Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have developed tools to help electric delivery-vehicles to use as little energy as possible. The secret, they say, lies in looking beyond just the distance travelled, and instead focusing on overall energy usage. The approach has led to energy savings of up to 20 per cent.
“We have developed systematic tools to learn optimal energy usage. Additionally, we can ensure that electric vehicles are not running out of battery or charging unnecessarily in complex traffic networks”, says Balázs Kulcsár, Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology.
The research is the latest result from a joint project between Chalmers and Volvo Group that investigates how electric vehicles can be used for distribution tasks. The new algorithm for learning and planning the optimal path of electric vehicles is so efficient that it is already being used by Volvo Group.
In the study, the researchers investigated how a fleet of electric trucks can deliver goods in a complex and crowded traffic network. The challenge is how delivery vehicles carrying household goods should best plan their routes. By working out the optimal order to deliver to customers, the vehicles can be driven for as long as possible without needing to interrupt the work to recharge unnecessarily.
Route planning for electric vehicles has normally tended to assume that the lowest mileage is also the most efficient, and therefore focused on finding the shortest route as the priority. Balázs Kulcsár and his colleagues focused instead on overall battery usage as the key goal, and looked for routes with the lowest possible energy consumption.
“In real traffic situations a longer distance journey may require less energy than a shorter one, once all the other parameters that affect energy consumption have been accounted for”, Balázs Kulcsár explains.
The researchers modelled the energy consumption by looking into many factors including speed, load, traffic information, how hilly different routes were, and opportunity charging points.
The energy consumption model was then entered into a mathematical formula, resulting in an algorithm for calculating a route that allows the vehicles to make the deliveries using as little energy as possible. By accounting for extra factors such as these, the researchers’ new method allowed the vehicles to reduce their energy consumption by up to 20 per cent.
Because the electric delivery vehicles operate in complex real-world situations, there can often be unforeseen complications the energy usage forecasts will tbe further optimised through machine learning, with data collected from the vehicles being sent back to the tool for further input and analysis.
“Taken together, this will allow us to adapt route-planning to uncertain and changing conditions, minimising energy consumption and ensuring successful urban distribution”, Balázs Kulcsár says.
A new report assessing the impact of the EV transition on employment in the EU’s automotive powertrain sector forecasts a 43% drop in employment opportunities up to 2040.
The report from Strategy&, PwC’s global strategy consulting team, commissioned by LEPA the Brussels-based European Association of Automotive Suppliers, predicts up to half a million jobs will be lost in traditional internal combustion engine powertrain production.
The analysis suggests these will be partially compensated by new opportunities in EV powertrain production, which will generate 226,000 new jobs, but existing automotive suppliers are not well positioned to take advantage.
The report considered three scenarios with market shares for electrified vehicles of 50%, 80%, and 100% by 2030.
LEPA says the automotive manufacturing sector is responsible for more than 5% of the overall manufacturing employment in 13 EU Member States, with more than 60% of these workers employed by automotive suppliers.
The study, it adds, provides a much-needed European-wide assessment and further identifies the risks and opportunities in seven major production countries for automotive components (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Czechia, Poland, and Romania). The study is also the first to evaluate the impact of different policy pathways to reach Green Deal objectives with a focus on automotive suppliers.
LEPA says that while automakers have greater capacity to divest activities to compensate for a loss of activity in the powertrain domain, automotive suppliers can react with much less agility, as they are bound by long-term contracts with vehicle manufacturers and have less access to capital to invest in the transformation of their business models.
The study substantiates that electric vehicle opportunities hinge on the establishment of a deep EU battery supply chain, the timing and likelihood of which are still uncertain.
While electrification puts powertrain employment at risk on the one hand, other workforce skills around areas such as software or infrastructure will be needed in the future. The future value-add and job creation in powertrain technologies depends on local battery production in Europe.
Henning Rennert, Partner at PwC Strategy& in Germany says, “The study substantiates that up to 70% of the value creation related to electric powertrains will be connected to the processing of battery materials, the production of battery cells and cells modules, and the assembly of battery systems.
