Electromobility important for GHG reductions

November 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

LichtBlick_1504_3E-Haus_mw_013Electric mobility (not just cars) could contribute far more than previously thought to the reduction of GHG emissions, according to a new paper from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology/Mercator Research Institute of Global Commons and Climate Change. The transport sector (currently accounting for 23% of global energy-related emissions) could nearly halve its emissions by 2050 if a large-scale shift to electric mobility – alongside the promotion of public transport in cities, disincentives to drive, promotion of cycling, etc – is achieved. This would include car-sharing, e-bicycles and electric rail as well as cars, says the paper’s lead author Felix Creutzig, noting: “Efficiency gains will be very difficult to achieve with the conventional automobile fleet from 2025 on. A fuel shift will be the only remaining option to advance decarbonisation.” KIT’s Patrick Jochem adds: “Electrification of cars may also contribute to the energy turnaround, provided that electric vehicles are integrated smartly into the energy system. Shifting of charge processes to strong-wind hours might relieve the energy system and, hence, create synergies between both sectors.” More here; full paper – in Science, Vol. 350, no. 6363, pp.911-912, here.

  • On that note, the launch yesterday of the 100% London campaign -100% clean energy by 2050, also aimed-for by 50-odd Labour-run councils across the country – involves some hearty targets for GHG reductions. Implications for transport policy, of course, and talk about biogas and fuel cell vehicles as well as EVs.
  • And the clever folks at KIT are also working on ‘powercaps’ or ‘hybrid capacitors’ – devices combining the properties of batteries and capacitors for energy storage, storing twice as much power as capacitors but able to supply up to ten times more power than a battery. Science bit here.
  • Renault has been testing smart-charging management in German with TMH (The Mobility House), which has developed tech to automate EV charging at times of lower-cost electricity. Eleven Zoe-owning Renault employees in Germany have tested the system at their homes and research is ongoing between Renault and TMH on smart-grid communications to smooth out demand peaks and troughs, as well as optimising costs (and charging times) for EV owners. Payments for feeding electricity back to the grid (from cars) are also being studied. TMH has further ongoing collaborations with Daimler (energy storage and second-life batteries) and with Volkswagen (supply of home-charging solutions).
  • Volvo’s Concept 26 – revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week – is another vision of the future of commuting. It’s a take on the autonomous theme with a three-way seat which adapts to Drive, Create and Relax modes, involving degrees of seat recline, retraction of the steering wheel and a fold-out display screen – to either make use of the commute time “creatively” or to sit back and relax, watch media or listen to music. Volvo’s Drive Me research project is to get fully-autonomous vehicles on the road, “driving real customers” in Gothenburg next year. And the ’26’, apparently, refers to the average US commuting time. (On a related note, interiors supplier Faurecia is working on a research project with a team from Stanford University to study the issue of motion sickness in self-driving cars…)
  • Speaking of Gothenburg, I’m liking the Stadsleveransen – a city delivery service combining an electric vehicle-pulled ‘train’ of goods trailers and six-wheeled cargo bikes, driven by the ‘pooling’ and aggregation of deliveries to shops and businesses in a central area. Has cut down on traffic and parked vehicles, enabled increasing pedestrianisation and cycling, and created an all-round more pleasant place, they say.

Niro and new mobility

November 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

kia niroKia has announced an all-new hybrid model on a bespoke electrified platform: the Niro crossover is the first of a series of next-generation cars, and emissions of under 90g/km are targeted. It uses a 1.6 direct-injection petrol engine giving 105hp plus a 32kW e-motor, working via six-speed double-clutch transmission; plug-in versions will follow. The Niro will be unveiled next year, built in Korea for sales to start late 2016, and Kia is promising a further “wide range of advanced powertrains, from hybrids and plug-in hybrids to battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles”.

  • Smartphone-style services, user interfaces and business models are to influence commuting, according to the latest “intelligent mobility” report from Frost & Sullivan, expecting subscription-based on-demand driving to coexist alongside vehicle ownership. In its predictions for 2035, as well as these so-called new mobility models, a proportion of driverless vehicles are expected (though ‘a large fraction’ will still be DIY, albeit smarter than today’s cars); a 40% reduction in accidents is achievable, along with 25% time savings on urban transport, thanks to easier multi-modality, ride/car-sharing and rapid transit systems, and a 15% reduction in CO2 from transport.
  • White paper from Jato Dynamics: talks about slow progress in necessary move away from fossil fuels but suggests “demand for EVs is gaining momentum”, with current trends indicating “a bright future”. Steady market growth is noted, with EVs now taking 1% of the UK market (and 1.1% in France), on latest figures; forecast for 2025 is for 5.5million EVs sold a year worldwide, mostly to China, Europe and the US; 60% of these will be plug-in hybrids rather than all-electric, though. Pure-electric sales are expected to rise from a meagre 350,000 in 2016 to 2.2million in 2025.
  • Posten Norge aims to replace all its delivery fleet in the Rogaland province with EVs by autumn 2016, reports electrive.com, with 300 Renault and Nissan vehicles to join the 16 EVs the service already operates. And there are now nine electric Proterra buses operating on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee, to give a random example of goings-on somewhere completely different.
  • Feedback from BMW on i3 sales: it’s the best-selling EV in Germany (one in every four EVs sold) and the no.3 worldwide, accounting for one in ten EVs sold since its introduction; over 80% of buyers are new to BMW; its biggest market is the USA (where every sixth EV sold is an i3); it’s the best-selling BMW in Norway; BMW’s Leipzig factory is making 100 a day as well as 20 i8s. It’s the (optional) range-extender that’s tipping the purchase decision, says BMW, though the i3’s visibility on the DriveNow fleets is also raising awareness of EVs. And a new BMW i-model has been promised. More here.
  • And very posh car-sharing from Audi in the US: Audi at home allows residents of luxury condos to pick their model and have it delivered for their use by personal valet. It joins Audi on demand, as already on trial in San Francisco. More here.
  • More Audi: it is to work with the city of Sommerville, Massachusetts, on trials of swarm intelligence, automated parking and V2I networking whereby cars communicate with traffic lights. The aim is to develop innovations to improve traffic flow but also reduce the space-needs of cars in the city – automated parking enables cars to slot in closer together, for example. More detail here.

