ZF and Mobileye to develop driver-assistance and safety technology for Toyota

ZF and Mobileye to develop driver-assistance and safety technology for Toyota

Germany’s ZF and Mobileye, an Intel company, have been chosen by Toyota to develop advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) for use in multiple vehicle platforms. As part of the agreement, ZF will also supply its Gen 21 mid-range radar and be responsible for the integration of camera and radar in Toyota vehicles.

Mobileye’s EyeQ4 system-on-chip vision processing device will be combined with ZF’s Gen 21 mid-range radar technology to interpret the environment around the vehicles. Together, these technologies will help prevent and mitigate collisions and enable new levels of assisted lateral and longitudinal vehicle control.

This new relationship with Toyota significantly extends the reach of Mobileye and ZF safety technology. Professor Amnon Shashua, senior vice president of Intel and president and CEO of Mobileye, says, “Mobileye is delighted to be working with ZF to develop leading driver-assistance and safety technology for Toyota, the world’s largest automaker.”

“ZF looks forward to working closely with Toyota and Mobileye to develop advanced safety systems designed to meet advanced global safety regulations,” adds Christophe Marnat, executive vice president, Electronics and ADAS division at ZF.

Is this electric car from German manufacturer e.Go the “People’s Car” of its age?

Is this electric car from German manufacturer e.Go the “People’s Car” of its age?

German electric car start-up e.Go Mobile plans to enter the Mexico market and launch a production plant in Latin America’s second-biggest economy.

e.Go is positioning itself at the lower end of the electric vehicles market, seeking to launch a series of small budget cars that would be affordable for the wider population. It also makes light electric buses and electric vans.

e.Go is working with strategic and technology partner QUESTUM, a subsidiary of Monterrey-based industrial consortium Grupo Quimmco, the company said in a statement.

Ali Vezvaei, chairman of the management board at e.GO, said the QUESTUM tie-up will allow it to use the Mexican business’s “long-established supply relationship with key industrial groups and fleets”.

Manuel Valdes, QUESTUM’s CEO, said he sees e.GO as a new pillar to help diversify the business, helping “to further expand our business in the e-mobility and automotive sector”.

Hyundai puts down marker for Europe’s hydrogen-powered heavy goods transport

Hyundai puts down marker for Europe’s hydrogen-powered heavy goods transport

South Korean automotive manufacturer Hyundai plans to ship a new series of fuel-cell trucks to Europe later this year to test the European appetite for hydrogen-powered heavy goods transport.

Building on a pilot trial in Switzerland, Hyundai says it will release a new class of its Xcient hydrogen fuel cell truck, equipped with more efficient fuel cells and a longer life-span, during the fourth quarter, according to Mark Freymueller, CEO of Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM).

Hydrogen recharging infrastructure is quite limited across Europe but hydrogen fuel cells offer a greater range than battery electric vehicles and a generally considered more appropriate for heavy vehicles.

And although more expensive than battery electric vehicles, fuel cell electric vehicles will potentially benefit from Europe’s desire to build a world-leading industry around the hydrogen technology.

HHM, a joint venture between Hyundai and Swiss hydrogen company H2 Energy, has been renting out “green” hydrogen trucks to commercial clients in Switzerland since last October in what is claimed to be the world’s most advanced pilot in the field.

HHM plans to go into other European countries next year. “Germany and the Netherlands are the most likely,” Freymueller told Reuters, adding there was also interest for pilots from Austria, Norway, France, Italy, Spain and Denmark.

UK multi-sector coalition set up to decarbonise road transport at pace and scale

UK multi-sector coalition set up to decarbonise road transport at pace and scale

The UK based Green Finance Institute has launched the Coalition for the Decarbonisation of Road Transport, bringing together global experts and leading figures from the finance, automotive, energy and infrastructure sectors to accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles.

The Coalition’s mandate is to unlock the level of private finance necessary for transport decarbonisation to happen at pace and at scale, co-creating financing solutions required to support the transition to zero emission vehicles.

