New electrified vehicle concept promises almost unlimited range and indefinite life span

New electrified vehicle concept promises almost unlimited range and indefinite life span

A new British company has launched an electrified adventure vehicle that features a range extender generator that could take its range to beyond 7000km.

The Fering Pioneer is the brainchild of ex Ferrari and McLaren engineer Ben Scott-Geddes, who has repurposed supercar and racing technology to provide environmental responsibility and unrivalled off-grid capabilities for the most extreme environments.

Power to the axles is provided solely by two electric motors – unusual for an off-road vehicle. But they are perfectly suited to the task, providing instant torque, controllability and reliability. They provide a total of 600Nm of torque; more than a comparable diesel 4×4.

A battery provides a zero local emission, electric-only range of around 80km. The Pioneer’s range extender generator is then available to give ability to keep going with range almost unlimited.

The Pioneer’s battery cells are not the same as you’d find in a conventional EV, as the usual Lithium-Ion chemistry is affected significantly by extremes of weather. Instead, Fering have used Lithium Titanate Oxide cells, designed to survive extreme weather conditions.

For longer adventures, the battery is supported by an 800cc 3-cylinder range extender combustion engine powered by biodiesel. By operating consistently at its most efficient level, the engine generates power to run the motors and charge the battery in normal driving. This means the battery can cover peak demands for power – such as hill climbing – using energy reserves which are then replenished while the vehicle is cruising, stationary or braking.

Using advanced materials and techniques has allowed the Pioneer to “rewrite the rules on strength and lightness” too. The dry kerb weight is around 1,500kg – the same as a medium-sized hatchback.

This has been made possible by using an aluminium spaceframe with composite elements, while the exterior panels are made of tough fabric. This material, which is similar to the canvas found in high-end hiking boots, “can shrug off damage, is easily replaced and has better insulation properties than metal skins”.

Despite this, the Pioneer is capable of carrying its own weight as a payload, with a 1,500kg capacity.

The combination of light weight and an efficient powertrain results in exceptional fuel economy. Even with the batteries discharged, the Pioneer is expected to deliver around 50mpg.

The efficiency also means the Pioneer can have an incredible ability to live ‘off-grid’ and survive expeditions to remote areas without having to worry about refuelling. With long-range tanks fitted, the vehicle will be capable of driving for 7,000km without needing a fuel stop or recharging from the grid. If such extreme range isn’t needed for the mission, the tanks can be swapped for water to provide fresh supplies on a mission.

Fering says the vehicle is designed with adaptability in mind and can easily be modified or upgraded to suit the customer’s intended purpose. Bigger batteries, and different range extenders can be used, such as alcohol-fuelled engines in Brazil or a fuel cell in Asia. The combination of a battery and generator also makes the Pioneer ideal for emergency service use, where electrically-operated rescue equipment and lighting can be used in remote locations.

This adaptability means the Pioneer is not expected to have an ‘end of life’ which will require it to be disposed of and recycled. It is easy to repair and upgrade giving it an indefinite life span. Should it ever need to be recycled, there is far less material to recover than a comparable 4×4 vehicle or even a similar sized van.

The first prototype Pioneer is already going through a rigorous testing process and being assessed by early customers and organisations. Series production will start in the UK during the first half of 2022.

Utrecht supports development of bi-directional EV charging ecosystem

Utrecht supports development of bi-directional EV charging ecosystem

The city of Utrecht, the Netherland’s fourth largest city, and EV car sharing and bi-directional charging operator We Drive Solar have done a deal with German EV developer Sono Motors to provide the city with 100 of its Sion solar cars. The initiative supports Utrecht’s goal of becoming the first region in the world with a bidirectional EV charging ecosystem.

Sions, which incorporate range-extending solar panels in the vehicle’s body, are one of the first cars to offer vehicle to grid capabilities. They will access We Drive Solar’s bidirectional chargers and feed energy back to the grid through their 54kWh batteries.

This will allow the energy stored in the car’s battery to reduce grid instabilities by delivering 11kW either directly to other electric vehicles and homes or back into the grid via the bi-directional on-board charger.

Combined, the 100 Sions will be able to provide 1.1 megawatt peak power to the city, which says Sono, is equivalent to the energy generated by a photovoltaic power plant the size of two football fields.

