New trains on the Vienna metro will be the first to feature a new digital passenger information and guidance system developed by Siemens Mobility.
The dynamic and visual presentation of information in the new X-car carriages are designed to make the use of mass transit in the city easier and more convenient. Screens inside the car above each train door display provide passengers with real-time information about further routes and connections at the next station.
“With the new X-car, the Viennese are getting a state-of-the-art metro car that provides all the latest information right where they need it. We are proud to be the first public transport company in the world to offer this service,” said Alexandra Reinagl, Managing Director of Wiener Linien.
The new Passenger Info Plus system has been developed by Siemens Mobility, tailored by Wiener Linien to meet the special public transport requirements in Vienna.
Screens above each door inside the X-car display relevant, continually updated information for the passengers. Screens above doors that will open at the next station show the direction of the station’s exits, other lines for transfers, and departure times for those lines.
Screens above the doors opposite the platform side display a digital metro network map and the train’s current position. The dynamic map shows the train’s position, direction of travel, next stop, and important transfer options. Additional information, such as the current status of other metro lines, or out-of-service elevators, can also be displayed on both sides of the car.
The X-car is currently undergoing extensive tests in preparation for its upcoming operating certification.
UK-based Wejo, a global leader in cloud and software analytics generated from autonomous, electric and connected vehicle data, has announced it is developing a neural edge platform that overcomes latency issues and data storage costs – the main potential obstacles in harnessing and scaling the power of real-time vehicle communications.
Leveraging existing collaborations with Microsoft Azure and Palantir Technologies, a developer of software for data analytics and data-driven decision making, Wejo Neural Edge optimises how data, from both other vehicles and smart infrastructure, is managed within the vehicle, further processes it at the “edge” and ultimately communicates to the cloud.
This process will not only reduce data overload and maximise data insights but will reduce costs for automotive manufacturer, supporting safer vehicles, enabling further advancements in electric and autonomous mobility while reducing congestion and emissions.
“When I started Wejo in 2014, I knew that the proliferation of new mobility technology would drive data to a tipping point. And we are at that point today,” said Richard Barlow, Founder & CEO, Wejo. “With today’s vehicles producing approximately 25 gigabytes of data per hour, and as vehicle technology advances adding more sensors, data filtering and neural edge processing technology is essential to reduce this overload and drive the industry forward.”
Key features of the platform are:
Filtering and analysing vast amounts of autonomous, electric, and connected vehicle data before transmitting only the essential information to the cloud. This is made possible by utilising in-car edge processing that Wejo is developing to filter only useful and valuable connected vehicle data before it is transmitted to the cloud.
Using machine learning algorithms to reconstruct vehicle journey and event data, Wejo Neural Edge can take 20% of the data from autonomous, electric, and other connected vehicles and reconstruct it to represent 100% of the data, without any loss in data fidelity or integrity. The positive environmental impact is significant, as less data requires less storage which in turn reduces power consumption.
Better enabling vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure communications by standardising and centralising the data. Not only does this provide a key building block for communication in near real time, but it also supports communication with infrastructure services such as road signs, traffic lights and parking lots, so vehicles can easily anticipate the road ahead and optimise mobility experiences.
The platform can also support validation of digitals twins of both the vehicles and cities in which they operate, which has the potential to reshape how we view the entire product and service ecosystem related to mobility. In a simulation environment, a digital twin can be constructed to simulate how vehicles in different cities need to respond and navigate without having to outlay massive infrastructure costs of physical hardware and vehicle monitoring.
“At Wejo, we believe that digital twins will reshape everything from road safety, to insurance, advertising, after-sales and more,” said David Burns, Chief Technology Officer, Wejo. “With Wejo Neural Edge we can look at what a connected vehicle is doing a kilometre away, and then alter and change the driver experience of an autonomous vehicle based on the information that is coming from down the road.”
As more car manufacturers work to harness their vehicle data, Wejo neural edge platform and common data model will enable different manufacturer makes and models to speak the same data language, a key component supporting vehicle to vehicle communication and vehicle communications with infrastructure and services.
