Concept of the Day: Audi e-tron quattro

August 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

audi etron quattro Official pictures and details are out of Audi’s all-electric SUV (310-mile range; production 2018) and another interesting thing about it is its active aerodynamics (0.25cd), said to contribute significantly to its long range in terms of energy-saving. These systems include a movable splitter, rear diffuser and rear wing, movable elements to the side, an enclosed underbody and as Car Design News points out, Audi has incorporated some EV-specific design touches such as overlapping lower rocker surfaces to emphasise the siting of the battery pack.

  • Nice read here from UITP on the diverting of car traffic away from key central areas in European cities, and policy to support pedestrianisation and greater use of public transport. With a note about the beginnings of “looking beyond the private car” (think shared, on-demand), and that that “cars are not going away any time soon.” Hence the need for electrification, as I keep saying…
  • Ouch: 86% of US workers get to work by car, according to the latest analysis of census data, outlined here at Citylab, And 76.4% are driving alone, car-pooling has fallen, with only 5.2% taking public transport (“mass transit”, as they call it over there), 2.3% walking, and 0.6% cycling. Younger drivers aged 16-24 are less car-dependent, as are those of all ages living in principal cities, but the 25-29 year-olds are near to the national average when it comes to driving, although more of this age-group are using mass transit. The largest fall in car commuting 2006-2013 has been in San Francisco, though it’s only a 3.8% drop (in the ocean).
  • Was saying only yesterday that there should be an electric Brompton, and lo and behold… The Brompton (arguably the exemplar when it comes to folding bicycles) is not just a push-bike, it’s also a very valuable link in a multi-modal transport system (already, and with great potential for further development). Giving it a bit of extra boost can’t be a bad thing to help those in hillier areas, or to persuade the more reluctant of pedallers to give cycling a go. Fits in a car boot, too, of course, for last-mile and into-the-city-centre journeys, as well as for getting to/from stations.
  • Aston Martin. Electric Rapide to come in two years’ time, e-DBX to follow, reports Automotive News Europe, quoting 800bhp-worth of power and a 200-mile range, and the need for AM to balance out the V8s and V12s in its range in terms of corporate average emissions.
  • Nissan has been working on an audible alert system for pedestrian protection, and has built a Leaf-based concept vehicle for the EC-led eVADER project. The alert compensates for the lack of engine noise from an EV, and has been developed to have as little impact as possible on ambient noise levels, yet to be specifically targeted (via six speakers) for the pedestrian to hear. It depends on a camera built into the windscreen, with recognition of pedestrians, cyclists and other road-users.
  • More than 71% of 500-odd Southern California drivers surveyed expressed an interest in buying an EV, reports CleanTechnica – and 13% already had one. The survey, by NRG EVgo, found only 16% completely disinterested; the biggest barrier was purchase cost (25%+), followed by concerns over limited numbers of charging stations and range (15%) and a lack of basic awareness (7%). And 57% lived in an apartment or condominium, limiting their opportunities for home-charging, with living in rented accommodation a further issue.


Friday reading: #EV surveys, #electromobility infrastructure, charger etiquette & more…

August 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

vw eup2Government report out this morning on uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles: full 70-page document here, but a quick summary of findings… In the last quarter of 2014/Q1 2015, they represented over 1% of the UK car market for the first time; two-thirds of these ULEVs were PHEV, one-third all-electric; their 2014 market share was at a similar level as in the US, France and Germany, though Norway reached 17.8%; most EV owners are male, middle-aged, well-educated, affluent and in urban areas in households with two or more cars and the chance to charge at home; this demographic dominance is not expected to change significantly in the next 3-5 years, with more similar buyers anticipated, though these may split into three groups according to whether they’re motivated by environmental concern, new technology or saving money. Private-sector businesses represent the bulk of fleet EV purchases and this is likely to continue.