Analysis undertaken by the Green Finance Institute, with support from KPMG’s Future Mobility Team, estimates that more than £150 billion of gross capital investment may be required to decarbonise the UK road transport sector between 2021 and 2030, requiring a significant acceleration in the rate of investment into zero-carbon transport solutions.

The Coalition for the Decarbonisation of Road Transport will focus on developing finance solutions initially in three core areas:

  • Consumer finance and leasing. Financial innovation is needed to help consumers overcome the barriers to choosing electric over fossil-fuel vehicles. Key to the approach will be mechanisms to mitigate the upfront costs of EVs and accelerate the maturity of the used EV market. The private sector has an instrumental role to play, including in providing affordable finance solutions to consumers and small businesses.
  • EV charging infrastructure. The Green Finance Institute estimates that to meet growing demand more than 6.7 million chargers are required, at a total cost of over £20 billion. Public and private sector collaboration will be needed to unlock the finance for a national charging infrastructure roll-out.
  • The commercialisation of battery technology. The UK urgently needs to scale up current levels of investment into battery manufacturing to build a globally competitive battery sector. A capacity of up to 60 GWh per annum may be needed by 2030, requiring at least three UK gigafactories and more than £5 billion in investment. Other issues to be addressed include safe and sustainable battery disposal, as well as the creation of a sustainable supply chain.

Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas OBE, Chief Executive of the Green Finance Institute, said, “The Green Finance Institute has already demonstrated the impact of bringing together experts to co-design innovative financial solutions and promote the enabling conditions needed to channel capital towards net zero goals.

“Identifying the most effective interventions and public investments in order to catalyse private sector finance requires thorough, detailed analysis as well as creativity and ingenuity. We’re excited to be working with our founding coalition members to tackle the challenge of financing the decarbonisation of road transport.”

UK Transport Minister, Rachel Maclean, added, “As we accelerate towards a net zero future, I’m delighted that government and industry are coming together to encourage more people to make the switch to zero-emission vehicles.”

Production of retro electric bubble car to start in September

Production of retro electric bubble car to start in September

Swiss electric scooter and bike manufacturer Micro Mobility Systems has announced its Microlino bubble car will enter production in September, with European pricing expected to start at €12,000.

The two-seater, inspired by the classic 1950s Italian-designed BMW Isetta, is said to be capable of speeds up to 90km/h with acceleration from 0-50km/h in 5 seconds.

Two battery sizes will be available, offering estimated ranges of 125km and 200km. The vehicle can be fully charged from a regular household wall socket in four hours.

The floor-mounted electric motor produces approximately 11kW, sent to the rear wheels via a single speed transmission.

A prototype of the Microlino was unveiled in 2018. The updated variant will be built in Italy built upon a pressed steel and aluminium monocoque for improved safety.

Mobility attitudes report suggests Gary Numan was on to something…

Mobility attitudes report suggests Gary Numan was on to something…

“People feel more protected in their car than in public transport,” says Guillaume Saint of the consumer research organisation Kantar, which recently surveyed 9,500 residents in 13 cities worldwide as the basis for its 2021 edition of its “Mobility Futures” report.

The obvious consequence, he suggests, is a shift to green travel could be slower than thought.

Saint says cities face a pivotal moment as they build back from a pandemic that has reshaped work, life and travel. While he expects the fall in public transport use to persist, he said cities have a one-off chance to transform.

Authorities can capitalise on a growing enthusiasm for biking and walking, while temporary bike lanes in some cities showed it was possible to nudge residents towards green choices.

“They can entice people back to public transport with flexible tariffs for part-time commuters, offering tickets that are valid on multiple types of transport, and making stations more bike-friendly,” he added.

But the resounding message from the report, which polled residents in major cities including New York, Chicago, Beijing, Mumbai and Paris, is the pandemic will fundamentally shape the future of urban mobility.

Work-from-home policies and remote schooling led to a significant drop in urban journeys – a scenario likely to continue as many institutions embrace hybrid working, it found.

City dwellers also spent more time locally and looked to cut their human contact to reduce the spread of infection.

