Trucking is big business. UPS , DHL and FexEx are all playing with electric trucks, as are Mercedes and Cummings. Whilst current volumes are small the rate of growth is expected to ramp up significantly.
UPS, the king of commercial fleets, has been testing electric trucks for several years. Workhorse, one of several companies supplying e-trucks to Big Brown, has seen each successive order grow bigger, from 2 units to 18 to 125 to an order for 200 announced in October 2016.
When DHL decided in 2013 that it wanted to upgrade its fleet to electric powertrains, it couldn’t find a suitable vehicle or an OEM willing to develop one. So, in cooperation with a university spin-out called StreetScooter, it developed its own EV. By the end of 2017, over 4,000 will be in service.
With Tesla set to announce an EV semi on October 26th the race for Electric Trucks is underway. The question is no longer whether trucks will electrify, but when.
A new article from McKinsey Energy Insights reports that the electrification of the freight sector is moving faster than expected. In “What’s sparking electric vehicle adoption in the truck industry?” the authors predict that e-trucks could account for 15% of global truck sales by 2030, and as much as 25-35% in favorable segments such as urban light-duty trucks in China and Europe.
According to McKinsey, three main factors will drive the adoption of e-trucks: cost parity with diesel alternatives; readiness for electrification, which includes the availability of models on the market and supporting infrastructure; and local and national regulations.
The authors examined 27 segments of the truck market, and concluded that the majority of commercial vehicles can reach cost parity with legacy diesel trucks within the next 10 years, assuming that battery cost and power density continue to improve. The most cost-effective application is likely to be light-duty trucks that drive between 100 and 200 kilometers per day. This segment is expected to reach cost parity by 2021 – in fact, in some markets parity has already been reached.
Even once cost parity is attained, a large-scale switch to e-trucks will require a sufficient number of models on the market and adequate charging infrastructure. McKinsey sees the supply of e-trucks as a likely bottleneck for the next few years. When it comes to charging infrastructure, early adopters will mainly charge their fleets overnight at their own depots. However, once e-trucks become more mainstream, supercharging infrastructure is expected to be rolled out at distribution centers and along major highways.
Regulation could further speed the proliferation of e-trucks. Governments are tightening emissions targets for carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. There are already over 200 cities with emission and access regulation zones, and major cities including Madrid, Paris and Mexico City are announcing diesel bans.
The adoption of e-trucks could have a significant impact on energy markets. Trucks represent only around 5% of the global vehicle stock, but they make up more than 20% of fuel demand, due to their high fuel consumption and mileage. Trucks account for a third of global diesel demand.
However, it may take some time for the impact of electrification to be felt, because the majority of diesel is consumed in the heavy truck segment, which is expected to be the last to electrify.
As recently mentioned this weeks Economist is a must read for anyone interested in the Electric Car market and the transition to a more electric world.
The Briefing in the UK print edition is called: Electrifying everything
After electric cars, what more will it take for batteries to change the face of energy?
The article desrcibes how the Nissan plant in Sunderland churns our Qashqais and the occasional Leaf.
Though Leafs are the world’s biggest-selling electric vehicle, the Sunderland plant, Britain’s biggest car factory, only made 17,500 of them last year. It made 310,000 Qashqais. And the Qashqais, unlike the Leafs, were profitable. Nissan has so far lost money on every Leaf it has made.
It goes on to say that the EV market with annual sales of 750,000 units last year represents less that 1% of the new car market. The GM bolt along with the Tesla Model 3 and the coming new Nissan Leaf will add significantly to the EV sales numbers.
Many forecasters reckon that the lifetime costs of owning and driving an electric car will be comparable to those for a fuel burner within a few years, leading sales of the electric cars to soar in the 2020s and to claim the majority sometime during the 2030s. China, which accounted for roughly half the electric vehicles sold last year, wants to see 2m electric and plug-in hybrid cars on its roads by 2020, and 7m within a decade. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), a consultancy, notes that forecasts from oil companies have a lot more electric vehicles in them than they did a few years ago; OPEC now expects 266m such vehicles to be on the street by 2040. Britain and France have both said that, by that time, new cars completely reliant on internal combustion engines will be illegal.
Battery technology is discussed in detail and explains the first lithium-ion power consumer device was the humble Sony CCD-TR1 camcorder 26 years ago. Since then the demand for lithium-ion power packs has skyrocketed. Last year consumer products accounted for the production of lithium-ion batteries with a total storage capacity of about 45 gigawatt-hours (GWh).
