Stellantis buys Share Now car-sharing business from BMW and Mercedes

Stellantis buys Share Now car-sharing business from BMW and Mercedes

Stellantis has agreed to buy the Share Now car sharing business from BMW and Mercedes-Benz as the two German groups focus more on the software part of their mobility alliance.

Formed last year through the merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot maker PSA, Stellantis wants to become a global leader in car-sharing, using this acquisition to expand its existing business in the area, reports Reuters.

The deal reflects different approaches by carmakers who are trying to tap new sources of revenues beyond selling vehicles, most notably in the developing area of mobility services.

“We think this reinforces our belief that premium OEMs like BMW and Mercedes will focus on private car ownership and less on fleet services,” Royal Bank of Canada analyst Tom Narayan told Reuters.

“Conversely, it makes sense that volume players like Stellantis are pursuing these alternative revenue streams.”

No financial details were provided for the transaction. Italian daily la Repubblica said it was worth around 100 million euros.

By selling the division, BMW and Mercedes-Benz will focus on the two remaining parts of their mobility cooperation: Free Now, an app that enables the booking of cars, taxis, e-scooters and e-bikes, and the charging infrastructure booking app Charge Now.

Brigitte Courtehoux, who heads Stellantis’ mobility division Free2move, said the deal was part of the group’s plans to grow net revenues of that business to 700 million euros in 2025 and to 2.8 billion euros in 2030.

Stellantis said the deal would allow Free2move to add 14 major European cities and 10,000 vehicles to its current 2,500-strong car sharing fleet, gaining over 3.4 million customers.

Courtehoux added the Free2Move fleet would not turn 100% Stellantis but said “step by step we’ll have more and more Stellantis cars in it”.

Industry calls for ambitious EU hydrogen refuelling infrastructure

Industry calls for ambitious EU hydrogen refuelling infrastructure

Over 100 leading vehicle manufacturers, fleets and energy companies have called on EU member states not to delay or dilute the European Commission’s proposal to set binding national targets for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure under the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR).

The AFIR is the key piece of EU legislation to ensure sufficient deployment of public infrastructure needed to decarbonise mobility such as electric vehicle charging points and hydrogen stations.

Companies including BMW, Daimler, Hyundai, Iveco and Linde argue that ambitious binding targets for building hydrogen refuelling infrastructure are key to tackling climate action. Decarbonisation, they say, extends beyond the electrification of vehicles.

In an open letter to EU policymakers, the companies said, “We are strongly convinced that a widely available hydrogen refuelling stations (HRS) network, alongside other low-emission refuelling, and recharging infrastructures, will be essential for a rapid transition of the road transport sector. Hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are particularly interesting for customers with preferences for fast refuelling and for whom flexibility is paramount.”

They claim a multi-technology approach will ensure the transition to zero emission transport is faster, more cost-efficient and serves all business models, than focusing solely on electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

“A rollout of both HRS and battery electric vehicles (BEV) charging infrastructures will be cheaper than relying solely on one type of infrastructure or restricting specific technologies to specific road transport segments.”

The companies have set out a timeline for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure that would see a hydrogen station every 200km by 2025, and every 100km by 2027.

Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Hydrogen Europe CEO, commented, “The AFIR targets for hydrogen refuelling stations are the bare minimum for hydrogen road mobility to develop and in turn help decarbonise the sector, which is responsible for 20% of the EU greenhouse gas emissions. The industry stands ready to invest along with public authorities into the technology and the rollout of hydrogen infrastructure. However, adequate political commitments are instrumental in sending a strong signal for both automotive and hydrogen infrastructure companies. Reducing the mandatory minimum capacities of stations and shrinking the ambition will seriously harm the sector’s development.”

Southern Californian traffic light project promises environmental and safety gains

Southern Californian traffic light project promises environmental and safety gains

Iteris, the Californian-based provider of hardware, software, and consulting services for smart mobility infrastructure management has been awarded a $3.7 million contract from the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) for a multi-year regional traffic signal timing project.

The population of southern California’s Orange County is expected to increase 13% by 2035 and to ease growing traffic demands, OCTA, the California Department of Transportation, the County of Orange and all 34 cities “are working together to coordinate traffic lights across the county” says Iteris.

