Nissan has announced it will spend 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) over five years to accelerate vehicle electrification. The strategy is largely seen as a bid to catch up with competitors in one of the fastest growth areas for car makers.
This is the first time Nissan has presented a comprehensive electrification plan despite being an early entrant into the market with the launch of the Leaf more than a decade ago.
Nissan said it will launch 23 electrified vehicles by 2030, including 15 electric vehicles (EVs), and wants to reduce lithium-ion battery costs by 65% within eight years. It also plans to introduce “potentially game-changing” all solid-state batteries by March 2029.
Chief Executive Makoto Uchida said these commitments would make EVs affordable to more drivers. “We will advance our effort to democratise electrification,” he said in an online presentation.
But according to Reuters, some analysts are unimpressed with Nissan’s plan and its share price dropped on the announcement. Masayuki Otani, senior analyst at Securities Japan speaking to Reuters said, “It represents a huge increase in investment, but it feels cautious.”
However Nissan Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ashwani Gupta said, “It’s very important for Nissan to show where we are going next, and today’s plan is a vision and direction which is talking about the future.”
Nissan, however, has not committed to abandoning petrol and diesel vehicles. It said half of its vehicles mix will be electrified by 2030, including hybrids. Gupta described the goal as “a reference point that may change”.
EasyMile’s autonomous shuttle service at the Oncopole healthcare and cancer research campus in the French city of Toulouse has started operating without an on-board supervisor.
The announcement follows eight months of running a trial service in which the shuttle, operating with a supervisor, took passengers on a 600m route connecting a remote car park and the campus main entrance. The shuttle shared the road with cyclists, pedestrians, cars and buses.
The company says its shuttles are equipped with appropriate levels of safety and system redundancies to operate efficiently in a wide range of environments.
The aim is for a control centre to supervise multiple vehicles from anywhere, making it possible to scale to autonomous vehicles without additional manpower.
According to EasyMile, the service is fully flexible as vehicles can be deployed immediately as demand arises, without having to wait for operators to be available.
EasyMile’s general manager Benoit Perrin says, “This is an important step towards real commercialisation of autonomous driving, both on large private sites, as well as on public roads. The applications for our technology to move people and goods continue to grow, especially in locations like campuses, business parks, industrial sites and master planned communities.”
The deployment is part of SAM (Safety and Acceptability of Autonomous Driving and Mobility), a project in which members like Alstom, Keolis and Transdev are working to develop uses of these systems while also building the future regulatory framework.
BMW has expanded its eDrive Zones to a further 20 cities around Europe, including Copenhagen, Verona, and Toulouse.
Using a combination of navigation and geo-fencing, a plug-in hybrid BMW will automatically know when it enters an eDrive Zone and automatically switch to an all-electric drive.
First introduced to London in August 2020, the latest 20 cities to benefit from the technology are Aberdeen, Bregenz, Brescia, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Copenhagen, Cork, Coventry, Florence, Klagenfurt, Lille, Matosinhos, Naples, Oeiras, Oxford, Sheffield, St. Pölten, Toulouse and Verona.
This brings the total number of eDrive Zones across Europe to 138 and BMW has plans to roll out the zones in “at least” another 30 cities worldwide in 2022.
Commenting at the time of the UK launch of eDrive Zones, Pieter Nota, BMW AG board member for Customer, Brands, Sales said, “This is the flexibility that customers want, as they make the transition to electromobility. A plug-in hybrid vehicle combines the best of two worlds – emission-free city-driving as well as long-distance capabilities.”
Canadian lithium-ion battery developer Li-Cycle and UK-based EV manufacturer Arrival have announced an agreement to work together to improve lithium-ion battery recycling and improving the efficiency of the EV battery supply chain in the US and Europe.
“Ensuring end-to-end sustainability for electric vehicles is something we are very passionate about at Arrival. This is why we are so thrilled to partner with Li-Cycle to drive sustainability in the EV industry through the advancement of EV lithium-ion battery recycling,” said Deepen Somaiya, Global VP of Sustainability for Arrival.
“Arrival is changing the fundamentals of the automotive industry with our new method for the design and production of EVs, and we see Li-Cycle’s cutting-edge, commercial lithium-ion recycling technology as an extension of that transformational approach. We look forward to working together to create sustainable, end-to-end solutions that will help us drive radical impact.”
By utilising Li-Cycle’s breakthrough, commercial lithium-ion battery recycling technologies, end-of-life batteries from Arrival’s EV fleets in the US and Europe can be transformed into battery grade material that could be used in the production of new batteries for new Arrival vehicles.
