JLR develops hydrogen Land Rover Defender prototype

JLR develops hydrogen Land Rover Defender prototype

Jaguar Land Rover is developing a prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) based on the new Land Rover Defender, with testing scheduled to begin later this year.

The FCEV concept is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s aim to achieve zero tailpipe emissions by 2036, and net zero carbon emissions across its supply chain, products and operations by 2039, in line with the Reimagine strategy announced in May.

Hydrogen-powered FCEVs provide high energy density and rapid refuelling, and minimal loss of range in low temperatures, making the technology ideal for larger, longer-range vehicles, or those operated in hot or cold environments.

The zero tailpipe emission prototype New Defender FCEV will begin testing towards the end of 2021 in the UK to verify key attributes such as off-road capability and fuel consumption.

Jaguar Land Rover’s advanced engineering project, known as Project Zeus, is part funded by the UK government-backed Advanced Propulsion Centre, and will allow engineers to understand how a hydrogen powertrain can be optimised to deliver the performance and capability expected by its customers from range to refuelling, and towing to off-road ability.

Ralph Clague, Head of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells for Jaguar Land Rover, says, “We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry, and alongside battery electric vehicles, it offers another zero tailpipe emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s world class line-up of vehicles. The work done alongside our partners in Project Zeus will help us on our journey to become a net zero carbon business by 2039, as we prepare for the next generation of zero tailpipe emissions vehicles.”

Hitachi and Arrival offer European bus operators competitive total cost of ownership electric packages

Hitachi and Arrival offer European bus operators competitive total cost of ownership electric packages

Electric vehicle developer Arrival and Hitachi Europe have announced a partnership to deliver electric bus and infrastructure solutions across Europe.

The partnership combines Hitachi’s digital and operational capabilities with Arrival’s products. The two companies will work with bus operators to deploy integrated solutions that incorporate all aspects of owning and operating Arrival vehicles, including items such as charging infrastructure and digital tools. They claim the approach makes electric buses competitive in price with fossil fuel alternatives.

Mike Nugent, Head of EV, at Hitachi Europe, says: “We’re delighted to join forces with Arrival as we become the partner of choice for municipalities and bus operators to deliver end to end and integrated estate wide rollouts of electric vehicles and infrastructure. As governments look to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles in the next decade, providing the wide range of necessary solutions and technologies in an integrated, streamlined and operationally-manageable way will be vital for bus operators and municipalities across Europe.”

Hamish Phillips, Head of Sales, UK, at Arrival, adds: “We are pleased to work with Hitachi to bring bus operators yet another way to accelerate their transition to electric. Arrival’s vehicles already provide a much lower total cost of ownership for customers, and when incorporated into Hitachi’s business model we can see an even more compelling business case for companies to transition their fleets to electric more rapidly.”

UK moves to next phase of autonomous vehicle trials on public roads

UK moves to next phase of autonomous vehicle trials on public roads

Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, is hosting the country’s next phase of autonomous vehicle trials on public roads.

The trial is part of Project Endeavour, a Government-backed mobility research project, and the UK’s first multi-city demonstration of autonomous vehicle services and capability.

The trial features four Ford Mondeo vehicles fitted with LiDAR, RADAR and stereo cameras and integrated with Oxbotica’s autonomy software platform. The fleet, capable of Level 4 autonomous driving, will operate in a five mile area around Lea Hall station, between Birmingham International Airport and the city centre. During the trials, a professionally-trained safety driver will be in the vehicle, capable of resuming control if necessary.

Trials will run throughout the day for several weeks, allowing Oxbotica’s autonomous vehicles to experience a range of traffic scenarios and weather conditions. The routes include roundabouts, traffic lights, and junctions in both industrial and residential areas – all providing their own individual scenarios and challenges for the autonomous vehicles to demonstrate capability.

Project Endeavour is designed to accelerate the deployment of autonomous vehicle services across the UK by creating a flexible, scalable model that will make the deployment process quicker, easier, and more efficient – while maintaining the highest safety standards. The trials provide project partners the opportunity to refine local deployment approaches as well as understand and model the complex and busy road network in Birmingham.

