The potential of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology to balance the national electricity grid at scale is to be investigated in a UK trial by V2G consortium Powerloop in which EV drivers will participate in electricity system operator National Grid’s Balancing Mechanism marketplace, designed to solve multiple grid issues in real time.
To facilitate the trial, National Grid has not applied the usual thresholds for participation. The initiative is one of the first times a smaller, non-traditional energy resource has participated in this market, and Powerloop is the first V2G trial to do so.
The aim of the project is to see if the system facilitates easy participation of energy resources many orders of magnitude smaller than current players.
First launched in 2018, Powerloop is a V2G consortium project run by Octopus Electric Vehicles and its parent Octopus Energy in partnership with UK Power Networks (UKPN), Energy Saving Trust, Open Energi, CPS, and Guidehouse.
Octopus calculates that 10 million EVs discharging at the same time could match the UK’s peak daily electricity demand. There are currently just over 30 million cars on the road in the UK.
Powerloop is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), with Innovate UK acting as delivery partner.
The project, taking place in South East England, the operating area of distribution network operator UKPN, allows Nissan LEAF drivers in combination with the Wallbox Quasar V2G charger to export their car’s battery power back to the grid, gathering real world data to help show how V2G can contribute to the UK’s energy network.
Powerloop supports owners of electric vehicle with bi-directional charging technology to be both the generator and the consumer of energy. The car’s battery becomes a mobile energy asset that can transfer energy back to the grid during times of peak demand. And if EV owners do it enough times every month, they even make money back for it.
Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles, says, “To reach our Net Zero targets we need a smart energy system – where we store energy when the wind blows and sun shines, to use it when we want. The rise of electric cars not just cleans up our roads, but also provides a huge amount of battery storage .
“Vehicle-to-Grid tech allows us to store the green energy in our cars for when we need it most – and the Octopus Powerloop trial is a market leading demonstration of doing this with real drivers using cars on their driveways to power the grid.
“It is hugely exciting that we are forging that path here in the UK – setting the bar for a globally smarter energy system.”
Isabelle Haigh, Head of National Control for National Grid adds, “Electric vehicles are playing a key role in helping the transport and power sectors decarbonise, with EV smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technology set to bring significant flexibility to the grid as Britain transitions to net zero.
“Our Future Energy Scenarios forecasts up to 45% of households engaging with V2G services by 2050, potentially unlocking significant additional capacity on consumers’ driveways.
“We’re excited to be a part of a project that is blazing a trail for EVs to fulfil this potential and actively participate in the Balancing Mechanism. Powerloop is a great opportunity to understand how small-scale flexibility opportunities can help us balance the grid, and is another example of the benefits of widening participation to new players in the market.”
A German research group led by tyre manufacturer and technology company Continental is working on combining rubber and printed electronics sensors that will track the wear and status of rubber-made components.
The three-year sensIC project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is attempting to address the fact that despite the thousands of sensors in modern cars, there is no data on the performance of rubber components. But use of tailor printed electronics could bring benefits to a wide range of components including hoses, air springs and tyres.
Working at Continental’s Centre for Functional Printing Technologies in Freiburg, SensIC involves a network of companies and universities in the southwest of Germany. Continental is in charge of the functional printing of the rubber, the integration of the sensor system, and the project’s coordination.
“Nowadays, rubber products have a mechanical function but not an electronic one. We would like to know about the status of parts, the history of the applications, and the expected lifespan”, explains Tim Wolfer, mechanical engineer, and Continental’s project manager in Freiburg.
“Making sure that the components can monitor themselves via sensors is the goal. The product itself should be able to sense what is happening. It should be able to tell us if the temperature is too high or if the load is too heavy”, says Wolfer.
“We would like to able to ‘ask’ the product how long it is going to last and when we need to replace it.” So if the project succeeds components could be read in workshops to check their status meaning maintenance would become smarter and more sustainable, as only the worn-out parts would need to be replaced.
South Korean car parts maker Hyundai Mobis is to invest $1.1 billion in the construction of two hydrogen fuel cell system plants in South Korea. In 2018, the company became the world’s first to set up a complete hydrogen fuel cell production system in Chungju.
