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News & Events - June '10
30.6.2010First iMiEVs join London Mayor's fleet
Today Transport for London (TfL) welcomed four new electric vehicles into its fleet as part of the Mayor Boris Johnson's plans to make London the electric vehicle capital of Europe.
The four new Mitsubishi i-MiEVs, part funded by the Government's Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme, are the first step to achieving the 1,000 electric vehicles that the Mayor aims to bring into the city's fleet over the next few years.
The new cleaner, greener cars, with specially designed livery to distinguish them from traditional petrol and diesel vehicles, will be used by TfL to ensure that road works comply with their permit scheme to keep traffic moving. By the end of this year, TfL will have up to 10 electric vehicles in its fleet.
Increasing the number of fleet vehicles is one element of the Mayor's plans to boost electric vehicle numbers to 100,000 as soon as possible. Over the coming year, 1,600 charge points will be installed across the Capital with numbers rising to 7,500 by 2013 and 25,000 points will be in place by 2015. By then, with 2,500 charge points installed in publicly accessible areas, on average no Londoner will be further than a mile from any charge point.
The number of electric vehicles in mainstream use is forecast to significantly increase in the coming years as many of the leading car manufacturers are planning to launch new electric vehicle models in the UK. The increase of zero-tail pipe emitting electric vehicles will help to improve air quality and cut climate change emissions, and as the price of petrol and diesel continues to increase they have significantly lower running costs including a 100 per cent exemption from the Congestion Charge.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "Very soon electric vehicles and the apparatus needed to support them will be a common sight on London's streets. We are doing all we can to make it as easy as possible for Londoners to choose electric and by opting for these vehicles in our own fleets, we are helping to stimulate demand and show off their benefits including considerably cheaper running costs."
David Brown, Managing Director of Surface Transport, TfL said: "The delivery of these new TfL i-MiEVs is another step towards achieving the Mayor's goal to make London the electric vehicle capital of Europe. TfL is working to help realise the Mayor's ambitious plans for electric vehicles by investing in the installation of electric vehicle charge points and the use of electric vehicles in London. By 2015 we hope to have even more electric vehicles on London's roads and 25,000 charge points installed across the city."
TfL is also encouraging its contractors to incorporate electric vehicles into their fleets. London Streets uses three contractors to deal with emergency and routine maintenance on the Red Route network. All three contractors are now incorporating sustainable vehicles into their fleets, which reduces their carbon emissions and contributes to a greener, cleaner capital city.
The adoption of electric vehicles will deliver significant climate change and air quality benefits. The majority of harmful particulate emissions (PM10), 79 per cent, in central London come from road transport whereas electric cars have zero tail-pipe emissions. Electric vehicles emit thirty to forty per cent lower carbon emissions than comparable petrol or diesel cars. This will reduce further over time as the amount of energy – which charges the electric vehicles batteries – generated by renewable sources increases.
It is estimated that 100,000 electric vehicles could cut London's carbon output by almost 500,000 tonnes over the next decade as well as save 100 tonnes of NOx emissions and several tonnes of PM10 emissions. This is equivalent to 300 million car trips.
The new infrastructure and the additional electric vehicles on London's roads will help to encourage Londoners to use a more sustainable form of private transport and support the Mayor's target to cut London's CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2025.
23.6.2010Plug-in Prius trial gets under way
Toyota and EDF Energy are about to launch a three-year leasing programme that will bring 20 ultra-low emissions plug-in hybrid vehicles to the streets of London.
In July 2010, Toyota's first plug-in vehicles to reach the UK will join 5 vehicle fleets of public organisations and businesses, including Transport for London, the Government Car and Despatch Agency, the Metropolitan Police Service, News International and Sky.
The real-world experiences of the drivers and fleet operators will provide both companies and UK Government with valuable insights into driver attitudes and usage patterns to help them design their strategies for introducing plug-in hybrids and recharging technologies on a larger scale. It will also help inform and shape public policy in this field, as well as demonstrating the improved fuel efficiency, lower emissions, cost savings and everyday practicality that their rechargeable hybrid power system can deliver.
EDF Energy will record user information through its charging infrastructure, providing Toyota, EDF Energy and the UK Government with valuable intelligence on user behaviour and attitudes, vehicle performance and recharging patterns and preferences.