Dr Graeme Smith, Senior Vice President at Oxbotica and Director of Project Endeavour, said: “Project Endeavour is a one-of-a-kind research project that is allowing us to learn about the challenges of deploying autonomous vehicles in multiple cities across the UK – a key part of being able to deploy services safely and at scale. This stage of the mobility project is a new step for us, as Birmingham hosts our fleet of autonomous vehicles for the first time in real-life environments. So far, Project Endeavour has been a real collaborative effort, bringing everyone into the discussion from local authorities, to road safety groups, transport providers, and, most importantly, the general public.”

Birmingham City Council is keen to understand the impact that autonomous vehicle services could have on areas with limited connectivity, and how improving access to employment hubs could boost job opportunities and reduce private vehicle use.

My Ami Cargo – probably a very sensible alternative to an e-cargo bike

My Ami Cargo – probably a very sensible alternative to an e-cargo bike

Citroën this month launches My Ami Cargo, a commercial version of its electric ultracompact and all-electric Ami.

The key modification is the passenger seat is replaced by a modular cargo storage compartment giving a useful loading volume of over 400 litres and payload of 140 kg.

Citroën says My Ami Cargo is suited for urban delivery services, which have multiplied with the growth of e-commerce and home food delivery. It’s also a useful solution for local service companies and trades, from florists to computer repair businesses. Because it is zero emissions, drivers generally won’t have to pay to access regulated city areas such as low emission zones.

Like the Ami, My Ami Cargo can be driven in France by 14 year-olds without a driving license. It’s available to buy, but most Amis are on long-term rental plans at €19.99 per month. Citroën also envisages the vehicle will be popular across industrial, leisure and tourist sites.

Chinese develop electric school bus with bi-directional charging

Chinese develop electric school bus with bi-directional charging

BYD, China’s leading electric bus maker, has introduced an 84-seat battery-electric school bus that supports bi-directional charging. Potentially, BYD says, the bus could be charged overnight when energy demand is low and then help power the classroom during school hours when the bus is parked.

The bus has a range of up to 155 miles on a single charge.

Key safety features include electronic stability control to aid handling, a collision avoidance system, and a 360-degree monitoring system to detect pedestrians and cyclists when the bus is operating at slow speeds. It also features a Predictive Stop Arm, which monitors approaching traffic and notifies students when it may not be safe to cross.

Although e-buses are still a fraction of all bus transportation globally, the sector is projected to grow significantly propelled by increasing emissions regulations and directives from governments across the globe.

Another electric, retro-iconic microcar comes to market…

Another electric, retro-iconic microcar comes to market…

Hot on the heels of the Microlino, the electric powered reimagination of the 1950s bubble car, MOVEmnt is thrilled to discover another electric mid twentieth century retro-iconic microcar that could be on a road near you sometime soon.

A German team Messerschmitt Werke has launched both electric and petrol variants of a microcar closely based on the Messerschmitt Kabinenrollers of the 1950s and 60s.

The original Messerschmitt Kabinenrollers (which literally translates as cabin scooters) were tiny, ultralight three-wheelers with modest engines. And the concept for the new models remains the same, but modern materials mean the microcars are even lighter.

We are mostly interested in the electric variant, the KR-E5000, which offers a 6.7-hp (5,000 watt) output and 56-mph top speed courtesy of its permanent-magnet motor, powered by a small 1.4-kW lithium-iron-phosphate battery that charges in four to six hours when plugged into a standard domestic supply. Range is a relatively modest 50 miles but an optional second battery doubles that. The single battery version weighs under 200kg.

Renault and Plug Power joint venture to develop commercial vehicle hydrogen ecosystem

Renault and Plug Power joint venture to develop commercial vehicle hydrogen ecosystem

Renault Group and US hydrogen and fuel cell manufacturer Plug Power Inc have formed a joint venture called HYVIA to offer a “complete ecosystem” for fuel cell powered light commercial vans with green hydrogen and refuelling stations across Europe.

HYVIA is equally owned by the two partners, the head office and R&D teams will be located at Villiers-Saint-Frédéric, in France, alongside Renault’s light commercial vehicle engineering and development centre. The process, manufacturing and logistics teams will be based in Flins, as part of the Re-Factory project, and plan to begin the assembly of fuel cells and recharging stations by end of 2021.

