Monday, 29 June 2015

Aston Martin considering 1,000bhp electric car Four-wheel-drive electric car based on the Rapide currently undergoing testing

Speaking to The Telegraph at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed, Aston CEO Andy Palmer explained that a prototype of such a car exists so that engineers can work out where to place the batteries in order to maintain a 50/50 weight distribution.

In the past Aston has used the Cygnet, a small city car based on a Toyota, as a way of reducing its average CO2 emissions, but Palmer believes that a flagship electric model would make more sense. “On my watch we are never going to put a diesel in an Aston. And I don’t think the Cygnet was the right thing to do,” he said. “I think something like an electric car would be interesting, to sit squarely above a Tesla. Most people who buy Teslas are buying fully loaded ones, so it implies there’s room for that.”

As a former Nissan executive, Palmer has experience with launching electric cars such as the Leaf. “I’m a great advocate of electric vehicles, not for fuel economy, but for performance,” he said. “We are working on a car that would look like a four-wheel-drive, 1,000bhp Rapide. There is a prototype running around. It’s not a formal part of our six-year plan but it might have to become part of it if we have a regulatory issue.”

The six-year, or “Second Century” Plan (the company celebrated its centenary in 2013) involves an overhaul of the current line-up that is intended to at long last make the company financially sustainable. It will begin with a new version of the DB9 next year, powered either by Aston’s V12 petrol engine, or a twin-turbocharged Mercedes V8 (the German company is a small shareholder in Aston). Both manual and automatic gearboxes are likely.

New versions of the Vantage and Vanquish will follow, plus Palmer has confirmed that there will be a hybrid four-door model along the lines of the DBX crossover that was shown at this year’s Geneva motor show.

The final element of the plan will be an extension of the Lagonda brand, which the company revived last year. Originally intended only for the Middle East, the limited run of 200 Lagondas has since been made available worldwide which, says Palmer “sets the platform for bringing back Lagonda properly later on”.

Key to the success of Lagonda, he says, will be a new electrical architecture. “It’s the hardest car to engineer because that class of car you’re competing with Rolls-Royce and Bentley and they both sit on very sophisticated platforms. We now take technology from Mercedes-Benz, and that gives us access to many of their sophisticated systems such as lane keeping assist, plus radar front and rear, which we don’t have.”

Does this mean we are also heading towards self-driving technology on an Aston Martin too? Palmer: “No. I see some things, for example, self-park, being quite useful on an Aston because visibility is a little challenging. But other things like lane keeping and distance control I think tend to take away from what the customer wants.”

Palmer was driving the first of 100 limited edition Vantage GT12s at the Festival of Speed, a £250,000 road racer that sold out prior to anybody seeing it. He might have the weight of Aston Martin’s future on his shoulders, but he’s clearly relishing the role, and the enthusiasm people hold for his company’s cars. “What’s nice about the Festival of Speed is that you see all the kids falling in love with cars,” he said. “In the industry we tend to talk about kids falling out of love with cars. This event restores your faith.”

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Formula E to become more popular than F1 - Sir Richard Branson

Electric racing series Formula E will be more popular than Formula 1 in five years, according to Virgin Racing chief Sir Richard Branson.

The 64-year-old ran an F1 team in 2010, and backs the Virgin Racing team in Formula E.

He said: "I think in four or five years you will find Formula E taking over from F1 in terms of number of people.

"As time goes on, the clean energy type of business will power ahead of other businesses."

British entrepreneur Branson was speaking at Battersea Park which hosts the final rounds of the inaugural Formula E season.

He also said that 20 years from now "no new road cars will be petrol driven", adding that the current technology was "antiquated".

Formula E, which is backed by motorsport's governing body, the FIA, is the first ever single-seater electric car-racing series.

In-race music, social media influencing the outcome and Leonardo DiCaprio - your guide to Formula E.

It was created to attract a new audience to motorsport and to help develop electric vehicle technology.

FIA chief Jean Todt, who was present at the same news conference, told BBC Sport he believes both competitions can live side-by-side.

"It's the same family. I hope Formula E becomes bigger. It's a nonsense to think they are competing against each other," said the Frenchman.

And in response to recent criticisms over the future of F1, Todt added: "F1 is fascinating, I'm wondering why there is such negativity around it. Where is the passion to make it better?"

Saturday, 27 June 2015

UK: 2.5m second cars could be replaced with EVs with no compromise

The UK's Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership  ponders the implications of the themes at the LowCVP summit

On the eve of the first ever Formula E race in London, the focus of the LowCVP Conference 2015 was whether the electric race series could get motorists sufficiently excited to buy electric cars – and FIA Formula E’s Chief Executive, Alejandro Agag, was on hand to provide his view.

Aside from the commercial reasons, Alejandro set up Formula E with two main aims. Firstly, to help bring about a change in perceptions about electric cars, and secondly, to improve the technology of electric cars.

Alejandro said that he was pleased with progress so far towards these two goals – even though the imminent race in Battersea Park only marked the end of the first year of the event.

He quoted that after the end of the Formula E race in Miami, spectators were interviewed and 99% said that they would be more inclined to buy an electric car after the race – which supports the belief that Alejandro’s first aim is already well on the way to being successfully achieved.

In terms of technology, he also said that he expected the energy in the race cars’ batteries to be doubled in five years time – so ticking off the technology goal. He also mentioned that the series would be using solar energy in the future.

Pascal Couasnon of Michelin, tyre supplier to Formula E, said that Michelin has developed a special tyre for the race series that uses minimum energy (tyres consume 20% of a vehicle’s energy, but this rises to 30% with electric cars, as they’re more efficient). The race series also uses just one tyre for both wet and dry conditions.

Alejandro set the scene for the rest of the LowCVP Conference. And the new Transport Minister, Andrew Jones, left the audience in no doubt that whatever people’s views might be about electric cars, the UK’s carbon reduction targets mean that we’re committed to a course of decarbonisation for our vehicles by 2050 – and the best technology to do this in the imminent future, at least for passenger cars, is electrification. Evidence supporting this can be found by looking at where the fastest growth is in car sales at the moment: in the ultra-low emission vehicle sector. There are also an increasing number of vehicles eligible for the government’s plug-in car grant.

Andrew Jones said that government and the car industry were working well together, and gave the example of the £1bn Advanced Propulsion Centre. He also acknowledged that air quality issues were important as well as CO2, and that policy should encourage emissions impacting on both air quality and climate change to be reduced. Andrew concluded by saying that we are “pushing at an open door with this government.”

The subject of the carbon emissions from the electricity grid came up a number of times during the day, and reassurance was provided that work is also underway to decarbonise our energy supplies – although the energy generation and grid infrastructure can’t be transformed as quickly as the cars we drive.

Dr Jeremy Leggett, climate policy expert and founder of Solar Century, looked at the subject of energy. He explained how the cost of disruptive technologies would reduce and the cost of traditional energy would rise. His view was that there was no future in fossil fuels, and renewables could provide enough energy for all our needs.

Edmund King, President of the AA, reported on a number of survey findings from AA members, with one of the headlines being that 2.5 million second cars in the UK could be replaced by an electric car with no disadvantages. He also quoted that 76% of people in Britain park their car in a driveway or garage, so they can be charged at home overnight, so supporting the view that we don’t need millions of pounds invested in public charging infrastructure. [Ed: That still leaves 1 in 4 drivers requiring help from their local council].
Dave A. Roberts from EA Technology provided a taste of some data from My Electric Avenue, a pioneering project examining if local electricity networks can cope with charging a cluster of electric vehicles at peak times.

The project is now entering its reporting phase and it already has some interesting facts and figures, including that the trial participants have driven their Nissan LEAF EVs more than 2.7 million km in less than 18 months – almost the equivalent of driving to the moon and back eight times. Dave also added that nearly 60% of the trial participants are looking to lease an EV when the trial ends.

Over the next six months My Electric Avenue will be disseminating its findings so that energy companies, car manufacturers and others can learn from the project.

The conference’s morning session had been chaired by ITV’s Formula E presenter Jennie Gow; the final conference session of the afternoon was chaired by the BBC’s Roger Harrabin and discussed Mobility in Future Cities, with the panel including Matthew Pencharz, senior environment adviser to the Mayor of London, and Christophe Arnaud of Bluepoint London, who provided delegates with the latest news on progress towards the launch of the Bolloré Group’s electric car sharing scheme – Autolib London – which he said should be up and running by the beginning of 2016.

Andy Eastlake, Managing Director, LowCVP, also took part in this panel session and focused on how we need to remain mobile and sustainable, and suggested that attitudes may need to change about vehicles and their ownership models.

