Kinto launches DerbyGo and becomes UK’s largest MaaS scheme

Kinto launches DerbyGo and becomes UK’s largest MaaS scheme

Kinto, Toyota’s mobility brand, has launched a major new app-based service that will help people plan and make integrated journeys, saving time, reducing their environmental impact and helping transport planners design more effective future strategies.

DerbyGo (by Kinto) is the largest and most ambitious Mobility as a Service (MaaS) scheme yet to be introduced in the UK.  Produced in partnership with Derby City Council, University of Derby, Derby College and technology partner FOD Mobility Group, it will give thousands of local people easy and immediate access to journey planning, booking and payment via a single app on their smartphone.

The project has been developed as part of Derby’s Future Transport Zone programme, supported with around £500,000 of Government funding. Toyota – and its Kinto operations – entered into a collaboration arrangement with the council to support its future mobility programme in March this year.

Initially operating as an 18-month trial, DerbyGo (by Kinto) is being rolled out first to students and staff at University of Derby and Derby College. At launch, the app will offer a basic level of capability, serving as a research and development element of Derby’s live lab approach to its Future Transport Zone. As the wider concept evolves, DerbyGo will integrate a growing number of mobility features and capabilities to enhance travel in and around Derby, with users helping test, inform and optimise its potential.

The launch of DerbyGo this week coincides with the arrival of around 10,000 new students on campus, together with thousands more moving to the city for the first time, following a year of remote studies due to the pandemic. They are seen as ideal first adopters for the service, with many likely to be familiar with using apps for travel services, maximising the potential early uptake.

Initially the app will focus on the rail and bus services serving Derby and the university and college sites, providing real-time route information, ticket booking and payment. As a live lab, the trial will be constantly refined for ease-of-use and functionality, with further transport services, such as taxis and other bus operators, being added to enable more efficient, connected journey planning.

This will also be the first MaaS platform to integrate transport accessibility information for people with special mobility needs. The app will provide a direct link to Sociability, a UK startup business which collects, maintains and shares detailed, reliable and accurate accessibility information for local venues. DerbyGo users will be able to research the accessibility features of their destination at the same time as ensuring that their transport mode of choice is equally accessible – all within the DerbyGo app.

Growth in user numbers and the range of services available will help reduce the number of car journeys being made, easing congestion, improving air quality and reduce the city’s carbon emissions.  

Key developments targeted for the app’s evolution include monitoring parking availability and potentially introducing pre-booking priority for cars with more than one person on board, encouraging the uptake of car sharing. The app will also allow digital parking management and the introduction of electronic payment.

The future roadmap will also look at access to car sharing and access to rental cars at specific locations. Micro-mobility services, such as e-bike schemes are also planned for integration within the app, as early as Spring 2022.

Throughout the 18-month pilot, performance will be monitored, allowing changes and improvements to be made promptly and effectively.

Richard Balshaw, Kinto UK Group Vice President, said, “Today is an exciting first step in helping deliver better mobility for all. With the enthusiasm and vision of Derby City Council, University of Derby and Derby College, we are able to launch DerbyGo (by Kinto) and develop a wealth of mobility services to encourage and enable easier and more efficient journeys. Constant monitoring of performance will help plan better transport and parking provisions, bringing associated benefits of better traffic flow and less vehicle pollution.”

Professor Chris Bussell, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering at University of Derby, and Chair of the Derby Climate Change Commission commented, “I am delighted that the university is collaborating with Toyota UK, Kinto and Derby City Council to run this pilot of the DerbyGo app with our students.

“This is an exciting and evolving technological aid to achieve the goals we hold in common with our partners to move towards cleaner, greener mobility around our city, reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality and wellbeing for the local population.

Utrecht supports development of bi-directional EV charging ecosystem

Utrecht supports development of bi-directional EV charging ecosystem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hyundai backs plan to develop 65 electric urban-air ports worldwide

Hyundai backs plan to develop 65 electric urban-air ports worldwide

Urban-Air Port and the Urban Air Mobility division of Hyundai Motor Group plan to develop 65 electric urban-air ports worldwide to meet the growing demand for autonomous airborne drones and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger vehicles.