The first three fuel cell vehicles brought to market by HYVIA will be based on the Renault Master platform and should be available in Europe by end of 2021 and accompanied with the deployment of charging stations and the supply of green hydrogen.

Luca de Meo, CEO Renault Group, says, “As a pioneer in new energies and the European leader in electric light commercial vehicles, Renault Group is pursuing its objective of having the greenest mix on the market by 2030. This joint venture integrates the entire hydrogen mobility ecosystem in a unique way, from the vehicle to infrastructure and turnkey services for customers. The development of this cutting-edge technology will enable us to strengthen our industrial base and set up new value-generating activities in France in this promising segment.”

Andrew Marsh, CEO Plug Power, adds, “Plug Power is a leader in solutions serving the hydrogen ecosystem, with over 40,000 fuel cell systems deployed, 110 charging stations deployed capable of distributing more than 40 tonnes of hydrogen per day. Plug Power is a technological leader in green hydrogen solutions by electrolysis. With HYVIA, we are bringing hydrogen mobility to France and Europe.”

David Holderbach, CEO HYVIA, comments, “Renault has been a hydrogen pioneer since 2014 with more than a hundred light commercial vehicles on the road. We are excited to join forces with Plug Power with its integrated solutions approach towards green hydrogen. HYVIA is now opening a new path towards decarbonation with a complete offering of hydrogen solutions. HYVIA builds on the complementary skills of Renault Group and Plug Power and will target a 30% marketshare in hydrogen powered light commercial vehicles in Europe by 2030.”

Plug Power has deployed over 40,000 fuel cell systems, designed, and built 110 refueling stations that dispense more than 40 tons of hydrogen daily, and is a technology leader in green hydrogen solutions via electrolysis.

Greek island partners with VW in ambitious plan to decarbonise transport and energy

Greek island partners with VW in ambitious plan to decarbonise transport and energy

Volkswagen has supplied eight electric cars to the Greek island of Astypalea, marking an early milestone in an ambitious trial to decarbonise the island’s transport and energy systems. Through the initiative, the Greek government hopes to develop a blueprint that it expects to roll out across many of the country’s two hundred or so inhabited islands.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has made green energy a central plank of Greece’s post-pandemic recovery drive, attended the delivery ceremony along with VW Group CEO Herbert Diess.

“Astypalea will be a test bed for the green transition that is energy autonomous, and entirely powered by nature,” Mitsotakis said.

The first cars to arrive on the island will be used by the police, coast guard and at the local airport. They are the beginnings of a larger fleet aimed at replacing about 1,500 combustion-engine cars with electric models and reducing vehicles on the island, a popular tourist destination, by a third.

The island’s bus service will be replaced with a ride-sharing scheme and 200 electric cars will be available for locals and tourists to rent. There will be subsidies for the island’s 1,300 inhabitants to buy electric vehicles, bikes and chargers.

Astypalea, which extends over 100 square kilometres in the Aegean Sea, currently meets its energy demand almost entirely by diesel generators but is expected to replace a big part of that through a solar plant by 2023.

“Astypalea can become a blueprint for a rapid transformation, fostered by the close collaboration of governments and businesses,” Diess said in a statement.

Greece, which has relied on coal for decades, aims to close all but one of its coal-fired plants by 2023, as part of its drive to boost renewables and cut carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030.

The government plans to install a 3 megawatt-hour solar park and 7 mWh battery system on Astypalea by 2023 that will cover just over half of the island’s overall energy demand and be enough for all EV charging needs.

A second phase of the project could include adding wind turbines to handle more than 80 percent of power demand by 2026.

Although relatively small scale, Astypalea will serve as a test case both for VW and the Greek government, which is looking to transition energy systems on non-interconnected islands to greener power.

Of the roughly 1,500 vehicles now on the island, about a third are cars, and most of them are very old, said Maik Stephan, VW’s head of business development, who runs the Astypalea project.

The plan is to replace all of them with models such as the VW ID3 hatchback, ID4 crossver and electric Transporter vans, as well as the Seat MO eScooter.