Privately-owned EVs are being driven for mileages comparable to ICE cars (average 8,850 miles a year, compared to 8,430 for all cars), and are typically used as a main car in a household (82%, for most day-to-day journeys; 20% of EV drivers had no other car); owners are mostly satisfied and positive about buying another, though range is still the biggest perceived downside, followed by purchase price and a lack of knowledge about EVs; home charging is preferred over workplace or public, most owners charging overnight at home, but they consistently report a desire for more extensive and fast public charging to enable them to undertake longer journeys. Fleet EVs are being regularly used, driven for high mileages, and if used as pool cars, are mainly charged at workplaces.

The report also discusses policy on financial incentives (upfront grants have been important; financial incentives may be effective in encouraging further uptake), and investment in public infrastructure (important for encouraging further uptake; more research needed to work out how much/where to put it). It also says that “more up to date evidence is needed on the characteristics, behaviours and attitudes of current EV owners in the UK” (well, maybe I can help…) as well as representing fleet owners and users, and looking into the differences between EV and PHEV owners.

In other news today:

  • Zap-Map is reporting 132 new rapid-chargers (AC and DC) installed in the UK in the last 30 days, bringing the total up to 1345. These are 43 CHAdeMo (i.e. Nissan Leaf), 41 CCS (BMW i3), 34 Type 2 Mennekes and 14 Tesla. Don’t get me started on the different connector types
  • There’s a joke in here somewhere about an electrified yellow brick road… Kansas City Power and Light has a plan for 1,100 EV-charging stations and removing range anxiety, and is working with partners to install a network and promote EV uptake. Report from Forbes (via
  • Closer to (my) home, Oxford City Council is the latest to moot a ban on petrol and diesel cars in its centre by 2020, with a city-wide ban proposed for 2035. More here.
  • Audi’s upcoming all-electric SUV is to have a 500km range; batteries will be sourced from LG Chem and Samsung SDI. More here. This car – Q6 e-tron – is expected to be previewed in concept form at the Frankfurt Motor Show this autumn.
  • Millennials aren’t the only demographic group out there, of course, but the automotive industry is rather obsessed with these youngsters (born 1982-2004, by common definition) right now. Some nice number-crunching from a UCLA student (reported here at Citylab) who looked at  US national travel surveys in 1995, 2001 and 2009 and the habits of 16-36 year-olds at each point; Kelcie Ralph identified four groups, the car-less (14%), multi-modals (4%, going 30-60% of their journeys by a non-car mode), trekkers (3%, high-mileage drivers doing twice the mileage of the main proportion, which is…) and, yes, drivers (79%, doing the majority of their travelling by car and averaging 24 miles a day across four trips). However, these stats (the 2009 data) show little change since 1995, with drivers down only 4% from 83%, the car-less up 4% and multi-modals only up 1% (from 2.5 to 3.5%). So on this analysis, Generation Y isn’t exactly shunning motor transport wholesale, although Ralph’s data does only look up to 2009.