In the same year production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles reached just over half that capacity: 25GWh. But Sam Jaffe of Cairn ERA, a battery consultancy, expects demand for vehicle batteries to overtake that from consumer electronics as early as next year, marking a pivotal moment for the industry. Huge expansion is under way. The top five manufacturers—Japan’s Panasonic, South Korea’s LG Chem and Samsung SDI, and China’s BYD and CATL—are ramping up capital expenditure with a view to almost tripling capacity by 2020. The vast $5bn gigafactory Tesla is building with Panasonic in Nevada is thought to already be producing about 4GWh a year. Tesla says it will produce 35GWh in 2018. Just four years ago, that would have been enough for all applications across the whole world.
All the big producers are adding capacity in part because it drives down unit costs, as the past few years have shown (see chart 3). Lithium-ion cells (the basic components of batteries) cost over $1,000 a kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2010; last year they were in the $130-200 range. GM says it is paying $145 per kWh to LG Chem for the cells that make up the 60kWh battery for the Bolt (the pack, thanks to labour, materials and electronics, costs more than the sum of its cells). Tesla says that cells for the Model 3 are cheaper. Lower costs are not the only improvements; large amounts of R&D investment have led to better power density (more storage per kilogram) and better durability (more discharge-then-recharge cycles).
There are, though, other valuable metals in the picture. Making more batteries means acquiring more lithium, as well as various other metals, including cobalt, for the cathodes. These make up about 60% of the cost of a cell. Being assured of a constant supply of them is as much a strategic consideration for battery-makers as mastering electrochemistry. Since 2015 lithium prices have quadrupled, says Simon Moores of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a consultancy. Cobalt’s price has more than doubled over the same period; prices of chemicals containing nickel, also used in cathodes, are rising too.
Until now, the mainstay has been a cylindrical cell called the 18650, which looks like a rifle shell. It is 65 millimetres long, 18mm in diameter and has an energy density of perhaps 250 watt-hours per kilogram. (The energy density of petrol, for comparison, is about 50 times greater; but the cell can store that much energy hundreds or thousands of times.) Tesla and Panasonic have now developed the 2170, a bit longer and wider; Mr Musk says it will be the most energy-dense battery on the market. The company says that the cost of driving a Model 3, released in late July to rave reviews, will be half that of any of its previous vehicles.
For Tesla and other big battery-makers grid-storage projects are the most attractive part of the electricity market; they offer contracts that use up otherwise surplus capacity in satisfying large job lots. But there is also demand for batteries to go “behind the meter”. Tesla serves this market with its Powerwall domestic battery pack, designed to complement the solar panels and solar tiles it offers. Nissan, too, is looking at behind-the-meter applications. It is working with Eaton, an American power-management company, to put “second-life”, or partially used, Leaf batteries into packs that can provide businesses and factories with back-up power, thus replacing polluting diesel generators. The first big customer is the Amsterdam Arena, home to AFC Ajax, a football club.
Well worth a read when stuck for hours trying to clear immigration after flying to Madrid.
Driving an EV benefits from knowledge of where to charge. This makes any journey planning easier and reduces time and stress and goes a long way to remove the Range Anxiety that impacts EV usage.
Zap-Map, the UK’s leading electric vehicle (EV) charging platform has just released version 3.0 of its app that now includes real-time data for around 75% of London charge points, 45% of charge points in England and Wales and 80% of Northern Ireland charge points. This will make owning and using an electric car easier as drivers will be able to see whether a point is available or in use.
Zap-Map has integrated live data from Source London, ESB ecars and ecarNI (both operated by ESB Group) networks to add to the live updates already available from POLAR and GeniePoint networks.
The new app (now available on iOS, already available on Android) has also expanded internationally to include the Republic of Ireland enabling EV drivers there to be able to locate, navigate to and update charging point data.
The app’s improved feature set focuses on the community area with Zap-Map user’s now being able to report a charging bay as ‘ICEd’ (blocked by an Internal Combustion Engine vehicle), add and view enhanced status updates, extended account functions and new café area for users to ask Zap-Map or other EV drivers’ general questions.
On the release of Zap-Map 3.0 incorporating the Source London and ESB live data, Melanie Shufflebotham, Director at Zap-Map said:
“With electric cars moving into the mainstream, it is essential that EV drivers have the tools and information they need to plan their electric journeys, and we are delighted to release our new app with more live network data for EV drivers in London, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.
