Kinto launches DerbyGo and becomes UK’s largest MaaS scheme

Kinto launches DerbyGo and becomes UK’s largest MaaS scheme

Kinto, Toyota’s mobility brand, has launched a major new app-based service that will help people plan and make integrated journeys, saving time, reducing their environmental impact and helping transport planners design more effective future strategies.

DerbyGo (by Kinto) is the largest and most ambitious Mobility as a Service (MaaS) scheme yet to be introduced in the UK.  Produced in partnership with Derby City Council, University of Derby, Derby College and technology partner FOD Mobility Group, it will give thousands of local people easy and immediate access to journey planning, booking and payment via a single app on their smartphone.

The project has been developed as part of Derby’s Future Transport Zone programme, supported with around £500,000 of Government funding. Toyota – and its Kinto operations – entered into a collaboration arrangement with the council to support its future mobility programme in March this year.

Initially operating as an 18-month trial, DerbyGo (by Kinto) is being rolled out first to students and staff at University of Derby and Derby College. At launch, the app will offer a basic level of capability, serving as a research and development element of Derby’s live lab approach to its Future Transport Zone. As the wider concept evolves, DerbyGo will integrate a growing number of mobility features and capabilities to enhance travel in and around Derby, with users helping test, inform and optimise its potential.

The launch of DerbyGo this week coincides with the arrival of around 10,000 new students on campus, together with thousands more moving to the city for the first time, following a year of remote studies due to the pandemic. They are seen as ideal first adopters for the service, with many likely to be familiar with using apps for travel services, maximising the potential early uptake.

Initially the app will focus on the rail and bus services serving Derby and the university and college sites, providing real-time route information, ticket booking and payment. As a live lab, the trial will be constantly refined for ease-of-use and functionality, with further transport services, such as taxis and other bus operators, being added to enable more efficient, connected journey planning.

This will also be the first MaaS platform to integrate transport accessibility information for people with special mobility needs. The app will provide a direct link to Sociability, a UK startup business which collects, maintains and shares detailed, reliable and accurate accessibility information for local venues. DerbyGo users will be able to research the accessibility features of their destination at the same time as ensuring that their transport mode of choice is equally accessible – all within the DerbyGo app.

Growth in user numbers and the range of services available will help reduce the number of car journeys being made, easing congestion, improving air quality and reduce the city’s carbon emissions.  

Key developments targeted for the app’s evolution include monitoring parking availability and potentially introducing pre-booking priority for cars with more than one person on board, encouraging the uptake of car sharing. The app will also allow digital parking management and the introduction of electronic payment.

The future roadmap will also look at access to car sharing and access to rental cars at specific locations. Micro-mobility services, such as e-bike schemes are also planned for integration within the app, as early as Spring 2022.

Throughout the 18-month pilot, performance will be monitored, allowing changes and improvements to be made promptly and effectively.

Richard Balshaw, Kinto UK Group Vice President, said, “Today is an exciting first step in helping deliver better mobility for all. With the enthusiasm and vision of Derby City Council, University of Derby and Derby College, we are able to launch DerbyGo (by Kinto) and develop a wealth of mobility services to encourage and enable easier and more efficient journeys. Constant monitoring of performance will help plan better transport and parking provisions, bringing associated benefits of better traffic flow and less vehicle pollution.”

Professor Chris Bussell, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering at University of Derby, and Chair of the Derby Climate Change Commission commented, “I am delighted that the university is collaborating with Toyota UK, Kinto and Derby City Council to run this pilot of the DerbyGo app with our students.

“This is an exciting and evolving technological aid to achieve the goals we hold in common with our partners to move towards cleaner, greener mobility around our city, reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality and wellbeing for the local population.

New electrified vehicle concept promises almost unlimited range and indefinite life span

New electrified vehicle concept promises almost unlimited range and indefinite life span

A new British company has launched an electrified adventure vehicle that features a range extender generator that could take its range to beyond 7000km.

The Fering Pioneer is the brainchild of ex Ferrari and McLaren engineer Ben Scott-Geddes, who has repurposed supercar and racing technology to provide environmental responsibility and unrivalled off-grid capabilities for the most extreme environments.

Power to the axles is provided solely by two electric motors – unusual for an off-road vehicle. But they are perfectly suited to the task, providing instant torque, controllability and reliability. They provide a total of 600Nm of torque; more than a comparable diesel 4×4.

A battery provides a zero local emission, electric-only range of around 80km. The Pioneer’s range extender generator is then available to give ability to keep going with range almost unlimited.