“This is the perfect project for Sono Motors to further our vision of a world free from fossil fuels as it is a clear demonstration that electric vehicles can support the transition of the energy sector as a whole,” stated Jona Christians, CEO and co-founder of Sono Motors.

The cars will plug into We Drive Solar’s bi-directional electric vehicle charging network, which is claimed to be the largest in the world. It currently offers 250 V2G charging stations, and 2,000 solar panels. We Drive Solar recently completed a deal with Hyundai and 150 bi-directional Ioniq 5s will join the Sion’s as part of the Utrecht-based shared, bidirectional electric vehicle fleet.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with an innovative company like Sono Motors. They are the perfect partner for this venture as they already incorporate the use of solar energy, sharing and bidirectional charging into their product offering” said Robin Berg, Director of We Drive Solar in a statement.

Lucid EV smashes 500-mile barrier on single charge

Lucid EV smashes 500-mile barrier on single charge

Lucid’s Air Dream Edition R is the first EV passenger car to exceed 500 miles on a single charge. The record-breaking official US EPA range rating was achieved on a run from Los Angeles up to San Francisco and back down to the company’s HQ in Newark, California — a 445-mile trip — but achieved with remaining charge sufficient to cover a further 72 miles.

Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO, Lucid Group, said, “I’m delighted that our Lucid Air Dream Edition Range has been officially accredited with a range of 520 miles by the EPA, a number I believe to be a new record for any EV.

Crucially, explains Rawlinson, this landmark has been achieved using Lucid’s “standard” in-house EV technology, not by simply installing an oversize battery pack. “Our race-proven 900V battery and BMS technology, our miniaturized drive units, coupled with our Wunderbox technology endow Lucid Air with ultra-high efficiency, enabling it to travel more miles from less battery energy. The next generation EV has truly arrived!

“Improvements in efficiency will enable widespread mass adoption,” adds Rawlinson. “We develop all our technology in-house, and we have a relentless focus on efficiency. Our approach is based on the concept of ‘smart range,’ going incredible distance on a single charge, carrying the smallest possible battery packs.”

Ford puts Mustang Mach-E on police duty in US and UK

Ford puts Mustang Mach-E on police duty in US and UK

Ford is using a pilot programme with Michigan State Police to demonstrate that a vehicle with an electric powertrain can stand up to the demands of police work.

The company is providing the US state enforcement agency with an all-electric police pilot vehicle based on the 2021 Mustang Mach-E SUV to evaluate through 2022. The trial will also give Ford a real-world performance benchmark while it continues to explore the requirements for purpose-built electric police vehicles.

Ford recently introduced a Mustang Mach-E police concept car to the UK.

Like many EVs the Mach-E is quick off the mark and capable of 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 111mph. Ford says the car will be “a useful weapon against crime… while offering police forces one of the most economical and environmentally-friendly cars on their fleets”.

“The vehicle range is uncompromised as the blue light equipment is being drawn from the vehicle’s 12V battery and not the drive battery,” says Terry Adams, Blue Light Direct Sales Manager, Ford of Britain and Ireland.

He adds, “In future developments we will look to increase this battery capacity to allow for additional equipment to be fitted.”

Osprey’s planned UK EV hub network uses Finnish charger optimisation technology

Osprey’s planned UK EV hub network uses Finnish charger optimisation technology

UK EV charging network operator Osprey Charging has released plans to install over 150 high-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging hubs across the UK by 2025.

Collectively offering around 1,500 150-175KW rapid chargers, the hubs, essentially EV service stations, will be located on strategic A-roads and adjacent to motorways.

The £75 million rollout, from one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing public rapid EV charging networks, will see the first use in the UK of innovative Finnish charger optimisation technology developed by Kempower. Its load-balancing technology distributes power based on demand, which varies significantly between individual vehicles based upon factors such as the maximum charging rate and the battery charge percentage at the time of charge.

The load-balancing technology also allows multiple high-power chargers to be installed without the need for more grid power.

The technology, says Osprey, has the potential to revolutionise EV charging. Tomi Ristimäki, CEO of Kempower, said, “We are extremely happy to launch Kempower EV charging solutions with Osprey Charging. The UK is one of Europe’s fastest-growing EV markets and we have the technology and expertise to accelerate this shift. The modularity of Kempower products ensures they have a small footprint, allowing our customers to make use of limited space in densely populated cities and choose solutions that drive meaningful electrification.”

