Moovit integrates Lime e-scooters, mopeds and bikes into journey planning app

Moovit integrates Lime e-scooters, mopeds and bikes into journey planning app

Moovit and Lime have announced a global partnership that will integrate Lime’s scooters, mopeds, and cycles into the Moovit app across more than 100 cities in 20 countries.

The partnership will see Lime’s vehicles added to the Moovit app in cities across the US, Europe, South Africa, and Australia. Moovit says a 40 further cities will be added imminently.

When a user opens the Moovit app on the “Directions” screen, they can plan their journey. However, if they switch to the “Stations” screen, they can see nearby Lime vehicles. From there, they will be able to select Lime as a journey option before being directed to the Lime app from where they can unlock the bike, scooter, or moped.

“This partnership signifies that mobility companies recognize the need to collaborate together to offer riders more convenient modes of public and shared transportation as they return,” says Nir Erez, Moovit Co-founder and CEO.

“Offering more alternative options that can easily get people to their destinations is a critical component of a MaaS platform, especially in some of the most congested cities in the world. From Buenos Aires to Berlin, we are excited to partner with Lime and offer riders more ways of getting around town that can easily combine with public transit.”

This new partnership is the largest micromobility integration to date, according to Moovit, based on the number of cities involved.

“In addition to being the largest micromobility integration to date, our partnership with Moovit is a major step towards our goal of expanding access to shared, affordable and carbon-free transportation to more users around the world,” says Wayne Ting, Lime CEO.

“As cities begin to reopen and commuters head back to offices, we want to make it as easy as possible for riders to locate a Lime electric bike, scooter or moped, and with the Moovit app, they’ll be able to use them seamlessly in tandem with public transit.”

Musk tweet confirms Tesla to make US Supercharger network open to all

Musk tweet confirms Tesla to make US Supercharger network open to all

Tesla is to make its North American high capacity EV charging network available to other EVs. The intention was “officially” announced by company’s CEO Elon Musk in a recent tweet: “we’re making our Supercharger network open to other EVs later this year.”

Musk reminded followers that Tesla developed it proprietary charging connector because at the time “there was no other solution for fast charging”.

“We created our own connector, as there was no standard back then & Tesla was only maker of long range electric cars,” the tweet continues. “It’s one fairly slim connector for both low & high power charging.”

Observers predict Tesla will now switch to a new connector compatible with the CCS Combo 1 to allow other EVs with CCS1 inlets to use the Tesla chargers. Tesla’s European Superchargers are already retrofitted with CCS Combo 2-compatible plugs. Other EV manufacturers are not willing to leave the CCS standard so this appears the most practical solution and might just sow the seeds for everything to switch to the CCS Combo 2 globally – a move considered highly desirable in the switch to EVs.

Shell ties up with UK supermarket chain doubling access to Shell Recharge stations

Shell ties up with UK supermarket chain doubling access to Shell Recharge stations

Multinational energy company Shell will install 800 electric vehicle chargers at high-end British grocer Waitrose by 2025, roughly doubling the number of Shell Recharge stations in the UK.

Around 100 Waitrose shops will gain charge points, with each site expected to receive six 22kW chargers and two 50kW rapid chargers.

The first installation is expected to take place early next year, in a move to create what Shell terms ‘destination charging’, where customers charge their EVs at a location they’re primarily visiting for another activity, in this case shopping.

“This is great news for EV drivers across the UK, knowing they can easily, quickly and reliably charge up at Shell charge points while shopping at Waitrose,” said Bernadette Williamson, the general manager of Shell UK Retail. “We want to make EV charging as hassle-free as possible and support our customers wherever they want to charge.”

The partnership will also result in the number of Shell forecourt shops selling Waitrose food increase from 57 to 125 by 2025.

“We’re also delighted to bring our customers 800 new charging points for electric vehicles, including new rapid charging capabilities, as the UK moves more and more towards a sustainable transport network,” said Waitrose executive director James Bailey.

There are 108 Shell Recharge points located across the UK, with almost half located in London.

Shell recently acquired EV charging company Ubitricity and has set itself a goal of installing a total of 5000 charge points on forecourts and other locations by 2025.

US Electric Highway Coalition gains support of major energy company

US Electric Highway Coalition gains support of major energy company

US Energy company and utility Exelon has joined the Electric Highway Coalition, a partnership of 14 US utilities established to create a seamless network of rapid electric vehicle charging stations connecting major highway systems, stretching from the Atlantic Coast through the Midwest, South and into the Gulf and Central Plains regions.

“Protecting our future means ensuring electric vehicles are an affordable, accessible, and reliable transportation option for customers in the communities we serve,” said Calvin Butler, CEO of Exelon Utilities. “Our customers and communities want cleaner air and action on climate change – just one reason why we want to make sure rapid charging is as easily available along major highways as traditional gas stations. Our partnership with the Electric Highway Coalition will help alleviate range anxiety by creating convenient, rapid charging stations that will give travellers in our communities the confidence to know they can rely on electric vehicles for long distance travel wherever they need to go.”