The Pioneer’s battery cells are not the same as you’d find in a conventional EV, as the usual Lithium-Ion chemistry is affected significantly by extremes of weather. Instead, Fering have used Lithium Titanate Oxide cells, designed to survive extreme weather conditions.

For longer adventures, the battery is supported by an 800cc 3-cylinder range extender combustion engine powered by biodiesel. By operating consistently at its most efficient level, the engine generates power to run the motors and charge the battery in normal driving. This means the battery can cover peak demands for power – such as hill climbing – using energy reserves which are then replenished while the vehicle is cruising, stationary or braking.

Using advanced materials and techniques has allowed the Pioneer to “rewrite the rules on strength and lightness” too. The dry kerb weight is around 1,500kg – the same as a medium-sized hatchback.

This has been made possible by using an aluminium spaceframe with composite elements, while the exterior panels are made of tough fabric. This material, which is similar to the canvas found in high-end hiking boots, “can shrug off damage, is easily replaced and has better insulation properties than metal skins”.

Despite this, the Pioneer is capable of carrying its own weight as a payload, with a 1,500kg capacity.

The combination of light weight and an efficient powertrain results in exceptional fuel economy. Even with the batteries discharged, the Pioneer is expected to deliver around 50mpg.

The efficiency also means the Pioneer can have an incredible ability to live ‘off-grid’ and survive expeditions to remote areas without having to worry about refuelling. With long-range tanks fitted, the vehicle will be capable of driving for 7,000km without needing a fuel stop or recharging from the grid. If such extreme range isn’t needed for the mission, the tanks can be swapped for water to provide fresh supplies on a mission.

Fering says the vehicle is designed with adaptability in mind and can easily be modified or upgraded to suit the customer’s intended purpose. Bigger batteries, and different range extenders can be used, such as alcohol-fuelled engines in Brazil or a fuel cell in Asia. The combination of a battery and generator also makes the Pioneer ideal for emergency service use, where electrically-operated rescue equipment and lighting can be used in remote locations.

This adaptability means the Pioneer is not expected to have an ‘end of life’ which will require it to be disposed of and recycled. It is easy to repair and upgrade giving it an indefinite life span. Should it ever need to be recycled, there is far less material to recover than a comparable 4×4 vehicle or even a similar sized van.

The first prototype Pioneer is already going through a rigorous testing process and being assessed by early customers and organisations. Series production will start in the UK during the first half of 2022.

Utrecht supports development of bi-directional EV charging ecosystem

Utrecht supports development of bi-directional EV charging ecosystem

The city of Utrecht, the Netherland’s fourth largest city, and EV car sharing and bi-directional charging operator We Drive Solar have done a deal with German EV developer Sono Motors to provide the city with 100 of its Sion solar cars. The initiative supports Utrecht’s goal of becoming the first region in the world with a bidirectional EV charging ecosystem.

Sions, which incorporate range-extending solar panels in the vehicle’s body, are one of the first cars to offer vehicle to grid capabilities. They will access We Drive Solar’s bidirectional chargers and feed energy back to the grid through their 54kWh batteries.

This will allow the energy stored in the car’s battery to reduce grid instabilities by delivering 11kW either directly to other electric vehicles and homes or back into the grid via the bi-directional on-board charger.

Combined, the 100 Sions will be able to provide 1.1 megawatt peak power to the city, which says Sono, is equivalent to the energy generated by a photovoltaic power plant the size of two football fields.

“This is the perfect project for Sono Motors to further our vision of a world free from fossil fuels as it is a clear demonstration that electric vehicles can support the transition of the energy sector as a whole,” stated Jona Christians, CEO and co-founder of Sono Motors.

The cars will plug into We Drive Solar’s bi-directional electric vehicle charging network, which is claimed to be the largest in the world. It currently offers 250 V2G charging stations, and 2,000 solar panels. We Drive Solar recently completed a deal with Hyundai and 150 bi-directional Ioniq 5s will join the Sion’s as part of the Utrecht-based shared, bidirectional electric vehicle fleet.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with an innovative company like Sono Motors. They are the perfect partner for this venture as they already incorporate the use of solar energy, sharing and bidirectional charging into their product offering” said Robin Berg, Director of We Drive Solar in a statement.

Lucid EV smashes 500-mile barrier on single charge

Lucid EV smashes 500-mile barrier on single charge

Lucid’s Air Dream Edition R is the first EV passenger car to exceed 500 miles on a single charge. The record-breaking official US EPA range rating was achieved on a run from Los Angeles up to San Francisco and back down to the company’s HQ in Newark, California — a 445-mile trip — but achieved with remaining charge sufficient to cover a further 72 miles.

Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO, Lucid Group, said, “I’m delighted that our Lucid Air Dream Edition Range has been officially accredited with a range of 520 miles by the EPA, a number I believe to be a new record for any EV.