Two LowCVP reports were also launched during the week of the conference.

The LowCVP 2050 Transport Energy Infrastructure Roadmaps provide a path to transport decarbonisation. They show that the UK can develop the infrastructure necessary to deliver the low carbon fuels of the future but that strong coordination is needed between key organisations. Initial public support will also often be needed to enable investment in the necessary infrastructure to be kick-started.

The research, by consultants Element Energy, says that the deployment of the public refuelling infrastructure that is necessary for the UK to meet its carbon emission reduction targets for transport will require investment of more than £10bn by 2050. It will also require long-term policy clarity and consistent government and regulatory support.

The Good Practice Guide for Local Measures to Encourage the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles, produced by Urban Foresight, was also launched. A key recommendation is that policy measures implemented at the local level should be consistent with each other, and that common definitions and vocabulary for low emission vehicles should be established.

The LowCVP identified five ‘P’s from the Guide – levers that local authorities can most effectively use to influence low emission vehicle uptake at the local level:

• Parking – discounts for LEVs or dedicated bays

• Permits – discounts for LEVs to operate in low emission zones and for residents; preferential permits for LEV taxis

• Planning – embedding consideration for LEV fuelling infrastructure into local development

• Procurement – local authorities specifying LEVs for their own fleets and setting leading standards for their service providers

• Promotion – of the benefits to business and via educational activity within the local community.

The results of a LowCVP survey were also announced, the headline being that nearly half of ‘expert’ respondents expect their next car to be a battery electric or plug-in hybrid.

The LowCVP Conference 2015 concluded as it began: we know where we’re going with decarbonisation targets, and the low carbon technology that we need to get us there is being developed. But one of the key potential obstacles in moving to greater numbers of ultra-low emission vehicles on our roads is motorists’ perceptions about ultra-low emission vehicles. This is where Formula E can help to change views, but its messages also need to be disseminated more widely – which is where the partnership working of the LowCVP could help.

UK: Booming Electric Car Market Statistics

Ben Lane of The last three years have seen a remarkable surge in demand for electric vehicles in the UK – new registrations of plug-in cars increased from 3,500 in 2013 to over 35,200 by the end of May 2015. There has also been a huge increase in the number of electric and plug-in hybrid models available in the UK with each of the 10 best-selling brands in the UK now offering an EV as part of their model range.

The following sections present UK sales of electric cars and vans since 2011, and the total number of EVs registered in the UK. Also charted are the number of models currently available as well as the number of publicly available charging points according to the Zap-Map database.
How many electric vehicles have been sold in the UK?

Monthly figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that electric car sales in the UK have risen dramatically during the past 12 months. While only around 500 electric cars were registered per month at the start of 2014, this has now risen to an average of around 2,400 per month in 2015. As a percentage of new car registrations, electric cars now represent approximately 1% of the total new car market in the UK.

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, May 2015.

The cumulative figure also shows sustained and dramatic growth of the EV car and van market. According to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and SMMT, more than 33,000 claims have been made through the Plug-in Car and Van Grant schemes (as of May 2015).

Taken together with the fact that roughly 1,500 electric cars and vans which are not eligible for the grant schemes have also been registered, the total UK light-duty electric fleet is now approaching 35,000 electric vehicles.

Source: SMMT, OLEV, DfT Statistics; Analysis: Next Green Car, April 2015.
What are the UK's most popular EV models?

The latest figures show that the Nissan LEAF maintains its position as the most popular electric car or van in the UK, with at least 6,838 vehicles registered by the end of 2014, representing around 30% of all EV sales. The registration data also shows the new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has made a dramatic entry to the UK market; the electric SUV is already in second position with over 5,273 sales less than a year after its UK release.

In third and fourth places, now beating two longer established plug-in hybrids, are the BMW i3 with at least 1,534 UK registrations (635 all-electric and 899 range-extender variants), and the Renault ZOE with 1,356 UK sales by the end of 2014. Two plug-in hybrids are in fourth and fifth positions: the Toyota Prius PHEV (with 1,324 registrations); and the Vauxhall Ampera (1,169 vehicles). Tesla's Model S now accounts for over 697 UK sales.

Taken overall and include all plug-in models, pure electric cars and vans account for just over 60% of total EV sales with plug-in hybrids accounting for the other 40%. However, where both power-train options are available within the same model range, the data suggests a preference for plug-in hybrid or range-extender variants (see figures for BMW i3 above).

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, May 2015.

A key indicator as to the strength of the UK market for electric vehicles is the number of segments covered by the EV models currently available. While the main nine EVs available in 2011 covered four body styles including city cars,small family cars, small vans and sports coupés, the 33 electric cars and vans available in 2015 now include superminis, large family cars, hatchbacks, estates, SUVs, executive models, and a medium van.

Previous experience of introducing new technologies into the automotive market show that having a broad range of both models and body styles is key to ensuring strong uptake of new power-trains. With the large number of brands and classes now available, the EV market has a very strong base on which to continue to grow.
How many EV charging points are there in the UK?

As a result of sustained government and private investment, the UK network of EV charging points has increased from a few hundred in 2011 to over 8,400 in June 2015. The proportion of charger types has also changed dramatically during that time with an increase in high power (rapid) units being installed across the UK.

There are three main EV charger types: 'slow' charging units (up to 3kW) which are best suited for 6-8 hours overnight; 'fast' chargers (7-22kW) which can fully recharge some models in 3-4 hours; and 'rapid' charging units (43-50kW) which are able to provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes. Rapid chargers also come in two charge point types – AC and DC – depending on whether they use alternating current or direct current.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Plug-In Electric Car Sales Exceed 10,000 Units In China In May

BYD Plug-In Car Sales in China – May 2015


According to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) via ChinaAutoWeb, sales of plug-in electric cars surged in May by 192% year-over-year to 10,856! And that still only includes models manufactured in China.

Most of the sales are all-electric cars – 6,540, while plug-in hybrids stand at 4,316.

YTD numbers almost hit 40,000 – 22,678 BEVs and 15,583 PHEVs.

Interesting are numbers on production:

“Meanwhile, data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology show that automakers in the country produced about 19,000 plug-in EVs (PEVs) in May, including 9,922 pure-electric passenger cars, 2,832 pure-electric buses and trucks, 4,923 hybrid passenger cars, and 1,431 hybrid commercial vehicles. In the first five months of 2015, PEV production increased nearly 300% on year to 53,600.”

Based on provided data, we created a graph with sales of all models in the first five months of this year. Below you can findthe all-electric models:

BYD Plug-In Car Sales in China – May 2015

On the plug-in hybrid part of the spectrum there is only one queen Qin. And you know what? BYD again raised the bar delivering 3,518 units in May!

BYD Plug-In Car Sales in China – May 2015

Ford's latest eBike breaks down to fit in your trunk Ford is serious about marrying eBikes and cars and just revealed a new bike concept called the MoDe:Flex, complete with a new smartwatch app. Like other prototypes from its new Palo Alto Research and Innovation Center, it's an electric-assisted bicycle that uses a special app to help you do "multimodal" commutes via car, train and bike. This model is aimed more at car owners, however, as you can quickly break it down into two equal pieces for easy trunk storage. The idea is to drive part way to your destination, park, then put the Mode:Flex bike together and finish the trip by leg power, with a battery assist for steep hills.

You can plan the whole thing using the Mode:Link smartphone app, which takes into account congestion, weather, parking costs and your fitness level. There's also a new smartwatch app, which we presume works in conjunction with the phone app. Ford hasn't revealed any specs for the new bike, though its similar MoDe:Pro concept has a 200-watt motor and 9-amp-hour batteries, with a top pedal-aided speed of 25 km/h (16MPH). It also has vibrating handlebars to notify you of overtaking cars, a pedal assist mode that auto-adjusts based on your heart rate and other techie touches.

We've reached out to Ford for a bit more info, but for now it appears that the bike and app are still in the prototype stage. However, there's an intense level of interest in eBikes, judging by the response to products like Teague's Denny eBike and the MoDe:Pro. Multimodal commuting also makes a lot of sense to ease congestion and pollution, so hopefully Ford will get this model out of the lab and into consumers' hands -- at a reasonable price, of course.

Renault-Nissan Sells 250,000th EV, Half Of the Electric Cars Sold Worldwide are Theirs Long story short, Renault-Nissan sold 250,000 electric vehicles, which means at this point the Alliance accounts for about half of the electric cars sold worldwide.

