Transit

Are transit properties seriously looking at integrating electric buses into their fleets?

Are transit properties seriously looking at integrating electric buses into their fleets? New technology is making this increasingly feasible. For example, 12 ultra-fast charging electric TOSA buses will go into service in Geneva. Developed by ABB, ultra-fast (or flash) charging system needs just 15 seconds to recharge part of energy to get to the next stop. Charging power is 400 kW. However, 15 seconds is still not enough for a full charge, so at the end of the route they will charge for up to 300 seconds (5 minutes).

Are transit properties planning for the arrival of electric, driverless vehicle technology?

Yutong, a leading Chinese bus manufacturer, has after three years of development sent its self-driving bus on a 20-mile intercity drive in Zhengzhou. According to the company, the self-driving bus drove the entire route in regular traffic without human assistance. The bus hit a top speed of 68 km/h, passed 26 traffic lights and was able to change lanes without any problem.

This autumn, a city in the Netherlands will become the first to allow fully autonomous shuttles, known as WEpods, regularly on its public roads–in the form of a small bus carting people between two towns.

The increasing use of pooled ridesharing offered by Uber and others is taking market share from transit. How are transit properties preparing for tomorrow?

Electrification of transportation

Better battery performance will be key to ensuring range confidence.

Whether or not automakers are truly committed to it today,  they cannot deny that electrification of transportation,represents the future of mobility. Better battery performance will be key to ensuring range confidence. And so, Elon Musk is predicting that 2020 model Teslas will have 750-mile range.

Many in the EV industry are hopeful that “dieselgate” will result in auto OEMs moving increasingly to electrification. Instead, we are reading about requests for greater leniency in emissions testing and “reminders” that more than 12 million European jobs depend on the status quo. When will auto manufacturers take socially responsibility to heart?

And then, there’s Russia, where the Russian Prime Minister has ordered all gas stations to install EV charging stations. J Talk about fast deployment!

Environment

The per-mile greenhouse gas emissions of an electric vehicle deployed as a self-driving, or autonomous taxi in 2030 would be 63 to 82% lower than a projected 2030 hybrid vehicle driven as a privately owned car…

Recent analyses from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concluded that “the per-mile greenhouse gas emissions of an electric vehicle deployed as a self-driving, or autonomous taxi in 2030 would be 63 to 82% lower than a projected 2030 hybrid vehicle driven as a privately owned car and 90% lower than a 2014 gasoline-powered private vehicle. Almost half of the savings are attributable to “right-sizing,” where the size of the taxi deployed is tailored to each trip’s occupancy needs.”  If only 5% of vehicles in US (800,000 units) in 2030, were converted to robo-taxis, it would save 7 million barrels of oil annually and reduce up to 2.4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. Imagine what the impact would be if they were EVs.

Car sharing

People are abandoning car ownership in favour of car sharing.

Some interesting statistics were announced over the last month. According to one source, every vehicle that enters the car sharing market full time replaces between 4 and 6 new car sales and delays up to 7 more.

According to BMW’s DriveNow car sharing service, 38% of clients “abandon ownership”. This is consistent with statistics provided by ZipCar: 2 in 5 corporate ZipCar members (people who join a car sharing program through an affiliation with an employer) sell or avoid buying a vehicle after joining ZipCar.

Another recent study undertaken in Germany found that “61% of customers had given up their own privately owned car since signing up for car sharing services. Rather than eroding public transport use, the study also showed that car sharing services fit seamlessly into established transport options.”

“British carmaker Mini has joined the rush to solve the problem of customers abandoning car ownership in favour of car sharing, launching a scheme that effectively offers buyers the chance to offset the purchase price by renting out their vehicles.”