While the share of journeys made by bike or on foot rose by 3% on average during the pandemic that shift was far outweighed by a 5.6% drop in journeys by public transport and a 3.8% rise in those by car.

Last year’s Mobility Futures report predicted that journeys made by green transport would overtake those by car by 2030. But for this to happen, says Barbara Stoll from European environmental campaign group Transport & Environment, “Mayors need to heed the call of thousands of urbanites who are crying out for more space for walking, cycling, public transport and greenery.”

Major boost to Australia’s EV fleet through collaboration targeting rideshare drivers

Major boost to Australia’s EV fleet through collaboration targeting rideshare drivers

Sydney-based Splend, which specialises in vehicle ownership plans for rideshare drivers, has entered a Memorandum of Understanding with electric vehicle supplier Nexport to provide 3,000 electric vehicles. The order is Australia’s largest single electric vehicle order to date and a significant boost to the country’s modest electric vehicle fleet, which is currently at just over 20,000 vehicles.

The deal is also the first major outcome of an exclusive distribution agreement signed in February between Nexport and Chinese manufacturer BYD for the supply of electric vehicles in Australia and other right hand drive markets.

BYD is rapidly establishing itself as a key global EV OEM, having sold more than 180,000 pure-electric passenger vehicles last year.

Splend launched in Sydney in 2015 as a technology-enabled vehicle subscription provider that “helps people earn a living through on-demand apps such as Uber”. Claiming to be much more than a vehicle supplier, Splend says it provides resources and a community for drivers, helping its members “take control of their careers”.

Splend is currently operational in nine cities across Australia and the United Kingdom. With rapid acceleration plans, the deal with Nexport, it says, is part of its commitment to transition to a zero emissions electric vehicle fleet.

“Monstrous” lidars on autonomous vehicles set to become a thing of the past

“Monstrous” lidars on autonomous vehicles set to become a thing of the past

Toyota backed Pony.ai says its next-generation robotaxis will feature discrete lidars made by US developer Luminar Technologies.

Lidars are the roof mounted laser-based sensors and a key component to many autonomous vehicle technologies in that they help vehicles perceive their environment and what is changing around them.

James Peng, Pony.ai CEO said it chose Luminar’s Iris lidar not just for its performance but also because it is more discrete and can be integrated into the car’s design better than traditional lidars.

“It’s starting to blur the line between what you see as a very well-designed passenger vehicle and the monstrosities that have been on top of some of the AV test vehicles,” said Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar.

Luminar’s Iris lidar is about 10cm high and four roof-top mounted units are required to give a 360 degree views.

Pony.ai has Robotaxi services operating in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and Irvine and Fremont in California with a fleet of about 200 vehicles. Last year, the startup raised $267 million at a valuation of $5.3 billion.

Luminar earlier this year announced a partnership with SAIC Motor Corp, China’s largest automaker and a deal with the self-driving software subsidiary of Volvo Cars, owned by China’s Geely Automobile Holdings.

Plug Power and BAE Systems to develop powertrains and infrastructure for North American hydrogen bus OEMs

Plug Power and BAE Systems to develop powertrains and infrastructure for North American hydrogen bus OEMs

Hydrogen fuel cell engine developer Plug Power and BAE Systems are to collaborate on the  development of hydrogen-powered electric bus powertrains for the North American market.

The deal is an all-inclusive strategic partnership to supply zero-emissions powertrains to heavy-duty transit bus OEMs along with hydrogen and refueling infrastructure to end-customers.

BAE Systems is an established manufacturer in power management and efficient propulsion and was an early advocate for hydrogen-based transit, having integrated fuel cells into its electric propulsion systems since 1998.

Plug Power develops hydrogen fuel cell engines for OEM integration ranging from 30kW to 125kW. It has also built more hydrogen refuelling stations than any other company and has become the largest buyer of liquid hydrogen globally.

Together, says a statement, these companies are now “leveraging their complementary capabilities to bring the sustainability, efficiency and cost advantages of green hydrogen to more cities in North America and beyond”.

