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News & Events - June '09
22.6.2009Electric smart to go live in 2010
Following successful trials in the UK, the iconic, zero-emission, smart fortwo electric drive is ready for small series production.
Reaction from customers taking part in the UK trial, including the Metropolitan Police, universities, local councils, architects and energy companies, has proved so encouraging that smart’s parent company, Daimler AG, can confirm that the smart electric drive will go into small series production, with cars coming to the UK in early 2010.
The second generation smart electric drive will also be taking part in projects in Rome, Milan and Paris. Several cities in the US are also due to start trials of the fully electric car and the invaluable feedback will be incorporated into the development of future production models.
Featuring a lithium-ion battery the second generation smart electric drive’s power source will have a longer range, boast a shorter charging time and will give improved performance.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: "It is absolutely fantastic to see manufacturers like smart leading the way to make the electric vehicle an easy choice for Londoners. The move to electric vehicles, which emit zero pollution on London's streets, will have a massive impact on cutting carbon emissions to curb climate change whilst improving air quality and noise levels for our citizens."
Kulveer Ranger, Mayor's director of transport, said: "The Mayor and I are working with manufacturers through the London Electric Vehicle Partnership and urge the entire car industry to invest in this technology. Not only can we create green collar jobs but also smooth the way for less polluting transport choices which will improve our air quality, reduce traffic noise and contribute significantly to the Mayor's ambitious carbon emissions reduction target."
Dermot Kelly, Managing Director Mercedes-Benz UK, said: "smart have been leading the way in pioneering environmentally friendly, sustainable concepts for future mobility and we're delighted that the UK trial is proving to be so successful. The smart electric drive is exempt from vehicle excise duty and the London congestion charge and this, underlined with incredibly low operating costs, means that companies taking part in the trial are finding it makes perfect fiscal sense."
18.6.2009Streetcar offer drivers plug-in hybrid
From next week, Streetcar car club is giving the general public the chance to drive one of Europe's first plug-in electric hybrid cars.
In a joint initiative with Camden Council and Transport for London (TfL), the Amberjac conversion Prius (one of only 25 such cars in the world) will be added to Streetcar’s fleet of 1,200 pay-as you-go vehicles. It will be operated from Camden’s Bloomsbury Car Park in Holborn.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "Car clubs are a great way to be green and it's even better news that Londoners will be able to use a cleaner car to make their trips. I want London to be at the forefront of the electric car revolution and initiatives such as this are an important stepping stone along the way."
The car has a revolutionary plug-in facility, allowing its battery to be charged from a domestic outlet (preferably with renewable energy) or an on-street electric charging point. It has an electric only range of around 35 miles and with the majority of car club trips being under this mileage, Streetcar has estimated that over 66% of journeys in the car will release zero exhaust emissions. This will benefit local air quality.
By comparison a standard hybrid has an electric only range of 1-2 miles before the conventional engine cuts in. It uses a battery working with the conventional engine to deliver only small efficiency at low speeds with the battery being recharged by the engine itself.
Announcing this motoring first, Brett Akker, Streetcar's co-founder, said: "Our 55,000 members are expected to rise to 250,000 by 2012, as more and more people recognise the environmental and cost benefits of joining a car club. Once they have made that decision, we want to offer them the best possible service – and, from next week, our members will be the first people in Europe to hire a car with this electric technology."
Cllr, Chris Knight, Camden Council's Executive Member for the Environment, said: "Camden Council is charged up about electric cars and the introduction of Europe’s first electric car club. More people sharing mean fewer cars on the road so less congestion and pollution – and that’s great news for the environment. Also as the credit crunch bites, the message is hitting home that using car clubs instead of owning a vehicle can bring big savings."
The advantage of the plug-in hybrid over a pure electric car is versatility. Where an electric vehicle would simply run out of charge if a Streetcar member couldn’t recharge it; the plug-in simply switches to the regular combustion engine. This means it is suitable for short city driving and for longer trips. And even when it does go beyond its electric only capacity, it still makes huge energy savings. At speeds of 50 to 60 mph, an average of over 100 mpg is possible as the plug-in uses stored electric energy from the battery system.
Regular Streetcar user, Philip Day, said: "I have read so much about electric cars and am delighted that Streetcar will now give me the chance to actually try one out. It must be the way forward for motoring."
18.6.2009Zero Motorcycles launch the Zero MX
Zero Motorcycles today announced the latest addition to its electric motorcycle fleet, the Zero MX. Made specifically for track riding and motocross, the Zero MX is high-performance, lightweight, low-maintenance and silent. With new fork, shocks, wheels and tyres, the Zero MX makes local track riding possibilities more socially acceptable by eliminating the loud noise associated with a traditional petrol dirt bike.
"After engineering electric motorcycles for urban areas and off-road trails, we recognized the need to design a motorcycle with the motocross rider in mind," said Neal Saiki, founder and CTO of Zero Motorcycles. "Aggressive track riding requires a motorcycle with a high power-to-weight ratio and an advanced suspension system. The Zero MX delivers both without the noise of a typical petrol motorcycle. This makes riding possible in areas that are usually off-limits due to noise restrictions."
Designed for bigger jumps on the track, the Zero MX uses a new high-performance motorcycle suspension system. It includes an extremely robust front-end and a newly developed custom rear shock that gives riders a fully adjustable spring preload and easily tuned damping. The Zero MX has also been fitted with an aggressive 19” front wheel and tyre package that will accommodate any motocross tyre. The Zero MX is available for purchase exclusively through the Zero Motorcycles website and prices start at £7,056.
