Mercedes is known for fast and luxurious cars. Their newest marketing strategy shows their concept progress crawling along, but still moving forward.
After the Project One concept hybrid hyper-car was introduced last year at the IAA, expectations stood high. Now Mercedes has shown off their vehicle in action in a new video, where it drives in purely electric mode – at walking speed. To make matters worse, as soon as it hit the slightest incline, the combustion motor had to be turned on. If Mercedes wants to convince it’s fans not to hold their breath, this seems like a good marketing strategy.
The Polish city of Gdynia has signed an agreement with Solaris for the delivery of 30 trolleybuses, valued at 28 million dollars. The order includes 14 Trollino 12 buses with 58 kWh batteries and 16 articulated Trollino 18 buses with 87 kWh batteries.
Gdynia had previously begun electrifying their public transportation network, which it received recognition for in 2014, with an award from the European Commission, next to cities Lublin and Tychy.
The buses included in the new order will be able to drive “a few dozen kilometers” on purely electrical energy, which will allow for the passage through city sections where there are no overhead trolley wires. The order also includes new lithium-ion batteries, which will replaces the old nickel-cadmium batteries in the 21 older electrified buses.
The modernization will take place this spring, while the new buses are expected to be delivered between September this year and next spring.
The Canadian manufacturer Campagna Motors is working on an electric version of their sports trike T-Rex. The propulsion technology comes from the electric motorcycle manufacturer Zero Motorcycles. Technical details have not been released.
The first prototype of the newly electrified T-Rex will be presented at the end of April at the Montreal Electric Vehicle Show. A further developed version of the concept will follow next summer. The T-Rex is an unorthodox design of a sports-car, that was originally unveiled in 1994 in Quebec.
The US American fuel cell producer Plug Power introduced their new GenDrive 2440-36R for electric forklifts. The new fuel cell system calls for larger hydrogen tanks, which now increase the forklift run-time by 56%.
This will enable use in three-shift-systems to only charge twice, instead of the currently widespread triple charge break. The new system will also allow for a significantly faster fueling time than 3 minutes. The first deliveries are scheduled for the third quarter of 2018.
Last November, Plug Power received an order from Toyota Material Handling Norway to provide BZ systems to the Norwegian food wholesaler Asko. The semi truck fleet with 95 electric Asko vehicles could later be retrofitted with the new fuel cell systems being developed by Plug Power. The hydrogen is sourced locally using electroanalysis technology from NEL ASA.
Toyota recently completed its own new hydrogen fueling stations in Motomachi, where 20 electric forklifts have taken up operation. In Canada, Ballard Power Systems has been busy developing air-cooled fuel cell stacks of the next generation to use with forklifts, among other things.
A new project, headed by battery experts Oxis Energy, is developing Lithium-Sulfur battery for the use in electric utility vehicles. The project, called LiSFAB, will mainly benefit trucks and bus technology.
LiSFAB stands for Lithium Sulfur Future Automotive Battery, as the project is focusing on the research behind and development of the batteries. The 7 million pound project is funded by the UK government, and the aspired outcome of the project will hopefully be Lithium-sulfur cells with an energy density of 400 Wh/kg and a practical lifespan.
The milestones of the project encompass four major aspects of the battery development: The cell performance, cell characteristics, manufacturing capabilities and the module development. To achieve these goals, Oxis is working together with partners including the University College London, William Blythe, Ceetak, BPE, Cranfield University, and Williams Advanced Engineering.
Oxis Energy themselves have specialized towards designing and developing the Li-S battery technology and holds 36 patents in the corresponding field. Chris Flowers, the LiSFAB project manager at Oxis said the following: “this project is of major importance to the UK’s development of next generation cells and modules for large electric vehicles. The Li-S technology that we are developing in this project will also be applicable to Oxis.” Plans to adapt the battery developments, if successful, will also include areas such as aerospace and energy storage.