As it redefines itself, Ford is not only piloting car-sharing projects in numerous cities around the world, but is also getting into electric bike sharing and car swapping. In fact, the company announced that its Peer-2-Peer car sharing pilot program for 14,000 Ford Credit customers would run in six US cities. Another 12,000 customers will be participating in an equivalent program in London, UK. Ford has also announced that it is taking its autonomous-driving research efforts to the next stage (from research to advanced engineering). In a recent speech, Jim Holland, Ford vice president-vehicle component and systems engineering, stated that as cities continue to grow “car sharing in the future may not strictly be a voluntary matter”.

Meanwhile, GM’s Opel announced that Opel CarUnity “will allow drivers to rent out their cars – say, to their Facebook friends – via a dedicated Opel app for smartphones and tablet computers”. Dan Ammann, GM’s President, discussed the situation of city dwellers who rarely use cars: “It’s the last thing you should do because you buy this asset, it depreciates fairly rapidly, you use it 3% of the time, and you pay a vast amount of money to park it for the other 97% of the time”. He added that GM was looking to deliver the freedom to travel on a “sharing model”. We’re glad that the auto manufacturers are coming to the same realization as their customers (or former customers).

Vancouver is considered to be the “car sharing capital of the world”. In fact, car2go is doubling its presence in the city to 1250 vehicles, making Vancouver home to the world’s largest car2go fleet. It would be fantastic if the City of Vancouver would invest in on-street charging infrastructure that would facilitate the integration of EVs in the city’s car sharing fleets. Given Vancouver’s “green” efforts and the renewable hydroelectric energy used to power EVs in BC, the installation of charging stations should be encouraged.

In LA, a pilot car-sharing program aims to keep thousands of citizens in “poor neighbourhoods from purchasing cars of their own by providing publicly available hybrid or electric cars instead”.

In the last month, Enterprise Holdings acquired Metavera, a Toronto-based company that provides sustainable transportation technologies to customers in more than a dozen countries. The company “offers a leading car sharing system for independent operators, as well as technology solutions for fleet management and peer-to-peer car sharing”. Note that Entreprise CarShare is available in 40 cities in Canada, the UK and the US.

In a sign that bus operators are feeling the pinch of car sharing competition, Spanish bus operators on calling on a ban of BlaBlaCar, Europe’s leading car sharing platform.

Technology

Technology News from Volkswagen, Bosch, Daimler, car2go and Verizon

Volkswagen is developing a new system of robo-parking and EV charging. The “V-Charge” system will enable the car to park itself while you go about your business. The “vehicle senses obstacles, pedestrians, other cars and everything else it will need to avoid, even without the help of GPS that can go haywire in a parking garage. If you’re operating an electric vehicle like the VW e-Golf, V-Charge also hones in on an available parking spot offering automatic induction battery charging. If need be, the car will wait in a regular spot until the charge spot opens up, then move into position and start restoring the battery.” This is fantastic news for EVs as it makes EV ownership that much easier.

Meanwhile, Bosch, Daimler and car2go are launching an autonomous car-parking pilot that should make the use of car sharing even easier and more attractive.

In an effort to minimize accidents involving pedestrians (14% of all accidents), Verizon “is testing a way for pedestrians’ phones to simply talk to drivers’ phones, which will do the location sensing and deliver the warnings themselves”.

News from around the world

Russia’s KAMAZ is reportedly creating an artificial city to act as an autonomous driving testing ground. And more…

Russia’s KAMAZ is reportedly creating an artificial city to act as an autonomous driving testing ground. The company stated it plans to develop approximately twenty prototypes of unmanned vehicles for a variety of purposes by 2020.

In Britain, the Commons Transport Committee indicated more needs to be done to make the country ready for the automotive revolution. International standards, clarification of liabilities and usage of data are among the elements that were raised by the Committee as pressing. Whatever is decided by Britain or another jurisdiction will set the stage for other countries around the world.

The British government is encouraged by studies indicating that self-driving technology will help generate 320,000 jobs in the country and boost the UK’s economy by £51 billion.

Germany, with more than 1 million car sharing members, is drafting new rules to promote car sharing. The country’s Transport Minister has stated that his ministry is “working on plans aimed at encouraging car sharing. The measures being considered include free and dedicated car parking places, among others.”