“These activities will not necessarily be with the same companies or in the same regions, as they require significantly different skills and expertise compared to conventional powertrain technology and are therefore unlikely to provide opportunities to most powertrain-oriented automotive suppliers.
Earlier research by CLEPA illustrated that battery production provides relatively more jobs for academically schooled employees and less for the mechanical workers that are now producing parts related to the internal combustion engine.
A slight employment increase in ICE powertrain is expected between 2020 and 2025 due to advanced ICE technologies (EURO7) and demand increase, followed by constant decline.
226,000 new jobs are foreseen in EV powertrain production (assuming an EU battery chain), with a net loss of 275,000 jobs (-43% jobs) projected from now until 2040.
501,000 auto supplier jobs in Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) powertrain components production are expected to become obsolete if technology is phased-out by 2035 (84% of current ICE jobs).
Of those half a million jobs, 70% (359,000) will most likely be lost in a 5-year period from 2030-2035.
There is not a 1:1 compensation from ICE to EV powertrain employment; different companies, different skill sets, different regions and at different times.
Western European countries will likely be best placed as strongholds in EV production. By contrast, Central Eastern European countries will shape the run-down of ICE vehicle production.
London e-scooter trial operator Dott has partnered with cycling technology company See.Sense to test the use of e-scooters to measure road quality and identify dangerous areas.
A number of Dott’s fleet have been fitted with sensors from See.Sense, which monitored rider behaviour on the vehicles for a period of 10 weeks. The data collected covered 1,800 rides and a total distance of more than 3,300km with over 18 million sensor readings recorded in total.
Throughout each journey, See.Sense’s monitors detect changes in rider behaviour and help better understand the user’s experience on the road. The findings reveal areas which experience particularly high levels of braking or swerving and changes in the road surface.
Irene McAleese, co-founder & CSO, See.Sense, said, “Our technology has been created to provide safety focused data on the adoption and maintenance of infrastructure. We’re excited to partner with Dott on this project to demonstrate a scalable solution that provides cities with powerful data driven insights that will help cities unlock the true potential of micromobility.”
The sensors are designed to identify road quality “hot spots”, which will be shared with the authorities to suggest improvements in road quality, helping make the streets safer for all micromobility users. According to the partnership, braking and swerving can happen around uneven and rough road surfaces or potholes, causing a rider to react suddenly.
Data was also collected to compare surface types and See.Sense’s data could identify consistent patterns on road, cycle path and footpaths. Understanding when riders are using footpaths could be another indicator of a poor-quality road surface. Or it could be down to rider behaviour, allowing Dott to prompt e-learning modules, revise speed limits when the change in surface is detected, or further investigate unsafe riding.
The trial aimed to demonstrate how Dott can collaborate with See.Sense, city authorities and transport departments to provide a reliable service to its riders whilst gathering information to improve road safety.
Maxim Romain, co-founder and COO, Dott, said, “Quality infrastructure is key to helping users of micro-mobility feel safe whilst on the road. The results of this new trial reveal that e-scooters can do more than provide efficient, reliable and sustainable transport – they can also deliver valuable learnings to create smart cities which are safer and more pleasant for all residents.”
San Diego-based solar EV charger developer Beam Global says New York City has become its largest municipal customer with a latest order expanding the coverage of its EV ARC solar-powered EV charging systems to 89 units across the city.
The chargers are completely off-grid and require no construction, permitting or electrical work. A key design feature is their suitability for areas prone to extreme weather such as the flash floods New York experienced during Hurricane Ida in September.
The chargers will continue to function during power outages in part because the large flat solar panels sit 3m above the street level and the structure is designed and tested to withstand wind speeds of 120 mph.
“We are seeing an increase in extreme weather events across the US and globally,” says Beam Global CEO Desmond Wheatley. “Nobody can afford to lose their fuelling infrastructure for prolonged periods. The EV ARC can charge EVs during the power outages that are an increasingly common result of this climate shift and other factors affecting our grid.”
“Organisations in areas subject to hurricanes, rising sea water and flooding due to unusually heavy rainfall can experience permanent damage to traditional electric infrastructure,” adds Wheatley. “The EV ARC product can survive these events and provide vital power when the grid cannot.”