The members of the EHC have agreed to work together to ensure efficient and effective fast charging deployment plans that enable long distance EV travel, avoid duplication and complement existing corridor fast charging sites. Sites initially will be located less than 100 miles apart on major roadways. Additionally, each site will have at least two charging stations with universal vehicle compatibility and at least 100 kilowatts of output per station. This will enable drivers to get back on the road in 20-30 minutes. Each member company will determine its own execution methods, specific pricing models and charging equipment providers for their service territory.

The Edison Electric Institute estimates 18 million EVs will be on US roads by 2030, and the progress made by the Electric Highway Coalition demonstrates to customers that industry leaders are united in a commitment to ensuring accessibility and convenience for rapid charging stations across an expanded network of major highways.

Exelon has already committed to electrifying half of its utility vehicle fleet by 2030 and will continue to find new ways to partner with leaders across the industry to provide equitable, safe and sustainable energy and transportation solutions for customers.

In addition, Exelon’s utilities continue to actively work with stakeholders to promote the expansion of EV infrastructure and remove barriers to adoption. Through approved programs at each of its utilities, Exelon will enable the installation of more than 7,000 residential, commercial and/or utility-owned charging ports across Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware and New Jersey.

The installations will help jurisdictions achieve climate and zero-emission vehicle goals, improve air quality in their regions and prepare for the economic opportunities connected to the growing EV market.

Source: BUSINESS WIRE

VinFast secures industry stalwart in bid to become global smart electric car company

VinFast secures industry stalwart in bid to become global smart electric car company

VinFast – a member of Vingroup – Vietnam’s leading manufacturer of premium automobiles and the first Vietnamese automotive brand to launch in global markets, has appointed former VW and Opel executive Michael Lohscheller as its new CEO.

Lohscheller will be responsible for scaling up VinFast’s operations and presence around the globe. His role will include implementing strategic initiatives to turn VinFast into a global smart electric car company.

Lohscheller is a former Volkswagen Group of America Executive Vice President. From VW, he moved to Opel where he became the CEO for the past four years and spearheaded Opel’s plans to transform into an electric vehicle brand.

VinFast currently produces several models of electric scooters and buses in Vietnam, and will launch three new electric SUVs – VF e34, VF e35 and VF e36 respectively of C, D and E classes – in Vietnam, North America and Europe in 2021 and 2022.

Thuy Le, Vingroup’s Vice Chairwoman, says, “Vingroup warmly welcomes Michael Lohscheller to our leadership team. We strongly believe that his appearance will accelerate VinFast’s up and running global expansion. Michael Lohscheller’s participation in VinFast’s senior management team reaffirms Vingroup’s long-term plan in attracting outstanding talents and acquiring management expertise from elite circles of the global automotive industry.”

Lohscheller adds, “During my career, I have always been attracted by new challenges. When the opportunity came to join VinFast, I was immediately attracted because of the growth opportunities. I look forward to working with the leadership team to grow the company and establish it as a global smart electric car company.”

Mexico calls on international expertise to decarbonise road freight

Mexico calls on international expertise to decarbonise road freight

British energy and environment consultancy Ricardo is leading an international consortium to support the Mexican Government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the freight sector.

Over the next 12 months, specialists in sustainable transport will work with organisations, including Mexico-based Centro Mario Molina and Urbanistica, to provide advice to the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) as part of the Sustainable Transport Programme.

The country’s commitment to reducing GHGs by 22% by 2030 depends on the successful decarbonisation of its transport sector, which contributes to 25% of total CO2 emissions nationally. Road activity is responsible for 97% of all transport emissions and freight transport plays a key role by moving nearly 75% of land-based cargo across the country while railways serve the remaining transport flows.

Lorenzo Casullo, Associate Director, said: “Initiatives addressing greenhouse gas emissions will also improve urban air pollution and noise levels that negatively affect Mexican cities.

“This project demonstrates our growing influence in Central and Latin American countries as we continue to win more work across the region. Being able to deliver the entire project in Spanish, thanks to the multi-lingual capabilities of our team, is a bonus for us and shows the global support Ricardo is able to offer.”

Ricardo’s focus will be on green freight, helping national and local policy makers, as well as freight operators based in Mexico, to reduce the climate change and air pollution impacts of the transport of goods through a series of practical actions.

The team will provide regulatory advice to the Mexican Ministry of Environment on how to implement the regulations on air pollution standards for trucks. Ricardo and partners will also engage in capacity building efforts, looking at training courses and case studies covering telematic applications for fleet management and eco-driving.

Further support will come from pilot projects at the sub-national level, helping regions and cities test new business models for more effective vehicle scrapping policies, fleet renewal schemes and urban logistics approaches.

The project will support the cooperation between Mexico and Germany, which aims to promote climate mitigation efforts in Mexico’s road freight sector by supporting ministries, authorities and companies.