By replacing aging fossil fuel-based generators, the government aims to cut energy costs by at least 25 percent, while reducing CO2 emissions from the island’s energy system by 50 percent in the first phase and 70 percent in the second phase.

Dutch transport companies order 50-ton hydrogen trucks

Dutch transport companies order 50-ton hydrogen trucks

US based Hyzon Motors, a leading global supplier of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell powered commercial vehicles, is to supply 20, 50-ton hydrogen trucks to Dutch transport companies Jan Bakker and Millenaar & van Schaik.

Hyzon expects to begin delivering vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2021, and to deliver the remaining trucks in 2022. The vehicles, HyMax 450 Tractors built on a class-8 DAF truck chassis, are expected to offer a range of up to 320 miles on a full charge with motor power up to 550 kW. Currently Hyzon is the only company in the world offering hydrogen trucks up to 50 ton gross vehicle weight, with its in-house high power fuel cell technology.

Hyzon expects to manufacture the trucks in its European facility near Groningen in the Netherlands, where orders are being taken for deliveries of Hyzon-branded commercial vehicles worldwide. The trucks have been purchased by Duurzaam Transport, a subsidiary of Jan Bakker, and H2 Transport, a subsidiary of Millenaar & van Schaik.

Jan Bakker and Millenaar & van Schaik both aim to convert their entire fleet to zero-emission vehicles. Jan Bakker is made up of 17 companies, operating in transport, energy, and agriculture. Millenaar & van Schaik is one of the largest asphalt transport companies in the Netherlands.

Craig Knight, Hyzon CEO, said, “We are excited to be engaging with transport and logistics organizations like Jan Bakker and Millenaar & van Schaik, to bring hydrogen fuel cell powered trucks to the Netherlands. These contracts further underline the interest in Hyzon’s products in the European market, where we have seen strong uptake in zero-emission heavy vehicles.”

Opel launches Movano-e, its first electric large van and rival to Ford’s Transit

Opel launches Movano-e, its first electric large van and rival to Ford’s Transit

Opel has released details of the all-new Movano-e, the first battery electric vehicle from the German brand in the large van market segment. Its electric propulsion system delivers 90 kW (122 hp) and 260 Nm of torque, with the maximum speed electronically controlled at 110 km/h.

Depending on the model variant, customers can choose between 37 kWh and 70 kWh lithium ion batteries for ranges of 115 or 225 kilometres respectively in the WLTP combined cycle.

A regenerative braking system recovers the energy produced under braking or deceleration, and further increases efficiency.

For professional fleet management, the ‘Opel Connect’ telematics solution with ‘Free2Move Fleet Services’ can track the geographic location of the vehicle, optimise routes, monitor maintenance and fuel consumption and offer tips for more economical driving.

Opel CEO, Michael Lohscheller, says, “The new Opel Movano-e completes our range of electric light commercial vehicles. Our customers from trade and commerce can therefore drive and transport emissions-free. We are convinced that the new generation Movano will win additional market share for the brand.”

Oxbotica and TRL pilot safety framework for off-highway automated vehicles in complex scenarios

Oxbotica and TRL pilot safety framework for off-highway automated vehicles in complex scenarios

The UK Government backed agency Innovate UK has funded an industry led consortium of autonomous driving experts to develop a code of practice to help organisations looking to use autonomous vehicles in off-highway applications such as construction, quarrying and farming.

The resulting protocols and framework were recently tested in a live trial at a UK quarry.

The consortium, including autonomous vehicle developer Oxbotica and mobility research organisation TRL, investigated retrofitting autonomous capabilities, using robust low-cost sensors, to any vehicle, as well as drafting a code of practice that identifies the key elements for safe and efficient use of autonomous vehicles in off-road industries.

The core challenge for the project team is off-road environments, which can include mines, quarries, farms, refineries, warehouses, ports, and airports, feature more varied hazards and less structured scenarios than on-road settings with no universal highway rules, such as speed limits or junction etiquette. A code of practice helps standardise across industries and allows learnings from each domain to be shared.

Off-road vehicles also have to interact with a wide variety of unpredictable objects in their environment, either because they block the vehicle’s path, such as undergrowth or tree branches, or because engaging with them is part of the vehicle’s primary function, such as harvesting or excavating.