The programme will significantly reduce countywide travel time, fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, while improving safety, mobility, reliability, and overall travel experience for all road users, including vehicles, buses, bicycles and pedestrians. “And by reducing delays and stops on key corridors for passenger vehicles and heavy vehicles, the project will help reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, which in turn will contribute to sustainable environmental and air quality improvements,” says Iteris.

Under the project agreement, Iteris will provide operations and infrastructure improvements at key intersections. Work includes identifying upgrades for traffic signal equipment, intelligent transportation system equipment and communication infrastructure, designing and constructing traffic signal system improvements, and developing and implementing optimised traffic signal synchronization timing plans throughout the cities of Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, Tustin, Westminster, and the County of Orange.

As part of the operations and maintenance phase of the program, Iteris will apply traffic data and analytics from the mobility intelligence capabilities of its ClearMobility Platform to optimise traffic management operations on an ongoing basis. Iteris will:

  • monitor the health and safety of intersections, and arterial travel times and reliability
  • identify and prioritise signal optimisations and arterial retiming efforts
  • identify congestion hotspots
  • understand how highway traffic impacts surrounding arterials

“We are proud to continue to support OCTA’s goal of improving the safety and mobility of road users by leading this traffic signal timing and infrastructure upgrade program,” said Bernard Li, vice president, Mobility Consulting Solutions at Iteris. “This initiative represents the continued expansion of Iteris’ mobility consulting services across the west coast, and will ultimately help to increase the value and effectiveness of the region’s existing transportation infrastructure, while also improving safety, air quality and reducing fuel consumption.”

ABB E-mobility supports Shell’s global EV charging network ambitions

ABB E-mobility supports Shell’s global EV charging network ambitions

Switzerland’s ABB E-mobility has signed a new global framework agreement with Shell to supply ABB’s end-to-end portfolio of AC and DC charging stations, which ranges from domestic wallboxes to the Terra 360, the world’s fastest all-in-one electric car charger

Through the collaboration, ABB E-mobility and Shell say they will help address two of the challenges to increasing EV adoption – namely charging infrastructure availability and the speed of charging.

Shell is targeting the operation of over 500,000 charge points globally by 2025 and 2,500,000 by 2030, either at residential, commercial or Shell retail sites.

Frank Muehlon, CEO of ABB E-mobility commented, “ABB and Shell are innovating to drive progress in e-mobility. We have been working together on the roll-out of public charging infrastructure since 2019 and this latest agreement takes that collaboration to the next level.

“We are excited to support Shell in realising its objective to create a global charging network. With access to the full breadth of our charging portfolio, we are ensuring that Shell can select the most appropriate solution for every use case, helping to get more people charging regardless of their location.”

Lucid secures huge Saudi purchase commitment

Lucid secures huge Saudi purchase commitment

US electric carmaker Lucid Group has announced an agreement with the government of Saudi Arabia for the purchase up to 100,000 vehicles over a ten-year period, with an initial commitment to purchase 50,000 vehicles and an option to purchase an additional 50,000 vehicles over the same period.

The deal marks the latest tie-up between the California-based EV company and Saudi Arabia, whose Public Investment Fund has a 61% stake in the company, making it Lucid’s largest shareholder.

Lucid, which currently manufactures its vehicles at a plant in Arizona, also plans to build its first overseas production factory in Saudi Arabia later this year, where it expects to eventually build up to 150,000 vehicles per year.

Under the deal, which is among one of the largest-ever purchase commitments for electric vehicles, Lucid has pledged to start delivery of the vehicles no later than the second quarter of 2023 and volumes are expected to reach between 4,000 and 7,000 vehicles annually by 2025.

Peter Rawlinson, Lucid’s CEO and CTO, says, “Delivering up to 100,000 Lucid electric vehicles in Saudi Arabia represents another pivotal moment in our acceleration of sustainable transportation worldwide. We are delighted to be supporting Saudi Arabia in achieving its sustainability goals and net zero ambitions by bringing our advanced luxury EVs to Saudi Arabia.”

VW and bp plan rapid roll-out of fast EV charging infrastructure

VW and bp plan rapid roll-out of fast EV charging infrastructure

Volkswagen and bp have set up a strategic partnership that aims to transform access to EV charging in key European markets by rapidly building a fast charging network across Europe by 2024 and delivering a “seamless experience for EV drivers”.

