Latest Euro EV sales stats & other electromobility news…

November 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

vw-golf-gteAround 145,000 new EVs were sold in Europe last year, according to number-crunching by Transport & Environment, reaching the milestone of a 1% market share, and bringing us up to around the total 600,000 mark for EVs on the road in the EFTA area (incl Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). However, though doubled over 2014’s figures, that number includes PHEVs and range-extended EVs as well as all-electric cars and vans – which goes to show that there’s a long way to go yet before mass-market acceptance. Full report, with lots of useful references, here. Picture: updated Volkswagen Golf GTE (plug-in hybrid), unveiled late last week, complete with requisite blue styling details to distinguish it; new all-electric e-Golf to be revealed this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

  • More good [redemptive] news from Volkswagen: all-EV and PHEV versions of the upcoming T-Roc compact crossover, reports Autocar
  • Finally, finally, the Bollore Group’s Blue City on-demand EV-hire is going into operation in London: first up for the scheme, as seen and well-proven in Paris, will be the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, where an initial batch of five cars will grow to 25 by next spring. The Pininfarina-built Bluecars can be hired for 30 minutes at a time and then left in any Source London EV charging bay, reports the local newspaper.
  • And some interesting data from Scotland, analysed by the RAC Foundation: the country’s 870 public EV-charging points, with 1772 sockets/connectors between them (as of August 2016) were used 26,119 times in that month, suggesting charger use has doubled over the year. However, 25% were still not used at all (probably due to incompatibility with vehicles, poorly thought-out locations, and unsuitability of charger type/speed for their location, if the feedback I’ve collected from Scottish EV drivers is any indication; reliability is also an issue). 18% of the chargers available now are rapid-chargers, and these were used 42% of the time. ChargePlace Scotland is also listing 3,575 electric cars and vans licensed in Scotland (to end of June 2016).
  • Nissan is launching a car-share service with a social twist: users will be ‘profile-matched’ via data from their social media accounts into local communities to share or ‘part-own’ a Micra. The idea is that the users will have compatible, complementary needs; they will be invoiced monthly for their usage of the car, with rates all-in to encompass servicing and insurance, and have “a financial stake” in the vehicle – part-ownership, rather than on-demand hire. Initial trials of Nissan Intelligent Get & Go Micra will take place in Paris from next spring.
  • And something slightly different from Daimler/Mercedes-Benz: its peer-to-peer car-sharing service, Croove, goes on trial in Munich early next month. Any car from any brand, up to 15 years old, can be shared via the smartphone app-based platform: more here.
  • And US truck-maker Workhorse, formerly part of Navistar and, before that, known as International (so it has pedigree), is to make an electric pick-up: the four-seater-plus-flatbed W-15 will have a motor driving each axle plus a small petrol engine acting as a range-extender, giving it an all-electric range of a claimed 80 miles and 310 miles all-in. Workhorse has already delivered 125 electric parcel vans to UPS, apparently, and the W-15 is said to be scheduled for production in 2018.

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.

Concept of the Day: CityMobil2

October 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

robosoft citymobil2French firm Robosoft (“B2B service robots since 1985”) has started a six-month autonomous bus trial in La Rochelle, France. Its prototypes (“Eleanora” and “Mariano”) have already been in action in Sardinia, reports FastCo, where they successfully ferried people along the seafront. They are is a 45kmph 12-seaters (10-seater plus wheelchair passenger) featuring GPS and a laser-guided collision-avoidance system; it has been developed from earlier “cybercars” and shuttles made by the firm.  Further EU-funded demos will happen in Milan, West Lausanne and Vaantaa, Finland, as well as a showcase at CERN; more here. This is part of the wider CityMobil2 project testing and developing a platform for autonomous vehicles, in which research “into the technical, financial, cultural, and behavioural aspects and effects on land use policies and how new systems can fit into existing infrastructure in different cities” will be undertaken, as well as addressing legal concerns and certification of automated transport systems and “cyber-mobility”. It’s real and happening, folks.