Graeme Cooper, Head of Future Markets at National Grid added, “The widespread transition to EVs means we need to rethink how we make, move and use energy. The power demand for charging will be significant, so it’s crucial that we use the cleanest and cheapest power in our cars and to make the most of each grid connection. By optimising power management at charging facilities, we can ensure a smooth transition away from petrol and diesel whilst maintaining a stable and effective electricity grid.”

Ian Johnston, CEO of Osprey Charging, said, “The EV market is booming, with sales up over 117% year-on-year and EV adoption continuing to grow exponentially. In less than nine years’ time, buying a new petrol or diesel car will be impossible, so it’s crucial that public charging infrastructure stays ahead of the curve.

Construction is already underway at four sites and Osprey’s first hub will open later this year in Wolverhampton, adjacent to the A463 near the M6. Construction will be underway on the first 10 hubs before the end of the year, with over 150 hubs planned over the next four years.

Chargers, says Osprey, will be capable of adding 100 miles of range in 10 minutes and each hub will be located near food and retail amenities including Costa Coffee, Lidl, Aldi, Pizza Hut, KFC and Curry’s PC World.

All Osprey chargers are compatible with every rapid charging EV on the market today and do not require a membership or subscription to initiate charging – drivers can simply tap their contactless bank card or smartphone.

Walmart, Ford, Argo AI to launch multi-city autonomous delivery service

Walmart, Ford, Argo AI to launch multi-city autonomous delivery service

Ford Motor Company, Argo AI and Walmart are working together to launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Miami, Austin and Washington DC. The delivery service will use Ford self-driving test vehicles equipped with the Argo AI’s self-driving system to deliver Walmart orders to customers. Initial integration testing is expected to begin later this year.

Argo’s cloud-based infrastructure will integrate with Walmart’s online ordering platform to route orders and schedule package deliveries to customers’ homes.

Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO, Argo AI, says, “Our focus on the testing and development of self-driving technology that operates in urban areas where customer demand is high really comes to life with this collaboration. Working together with Walmart and Ford across three markets, we’re showing the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale.”

Scott Griffith, CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles & Mobility Businesses, adds, “Pairing Walmart’s retail and e-commerce leadership with Argo and Ford’s self-driving operations across these multiple cities marks a significant step toward scaling a commercial goods delivery service.”

“We’re excited to expand our autonomous delivery efforts in three new markets alongside Argo and Ford,” comments Tom Ward, Walmart’ssenior vice president of last mile delivery. “This collaboration will further our mission to get products to the homes of our customers with unparalleled speed and ease, and in turn, will continue to pave the way for autonomous delivery.”

Walmart had previously partnered with General Motor’s Cruise on a self-driving delivery pilot and with self-driving vehicle startups Gatik and Nuro to explore delivery through autonomous vehicles.

DPD-led team achieves 1,100km run on single charge

DPD-led team achieves 1,100km run on single charge

A European team has set a new World Record for the longest distance covered by an electric truck without a recharging stop. The project team covered 1,099 kilometers in 23 hours.

Parcel delivery service provider DPD Switzerland, the e-truck brand Futuricum and tyre manufacturer Continental recently secured the Guinness World Record title at the Contidrom high-speed oval track near Hanover in Germany.

The partners used an e-truck that DPD Switzerland has been using daily over the last six months, to prove that “sustainable, energy-efficient and cost-efficient electric mobility in the transportation industry is not a mobility concept of tomorrow, but is already a reality on European roads today.”

The team prepared the Futuricum truck, a converted Volvo FH, with a high-capacity battery and efficient tyres.

Futuricum said, “The 19-ton truck now has over 680 hp and, with a capacity of 680 kilowatt hours, the largest truck battery in Europe on board,” explains Adrian Melliger, CEO of Designwerk Products AG, the company behind the Futuricum brand.

The truck was also fitted with the Continental EfficientPro tyres designed for particularly low rolling resistance.

“The upturn in electric mobility has put an even greater focus on the importance of rolling resistance optimised tyres,” says Hinnerk Kaiser, Head of Product Development Truck Tires EMEA of Continental. “Our tyres enable high mileage and extremely low rolling resistance and thus offers the essential characteristics for the economical operation of electrically powered commercial vehicles.