EAV’s LINCS offers versatile lightweight urban cargo and passenger capabilities

EAV’s LINCS offers versatile lightweight urban cargo and passenger capabilities

Electric Assisted Vehicles Limited (EAV), the Oxford, England-based sustainable zero-emissions vehicle manufacturer, has released renderings of its new LINCS model, a modular multipurpose lightweight vehicle designed to provide urban light commercial van capability.

LINCS has been designed in association with Saietta Group, whose new in-hub electric motors will power a lightweight skateboard platform. The LINCS platform will contain enclosed Li-ion batteries and become the basis of the new modular vehicle.

“The operational requirements for LINCS are both complex but also required a simple solution,” says Adam Barmby, CEO and Founder of EAV. “We wanted to produce a multipurpose light commercial vehicle as a logistics platform to transform the way we move people and goods around our urban environment.

“Positive disruption is needed right now”, he adds. “The electrification of current fleets simply isn’t any kind of real solution. We’ve comprehensively analysed the inefficiencies in the current transportation of goods and people.”

LINCS, in its logistics role, acts as a fully dynamic ‘hub-and-spoke’ mobile depot vehicle, delivering EAVRoRo boxes to EAV eCargo fleets in various different dynamic optimised locations such as forecourts or car parks. This significantly reduces stem distances and increases operational efficiency within the last mile. LINCS will also be able to operate as a simple covered urban van or open pick-up or drop side. The uniqueness of the design and engineering is in its versatility, packaging, light weight, strength and in the understanding of current and future urban cargo operations which we’ve already been successfully developing with our current EAV models.”

LINCS is built on an aluminium skateboard chassis platform utilising two linked in-hub motors from Saietta Group. The chassis itself contains EAV’s standard removable interchangeable Li-ion battery pack providing a range of up to 100 miles within an urban or intra-urban environment. The driver’s cab is located either on the left or righthand side of the LINCS, depending on the market, and is equipped with ‘EAVAdvanced’ driving controls and in-cab systems. LINCS has been designed and future-proofed for fully autonomous operations. Uniquely, LINCS also features a ‘Road train’ capability where, on inter-urban or urban deployments, multiple LINCS can be linked together into a single autonomous vehicle.

“EAV is much more than an eCargo bike company. We’re a transport technology solutions business.” commented Nigel Gordon-Stewart, Executive Chairman at EAV. “We developed and launched the EAV2Cubed and its predecessor the EAVan as the foundation of a complete urban Future Transport vision conceived from a blank sheet of paper. In a new, environment and resource conservation-focused world, legacy automotive design and engineering solutions simply don’t work. They’re too heavy, too big and, from a resource and environmental point of view, are just wasteful. LINCS is the next step in our programme which sees a complete replacement of legacy urban road transport with new, sustainable, zero-emissions, environmentally-friendly, safe – but extremely efficient – solutions for cargo and passengers.”

Mobileye starts New York autonomous vehicle testing program

Mobileye starts New York autonomous vehicle testing program

Mobileye, the intel owned company that specialises in vision-based autonomous vehicles, is now testing its AVs in New York City. The company says the trial in New York – the largest city in North America and one of the world’s most challenging driving environments – “proves how its unique approach is enabling rapid geographic and economic scalability”.

The aim is to test Mobileye’s camera-only autonomous vision system on NYC’s highly congested and often unpredictable streets. The company will initially run two cars, increasing to seven in the near future. Under New York rules the cars must have a safety driver with hands on the steering wheel at all times.

Mobileye’s True Redundancy approach first ‘doubles down’ on the computer-vision subsystem before adding a lidar/radar subsystem for redundancy.

Of particular interest will be to evaluate how the car’s vision and automated control system copes with pedestrians, bicyclists, aggressive drivers, double-parked vehicles, construction zones, emergency vehicles, tunnels and bridges.

Professor Amnon Shashua, senior vice president of Intel and president and CEO of Mobileye, says, “Driving in complex urban areas such as New York City is a crucial step in vetting the capabilities of an autonomous system and moving the industry closer to commercial readiness.”

Mobileye plans to begin operating an autonomous ride-hailing service in Israel in early 2022.

Malaysia to trial integration of urban air mobility services within an existing airport

Malaysia to trial integration of urban air mobility services within an existing airport

Malaysia Airports has signed a memorandum of understanding with Skyports, a designer and operator of vertiport infrastructure for electric air taxis, and Volocopter, a pioneer of urban air mobility (UAM).

The collaboration forms part of the five-year regeneration plan for Subang’s Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (LTSAAS), which was Kuala Lumpur’s main airport before the opening of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 1998. The project will explore the deployment of electric air taxi services at LTSAAS as well as other locations throughout Malaysia.

As a first step, the three parties will combine their aerospace and aviation expertise to conduct a feasibility study examining suitable vertiport solutions to enable the safe take-off and landing of passenger eVTOL vehicles, considering factors such as demand, customer flow, and how to integrate UAM operations within an existing airport.

