Concept of the Day: NIO EP9

November 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

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

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

November 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

charge-delivery-vanThe team behind the Roborace series plans to launch a delivery van next year; the Charge van, to be built in Oxfordshire, has a claimed all-electric range of 100 miles and a total range of 500 miles with a range-extender powertrain. It’s constructed from lightweight composites and it’s said that it can be built by one person in just four hours. More here. A range of trucks from 3.5 tonnes to 26 tonnes is planned, with potential for autonomous driving as well as wireless over-the-air updates. Charge (not to be confused with the British bicycle-maker) already supplies electric trucks to support Formula E.

  • Nissan has installed vehicle-to-grid tech at its technical centre in Cranfield: in partnership with Enel, the eight V2G chargers can feed stored energy back from the plugged-in cars to the grid for load balancing. Enel and Nissan have also signed up their first commercial V2G customer in Europe: Danish utility firm Frederiksberg Forsyning has got 10 units at its HQ. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz is to start selling stationary energy storage systems for residential, commercial and utility applications in the US next year – the M-B answer to the Tesla PowerWall.These consist of 2.5 kWh modules which can be combined for up to 20 kWh of storage.
  • More bi-directional charging: the Munich-designed Sono Motors Sion EV is described as both a vehicle and a mobile energy storage unit. Production targeted for 2019, apparently; Sono’s crowdfunding campaign continues.
  • About time: an all-electric Mini will be launched in 2019, BMW announced today, and an X3 EV in 2020. BMW’s now marked sales of over 100,000 electrified vehicles. In tech updates, it’s also adding a ‘personal mobility assistant’ function to the Mini Connected app, hooking up navigation with personal calendars and appointment reminders, points of interest, monitoring of fuel levels and service station data, and a degree of ‘learning’ about drivers’ habits. All pertinent for similar assistance to be offered to EV drivers, of course.
  • Much discussion on MAAS (mobility as a service) and feedback from providers [with useful stats] at a TU-Automotive conference this week: handy digest here.

Concept of the Day: Citroen CXperience

August 30, 2016 § Leave a comment

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

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

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

Design Concept of the Day: Toyota Setsuna

March 7, 2016 § Leave a comment

Setsuna+Concept__midToday’s picture is of the Setsuna – ‘moment’, in Japanese – which is all about durability and the changing nature of a family’s relationship with a car over time with the accumulation of “precious, fleeting moments”, apparently. Toyota’s displaying it at Milan Design Week, and yes, it’s wooden. To last for “many generations if properly taken care of”, and to change in colour and texture as it ages; there’s Japanese cedar for the exterior panels and Japanese birch for the frame, assembled using a nail- and screw-less Japanese joinery technique. And an electric motor to drive it. More here.
In other news to start the week:
  • Natural gas: “not a ‘bridge fuel’ but an expensive dead-end on the road to decarbonising transport”, says pressure group Transport & Environment, based on research by Ricardo Energy & Environment which finds no GHG savings in shifting to CNG or LNG from diesel (cars and trucks) and very little advantage in terms of air pollution. In fact, due to emissions and methane leakage in gas extraction, production and supply, overall GHG emissions are raised. T&E argues for governments to stop incentivising gas use, and says that for cars, petrol-electric hybrids, electric and hydrogen are better bets. Waste biomethane can have niche uses at a local level, but that’s about it. Full set of report downloads here.
  • Full text of Audi chairman Rupert Stadler’s speech at the company’s annual press conference here: Stadler outlined [amongst other things post-#dieselgate] three key ‘milestones’, digitisation, electromobility and urbanisation, and confirmed its first all-electric large car for 2018. Hybrids and PHEVs are seen as a ‘bridge’ tech for the next 10 years, with the brand “thinking about electric mobility in high-volume terms” as well as high potential for fuel cell tech. The ‘urbanisation’ part of the plan includes mobility services and apps, including on-demand access to shared vehicles.
  • I like a Living Lab, and the latest to come to my notice is an electric bus project in Helsinki: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, with Helsinki Region Trasnport, is testing platforms for mobility services including new user interfaces and transport/logistics solutions as well as cabin-space innovations. The city of Tampere is also involved. More here.