The world-record setting run took place at Contidrom, Continental’s in-house test centre. It is a 2.8-kilometer-long, oval test track. In total, two drivers completed 392 laps in shifts of 4.5 hours each at an average speed of 50 km/h.

The record run of 1099km on a single charge was achieved in just under 23 hours, even though the weather conditions were not ideal. The outside temperature was just 14 degrees C with winds averaging 18 km/h and gusting at up to 40 km/h.

Marc Frank, Strategy & Innovation Director at DPD Switzerland said “We decided to invest in electric mobility at an early stage. The Futuricum truck has been travelling between the depot in Möhlin near Basel to the distribution centre near Zurich for about six months now. It’s been travelling about 300 Km every day without any problems, but we are proud that we have now been able to officially document our performance level.”

Baidu pilots Apollo Go robotaxi service in Shanghai

Baidu pilots Apollo Go robotaxi service in Shanghai

Chinese search engine and tech giant Baidu has begun testing its Apollo Go robotaxi offer in Shanghai.

While Baidu says its robotaxis have Level 4 capabilities a human safety operator will be present during all rides to comply with local regulations. Level 4 means the cars are technically fully autonomous, but within geographically defined areas.

The Shanghai fleet will be made up of Baidu’s electric Hongqi EVs and the aim is to run a fleet of 200 vehicles in the city.

Riders in Shanghai can use the Apollo Go app to call a robotaxi from 9:30am to 11pm and be picked up or dropped off at one of 150 stations across the Jianding District, which is home to Shanghai University, the Shanghai International Circuit and many tourist attractions.

Shanghai is also the location of Baidu’s Apollo Park, an autonomous vehicle facility for operation, testing and R&D. The park will be the base for the 200 AVs Baidu hopes to bring to the city, which would make it the site of the largest self-driving fleet in East China.

Shanghai is the fifth city to offer Apollo Go robotaxi services and Baidu says it plans to expand to 25 more cities in the next three years, bringing the potential of autonomous driving to three million people in China.

In a press release, Wei Dong, vice president and chief safety operation officer of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group, says, “achieving this large-scale implementation requires three steps: regionalization, commercialization and verification via unmanned on-road operation. Baidu has already made headway in autonomous ride-hailing, achieving a 60% drop in cost per mile with the 5th generation robotaxi vehicle release in June. With the launch in Shanghai, Baidu Apollo is continuing to deliver on China’s vision of developing a world-leading autonomous driving market.”

Dutch students head to southern Spain in their self-powered solar camper

Dutch students head to southern Spain in their self-powered solar camper

Dutch students from the Solar Team at the TU Eindhoven are about to undertake a 3,000km road trip across Europe in their self-powered Stella Vita camper.

Described as a solar house on wheels, the Stella Vita has an 8.8 m2 solar array on its roof that harvests energy for the 60-kWh lithium ion battery bank while driving. Slide-out panels double the total solar canopy when parked at camp.

All of the Stella Vita’s power needs, including the electric drive system but also kitchen, bathroom and lighting requirements, are expected to be met by the solar system alone, so there shouldn’t be a need to rely on charging infrastructure along the travel route.

In bright sunlight, Solar Team Eindhoven says that the vehicle could travel up to 730 km in a day, and that the range on a fully charged battery could allow as much as 600 km of motoring by night.

To prove the Stella Vita’s capabilities, team members are due to embark on a European Solar Tour. Setting off from Eindhoven in the Netherlands on 19 September, the team plans to head south through Zolder toward Brussels, and then onto Paris, Le Mans, Île de Ré, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Zaragoza, Madrid, Toledo, and Córdoba, with the 3,000-km journey coming to an end in the southern-most city in Spain, Tarifa, on 15 October.

German environmental NGOs take legal challenge to VW, BMW and Mercedes

German environmental NGOs take legal challenge to VW, BMW and Mercedes

Greenpeace Germany and environmental NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) have coordinated statements saying they will take legal action against Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and gas and oil firm Wintershall Dea, if the companies fail to step up their policies to tackle climate change.

The cases would be modelled on one Greenpeace brought against Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands last year. In it, Greenpeace lawyers argued the Royal Dutch Shell’s lack of climate action constituted a failure in its duty of care to citizens, which led to a court ruling in May 2021 mandating the company to reduce its CO2 output by 45% from 2019 levels by 2030.

