Concept of the Day: Frauenhofer IISB-ONE

July 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

IISB-ONEIt’s a rolling platform for developing EV power electronics, built by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology (IISB), Erlanger, and it has hit the road for testing. IISB-ONE is said to be a modular concept capable of integrating future technologies, and it showcases Fraunhofer IISB’s portfolio of e-drive systems, converters, chargers and battery storage systems. Interesting note: this is (I think) a second-life application for a rare Artega GT (putative Porsche Cayman rival, designed by Henrik Fisker, originally meant to be Volkswagen-engined, around 150 built before obsoletion/company collapse). Tech spec includes two individually-controlled e-motors delivering 80kW/peak torque of 2000Nm to each driven wheel, a rated 355v lithium-ion battery pack, a high-performance DC-DC converter, flexible AC or DC charging, and wireless inductive-charging capability. Its drivetrain could also accommodate additional batteries or even a fuel cell. (Found via

  • Some detail on BMW’s ChargeForward trial at Citylab: 100 i3 drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area are testing an app to report to the utility firm (Pacific Gas and Electric Company) when they want to use their car each day, and for it to then be charged (remotely scheduled) at times to smooth out demand peaks. An early step towards EVs as grid-balancers and in reducing fossil-dependence at peak demand-times.
  • A UK survey of 203 EV-drivers by KiWi Power, Carbon Trust and HSSMI (respondents recruited via Zap-Map and Next Green Car) found that: 81% had a dedicated home charging point; 19% had access to charging at work (but only 14% used it); 90% regularly use public charging points – 68% at least once a week, 22% around once a month and 9% less than once a month; 67% use all charger types; 31% use rapid-chargers only; 50% charge on public facilities for less than 2 hours, 37% for 4-6 hours, 5% for 6-8 hours, remainder 8 hrs+ or ‘don’t know’; most plug in with less than 60% battery charge remaining – 24% at 0-20%, 35% at 21-40%, 25% at 41-60%; 95% select a public parking location based on availability of a charger (52% always, 43% sometimes, only 5% saying it’s not a deciding factor); 67% regularly use a particular point; points regularly used are 32% in retail car parks, 25% in public car parks, 21% in local authority car parks, 10% on-street and 6% at workplace locations. Handy infographic, rundown with comments, here.
  • Qualcomm has done a deal with Swiss parts-maker Brusa for manufacturing/supply of its induction-charging tech, moving wireless charging a stage closer; its Halo system has been licensed, reports Green Car Congress.
  • Report from the Innovative Mobility Research unit at TSRC, UC Berkeley, surveying responses from 23,774 active Zipcar members incl. 523 corporate members (Zipcar for Business accounts for around a quarter of membership in the US). Of the corporate members, two in five sold a vehicle or postponed the purchase of a new one due to their joining Zipcar, equating to a claimed 33,000 fewer cars across N. America. Some interesting stats: of those who had sold/postponed purchase of a private vehicle, 41% said they took public transit or walked more often now, and 22% were more likely to cycle – but 19% were less likely to cycle, 13% were less likely to take public transit, and 7% less likely to walk – Shaheen et al point to a 13% induced-demand effect. 49% said that their likelihood of buying a new car in the future was reduced, and this was unchanged for 41%. Full report here.
  • Nice report from TransitCenter (New York), A People’s History of Recent Urban Transportation Innovation, looks at citizen activism and resident- or people-driven innovations. The examples used include introduction of bike lanes, bike-shares, public plazas, mini-parks and pedestrian spaces, but well, same principles for energy transitions or a switch to alt-fuels and installation of infrastructure? It discusses the scaling-up of local initiatives, and identifies three key prerequisites for success: an independent but persuasive citizen-led civic sector; bold mayors and transportation chiefs with a vision and mandate from top-level government; and agency adoption/new practices within city government to ‘perpetuate new norms’. Full report available to download here.
  • And (yet) more on Millennials, (via NextCity)… Survey of 3000 18-34-year-old Americans in the country’s 50 biggest cities, by Portland State University, found that they use public transport more than any other age-group, are more likely to walk or cycle, and prefer ‘attached’ housing (apartments) and living in walkable urban environments with short commutes (surprise!).  83% like walking, 71% driving (still high, but there’s a larger gap between the two figures for this age-group).
  • Yet Americans (cross-agegroups) are actually driving more and more – VMT (vehicle mileage travelled) has just risen for the 14th month in a row, the most since April 2007, and 2015’s set to be a record year for mileage, reports AutoblogGreen. Low oil/fuel prices are fingered as the culprits. So though Millennials may be driving less, we can’t assume a downward trend…
  • …which is why we need to get people into cleaner cars. A white paper from the ICCT looks at metro markets (USA) for EVs and concludes that they’re breaking through successfully in cities where there is progressive city policy, effective promotion and incentives, investment in infrastructure, and a broad range of vehicles available.
  • Criticising EVs as being only as green as the source of their electricity is not constructive (agreed), takes only a very short-term view (double agreed) and electromobility needs to be looked at as one element in a wider system (agreed again), says Tali Trigg at Scientific American.

