July 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
And it’s another heavy-duty Mercedes-Benz: following last week’s Future Bus, the Urban eTruck makes its debut in Stuttgart this week. It’s a 26-tonne three-axle, short-radius distribution truck, based on an existing Mercedes model but with new drive system: the rear axle is rear-driven by motors adjacent to the wheel hubs, as in the Citaro hybrid bus, giving 2x 125kW and 2x 500Nm of torque. Range is said to be up to 200km (“enough for a typical daily delivery tour”) thanks to three lithium-ion battery modules mounted within the frame; using the CCS charging system at 100kW it can be recharged to 100% in two to three hours.
Series production is “already conceivable at the beginning of the next decade”, apparently. M-B continues with its trials of the smaller Fuso Canter E-Cell, which have informed the development of this model, and an ongoing five-vehicle trial with parcel service provider Hermes in Stuttgart is looking at issues including topography and logistical deployment. Full suite of material on the eTruck here.
- And more Daimler: the launch of ‘smart ready to drop’, a service in partnership with DHL enabling parcel delivery to – or collection from – your (Smart) car [so small parcels only…]. This is via a ‘connectivity box’ which can be retro-fitted to existing Smart Fortwos, allowing the DHL driver to gain access to the boot via a one-time keyless access app (as in Car2Go vehicles). Beta-testing starts in Stuttgart, with Cologne, Bonn and Berlin to follow. More here. [Daimler is also looking at swarm intelligence in relation to digitalisation of mobility services and e-mobility, it emerges.]
- Yet more Daimler: Car2go has had a positive impact on emissions, traffic and parking in Calgary, San Diego, Seattle, Vancouver and Washington DC, according to a study from UC Berkeley. The Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) concluded that the one way/on-demand service – used by nearly 9,500 members in these N American cities – resulted in fewer privately-owned cars on the road, fewer vehicle miles travelled and lower GHG emissions over a three-year period. Between 2-5% of members sold a vehicle and 7-10% did not buy a car thanks to their membership; each car2go car meant 7-11 cars were sold or not acquired (to a total of 28,000); mileage reductions were 6-16% in the cities (average 11%), GHG emissions were down 4-18% (average 10%). Further breakdown here.
- Meanwhile in the UK, we have a report linking poor suburban transport links with car-dependency and poverty: digest at the Guardian. Lengthy and expensive commutes, poor planning, poor public transport links and a lack of cycling infrastructure all get a mention…
- …but for those who can afford an electric car, some interesting news: former tennis player/gym chain entrepreneur David Lloyd has launched a new company called EV Hub. Idea is, reports the Mail on Sunday, that EV owners can roll up to the facilities and use office space or coffee shops (or gyms?) while their car is recharging. He’s planning a crowdsourcing campaign for five hubs in London initially, with later roll-out in other areas. Wonder what the cost-per-charge and/or membership demands are going to be for this, though?
- And another business model, albeit a somewhat grander vision: Elon Musk’s Master Plan, Part Deux. From the merger of SolarCity and Tesla will come a scaling-up and complete integration of home solar, energy storage and car charging; a compact SUV and a pick-up truck are on the drawing board; Tesla engineers are working on radical developments to its factory system; the Tesla Semi [heavy-duty truck; insert crude joke here] and a ‘high-density passenger urban transport’ proposal will be unveiled next year [he hints at a small, autonomously-driven bus]; advancing autonomy’; and, possibly most contentiously, adding your self-driving, on-demand Tesla to a shared fleet, ostensibly earning you money when it’s not in use. Can’t say I’m convinced that Tesla owners want to share, I have to say, but perhaps future customers for the Model 3 and other ‘lower-end’ vehicles may behave differently to Roadster and Model S owners…
July 20, 2016 § Leave a comment
Not just a show vehicle, Mercedes-Benz’s Future Bus is up and running on trials in Amsterdam, on a 20km route between Schipol Airport and Haarlem. OK, it’s not electric (yet) – it’s based on a diesel-driven Citaro – but it is a very advanced and exciting technological platform/experimental testbed. Key feature is the CityPilot, semi-autonomous guidance using camera and radars, which is said to result in smooth and predictive progress which lowers fuel consumption and emissions, at least. Design-wise, it also represents a step forward in making bus travel attractive, with its three-zone passenger compartment, highly-styled seating and lighting, monitor screens and stripped-down driver interface. Let’s hope it’s more functional and performs better in real-life than London’s latest efforts. Mercedes is launching a battery-electric drive system for city buses in 2018, anyway (opening up further interior design possibilities, it notes, due to the lack of an engine in the rear). Full details here.