The main responsible for this feat is the Nissan Leaf, sold in 180,000 units around the world. However, if we look at the bigger pictures, it all comes down to sales going up, showing the public's increasing interest in clean mobility.

For example, From January through May 2015, the Alliance sold about 31,700 EVs. This translated into an almost 15 percent increase over the same period of last year. This growth is also attributed to both government incentives and the expansion of charging networks.

Coming back to the 250,000th EV sold by Renault-Nissan, we should tell you the car is a Renault ZOE sold to a French computer engineer, who traded in his 21-year-old diesel car.

After the French government introduced an environmental bonus in April - allowing owners of older, polluting diesel cars to trade them in and get a rebate of €10,000 on a new EV - Yves Nivelle made his move and got a new Renault ZOE.

Besides the ZOE, Renault also sells the Renault Kangoo Z.E van, the SM3 Z.E. sedan and the Twizy, a two-seater urban commuter vehicle. Also, Nissan's green part of the deal involves, besides the Leaf, the e-NV200 van, which has been on sale in Europe and Japan since last year.

Since the Leaf went on sale in 2010, Nissan sold 185,000 EVs, while Renault sold 65,000 electric vehicles on the international market since its first model EV - the Kangoo Z.E - was born.

UK: wave goodbye to the petrolhead Lurching down the road in a series of kangaroo hops after each change of gear as you teach your son or daughter how to drive could soon be a thing of the past as the calm, quiet, more mature nature of the promises to usher in a new generation of learners with a very different approach to the way we drive.

I’ve put my daughter and son into the driving seat to find out. With a melodic but barely audible sci-fi-style hum, of which Trekkies would surely approve, we inch slowly away from the kerb and glide ethereally towards a row of cones set out in the car park.

There’s no crashing of gears, no angrily revving engine and little stress. Anna beams as the sleek all-electric Renault Zoe quietly picks up speed and she deftly push-pulls the steering wheel to negotiate the first bend. It almost seems too easy.

As I sit in the back to watch my 15-year-old twins’ first “proper” driving lesson at Bluewater’s Young Driver facility in Kent, it seems a million miles away from my first attempts to co-ordinate juddering clutch, throttle, non-synchromesh gearbox and (yes, let us admit it) semaphore-arm indicators on my parents’ ageing, polluting Morris Minor Estate, some 35 years earlier. Even Gary Webber, the driving instructor whose familiarity with this special practice circuit is finely honed thanks to many hours teaching budding learners aged 11-17, is impressed with the calm, fuss-free zero-emission Zoe.

“Amazing – the loudest thing you can hear is the indicators,” he says, scarcely disguising his astonishment as he helps Anna insert the smartcard into the dashboard and press the Start button to “fire” up the car. Instead of the staccato bark of exhaust pipe, rattle of cam chain, puff of emissions and vibrations through the steering wheel, there’s a gentle synthesised “bong” and a cheerful “ready” message lights up in the space-age instrument panel.

“You certainly won’t be able to stall it,” adds Gary. “There’s no clutch and as it’s automatic, there’s no gear-changing to worry about, either.”

We’ve joined Gary at the Admiral Young Driver arena in Bluewater to see what it’s like to learn to drive in an electric car, and it’s a great location to grapple with the basics of getting behind the wheel — and while they still have to master manual gear changes and the like, a wealth of new technology, such as sensors and cameras, makes learning to drive easier.

The rest of the year, the instructors have made it more challenging, using hundreds of cones to represent lay-bys, cul-de-sacs, vehicles, traffic lights and buildings. Normally, there’d be six other cars on the circuit, as youngsters get a taste of motorised freedom, accompanied by a fully qualified ADI driving instructor – and with the benefit of dual- control cars.

Today, for our electric Renault Zoe acid test, we have the place to ourselves and Joseph and Anna are loving every moment. Even Gary seems relaxed about the lack of a spare brake pedal on the Zoe – for emergencies.

As Anna tackles her first roundabout, crossroads and T-junction, the Zoe is fully charged; we know this as it was topped up overnight at an electric socket; the dashboard readout tells us we have enough amps stored in the batteries to cover 78 fume- free miles for around £1.50. We won’t need them, but it’s comforting to know there are two charging cables in the boot – one for public charging points or dedicated home chargers (which will fully charge in four hours), the other for three-pin domestic electric points, which charge the car up overnight.

After Anna has negotiated the fake but sunny town centre for 45 minutes – grinning as she improves her steering technique, impressing Gary with her reversing – it’s Joe’s turn, and the readout now tells us we still have 76 miles of motoring time left. That is enough to get us to the seaside at Margate if we wished.

Joe – who has spent hours observing the finer points of car control from the Stig on Top Gear – is perfectly happy on our closed circuit. He has a heavier right foot and whizzes away, quickly acclimatising to the Zoe’s smooth power delivery, light powered steering and deft handling.

"It’s less scary than the manual diesel car we tried earlier, even though it accelerates fast"

When he’s asked to park parallel to a kerb and reverse in a straight line for about 50 feet, he swiftly spots the high- tech reversing camera and demonstrates his prowess with brake and throttle, as well as the electrically controlled door mirrors. That’s the computer generation for you.

“It’s really good fun. Much smoother than the diesel car we tried earlier,” says Joe. “There’s less to think about as it’s an automatic so it’s perfect to learn in. You just put it into gear and go; it seems to put you in a really calm mindset.”

Anna adds: “It’s less scary than the manual diesel car we tried earlier, even though it accelerates fast. I like the fact that it’s quieter and, because you just have to slide the automatic gear lever into Drive, it’s simpler.”

It’s all good fun, but there’s a serious point, too. Stacked in the Young Driver bus, where they dole out drinks and Drive Diaries to the novices who turn up are leaflets outlining what novices should expect. It asks: “Why do we encourage 11 to 17-year-olds to drive?”

“Being taught to drive away from the road, at a younger age, is a big benefit,” says Gary. “It means they hit the ground running when they start lessons on the road. It gives them a valuable advantage.”

With sales of electric cars up by more than 300 per cent in the first five months of this year and manufacturers bringing more and more models to market, from city runarounds and family hatchbacks to 4x4s and sports cars, surely the cleaner, greener future of driving is gliding smoothly and securely into place.

Smart Urban Mobility market worth $25 Bn in 2024

Navigant: The Market for Smart Urban Mobility Infrastructure and Services is Expected to Exceed $25 Billion in 2024, According to Navigant Research

New forms of smart mobility are helping cities address congestion and reduce emissions, report finds

BOULDER, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new report from Navigant Research analyzes the global market for smart urban mobility infrastructure and services in smart cities, including carsharing, advanced traffic management, smart parking, and other transportation innovations, with regional forecasts for revenue, through 2024.

“In an increasingly connected environment, cities have now become the focal point for a range of new mobility tools such as carsharing, rideshare apps, and advanced traffic management—key elements of a smart city mobility strategy”

In cities around the world, thoughts on mobility in urban areas are beginning to shift in light of increasing traffic congestion and its impact on the local economy, the environment, and quality of life. As a result, cities today are moving toward a model of on-demand mobility in which citizens can take advantage of many clean transportation options that meet their immediate needs. Click to tweet: According to a new report from Navigant Research, the market for smart urban mobility infrastructure and services is expected to exceed $25 billion in 2024.

“In an increasingly connected environment, cities have now become the focal point for a range of new mobility tools such as carsharing, rideshare apps, and advanced traffic management—key elements of a smart city mobility strategy,” says Lisa Jerram, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “Some cities are now going a step further by connecting different mobility modes to create on-demand, sustainable, and flexible urban transportation systems.”

Infrastructure investments like real-time traffic management, public charging networks, and smart parking systems are being complemented by new mobility services like carsharing services and rideshare apps, as well as solutions that tie these elements together to provide on-demand mobility. According to the report, these new and innovative forms of mobility are the result of both public investment and private enterprise that ultimately help cities reduce emissions and congestion.

The report, Urban Mobility in Smart Cities, examines the key smart urban mobility infrastructure and services being offered in smart cities. The study analyzes the market for carsharing and rideshare services; public EV charging equipment and services; smart parking systems; congestion charging schemes; and advanced intelligent transportation (ITS) and other innovations in transportation infrastructure. Global market forecasts for revenue, segmented by region, extend through 2024. The report also compares different regional approaches to smart urban mobility, looks at key city examples of each mobility segment, and profiles key players in the market. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

UK: Electric vehicle grant shake-up confirmed UK government reveals support scheme offering £5,000 off the cost of a new car will be replaced by a tiered system based on emissions

The government's popular electric car grant scheme will end this year to be replaced by tiered support system related to vehicle emissions, the government has confirmed.