Malaysia Airports’ Group CEO, Dato’ Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh, says, “Air taxi technology and revolution is the next big thing that we want to see happen in Malaysian aviation. With LTSAAS offering a synergistic ecosystem within the aviation and aerospace sectors, it is timely for us to explore this new service as it complements other key developments of the regeneration initiative. Volocopter and Skyports are both leaders in their respective fields of advanced air mobility and we hope to further futureproof LTSAAS’s position in Asia Pacific by catering to research, assembly, manufacturing, maintenance, repair and overhaul in addition to air taxi operations.”

Christian Bauer, CCO of Volocopter, adds, “The Southeast Asian Market is one of the largest and most interesting ones for UAM due to its geographical layout and dense population. Our feasibility study will help give us insights on demand, customer expectations, and airport integration, which we can apply to other markets in the region. Having expert partners like Skyports and LTSAAS understanding the local needs, is decisive in bringing revolutionary technologies like electric air taxis to new markets.”

UK publishes plan to decarbonise its entire transport system by 2050

UK publishes plan to decarbonise its entire transport system by 2050

The UK Government has published its long-awaited Transport Decarbonisation Plan which provides a ‘greenprint’ to cut emissions from “seas and skies, roads and railways, setting out a pathway for the whole transport sector to reach net zero by 2050”.

The plan is based around commitments focused on:

  • increasing cycling and walking
  • zero emission buses and coaches
  • decarbonising railways
  • zero emission cars, vans, motorcycles and scooters
  • accelerating maritime and aviation decarbonisation

It also set out targets for phasing out the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles – with a 2035 phase out date for vehicles weighing from 3.5-26 tonnes and 2040 for vehicles weighing more than 26 tonnes. This builds on the commitment last year to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine cars from 2030 and hybrids from 2035.

“Transport is not just how you get around. It is something that fundamentally shapes our towns, cities, and countryside, our living standards and our health. It can shape all those things for good, or for bad,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“Decarbonisation is not just some technocratic process. It’s about how we make sure that transport shapes quality of life and the economy in ways that are good.

“The Transport Decarbonisation Plan is just the start – we will need continued efforts and collaboration to deliver its ambitious commitments, which will ultimately create sustainable economic growth through healthier communities.”

Responding to the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, Cllr David Renard, Transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, “the national voice of local government”, said, “Given that transport is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the UK, the Transport Decarbonisation Plan is key to how the country will achieve its net-zero ambition.

“Councils are already doing a lot to reduce carbon and other harmful emissions to protect their communities and the environment, by investing in cycle lanes, clean air zones, better public transport and EV charging infrastructure. However, the scale of the challenge requires a collaborative approach between local and national government, industry and our communities.

“In order to support local government in its role of leading places and providing a greener future, councils want to work with government and business to establish a national framework for addressing the climate emergency, supported by long-term funding, guidance for individuals and clarity on the practical steps that will be needed locally to help the public to transition to more sustainable forms of transport.”

Drones could answer inequities in health-care supplies to remote British Columbia communities

Drones could answer inequities in health-care supplies to remote British Columbia communities

Drone Delivery Canada Corp has signed an agreement with the University of British Columbia (UBC) as part of UBC’s remote communities drone transportation initiative (DTI).

The project will test the flight infrastructure required for defined-route deliveries using DDC’s Sparrow drone for deliveries to Stellat’en First Nation, the aboriginal community of Stellako, located in Central Northern British Columbia, Canada.

DDC will install enabling infrastructure, including its DroneSpot takeoff and landing zones, over the summer and expects to begin providing drone delivery services during the second half of 2021. The trial is DDC’s fourth First Nations project but its first in British Columbia.

All operations will be conducted in accordance with appropriate Canadian regulations. Flights will be remotely monitored by DDC from its operations control centre located in Vaughan, Ontario.

“We’re pleased to have finalised our contract with Drone Delivery Canada and to be moving on to the next stage of this project. As we transition into a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the risk of wildfires, we are looking forward to learning about how this innovative transportation technology can be used to meet community needs and help address inequities in access to health-care supplies and services,” said Dr Michael Allard, Vice Dean, Health Engagement, UBC Faculty of Medicine.

“Based on the isolated location of our community and the needs of our residents, drone transport may enhance our access to COVID-19 testing and medication without traveling and endangering other members of our community,” said Chief Robert Michell of the Stellat’en First Nation. “The futuristic potential of this initiative is exciting. With drone technology, there is so much you can do.”

The project is supported by pension-fund backed LifeLabs, Canada’s leading provider of laboratory diagnostic information and digital health connectivity systems.

“We applaud this UBC Faculty of Medicine initiative to embrace drone delivery to benefit First Nations communities. We also look forward to working with LifeLabs as an important partner in this project. LifeLabs will be supporting the project to ensure an end-to-end solution by participating in data evaluations, sample logistics and training,” said Michael Zahra, President and CEO of DDC.