In the new initiative Greenpeace and DUH are demanding that the car makers stop producing combustion engine cars by 2030 – earlier than the 2035 ban proposed by the EU in July – and that Wintershall Dea refrains from exploring any new oil and gas fields from 2026.

These deadlines, say Greenpeace and DUH, are necessary to meet the goals of the Paris climate accords and German climate law.

They have set a near deadline for the companies to respond to their demands. Should they fail to do so, the NGOs will file lawsuits in German courts, they said.

According to the NGOs, the German automotive sector’s sales of diesel and petrol engines around the world amount to a greater CO2 footprint than the whole of Germany’s in 2019.

“Anyone who delays climate protection harms others and is thus acting illegally,” says Roda Rehyen, one of Greenpeace’s lawyers. “Civil law can and must prevent corporations from destroying our livelihoods and depriving our children and grandchildren of the right to a secure future.”

Wallbox launches 15-minute public charger aimed at drivers on long journeys

Wallbox launches 15-minute public charger aimed at drivers on long journeys

Barcelona-based Wallbox, a leading provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions worldwide, has launched Hypernova, the company’s fastest public charging station to date.

Wallbox says as electric vehicles become increasingly popular, there is a need for reliable public chargers that are ultrafast, long-lasting and easy to repair.

The Hypernova can deliver up to 350 kW that allows it to fully charge an electric car in the time it takes to make a typical short rest stop and is substantially faster than most other ultrafast chargers on the market.

“We are thrilled to unveil our fastest public charger to date, which can fully charge an electric vehicle in under 15 minutes,” said Enric Asunción, CEO and co-founder of Wallbox. “Hypernova will be a game changer in building fast public charging infrastructure, especially on highways where drivers need to recharge and keep going,” Asunción added.

Hypernova employs advanced software that allows it to optimise available power and adapt to the number of EVs connected, making it ideal for public charging along highways and transcontinental road networks.

Hypernova’s integrated cable management system ensures easy handling and stores the cables inside the dispenser unit, maximising durability and helping to protect and keep the installation clean. It also offers several authentication and payment options, including RFID, screen QR Code and credit card reader with worldwide acceptance. Production and deliveries of Hypernova will start in late 2022.

NZ Fleet management company rolls out driver fatigue system

NZ Fleet management company rolls out driver fatigue system

New Zealand-based fleet management solutions company EROAD is to integrate Seeing Machines’ Guardian technology into software to help combat driver fatigue and make roads safer.

Seeing Machines’ Guardian technology uses face and eye-tracking algorithms to detect fatigue and distraction, enabling proactive intervention before a risky driving incident occurs.

According to Seeing Machines’ research, in-cab alerts reduce fatigue by upwards of 60%, and continuous driver monitoring decreases the occurrence of fatigue by an additional 30% to achieve a reduction in fatigue-related driving events of more than 90%.

The integration of this technology, says EROAD, will provide operators with a single tool for managing video telematics where previously there were two separate managing systems. This makes it easier for fleet managers to prioritise actionable insights from data, as well as developing a greater understanding of the risks associated with their fleet and coach drivers.

“Our mission at EROAD is to help every community enjoy safer, more productive roads,” says Steven Newman, CEO of EROAD. “We’re all about improving fleet safety through better driver behaviour and the integration of Guardian technology will help us achieve that. The technology is set to become a vital element in the MyEROAD portal to ensure safer and more sustainable outcomes for fleet operators and drivers.”

“We are very happy to be partnering with EROAD,” says Paul McGlone, CEO of Seeing Machines. “Our Guardian technology has seen expanding global penetration into long haul and heavy transport fleets and will be a huge benefit to EROAD users not only in New Zealand, but Australia and America as well. The Seeing Machines purpose is to get everyone home safely so we are closely aligned with EROAD as both companies take pride in helping make roads safer, knowing this integration will help achieve that.”

Japanese researchers improve recovery of rare earth elements from EV motor magnets

Japanese researchers improve recovery of rare earth elements from EV motor magnets

Nissan and Waseda University in Tokyo have announced the start of testing in Japan of a jointly developed recycling process that efficiently recovers high-purity rare-earth elements (REEs) from EV motor magnets. The testing is aimed at enabling practical application of the new process by the mid-2020s.