Shyam Sankar, Chief Operating Officer of Palantir Technologies adds, “Our ongoing partnership with Wejo is focused on the most complex and critical challenges facing the future of mobility. What Wejo is building atop Palantir Foundry, including their cutting-edge neural edge technology, is a testament to the depth of their vision, speed of execution, and power of combining our technologies.”
Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a prototype electric vehicle it claims can travel more than 1000km on a single battery charge. The German carmaker says the Vision EQXX is “the most efficient Mercedes-Benz ever built.”
Its power consumption of around 10 kWh of energy per 100km is due in part to the exterior design and aerodynamics, which achieve a drag coefficient of 0.17. This is of particular importance for electric vehicles, says Mercedes, because two-thirds of the electric energy is needed just to counter the air resistance.
The car is “packed with efficiency improvements” and during digital simulation tests of real-life traffic simulations managed to exceed 1000km of driving on a single charge, several times further than the distance most available EV models are capable of driving.
The VISION EQXX, boasts an energy efficiency of 95%. This, says Mercedes, means that 95% of the energy stored in the battery reaches the wheels. By way of comparison, a vehicle with an efficient internal combustion engine achieves around 30% and an average human long-distance runner achieves around 50%. A dedicated team of Mercedes-Benz engineers worked with the motor-racing specialists from High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix (MGP) to develop a highly efficient and compact electric powertrain and a lightweight battery housing. They have spent many years working to reduce mechanical friction to a minimum so that the power reaches the racetrack with as little loss as possible.
And instead of just making the battery bigger and thus heavier, the energy density has been significantly improved – to 200 Wh/kg. This enables the battery to store 100 kWh, whilst taking up 50% less space and weighing 30% less than batteries with comparable capacity. State-of-the-art silicon anodes have been used in combination with ultra-lightweight materials from Formula One and Formula E, for instance, which has significantly increased the battery capacity.
The auxiliary electric system draws additional energy from solar cells on the roof. This reduces the energy demands of the high-volt system and ultimately leads to more range. On a single day with ideal conditions, this can produce up to 25km extra range for long-distance journeys.
“The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX is how we imagine the future of electric cars,” said Ola Källenius, chairman of the board of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz. “It has a range of more than 1,000km on a single charge using a battery that would fit even into a compact vehicle. The Vision EQXX is an advanced car in so many dimensions — and it even looks stunning and futuristic. With that, it underlines where our entire company is headed: We will build the world’s most desirable electric cars.”
Iteris, the Californian-based global leader in smart mobility infrastructure management has been selected by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) as part of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team to develop a connected vehicle data exchange platform.
Other participants in the FDOT program include Ford Mobility, which will supply V2X data from its connected vehicle platform; Florida International University; Amazon Web Services; Google; and several OEMs, and logistics and fleet companies.
The platform will enable FDOT to analyse real-time road conditions and communicate critical travel information to the traveling public, state and local government entities, private-sector partners, and other stakeholders.
The FDOT project is among the first in the United States to develop a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) data exchange, capturing data from thousands of devices across connected and automated vehicle together with smart mobility infrastructure networks. A key objective of the project is to standardise the collection, analysis and sharing of data from several proprietary systems, which have different coding and encryption methodologies, and to make additional considerations for privacy and safety.
“The primary goal of this technology is to save lives and move people more efficiently on roadways by sharing real-time driving conditions,” said Michael A Brown, SwRI’s Intelligent Systems Division engineer overseeing the project. “This data exchange will lay the foundation for FDOT to send alerts to drivers and traffic managers to coordinate routing, road closures and emergency response.”
The exchange will capture anonymous data both from FDOT-owned roadside units and proprietary data feeds of various car manufacturers. This connected vehicle data will be fused with a breadth of other data both from FDOT-owned infrastructure and third-party data feeds. This stream of enriched data will be the basis for real-time and historic analysis, leveraging a combination of machine learning and traditional algorithms.
“We are thrilled to join the team responsible for developing this vital V2X data sharing program for FDOT,” said Anita Vandervalk, vice president, strategic business development at Iteris. “The V2X data exchange will enable FDOT to communicate critical travel information to the traveling public, state and local government entities, private-sector partners, and other stakeholders.”