  • Some feedback from Finland on its progressive intelligent mobility programmes, notably in Helsinki: apparently the Kutsuplus on-demand shared taxi service isn’t actually being used much, because short round-the-city journeys are already well-served by public transport or other means, i.e. walking. The writer, who also discusses autonomous vehicles, warns against relying on tech-fix solutions, pointing out that, in cities, very good low-tech transportation modes already exist – walking and cycling – and notes: “much of the tech visioning within the transportation circles is way too disinterested about integrating the enormous amount of work that still needs to be done with the physical realities of our cities to their future scenarios. Apps are not going to help you ride a bike to the nearest transit stop if the physical infrastructure doesn’t exist.” A thought-provoking Friday read.
  • Montreal’s second-largest taxi operator is aiming to put 2000 electric taxis on the city’s roads by 2019, with the first in action by the end of this year; more here. Green Car Reports also has the lowdown on an EV rental/sharing scheme in rural Japan, aimed at tourists touring the country’s onsen (hot springs).
  • And DEWA, the electricity and water authority in Dubai, is to set up 100 EV-charging stations this year as part of its Smart Dubai initiative (for when the oil runs out?). These will include fast-chargers at petrol stations and on highways, at commercial zones, parks and offices, and domestic chargers will also be supplied, reports Intelligent Mobility Insight.
  • An issue of charging etiquette: Tesla appears to now have concerns that some of its ‘frequent’ Supercharger users (USA) are taking advantage of the provided free electricity when they could be charging at home, and blocking up facilities for others. This does raise questions about the viability of the whole free-charging thing, how it can be scaled up as numbers of EVs increase, and how this affects the commercialisation of the network. Problem is in this case, there is some debate as to what ‘frequent’ use entails, and some unrest has ensued among the Teslerati… debate outlined here at Cleantechnica.
  • Report from the Royal Town Planning Institute, using commuting data from the 2011 Census, claims that adding 1million new homes by building on the green belt around London could mean up to 7.5million more car journeys each week. The RTPI says that it challenges the assumption that these new residents would commute by train, analysing data from Hemel Hempstead, High Wycombe, Bracknell, Maidenhead and Watford to show that only 7.4% of commuters travelled to London by train despite living within easy cycling/walking distance of a station. 72% went to work by private vehicle, though mostly to jobs within their home town rather than driving into London. More here; full report here.