Miguel Fonseca, Managing Director Toyota, said: "I am delighted to be joining with EDF Energy to launch the UK's largest plug-in hybrid programme, a project that will deliver valuable insights into the behaviour and preferences of UK drivers as they engage with the technology for the first time and experience it in their everyday driving routines. Toyota is committed to developing sustainable, low emissions mobility and Prius Plug-in marks another important element in our environmental leadership, and a further step towards its ambition of building the ultimate eco-car."
EDF Energy Managing Director of ESCS Martin Lawrence said: "I am delighted that EDF Energy, the UK's largest producer of low-carbon electricity, can play such an important role in the research and demonstration of these new vehicles. The new Government has committed to a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The demonstration that we launch today plays a key part in that development. Transport currently accounts for around a fifth of the country's carbon footprint and the take up of clean, electric transport can help the UK meet its climate change targets."
The cars involved in the lease programme are essentially the same as the current third-generation full hybrid Prius, but they are equipped with a larger and more powerful lithium-ion battery that can be recharged simply by being connected to a standard 240V electricity supply. EDF Energy has identified appropriate plug, socket, wiring and cabling specifications to comply with BS7671 safety standards, while maintaining fundamental ease of use. The charging points incorporate a keypad that enables each user and vehicle to be identified when recharging takes place.
The rechargeable battery technology gives the Prius Plug-in extended capabilities when it is driven in electric vehicle mode: capable of running for up to 12.5 miles solely on its electric motor, at speeds up to 62 mph, it can accomplish the great majority of typical urban journeys with zero fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions. Prius Plug-in's combined cycle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are 108.6 mpg and 59 g/km respectively.
Should the battery charge be used up in the course of a journey, the Prius Plug-in will seamlessly switch to power from its efficient 1.8-litre VVT-i petrol engine, meaning the driver need suffer no 'range anxiety' about the distance his or her car might manage.
EDF Energy's vision for powering a low carbon Britain not only requires the decarbonisation of electricity, but also low carbon transport. Supporting this goal, EDF Energy is marking a significant milestone in its on-going collaboration with Toyota by powering what is the UK's largest plug-in hybrid vehicle leasing programme.
22.6.2010EVs outperform drivers' expectations
Cenex, the UK's Centre of Excellence for low carbon vehicle technologies, has announced the results of a six month trial of electric passenger cars, which ran in the North East of England.
One of the trial's key findings was that 72% of the 264 participants stated after the trial that they would be happy to use an electric vehicle as their regular car. This is one of the most comprehensive trials yet undertaken in the UK on driver attitudes to electric vehicles.
The trial's main objective was to study the integration of electric vehicles into fleets, with an emphasis on the efficiency and performance of the vehicles. Ten organisations took part, integrating one to four electric two-seater passenger Smart cars into their fleets and allowing qualitative and quantitative data to be collected.
Key findings from the trial include:
* 72% of drivers stated they would use an EV as their regular car compared to 47% before the trial
* 88% of fleet managers felt more positive about incorporating electric vehicles into fleets, despite a lack of public charging infrastructure
* 58% of fleet users felt generally more positive about electric vehicles after the trial
* 'Range anxiety' meant that 93% of journeys started with over 50% battery charge and that maximum journey length was only 25% of the typical vehicle range capability
* Test drivers and fleet users in the 20-30 age group experienced the highest opinion shift in favour of electric vehicle ownership
The trial has shown that strong potential exists for fleet operators to be early adopters of electric vehicles, having gained confidence that EVs can realistically form part of their transport fleet. Due to the return-to-base operation of fleets, the lack of a public recharging infrastructure is not seen as a barrier to the integration of EVs. But, organisations with dedicated recharging infrastructure rated the charging experience even higher than those without.
Fleet managers did highlight main barriers to EV integration as purchase price and limited range, although the quantitative data from the vehicle telemetry showed that users were over-cautious when planning journeys.
