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.
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