Vietnamese car manufacturer VinFast confirmed its commitment to becoming an all-electric car maker by the end of the year at the VinFast Global EV Day at the Consumer Electronics Show, CES 2022, in Las Vegas.
Madam Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup Vice Chair and VinFast Global CEO said VinFast would stop producing vehicles with internal combustion engines by the end of 2022 and focus research and development efforts on all-electric powertrains.
Le Thi Thu Thuy’s announcements also outlined a new development strategy and the launch of three new models to create a vehicle line up covering five segments from compact city to executive. All five models have been developed with renowned Italian design firms, Pininfarina and Torino Design.
The three new models are the VF 5 (segment A), VF 6 (segment B) and VF 7 (segment C). Existing VF e35 and VF e36 models in the D and E segments are now renamed VF 8 and VF 9. The removal of the “e” electric prefix, says the company, demonstrates its all-electric orientation.
Le Thi Thu Thuy said, “VinFast envisions a sustainable future for people and the planet through green, clean and safe mobility. This is a future built on intelligent services, outstanding customer experience, and a deep care for the planet and future generations.
“VinFast is committed to innovative vehicle design, quality, and technology, along with excellent customer service. We even aspire to to be one of the leading electric vehicle manufacturers in the world while inspiring our customers to be boundless together and join hands in the electric vehicle revolution, creating a sustainable future for all.”
The company also released its competitive retail pricing structure and details of a ten-year, 200,000km warranty programme.
REE Automotive has started testing its all-new electric P7 platform designed for commercial delivery vans and mobility operators.
The company plans trials for the platform at the REE Engineering Centre of Excellence in the UK and the REE Advanced Research and Development Centre in Israel. P7 prototypes will be available for customer evaluation during the first quarter of this year.
The platform features REEcorner technology in which each wheel has an independent drive mechanism that offers significantly greater volumetric efficiency than a conventional configuration and creates a fully flat end-to-end platform. REE also says the novel drive mechanism provides enhanced driving dynamics and safety with all-wheel steer, drive and brake options.
The company says the platform “packs up to 35% more packages than comparable commercial vehicles or the equivalent” and supports a 4000kg payload, meaning it could comfortably carry up to 30 passengers. This says REE makes it the optimal platform for target markets such as delivery and logistic fleet owners, transit authorities, school buses and mobility operators.
Daniel Barel, REE Automotive Co-Founder and CEO describes the P7 platform as “paramount” in commercial vehicle design, safety and functionality. “True to our vision of providing complete modularity and versatility, this platform can be configured in different sizes and optimised to suit a particular application and use case,” he adds.
The platform offers “virtually unlimited” design freedom to meet customers’ exact business needs, and the “architecture” supports both cost and timing benefits through the vehicle development process, as well as further production efficiencies from the resultant economies of scale, adds Barel.
Electric and autonomous vehicles built using the P7 platform, says REE, will be able to achieve driving ranges of up to 370 miles with max speeds of 80 mph and support gross vehicle weight ratings of up to 7.5 tonne.
Sony is set to enter the electric vehicle market with the launch of a new mobility company this Spring, looking “to harness its strengths in entertainment and sensors to play a bigger role in next-generation mobility”.
The announcement was made at the CES 2022 technology trade fair in Las Vegas, where Sony chairman Kenichiro Yoshida said, “With our imaging and sensing, cloud, 5G and entertainment technologies combined with our contents mastery, we believe Sony is well positioned as a creative entertainment company to redefine mobility”.
The company, he added, saw mobility as an “entertainment space” where passengers could chose individual entertainment options and use 5G internet connection.
At the presentation Yoshida also unveiled a prototype sport utility vehicle (SUV), the VISION-S 02, which uses the same electric vehicle platform as the previously announced VISION-S 01 coupe.
Both vehicles featured a host of sensors, installed 360-degrees around the vehicles. This includes high-sensitivity, high-resolution, wide dynamic range image sensors and lidar designed to accurately sense three-dimensional space.
