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

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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.
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