Most motors in EVs use neodymium magnets, which contain scarce rare-earth metals such as neodymium and dysprosium.

The new method of testing has shown that the new recycling process can recover 98% of the motors’ REEs.

The method also approximately twice as fast as current recovery processes because there is no need to demagnetise the magnets, or remove and disassemble them

In a press release, Nissan states, “Reducing the use of scarce rare earths is important not only because of the environmental impact of mining and refining, but also because the shifting balance of supply and demand leads to price fluctuations for both manufacturers and consumers.”

Nissan has been collaborating with Waseda University since 2017, which has a strong track record of researching non-ferrous metal recycling and smelting.

Shell bases UK target for 50,000 on-street chargers on government funding scheme

Shell bases UK target for 50,000 on-street chargers on government funding scheme

Energy company Shell has set an ambition to have 50,000 on-street electric vehicle (EV) charge posts installed across the UK by the end of 2025, through ubitricity, which was acquired by Shell earlier this year.

The move is part of a wider effort to bring more EV charging availability UK drivers without private parking. More than 60% of households in English cities and urban areas do not have off-street parking – this rises to 68% for people living in social housing.

The UK government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) currently meets 75% of the cost of installing on-street chargers through the On-Street Residential Charging Scheme (ORCS).

And for local authorities looking to install ubitricity charge posts, Shell, under its new initiative, will cover the remaining costs, subject to commercial terms.

Around 3,600 ubitricity chargers are already in place in the UK, using existing street infrastructure such as lamp posts and bollards.

Globally, Shell wants to grow its electric vehicle network from more than 60,000 charge points today to around 500,000 by 2025.

David Bunch, Shell’s UK Country Chair, says: “It’s vital to speed up the pace of EV charger installation across the UK and this aim and financing offer is designed to help achieve that. Whether at home, at work or on-the-go, we want to give drivers across the UK accessible EV charging options, so that more drivers can switch to electric.”

UK Transport Minister Rachel Maclean, adds, “Together with industry and local authorities, we can create cleaner, greener local communities – providing EV chargepoints for people without off-street parking across the country.”

Robotaxi reveal keeps Motional’s 2023 autonomous taxi service on track

Robotaxi reveal keeps Motional’s 2023 autonomous taxi service on track

Motional the Boston-based autonomous vehicle company founded in March 2020 as a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and auto supplier Aptiv, has unveiled its first commercial robotaxi.

Based on the all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5, the IONIQ 5 robotaxi is an electric Level 4 autonomous vehicle that Motional says remains on target to begin transporting public passengers in 2023 through a partnership with Lyft.

The robotaxi has more than 30 sensors – a combination of cameras, radars, and lidar – that provide robust 360-degree perception, high-resolution images, and ultra-long range detection of objects for safe autonomous operation in diverse driving environments.

Woongjun Jang, Head of the Autonomous Driving Center at Hyundai, says, “Hyundai Motor has evolved its IONIQ 5, a battery electric vehicle built on its EV-dedicated platform, into a platform for fully autonomous vehicles. For the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi, we have applied various redundancy systems, in addition to a suite of essential technologies to ensure safety and convenience of the passengers. By successfully integrating the Group’s IONIQ 5 robotaxi with Motional’s autonomous driving technology, we are proud to announce that we have achieved another important milestone on the road to the commercialization of our robotaxi.”

“This robotaxi represents Motional’s vision of a driverless future becoming a reality,” adds Motional President and CEO, Karl Iagnemma. “Through our strategic partnership with Hyundai and Aptiv, we have unparalleled automotive and software expertise across our entire vehicle development process. This deep collaboration enables us to manufacture a robotaxi that’s both highly safe and reliable, and is cost-optimized for global production and mass commercialisation.”

Green hydrogen-from-solar fuels Austrian bus trial

Green hydrogen-from-solar fuels Austrian bus trial

Austrian solar energy company Fronius has completed a two-week test operation with a bus fuelled with green hydrogen at Wels in Upper Austria. The clean hydrogen gas is produced from solar power at Fronius’ SolHub facility at the SAN Biotech Park, in Herzogenburg, Lower Austria.