The current version of the grant, which is based on grants worth up to £5,000 towards the purchase of a new low emission car, has been credited with turning the UK into one of the world's largest electric vehicle (EV) markets since it was introduced in 2011.

Registrations quadrupled to 14,500 in 2014, while almost 12,000 purchases had been made by the end of May this year, industry figures reveal.

But the previous government launched a review of the system earlier this year, streamlining eligible vehicles into three different categories based on their emissions in a bid to "take account of rapidly developing technology, and the growing range of ULEVs [ultra-low emission vehicles] on the market".

The new tiered system will now replace the current universal grant for all vehicles with emissions under 75 grams of CO2 per kilometre at a yet to be determined date this year. Until that date, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) has said it will honour any deal placed on its system for a qualifying car, provided that the vehicle has been allocated to a customer and is delivered and registered within nine months.

The new system should enable more of the £200m funding set aside for the grant scheme to be targeted at vehicles with the lowest emissions, rather than plug-in hybrids than can travel a short distance on battery power but primarily rely on petrol engines that push up emissions.

OLEV confirmed on Twitter yesterday that the level of grant funding under the new scheme is still to be determined.

Asian Car Makers Out-Earn U.S. Rivals Motor City profits lagged behind both European and the top Indian and Chinese firms in 2014

The top three auto makers in China and India earned combined about as much as the Detroit Three last year, according to a new study of industry profitability.

U.S. auto makers’ ability to finance costly technology and emissions requirements from earnings will be tested by a broader group of strong competitors that for the first time include more profitable Indian and Chinese car makers.

Top auto makers in China and India earned 37.5% more profit excluding preferred dividends in fiscal 2014 than their U.S. counterparts, joining European and Japanese auto companies in out-earning the Detroit Three, said AlixPartners LLP, a New York-based consulting firm with a global automotive practice. Its 2015 automotive outlook, released on Tuesday, shows emerging Asian auto makers last year generated margins that were about double those of General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Chrysler unit.

The emergence of Asian powerhouses—notably India’s Tata Motors Ltd. and China’s SAIC Motor Corp.and Great Wall Motor Co.—represents the latest dent in Detroit’s once-global dominance. Over the past 15 years, U.S. auto makers went from delivering more than 60% of world-wide car-company profit to delivering about 17%, the consulting firm said.

The trend raises questions about the global competitiveness of GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler on the eve of labor negotiations with the United Auto Workers union and amid an aggressive push by Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne for industry consolidation. The U.S. market is on pace for 17 million light-vehicle sales in 2015, the best year in more than a decade, but Detroit needs better returns to develop self-driving cars and electric powertrains and to combat new entrants like Google Inc. and Tesla Motors Inc.

While U.S. sales sizzled in 2014, the year also had challenges that crimped the bottom line. Detroit auto makers shouldered heavy vehicle-recall expenses, even as those costs were somewhat offset by a sharp rise in sales of profitable trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
The top 24 auto makers in China and India earned 37.5% more profit excluding preferred dividends in fiscal 2014 than their U.S. counterparts.

UAW officials, looking for a payoff during good times, have said they would push for raises during talks this summer. Detroit’s inability to deliver industry-leading profits suggests domestic auto makers can’t afford to be more generous.

“It points to a new world order,” AlixPartners managing director Mark Wakefield said in an interview. He said car companies need to make more money than they did when Detroit was dominant because “they need to invest in technologies that would not have existed in the budget 10 or 20 years ago.”

Many auto companies are racing to develop safer cars capable of driving down the road on their own, though the products may not be economically viable for many years. In a recent presentation, Mr. Marchionne said top auto makers spent over €100 billion ($114 billion) for product development in 2014 and expects that pace to continue.

Most auto makers say they are increasing spending to meet regulatory demands and remain technologically relevant.

Fiat Chrysler’s Mr. Marchionne is pushing GM and other auto makers to consider partnerships or a merger as a way to more efficiently invest for the future. GM isn’t interested in a deep tie-up, saying it is big enough to meet the challenge and that existing partnerships—including a joint-venture with China’s SAIC—are sufficient.

Still, Japanese auto makers such as Toyota Motor Corp., and Europe’s luxury-car companies, includingBMW AG, deliver the bulk of industry’s profit. As a result, non-U. S. auto companies are widely considered to be better able to meet coming fuel economy regulations and succeed in a costly technology race, even though the American auto market is among the largest and most lucrative.

Detroit has enjoyed a string of profitable years following the financial crisis of 2008 that pushed GM and Chrysler into government-led restructurings. The roughly $78 billion in income earned between 2010 and 2014 is about equal to the $82 billion between 1995 and 1999—a period AlixPartners dubs the Motor City’s “Golden Age.”

But U.S. auto makers bled cash in the decade leading to the bankruptcies, allowing Europe and Japan to race ahead. During that Golden Age, Asian and European auto makers booked $48 billion in profit, or about half of Detroit’s earnings; that number grew to $329 billion in the 2010 through 2014 period.

By comparison, auto makers pulled in a collective $96 billion in profit globally last year, AlixPartners’ Mr. Wakefield estimates. About $11 billion of that was earned by the top 24 companies in China and India; Detroit’s auto makers collectively earned about $8.3 billion in 2014, or slightly more than the $8 billion that Tata, SAIC and Great Wall collectively earned during that same period.

Sean McAlinden, chief economist at Ann Arbor, Mich.-based industry researcher Center for Automotive Research, said U.S. auto makers “don’t make enough money. We make chump change in terms of what we have to invest,” allowing more profitable rivals to spend more and speed up their new-model development times.

China's electric car production grows three-fold in May

Xinhua: Chinese manufacturers produced three times more new energy vehicles this May than they did last year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Wednesday.Production of pure electric passenger cars rose 300 percent to 9,922, with hybrids rising nearly 400 percent to 4,923. Production of pure electric and hybrid commercial vehicles rose by 700 percent and 36 percent, respectively. A total of 19,100 such vehicles rolled of the production line May.

In the first five months, Chinese automakers produced 53,600 new energy vehicles; again nearly a threefold increase over 2014.

The government has been working hard to put more new energy vehicles on road, saving energy and reducing pollution. In March, the Ministry of Transport set a target of 300,000 new energy commercial vehicles on China's roads by 2020: 200,000 new energy buses and 100,000 new energy taxis and delivery vehicles.

The Ministry of Commerce also announced earlier this year that China will continue to build charging facilities in cities and allow tax exemptions and subsidies on vehicle purchases.

Electric scooter hire scheme could be coming to London

Paris' Mayor Anne Hidalgo with a Cityscoot vehicle An electric scooter hire scheme that started in Paris this month will be in launched in London if it proves a success, its founders said today.

The first batch of 70 Cityscoot vehicles have began operating in the French capital under a four month trial and cost Euro3 (£2.14) for each 15 minutes hired. Around 1000 of the 50cc equivalent scooters will be put in the streets of Paris next year.

Founder Bernard Edelist told The Times: ”London is definitely our top target after France. The British government wants to encourage two wheeled vehicles so the terrain seems favourable to us and the mentality is right.”

If it crosses the Channel it will be the third shared transport hire scheme pioneered in Paris and taken up by London. The Velib bike hire scheme started in Paris eight years ago and was adopted as Boris Bikes in London in 2010, while the Autolib electric car hire service launched in 2011 is due to transfer to London early next year.

The Cityscoot is a private initiative but has the backing the Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo who aims to leave cars with only a “residual place” within the city.

The German made scooters have a top speed of 28mph and a range of 65 miles before the battery runs flat. It takes up to five hours to recharge them.

The are no keys and helmets will be stored under the saddle. The hire period does not end until the helmet is replaced to its position.

Ms Hidalgo has banned coaches and lorries made before 2001 from the capital from this summer and next year it will be extended to cars made before 1997.

She has also pledged to create petrol and diesel-free districts where only electric vehicles will be authorised.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Tesla comes out swinging against automakers that can't make EVs Tesla would like to see the rules governing California's zero-emissions vehicle mandate get even tighter, and the Golden State EV maker isn't keeping that opinion to itself. The company is openly saying that upcoming changes to the regulations are the exact opposite of what should be happening. The outspokenness probably isn't making Tesla many friends among fellow automakers, though.

Under a recent loosening of the rules, the California Air Resources Board decided that automakers with less than $40 billion in annual global revenue would be allowed to offer a plug-in hybrid for ZEV credits, beginning in 2018. Jaguar Land Rover,Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Volvo lobbied the organization, saying that their relatively tiny development budgets didn't make it possible to meet the original mandate. Larger companies are required to offer a fully zero-emissions model in order to continue selling vehicles in California.