"The fact that the EVs outperformed expectations on all criteria shows that public awareness of the advances in electric vehicle technology in recent years is low," said Chris Walsh, Head of Consultancy and Technical Support at Cenex. "Even so, drivers tended to be over-cautious when planning journeys and seemed unwilling to push the vehicles to anything approaching their limits. This highlights the need for more public education about the capabilities of modern EVs and more sophisticated range prediction aids onboard to increase driver confidence."
The average range achievable from the 2 seater electric vehicles was 72.4 km emitting the equivalent of 81.4 gCO2/km when recharged with UK average grid mix electricity. If charged with lower carbon sources of electricity, the vehicles achieve average equivalent emissions of 45.0 gCO2/km from Combined Heat and Power generation, and 0 gCO2/km from renewable electricity generation.
"We predict that Government incentives to decarbonise the electricity network will coincide with the mass market introduction of electric vehicles, which offers an inherently low carbon future for EVs," added Walsh.
However, regarding the use of EVs within company fleets, the results from Cenex's study appear somewhat contradictory to the findings of research conducted by the Corporate Vehicle Observatory, which found that fleet managers were less positive about adopting electric vehicles. It may be the case that EVs are more suited to some fleet operations than others, or that results are dependent upon the differences in the survey methodologies used.
Cenex intends to undertake additional EV trials throughout 2010 and beyond, thereby increasing the quantity and diversity of vehicle technology and types assessed. These trials will build on the Smart Move Trial work and further assist organisations to decarbonise fleets while making informed choices about the most operationally suitable vehicles available.
The full results of the 'Smart Move Trial' are available to download here.
20.6.2010i-MiEV performs well in first UK trial
While some surveys are casting doubt on the future demand for electric cars, initial results from the West Midlands-based CABLED project, which is trialling of 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs strongly suggest otherwise.
Led by global engineering consultancy Arup, the Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Vehicle Demonstrators (CABLED) project is the largest to participate in the £25 million Technology Strategy Board's Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator competition as well as being the first to begin vehicle trials.
Data is being collected and analysed by Aston University. Beginning in December 2009, data loggers and GPS devices were fitted to each i-MiEV, trialled by members of the public, used to record usage, location and charging habits. Data is sent out every minute when the car is in use and every 15 minutes when it is parked; the trial will run for at least 12 months.
The initial results show that the trial cars were generally used in much the same way as any ordinary car, with the majority of journeys being 5 miles or less. Journeys in this range are those that are most polluting with a conventionally fuelled car; when the engine is cold and the catalytic converter is least efficient.
Average daily mileage was 23 miles, well within the i-MiEV's 80 mile range. Drivers used the entire speed range of the car, showing that drivers felt comfortable at higher speeds too. Journeys were successfully made in temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius in the colder parts of this winter.
Vehicles were parked 97% of the time, typically overnight and during school hours; so allowing for lengthy battery charging periods at home or at work. Although vehicles only use the electricity needed to charge them they were left plugged in for more than 20% of the time, occasionally for several days at a time.
Andrew Everett, Lead Technologist in Low Carbon Vehicles for the organisation overseeing and funding the project, the Technology Strategy Board said, "It's great to see data starting to come out of the demonstrator trials and the findings from the CABLED project are very positive. Seven other consortia will be collecting the same sort of data from onboard computers in around 340 test vehicles.
"It's all going to be collated and published by the Technology Strategy Board in an act of open innovation. The information will be available to all and the aim is that the findings help drive innovation and development in Low Carbon Vehicles Technology as well as to inform future UK activities related to Ultra Low Carbon vehicles."
Neil Butcher, Arup's project leader of the CABLED consortium said: "Vehicles are quick and easy to plug in and this becomes a habit, even if the battery is still mostly full; so vehicles are usually fully charged at the start of the day. With the mass usage of vehicles, we will need to carefully consider how energy tariffs can be used to promote overnight charging and smooth demands on the grid."
Brian Price, Aston University comments, "Collecting real-world usage of electric vehicles (EV) through our satellite mapping and analysis has been essential in understanding actual demands and requirements of EV vehicles for consumers. The journey data gathered is already showing that the current generation of ultra low carbon vehicles are cheap to run as well as being comparable to petrol and diesel vehicles for speed, ease of use and daily journey distance; using less than 30% of total charge in typical daily use. The next phase of the study will allow us to map out an optimal charging point network to further extend range and improve the convenience of electric cars.