Through its advanced sensor and communication technologies, Sony believes it can provide greater safety and comfort. The tech company is currently conducting functional verification tests in Europe on public roads, as it works towards the release of Level 2+ advanced driver assistance systems.
Sony says it will establish a new company, Sony Mobility Inc, to accelerate the efforts of “exploring the commercial launch of Sony’s EV”.
RR.AI, a developer of self-driving technology and US bus maker GILLIG are to collaborate on developing next generations driver assistance systems and self-driving technology specifically for commuter buses in the United States.
This partnership will “combine RR.AI’s vehicle automation experience and GILLIG’s transit operations expertise to produce state- of-the-art safety and performance capabilities”.
The aim is to develop Level 4 autonomous vehicle technology for buses, which would allow a vehicle to drive itself under certain circumstances, such as in a depot, but most of the time a human driver would be needed.
They said the technology could protect drivers through safety features, including automatic emergency braking, precision docking, blind spot detection and pedestrian avoidance. While these advance driver assistance systems are commonly used in passenger cars, they are not widely available on heavy-duty vehicles.
“We believe the partnership with GILLIG will improve the safety and wellbeing of drivers, pedestrians, and roadway users all while increasing efficiency for transit authorities and lowering costs,” said RR.AI Chief Executive Alberto Lacaze.
GILLIG says it will implement these technologies across all its bus models, but will deploy them first in its latest electric bus model.
RR.AI’s parent Robotic Research said in December that it had raised $228 million from investors to scale up its self-driving solutions for trucks, buses and logistics vehicles. GILLIG’s owner Henry Crown & Company participated in that funding round.
Pure Watercraft, the Seattle based manufacturer of electric boats and propulsion systems, unveiled its all-electric pontoon boat at CES in Las Vegas and opened pre-orders on its web site. This is the first product to result from Pure Watercraft’s collaboration with General Motors announced last November.
Pure Watercraft’s 7.4m-long pontoon boat can transport up to 10 people and offers a top speed of up to 23 mph. It is powered by single or twin Pure Outboard motors and a GM battery pack of up to 66 kWh.
Pure Watercraft says, “It offers versatility for cruising, watersports and fishing while providing a quiet boating experience that only an all-electric boat can”. Pricing is expected to start at $45,000 for the single outboard version.
“Pontoon boating is booming, because people want to get out on the water and socialise with family and friends in the great outdoors. This boat gives them a more enjoyable experience, free from engine noise and the hassles of fuel and maintenance, at a price comparable to that of a conventional pontoon boat.”
Pre-orders are currently being accepted on the company’s website, with first deliveries expected in late 2022.
Chinese micromobility manufacturer Okai, which supplies vehicles to many big-name shared mobility operators including Bird, Lime, dott and SPIN, earlier this month launched its SH10 smart helmet at CES 2022 show in Las Vegas.
Conscious that we are moving to a post Covid world, the helmet is made with antibacterial materials and targeted at shared operators that are increasingly required to provide helmets as part of their operating licence. The SH10, says Okai, makes for a safer and more hygienic ride.
The helmet also features Bluetooth to connect to the Okai app, from which riders can customize and configure front and rear LED displays to improve visibility. A smart integrated speaker allows riders to listen to music, apparently without affecting aural awareness on the road.
French company Airseas has installed its first half-size automated Seawing kite to a cargo ship and will commence trials this month. A full-size kite is estimated to save up to 20 percent on fuel and emissions.
The kite has been fitted to the 154m long cargo ship Ville de Bordeaux, owned and operated by Louis Dreyfus, which is on a long-term lease to Airbus. The multinational aerospace organisation uses it to move large aircraft structures between its distributed manufacturing plants around Europe and its final assembly plant in Toulouse.
The 500 square metre Seawing deploys automatically, first emerging from storage on a trolley, then raising up from the deck on a mast to catch the wind, and finally being released on a long cable to grab the steady, strong winds at around 200 m above sea level.