Tesla utterly dismisses the argument of the smaller automakers. They "have access to the same financial markets that enabled Tesla to raise all of the funding it needed," Ken Morgan, the company's director of business development and government affairs, said, according to The Washington Post. The one compromise under CARB's new rules is that if these PHEVs don't sell in sufficient numbers, the companies would need to buy ZEV credits in the state.

Things would be much more strict if Tesla could get its way because the luxury EV maker would seem to prefer even fewer ZEV credit-eligible vehicles on the market. According to Morgan, the company already has enough credits alone to keep every automaker compliant through 2022, and that's without building one more vehicle. Tesla has been a big winner from the state's trading system, though, and last year, only Nissan barely edged it out in selling more.

London: Battersea Park hosts Formula E Season 1 Finale this weekend

Battersea Park to host electric racing championship finale this weekend
In a few days’ time, Formula E will crown the world’s first electric racing champion in Battersea Park, London. So this is it then. After nine months, and nine races in eight countries across the globe, it’s all coming down to the final weekend of action in our home city – where no less than six drivers are still in with a chance of becoming champion.

This weekend, 27 and 28 June, Battersea Park will be transformed into a specially designed race circuit for the finale of the Formula E championship – the Visa London ePrix - where 20 of the top racing drivers will battle it out in electric cars capable of speeds up to 150mph. While six drivers (from no less than  five different countries) are still mathematically in the frame for the title, it’s likely to be a three-way fight between Nelson Piquet Jr, Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi.

Each of these ex-Formula One drivers have won one or more races this season, but with London hosting the final two rounds of the series, things could look drastically different by Sunday evening.

Currently topping the title standings is Brazil’s Nelson Piquet Jr, the son of three-time F1 World Champion Nelson senior, who races for Chinese team, NEXTEV TCR. Having already won in both Long Beach, USA, and most recently in Moscow earlier this month, he’s cautiously optimistic about his chances of becoming the  first Formula E champion.

“Of course it’s better to be in the lead and not be one of the guys chasing,” says Piquet. “We are going to have to remain cautious not to make mistakes and not feel pressured to win. Obviously in terms of history it would be great to be the  first electric champion.”

Snapping at Piquet Jr’s heels will be arch rival and countryman Lucas di Grassi racing for Audi Sport ABT. Having won the opening ePrix in Beijing, China, last September, Di Grassi has notched up a further five podium finishes from the eight races since then.

Like Piquet, he’s understated about his chances: “At the moment it is feasible but not easy… We will go for the (race) win and see how the championship goes on.”

The other name to watch out for this weekend is Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemi. The e.dams-Renault driver won in Argentina, back in January, and has been another regular podium visitor. On paper Buemi may be the underdog of the three, but after a penalty in Moscow cost him third place behind rivals di Grassi and Piquet Jr, he’s  fired up for this weekend.

“For sure the objective is to win the race,” says Buemi. “I don’t think it will be possible to win the championship without winning the race or being very competitive. So we have to win whatever happens…”

One thing that could help his chances is the fans themselves. FanBoost allows you to vote for your favourite driver to receive a five-second power boost during the next race – equivalent to an additional 40bhp. With rules stating that the three drivers with the most votes each receive a power boost, it’s something that could really put the cat among the pigeons this weekend…I will be there!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

India: Ather Energy to make electric scooter Ather Energy, the new kid on the electric vehicles (EVs) block, is looking at developing a new niche called 'smart vehicles’, according to founders Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain.

During the first or the second quarter of 2016, Ather plans to launch its first product - an electric scooter, 'S340’ - which Mehta claims to revolutionise the way people view EVs.

"People have always held EVs for their novelty, technology and ethical imprint, but due to a perception of its lack of range and reliability, they felt regular vehicles are better. We aim at creating a product which is as per the people’s expectation of an EV,” Mehta told Deccan Herald.

Though considered environment-friendly, EVs have not taken off favourably in India, even as traditional bike and car manufacturers are busy churning out new models regularly. While around 100,000 EV units were sold in India in 2009, today the number has dwindled to less than 15,000. A few companies such as Hero Electric, Ultra Motors, and BSA Motors have tried the EV scooter market, but customers remain unenthused.

"Customer perception about EVs is that they are slow, costly, and difficult to maintain. Also, Indians don’t consider the environment much when they buy a vehicle,” Price Waterhouse Partner and industry expert Abdul Majeed J Shaikh said. 

Recently, however, the government rolled out the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) programme, which has outlined a Rs 14,000-crore spend towards the EV segment’s promotion and development over the next five years.

"There are around 16 million two-wheelers sold in India every year, of which four million are scooters. The latter number is expected to reach 10 million units by 2020, of which 3.5 million will be electric scooters. The government will support this trend by providing infrastructure subsidy and R&D support, among others,” Mehta, who is the chief executive officer (CEO), said. 

"There is scope for the EV (scooter) market in the future with the right charging infrastructure, environment awareness and competitive costing,” Shaikh added.

Pre-order tested waters

Ather has raised around Rs 88.6 crore from investors including Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal, and Tiger Capital. A pre-order campaign, wherein around 20 potential customers were sought and made to pre-order the S340, fetching the company a few lakhs of rupees, gave the founders confidence.

"The S340 is a very advanced electric scooter. It has a top speed of 70 kmph and its 3,000-watt motor runs on lithium-ion batteries with a lifespan of 50,000 km. Besides, the batteries have a charging time of just one hour, dishing out a range of 60 km. Besides, there are a number of highly advanced features that we’ll reveal only during launch,” Mehta quipped.

"The highly localised scooter will be manufactured in Bengaluru, where in two months, we will finalise a 15,000 sq feet plant, where around 20-30 units will be assembled daily in the first year,” he added.

Ather is looking at company-owned shops instead of dealerships for its sales and service initiatives, and will first sell in Bengaluru, Chennai and Delhi, targeting around 5,000-10,000 units in the first year.

"As a company, we are offering end-to-end solutions, right from design, production, distribution, after-sales, service and technology development. But the country needs to develop suitable charging infrastructure for EV growth,” he said, hinting of more products on its radar. 

Report: Self driving cars

BIIntelligence. THE SELF-DRIVING CAR REPORT: Forecasts, tech timelines, and the benefits and barriers that will impact adoption

Self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic idea. Companies like Mercedes, BMW, and Tesla have already released, or are soon to release, self-driving features that give the car some ability to drive itself.

Tech companies are also trying to pioneer the self-driving car. Recently, Google announced that it would be testing its prototype of a driverless car on roads this summer in California.

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we analyze the self-driving car market by analyzing the current state of the self-driving car and provide an in-depth analysis for how we see the self-driving car progressing over the next five years. Our in-depth analysis describes the economic impact that self-driving cars can have and look at the current barriers preventing the self-driving car from coming to market.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report: 

Self-driving cars are not some futuristic auto technology; in fact there are already cars with self-driving features on the road. We define the self-driving car as any car with features that allow it to accelerate, brake, and steer a car's course with limited or no driver interaction. 

We divide the self-driving car into two different types: semi-autonomous and fully autonomous. A fully autonomous vehicle can drive from point A to point B and encounter the entire range of on-road scenarios without needing any interaction from the driver. These will debut in 2019. 

By the end of the forecast period, we expect there will be nearly 10 million cars with one of our defined self-driving car features.
Fully autonomous cars are further divided into user-operated and driverless vehicles. Because of regulatory and insurance questions, user-operated fully autonomous cars will come to market within the next five years, while driverless cars will remain a long ways off. 

The biggest benefits of self-driving cars are that they will help to make roads safer and people's lives easier. In the UK, KPMG estimates that self-driving cars will lead to 2,500 fewer deaths between 2014 and 2030. 

But the barriers to self-driving cars remain significant. Costs need to come down and regulations need to be clarified around certain self-driving car features before the vehicles fully take off among mainstream consumers.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Tesla finally bringing Supercharger stations to UK motorways A legal dispute with Ecotricity meant that Superchargers were in hard-to-reach locations.

A current map (June 2015) of Supercharging stations in the UK and Ireland.

Tesla, following the settlement of a long-running legal case, is finally going to bring some Superchargers to the UK's motorways. Seven new Supercharging stations, all located at motorway service stations, are now in the process of being built, with more coming "soon."

Heretofore, Tesla's somewhat anaemic Supercharger roll-out in the UK had mostly been located in cities; not exactly the ideal place to charge up your car for a long-distance drive. Some Superchargers were located near a motorway or main road, but not in motorway service stations.

