Concept of the Day: Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport

May 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

volkswagen golf gte conceptVolkswagen is fitting plug-in hybrid powertrains in a growing number of its production and concept cars: latest is the track-oriented Golf GTE Sport, an electrified, all-wheel-drive GTI concept. Developed for the annual GTI meeting at Lake Wörthersee, Austria, the carbon-bodied, GTE Sport gives 400hp, 174mph and 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds. All-electric range is 50km, and average fuel economy (not that the NEDC cycle gives in any way a representative figure) is 141mpg.

Its motors supplement a version of the turbocharged 1.6TSI from the Polo R WRC rally car; one (115hp/330Nm) is mounted up front within the housing of the six-speed twin-clutch gearbox, and another (115hp/270Nm) at the rear driving the rear axle. The racing-style interior – accessed via swing-up doors – features two self-contained areas for driver and passenger, and features a new three-level transparent information display system to accommodate all necessary data on charge, electric boost and power delivery as well as lap times. The mode-select switches for electric, hybrid and AWD ‘GTE’ performance modes is roof-mounted, and the driver can select battery ‘hold’ and ‘charge’ modes; in GTE mode, the front electric motor acts as a generator supplying energy to the rear motor via an “electric propshaft”, which Volkswagen has copyrighted.

I’m currently rather struggling with enthusiasm for PHEVs – firstly due to the growing suspicion that they’re not spending an awful lot of time in electric mode (as the Dutch government has suggested; see earlier post), and secondly as they are increasingly looking like an attempt to spin out the lifespan of the ICE from the OEM/industry end. However, on the positive side, consciousness-raising, gateway to electrification and all the rest of it, and if concepts like this grab the attention of petrolheads, so much the better.

  • Spotted on this #PitchToRich thing (competition for Branson/Virgin investment: the Libralato petrol engine for plug-in hybrid powertrains (speaking of which), said to be half the size and weight of a conventional unit, and deliver the efficiency of a diesel. It’s a re-take on the rotary engine, with two rotors (and thus no pistons or crankshaft), from a firm in Greater Manchester. (Via @CarplusTrust – thanks). Well, potentially considerably more progressive than electrifying a conventional ICE.
  • Toyota has launched its Open Road project, field-testing the i-Road micro-EV in Tokyo; there are three components to the programme, road-testing of the vehicle itself, collaborating with industry partners ‘to create unique extensions of the i-Road experience’, and broadcasting/sharing/promoting. It’s appealing for (Tokyo-based) participants.
  • Renault-Nissan is planning EVs with a battery range of over 400km by 2020, according to a report from the Nikkei Asian Review. Latest EV sales targets have been revised, it reports, to 10% of Nissan’s sales by 2025 (from just over 1% now).
  • Lack of public charging infrastructure remains a main barrier to EV adoption, yet most EV drivers are charging at home; an attempt to unscramble the contradiction from Navigant. Points out that the location of charging equipment is crucial if it is to be used, and that testing with mobile charging units is a good idea to determine suitable sites and justify investments.
  • Driving costs society six times more than cycling, according to a Danish-Australian study: the paper, in Ecological Economics, says that cycling infrastructure is one of the most cost-effective investments for cities in terms of the impacts on air pollution, climate change, noise, road wear, health, congestion and travel routes. Cycling costs 0.08euro per kilometre, with this cost showing a downward trend, whereas driving costs 0.50euro and rising, claim the researchers (Gössling and Choi, 2015). The study is based on Copenhagen.
  • Toyota and Mazda are entering into a technology-sharing partnership: Mazda will get Toyota’s hybrid and fuel cell tech, while bringing its own SkyActiv fuel-efficient engines to the table, reports Autocar.