- And more bus news: the TOSA electric bus – the first wireless articulated trolleybus in production, I believe – is now in service on the airport run in Geneva. This features ABB’s flash-charging technology, which delivers 400kW in a 15-second top-up boost, plus supercapacitors in the charging points to help even out demand on the local grid. 12 buses have been ordered by the city for its Line 23.
- It’s been tried before with apps like PlugShare and platforms such as TesLoJuice, but Renault’s looking into the plug-sharing thing now: it is trialling ‘Elbnb’ in Sweden, an app through which EV owners/operators can offer/share their charging facilities. More here. Indications from my UK research are that this kind of sharing hasn’t really taken off to any extent beyond the occasional emergency calling-upon someone nearby with a plug socket, not least because owners’ private chargers tend to be slow-chargers, but I’d be interested to hear any reports/thoughts otherwise…
- Seat’s doing the start-up thing: its Martorell facilities are to host an ‘acceleration programme’ for five selected mobility-related businesses, in partnership with digital mentorship scheme Conector. Applications are invited… This is, for Seat, “aligned with our vision for the future of the company to promote a mobility ecosystem”, says President Luca de Meo. Interesting to see how the Volkswagen Group’s Spanish division has been having a bit of a promotional push lately (wonder why?) and how it’s being repositioned as innovation/design central.
- Ford is teaming up with tequila-maker Jose Cuevo to use its agave fibre waste and develop bioplastics: their use is being explored for wiring harnesses, HVAC units and storage bins, in place of petrolchemical plastics, and the material created so far is said to be durable and lightweight. Ford notes that it’s also already using soy foam, castor oil, wheat straw, kenaf fibre, cellulose, wood, coconut fibres and rice hulls in its vehicles. More here. (Ford has also just invested in 3D mapping start-up Civil Maps, as part of its autonomous vehicle R&D)
- Nice round-up of state of play re. electric planes here. Concerns me that these city-hoppers could easily become the preserve of the elite while the rest of us struggle down below with surface transport (hello, Southern Rail), but I suppose the 1% have to get around and do their business somehow… And better little electric planes than fuel-guzzling jets and helicopters.
- Latest report from Frost & Sullivan on mobility: new digitally-driven services could reduce the number of cars on urban roads by 20 million a year globally by 2025, they say. IoT tech and on-demand access, integrated and fully-networked, mean fewer, more efficient journeys, reducing journeys in private cars by a potential 360bn kilometres a year.
- Pull-outs from the SMMT’s Motor Industry Facts 2016: over 32million cars currently on the UK’s roads; a record 2,633,533 new cars registered in the UK in 2015; 72,772 ‘alternative fuel’ vehicles registered 2015, comprising 45,045 hybrids, 17,785 plug-in hybrids, 9,934 all-electrics and, um, 11 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. And 66,311,917 new cars registered globally in 2015. All of which suggests that (to repeat a familiar point), cars aren’t just going to go away any time soon, so we better hurry up and make ’em cleaner.
June 1, 2016 § Leave a comment
Renault recently sponsored a project with industrial design students at London Central Saint Martins to develop an interior for a future autonomous car. Winning concept – presented last week at an event during Clerkenwell Design Week – was Project Oura, a ‘wearable’ vehicle with gesture controls and VR displays, beautifully animated. Runners up were a little less out-there but equally impressive: SYEO (Share Your Extra Office), a mobile work-pod, and Phantasy, a three-wheeled commuter vehicle with configurable interior, were both practical and realistic near-future proposals, very well-executed. The awards were presented by Renault’s VP of exterior design Anthony Lo, who spoke for a while before the announcement of the winner; he told me that (no surprise) Renault is preparing a concept for this autumn’s Paris motor show. I’m going to hazard a guess now that this is going to have some sort of autonomous capability/feature. More on the student projects, anyway, at Car Design News.