  • Nice blog about the implications of driverless cars from Arup’s San Francisco office: “the most significant changes in the movement of people and goods through our cities will come from the convergence of this technology with other emerging trends: car sharing, big data, electric and other forms of propulsion technology, and increasing intermodal connectivity among transit forms”. It’s all interlinked. The writer suggests a reduction in vehicle density due to space-efficiencies, space-saving due to a “road diet” (narrower and fewer traffic lanes), improved safety for pedestrians, cyclists and other road-users (though greater segregation may be needed), an increase in personal mobility for children, the elderly and disabled, a decline in individual vehicle ownership and a freeing-up of parking space, plus further land-use benefits, though there is a risk of suburban sprawl as commuting becomes less of a waste of time.

And a whistle-stop round-up and digest of a few recent-ish EV-related journal articles…

  • Findings and conclusions from the eMORAIL trial in Austria, in which the national rail company provided a small fleet of shared EVs for commuters to access stations; the cars were then put to duties during the working day by businesses including postal services and mobile healthcare providers, before becoming available to commuters for their return-home journeys. In a 700-vehicle system at 200 stations (assessed as the intitial potential) over a year, 16.3million fossil-fuel car kilometres could be substituted by zero-emissions electric ones, though 0.7million km would be ‘new’ (i.e. by users not previously driving), and Austria’s per-capital CO2 emissions could be reduced by a third, the study concluded, and most pertinently, there’s a feasible business model for the national rail company.
  • And a field trial with a port operator suggests that operating costs can be reduced by over 65% if diesel vehicles are replaced by EVs, and that electric vehicles have good potential in ‘closed’ transport systems and fleets. The largest cost savings were obtained with strategies to charge off-peak, battery-swapping is effective in this context, and closed-system fleets are well-suited to adopting V2G technology, the researchers conclude. (More on V2G integration in this one and strategies for smart-charging in this one).
  • A breakthrough with lithium-air batteries has been claimed by a BMW-supported team: using a very low overvoltage in an ionic electrolyte delivers an 82% efficiency and showed no deterioration in a 30-cycle test. More here.
  • The benefits of EVs – in terms of both climate change and public health effects – are greatest in the EU countries with the lowest-emissions fuel mixes and cleanest power stations, which could save millions of euros each year, according to this study, which looked at the effects and costs of GHG emissions and particulate matter on health, waste disposal, biodiversity, land use, buildings and materials, agriculture and further categories. However, European countries with high-CO2 and high-emissions grids may not gain (Romania and Poland, in particular), as any benefits from reducing tailpipe emissions are counterweighed by the higher output from their power stations. Gains were seen in countries including Belgium, France, Portugal, Denmark and the UK (for all of which the most detailed data was available).
  • Fleet managers adopting EVs are primarily driven by wanting to trial new technology, according to this one: lowering their environmental impact, the availability of governmental grants and public image were also important factors, but the decision to expand an EV further was very firm-specific. Fleet managers from 14 Dutch and US organisations were questioned.
  • In Germany, the most-likely EV-adopters are middle-aged men with families and technical professions, according to this study – no surprises there, as not only do they state a higher willingness to go electric, they can afford to do so.  But they’re living in rural or suburban households; this study points out that city-dwellers are less likely to own cars anyway, or do too low a mileage for the extra expense to pay off, and are less interested or willing to pay for EVs anyway. Rural and suburban folk are also more likely to have a garage or somewhere to plug in, and will put less pressure on public facilities. The authors recommend a focus on developing family-sized EVs (rather than tiny city cars), but suggest that PHEVs may be more successful in the early market roll-out of electrification.
  • 13% of German privately-owned cars could be substituted by EVs without their owners making any lifestyle/journey compromises, and a further 16% could go electric with few adjustments made, this study claims. However, it notes that many of the cars which could be substituted are second cars in a household, and also that low-mileage cars tend to be owned by lower-income households – which can’t afford to buy new EVs.