The new plants in Incheon, west of Seoul and Ulsan will begin mass production in the second half of 2023 and be capable of producing 100,000 hydrogen fuel cells a year, the company said. The existing Chungju facility has a capacity of 23,000 cells, so the investment represents a significant ramping up in production.
Reflecting its national significance, Korean President Moon Jae-in and Deputy Prime Minister Hong Nam-ki attended the groundbreaking ceremony at the Industrial Complex in Cheongna International City, Incheon.
Hyundai Mobis already claims to be the world’s largest EV fuel cell producer and with the new hydrogen fuel cell factories the company is targeting new sectors including construction machinery and logistics.
Sung Hwan Cho, President and CEO of Hyundai Mobis, said, “Despite uncertainties including COVID-19, we have decided to make this large-scale investment to secure the market-leading competitiveness in the global fuel cell industry. We will continue to invest more in facilities and strengthen our R&D capability for the development of the hydrogen industry and expand the ecosystem.”
US student transportation company Zūm has announced a funding injection of $130 million, which it says will enable it to become fully electric by 2025.
The Series D funding round was led by Japanese multinational Softbank and should allow Zūm to bring 10,000 new buses to America’s streets.
The company says it has already helped 4,000 US schools “begin their transportation transformation… saving millions of dollars that can be diverted back into the classroom.”
Zūm says it can offer schools these savings by providing the tools and technology “to share infrastructure with other nearby districts, deploying appropriately sized vehicles, creating efficient routes, and accommodating families’ changing transportation needs.”
According to Zūm, the country’s student transport system is “riddled with inefficiencies”, with circuitous routes, under-capacity vehicles, and one-size-fits-all schedules that make students spend “too many precious hours each week in transit.” Also, says Zūm, the system’s reliance on diesel fuel vehicles is “significantly impacting” the health of the community and the environment.
“While nearly everyone in the US has an association with the iconic yellow school bus, student transportation is a problem hidden in plain sight,” says Ritu Narayan, Zūm’s CEO and Co-Founder.
Andrew Straub, Investment Director at Softbank Investment Advisers, adds, “Using data and technology, we believe Zūm is modernising school transportation by offering better services, efficiency, and sustainability — while increasing safety for children.”
Finnish government-owned mining company Terrafame is to supply Renault with low-carbon and fully traceable nickel sulphate for its electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
Under the agreement, Renault will secure a significant annual supply of nickel sulphate, representing up to 15 GWh of annual capacity. The cooperation, says Renault, will pay particular attention to sustainability systems and define detailed metrics for traceability beyond solutions currently used for EV battery chemicals production.
The partnership, says Renault Group, supports its strategy to offer competitive, sustainable, and ‘made in Europe’ electric vehicles to create a sustainable and fully transparent European battery value chain.
Under this strategy Renault aims to deploy higher performing, low-carbon and reusable batteries to create an electric ecosystem in Northern France known as Renault ElectriCity.
Combined with the recent partnership with Vulcan to secure low-carbon lithium and the alliance with Veolia & Solvay to recycle battery materials in a closed loop, the new agreement marks further progress towards the reduction of the environmental footprint of EVs throughout their life cycle and Renault Group’s objective of carbon neutrality by 2040.
Gianluca De Ficchy, Managing Director of Alliance Purchasing Organization at Renault Group describes the partnership with Terrafame as “an important component in realising our carbon reduction commitments. Low carbon footprint and traceability of battery chemicals are crucial factors to us,” he says, “and Terrafame has a clear edge on sustainability through its unique production method. The carbon footprint of nickel sulphate produced by Terrafame is more than 60% less than the industry average.”
Joni Lukkaroinen, CEO of Terrafame adds, “For Terrafame this sets proper guidelines for the coming decade and could well mean a commitment of supplying nickel sulphate for up to 300,000 EVs annually. We are looking forward to many years of fruitful cooperation in helping to decarbonise mobility and transport.”
Renault describes the direct relationship as “a game-changer in the battery materials value chain”. Terrafame’s bioleaching-based production process, which uses living organisms to extract metals from their ores, uses about 90% less energy in the production of nickel sulphate than the industry average. In addition, Terrafame’s integrated production process begins and ends on one industrial site from a mine to battery chemicals production.