The Seawing will operate in a figure-eight trajectory, monitored and controlled by a system that places the kite for maximum traction power. The Seawing computers also interface with the ship’s navigation systems, monitoring forward wind conditions and re-routing the ship to take the most efficient path possible.
The half-size kite is to undergo testing before being deployed for commercial operation.
Airseas estimates the full-size system will cut both diesel consumption and shipping emissions by 20 percent.
Airseas says the Seawing system can be retrofitted to virtually all ship types, requiring only about two days for the conversion and not getting in the way of cargo operations in port.
“A decade ago, we embarked on the ambitious project of channelling our unique aviation expertise towards creating a cleaner and more sustainable shipping industry,” says Vincent Bernatets, CEO and Co-Founder of Airseas and a former engineer at Airbus. “Today, I am beyond proud to see that vision becoming reality. This first installation marks a significant milestone not only for Airseas, but also for wind and other renewable propulsion technologies in general. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, the world needs to see a drastic reduction in carbon emissions now. In shipping, we can achieve this by using the full set of tools we have available to us today. Wind propulsion is one of these and will play an essential role in helping shipping achieve its much-needed decarbonisation transition.”
The New York Police Department (NYPD) has ordered 184 all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-Es for law enforcement and emergency response use. The purchase is part of New York City’s largest electric vehicle (EV) purchase to date.
The NYPD operates over 6,200 light duty enforcement vehicles, which is the largest single group of vehicles in the City’s publicly owned fleet.
This order will be the largest all-electric purchase for law enforcement in the US and paves the way for New York City’s transition to all electric by 2035.
The Mustang e-Mach GT models offer a 270 miles range and acceleration that outstrips petrol powered supercars.
Dawn M Pinnock, Acting Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services, says, “Smart investments in fleet electrification will help New York City break its dependence on fossil fuels. We are working successfully towards achieving the ambitious goal of an all-electric City vehicle fleet by 2035 by taking steps to fight the climate crisis every day.”
“As our elected and environmental leaders work to address climate change locally and around the globe, the NYPD is proud to join with its law enforcement and government partners in New York City in making these vital transportation improvements,” adds NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Support Services Robert S Martinez. “This round of electric vehicle purchases not only satisfies our department’s ongoing public safety mission by enhancing the NYPD’s fleet for the 21st Century, but moves us, collectively, toward a greener, more sustainable future for all.”
San Diego head-quartered autonomous trucking startup TuSimple has completed its first autonomous truck run on open public roads without a human in the vehicle, according to the company.
TuSimple’s Autonomous Driving System (ADS) navigated the 80-mile run along surface streets and highways between a railyard in Tuscon, Arizona and a distribution centre in Phoenix. The one-hour and 20-minute test run was completed with no human intervention, marking a milestone for the company that aims to scale its technology into purpose-built trucks by 2024, says president and CEO Cheng Lu.
Along the journey, TuSimple’s Autonomous Driving System successfully navigated surface streets, traffic signals, on-ramps, off-ramps, emergency lane vehicles, and highway lane changes in open traffic while naturally interacting with other motorists.
Cheng Lu said, “By achieving this momentous technical milestone, we demonstrated the advanced capabilities of TuSimple’s autonomous driving system and the commercial maturity of our testing process, prioritising safety and collaboration every step of the way. This test reinforces what we believe is our unique position at the forefront of autonomous trucking, delivering advanced driving technology at commercial scale. This year, we were laser-focused on putting our technology through a rigorous test on open public roads under real-world conditions, and to see all our hard work and dedication come together is extremely rewarding.”
The test was performed in close collaboration with the Arizona Department of Transportation and law enforcement. Unmarked police vehicles followed behind the truck. In addition, TuSimple ran a survey vehicle to look for anomalies in front of the truck, and “an oversight vehicle behind it to put the autonomous truck in a “minimal risk condition”.
Reliance New Energy Solar, a subsidiary of India’s largest private sector company Reliance Industries, is to acquire British company Faradion, a world leader in Sodium-ion battery technology for £100 million. In addition, Reliance will also invest £25 million as growth capital to accelerate commercial roll out.