Crucially, explains Rawlinson, this landmark has been achieved using Lucid’s “standard” in-house EV technology, not by simply installing an oversize battery pack. “Our race-proven 900V battery and BMS technology, our miniaturized drive units, coupled with our Wunderbox technology endow Lucid Air with ultra-high efficiency, enabling it to travel more miles from less battery energy. The next generation EV has truly arrived!

“Improvements in efficiency will enable widespread mass adoption,” adds Rawlinson. “We develop all our technology in-house, and we have a relentless focus on efficiency. Our approach is based on the concept of ‘smart range,’ going incredible distance on a single charge, carrying the smallest possible battery packs.”

Osprey’s planned UK EV hub network uses Finnish charger optimisation technology

Osprey’s planned UK EV hub network uses Finnish charger optimisation technology

UK EV charging network operator Osprey Charging has released plans to install over 150 high-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging hubs across the UK by 2025.

Collectively offering around 1,500 150-175KW rapid chargers, the hubs, essentially EV service stations, will be located on strategic A-roads and adjacent to motorways.

The £75 million rollout, from one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing public rapid EV charging networks, will see the first use in the UK of innovative Finnish charger optimisation technology developed by Kempower. Its load-balancing technology distributes power based on demand, which varies significantly between individual vehicles based upon factors such as the maximum charging rate and the battery charge percentage at the time of charge.

The load-balancing technology also allows multiple high-power chargers to be installed without the need for more grid power.

The technology, says Osprey, has the potential to revolutionise EV charging. Tomi Ristimäki, CEO of Kempower, said, “We are extremely happy to launch Kempower EV charging solutions with Osprey Charging. The UK is one of Europe’s fastest-growing EV markets and we have the technology and expertise to accelerate this shift. The modularity of Kempower products ensures they have a small footprint, allowing our customers to make use of limited space in densely populated cities and choose solutions that drive meaningful electrification.”

Graeme Cooper, Head of Future Markets at National Grid added, “The widespread transition to EVs means we need to rethink how we make, move and use energy. The power demand for charging will be significant, so it’s crucial that we use the cleanest and cheapest power in our cars and to make the most of each grid connection. By optimising power management at charging facilities, we can ensure a smooth transition away from petrol and diesel whilst maintaining a stable and effective electricity grid.”

Ian Johnston, CEO of Osprey Charging, said, “The EV market is booming, with sales up over 117% year-on-year and EV adoption continuing to grow exponentially. In less than nine years’ time, buying a new petrol or diesel car will be impossible, so it’s crucial that public charging infrastructure stays ahead of the curve.

Construction is already underway at four sites and Osprey’s first hub will open later this year in Wolverhampton, adjacent to the A463 near the M6. Construction will be underway on the first 10 hubs before the end of the year, with over 150 hubs planned over the next four years.

Chargers, says Osprey, will be capable of adding 100 miles of range in 10 minutes and each hub will be located near food and retail amenities including Costa Coffee, Lidl, Aldi, Pizza Hut, KFC and Curry’s PC World.

All Osprey chargers are compatible with every rapid charging EV on the market today and do not require a membership or subscription to initiate charging – drivers can simply tap their contactless bank card or smartphone.

Volvo and Ericsson trial simulates 5G continuity across national borders

Volvo and Ericsson trial simulates 5G continuity across national borders

Volvo Cars and mobile operator Ericsson claim to have overcome the technical challenges of achieving seamless service continuity for vehicles on 5G networks across national borders.

As part of the EU-funded 5GCroCo project, the test at the AstaZero test track in Sweden, was set up to model and test cross-border handovers between national networks that will need to happen routinely when connected and autonomous vehicles cross from one country to another.

The 5GCroCro project is an EU initiative preparing for large-scale connected car trials along a 5G corridor between Metz in France, Merzig in Germany and Luxembourg.

The trial used 5G connectivity to ensure maps were constantly updated with the latest real-time information to aid future autonomous driving and build up an understanding of the environment beyond the range of the vehicle and its sensors.

Mikael Prytz, Research Director, Ericsson Area Networks, says, “Sharing an updated map with other cars is a latency-sensitive task and requires high network performance within and across multiple networks. During the test at the AstaZero track, we could tackle this challenge with promising results.”

Walmart, Ford, Argo AI to launch multi-city autonomous delivery service

Walmart, Ford, Argo AI to launch multi-city autonomous delivery service

Ford Motor Company, Argo AI and Walmart are working together to launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Miami, Austin and Washington DC. The delivery service will use Ford self-driving test vehicles equipped with the Argo AI’s self-driving system to deliver Walmart orders to customers. Initial integration testing is expected to begin later this year.