These company-specific and energy-efficient features, says Renault, “enable a fast-track to implement sustainability systems and create full transparency throughout the entire value chain. Apart from the detailed metrics, a commitment over the entire supply chain simplifies risk management and pricing mechanisms for all parties involved.”
The agreement is not exclusive but “reflects the parties’ mutual understanding and common intention to deepen the cooperation over the battery raw materials.”
A Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric car has set a new Guinness World Record for driving the longest distance on a single tank of fuel. A team in California set the record, covering 1360km over two days while using 5.65kg of hydrogen and creating zero carbon dioxide exhaust emissions.
The team used a standard second-generation Mirai fuel cell vehicle to set the record, but the drivers used specialist driving techniques, such as slipstreaming, and smooth use of the accelerator and brakes, to extract the maximum possible range from the single tank of fuel.
Drivers Wayne Gerdes and Bob Winger set out on the journey around southern California from Toyota’s Technical Centre. Day one saw the duo cover 760km including two driver swaps before returning to base. Day two involved more local routes and driving in commuter traffic adding another 600km.
Toyota claims that the new Mirai can travel 30% further than its predecessor, thanks to improved aerodynamics and efficiency, and its revised three tank configuration.
During the trip, the Mirai consumed 5.65kg of hydrogen and passed 12 hydrogen stations along the drive routes. The Mirai was driven mainly during rush hour traffic in temperatures between 18 to 28 degrees Centigrade.
The drive is said to have saved 301kg of carbon dioxide compared with the emissions of an equivalent combustion-engined car travelling the same distance.
It was overseen by Guinness World Records adjudicator Michael Empric, who said, “As a Guinness World Records adjudicator for 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to witness incredible attempts, including several distance-related feats.
“The Toyota Mirai’s journey without the need to refuel showcases the power of fuel cell electric technology. This technology and the design ingenuity by the team at Toyota led to a history-making moment.”
Some special driving techniques were used but the team also adopted some ideas that can be used in everyday driving to help maximise your economy. These included checking tyre pressures, removing unnecessary weight, being smooth with acceleration and braking, keeping speeds low and using accessories such as air conditioning as little as possible.
Desten, a Hong Kong-based lithium-ion battery industry manufacturer, says it has developed an ultrafast charging solution for electric vehicles (EV) that is nearly three times faster than existing superfast chargers.
The company plans to showcase the technology during a global roadshow starting in Asia and later moving to the Middle East and North American markets.
In a statement, Desten said its ultra-fast charger delivers 900kW of power and will provide sufficient charge for a Desten battery-powered car to travel 500km in less than five minutes, typically the time taken to refuel a regular car.
Desten also claims the cell will provide an industry-leading 3,000 charge cycles, equating to 1.5 million kilometres of total driving range.
Desten’s charging model will rely on large storage batteries between the car and the grid. These will charge more or less constantly at a low rate from the grid but support discharging at the 900kW rate without creating spikes in the grid or the need for expensive network upgrades.
A common concern with fast charging is the risk of heat build up, again Desten is claiming technology breakthroughs that offer high thermal stability and remain cool throughout operation.”
Desten Group CEO Siamak Kia said being able to charge a vehicle within five minutes would make EVs more appealing, do away with the need to change driving behaviours, and leverage the available petrol station infrastructures. “Soon you will be able to purchase electric cars with Desten batteries inside, you will not have to wait to charge your car at a charging station any longer than it takes you to fuel your combustion car today.”
US State of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has launched what will be the first wireless charging infrastructure on a public road in the US. Launched in conjunction with the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, Governor Whitmer revealed the Michigan Department of Transportation is to design, fund, evaluate, iterate, test, and implement a wireless charging network along a one-mile stretch of state-operated roadway.
“Michigan was home to the first mile of paved road, and now we’re paving the way for the roads of tomorrow with innovative infrastructure that will support the economy and the environment, helping us achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Whitmer.
“This project reinforces my commitment to accelerating the deployment of electric vehicle infrastructure in Michigan and will create new opportunities for businesses and high-tech jobs amidst the transition to electric vehicles.”
Governor Whitmer also announced the Lake Michigan EV Circuit, an electric vehicle route around Lake Michigan, which is one of the five Great Lakes.