Geneva round-up (3)

March 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

edag light cocoonHave to say that I really liked the textile-skinned EDAG Light Cocoon (body construction 3D-printed): one of the more truly innovative concepts of the show, and it was a pretty little thing, too. A welcome distraction from all the super-coupes, massive crossovers/SUVs and suchlike. The Magna Mila Plus (yellow one, below) was less eye-catching and less obviously impressive at first glance, but is interesting in that it effectively offers OEMs a turnkey solution: its platform can accommodate several PHEV powertrain configurations of varying power/output/range (in combination with a three-cylinder engine) as well as bodystyles.

magna milaAnd Quant – last year, arousing a certain level of scepticism and accusations of vapourware, though I gave ’em the benefit of the doubt – have brought their nanoflowcell tech a stage closer to production-readiness. Quant F (the big red one, gullwing doors) promises a 30% increase in range (to 800km) over last year’s prototype, as well as an all-new two-speed auto transmission, a 1075hp peak output and 186mph top speed, and is close to final Euro-homologation; and the more affordable Quantino (compact, blue) has been developed with larger-volume sales in mind. Quant has been talking with a series of different infrastructure-providers, businesses and relevant bodies about setting up a supply-chain for the charged ionic fluid its batteries need (top-ups every 1000km); this is the difficult bit, but given that Tesla has managed to set up its Supercharger network, by no means impossible with the right partnerships in place.

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goodyear smallAnd in other snippets (and in no particular order): Goodyear showed a piezo-electric tyre capable of collecting kinetic and heat energy, which can then be diverted to a hybrid powertrain.

hyundai tucson phev smallHyundai showed a version of its new Tucson SUV with PHEV powertrain: 50km all-electric range, 114bhp 1.7 diesel engine plus 68bhp e-motor driving the rear axle. And the Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II (red, bottom) looked good, too…

Non-pictorially, Koenigsegg’s Regera‘megacar’ is a PHEV, albeit one with electric motive force to add even more power rather than for any great environmental impact, I suspect; twin-turbo 5.0 V8 plus three motors (2x rear wheels, third on the crankshaft) to give a frankly ridiculous 1782bhp/1549lb ft and the title of most powerful car in production, which is probably the entire point of the thing. Similarly baffling (to me, anyway) was the high-riding Aston Martin DBX Concept (in-wheel electric motors, lithium-sulphur battery cells). However, on a far more practical everyday note – and therefore of far more use to the world – Mercedes-Benz showed a PHEV concept version of its latest V-Class MPV/executive taxi-shuttle; petrol-electric powertrain from the C350e, delivering 210hp plus 90kW from the motor (total 333hp output), 94.2mpg and an all-electric range of 50km (more details here). Oh, and the Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV (a total 400hp; 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds; 59g/m and an all-electric range of 25 miles; described more in this earlier post) looked impressive, too (below).

volvo xc90 smallmitsu xr-phevii small


Design Concept of the Day: Rinspeed Budii

December 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

rinspeed budiiOne for next spring’s Geneva Motor Show: the Rinspeed Budii is an autonomously-driven “friend on wheels” (hence its name) said to demonstrate how we need to “redefine the relationship between man and machine” (and, presumably, woman and machine, I hope). One from the imagination of Swiss designer/coachbuilder Frank M. Rinderkneckt, it has ‘learning’ technologies to adapt to its owner’s habits and preferences – gathering data from other vehicles and the surrounding environment/infrastructure as it proceeds – and to become “the perfect chauffeur”. It’s not entirely autonomous, however: while the autopilot handles daily commuting and the city grind, there’s still scope for DIY driving out of town – and either driver or front passenger can take the robot arm-mounted wheel to steer. “The transition from traditional to autonomous driving will take place in stages”, says Rinderkneckt. “Consequently, man and machine will still have a few years left to get used to this new form of mobility and the different interplay between people and technology it will entail, time they both will need.”