Argo’s cloud-based infrastructure will integrate with Walmart’s online ordering platform to route orders and schedule package deliveries to customers’ homes.

Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO, Argo AI, says, “Our focus on the testing and development of self-driving technology that operates in urban areas where customer demand is high really comes to life with this collaboration. Working together with Walmart and Ford across three markets, we’re showing the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale.”

Scott Griffith, CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles & Mobility Businesses, adds, “Pairing Walmart’s retail and e-commerce leadership with Argo and Ford’s self-driving operations across these multiple cities marks a significant step toward scaling a commercial goods delivery service.”

“We’re excited to expand our autonomous delivery efforts in three new markets alongside Argo and Ford,” comments Tom Ward, Walmart’ssenior vice president of last mile delivery. “This collaboration will further our mission to get products to the homes of our customers with unparalleled speed and ease, and in turn, will continue to pave the way for autonomous delivery.”

Walmart had previously partnered with General Motor’s Cruise on a self-driving delivery pilot and with self-driving vehicle startups Gatik and Nuro to explore delivery through autonomous vehicles.

DPD-led team achieves 1,100km run on single charge

DPD-led team achieves 1,100km run on single charge

A European team has set a new World Record for the longest distance covered by an electric truck without a recharging stop. The project team covered 1,099 kilometers in 23 hours.

Parcel delivery service provider DPD Switzerland, the e-truck brand Futuricum and tyre manufacturer Continental recently secured the Guinness World Record title at the Contidrom high-speed oval track near Hanover in Germany.

The partners used an e-truck that DPD Switzerland has been using daily over the last six months, to prove that “sustainable, energy-efficient and cost-efficient electric mobility in the transportation industry is not a mobility concept of tomorrow, but is already a reality on European roads today.”

The team prepared the Futuricum truck, a converted Volvo FH, with a high-capacity battery and efficient tyres.

Futuricum said, “The 19-ton truck now has over 680 hp and, with a capacity of 680 kilowatt hours, the largest truck battery in Europe on board,” explains Adrian Melliger, CEO of Designwerk Products AG, the company behind the Futuricum brand.

The truck was also fitted with the Continental EfficientPro tyres designed for particularly low rolling resistance.

“The upturn in electric mobility has put an even greater focus on the importance of rolling resistance optimised tyres,” says Hinnerk Kaiser, Head of Product Development Truck Tires EMEA of Continental. “Our tyres enable high mileage and extremely low rolling resistance and thus offers the essential characteristics for the economical operation of electrically powered commercial vehicles.

The world-record setting run took place at Contidrom, Continental’s in-house test centre. It is a 2.8-kilometer-long, oval test track. In total, two drivers completed 392 laps in shifts of 4.5 hours each at an average speed of 50 km/h.

The record run of 1099km on a single charge was achieved in just under 23 hours, even though the weather conditions were not ideal. The outside temperature was just 14 degrees C with winds averaging 18 km/h and gusting at up to 40 km/h.

Marc Frank, Strategy & Innovation Director at DPD Switzerland said “We decided to invest in electric mobility at an early stage. The Futuricum truck has been travelling between the depot in Möhlin near Basel to the distribution centre near Zurich for about six months now. It’s been travelling about 300 Km every day without any problems, but we are proud that we have now been able to officially document our performance level.”

Luna and Tier partner on e-scooter-based mobile sensor networks

Luna and Tier partner on e-scooter-based mobile sensor networks

Irish micromobility tech platform Luna is to partner with European e-scooter operator Tier to explore the use of computer vision to capture accurate and up to date mapping and geospatial data.

Luna’s vision and AI technology will identify, for instance, if an e-scooter is operating in a heavily pedestrianised area and modify its drive settings to react appropriately to its environment. It also equips e-scooters to detect the kind of lane or surface they are riding on, again modifying the vehicle’s response.

But beyond this, Luna is developing a series of algorithms and analytics tools that will allow scooter operators and cities to gain new insights into how the urban realm is performing.

In an early application Tier and Luna are exploring the possibility of trialling the approach in Paris, where Tier operates a fleet of 5,000 scooters.

The two companies are also looking at opportunities in the Middle East with “smart city stakeholders” to examine the potential for bespoke computer vision solutions to tackle local issues around safety and infrastructure optimisation. Additional pilot projects are also being explored in Spain

The principle is scooters capture data on a daily basis, compared to traditional condition surveys that might typically take place on an annual basis.

Tier and Luna are also embarking on a technical integration project to examine how the Luna’s computer vision hardware can be built into Tier vehicles at the point of manufacture.