Based out of Sheffield and Oxford in the UK, Faradion’s sodium-ion technology is said to provide significant advantages compared to lithium-ion technology, including greater sustainability, a patented zero-volt safe transport and storage capability and opportunity for scalability. The current total cost of ownership and performance is claimed to be comparable to established battery technology, but with significant potential for further improvements in both areas.
This, says Reliance “combines to offer the most exciting opportunity globally for scaling and accelerating the use of sodium-ion technology for energy storage and EV applications”.
Reliance will use Faradion’s state-of-the-art technology at its proposed fully integrated energy storage giga-factory as part of the Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex project at Jamnagar in western India.
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries, said, “We welcome Faradion and its experienced team to Reliance family. This will further strengthen and build upon our ambition to create one of the most advanced and integrated New Energy ecosystems and put India at the forefront of leading battery technologies.
“The sodium-ion technology developed by Faradion provides a globally leading energy storage and battery solution which is safe, sustainable, provides high energy density and is significantly cost competitive. In addition, it has wide use applications from mobility to grid scale storage and back-up power.”
“Most importantly, it utilises sodium, which will secure India’s energy storage requirements for its large renewable energy and fast-growing EV charging market. We will work with Faradion management and accelerate its plans to commercialise the technology through building integrated and end-to-end giga scale manufacturing in India. We believe this will be one of our many steps that will also enable, accelerate, and secure large scale energy storage requirements for our Indian partners developing and transforming India’s EV mobility and transport sector.”
James Quinn, CEO of Faradion, added, “Faradion has been one of the first to champion sodium-ion battery technology. Reliance is the perfect partner for supporting Faradion’s growth in the rapidly expanding Indian market and to jointly speed up the transformation of the global energy market. Becoming part of the Reliance group validates the incredible work our team has done in advancing sodium-ion technology.”
Dr Chris Wright, Chairman and Co-Founder of Faradion, said, “This deal with Reliance firmly establishes Faradion’s sodium-ion batteries as an integral part of the global value chain for cheaper, cleaner, more sustainable energy for decades to come.”
Trucking journalist Jan Burgdorf has put a Volvo FH Electric truck through its paces on an independent test using Germany’s Green Truck Route, a 343 km long route that includes a variety of motorways, hilly terrains, and tighter roads that is used for testing different manufacturer’s trucks in a wide range of conditions.
Acccording to a press release from Volvo, the 40 tonne gross weight fully loaded zero-exhaust emission vehicle exceeded its official range and used 50% less energy than its diesel counterpart.
During the Green Truck Route tests, the Volvo achieved an average speed of 80 km/h across the whole route and used 50% less energy than a Volvo FH with a comparable diesel engine.
“The electric driveline is very efficient, making the all-electric truck a very powerful tool for reducing CO2 emissions,” comments Tobias Bergman, Press Test Director at Volvo Trucks.
“And based on the energy consumption of 1.1 kWh/km, the electric truck had a total range of 345 km on one charge,” he adds.
“These test results show that it is possible to drive up to 500 km during a regular work-day, with a short stop for charging, for example during lunch time,” explains Tobias Bergman.
And according to the driver, German journalist Burgdorf observed, “I have to say, when driving this truck it is as agile, or even more agile, than a diesel truck. Drivers will be very surprised about how easy it is to drive, how quiet it is and how well it responds.”
Volvo Trucks’ goal is that electric vehicles will account for half of its truck sales in 2030 and by 2040 will have achieved 100% well-to-wheel based CO2-reduction for new trucks sold.
German car maker Audi has opened the first of its unique charging cubes, conceptually first revealed in May last year, that utilise second-life batteries and low-voltage grid connections.
The new facility at an exhibition centre in Nuremberg is built using containers equipped with second-life batteries which can be assembled and disassembled in only a few days.
The Nuremberg cube offers a total of six fast-charging points, each offering up to 320kW of charging power.
Significantly the facility operates using only a 200KW low-voltage power connection, which is sufficient to keep the batteries charged sufficiently to act as a buffer and provide up to 2.45MWh of interim storage.
Roof mounted solar panels provide additional battery top-up power and Audi believes around 80 EVs can be charged daily with the hub’s 200kW supply as the only external power input.