We will continue to develop the best possible tools for EV drivers on the move with new features and more live data planned for later this year”.
Gareth Davis, Head of ecars at ESB commented: ‘We are delighted that information on our extensive network of charge points in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be available on Zap-Map and will allow EV drivers to easily access information on charge point locations and availability. This information is essential for EV drivers wishing to plan their journey and ensure they have charging facilities on route.’
Christophe Arnaud, Managing Director of Source London, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with Zap-Map as it will enable EV users to be updated with live information on the status of our charging points. The app is incredibly simple to use and allows EV drivers to view the locations and availability of our charging points with ease. We hope that giving users the visibility of the whole network will encourage and accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles throughout London.”
The release of the new features and expansion of dynamic network information maintains Zap-Map’s position as the UK’s number one EV charging platform, covering all charging networks and providing EV drivers with key charge point information in a single portal. Zap-Map attracts over 45,000 users per month from an EV fleet of around 110,000 vehicles and rising rapidly.
It has been one week since the Tesla Model 3 was delivered to the first 30 customers. This is what we have learnt from the launch, press comments and Tesla’s Q2 earning call.
Safety is key: The pitch last week started with a comparison with Volvo who are judged to make super safe cars. The Model 3 will be safe.
All Teslas have the hardware ability for full Autopilot. Elon Musk said that all Tesla Model 3s will have Autopilot hardware as standard – and all the safety features that come with it. Sure, you may not get full Level 5 auto drive yet, but you will get things such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane keeping and automatic preventative steering (Autosteer) – which is seriously impressive at this price. And because the Model 3 comes with all the sensors and lasers you need for Autopilot as standard, you can always get the matching software at a later date. It’ll probably cost you around £2,600, but having the option to upgrade your entry-level Tesla is a real bonus.
Single screen interior. All Teslas are known for their futuristic interiors as much as their innovative propulsion, and it’s great to see the Model 3 continue or even better the trend. The screen inside the Model 3 doesn’t seem to be as big, and it’s in a landscape position – but that’s because it’s taking the place of the car’s dials. That’s right, there’s nothing in front of the steering wheel. The Model 3 doesn’t even have a speedometer. Instead, you’ll find the speed on the top left of the touchscreen (on a left-hand drive car, of course).
There are two Model 3 cars. Tesla have wisely ditched the battery size as a mark of the car and switched to range. I think this is wise as KW and KWH are not that easy to understand and can’t be directly compared between models. Just as a BMW 2L engine is not the same as a Nissan 2L engine. You can or more to the point chose from the standard model with 220 miles of range to the Long Range Version with 310 miles. Other specs include:
- Starting at $35,000
- Range of 220 miles
- 0 to 60 mph acceleration in 5.6 seconds
- Top speed of 130 mph
Long Range Battery
- Starting at $44,000
- Range of 310 miles
- 0 to 60 mph acceleration in 5.1 seconds
- Top speed of 140 mph
Full specs below:
The S curve. Musk explained a number of times that production will follow the exponential S curve routine. July 30 cars. August 100 cars and September 1,500 cars. By year-end production will ramp to 5,000 per week or a rate of 40,000 / month. By end of 2018 that will double again to 10,000 week. Musk called this production hell. You can see why.
Price: The base price may be $35,000 but the initial cars will be priced way above this level. The base car will be available in November. Until then you will only be offered the longer range car for $44,000 with the a small number of options. The key option being the Luxury Pack for $5,000. You can also add larger wheels and a number of paint options. For now the $35K car will cost you $48K. You can see the logic. It makes manufacturing much easier with less configurations and boosts average selling price in order to drive revenue.
One big question is what’s it like inside. Now we know. A single screen – landscape and not as large as the Model S’s display. Most reports seem very positive.
During a press briefing on Friday, Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla’s Chief Designer,
“The interior is the most innovative part of the design. We took away everything that is not necessary. What we delivered on the interior is unlike any other car out there. It will age gracefully.”
Straight lines never really go out of style, which is where the model 3’s unique dashboard comes into play. Instrument clusters, buttons, and air conditioning vents are vulnerable to design changes. By removing the instrument cluster, placing all the controls on the steering wheel and a central touchscreen, and replacing vents with a single one running the entire length of the dash, Tesla is removing those vulnerabilities.