Luna chief executive Andrew Fleury said, “Luna is thrilled to be partnering so closely with Tier across multiple geographies in the EU and Middle East.

“Cities and stakeholders everywhere are looking towards smart technology to help find solutions to some of the operational challenges that are holding the shared scooter industry back from fulfilling its potential.

“Tier is embracing Luna technology, even at this early stage of its evolution, in order to pioneer the future of micromobility, and deliver safe and sustainable services.”

Fleury added the technology would not only “do the basics of looking after rider and pedestrian safety,” but also “look to the future where scooter fleets act as mobile sensor networks in the smart cities of tomorrow.”

British Government to mandate EV charge points on all new-build properties

British Government to mandate EV charge points on all new-build properties

The British government has outlined details of new legislation that will require the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging points on all new-build properties in England.

The draft bill, revealed by the Transport Minister Rachel Maclean, covers both residential properties and offices, which will be expected to provide a charging point for every five parking bays.

Starting in 2022, the new law is expected to accelerate installations from the current rate of 500 charging points per month up to 700.

The plan, billed as the first of its kind in the world, will also require all charge points to be capable of smart charging.

Last year the Government said it would inject £1.3 billion into scaling-up the rollout of charge points for EVs in homes, streets and motorways across the UK.

The Transport Minister said, “We will publish our consultation response on requiring all new residential and non-residential buildings to have a charge point and we intend to lay legislation later this year.

“We also confirmed our intention to mandate that home and workplace electric vehicle chargers must be capable of smart charging.”

About a third of households in Britain have no off-street parking, meaning charging points installed at workplaces or on the street will be increasingly important.

The UK’s EV charging point network will have to expand by up to 20 times current levels to cope with increased demand to support the ban on sales of internal combustion engine cars from 2030.

Government grants have been issued to private households of up to £350 to install a further 200,000 charging devices across the country.

Randolph Brazier, Director of Innovation and Electricity Systems at Energy Networks Association which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses, said, “To deliver the underlying infrastructure to support the move to net zero transportation, electricity networks must be able to make early investments in infrastructure as well as use new and innovative smart grid technologies.”

E-hydrofoil offers speed of a powerboat with the tranquillity of sailing

E-hydrofoil offers speed of a powerboat with the tranquillity of sailing

Dutch zero-emission powerboat company Edorado has announced the launch of the Edorado 8S.

Similar in concept to Swedish boatbuilder’s Candela C-8, the Edorado features retractable hydrofoils and an electric drive-train. As the 8S accelerates the hull lifts out of the water offering “power and speed to thrill-seekers, but with none of the oil, emissions, wake or noise.”

Godert Van Hardenbroek, co-founder and product architect, said, “Once you reach take-off speed, you can really feel the acceleration as the resistance disappears and you feel a strong sensation of release, of being propelled forward. And then, unlike traditional powerboats – constantly smashing into waves – the Edorado flies right over the surface, like a sports aircraft. It glides silently over the water, which is a new and totally unique feeling, like combining the speed of a powerboat with the tranquillity of sailing.”

The boat’s hydrofoil system is equipped with a proprietary Automatic Control System, whose smart computer makes constant adjustments to its two foils for safety and stability. Meanwhile the two propellers of the ‘twin drive’ system provide great handling.

Giel Groothuis, co-founder and CEO added, “What is considered innovation in the boating industry just does not cut it any more in the current reality of the climate crisis. What is needed is a rapid transition to zero emissions, also for the leisure industry. After owning petrol-fuelled boats I realised that a complete overhaul of this product category is long overdue. The traditional boating industry is just waiting to be disrupted by a clean tech approach. Our goal with the Edorado 8S is to chart a course for clean powerboating.”

Baidu pilots Apollo Go robotaxi service in Shanghai

Baidu pilots Apollo Go robotaxi service in Shanghai

Chinese search engine and tech giant Baidu has begun testing its Apollo Go robotaxi offer in Shanghai.

While Baidu says its robotaxis have Level 4 capabilities a human safety operator will be present during all rides to comply with local regulations. Level 4 means the cars are technically fully autonomous, but within geographically defined areas.

The Shanghai fleet will be made up of Baidu’s electric Hongqi EVs and the aim is to run a fleet of 200 vehicles in the city.

Riders in Shanghai can use the Apollo Go app to call a robotaxi from 9:30am to 11pm and be picked up or dropped off at one of 150 stations across the Jianding District, which is home to Shanghai University, the Shanghai International Circuit and many tourist attractions.

