Concept of the Day: NIO EP9

November 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

nio-ep9Turned down the chance to go to the Saatchi Gallery today for the unveiling of this one – preparing research presentation more important than champagne, canapes and schmoozing, ah well – but here’s the basic lowdown. The NIO brand is the first offspring of NextEV, it’s just set a lap record for EVs around the Nürburgring Nordschliefe and also round the Circuit Paul Ricard, so it’s quick, and it delivers an equivalent 1360hp or 1MW of power (whew). Range? 427km, and it can be charged in 45min or have its batteries swapped. Much as it certainly ain’t a mainstream solution, if it contributes to making EVs desirable and there’s some tech trickledown, surely no bad thing.

  • Further good news from Volkswagen: it’s going to re-start car production at the ‘Transparent Factory’ in Dresden (a really lovely piece of industrial architecture/design), and the second-generation e-Golf it’s going to make there will have a claimed battery range of 200km or so. This can be charged to 80% within an hour on the CCS system; the new e-Golf also now develops 100kW, and comes with the standard new-Golf smartphone interface/app connect plus e-Remote for starting/stopping charging, pre-conditioning, etc.
  • Nice description here of research into the synergies between micro smartgrids, energy storage and electromobility: the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering is developing a model scalable solution, being tested out in Stuttgart at a 30-EV, solar-panelled parking garage.
  • Car ownership is declining slightly in London, although 54% of households still own a car, and there are 2.56million cars registered in London, according to a new paper from TfL… Variations by borough (only 25% car ownership in Islington, 75% in Richmond), access to public transport, income, parenthood and nationality – wealthier Western Europeans with children more likely to have a car, unsurprisingly – as well as age, car ownership peaking at 55-59 years old. Detailed breakdown, some useful stats (thanks for tweeting this one go to @RachelAldred).
  • …and further to the above, yet again traffic levels in GB have reached an all-time high, surpassing their pre-recession peak: YTD September 2016 saw 320billion vehicle miles travelled (VMT), up 1.4% on 2015 and up 1.8% on the first three-quarters of 2007. It’s the 15th quarterly successive rise. Of that 320, 250billion VMT was done by cars (up 0.9% on last year) with van traffic up 3.8% and heavy goods up 3.4%; other traffic rises to new highs were noted on motorways and rural A-roads. #peakcar is [was], I think, something of a blip.
  • Some US stats and demographic data on EV consumer interest reported here (thanks, @keith_johnston). Hitwise is reporting – over past three years – that “today’s electric vehicle consumer is predominantly affluent, educated and married without children”, and reckons that the most promising demographic for ownership is aged 35-44 (older Gen Y/Gen X prefer to lease), but families with children aren’t convinced yet (except when it comes to Tesla Model S owners, significantly more affluent than the rest and buying a bigger vehicle, obv). Environmental concern expressed, too. Lots of interest – suggesting mainstream breakthrough – in Tesla Model 3, apparently.
  • BMW is expanding its ReachNow on-demand car-sharing service to Brooklyn, in addition to Seattle and Portland; the upmarket US alt to DriveNow is offering delivery of vehicles, rentals of up to five days, an ‘exclusive’ residential service [i.e. a private fleet shared between residents of an apartment block] and also, for existing Mini owners, a peer-to-peer rental service. Interesting footnote: all this is enabled by the RideCell ‘white label’ platform – more detail on that here.
  • Japanese-American tie-up to create a ‘corridor’ of 50 EV fast-chargers from Monterey, California, to Lake Tahoe, Nevada: the Japan-funded Drivethearc project “will also study EV usage and driving patterns” through its charging app, reports Green Car Congress. Basically, use its facilities, contribute your data…The app will give real-time info on charger vacancy and navigation to points within range, and the stakeholders – Nissan, Kanematsu, EVgo and NEDO – “will analyse and measure charger use patterns to better inform EV charging projects globally”.
  • Report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance and McKinsey identifies three distinct outcomes in a move to urban electromobility and autonomous driving during the 2020s. First up – for cities like Delhi, Mexico City, Mumbai with poor infrastructure, there will be a move towards electrification and sharing, but not AVs; sprawling cities like Los Angeles will see elements of autonomy plus electrification, but private cars will remain the primary source of transport; but dense, wealthy cities like London, Hong Kong and Singapore will see much more use of on-demand AVs and a move away from private ownership, they reckon. Handy rundown here.
  • Hyundai is offering US customers a series of options with the Ioniq Electric: trad purchase, ‘Ioniq Unlimited’ all-in subscription – or membership of WaiveCar, an all-electric on-demand scheme which gives up to two hours’ use free (and then extra hours at $5.99 an hour). The snag with the latter is that the ‘free’ cars have roof-mounted digital advertising displays… 150 Ioniqs will go on the WaiveCar fleet in LA next year, with the plan for 250 more to go to three further cities by the end of 2017. Unappealing as it sounds, t’will be interesting to see whether this has an impact in the car-share sector, attracts more people to on-demand services, has any impact on local car ownership (or public transport use), etc…
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Concept of the Day: Citroen CXperience