With autonomous vehicles commonplace in many of these industries, working to deliver safety, efficiency and productivity, the code of practice will help organisations transition to new working practices and harness the potential benefits with no impact on safety.

To demonstrate the approach and highlight its potential to work across a range of vehicles and industries, Oxbotica and TRL equipped and tested both a Ford Ranger and Range Rover Evoque, retrofitted with Oxbotica’s autonomy software platform, in a UK quarry in April. The vehicles were fitted with a full suite of sensors, including LiDAR, RADAR, and stereo cameras.

Oxbotica’s technology has already operated in a range of environments without road markings across Europe, Asia and America. Its software seamlessly transitions between sensors to operate across multiple domains and environments. The software is capable of using sensors independently or fused in any combination, meaning vehicles can drive with or without maps, depending what is available at any given time.

Ben Upcroft, VP of Technology at Oxbotica, said, “Our autonomy software platform is capable of being integrated with any vehicle, in any environment. In order to harness the true power of this technology, operational regulations need to be developed in unison to ensure safe and efficient deployment. Consortiums such as this are a key stepping stone in ensuring the safe operation of autonomous vehicles in complex scenarios, and enabling the scale up to full commercial deployment in industry settings.”

Dr Ianto Guy, Project Lead at TRL, said, “This Code of Practice seeks to provide high-level guidance to organisations, in all sectors of the off-highway industry, on the ways in which working practices should be adapted to ensure that the adoption of autonomy is as smooth and safe as possible. The aim is that this code will support safe practice, build public confidence, and encourage the cooperation between organisations across all industries employing off-highway autonomous vehicles. It is hoped that off-highway industries will use this code of practice as a starting point for discussion and build on the recommendations made here to develop comprehensive best practice guidelines.”

Aurrigo secures UK first as its Auto-Shuttle takes to the road in Cambridge

Aurrigo secures UK first as its Auto-Shuttle takes to the road in Cambridge

A trial in Cambridge, England marks the first use of Aurrigo’s self-driving shuttles on public roads in the UK. The 10 seat shuttles will take passengers from the Madingley Road Park and Ride site to locations around the University of Cambridge’s West Campus.

Passengers recruited for the trial project will be able to use Aurrigo’s app to join the shuttle at a number of locations along the two-mile route.

The company has been instrumental in the development of autonomous pods in the UK, but the trial is the first carrying passengers on a main road surrounded by other traffic, including cars, lorries, vans, bikes and pedestrians.

The trial is part of an Innovate UK and Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV)-backed project, led by Aurrigo with Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) and Smart Cambridge to explore how autonomous technology could be used on the public transport network.

“This is another major milestone in the journey towards making autonomous vehicles a reality on our roads,” said David Keene, Chief Executive Officer of Aurrigo.

“We’ve completed successful trials in city centres, in retirement complexes and at major golf tournaments, but this is the first time these vehicles will be sharing the route with everyday traffic.

“The shuttles, which have been designed and manufactured at our Advanced Engineering Centre in Coventry, will operate the 20-minute journey around the West Cambridge route. They will run autonomously for the majority of the route using our in-house developed driving software and the latest LIDAR and camera technology to identify potential hazards as they move around.”

He continued, “Our technology will help provide new transport solutions for city centres, shopping and care facilities, airports and heritage sites. The trial in Cambridge is the next step in proving it.”

Claire Ruskin, Director of Cambridge Network and business representative on the GCP Executive Board, added, “It is very exciting to see these vehicles working on real roads here in Cambridge. These shuttles could be used on demand all day and night, every day of the year – which is unaffordable with our existing public transport.

“They are flexible and make good use of resources without needing significant infrastructure. As employment around Cambridge is 24/7 for many organisations – including our hospitals, emergency services, and many of our labs – we have been anticipating this new technology to see how real operation will help people get around.”

Audi charging hub concept largely independent of local grid capacity

Audi charging hub concept largely independent of local grid capacity

Audi is developing a concept to develop modular electric vehicle charging hubs incorporating second life batteries to reduce loads on the power grid. A pilot project, launching later in the year, will provide a practical test for a possible roll-out across Germany.