  • And even more: a third of all Germany’s annual mileage could be electrically-driven, say these guys. The biggest potential for EV adoption is in suburban areas around cities, but again, PHEVs are modelled as having much higher take-up rates in the short-to-medium term. They see EVs replacing petrol cars first, but with an uptake in diesel substitution from 2025; user-choosers and businesses will take on many EVs at first, but there will be a jump in private ownership once typical three-year new-car lease deals end, releasing a number of affordable secondhand EVs onto the market.
  • However, in Slovenia, researchers found a higher-than-expected potential ‘pool’ of alt-fuel car-buyers, including more enthusiastic older people; purchase price was still the most significant factor in purchase decisions, however.
  • And in Spain, if local governments put incentives in place, there are more positive prospects for EVs in cities with enthusiastic municipalities – but a negative outlook in rural areas with high unemployment; more here.
  • There are six potential conflicts of interest between EV stakeholders when it comes to the development and commercialisation of EVs, according to this Dutch study: the division of tasks in a public charging infrastructure; allocation of charging spots; influences on charging behaviour; the role of fast-charging; technical standards for equipment; and supportive policies for EV and PHEV adoption. A narrative analysis was made of 38 interviews from which themes relating to the different interests, expectations and strategies of the various stakeholder types were identified.
  • And a study in Manitoba (late 2011-early 2012): buyers were unwilling to pay large premiums for EVs, even if told about fuel-saving benefits – unless they already had experience of/exposure to EVs, in which case they were prepared to pay up to $10,000 more. Conclusion: more consumer education needed, and that marketing so far has focused too heavily on tech and not enough on the consumer benefits. Incidentally, Winnipeg (the largest city in the province) is said to be a good place to launch and trial EVs, having the lowest electricity prices in North America, a 98% renewable electric grid-mix (the lowest-GHG grid in North America), available charging infrastructure plus a local population already used to plugging in auxilliary vehicle heaters in winter months.
  • Researchers at the University of Vermont and Sandia National Laboratories claim to have carried out the most extensive quantitative analysis yet of consumer attitudes towards PHEVs. They used the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowd-sourcing platform to survey 1000 US consumers, and concluded: vehicle characteristics (price, fuel economy, performance) were the most important factors in purchase decisions, with social/advertising influences the least important; the most frequently-stated factors in increasing ‘comfort levels’ with buying PHEVs were significant savings on monthly fuel costs, at-home recharging facilities and thirdly, tax rebates of $7000; battery warranties, the availability of public recharging infrastructure, battery exchange and leasing programmes were also important, along with concerns over battery replacement and lifetime, and servicing or repairs; though over 50% of respondents saw reducing carbon emissions and second-life applications for batteries as positive, these were ranked as less important factors. Those left-of-centre in their politics were more likely to adopt a PHEV than right-wingers, as were those concerned about the US’s transportation energy consumption or reliance on foreign oil/gasoline, those who saw climate change as a threat to humanity (and affected by human activity) – but they weren’t willing to spend too much extra up front. Full article here. This all mirrors the findings of many a recent survey, but calculates detailed probabilities and correlations.
  • I can’t pretend to understand much in this one, but it looks as if it has relevance for EV route optimisation and fleet deployment: a Spanish/Italian team has developed heuristic (“learning”) algorithms which take into account partial recharges and the use of different recharging technologies to model where cost-savings and efficiencies can be achieved.
  • And building a more sophisticated model for EV market diffusion entails taking into account more real-life data on driving patterns to determine which specific user groups could go electric, this one notes (with lots of complex statistical equations). Interesting to see how these simulations are constructed…
  • Second-life EV batteries: their potential for home energy storage researched and discussed here. Household energy use may increase, but economic impact is positive and GHG emissions reduced.
  • Discussion of the move to e-mobility in China with reference to power politics; David Tyfield makes the case for top-down ‘landscape’-level interventions, and draws the links with other low-carbon and connectivity/communications developments. In answering why, despite governmental support and investment, and the availability of advanced technologies, EV sales have not met expectations in China, he looks at infrastructural weaknesses (such as poor roads and congestion which affect automobility full stop), the potentially disruptive growth and popularity of electric two-wheelers as an alternative to cars, against the backdrop of the dichotomy between the technologies of mobility/freedom and those of control/monitoring (I think).