Driverless vehicle testing has been given the green light in Switzerland.

Brussels airport will be demonstrating automated buses as part of CityMobil2.

Adelaide is pushing to become Australia’s pilot city for driverless vehicles. Both state and federal governments are working to make it happen.

Auto OEMs and their foray into mobility services

Increasingly, auto manufacturers, cognizant of the fact that demographics, increasing urbanization and its effects as well as increased mobility options represent a threat to their business model, are vertically integrating forward into the mobility space.

Increasingly, auto manufacturers, cognizant of the fact that demographics, increasing urbanization and its effects as well as increased mobility options represent a threat to their business model, are vertically integrating forward into the mobility space. Ford’s 29 mobility projects launched earlier this year are a perfect example. One of these projects is Ford’s Dynamic Social Shuttle allowing users to order shuttle rides.

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Ford

 

Another Ford project that is getting publicity in recent weeks is its Go!Drive UK car sharing project where EVs and ICE vehicles are being provided to users.

Audi launched its on demand car sharing service in the US. This is a program offering daily rentals of Audi vehicles. The company has indicated that it will soon be launching its Audi at home program (available in select premium condo complexes).

Drones in insurance & beyond

In a world-first, researchers have developed a method to allow for drones to recharge in mid-air

“Drones are making their way off the battlefield and into the mainstream for commercial applications. After a years-long blanket ban on drones for commercial usage, the Federal Aviation Administration in late March awarded 48 waivers for commercial drone use and established an interim policy to accelerate authorizations. State Farm and AIG became the first insurers authorized by the FAA to test and research drones in March, and USAA became the third in April.” Since then, Erie Insurance has announced the use of drones “as a way to mitigate the current safety challenges for our adjusters who at times can be at risk for accidents or injuries” and to make the claims adjusting process more efficient.

In April, Zurich Canada announced that it had launched a drone insurance product. It’s fantastic to see Canadian insurers getting involved early in the game. More insurers will be introducing such coverage as usage expands. According to a Munich Re survey, drone use could soon become common practice for 40% of businesses.

In May, the FAA announced that it is partnering with industry to explore the next steps in drone operations.

In a world-first, researchers have developed a method to allow for drones to recharge in mid-air. This represents a potential game changer for this emerging industry.

Rapid cost reductions and performance improvements in battery and electronic technologies are changing the electromobility landscape and potential: a European view

The rapid development we have seen in the last years in the area of electric and autonomous vehicles is strongly linked to the rapid pace of innovations in ICT (in-circuit tests) and electronics.

In the last few years, alternative vehicle technologies have shown an exponential growth in sales and maturity with a significant decrease in cost. This is especially the case for electric vehicles and their components (batteries, fuel cells, range extenders or plug-in hybrids). These trends also apply to the development of autonomous vehicles.

The rapid development we have seen in the last years in the area of electric and autonomous vehicles is strongly linked to the rapid pace of innovations in ICT (in-circuit tests) and electronics. The improvement in (lithium) battery capacity has been an important factor for the emergence of electric vehicles. Autonomous vehicles were hardly on policymakers’ and most other stakeholders’ radar a few years ago but now they seem to offer great possibilities in the medium and even in the short term. This brings incredible opportunities in terms of city development and vehicle use. For example, we could soon have vehicles on demand, autonomous parking and charging, efficient delivery vehicle and car sharing plans just to list a few. Autonomous technology has the potential to drastically reduce the number of car accidents (Volvo has clearly made statements to that effect and 2020 is their target year). This in turn impacts the way we will design, use and safety test vehicles. Electric autonomous cars will be completely different products than the current ICE vehicles (to name the two extremes) with different supply chains and all this will probably occur within the next decade. The European Union needs to be prepared for these scenarios as they will impact consumers, employment, industry and society as a whole (an update of the WP for Transport should include this).