Each hub will comprise six self-contained charging “cubes”, each incorporating charging connections and storage batteries.

Audi says combined the batteries will offer 2.45 MWh of electricity, providing a charging output of up to 300 kW for each bay, but the whole assemblage will remain functional through a single 400-Volt hookup. Additional energy will be provided by solar panels on the roof.

Users will be able to book charging bays in advance and the system can accommodate both overnight charging at a relatively modest 11kW output or 300kW high power top up charging.

For instance, the hub will be able to provide enough energy to charge an Audi e-tron GT for up to 100 kilometres in about five minutes, and from nearly empty to 80 percent in just under 25 minutes under ideal conditions. The hubs will feature high end lounges for short stay users.

Audi says by leveraging recycled lithium-ion batteries and green energy generation, the modular concept provides flexibility and scalability while making it easier to select locations for the charging stations. The hub can be installed and adapted to the individual location quickly and independent of local network capacities.

Oliver Hoffmann, Audi’s Board Member for Technical Development says, “The charging hub embodies our aspiration for the electric era and highlights Audi’s commitment to Vorsprung durch Technik. A flexible high-performing charging park like this does not require much from the local electricity grid.”

May Mobility equips Toyota to test “Autono-MaaS” service in Ann Arbor

May Mobility equips Toyota to test “Autono-MaaS” service in Ann Arbor

May Mobility, a leader in autonomous vehicle technology and shuttle operations, is testing a Toyota Sienna equipped with the next generation of its autonomous driving kit and will work with Toyota to add the vehicle to public shuttle fleets in 2022.

The automated Sienna features Toyota’s vehicle control interface, which allows seamless technology integration and robust operation of key vehicle control systems, such as steering, brakes, and acceleration.

“As we’ve seen throughout the industry, companies developing self-driving vehicles need strong OEM partners to be successful,” said Edwin Olson, co-founder and CEO of May Mobility. “With Toyota, May Mobility can deploy our unique self-driving technology on the best vehicles in the world.”

The Sienna technology integration is a major milestone in May Mobility’s cooperative relationship with Toyota, confirms Olson. From the initial investment in May Mobility to the Series B fundraising in 2019, the relationship has expanded to include a shuttle fleet in Hiroshima, Japan. May Mobility is also providing autonomous shuttle services in Indianapolis, Indiana, as part of a Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF) initiative about to come into service.

Keiji Yamamoto, Operating Officer of Toyota and President of Connected Company said, “We are delighted that Toyota’s “Autono-MaaS”(autonomous-mobility as a service) vehicle based on the Sienna will be utilised for May Mobility’s public road testing. Toyota continues to collaborate with automated mobility service providers through these vehicles and is implementing Autono-MaaS swiftly, aiming to realise a society where all people have the freedom of movement.”

Modifications to the Sienna include the addition of LIDAR, RADAR, and camera sensors, along with the compute and control modules that make up May Mobility’s autonomous driving kit. The May Mobility Toyota Sienna shuttle is currently being tested on public roads in Ann Arbor. Additional shuttles are under development and will be ready for use in public fleets in 2022.

Paris-based Virtuo raises €78.7 million to scale its car-on-demand service

Paris-based Virtuo raises €78.7 million to scale its car-on-demand service

Virtuo, the car-on-demand service that sets out to drive the shift away from car ownership across Europe, has raised €50 million in a Series C funding round led by AXA Venture Partners.

In addition, Natixis and several members of the Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Epargne Group are granting Virtuo a pan-European asset-based financing of €30 million, to support the development of its fleet, bringing this new round of financing to around €78.7 million.

With the fresh funds, Virtuo will invest in technology and launch services that will position its car on-demand service as a key alternative to car ownership. Alongside the development of the app and the experience, the investment will allow Virtuo to accelerate European expansion and the electrification of its fleet.

Virtuo, founded in 2016, set out to disrupt the car rental industry, an industry it describes as typically fraught with long queues, arduous paperwork and hidden fees. With its 100% digital app experience, Virtuo has not only emerged as a convenient alternative to car rental for city escapes and mid-distance trips, but as an alternative to owning a car altogether.