Hydrogen-electric powertrains offer more range than battery electric vehicles, the statement continues, and unlike electric trams or EVs, which require extensive route infrastructure, hydrogen fuel cell buses can refuel quickly in existing depots equipped with hydrogen dispensers.

Home energy app developed by bp-backed Pure Planet offers EV control and insights

Home energy app developed by bp-backed Pure Planet offers EV control and insights

Energy company bp has announced a new partnership with UK renewable energy supplier Pure Planet, launching a digital energy app aimed at support households and electric vehicle (EV) drivers.

The new platform offers smarter control of renewable home energy, EVs, batteries, smart heating and solar power. It is designed to help people manage their varied energy usage, while providing personalised insights into their energy consumption.

The smart phone app will provide estimates of emissions savings, real-time energy usage data and car battery status for EV drivers, and even the ability to link a conventional petrol or diesel car to the app to estimate the CO2 emissions you would have saved with an EV.

“Future energy services are more dynamic, personal and digital”, says Pure Planet co-founder and CEO, Andrew Ralston. “The new service will help people manage their energy better by giving them more information.

“By deepening our relationship with bp, we’re creating Pure Planet 2.0. We’re offering exciting new tech services and low carbon insights and are looking forward to sharing these with a wider audience.”

The service will initially be available to Pure Planet customers on the supplier’s app as well as online energy accounts from June.

Study suggests ride-hailing can intensify urban transport challenges and road congestion

Study suggests ride-hailing can intensify urban transport challenges and road congestion

New research suggests that the perceived environmental and traffic congestion easing benefits of ride-hailing services are harder to attain and more complicated than previous modelling predicted.

Researchers at the Future Urban Mobility Research Group at Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT, and Tongji University conducted a study to look at how ride-sharing service offered by Transport network companies (TNCs) impacts urban mobility in the United States.

The results presented in a new paper titled “Impacts of transportation network companies on urban mobility” published in Nature Sustainability, assessed how ride-sharing has affected road congestion, public transport ridership, and private vehicle ownership.

Jinhua Zhao, SMART FM principal investigator and associate professor at MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning says, “While mathematical models in prior studies showed the potential benefits of on-demand shared mobility could be tremendous, our study suggests that translating this potential into actual gains is much more complicated in the real world.”

Analysis of mobility trends, socio-demographic changes, and ride-sharing usage datasets found the arrival of a ride-sharing service led to increased road congestion in terms of both intensity and duration. Specifically, congestion increased marginally at 1 percent while the duration of congestion rose by 4.5 percent. Perhaps more significantly they also found a 9 percent drop in public transport ridership and an insignificant decrease of only 1 percent in private vehicle ownership.

This study, based on datasets from Uber and Lyft, the two most popular ride-sharing companies in the United States, found that easy access to ride-sharing discourages commuters from taking greener alternatives, such as walking or public transportation. Survey data from various US cities also showed that approximately half of TNC trips would otherwise have been made by walking, cycling, public transport, or would not have been made at all.

“We are still in the early stages of TNCs and we are likely to see many changes in how these ride-sharing businesses operate,” says Hui Kong, one of the researchers at the MIT Urban Mobility Lab. “Our research shows that over time TNCs have intensified urban transport challenges and road congestion in the United States. With this information, policies can then be introduced that could lead to positive changes.”

Volta sets out plan to produce 27,000 electric trucks annually from 2025

Volta sets out plan to produce 27,000 electric trucks annually from 2025

Swedish full-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer, Volta Trucks, is to launch four new fully electric commercial vehicles by 2024 and expects to produce more than 27,000 electric trucks annually from 2025.

Building upon its Volta Zero model launched last Autumn – a 16-tonne commercial vehicle designed for inner-city last mile deliveries – the company plans to expand its product line with three additional variants in the medium/lower-end of the heavy-duty class: 7.5-tonne, 12-tonne, 16-tonne and 19-tonne.