Mobility solutions, intelligent transport systems & #EV-related news…

August 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

BMW-i3-drivenow copenhagenDriveNow (joint venture between BMW and car rental firm Sixt) is launching 400 BMW i3s on its new on-demand fleet in Copenhagen. These will go into service next month, complete with BMW’s app for intermodal routing combining public transport/active travel information and mapping into the sat nav. This is in collaboration with the Arriva Group, bus operators in Denmark, the aim being to offer integrated multi-modal journey planning using the most means of transport at each stage. More here.

In and among other news, thoughts and notes to self this week…

  • Open data alert! A new resource, imdata, is aiming to be a one-stop shop index for data related to intelligent mobility; it comes out of the Transport Systems Catapult, and is intended to “support innovation.” Not a lot there at the moment under the ‘personal automobility’ heading – quite a bit on car park usage, feeds from Glasgow Council and, um, Vancouver, on EV charging point usage and locations, and links to some samples from Waze and INRIX. Hopefully this will grow.
  • EVX Ventures, a start-up from Melbourne, is taking a scaled-down model of its solar-powered sports car concept to the SEMA show in Las Vegas in November. Produced in collaboration with a group at Swinburne University of Technology, the Immortus concept is described as a limited-edition bespoke sports car, designed to be tough and durable, but probably of more relevance to the world at large are the associated technologies also developed by the team. These include a plug-in hybrid retro-fit kit, a lightweight air-cooled battery box and regenerative shock absorbing tech (energy from absorbing bumps in the road).
  • Sheffield-based battery-maker Faradion has developed some low-cost sodium-ion batteries, which have been tested in e-bikes and could be suitable for cars, but have best short-term potential in static storage applications, reports The Guardian.
  • News from Chargemaster, which is claiming to be the UK’s largest operator of EV charging points (currently 4000+): it’s launching a new subscription programme called Polar Plus. Membership is £7.85 a month with the first six months free, giving access to over 80% of the network free of charge, and the remaining 20% at a tariff of around 9p a unit. Chargemaster says that an 80% charge on a Polar rapid-charger, taking about 20 minutes, will now cost about £2, down from the current £6. Oh, and members can collect points towards borrowing a car from the Polar Experience fleet –  which includes the BMW 8, Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and Twizy, with the upcoming Tesla Model X and others promised. More here. Also promised: 2000 new destination-charge points across the country (half of these in London) and free replacement of any faulty points installed by other providers.
  • Private car ownership is down and car-share membership is rising in the big German cities, reports Bloomberg, with vehicle density falling, albeit at a low rate (down to 491 cars per 1000 residents in Munich from, err, 493) and a reported fall in households buying second cars. Meanwhile, car-share members now tot up to 1.04million across Germany as of the end of last year (about 2% of the country’s licence-holders). Not quite the end of private automobility just yet, then, but a notable trend nonetheless…
  • Audi, BMW and Daimler have teamed up: to buy the HERE digital mapping and location services business from Nokia.The platform will remain open to other customers and industries to host cloud-based maps and other mobility services, with real-time and location-based data and services forming “the basis for the mobility of tomorrow”.  Think ‘swarm intelligence’ – anonymised data from the network-connected vehicles – to give real-time hazard warnings, pick up on dangers such as icy roads (i.e. via data from electronic braking systems), and remote activation of assistance systems as well as smoothed-out ‘green wave’ progress through cities.
  • Highways England (eh? formerly known as the Highways Agency) is to start off-road trials of wireless induction charging for EVs and hybrids (presumably at a test-track facility such as Millbrook or TRL, though full details of project partners are yet to be announced). The 18-month trials will look at charging equipment embedded beneath a road surface. And embedded within this announcement came another note that the government is committed to the installment of plug-in charging points every 20 miles on the motorway. More here.
  • Anecdotal evidence to suggest that EV drivers are actually seeing lower electricity bills, via CleanTechnica… Yes, switching to more favourable tariffs (US) is involved, but they’re also citing greater awareness of energy consumption, and getting/adding domestic solar panels. Some 39% of Tesla owners of 789 in a survey had solar panels, incidentally.
  • Some more detail on the Ford-commissioned survey (by PlugInsights, part of PlugShare) at Cleantechnica: 92% of all-electric vehicle owners and 94% of PHEV owners would buy another plug-in car in the future; the all-electric drivers liked the driving experience best, and appreciated clean technology; PHEV owners were more inclined to switch to an all-electric car next time around; 90% of EV/PHEV-owning households had a second car, usually a petrol vehicle which they tended to use for longer trips; 73% of PHEV owners said that they were considering an electrified car as their next second car; all-electric drivers were more aware of/concerned about global warming issues “and chose their cars as part of their lifestyle decision-making” while PHEV drivers were more motivated by saving money  on fuel; 83% of respondents had solar panels or would consider installing them.

