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….

 

Quick round-up of EV-related news

July 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

Kontaktloses, induktives Ladesystem fŸr Elektrofahrzeuge, entwickelt am Fraunhofer IISB

A handy follow-up to this week’s news about autonomous cars – Volkswagen and Bosch, as part of the EU-funded V-Charge consortium, are developing an automated parking system which allots EVs to charging bays. It’s a smart valet-parking system for car parks (i.e. at train stations or park-and-rides) using sat nav, cameras and ultrasonic sensors; the challenge is going to be working out how to plug the cars in autonomously (induction charging over coils may be the ultimate aim).

And some more on induction charging from the Frauenhofer Institute (IISB) in Erlanger, Germany: best place to install the system is at a car’s front end, they say, allowing the car to be driven closer to the coils and thus enabling smaller coils in clusters on a column (pictured).

  • A nifty solution to providing on-street EV chargers: integrate them into street lamp networks and mount them on lampposts. The French-developed Telewatt chargers are about to make their debut in Aix-en-Provence, reports Sustainable Mobility.
  • So Tesla’s teaming up with Panasonic to build the ‘gigafactory’; economies of scale a key factor. More here.
  • Report on EV sales across Europe from NGO Transport & Environment: T&E’s Electric Vehicles in 2013: A Progress Report (July 2014) crunches some sales figures and says that sales have approximately doubled each year since 2010. Nearly 50,000 plug-in vehicles (incl. plug-in hybrids) were sold in the EU last year (0.4% of the market), with the top-sellers being the Renault Zoe, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Volvo V60 PHEV. The EU accounts for around a quarter of global EV sales, and its annual EV sales figures are expected to exceed 100,000 by 2015, 500,000 by 2021, and 1 million by 2025 – “steady growth” rather than sudden transformation is predicted, with EVs selling alongside other options such as downsized, more efficient ICE vehicles, hydrogen and fuel cell cars.
  • And July’s been a record month for EV sales in the UK: 1100-odd registered, OLEV has said.
  • Transport for London is running a three-month project with the Energy Saving Trust and RouteMonkey to gather telematics data from van fleets, to help plan a network of rapid-chargers for commercial electric vehicle use. It’s looking for fleets of 10+ vehicles (not necessarily electric) operating within the M25 to take part. More here.
  • And a big research programme in the US: the Electric Power Research Institute is working with eight car-makers and 15 utility firms on standardising smart-grid management via the cloud. More here.
  • On a gaseous note… Researchers at the University of Illinois, Chicago, have developed a catalytic process to derive syngas (a non-fossil natural gas substitute)  from CO2; molybdenum disulfide and an ionic liquid are used to produce the reaction. More, including academic references, here.

Concept of the Day: MG Dynamo

April 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

mg dynamoMeet the e-Metro.  The MG team at Longbridge (now under ownership of China’s SAIC) has created an electric city car concept – called Dynamo – on display at the SMMT this week. It’s to make its public debut in June at an MG centenary event at Silverstone. No confirmed details on its powertrain as yet, though the car itself is based on the Chinese-market Roewe E50. It’s to gauge European interest/demand in a small MG EV, apparently.

