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News & Events - July '09
29.7.2009New EV drive-train developed by TH!NK
The first integrated electric vehicle drive-train of its kind has been developed by TH!NK (the pioneering Norwegian EV manufacturer), with EnerDel (the US-based lithium-ion battery subsidiary of NASDAQ listed ENER1) being the sole supplier of its industry-leading lithium-ion battery technology.
The drive-train is available for supply around the world thanks to its simple modular structure and easily transferable package. The first major potential customer to come forward is the Japanese postal service - which is aiming to fully electrify its 22,000 strong fleet of delivery vehicles.
Japanese vehicle conversion specialist, Zero Sports, has been selected by Japan Post as conversion partners to the electrification project, who, via strategic partners ITOCHU, are using ENER1's lithium-ion battery technology together with TH!NK's electric drive-train system to start the conversion process of the postal service's sizeable fleet of delivery vehicles.
Initially developed for the TH!NK City EV, this system is the first of its kind to provide off-the-shelf availability combined with bespoke performance in a wide variety of EV applications. The system has been promoted to large vehicle manufacturers and fleet operators around the world, and the Japanese postal service is the first to agree to a comprehensive road test programme in the Kaganawa and Tokyo prefectures.
The new technology drive-train being utilised for this programme unites TH!NK's industry-leading EV drive system with EnerDel's award winning lithium-ion battery technology. TH!NK and ENER1 began an active partnership in 2007 with ENER1’s development of a 26 kWh battery system for the TH!NK City vehicle - the first pure electric vehicle of its kind to use this new generation technology.
"The ability to deliver a fully integrated, road-ready package that can be quickly tailored to suit a wide range of vehicle solutions is a major step forward for both our companies," said Ener1 Chairman and CEO Charles Gassenheimer.
TH!NK CEO, Richard Canny added: "We have seen increased interest in TH!NK’s proprietary EV drive system from a variety of third parties, which represents a significant and exciting new business line and revenue opportunity for the company."
Asia has long pioneered the future of electric drive vehicles, and Japan in particular has been a global leader in advancing its adoption, with the government increasingly pushing to accelerate market and infrastructure development for electric drive vehicles.
Richard Canny concluded: "We are honoured to be working on such a prestigious project, and excited to be exporting TH!NK’s Norwegian-designed and built proprietary drive-train system in partnership with ENER1 and its US-designed and manufactured lithium-ion battery technology. This has become a truly global and pioneering enterprise - lead by Norway, the USA and now Japan as well."
24.7.2009Nissan develops wireless EV charging
Nissan have created a wire-less charging system that will make charging electric vehicles both easier and faster.
With 61% of potential electric car customers most worried about the inconvenience of recharging (revealed by Nissan consumer research), plug-free charging technology should make this worry a thing of the past.
The technology is based on the concept of inductive charging using electromagnetic fields. This is the same technology that is used to charge electric toothbrushes. David Bott, director of innovation programmes at the Technology Strategy Board, said "If you look at handheld gadgets, inductive charging is a proven technology - the fundamental science says that it will work"
Nissan has developed this technology on a larger scale for use in their Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) electric car, which can charge in a compatible parking bay without the need for wires. As well as the inductive charging, the new technological solution includes developing fast-charging facilities, which they hope to see in place in shopping car parks and motorway service stations. Larry Haddad general manager of product strategy and planning at Nissan Europe said "While you're shopping, or having a cup of tea, the battery will refill to 80% of its capacity, in about 25 minutes.".
Nissan also have more ambitious plans to place the technology on a series of plates laid onto the surface of roads and motorways enabling vehicles to charge while you drive. However, Nissan have yet to unveil the cost of this new technology and admit they are still unclear on how long the re-charge lanes would have to be or how fast the battery would be able to charge.
The ZEV is an electric five-seater family-sized car with a top speed of 90mph, a battery range of around 100 miles and surprisingly impressive acceleration. Nissan's European electric vehicle product manager Van de Meer said that he is confident the range will be significantly extended in the next few years. He also said "We don't want to make a shock in the market, an egg-shaped car or something. We want to make a transition. You could do mad things but we really don't want to."
Nissan's electric car is scheduled to go on sale in the USA and Japan next year, before arriving in the UK and rest of Europe by 2012. Pricing is yet to be announced.
The wireless charging technology that Nissan has developed is impressive but is by no means novel. In 1991 the Praxitele project, developed by a consortium of industrial companies including Renault, was established to develop this same kind of technology. The idea never fully hit off, but hopefully Nissan can revive it to make this revolutionary technology part of a greener transport system.
22.7.2009EV review: the Scoot-E
This month, Newride was offered the chance to test ride the Scoot-E, a battery-powered three-wheel electric vehicle designed to 'revolutionise the workplace', and marketed for commercial, industrial and security transport use. On behalf of Newride, Laura Hobbs gave the Scoot-E a test ride to see how well it measured up.