Concept of the Day: e.Go Life

July 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

e-GO-Mobile-AG-3-Detailed piece on the E.Go Life, a Renault Twizy-style quadricyle developed at Aachen University, in the latest (bumper) issue of Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International… It’s a follow-on spin-off from the Streetscooter C16 project (reported in this post), with e.Go aiming to produce low-cost 3D-printed, modular-construction microvehicles using Aachen’s Stratasys system, in an ongoing ‘scrum engineering’ process of continual development. Lowdown here. A beta-testing batch of 100 cars will be built at the university; and it also emerges that StreetScooter has now been sold to Deutsche Post DHL, which is currently running 150 of those vehicles on its fleet, an already-successful application.

  • On a different note: Audi is to preview its Q6 crossover with a concept codenamed C-BEV at Frankfurt, reports Autocar. High-performance, all-electric (three motors), a 311-mile range, apparently, to rival the Tesla Model X.
  • Data from Chargemaster shows that over 90% of electric vehicle charging (UK) is done at home (‘charging events’ data January-May 2015, said to be profiled to be representative of UK infrastructure), and finds that total charging volumes have risen 163% since 2014. The average UK commute is less than 10 miles, and over a third of UK motorists never drive more than 80 miles in one go, it’s claimed in a report for the Go Ultra Low campaign. Chargemaster is also, incidentally, taking over the Plugged-in Midlands network of charging points from Cenex – 870 of them, with another 100 to be added in the next few months. It is also taking over 300 Source London points (from Bolloré).
  • A bicycle by-product from BMW: a patent has been released by BMW R&D for an e-drive unit swing arm, now going into production on electric-assist (pedelec) bikes from HNF, Biesenthal. The HNF Heisenberg XF1 e-bike features this BMW unit, which integrates mid-motor, gears and belt-drive into a suspension module with no need for a belt-tensioner. More here.
  • BMW is also, in the US, adding in-car integration of an i0S app called EnLighten, which gives real-time traffic signal data and a green light count-down. This info – which can help drivers proceed more smoothly and save fuel – can appear on the dash display with recommendations on whether to stop or slow down, and is based on vehicle position, speed and ‘smart’ traffic signals. At the moment, it’ll only work in Portland and Eugene, Oregon, and Salt Lake City, in cars with the BMW Apps option – but this does mark a new step forward in V2X (car-to-infrastructure) comms. More here.
  • The California Air Resources Board has awarded a $1.6million grant to the City of Los Angeles to set up EV-sharing programmes in disadvantaged neighbourhoods said to be “disproportionately impacted by climate change and poor environmental quality” – air pollution. Such districts are also more likely to suffer from poor (or non-existent) public transport infrastructure, so it’s a boost for mobility as well. More from Senate District 24 here.
  • And BYD is to supply 50 e6s to a ride-share (shared taxi, in effect) service based at San Diego airport – more here.
  • Handy summary/digest of a paper on (US) Millennials and their driving habits at Citylab: Noreen McDonald (University of North Carolina) compares Gens Y & X and reckons 10-25% of driving decline is due to changing demographics (higher unemployment, greater likelihood of living with parents and/or in cities, etc.), 40% due to a general downward shift US-wide and 35-50% to attitudes. But these Millennials aren’t necessarily cycling or using public transport more – they’re just going out less and to fewer places. Full paper at Journal of the American Planning Association.
  • Two new research papers from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, again usefully filleted here. Though electrified vehicles currently account for less than 1% of Canadian vehicle sales, over a third of car-buyers do want a plug-in, apparently, with 89-93% of those wanting a PHEV. Axsen, Goldberg et al put this down to low consumer awareness and a current lack of choice, and think the market share is unlikely to exceed 4-5% by 2030 unless new models are launched – in which case it could rise to over 20%. Other take-aways: even with today’s electricity grids, plug-in vehicles could cut GHG emissions by 80-98% in British Columbia, 45% in Alberta and 58-70% in Ontario, they claim. They’ve also identified three groups of plug-in car buyers: PEV Pioneers, potential Early Mainstream (the next to be converted) and Later Mainstream (unlikely). PEV Pioneers tend to have higher-end incomes, are more likely to be graduates and to be engaged with tech and eco lifestyle issues, to be male and to own their own homes; they most own the Nissan Leaf (46%), Chevrolet Volt (24%) or Tesla Model S (10%); their median driving distance is 28 miles with an average 37 miles driven each day. Full report: Electrifying Vehicles – Insights from the Canadian Plug-In Electric Vehicle Study; plus a paper in Energy Economics, Vol. 50 (Axsen, Bailey and Castro, 2015).
  • Nissan reckons that air quality is the number one factor driving EV purchases, ahead of running costs and wider environmental concerns: speaking at the launch of the e-NV200 Evalia MPV, Nissan’s director of electric vehicles in Europe, Jean-Pierre Diernaz, said that enquiries about the Nissan Leaf rose dramatically in Paris when the city banned cars from the centre for three days. Reported by Transport Evolved. Wonder whether that was motivated purely by altruism or simply the desire to drive ban-exempted vehicles, though?