  • Volvo’s showing a petrol plug-in hybrid at the Beijing Auto Show. The S60L PPHEV (as distinct from the diesel V60 PHEV and to be launched in China next year) has its 238hp turbocharged petrol engine supplemented with a 68hp motor (torque is 350Nm+ 200Nm), an eight-speed auto gearbox, selectable all-wheel drive, an integrated starter-generator for stop-start and a 11.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack.In hybrid mode, it emits 50g/km with average fuel consumption of around 141mpg; it can do up to 50km in all-electric mode; or in Power mode, both power sources combine to give 0-62mpg in 5.5 seconds. Total range is about 1000km.
  • As electric motorcycles go,  the Austrian-built Johammer J1 is one of the most bizarre-looking yet. It has a promised range of over 200km (comparable with a high-spec ICE bike), and an in-wheel motor/drive system. Top speed is limited to 75mph but its acceleration is pretty brisk. Smaller-batteried 150km-range versions are available, too. Its USP, though – aside from the styling – is that it has no dash, with all info including speed, range, state of charge and soforth on a digital display on the antenna-like mirrors. There’s also hub-centre steering and double-wishbone suspension rather than conventional forks. Prices from 23,000 euros or 25,000 euros for the top-spec model…
  • So Saab (in its new Chinese-owned NEVS guise) has confirmed the re-start of 9-3 Aero production (petrol engine), and said that electric versions (for China) will come later this year. More here.
  • Danish start-up ECOmove (maker of the Qbeak EV concept) has delivered the first of its lightweight, (relatively) low-cost carbonfibre chassis to German firm TURN-E, for an electric Porsche 356 replica. More here. Its light weight helps give a range of around 500km.
  • Some news from the Taiwan EV Show (via headlineauto.co.uk); fans of the 1950s bubble cars are targeted with the D-Face concept by D Art of Gifu (near Nagoya, Japan). This range-extended prototype – with a 7kW motor plus 3kW petrol generator – only does 45mph, but its all-electric range can be upped from 95-odd miles to nearer 190 when the engine kicks in. Apparently it’ll meet Japanese crash test regulations. More here.
  • Headlineauto also reports that Japanese company Neues (Osaka) is looking for a British company from the kit car world to help develop rolling chassis for special-bodied EVs. It has two chassis under development, one for a four- or six-seater car, the other for a 10-16-seat commercial vehicle. Its show car in Taipei looks like a scaled-down London black cab, apparently, but its chassis could also support a two-seater sports car. Neues is aiming to supply these flexible platforms, which will support front, rear or all-wheel-drive and different battery/motor capacities, to independent coachbuilders.
  • And an affordable Audi – a fold-away electric mini-scooter which will fit in the corner of a TT boot or something, to be offered to Audi fans in Germany. 500 have been made for Audi in Taiwan – by Dijiya Energy Saving Tech, which makes them with or without corporate branding, and which aims to be producing 50,000 a year within the next five years. Range is up to 12.5 miles, and they can be recharged in less than three hours. Dijiya (which supplied the batteries for the Think EV) also “has orders from another premium German auto manufacturer, which intends to supply a mini e-scooter as part of the standard equipment with an electrified car due to be launched later this year”, and plans to supply batteries for e-buses and to possibly expand into electric car-making (headlineauto).
  • News on a mobile charging system from Spain here; looks like a heavy thing to lug around in your boot on a regular basis, but could well have application in particular settings (i.e. fleet work).
  • A nickel-based metal organic framework (Ni-MOF) can improve the performance of lithium-sulphur batteries, according to work at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; this can guard against capacity degradation. Science bit plus full academic references at Green Car Congress.
  • Ultra-fast charging at 625amps has been tested in Umea, Sweden, via an overhead pantograph system, on the Hybricon Arctic Whisper electric bus: more here. Six minutes.

 

e-mobility NSR – some take-away points

April 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Flyerbild_01Some notes from the e-mobility NSR (North Sea Region) conference at London Metropolitan University, April 11th – an event as much about, I think, acknowledging the slow take-up of EVs so far and the continuing barriers as it was about cheerleading for the future.  There’s a lengthy library of reports and resources from the project here, and presentation slides from the event are also to be posted, I understand, but some of my own scribblings (more to follow, perhaps) from the talks and discussions… Day ended with a Skype link-up with Paul Scott (a co-founder of Plug In America), characteristically upbeat about the future of EVs. Some input from him in response to specific questions from the plenary round-up:

  • Fleet leaders in the USA look at total cost for three-year leases and are finding now in many cases that electric trucks cost less – fleets such as FedEx, UPS, Frito-Lay, Coca-Cola are starting to find them more profitable.
  • Legislative support for EVs is still necessary in California, due to the cheap cost of diesel/gasoline – in the US, subsidized by society! EVs need equivalent subsidies too, but there’s a need for sticks as well as carrots.
  • ICT can make a difference in logistics (for e-fleets), with better routing, energy-efficient optimising, real-time info (all also relevant to non-EV). But “educating drivers is a much bigger deal, how to drive more efficiently”. Estimates 30% of fuel is wasted by poor driving technique.
  • Vast majority of EVs sold in US are to single-family households (ie in detached houses) – but in cities like LA, off-street parking is an issue. States/federal government needs to install street-level infrastructure, change laws to enable this. In California, NRG is installing 10,000 charging points in multi-family housing/apartment buildings – though there are problems with antiquated wiring systems to deal with. Investment must be made, and workplace charging needs to come in faster.
  • An initiative in Santa Monica with free public charging is generating revenue – encouraging EV drivers to come into the city, spend their money locally i.e. the cash they’ve saved on fuel, on local goods and services; with local/regional electricity generation, money stays within the state.
  • But in the future there will be some need to tax EVs (more) to get some income towards road maintenance, etc; suggests a tax based on weight/mileage.
  • In the bigger picture, decarbonised electricity is feasible for the US, which is on-target to close coal and natural gas plants in 30-40 years, installing more wind and solar now… solar is already cheaper than nuclear, and close to the cost of wind; the economics, not the environmentalists, are killing nuclear; and wind is much cheaper than coal.
  • Reckons that autonomous vehicles will be on the market “within 10 years”, talks about summoning a car, Uber-style, without a driver, and for shared/autonomous cars (in operation 24/7) to be mass transit alongside buses and trains. “That’s the future you guarantee is coming, and it’ll come a lot faster than you people think”.
  • Sees a global carbon tax as crucial. And “utilities see energy storage as a huge deal, you need to be able to store electricity for wind and solar”… V2G, using EV batteries as storage, “the technologies are already pretty close” – 3-4 years off.

