Concept of the Day: ACM City eTaxi

June 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

ACM_CITY-eTAXI_frontAdaptive City Mobility, a Munich-based programme funded by the German federal government, has unveiled a simple, low-cost EV for taxi services, vehicle-sharing, logistics and tourism applications. The City eTaxi is a lightweight quadricycle-type three-seater with Plexiglass doors and a ‘backpack’-style luggage compartment, and is designed for battery-swapping in a fully-networked fleet context. Van and pick-up variants are further proposed. Field trials are to start in Munich. An aspect of the concept is that fleet operational costs could be subsidised by advertising, and a business model is proposed involving battery leasing, energy sales and other services; the aim is for the vehicles to remain in more or less continuous deployment without downtime. More here and here.

  • More Munich: the city’s first ‘E-Sharing Station’ has opened for hire of EVs, electric cargo bikes, bicycles and scooters. It’s based in a solar-panelled facility on the new-build Domagkpark housing development, which appears to have been designed from scratch with a view to reducing car-dependency (and car ownership rates) of its 4000-odd residents – particular attention has been paid to bicycle parking and storage. More here.
  • Zipcar is adding 50 Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrids to its on-street fleet in London – 40 in Westminster, 10 elsewhere. “With dedicated charging stations”, apparently, for their reserved parking bays – no chance of these being shared with other EV users. Rental rates are from £7 an hour, all-electric range is a claimed 31 miles, more than enough for nipping about the city, should you need to.
  • Daimler does stationary energy storage: it has established a new division called Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH, incorporating its wholly-owned subsidiary Accumotive, which will  build both automotive and industrial static storage systems, highly-scalable. The new division has ambitious plans for global expansion and partnerships, seeing a diverse range of applications for the tech, and expects rapid growth, reports Green Car Congress.
  • A fuel cell vehicle-sharing scheme is starting in Munich: Hyundai is providing 50 ix35 FCVs to BeeZero, backed by Linde AG, with an element of real-world trial and infrastructure-building. More here.
  • And Europcar has bought up Spanish car-sharing/tech start-up Bluemove, merging it into multi-modal platform Ubeeqo, in which it has a majority stake. Bluemove has 47,000 users in Madrid, Seville and Malaga, reports Intelligent Mobility Insight, and will soon launch in Barcelona and Valencia.
  • More from Spain: SEAT, Volkswagen Group Research & the Universitat Politecnica de Cataluna are establishing a research & innovation hub for urban mobility in Barcelona. CARNET – Cooperative Automotive Research Network – is to look at and trial tech solutions and concepts, including multimodal stations and ‘microcities’ for city transport, a ride-sharing platform and an app for finding parking spaces, reports Intelligent Mobility Insight.
  • Apple is entering the world of independent power producers (IPPs), reports elektrek.com: this is selling excess electricity from its own rooftop solar arrays, via a new division called Apple Energy. This would feed into the local supply system, probably for ancillary services – such as vehicle charging. Shows how a new ecosystem/model of renewably-fuelled microgrids is emerging; elektrek also names Google, Ikea and Walmart as playing this game.
  • Route Monkey is developing an app and online portal for EV users for route-planning, turn-by-turn directions and identification of charging points en route, with real-time journey and battery data. Route times can be calculated including recharging times. The R&D is supported by a grant from Scottish Enterprise, and is with consumers and small fleets in mind.
  • Transport for London is trialling a pilot alert scheme with Twitter for direct notifications of delays on key services – the first live travel info partnership with Twitter for instant direct-message notifications in this way. It’s an opt-in via the existing TfL overground, rail, Central Line and District Line feeds (Intelligent Mobility Insight).
  • BMW is supplying 100 i3s (all-electric) to the Los Angeles Police Department; interesting note here is not just that smog-bound LA has a 50% guideline for EV procurement by fleets in the city, rising to 80% in 2025, but that the suite of ConnectedDrive services and data management were key selling points. More here.
  • Kia is working with UC Irvine on a smart-grid study, looking at V2G smart-charging algorithms, predicting vehicle charging demand and behaviour, and further evaluating vehicles’ impact on the grid. It’s supplying six Soul EVs. More here.
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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

The Honda hydrogen society, and other smarter mobility news…

January 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

honda tottori projectIt’s the hydrogen society: Honda has signed an agreement with Tottori Gas Co, Sekisui House Ltd and Tottori Prefecture to develop a demo project integrating a hydrogen station, a smart house (pictured; love the graphic) and a fuel cell vehicle. The Smart Hydrogen Station will supply hydrogen created by electrolysis of water, using renewable electricity, and the idea is to show “a comfortable and smart lifestyle that can be achieved through energy-saving and energy-creation with the use of hydrogen energy.” More here.