“Improved delivery times of essential supplies to remote locations can make all the difference in protecting the Stellat’en First Nation community and saving lives,” said Charles Brown, President and CEO of LifeLabs. “We are proud to be participating in this project that will also help to advance our knowledge for the future use of drone technology to transport clinical materials and samples for lab testing.”

Veoneer partners with Baraja to industrialise LiDAR for Level 4 autonomy

Veoneer partners with Baraja to industrialise LiDAR for Level 4 autonomy

Swedish automotive technology company Veoneer has signed an agreement with Australian LiDAR company Baraja to industrialise its Spectrum-Scan LiDAR technology as a means of reaching Level 4 autonomy.

Veoneer says it chose to partner with Baraja after extensive testing, as Baraja offers “robust technology and a roadmap that lends itself to be amongst the smallest size lidars to enable vehicle integration”.

Sydney-based Baraja was founded in 2016 by telecommunications engineers Federico Collarte and Cibby Pulikkaseril who developed a way to use the proven optical fibre and photonics technology to solve legacy LiDAR problems.

Instead of relying on fragile moving parts and oscillating mirrors, it uses dispersive optics to scan the environment, significantly improving reliability and robustness compared to traditional Frequency-Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) or spinning LiDAR.

Baraja’s Spectrum-Scan LiDAR creates high-resolution “pointclouds” to accurately detect objects at more than 250 meters away at speed, while remaining immune to interference from other sensors or light sources. The technology is also more tolerant to factors that have hindered traditional LiDAR systems such as heat, shock and vibration. Baraja has tested its LiDAR in the harshest conditions, from the Australian outback to arctic tundra, to ensure it works in any condition.

This technology will be complimented with Veoneer’s industry experience in developing automotive grade sensing solutions for driver assistance and autonomy applications.

Jan Carlson, Chairman, President and CEO of Veoneer, says, “Veoneer is committed to offering safe, robust, high-quality sensor solutions to vehicle manufacturers globally. We have performed extensive research among 70 LiDAR technology companies globally, and have come to the conclusion that by partnering with Baraja, Veoneer will be able to offer and integrate scalable automotive-grade LiDAR-sensors in future cars, at competitive prices.”

Federico Collarte, Founder & CEO of Baraja, adds, “Veoneer is a natural partner for us.  We built our technology to enable autonomous driving that is safer, more accessible and ready today for the next generation of vehicles. By combining our technology with Veoneer’s vast experience in automotive design and platform integration, this partnership helps ensure the world’s leading automotive brands can bring that autonomous reality to more people.”

Dutch EV charging provider Allego to build out infrastructure at Radisson hotels across Europe

Dutch EV charging provider Allego to build out infrastructure at Radisson hotels across Europe

Dutch charging provider Allego is partnering with Radisson Hotel Group to build charging infrastructure for electric vehicles at its hotels. Allego will provide and operate charging solutions at more than 220 Radisson Hotel Group locations across Europe.

According to Allego the goal is for every European Radisson Hotel Group hotel to offer on-site EV charging to its guests by 2025.

Hotels in high-traffic locations will offer ultra-rapid (150 kW and above) and rapid (50 kW) chargers, while AC chargers will be provided for guests staying overnight or attending meetings and events. The high power chargers are also intended to appeal to shorter stay guests, who will be able to use the on-site restaurants or other “convenient amenities” of the hotels while charging.

The rollout is expected to begin in the UK and Nordic countries, followed by other European countries such as Germany, France and the Netherlands.

“We are delighted to partner with the Radisson Hotel Group, which represents a key partner for our pan-European EV charging network, supported by their attractive footprint and high-traffic locations,” said Allego CEO Mathieu Bonnet.

“This partnership will allow us to bring our reliable, seamless charging experience and our pan-European network to a larger group of EV drivers and tap into Radisson Hotel Group’s well-situated network of hotels across Europe.”

Charging will be offered with contactless payment via credit or debit card.

Allego has won several similar contracts for charging points at corporate sites in Europe over the last few months. In Germany, the Dutch charging infrastructure specialist has started to increase the charging capacity from 50 to 150 kW at 40 rapid-charging locations built as part of the EU Fast-E project. In selected locations, 300 kW rapid chargers will also be installed.

Editors note: we were visited by friends last week whose return journey was just beyond the range of their electric car so they used their petrol engined one instead. They stayed in a hotel locally and reported that if the hotel had had charge points they definitely would have used their electric car for the trip.

Guest blog – why the flying car is no longer science fiction

Guest blog – why the flying car is no longer science fiction

Human efforts to achieve flight date back to the ancient world, says Rani Plaut, CEO and Co-Founder of AIR. Clearly the Wright brothers’ 1903 triumph hardly marked the end of this millennia-long quest for elevated mobility, but are we about to experience a paradigm shift in personal aviation?