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PSA has started a separate business unit, founded on the 01. of April. The French company announced that it will be focusing on the global e-mobility strategy, as well as the introduction of relevant products and services.
The new section will be headed by Alexandre Guignard. PSA has planned to introduce hybrid and electric versions of their 40 vehicle line-up by 2025. The first step will be the electric version of the Peugeot 208 and DS3 Crossback, as well as a PHEV version of their DS7 Crossback for 2019.
“The energy transition is an opportunity that our company has seized by launching an unprecedented technological offensive made possible by our multi-energy platforms. The challenge for this Business Unit, which benefits from an experience built up over several years within the Group, will be to provide the best vehicles at the best time to satisfy our customers and thereby ensure the best economic conditions for launching Groupe PSA’s electric vehicles into the market.”, said Linda Jackson, Citröen CEO, to whom the business unit will directly report.
The electric startup Byton has hired two new managers, and opened a new factory in the USA. After the completion of the company HQ in Santa Clara, the EV brand owned by Future Mobility set up a new location in Los Angeles called the “LA Future Lab”.
The personnel support will come from Chad Harrison, who previously worked with Honda and will be taking over product management at Byton, and David Twohig, who helped develop the Alpine A110 at Renault Sport, and will be taking over as chief engineer. Several known managers who worked with the BMW-i have already been hired, as well as several experts from Google, Toyota and Tesla.
The opening of the LA Future Lab also further establishes Byton’s position in the US market, and will be used to work on the development of new transport and ride-sharing concepts. Their main HQ was completed in December in Santa Clara, meaning the company spent little time deliberating their next move forward. The new location also has already hired 300 staff members to work on their next major milestone: the release of Byton’s Smart Intuitive Vehicle, which is planned to be market ready by the end of next year and will be presented at the coming Beijing Auto Show as a concept.
Byton is owned by Future Mobility, which is supported by Foxconn and Tencent, and headed by former BMW-i Manager Carsten Breitfeld. In Las Vegas, the company presented its debut vehicle, an electric SUV, earlier this year. The e-SUV will be available in China as of 2019 and the US and Europe as of 2020.
Recently, Byton also named their first suppliers; Bosch and Faurecia. Bosch will likely be responsible for the delivery of propulsion and braking systems, while Faurecia will be optimizing interior space.
Aiways is another new EV startup from China, ready to set up shop. The company also has a branch in Germany, however, initiated by Roland Gumpert, the head of product and CEO for the German branch of the company.
The company is planning a varied lineup for electric vehicles of different body sizes and styles, and has already begun manufacturing in the Chinese Shangrao factory, where an ambitious annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles, which is set to be doubled before long. The first project will be presented at the Beijing Auto Show, and will be called the Aiways RG. The RG is a sportscar that reportedly has a 1,200 km range and a top speed of 300 km/h.
RG in the vehicles name stands for Roland Gumpert. The engineer started a company in 2004 called GMG Sportwagenmanufaktur Altenburg, which went under in 2013. 2016 it was bought up by a consortium based in Hong Kong, and took a new life under the name Apollo Automobil. Gumpert left the company in the same year, and has since found a new sponsor and home with Aiways.
The production of the Aiways RG will begin in Germany, before being moved to China. Further details are to follow at the end of the month from Beijing.
The German firm Kreisel Electric has developed the first fully functional firetruck with an electric motor, in conjunction with Rosenbauer and Linz AG. The initiative began two years ago under the orders of the firefighting supplier Linz AG.
The basis for the electric firetruck, named KLF-L, was a Merces Sprinter. This is not the first time Kreisel Electric used the transport vehicle as a basis for the electrification of utility vehicles for transport and bus companies.
Within two months the vehicle was rebuilt at the Kreisel factory in Rainbach. A electric motor with a 120 kW performance was installed to provide the necessary power. A modular construction mode made space for four Kreisel batteries, with a total capacity of 86 kWh. The weight was set to be around 620 kg by the manufacturer. The batteries can be charged via a type 2 or CCS charger. DC fast charging enables a 90% charge to be made with a 50 kW charge in about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
The range of the vehicle is set around 160 km, while the weight of the vehicle, batteries, crew and other loads, as well as the driving style were already calculated in to the number.