Initially promoted as a design concept, this combination not only provides a use for end-of-life EV bus batteries but also avoids the need for complex infrastructure such as high-voltage power lines and expensive transformers.
Audi says the chargers will provide an e-tron GT with an additional range of 100-kilometres in around 5 minutes, however it’s not necessarily about speed as the facility offers a number of “premium” charging experiences such as a just-in-time delivery service for food, an exchange station for electric bike batteries, an electric scooter lending service, information about various Audi products, as well as test drives in theAudi Q4 e-tron and RS e-tron GT.
“Our customers will share multiple benefits,” said Ralph Hollmig, Audi charging hub project manager. “We want to use it to test flexible and premium-oriented quick-charging infrastructure in urban spaces where our customers don’t necessarily wake up in the morning with a fully charged electric car.”
The UK’s leading supermarket chain Tesco is to take delivery of the county’s first commercial fully electric heavy freight articulated trucks.
Two 37 tonne DAF trucks will carry food and other products from Wentloog rail terminal outside Cardiff to Tesco’s distribution centre at Magor, near Newport, in partnership with international freight forwarding company FSEW.
At around 30 miles each way, the Wentloog – Magor journey is said to be “an ideal location to understand the potential and range of these lorries for use throughout the UK and elsewhere in Tesco’s fleet”.
The two trucks will replace around 65,000 diesel-powered miles and remove more than 87 tonnes of CO2 per year. The lorries, which should have a real-world range of 100 miles, will use charging infrastructure installed by FSEW.
Tesco CEO Jason Tarry said, “Tesco’s distribution network is one of the largest in the UK and plays an important role in our efforts to become net zero in our own operations by 2035. We’ve already made progress by starting our switch to electric home delivery vans and rolling out electric vehicles charging points for our customers. I’m excited that Tesco can also lead the way in electric haulage innovation, helping to tackle this last source of road transport emissions with the support of FSEW.”
Tesco is also aiming to achieve net-zero emissions in its own operations by 2035, while FSEW is working to replace more than 40 diesel vehicles with low-carbon alternatives and switch to fleet-wide zero-emission transport operations by 2025.
“This is a landmark day for us here at FSEW, representing a major step forward in our commitment to providing zero-emissions transport freight services,” says Geoff Tomlinson, FSEW Managing Director.
“Together we are working to create a cleaner and greener logistics experience. This is transformational for the UK’s commercial and retail industries and is just the start of our work to supply electric heavy freight vehicles to customers such as Tesco.”
“Setting the industry standard is important to us,” he continues, “which is why we also have plans underway to create an eFreight hub in Cardiff which will include a low carbon fuel facility for the use of all freight providers and commercial and municipal operators.”
Mercedes-Benz has become the world’s first automotive company to meet the legal requirements for a Level 3 hands-free driving system. The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has granted system approval under United Nation regulation UN-R157, which paves the way for offering the system internationally provided that national legislation allows it.
Mercedes-Benz’s customers will be able to buy an S-Class with DRIVE PILOT in the first half of 2022, enabling them to drive in “conditionally automated mode” at speeds of up to 60 km/h on suitable stretches of motorway in Germany.
When in automated mode, DRIVE PILOT allows the driver to perform tasks on the central display such as online shopping or processing e-mails.
Markus Schäfer, Board member of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Purchasing, says, “For many years, we have been working to realise our vision of automated driving. With this LiDAR based system, we have developed an innovative technology for our vehicles that offers customers a unique, luxurious driving experience and gives them what matters most: time. With the approval of the authorities, we have now achieved a breakthrough: We are the first manufacturer to put conditionally automated driving into series production in Germany.”
He adds, “With this milestone, we are initiating a radical paradigm shift. For the first time in 136 years of automotive history, the vehicle takes over the dynamic driving task under certain conditions. At the same time, we are pleased that Germany is continuing its pioneering role in automated driving with this approval.”
Portuguese oil company Galp Energia and Swedish battery maker Northvolt this week announced a joint venture to invest 700 million euros ($790 million) to build a lithium ore processing plant in Portugal, which should start operating by the end of 2025.