EasyMile’s autonomous shuttle service at the Oncopole healthcare and cancer research campus in the French city of Toulouse has started operating without an on-board supervisor.
The announcement follows eight months of running a trial service in which the shuttle, operating with a supervisor, took passengers on a 600m route connecting a remote car park and the campus main entrance. The shuttle shared the road with cyclists, pedestrians, cars and buses.
The company says its shuttles are equipped with appropriate levels of safety and system redundancies to operate efficiently in a wide range of environments.
The aim is for a control centre to supervise multiple vehicles from anywhere, making it possible to scale to autonomous vehicles without additional manpower.
According to EasyMile, the service is fully flexible as vehicles can be deployed immediately as demand arises, without having to wait for operators to be available.
EasyMile’s general manager Benoit Perrin says, “This is an important step towards real commercialisation of autonomous driving, both on large private sites, as well as on public roads. The applications for our technology to move people and goods continue to grow, especially in locations like campuses, business parks, industrial sites and master planned communities.”
The deployment is part of SAM (Safety and Acceptability of Autonomous Driving and Mobility), a project in which members like Alstom, Keolis and Transdev are working to develop uses of these systems while also building the future regulatory framework.
BMW has expanded its eDrive Zones to a further 20 cities around Europe, including Copenhagen, Verona, and Toulouse.
Using a combination of navigation and geo-fencing, a plug-in hybrid BMW will automatically know when it enters an eDrive Zone and automatically switch to an all-electric drive.
First introduced to London in August 2020, the latest 20 cities to benefit from the technology are Aberdeen, Bregenz, Brescia, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Copenhagen, Cork, Coventry, Florence, Klagenfurt, Lille, Matosinhos, Naples, Oeiras, Oxford, Sheffield, St. Pölten, Toulouse and Verona.
This brings the total number of eDrive Zones across Europe to 138 and BMW has plans to roll out the zones in “at least” another 30 cities worldwide in 2022.
Commenting at the time of the UK launch of eDrive Zones, Pieter Nota, BMW AG board member for Customer, Brands, Sales said, “This is the flexibility that customers want, as they make the transition to electromobility. A plug-in hybrid vehicle combines the best of two worlds – emission-free city-driving as well as long-distance capabilities.”
The UK’s first electric vehicle dynamic charging hub has opened in Wolverhampton and is set to be the first of more than 1500 being created across the country as part of a £75 million programme from Osprey Charging.
The charging hub is the first in the UK to feature new load balancing optimisation technology developed by Finnish company Kempower. This supports dynamic charging across multiple vehicles and allows a number of high-power chargers to be installed at a site without the need for grid upgrades.
Ian Johnston, chief executive of Osprey Charging, said, “Whether it is gigafactories, electric vehicle manufacturing or clean air zones, the West Midlands is leading the way on low carbon transport, cementing its role at the heart of the UK’s green industrial revolution.
“The opening of our high-powered charging hub in Wolverhampton, the first of ten in construction this year, once again puts the region at the leading edge of innovation, marking a step-change in the UK’s electric vehicle infrastructure as we accelerate towards mass adoption of these vehicles.”
The Wolverhampton hub is located adjacent to the A463 and includes four high-powered chargers capable of adding 100 miles of range in around ten minutes. It includes a Costa Coffee on site, allowing drivers to make us of its facilities while charging.
Across its many planned hub sites across the UK, Osprey is working with a range of organisations spanning the restaurant and hospitality sector, retail parks and local authorities. Partners include Marston’s, Cardiff Council, London & Scottish Properties, Aberdeen Standard Investments, and Soccerworld.
Toyota and Danish taxi service DRIVR have put more than 100 Toyota Mirai hydrogen taxis on the roads in Copenhagen.
The Danish government aims to have no new taxis emitting CO2 or air pollution from 2025, while all taxis must be zero-emission by 2030.
App-based taxi service DRIVR already allows customers to choose between hailing a ride in hybrid, electric, or hydrogen-powered cars.