The partnership aims to establish a global network of urban-air ports across the US, UK, EU and Asia Pacific and provide the infrastructure “to unlock clean urban air mobility worldwide”.

Hyundai is developing its own eVTOL vehicle which it plans to enter into service in 2028. In large part its motivation in developing air mobility hubs is the lack of infrastructure remains a major block on market growth.

Urban-Air Port plans to plug this gap with more than 200 electric air mobility hubs worldwide in the next five years.

The collaboration is set to deliver the world’s first fully operational urban-air port – named Air-One – early next year in Coventry, UK.

Ricky Sandhu, founder and executive chairman of Urban-Air Port, said, “The sector is soaring and we know that a future with electric flying vehicles and drones in cities is going to be a reality soon.

“But it can’t happen if we don’t have the infrastructure on the ground and in the air to make it happen. Urban-Air Port will change the way we travel forever – unlocking clean urban air transport for everyone, improving connectivity in congested cities, cutting pollution and boosting productivity.”

Urban-Air Port’s modular hubs are specifically designed for compact environments, supporting any eVTOL or drone vehicle, and with maintenance and charging able to take place on-site.

The ultra-compact off-grid design enables urban-air ports to be located in dense urban areas and remote locations and can be easily moved to alternative sites, as the air-mobility sector develops.

Urban-Air Port is also partnering with hydrogen fuel cell developer AFC Energy to provide zero emission off-grid power. The first roll out of the system will be deployed at Urban-Air Port’s Air One site in Coventry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Volocopter eyes Los Angeles’ urban air mobility services potential

Volocopter eyes Los Angeles’ urban air mobility services potential

Volocopter, the German electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturer, has signed a partnership deal with Los Angeles-based Urban Movement Labs to explore the possibility of bringing the company’s urban air mobility (UAM) services to the Los Angeles area.

Volocopter hopes to launch its UAM services in the next two or three years after achieving final certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), followed by certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which will allow the company to bring its services from Europe to the United States.

Urban Movement Labs is a collaboration between Los Angeles communities and local government, as well as mobility innovators including Google-backed self-driving car project Waymo, rideshare company Lyft, and US telecommunications giant Verizon.

“Our partnership with Urban Movement Labs is a great entryway into the US with our innovative urban air mobility services,” said Christian Bauer, CCO of Volocopter.

“By leading the conversation about urban air mobility with broad stakeholders in Los Angeles, Volocopter can strategically identify and address how our services can benefit cities in the country.

Volocopter is the only eVTOL company to already hold two strategic EASA certification approvals to design and produce aircraft in-house, and most recently demonstrated its eVTOL progress at the Oshkosh airshow in Wisconsin, where Volocopter conducted the first public flight of a crewed eVTOL in the US.

“We are executing a community-first strategy to engage with community-based organisations and inform a policy framework that will guide the development of UAM infrastructure in the City of Los Angeles,” said Sam Morrissey, Executive Director at Urban Movement Labs.

“Through our partnership with Volocopter we can explore specific pilot projects to advance a future UAM network that reflects what we hear from Angelenos and establishes standards for future UAM operation.”

Volvo and Ericsson trial simulates 5G continuity across national borders

Volvo and Ericsson trial simulates 5G continuity across national borders

Volvo Cars and mobile operator Ericsson claim to have overcome the technical challenges of achieving seamless service continuity for vehicles on 5G networks across national borders.

As part of the EU-funded 5GCroCo project, the test at the AstaZero test track in Sweden, was set up to model and test cross-border handovers between national networks that will need to happen routinely when connected and autonomous vehicles cross from one country to another.

The 5GCroCro project is an EU initiative preparing for large-scale connected car trials along a 5G corridor between Metz in France, Merzig in Germany and Luxembourg.

The trial used 5G connectivity to ensure maps were constantly updated with the latest real-time information to aid future autonomous driving and build up an understanding of the environment beyond the range of the vehicle and its sensors.