Based upon Volkswagen’s Flexpole 150kW charging units, which feature two charge points and have an integrated battery storage system, which means the units can be connected to a low voltage grid, removing the requirement for a dedicated substation and costly construction work. This significantly reduces installation times while still providing fast charging speeds of up to 150kW, enough to deliver up to 160km of driving in as little as 10 minutes, depending on the model of electric vehicle.

The first phase of the roll-out will see up to an additional 4,000 charge points at bp’s Aral fuel retail sites in Germany and bp retail sites in the UK over the next 24 months. By the end 2024, up to 8,000 charge points could be available across Germany, the UK and other European countries.

Bernard Looney, chief executive officer, bp says, “EV charging is one of the key engines driving bp’s transformation to an integrated energy company. That’s why we’re so excited by our partnership with Volkswagen. When you bring together one of the world’s leading car makers and one of the world’s leading energy companies – the opportunity is huge. This is a significant step-forward on our journey to accelerate the electrification of transport in Europe.”

Unveiling the first charger in Dusseldorf, Germany, Herbert Diess, Volkswagen’s chief executive officer, said, “Volkswagen has been pioneering the transformation to e-mobility across Europe. Investing in everything from software to batteries and charging is part of our strategy to make individual mobility safer, more convenient and fully climate-neutral. The decarbonisation of Europe’s economy requires close collaboration across borders and sectors. We’re pleased to team up with bp to accelerate the roll-out of the fast-charging network across Europe.”

The charger locations will be integrated into the navigation and other in-car apps of VW, Seat and Skoda vehicles as well as into Volkswagen’s charging application, Elli, making it easier for drivers to find available charging points. However the new chargers will be available to all EV drivers through the bp pulse and Aral pulse network.

Thomas Schmall, member of the board of management of Volkswagen Group and CEO of Volkswagen Group Components, said, “Together with bp, we will bring thousands of fast-charging stations to life within a very short time. Rapid expansion of the charging network is crucial now. To make that happen, our pioneering flexible, fast chargers offer a perfect solution, since the time and costs required for installation are minimal.”

Under the terms of their agreement, VW and bp will also look to pursue further opportunities together to provide future solutions for lower carbon mobility.

Michigan State University autonomous bus starts carrying passengers

Michigan State University autonomous bus starts carrying passengers

Following six months of extensive on-campus testing and more than 650 test runs, Michigan State University’s full-size autonomous electric bus initiative has started accepting passengers on a 2.5-mile campus route.

The 22-seat Karsan Autonomous e-ATAK bus, believed to be one of the largest of its kind to be deployed on public US roads to date, was recently approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The project is a collaboration with the State of Michigan, bus manufacturer Karsan and Michigan-based ADASTEC, which develops SAE Level-4 automated driving software platforms for commercial vehicles.

ADASTEC’s flowride.ai software platform incorporates a range of sensor, safety and mapping equipment on the bus that also supports data sharing, mission control and fleet management operations. The bus is also fitted with a wheelchair ramp along with audio messaging for accessibility.

Traffic lights along the 2.5-mile route are equipped with intelligent roadside units which communicate with the bus to enable vehicle to infrastructure interoperability. A licensed safety driver and operator from ADASTEC’s Ann Arbor office will be on-board at all times.

Michigan State University will study and analyse various aspects of the project, from vehicle to infrastructure communication technologies to the user experience for people with disabilities.

UAP opens Air-One, a world-first fully operational eVTOL hub

UAP opens Air-One, a world-first fully operational eVTOL hub

Urban-Air Port, the UK-based developer of ground infrastructure for air taxis and autonomous delivery drones, has opened ‘Air-One’, a world-first demonstration of a fully-operational hub for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.

Urban-Air Port – backed by the UK Government and supported by Hyundai’s Supernal – will operate Air-One in the city of Coventry for at least one month.

Air-One will provide a blueprint for more than 200 vertiports planned worldwide by Urban-Air Port over the next five years to meet growing demand.

It will demonstrate aircraft command and control, eVTOL charging, cargo loading for unmanned drones, and will host demonstrator flights.

West Midlands Police and Skyfarer will be among the first to operate flights from the site, showcasing how vertiports can provide drone bases for ‘sky protection’ and high-value cargo deliveries in the near future.

Flights of large cargo drones will also be demonstrated by UK-based drone developer, Malloy Aeronautics.

Drone demonstrations will be conducted throughout Air-One’s entire stay in Coventry. Air-One is located at Westminster Car Park, in the centre of Coventry.