The idea is to build enough EV charging stations on Michigan’s western coast that electric-vehicle owners will be able to drive up the shore as well as reach “attractions, lighthouses, parks and local businesses” without worry about where they will recharge. Governor Whitmer described the circuit as “the best new road trip for electric vehicle owners in America”.
Swiss-Swedish technology company ABB has launched Terra 360, which it says is the world’s fastest car charger capable of fully charging an electric car in less than 15 minutes, and providing 100km of range in less than 3 minutes. It is also the only charger designed specifically to charge up to four vehicles at once thanks to dynamic power distribution.
“With governments around the world writing public policy that favours electric vehicles and charging networks to combat climate change, the demand for EV charging infrastructure, especially charging stations that are fast, convenient and easy to operate is higher than ever,” said Frank Muehlon, President of ABB’s E-mobility Division.
Available in Europe from the end of 2021, and in the USA, Latin America and Asia Pacific regions in 2022, Terra 360 features a user-friendly lighting system that guides the user through the charging process and shows the State of Charge (SoC) of the EV battery and the residual time before the end of an optimal charge session. It is also wheelchair accessible and features an ergonomic cable management system that helps drivers plug in quickly with minimal effort.
Customers can brand the chargers by using different foiling and change the colour of the LED light strips. There is also the option to include an integrated 27” advertisement screen to play video and pictures.
General Motor has unveiled, Ultifi, its new end-to-end software platform that supports “frequent and seamless” delivery of software features, apps and, services to customers over the air.
The company says the new platform, which will be available in its vehicles from 2023, will offer the potential for faster software development, along with more cloud-based services.
Owners, says GM, can look forward to a “smartphone-like experience” where regular updates will be able to optimise software running in the vehicle.
Ultifi will also make it possible for software-based features to be added after the point of sale, and in some cases these will be able to be linked to a profile so that they can be transferred between similarly equipped GM vehicles.
Some examples of what’s possible is having a vehicle connected to your home via the cloud, meaning you could deactivate your home’s security system or adjust the thermostat as you near the end of your commute.
And further out, the cloud could also connect your vehicle with surrounding infrastructure to improve safety. Via vehicle-to-everything communication with other connected devices and infrastructure, drivers could be alerted to hazards or changing road conditions and be able to effectively time traffic signals.
Ultifi is designed to run in vehicles with GM’s previously announced Vehicle Intelligence Platform which was developed to provide sufficient power to electrical features as well as enough data bandwidth to quickly move digital information around the vehicle.
It is built on the Linux operating system and has been designed with external developers in mind. This means there’s the opportunity for third-party software developers to create new apps for GM cars.
“GM has decades of experience writing vehicle software, creating a solid foundation to build on,” Mark Reuss, GM’s president, said in a statement. “Now with Ultifi, we will be able to improve our software continuously, and deliver new features and apps to customers in a fraction of the time.”
Volvo’s Autonomous Solutions business unit and self-driving technology developer Aurora have developed on-highway autonomous truck designed for the North American market.
The companies recently revealed a prototype of Volvo Trucks’ long-haul VNL model, which they described as an important step towards launching fully autonomous Class 8 trucks commercially in North America.
“Volvo Autonomous Solutions is proud to take our first, major steps toward the autonomous Volvo VNL in North America,” said Nils Jaeger, president of Volvo Autonomous Solutions. “Our long-standing customer base and their priorities are at the forefront of our path forward in shaping autonomous trucking. We strongly believe in a future in which safe, sustainable, efficient transport solutions are essential for any society to prosper, and autonomous commercial trucking is an important piece of that transformation.”
While research and development are supported by global team efforts, on-highway autonomous truck applications are also being designed and engineered in the US, in preparation for future production at Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley Assembly Operations in Dublin, Virginia.
Volvo says safety has always been at the core of its innovations and the transformation to autonomous is rooted in the proven safety technologies already in place on the Volvo VNL, including Volvo Dynamic Steering (VDS) and automated transmission (I-Shift).
These existing technologies, along with a number of other advanced vehicle features, create, it says, a redundant safety-based solution in the autonomous truck’s core systems to ensure safe operations are in place, ensuring the highest safety outcome at every step of the development process.
“We are proud that our Volvo VNL model will serve as the foundation for the development of North American autonomous trucks to offer our customers the next generation of safe, efficient and sustainable transport solutions,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America.