August 30, 2016 § Leave a comment

citroen-cxperience-14Paris Motor Show is promising a fair few exciting things: am liking the Citroen CXperience Concept, for a start. The ‘CX’ reference is no mistake – it revives the idea of a big luxury hatchback, albeit this time with rear-hinged rear doors, full connectivity and, making it of interest here, a PHEV drivetrain set to make it into the Peugeot-Citroen production range. In the CX it’s delivering a useful 60km all-electric range, 150-200hp plus 80kW from the motor to give a total 300hp, plus eight-speed auto gearbox. Charging takes 4.5 hours on a standard socket or less than 2.5 hours at 6.6kW (via a connector to a 32-amp socket). As a way to ease people into electrification, it looks like a comfy one, even if the citrus yellow interior [see here] is not to everyone’s taste.

vision-mercedes-maybach-6-3One from last week: the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 concept, a 6m-long luxury 2+2, is a bit of an aerodynamically-optimised stunner, and its 750hp all-electric drivetrain is surely showcased with real-life application in mind. Range of 500km, and a quick-charge capability to zap up for another 100km in five minutes. [More pics here].

  • Beijing-based Techrules has hired the Giugiaro studio to develop its GT96 concept for production. Not just a design story: the GT96 super-coupe is an EV with micro-turbine recharging range-extender tech. More here.
  • Volkswagen is working with the city of Hamburg on a three-year strategic mobility programme: this will look at new urban mobility concepts, intermodal transport, traffic management, autonomous driving and parking, vehicle concepts and pollution control, positioning Hamburg as a ‘model city’ and testbed for experimentation in both freight and passenger transport. Meanwhile, Porsche has opened a Digital Lab in Friedrichshain, Berlin to look at IT solutions for ‘exclusive and dynamic mobility’- the use of innovations in big data, machine learning, cloud tech, IoT etc, for practical solutions. Teams at the Lab will cover project phases from trend-spotting and ideation to building IT prototypes and platforms.
  • Gamification can help increase acceptance of e-mobility projects and services, a study at Fraunhofer IAO has found. Case studies in Finland, Estonia, Denmark and Norway showed that when game-like techniques were used to involve customers in the development process for services, the more successful they were, and the earlier customers were involved in the ‘co-design’, the better. More here; full report here.
  • A Canadian start-up is proposing a new business model for selling and marketing EVs and PHEVs: a cross-brand platform with both online sales and physical showrooms to market electrified vehicles only. Idea is that it will make shopping around and making comparisons easier, and we’d hope for specially-trained and EV-enthusiastic salespeople as well. More on the EVEN Electric plans here.
  • Here’s a step forward, at least in Germany and the Netherlands: aggressively-expanding mapping provider HERE is collaborating with EVSE tech company Virta on providing data on public EV charging points, including those off-street. Data can be filtered by connector type, pricing, availability and other factors; more, um, here.
  • Report from MIT: electric cars can meet US drivers’ needs 87% of the time. And to help drivers work out when they’re going to need an ICE, the team s developing a predictive app to assess the risk of battery drain for a planned journey – so they can take the household’s other car, borrow a vehicle or access one via a shared, on-demand scheme or similar. This will take into account factors including distance, time spent at highway speeds, weather and temperature. The MIT research is also optimistic that the US grid can cope with increased EV charging, with only minimal changes needed. More here.
  • PHEV drivers – running on electricity 55% of the time, at least in Norway. A survey of 8000 owners by the Institute of Transport Economics, Norwegian Centre for Transport Research, found that PHEVs were typically owned by younger people with more children than average, with long work commutes, and multiple vehicles in their household; they charged mainly at home, partly at work but rarely elsewhere, except using fast-chargers on out-of-routine longer trips or to solve issues when out and about. Handy summary here, full report here.