During the trial, the emission-free Solaris Urbino 12 Hydrogen bus was refuelled daily with around 13 kilograms of hydrogen. Refuelling took around 15 minutes which depending on operating conditions, provided a range of “at least 160 kilometres”.

“The best thing is that heat and water vapour are the only products of the chemical reaction in the fuel cell, they act as a kind of mini power station,” explains Abba Mejer, head of Solaris Bus. “Refuelling with hydrogen is short, convenient and hardly different from refuelling a diesel vehicle.”

Martin Hackl, Head of the Solar Division at Fronius says, “With the Solhub, we offer a complete turnkey solution that makes it possible to produce local, green hydrogen and use it to refuel fuel cell vehicles.”

Fronius’s aim with the trial was to prove the practical feasibility of locally produced green hydrogen. “We are showing that the technology works and is suitable for everyday use,” says Thomas Rührlinger, who develops new business models at Fronius.

“Sustainable and locally produced hydrogen holds great potential and strengthens domestic value creation as well as regional business models,” he adds. “In the next few years, we expect to see a large number of additional implementations with customers from commercial and production companies, municipalities and transport companies, as well as logistics, tourism, operators of special vehicles and in the context of renewable energy communities.”

Volvo secures largest order of electric trucks in North America

Volvo secures largest order of electric trucks in North America

Performance Team, a US warehousing and distribution company owned by Maersk, has placed an order for 16 Volvo VNR Electric Class 8 trucks — Volvo’s largest commercial order of the North American zero-tailpipe emission model to date. The VNR Electric model will also be Performance Team’s first zero-tailpipe emission, battery-electric Class 8 truck.

Designed for local and regional freight distribution, when put into service by the end of the year, all 16 vehicles will be carrying regional loads daily to customers across Southern California.

“The shift toward electrification is an exciting time in the commercial truck space and Performance Team is leading the way with its largest order of the only battery-electric Class 8 model in scalable serial production today,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “Through its commitment to deploy 16 Volvo VNR Electrics by the end of 2021, Performance Team has demonstrated a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, and this is another great step forward in reducing the trucking industry’s overall carbon footprint.”   

The acquisition of the new Volvo VNR Electric models is part of Maersk’s Environment Social Governance (ESG) strategy to decarbonize logistics. Performance Team is participating in a State of California South Coast Air Quality Management District grant to reduce emissions in the transportation sector by replacing diesel trucks with electric trucks and creating new, future charging infrastructure. The El Segundo, California-based company operates a North America warehousing and distribution network of 45 locations and a fleet of 215 trucks.

“We’re seeing a 30% growth rate in our warehousing and distribution business,” said Jason Walker, executive vice president of operations of Performance Team. “Customers are looking for more truck power to meet high volume delivery demands. This new order of will give us firsthand experience on their performance carrying regional loads and environmental benefits. Our findings will help determine next steps in our fleet modernisation and the electric infrastructure necessary for future operations.”

Volta Minus One trials prototype Zero full electric 16-tonne truck

Volta Minus One trials prototype Zero full electric 16-tonne truck

Volta Trucks, the Swedish automotive company specialising in the manufacturing of electric trucks, has confirmed the start of engineering evaluation and development testing of the first prototype Volta Zero at the HORIBA MIRA testbed site at Nuneaton, UK.

The start of testing follows the recent reveal of the prototype chassis of the Volta Zero – the world’s first purpose-built full-electric 16-tonne commercial vehicle designed specifically for inner city logistics.

Dubbed ‘Volta Minus One’ by development engineers (as the forerunner to the production-specification Volta Zero), the prototype vehicle uses the proposed production specification chassis frame and drivetrain of the finished vehicle and will test all the electro-mechanical and thermal properties of the truck.

This includes the high-voltage battery supplied by Proterra, and the compact rear axle, electric motor and transmission eAxle unit from Meritor. The unconventional bodywork of the prototype is purely designed to protect the development driver from the elements when the vehicle is moving at speed. The production vehicle will feature a cargo box design, but the prototype uses a flatbed to allow engineers to add different levels and locations of loads to test its weight carrying capacity.

The prototype Volta Zero will continue testing at HORIBA MIRA over the coming months. The forthcoming test and development programme with this and later-specification prototypes also includes periods of cold weather testing north of the Arctic Circle, and hot weather testing in southern Europe. The comprehensive programme will ensure that the production-specification Volta Zero vehicles deliver the durability and reliability expected by fleet operators and vehicle owners.