In other news to end the working week:

  • Toyota is showing off a van concept called U2 (U-squared) at the Toronto auto show; no word yet on what kind of powertrain it has, but apparently it’s the “future of urban mobility”. Possibly hydrogen/fuel cell fuelled, too?
  • Much ado today about the end of Land Rover Defender production; for all it was about time for it to be pensioned off, people were pretty fond of it. One environmentally-positive part of the tale: remember the trial fleet of all-electric models, in which Land Rover tested out some of its electrification tech?
  • Pods, driverless, to be deployed in London: adapted versions of the on-demand mini-shuttles on service at Heathrow Airport will go on trial at the Greenwich peninsula, this time without tracks. Seven cars will be built and tested by Westfield.
  • Meanwhile, TfL launched an initiative called LoCITY to encourage take-up of lower-emissions trucks and lorries for us in London, looking at refuelling/recharging infrastructure (incl. hydrogen), affordability/availability, and enviro operating standards. Full programme overview here.
  • And another interesting driveless-EV application: for freight, in tunnels, in Switzerland. The ‘cargo sous terrain’ project, using inductive rails, will cover Geneva-St Gallen, and the first stretch will be completed by 2030, reports electrive.com.
  • There are many ways this particular cake can be cut, but a ranking of ‘greenest’ vehicles by the ACEEE (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy) puts the Smart Fortwo in the top spot, followed by the Chevy Spark EV, Fiat 500E, Toyota Prius Eco, Volkswagen E-Golf and then Nissan Leaf. The ACEEE says it has carried out a whole-lifecycle analysis, taking into account the US grid, and that “plug-in vehicles are outpacing all other vehicle offerings in terms of environmental friendliness… nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge that how green your electric vehicle truly is depends on the electricity it uses to charge.” Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche diesel models fitted with  ‘defeat devices’ were disqualified from this year’s rankings, and rightly so. More here.
  • Big charging point installation in California: 3500 in 350 locations, including businesses and residential communities, in San Diego and south Orange counties, with 10% to go to identified ‘disadvantaged’ neighbourhoods. There will be incentives to charge off-peak as part of grid-management. More here.

Monday: good news to start the week

January 25, 2016 § Leave a comment

MINI Plant Oxford showcases pioneering street lighting system with integrated electric vehicle charging-66907Well, news for the morning – and a good way to start the week – has to be the announcement of the Go Ultra Low City Scheme: £40million to go to four UK cities to support plug-in vehicle use. Initiatives to be funded include “rapid charging hubs”, on-street EV chargers integrated into lampposts (like the unit pictured, under trial in Oxford?), dedicated parking spaces for plug-in cars (around 25,000) and their use of bus lanes. The selected cities have been picked for their proposals for schemes to encourage EV take-up and funded programmes include:

  • £13million to London across several boroughs, including streetlight chargers for an area in Hackney and a low-emissions zone with parking and traffic priorities in Harrow.
  • £9million to Milton Keynes for a city centre ‘Electric Vehicle Experience Centre’ giving advice and vehicle loans, 20,000 free-parking bays for EVs, and opening up bus lanes to plug-in vehicles.
  • £7million to Bristol for free residential EV parking, three car-pool lanes, over 80 fast- and rapid-chargers across the city and a four-week ‘try before you buy’ EV lease scheme.
  • £6million to Derby and Nottinghamshire to install 230 charging points, discounted parking and access to 13 miles of bus lanes across the city.
  • A further £5million to initiatives in Dundee, Oxford, York and the north-east, including “commuter charging hubs” in Dundee and solar-panelled park-and-ride hubs in York.

This follows the news – from the private sector – that Chargemaster is putting in up to 200 rapid-chargers in London this year and next, the first 30 going live this summer. Chosen locations will include petrol stations, public car parks and supermarkets, and they will operate both via POLAR network membership and pay-as-you-go; POLAR members will pay a lower tariff.