Other notes & jottings to get back up to speed with recent developments:
- Some insight from the ‘Cité Lib by Ha:mo’ mobility service trial in Grenoble, France: at the 18-month mark in this three-year Toyota-partnered trial, 1000-odd people have signed up for on-demand use of the i-Road and COMS mini-EVs. The vehicles are used more during the week and in commuting hours, average trip length is 5km and 45 minutes, most journeys are one-way and the most frequently-used locations are by the train station. Average users are 36-year old males in white-collar jobs, though 14% of users are students; 43% subscribe to other public transport services, 54% cycle 2 or 3 times a week, 41% cycle every day – and 74% also own at least one car. No data yet on any reductions in town traffic/congestion as yet, but feedback generally positive that this is A Good Thing, it seems. More here.
- Toshiba has developed a contactless induction charging system for electric buses and is starting trials of a 45-seater at Tokyo airport; the bus has an 89km range and takes 15min to charge, and it’s pointed out here that this is well-suited to shuttle-type activities between fixed locations. And in Paris, 23 Bollore Bluebuses are going into service on the city’s first all-electric bus route.
- Quick round-up of more auto OEMs’ recent activities in the new mobility sector: BMW’s iVentures division has invested in California/SF Bay Area carpooling app Scoop – which partners with major employers in the area – to add to its portfolio of digital mobility services and platforms. More here. Meanwhile, Volkswagen has taken a stake in taxi-hailing app (and Uber/Hailo rival) Gett; Toyota is collaborating with Uber itself, and Daimler is funding a mobility start-up ‘accelerator scheme’ in Stuttgart.
- Research from the European Climate Foundation underpins a statement from the EU Platform for Electromobility project that any future renewable energy directive “should actively promote the electrification of transport”. For cars and vans alone, it reckons electrification (including hybridisation) would generate up to 1.1million net jobs in the EU by 2030, and cut CO2 emissions by up to 93%, NOx emissions up up to 95% and particulates by up to 95% by 2050. More from Transport & Environment. T&E is also continuing to campaign against EU biodiesel policy, pointing out this week that 45% of palm oil imported to Europe is used in vehicles.
- More research on CNG: better used in power stations instead of coal or fuel oil, than for vehicles, according to a paper from Rice University which sees no benefits in terms of GHG emissions. It puts a hybrid petrol-electric Honda Civic as having lower (by 27%) well-to-wheel emissions than its CNG counterpart, and a CNG bus emitting 12% more CO2e than a diesel version. More details, references here.
- BMW has developed some autonomous-driving robots for one of its production facilities, powered by second-life i3 batteries which will last for an eight-hour shift. Recycled parts from cars helping build the next generation, autonomously… more here.
- [note to self] Oh, someone else using MLP theory to talk about transitions to electric vehicles… Anyway, Nilson & Nykvist are modelling scenarios for uptake and suggesting governmental/policy interventions including investment finance for fast/rapid-charging, durable incentives for uptake, consumer/business education, and support of structural and technological changes within auto industries.
February 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
A-ha, a proper show car to look forward to at Geneva next week: (Citroen) DS E-Tense, a two-seater super-EV French fantasy. It’s a sharply-styled GT-style coupe said to deliver 402hp/516Nm, 250kph and 0-100km in 4.5 seconds, using expertise from the DS Formula E cars – and a range of 310km (360km on an urban cycle). Its batteries sit under the chassis. It’s as much a design showcase, though, dressed up in metallic green paint with a central chrome ‘spine’, striking LED lighting, a tail end minus windscreen (digital rear-view cameras instead) and a luxury-fit interior. More on the styling stuff here.
