Pre-Tokyo round-up…

October 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

ligier ez10Both Nissan and Mercedes-Benz are about to unveil autonomous concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show, but in the meantime… driverless shuttle buses are about to go on trial in San Francisco. The idea is that these will act as last-mile solutions to/from transport hubs, and it’s the first application of the French-built EZ10 in the USA. Trials are already underway in Finland, France and Switzerland; more at EasyMile (a partnership with the Ligier Group).

  • Report from the EU’s Joint Research Centre notes that EV sales rose to over 70,000 last year (incl. PHEV, range-extended and fuel cell vehicles, with all-electric cars accounting for 65% of that number) and the total is coming up to 154,000. Conclusion is that the EU is witnessing “a transition from testing and experimenting with EV towards full-scale EV commercialisation”, but that market support, incentives and policy measures are still important until electric vehicles become mainstream choices. Sum-up here.
  • Meanwhile, another report claims that the EU’s 2020 goal of a 95g/km CO2 fleet average can only be met by deployment of EVs running on electricity; it assesses the benefits of EVs, PHEVs and range-extended vehicles versus fuel cells, and concludes EVs for short distances, FCEVs (fuelled with hydrogen produced by renewable-electricity hydrolysis) for longer trips. More here, full paper here.
  • A project to keep an eye on, based at Lund University, Sweden: Uniti is an EV prototype said to “question the logic of city mobility”, balance advanced tech and “human-centric design”, and to be “a serious contender for a much-neeed disruption in the automotive industry”.  Not much more than that to go on at the moment, but the Uniti team has an interesting open-source and patent-free approach to encourage the development of more sustaimable vehicles, and development is underway in LU’s new ProLab facility of a 15kW city car with a 150km range. Analysis of best vehicle configuration, production methods and materials is also being carried out, as well as whole-lifecycle impact analysis; so far, it’s been confirmed that the car will be a tandem two-seater with an interior including hemp and flax fibre biocomposites. Advanced HMI, customisable experiences and ”learning’ technologies are hinted at, and they’re aiming to get a first car built in late 2017. More here and at the project website.
  • A pro-hydrogen piece at The Conversation: OK, admittedly the current longer range of fuel cell cars vs. BEVs is a bonus, but I’m still not convinced on a well-to-wheel whole-lifecycle analysis in terms of energy consumption involved in producing (and storing, and distributing, and having a supply infrastructure for) hydrogen, at least in (relatively low-mileage) passenger vehicles. Trucks, freight, coaches, long-distance and heavy-duty stuff, yes. Good point about hydrogen production’s role in grid-buffering. What’s struck me here, however, is the idea that fuel cell cars are “a better match with existing habits”. Perhaps this is what we should be questioning as much as the fuel itself.
  • Nice map here showing the movements of the on-demand DriveNow cars in Berlin over a 24-hour period…
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