(Citroen) DS E-Tense concept & other #EV-related stories pre-Geneva…

February 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

ds e-tenseA-ha, a proper show car to look forward to at Geneva next week: (Citroen) DS E-Tense, a two-seater super-EV French fantasy. It’s a sharply-styled GT-style coupe said to deliver 402hp/516Nm, 250kph and 0-100km in 4.5 seconds, using expertise from the DS Formula E cars – and a range of 310km (360km on an urban cycle). Its batteries sit under the chassis. It’s as much a design showcase, though, dressed up in metallic green paint with a central chrome ‘spine’, striking LED lighting, a tail end minus windscreen (digital rear-view cameras instead) and a luxury-fit interior. More on the styling stuff here.

  • Feedback from the folks at Zap-Map: over 2500 charge point updates have been logged by the EV-driving members of its community, via web and smartphone apps since its Zap-Chat function was introduced last December. Drivers are reporting successful charges, any issues, and information to help others locate and use facilities. Zap-Map has also improved its route-planning tools and added filters for EV model, charger type, speed, network and access type. And latest stats on the infrastructure: it’s listing over 3,800 locations, 5000 devices and 10,000 connectors, including 850 rapid-chargers in 650 locations across the UK.
  • Latest news on the UK rapid-charge network, too – it now stretches 1,100km/683 miles from Stranraer in Scotland to Suffolk, Hull to Holyhead, and connects to both Belfast and Dublin via ferry-trips. That’s 74 chargers on motorways, dual-carriageways and major trunk routes, said to connect also with transport hubs and airports, and these have CCS, ChaDeMo and 43kW AC compatibility.  These RCN points were co-funded by the EU with Nissan, BMW, Renault and Volkswagen, in partnership with Ecotricity (UK) and ESB (Ireland), and implemented by Zero Carbon Futures.  It was funded as part of the programme also connecting Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bavaria and Croatia (Central European ‘corridor’), France, and Denmark with Sweden and Germany.
  • 60 22kW ‘semi-rapid’ chargers are being fitted around urban/suburban Paris: lower-cost than the all-out rapids and arguably well-suited to such an environment where they can fit in with drivers’ parking needs (i.e. topping up while shopping, not necessarily leaving a vehicle all day). More here
  • A bit of point-scoring: electric buses (Proterra models, to be specific) are four times as ‘fuel’-efficient as comparable CNG-fuelled counterparts. Says a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on a 12-e-bus, 400,000-mile, trial in California where the buses averaged 13.2 hours on the road and 13 charges each day. The buses returned 2.15kWh/mile, said to translate to an equivalent 17.48mpg in a diesel bus, reports ChargedEVs, whereas the NABI CNG buses tested only did 4.51DGE. And, they were more reliable – 133,000 miles between call-outs, compared to 45,000 for the CNG buses. Full report from NREL here.
  • EVs will be cheaper to buy & own than ICE cars – on an unsubsidised basis – by the mid-2020s, according to research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, mainly thanks to falling battery costs. This is despite an assumption of fuel economy improvements (averaging 3.5%) from ICE vehicles. BNEF predicts global sales of EVs to hit 41million, and 35% of the light-duty market, by 2040, although in most markets they will not crack 5% in the near future.
  • Following similar trends in the US, annual motor vehicle traffic in GB reached an all-time high in 2015, up 2.2% on 2014, according to latest DfT stats: ‘highest rolling annual total ever’ and an increase for an 11th quarter. Compared to 2014, car traffic grew 1.7% and is now v slightly above pre-recession levels; van traffic continued to rise faster than another other vehicle type, up 6.1% to 47.7billion VMT; HGV traffic rose on motorways and rural A roads, but fell on urban A roads; traffic levels rose on all types of road except urban A roads (where it stayed the same); motorway traffic rose 2.4% to an all-time high of 65.8billion VMT.Growth in the UK economy and lower petrol prices are thought to be the major driving (pun intended) factors.
  • Automating vehicles could have a big impact on transport GHG emissions and energy use – but it could go either way depending on scenario, according to a study from Leeds University, University of Washington and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, from nearly halving to nearly doubling emissions/consumption. Automation may facilitate changes in vehicle design or usage which have a positive effect -i.e. platooning, auto eco-driving, better congestion management – or there could be increased travel by new user groups, more travel by existing car users and new service models. More, incl. references, here.

Pre-Geneva news round-up

February 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

rimac concept oneNormal service (such as it ever is) resumed following a three-week stand-in stint at Car Design News (cheers, guys! Invoice on its way!). So a quick news round-up, starting with an exotica alert: no shortage of high-price, high-tech electrified offerings on show at Geneva motor show next week, including the TechRules turbine-recharging EV and the Arash AF10 hybrid,  as well as the Morgan EV3 three-wheeler in production form. I think the most interesting, however, are Nanoflowcell AG’s Quantino – which has just completed a test run in which it operated non-stop for 14 hours on an urban cycle – and the production-ready Rimac Automobili ‘Concept One’ [pictured]. Well, production-ready in that eight are going to be made… Lowdown on the Croatian-developed Rimac is a motor at each wheel giving a total 800kW/1088hp and 1600Nm, four gearboxes (single-speed up front, two two-speed double-clutchers behind), all-wheel torque-vectoring with regenerative braking, 0-100kph in 2.6 seconds, adjustable settings including drift mode, full telemetry and 4G cloud connection, but for me the most interesting bit is its battery pack: 8450 cells, each individually monitored and controlled, with liquid thermal management and the ability to deliver 1MW of power under acceleration yet 400kW when braking. Rimac is shaping up to be an influential battery-supplier to several sectors (including e-superbikes, such as the Greyp G12S made by its sister company) and the Concept One is, effectively an ad for this end of the business. Lowdown here.