Week-end round-up, incl. reports from trials and research…

August 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

smart electric drive erobert China //  smart electric drive arrives on the streets of China

Some data from the Daimler eMERGE trial – 146 Smart Fortwo electric-drives in Berlin, Potsdam and North Rhine-Westphalia, over 1million km May 2013-June 2015. Longest range achieved was 161km (compared to claimed 145km); conclusions were that EVs become financially attractive from 50km a day; typical target groups are educated, tech-savvy people with above-average incomes; the less people knew about e-mobility, the more negative they were about it; purchase price was a key criterion but interviewees were often unaware of savings in running costs; purchase decisions were mainly due to reasons of image with eco-awareness of minor importance; but another important influence was access to public charging infrastructure. The Daimler researchers reckon that about a quarter of infrastructure is needed in public places and over half in ‘semi-public’ spots such as leisure or shopping centres, but overnight charging availability is the overall determinant. The trial also tested the Plug&Charge smart-charging system in combination with participants’ domestic solar panels. And next phase – eMERGE2 – will involve 200 B-Class 250e and other Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid models. Lowdown from Daimler here.

  • Ford polled 10,000 EV owners in the US and found that over 80% either already had solar panels or are considering their installation, and that smartphones are the most commonly-used platform for EV owners, over half frequently or very frequently using apps like MyFord Mobile to check their battery charge, remotely start their air con and check vehicle range – as reported in an infographic released on Twitter. AutoblogGreen also reports that owners want public charging station locators and the ability to reserve and pay for charging stations in advance, and that nearly half of the drivers use conventional (US) 110-volt outlets for home charging, though it’s unclear if this info came from the Ford survey (am chasing down the official details).
  • However, Mini has “pared-down” its Mini Connected app, with the focus “clearly placed on the essentials”. Mmmm… There is a new feature, Mini Streetwise, which enables users to preview an optimised route (with alternatives) on their smartphone before starting out, using personal data on past journeys with info on duration and fuel consumption. The routing can then be displayed in-car if the phone is connected during the journey. Continuing features include Status (vehicle location, potential range, last journey), Profile (uploading photo, personal driving stats), performance data and Force Meter (graphics indicating longitudinal and lateral acceleration), online search for the navigation, and in-car integration with a smartphone calendar.
  • GoAhead London has ordered 51 all-electric buses: these will be built on BYD-supplied chassis by ADL (Alexander Dennis) in Falkirk with bodies based on the ADL Enviro200 MMC single-decker. They will feature BYD’s iron-phosphate batteries, have a 90-passenger capacity, and go into service by August 2016, reports Bus And Coach.
  • And speaking of buses… latest concept from Charles Bombardier is a ‘see-through’ electric bus (with side-screens projecting images of the scene behind it). The Pixi is also driverless, inductively-charged, and (theoretically) fitted with pedestrian airbags. Interesting thing about it is that Bombardier envisions such a bus as a ‘bridge’ between cars and subway, i.e. on-demand, for short distances/connections to other modes of transport, to suit personalised/individual needs rather than running a fixed scheduled route.

Concept of the Day: Frauenhofer IISB-ONE

July 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

IISB-ONEIt’s a rolling platform for developing EV power electronics, built by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology (IISB), Erlanger, and it has hit the road for testing. IISB-ONE is said to be a modular concept capable of integrating future technologies, and it showcases Fraunhofer IISB’s portfolio of e-drive systems, converters, chargers and battery storage systems. Interesting note: this is (I think) a second-life application for a rare Artega GT (putative Porsche Cayman rival, designed by Henrik Fisker, originally meant to be Volkswagen-engined, around 150 built before obsoletion/company collapse). Tech spec includes two individually-controlled e-motors delivering 80kW/peak torque of 2000Nm to each driven wheel, a rated 355v lithium-ion battery pack, a high-performance DC-DC converter, flexible AC or DC charging, and wireless inductive-charging capability. Its drivetrain could also accommodate additional batteries or even a fuel cell. (Found via