Shanghai is also the location of Baidu’s Apollo Park, an autonomous vehicle facility for operation, testing and R&D. The park will be the base for the 200 AVs Baidu hopes to bring to the city, which would make it the site of the largest self-driving fleet in East China.

Shanghai is the fifth city to offer Apollo Go robotaxi services and Baidu says it plans to expand to 25 more cities in the next three years, bringing the potential of autonomous driving to three million people in China.

In a press release, Wei Dong, vice president and chief safety operation officer of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group, says, “achieving this large-scale implementation requires three steps: regionalization, commercialization and verification via unmanned on-road operation. Baidu has already made headway in autonomous ride-hailing, achieving a 60% drop in cost per mile with the 5th generation robotaxi vehicle release in June. With the launch in Shanghai, Baidu Apollo is continuing to deliver on China’s vision of developing a world-leading autonomous driving market.”

Open collaboration develops novel urban cargo e-scooter

Open collaboration develops novel urban cargo e-scooter

Volvo-owned Polestar has developed a fully-functioning prototype of its Re:Move electric cargo scooter concept revealed back in March.

Made from recyclable aluminum, the Re:Move’s chassis is fitted with an electric tilting mechanism to lean into corners and allow for a tight turning circle. A damped rear swing arm should make the ride smoother for both the riders and items onboard.

The stretched e-scooter is powered by a 2.2kWh battery pack and a compact electric motor, which offers a top speed-limited velocity of 25km/h. Disc brakes ensure adequate stopping power. With a slim profile the Re:Move is designed for use on most bike lanes

The prototype is the result of a collaboration between Polestar, e-bike-maker Cake, aluminum manufacturer Hydro, Wallpaper magazine, and industrial designer Konstantin Grcic.

“The passion and expertise our partners have brought to this project shows the power of great design,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar CEO. “Electrifying vehicles is the start point, not the end game. Our engineers have proven that this kind of open collaboration will accelerate innovation and the shift to truly sustainable mobility.”

Dutch initiate inland waterway giant swappable electric battery pack network

Dutch initiate inland waterway giant swappable electric battery pack network

Dutch low carbon technology company Zero Emission Services (ZES) has modified the shipping vessel Alphenaar to run on exchangeable battery packs loaded within standard shipping containers. The Alphenaar’s conversion supports a 10-year deal with Heineken to ship its beer with zero emissions around the Netherlands using the country’s inland waterways.

According to ZES, the idea is simple, fill a standard container with batteries and sail under electric power to the next terminal where full batteries are ready to be exchanged. The depleted batteries are then recharged at the terminal and ready for the next swop.

Jorrit Harmsen, sustainable shipping consultant at Dutch technology research organisation TNO, is enthusiastic about the initiative, “This is certainly the first container ship that sails completely electrically. Inland waterway vessels require a large capacity with many batteries. What has been devised now, is a great solution.” It is also particularly suited, he says, to ships that sail fixed routes, meaning exchanging and recharging the battery containers take place at the same fixed places.

“In addition to directly contributing to the realisation of emission-free inland shipping, ZES is setting a standard that accelerates the transition to emission-free inland shipping,” says Willem Dedden, CEO of ZES. “We are laying the foundation with our ZESpack and a standard connector.”

In the near term ZES plans to expand its operations to include eight vessels, with 14 ZESpacks and eight loading stations, which can charge two packs in 2.5 hours (which potentially provide back-up storage capacity to stabilise the electricity grid). ZES says the technology is future-proofed in that it could work with other sources of energy, such as hydrogen or ammonia.

Longer term, the company aims to service 30 shipping routes by 2030, and by 2050 plans to have a fleet of 400 vessels in action, swapping up to 650 ZESpacks at 20 docking stations dotted around the country.

Dutch students head to southern Spain in their self-powered solar camper

Dutch students head to southern Spain in their self-powered solar camper

Dutch students from the Solar Team at the TU Eindhoven are about to undertake a 3,000km road trip across Europe in their self-powered Stella Vita camper.

Described as a solar house on wheels, the Stella Vita has an 8.8 m2 solar array on its roof that harvests energy for the 60-kWh lithium ion battery bank while driving. Slide-out panels double the total solar canopy when parked at camp.

All of the Stella Vita’s power needs, including the electric drive system but also kitchen, bathroom and lighting requirements, are expected to be met by the solar system alone, so there shouldn’t be a need to rely on charging infrastructure along the travel route.

In bright sunlight, Solar Team Eindhoven says that the vehicle could travel up to 730 km in a day, and that the range on a fully charged battery could allow as much as 600 km of motoring by night.