Contributing to a more sustainable society is another driving force of Volvo Autonomous Solutions’ strategy. Bringing autonomous Volvo on-highway trucks to market will complement today’s transport system to help meet the increasing demand for moving goods while minimizing the environmental impact.
As Volvo Autonomous Solutions and Aurora continue to make progress with the Volvo VNL prototype, which to date has only been revealed digitally, the partners are working toward the next step in implementing their hub-to-hub transport vision in North America. This includes identifying specific regions and routes to serve as the initial hubs for on-road highway testing. In addition, Volvo Autonomous Solutions is working with customers in preparation for piloting the autonomous Volvo VNL in on-road, hub-to-hub transport scenarios, as well as the eventual adoption of autonomous technology commercially.
GM-backed Cruise and Alphabet-backed Waymo have been granted permits from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to offer rides to passengers in their robotaxis, albeit under restricted conditions.
A key breakthrough is these permits will allow both companies to charge customers for robotaxi services. Previously both held permits that allowed them to offer trial services but they were unable to collect any payments.
Cruise’s permit enables it to give rides in fully driverless vehicles while Waymo’s requires it to have a human monitor in the vehicle.
Cruise is allowed to operate a fleet of “light-duty autonomous vehicles” within designated parts of San Francisco, but only form 10 at night to 6 in the morning. The cars are also limited to a top speed of 30 mph.
“Today’s approval from the California DMV makes Cruise the first and only autonomous ride-hailing company to receive a driverless deployment permit in the state,” says Rob Grant, Cruise’s Senior VP of Government Affairs and Social Impact.
And while “We can only offer paid rides in driverless AVs to members of the public during those hours,” he added, “We can continue to test with or without passengers in both driverless and with drivers 24/7. We will coordinate with our regulators as we expand hours of operations and geographic corridors.”
Waymo, with its on-board monitor, can operate within certain parts of San Francisco and San Mateo counties at speeds of up to 65 mph.
Both operators are allowed to run their services in light rain and light fog.
The British business unit of parcel service provider Hermes has ordered 168 Mercedes-Benz eSprinters. The order is being handled by the Mercedes dealer Intercounty Truck & Van, and the electric vans will go into operation before the end of the year.
It is the first major investment in battery-powered vans for Hermes UK and follows a trial run with two eSprinters from a depot in north London. Under the deal Hermes will rent the eSprinters through Mercedes-Benz Finance.
Hermes will use the electric vehicles to support its ParcelShop business. ParcelShop is a network of shops that offer themselves as pick-up and delivery locations. According to Hermes, “more than 5,000 shops and other locations are served” by this service and the logistics between the locations are handled by 450 vehicles or more at peak times.
The eSprinter is powered by a 114hp electric motor that drives the front wheels and will travel 95 miles on a single charge.
Its 55kWh high-voltage battery pack is securely mounted beneath the body, so does not impinge on cargo carrying space. As a result, the eSprinter’s 11m3 load volume is identical to that of its diesel-engined, front-wheel drive stablemate, and half a cubic metre larger than its rear-wheel drive equivalent.
Using an 80kW DC fast-charging cable, the eSprinter’s four parallel batteries can be restored from 10% to 80% of maximum capacity in about 30 minutes.
To help electrify its fleet, Hermes has also contracted charging infrastructure company Pod Point to install charging points at its depots. Installation is already underway, with an initial focus on London and other cities with low-emission zones.
Britain’s Royal Air Force is set to trial an autonomous delivery vehicle at its Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire.
Developed by the Academy of Robotics, the driverless Kar-Go bot will deliver tools, equipment and supplies across the airfield, which CEO and founder William Sachiti says is the perfect example of the bot’s capabilities.
“Moving goods securely around a site is a major challenge for almost all large organisations and although we have optimised everything we do to be able to do trials like this where the technology can complement the core work taking place on large industrial sites, every site has its own nuances and challenges,” says Sachiti.
Squadron Leader Tony Seston adds, “Bringing self-driving technology onto a base offers many advantages. Ultimately, we could see fleets of autonomous vehicles with different autonomy levels delivering supplies, spares, tools, food and also providing airfield services such as aircraft fuelling, runway sweeping and snow and ice clearance.