On a fleet feedback note, some input from Jim York, VP of GoGreen DHL Supply Chain Europe:

  • DHL employs 500,000 worldwide in four divisions – Supply Chain, Express, Deutsche Post and freight. In aiming to reduce its CO2 emissions by 30% 2007-2020, had to tackle emissions from air freight, fleet and road transport, including at local subcontractors.
  • Air freight was relatively simple – updating fleet of planes – but road transport much more complex, with diverse range of vehicles around the world in much bigger numbers (60,000 vans in Germany alone; 7000 HGVs in the UK), so had to look at a breadth of different initiatives including telematics, aerodynamics, dual-fuel/natural gas.
  • EVs “come into their own” for urban operations and home deliveries; pilot projects in a number of countries. Challenge is with payload – range is an issue, but not so much for urban use, “can work within certain limitations”; lack of noise is a bonus; but need accurate info for driver on state of charge and displays.
  • Local infrastructure also needs to be powerful enough to support the number of vehicles.
  • Heating and cooling are “massive impacts on a vehicle’s energy consumption” and payload legislation needs addressing (having to upsize vans to get the desired payload).
  • But biggest issue is cost – actual trucks and battery packs, finance is a real issue; hefty additional purchase prices for base vehicle, fuel cost benefit not actually much gain over economical diesel over low-mileage routes; good carbon savings but overall lease costs, total cost of ownership bigger.
  • So looking at hybrid as a solution, more versatile; offsets some costs and increases range, giving greater flexibility. In conjunction with “step-change in operations” – ie consolidation centres, and using quiet EVs for overnight deliveries, all-round utilisation, whole thing becomes more commercially viable.
  • Future is definitely there with hybrid and electric, but need to work at getting over initial hurdles.

Concept of the Day: Bentley Hybrid

April 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

bentley hybrid conceptAm not entirely sure what this represents in terms of an environmental leap forwards, nor indeed, as a symbol of anything, but Bentley (the world’s largest producer of 12-cylinder engines) is to preview its plug-in hybrid technology at the Beijing Auto Show. This will be fitted in a version of its upcoming SUV (2017), though the Hybrid Concept showcases it in the Mulsanne limo body.  Bentley’s promising that ‘at least 90%’ of its production models will be available as plug-ins by the end of the decade; all-electric range will be ‘at least 50km’, giving a 70% reduction in overall CO2 emissions (despite a power increase of up to 25%). I could see this as a cleaner way of propelling embassy-issue or plutocrat-chauffeuring vehicles around the city, I suppose, which is progress of sorts if not exactly a mass-market solution.

  • Upcoming report from the United Nations: to claim that cars are to be the fastest-growing contributor to GHG emissions to 2050, reports Bloomberg. Points from the leaked report include a predicted 71% rise in GHG emissions from cars 2010-2050, especially in developing/emerging economies. Vehicle emissions are said to have doubled 1970-2010, with 80% of the rise due to road transport; road transport accounted for 27% of total ‘end use’ energy in 2010. Bloomberg also quotes predictions from IHS Automotive that global car sales will rise 4% this year to 70.2million, with a 27% rise to 2020; demand is expected to peak at around 100million units. On a global level, we’re a long way from ‘peak car’, if that’s the case.
  • Some figures on Western European EV sales for Jan/Feb via the ever-EV-sceptic Detroit News; up to 0.34% of the market from 0.23% in Jan/Feb 2013, with 5,894 sold versus 3,810. Tiny numbers, indeed, and if you take out Norway’s numbers (2,484, 12.3% of the country’s market) EV sales actually fell 10% Europe-wide. Small rise in Germany, though (1,038, up to 0.23% of the market).
  • The 2014 answer to the Segway – not exactly a mass-market solution for urban mobility, but may have its uses – could be the Ryno monowheel/electric unicycle, now in production… (via Autoblog Green).
  • Sugar: could be better in biofuel than the human body. The US Navy has tested a DSH (Direct Sugar to Hydrocarbon) fuel in a 50:50 blend in diesel engines; details of a paper presented at the SAE World Congress here.
  • More from the SAE World Congress: transmission-maker FEV is showing a two-speed transmission for plug-in hybrid vehicles and for use as a range-extender. It has no torque converter and is said to be 10% lighter than a comparable DCT. More here.
  • Daimler has bought out former partner Evonik’s shares in two lithium-ion battery-making firms. It now owns Li-Tec Battery GmbH and its factory near Dresden, which makes the cells for the Smart ForTwo e-drive, and battery developer/producer Deutsche ACCUmotive, outright. More here.