These learnings will be taken into the production of Pilot Fleet vehicles that will be tested and evaluated by key customers who have signed up for both testing and the option to purchase series production trucks. This is designed to develop their understanding of how the Volta Zero will integrate into their operations. Full-scale production of customer- specification vehicles will then follow at the end of 2022.

Chief Product Officer of Volta Trucks, Ian Collins, said “The start of testing and evaluation of the first prototype Volta Zero is a major milestone on our journey towards production, and an exciting time for all of the Volta Trucks team and our customers. To have achieved this landmark moment in just eight months is a great example of the nimble and agile approach we have at Volta Trucks. We work at high pace to ensure that we can bring zero emission, full-electric commercial vehicles to market quickly, because our customers require vehicles as soon as possible. We need to go through a comprehensive and thorough development programme, but the start of prototype testing is evidence that we are on track to deliver production vehicles, on time, by the end of next year.”

UK Government invests in novel corner technology for EV platforms

UK Government invests in novel corner technology for EV platforms

Tel Aviv-based REE Automotive has been awarded £12.5 million funding from the UK government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). REE’s award is one of four recently announced as part of the UK’s investment into net-zero road transport.

The funds will allow REE to work towards commercial production of its breakthrough REEcorner technology and ultra-modular electric vehicle platforms, including engineering design, validation, verification and testing and product homologation.

REEcorner technology puts critical vehicle components such as steering, braking, suspension, powertrain and control, into a single compact module in the arch of the wheel.

REE’s EV platforms provide more room for carrying passengers, cargo and batteries and offer enhanced body design flexibility.

Ian Constance, Chief Executive at the APC said of the latest funding awards, “These projects address barriers to people making the switch to electric vehicles and they also provide potential solutions to the challenge of how we decarbonise public transport and the movement of goods. By investing in these innovations, we’re taking these technologies closer to the point where they are commercially viable, which will strengthen the UK’s automotive supply chain, safeguard or create jobs and reduce harmful greenhouse emissions.”

Mike Charlton, REE’s COO added, “REE is honoured to have been selected as recipient of UK funding to support REE’s investment in the UK automotive ecosystem following an extensive vetting and selection process. With the opening of our UK Engineering Centre in February this year, this reaffirms our commitment to the region and is in line with our plans for the mass production of our breakthrough REEcorner and electric vehicle platform technology. The UK is an ideal location for a pioneering automotive company like REE thanks to the country’s commitment to vehicle electrification which dovetails with our vision of propelling a zero-emissions, greener future.”

Ford delivers E-Transit prototypes to companies in Germany, Norway, and the UK

Ford delivers E-Transit prototypes to companies in Germany, Norway, and the UK

Ford’s all-electric E-Transit van has begun customer trials in Europe within major fleets operating in Germany, Norway and the UK.

In preparation for the spring 2022 launch, ten E-Transit prototypes are undergoing intensive real-world trials with key operators in the postal, municipal and utilities, last mile and grocery delivery sectors.

The trial will be relevant for the entire E-Transit lineup as it features many variants including van, double-cab-in-van, chassis cab conversions with box van, refrigerated box, tipper, and dropside bodies. Ford plans to offer 25 E-Transit configurations in Europe.

Among the trial partners are AWB waste disposal, Balfour Beatty, the City of Cologne municipal fleet, DHL Express, DPD, Norwegian Post, Ocado, and Recover Nordic. These companies will operate the E-Transit over six- or 12-month periods. The trials mark the latest phase in the development of the new E-Transit, following an intensive testing program at Ford proving grounds and engineering facilities.

Dave Petts, Ford of Europe’s market lead, urban electrified vans said, “Real-world mileage in customer hands provides valuable feedback on usage patterns and charging behaviour so that we can refine the operating experience.”

The Ford E-Transit is suitable for payloads of up to 1,616 kg for the van and up to 1,967 kg for the chassis cab models. The electric motor, which Ford claims to be the most powerful motor of any all-electric cargo van sold in Europe, has a peak output of 198 kW and 430 Nm of torque. The motor is powered by a battery with a usable capacity of 67 kWh, enabling an estimated driving range of up to 350 km on the combined WLTP cycle.