Less than a generation after the Wright brothers’ success at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Glenn Curtiss introduced the first “flying car,” dubbed the Autoplane, at the 1917 Pan-American Aeronautic Exposition. From The Jetsons to Blade Runner: 2049, popular culture is filled with futuristic visions of worlds where people move from A to B in flying vehicles.

Of course, such vehicles have yet to hit the skies. There was even a popular Internet meme about how the realities (and absurdities) of 21-Century life fail to match up with long-ago predictions that we’d all be whizzing around in a flying-car utopia by now.

But recent technological advances have fuelled a burgeoning Electric Vehicle Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) scene, with investors pumping billion into innovative startups in the hopes of seeing Curtiss’s century-old dream take flight.

With forecasters predicting that the eVTOL market will ascend to $14.7 billion by 2041, the coming decades will give rise to a new mobility ecosystem that truly reflects humans’ longstanding ambition to touch the skies – not only on the occasional business trip or a family vacation but in their everyday lives.

Halted Mobility in the Era of COVID-19

As recently as one year ago, the wide-open skies seemed to have closed in. The nascent COVID-19 pandemic ground air travel to a virtual halt in the late winter and early spring, with international air travel plunging 60% over the course of 2020. Predictions that flights wouldn’t return to pre-pandemic levels until mid-decade seemed far from unreasonable. Few would have expected that US flights leading into the Independence Day 2021 holiday weekend would actually exceed those levels – but they did, underscoring the resilience of the human desire to hit the skies and see the world.

At the same time, the pandemic – which has significantly diminished but is not yet over – has spurred a new look at more personal, social distancing-friendly forms of travel, which helps explain why personal auto sales have surged of late. This development is where our abiding desire to move around and seek out new forms of adventure dovetails with the resurgent interest in private forms of mobility.

A Mobility Renaissance

From expanding drone delivery programs to increasing demand for cleaner, greener forms of transportation amid global climate change, the eVTOL market is poised to benefit from larger commercial and economic trends that have reshaped how people think about air transportation and fostered greater interest in alternatives to traditional vehicles.

As with any new form of transportation, public acceptance will be a key barrier for the eVTOL market to overcome.

Developing a robust urban air infrastructure and a viable set of regulatory standards will not only accelerate the industry’s growth but will also help soothe public fears about this newfangled technology. Deloitte projects that following a wave of successful pilot programs and growing public acceptance, autonomous passenger eVTOLs will see greater adoption beginning in 2030, with production costs plunging as manufacturers achieve economies of scale and battery costs decrease.

That means that the next decade will be critical in formulating the regulatory policies and developing the technologies necessary to make flying cars an everyday reality for consumers across the globe.

What starts as an impossible dream often becomes humdrum within a remarkably short span of time. And while flying cars have existed in the popular imagination for well over a century, they’re closer than ever to going from the stuff of science fiction and Internet memes to conveying passengers on their daily commutes. After a year when the skies seemed harder to reach than at any time in recent history, we’re on the cusp of reaching unprecedented heights of innovation and human achievement.

Rani Plaut is CEO & Co-Founder of AIR

About AIR – promising a paradigm shift in personal aviation

Israeli eVTOL start-up AIR is promising a “paradigm shift in personal aviation” based on what it calls “airEVs for the consumer market”. The company’s vision is for a “private electric aircraft parked by your house”. It says it combines sustainable aerospace innovation with automotive know-how to create airEVs that offer intuitive ‘fly by intent’ handling and a one-of-a-kind user-centric experience for the everyday flier.

While the vast majority of the sector is focused on building commercially piloted or autonomous air taxis for cities, AIR offers an alternative for those who want “to enjoy the ultimate freedom of flying on their own terms”. Thanks to its vertical take-off and landing capabilities and cutting-edge flight control system, the company’s vehicles, it says, offer a completely new and sustainable way to get to any destination.

“Everybody wants to fly, and with AIR, they finally can. We’re creating a fun and functional personal airEVs that will blaze a path towards a new era of air mobility accessible to everyone,” said AIR CEO and Co-Founder, Rani Plaut. “Our company is building airEVs for the reality we live in and the future of our dreams, putting usability, safety and thrill at the forefront of every product decision so we can put the power of flight in every person’s hands.”

AIR is promising a product reveal in the Autumn.

bp collaborates with Tomorrow’s Journey to offer ride hail EV subscription

bp collaborates with Tomorrow’s Journey to offer ride hail EV subscription

Energy company bp has launched a trial EV subscription service designed to help ride hail drivers in London transition to electric vehicles.

The bp EV Pro package offers an all-in-one subscription product which includes a new private hire licensed electric vehicle, unlimited charging, insurance and roadside assistance.

Deepshikha Vasishta, global fleet director, bp said “Fleets of electric taxis will be key in the future, but our research has shown that the upfront cost and the complexity of leasing, insuring, charging and keeping an unfamiliar vehicle on the road is preventing drivers from making the switch.”