International left hand drive sales will commence in mid 2018 and right hand drive only in 2019. We will have a long wait in the UK.
All wheel drive will boost performance and range will not be available for some time, most likely Spring 2018.
The wait list has grown to over 500,000. That’s given Tesla $500M to play with and represents a sales value of over $20B. Elon confirmed a number have cancelled but the new number is growing at 1,800 per day.
More news on charging and real world range as we discover the facts.
Model 3 specifications:
Price – $35,000
- Range: 220 miles (EPA estimated)
- Supercharging rate: 130 miles of range per 30 minutes
- Home charging rate: 30 miles of range per hour (240V outlet, 32A)
- Deliveries begin: Fall 2017
- 0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
- Top speed: 130 mph
- 15” touchscreen display
- Dual zone climate control system
- FM/Internet streaming radio
- Textile seating
- Front Center console with open storage and two USB ports
- Onboard maps and navigation
- Wi-Fi and LTE internet connectivity
- Keyless entry and remote climate control using the Tesla app
- Voice activated controls
- Bluetooth hands-free calling and media streaming
- 60/40 split folding rear seat to maximize cargo options
- Back-up camera
- Auto dimming rear-view mirror
- One-touch power windows throughout
- Power-adjustable side mirrors
- 12-volt power outlet
- Full LED exterior lighting
- Seven cameras, forward radar and twelve ultrasonic sensors enabling active safety technologies including collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking
- Six front row and two side curtain airbags
- Three-point safety belts with belt-reminders for driver and four passengers
- Two LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) attachments in second row
- Electronic stability and traction control
- Four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic parking brake
- Child safety locks
- Anti-theft alarm system
- Tire pressure monitoring system
- Vehicle: 4 year, 50,000 mile limited warranty
- Battery warranty: 8 year, 100,000 mile (120,000 mile with Long Range Battery)
Long Range Battery – $9,000
- Range: 310 miles
- Supercharging rate: 170 miles of range per 30 minutes
- Home charging rate: 37 miles of range per hour (240V outlet, 40A)
- 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
- Top speed: 140 mph
- Deliveries begin: July 2017
- Solid Black: Standard
- Midnight Silver Metallic: $1,000
- Deep Blue Metallic: $1,000
- Silver Metallic: $1,000
- Pearl White Multi-Coat: $1,000
- Red Multi-Coat: $1,000
- 18” Aero: Standard
- 19” Sport: $1,500
Premium Upgrades Package – $5,000 Upgraded interior with additional features and premium materials.
- Premium heated seating and cabin materials throughout, including open pore wood décor and two rear USBs
- 12-way, power adjustable front seats, steering column and side mirrors, with custom driver profiles
- Premium audio system with more power, tweeters, surround speakers and subwoofer
- Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
- Auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
- LED fog lamps
- Center console with covered storage and docking for two smartphones
Enhanced Autopilot – $5,000 Model 3 will match speed to traffic conditions, keep within a lane, automatically change lanes, transition from one freeway to another, exit the freeway and self-park at your destination.
Additional features will roll out over time through software updates.
Full Self-Driving Capability – $3,000 (requires Enhanced Autopilot) In the future, Model 3 will be capable of conducting trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat.
This feature is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary by jurisdiction.
Dimensions & Weight
- Length: 184.8”
- Width: 76.1” (72.8” with mirrors folded)
- Height: 56.8”
- Wheelbase: 113.2”
- Track (wheel center): 62.2” front and rear
- Ground clearance: 5.5”
- Head room, standard: 39.6” front row, 37.7” second row
- Head room, glass roof: 40.3” front row, 37.7” second row
- Leg room: 42.7” front row, 35.2” second row
- Shoulder room: 56.3” front row, 54.0” second row
- Hip room: 53.4” front row, 52.4” second row
- Seating capacity: 5 adults
- Luggage capacity: 15 cubic feet
- Curb weight:
- 3549 lbs. (Model 3)
- 3814 lbs. (Model 3 Long Range)
- Weight distribution:
- 47% front, 53% rear (Model 3)
- 48% front, 52% rear (Model 3 Long Range)
- Hybrid steel/aluminum body
- Drag coefficient of 0.23
- Double wishbone, virtual steer axis front suspension with coil over twin-tube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
- Independent multi-link rear suspension with twin-tube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
- Variable ratio, speed sensitive electronic power steering
- Electromechanically boosted four wheel anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution
- 18” Aero or 19” Sport wheels with all-season tires
- 240 volt NEMA 14-50 adapter
- 120 volt NEMA 5-15 adapter
- J1772 public charging adapter
- 20 foot mobile connector with storage bag
From today, electric vehicle (EV) drivers can visit Chargie (www.chargie.net) to book a charge at domestic chargepoints across the UK. Chargie is the world’s first dedicated and bookable peer-to-peer electric vehicle charging service, which will enable EV drivers to access the domestic, wall-mounted chargepoints of other electric vehicle owners signed-up to the service.