Volta says the first 16-tonne “pilot fleet” vehicles will be delivered by the end of 2021, with series production starting around 12 months afterwards. The vehicle, it says, is currently in the engineering development phase, with early prototype testing due to start shortly.

The 19-tonne and mid-size 12-tonne variants will be offered in 2023, with the smaller 7.5-tonne vehicles expected to start production in late 2024.

Also wrapped up in Volta’s Road-to-Zero emissions strategy is the launch of its Truck-as-a-Service (“TaaS”) proposition, which the company hopes will “revolutionise the financing and servicing of commercial vehicle fleets”. TaaS will offer fleet managers a “frictionless way to electrify their fleets”, with a monthly fee providing access to a Volta Zero, and all of its servicing, maintenance, insurance and training requirements.

Volta says it will also adopt a network manufacturing strategy with a number of assembly facilities distributed across its key geographies, minimising unnecessary transportation and cost.

Long range lidar promises breakthrough in autonomous delivery and ride-hailing

Long range lidar promises breakthrough in autonomous delivery and ride-hailing

US autonomous vehicle technology developer Argo AI says its latest lidar system overcomes a number of technical limitations that have hindered the commercialisation of autonomous delivery and ride-hailing services.

According to Argo AI its Self-Driving System (SDS) is capable of 360-degrees awareness day or night and can safely drive on busy city streets and in suburban neighbourhoods at highway speeds.

Key to the system is a sensor believed to offer the industry’s longest-distance sensing range capability of 400m combined with dark-object detection for safe highway driving.

Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI, says the system can handle the most complex aspects of human driving, such as:

  • Seeing the darkest of black-painted vehicles—those that reflect less than 1% of light even at long range and at night
  • Safely navigating turns onto roads with oncoming high-speed traffic by utilising a 360° field of view
  • Managing instant transitions from darkness to bright light, such as when entering and leaving a tunnel, which often temporarily blind human drivers
  • Distinguishing small, moving objects such as animals from vegetation and static objects

The system utilises Argo’s proprietary “Geiger-mode” sensing, which has the ability to detect the smallest particle of light—a single photon—and is key to detecting objects with low reflectivity. This, combined with higher-wavelength operation above 1400 nanometers, gives longer-range, higher-resolution, lower-reflectivity detection and full 360° field of view from a single sensor.

The first batch of Argo Lidar sensors is already supporting on-road testing of Argo’s self-driving test vehicle fleet across the US. Soon, volume production plans with Ford and Volkswagen Group will lead to the widespread commercialisation of autonomous delivery and ride hail services.

“We have unparalleled autonomous driving technology and operations capabilities,” continues Salesky. “and we are proving out these abilities every day, across six cities from our nation’s capital to Miami to Silicon Valley. We are ready to enable the next phase of growth for delivery, retail, and ride-sharing partners. Additional US cities are coming online this year, as well as expansion into Europe.”

Arrival and Uber tie up will develop new car optimised for ride-hailing

Arrival and Uber tie up will develop new car optimised for ride-hailing

Arrival, a UK based electric vehicle (EV) developer, is partnering with Uber to develop an affordable, purpose-built EV for ride-hailing drivers. The Arrival Car is expected to enter production in Autumn 2023.

Vehicles designed for ride-hailing and car sharing services have different design requirements to privately owned vehicles. For instance, a typical ride-hailing vehicle will drive 50,000km a year, compared to 12,000km for a typical vehicle. As a consequence, Arrival’s car will prioritise driver comfort, safety, and convenience, and that passengers enjoy a premium experience.

Uber has previously committed to becoming a fully electric mobility platform in London by 2025 and by 2030 across North America and Europe. It has also established an incentive scheme to support its drivers to purchase an electric vehicle, meaning the Arrival Car could become ubiquitous in cities across the globe.

Arrival has committed to collaborating with Uber drivers in the design process to ensure the new vehicle reflects the needs of both drivers and their passengers, with the final vehicle design expected to be revealed before the end of 2021.