Members of the public interested in attending can sign up for tickets at www.urbanairport.com/aironeeven

Ricky Sandhu, Founder and Executive Chairman of Urban-Air Port, says, “The opening of Air-One is a momentous moment – the starting gun for a new age of transport, an age of zero-emission, congestion-free travel between and within cities that will make people healthier, happier and more connected than ever before.”

He adds, “From design, through to fabrication and now into operation, Urban-Air Port has delivered Air-One in just 15 months, setting the standard for deployment globally and opening up a world of possibilities for rapid response air mobility. Air-One is just the first model in our infrastructure fleet and our order-book is not only open but already growing. The interest is turning into recognition of the need for our technology and into demand.”

Mike Whitaker, Chief Commercial Officer of Supernal, comments, “Air-One serves as a valuable, tangible asset to helping build stakeholder confidence and trust in emerging mobility technology and supporting systems. The Coventry demonstration is an important first step forward to reimagining how people across the world will move, connect and live. Developing a scalable system to support advanced air mobility operations requires collaboration from all industries and corners of the world. Supernal’s support of Urban-Air Port reinforces our belief in fusing technology and innovation to enable humanity and society to reach new levels of potential.”

The UK’s first full-sized Level 4 bus starts live testing

The UK’s first full-sized Level 4 bus starts live testing

The UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus started live testing this week in Scotland as part of the CAVForth project.

Transport operator Stagecoach, in partnership with Fusion Processing, bus maker Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland, will be carrying out on-road testing – with a safety driver and without passengers – in preparation for the launch of a pilot service in late summer.

Project CAVForth, which is jointly funded by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, will see five single-deck autonomous buses operating at SAE Level 4 over the Forth Road Bridge between Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange.

The buses are fitted with Fusion Processing’s sensor and control technology, CAVstar, that enables them to run on pre-selected roads. The buses will provide a service capable of carrying up to 36 passengers on the 20km bridge route, with capacity for over 10,000 passengers a week.

The on-road testing in Scotland follows successful depot-based trials, track testing and virtual simulation where the buses have been put through their paces to fine tune the autonomous drive systems.

To help support the delivery of Project CAVForth, Transport Scotland recently opened a section of Actively Managed Hard Shoulder for buses of 24 seats or more on the M8 eastbound. It will help to reduce journey times and improve reliability on the approach to Edinburgh.

As part of Project CAVForth, around 500 members of the public have provided feedback on what would make them feel comfortable and confident in travelling, a key finding being that passengers want a member of staff to be on board.

Consequently Stagecoach is in the process of recruiting over 20 Autonomous Bus Professionals from across its East Scotland business. When the service goes live, these experienced bus drivers will monitor the autonomous system alongside a bus Captain who will move around the saloon, talking to passengers about the service and answering questions, demonstrating what a future service might feel like.

Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing CEO, said, “We are delighted to be leading the world’s most complex and ambitious autonomous vehicle programme. CAVForth will provide a useful service to local people as well as being a great demonstration of automated vehicle technology. The buses are fitted with CAVstar which combines our own hardware and software to create, safe, full-size buses, operating at SAE Level 4. On road testing is an exciting milestone in the development of autonomous commercial vehicles and we look forward to welcoming passengers onboard in a few months’ time.”

Chris Gall, Alexander Dennis Group Engineering Director, said “The start of on-route testing is a milestone for our autonomous bus project and helps us to explore new technologies that will make buses even safer and even more efficient. As we move towards passenger services later in the year, the project will be a landmark demonstration of future technologies in transport.”

Chris Gall, Group Engineering Director at Alexander Dennis is speaking at MOVE in London on 15/16 June. With over 600 speakers across 33 themed stages MOVE is the world’s most important mobility event. Find further details here

Pony.ai secures license to operate Guangzhou fee-charging robotaxi service

Pony.ai secures license to operate Guangzhou fee-charging robotaxi service

China- and US-based autonomous driving technology company Pony.ai has been awarded a permit to operate 100 autonomous vehicles as traditional fee-charging taxis in Nansha, Guangzhou, making it the first autonomous driving company to obtain a taxi license in China.

From May, Pony.ai will operate commercial services across the 800 square kilometres of Nansha and intends to gradually expand the scale and scope to other areas of Guangzhou. Passengers can hail rides and pay for the service through the PonyPilot+ App with fares based on local standard taxi pricing. While the service will initially operate with a safety driver, the company expects to remove the driver in the near future.