“However, we must ensure we introduce this in a way that is secure and safe for our personnel. We see this trial as our first steps into understanding how we can deliver this vision safely,” he continues.
As such a safety team will monitor vehicles from a mobile command hub and will be able to take control of the vehicle if necessary.
The trial is part-funded by the RAF’s Astra programme, an internal project designed to scope out the future of the service.
RAF Brize Norton is the largest airforce base in the UK and, according to station commander Group Captain Emily Flynn, Kar-Go should allow troops to get on with important work.
“This trial is part of a continued programme to take away the mundane tasks that cause added stress and inconvenience for our people, to help our highly-trained personnel to do the jobs they joined the RAF to do and to do them to the best of their ability.”
Mercedes-Benz has joined Stellantis and TotalEnergies as a major investor in new French battery cell manufacturer Automotive Cells Company (ACC) with an ambition to scale up development and production of next-generation high-performance battery cells and modules.
Through the agreement, the three partners each have a one third stake, providing ACC with an investment of more than seven billion euros in a combination of equity, debt and subsidies. The aim is to reach a battery cell manufacturing capacity of at least 120 Gigawatt hours in Europe by the end of the decade.
ACC’s R&D centre at Bordeaux in South West France is already operational and the pilot manufacturing site in nearby Nersac will start production at the end of this year.
Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG says, “Mercedes-Benz pursues a very ambitious transformation plan and this investment marks a strategic milestone on our path to CO2 neutrality. Together with ACC, we will develop and efficiently produce battery cells and modules in Europe – tailor-made to the specific Mercedes-Benz requirements.
He adds, “This new partnership allows us to secure supply, to take advantage of economies of scale, and to provide our customers with superior battery technology. On top of that we can help to ensure that Europe remains at the heart of the auto industry – even in an electric era. With Mercedes-Benz as a new partner, ACC aims to more than double capacity at its European sites to support Europe’s industrial competitiveness in the design and manufacturing of battery cells.”
Yann Vincent, CEO of ACC, comments, “To have Mercedes-Benz join us as a new shareholder is a major milestone for ACC. Mercedes-Benz will bring a vote of confidence in our technology roadmap and product competitiveness that significantly strengthens ACC’s business potential and underpins our ambitious growth plans. This is our contribution to an electric and sustainable future.”
Volvo Buses has developed a new chassis for its electric buses that is claimed to be over 90% recyclable.
“We are committed to leading the transformation of our industry towards a more sustainable future,” says Anna Westerberg, President of Volvo Buses. “With the new Volvo BZL Electric we offer a global platform for clean, silent, and energy-efficient public transport to meet the rising demand on important markets that are ready for the shift to electromobility”.
Circularity is important, she adds, “We have a lifecycle perspective and take responsibility for the environmental impact of our products, from the cradle to the grave. This means we ensure that materials, manufacturing, operation and recycling meet the highest environmental standards.”
The new Volvo BZL Electric is designed for both single and double decker applications and features a driveline developed entirely by Volvo. The 200 kW electric motor is coupled to a two-stage automated gearbox. This increases wheel torque at low speed and evens out current peaks, thus reducing energy consumption and sustaining motor and battery health.
The driveline can be configured as a single or dual motor unit making the Volvo BZL Electric “an untiring hill climber” while allowing “for swift and smooth operation”.
Ford has teamed up with materials company Redwood Materials to create a closed-loop battery recycling program.
Redwood recycles scrap from battery cell production and consumer electronics such as cell phone batteries, laptop computers, power tools, power banks, scooters and electric bicycles. The company, founded by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel, says it can recover, on average, more than 95% of the elements like nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper.
Lisa Drake, Ford’s chief operating officer in North America, said, “Closing the loop for us in our end-of-life products and allowing those to re-enter the supply chain will help us drive down costs. Of course, it’ll help us reduce the reliance on importing a lot of the materials that we use today when we build the batteries. And then it’ll reduce the mining of raw materials, which is going to be incredibly important in the future as we start to scale on this space.”
The new partnership is part of Ford’s plan to invest over $30 billion into electrification through 2025. Ford also previously invested $50 million into Redwood to increase its manufacturing footprint.
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.
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’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.”