Li-Cycle’s technologies will facilitate Arrival’s ability to minimise the lifecycle impact of batteries, improving its recycling and resource recovery infrastructure. At the same time, Arrival will support Li-Cycle’s ability to advance its patented technologies in line with next generation battery technology, while also continuing to improve its resource recovery efficiency.
“We’re excited to collaborate with Arrival to drive technological innovation in battery recycling, while creating a closed-loop battery supply chain in the EV industry,” said Kunal Phalpher, Chief Strategy Officer of Li-Cycle. “This strategic commercial partnership demonstrates our ability to meet emerging new customer demands as we continue to scale our proven, commercial lithium-ion recycling technology, globally.”
DB Schenker, the logistics unit of Germany’s railway operator Deutsche Bahn and one of the world’s leading logistics service providers, has announced an order for almost 1,500 electric 16-tonne trucks from Swedish manufacturer Volta Trucks.
DB Schenker will trial prototypes of Volta’s electric trucks from the spring of 2022 with the aim of decarbonising it distribution operations of goods from European terminals into city centres and urban areas.
The planned 1470 electric trucks will operate at 10 DB Schenker locations in five countries. Stockholm-based Volta Trucks plans to start production of the Volta Zero, a 16-tonne electric truck, in 2022.
“The large-scale partnership with Volta Trucks allows us to significantly increase the pace of electrification of our fleet and invest in greener transport solutions,” said Cyrille Bonjean, DB Schenker’s executive vice president for land transport in Europe.
The announcement increases Volta Trucks’ order book to around 4,500 electric trucks. Its previous biggest public order was for 1,000 trucks, from French refrigerated truck firm Petit Forestier.
Barcelona’s public transport operator TMB is exploring ways of running the city’s buses on sewage sludge-derived biomethane.
Biogas from the city’ wastewater treatment facilities is made up of methane and carbon dioxide and the aim is to remove the carbon dioxide leaving biomethane, which can be compressed to create fuel for the city’s buses.
Currently, just one bus is being tested, but there are plans to have 46 methane-fuelled buses on the streets by 2024.
The initiative is part of the EU funded Nimbus Project, set up to encourage a circular economy within public transport.
Although TMB has been converting its fleet to lower emission vehicles over the last decade, it’s still far off the EU’s commitment for over 30 percent of energy consumption for transport to be from renewable sources by 2030.
Biogas generated at the city’s water treatment works which is currently stored and used later to power the plant. From March, the carbon dioxide will be removed and the remaining biomethane compressed to make fuel for the Barcelona buses.
“This is about using bioproducts, which already exist in the atmosphere and giving them a new life,” said TMB depot supervisor Angel Olmo.
The UK’s first electric vehicle dynamic charging hub has opened in Wolverhampton and is set to be the first of more than 1500 being created across the country as part of a £75 million programme from Osprey Charging.
The charging hub is the first in the UK to feature new load balancing optimisation technology developed by Finnish company Kempower. This supports dynamic charging across multiple vehicles and allows a number of high-power chargers to be installed at a site without the need for grid upgrades.
Ian Johnston, chief executive of Osprey Charging, said, “Whether it is gigafactories, electric vehicle manufacturing or clean air zones, the West Midlands is leading the way on low carbon transport, cementing its role at the heart of the UK’s green industrial revolution.
“The opening of our high-powered charging hub in Wolverhampton, the first of ten in construction this year, once again puts the region at the leading edge of innovation, marking a step-change in the UK’s electric vehicle infrastructure as we accelerate towards mass adoption of these vehicles.”
The Wolverhampton hub is located adjacent to the A463 and includes four high-powered chargers capable of adding 100 miles of range in around ten minutes. It includes a Costa Coffee on site, allowing drivers to make us of its facilities while charging.
Across its many planned hub sites across the UK, Osprey is working with a range of organisations spanning the restaurant and hospitality sector, retail parks and local authorities. Partners include Marston’s, Cardiff Council, London & Scottish Properties, Aberdeen Standard Investments, and Soccerworld.
Beijing has this week approved its first driverless taxis for commercial use. The license terms allow two fare paying passengers and require a safety driver, but the vehicle to all intents and purposes drives itself.
The start of commercial services is a significant step forward for the driverless ambitions of Chinese tech giant Baidu and autonomous vehicle technology company Pony.ai, but commentators think it will be years before the taxis operate fully without human intervention.