  • Some detail on BMW’s ChargeForward trial at Citylab: 100 i3 drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area are testing an app to report to the utility firm (Pacific Gas and Electric Company) when they want to use their car each day, and for it to then be charged (remotely scheduled) at times to smooth out demand peaks. An early step towards EVs as grid-balancers and in reducing fossil-dependence at peak demand-times.
  • A UK survey of 203 EV-drivers by KiWi Power, Carbon Trust and HSSMI (respondents recruited via Zap-Map and Next Green Car) found that: 81% had a dedicated home charging point; 19% had access to charging at work (but only 14% used it); 90% regularly use public charging points – 68% at least once a week, 22% around once a month and 9% less than once a month; 67% use all charger types; 31% use rapid-chargers only; 50% charge on public facilities for less than 2 hours, 37% for 4-6 hours, 5% for 6-8 hours, remainder 8 hrs+ or ‘don’t know’; most plug in with less than 60% battery charge remaining – 24% at 0-20%, 35% at 21-40%, 25% at 41-60%; 95% select a public parking location based on availability of a charger (52% always, 43% sometimes, only 5% saying it’s not a deciding factor); 67% regularly use a particular point; points regularly used are 32% in retail car parks, 25% in public car parks, 21% in local authority car parks, 10% on-street and 6% at workplace locations. Handy infographic, rundown with comments, here.
  • Qualcomm has done a deal with Swiss parts-maker Brusa for manufacturing/supply of its induction-charging tech, moving wireless charging a stage closer; its Halo system has been licensed, reports Green Car Congress.
  • Report from the Innovative Mobility Research unit at TSRC, UC Berkeley, surveying responses from 23,774 active Zipcar members incl. 523 corporate members (Zipcar for Business accounts for around a quarter of membership in the US). Of the corporate members, two in five sold a vehicle or postponed the purchase of a new one due to their joining Zipcar, equating to a claimed 33,000 fewer cars across N. America. Some interesting stats: of those who had sold/postponed purchase of a private vehicle, 41% said they took public transit or walked more often now, and 22% were more likely to cycle – but 19% were less likely to cycle, 13% were less likely to take public transit, and 7% less likely to walk – Shaheen et al point to a 13% induced-demand effect. 49% said that their likelihood of buying a new car in the future was reduced, and this was unchanged for 41%. Full report here.
  • Nice report from TransitCenter (New York), A People’s History of Recent Urban Transportation Innovation, looks at citizen activism and resident- or people-driven innovations. The examples used include introduction of bike lanes, bike-shares, public plazas, mini-parks and pedestrian spaces, but well, same principles for energy transitions or a switch to alt-fuels and installation of infrastructure? It discusses the scaling-up of local initiatives, and identifies three key prerequisites for success: an independent but persuasive citizen-led civic sector; bold mayors and transportation chiefs with a vision and mandate from top-level government; and agency adoption/new practices within city government to ‘perpetuate new norms’. Full report available to download here.
  • And (yet) more on Millennials, (via NextCity)… Survey of 3000 18-34-year-old Americans in the country’s 50 biggest cities, by Portland State University, found that they use public transport more than any other age-group, are more likely to walk or cycle, and prefer ‘attached’ housing (apartments) and living in walkable urban environments with short commutes (surprise!).  83% like walking, 71% driving (still high, but there’s a larger gap between the two figures for this age-group).
  • Yet Americans (cross-agegroups) are actually driving more and more – VMT (vehicle mileage travelled) has just risen for the 14th month in a row, the most since April 2007, and 2015’s set to be a record year for mileage, reports AutoblogGreen. Low oil/fuel prices are fingered as the culprits. So though Millennials may be driving less, we can’t assume a downward trend…
  • …which is why we need to get people into cleaner cars. A white paper from the ICCT looks at metro markets (USA) for EVs and concludes that they’re breaking through successfully in cities where there is progressive city policy, effective promotion and incentives, investment in infrastructure, and a broad range of vehicles available.
  • Criticising EVs as being only as green as the source of their electricity is not constructive (agreed), takes only a very short-term view (double agreed) and electromobility needs to be looked at as one element in a wider system (agreed again), says Tali Trigg at Scientific American.

Concept of the Day: e.Go Life

July 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

e-GO-Mobile-AG-3-Detailed piece on the E.Go Life, a Renault Twizy-style quadricyle developed at Aachen University, in the latest (bumper) issue of Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International… It’s a follow-on spin-off from the Streetscooter C16 project (reported in this post), with e.Go aiming to produce low-cost 3D-printed, modular-construction microvehicles using Aachen’s Stratasys system, in an ongoing ‘scrum engineering’ process of continual development. Lowdown here. A beta-testing batch of 100 cars will be built at the university; and it also emerges that StreetScooter has now been sold to Deutsche Post DHL, which is currently running 150 of those vehicles on its fleet, an already-successful application.