“Utility vehicles such as fire trucks are an ideal area of application for electric drives: in many cases, they only have to cover short distances and charging can be done between uses. I am particularly thinking of stations in the districts of large inner cities, in town centers and small communities in the countryside or at airports.” said Kreisel CEO, Markus Kreisel. Vice mayor Detlef Wimmer added that he had personally used EVs for about 10 years, and so was happy to add electrification to the cities fleet.
The new vehicle will replace the current vehicle station in the FHKW-Mitte fire station, and will be used for medical emergencies, fires, diving and rescue operations, emergency services due to flooding or storms, as well as used for the ecological protection, such as the binding and isolation of oil or dangerous chemicals.
The total ecological savings were put at 4.8 tons of CO2, at a driving estimate of 12,000 km per year. Before the vehicle will take up operation, there will be additional driver training.
The Czech automobile manufacturer has delivered a first impression of their new EV, in a stylish retro-design. Thanks to an aluminum chassis and a relatively light 21.9 kWh battery, the vehicle weighs only 815 kg and has a range of 300 km.
The Luka EV is a BEV with a memorable design choice – “retro on the outside, with a futuristic interior”. The chassis is reminiscent of the classic cars from the middle of the 20th century, but has a purely electric propulsion system.
Speaking of technical details, the car is propelled by four wheel-hub motors with 12.5 kW performance each, which make for a system performance of 50 kW in combination. While this does not speak for strong performance, which also explains the 0-100 km/h time of 9.6 seconds, it does speak for efficiency. According to the manufacturers, the vehicle only needs 6.8 kWh per 100 km, and the vehicle has a top speed of 146 km/h.
The company, based in the Czech city of Štěnovice, has reiterated that the Luka EV is not simply a concept car, however currently the company is awaiting the results of crash tests, meaning it may be some time before they are ready for serial production.
Germany’s largest mail service, the Deutsche Post, has signaled their entry into the newest age of mobility by setting up a corporate incubator. The incubator will focus on mobility solutions, digital platforms and automatization. The move is also designed to help market the StreetScooter.
The new developments will strengthen and speed up the e-mobility sector under the company, which began with e-bikes and e-trikes, before the development of the StreetScooter electric van.
During negotiations, the StreetScooter played a rather large role in making the decision to establish the portfolio expansion. In charge of the new incubator is Jürgen Gerdes, who had previously been responsible for the StreetScooter development. In his new position, he will be “tasked with using his proven experience in advancing agile developments and successful market rollout of new customer oriented services and solutions,” as stated by the Deutsche Post.
Gerdes initially pushed the development of the StreetScooter “when e-mobility was not yet a common theme, including, a whole range of customer-oriented innovations such as in the area of e-commerce, which reflect his drive.” The company has issued statements heralding a new age in mobility and innovation. By 2050, the company plans to become completely emission-free and the company is already using renewable energy sources to power their StreetScooters.
Recently, Innogy was named as a partner for charging infrastructure construction at DHL logistics centers. Thus far, charging stations had been chiefly supplied by EBG compleo, among others. According to reports, Deutsche Post DHL will be moving forward with a trio of suppliers; EBG, Innogy and aixACCT.
Porsche, in trying to gain some extra traction for its Mission E, has announced a new addition to the family. This time the Germans added a bit of a blast from the past by adding an agricultural vehicle to their line-up.
Press info praised the tractor as a “bold vision for 21st Century agriculture” that takes “design cues from Porsche’s original mid 1950s tractors” just to blend them “with the same 800v fast-charging architecture that powers the Mission E.” Just mind the PI’s date of issue.
As the Trump administration intensifies its trade war against China, Beijing plans to hit back with equal measures as it publishes a list of good threatened with higher tariffs. EVs are on that list and this could hit Tesla particularly hard and other U.S. importers too.