- Feedback from the folks at Zap-Map: over 2500 charge point updates have been logged by the EV-driving members of its community, via web and smartphone apps since its Zap-Chat function was introduced last December. Drivers are reporting successful charges, any issues, and information to help others locate and use facilities. Zap-Map has also improved its route-planning tools and added filters for EV model, charger type, speed, network and access type. And latest stats on the infrastructure: it’s listing over 3,800 locations, 5000 devices and 10,000 connectors, including 850 rapid-chargers in 650 locations across the UK.
- Latest news on the UK rapid-charge network, too – it now stretches 1,100km/683 miles from Stranraer in Scotland to Suffolk, Hull to Holyhead, and connects to both Belfast and Dublin via ferry-trips. That’s 74 chargers on motorways, dual-carriageways and major trunk routes, said to connect also with transport hubs and airports, and these have CCS, ChaDeMo and 43kW AC compatibility. These RCN points were co-funded by the EU with Nissan, BMW, Renault and Volkswagen, in partnership with Ecotricity (UK) and ESB (Ireland), and implemented by Zero Carbon Futures. It was funded as part of the programme also connecting Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bavaria and Croatia (Central European ‘corridor’), France, and Denmark with Sweden and Germany.
- 60 22kW ‘semi-rapid’ chargers are being fitted around urban/suburban Paris: lower-cost than the all-out rapids and arguably well-suited to such an environment where they can fit in with drivers’ parking needs (i.e. topping up while shopping, not necessarily leaving a vehicle all day). More here
- A bit of point-scoring: electric buses (Proterra models, to be specific) are four times as ‘fuel’-efficient as comparable CNG-fuelled counterparts. Says a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on a 12-e-bus, 400,000-mile, trial in California where the buses averaged 13.2 hours on the road and 13 charges each day. The buses returned 2.15kWh/mile, said to translate to an equivalent 17.48mpg in a diesel bus, reports ChargedEVs, whereas the NABI CNG buses tested only did 4.51DGE. And, they were more reliable – 133,000 miles between call-outs, compared to 45,000 for the CNG buses. Full report from NREL here.
- EVs will be cheaper to buy & own than ICE cars – on an unsubsidised basis – by the mid-2020s, according to research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, mainly thanks to falling battery costs. This is despite an assumption of fuel economy improvements (averaging 3.5%) from ICE vehicles. BNEF predicts global sales of EVs to hit 41million, and 35% of the light-duty market, by 2040, although in most markets they will not crack 5% in the near future.
- Following similar trends in the US, annual motor vehicle traffic in GB reached an all-time high in 2015, up 2.2% on 2014, according to latest DfT stats: ‘highest rolling annual total ever’ and an increase for an 11th quarter. Compared to 2014, car traffic grew 1.7% and is now v slightly above pre-recession levels; van traffic continued to rise faster than another other vehicle type, up 6.1% to 47.7billion VMT; HGV traffic rose on motorways and rural A roads, but fell on urban A roads; traffic levels rose on all types of road except urban A roads (where it stayed the same); motorway traffic rose 2.4% to an all-time high of 65.8billion VMT.Growth in the UK economy and lower petrol prices are thought to be the major driving (pun intended) factors.
- Automating vehicles could have a big impact on transport GHG emissions and energy use – but it could go either way depending on scenario, according to a study from Leeds University, University of Washington and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, from nearly halving to nearly doubling emissions/consumption. Automation may facilitate changes in vehicle design or usage which have a positive effect -i.e. platooning, auto eco-driving, better congestion management – or there could be increased travel by new user groups, more travel by existing car users and new service models. More, incl. references, here.
January 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
Is this a new roofless version of the fabric-bodied EDAG Light Cocoon, my favourite concept at the Geneva show last year, modded by Bosch? Looks like it to me. Anyway, Bosch is showing off its vision of the car as personal assistant at CES, and its haptic-feedback touchscreen controls, cloud-connected functions and assistance systems. Aim is to minimise driver distraction, give more intelligent safety alerts (incl. wrong-way), sync up driver preferences, diaries and route guidance, and provide autopilot functions (of course). Bosch is also talking about connections to smart homes – controls of heating, security – and online services, as well as the ‘connected horizon’ of real-time traffic and safety data, and infrastructure-enabled automated valet parking. Full details here, and on the smart-home suite of tech here.
