Simon Fraser University, Canada: home charging facilities and consumer incentives are more important. Full academic references plus detailed rundown here. Greater interest noted in PHEVs than all-electric models, too.
  • You don’t have to understand a complexity theory analysis to pull out a few salient points from this discussion on the slow progress of electromobility and adoption of EVs, from the e-mobility NSR network. It concludes that policy intervention continues to be needed, because the dominant system – including economic, infrastructural, cultural – is carbon-based and framed around ICE vehicles; positive feedback loops need to be set up, even on a micro-level, as they have tipping-point potential; behavioural ‘nudges’ can enhance policy effects (the example of PHEV take-up in the Netherlands is given); and a strategy of small steps in a continuously-learning process is needed.
  • Research ongoing at Imperial College, London, is looking into how EV drivers charge and use their cars, with a view to developing solutions for services, information and booking/securing electricity supply… link to take part here. This guy‘s looking into vehicle-to-grid services and predictive driving/charging patterns.
  • And a study linking traffic-related air pollution to Type 1 diabetes in very young children…
  • Meanwhile, in the US, total vehicle mileage travelled in 2014 is back up close to the all-time high of 2007, though vehicle mileage per capita rose less slowly. More at Citylab.
  • Another aspect of electromobility: BMW Group is deploying an electrified MAN truck to carry materials between its logistics company and its Munich factory. More here. It’ll make the near-2km journey eight times a day and save an estimated 11.8tonnes of CO2 a year, apparently.
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