The new subscription service is designed to overcome these blockers and is supported by mobility software and business model provider Tomorrow’s Journey. Specifically, its JRNY smart mobility platform simplifies and speeds up the driver onboarding process by integrating with third parties allowing validation checks, which have previously been done manually and often taking days, to be completed in under 10 minutes.

Tomorrow’s Journey CEO Chris Kirby said, “The key to delivering the ambitious service levels the bp team required was simplifying the process and keeping the number of interactions with the driver to a minimum. A highly automated back-office system is just as important as a slick front end user journey.”

Furthermore, adds Kirby, shared neutral fleets across multiple rental-based mobility products are the only answer to the rapidly changing automotive finance market. And in the case of EV Pro it was the combination of the bp brand and Tomorrow’s Journey’s technical expertise and agile approach that was key to bringing the project to market quickly. bp plans to roll out and trial its cars-as-a-service product to ride hail drivers in London.

Swedish electric plane maker hopes short-haul advantages could open up clean inter-city flight

Swedish electric plane maker hopes short-haul advantages could open up clean inter-city flight

Swedish startup Heart Aerospace is developing an all-electric aircraft designed for short trips. While current battery technology limits the distances electric planes can travel, they can service and even offer advantages for shorter trips.

Heart Aerospace’s ES-19 is a 19-passenger all-electric aircraft with a maximum range of 400 km, which will increase as battery technology advances.

It says its electric motor is around 20 times less expensive than the engine in a conventional turboprop of the same size, and maintenance costs are more than 100 times lower.

Heart hopes that these low running costs will make the ES-19 viable servicing routes that are no longer viable for gas-turbine-powered aircraft, or perhaps even open up entirely new ones.

Designed to take off from runways as short as 750 m the company imagines the electric plane transporting passengers on short flights over mountainous terrain where travel by road would be impractical, or perhaps hopping between islands.

The company has attracted the interest of some big names in aviation. Heart recently confirmed completion of a Series A funding round, with investments from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Mesa Airlines and United Airlines – with the two airlines each committing to buy 100 of the planes for commercial use.

“We expect the short-haul regional air travel market to play a key role in the evolution of the electric aircraft,” says Michael Leskinen, United’s Vice President Corporate Development & Investor Relations. “As battery technology improves, larger-gauge aircraft should become viable but we’re not going to wait to begin the journey. That’s why we’re looking forward to beginning our work with Heart, so that, together, we can scale the availability of electric airliners and use them for passenger flights within the next five years.”

Heart Aerospace expects to finalize the design for its ES-19 plane by 2023, conduct its first flight in 2024 and enter service late 2026.

ChargePoint strengthens European growth through acquisition of established charging platform

ChargePoint strengthens European growth through acquisition of established charging platform

US electric vehicle charging network provider ChargePoint Holdings is to acquire has·to·be, an Austrian e-mobility provider and developer of a charging software platform.

The €250 million transaction is expected to close in 2021, subject to the satisfaction of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Volkswagen is an investor and a key stakeholder in has·to·be, which is headquartered in the Salzburg, and has offices in Munich and Vienna.

Founded in 2013, has·to·be has approximately 40,000 networked ports and over 250,000 networked ports through open roaming agreements.

Pasquale Romano, President and CEO of ChargePoint, says, “As an established leader in North America, our continued investment in Europe is critical to our stated growth strategy. We’re excited to announce our agreement to acquire has·to·be, a leader in its own right with a talented team, an impressive base of customers committed to e-mobility and robust technology. Our combined assets should position us to accelerate our leadership as electrification continues to take hold across continents.”

Martin Klässner, co-founder and CEO of has·to·be, adds, “Over the past eight years, our talented team has helped lead e-mobility in Europe and attracted a large base of leading brands as customers who rely on our charging software platform every day to meet their technical requirements. Together with the resources of ChargePoint, we will continue in this spirit and achieve even greater scale as the market continues to expand.”

Arrival to supply cars-as-a-service provider LeasePlan with 3,000 eLCVs

Arrival to supply cars-as-a-service provider LeasePlan with 3,000 eLCVs

British electric vehicle manufacturer Arrival has announced a contract to produce some 3,000 electric vans for cars-as-a-service provider LeasePlan.

The vans will add to LeasePlan’s global fleet of almost two million vehicles of which one-quarter are light commercial vehicles.

“Demand for online shopping is skyrocketing,” says Tex Gunning, CEO of LeasePlan, “but this demand has to be met responsibly, and concerns about pollution from delivery vehicles need to be addressed. I’m therefore delighted to be partnering with Arrival, which will see LeasePlan delivering some of the greenest, cleanest and truly innovative eLCVs to our customers. Together we are going to revolutionise the fast-growing eLCV market and make zero-emission deliveries part and parcel of the new normal.”

Arrival President and Chief Strategy Officer Avinash Rugoobur adds, “Arrival is thrilled to be partnering with a fellow company leading the charge to accelerate the transition to zero-emissions vehicles, bringing sustainable mobility and cleaner air to cities around the world.”

