JLR Concept_e research vehicles and more…

September 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

JLR Concept_e carsJaguar Land Rover has revealed three Concept_e research vehicles at the Low Carbon Vehicle show this week, featuring an electric-drive module (eDM) said to produce twice the power and torque of any motor-generator currently in production; this can be mounted between any motor or transmission and configured to create mild hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrains, or used alone in an all-electric vehicle. Partners in this government-funded two-year programme include GKN Driveline of Redditch,  contributing its eAxle tech (a single-speed eAxle driving a front axle, and a higher-performance two-speed gearbox eAxle system driving a rear axle, which can be combined in an AWD vehicle) as well as Zytek Automotive, Drive System Design, Motor Design Limited, Williams, Delta Motorsport, Tata Steel, and Bristol, Cranfield and Newcastle universities.

The Range Rover Evoque-based Concept_e MHEV is a mild hybrid with a prototype three-cylinder 90hp diesel engine and 48V electrical system incorporating clutch-disconnect and a nine-speed transmission. Concept_e PHEV – Range Rover Sport donor vehicle – has a prototype 300hp petrol engine, eight-speed transmission, a 150kW motor and 320-volt lithium-ion battery pack and full-time four-wheel drive. Concept_e BEV, meanwhile, is the all-electric research demonstrator built on the new JLR aluminium architecture, modified to house the e-drive units and battery; it has a single-speed transmission with 85kW motor driving the front axle, and a two-speed transmission and 145kW motor driving the rear axle. Other techs in the research vehicles include brake-by-wire (giving optimum energy recuperation) and torque-vectoring; JLR has also been working on HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) technologies to reduce energy consumption, including infra-red reflecting glass and infra-red panels embedded in sun visors, door tops and key places such as the transmission tunnel, lightweight carbonfibre seating, lightweight fabrics and sound-proofing materials, and its further news this week is the Provoque concept: an Evoque with 2.0-litre diesel engine, 48V electrics and electric supercharger, said to emit 99g/km of carbon dioxide.