In qualifying for the license, Pony.ai had to achieve various qualification criteria set by national inspection institutions including a minimum of 24 months of autonomous driving and a million kilometres travelled, with at least 200,000 km within the proposed operational area, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents.

Pony.ai says the license award signals the Guangzhou government’s formal implementation of autonomous mobility services alongside traditional taxi and ride-hailing platforms. “Being China’s first autonomous vehicle company to receive a taxi license is a testament to Pony.ai’s technological strength and ability to operate robotaxi services. We will expand the scale of our services, provide quality travel experiences and create an industry benchmark for robotaxi services and continue to lead the commercialisation of robotaxis and robotrucks,” said James Peng, co-founder and CEO of Pony.ai.

“Both government policy and the public are increasingly accepting robotaxis as a form of everyday transportation, recognizing the ride experience and technical stability of Pony.ai’s robotaxi,” said Tiancheng Lou, co-founder and CTO of Pony.ai.

Pony.ai’s has been running trial robotaxi services in Beijing and Guangzhou since December 2018. As of mid-April 2022, it had completed more than 700,000 trips, with nearly 80% repeat users and 99% of the passengers giving positive comments and a service satisfaction rating of 4.9 on a 5-point scale.

VW delivers first private EVs to Greek island future mobility laboratory

VW delivers first private EVs to Greek island future mobility laboratory

Volkswagen Group has delivered the first electric cars to private customers on the Greek island of Astypalea, marking the next phase of the Smart & Sustainable Island project – a joint initiative of the Volkswagen Group and Greek government which aims to transform the island’s mobility and energy systems.

Volkswagen last summer supplied electric vehicles to various municipal organisations including the police, coast guard and local airport, which introduced EV to the island and established charging infrastructure.

Thanos Papagiannis, the first private ID.3 customer on Astypalea, is now a firm advocate of e-mobility. His new electric vehicle replaces a Volkswagen Golf 3. He says, “the distances here are short, the power consumption is low, and the charging network is now very well developed. I really hope that Astypalea will inspire other regions to increase their efforts for climate protection adopting e-mobility solutions.”

Maik Stephan, Head of Business Development of Volkswagen Group and Project Manager, added, “Astypalea is a laboratory for the mobility of the future. The island is experiencing the same change as any other region in Europe, only in a much shorter time. With the first private customers driving electric now, word will quickly get around how fascinating e-mobility is.”

And under a further element of the Smart & Sustainable Island project, by the summer Volkswagen will introduce electric ride and vehicle sharing services helping to reduce the total number of vehicles on the island.

Volkswagen’s commitment to the Astypalea’s sustainable development goes beyond electrification of the vehicle fleet. The island is currently blighted by dumped scrap vehicles and Volkswagen importer Kosmocar will collect up the discarded motorcycles, cars and trucks and transport them back to Athens where they can be recycled at licensed facilities.

Chong Lee, Head of Integrated Mobility Solutions at Volkswagen AG is speaking at MOVE in London on 15/16 June. With over 600 speakers across 33 themed stages MOVE is the world’s most important mobility event. Find further details here

Suez green hydrogen projects could support net zero shipping fuel production

Suez green hydrogen projects could support net zero shipping fuel production

Abu Dhabi based and UAE government-owned renewable energy generator Masdar, and its local partner Hassan Allam Utilities, have signed memoranda of understanding with Egyptian state bodies to co-operate on the development of green hydrogen production plants at the northern and southern ends of the Suez Canal — on the Mediterranean and at Sokhna, a port on the Gulf of Suez, which leads into the Red Sea.

E-methanol — derived by combining green hydrogen with captured CO2 — is emerging as a potentially key clean fuel for the highly polluting shipping industry, with market leader Maersk recently announcing the purchase of 12 methanol-powered vessels, along with plans to produce the liquid at scale.

Masdar says a first phase, producing 100,000 tonnes of e-methanol, will be operational by 2026. The electrolyser facilities could be extended to up to 4 GW by 2030 to produce 2.3 million tonnes of another clean shipping fuel green ammonia for export as well as supplying green hydrogen for local industries.

A key challenge is the hydrogen production process is very energy intensive, so it needs an abundant source of clean and affordable electricity, preferably excess locally generated renewable energy, to be viable.