Mikael Prytz, Research Director, Ericsson Area Networks, says, “Sharing an updated map with other cars is a latency-sensitive task and requires high network performance within and across multiple networks. During the test at the AstaZero track, we could tackle this challenge with promising results.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arriva launches multimodal journey planning app in partnership with Moovit

Arriva launches multimodal journey planning app in partnership with Moovit

Transport operator Arriva Group has launched a travel platform designed to connect passengers to multiple modes and operators of public transport, shared transport and micro-mobility in the Netherlands.

Developed in partnership with journey planning technology provider Moovit, the “glimble” branded app is Arriva’s first MaaS (Mobility as a Service) solution in Europe.

The development of “glimble by arriva” came after Arriva Netherlands was awarded two pilot projects by the local authorities in the Netherlands to trial MaaS solutions. Seven pilot projects in total were awarded. Arriva was the only public transport company to be awarded pilots because of its strong reputation serving the Dutch market.

During the pandemic a number of European cities invested in new infrastructure to encourage cycling or walking, and some have introduced e-scooter trials. These initiatives have provided greater modal flexibility for people to move across cities. The glimble solution brings all these options together and allows Arriva to look beyond its own operations and provide integrated, multimodal journeys.

Anne Hettinga, Arriva Group Board Member and Managing Director of the Netherlands, said, “With this platform, we are set to become a leading mobility provider. In a world where everyone is constantly on the move and connection and accessibility is essential, we need to be adaptable and nimble. Our glimble brand has started its Arriva journey in the Netherlands, but we know it has pan-European appeal – and potential – and we are starting to explore this in countries where the necessary data sharing agreements exist.”

Working with Moovit means Arriva can launch with confidence in partnership with a technology provider with proven success. The functionality also incorporates accessibility features, such as screen reading features for low vision users, talkback and voiceover capabilities. The app also identifies wheelchair-accessible routes and stations, while also calculating step-free journeys. For those with hand-motor disabilities, glimble is designed with optimised menus and buttons.

Other functionality due to be added to the app includes parking locations and a search capability for electric car charging points.

Several mobility providers can be found in the app for a number of different modes including shared car hire, demand responsive transport, e-scooters, taxis, tram, rail, ferry, bus and e-bikes and bicycles. Arriva expects to add more and more carriers to glimble in the coming months and already has plans to expand to include Belgium and parts of Germany, an initiative in part designed to test glimble’s application for journeys involving cross-border travel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Piaggio strengthens Japanese-founded Swappable Batteries Motorcycle Consortium

Piaggio strengthens Japanese-founded Swappable Batteries Motorcycle Consortium

Italian scooter maker Piaggio has joined forces with a Japanese consortium of major bike manufacturers set up to encourage the use of swappable batteries for electric motorcycles and light electric vehicles.

The newly enlarged and rebranded Swappable Batteries Motorcycle Consortium (SBMC) aims to broaden the use of light electric vehicles, such as scooters, mopeds and motorcycles, and support a more sustainable management of their batteries, a joint statement said.

It will focus on issues such as battery life, recharging times, infrastructure and costs and will work on defining international standard technical specifications for swappable batteries.

The companies in the consortium said they welcomed others joining them to extend standards to as many companies as possible.

“Urban mobility is going through a delicate transition moment towards electrification. Thanks to this consortium motorbikes will keep their key role,” Piaggio Chief of Strategy and Product Michele Colaninno said.

Honda’s Motorcycle Operations Chief Officer Yoshishige Nomura added the consortium’s objectives are to make electric motorbikes more convenient for clients, as their “use on large scale can substantially contribute to the creation of a more sustainable society”.

Fast-fuelling hydrogen system game-changer for air taxi operations

Fast-fuelling hydrogen system game-changer for air taxi operations

California based hydrogen fuel cell innovator HyPoint has teamed up with US vertical flight pioneer Piasecki Aircraft to build the world’s first manned hydrogen helicopter. A hydrogen powertrain potentially offers a huge increase in range and payload compared to current battery electric eVTOL aircraft.

The aim is to develop a fully US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified hydrogen system that would allow electric aircraft to carry several times more energy on board, vastly boosting flight endurance and reducing refuelling time.

HyPoint claims its turbo air-cooled hydrogen fuel cell system will be able to achieve more than three times the power-to-weight ratio of traditional hydrogen fuel cells systems. It will also offer an energy density around five times existing commercially available lithium battery packs.