  • Volvo’s new XC90 T8 – a large SUV PHEV – delivers a total 400hp and 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds but emits just 59g/km; this big seven-seater also offers five selectable driving modes (hybrid, all-electric, Power, AWD and ‘Save’, the latter saving charge for later use, i.e. if heading for a low-emissions zone). It combines a 60kW/82hp, 240Nm rear-mounted e-motor with Volvo’s 2.4-litre, four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged Drive-E petrol unit (318hp, 400Nm) plus eight-speed auto gearbox, a crankshaft-mounted starter-generator and regenerative braking, and gives an all-electric range of up to 25 miles. Volvo has packaged the battery pack centrally in the transmission tunnel, giving a low centre of gravity and no impact on interior space. Further touches include the ability to pre-heat/chill the cabin and prime the drivetrain and battery via the Volvo On Call mobile app. Some more detail here.
  • Siemens has demonstrated home-use EV/PHEV charging equipment with remote cloud monitoring/reporting, smart-grid compatibility and LAN control; EV owners using this are also able to check charging costs and energy consumption, and remotely schedule and monitor charging via computer, tablet or smartphone. More here.
  • London private-hire firm Thriev is to expand its fleet of all-electric BYD e6s to 200 by April 2015.
  • The Mayor of Paris has announced plans to ban diesel cars from the city centre by 2020 – and London could follow suit, reports The Telegraph. Good move, but might be one to believe when it happens… the lobbying by car-makers has already started.
  • And that meme about Millennials not driving… some figures have been dug up by Citylab to suggest that Gen Y’s driving to work as much as – in fact slightly more than – their equivalents in the 1980s in the 25 most-populated metro areas of the USA. Their commuting rates dipped a bit in 1990 and 2000, but 84.5% of the demographic is still travelling to work by car either as a driver or passenger. Yes, 84.5%… Falls in car use among the age group were noted in NY, Boston, SF, Portland, Washington DC, Seattle, LA, Charlotte and Miami (yes, most of the cities you’d expect to see in that list) but these have been offset by rises elsewhere.

Notes, links and jottings for the week so far

December 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

PRIUS_PLUG-IN_HYBRID_TEC_01_2012__midBig reads of the week: first up, the new EV Casebook from Urban Foresight. It outlines 50 ‘big ideas’ for electromobility – the co-developments and influences, potential outcomes, business models and just plain Good Ideas – and supplies plenty of case studies to show how these are being implemented around the globe. And secondly, a 12-essay collection from the RAC Foundation, Moving Cities: The Future of Urban Travel – thoughts and recommendations from a variety of perspectives.Thirdly: Delivering the Smart City, from Arup with UCL, on the use of big data and analytics; concludes that investment, a holistic research agenda and leadership are needed, along with the understanding of what a smart city entails. And how are international financial institutions approaching urbanism? Report here from the Future Cities Catapult.

  • London private-hire firm Openstart has ordered a fleet of 80 plug-in Prius and Prius+; 50 are already in service.
  • France – where diesels have dominated for decades – is to raise excise duty and remove purchase incentives on oil-burners; French car manufacturers, unsurprisingly, are complaining. More here… Germany, meanwhile, is pushing forward with plans to get a million EVs on its roads; Chancellor Merkel is supporting further subsidies.
  • The EU’s putting up 2million euros for a network of fastchargers along major Northern European routes; the Fastned network already has 18 stations in the Netherlands, is adding more at the rate of one a week, and is to expand into Germany. Its to-be-94 stations will form part of a 155-fastcharger corridor across Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, to be completed by close of play December 2015. Oh, and the Fastned stations are solar- and wind-fuelled (80 solar cells on each one).
  • Veniam, the tech provider behind a 600-vehicle V2V trial in Porto, Portugal, is to set up operations in Silicon Valley: its early experiments with a mobile wifi network, vehicles acting as mobile hotspots, are said to have found improved congestion, near-constant wifi connectivity (for public transport users, for example), and optimisation of freight transport, as well as potential for money- and energy-saving benefits such as more efficient rubbish collections (thanks to ‘smart bins’). Report at CityLab.

Concept of the Day: Audi A7 Sportback h-tron

November 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

audi a7 sportback htronAnd following Toyota and Honda, Audi’s showing a hydrogen-fuelled fuel cell car at the LA Show this week – but this one’s got a plug as well. The A7 Sportback h-tron concept is a plug-in hybrid hydrogen fuel cell, with an 8.8kW battery and a 50km/31-mile all-electric range in addition to the 500km/310miles it can do on a tank of H2; recharging takes two to four hours depending on power source. Electric motors – one up front, another at the rear – electronically drive each axle with no mechanical connection in the ‘e-quattro’ layout, giving 170kW, and it’s said to be capable of 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds. It uses around 1kg of hydrogen per 100km, said to be the energy equivalent of 3.7l/km of petrol (76.4mpg). This powertrain is ready for production “as soon as the market and infrastructure are ready”, said Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi head of technical development. Full tech lowdown here. Sharing the tech, minus plug-in element, are the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen HyMotion and Passat HyMotion.