Pre-Geneva news round-up

February 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

rimac concept oneNormal service (such as it ever is) resumed following a three-week stand-in stint at Car Design News (cheers, guys! Invoice on its way!). So a quick news round-up, starting with an exotica alert: no shortage of high-price, high-tech electrified offerings on show at Geneva motor show next week, including the TechRules turbine-recharging EV and the Arash AF10 hybrid,  as well as the Morgan EV3 three-wheeler in production form. I think the most interesting, however, are Nanoflowcell AG’s Quantino – which has just completed a test run in which it operated non-stop for 14 hours on an urban cycle – and the production-ready Rimac Automobili ‘Concept One’ [pictured]. Well, production-ready in that eight are going to be made… Lowdown on the Croatian-developed Rimac is a motor at each wheel giving a total 800kW/1088hp and 1600Nm, four gearboxes (single-speed up front, two two-speed double-clutchers behind), all-wheel torque-vectoring with regenerative braking, 0-100kph in 2.6 seconds, adjustable settings including drift mode, full telemetry and 4G cloud connection, but for me the most interesting bit is its battery pack: 8450 cells, each individually monitored and controlled, with liquid thermal management and the ability to deliver 1MW of power under acceleration yet 400kW when braking. Rimac is shaping up to be an influential battery-supplier to several sectors (including e-superbikes, such as the Greyp G12S made by its sister company) and the Concept One is, effectively an ad for this end of the business. Lowdown here.