So, the Faraday Future FFZERO1 unveiled at CES, Las Vegas: only a concept as yet, looks a bit silly and toy-like, but under the wannabe-Batmobile surface is some tech to underpin some proper cars, apparently. The Variable Platform Architecture can be easily reconfigured for different vehicle types, two- or four-wheel-drive, and to house up to three motors and additional ‘strings’ of batteries. This single-seater, carbonfibre composite-bodied concept has four motors delivering 200mph, 986bhp and a claimed 0-60 in less than three seconds. Theoretically. Feedback on Faraday so far suggests that the firm (backed by China’s Letv media conglomerate) sees itself more as a tech firm and infotainment-provider than a car-maker (no surprises in that statement) with some interesting ideas on non-traditional ownership/leasing models (i.e. availability of different cars on-demand) and that the concept previews some autonomous-driving tech, including smartphone-controlled functions and augmented-reality displays. More detail, pictures, here.
- GM has announced a partnership with ridesharing platform Lyft “to create an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles” in the US. In the short-term, this means GM will supply cars to Lyft drivers at rental hubs in selected US cities, Lyft will use GM’s OnStar services, and both will develop “joint mobility offerings” – personalised services – “through their respective channels”, long before the longer-term autonomous fleet arrives.
- Meanwhile, Volvo has been talking about its work with Ericsson to develop content-streaming for autonomous vehicles – high-definition TV, music and other high-bandwidth services, linked with ‘learning’ route preferences and traffic predictions to deliver the right-length entertainment for the journey. Interesting stat: Ericsson’s research reckons that 70% of all mobile data traffic will be for video in coming years.
- In non-CES news… A bit cheaper than the Boris buses – the DfT is putting up £7million in its Clean Bus Technology Fund to retro-fit 439 existing buses with SCR (selective catalytic reduction) tech to reduce NOx emissions (by an estimated 50%-90%).
- Are electric vehicles really the best option for greener driving? A rather misleadingly-titled piece at The Conversation which doesn’t so much answer the question as put the case for hybridisation, hydrogen and ‘electrofuels’ (those synthesised using renewable electricity, i.e. methane or liquid methanol). Arguments against EVs: batteries are expensive, European grid currently uses nearly 50% fossil fuels (both short-term-ist issues). Electrofuels “represent the minimum change to the status quo” – sure, but shouldn’t we be aiming for a bit more than that? Problem is, though, with these kinds of pieces is that it sets up a false either-or argument of one fuel type vs another, when really it should be about the right fuels for the right applications, i.e. in different sectors and niches (point is made about synthetic hydrocarbons for aviation, for example). There’s no one solution.
- And Heathrow Airport is to install 135 EV charging points – each with two power outlets – in a bid to improve its sustainability (such things are all relative). Should help out the increasing number of electric private-hire vehicles and taxis on the airport run, anyway, and reduce the (anecdotally-reported) problem of certain firms hogging the rapid-chargers at the nearby service station…
December 23, 2015 § Leave a comment
- Carsharing – or on-demand hire, as I prefer to call it – has moved much closer to mainstream usage this year, and it’s also going commercial: nice example of this is Car2Share Cargo, a system developed by Daimler Business Innovation and trialled in Berlin. Here’s a heartwarming Christmas story: Berliner Tafel, a non-profit which collects and distributes food for social institutions (i.e. soup kitchens, meals for the homeless, unemployed or children in care), has adopted this logistics-optimisation programme and noted “huge potential of fuel and time savings” and that “satisfaction at our social facilities has increased as the food donations arrive timely and in better condition.” Car2Share Cargo works in partnership with IT logistics partner tiramizoo for the booking of M-B vans from a ‘digital fleet’ and driver management. With van traffic in cities growing (see below; factors involved in this include online shopping/deliveries) this has to be a positive step.