  • The Aachen University-based StreetScooter team has been turning out its lightweight modular-construction, purpose-designed EVs for clients including Deutsche Post DHL for a while now, but it’s now come up with a new short-distance, even lighter-weight model – and this one can be printed. All its exterior plastic parts can be produced by a 3D printer, using a Stratsys system, for build quality to match those conventionally-manufactured as well as speeded-up development – the StreetScooter C16 programme took just 12 months to produce a fully-functioning prototype. The 450kg C16 has an 80-mile range and can do 60mph; other upcoming models and variants on the theme include the Compact, a two/three-seater microcar, said to be currently in its prototype phase.
  • Mini’s doing the e-scooter thing – the Citysurfer concept, seen at the LA Auto Show this week, is an electrically-charged push-along which folds up and fits into the boot of a Mini hatch. It’ll do 15mph and has a range of 10-15 miles, more than enough for city-scooting on to a final destination. More here.
  • Citylab’s crunching some numbers to find out why Millennials are driving less – most likely due to their increasingly living a metropolitan life, they conclude. Debts, income, living arrangements (i.e. still with parents), later marriage/children etc. and other factors discussed, point made that if they end up following similar lifestyle patterns as older generations, just a bit later in life, their driving habits may not be different in the end – but if they don’t follow a traditional route to 2.2 kids in the suburbs, they could remain lower-mileage.
  • Some data from KPMG Automotive Network (via AutoblogGreen): though 57% of American households (115million of them) have two or more cars, this figure is dropping below 50% in some cities. Not just New York, but also auto-oriented cities like Los Angeles and Houston; this is down to operating costs in times of recession, and on-demand car-sharing services will see “proliferation” as an alternative to that second car, they say.
  • Rotary engine news: latest contender is the 70cc spark-ignition (diesel) X Mini, developing 5bhp at 15,000rpm. It’s intended for power tools and the like at the moment, but potential for scaling-up of the tech?
  • Software solutions provider Route Monkey is aiming to tap into integration of the transport and energy sectors and is expanding its EV-related team; current projects include working with Energy Saving Trust to map out the optimal locations for fast-chargers in London, reports EV Fleet World.
  • And of course, we can’t overlook the sewage-fuelled Bio-Bus, which is now up and running on the route (yes, the number 2) between Bath and Bristol Airport. Britain’s first poo-powered bus on public service, it’s running on biogas generated by Wessex Water from locally-produced human waste. More here



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).

EVs, PHEVs, mobility and carsharing…

October 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

madeira-drive-charging-pointYear-t0-date car sales in the UK: alt-fuel vehicles (mostly EVs, PHEVs and hybrids, though the number also includes a handful of CNG-fuelled vehicles) have reached nearly 38,000, over 50% up on this time last year and a 1.9% market share. ‘Pure’ EV sales are up 181% (4,500 YTD), PHEVs up 1101% (!) – not least due to the wider choice of models now available. Rundown here; table of figures here.