  • Americans: driving more than ever before, according to data from the FHA [3.15trillion miles in 2015, with December’s VMT up 4% on December 2014]. The lowering price of fuel and urban sprawl are fingered as contributing factors, as well as a growing economy, says Scientific American, and a spokesman from the Union of Concerned Scientists describes policy to reduce car use full stop as ‘a very long game plan’ making efficiency and alt-fuels ‘ever more pressing’. As for the idea that Millennials aren’t driving, the fall in under-30s’ license-holding is only 1% 2004-2014, incidentally, and counterbalanced by more older adults staying on the road for longer. Can we now officially declare ‘Peak Car’ over?
  • Hubject has come up with a solution for detecting and transmitting ‘dynamic occupation data’ on availability of EV charging points – whether they’re in use already, or the space is ICE-d. More here.
  • ‘Green ergonomics’ research by Southampton University/TU Chemnitz with 39 already economy-conscious Toyota Prius drivers: even among those highly motivated to save energy, eco-driving strategies differed and were not necessarily successful. Many had “false beliefs” about energy-saving, and did not fully understand their vehicle’s tech and energy use, i.e. over-estimating energy recuperated under regenerative braking or overall energy saved in all-electric mode. Recommendations for HMI design include comprehensive feedback incl. real-time drivetrain performance data and predictive info, design for ease of perception, system support for driver ‘learning’, incorporation of automated interventions, i.e. energy-optimised adaptive cruise control, better displays on drivetrain dynamics and energy flows, and ability to configure info displays. More detailed rundown here,  full paper in Applied Ergonomics.
  • Unveiling of the Riversimple Rasa fuel cell microcar, developed for long-term leasing. Some more thoughts, from Cardiff University’s Paul Nieuwenhuis, co-director of the Electric Vehicle Centre of Excellence, here
  • And another fuel cell micro-vehicle, this time the Austrian-developed HET Engineering Citylog EMF, for urban deliveries. It can also connect up with others to form a ‘train’, and would suit shuttle and other passenger transport services as well. More here.
  • Tie-up between Seat, SAP and Samsung which takes IoT-enabled cars a stage further: new connectivity products under development (announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week) include a ‘global inventory’ of cloud-connected parking spaces which can be reserved and paid-for via Samsung Pay, using fingerprint recognition and integrated with location/navigation services. Same tech could apply to EV charger reservation too, of course. Also, ‘digital key sharing’ (keyless operation via smartphone, transferable with potential for time-limiting and even performance-limiting). To be worked into the My Seat app. (Volvo is also to offer a Bluetooth-enabled digital key, to operate via a phone app, from next year.)
  • From Ford at MVC: new offers and geolocation services in partnership with the likes of BP and McDonalds, plus Parkopedia with payments via Mobile City, within the FordPass membership programme; Ford is mentioning robot refuelling and auto-parking as future extensions. A pilot scheme called GoPark is under test in London (Islington) with volunteers sending live traffic/parking data, alongside the GoDrive on-demand car-share.
  • And BMW: I can’t pretend to understand the tech here, but it has announced trials of a ‘vehicular small cell’, a mobile femtocell which is said to optimise in-car mobile radio reception/transmission. Project’s called Vehicular Crowdcell, suggesting there’s an element of crowd-sourced data collection, and one possible application, BMW suggests, is carsharing schemes. More here.
  • Ericsson is working with Volvo (and wider Geely Auto group) on high-bandwidth streaming tech for autonomous vehicles – including improving network coverage, data storage and the quality of connectivity. V2V and V2X services will be developed on Ericsson’s Connected Vehicle Cloud platform with open API. Initial services to be offered to DIY drivers will include remote monitoring/activation of vehicle systems and a dynamic app store, next stage is sharing of info on potential road hazards.
  • Quote from Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche in the Euro am Sonntag paper: “Batteries have become more attractive [than fuel cells] in recent years. It has become more likely that they could prevail.” Zetsche cites progress in range and charging time as key factors – “Cars with electric driving ranges of 500 km and fast-charging times of 20 minutes are within reach” – whereas the issue of affordable and widespread hydrogen supply/distribution has not yet been solved.
  • Research from CIED, Sussex University, looking at 40 years of driver behaviour (1970-2011), mileage and fuel prices has found a 20% ‘rebound effect’ – as car fuel efficiency improves, people drive more, thus cancelling out a lot of the benefits of creating more efficient vehicles (a fifth of the energy-saving eroded). More here, full paper in Energy Economics (February 2016) here.
  • KTH Stockholm has developed a wood pulp-based carbonfibre material to form a roof and integrated battery for an electric vehicle: this saves weight, and the ‘lignin battery’ can be made from forestry byproducts. More here.
  • Linkoping Unversity has come up with a streamlined truck design that can cut fuel (100% biodiesel) use by 12%: more here.
  • Important development for EV awareness as well as to inform existing drivers: availability (or at least, presence) of fast-chargers is to be added to motorway service station signposts. More here.
  • A series of lectures from TSU Oxford on Urban Mobilities in the Smart City can be listened-to (podcasts) or viewed (presentation slides) here.
  • An interesting & thoughtful long read on autonomous cars, parking and urban space here
  • …and insight into Ford’s work with design agency Ideo on multi-modal transport apps here
  • Fun concepts of the last week: autonomous on-demand micro-catamarans, for city commuting by water. More on the SeaBubble here. And a clever electric tractor/compactor here

Friday news round-up

November 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

bmwi3On a lifecycle basis, (US) EVs now generate half the GHG emissions of comparable gasoline vehicles, even accounting for the manufacturing of their batteries (and not assuming second-life reuse or recycling) according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. There are variations by area/electricity source/model, but overall, “battery electric cars make up for their higher manufacturing emissions within eighteen months of driving—shorter range models can offset the extra emissions within 6 months—and continue to outperform gasoline cars until the end of their lives”, it says. As the grid gets cleaner, manufacturing is optimised with economies of scale, and battery reuse is developed, the advantage-gap will widen further, UCS predicts. Full report here.