More than 500,000 free trips have already been made in Pony.ai’s robotaxis during testing and development, the Toyota-backed start-up said.
Services are confined to the city’s southern Yizhuang area. Passengers using Baidu’s “Apollo Go” cars must download the “Luobo kuaipao” app and can hail a cab at one of 600 pick-up and drop-off points.
At launch sixty-seven Baidu taxis are in service charging just two yuan (Euro 0.30) for an up to 6km journey.
Pony.ai co-founder Peng Jun said the key to moving the industry forward is “policy, technology and public acceptance”.
Toyota and Danish taxi service DRIVR have put more than 100 Toyota Mirai hydrogen taxis on the roads in Copenhagen.
The Danish government aims to have no new taxis emitting CO2 or air pollution from 2025, while all taxis must be zero-emission by 2030.
App-based taxi service DRIVR already allows customers to choose between hailing a ride in hybrid, electric, or hydrogen-powered cars.
“There is no doubt that the taxi industry is a key driver of the green transition. They are in constant operation and travel many kilometres, especially in the big cities every single day. The switch from black diesel to green hydrogen ensures the same operation and flexible mobility, just without harmful emissions,” says Tejs Laustsen Jensen, CEO Hydrogen Denmark.
“The many new taxis help create the necessary take-off of hydrogen at the service stations, which is essential for the development of the infrastructure. And then the taxis are rolling showcases for green hydrogen technology, which is an area where the strong Danish value chain of subcontractors is among the world’s best.”
DRIVR has also been chosen by the City of Copenhagen to act as the city’s “ad-hoc taxi service,” meaning that children with disabilities, mentally challenged citizens, citizens on their way to the hospital, municipal employees on duty and politicians will in future be transported completely emission-free in hydrogen cars when driving by taxi.
“We are incredibly proud that DRIVR has been entrusted with the important task of helping the municipality drive Copenhagen greener, and we are very grateful for the cooperation with Toyota, which has enabled us to fulfil the task of the many new Toyota Mirai hydrogen cars,” says Haydar Shaiwandi, DRIVR’s CEO.
The Toyota Mirai taxis seem to be garnering attention, as well. The company says that there is a “growing interest in hydrogen cars in the taxi industry.”
The taxi service has come as a result of the Hydrogen Mobility Europe 2 and Zero Emission Fleet vehicles For European Rollout projects, supported by The Hydrogen And Fuel Cell Joint Undertaking. The project aims to spread hydrogen solutions for transport across the EU and has contributed to both wagons and hydrogen refuelling stations in Denmark.
French automotive technology supplier Valeo has unveiled its third generation scanning LiDAR, due to make its market debut in 2024.
Valeo’s technology reconstructs a 3D real-time image of the vehicle’s surroundings at a rate of 4.5m pixels and 25 frames per second, giving a resolution 12 times greater than the previous generation.
Valeo says its new LiDAR “can see things humans, cameras and radars cannot,” and that “driving can be delegated to the vehicle in many situations at road at speeds of up to 130km/h” and that even in such situations, “a vehicle fitted with the third generation scanning LiDAR can manage emergency situations autonomously.”
Valeo’s scanning LiDAR detects, recognises and classifies all objects located around the car. If the objects are moving, it measures their speed and direction. The scanning LiDAR can adapt to all light conditions, whether dazzlingly bright or pitch black. It also measures density of raindrops to calculate the right braking distance.
It tracks nearby vehicles, even when they are no longer in the driver’s line of sight and uses algorithms to anticipate their trajectories and trigger necessary safety manoeuvres.
Geoffrey Bouquot, Valeo’s Senior Vice-President, R&D and Strategy said, “Valeo’s third generation LiDAR is a major technological advance toward the autonomous vehicle. This upgrade strengthens Valeo’s technological and industrial leadership in the field.”
Valeo’s LiDARs are produced at its Wemding plant in Bavaria. Valeo claims to remain the only company to have produced a scanning LiDAR on an industrial scale and says 99% of cars equipped with a scanning LiDAR worldwide are equipped with a Valeo LiDAR.
Forecasts suggest up to 30% of premium new vehicles will reach level 3 autonomy by 2030 and the LiDAR market could be worth $50 billion by this date.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus are to launch a feasibility study on hyrdrogen-powered aircraft operations as part of a wider collaboration on sustainable aviation.
The feasibility study will run for two years, says the CAAS, and explore the concept of an airport hydrogen hub, as well as the infrastructure requirements for hydrogen-powered aircraft in the future.