Product offensives, plug-in car forecasts and forthcoming tech

October 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

innoventum giraffeQuick round-up of upcoming electrified vehicles, confirmed, rumoured and otherwise: Porsche – to answer the Tesla Model S challenge, reports Autocar, with an all-electric ‘liftback’ five-door on the Panamera platform; likewise to take on Tesla, a low-roofed crossover-style all-electric Range Rover. Oh, and there are pictures of this Lotus-alike Detroit Electric coupe (£100,500. Forgive me if I don’t get too excited about its significance for electromobility). More significantly, Volkswagen is to launch over 20 EVs and PHEVs in China by 2018, reports Reuters (via Automotive News) – good news for Europe too, what with economies of scale and all that, and getting Beijing to beta-test the tech. These models will encompass everything from small cars to big SUVs. Mercedes-Benz is testing a plug-in hybrid M-Class – spy photos here. And Kia is developing a Prius-rivalling hybrid hatch, the ‘DE’.

  • Frost & Sullivan reckons London could become a leading market for car-sharing and car clubs; membership could rise to 351,000-plus by the end of the decade, a 2.5x rise on current numbers, with both one-way and round-trip services popular, according to its Vision 2020 report (commissioned by Zipcar).
  • And speaking of London… Swedish solar/wind-charger-maker InnoVentum is talking with the Mayoral office over bringing its wooden-structure Giraffe chargers (pictured) to London, reports The Engineer (via Zap-Map). Good idea, obviously, to get the city’s EVs charging off renewables, but… aren’t they a bit big? Especially for on-street use? The Giraffe’s an interesting product, anyway – it’s also developed with a view to getting renewable energy to offgrid areas, including those in developing regions, and towers have already been installed in the Philippines.
  • And you can now get hydrogen in Hendon, at the Sainsbury’s fuel station. The west London store is taking part in the London Hydrogen Network Expansion trial; more here.
  • A count-up of global plug-in car sales from HybridCars: they’ve reckoned up nearly 604,000 in the Top 10 OECD countries, comprising 356,000-plus battery-electric and nearly 248,000 PHEVs, most arriving on the road since 2010 and with a 20% growth in the last four months alone.
  • And the latest forecast from Navigant Research: plug-in vehicles to take 2.4% of the global car market by 2023, about 2.5million vehicles a year, with 50% of these sales to luxury brands, but this growth is contingent upon the launch of products in different sectors, including the SUV and (pick-up) truck sectors. Sales of all electrified light-duty vehicles (including non-plug-in hybrids) are expected to reach 5.8million a year, up from 2014’s 2.7million-odd. Handy rundown at Green Car Congress.
  • Students at Istanbul University have built an EV capable of 500km on a four-hour charge; the T-1 has won a 30-university competition in Turkey and is now touring the country. It weighs 500kg, can do 120kmph and carries four people plus luggage; more here (via Autoblog Green).
  • The UK’s National Grid is confident that EV drivers won’t be causing any brown-outs this winter and that it has sufficient capacity to support plug-in vehicles, reports Transport Evolved. The demands of plug-in vehicles are now built into its forecasting and its Winter Outlook Report.
  • TomTom – a leading data provider as well as sat nav-maker – is incorporating weather condition info into its route calculations. This enables route guidance and arrival time estimation taking into account delays and hold-ups caused by heavy rain, snow, etc; useful for EV route optimisation too, I reckon.
  • On that note, a team at North Carolina State University have developed an algorithm for more accurate range prediction – plugging in data on weather, traffic conditions, gradient and upcoming road type, as well as vehicle-specific data on state of charge and performance characteristics. They’re claiming 95% accuracy, and hope it can help alleviate range anxiety. More, including presentation abstract and academic references, here.
  • The City of Indianapolis is set to have the largest municipal fleet of electrified vehicles in the US by 2016, reports Green Car Congress. 425 of its non-pursuit police vehicles will be replaced by EVs and PHEVs, including the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and Ford Focus Energi.

Solar trikes, e-taxis, grid-balancing trials and more electromobility news…

October 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

foodlogica trikesHere’s a good little business model: solar-powered electric trikes for ‘last-mile’ deliveries of (locally-produced) food to restaurants and cafes. Foodlogica has a shipping container at base for storage of the trikes (made by German firm Radkutsche), kitted out with solar panels for recharging; the trikes have a cargo box good for 300kg. It’s said to be a replicable, up-scalable system and is a commercial spin-off from the Netherlands’ CITIES Foundation Farming The City project, which has been exploring and promoting sustainable and local food consumption, production, transportation and processing. (via Treehugger).