Lance Bradley, Mitsubishi Motors' Managing Director comments, "The i-MiEV is certainly proving itself in real-world tests. It is interesting that the British motorists involved in this trial don't seem to be showing any significant signs of 'range anxiety' and are using their cars just as they would a normal vehicle. Altogether, this is good news for Mitsubishi and the future of electric vehicles in the UK, and justifies Mitsubishi Motors' vision to lead the way in electric vehicle research, design, and manufacture."
Drivers selected for the trials of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the 85 other consortium vehicles were chosen through an application process led by Coventry University.Newspress
16.6.2010UK fleets fear hidden costs of EVs
While the new coalition Government is pushing hard to get fleets of electric vehicles on to Britain's roads, UK businesses fear hidden costs and being left high and dry by too few recharging points, according to new research conducted by the independent Corporate Vehicle Observatory, supported by fleet expert Arval.
The limited choice and overall cost of the vehicles are currently seen as major turn-offs to UK fleet managers who, unlike some of their European counterparts, will not it seems be rushing to plug into a new generation of electric vehicles – even if the new coalition government clarifies its thinking on a new charging station network, according to the CVO report.
The research of almost 3500 fleet decision makers in 14 countries including Belgium, Brazil, The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey revealed that across all sizes of UK companies, electric vehicles were likely to see the slowest growth over the next three years. Less than 30% of larger businesses questioned were planning to introduce electric vehicles compared to 61% opting for hybrids. For small to medium sized companies, the figures are even lower with only 12% considering electric vehicles compared to 26% planning to introduce hybrids.
A total of 84% of UK SMEs cited the limited number of recharge points as an obstacle while 88% feared they would be too difficult to run over longer distances. Almost 60% said that although running costs may be lower, the price of the vehicles themselves would be too high. Anecdotal evidence suggests that electric vehicles could be as much as a third higher in price than their conventional counterparts. In addition, a further 48% doubted the vehicles' overall green credentials over time.
The figures were equally, if not more damning for larger companies. A total of 87% of businesses with over 1000 employees said electric vehicles would restrict movements and 73% worried about re-fuelling locations. A further 78% said there was too little choice in the types of suitable fleet vehicles and more than 70% felt the costs were too high.
Whilst larger businesses in other European countries are more confident about the green credentials of electric vehicles, with only 15% doubting their real environmental impact, 68% of companies were still concerned about the availability of a charging network.
The figures are underlined by confusing messages from the UK Government. Although both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties had supported electric vehicle re-charge points in the pre-election build up, reports have suggested that the coalition is likely to delay a decision on establishing such a network.
The Department for Transport has said 'yes' to an electric charge point network, but the Treasury has put it into a list of policies to be reviewed in terms of value for money as the country attempts to repay the multi-billion pound national deficit.
"We have a mandate for the infrastructure, but because it was part of the spending review between January 1 and May 6 when the new coalition took office, it will be one of the funding commitments under review in terms of value for money," said a DfT spokesman.
Commenting upon the CVO report, Mike Waters, director of market insight for Arval, said: "The post-election appetite for electric vehicles may have cooled slightly and this will not have been helped by other press reports about the potential impact upon the National Grid if the UK did opt to push the electric car agenda."
Waters added: "What the CVO research is highlighting this year is that businesses need to be encouraged to support alternative technology but won't invest if there is confusion over levels of Government support needed to deliver an effective infrastructure. The market is asking for clarity in terms of the Coalition position in this crucial area both now and over the longer term. There are potentially worrying parallels to the LPG debate in the 1990's: there were a lot of positive noises made about the technology, but no infrastructure was ever fully supported in the UK, unlike in Europe where it is an active part of the alternative fuel mix."
Corporate Vehicle Observatory, Arval
9.6.2010BBC sets challenge for THINK City
Scandinavian electric vehicle maker, THINK, has exclusively provided the BBC with a brand new THINK City, with which they are to travel around Europe to create a pioneering documentary, entitled BBC Electric Ride.
The documentary is to be broadcasted on BBC Radio 4, BBC Online and BBC News over a period of 4 weeks from 19th June. On the morning of 7th June, the pioneering BBC Electric Drive documentary team left Broadcasting House in London on their epic drive.