  • And across the Atlantic, some news that slipped out last week: $CAN 16million (10mill equity, 6mill loan) to support R&D into electromobility in Quebec, supporting a partnership between Investissement Quebec, HydroQuebec’s IndusTech division, PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Exagon Motors (maker of the Furtive e-GT and electric ice-racers). A further $CAN 4million will be invested by HydroQuebec. The programme aims to develop “components for high-performance electric vehicles” and promote EV innovation in Canada, and HydroQuebec subsidiary TM4 is to develop and manufacture a motor/drivetrain. (More DoE tech funding in the US, too).
  • More on the background of EV drivers (mostly USA, 1072 respondents) from a big survey of Clean Technica/EVObsession/GAS2 readers: yep, male (93.5%) and wealthy (58% with annual household income of over $100,000, 88.5% over $50,000). They tended to live either in larger cities (over 1million inhabitants – 27.3%) or small towns (with fewer than 50,000 inhabitants, 29.4%), and 20.6% had only the one – electric – car; 45.8% had two cars and 33.6% more than two. And 70% said that they now drove more efficiently (24% didn’t, 6% ‘not sure’), 41% said that owning/leasing an EV made them conserve more domestic energy (42% didn’t, 17% ‘not sure’) and 37.5% had home solar panels. Similar questions were also asked to potential EV purchasers; full report available here.

Quick EV and electromobility bulletin…

January 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

tevva truckAn (extended-range) EV from Essex: Tevva Motors of Brentwood has announced three up-and-running prototypes, one now on service with UPS, featuring a factory-build or retro-fit RE-EV powertrain and predictive software to sync it in with low- or zero-emissions zones, or driving conditions – including switching to all-electric mode in areas when poor air quality is detected. The powertrain can be built into an existing 7.5 tonne-r with flatbed chassis and box body; it allows for 50mph and an electric-only range of 100 miles (250 miles overall) from its 120kW motor and 1.6-litre diesel engine.

In other news today:

Lots of nice feedback from London EV drivers in the Source London survey, reported by Zap-Map: headline demands are more charging points, standardised infrastructure, and real-time mapping showing availability/status of charging points – no surprises there. 1102 people polled online December 2015-Jan 2016, 43% dissatisfied (23% ‘very’, 20% ‘slightly), but 38% satisfied, though 20% hadn’t actually used a Source London point in the previous month. Satisfaction levels improving, just about (21% more satisfied with the service over the last 12 months) though 19% thought service had declined – but satisfaction was up 50% in the boroughs with charge-point supply and management taken over by Bluepoint. 93% wanted more charging points in the network, the other 7% thinking there were enough; 85% wanted one network (and 95% listed this in their top three preferences); 82% thought a real-time map was very important, 12% slightly so.

Other key take-outs: 68% thought a guaranteed renewable electricity supply very or slightly important; 64% a pre-booked charging bay; 62% mobile ‘unlocking’ of points; and 40% wanted wi-fi hotspots (eh?). Also interesting: only 53% used their EV as often as they wanted, the biggest barrier (61%) being lack of charging points (27% citing range). Overall, a third thought the number of charging points was the biggest barrier to take-up, 36% the current range, and 19% the high purchase costs. 61% thought national government had the greatest responsibility to promote EV use (13% the Mayor, 14% London boroughs).

Google Maps was the most commonly-used journey-planning tool (54%), Zap-Map next (48%). Of the 1102 drivers, 83% were male, average age 49, with high household income averaging £66,000. 81% owned a plug-in vehicle, 6% had more than one type of EV; 19% had owned an EV for more than three years, 41% for 1-3 years; 82% used their cars at least once a day (60% commuted) and 15% used them a couple of times a week (44% for food shopping). Good detailed stuff – but note to self: London is not the whole of the UK and results may vary by region…