“These include the production, storage and distribution of hydrogen, aircraft ground services, logistical equipment, and refuelling systems,” the authority states. “The study will examine how these requirements can be planned and provisioned for in airport development, whether upfront or in stages to provide optionality as the technology is developed.”
Calling the partnership an “important pathfinder” for a sustainable aviation sector, CAAS director-general Han Kok Juan said, “Decarbonisation is a key priority for international aviation. Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to rebuild an aviation sector that is more sustainable. It is not a question of whether but of how to make flying greener and developing concrete pathways to achieve that goal while ensuring that air travel is still accessible.”
Airbus chief technical officer Sabine Klauke added, “The decarbonisation of our industry requires a combination of approaches, hydrogen being one of them, and will need unprecedented cross-sector collaboration to create the new aviation infrastructure ecosystem.”
Reinsurer Swiss Re is to provide risk management expertise and insurance products for Chinese tech giant Baidu’s autonomous driving businesses.
“This partnership will advance risk management research and insurance protection for autonomous vehicles, representing an important step forward in building a comprehensive ecosystem of mobility services,” Swiss Re said in a statement.
Autonomous driving poses new challenges to the insurance industry, including rapid technological upgrades, increasingly diversified risks and limitation of data availability. This partnership will develop insurance solutions covering the entire value chain of autonomous driving, including the selection of risk factors, product pricing, claims and underwriting data standards.
Andrea Keller, Head of Automotive & Mobility Solutions at Swiss Re, said, “Together with our partner Baidu, we analyse how automated cars perceive their surroundings and how they process that information and respond to it. Our goal is to understand how such vehicles behave differently than human-driven ones and quantify these differences.“
As a leading global reinsurer, Swiss Re says it has a long history of making forward-looking investments in risk expertise of autonomous driving. Russell Higginbotham, CEO Reinsurance Asia & Regional President Asia, adds, “Our partnership with Baidu is a milestone in Swiss Re’s efforts to access new risk pools and close the protection gap through Swiss Re’s risk management expertise and innovation capabilities. By combining our respective risk knowledge and insights, we hope to jointly explore and develop innovative products and solutions.”
The first focus of this partnership is the launch of autonomous valet parking insurance for an automated valet parking service developed by Baidu Apollo. Future collaboration between Swiss Re and Baidu will cover risk management research and insurance innovation for autonomous driving computing platforms, intelligent cockpits, driverless taxis and other automated driving products.
The world’s first all-electric, autonomous cargo ship launched in Norway this week. The Yara Birkeland made a short, crewed trip to the capital of Oslo as part of its unveiling, with work to now begin on certifying it as an autonomous container vessel ahead of commencing commercial operations.
As a joint venture between chemical production firm Yara and maritime technology company Kongsberg, the Yara Birkeland was announced back in 2017 as the world’s first all-electric and autonomous container ship.
The plan is to use the ship to ferry chemicals and fertiliser from Yara’s production plant in Prosgrunn to nearby towns, making significant reductions in NOx and CO2 emissions by negating the need for diesel-powered truck transport.
The 80m-long vessel is powered by a 6.8-mWh battery pack and can carry up to 3,200 tons at a maximum speed of 28 km/h.
Yara is looking at the potential to utilise stocks of ammonia used in its fertiliser production to develop a zero-carbon fuel source. “Renewable energy was our starting point in 1905, now, ammonia can bring us back to our roots,” says Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, CEO of Yara Clean Ammonia. “Our large shipping network and existing infrastructure means that ammonia has the potential to become the leading fuel for long-distance shipping globally,”
The Yara Birkeland’s maiden voyage saw it travel from the town of Horten to Oslo, a journey of around 70 km. The inaugural voyage was attended by government officials including Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
“We are proud to be able to showcase the world’s first fully electric and self-propelled container ship,” says Svein Tore Holsether, CEO of Yara. “It will cut 1,000 tonnes of CO2 and replace 40,000 trips by diesel-powered trucks a year.”
With its first voyage behind it, the Yara Birkeland will commence commercial operations in 2022, while a two-year testing period will take place alongside designed to certify it as an autonomous vehicle. Technology company Kongsberg will be responsible for integrating the sensors and other systems for autonomous navigation, with the pathway to full autonomy to also include a phase of remote operation.
“Yara Birkeland will transport mineral fertiliser between Porsgrunn and Brevik and will contribute to significant emission cuts during transport,” says Holsether. “This is an excellent example of green transition in practice, and we hope this ship will be the start of a new type of emission-free container ships. There are a lot of places in the world with congested roads that will benefit from a high-tech solution like this.”