As reported by Engadget, the dearth of motorway Superchargers was apparently due to a legal dispute between Tesla and Ecotricity, a UK-based company that already had a large number of electric vehicle charging points across the country, including exclusivity deals at motorway service stations.

According to a few newspaper and website reports, Tesla approached Ecotricity prior to the launch of right-hand-drive Model S in the UK, to try and strike some kind of deal to get Supercharging stations into motorway service stations. Seemingly, at some point that deal turned sour, with Ecotricity's founder saying back in May 2014 that "this is nothing more than an attempted smash and grab raid." Soon after, both companies hunkered down in litigation land, suing and countersuing each other. This week they finally reached an out-of-court settlement.

Yesterday, somewhat suspiciously and/or coincidentally, both Tesla and Ecotricity published very similar blog posts. Neither post referenced the other company, instead focusing on their commitment to grow their UK electric vehicle charging networks. While the details of the settlement are confidential, given that Tesla is now allowed to build Superchargers at motorway service stations, it would appear to have got its way.

There are currently 22 Supercharger stations in the UK, with lots more to come later in 2015 and 2016. Along with the seven motorway locations, Tesla says it's currently focusing on growing its presence in eastern England (where there are currently no Superchargers), and the west of Scotland (there's one Supercharger in Scotland currently, in Edinburgh). Moving into 2016, Northern Ireland and Ireland will also get their first batch of Supercharger stations.

Netherlands: Amsterdam to double number of charging stations to 4,000 by 2018 The city of Amsterdam plans to increase the number of charging points for electric cars in the city from the current 1,300 to 4 thousand in 2018, the municipality announced in a press release on Friday.

Companies can submit tenders for the operation of the charging network from Friday. The municipality will announce which companies will receive the contract by the end of the year. Tenders should pay attention to ease of use, good service, technical innovation such as “smart charging” and financial viability.

“Amsterdam is a leader in the field of electric vehicles, and that it will remain for some time.” Alderman Abdeluheb Choho of Sustainability said. “Electric transport makes for cleaner and therefore healthier air for everyone in Amsterdam. By now giving the command to extend the charging network further, everyone must be able to drive electric by 2025.”

In the past five years Amsterdam has been placing public charging points for electric cars based on demand. The Amsterdam charging network has now grown to more than 1,300 charging stations where nearly 1.5 million clean kilometers are charged by 5 thousand unique users on a monthly basis. A quarter of all Dutch electric drivers have charged their cars on the Amsterdam network at least once.

This extension of the Amsterdam electric car charging station network forms part of the Agenda Sustainable Amsterdam, which was unanimously accepted by the City Council on March 11th. The Amsterdam college wants to accelerate the sustainability of the city. The city aims to have 20 percent more renewable energy and 20 percent less energy consumption in Amsterdam by 2020. Concrete plans to achieve this includes accelerating the connection of existing homes to district heating, further promoting electric vehicles, smart distribution and the expansion of the environmental zone.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Germany: VW to install 12,000 charge stations Over the past five years, the United States has developed a rather extensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure that includes tens of thousands of public and private charging stations, many for little or no cost. But not every country has been as proactive as the US in creating a viable charging network, with nations like Germany woefully far behind the curve.

Native automaker Volkswagen wants to change that with the installation of some 12,000 EV charging stations at the company’s facilities across the Fatherland, reports Green Car Congress. This investment means that some 10% of Volkswagen’s 120,000 corporate parking spots will offer employees the chance to plug in. While 12,000 charging points may not seem all that impressive, across the entirety of Germany there are a mere 4,800 publicly-accessible Level 2 charging stations, and just 100 DC fast-charging stations.

That’s a paltry number for a nation that has an estimated 43 million registered vehicles on its roads (of which about 20% wear a Volkswagen badge). Plug-in car sales remain low as a result, leaving it up to automakers themselves to support buyers and build the necessary infrastructure. Here in the US, Volkswagen has partnered with ChargePoint to build a more extensive charging network, but it looks like in Germany the automaker is going it alone.

Volkswagen has been rather gung-ho on electric vehicles ever since the launch of the e-Golf, and there are dozens more plug-in Vdubs on the way. But while countries like the US and even China are investing heavily into promoting plug-in cars and offering ample places to plug in, Germany has been slow to offer the same kinds of financial and convenience incentives. If Volkswagen wants plug-in cars to make up a big part of German sales, it may have to build a charging network from the inside-out to make up for the lack of government support.

Norway Post to add 330 electric vehicles to fleet Norway Post has invested in 300 new electric vehicles to reduce the carbon emissions in its mail delivery operations.

The company said the order was one of the “world’s largest single purchases” of electric cars.

Renault will be the main supplier for the vehicles, with Nissan providing a smaller number of electric cars.

The vehicles will be introduced over the course of the next year across the country as part of an “extensive” programme to cut climate change-causing emissions.

Norway Post said it was deploying “environmentally-friendly” vehicles in the parts of its business where they have been proven to be viable, both operationally and financially.

The vehicles will mainly be used in densely populated areas for mid-length delivery rounds.

“Significant results”

Dag Mejdell, the Norway Post chief executive who recently won the Industry Leadership award at this year’s World Mail Awards, said the vehicle purchase represented a “milestone” for his company’s environmental work.

“Posten Norge is one of the Nordic region’s biggest transport operators and our CO2 emissions are quite large,” he said.

“We are now seeing the rather significant results from the measures we have implemented. The purchase of new electric cars is one of the major contributors to us meeting our environmental targets.”

Norway Post said it now has more than 900 electric vehicles and trailers working in its mail distribution operations, used for various length of routes and topographical areas.

“We also use environmentally friendly fuel in 200 of our larger cars and we only buy new vehicles that live up to the leading environmental standards. Our investment in environmentally friendly logistics and mail distribution extends beyond the purchase of electric cars,” Mejdell added.

BMW Light & Charge: UK system plans to charge electric cars with retrofitted street lights BMW wants to install charging points for electric cars on street lamps along road sides and in car parks across the UK.

The plan, demonstrated at the company's Mini facility in Oxford, is a simple solution to the lack of electric vehicle charging points compared to petrol stations. This contributes to 'range anxiety' - the fear of running out of electricity before reaching one of the few charging stations dotted across the country.

BMW claims the system, called Light & Charge, will let cities "significantly reduce" their energy consumption by using LED lights and provide a cost-effective and simple way for local authorities to offer electric car charging without installing the cabling required for separate charging stations.

There are currently around 8,500 electric vehicle chargers in the UK at 3,200 stations. By comparison, there are more than 8,500 petrol stations, each with many refuelling points.

BMW produces two electric cars; the i8 is a hybrid combining a petrol engine with an electric motor, which can either be charged by the engine and energy harvesting from the braking system, or through a charger. The i3 is available with the same system, and also as a fully electric car which would benefit from the Light & Charge system. Neither car's charging system is proprietary, so they can be used with any public charger.

The BMW Light & Charge project was described as "a neat solution" by Oxfordshire County Council, although it isn't yet know if the system will be installed and made available to the public.

Frank Bachmann, managing director of the Mini plant in Oxford, said Light & Charge is "a simple and innovative solution which aims to integrate a charging station network into the urban landscape and this is essential if we want to see more electric vehicles on the road in our cities in the future."

The news comes in the same week that Tesla announced it would be expanding its UK network of Superchargers, which recharge its Model S electric cars in around an hour, providing them with enough power for around 250 to 300 miles of driving. There are now 68 Superchargers spread across 22 stations in the UK. Tesla claims its customers can now drive from Edinburgh to Venice using the charging network.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

PARIS (Reuters) -- PSA/Peugeot-Citroen will build the Bollore Bluesummer convertible electric car at its factory in Rennes, western France.

Production will begin in September with a maximum annual production of 3,500 vehicles, PSA said in a statement today.

PSA did not give details of when the car will go or sale or its pricing.

Vincent Bollore, who heads the Bollore industrial group that developed the Bluesummer, has previously talked about the vehicle as a "beach car" in the vein of Citroen Mehari.

Bollore told a French radio station today that the Bluesummer would cost less than 20,000 euros and it will be sold through Citroen dealerships.

Citroen CEO Linda Jackson told the Automotive News Europe Congress last week that the brand is considering reviving the Mehari lightweight utility car to help give the brand a “fun” image.

The four-seat Bluesummer has a range of 200km on a single charge.