Arrival’s manufacturing model is based around rapidly scalable “microfactories” which it says will allow the order to be fulfilled by Q3 this year. And by using proprietary in-house developed components, materials, and software, Arrival claims its vehicles are competitively priced compared to fossil fuel variants and offer substantially lower total cost of ownership.

“This shows Arrival’s method is truly game-changing and can roll out in multiple locations rapidly. With this new partnership,” adds Rugoobur, “Arrival will be able to deepen and expand our presence globally, working with LeasePlan to bring the best possible products to its customers and in turn helping them to achieve their own sustainability goals.”

Arrival is planning to deploy four microfactories across the world, with two in the US, as well as sites in Bicester and Madrid.

Otonomo partners with Mercedes to accelerate fleet use of OEM data

Otonomo partners with Mercedes to accelerate fleet use of OEM data

Israeli vehicle data platform provider Otonomo Technologies has announced an agreement with Mercedes-Benz Connectivity Services to offer advanced fleet optimisation services to fleet management companies and operators with Mercedes vehicles across 25 European countries.

Aimed at organisations such as delivery companies, service providers and car rental companies, Otonomo’s platform gives instant access to connected vehicle data that supports fleet optimisation.

Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and light commercial vehicles come equipped with multiple sensors, processors and high-speed data communication frameworks that provide comprehensive vehicle data. Measurable attributes include position data, maintenance data, vehicle status, warnings, ignition state, fuel level, tyres, door and window status, and electric and hybrid parameters.

Otonomo’s Vehicle Data Platform cleanses, harmonises, and secures this vehicle data and makes it readily accessible through a straightforward API and user-friendly platform. The aim of the collaboration is to accelerate the use of OEM data among fleets.

“We are proud to be collaborating with Mercedes-Benz Connectivity Services.”, said Ben Volkow, CEO and Founder, Otonomo, “We look forward to fleets across Europe utilising vehicle data to drive in safer driving, smarter routing and fuel savings.”

Otonomo supports a data ecosystem of OEMs, fleets and more than 100 service providers. Its platform securely ingests more than 4 billion data points per day from over 40 million global connected vehicles, then reshapes and enriches it to provide privacy-regulation-compliant solutions using both personal and aggregate data. Use cases include emergency services, mapping, traffic management, EV management, subscription-based services, parking, predictive maintenance, insurance, media, in-vehicle services, and dozens of smart city solutions.

Fleets can utilise the Otonomo vehicle data to perform the following:

  • Track the location of fleet vehicles in real time to optimise routes and save fuel expenses
  • Maintain automated logbooks to provide effortless reporting and ensure compliance
  • Monitor vehicle health in real time to prevent vehicle breakdown
  • Keep track of vehicle health to increase safety
  • Trace excessive vehicle idling to cut fuel and maintenance costs
  • Optimise service times and enabling predictive maintenance
  • Calculate optimal de-fleeting
  • Fuelling and charging management to reduce costs and fight fraud and theft
  • EV route planning to reduce range anxiety
  • Monitor vehicle usage to detect theft or unauthorised vehicle use
VB’s green-labelled stubbies just got greener

VB’s green-labelled stubbies just got greener

Australian beer brand Victoria Bitter has started using zero-emissions delivery trucks promising beer with a reduced environmental impact. Liveried in Victoria Bitter’s green, trucking company Linfox will use the Volvo FL electric truck to transport beer from brewer Asahi Beverages’ distribution centre in Melbourne.

Asahi says the truck is in effect powered entirely from 100% renewable sources thanks to an energy purchasing deal to buy output from the Karadoc solar farm in Mildura in Victoria.

With a single charge range of 250km it is the first purely electric Volvo truck to reach Australia.

“Linfox has delivered VB for more than 50 years. It’s fitting these two Australian icons are taking this major step towards a sustainable future together,” said Robert Iervasi, group CEO of Asahi Beverages which purchased Carlton & United Breweries last year.

“This truck will deliver VB and our other beers in a sustainable, safe and efficient way, which makes sound commercial sense.”

Iervasi says the Volvo FL truck is just the first of many to come, as the company works towards its sustainability goals: “It is the first of many electric trucks that will deliver our beer. Transitioning our deliveries to electric vehicles will help us achieve our sustainability goals of reducing our net carbon emissions across our entire supply chain by 30% by 2030 and to zero by 2050.”

Linfox executive chairman Peter Fox said, “Australia’s domestic freight has doubled in the past decade and will continue to grow. It is essential the fleet does this safely, efficiently and with reduced environmental impact.

“We are proud to introduce Volvo’s first electric vehicle in Australia to the Linfox fleet. The majority of Linfox’s carbon emissions come from transportation tasks. As we continue our journey to act sustainably and achieve zero net emissions by 2030, the way we operate will change in response, with more electric vehicles planned for our fleet and increased use of rail transport where viable.”