Egypt’s minister of planning and economic development Hala El Said said, “Egypt’s “abundant solar and wind energy resources provide a suitable location for renewable energy projects at a competitive cost, with a proximity to global markets that are looking to import green hydrogen”.

Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, added, “These agreements represent a vital step forward in the development of the green hydrogen economy for both the UAE and Egypt, and will play a significant role in our two nations’ decarbonisation efforts. By working with partners such as Hassan Allam Utilities, we can help the green hydrogen market achieve its full potential over the coming years and play its part in supporting the global energy transition.”

Amr Allam, Chief Executive Officer of Hassan Allam Holding, said, “Our drive into the green energy and infrastructure space, including solar and wind power generation, was all about contributing to a more sustainable future. Through this partnership with Masdar we are looking to harness the leading edge of technology to make a difference in Egypt by leveraging the country’s abundant sources of green energy.”

Hydrogen powered passenger aircraft sets new flight records

Hydrogen powered passenger aircraft sets new flight records

H2FLY, a Stuttgart-based developer of hydrogen fuel cell technologies for aircraft, has announced that its demonstrator aircraft, the HY4, set a new world record for hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft by flying at an altitude of 2204m.

The altitude record comes on the heels of the business flying a 124 km route between Stuttgart and Friedrichshafen just before Easter, the first time a hydrogen-electric passenger aircraft has been piloted between two commercial airports.

Commenting Professor Dr Josef Kallo, co-founder and CEO of H2FLY said, “This is a remarkable achievement for H2FLY, as no other hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft has flown between two commercial airports to date. We are also thrilled to have set what we believe to be a new world record by reaching an altitude of over 7,000 feet with our HY4 aircraft. We want to thank our long-time partners Stuttgart Airport, University of Ulm, DLR Stuttgart, Friedrichshafen Airport, and AERO Friedrichshafen, for supporting us in our mission to make sustainable travel a reality.”

The trip to Friedrichshafen was to attend the AERO Friedrichshafen airshow, at which the HY4 is to be unveiled to the public for the first time. Previously all test flights have been from Stuttgart Airport, a long-standing collaborator of H2FLY, including assisting the company with the necessary infrastructure.

Walter Schoefer, Speaker of the Board of Flughafen Stuttgart said, “We are delighted that HY4 has achieved this next technical milestone. This is another step on the long road of the aviation transformation process towards a more climate-friendly air transport. We see hydrogen-electric engines as the key to zero-emission flying and have therefore been promoting the HY4 project for many years.”

Claus-Dieter Wehr, Managing Director of Friedrichshafen Airport added, “In the airport’s more than one-hundred-year history, this is the first time a hydrogen-powered aircraft has landed here in Friedrichshafen. We are very pleased that we can thus play our part in the further development and testing of hydrogen-electric propulsion. Particularly in view of the numerous projects on sustainable mobility in aviation, I see great opportunities for the Friedrichshafen site to create the framework conditions for innovative aviation companies and to attract them here.”

During multiple flying campaigns and more than 90 take offs, the four-seat HY4 established the potential of hydrogen-electric propulsion solutions in aviation. It also acts as a test platform for further developing the propulsion system, laying the groundwork for the construction of a 40-seat Dornier 328 powered by hydrogen, which will be built in collaboration with Deutsche Aircraft by 2025.

Volvo invests in battery technology pioneer StoreDot

Volvo invests in battery technology pioneer StoreDot

Volvo Cars has made an investment in StoreDot, the Israeli company developing extreme-fast-charging battery technology. StoreDot is working on technology that, according to the company, should result in batteries that can charge to 160km of range in just five minutes.

The investment through Volvo Cars Tech Fund, gives Volvo the “opportunity to collaborate closely with StoreDot on new battery technology as it aims to become a pure electric car company by 2030.”

StoreDot hopes the investment will accelerate the time to market for its silicon-dominant anode technology, targeting mass production by 2024. Volvo is the first premium car maker to invest in StoreDot.

The collaboration will be realised through the battery technology joint venture that Volvo established last year with Swedish battery maker Northvolt. The StoreDot investment secures Volvo’s access to any resulting technology from the collaboration.

“We aim to be the fastest transformer in our industry and the Tech Fund plays a crucial role in establishing partnerships with future technology leaders,” said Alexander Petrofski, Head of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. “Our investment in StoreDot perfectly fits that mindset, and their commitment to electrification and carbon-free mobility matches our own. We’re excited to make this a successful collaboration for both parties and work towards bringing this ground breaking technology to the market.”