  • Motor vehicle traffic has increased again in the UK, to an all-time high: latest (provisional) stats from the DfT plot a 2.2% rise for year ending September 2015 compared to the same time 2014, and traffic levels are expected to continue to rise. Car traffic – measured in vehicle miles – was up 1.7%, but the sharpest rise has been in van/LGV traffic (up 6% to a new peak), and vehicle miles on the motorway is also at a new high. Likewise, traffic on minor rural roads has grown, and even urban roads saw a 1% rise. The DfT suggests a picking-up of the UK economy and lower fuel prices as contributory factors. So yeah, more congestion, more pollution. Great.
  • More details (via Autocar) on the Shell-funded, Gordon Murray-designed Project M. It’s a three-seater city car based on the GMD T25, weighing less than 600kg and promising 100mpg+, apparently, with a 660cc Mitsubishi-derived powerplant overhauled by former Honda F1 engine designer Osamu Goto for 47bhp and 70mph. So why’s Shell funding a low-consumption vehicle? Autocar says Project M “represents a fightback for fossil fuel vehicles”. Mmm. The final car will be revealed mid-2016, though it’s not destined for production.
  • Essay from Daimler about future mobility and the role of virtual reality – including “extended reality applications” – here; the company’s Future Talk conference/discussion this year was to the theme of “the virtualisation of the vehicle interior as a new perception horizon in the mobility of the 21st Century.” Very Cosmopolis.
  • A PhD student at MIT is working on a bi-directional EV charging solution integrating solar or other renewable power, and has founded a company, CZAR (Carbon Zero Advanced Research) Power. Nelson Wang is collaborating with a team at Kettering University (Flint, Michigan) on a charger acting as a ‘hub’ for connecting the different elements – battery, storage, utility etc. – in the energy supply chain in a microgrid, and patents have been taken out on some of the technologies involved. A 96% efficiency is claimed, and iOT connectivity is planned enabling drivers to get charging station info via smartphone app as well as detailed energy use/cost calculations. More here.
  • And Neusoft Reach (Shanghai) has launched a cloud-based charging system integrating V2G, ‘charging pile network’ (enabling data collection and open-protocol communication with the cloud via the cable) and a mobile app network; this allows for vehicle identification, charging control and dynamic power adjustment, as well as payment. More here.
  • EV drivers can now travel from Berlin to Munich, and on to Leipzig and Dessau (or vice versa) thanks to a ‘corridor’ of fast-chargers on the A9 autobahn. These are spaced roughly every 90km. More here. And… four fast-chargers for West Norfolk, addressing a ‘black hole’ in the infrastructure identified by a number of my research respondents. Three in Kings Lynn, one in Hunstanton; more here.
  • A report from the National League of Cities (NLC; Washington DC), City of the Future: Technology and Mobility, explores tech disruption and its effect on transportation.  It focuses on five factors affecting (US) cities: technology, economics, climate resilience, culture and demographics, and finds a rapidly-shifting mobility environment; widening gaps between private-sector innovation, citizen preferences and the visions of city planners; and a majority of cities not considering the impact of driverless technologies and private transportation networks/providers. Its forecast for 2020 includes workplace/workforce changes including an increase in contract jobs and a decrease in vehicle mileage travelled; more toll/paid-for roads and public-private mobility partnerships; more modal options with integrated payment systems and apps; ‘transport network companies’ the main personal and freight transportation providers; and an increase in driverless and electric cars. For 2030, it expects changes in commuting patterns due to the growth of urban areas; more driverless public transportation; fewer single-occupancy vehicles; more bike-sharing and high-speed rail; expansion of inner-city rail and even air travel; and first-class amenities on some public transport. Full report here.
  • A step in the above direction: the University of California, San Diego, is to run two projects with EVgo (fast-charger provider, US). One is to assess leverage of solar energy, battery storage and control systems to manage demand and provide services; the other will look at vehicle-to-grid tech. More here.
  • An all-electric Jaguar SUV is to go on sale in 2017, reports Autocar. Interesting note about its powertrain: “Sources suggest an electric motor will be mounted inboard at each corner, retaining the use of driveshafts, although there remains the possibility of Jaguar making a technology leap with in-wheel motors.”
  • Local Motors showed its LM3D Swim at SEMA: a 3D-printed, fully-homologated roadster with thermoplastic body by SABIC, ready for production at its ‘microfactory’ in Knoxville as well as at other local licensed facilities. Further iterations to follow.
  • And BMW has announced an electric super-bike: the eRR, developed in partnership with TU Munich, explores two-wheeled, high-performance i-mobility, and appears to preview a production model.