- New – big – study out from TfL: Travel in London Report 8, latest overview of transport trends in the city. Headline news is that – in line with population growth, as expected – trip/journey rate is rising, with increased demand for public transport; an 11% modal shift since 2000 away from private transport (car) recorded, with gains in public transport, walking, cycling (a 3.3% shift since 2008); although there has been a return to growth in traffic levels in the last two years. Van traffic and private hire/licensed cab traffic up steeply, particularly the latter (blame Uber). In line with projected population growth, transport demand is also expected to grow, albeit concentrated in particular areas (redeveloped East London districts, in particular) and affected by demographic shifts such as a growing number of older people in outer areas.
- More solid-state battery news: the US DoE Berkeley Lab and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, have come up with an electrolyte combining polymers and glass. It’s claimed to overcome both the thermal problems with polymers (which need to be heated, not working well at room temperatures) and better-conducting ceramic electrolytes which need high pressures to maintain electrode contact, and to be stable, compliant and highly-conductive. It works in a lithium battery but would also be compatible with next-gen chemistries including lithium-sulphur. More details, references here.
- Nissan and BMW are partnering in the US to roll out 120 DC fast-charging points across 19 US states, with both ChaDeMo and CCS connectors; more here.
- Changes to the UK’s plug-in car grant scheme: extended till the end of March 2018, to continue to incentivise the purchase of EVs and plug-in hybrids, but some modifications. It’ll now be a two-level scheme (from March 2016): up to £4,500 for ‘Category 1’ cars (with a claimed e-range of 70 miles or more), and £2,500 for Category 2 and 3 vehicles (i.e. plug-in hybrids) with only vehicles costing up to £60,000 eligible. (If you can afford a £60K+ car, you don’t need a grant). Grants of £500 will still be available towards the cost of installing charging equipment.
- Blog post by GM’s CEO Mary Barra sums up her predictions for 2016: she expects “more change in the automotive industry in the next five to 10 years than the last 50”, due to changing views of car ownership, greater urbanisation and digitisation; and rapid evolution of shared mobility, autonomous driving and alt-propulsion.
- Latest EV market forecast from Navigant Research: global sales of light-duty EVs, hybrids and PHEVs will rise from 2015’s 2.6million vehicles to between 5.7-6.4million in 2024. Plug-in models will rise from 19% of all electrified vehicles this year to between 47-51% of the electrified market in 2024. More here.
- And an interview with Padmasree Warrior, new CEO of would-be Tesla competitor NextEV (and Tesla Model S driver): “I really believe transportation and the automotive industry is about to go through a major shift. It’s not just a technology-driven shift, but actually given the fact that we all live in the mobile Internet era, how can we envision a new mode of transportation, new vehicles, while leveraging all the tech advances that have happened on mobile and the Internet? How can we bring it into automotive as a platform and think about it as a technology platform, not just a physical car?” Prototypes and race car under development, mass-market vehicles to follow.
- NEVS has announced ambitious plans for its reborn (electric) Saab range, and it’s also planning ‘mobility services’ as a major part of the business, it seems. A presentation this week outlined the aims for relaunch of the (improved, updated) 9-3 saloon, a compact SUV, midsize crossover, ‘fastback’ and SUV models, plus hints at connected/sharing services, reports Saabblog. And as it has just taken an order from Chinese vehicle leasing firm Panda New Energy for 250,000 cars, this relaunch might just happen now… The Panda deal involves 150,000 electric 9-3s and 100,000 ‘other’ products; Panda also works with chauffeured car services in China, reports a Swedish news agency, and aims to become one of the largest EV-leasers in the world.
- An electrified Mercedes-Benz crossover, ELC, is on the way for 2018, say reports; to go up against the Audi (Q6) e-tron quattro – which is, itself, to be joined by an ‘h-tron’ fuel cell version.
- Some comment here on Norway’s development of a smart-grid system to cope with all their EVs, aided (of course) by all that hydropower… and predictions as to the effects on Norway’s CO2 output and electricity usage – and subsequent impact on the rest of Europe, to which it exports electricity – should half its vehicles go electric by 2020, here. Conclusion: if 50% of Norwegian cars need to plug in, other European countries will have to generate more of their own electricity, with coal-fired power stations accounting for about half of that increased production, but there would still be a net one million tonne reduction in CO2 across the continent – and much more, if wind power is further developed in Norway.
