Electrified roadsweeping & other news of note this week…

June 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

bucher roadsweeperNot as sexy as a supercar, granted, but working vehicles like this roadsweeper are rather useful, and have a future – especially in cities, whatever other motorised transport may be used. This is a prototype built by Bucher Municipal of Neiderwenigen, Switzerland in partnership with Empa (Materials Science Technology Centre), ETH Zurich University. In place of the conventional diesel engine plus hydraulics, it has a small natural gas engine with generator; it consumes less than half as much energy on its standard ‘sweeping’ cycle, and its CO2 emissions are cut by over 60% (even more when biogas is used). Though it would cost more to buy, this is compensated for by its much lower operating costs.

Interesting note on this is that Empa calculates the typical annual diesel consumption of a vehicle of this type is around 10,000 litres, typically ten times more than that of a passenger car; they quote a German study which reckons that working vehicles, including bin lorries, etc., account for around 15% of the energy consumption of all road traffic, despite their actual numbers being very small. Anyway, further work is underway on this concept to optimise its operation, packaging and costs, but Bucher aims to bring it to market. More here.

  • Seven auto industry mega-trends identified by Goldman Sachs, reported here. In summary, the Great Vampire Squid reckons that: there is ongoing endless powertrain advancement, but petrol/diesel will still power 75% of the global fleet 10 years from now; vehicles will become lighter; industry focus will turn to emerging markets; power will shift to ‘megasuppliers’ while the trad carmakers become final-assembly and marketing concerns; connected-car tech, apps and shared mobility have had a small impact in the taxi/rental sector, but the extent of their potential disruption is unclear and impact on car ownership will be limited until they can solve issues of under-utilisation; autonomous driving is on the horizon with tremendous potential, but legislative, social and economic factors must be resolved and it may have more impact on sectors such as trucking, public transport and non-car businesses than on private car ownership; and that ‘barriers to entry’ for newcomers have been lowered with new techs, allowing the involvement of the likes of Google, Apple and Tesla, but adaptability of the old OEMs and these megasuppliers may yet win out. As Automotive News points out (claiming that there is ‘little evidence’ that consumers are demanding fundamental changes in mobility), this is essentially a pretty conservative and status quo-reinforcing view of things – no surprise. But not necessarily wrong. My biggest query would be over ‘adaptability’ of the slow-moving OEMs…
  • Details on the Frauenhofer Institutes EDDA electric bus fast-charging project here; trials in Dresden saw the roof-mounted high-voltage ‘flash-charging’ system (6.5 minutes) enable the bus to serve a 20km route.
  • More research on PM2.5s – particulates most commonly emitted by diesel vehicles: linked with respiratory illnesses in children by the University of Seville. More here.
  • Not quite sure what’s happening with the Bollore Group and the former Source London network (anyone?) but Transport for London has issued a call for partners and suppliers to build EV-charging infrastructure in the city. Plans include rapid-charging for taxis, private-hire vehicles and other commercial fleets, in a shift of previous focus, although ‘incentives’ towards mass take-up of EVs, presumably involving private vehicles, is also mentioned. Reported here.
  • Meanwhile in Wolfsburg, an e-mobility trial project based around the main station has gone into operation: a fleet of electric bicycles and Volkswagen e-Ups can be hired for use between nine locations. Also, Milan’s BikeMi service is now up to 4,600 electric bicycles, and 70 new docking stations are being added in the city. More here. Also, further news via Eltis – 150 EV charging stations for Hungary; and a trial of four automated driverless minibuses in Vantaa, Finland.
  • Renault is to supply 150 Zoes to the King of Jordan for his fleet; to be solar-charged from facilities at the royal palaces as part of “an ambitious solar programme”, says Renault-Nissan.
  • Latest registration figures from the SMMT covering January-May: all-electric vehicle registrations doubled compared to this time last year to 3,772. Plug-in hybrid and range-extended EVs numbered 8,147, with the best-seller the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
  • TomTom doesn’t just make sat navs: TomTom Telematics has supplied an open API platform for an electric car booking/management programme. This integrates car booking and battery data for the Be Smart EV-share (Italy) and allows for remote battery monitoring, vehicle activation, location tracking and journey information for billing. More here.
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