  • On a different note: Audi is to preview its Q6 crossover with a concept codenamed C-BEV at Frankfurt, reports Autocar. High-performance, all-electric (three motors), a 311-mile range, apparently, to rival the Tesla Model X.
  • Data from Chargemaster shows that over 90% of electric vehicle charging (UK) is done at home (‘charging events’ data January-May 2015, said to be profiled to be representative of UK infrastructure), and finds that total charging volumes have risen 163% since 2014. The average UK commute is less than 10 miles, and over a third of UK motorists never drive more than 80 miles in one go, it’s claimed in a report for the Go Ultra Low campaign. Chargemaster is also, incidentally, taking over the Plugged-in Midlands network of charging points from Cenex – 870 of them, with another 100 to be added in the next few months. It is also taking over 300 Source London points (from Bolloré).
  • A bicycle by-product from BMW: a patent has been released by BMW R&D for an e-drive unit swing arm, now going into production on electric-assist (pedelec) bikes from HNF, Biesenthal. The HNF Heisenberg XF1 e-bike features this BMW unit, which integrates mid-motor, gears and belt-drive into a suspension module with no need for a belt-tensioner. More here.
  • BMW is also, in the US, adding in-car integration of an i0S app called EnLighten, which gives real-time traffic signal data and a green light count-down. This info – which can help drivers proceed more smoothly and save fuel – can appear on the dash display with recommendations on whether to stop or slow down, and is based on vehicle position, speed and ‘smart’ traffic signals. At the moment, it’ll only work in Portland and Eugene, Oregon, and Salt Lake City, in cars with the BMW Apps option – but this does mark a new step forward in V2X (car-to-infrastructure) comms. More here.
  • The California Air Resources Board has awarded a $1.6million grant to the City of Los Angeles to set up EV-sharing programmes in disadvantaged neighbourhoods said to be “disproportionately impacted by climate change and poor environmental quality” – air pollution. Such districts are also more likely to suffer from poor (or non-existent) public transport infrastructure, so it’s a boost for mobility as well. More from Senate District 24 here.
  • And BYD is to supply 50 e6s to a ride-share (shared taxi, in effect) service based at San Diego airport – more here.
  • Handy summary/digest of a paper on (US) Millennials and their driving habits at Citylab: Noreen McDonald (University of North Carolina) compares Gens Y & X and reckons 10-25% of driving decline is due to changing demographics (higher unemployment, greater likelihood of living with parents and/or in cities, etc.), 40% due to a general downward shift US-wide and 35-50% to attitudes. But these Millennials aren’t necessarily cycling or using public transport more – they’re just going out less and to fewer places. Full paper at Journal of the American Planning Association.
  • Two new research papers from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, again usefully filleted here. Though electrified vehicles currently account for less than 1% of Canadian vehicle sales, over a third of car-buyers do want a plug-in, apparently, with 89-93% of those wanting a PHEV. Axsen, Goldberg et al put this down to low consumer awareness and a current lack of choice, and think the market share is unlikely to exceed 4-5% by 2030 unless new models are launched – in which case it could rise to over 20%. Other take-aways: even with today’s electricity grids, plug-in vehicles could cut GHG emissions by 80-98% in British Columbia, 45% in Alberta and 58-70% in Ontario, they claim. They’ve also identified three groups of plug-in car buyers: PEV Pioneers, potential Early Mainstream (the next to be converted) and Later Mainstream (unlikely). PEV Pioneers tend to have higher-end incomes, are more likely to be graduates and to be engaged with tech and eco lifestyle issues, to be male and to own their own homes; they most own the Nissan Leaf (46%), Chevrolet Volt (24%) or Tesla Model S (10%); their median driving distance is 28 miles with an average 37 miles driven each day. Full report: Electrifying Vehicles – Insights from the Canadian Plug-In Electric Vehicle Study; plus a paper in Energy Economics, Vol. 50 (Axsen, Bailey and Castro, 2015).
  • Nissan reckons that air quality is the number one factor driving EV purchases, ahead of running costs and wider environmental concerns: speaking at the launch of the e-NV200 Evalia MPV, Nissan’s director of electric vehicles in Europe, Jean-Pierre Diernaz, said that enquiries about the Nissan Leaf rose dramatically in Paris when the city banned cars from the centre for three days. Reported by Transport Evolved. Wonder whether that was motivated purely by altruism or simply the desire to drive ban-exempted vehicles, though?