“There is no doubt that the taxi industry is a key driver of the green transition. They are in constant operation and travel many kilometres, especially in the big cities every single day. The switch from black diesel to green hydrogen ensures the same operation and flexible mobility, just without harmful emissions,” says Tejs Laustsen Jensen, CEO Hydrogen Denmark.
“The many new taxis help create the necessary take-off of hydrogen at the service stations, which is essential for the development of the infrastructure. And then the taxis are rolling showcases for green hydrogen technology, which is an area where the strong Danish value chain of subcontractors is among the world’s best.”
DRIVR has also been chosen by the City of Copenhagen to act as the city’s “ad-hoc taxi service,” meaning that children with disabilities, mentally challenged citizens, citizens on their way to the hospital, municipal employees on duty and politicians will in future be transported completely emission-free in hydrogen cars when driving by taxi.
“We are incredibly proud that DRIVR has been entrusted with the important task of helping the municipality drive Copenhagen greener, and we are very grateful for the cooperation with Toyota, which has enabled us to fulfil the task of the many new Toyota Mirai hydrogen cars,” says Haydar Shaiwandi, DRIVR’s CEO.
The Toyota Mirai taxis seem to be garnering attention, as well. The company says that there is a “growing interest in hydrogen cars in the taxi industry.”
The taxi service has come as a result of the Hydrogen Mobility Europe 2 and Zero Emission Fleet vehicles For European Rollout projects, supported by The Hydrogen And Fuel Cell Joint Undertaking. The project aims to spread hydrogen solutions for transport across the EU and has contributed to both wagons and hydrogen refuelling stations in Denmark.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus are to launch a feasibility study on hyrdrogen-powered aircraft operations as part of a wider collaboration on sustainable aviation.
The feasibility study will run for two years, says the CAAS, and explore the concept of an airport hydrogen hub, as well as the infrastructure requirements for hydrogen-powered aircraft in the future.
“These include the production, storage and distribution of hydrogen, aircraft ground services, logistical equipment, and refuelling systems,” the authority states. “The study will examine how these requirements can be planned and provisioned for in airport development, whether upfront or in stages to provide optionality as the technology is developed.”
Calling the partnership an “important pathfinder” for a sustainable aviation sector, CAAS director-general Han Kok Juan said, “Decarbonisation is a key priority for international aviation. Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to rebuild an aviation sector that is more sustainable. It is not a question of whether but of how to make flying greener and developing concrete pathways to achieve that goal while ensuring that air travel is still accessible.”
Airbus chief technical officer Sabine Klauke added, “The decarbonisation of our industry requires a combination of approaches, hydrogen being one of them, and will need unprecedented cross-sector collaboration to create the new aviation infrastructure ecosystem.”
British bus manufacturing company Alexander Dennis, one of the world’s leading independent global bus manufacturers, this week previewed its autonomous bus that will launch in Scotland next year.
It is the next key milestone in the CAVForth trial which will see full-sized autonomous buses running on UK roads for the first time.
The new service, developed in partnership with Stagecoach, Fusion Processing and Transport Scotland, will be made up of four Alexander Dennis Enviro200 single deck buses running a 14-mile point to point route crossing the iconic Forth Road Bridge.
It will provide capacity for up to 10,000 passengers a week, connecting Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife with the Edinburgh Park transport hub and is expected, says Alexander Dennis, to be popular with commuters, students, day trippers and tourists as well as “novelty riders keen to be first to say they have been driven by a computer”.
The new service is designed to make it easy for people to switch to public transport and comes on the back of the COP26 climate change summit where bus operator Stagecoach said that the fastest way to make progress towards the UK’s net zero ambitions is by people “switching from making car journeys and instead travelling by public transport, cycling or walking”.
The four Enviro200 buses are currently being fitted out with sensor and control technology developed supplied by project lead, Fusion Processing. The vehicles are also being put through their paces with an array of virtual and track testing to ensure all systems are functioning as expected before on-road testing begins later this year.
The design of the livery is intended to ensure the vehicles stand out on the road but still feels like a regular bus while also acknowledging the array of project partners who are making this world-leading pilot service a reality: Stagecoach, Fusion Processing, ADL, Transport Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England, as well as the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles as funding partner.
Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing CEO, said, “CAVForth is an exciting pilot service and a great demonstration of our automated vehicle technology. The vehicles are fitted with CAVstar, our automated driving system which combines our own hardware and software to create, safe, AV Level 4, full sized buses. The buses will be operating on a 28-mile round trip that includes motorways, single carriageway A-roads, minor roads, bus lanes, roundabouts and junctions with and without traffic lights. We believe it will be the most comprehensive Autonomous bus demonstration to date.”
Scottish Minister for Transport Graeme Dey added, “This is another welcome step forward for the incredibly exciting Project CAVForth, as we move closer to seeing it go live next year. This ground-breaking and globally significant project will really help the country establish its credentials on the world stage.”
Munich-based EV charging provider Ionity says its new test centre in Unterschleissheim, Germany, is the world’s first to provide “end-to-end” testing of EV charging to “tackle network fragmentation”.
Ionity says it commissions chargers from various manufacturers to develop networks for its electric vehicle partners including BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, who all have different requirements.
“Every company interprets interface standards slightly differently. In our test centre, we can closely examine all steps in the charging process – from authentication and power transfer to the end of charging – and get feedback on any incompatibilities or issues,” said Laurence Langenbrink, Lead Testing Services at Ionity.
The 5000 m2 test centre outside Munich will undertake validation and interoperability tests between electric vehicles and charging stations as well as regression and software tests. This makes it possible, says Ionity, to perform tests on almost all high power charging (HPC) stations available on the European market in one location.
All tests are closely monitored and logged, and the charging processes are recorded in detail by the test equipment. Currently, Ionity is developing use cases and flowcharts for tests on various hardware models. The goal is to offer EV drivers the highest possible reliability at all Ionity locations, regardless of the vehicle manufacturer, and to use new technology only after it has successfully passed its own tests.
The UK government has restated that new homes and buildings, such as supermarkets and workplaces, including those undergoing major renovations, will be required to install electric vehicle charging points from next year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told delegates at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference, “This is a pivotal moment – we cannot go on as we are. We have to adapt our economy to the green industrial revolution.”
“We will require new homes and buildings to have EV charging points – with another 145,000 charging points to be installed thanks to these regulations.
“We are investing in new projects to turn wind power into hydrogen and our net-zero strategy is expected to trigger about £90 billion of private sector investment, driving the creation of high wage, high skilled jobs as part of our mission to unite and level up across the country.
“We have to use our massive investment in science and technology and we have to raise our productivity and then we have to get out your way. We must regulate less or better and take advantage of new freedoms.”
However it’s extremely unlikely that the Prime Minister’s 2021 CBI speech will be remembered for his announcements on EV charging and free-market governance. Described as “stumbling” even by commentators ordinarily considered as supporters, the Prime Minister ad-libbed on a diverse range of seemingly random topics including Peppa Pig and at one point even attempting a joke in which he likened himself to Moses.
General Motors is making a prototype vehicle for the US military that is based on the 2022 Hummer EV, CNBC reports.
The “electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle,” or eLRV, will use modified versions of the Hummer EV’s frame, electric motors, and GM’s new Ultium battery pack.
GM said last year that it believes there’s a $25 billion market for creating new vehicles for the military, including EVs. A 2019 study from Brown University calculated that the US military is the largest institutional polluter in the world and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 140 countries.
While GM sees great opportunity selling EVs to the military, Kathleen Hicks, the deputy secretary of the defence department told CNBC that she believes integrating electric vehicles in the military’s fleet will be “very challenging,” especially because of charging infrastructure. But, she added, “electrifying the non-tactical fleet, that’s a no-brainer.”
A new survey of Bird riders in Atlanta, Georgia has revealed that nearly half of shared micromobility users in the city are women, suggesting that access to shared bikes and e-scooters is helping to significantly level the gender gap that has dogged the cycling industry for decades.
According to the US Census Bureau, American women are about 60% less likely to commute to work on a bike. The difference is even more pronounced in some cities such as Seattle, where men accounted for 76% of all cyclists as recently as 2019.