EVs of Norway, and other news…

July 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

IMG_0985 IMG_0945Some holidays snaps for you. The Norwegian economy and its oil/gas industry isn’t up for discussion here, but the country’s doing pretty well when it comes to electromobility. Latest figures: one in three new cars sold in the last quarter of 2015 were EVs (aided, of course, by generous tax breaks and incentives) and the country is now Europe’s leading EV-buyer. Best-sellers in June were the Volkwagen e-Golf and Tesla Model S, followed by Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe (more figures here). Interestingly, there appear – in cities including Bergen and Stavanger, at least – to be a fair few old-school micro-EVs still knocking around as well, particularly the homegrown but long-dead Think but also some odd little microcars I’ve never seen outside the Nordic/Scandinavian countries. However, the likes of the Leaf (too many to shake a stick at) and i3 are rapidly becoming popular, and I spotted plenty even in remote rural western-fjord villages. And where the Norwegians are doing well is hydropower: not only are they charging their cars, powering their homes and industries and much else from it (whilst exporting their fossils) but there are some intriguing proposals to use their reservoir/dam system in a large-scale, pan-European storage network. IMG_0973IMG_0880


And catching-up with other news… The Tesla upgrades and promise of new Roadster, etc, and the not-very-hybrid London buses have already been covered well elsewhere, so moving swiftly on:

  • Volkswagen’s previewed its V-Charge tech (developed in partnership with ETH Zurich, Bosch, Braunschweig Technical University and teams from universities of Parma and Oxford) for automated valet parking/charging of electric vehicles. The car ‘looks’ for an empty space with inductive charging facilities, charges, then – very thoughtfully – moves itself on when finished to a conventional space, freeing up the chargers for another EV. All controlled via smartphone app, used again by the driver to summon his/her car back later. It’ll work within defined (but not necessarily enclosed) zones such as multi-storey car parks, demands relatively little new complex infrastructure, and is already functional in Volkswagen’s demonstrator vehicle. More, including link to video, here. And Volkswagen is also working on an automated (robotized) DC quick-charging system called e-smartConnect: the robot connects up/disconnects vehicle with charger and can travel around a car park to connect cars as required, as an alternative to wireless induction tech which can also work in parallel with the automated valet-parking.
  • BMW has released details about the activities of its newly-established Centre of Urban Mobility Competence (in Berlin, and yes, I’d be very interested in working there) which is looking at the future of services/technologies including (electric) car-sharing, smart navigation, intermodal connections, etc. and developing/implementing new concepts. “We are setting out to establish ourselves as the leading supplier of premium products and premium services for personal mobility worldwide,” says Dr Bernhard Blättel, Vice President Mobility Services. No kidding… Top priority, apparently, “is to safeguard mobility for all users at its current level at the very least. Deprivation or coercion are not an option.” Basically, it’s about creating better transport options for people to choose – and why wouldn’t they, if these are convenient, accessible and, indeed, desirable? – which can only be a Good Thing.
  • And BMW’s also been talking about its hydrogen-powered fuel cell future (tech co-developed with Toyota): large-scale production by 2020, with a fleet of test vehicles based on the 5-Series GT on the road, plus a prototype based on the i8 under test. Full details here. Plug-in hybrid versions of the 2-Series Active Tourer are also on their way to showrooms, it seems. Some hedging of bets, or a clear differentiation of different types of powertrain for different types of vehicle/usage?
  • Detailed discussion of role of PHEV as a transition technology to fossil-free transport published here, with reference to the role of PHEVs in grid-balancing. Inference is that focusing on PHEVs – which can function as a household’s only or main vehicle in higher-mileage applications – will move electromobility on much faster than relying on or trying to push all-electric vehicles.
  • Freewire Technologies is partnering with Siemens to commercialise its MobiCharger – a mobile EV-charging unit with different outputs which utilises second-life EV batteries. Trials are starting at the LinkedIn HQ in Mountain View, California (where 100s of employees commute to work in EVs, apparently). More here.
  • This week’s EV’s start-up news: Faraday Futures, featuring recruits from plenty of high-profile OEMs, including Lotus and Tesla, promising a high-tech, premium-level vehicle for 2017. Motor Trend analyses.
  • Smart move or sad indictment? Blink, EV network operator in the US, is introducing post-charging fees to deter EV owners from hogging charging points/parking spaces once they’ve topped up their batteries, reports Transport Evolved.

Concept of the Day: Alex eroadster

July 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

alexeroadster - CopyA car called Alex… it’s a composite-bodied EV concept, and there’s a plan to build it in Dunleer, County Louth, Ireland. The firm behind is called Swift Composite Prototypes (does what it says on the tin), and a running prototype has been developed using a Lotus Seven chassis/body. The eroadster looks like a functional little runaround with a wedge-like shape to it and a lift-up front canopy, and they’re promising 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds, fast-charging capability and a range of over 350km, plus light weight but higher safety standards than other ‘light’ cars (quadricycle category). Power comes from two 15kW/80kW AC motors, and intriguingly, “revolutionary new batteries.” The programme appears to be well-funded, and the chassis is being developed by Danish firm Ecomove (creator of the somewhat stillborn Qbeak). Reported here; production by the end of 2016 is quoted, at the rate of a car a week. (via

  • BMW has embarked upon more research with Nanyang Technical University, Singapore; the Future Mobility Research lab at NTU will explore a future materials programme, plus a project called Electromobility in Asia, alongside the battery, intelligent mobility and ‘driver enhancement’ research already underway. The Electromobility project will look at the way people interact with the i3 and i8, to inform future development with a view to using EVs and PHEVs in global megacities. More here.
  • Engineers from University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed tech to harvest energy from tyre-friction: the triboelectric nanogenerator could improve a vehicle’s fuel economy by up to 10%, they reckon. More here.
  • Opel has launched a car-sharing app called CarUnity for peer-to-peer vehicle-sharing; it can be downloaded free, and vehicle rentals are insured. Users do not need to be Opel owner/drivers; initial trials are taking place in the Rhine-Main region. More here. (An overview from Norway on car-sharing here; nothing new, but a summing-up of current thinking).
  • Not quite convinced of the desirability of towing extra power sources behind an EV (except for emergency call-outs, this seems rather self-defeating), but the EC is funding Germany’s Nomadic Power to develop its portable battery pack, which can also be used as static energy storage. More here.
  • London’s first all-electric bus (a BYD) will go into action in the autumn on the Victoria-Cricklewood route. More here.
  • EVs are only as clean in terms of energy consumption as the electricity that goes into them (though dismissing them on these grounds is a pretty short-sighted attitude, and zero local tailpipe emissions still stand): reasons electricity grids need to go greener are illustrated here.
  • They can do it in the US: West Coast EV drivers using the AeroVironment fast-chargers can pay on a PAYG basis via the Recargo/Plugshare app. More here.
  • Solid-state batteries for EVs: already fitted in the Bollore Bluecar, and now Volkswagen could be considering them. More here.


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