  • Winners have been announced of the 2016 Michelin Challenge Design, which called for concepts for low-cost mobility solutions for developing regions. Many clever and amusing ideas, but of the top-placed entrants, I’m liking second-prize Edgar Sarmiento’s Arriero: a rugged electric off-road quad bike for Columbian farmers and herders. Ride it, cowboy.
  • Haven’t heard much from Wales-based Riversimple lately, but they report that they’ve now built Mk2 vehicle architecture, and are showing it off at the Low Carbon Vehicle Show this week. The latest iteration of the super-lightweight, easy-assembly fuel cell vehicle features 120 lithium super-capacitors for energy storage, and four in-wheel motors delivering 160Nm of torque. A two-seater with carbon monocoque construction, it has a target weight of 520kg, a cruising speed of 55mph and a range of 300 miles between hydrogen top-ups. Riversimple has a vision of  decentralised production and a business model based around leasing/mobility services rather than vehicle sales.
  • Biofuel from waste products = better than biofuel from specially-grown crops, and bringing new meaning to the phrase ‘drinking fuel’, government funding of £11million is being given to Celtic Renewables, Edinburgh, to develop biofuels from waste by-products of whisky-making. Advanced Plasma Power, Swindon, also gets £11milion for household biowaste-to-biofuel research, and Nova Pangaea Technologies, Tee Valley, £3million to develop biofuel from forestry waste. More here.
  • Volkswagen is to reveal (yet another iteration of) its Microbus concept at CES in Vegas next January, reports Autocar, which says the reborn Kombi/Bulli/camper van is to get an (optional) electric-drive system delivering a range of 250-310 miles. Conventional ICE models will also be offered, of course, but the electric version will get an updated version of the R8 e-tron’s powertrain. Official announcement expected soon, with production said (this time) to be scheduled for 2017. The zero local emission driveline, which relies on the Volkswagen Group’s latest lithium-ion battery technology as used by the Audi R8 E-Tron and upcoming Audi E-Tron Quattro concept, is claimed to provide a range of between 400 and 500km (250-310 miles) depending on the driving conditions. It is planned to be offered alongside more conventional turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and diesel powerplants on the production Microbus, which senior Wolfsburg sources describe as being smaller than the latest Multivan.
  • The BlueIndy carshare is now up and running in Indianapolis, and now the latest destination for the Bollore Group’s concept: Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo (not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo, capital Kinchasa). 50 electric cars and 14 electric buses, plus 80 charging points and solar panels, are to be shipped out there in time for the African Games, in partnership with the state of Qatar. More here.
  • Thermal management in EVs is serious stuff, and Bosch is to debut a new system at Frankfurt next week. It’s said to increase battery range by up to 25% and is heat pump based: pumps and valves collect heat (and coldness) and redistribute this via coolant. More here.
  • A certain morbid fascination with this concept – a driverless, autonomously-guided electric hearse, the latest idea proposed via Charles Bombardier in his regular column for the Globe and Mail (Canada).
  • Latest BMW app news: as seen at the IFA 2015 consumer electronics show in Berlin, the ConnectedDrive suite is to include two new apps, Smart Home for Apple iOS, or Samsung SmartThings (Android, still in research stages). Both enable in-car control/checking of linked household functions such as heating, intruder alerts, etc – and even check whether ‘smart’ sensor-fitted windows and doors are locked. Not sure if they can check yet whether you’ve left the gas on or iron plugged in, however… Full release on these (and other new ConnectedDrive developments) here.
  • Some transport-related feedback from the Future of Cities conference (government-backed Foresight Project) here: reports from Cambridge (“expecting an explosion in cycling”), Newcastle (identifying need for cross-sector data-sharing) and Lancaster looked at visions for 2065; the Foresight Project’s own report (“People in Cities: The Numbers”) looks at demographics and trends to 2040 and 2065; a report from Sustrans makes the case for active travel (walking, cycling) and David Metz (UCL) for investment in rail  in his report “Future of Cities: Beyond Peak Car”. Great – but do we have to choke on exhaust fumes and consume fossil fuels till the necessary shifts are made?
  • And more discussion on a similar theme – review of new book, Urban Transport Without The Hot Air, talks about successful case studies and opportunities for change in terms of lessening car-dependency (good), but dismisses ‘techno-fix’ solutions (EV-ICE ). Like it’s some sort of either-or solution and we can’t have modal shift, behaviour change and (a smaller number of) cleaner vehicles where appropriate.
  • In the meantime until car-free Utopia is achieved, the majority of new diesel cars fail to meet the latest Euro 6 EU emissions standards on the road, chuffing out up to five times the amount of harmful particulates and nitrous oxides measured in lab tests, Transport & Environment reminds us, quoting a new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) which looks at NOx emissions. This problem and its implications for air quality is far too serious for us to wait until we can shift everyone onto bikes, feet or public transport, even presuming that this is in any way possible.
  • As an aside, incidentally, some interesting stats via the Campaign for Better Transport. Rail passengers have more than doubled in the UK to 1.7billion over the last 10 years, with 22% of passengers going into London having to stand on a typical weekday and an average 4.1% of peak-time trains ‘over capacity’ (passengers standing for more than 20 minutes) – 10.1% over capacity at Paddington and 26% of all morning peak trains, with a total 59% of training having passengers standing. Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield also had high numbers of over-capacity trains arriving at the morning peak. (If we want to get people out of cars, there has to be a viable alternative).
  • Report on ridesharing from Deloitte looks at potential for its expansion, saying that nearly 19million commuters in US metro areas could feasibly share a car, giving total CO2 savings of 91.million metric tonnes a year as well as massive societal benefits (I paraphrase) in terms of reduced accident rates, spend on infrastructure and lower congestion, plus personal economic benefits. It points to ‘ring’ neighbourhoods as a potential hotspot (drivers/riders not necessarily commuting to city centres), and discusses incentives and policies to support its growth.
  • And further to all the above, some fun… The Guardian Cities has collected a few ideas for easier London commuting, including underground travelators, walkways and bike lanes, swimming lanes in the Regent’s Canal, and a floating bike lane along the Thames.

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