But says Bird, the Atlanta experience demonstrates that this narrative can be changed.
The Atlanta survey of Bird riders reveals that shared scooters are helping level the micromobility playing, with under 51% of Bird’s Atlanta riders identifying as male.
The lack of safe separation from cars is often cited as a reason many riders, including many women, opt not to ride bikes and scooters. In fact, in the same Bird survey, 65% of respondents indicated that protected bike lanes would encourage them to use scooters more—the single biggest factor influencing that decision.
“I am heartened to see the increased gender balance in scooter riders in Atlanta,” said Sarah Kaufman, Associate Director at the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management. “Women are often harbingers of safe public spaces, and their use of Birds in Atlanta points to successful safety efforts in street and scooter design. The more cities can implement safe infrastructure, the more we’ll see a diversity of users, keep our residents safe, reduce traffic congestion and bring joy into mobility.”
In 2019, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms unveiled an action plan to increase protected cycling and scooter infrastructure. So called “complete street” overhauls are either completed, underway or scheduled for high-traffic thoroughfares like Cascade Road, Juniper Street and Monroe Drive.
There’s now a larger proposed $44 million project under consideration that would make Cumberland, the home of Atlanta’s famed professional baseball team, more bike and scooter friendly.
In addition to encouraging more sustainable transportation options and helping to significantly narrow the micromobility gender gap, projects like these also support local businesses. According to Bird’s survey respondents, nearly 7 in 10 Bird riders in Atlanta visited a local business on their most recent trip, with 86% of them reporting that scooter access made them more likely to do so.
Citroën is providing a fleet of six vehicles to public authorities on the Greek island of Chalki to support the island’s transformation to sustainable mobility.
Chalki is set to become a live laboratory for “clean and safe mobility available to everyone”. Other project partners include Syngelidis Group, Vinci and Akuo Greece.
The partners recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Greek Government. Initially Citroën is providing a fleet of six fully electric vehicles to the public authorities, with Ami models going to the Police and Coast Guard along with two New ë-C4s and one ë-Spacetourer to the Municipality and one ë-Dispatch to the Energy Community. The vehicles will be supplied on a free 48-month lease after which Citroen will buy back the cars and donate them to the Municipality.
“This project will change the lives of a few for now but this is just the beginning. By helping Chalki to become a green economy focussed on sustainability, Citroën is paving the way for the future and is showing that electrification is the way forward”, says Vincent Cobée, CEO of Citroën.
“We are really glad to collaborate with Chalki on this exceptional project,” adds Cobée. “We are committed to making electrification available to everyone and we believe that this is a source of progress within the society. We are very proud to contribute to the transformation of Chalki into an island that will be autonomous, smart and sustainable”.
Ultimately the objective is to replace all old vehicles with electric ones. Citroën will provide the opportunity to residents and businesses to acquire zero-emission electric vehicles, through a wide range of green and smart mobility options, from light quadricycles to passenger and commercial vehicles. People on the island will gain a significant improvement in their daily life with less noise, better air quality, a cleaner environment, as well as lower fuel costs.
US start-up Wright Electric has announced plans for a 100-seat fully-electric regional jet that could be in service from 2026. The electric aeroplane, named Wright Spirit, is an electric-powered version of the BAe 146 regional jet originally manufactured by BAE Systems.
The Wright Spirit is based on a conversion of the four-engine aircraft, creating a retrofit regional aircraft that is expected to have a flight time of one hour and a range of about 750 km.
Wright Electric early last year announced it had conceived a viable electric megawatt propulsion system, opening up the prospect of commercial fully-electric regional jets. Since then the company says it has tested key components of the system, including a high-power density inverter and a 2 MW motor.
Commenting on the current plans for the 100-seat regional electric aircraft, Wright CEO Jeff Engler said, “Because we built the world’s largest aerospace propulsive powertrain, we can build the world’s largest zero-emissions retrofit directly serving the world’s busiest routes.”
By concentrating on one-hour flights, the Wright Spirit could be suitable for some of the world’s busiest city connections such as Seoul – Jeju, London – Paris, Rio de Janeiro – São Paulo, San Francisco – Los Angeles. “We can make a significant impact on global emissions by targeting this high-demand segment of the market,” says Engler.