JLR Concept_e research vehicles and more…

September 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

JLR Concept_e carsJaguar Land Rover has revealed three Concept_e research vehicles at the Low Carbon Vehicle show this week, featuring an electric-drive module (eDM) said to produce twice the power and torque of any motor-generator currently in production; this can be mounted between any motor or transmission and configured to create mild hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrains, or used alone in an all-electric vehicle. Partners in this government-funded two-year programme include GKN Driveline of Redditch,  contributing its eAxle tech (a single-speed eAxle driving a front axle, and a higher-performance two-speed gearbox eAxle system driving a rear axle, which can be combined in an AWD vehicle) as well as Zytek Automotive, Drive System Design, Motor Design Limited, Williams, Delta Motorsport, Tata Steel, and Bristol, Cranfield and Newcastle universities.

The Range Rover Evoque-based Concept_e MHEV is a mild hybrid with a prototype three-cylinder 90hp diesel engine and 48V electrical system incorporating clutch-disconnect and a nine-speed transmission. Concept_e PHEV – Range Rover Sport donor vehicle – has a prototype 300hp petrol engine, eight-speed transmission, a 150kW motor and 320-volt lithium-ion battery pack and full-time four-wheel drive. Concept_e BEV, meanwhile, is the all-electric research demonstrator built on the new JLR aluminium architecture, modified to house the e-drive units and battery; it has a single-speed transmission with 85kW motor driving the front axle, and a two-speed transmission and 145kW motor driving the rear axle. Other techs in the research vehicles include brake-by-wire (giving optimum energy recuperation) and torque-vectoring; JLR has also been working on HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) technologies to reduce energy consumption, including infra-red reflecting glass and infra-red panels embedded in sun visors, door tops and key places such as the transmission tunnel, lightweight carbonfibre seating, lightweight fabrics and sound-proofing materials, and its further news this week is the Provoque concept: an Evoque with 2.0-litre diesel engine, 48V electrics and electric supercharger, said to emit 99g/km of carbon dioxide.