The Scoot-E is a unique vehicle both in looks and in terms of who the vehicle is aimed at. The three-wheel design and eye catching colour-scheme certainly make this vehicle really stand out – it certainly turns heads as you ride by! Although, at first glance, it is difficult to envisage who would use the Scoot-E, I did find that it was a useful vehicle to have in the work place for local off-road trips (the office staff found it particularly good along the harbourside in Bristol). E-city wheels, the UK’s supplier of the Scoot-E, also recommend it as a great option for personal transportation for the elderly.
To use, the Scoot-E is controlled using a twist-grip throttle as you would find on a small scooter, while the brake is similar style to pedal bikes. The 15mph maximum speed of the Scoot-E feels pretty speedy enabling transportation quickly from A to B, the larger single front wheel providing all the traction and steering. With a 350W motor, the Scoot-E has a range of up to 25 miles on a full battery – to recharge, the Scoot-E simply plugs into a regular 3-pin plug, with a full recharge taking 4-6 hours. Costing just pennies to charge means it is both efficient and economical to run.
Weighing just over 30kg, the Scoot-E can be easily pushed along when powered-off and can be carried in most lifts making it an attractive light-weight and portable vehicle. There is also a useful light-up dial for remaining battery power on the handle bars meaning that you always know when to charge the Scoot-E battery. The standard price also includes an optional seat (standing is more fun), horn, light and basket – all of which can be optionally added to personalize the Scoot-E. There has recently also been the addition of a high/low switch to the throttle which allows the Scoot-E to be operated in a slower eco-mode.
The e-trike does have a few minor design downsides – the front drive-wheel sometimes slips when it is accelerated as your weight shifts towards the back of the vehicle. However, we have been told that the recent addition of the two speed throttle with the high/low setting will take care of this problem. The vehicle is strictly speaking designed only for smooth surfaces – uneven pavements provide a bit more of a bumpy ride. Furthermore, at full tilt, the three wheel design means that when driving round corners there is not always the greatest stability (although the supplier assured us that the vehicle will not flip over even if a back wheel does come off the ground). That said, for the right application and terrain, the Scoot-E provides simple, green and relatively affordable personal or personnel transportation that works. While a Segway it is not (in looks or in cost), the Scoot-E may be a taste of what is to come in the future of work-place transportation.
Model tested: Scoot-E
Body-styles: One seater electric scooter
Warranty: 2 years on parts and 6 months on batteries
Free Stuff: Free road-tax, free congestion charge, free parking, no driving license required
20.7.2009Nissan to build battery plant in UK
Working in partnership with the UK and Portuguese governments, Nissan today announced their plans to build two plants for the production of its advanced lithium-ion batteries in Europe. As part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, this marks the first significant step towards producing batteries for its Zero Emission Mobility Program in Europe.
After finalizing details and concluding discussions with the UK Government, the UK site will be located in Sunderland where Nissan already has an existing manufacturing facility. The site will be the Nissan European Mother Site for Battery production and the centrepiece of the newly established Low Carbon Economic Area in the North East of England.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "Nissan's investment in a new battery plant and its hope to start producing electric vehicles here in Sunderland is great news for the local economy, creating up to 350 direct jobs and creating and safeguarding hundreds more in the associated supply chain.
"This investment is also hugely significant as we embark on Building Britain's Future, our plan for recovery and beyond powered by low carbon, high technology industries, products and services... Sunderland could now be a strong contender to produce electric vehicles for Nissan in Europe, and we will continue to work with Nissan to ensure this happens."
As part of the newly established Low Carbon Economic Area, Government intends to establish a new training centre, specialising in low carbon automotive technologies; a technology park and an open access test track for low carbon vehicles. UK Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said: "The North East has distinguished itself as the first specialised region for ultra-low carbon vehicles. This is good news not just for the North East, but for the whole of the UK, helping to attract foreign investment and securing UK’s place as a global leader in high-tech manufacturing and automotive industries.
"The collaboration between local businesses, universities and colleges will create a hub of expertise to boost innovation and accelerate business growth in this important area of 'green' industry."
Nissan Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, Europe, Trevor Mann said: “In March Nissan and regional development agency One North East signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing both partners to explore fully the North East's potential to spearhead the UK's drive towards zero emission mobility.
"Since then, a great deal of work has been going on at both the local and national level to promote and facilitate the introduction of electric vehicles within the region. Today’s announcement potentially marks another important milestone in establishing low carbon transport as a viable and attractive alternative across the North East and beyond, and reinforces Nissan's commitment to lead the world in the mass marketing of zero emission vehicles."
A second manufacturing plant will be located in Portugal where several possible sites have been identified and the final selection will be announced at a later date. Last November, Portugal became the first European country to sign a final agreement with the Alliance for implementing a zero emission mobility program from 2010. Within this plan, the Alliance will supply its EVs from Spring 2011, and the Portuguese Government will leverage an extensive network of 1,300 recharging stations that will be in place across Portugal over the next 2 years.
Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Sócrates said: "Portugal is one of the first countries in the world to have a national wide charging network for Electric Vehicles, named Mobi-E. This leadership has only been possible thanks to Portugal's decisive move towards renewable energies – 43% of electricity consumed is produced from clean energies. The introduction of EV will allow the reduction of CO2 emissions and fossil fuel energy dependence on the exterior.