Opening for UK chargepoint registrations just two weeks ago (2 May), the service already has more than 60 chargepoints across the country. Chargepoint owners are steadily adding new locations to the map, with a relatively even distribution of chargers to suit different types of EV (‘Type 1’, ‘Type 2’ and ‘untethered’ chargepoints).
Richard, from Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria, is a homeowner who quickly embraced the Chargie idea. An EV enthusiast for environmental reasons, he has put two chargepoints on Chargie. “Think yourself into the position of a child in a buggy on a pavement. Think of exhaust pipes. Welcome the disappearance of ALL the damage that exhaust pipe does,” he says in his Chargie application. Richard lives at the finishing point of walks across Morecambe Bay and he can see how travellers could leave their car charging with him while they spend the day walking.
Though Chargie was designed to focus on home chargepoints, there has been an unexpectedly positive response from B&B and hotel owners, who see that having bookable charging at their locations will appeal to EV travellers either as a lunch stop or as a destination.
Investors can also see the potential of the Chargie service as the population of EVs grows and public charging points remain relatively scarce in many areas, creating ‘range anxiety’. The founders of Chargie have already received several approaches from potential investors in the last two weeks and are now in discussions about possible investment. Anxiety about emissions and public health is driving a remarkable level of market growth in EVs, more than 40% this year alone as awareness of the cars reaches the mainstream.
Chargie co-founder Jan Stannard said: “Chargie will start to change the way EV drivers think about charging options. At the moment, they think about ‘home’ charging and ‘pit-stop’ charging at a motorway or similar public chargepoint. With Chargie, they have ‘stop-off’ and ‘destination’ charging, with the advantage of a formalised booking system and a charge you can rely on while you shop, attend a meeting, or charge overnight when on holiday.”
The way Chargie works is simple, sharing several characteristics with Airbnb’s* web-based hospitality marketplace. The EV owner wanting to charge their car finds an exterior-wall-mounted chargepoint on the Chargie website and sends a booking request to the owner. The owner can then review the profile of the person making the booking before accepting or declining it. Once the booking is accepted, the user pays via Chargie and the system contacts both parties to confirm details.
The chargepoint owner specifies their per-charge cost when they register on Chargie and Chargie adds a small service fee, which is halved if the person has already put their own chargepoint on the network. Registration and search are free, and chargepoint owners can specify when their units are available.
Sounds like a sensible solution to accessing the growing home charger network in a peer to peer network sort of way.
VW inform us that the updated Golf GTE Plug In Hybrid is open for orders with a significant price realignment
The Gold GTE was a mighty expensive vehicle. The latest version is better value for money and offers a compelling mix of engaging GTI-style dynamics, responsible e-Golf-style sustainability and generous GTD-style range.
The updated Golf GTE is now available with a choice of two new trim levels. The entry-level Golf GTE is joined by the new GTE Advance in a range line-up that now mirrors that of the award-winning Passat GTE.
The hybrid powered five-door Golf, with both a 150 PS 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and a 102 PS (75Kw) electric motor for a system power output of 204 PS, unites economy and performance in a flexible and appealing package.
The total potential range of the Golf GTE is 514 miles and the GTE’s battery gives an all-electric range of 31 miles. This opens up the possibility of driving significant distances cross-country using the TSI petrol engine and then completing the journey into a town or city under zero emission full electric power.
Official performance figures for the 204 PS Golf GTE show it capable of covering the 0-62 mph sprint in 7.6 seconds with a top speed, where legal, of 138 mph. CO2 emissions are 38g/km for the GTE and 40g/km for the GTE Advance, while combined fuel economy is 166 mpg for the GTE and 157 mpg for the GTE Advance.