The deal with PSA complements one signed by Bollore in 2014 with Renault to produce the Bluecar model at a Renault plant in Dieppe, northern France. Manufacturing started this month, replacing earlier production in the Italian city of Turin at car designer Pininfarina.

Bollore and Renault will also work together to carry out feasibility studies on a new model of electric car, something absent from the PSA deal.

The Bluesummer has a 200km range.

Bollore's Bluecar has become a common sight in Paris under the Autolib self-service electric car hire program, and similar systems have been launched in Lyon, Bordeaux, London and Indianapolis.

Bollore created the Bluecar to prove the efficacy of his group's solid-state LMP batteries. But other players in the auto industry are betting on a different technology known as lithium ion batteries.

A spokesman for Bollore said the group could seek to sign partnerships with additional carmakers outside France to expand production and availability of its electric cars.

Besides the Bluesummer production deal, PSA and Bollore will also seek to promote car-sharing schemes, first in Europe and then by creating a worldwide joint venture. These would use electric vehicles and low-emission traditional vehicles.

UK: 2/3 British drivers aspire to an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle for social status Two thirds of British drivers aspire to own an ultra-low-emission vehicle to win a moral victory over friends and neighbours, according to a new government-backed study.

The Go Ultra Low survey found that 67% of those questioned wanted to own high-tech electric and hybrid vehicles to score "social points" in the faces of their peers.

And it is people with the surname Jones who are among the guiltiest when it comes to "keeping up with the Joneses".

As many as 77% of Joneses admitted to wanting an ultra-low-emission vehicle (ULEV) for the sake of social one-upmanship compared with the national 67% average.

And 88% of Joneses think that the potentially huge running cost savings on offer from ULEVs is a "compelling" reason to buy.

Three quarters of drivers in the study said running costs were at the top of their list of priorities for choosing their next car.

Hetal Shah, head of Go Ultra Low, said: "Our research shows that, after purchase price, the top things motorists look for in a new car are affordable running costs, comfort, space and style.

"The huge variety of electric vehicles now on the market is changing motorists' concept of desirability, with the majority of consumers surveyed aspiring to the new breed of quiet, refined, technology-packed plug-in vehicles.

"We're confident that this year alone we'll see thousands more motorists up and down Britain plugging-in to this growing trend."

Tesla Model III range confirmed as 250 miles and $35,000 / £22,380 Elon Musk confirmed that the Tesla Model III will be able to cover at least 250 miles on a single charge, marking an improvement on the previously stated figure of 200 miles.

The compact sedan also fares well against the companies more expensive vehicles. The Model S can travel for 253 miles on a single charge, while the Roadster achieves 245 miles, but both cars will cost significantly more than the Model III, which will cost just $35,000 (£22,380) when it launches next year.

Currently, Tesla’s other models cost in excess of £50,000, but the company has been able to offer a lower priced car due to improvements in battery technology and improved charging infrastructure. In particular, Elon Musk has been keen to stress that charging stations are needed not only in residential areas, but also near places of work and popular travel destinations.

The lower price is expected to be a huge selling point for Tesla, particularly as price has long been the main barrier to mass adoption of electric vehicles. The Model III will also be cheaper than competitors like the Chevrolet Bolt, which has a price tag of $38,000.

Before the Model III goes on sale, Tesla will able to determine the chances of an electric vehicle achieving mainstream success with the launch of its Model X automobile. The Model X will begin shipping in three to four months’ time and provides buyers with 230 miles on a single charge and costs $80,000.

Providing environmentally friendly vehicles is a huge aim for a number of different companies, including long-established automobile firms like BMW, Mercedes Benz and Nissan. However, there is some disagreement over which technology will prove successful in the long term. While some businesses are focusing their efforts on hydrogen fuel cell technology, Elon Musk and his company believe that the process of extracting energy from hydrogen is overly expensive.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

By 2022, All BMWs Will Be Electric Autocar put out a report on BMW’s future electrification plans. The report states:

“BMW is getting ready to embark on a radical engineering and technology drive which could see all future models from the 3-series upwards, including the Rolls-Royce range, become all-wheel-drive range-extender electric cars.”

“In will come bodies made from a mix of steel, aluminium and composites and powertrains that use electric motors as the primary drive source, backed up by a large battery pack and a fundamentally rethought internal combustion engine family that spends much of its time acting as a generator and running at peak efficiency.”

Additional changes will be made to improve aerodynamics and reduce rolling resistance, all in an effort to improve efficiency and range.

The report essentially concludes that from 2022 on (2022 is the year that new versions of all BMWs will be on the roads), all BMW offerings (excluding Mini and the BMW 1 Series) will be plug-in hybrids or electric and most will be AWD EREVs. And yes, the switch is largely due to emissions regulations:

“BMW’s ‘big car’ sales — not including the 1-series and the Mini family — amount to about 75 per cent of its output. This means getting the CO2 emissions of the mainstream 3-series, 4-series and 5-series models down to 50g/km (on the current test regime) or even lower.

So the adoption of some kind of plug-in hybrid powertrain — the sort that will appear in the 3-series eDrive in 2016 — will be necessary for all of BMW’s larger cars over the next decade. The downsides of today’s plug-in hybrid technology are weight, the need to make space for a battery and the high cost.

BMW’s plan to make all of its cars from the 3-series upwards plug-in hybrids has forced the company’s engineers to rethink the make-up of its cars from first principles.”

The plug-in hybrid setup that BMW will largely turn to is scalable, meaning that it can be applied with minor changes to most all BMW models:

“This new hybrid powertrain is described by BMW as being “scalable from the 3-series to a V12 Rolls-Royce”. It uses two electric motors, one on the rear axle and one mounted directly behind the engine.

A large battery occupies the centre tunnel and some of the space usually occupied by the fuel tank. The front-mounted engine acts as a generator in most driving situations, creating electricity to help drive the electric motors. The front electric motor is key to the new powertrain.

In normal use, it drives the front wheels via a still-secret new type of transmission. At speeds above 50mph or so, the engine ‘assists’ the electric motor by attaching itself to the new transmission and helping to drive the front wheels at motorway speeds.

BMW won’t reveal the details of this new combined electric motor and transmission system, but company engineers told Autocar that the combustion engine would probably be driving the front wheels only about 10 per cent of the time in a typical journey.”

You’ll find loads of additional information on the operation of this powertrain and on BMW’s future electric plans by clicking the source link below. Autocar’s article is extremely detailed and includes lots of insider information.

France's Peugeot teams up with Bollore on electric cars French car maker PSA Peugeot-Citroen is teaming up with Bollore SA to jointly produce and sell electric cars, as well as promote car-sharing schemes worldwide.

PSA Peugeot-Citroen will manufacture Bollore's Bluesummer convertible, four-door electric car at its Rennes factory in western France and also sell it in their showrooms, the companies said on Wednesday.

Production will begin in September, with a maximum of 3,500 vehicles to be made per year.

The companies will also seek to promote car-sharing schemes, first in Europe and then by creating a worldwide joint venture. These would use electric vehicles and low-emission traditional vehicles.

The deal with Peugeot complements one signed by Bollore in September 2014 with Renault to produce the Bluecar model at a plant in Dieppe, northern France. Manufacturing started this month, replacing earlier production in the Italian city of Turin at car designer Pininfarina.

Bollore and Renault will also work together to carry out feasibility studies on a new model of electric car, something absent from the Peugeot deal.

Bollore's Bluecar has become a common sight in Paris under the "Autolib" self-service electric car hire programme, and similar systems have been launched in Lyon, Bordeaux, London and Indianapolis.

Vincent Bollore, the 63-year old Breton billionaire, created the Bluecar to prove the efficacy of his group's solid-state LMP batteries. But other players in the auto industry are betting on a different technology known as lithium ion batteries.

A spokesman for Bollore said the group could seek to sign partnerships with additional car makers outside France to expand production and availability of its electric cars.

‘London could have 400 electric cabs by next year’

Revolution: Electric cars at a charging point in London Hundreds of electric minicabs could be operating in London within a year, the boss of a green fleet said today.

Alistair Clarke, founder of eConnect, is planning to increase the number of Nissan Leafs run by his company from 18 to 30 by autumn.

“Since the start of this year, we have done 45,000 emission-free passenger miles, saving nearly 200,000kg of CO2,” he said. “We are in effect doing today what many are saying would not be possible, even by 2018. This time next year, I think we will see at least 300 to 400 pure electric cabs in London.”

The cabs can use a rapid charger located off Edgware Road to get their battery close to full in 15 minutes. There is also one at the eConnect office in Canary Wharf, which takes three to four hours for a full charge.