Tom Elvidge, SVP Arrival Mobility UK said: “We are confident that electrifying ride-hailing vehicles will have an outsized impact on cities, and we are keen to support drivers as they manage this transition. Arrival Car will be designed around drivers’ needs to create a vehicle that is affordable, durable and desirable. Our focus is on developing the best possible product for ride hailing that elevates the experience of the passenger and improves drivers’ health, safety and finances.”

The Arrival Car will join Arrival’s previously announced commercial products, the Bus and Van, to provide cities with a multi-modal zero-emission transportation offer.

The tie-up with Uber is also a major boost for Arrival’s innovative approach to decentralised production within microfactories. This means vehicles are produced close to areas of demand, using local talent and paying local taxes. This strategy also enables the production of vehicles specific to the region in which they will operate.

Arrival’s model is based around low capital expenditure, rapidly scalable microfactories combined with proprietary in-house developed components, materials and software, to enable the production of best in class vehicles competitively priced to fossil fuel variants and with a substantially lower total cost of ownership. The company is this year deploying its first three microfactories in North and South Carolina, US and Bicester, UK.

South Korea sets up seventh autonomous vehicle technology demonstration zone

South Korea sets up seventh autonomous vehicle technology demonstration zone

South Korea’s government has designated Pangyo, a satellite city south of the capital Seoul, as a demonstration zone for autonomous vehicle technologies and related services.

The district is the seventh demonstration zone set up over the last year by the country’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to accelerate the development of autonomous driving technology and mobility services such as car-sharing and self-driving taxi-hailing.

Pangyo already boasts road infrastructure for self-driving cars including a control tower and an advanced internet of things service network that enables, for instance, traffic lights to communicate with each other and vehicles using vehicle-to-everything communication technology.

The programme at Pangyo aims to seamlessly connect public transport with autonomous shuttles, premium taxi-hailing, and inter-linked last-mile mobility services. Demonstrations will begin as early as July 2021. Mobility services will be offered free or for a small fee.

“The experience gained at the autonomous vehicle technology demonstration zone would become an important footstone for companies that are preparing to commercialize their services,” said Vice Transport Minister Hwang Seong-kyu. Furthermore, he added, “More demonstration zones will be set up across South Korea to accelerate the commercialisation of services and have citizens familiarise themselves with new technologies.”

UK high power motorway charging site heralded as start of major transformation

UK high power motorway charging site heralded as start of major transformation

Electric Highway, the Ecotricity-owned UK trunk road network of electric vehicle (EV) charge points, has opened the UK’s largest high power motorway EV charging site.

The installation, the first under Electric Highway’s new partnership with Gridserve announced in March, is planned as the first of what is promised as the transformation of facilities on the country’s motorways and major roads.

The flagship installation, at MOTO’s new Rugby services at Junction 1 of the M6, includes 12 high-powered Tritium pumps. The contactless payment pumps can charge supported vehicles at 350kW – adding around 100 miles of range in less than five minutes.

As part of the major transformation programme – funded by Gridserve investor Hitachi Capital, all existing 50kW pumps on the Electric Highway network will be replaced this summer. In parallel, work has also begun on high power installations across its entire network.

Toddington Harper, CEO of Gridserve, said, “The rollout of high power chargers across Britain’s motorways in partnership with Moto provides drivers with the confidence to go electric today.

“Since announcing our Electric Highway partnership with Ecotricity we’ve been hard at work putting in the charging infrastructure needed to give people the confidence to make the transition to electric vehicles, by delivering 6-12 high power 350kW chargers across the network as quickly as possible, as well as replacing all the existing chargers with the latest technology.”

Dale Vince, Founder, The Electric Highway, added, “We began building the Electric Highway ten years ago. Back then, state-of-the-art charging was just 7kW and here we are today at 350kW in just a decade. This is our very first high power installation, and this new technology comes just at a tipping point in the adoption of electric vehicles.

“Our new partnership with Gridserve kickstarts a comprehensive programme where these installations will become ubiquitous on the motorway network, helping to make the experience of using an electric car no different to using a fossil-powered one.”