  • Americans: driving more than ever before, according to data from the FHA [3.15trillion miles in 2015, with December’s VMT up 4% on December 2014]. The lowering price of fuel and urban sprawl are fingered as contributing factors, as well as a growing economy, says Scientific American, and a spokesman from the Union of Concerned Scientists describes policy to reduce car use full stop as ‘a very long game plan’ making efficiency and alt-fuels ‘ever more pressing’. As for the idea that Millennials aren’t driving, the fall in under-30s’ license-holding is only 1% 2004-2014, incidentally, and counterbalanced by more older adults staying on the road for longer. Can we now officially declare ‘Peak Car’ over?
  • Hubject has come up with a solution for detecting and transmitting ‘dynamic occupation data’ on availability of EV charging points – whether they’re in use already, or the space is ICE-d. More here.
  • ‘Green ergonomics’ research by Southampton University/TU Chemnitz with 39 already economy-conscious Toyota Prius drivers: even among those highly motivated to save energy, eco-driving strategies differed and were not necessarily successful. Many had “false beliefs” about energy-saving, and did not fully understand their vehicle’s tech and energy use, i.e. over-estimating energy recuperated under regenerative braking or overall energy saved in all-electric mode. Recommendations for HMI design include comprehensive feedback incl. real-time drivetrain performance data and predictive info, design for ease of perception, system support for driver ‘learning’, incorporation of automated interventions, i.e. energy-optimised adaptive cruise control, better displays on drivetrain dynamics and energy flows, and ability to configure info displays. More detailed rundown here,  full paper in Applied Ergonomics.
  • Unveiling of the Riversimple Rasa fuel cell microcar, developed for long-term leasing. Some more thoughts, from Cardiff University’s Paul Nieuwenhuis, co-director of the Electric Vehicle Centre of Excellence, here
  • And another fuel cell micro-vehicle, this time the Austrian-developed HET Engineering Citylog EMF, for urban deliveries. It can also connect up with others to form a ‘train’, and would suit shuttle and other passenger transport services as well. More here.
  • Tie-up between Seat, SAP and Samsung which takes IoT-enabled cars a stage further: new connectivity products under development (announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week) include a ‘global inventory’ of cloud-connected parking spaces which can be reserved and paid-for via Samsung Pay, using fingerprint recognition and integrated with location/navigation services. Same tech could apply to EV charger reservation too, of course. Also, ‘digital key sharing’ (keyless operation via smartphone, transferable with potential for time-limiting and even performance-limiting). To be worked into the My Seat app. (Volvo is also to offer a Bluetooth-enabled digital key, to operate via a phone app, from next year.)
  • From Ford at MVC: new offers and geolocation services in partnership with the likes of BP and McDonalds, plus Parkopedia with payments via Mobile City, within the FordPass membership programme; Ford is mentioning robot refuelling and auto-parking as future extensions. A pilot scheme called GoPark is under test in London (Islington) with volunteers sending live traffic/parking data, alongside the GoDrive on-demand car-share.
  • And BMW: I can’t pretend to understand the tech here, but it has announced trials of a ‘vehicular small cell’, a mobile femtocell which is said to optimise in-car mobile radio reception/transmission. Project’s called Vehicular Crowdcell, suggesting there’s an element of crowd-sourced data collection, and one possible application, BMW suggests, is carsharing schemes. More here.
  • Ericsson is working with Volvo (and wider Geely Auto group) on high-bandwidth streaming tech for autonomous vehicles – including improving network coverage, data storage and the quality of connectivity. V2V and V2X services will be developed on Ericsson’s Connected Vehicle Cloud platform with open API. Initial services to be offered to DIY drivers will include remote monitoring/activation of vehicle systems and a dynamic app store, next stage is sharing of info on potential road hazards.
  • Quote from Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche in the Euro am Sonntag paper: “Batteries have become more attractive [than fuel cells] in recent years. It has become more likely that they could prevail.” Zetsche cites progress in range and charging time as key factors – “Cars with electric driving ranges of 500 km and fast-charging times of 20 minutes are within reach” – whereas the issue of affordable and widespread hydrogen supply/distribution has not yet been solved.
  • Research from CIED, Sussex University, looking at 40 years of driver behaviour (1970-2011), mileage and fuel prices has found a 20% ‘rebound effect’ – as car fuel efficiency improves, people drive more, thus cancelling out a lot of the benefits of creating more efficient vehicles (a fifth of the energy-saving eroded). More here, full paper in Energy Economics (February 2016) here.
  • KTH Stockholm has developed a wood pulp-based carbonfibre material to form a roof and integrated battery for an electric vehicle: this saves weight, and the ‘lignin battery’ can be made from forestry byproducts. More here.
  • Linkoping Unversity has come up with a streamlined truck design that can cut fuel (100% biodiesel) use by 12%: more here.
  • Important development for EV awareness as well as to inform existing drivers: availability (or at least, presence) of fast-chargers is to be added to motorway service station signposts. More here.
  • A series of lectures from TSU Oxford on Urban Mobilities in the Smart City can be listened-to (podcasts) or viewed (presentation slides) here.
  • An interesting & thoughtful long read on autonomous cars, parking and urban space here
  • …and insight into Ford’s work with design agency Ideo on multi-modal transport apps here
  • Fun concepts of the last week: autonomous on-demand micro-catamarans, for city commuting by water. More on the SeaBubble here. And a clever electric tractor/compactor here

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