Monday musings: car-shares, EVs and autonomous

February 24, 2014 § 1 Comment

ecar clubThe E-Car Club is to set up 20 new pay-per-use EV-sharing hubs in London/SE England this year, having received £500,000 of funding from Ignite Social Enterprise. These add to its community car-share schemes in Milton Keynes, Luton, Tower Hamlets, Oxford, at the University of Hertfordshire and Maylands Business Park in Hemel Hempstead. It has a focus on mobility for households in ‘transport poverty’ and access to low-cost (clean) transport, through partnerships with local authorities and communities; full release here.
Have to say I’m feeling rather ambivalent at the mo about the benefits of car clubs, which, it’s worth noting, are actually quite diverse beyond the one-way/fixed location divisions. While I can see the value in car-shares operating in specific settings such as the above, serving community groups to get/keep people mobile (good for individuals, good for the wider economy), or based around occupational/organisational contexts (replacing company fleets, etc), as well as in getting people into EVs or smaller/newer/cleaner cars than the old bangers they may previously have been driving, I’m concerned that in some other environments, such as general commuting/leisure/tourism – and especially in urban areas – they could actually be sustaining and encouraging car use where other (available) transport modes or solutions may be more appropriate.
I understand there’s anecdotal evidence from the Paris Autolib’ that the short-term one-way rental Bollore Bluecars may be displacing some public transport use by commuters, for example. And purely on a personal level (not suggesting for a moment that this is on a par with peer-reviewed journal articles, etc) I’ve been coming across a growing number of people who did not previously own or use a car but who joined a car club – and some of whom have since found driving so convenient/life-enhancing that they have gone on to buy their own car. Could this counter-balance the people who are selling a private car and cutting down their mileage by joining a car club? Anyone know of any research on this? There’s also a recurrent theme I’ve heard which is that, somehow, using a car club car doesn’t count as ‘driving’, as in “I don’t need a car… but I do belong to a car club”. Thoughts, debate, etc…
It’s also worth revisiting that recent quote from Fiat-Chrysler’s European chief Alfredo Altavilla on car shares – “the quickest way to get customers into our cars”. The manufacturers aren’t just investing in their own networks – DriveNow, Car2Go and soforth – so they can put a few cars on fleets; they’re seeing it as a valuable marketing and outreach tool.
Anyway, will look out for reports from the Carplus Annual Conference – 3rd April, London N1. They’re going to look into three themes: evidence-based success so far, “the potential growth of car clubs, particularly in London to meet Transport for London’s Car Lite policy and future trends in low carbon transport and whether shared mobility could be the answer to popularising electric vehicles”. Recent news from Carplus includes the addition of two EVs, with the intention of charging from nearby wind turbines, to the Moray car club; and a Nissan Leaf for Dunbar. Both funded by Transport Scotland.
  • Further into the future: simply adding autonomous tech to a private-car system doesn’t solve problems of congestion, energy use, etc, argues Ryan C Chin of MIT at Guardian Sustainable Business. But there’s an opportunity when integrating this with on-demand car-sharing… and further debate on whether this will encourage greater car use/travel (amongst other ‘nextcar’ issues) from David Levinson (U of Minnesota; walks to work) at The Transportationist (well worth a read).