The companies said in a statement the plant, with an initial annual production capacity of up to 35,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide, is “aligned with the Portuguese and European industrialisation efforts related to energy transition”.
Over half of the world’s lithium is used to make rechargeable batteries used in mobile phones and laptops, but demand from electric vehicles is set to dwarf current uses. China currently manufactures 80% of the world’s lithium-ion cells.
Reuters reports that Galp and Northvolt are looking for a site for the plant but hope to turn on the machines in 2025, with commercial production due to begin the following year.
Northvolt, whose biggest shareholder is Volkswagen, said the plant would be Europe’s largest and start commercial operations in 2026.
“The joint venture is currently conducting technical and economic studies and looking at several possible site locations”, Northvolt said in a statement.
The plant will be able to deliver enough lithium hydroxide for 50 gigawatt hours of battery production per year, with Northvolt using up to 50% of the plant’s capacity for its battery making.
Northvolt co-founder Paolo Cerruti said, “The development of a European battery manufacturing industry provides tremendous economic and societal opportunity for the region. Extending the new European value chain upstream to include raw materials is of critical importance. This joint venture represents a major investment into this area, and will position Europe with not only a path to domestic supply of key materials required in the manufacturing of batteries, but the opportunity to set a new standard for sustainability in raw materials sourcing. This initiative comes to complement a global sourcing strategy based on high sustainability standards, diversified sources and reduced exposure to geopolitical risks”.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reposition Europe as a leader in an industry that will be vital to bringing down global CO2 emissions, in line with European and Portuguese climate-change priorities,” adds Galp CEO, Andy Brown. “To be successful in this drive, we must all work together, industry and decision makers, with a sense of urgency, because if we do not claim this role today, others will.”
Transport for London (TfL), the body responsible for most of the transport network in London including buses, the underground and overland trains, has banned all privately-owned e-scooters and e-unicycles from its transport network with immediate effect.
This is the result, says TfL, of safety concerns following recent fires. Customers in possession of such devices will not be permitted to enter any premises on TfL’s network or travel on any of its services, including on the Tube, buses, Overground, TfL Rail, Trams and DLR.
In response to recent incidents, TfL has undertaken further work to review the safety of the vehicles and their suitability for carriage on the TfL transport network.
This review has found that the incidents were caused by defective lithium-ion batteries, which ruptured without warning. This led to fires that caused toxic smoke to be released.
TfL consider that if this were to happen again and fires occurred in an enclosed area like a Tube train or a bus, there could be harm to both customers and staff, as well as secondary injuries from customers trying to escape the area.
Whilst privately owned e-scooters remain illegal to use in public spaces, they are widely available for purchase. Private e-scooters and e-unicycles are currently unregulated, meaning they are not currently required to meet any minimum vehicle standards.
TfL added it will keep these changes under review pending any future changes to legislation by the government regarding e-scooters and e-unicycles, specifically around safety standards.
Additionally, TfL is collecting data from the rental e-scooter trials to help shape future policy on safety standards in London and the rest of the UK. TfL’s trial of rental e-scooters, which began in June 2021 as part of trials permitted nationally by the Department for Transport (DfT), offer the only e-scooters legally allowed on London’s roads.
These rental e-scooters are also not currently allowed on TfL services.
Lilli Matson, TfL’s chief safety, health and environment officer, said, “Our primary concern is always for the safety of our customers and staff. We have been extremely worried by the recent incidents on our public transport services, which involved intense fires and considerable smoke and damage.
“We have worked with London Fire Brigade to determine how we should deal with these devices and, following that review, we have decided to ban them. Customers who try to bring them onto our network will be refused access to our stations and premises, and not be permitted to use any of our services.”
The ban does not apply to mobility scooters or foldable e-bikes. TfL said e-bikes are generally subject to better manufacturing standards and the batteries are usually positioned in a place where they are less likely to be damaged, and so are less of a fire risk.
Non-foldable e-bikes will continue to be allowed on some parts of the network at certain times of the day.