The MX follows the development of the Zero S, a new high performance electric street motorcycle, the Zero S. Developed to aggressively take on urban environments and encourage the occasional detour, the Zero S integrates revolutionary technology with innovative motorcycle design. Weighing only 102kg, the Zero S has a range of up to 60 miles and a top speed of 60 mph, it is designed for optimal performance off the line, in sharp turns, and while navigating obstacles.
The Zero MX and Zero S use a completely non-toxic lithium ion array and the majority of the motorcycles are fully recyclable. The landfill approved power pack recharges in less than four hours while plugged into a standard 110V or 220V outlet. Eco-friendly with zero emissions at point of use, the bikes are also economy-friendly with an operating cost of less than 1p per mile.
For more info about Zero Motorcycles, visit: Zero Motorcycles
11.6.2009Comet launch Plug & Go scheme
Leading electrical specialist Comet has launched a pilot scheme that offers customers free charging for electric vehicles. Comet is the first retailer to offer the service to customers, with ‘Plug & Go’ points in its store car park in Purley Way, Croydon.
Comet’s ‘Plug & Go’ is a response to electric vehicles becoming a high priority for Government as the UK strives to meet its CO2 emission target by 2010. Should the initiative prove successful the intention is that the service will be rolled out across Comet stores nationwide.
As a specialist in everything electrical, the retailer also announced that it is in talks to sell electric cars as soon as they become more available. In the 1980’s Comet stocked the iconic first electric cars, the Sinclair C5, making sales of electric cars a natural extension to the Comet range.
With road traffic in Greater London contributing to over 18% of all CO2 emissions nationwide, electric vehicles are high on the agenda of the Mayor, Boris Johnson, who is aiming for London to be the European electric vehicle capital.
Of the Comet scheme, Boris Johnson said: "I want London to be at the forefront of the electric car revolution and we can only do this if we make it easy for people to charge up their electric vehicles. I would like to give Comet a congratulatory pat on the back for offering free charging points and for helping their customers to make the switch to an electric car."
Hugh Harvey, Managing Director of Comet says: "Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly important to London and we are supporting the need for greener transportation in the capital with the introduction of our free ‘Plug & Go’ points. As an electrical specialist we need to respond to customer demand and with electric vehicles set to revolutionise city living over the next few years, it is only right that we look to sell them as part of our offer."
Comet has teamed up with innovative car manufacturer smart for the Plug & Go launch, who provided their first fully electric car, the smart ed (electric drive), for testing and the launch photo call.
Dermot Kelly, Managing Director Mercedes-Benz UK, comments: "The introduction of Comet’s ‘Plug and Go’ scheme is fantastic news for the future of environmentally friendly and economical driving. Electric vehicle charging points at Comet retailers will help pave the way towards developing a sustainable transport infrastructure for the UK. The smart ed is the ultimate urban vehicle – with zero CO₂ emissions and a range of up to 70 miles on a single charge, it offers users the best of in-town performance – and together with Comet’s free charging points we are working towards making clean electric transport more accessible for all."
Rubber Republic, YouTube
3.6.2009Volvo to develop plug-in diesel hybrids
A Volvo plug-in hybrid car that can be fuelled either with conventional diesel or electricity from a standard wall socket is likely to become a reality by 2012, according to recent plans announced by the Volvo Car Corporation and Swedish energy company Vattenfall.
Following a successful joint project to test and develop plug-in technology in 2007, the Volvo-Vattenfall partnership is advancing to the next stage. "We are investing in an industrial joint venture to series-produce plug-in hybrid cars in Sweden in 2012, cars that can be powered by both electricity and diesel. This is an important business development for us and our partnership with Vattenfall allows us to take a giant step toward offering our customers cars with an even smaller environmental footprint," says Stephen Odell, President and CEO of the Volvo Car Corporation.
One of the major benefits of Plug-in hybrids is that they can be charged from a regular household wall socket. "We want to reinforce electricity's importance in society and its key role in solving climate issues. Through this cooperation we hope to be able to speed up the introduction of electric cars. Together we are developing the next-generation technology based on plug-in cars and various charging alternatives," says Lars G Josefsson, President and CEO of Vattenfall.
The development of the cars is being carried out and financed jointly by the two companies. The Volvo Car Corporation will manufacture the cars and Vattenfall will develop charging systems and supply the cars with electricity. The two companies believe that series production of plug-in hybrid cars and the development of infrastructure will generate new manufacturing jobs and help Sweden maintain its position at the cutting edge of advanced pro-environmental technology.
The plug-in hybrid cars will be driven by a powerful electric motor fuelled by a lithium-ion battery. The battery takes about five hours to charge from a standard wall socket, and the battery is also charged every time the car's brakes are applied. Although the purchase price of the plug-in hybrids will be higher than that of cars with conventional technology, with the car running on electricity, its fuel costs will be cut to roughly one-third compared with diesel power.
Vattenfall will offer customers the opportunity to sign an agreement for renewable electricity sourced specifically from wind power or hydropower, as an alternative to the regular mix of electricity sources. Lars G Josefsson sees many benefits from chargeable plug-in hybrids, even in cases where the electricity does not come from renewable energy sources.
"Through electric power, we avoid the emissions from each individual car. Instead of petrol or diesel, the energy is derived from a few large power sources and Vattenfall is working hard to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from all electricity production. In Sweden, virtually all Vattenfall's electricity production is emission-free," explains Lars G Josefsson.
In the summer of 2009, three Volvo V70 demonstration cars will be tested in selected European countries. The demonstration cars will be used to gather information about the demands that drivers may have on the new technology, to determine their driving habits and to establish how they want to charge their cars. Volvo plans to put the plug-in models into series production in 2012.