Sitting alongside the range of the Golf GTE is its ability to offer high performance driving when required. A press of the centre console-mounted GTE button combines spirited acceleration that comes via the instant torque of the electric motor working alongside the broad power of the turbocharged petrol engine.
Both the updated Golf GTE and Golf GTE Advance are equipped with a host of premium features such as full LED front and rear lights with sweeping indicators, Active Info Display, and Volkswagen Car-Net App Connect functionality.
The GTE Advance adds further luxuries such as 18-inch Marseille alloys, the updated Discover Navigation system, a Winter Pack including heated seats, 65 per cent tinted windows, a front centre armrest and exterior e-sound.
The GTE offers four operating modes: ‘E-Mode’, ‘GTE mode’, ‘Battery Charge’ and ‘Hybrid. In pure electric mode (activated at the press of a button), the Golf GTE can travel up to 31 miles emissions free. Electric power can also be saved – for example when driving to a zero-emissions zone. In electric mode, the GTE is capable of speeds of up to 81 mph.
The 8.7 kWh lithium-ion battery can be charged in 3.45 hours from a domestic mains outlet, or 2.15 hours from a Type 2 wallbox. The battery weighs 120 kg, giving a kerbweight of 1,615 kg.
The GTE also has an e-manager which allows the driver to preset vehicle charging, as well as interior cooling or heating. These functions can be operated remotely using the Car-Net app on a smartphone.
A full range of assistance and infotainment systems is also making its way into the Golf GTE. Thus the Volkswagen is available for the first time with Traffic Jam Assist (semi-autonomous driving up to 37 mph), the fully digital Active Info Display and the optional Discover Navigation Pro infotainment system including 9.2-inch display and gesture control.
Director of Volkswagen in the UK, Alison Jones, said:
The new Golf GTE – with its revised pricing and significantly enhanced appeal – perfectly represents Volkswagen’s ongoing commitment to offering accessible hybrid technology in an attractive and usable package.
We look forward to a drive in due course. The VW Golf requires a Type 2 charging cable.
Chargemaster to bring electric car ownership to life with the Milton Keynes EV centre
Chargemaster, the UK’s leading provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, has won the contract to set up and operate the EV Experience Centre, the UK’s first-ever shopping centre multi-brand showroom. Milton Keynes was awarded £9 million Go Ultra Low Cities funding in January 2016 to encourage the uptake of low emission vehicles and hit the target of 23% of all car sales being electric or plug-in by 2021.
The project is due to launch in Spring 2017 and will be situated within the city’s premier shopping centre.
The idea is that the EV centre will let residents understand the true potential of EV ownership. As well as showcasing the latest EVs and exciting technology, highly trained independent professionals will be on hand to answer visitors’ questions and refer them to relevant local dealerships or partner leasing companies. As an added bonus, Milton Keynes residents and businesses will also be able to test drive a range of vehicles on a short- or long-term basis.
Other initiatives in the Go Ultra Low Cities programme include a £2.3 million investment into additional Milton Keynes charging infrastructure. This will see Chargemaster supply its latest charging infrastructure to set up two filling-station-style EV rapid charging hubs and 50 destination chargers across the town. The introduction of free parking for ultra-low emission vehicles, as well trialling the latest developments in technology such as inductive charging, among other innovative projects to boost EV uptake.
Brian Matthews, Head of Transport Innovation at Milton Keynes, said: “Our commitment to making Milton Keynes a go-to destination and flagship Go Ultra Low city starts with our residents. We’re delighted to be working with Chargemaster on this project, and are confident that the team is best placed to champion the EV sector, considering their knowledge and experience of the industry.”
Seems like a good idea to bring the benefits of EV to large population and let them loose on the never-ending roundabouts of Milton Keynes. Look forward to news of the launch.
Upping the volts will make hybrid cars much cheaper: Interesting article from the Economist on car voltage systems.
VOLTAGE is to electricity what pressure is to water: the more you have of it the more oomph you get. That is why electrical power lines work at high voltage. In the 1950s carmakers needed extra oomph of this sort to start the powerful high-compression engines then being introduced, so they increased the voltage of their vehicles’ electrical systems from six to 12. Now voltages are going up again—to 48.
One reason is that cars are packed with more and more components, demanding more and more electrical power. A modern vehicle may have as many as 150 electric motors. But there is a second reason for the increase, too. Extra voltage lets engineers design cars in novel ways that boost engine output and efficiency. This can be used to make hybrids on the cheap (some people call them “mild hybrids”). These employ a combination of electric motors and combustion engines to cut both fuel consumption and polluting emissions.