  • BYD is supplying 34 e6 taxis to Brussels, its biggest order so far; the cars’ 190-mile range, as well as their size and comfort, won the tender, reports Automotive News Europe. Oh, and there’s a fleet of 167 (!) Tesla Model S taxis at Amsterdam Schipol airport now, reports EV Fleet World.
  • The future according to Mercedes-Benz: all vehicles electrified, to different degrees from mild hybrids with starter-generators to PHEVs (10 in the M-B range by 2017) and battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles. The cost of batteries will be halved and energy density doubled by 2020, thinks R&D chief Thomas Weber, with the range of the B-Class e-drive up to 185 or even 250 miles. M-B is also anticipating lithium-sulphur and then perhaps lithium-air batteries. More at Autocar. (And Kia’s said to be launching plug-in hybrid versions of the K5/Optima and Sonata next year, btw).
  • Less excitingly – of minority interest, really, beyond some EV awareness-raising among petrolheads – an Italian start-up has created (yet another) low-volume electric supercar. The Tecnicar Lavinia will be launched at next year’s Top Marques show in Monaco, reports Inhabitat.
  • Nissan is testing a demand response system integrated with its Leaf To Home tech at dealerships in Japan; this will analyse grid-balancing and the potential for incentives to encourage businesses (or individuals) to use their vehicles as energy storage and for energy supply at times of peak demand. More here.
  • Siemens has developed an integrated motor-inverter drive system which saves up to seven litres of space as well as weight and production costs; this has a single housing and an innovative water-cooling system, reports Green Car Congress.
  • Titanium dioxide nanotubes at a battery anode could bring charging time down to two minutes for a 70% charge, and give battery life up to 20 years, according to research from Nanyang Technical University (NTU Singapore). Professor Chen Xiaodong says: “With our nanotechnology, electric cars would be able to increase their range dramatically with just five minutes of charging, which is on par with the time needed to pump petrol for current cars”. The technology is being licensed, and Prof Chen’s team is looking for funding to build a larger-scale proof-of-concept battery.
  • Some feedback from a real-life driver which backs up some of my (research-related) suspicions: driving an EV has made her a more energy-efficient (and safer) driver, says ThereseWD, who uses her dash display to monitor her range and how driving quickly depletes it…
  • And the sharing economy: a group of British Tesla owners have started a non-profit plug-sharing scheme called TesLowJuice, reports Auto Express. 66 people with 50 home or workplace chargers have signed up so far via and they’re planning to roll it out across Europe and the US. OK, this is very much a People Like Us sort of club (posh plug-surfing) but shows the power of collaboration and role of community in EV adoption…


Concept of the Day: Iveco Vision

September 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

iveco vision conceptA vision of the van of the future from Iveco: a hybrid featuring the brand’s Dual Energy tech, which enables an all-electric range for urban use and short journeys with hybrid diesel-electric propulsion for longer/faster trips, said to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 25%. It’s an automatic power-switch system with real-time energy management. This latest Vision concept, unveiled at the IAA truck show in Hannover this week, also exhibits Iveco’s tech thinking in terms of sensor-controlled smart load management, a new driver interface with tablet, rear-view cameras and extensive glazed surfaces with see-through front pillars for improved visibility. It’s a van said to be “ideal for door-to-door delivery missions”. Commercial vehicles: a very important part of the electromobility transition, their cleaning-up being vital for the improvement of urban air quality.