  • Winners have been announced of the 2016 Michelin Challenge Design, which called for concepts for low-cost mobility solutions for developing regions. Many clever and amusing ideas, but of the top-placed entrants, I’m liking second-prize Edgar Sarmiento’s Arriero: a rugged electric off-road quad bike for Columbian farmers and herders. Ride it, cowboy.
  • Haven’t heard much from Wales-based Riversimple lately, but they report that they’ve now built Mk2 vehicle architecture, and are showing it off at the Low Carbon Vehicle Show this week. The latest iteration of the super-lightweight, easy-assembly fuel cell vehicle features 120 lithium super-capacitors for energy storage, and four in-wheel motors delivering 160Nm of torque. A two-seater with carbon monocoque construction, it has a target weight of 520kg, a cruising speed of 55mph and a range of 300 miles between hydrogen top-ups. Riversimple has a vision of  decentralised production and a business model based around leasing/mobility services rather than vehicle sales.
  • Biofuel from waste products = better than biofuel from specially-grown crops, and bringing new meaning to the phrase ‘drinking fuel’, government funding of £11million is being given to Celtic Renewables, Edinburgh, to develop biofuels from waste by-products of whisky-making. Advanced Plasma Power, Swindon, also gets £11milion for household biowaste-to-biofuel research, and Nova Pangaea Technologies, Tee Valley, £3million to develop biofuel from forestry waste. More here.
  • Volkswagen is to reveal (yet another iteration of) its Microbus concept at CES in Vegas next January, reports Autocar, which says the reborn Kombi/Bulli/camper van is to get an (optional) electric-drive system delivering a range of 250-310 miles. Conventional ICE models will also be offered, of course, but the electric version will get an updated version of the R8 e-tron’s powertrain. Official announcement expected soon, with production said (this time) to be scheduled for 2017. The zero local emission driveline, which relies on the Volkswagen Group’s latest lithium-ion battery technology as used by the Audi R8 E-Tron and upcoming Audi E-Tron Quattro concept, is claimed to provide a range of between 400 and 500km (250-310 miles) depending on the driving conditions. It is planned to be offered alongside more conventional turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and diesel powerplants on the production Microbus, which senior Wolfsburg sources describe as being smaller than the latest Multivan.
  • The BlueIndy carshare is now up and running in Indianapolis, and now the latest destination for the Bollore Group’s concept: Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo (not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo, capital Kinchasa). 50 electric cars and 14 electric buses, plus 80 charging points and solar panels, are to be shipped out there in time for the African Games, in partnership with the state of Qatar. More here.
  • Thermal management in EVs is serious stuff, and Bosch is to debut a new system at Frankfurt next week. It’s said to increase battery range by up to 25% and is heat pump based: pumps and valves collect heat (and coldness) and redistribute this via coolant. More here.
  • A certain morbid fascination with this concept – a driverless, autonomously-guided electric hearse, the latest idea proposed via Charles Bombardier in his regular column for the Globe and Mail (Canada).
  • Latest BMW app news: as seen at the IFA 2015 consumer electronics show in Berlin, the ConnectedDrive suite is to include two new apps, Smart Home for Apple iOS, or Samsung SmartThings (Android, still in research stages). Both enable in-car control/checking of linked household functions such as heating, intruder alerts, etc – and even check whether ‘smart’ sensor-fitted windows and doors are locked. Not sure if they can check yet whether you’ve left the gas on or iron plugged in, however… Full release on these (and other new ConnectedDrive developments) here.
  • Some transport-related feedback from the Future of Cities conference (government-backed Foresight Project) here: reports from Cambridge (“expecting an explosion in cycling”), Newcastle (identifying need for cross-sector data-sharing) and Lancaster looked at visions for 2065; the Foresight Project’s own report (“People in Cities: The Numbers”) looks at demographics and trends to 2040 and 2065; a report from Sustrans makes the case for active travel (walking, cycling) and David Metz (UCL) for investment in rail  in his report “Future of Cities: Beyond Peak Car”. Great – but do we have to choke on exhaust fumes and consume fossil fuels till the necessary shifts are made?
  • And more discussion on a similar theme – review of new book, Urban Transport Without The Hot Air, talks about successful case studies and opportunities for change in terms of lessening car-dependency (good), but dismisses ‘techno-fix’ solutions (EV-ICE ). Like it’s some sort of either-or solution and we can’t have modal shift, behaviour change and (a smaller number of) cleaner vehicles where appropriate.
  • In the meantime until car-free Utopia is achieved, the majority of new diesel cars fail to meet the latest Euro 6 EU emissions standards on the road, chuffing out up to five times the amount of harmful particulates and nitrous oxides measured in lab tests, Transport & Environment reminds us, quoting a new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) which looks at NOx emissions. This problem and its implications for air quality is far too serious for us to wait until we can shift everyone onto bikes, feet or public transport, even presuming that this is in any way possible.
  • As an aside, incidentally, some interesting stats via the Campaign for Better Transport. Rail passengers have more than doubled in the UK to 1.7billion over the last 10 years, with 22% of passengers going into London having to stand on a typical weekday and an average 4.1% of peak-time trains ‘over capacity’ (passengers standing for more than 20 minutes) – 10.1% over capacity at Paddington and 26% of all morning peak trains, with a total 59% of training having passengers standing. Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield also had high numbers of over-capacity trains arriving at the morning peak. (If we want to get people out of cars, there has to be a viable alternative).
  • Report on ridesharing from Deloitte looks at potential for its expansion, saying that nearly 19million commuters in US metro areas could feasibly share a car, giving total CO2 savings of 91.million metric tonnes a year as well as massive societal benefits (I paraphrase) in terms of reduced accident rates, spend on infrastructure and lower congestion, plus personal economic benefits. It points to ‘ring’ neighbourhoods as a potential hotspot (drivers/riders not necessarily commuting to city centres), and discusses incentives and policies to support its growth.
  • And further to all the above, some fun… The Guardian Cities has collected a few ideas for easier London commuting, including underground travelators, walkways and bike lanes, swimming lanes in the Regent’s Canal, and a floating bike lane along the Thames.

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