The team of four, led by presenter Peter Curran, will drive straight to Harwich to catch a ferry to Denmark; before driving across the Danish islands to Norway, then onto Sweden, Austria, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and others along the way before returning to London early in July. The team are expecting to travel over 4,000 miles on the month long adventure.
BBC Electric Ride senior producer, Kevin Dawson, said: "The basic premise of our show is extremely simple - we want to look at the emergence of electric cars as a dawning reality. By embarking on an ambitious journey like this one, we will be able to share with our listeners the picture across Western Europe. We'll be investigating the technology, infrastructure and political will behind the growth of EV culture."
He continued: "Our choice of car came down to practicalities. We chose the THINK City because it is a ready-to-market fully electric vehicle, with a good driving range and respectable top speed."
THINK handed the vehicle over to the Electric Ride team in London last week, and gave a top EV driving tips master-class to lead-driver Peter Curran, to help make the most of the vehicle and maximise battery range on the epic journey ahead. Some of the top tips included:
* The intensity of battery and range use is primarily governed by the throttle, so use it wisely and watch the efficiency meter on the dash to feel for your optimum driving style, e.g. by releasing the throttle early when approaching a red traffic signal
* Use the 'E' or economy drive function on the transmission to maximise regenerative braking - this gathers the energy used for braking and feeds it back into the battery
* Drive with the windows up to minimise drag
* Carry only what you need to minimise weight - leave the golf clubs and children's bicycles at home (though there is plenty of room in the spacious trunk for such items)
* Listen to relaxing music to ensure a patient and efficient driving style
Richard Canny, THINK CEO, said: "This is exactly the pioneering spirit that we encourage at THINK, which is why we are so happy to be supporting the BBC in this excellent project. They will prove that an EV can be just as versatile as a conventional car, but at the same time much more cost effective, efficient and friendly to the environment. Our top EV driving tips will help them along the way, and I look forward to personally welcoming the team in Oslo on Friday - a quarter of the way through their expedition."
BBC Electric Ride will be broadcast on Radio 4 on Saturdays at 1030hrs (BST / GMT +1) for four weeks from 19th June and will also be available globally on BBC i-player from the same date. The team can also be followed globally on BBC Online, Facebook, Twitter and at the projects website.
3.6.2010Dealers begin installing charge points
In preparation for the anticipated widespread uptake of electric vehicles in the UK, Mercedes Benz and Smart begin installing charging points at their UK dealer networks.
To date, 20 Elektrobay recharging units, produced in the UK by Brighton-based Elektromotive, have been installed at seven locations as part of a pilot project, and further expansion of the initiative is planned later this year.
Smart will be starting public trials of the latest version of the zero emission, Smart electric drive later this summer. The Elektrobays have been given designated charging bays at Mercedes-Benz and Smart sites and can be used now by motorists involved in the Smart Fortwo electric drive trial.
So far three units have been installed at Mercedes-Benz World in Weybridge, Surrey, a further three at the Mercedes-Benz UK in Milton Keynes, four at the flagship Mercedes-Benz dealership in Brentford, seven at three Mercedes-Benz dealerships in the Midlands, and three outside the showroom on Edgware Road, London.
All of the installation work has been undertaken by Vinci Energies United Kingdom, which is partnering with Elektromotive to deploy an infrastructure in the UK capable of charging electric vehicles whenever they are stationary at home, in public car parks, at the kerbside and at the workplace.
"Electric vehicles will form an increasingly important part of our product development plans, and it is crucial that we put in place a recharging infrastructure to help our dealers and customers join the zero-emission revolution," commented Dermot Kelly, Managing Director Mercedes-Benz Cars. "Elektromotive is the natural partner for this project, and we are delighted with the work that they have done so far in getting the Elektrobay recharging points up and running."
Calvey Taylor-Haw, Managing Director of Elektromotive, adds: "This is the first time that Elektromotive has worked so closely with a vehicle manufacturer to install Elektrobays at dealerships. It is an exciting and important development in the creation of a nationwide recharging infrastructure, and is an approach we expect to be copied by other car makers and their retail networks in the UK and beyond."