  • Free parking and the right to use bus lanes: the German cabinet has approved a range of measures to incentivise EV take-up. Plug-in hybrids with an all-electric range of 30km+ and emissions below 50g/km will also qualify, along with fuel cell vehicles. Germany’s aiming to get 1million EVs on the road by 2020, up from the current 21,000, reports Automotive News Europe.
  • Austrian bike-maker KTM is launching its Freeride-E motocross bike – the first electric motorcycle from the mainstream manufacturers to reach series production (I believe). This features a 16kW/42Nm AC motor and a swap-out 2.6kWh battery said to give an hour of riding; a full recharge takes 80min but 80% 50min. Prices start from 10,995 euros.
  • The national Eco2charge consortium in France has launched an R&D programme to develop smart microgrid systems for workplace/commercial EV charging, using second-life batteries in scalable, modular, localised networks. More here.
  • Nissan’s extending its Choimobi Yokohama EV-share trial for another year; this uses the New Mobility Concept microcars (Nissan-flavoured Renault Twizys) and over 10,650 people joined in the first year. Data from the trial so far shows that average distance travelled around the city was 3km, average journey times 16 minutes; most users (70%) were in their 30s and 40s, and users were 80% male. In this next phase, co-operation with businesses, shopping centres and public transport hubs will be developed; two different pricing/payment plans introduced (including one aimed at tourists or occasional users); and the business model further developed. More here.
  • Big report from the California Fuel Cell Partnership on lifecycle energy efficiency, taking into account fuel feedstocks for electricity generation and water consumption; EVs coming out ahead of FCEVs, though not doing as well on water use. CFCP is talking about portfolios of solutions, incidentally, not claiming fuel cells/hydrogen as the only answer. Full report here.
  • Natural gas is most efficiently-used in generating electricity to power EVs, reports Oak Ridge National Laboratory after its latest well-to-wheels analysis. The results assume the US mix of gas (including shale) and electricity, the production method determining the impact. More details plus academic references here.
  • Daimler is teaming up with Recargo to offer the PlugShare app (US) in the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. This will be integrated into the in-car e-Navigator app. More here.
  • On the subject of the so-called sharing economy… if you’re not entirely convinced that this idea of collectively clubbing together is about altruism rather than sheer I-want-it-now convenience/economic advantage, and wondered if it was just another handy and socially-nice way to push new products and services, Dr Maurie Cohen (New Jersey Institute of Technology) has been pondering the matter. He’s been talking about “the absence of genuine sharing”, and, in the context of urban transportation, “the ersatz quality of most contemporary sharing activity ” and its “ineffectualness as a sustainability strategy”.
  • Group Irizar (a Basque research consortium) has developed a lightweight all-electric urban bus called i2e. More here.



Harmonious mobility in Grenoble

September 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

toyota hamo grenobleThe Cité lib by Ha:Mo (harmonious mobility) project launches in Grenoble on 1st October, for a three-year trial; this puts 35 Toyota i-Road three-wheelers and 35 Toyota COMS micro-vehicles on the French city’s streets in a short-distance car-share programme. Partners include local authorities, EDF, SODETREL (an EDF subsidiary installing, managing and maintaining charging points) and the local car-share operator, Cité lib, with Toyota’s Ha:Mo management as trialled in Japan. It’s a one-way ‘free-floating’ system, with access to 27 charging stations where vehicles will be dropped off and plugged in, and the concept is to link people with local transport hubs for onward/inward journeys. “Urban mobility solutions will be a key growth for Toyota in the future”, says Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota Motor Corporation chairman. In the trial, data on technical issues and user behaviour will be collected.

  • Here’s a nice thought to start the week: drivers are more motivated to employ eco-driving techniques by environmental concerns than by financial savings, according to a study reported here. Three groups of Dutch motorists (305 in total) were told six things they could do to save fuel/emissions; one group was told about the specific CO2 benefits, one about the financial, and the third given no info at all, and the lot told about the CO2 savings thought making the effort would be the most worthwhile. Even small ‘green’ gains were thought worthwhile, but small cost-savings not thought worth the effort.
  • The first Motiv Power Systems electric garbage truck has gone into operation in Chicago, reports Clean Technica; this has a 9-tonne payload, is to work a 60-mile refuse and recycling round, and is the first of a fleet for the city.
  • The problems of the Wankel rotary engine have been solved, apparently: Libralato Ltd‘s rotary – tested at Loughborough University – gets 40% efficiency, but is 50% smaller (and 30% cheaper to make) than a  conventional ICE. It features a new thermodynamic cycle and engine mechanism, with a new switched reluctance motor (containing no rare earth magnets), and 48V operating electrics, and has been designed with a PHEV powertrain in mind. Libralato calls it the ‘Town & Country 48V Hybrid’ powertrain, or TC48, and says it would give (in an average car) a 15-mile all-electric range in town, and 54mpge (US) out of town. More here.
  • New EV registrations in Q2 2014: 2746, a 141% rise on the same period last year. Calculations are that the total EV fleet of all ages in the UK (including PHEVs and vans) is now over 13,200 (thanks, NextGreenCar, who’ve added up the numbers). More here. 
  • Mercedes-Benz: sceptical of the concept of increasing urbanisation, planning for continued dwelling in the ‘burbs and indeed, a future of ‘mega-suburbs’, reports Fast Company.
  • A smartphone app to simulate EV-driving: e.CODRIVER, developed at the University of Ghent, predicts the suitability of different EVs dependent on your driving needs and style (put phone on your dashboard). It can be downloaded free from Google Play.

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