The company’s planned larger 186-seat commercial aircraft named Wright 1, which is a completely newly designed aircraft, is due to enter service in 2030 with an estimated range of 1,300 km.
Global infrastructure operator Ferrovial has announced plans to build a network of 25 eVTOL vertiports across the United Kingdom.
The project will provide dedicated sites for eVTOL aircraft to take off, land, and recharge. The vertiports are expected to integrate with other transportation modes to better connect cities and regions across the UK.
Ferrovial has partnered with international architecture practice Grimshaw and global engineering, management, and development consultancy Mott MacDonald to develop the design and engineering components of the vertiport infrastructure.
UK-based eVTOL developer Vertical Aerospace says Ferrovial’s vertiports will facilitate the launch of operations with its VA-X4, a piloted, four-passenger, fully electric aircraft that Virgin Atlantic has selected for its future UK air taxi service.
“Our partnership with Ferrovial is an important step forward in bringing the VA-X4 to the skies,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and founder of Vertical, in a press release. “Creating the right infrastructure for zero-emissions aviation is a critical part in making urban air mobility a reality.”
Vertical also confirmed a collaboration with Heathrow Airport to explore the launch of its services from the airport by the mid-2020s. Ferrovial, which has interests in 33 airports worldwide, holds the largest shareholder stake in Heathrow, as well as having part ownership of Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Southampton airports in the UK.
In addition to working with Vertical Aerospace, Ferrovial said it has a collaboration agreement with the German eVTOL developer Lilium to “enable a fast and pragmatic deployment plan.”
“The partnership between vertiports and eVTOLs will provide high-speed, affordable, emissions-free travel to millions of people,” said Kevin Cox, who was recently appointed CEO of Ferrovial Vertiports. “This network will boost local economies with a new model of regional connectivity.”
A new report from fleet sharing tech platform Invers and mopedsharing.com has highlighted a big uptake in moped sharing over the last year. According to the report, around 110,000 mopeds are currently on the road worldwide as sharing vehicles, and 12 million people are registered users.
Over the last 12 months, the number of cities in which moped sharing is offered increased by 43 percent to 175, and the number of operators of moped sharing services increased by 13 percent to a total of 87 providers.
And in the same period there was a big uptake in the share of electric-powered vehicles which grew from 77% to 97% of the fleet.
“The results prove with numbers what we experience in practice in projects and partnerships with our clients. The market is growing because the demand for flexible mobility in urban areas is increasing and mopeds promise significant growth as a sustainable sharing solution for medium distances in the mobility mix,” says Alexander Gmelin, co-author of the report and CPO at Invers. “Both report participants and our clients report that the investment climate has improved recently.”
Spain remains the largest market worldwide, followed by Taiwan, Germany, the Netherlands, India and France. New additions include Cyprus and Georgia. Operators in Germany, the Netherlands and France added the most vehicles to their fleets.
“Western Europe is currently the strongest growth driver in the industry, with more than 36,500 mopeds on offer for sharing. Paris contributed to this growth by becoming an important hotspot for European moped sharing. Three large Dutch providers – GO Sharing, felyx and CHECK – expanded into Germany and contributed to the German market growing by 86% compared to the same period last year, to a current total of 13,000 shared mopeds. In the Netherlands, services were rolled out across a number of medium and small size towns.”
The report also highlights that the consequences of pandemic restrictions or lockdowns means operators are developing a diversified, broad-based offering with multiple revenue sources such as long-term rentals and delivery services.
The report also highlights that many cities and operators are developing a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) offer to promote sustainable transport alternatives. For example, TIER is pushing MaaS solutions with various transport providers; Cityscoot has integrated its offer into the Uber app; and all major Dutch moped sharing providers such as CHECK, GO Sharing and felyx are connected to local and national MaaS solutions.
Munich-based eVTOL developer Lilium has announced that Stuttgart Airport will become a hub for a planned regional air mobility network in southern Germany using its seven-seat eVTOL Lilium Jet. Stuttgart is set to become a key node in a previously announced network that already includes Munich and Nuremberg airports.