  • EV use could bring greater benefits in the suburbs and countryside than in urban areas, according to a journal article from Cardiff Business School, which argues that the greatest eco-gains in terms of energy efficiency are seen under intense usage, higher mileages and higher speeds than in stop-start city traffic and on short-distance trips; rural/suburban users are also more likely to have somewhere to plug a car in for recharging. You could also make the point about congestion and parking/land use, too, to argue against EVs in the city (except for delivery and service vehicles, of course).  A note’s made about the cost of EVs and transport poverty, however.
  • But… shared electric vehicles are “the true superheroes of the city”, according to a report from the Frauenhofer Institutes. The GeMo project team is showing a prototype with eight tech innovations to make electric car-sharing easier; these include bi-directional induction charging (energy back to grid as well), cloud-based charging management, vehicle-to-vehicle communications across the fleet, cloud-based mobility services and apps for users (bookings, profiles, invoicing), plus wi-fi positioning and GPS to locate and track vehicles. “To make shared mobility a reality, we have to link vehicles, data and infrastructure. That was the core of our project,” says Florian Rothfuss, project leader at Fraunhofer IAO. “What we need are applicable information and communication solutions that are both very reliable and easy to use. However, everything depends on having a convenient charging infrastructure integrated within the city.”
  • A review of travel demands in London from TfL: car travel is down 15% since 1999; tube travel is up 20%, National Rail use up 50% and bus use up 70% since 2000. It’s down to investment in public transport and declining road capacity (plus increased parking charges, the congestion charge etc), they say, also pointing to stagnation in incomes, falling driving licence-holding amongst younger people, and the finding that migrants are less likely to own cars as factors in reducing driving. Cycling has grown, too. The report pulls apart the different trends, looks at effects of policy and fare pricing, motoring costs and the effects of the recession, and concludes that though general theory on income and transport/modal choice still hold true, demand for car travel (and ownership) saturates at the level of £35-50K incomes despite overall demand for travel rising. The self-employed drive the most, apparently, and if population growth/density in Outer London continues, car travel could start to rise again even if more central residents are driving less. It’s not simple… But while the trends are, by and large, reasonably positive, a 15% fall in car travel is still pretty small, ain’t it?
  • And on a London note, here’s a story… BluePoint London (the name given to Bollore’s upcoming EV-share operators) has found that a third of the Source London charging points are inoperable, with some unmaintained by their original installers and broken – the fall-out from the original borough-by-borough and privately run networks. And they don’t have the resources to sort it out, they told Transport Evolved.
  • The UK Government’s putting £11million into establishing a 15-station hydrogen refuelling network by the end of 2015, and funding fuel cell vehicles for the public sector (£2million of that investment). £7.5mill of the 11 is from government, £3.5mill from industry; a further £2mill is for upgrading 6-8 existing refuelling stations and making them publicly accessible. The idea is to provide mobile stations as well as stand-alone sites and others integrated onto existing petrol forecourts.
  • Denmark, meanwhile, is putting up 38million kroner to support EV take-up; the country’s been slower to e-mobility than others in the Scando/Nordic region, and is aiming for 1,400 m0re EVs on the road next year as well as a doubling of Copenhagen’s municipal fleet of EVs (to 250-odd). More here.
  • New Ford Mondeo: the Hybrid version – Ford’s first made in Europe – features two e-motors, one for traction and the other for regeneratively-charging the lithium-ion battery, and can do up to 85mph in electric mode; its 2.0-litre petrol engine delivers 187hp with electric assist, and an average 67.3mpg/99g/km of CO2. There’s an interface called Smartgauge for eco-driving tips and help to monitor, manage and reduce fuel/energy consumption, plus electrically-driven air con and an exhaust gas heat recovery system. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi is to add plug-in hybrid versions of the next-generation ASX crossover (2017) and Pajero/Shogun (2018) to its line-up, reports Automotive News Europe, and Tesla’s adding a ‘D’ dual-motor all-wheel-drive version of the Model S – with advanced automated-driving and auto-parking tech – to its range (more here). Chrysler’s also to launch a PHEV Town & Country MPV (minivan), with crossover to follow; more here.
  • Still, PHEVs – and fuel cell vehicles – are just a bridge to electromobility proper, thinks Volkswagen’s chief of powertrain development, and EV ranges are going to reach 500-600km by 2020: speech by Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser reported here.
  • …which could make battery-swapping obsolete (not that it ever took off the the first place); but UC San Diego has a project called M-Beam, exploring the swapping of modules within a battery rather than the whole thing. Applications for static batteries, storage of renewables, portable generators, etc; more here, and release posted here.
  • Detailed creative-writing exercise from NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management: Re-programming Mobility: The Digital Transformation of Transportation in the United States. This looks at the new digitally-enabled technologies and services which will have the most impact, including effects on land use and organisational change, and how transport planners should prepare; it considers four possible scenarios or ‘alternative futures’, growth (present system extended/expanded), collapse (deterioration/failing of system), constraint (a resource-limited reorganisation) and transformation (disruption, emergence of new technologies and patterns, innovation and growth). A  narrative is then developed for each. Meant to inspire planners to develop a story to guide their work, I guess.
  • Twin turbos not enough? Volvo’s developed a ‘triple boost’ technology with two parallel turbos fed by an electrically-powered turbo-compressor, and created a 450hp high-performance powertrain. The trick is that this output is from a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine: boosted power density, notable engine downsizing and vehicle light-weighting (hence lowered fuel consumption and emissions), plus compatibility with electrification further down the line, apparently.



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