Munich-based EV charging provider Ionity says its new test centre in Unterschleissheim, Germany, is the world’s first to provide “end-to-end” testing of EV charging to “tackle network fragmentation”.
Ionity says it commissions chargers from various manufacturers to develop networks for its electric vehicle partners including BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, who all have different requirements.
“Every company interprets interface standards slightly differently. In our test centre, we can closely examine all steps in the charging process – from authentication and power transfer to the end of charging – and get feedback on any incompatibilities or issues,” said Laurence Langenbrink, Lead Testing Services at Ionity.
The 5000 m2 test centre outside Munich will undertake validation and interoperability tests between electric vehicles and charging stations as well as regression and software tests. This makes it possible, says Ionity, to perform tests on almost all high power charging (HPC) stations available on the European market in one location.
All tests are closely monitored and logged, and the charging processes are recorded in detail by the test equipment. Currently, Ionity is developing use cases and flowcharts for tests on various hardware models. The goal is to offer EV drivers the highest possible reliability at all Ionity locations, regardless of the vehicle manufacturer, and to use new technology only after it has successfully passed its own tests.
The UK government has restated that new homes and buildings, such as supermarkets and workplaces, including those undergoing major renovations, will be required to install electric vehicle charging points from next year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told delegates at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference, “This is a pivotal moment – we cannot go on as we are. We have to adapt our economy to the green industrial revolution.”
“We will require new homes and buildings to have EV charging points – with another 145,000 charging points to be installed thanks to these regulations.
“We are investing in new projects to turn wind power into hydrogen and our net-zero strategy is expected to trigger about £90 billion of private sector investment, driving the creation of high wage, high skilled jobs as part of our mission to unite and level up across the country.
“We have to use our massive investment in science and technology and we have to raise our productivity and then we have to get out your way. We must regulate less or better and take advantage of new freedoms.”
However it’s extremely unlikely that the Prime Minister’s 2021 CBI speech will be remembered for his announcements on EV charging and free-market governance. Described as “stumbling” even by commentators ordinarily considered as supporters, the Prime Minister ad-libbed on a diverse range of seemingly random topics including Peppa Pig and at one point even attempting a joke in which he likened himself to Moses.
Some of the world’s biggest car manufacturers have failed to sign a pledge committing to make all new vehicles zero emissions by 2040.
Toyota, Volkswagen, Stellantis and Hyundai do not appear on the list of signatories to the Glasgow Declaration on Zero Emission Cars and Vans, unveiled at the COP26 climate talks last week.
The declaration was backed by over 100 signatories, including carmakers Volvo, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover, as well as 33 national governments, regional authorities and companies including rideshare service Uber.
The non-binding pledge commits its signatories to making electric vehicles the “new normal” and to “supporting a global, equitable and just transition so that no country or community is left behind”.
Environmental groups responding to the announcement warned that stronger action would be needed to cut transport emissions and keep global warming under 1.5C.
Environmental charity Greenpeace branded the declaration “disappointingly weak”. “What’s gravely concerning today is that major economies like the US, Germany, China, Japan and manufacturers like VW, Toyota and Hyundai could not even bring themselves to sign a declaration on electric vehicles that promises less than what’s actually required to maintain climate security,” said Greenpeace Germany’s executive director Martin Kaiser.
French zero-emission truck developer Gaussin has announced it will be the first to enter a hydrogen powered truck into the extreme endurance off road Dakar Rally.
According to Gaussin, it is entering its H2 Racing Truck into the 2022 desert-crossing race as “a technology carrier” for further developing its planned road truck range.
Based on a new skateboard platform for BEV and FCEV trucks from 18 to 44 tons, the H2 Racing Truck will be a four-wheel-drive variant combining two 300 kW electric motors with an 82-kWh battery pack and a 380-kW fuel cell.
The system also includes a cooling system and tanks able to hold 80 kilograms of hydrogen. Gaussin expects to achieve a range of around 250 km under racing conditions running at a top speed of 140 km/h across sand dunes.
The manufacturer says that the lightweight chassis was specially created for the performance and integration of the hydrogen system. The latter, it says, has been tested with racing conditions in mind under extreme conditions “that go far beyond manufacturers’ usual tests for road use.”
The French firm had engaged the Italian design house Pininfarina to “create a completely new cabin concept that stands for driver comfort and safety and at the same time intelligently combines with the platform.”