HyPoint says the system has been validated in laboratory prototypes, proving it can produce sufficient power to handle the demands of vertical takeoff and landing without the need for a buffer battery.

The initial plan is to develop a 650-kW hydrogen fuel cell system and to integrate this into Piasecki’s PA-890 compound electric helicopter.

The PA-890 is designed to meet existing FAA Part 27 standards for commercial certification. While the FAA has granted experimental certification to several fuel cell aircraft it is yet to do so for commercial uses.

A long-range, fast-fueling hydrogen system would be a game-changer and a solution to a problem that many of the companies vying to set up air taxi operations are currently not fully addressing. With existing eVTOL powertrains, the planes will need to spend large chunks of their service periods recharging and the planned vertiports, often located in dense inner cities, are unlikely to have enough space to allow the planes to recharge and support a viable level of service

“We are laser-focused on the development and qualification of a 650-kW system for our PA-890 eVTOL Compound Helicopter, which would be the world’s first manned hydrogen-powered helicopter,” says John Piasecki, President and CEO of Piasecki Aircraft. “Success will pave the way for collaboration with other eVTOL OEMs with different platform sizes to ensure broad application of this technology.”

“Initial lab testing funded has demonstrated the technical viability of HyPoint’s hydrogen fuel cell system,” he continues. “While we are benchmarking HyPoint’s technology against alternatives and continue to rigorously test and validate findings, we are very optimistic.

“Our objective is to develop full-scale systems within two years to support on-aircraft certification testing in 2024 and fulfil existing customer orders for up to 325 units starting in 2025.”

Berlin e-bike riders dancing to a different tune

Berlin e-bike riders dancing to a different tune

Dance, the e-bike subscription start-up led by SoundCloud founders, has launched its full services in its home city of Berlin.

The company, which is backed by singers Maisie Williams and Chance the Rapper, is based around a monthly subscription model. It is not a bike share, it’s your own e-bike that you keep, but members save on the upfront cost of buying the bike and don’t have to worry about maintenance.

This, according to the company, strikes a middle ground between full ownership – where high end e-bikes can average around $4,000 – and the sharing models seen in many cities.

“Coming from a subscription background with SoundCloud, we have a lot of experience with subscription services, and we think that’s really a big part of how people will use products like e-bikes in the future,” chief executive Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss said.

Dance’s initial roll-out in Berlin is priced at €79 per month. This will be a test for the subscription model and if it can be applied to bikes on a large scale.

Quidenus-Wahlforss said the aim is to secure long-term customers rather than those looking to try out an e-bike before ultimately buying one for themselves.

“I think people that come from the bike world tend to underestimate just how much you can do with subscription. A subscription is not just monthly billing. From my previous life at SoundCloud, you can go infinitely deep with the subscription model in terms of pricing, plans, partnerships and layering in value-add products.”

Coinciding the launch of its subscription service, Dance has also revealed details of its first-generation e-bike. The Dance One has a custom aluminium diamond frame and offers a maximum speed of 25 km/h. It has a removable battery with a range of 55 km on a full charge, and features a Bluetooth lock that can be opened with the subscription member’s mobile phone.

Renault and Jiangling launch model designed for ride hailing

Renault and Jiangling launch model designed for ride hailing

The joint venture between Renault Group and Jiangling Motors is to launch the new all-electric Mobilize Limo.

Designed primarily for taxis, private hire, and ride-hailing, the car will be offered on a subscription basis and won’t be available to buy.

“The first Mobilize model, Limo, is the new brand’s response to the evolution of the ride-hailing market,” says Clotilde Delbos, the company’s CEO. “This offer, which combines a vehicle and flexible services, illustrates Mobilize’s ability to the changing needs of vehicle users.”

Similar in size to the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, Mobilize says the Limo offers drivers “the most ergonomically and acoustically comfortable seat possible”. It also has a small fridge between the front seats to keep the driver supplied with chilled beverages through their shift.

For rear passengers the Limo offers a good amount of room with USB charging ports, adjustable air vents and reading lights.