December 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
So today we celebrate the relaunch of the Citroën Mehari: Citroën’s much-loved 2CV-based open-top utility vehicle has been reborn, albeit as a version of the Bolloré Bluesummer – which makes it an electric vehicle, the e-Méhari revealed. Range of 124 miles at city speeds, top speed of 68mph, and destined for car-shares (in dry, warm climates, presumably) much like the Bolloré Bluecar, probably, as well for appropriate fleet deployment (tourist applications have been suggested) plus private sales.
In other news:
- Nissan is starting smart-grid trials with energy supplier/distributor ENEL, to explore offering vehicle-to-grid tech to European consumers, the extended use of second-life EV batteries for static storage, and designing and evaluating affordable energy/mobility pack offers. Participating Leaf owners can charge at low-demand, cheap-tariff times, with energy stored in the vehicle battery at home during peak times or even sold back to the grid; each car functions as an ‘energy hub’, says Nissan, ‘with the ability to store, use or return electricity to the grid’.
- And Nissan has also announced this week a partnership with Eaton to develop battery-reuse; the first experimental modules will combine Leaf lithium-ion batteries with Eaton’s power management, control and integration tech and solar PV to create a stand-alone storage/control package which will allow customers to manage energy supply and consumption while either connected to or independent of the grid. Good for integration of renewable energy, good for grid stability and efficiency.
- Renault’s also doing second-life stuff with French start-up Carwatt, looking at repurposing car batteries into low-cost e-van conversions. And it has also announced this week that it’s working on an app for Zoe owners with energy-provider Eneco, similarly to facilitate charging on renewable electricity at most favourable times. Pilot tests by Eneco in the Netherlands have found that owners can save up to 15% on their electricity costs by using an app, too.
- Conclusions from the 18-month My Electric Avenue research project (Scottish/Southern Energy Power Distribution, EA Technology): when 40-70% of utility customers have EVs and need to charge their cars at home, only 32% of Britain’s local electricity networks will need upgrades; the ‘Esprit’ demand management system could reduce the cost of the interventions by up to £2.2billion through to 2050. The ‘clusters’ of participating Nissan Leaf drivers modelled the future demand scenarios based on 3.5kW/13-amp home charging; the concerns were around local networks with available capacity of less than 1.5kW per customer. However, rather than replacing underground cables, fitting the Esprit tech can guard against system overload at much lower cost. “However, for this solution to work, car manufacturers and the energy industry will need to work together more closely,” it concludes. Full project reports here.
- Porsche has confirmed production of the Mission E, its first all-electric car, at “the end of the decade”. This four-door, four-seater had, in the Frankfurt show car, a 600hp-plus power output, an 800-volt charger plus wireless induction-charging capability, and a claimed range of over 500km; 0-62mph acceleration in under 3.5 seconds.
- Hyundai is to launch a compact/hatchback next year with electric, PHEV and hybrid powertrain options: the Ioniq will be revealed in Korea in January, then seen at the Geneva and New York motor shows.
- Audi, BMW and Daimler have teamed up – to complete their buy-out (from Nokia) of digital services provider HERE, supplier of real-time mapping data and location-based services, and tech that underpins, for example, automated driving or traffic management. HERE can take data from cars, phones, transport and logistics-sector sources and infrastructural elements to power its mapping, connecting to millions of vehicles; this pooling of resources between the German carmakers should effectively have the potential to more quickly achieve a critical mass of data-providers (sensor-equipped vehicles) by aggregating the data, as well as accelerate the growth of the HERE platform itself and the mobility services which can be created from it.
- Never mind second-life batteries, how ’bout second-life engines? Ford has developed a plasma coating process said to deliver a 50% reduction in CO2 compared to building an all-new engine, and enabling effective recycling/remanufacturing/reconditioning of old ones.