  • Another English EV plan: Morgan is receiving £6million-worth of government funding to develop new hybrid and electric powertrain tech, in a project partnering with Delta Motorsport and Potenza Technology. Electrified models to reach the market by 2019, they say. Not huge production numbers, obviously, but all good for consciousness-raising…
  • On a somewhat larger scale though, Nissan has confirmed production of next-generation lithium-ion EV batteries in Sunderland. And e-mobility will also be supported by the new Intertek lab at Milton Keynes, the UK’s largest EV and hybrid testing facility just opened (a former Tickford facility, incidentally).
  • And Route Monkey has joined a Bristol-based research consortium called Replicate (‘Rennaissance of Places with Innovative Citizenship and Technologies), its role to look at – and develop algorithms for – an EV-sharing initiative and integrated transport networks for commuters and business users. Also involved are partners including Co-Wheels car club, Toshiba, and Esoterix Systems, who are to operate an on-demand bus service called Buxi for the city. Replicate is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme. More here.
  • Now GM has launched its own mobility service, is this officially a thing? Its car-share is called Maven, and is being rolled out across cities and communities in the US; GM’s also boasting of having recruited staff from Google, Zipcar and Sidecar to run this. Its partnership with Lyft continues. Maven is initially on offer in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with residential, city and campus programmes (first roll-out is at the University of Michigan) and cars at 21 parking places across the city; residential services will launch in Chicago and New York.Further testing work is running at GM sites in the US, Germany and China. More here. GM has also just bought out the bankrupt US ridesharing firm Sidecar.
  • Schneider Electric and EverCharge are teaming up to offer EV-charging solutions for multi-occupancy buildings – office blocks, apartment buildings, etc. – including metering, billing and demand management. More here.
  • Titbit – with lots of links – on 3D printing, microfactories and their role in reducing whole-lifecycle vehicle emissions, in terms of emissions and energy use related to vehicle production (as well as costs)  here at Treehugger; don’t get too distracted by the Blade, “the world’s first 3D-printed supercar”, though, there is actually a serious point in there…
  • Meanwhile in ICE-land, my friends & sometime colleagues at Which? have been digging into three years’-worth of emissions data (tests commissioned from ADAC) to claim that 95% of diesel models – and one in ten petrol cars – tested on their “more realistic” cycle exceed NOx limits. Two-thirds of petrol models – including hybrids – also exceed EU limits for CO. Nope, it’s not just Volkswagen. And the latest paper from the ICCT (International Council for Clean Transportation) with Element Energy, using data from Germany’s Spritmonitor survey, shows a continuing growth in the ‘gap’ between claimed fuel consumption (and CO2) figures and ‘real life’ returns/output; more here. This all follows Renault’s recall of the diesel Captur, following an investigation into its emissions (no illegal software found).
  • Oh, and quite apart from it being a record year for car production in the UK, the number of cars on our roads rose by 600,000, over half of those joining the streets in south-east England. That’s a vehicle population-rise of 1.6million in England alone since since 2011 (over 200,000 in Scotland and Wales). Just because a few kids have opted not to get their driver’s licences we cannot assume that cars are going to go away….

 

Friday news round-up

January 15, 2016 § 2 Comments

mitsu outlander phevYear-end totals for plug-in car sales in the UK: 28,188 registered in 2015 (of 2.6million overall, but a significant growth in market share nonetheless). Of these, 18,254 were plug-in hybrids and 9,934 (48%) all-electric. 9,186 of the total were registered in south-east England, but 4,420 went to the south-west and 3,371 to the West Midlands. Top-seller was, inevitably, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (11,681; latest version pictured), followed by the Nissan Leaf (5,236) and then the BMW i3 (2,213). Estimates from the government currently put plug-in cars as taking a 5% market share (around 100,000 a year) by 2020.

And estimates of electrified vehicle sales (incl. hybrids) cross-Europe stand at 2.2million a year by 2021, says PwC Autofacts; that’s a growing share, but still, let’s face it, pretty damn tiny in the great scheme of things. It’s also forecasting a dip in PHEV sales in Europe as government subsidies and tax breaks are being canned, i.e. in the Netherlands, although all-electric vehicle production is expected to rise. More here.

  • The Fraunhofer IKTS research institute, Thyssenkrupp and IAV are working on an EV battery project: EMBATT aims to develop a more compact, more affordable and longer-range concept with cells integrated into the car’s chassis. A 1000-km range is targeted. More here.
  • And BMW is working with the Viessmann Group on ‘digital energy solutions’ to optimise energy use, including static storage systems, for decentralised and flexible electricity supply. Better-integrating electromobility and its demands into (renewable) energy supply, I think is the gist of it.. more here.
  • The Ubeeqo ‘mobility platform’ (majority-owned by Europcar) has launched in London and Paris, with other cities to follow: this gives access to cars on-demand via a service called Matcha (from £6 an hour, incl. fuel for the first 50 miles); conventional rental from Europcar, and taxi-booking. A range of public transport options are to be added. Effectively, it’s streamlining/aggregating access from different service providers; this is part of the start-up’s portfolio of corporate solutions, but now extended to private individuals. Not quite the ‘super app’ talked about by Bosch here, but a step in the right direction… (and meanwhile, the car-makers are all circling to negotiate their position in all of this; some detail on Audi’s current thinking here).
  • On a further note of consolidation, the Uber API has been integrated into a (US) app called TransLoc Rider, which combines private and public transport options to facilitate multi-modal journeys and commutes. This will debut in Memphis and Raleigh/Durham next month. More here.
  • And a different business model for car-sharing/on-demand: WaiveCar, just launched in California (Santa Monica and Venice Beach, says electrive.com) gives the first two hours free and then charges $5.99 an hour thereafter. But… the cars are rolling advertising billboards, funding the service.
  • Amsterdam’s aiming for 4000 EV charging points, using wind-generated electricity, by 2018, with 1500 already; partner in the expansion is EV-Box, also aiming to kit out the Benelux countries.
  • The biggest auto industry trend to 2025? Connectivity and digitalisation, says this year’s KPMG International Global Automotive Executive Survey (800 executives in 38 countries, plus 2100 consumers). Major business model disruption is also thought to be likely in the next five years. Leverage data from car and driver, says KPMG, to become a customer-oriented service provider. BMW and Toyota are expected to lead in e-mobility and autonomous driving – not least due to their strong brands and breadth of product portfolios compared to the upstart start-ups like Tesla.