The Limo has a tight turning circle and is powered by a 110 kW electric motor that offers modest but appropriate performance of 60 mph in 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 140km/h

It has a range of “more than 450km” which, says Mobilize, is enough for “one or even two full days of work without recharging.”

Funding deal supports start-up’s plan to disrupt vehicle financing in Africa

Funding deal supports start-up’s plan to disrupt vehicle financing in Africa

Series A funding secured by mobility fintech Moove will enable the Lagos-based start-up to accelerate its products and service designed to make vehicle ownership accessible to Africa’s billion-plus population.

Moove says that in 2019 the continent saw fewer than 900,000 total vehicle sales compared to 17 million in the US alone.

Moove embeds its alternative credit-scoring technology onto ride-hailing and e-logistics platforms, which provides driver performance and revenue analytics as evidence to underwrite loans allowing drivers to secure their ride hailing vehicles.

Moove provides loans to customers by selling them new vehicles and financing up to 95 per cent of the purchase within five days of sign up. Moove customers can choose to pay back their loans over 24, 36, or 48 months, using a percentage of their weekly revenue. All Moove customers sign up to the Moove app to manage all transactions and access other financial products on the platform.

“In a continent full of opportunity, mobility is key to moving economies forward and this funding contributes to our ability to provide revenue-based financing, as Moove empowers Africans to safely become mobility entrepreneurs,” says Ladi Delano, co-founder of Moove. “We help people buy new cars who otherwise couldn’t afford them. And then, using the vehicle as a mobility entrepreneur, they’re able to earn money, which allows them to pay off the vehicle over time.”

While Moove is the first investment in Africa for many of its US venture capital backers, it already serves as Uber’s exclusive vehicle financing and vehicle supply partner in sub-Saharan Africa. Moove says it has financed cars that have already completed more than 850,000 Uber trips covering over 13 million kilometres across the continent to date.

“Moove has quickly established itself as one of the most exciting tech companies in Africa,” says Stefan Klestil, General Partner at Speedinvest, which led the funding round. “The company’s expansion to three cities in under 12 months demonstrates the huge demand for vehicle financing in Africa, where just five per cent of new cars are purchased with financing, compared to 92 per cent in Europe.”

Moove says that it is committed to giving 100 per cent of mobility entrepreneurs access to affordable credit and ensuring that 50 per cent of its customers are women.

It also aims to ensure that at least 60 per cent of the vehicles it finances are electric or hybrid vehicles as part of its commitment to improving road safety and vehicle emissions on Africa’s roads.

Starship Technologies expands US college autonomous takeaway delivery services

Starship Technologies expands US college autonomous takeaway delivery services

Starship Technologies, a provider of autonomous delivery services at US college campuses, is to provide deliveries from on-campus restaurants including Starbucks, Panda Express and Subway at four additional locations.

The University of Illinois Chicago, University of Kentucky, University of Nevada, Reno and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach, Florida campus join the list of college campuses where Starship robots provides deliveries with its fleet of over 1,000 robots.

Starship’s delivery robots began its autonomous delivery services at George Mason University in Virginia in January 2019. The service is now available across nearly 20 different campuses in 15 states.

Starship Technologies’ zero-emission robots have made more than 1.5 million autonomous deliveries, travelled millions of miles and make more than 80,000 road crossings every day.

Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Starship Technologies, says, “We’ve worked hard to become a trusted and integrated partner on our campus communities and that hard work has paid off. We are continuing to add new schools every semester, with more to be announced this fall. The students love the robots and the schools appreciate the ability to offer this service. We can’t wait to meet the students at each of these schools and look forward to hiring students on all of the campuses to give them real world experience working with robots and AI.”

Dean Kennedy, executive director of Residential Life, Housing and Food Services at University of Nevada, Reno, adds, “Everyone wants to resume in-person classes and be back on campus so we’re doing everything we can to make sure it’s done responsibly. The robots offer several advantages – they make social distancing easier, they are convenient, the students we have spoken with love this idea and they continue our heritage of being an innovative campus.”

“I never thought I’d be sharing sidewalks with a robot when I thought about going to college but they feel right at home with the coming age of innovation and technology,” says Johan Restrepo, a student at Embry-Riddle. “It seems really futuristic yet completely normal at the same time. It’s always fun to see them travelling around campus and having the option to get food delivered is a huge bonus that my friends and I can’t get enough of!”