  • Interesting rundown of state of play re. electromobility in Berlin at electrive: the city’s not doing quite as well as you might expect, as “the analogue island in a digital mecca” (nice). Though Berlin has a lot more public charging points than many cities, there’s still not a lot, rapid-charger provision has been slow, there’s a confusing and obstructive series of different providers and networks, varying, unpredictable and often high pricing, and chargers frequently blocked by ICE vehicles, it seems. Cross-provider apps for accessing and paying for charging aren’t quite there yet, either, with slow integration, they report.
  • Are ‘pioneer’ EV drivers – early-adopters – different to mainstream car buyers? Research (Axsen, Goldberg & Bailey, 2016) from Simon Fraser University, Canada, suggests (unsurprisingly) that yes, they are, and that they illustrate the ‘chasm’ between early visionaries and later pragmatists in the diffusion-of-innovations/Technology Adoption Life Cycle model. 1900 Canadian new-car buyers were surveyed; 1,750 in English-speaking Canada (2013) then 150 who bought plug-in vehicles in British Columbia, 2014-15. The ‘pioneers’ were happy to pay extra to be part of a revolutionary advance, and were prepared to accept inconvenience and risks’; they preferred all-electric cars (just about) over PHEVs. But even the ‘potential early mainstream’ buyers preferred evolutionary change and were unwilling to compromise; they overwhelmingly preferred the idea of a PHEV. A factor in this may have been that more of them (43%) lived in one-car households (only 17% of pioneers); the pioneers also had higher income, education, and greater access to recharging facilities, were much more engaged with the environment and tech in terms of their lifestyle, and were 5x more likely to value renewable electricity and to be prepared to pay much more for ‘green recharging’. Handy digest of the research at Green Car Reports.
  • Interesting paper here from Italy on gamification ‘to incentivise sustainable urban mobility’ – an EU-funded research programme and trial in Rovereto (north-east Italy) saw 40 people use an app for their daily itinerary planning over five weeks, with increasing levels of points-gathering and rewards for choosing more sustainable or healthy transport options. There was a significant shift noted towards reduced car usage, with gains for walking and cycling a privately-owned bike, though the incentives weren’t judged sufficient to get people using the city’s new bike-share scheme.
  • A new third-party route-planning tool (cross-platform and device) for EV drivers incorporating both vehicle and charger data has been launched in the US. EVTripping as yet only supports Tesla models, but plans to expand, funded by on-website ads and, later, subscriptions. Its algorithms are said to take into account data from the vehicle (i.e. state of charge), weather conditions, temperature, elevation, speed, payload etc.,  and give info on charging rates, power usage and driving time: the submitted data adds a crowdsourcing element to it, adding to the intelligence.  Looks professional and comprehensive; interesting to see how this develops.
  • And eco-driving training: ineffective after six months, when drivers just return to their old habits, according to a study from TUM Munich, and useless, even short-term, unless incentives are offered to the drivers to save fuel.
  • Paper in Applied Energy looks at governance for a transition to electromobility by 2050: Nilsson and Nykvist (2016) model both incremental and breakthrough scenarios, and conclude that strong interventions are needed in the next 5-10 years to reduce costs, build consumer knowledge and industry confidence, provide accessible charging infrastructure and support structural change in the auto industry. They [note to self!] use an MLP analysis to suggest that this could also lead to formation of a new regime involving energy supply, digital connectivity, wider mobility, etc. Which is pretty much what I’m arguing for.