As part of the approximately 30 billion SEK investment in the joint venture, both companies are establishing a joint R&D centre and a battery manufacturing plant in the Gothenburg area in Sweden. Together, the facilities will create more than 3,000 new jobs and pave the way for Volvo Cars’ ambitious electrification strategy.

Volvo was the first established car maker to commit to all-out electrification and by 2025, aims for half of its global volume to consist of pure electric cars and the roll out a whole new family of pure electric cars.

  • Alexander Petrofski, Chief Executive Officer of Volvo Cars Tech Fund is speaking at MOVE in London on 15/16 June. With over 600 speakers across 33 themed stages MOVE is the world’s most important mobility event. Find further details here:

BMW boss warns against becoming over dependent on a very few countries

BMW boss warns against becoming over dependent on a very few countries

BMW Chief Executive Officer Oliver Zipse said companies must be careful not to become “too dependent on a select few countries by focusing only on electric vehicles,” adding that there was still a market for combustion engine cars.

“When you look at the technology coming out, the EV push, we must be careful because at the same time, you increase dependency on very few countries,” Zipse said at a roundtable in New York.

“If someone cannot buy an EV for some reason but needs a car, would you rather propose he continues to drive his old car forever? If you are not selling combustion engines anymore, someone else will,” said Zipse.

Zipse has long advocated against all-out bans on combustion engine car sales in the face of rising pressure to curb carbon emissions and environmental impact.

Offering more fuel-efficient combustion engine cars was key both from a profit perspective and an environmental perspective, Zipse argues, pointing to gaps in charging infrastructure and the high price of electric vehicles.

Companies also needed to plan for energy prices and raw materials to remain high by being more efficient in their production and stepping up recycling efforts to keep costs down, he said. “How much energy you need and use, and circularity, is important – for environmental reasons but even more for economic reasons.”

Source: Reuters

  • Manuel Schneider, BMW’s Head of Business Model Innovation, is speaking at MOVE in London on 15/16 June. With over 600 speakers across 33 themed stages MOVE is the world’s most important mobility event. Find further details here:

Mercedes completes 1,000 km run on public roads with single battery charge

Mercedes completes 1,000 km run on public roads with single battery charge

Mercedes-Benz has announced its electric concept car, the Vision EQXX, has successfully completed a real-world test in which it achieved a distance of over 1,000 km on a single battery charge.

The Vision EQXX set off from just outside Stuttgart and travelled through the Swiss Alps and Northern Italy before finishing at Cassis in the French Riviera.

According to Mercedes, the car “effortlessly” covered the miles “in everyday traffic” in a variety of conditions including “prolonged fast-lane cruising at up to 140 kph on the German autobahn” and “near the speed limit” elsewhere.

During the 11-hour run the vehicle travelled at an average speed of 87km/h and temperatures ranged from 3 to 18 degrees Celsius.

Mercedes describes the distance covered as “over 1,000 km”, which is more than twice the typical range that most EVs available today can travel. According to a statement, the Vision EQXX’s battery was at 15 percent at the end of the test, suggesting a remaining range of around 140 km. The average power consumption was a record-breaking low of 8.7 kWh per 100 km, which is better than Mercedes predicted.

The VISION EQXX won’t be put into production but provides a “rolling testbed for EV technology” which, for instance, incorporates many learnings from the Mercedes-AMG F1 team and its expertise in electric powertrains.

Markus Schäfer, Mercedes-Benz Group board member and Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Purchasing said, “The VISION EQXX is the result of a comprehensive programme that provides a blueprint for the future of automotive engineering. Many of the innovative developments are already being integrated into production, some of them in the next generation of modular architecture for compact and midsize Mercedes vehicles.”

Kenya’s e-bus company Opibus rebrands as Roam

Kenya’s e-bus company Opibus rebrands as Roam

Opibus, the Swedish-Kenyan technology company that develops, designs, and manufactures electric vehicles in Africa, has changed its name to Roam Motors to match a strategic shift in vision.

The new name is intended to reflect the company’s ambition, beyond buses, to electrify Africa’s transportation sector, “as well as its grand ambition to deliver disruptive technologies optimised for the local use case all over the continent,” the company said in a statement.

Founded in 2017, it has become the first company to deliver locally produced electric motorcycles and electric buses and is internationally recognised as one of the companies leading the transition to sustainable transport in Africa.