Gaussin says it is developing four other models based on the platform, a tractor unit, an autonomous truck, a distribution vehicle and a construction vehicle. Under non-racing conditions the range is expected to increase to 800 kilometres. Alternatively, Gaussin is working on battery EV versions incorporating a battery swap system, which should have a range of 400 kilometres with a battery exchange taking just three minutes.
Swedish manufacturer Northvolt has announced it has produced its first lithium-ion battery cell using 100% recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt in which the recycling process can recover up to 95% of the metals in a battery to “a level of purity on par with fresh virgin material.”
“What we have shown here is a clear pathway to closing the loop on batteries and that there exists a sustainable, environmentally-preferable alternative to conventional mining in order to source raw materials for battery production,” said Northvolt chief environmental officer Emma Nehrenheim, who heads the company’s Revolt recycling programme.
A statement from Northvolt — which is part-owned by Volkswagen, BMW and Goldman Sachs — said the development “stands as a breakthrough for the battery industry and a milestone for Northvolt in its mission to establish a sustainable supply of batteries to support the decarbonisation of society”.
A new facility, named Revolt Ett — “Ett” meaning “One” in Swedish — will be the only large-scale plant in Europe capable of recycling lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt, copper, aluminium and plastics.
“With construction beginning in early 2022 and operations from 2023, the recycling plant will receive incoming material for recycling from two sources: end-of-life batteries from electric vehicles and production scrap from Northvolt Ett,” the statement said.
“Recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt metals used in the battery cell are recovered from battery waste through a low-energy hydrometallurgical treatment, which involves the use of an aqueous solution to isolate the metals and separate them from impurities,” the statement continued.
It will also recover lithium, copper, aluminium, and plastics from the batteries and materials it recycles – all of which will be recirculated back into manufacturing through local third parties.
“As the electric vehicle revolution gains speed,” says Nehrenheim, “some 250,000 tons of batteries will reach their end-of-life in Europe by 2030.
“In this, some see challenges and obstacles. At Northvolt, we see opportunity. Similar to how we’ve found novel, sustainable solutions for the handling of salt by-product at Northvolt Ett – treating it as a valuable product and not waste – the same is true with end-of-life batteries. Ultimately, a commitment to circularity will not only significantly reduce the environmental impacts of the battery industry, but also contribute to our vision to set a new benchmark for sustainability in manufacturing.”
An 18-ton truck equipped with a 3.5kW photovoltaic system on its roof has been approved for use on Germany’s roads.
The solar power produced directly by the vehicle could meet 5 to 10 percent of its energy needs, says the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), which developed the solar modules and power electronics.
“With the successful commissioning of our high-voltage photovoltaic system, we have achieved our goal of demonstrating the feasibility of vehicle-integrated photovoltaics for heavy-duty e-commercial vehicles. The components integrated into the truck work as expected,” explains Christoph Kutter, project manager at Fraunhofer ISE.
The particularly lightweight and robust PV module prototypes developed by Fraunhofer ISE were built by Sunset Energietechnik. To create the first demonstrator vehicle, TBV Kühlfahrzeuge has integrated the modules into the box body of a Framo electric truck.
The roof-mounted solar modules are connected in series to ensure that current yields are high but the material and cabling costs are low, meaning the resulting voltages of up to 400 volts could pose a safety risk in the event of an accident. Key to gaining approval for use on public roads was the development of safe power management and a specially developed disconnection device.
The truck is now being put through its paces in daily use by electronics systems developer Alexander Bürkle operating in the Freiburg area. It will be tested for a year to validate the electricity yield forecasts and monitor the components under real conditions. Furthermore, the trial will help validate an energy forecast model “IVImon” developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, which manages the range, charging times and power generation for different routes depending on the consumption in the vehicle and the solar generation.
General Motors is making a prototype vehicle for the US military that is based on the 2022 Hummer EV, CNBC reports.
The “electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle,” or eLRV, will use modified versions of the Hummer EV’s frame, electric motors, and GM’s new Ultium battery pack.
GM said last year that it believes there’s a $25 billion market for creating new vehicles for the military, including EVs. A 2019 study from Brown University calculated that the US military is the largest institutional polluter in the world and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 140 countries.
While GM sees great opportunity selling EVs to the military, Kathleen Hicks, the deputy secretary of the defence department told CNBC that she believes integrating electric vehicles in the military’s fleet will be “very challenging,” especially because of charging infrastructure. But, she added, “electrifying the non-tactical fleet, that’s a no-brainer.”