It is often stated that the electric vehicle market is stagnant. In 2014, about 95.000 EVs were sold in the EU-EFTA (European Union and Economic Free Trade Association) region, bringing the total to 200.000 EVs on the road. The growth rate was 50% overall and 70% for the pure electric vehicles. Although the market share for EVs in 2014 was still below 1%, the growth rate is very high. If this growth rate is sustained, by 2025, all passenger cars in the EU-EFTA region would be electric. In Norway, the market penetration at this moment is above 20% and in one region even an incredible 40%. However, electric vehicles are still too expensive and incentives are still needed. Furthermore, more EV car models are required as many segments do not have electric alternatives. It should be realized that the market is in its very early stages and that the current EV buyers are still the early adopters. Several OEMs state that EV customer satisfaction is the highest they have seen for any of their products.Estimates_0f_costs

EV battery costs are projected to go down from € 1,000 per kWh in 2010 to € 200 per kWh in 2020. And even this figure is now being challenged. A recent academic study comparing 80 different cost estimates with actual prices has demonstrated that past projections on battery price reductions have all been too pessimistic and the actual cost reduction is faster than predicted (ref 1). On top of this, due to the light weight and better performances of electric vehicles less kWh per km are needed. For example, Bosch has stated that by 2020 45% less kWh per km will be required than in 2010. The USA EV Everywhere Program has similar projections. The cost of EV technology is being reduced at a much faster rate than projected. At the same time the range of EVs is improving, with several models having a range exceeding 300km coming on the market in the USA in 2016 and 2017 at prices around $35.000 (the GM Bolt, the Tesla model 3 and, possibly, the Nissan LEAF). EVs are already cost competitive with ICE vehicles in many instances and AVERE projects that within the next 5 to 10 years EVs this will be the case most of the time, making EVs the vehicle of choice. To illustrate the silent revolution which has taken place since the conception of the WP for Transport, in 2010 there were about 1,000 EVs on the road in the EU+EFTA region with the Think and the Mitsubishi i-Miev as top sellers. In 2014, the number of EVs on the road has risen to 200.000 with top sellers being the Nissan LEAF (second generation), Tesla Model S and the BMW i3. Electric cars use 1/3 of the energy of ICE vehicles and are a perfect fit for the electric renewable energy sector since this will create a zero emission transport sector. No other technology can beat this today.

China is giving high priority to the development and deployment of electric vehicles and may already have the technological advantage. We have a tendency to downplay technological developments in China until it is too late. AVERE believes that it is important that the EU looks into a scenario whereby China opts massively for the manufacturing and use of EVs and would therefore threaten European car exports. Furthermore, the EU also has to consider the fact that electric buses and light vehicles will probably become competitive within 5 years. The problem is that Europe is doing trials with a few buses while China is already putting thousands of buses on the road (BYD, IDTech).

Special contribution from:
Bert Witkamp
Secretary General, AVERE
European Association for Battery, Hybrid and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

Ref 1: Rapidly falling costs of battery packs for electric vehicles, Björn Nykvist1* and Måns Nilsson1,2

1 Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden. 

2 KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

UK: driverless leader?

British MPs are calling for a Minister for Driverless Cars.

British MPs are calling for a Minister for Driverless Cars. The reason: the UK wants to ensure that the country does not miss out on the economic opportunities presented by new vehicle technologies. Louise Ellman, Labour chair of the Commons transport select committee: “The government should be more active and have a much more holistic strategy to make sure this new technology has the maximum effect… We need someone in charge of this, looking across manufacturing, technology, regulation and testing.”

The UK’s economic development driverless push is having some excellent results. In Milton-Keynes alone, one of the areas where testing of driverless technology will be undertaken, it is estimated that 7000 new jobs could be created, 5000 new homes built and a potential of £150m public and private investment.

To ensure that the UK takes and maintains the lead in this area, a comprehensive, multi-ministerial approach working closely with industry is prioritized.