Latest ChargePoint acquisition strengthens electric bus and fleet management capabilities

Latest ChargePoint acquisition strengthens electric bus and fleet management capabilities

US electric vehicle charging network operator ChargePoint has acquired Dutch eBus and commercial vehicle management provider ViriCiti for approximately €75 million. The deal is ChargePoint’s second major European acquisition within the last month; in July it announced a €250 million intended takeover of has-to-be, the Austrian e-mobility provider and charging software platform developer.

ViriCiti will enhance the ChargePoint fleet solution portfolio of hardware, software and services by integrating information sources to optimise electric fleet operations, including battery management, charging station monitoring, OEM-agnostic telematics, vehicle maintenance and vehicle operations data.

The combined solution will enable fleet operators to identify which of routes could be most effectively electrified, monitor and report on uptime, optimise fuelling to ensure operational readiness at low cost, and integrate vehicle and charging station management.

Pasquale Romano, President and CEO of ChargePoint, said, “The future of fleets is electric, and integrating charging solutions with the many business systems already in place in today’s depots is essential to successful electrification.

“Adding ViriCiti’s vehicle management capabilities to our fleet portfolio allows ChargePoint to deliver more functionality to eBus and commercial fleet operators, while remaining open to integration with existing telematics systems. The combined solution underscores the importance of software to EV charging and will ensure operational readiness at low cost as fleets of all types across North America and Europe continue to electrify.”

Founded in 2012, ViriCiti today has more than 50 employees in the Netherlands and United States, and established market share in North America and Europe with approximately 150 fleet operators, 3,500 connected vehicles and 2,500 networked ports under management.

ViriCiti customers include prominent fleet operators and OEMs, such as Arriva, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, Chicago Transit Authority, GILLIG, Keolis, King County Metro, Metropolitan Transit Authority (New York), PicNic, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority and Toronto Transit Commission.

Freek Dielissen, CEO of ViriCiti, said, “Our mission over the last nine years has been to help fleet operators manage their electric operations. Today, zero-emission transportation is at a tipping point, and we are excited to join EV charging leader ChargePoint, integrate our complementary offerings and tap into the resources that will enable the electrification of fleets at a faster pace across North America and Europe.”

Dr Jose Serras-Pereira, Director – Advisory, Mobility Group, Frost & Sullivan, confirmed, “The need for efficient software tools to gather, analyse and recommend vehicle types, charging hardware, site energy requirements and other operational strategies has never been greater. Software, analytics and advisory are expected to be key portfolio components for any industry actor wishing to provide a holistic suite of electrification services in a B2B setting and help accelerate fleet electrification over the next decade. ChargePoint is now well positioned to offer fleet managers large and small a full range of tools required to start planning and executing their electrification journeys.”

Iteris and Wejo collaboration to enhance connected vehicle data content

Iteris and Wejo collaboration to enhance connected vehicle data content

California based Iteris, a global leader in smart mobility infrastructure management, and UK’s Wejo, a global leader in connected vehicle data, have entered into an agreement to deliver enhanced connected vehicle data content to Iteris’ public-sector and commercial customers throughout North America.

Under the terms of the agreement, Iteris will join Wejo’s partner program to provide new and existing customers with real-time movement data from more than 11 million connected vehicles in North America. In addition, Wejo will become one of Iteris’ ecosystem of mobility intelligence providers.

The combination will enable a new level of insights in areas such as commuter information, traffic mitigation, road network management and studying road utilisation.

“We are excited to announce this partnership, which will make Wejo’s near real-time connected car data available to Iteris’ public-sector and commercial enterprise customers nationwide for the first time,” said Richard Barlow, CEO at Wejo. “Our value-added insights will enhance and improve Iteris’ product offerings, and ultimately contribute to improved safety and reduced congestion on roadways throughout North America, while helping to shorten journey times and providing car owners with a materially better driving experience.”