Friday news round-up

November 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

bmwi3On a lifecycle basis, (US) EVs now generate half the GHG emissions of comparable gasoline vehicles, even accounting for the manufacturing of their batteries (and not assuming second-life reuse or recycling) according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. There are variations by area/electricity source/model, but overall, “battery electric cars make up for their higher manufacturing emissions within eighteen months of driving—shorter range models can offset the extra emissions within 6 months—and continue to outperform gasoline cars until the end of their lives”, it says. As the grid gets cleaner, manufacturing is optimised with economies of scale, and battery reuse is developed, the advantage-gap will widen further, UCS predicts. Full report here.

  • Motor vehicle traffic has increased again in the UK, to an all-time high: latest (provisional) stats from the DfT plot a 2.2% rise for year ending September 2015 compared to the same time 2014, and traffic levels are expected to continue to rise. Car traffic – measured in vehicle miles – was up 1.7%, but the sharpest rise has been in van/LGV traffic (up 6% to a new peak), and vehicle miles on the motorway is also at a new high. Likewise, traffic on minor rural roads has grown, and even urban roads saw a 1% rise. The DfT suggests a picking-up of the UK economy and lower fuel prices as contributory factors. So yeah, more congestion, more pollution. Great.
  • More details (via Autocar) on the Shell-funded, Gordon Murray-designed Project M. It’s a three-seater city car based on the GMD T25, weighing less than 600kg and promising 100mpg+, apparently, with a 660cc Mitsubishi-derived powerplant overhauled by former Honda F1 engine designer Osamu Goto for 47bhp and 70mph. So why’s Shell funding a low-consumption vehicle? Autocar says Project M “represents a fightback for fossil fuel vehicles”. Mmm. The final car will be revealed mid-2016, though it’s not destined for production.
  • Essay from Daimler about future mobility and the role of virtual reality – including “extended reality applications” – here; the company’s Future Talk conference/discussion this year was to the theme of “the virtualisation of the vehicle interior as a new perception horizon in the mobility of the 21st Century.” Very Cosmopolis.
  • A PhD student at MIT is working on a bi-directional EV charging solution integrating solar or other renewable power, and has founded a company, CZAR (Carbon Zero Advanced Research) Power. Nelson Wang is collaborating with a team at Kettering University (Flint, Michigan) on a charger acting as a ‘hub’ for connecting the different elements – battery, storage, utility etc. – in the energy supply chain in a microgrid, and patents have been taken out on some of the technologies involved. A 96% efficiency is claimed, and iOT connectivity is planned enabling drivers to get charging station info via smartphone app as well as detailed energy use/cost calculations. More here.
  • And Neusoft Reach (Shanghai) has launched a cloud-based charging system integrating V2G, ‘charging pile network’ (enabling data collection and open-protocol communication with the cloud via the cable) and a mobile app network; this allows for vehicle identification, charging control and dynamic power adjustment, as well as payment. More here.
  • EV drivers can now travel from Berlin to Munich, and on to Leipzig and Dessau (or vice versa) thanks to a ‘corridor’ of fast-chargers on the A9 autobahn. These are spaced roughly every 90km. More here. And… four fast-chargers for West Norfolk, addressing a ‘black hole’ in the infrastructure identified by a number of my research respondents. Three in Kings Lynn, one in Hunstanton; more here.
  • A report from the National League of Cities (NLC; Washington DC), City of the Future: Technology and Mobility, explores tech disruption and its effect on transportation.  It focuses on five factors affecting (US) cities: technology, economics, climate resilience, culture and demographics, and finds a rapidly-shifting mobility environment; widening gaps between private-sector innovation, citizen preferences and the visions of city planners; and a majority of cities not considering the impact of driverless technologies and private transportation networks/providers. Its forecast for 2020 includes workplace/workforce changes including an increase in contract jobs and a decrease in vehicle mileage travelled; more toll/paid-for roads and public-private mobility partnerships; more modal options with integrated payment systems and apps; ‘transport network companies’ the main personal and freight transportation providers; and an increase in driverless and electric cars. For 2030, it expects changes in commuting patterns due to the growth of urban areas; more driverless public transportation; fewer single-occupancy vehicles; more bike-sharing and high-speed rail; expansion of inner-city rail and even air travel; and first-class amenities on some public transport. Full report here.
  • A step in the above direction: the University of California, San Diego, is to run two projects with EVgo (fast-charger provider, US). One is to assess leverage of solar energy, battery storage and control systems to manage demand and provide services; the other will look at vehicle-to-grid tech. More here.
  • An all-electric Jaguar SUV is to go on sale in 2017, reports Autocar. Interesting note about its powertrain: “Sources suggest an electric motor will be mounted inboard at each corner, retaining the use of driveshafts, although there remains the possibility of Jaguar making a technology leap with in-wheel motors.”
  • Local Motors showed its LM3D Swim at SEMA: a 3D-printed, fully-homologated roadster with thermoplastic body by SABIC, ready for production at its ‘microfactory’ in Knoxville as well as at other local licensed facilities. Further iterations to follow.
  • And BMW has announced an electric super-bike: the eRR, developed in partnership with TU Munich, explores two-wheeled, high-performance i-mobility, and appears to preview a production model.