With the charging infrastructure improving in London, Mr Clarke, 42, is recruiting more drivers and expects other firms to increase the number of electric minicabs in their fleets as well.

His company has carried 20,000 zero-emission fares — mainly for businesses — since setting up in the capital. He believes it could be taking on many more individual customers once the fleet reaches 50 to 60 cars.

Customers can already hire Tesla Model S vehicles through the firm.

The Standard is running a series of reports on how greentechnology can help curb air pollution, which scientists say causes thousands of Londoners to die prematurely every year.

On June 30 it will host a debate on technological fixes for the capital’s environmental challenges, chaired by Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark and sponsored by energy efficiency group Engie.

Mayor Boris Johnon is under pressure to do more to tackle air pollution. He highlights an ultra low emission zone due to be introduced in 2020. French firm Bolloré — behind the Autolib electric car-share scheme in Paris — has plans for thousands of battery-powered cars in London by 2018.

Report: 13 million charging stations by 2020 Electric vehicle charging stations around the globe will number almost 13 million by the end of 2020, a fast ramp up from the 1 million available last year, according to research from IHS. 

The firm expects the global market for both pure electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will grow significantly over the next five years, but said that charging infrastructure will be key to widespread adoption. 

According to the IHS report, about 10% of EV charging stations will be public by 2020, although they will lean heavily towards less-expensive and slower AC charging technology.

Charging infrastructure has long been identified as key to widespread adoption of electric vehicles, and new research from IHS finds the expansion is underway. By 2020 the firm expects more than 12.7 million stations around the world, though the bulk of them will be in residences.

"Deployments of EV charging stations are critical to enable a widespread adoption of electric plug-in vehicles,” Ben Scott, senior analyst at IHS Automotive, said in a statement. “Most charging stations are expected to be installed in domestic applications, such as a dedicated wall box or simply a charging cord plugged into a household power source."

That could mean a big business opportunity for utilities that move quickly into the charging space. Electric vehicles not only provide power companies with a new source of electricity demand, but utilities could also hypothetically use thousands of car batteries connected to the grid to manage demand during peak hours. At a recent utility industry conference, Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted that electric demand could double or more as a result of increased EV adoption.

Of the two main types of charging stations, AC charging is expected to be the more prevalent because of the higher costs of DC charging, which supplies current directly to the vehicle battery. An AC charger will add up to 15 miles of range for a 30 minute charge; a DC charger, however, will add up to 80 miles in the same time.

“AC charging stations are the dominant type of plug-in vehicle charging type, and we expect AC charging to retain its position long-term,” said Scott. “AC charging is also an inexpensive and convenient way of charging requiring much smaller upgrades of the electricity grid, whereas DC charging is best suited for ‘en route’ charging.”

Charging station deployments range greatly in price, IHS noted, from $395 USD for a residential system to more than $35,000 for a DC charging station, not including installation costs that could add $10,000 depending on location and accessibility.

Japan and Europe lead the infrastructure expansion globally; in Europe the report finds the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Norway currently have the most stations. “We recognize the potential of Germany and France,” said Scott. “They are the ‘sleeping giants’ of e-mobility, but their EV charging station networks are currently underdeveloped with respect to the size of those countries.”

Germany may increase support for electric cars

BERLIN (Reuters) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government is examining further support to help bring one million electric cars onto German roads by the end of the decade and aims to make a decision by the end of the year.

Germany has so far refused to provide generous sales incentives for EVs and the government's measures taken to date include tax breaks for owners of emission-free cars and about 1.5 billion euros ($1.69 billion) of funds for related research projects.

European countries such as Norway and the Netherlands have created incentives to spur customer demand for EVs which in Germany continues to suffer from high costs, poor recharging infrastructure and falling oil prices.

"Germany will have no choice but to offer further support (for EVs) although we've already done some things," Merkel told a conference to promote electric car technology on Monday in Berlin. "We will once again study all the instruments of support that are also available internationally," she said.

Once promoted as a technology that would crowd out conventionally-powered cars, sales of EVs continue to fall short of expectations. A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers on Monday showed drivers need financial incentives to help pay the extra costs of buying EVs, whose sales in Germany were about 19,000 last year.

Emission targets

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said industry representatives again told Merkel on Monday that European Union demands to cut average vehicle fleet emissions to 95 grams per km by 2021 cannot be met without a "considerable" share of EVs in overall auto sales.

The government should consider temporary start-up funding of EV sales to help get demand off the ground, Zetsche said. An industry official also called for special write-downs on electric company cars.

"We need some of the tools as accompanying measures by the government if we want to have a chance to achieve the 1 million (sales) goal," Zetsche said.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Is BMW planning an all-electric SUV to rival the Tesla Model X?

Ever since the BMW i3 and i8 electric cars arrived last year, there has been a lot of speculation about what other models BMW could introduce to the electric i-sub brand. There have been several reports about a model dubbed the i5 that could compete with the Tesla Model S, but now a new report claims that the third “i” model could actually be an electric SUV. A report out of Germany claims that BMW is currently mulling the idea of introducing a fully electric SUV that would go head-to-head with the upcoming Tesla Model S. BMW is probably being forced to look at the idea of an electric SUV due to the fact that Tesla has already reportedly received 20,000 pre orders for the Model X. Audi has also recently confirmed plans to introduce an electric SUV, which will be called the Q6.

BMW hasn’t confirmed any of the reports about an i5 or an electric SUV for the i-sub brand, but BMW has announced that a third “i” model won’t arrive during this decade. For now BMW seems mostly focused on expanding its plug-in hybrid lineup with plug-in versions of almost every model, including the X5 SUV.

Tesla: Battery swapping is dead? At the Tesla shareholder’s meeting, CEO Elon Musk responded to a question on the status of Tesla battery swapping. His response seems to indicate that battery swapping is dead (or extremely unpopular, at least), as Tesla Model S owners prefer Supercharging.

Here’s his response in its entirety:

“We have the LA-to-San Francisco pack swap capability in place, and I believe all Model S owners in the California area have been invited at this point to try it out. And what we’re seeing is a very low take rate for the pack swap station. So we did an initial round of invitations, where we did basically like 200 invitations, and I think there were a total of four or five people that wanted to do that, and they all did it just once. So, okay, it’s clearly not very popular. And then we said, okay, let’s expand that invitation to all customers, but I would expect that all customers roughly behave like that initial sample group.

It’s just, people don’t care about pack swap. The Superchargers are fast enough that if you’re driving from LA to San Francisco, and you start a trip at 9AM, by the time you get to, say, noon, you want to stop, and you want to stretch your legs, hit the restroom, grab a bite to eat, grab a coffee, and be on your way, and by that time, the car is charged and ready to go, and it’s free. So, it’s like, why would you do the pack swap? It doesn’t make much sense.

We built the pack swap into the car because we weren’t sure if people would want to choose the pack swap or not. We thought people would prefer Supercharging, but we weren’t sure, so that’s why we built the pack swap capability in. And based on what we’re seeing here, it’s unlikely to be something that’s worth expanding in the future, unless something changes.

For the Superchargers, as we said in the initial press release, the Superchargers are free. It’s basically free long distance for life, forever. So free long distance forever is what the Superchargers are providing. Now, there are a few people who are quite aggressively using it for local Supercharging, and we will sort of send them just a reminder note that it’s cool to do this occasionally, but it’s meant to be a long-distance thing. But it is free long distance forever, and it’s basically built into the cost of the car. And based on what we’re seeing in terms of the economics, it looks quite supportable.”

Electric Cars Buyers Are Young & Rich

Fiat 500e

2015 Ford Focus Electric Recently, took at stab at discovering who buys electric cars. The findings are intriguing.

What TrueCar did is examine the profiles of buyers of two compact cars that are offering in both ICE and pure electric form: Ford Focus and Fiat 500.

The results, according to TrueCar president John Karfcik, are rather surprising. As USA Today writes:

For the conventional Focus, buyers average age 46 and have household income of $77,000 a year. The average Focus Electric buyer is age 43 with household income of $199,000, says TrueCar President John Krafcik.

Among the conventional buyers, half said they bought a Focus because of a lucrative price and rebates. But when it came to the electric, that figure jumped to 82%.

The same dynamic was at work with the Fiat 500 vs. its electric version, the 500e. Buyers of the conventional version come in at an average of age 47 with $73,000 in household income. The electric attracts buyers average age 45 and $145,000 income. Fewer, some 52%, were lured by the deal, compared to 67% for the electric.

Krafcik stated:

“These [electric car buyers] are really affluent folks.”

Surprised by the findings?