Joe Reed, chief technology officer, and senior vice president and general manager, Applications and Cloud Solutions at Iteris added, “Wejo is a leader and pioneer in connected vehicle data, and combined with valuable traffic and weather information, and artificial-intelligence driven capabilities from our ClearMobility Platform, Iteris will enable safer and more efficient mobility for public transportation agencies and commercial enterprises throughout North America.”

According to McKinsey, by 2030, around 95% of new vehicles sold globally will be connected, up from around 50% today, and the global market opportunity of the resulting data is estimated at between $250 billion and $400 billion.

Connected vehicles are fitted with hundreds of sensors, each telling the story of the vehicle’s current state and how it is used. Advanced communication systems then exchange individual vehicle, journey and geospatial information with personal smart devices, other vehicles, IoT devices and transportation infrastructure, such as roadside traffic cabinets.

As connected vehicles and smart mobility infrastructure expand, along with the seamless flow of data between them, drivers will benefit from improved safety and efficiency in the road network.

British bank installs 600 EV chargers for staff and customers

British bank installs 600 EV chargers for staff and customers

British bank NatWest is to install 600 electric vehicle charging points across its UK locations by 2023. Charging infrastructure is to be supplied by EQUANS, the new brand for renewable power generator Engie’s services-led activities.

The charging points support the bank’s pledge to convert its fleet to electric vehicles but will also be available to its customers.

“At NatWest we are helping our staff decarbonise transport and achieve Net Zero commuting. Working in partnership with EQUANS to provide EV chargepoints at key strategic office locations supports our staff in making that transition to electric vehicles and help reduce our carbon footprint,” said Michael Lynch, Climate Solutions Lead at NatWest.

NatWest has strategically selected locations where demand is high and power is readily available. The five-year partnership with EQUANS will benefit both employees and customers of the bank, while the chargers will also support the company’s transition to an electric fleet.

The first NatWest chargers are to go into operation before the end of August at Donegall Square East in Belfast.

“This partnership demonstrates a clear and strong commitment from NatWest on where they stand on the net zero transition,” said Jerry Moloney, Managing Director for EQUANS’ Futures business in the UK & Ireland. “The only way we will convince a greater proportion of the population to consider electric vehicles is by giving them greater options and better access to chargers.”

Arrival and Microsoft to develop open data platform for vehicles and fleets

Arrival and Microsoft to develop open data platform for vehicles and fleets

Electric vehicle technology developer Arrival has announced a tie up with Microsoft to develop an open data platform for vehicles and fleets to improve the utility of vehicle generated shared data.

Arrival says an ever-increasing amount of data is produced and stored in the cloud by individual vehicles and fleets globally, but there is currently no standardised way of managing and using the data.

Arrival plans to develop models with Microsoft that simplify the sharing of data within the mobility and freight ecosystem. “Multi-tenant” data ownership models, says Arrival, will increase the utility of shared data and serve as a foundation for multiple different stakeholders – including OEMs, suppliers, cities, and freight and logistics companies – to securely and responsibly analyse the huge swathes of data generated and apply valuable insights to their business.

The approach, adds Arrival, will provide stakeholders full transparency and control over what data is shared and with whom – enabling them to benefit from their data in ways “never before possible”.

For example, it says, this approach could allow easier access for an insurance company to process claims or set premiums to better understand and manage risk while remaining competitive in the market, or for cities to benefit from understanding more about traffic flows and how to collectively optimise the performance of transportation and freight providers.

The resulting open data platform will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service and machine learning to extract insights from the data, and edge computing to minimise vehicle-to-cloud data flow. By implementing a unified data standard and transparent data sharing policy, the insights drawn will enable improved vehicle designs, advanced fleet logistics and help spur advancements in mobility ecosystems and business models.

“Arrival is bringing zero-emission mobility solutions to communities globally. Data management and analysis is crucial to bringing customised, affordable and equitable solutions to the world. With the rapid advances in technology across all areas, we need a standardised way of collecting, assimilating and sharing that data so all can share in the full benefits of what connected vehicles can bring,” said Avinash Rugoobur, President of Arrival.

“Working closely with Microsoft to develop and then demonstrate the huge advantages of having an open data platform for vehicles and fleets will be truly ground-breaking for companies and cities around the world,” he adds