  • No, mainstream EV use need not ‘crash’ the grid: research from the University of Vermont outlines a ‘packetized demand’ system, linked to smart-metering, to smooth out and distribute demand. A patent is pending. More here (thanks, @talitrigg).
  • Wow: a £4bn transport network including trains, buses, trams and tram-trains has been backed by city councillors for the Cardiff metro area and could be built by 2030, reports the BBC. The aim is to improve access into the city from the valleys, support a rise in commuters, and to reduce car-commuting. A big project with potential to really improve infrastructure and the local economy. The BBC’s citing evidence from Nottingham and Manchester which correlates investment in public transport with reduced traffic levels (sounds like stating the bleedin’ obvious, but this stuff does need to be researched/backed up with proper data).
  • Honda: discontinuing the CR-Z and Insight hybrids in Europe to prioritise “low-carbon” diesels (my inverted commas) and locally-made models. It’s been hit by the cost of importing from Japan as well as poor demand (only 318 CRZs sold last year, 462 hybrids). Are the old-school non-plug-in hybrids no longer in demand? Hardly, Toyota’s hybrid sales are booming… The Jazz Hybrid will continue for the moment.
  • Research from TU Chemnitz, using Mini E trial data: 20-25% of EV range is ‘lost’ as a psychological safety buffer, reports Thomas Franke. Rundown plus references at Green Car Congress.
  • Local Motors is to show its first digitally-printed, open-source EV in Chicago in September; more here.
  • I keep coming back to this interview with French Green MP Denis Baupin at Sustainable Mobility, talking about his new report (co-written with Senator Fabienne Keller, who also needs credit). “The mobility needs of our citizens can never be completely met by public transport or cycling, even though I’m a keen supporter of them”, he says, acknowledging that there is no one solution that will suit everyone, everywhere. Nice contrast to the many lobbyists shouting for their chosen mode who seem to fail to realise that, dammit, we’re all working on different pieces of the same jigsaw. Factionalism. Not constructive. (Rant of the day. Sorry).

Chicago Auto Show: Kia Soul EV

February 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

kia soul evComing to the UK late this year, the Soul EV is said to offer a ‘realistic range’ of 80-100 miles, though it has achieved a longer range during Kia’s internal testing. Its 27kWh, 360-volt, 96-cell lithium-ion polymer battery is mounted under-floor,  and is supplemented by four-mode regenerative braking said to recapture up to 12% of kinetic energy. It’ll plug into any standard 120v outlet or conventional 240v charger, and has two charging points, one for Level 1/Level 2 AC and another which is (fast-charger) CHAdeMo DC 480v-compatible. Full recharging takes under five hours from 240v, 24 hours at 120v, but an 80% charge takes from 33min.

Power’s from a 109hp, 81kW motor which gives 210lb ft of torque, with single-speed transmission to the front wheels; 0-60mph comes up in less than 12 seconds, though top speed’s limited to 90mph. It’s mechanically otherwise similar to the conventional ICE Souls, bar additional cross-bracing under the battery (said to give improved torsional rigidity over the standard models) – and the addition of a sound-alert (below 12mph and when in reverse) to warn pedestrians. There’s a minor loss of three inches of rear-seat legroom to accommodate the battery and boot space is down a little to make space under-floor for the battery cooling fan and to carry the 120v charger. Minor design tweaks include a larger grille to fit the charging points, special trim in the front and rear panels, projector headlights and LED lamps and taillights, plus unique 16-inch alloys with low rolling-resistance tyres.

  • A round-up of car-sharing news at Automotive News Europe. A Ford spokesman reckons there’s been ‘a breakthrough in acceptance’, BMW is seeing mainstream users joining the typically male, tech-head early-adopters; consumer awareness has ‘snowballed’ and the outlook for 2014 is promising, say consultants. They advise car companies to ‘see themselves as tech groups’, however – it’s all about the service rather than the product itself – and that they ‘should try to own some part of the information technology solutions they provide’. And the data generated, presumably (related to this, at the Guardian Sustainable Business blog: why big data will have a big impact on sustainability). Profitability is less the point in the immediate future than having a long-term plan, involving the chance to familiarise younger drivers with their products. This advice could just as easily apply to EV-makers, of course.
  • Nissan sold 230 Leaf EVs in the UK in January; this makes it Britain’s best-selling EV, accounting for nearly three-quarters of the all-electric vehicles sold last month. Nissan has now sold 3000 in the UK – and 100,000 worldwide.
  • Some interesting comments about hydrogen refuelling infrastructure from Toyota senior VP for Automotive Operations Bob Carter; speaking to motoring media in the Midwest, he said that only 1500 fuel stations would be needed in California to support fuel cell vehicles, if their locations were optimised. That compares to the current 10,000-odd. Full text of his speech posted at Autoblog Green; earlier speech from him about hydrogen here. His numbers are based on research by UC, Irvine.
  • Ssangyong is to reveal a compact SUV (B-sector) concept at the Geneva Motor Show next month; the XLV has a ‘mild’ hybrid system combining a 1.6-litre diesel engine, e-motor and lithium-ion battery. Yet despite  its dimensions – 4.4m long – it’s a seven-seater with three rows of seats plus an extra one which slides between the second and third row.
  • The US Department of Energy is putting up $30million for research into solar energy storage and conversion (with relevance to solar-fuelling EVs from domestic PV, etc). More here.

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