“This is more than a name change, it’s a milestone that brings us closer to realising our ambition as leaders in providing electric mobility solutions and energy systems for the African region. It is exciting to see how far we have come and forging forward, it is even more thrilling seeing there are endless possibilities to what we can achieve in Africa,” said Filip Lövström, CEO, ROAM.

The company’s focus will be to scale-up deployment of its core activities in electric vehicles and energy system solutions including Roam Motorcycles, Roam Transit (buses), Roam Energy, Charging and Muse (which provides electric conversions for legacy vehicles in the Mining, Utility, and Safari segments), which together “create a circular and sustainable ecosystem solution for the transport sector”.

E1 powerboat series offers new platform to drive technological innovation

E1 powerboat series offers new platform to drive technological innovation

Engineers have successfully begun water testing of the RaceBird – an all-electric, single pilot foiling boat that will soon be racing in the E1 World Electric Powerboat Series, a championship racing series created specifically for electric boats. The RaceBird has been developed as the official racing vessel for E1.

E1 shared details of its first technical testing through a press release accompanied by a short video of the RaceBird in action. The 100% electric racing boat is powered by a 150 kW Kreisel battery and an outboard motor developed by Mercury Racing.

According to E1, the first flight on the River Po in northern Italy kicks off several weeks of straight-line tests, qualifying runs, and race simulations focused on performance analysis and data collection – more specifically, the foiling and handling characteristics in different racing conditions.

Alejandro Agag, the founder of Formula E and Extreme E championship series and now co-founder & chairman of E1, said, “Putting the RaceBird on the water for the first time is a pivotal moment for the E1 world championship. We’re now one step closer to making electric racing on the water a reality.

“I remember very well the same scenarios we encountered during the early stages at both Formula E and Extreme E, and just like on those occasions this is a major breakthrough on E1’s journey. Seeing the RaceBird fly proves to me that we can use this exciting, new sporting platform to drive technological innovation in the marine industry and create something spectacular.”

The debut season of the E1 series is scheduled to begin in Spring 2023, but the team says that the public will be able to see the RaceBird on display in the water soon.

Is Honda starting to get serious about EVs?

Is Honda starting to get serious about EVs?

Honda has revealed plans to spend $64 billion on research and development over the next decade, underpinning an ambitious target to roll out 30 electric vehicle models and produce two million electric vehicles a year globally by 2030. The investment should also see the start of “demonstration line” solid state battery production by 2024.

The strategy signals Honda’s intent to up its stake in the electric vehicle transition, a market in which Japanese car makers often appear behind the curve.

Even so Honda says it won’t give up on older, hybrid technology especially in some emerging markets where infrastructure to support full battery electric vehicles will be a long time coming.

“By no means is this the end of hybrids and the replacement of all hybrids with EVs,” said Honda Chief Executive Toshihiro Mibe. “Honda believes that a multifaceted and multidimensional approach is needed, not a mere replacing of engines with batteries.

“Honda will offer a variety of solutions for all of its mobility products according to how its customers use the products in various countries and regions,” added Mibe, citing swappable batteries and hydrogen.

The news of Honda’s big EV investment follows its recent announcement that it will work with General Motors to codevelop “affordable electric cars for markets around the world”.

Stellantis secures Qualcomm connected-car technology across all brands

Stellantis secures Qualcomm connected-car technology across all brands

Stellantis has signed a long-term deal to use Qualcomm’s next-generation connected-car technology in its vehicle lineup, the companies confirmed. Fourteen Stellantis brands, including Peugeot, Fiat and Jeep, will use Qualcomm’s vehicle cockpit and 5G telematics technology starting in 2024 with Maserati.

Stellantis Chief Executive Carlos Tavares said in a statement the collaboration helps the company more closely manage the complete electronics supply chain.

Qualcomm general manager of automotive, Nakul Duggal, told Reuters more car makers are working directly with chip makers rather than just relying on their other suppliers to act as a go-between.

Duggal added Qualcomm’s recent acquisition of self-driving tech software company Arriver gives its so-called “digital chassis” the ability to offer a full set of driver assistance and self-driving capabilities in addition to cockpit and telematic technology.

In the statement the two companies said the in-car communication and infotainment system being developed for Stellantis is being designed and engineered together with Amazon and Taiwanese manufacturing company Foxconn.