Friday electromobility news & updates

November 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

fraunhofer HEMS solar chargingA home energy management system with Android app created by researchers at the Frauenhofer Institutes is to help integrate EV-charging with domestic solar panels, and feeding surplus solar power back to the grid. The HEMS has been fitted in upgrades of ‘Passiv Haus’ properties in Fellbach, Baden-Württemberg, as part of the German federal Electric Mobility Showcase programme and Fellbach ZeroPlus project. Five of the seven houses feature a 22W fast-charger with embedded software, collecting data from the houses’ electricity meters and displaying information about the power flows and consumption as the solar energy is fed to the car, heat pump and other household needs. The HEMS also forecasts solar intensity and anticipates household power loads and demands, with the ‘leftover’ power sent to the vehicle for storage in its battery before any further surplus is then sent to the grid; the app allows owners to control the fast-charger and monitor the car’s charge levels and charging times. It is the result of two years’ field-testing and feedback from the homeowners. More here. Incidentally, two of the five households in the project are involved in a car-sharing project as well.

  • Meanwhile, Daimler is partnering with The Mobility House AG, GETEC (energy provider) and Remondis (recycling and services) on a project in Lünen, Westphalia. This involves a second-life battery energy storage unit – claimed to be the world’s largest at 13MW –  which will be connected to the grid for balancing and buffering/levelling out peaks and troughs in demand and better-enable the feed-in of renewable energy. The batteries used have come from the smart electric drive. More here.
  • And good news for standardisation of EV-grid communications: the EC’s Joint Research Centre has opened a lab with a partner facility at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory (Chicago), with a view to transatlantic harmonisation. More here. Now they just need to bring the Japanese/other Far Eastern countries on board as well…
  • NEXT (‘The Future of Transportation’ has released a ‘v3.0’ video: this shows a swarm of self-driving, on-demand ‘pods’ which can drive on standard roads, join up and detach as required, complete with dynamic ‘service modules’ – loos, bars, restaurants – and smart-routing. Its latest vision describes a transport ecosystem in which these can serve for private, corporate or public transport.
  • And in the here-and-now, Bombardier Transportation has just done a catenary-free 41.6km test run (in Mannheim, Germany) of a electric tram, featuring its Primove battery system with supercapacitors. More here. This allows for free-running of e-trams without cables, in between flash-charging at stops or via pantograph.
  • On a further practical note, Iveco has unveiled a new electric version of its Daily van. Up to 5.6tonne GVW, payload increased by around 100kg, battery life up 20% and range now said to be up to 174 miles.
  • Apparently Nissan Leaf owners (US) drive a similar electric mileage to Chevy Volt-ers; the latter do a few extra miles on petrol power; 97% of Leaf charging is at home or a workplace, 84% at home (87% for Volts); 13% of Leaf owners and 5% of Volts only ever charged at home; around half the drivers charged away from home only up to 5% of the time; 20% of vehicles studied accounted for 75% of away-from-home charging, most of this workplace. Handy rundown here; full report – from Idaho National Laboratory – here.
  • A wireless induction charging project: the CU-ICAR centre at Clemson University, South Carolina, has developed a testbed using Evantrans coils, used to charge Scion iQ and showing efficiency of 85%. More here.
  • No single tech – i.e. electric vehicles – will solve air pollution issues, and EVs are costlier than other solutions in the short term, according to this report, which calls for scrappage of older diesel vehicles (in favour of new Euro 6), retro-fitting of catalytic solutions to buses, use of biodiesel and photocatalytic road treatments. All rather short-term – and ultimately limited – gains which don’t solve fossil-fuel dependency.

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