Design Concept of the Day: Renault Oura

June 1, 2016 § Leave a comment

Renault Central Saint Martins 1

Renault recently sponsored a project with industrial design students at London Central Saint Martins to develop an interior for a future autonomous car. Winning concept – presented last week at an event during Clerkenwell Design Week – was Project Oura, a ‘wearable’ vehicle with gesture controls and VR displays, beautifully animated. Runners up were a little less out-there but equally impressive: SYEO (Share Your Extra Office), a mobile work-pod, and Phantasy, a three-wheeled commuter vehicle with configurable interior, were both practical and realistic near-future proposals, very well-executed. The awards were presented by Renault’s VP of exterior design Anthony Lo, who spoke for a while before the announcement of the winner; he told me that (no surprise) Renault is preparing a concept for this autumn’s Paris motor show. I’m going to hazard a guess now that this is going to have some sort of autonomous capability/feature. More on the student projects, anyway, at Car Design News.

Other notes & jottings to get back up to speed with recent developments:

  • Some insight from the ‘Cité Lib by Ha:mo’ mobility service trial in Grenoble, France: at the 18-month mark in this three-year Toyota-partnered trial, 1000-odd people have signed up for on-demand use of the i-Road and COMS mini-EVs. The vehicles are used more during the week and in commuting hours, average trip length is 5km and 45 minutes, most journeys are one-way and the most frequently-used locations are by the train station. Average users are 36-year old males in white-collar jobs, though 14% of users are students; 43% subscribe to other public transport services, 54% cycle 2 or 3 times a week, 41% cycle every day – and 74% also own at least one car. No data yet on any reductions in town traffic/congestion as yet, but feedback generally positive that this is A Good Thing, it seems. More here.
  • Toshiba has developed a contactless induction charging system for electric buses and is starting trials of a 45-seater at Tokyo airport; the bus has an 89km range and takes 15min to charge, and it’s pointed out here that this is well-suited to shuttle-type activities between fixed locations. And in Paris, 23 Bollore Bluebuses are going into service on the city’s first all-electric bus route.
  • Quick round-up of more auto OEMs’ recent activities in the new mobility sector: BMW’s iVentures division has invested in California/SF Bay Area carpooling app Scoop – which partners with major employers in the area – to add to its portfolio of digital mobility services and platforms. More here.  Meanwhile, Volkswagen has taken a stake in taxi-hailing app (and Uber/Hailo rival) Gett; Toyota is collaborating with Uber itself, and Daimler is funding a mobility start-up ‘accelerator scheme’ in Stuttgart.
  • Research from the European Climate Foundation underpins a statement from the EU Platform for Electromobility project that any future renewable energy directive “should actively promote the electrification of transport”. For cars and vans alone, it reckons electrification (including hybridisation) would generate up to 1.1million net jobs in the EU by 2030, and cut CO2 emissions by up to 93%, NOx emissions up up to 95% and particulates by up to 95% by 2050. More from Transport & Environment. T&E is also continuing to campaign against EU biodiesel policy, pointing out this week that 45% of palm oil imported to Europe is used in vehicles.
  • More research on CNG: better used in power stations instead of coal or fuel oil, than for vehicles, according to a paper from Rice University which sees no benefits in terms of GHG emissions. It puts a hybrid petrol-electric Honda Civic as having lower (by 27%) well-to-wheel emissions than its CNG counterpart, and a CNG bus emitting 12% more CO2e than a diesel version. More details, references here.
  • BMW has developed some autonomous-driving robots for one of its production facilities, powered by second-life i3 batteries which will last for an eight-hour shift. Recycled parts from cars helping build the next generation, autonomously… more here.
  • [note to self] Oh, someone else using MLP theory to talk about transitions to electric vehicles… Anyway, Nilson & Nykvist are modelling scenarios for uptake and suggesting governmental/policy interventions including investment finance for fast/rapid-charging, durable incentives for uptake, consumer/business education, and support of structural and technological changes within auto industries.

(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

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….

 

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