 

 

Citroën e-Méhari revealed

December 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

Citroen-Mehari.jpg&MaxW=622&cci_ts=20151208101349So today we celebrate the relaunch of the Citroën Mehari: Citroën’s much-loved 2CV-based open-top utility vehicle has been reborn, albeit as a version of the Bolloré Bluesummer – which makes it an electric vehicle, the e-Méhari revealed. Range of 124 miles at city speeds, top speed of 68mph, and destined for car-shares (in dry, warm climates, presumably) much like the Bolloré Bluecar, probably, as well for appropriate fleet deployment (tourist applications have been suggested) plus private sales.

In other news:

  • Nissan is starting smart-grid trials with energy supplier/distributor ENEL, to explore offering vehicle-to-grid tech to European consumers, the extended use of second-life EV batteries for static storage, and designing and evaluating affordable energy/mobility pack offers. Participating Leaf owners can charge at low-demand, cheap-tariff times, with energy stored in the vehicle battery at home during peak times or even sold back to the grid; each car functions as an ‘energy hub’, says Nissan, ‘with the ability to store, use or return electricity to the grid’.
  • And Nissan has also announced this week a partnership with Eaton to develop battery-reuse; the first experimental modules will combine Leaf lithium-ion batteries with Eaton’s power management, control and integration tech and solar PV to create a stand-alone storage/control package which will allow customers to manage energy supply and consumption while either connected to or independent of the grid. Good for integration of renewable energy, good for grid stability and efficiency.
  • Renault’s also doing second-life stuff with French start-up Carwatt, looking at repurposing car batteries into low-cost e-van conversions. And it has also announced this week that it’s working on an app for Zoe owners with energy-provider Eneco, similarly to facilitate charging on renewable electricity at most favourable times. Pilot tests by Eneco in the Netherlands have found that owners can save up to 15% on their electricity costs by using an app, too.
  • Conclusions from the 18-month My Electric Avenue research project (Scottish/Southern Energy Power Distribution, EA Technology): when 40-70% of utility customers have EVs and need to charge their cars at home, only 32% of Britain’s local electricity networks will need upgrades; the ‘Esprit’ demand management system could reduce the cost of the interventions by up to £2.2billion through to 2050. The ‘clusters’ of participating Nissan Leaf drivers modelled the future demand scenarios based on 3.5kW/13-amp home charging; the concerns were around local networks with available capacity of less than 1.5kW per customer. However, rather than replacing underground cables, fitting the Esprit tech can guard against system overload at much lower cost. “However, for this solution to work, car manufacturers and the energy industry will need to work together more closely,” it concludes. Full project reports here.
  • Porsche has confirmed production of the Mission E, its first all-electric car, at “the end of the decade”. This four-door, four-seater had, in the Frankfurt show car, a 600hp-plus power output, an 800-volt charger plus wireless induction-charging capability, and a claimed range of over 500km; 0-62mph acceleration in under 3.5 seconds.
  • Hyundai is to launch a compact/hatchback next year with electric, PHEV and hybrid powertrain options: the Ioniq will be revealed in Korea in January, then seen at the Geneva and New York motor shows.
  • Audi, BMW and Daimler have teamed up – to complete their buy-out (from Nokia) of digital services provider HERE, supplier of real-time mapping data and location-based services, and tech that underpins, for example, automated driving or traffic management. HERE can take data from cars, phones, transport and logistics-sector sources and infrastructural elements to power its mapping, connecting to millions of vehicles; this pooling of resources between the German carmakers should effectively have the potential to more quickly achieve a critical mass of data-providers (sensor-equipped vehicles) by aggregating the data, as well as accelerate the growth of the HERE platform itself and the mobility services which can be created from it.
  • Never mind second-life batteries, how ’bout second-life engines? Ford has developed a plasma coating process said to deliver a 50% reduction in CO2 compared to building an all-new engine, and enabling effective recycling/remanufacturing/reconditioning of old ones.

 

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