Daniel Wiegand, CEO of Lilium said, “Fully electric and ultra-quiet Lilium Jets will connect passengers from Stuttgart, Munich and Nuremberg more closely with neighbouring cities and regions.”
The six-passenger Lilium Jet is projected to fly with zero operating emissions at a maximum range of 250km and a cruise speed of 280 km/h.
The Lilium Jet is currently undergoing concurrent type certification processes with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), aiming for its first passenger services to launch in 2024. Lilium claims ticket prices will be comparable to conventional transport methods in the medium term.
“We want people in our region to get to their destinations in the best possible way and to have a wide choice of modes of transport,” said Dr Arina Freitag, managing director of Stuttgart Airport. “That is why we are developing Stuttgart Airport into a unique hub for sustainable and innovative forms of mobility. The regional and supra-regional high-speed connections with small electric aircraft, such as those planned by Lilium, are a very promising addition to the Stuttgart location.”
Dr Florian Stegmann, Minister of State and Head of the State Chancellery of the State of Baden-Württemberg added, “We see the opportunities that such modern mobility concepts can bring. What is certain is that flying in the future must be climate-friendly and safe.”
Through its Air Mobility Initiative, the Bavarian State Government will provide €100 million for research and development. Minister of State Dr Florian Herrmann, Head of the Bavarian State Chancellery, says, “Electric air shuttles are innovative, environmentally conscious and set the tone for our future. They open up completely new ways of travelling and can enrich our mobility with a state-of-the-art alternative. By building a network across transport systems, we create great potential for quiet, emission-free and fast mobility.”
Lilium has also planned a western German network with Cologne Bonn and Düsseldorf airports, and is collaborating with Ferrovial on a network of vertiports in Florida, with the first passenger flights expected to start there in 2024.
Lilium also recently announced a planned strategic alliance with major Brazilian airline Azul to build an eVTOL network in Brazil, expected to start operations in 2025.
Over 100 million car and taxi trips made each year in the UK’s major city regions could instead be on e-bikes according to a new report by consultants Steer for the Urban Transport Group (UTG), which represents the UK’s seven largest municipal transport authorities outside of London.
Sales of e-bikes have rocketed across Europe in the past 18 months but in the UK are low compared to Europe. In 2019 e-bikes accounted for just 3% of new bikes, compared to up to 30% in many European countries.
The report presents different scenarios on the potential for e-bikes and under the ‘Accelerated Growth Scenario’ suggests that e-bikes could contribute 7% of all trips in the seven core city regions.
Ben Still, Managing Director of West Yorkshire Combined Authority and lead Board member for active travel at the Urban Transport Group, said, “These scenarios paint a positive picture of what is possible for e-bikes. They tell us the portion of cycle trips that could be made by e-bikes if Government meets its target on shifting people to cycling, and the number of car and taxi trips which could be removed from our roads.
“E-bikes have unique appeal, enabling longer and more frequent cycle trips, and they can thrive in certain demographics, such as older people, or certain geographies, like hilly or congested towns and cities. E-bikes therefore need to be centre stage of Government’s active travel policy if we are to get more people cycling in our city regions.”
The report highlights the huge opportunity “to power up the potential of e-bikes in the city regions and beyond to meet and exceed government targets for mode shift, revolutionise first and last mile travel and support wider policy goals. This potential is already being capitalised upon across Europe, with e-bike sales rocketing, even in traditionally more car dependent countries. It is time to join the e-bike revolution and enable more people to cycle more often.”
The report proposes six areas in which local and transport authorities can play a role in increasing the uptake of e-bikes. These are:
Financial incentives – such as grant schemes and tax incentives
Changing public attitudes and increasing awareness – through bicycle libraries, loan schemes and better marketing and promotion
Infrastructure improvements – including better cycle routes and mobility hubs
Security, safety and convenience – with the provision of secure cycle storage and e-bike maintenance
Research and monitoring into pilot programmes that test approaches to incentivise the use of e-bikes
Shared e-bikes – with local and transport authorities securing funding targeted to introduce e-bikes into existing bike share schemes.