Virtuo says it is focused on understanding and developing an app-based experience that fulfils the needs of the new generation of drivers with a particular focus on urbanites from major European cities across its regions of France, the UK and Spain.

“Our ambition for Virtuo and our car on-demand service is to reinvent our relationship with cars. To provide all the benefits that cars can offer while using technology to remove the physical burden,” said Karim Kaddoura and Thibault Chassagne, Virtuo’s Co-founders. “We believe you should be able to access a car the same way you stream music or films: the car should appear on demand when you need it, but disappear from sight when you don’t.

“Our vision is that our car-on-demand service should support a new social contract between city dwellers and the car, where they benefit from the freedom a car brings but without the burden on our cities and the environment,” they add. “At Virtuo, we want to put cars in people’s pockets, not on city streets.”

Virtuo plans to expand its services with an ambition to cover about ten markets by 2025.

New model suggests the economics of rural charging infrastructure can work

New model suggests the economics of rural charging infrastructure can work

The UK’s Connected Kerb is to install electric vehicle chargers to deliver sustainable, affordable and accessible charging infrastructure to hard-to-reach UK communities.

The “first-of-a-kind” scheme, in partnership with Kent County Council, offers a blueprint for local authorities across the UK, says Connected Kerb.

All income from the first phase of 40 chargers – which are being installed at sites in small communities across Kent, such as village halls, pavilions and car parks from this month – is to go to the local community or be used to support the rollout and maintenance of further chargers.

Installing public charging infrastructure outside of busy urban areas has traditionally been a challenge for the industry due to the lower grid capacity and fewer connections increasing upfront cost and lower footfall extending the return-on-investment period.

It is hoped that the Connected Kerb scheme will give local residents, businesses and visitors the chance to charge in small towns and villages across Kent, with each charger to provide a 7kW-22kW fast charge and contactless payment via the Connected Kerb app.

The chargers are designed to last at least 20 years, with the infrastructure itself located below ground with passive chargers that can be easily “switched on” by adding the above ground chargepoint to match consumer demand.

The chargers also feature additional smart capabilities that can facilitate air quality monitoring, parking management, CCTV, road sensors, 5G connection, autonomous vehicles, route planning and power demand forecasting.

The scheme has been financed from a variety of sources, receiving funding from the Kent Lane Rental Scheme, the Department for Transport, the parishes themselves and, for some locations, 75% of the costs were financed through the on-street residential chargepoint scheme.

Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb, said that this project shows that the economics of installing EV charging in non-urban areas “is much more favourable than many believe,” adding, “it is vital that access to public charging is equitable across the entire country.”

Ford invests in next generation batteries… again

Ford invests in next generation batteries… again

Ford and South Korea’s SK Innovation have signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint venture – BlueOvalSK – to produce approximately 60 GWh of next generation battery cells and array modules annually. Production will start mid-decade, with the potential to expand.

By 2030, Ford expects the annual energy demand for its vehicles to be up to 140 GWh in North America and 240 GWh globally. The company has invested in and is working with a number of battery suppliers, including the new BlueOvalSK venture, to secure capacity and scale delivery for next-generation Ford and Lincoln battery electric vehicles.

Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO, says, “This MoU is just the start; it’s a key part of our plan to vertically integrate key capabilities that will differentiate Ford far into the future. We will not cede our future to anyone else.”

Kim Jun, SK Innovation CEO & President says, “We are delighted to be entering into collaboration with Ford, one of the most active players in vehicle electrification today. We are proud to be opening this new chapter in their long history. Our JV with Ford will play a pivotal role in fleshing out the electric vehicle value chain in the United States, a key objective of the current US administration.”

Lisa Drake, Ford’s North America chief operating officer, comments, “Through the JV, Ford and SKI will jointly develop and industrialise battery cells at scale that are tailored to deliver optimum performance and value for our Ford and Lincoln customers. SKI is an important partner in helping deliver batteries with better range and value for our fully electric vehicles by mid-decade.”

To support its longer-term battery plans, Ford is investing in battery R&D. Last month Ford announced a new global battery centre of excellence – named Ford Ion Park – to accelerate its battery and battery cell technology R&D – including future battery manufacturing.