To prove the Stella Vita’s capabilities, team members are due to embark on a European Solar Tour. Setting off from Eindhoven in the Netherlands on 19 September, the team plans to head south through Zolder toward Brussels, and then onto Paris, Le Mans, Île de Ré, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Zaragoza, Madrid, Toledo, and Córdoba, with the 3,000-km journey coming to an end in the southern-most city in Spain, Tarifa, on 15 October.

Zap-Pay signs up five more UK charge point operators

Zap-Pay signs up five more UK charge point operators

UK EV mapping service Zap-Map has signed up five more charge point operators to join its Zap-Pay payment system.

GeniePoint,, Motor Fuel Group (MFG), Revive and Mer have all recently signed up to join existing Zap-Pay networks ESB Energy and also Osprey, which was the Zap-Pay launch partner in September 2020.

The enlarged network means Zap-Map’s 150,000 monthly active users will benefit from being able to search, plan and pay from within a single app at an increasing number of charge points across the UK, with more networks to be added soon.

Zap-Pay was launched last year with a mission to include all the key charge point networks across the UK. As a single-app payment system that uses a credit or debit card to pay for charging, Zap-Pay avoids the hassle of using different payment methods across all the various networks.

Once all seven networks are live – expected to be by October this year – over 2,000 charging devices across the UK and over 4,000 connectors will be Zap-Pay enabled. It also means that the Zap-Pay partner network is not only nationwide, but now includes all types of EV charging, from the very latest ultra-rapid chargers through to on-street and lamp-post charging closer to home.

In addition, reports Zap-Map, use of Zap-Pay has been increasing significantly in recent months, which will accelerate further as more networks come online with Zap-Pay and drivers increasingly see it as the simple way to charge across networks, within the familiar Zap-Map app.

Alex Earl, Commercial Director at Zap-Map, commented, “As electric vehicles become mainstream, we need to make paying for charging as simple as possible, and that’s exactly what Zap-Pay does.

“I’m thrilled to see that Zap-Pay now covers such a broad network of different chargers across the country. The increase in usage also gives a clear indication that Zap-Pay is the solution Zap-Map users needed.”

Zap-Map, which was launched in June 2014, displays over 95% of the UK’s public charge points, of which around 70% show live status data updated every five minutes. Over 75% of the UK EV drivers have downloaded Zap-Map, which has grown 60% since 2020, in line with the electric vehicle market.

Sono bi-directional AC wallbox turns Sions into decentralised mega-storage

Sono bi-directional AC wallbox turns Sions into decentralised mega-storage

German solar-powered electric car start-up Sono Motors has launched what it claims to be the first bidirectional AC charging wallbox. The wallbox enables Sono’s planned Sion model, which incorporates range extending solar panels, to be used as a mobile power plant and feed stored electricity directly into the driver’s house or into the grid.

Sono says homeowners with photovoltaic systems, especially, will save a large amount of money as they are able to use more of any self-generated electricity without having to buy an expensive home storage system.

The Sono wallbox will charge and discharge the Sion with up to 11 kW via the integrated Type 2 charging cable, saving, claims Sono, up to 70% of costs incurred by DC bidirectional wallboxes available to date. Delivery is expected to take place with the Sion start of production in 2023.

“We want to drive the future of energy generation and make bidirectional charging possible for everyone”, says Laurin Hahn, CEO and founder of Sono Motors. “In combination with the Sion’s integrated solar technology, the new wallbox represents a breakthrough for bidirectional charging technology, as many homeowners can save themselves the expense of purchasing a new, costly home storage system. This is an important milestone for us on the way to 100% renewable energy,” says Hahn.

In contrast to the DC wallboxes previously available, Sono Motors has opted for an AC wallbox which is up to 70% cheaper. This is possible, Sono says, because the conversion from direct to alternating current takes place within the Sion itself and not the wallbox – significantly reducing costs. The Sono wallbox was developed in collaboration with the German manufacturer Kostal.

The wallbox will fully charge the Sion’s 54 kWh LFP battery, providing a range of up to 305km from a 5-hour charge. And if caught short during a long journey, the Sion can be charged at DC charging stations at a speed of up to 75 kW via the integrated CCS interface, achieving an 80% charge in around 35 minutes.

Furthermore the Sion functions as a vehicle-to-home electricity storage unit. Electricity from, for instance, a home’s photovoltaic system or even the solar panels integrated into the Sion itself, can be stored in the Sion’s battery during the day and delivered to the house at night.

The vehicle also offers a vehicle to grid capability meaning excess energy, such as surplus generation from wind turbines, could be temporarily stored in the vehicle’s battery, meaning Sions could collectively become a decentralised mega-storage system.