EVs of Norway, and other news…

July 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

IMG_0985 IMG_0945Some holidays snaps for you. The Norwegian economy and its oil/gas industry isn’t up for discussion here, but the country’s doing pretty well when it comes to electromobility. Latest figures: one in three new cars sold in the last quarter of 2015 were EVs (aided, of course, by generous tax breaks and incentives) and the country is now Europe’s leading EV-buyer. Best-sellers in June were the Volkwagen e-Golf and Tesla Model S, followed by Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe (more figures here). Interestingly, there appear – in cities including Bergen and Stavanger, at least – to be a fair few old-school micro-EVs still knocking around as well, particularly the homegrown but long-dead Think but also some odd little microcars I’ve never seen outside the Nordic/Scandinavian countries. However, the likes of the Leaf (too many to shake a stick at) and i3 are rapidly becoming popular, and I spotted plenty even in remote rural western-fjord villages. And where the Norwegians are doing well is hydropower: not only are they charging their cars, powering their homes and industries and much else from it (whilst exporting their fossils) but there are some intriguing proposals to use their reservoir/dam system in a large-scale, pan-European storage network. IMG_0973IMG_0880


And catching-up with other news… The Tesla upgrades and promise of new Roadster, etc, and the not-very-hybrid London buses have already been covered well elsewhere, so moving swiftly on:

  • Volkswagen’s previewed its V-Charge tech (developed in partnership with ETH Zurich, Bosch, Braunschweig Technical University and teams from universities of Parma and Oxford) for automated valet parking/charging of electric vehicles. The car ‘looks’ for an empty space with inductive charging facilities, charges, then – very thoughtfully – moves itself on when finished to a conventional space, freeing up the chargers for another EV. All controlled via smartphone app, used again by the driver to summon his/her car back later. It’ll work within defined (but not necessarily enclosed) zones such as multi-storey car parks, demands relatively little new complex infrastructure, and is already functional in Volkswagen’s demonstrator vehicle. More, including link to video, here. And Volkswagen is also working on an automated (robotized) DC quick-charging system called e-smartConnect: the robot connects up/disconnects vehicle with charger and can travel around a car park to connect cars as required, as an alternative to wireless induction tech which can also work in parallel with the automated valet-parking.
  • BMW has released details about the activities of its newly-established Centre of Urban Mobility Competence (in Berlin, and yes, I’d be very interested in working there) which is looking at the future of services/technologies including (electric) car-sharing, smart navigation, intermodal connections, etc. and developing/implementing new concepts. “We are setting out to establish ourselves as the leading supplier of premium products and premium services for personal mobility worldwide,” says Dr Bernhard Blättel, Vice President Mobility Services. No kidding… Top priority, apparently, “is to safeguard mobility for all users at its current level at the very least. Deprivation or coercion are not an option.” Basically, it’s about creating better transport options for people to choose – and why wouldn’t they, if these are convenient, accessible and, indeed, desirable? – which can only be a Good Thing.
  • And BMW’s also been talking about its hydrogen-powered fuel cell future (tech co-developed with Toyota): large-scale production by 2020, with a fleet of test vehicles based on the 5-Series GT on the road, plus a prototype based on the i8 under test. Full details here. Plug-in hybrid versions of the 2-Series Active Tourer are also on their way to showrooms, it seems. Some hedging of bets, or a clear differentiation of different types of powertrain for different types of vehicle/usage?
  • Detailed discussion of role of PHEV as a transition technology to fossil-free transport published here, with reference to the role of PHEVs in grid-balancing. Inference is that focusing on PHEVs – which can function as a household’s only or main vehicle in higher-mileage applications – will move electromobility on much faster than relying on or trying to push all-electric vehicles.
  • Freewire Technologies is partnering with Siemens to commercialise its MobiCharger – a mobile EV-charging unit with different outputs which utilises second-life EV batteries. Trials are starting at the LinkedIn HQ in Mountain View, California (where 100s of employees commute to work in EVs, apparently). More here.
  • This week’s EV’s start-up news: Faraday Futures, featuring recruits from plenty of high-profile OEMs, including Lotus and Tesla, promising a high-tech, premium-level vehicle for 2017. Motor Trend analyses.
  • Smart move or sad indictment? Blink, EV network operator in the US, is introducing post-charging fees to deter EV owners from hogging charging points/parking spaces once they’ve topped up their batteries, reports Transport Evolved.

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