"Nissan's investment in a new battery plant of 250 M€, creating 200 jobs, is very important in terms of job creation, technology, and exports. Besides that, it is a crucial step to transform Portugal into Europe's EV Eco-Valley."
"The zero-emission mobility program is a priority for the company," said Eric Nicolas, senior vice president, Administration and Finance, Nissan in Europe. "At Nissan, as we manage through this global crisis, we continue to prepare for the major evolutions that are occurring in our industry. We are not compromising our efforts to mass-market the electric car. And today, we have taken key step to making zero-emissions a reality."
The two plants are scheduled to supply the advanced lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles to be produced by the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The projected annual capacity for each plant is 60,000 units. Furthermore, the Renault-Nissan Alliance continues its discussion with other governments in Europe to identify other battery plant locations to meet volume requirements.
Renault-Nissan is committed to being a leader in zero-emissions mobility. It will offer electric vehicles in the United States and Japan beginning in 2010 ahead of mass marketing to consumers in 2012 globally.
16.7.2009Riversimple launch first Open Source EV
Buying new cars may be a thing of the past as Riversimple plans to lease rather than sell hydrogen fuel-cell electric cars.
The prototype for a two-seater city car that runs entirely on hydrogen was unveiled by Hugo Spowers of Riversimple who also made the designs for the car Open Source. The emissions from hydrogen cars are many times lower than the petrol-hybrid models and therefore contribute much less to CO2 emissions and global warming.
The revolutionary idea behind making the designs available under an Open Source licence stem from promoting competition to speed up development times, drive down component costs and encourage others to adopt the novel technology.
Hugo Spowers, founder of Riversimple, said: "We want competitors, even if they're in the UK. We believe that open source is commercially the best thing for us to do, as it will help grow the market for hydrogen technology, from parts to repairs and the refuelling infrastructure."
The hydrogen car which cost nearly £500,000 to develop in partnership with Oxford and Cranfield Universities, was at the launch event in London. The car is capable of a 50mph top speed, 0-30mph acceleration in 5.5 seconds, and has a 240 mile range. It can manage 240 miles on just 2.2lbs of hydrogen with the car's backers claiming it has greenhouse gas emissions of 30g/km CO2. This is less than a third of the latest hybrid petrol cars such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight.
The car is expected to be leased for around £200 a month when it is launched as a production vehicle, making it potentially affordable. The date for UK availability is yet to be announced, but Riversimple hope to have 10 prototypes in a UK city by next year.
For more information see www.riversimple.com
7.7.2009Zipcar to include hybrid fleet
An environmentally friendly car club scheme was launched in central London today. It is being jointly run by Westminster City Council and Zipcar, the world's largest car club operator. The car club will include a fleet of 20 hybrid vehicles. It also will offer members access to the country's first all-electric car club vehicle, a Citroën c1.
Motorists will also have the chance to drive a plug-in hybrid version of Toyota's popular Prius, a Honda Insight Hybrid as well as conventional petrol cars including a BMW 318 and a Mini Cooper. Other vehicles include a VW Caddy Maxi van and a Toyota Verso people carrier. By September, users will have access to more than 100 vehicles in locations across Westminster including Covent Garden, Mayfair, Soho, Regent's Park and Marylebone as well as a number of residential areas.
The council and Zipcar are aiming to have 400 vehicles by 2012 - approximately 30% of which will be hybrid vehicles. These vehicles all will be located within easy walking distance of homes, offices and work places.
Westminster council's cabinet member for city management, Cllr Danny Chalkley, said "The launch of our car club is a major step towards changing the way motorists travel within our capital and provides an environmentally friendly choice to London's pressured transport system."
"We were one of the first councils in the UK to introduce a range of financial incentives for electric vehicle owners and with this scheme we are once again demonstrating our commitment to the green agenda and recognising the potential of electric vehicles within our car sharing scheme"
Chairman and CEO of Zipcar, Scott Griffith, said "Westminster's environmental leadership, exhibited by this new and innovative public-private partnership, takes the concept of car clubs in London to an entirely new level in terms of scale and vehicle technology."
"As the world's leading platform for evaluating alternative vehicle technologies, Zipcar is offering Westminster residents convenient and low-cost access to all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to encourage adoption of the most efficient and environmentally friendly cars on the planet."
Westminster Council has the largest on-street car recharging service in the UK with 14 dedicated charging points and plans to increase this number to 20 by the end of the year. There are an additional 48 charging points in the council's secure car parks.
Studies have shown that each car club vehicle removes up to 20 privately owned vehicles, and that members reduce vehicle miles travelled by up to 40%. Motorists may also recognise significant savings by joining a car club with current estimates showing the average cost to run a private vehicle almost £2,500 a year.
Zipcar members are charged under a pay as you go style tariff with hourly rates starting at £3.95 and daily rates at £29 including the congestion charge and a 60 mile daily driving allowance. A number of concessions are also available including one hour's free parking, no congestion charge, and a low rate annual membership fee of £25. This sum is then reimbursed with the equivalent amount of car hire time.Zipcar.co.uk