Arriva launches multimodal journey planning app in partnership with Moovit

Arriva launches multimodal journey planning app in partnership with Moovit

Transport operator Arriva Group has launched a travel platform designed to connect passengers to multiple modes and operators of public transport, shared transport and micro-mobility in the Netherlands.

Developed in partnership with journey planning technology provider Moovit, the “glimble” branded app is Arriva’s first MaaS (Mobility as a Service) solution in Europe.

The development of “glimble by arriva” came after Arriva Netherlands was awarded two pilot projects by the local authorities in the Netherlands to trial MaaS solutions. Seven pilot projects in total were awarded. Arriva was the only public transport company to be awarded pilots because of its strong reputation serving the Dutch market.

During the pandemic a number of European cities invested in new infrastructure to encourage cycling or walking, and some have introduced e-scooter trials. These initiatives have provided greater modal flexibility for people to move across cities. The glimble solution brings all these options together and allows Arriva to look beyond its own operations and provide integrated, multimodal journeys.

Anne Hettinga, Arriva Group Board Member and Managing Director of the Netherlands, said, “With this platform, we are set to become a leading mobility provider. In a world where everyone is constantly on the move and connection and accessibility is essential, we need to be adaptable and nimble. Our glimble brand has started its Arriva journey in the Netherlands, but we know it has pan-European appeal – and potential – and we are starting to explore this in countries where the necessary data sharing agreements exist.”

Working with Moovit means Arriva can launch with confidence in partnership with a technology provider with proven success. The functionality also incorporates accessibility features, such as screen reading features for low vision users, talkback and voiceover capabilities. The app also identifies wheelchair-accessible routes and stations, while also calculating step-free journeys. For those with hand-motor disabilities, glimble is designed with optimised menus and buttons.

Other functionality due to be added to the app includes parking locations and a search capability for electric car charging points.

Several mobility providers can be found in the app for a number of different modes including shared car hire, demand responsive transport, e-scooters, taxis, tram, rail, ferry, bus and e-bikes and bicycles. Arriva expects to add more and more carriers to glimble in the coming months and already has plans to expand to include Belgium and parts of Germany, an initiative in part designed to test glimble’s application for journeys involving cross-border travel.

Crowd-sourced dash cam data provides real-time status on road works

Crowd-sourced dash cam data provides real-time status on road works

Smart dash cam developer Nexar has launched a service for US transit agencies, cities and transport authorities that uses crowd sourcing to detect, monitor and map road works.

Based on the company’s AI-enabled CityStream platform, the company already collects data every month from 130 million miles and has a dataset of 3.2 trillion images. It is now extending its capabilities to the transportation industry because, says Nexar, work zones are generally unreported to mapping services.

The platform detects barriers in work zones using artificial intelligence and imagery from its dash cam network, remotely monitors the state of work zones in real-time helping to protect the safety of pedestrians, workers and drivers, the company adds.

Nexar co-founder Eran Shir says, “As a result of Covid-19, traffic patterns have become even more dynamic, which means valuable time is wasted optimising safety and moderating traffic congestion in work zones.”

“Nexar enables cities to go check work zone setups on-demand instead of being supported by old data or out-of-date plans, thus ensuring that cities and Departments of Transportation are addressing today’s transportation patterns. Using Nexar’s data to address this issue means benefiting workers on the road, governmental decision makers and the community itself.”

Nexar is offering a try before you buy package under which its new service is available for three months at no cost to government offices.

Wallbox launches 15-minute public charger aimed at drivers on long journeys

Wallbox launches 15-minute public charger aimed at drivers on long journeys

Barcelona-based Wallbox, a leading provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions worldwide, has launched Hypernova, the company’s fastest public charging station to date.

Wallbox says as electric vehicles become increasingly popular, there is a need for reliable public chargers that are ultrafast, long-lasting and easy to repair.

The Hypernova can deliver up to 350 kW that allows it to fully charge an electric car in the time it takes to make a typical short rest stop and is substantially faster than most other ultrafast chargers on the market.

“We are thrilled to unveil our fastest public charger to date, which can fully charge an electric vehicle in under 15 minutes,” said Enric Asunción, CEO and co-founder of Wallbox. “Hypernova will be a game changer in building fast public charging infrastructure, especially on highways where drivers need to recharge and keep going,” Asunción added.

Hypernova employs advanced software that allows it to optimise available power and adapt to the number of EVs connected, making it ideal for public charging along highways and transcontinental road networks.

Hypernova’s integrated cable management system ensures easy handling and stores the cables inside the dispenser unit, maximising durability and helping to protect and keep the installation clean. It also offers several authentication and payment options, including RFID, screen QR Code and credit card reader with worldwide acceptance. Production and deliveries of Hypernova will start in late 2022.