The first production car to use 48 volts is the SQ7, a new luxury sports-utility vehicle made by Audi, a German firm, part of the Volkswagen Group. It is not a hybrid, but it employs an electrically driven 48-volt turbine to force extra air into the engine when a spurt of power is needed. This provides a faster response than a turbocharger, which is operated by the vehicle’s exhaust gases. The car also has a 48-volt active suspension. Again, this improves response time, permitting faster action from the electric motors that control how the vehicle rolls on corners.
The hybrid possibilities of high voltage are shown by an experimental Ford Focus being put through its paces by the Advanced Diesel-Electric Powertrain (ADEPT) consortium, in Britain. ADEPT, which includes Ford itself, Ricardo, an engineering consultancy, the University of Nottingham and others, uses 48 volts to power components ranging from the water pump to an electric turbine. One of the test vehicle’s most important features, though, is its water-cooled starter. Many cars use stop-start technology, which saves fuel by switching the engine off when the vehicle is stationary. To reignite as soon as the driver is ready to move off again requires a powerful, fast-acting starter. Twelve-volt starters can struggle, particularly when attached to heavier diesel engines.
Improving stop-start performance is, however, only part of the picture. During braking the starter can act as a generator to recover a vehicle’s kinetic energy—a crucial feature of hybrid technology. Here, 48-volt circuitry’s energy-handling oomph helps again. In this case it comes from a lead-carbon battery, which can charge and discharge faster than the lead-acid variety used for standard 12-volt systems. Both the Focus and the SQ7 use 12-volt systems as well, and so require two batteries (the Audi’s 48 volts come from a lithium-ion battery). Secondary 12-volt systems are likely to remain for less demanding devices, such as lighting and stereos, until production volumes increase sufficiently for more parts of a car to migrate to 48 volts.
The Focus, though, has one more important trick. It can draw on some of the 48-volt battery’s power for “torque-assist”, in which the starter acts as a supplementary motor, helping the car accelerate. This not only gives a better ride, it also makes the car less polluting by reducing emissions, including nitrogen oxides.
These gases, known collectively as NOX, are created by the heat-driven reaction together of air’s two principal components, nitrogen and oxygen, during combustion. NOX emissions both cause and aggravate respiratory diseases. Paradoxically, they can be the product of what is normally a good thing, a lean-burning, efficient engine. In demanding driving conditions, such as periods of acceleration, lean-burning engines can burn a bit too lean. That means less fuel than is ideally required is supplied to their combustion chambers. Since one of fuel’s side-effects is to cool the engine, this can cause the engine to heat up and thus encourage NOX formation. By helping turn the engine during acceleration, torque-assist stops this over-lean running, thus reducing emissions of NOX.
There are yet more things a higher voltage can provide, says Nick Pascoe, the boss of Controlled Power Technologies, an ADEPT member that makes the Focus’s starter. One is coasting. Once a car is cruising at a constant speed, torque-assist alone might be enough to keep it there. Moreover, it allows smaller engines to be used. A turbocharged 1.5-litre engine today can already produce power equivalent to that of an older 2-litre unit. With 48 volts the same power would, according to Mr Pascoe, be available with just a 1-litre engine. On top of this, instead of using an automatic gearbox stuffed with all the gubbins for nine speeds, as some now are, a car could have fewer gears and use torque-assist to fill the gaps. Smaller engines and gearboxes save weight, and would therefore reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions.
Exactly how well ADEPT’s Focus performs will be announced soon, but it is expected to cut fuel consumption by 10-12% compared with even the most frugal cars in its class. In volume production the 48-volt systems it runs on would be significantly smaller and cheaper than those needed to build full hybrids, which use large and costly battery packs. When it comes to better fuel economy and lower emissions, some in the car industry reckon mild hybrids could yield 70% of the benefits of a full hybrid (even as those cars switch to 48 volts) at 30% of the cost.
Most carmakers and their suppliers are now working on 48-volt systems. Delphi, a Michigan-based group that is one of the world’s largest suppliers of automotive parts, thinks mild hybrids could cut CO2 emissions by 15-20%. Delphi expects that, by 2025, one in every ten cars sold around the world will be a 48-volt mild hybrid. Upping the volts, then, will make motoring much greener.