Already the Californian EV maker must import every electric car to sell in China, evoking a 25 percent import tax. Different from other American carmakers such as Ford or GM for example, Tesla does not have a production facility in China.
Still back in June it looked as if Tesla had cut a deal with the local government in Shanghai that would allow the Californians to set up shop in China without the otherwise required local joint venture partner (we reported). However, the deal has come to a halt with the authorities in Beijing insisting on the rules reportedly.
But the latest list could even affect German carmakers such as BMW or Daimler, according to Bloomberg, as Beijing also threatens to include SUVs in the steep taxation. Both companies produce SUVs in the States to ship them to China. However, BMW and Daimler have already established JVs in the PRC which will increasingly build electric cars. Apart from its JV with Brilliance, BMW is also planning to make electric Minis in China together with Great Wall for example.
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The Dubai cab fleet consisting of 50 Tesla Model X has billed more than 64,000 trips since its inception last September. The transport authority now wants to more than double the fleet due to high demand and clients’ satisfaction.
The Dubai Taxi Corporation had initially ordered 50 Model X from Tesla to join their fleet in the desert state reportedly. Said Teslas have now made 64,186 trips, travelling 2.1 million kilometres with zero emissions, according to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
Due to this success, the authority now wants to increase the fleet to include a total of 125 Model X. They will charge at 13 available charging stations in Dubai. Overall, the RTA plans to have half of all taxis to be fitted with hybrid drivetrains by 2021. That would be the equivalent of 2,280 hybrid taxis. Or maybe go fully electric?!
Arabian Business quotes Adel Ahmed Sharif, director of fleet operations at Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC): “Making more than 64,000 trips by Tesla vehicles is indicative of the high level of customers satisfaction, which has hit 97 percent. We have a total of 50 Tesla electric vehicles on the roads, and the demand is still on the rise for such luxury vehicles.”
Clearly in Dubai, electric vehicles are being placed as a premium and luxurious form of transport, much as when Tesla first hit the market with the Roadster electric car ten years ago (we reported).
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The three largest utilities of Haiwaii have released their strategic roadmap that shall lead to transport becoming electric and charged with renewable energy from 2045. The aim is to make the world’s most remote islands independent from fossil fuel imports.
The Hawaiian Electric Companies filed their ‘Electrification of Transportation Strategic Roadmap’ with the Public Utilities Commission. It foresees that most personal vehicles shall run on electricity generated by solar, wind, biofuels, geothermal and other renewable resources the islands have in abundance.
Hawaii already has the second highest rate of electric vehicle adoption in the USA. The plan drafted by Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light, expects dozens of electric models to be introduced over the next decade. Add to this the actions of its utilities, public agencies and private industry, Hawaii is well positioned to make the transition to clean transport even sooner than by 2045.
Says Brennon Morioka, Hawaiian Electric’s general manager of electrification of transportation: “This is a global movement that is transforming the way that individuals, families and businesses use vehicles and we have to be ready. This roadmap lays out the steps for meeting the changing needs of our customers and communities and adapting to the new technologies we know are coming.”
In the next few years, the plan says, charging cars, trucks, buses and heavy equipment is expected to enable nearly 200,000 additional solar systems on private houses and many grid- scale renewable projects will become an economically and ecologically viable option while offering low-cost energy to every customer of the three utilities.
In the larger picture, Hawaii wants to become energy independent and cut all imports of fossil fuel by 2045 latest. The draft outlines that replacing fossil fuels with electricity for passenger transport could save Hawaiian Electric customers alone 60 million dollars over the next 27 years, whether or not they drive an electric vehicle.
The Belgian busmaker Van Hool says it is the largest trambus order in its history as the Norwegian city of Trondheim orders 58 hybrid vehicles. The 24 metre long blend of a bus and a streetcar is to arrive in Norway by mid-2019.
Van Hool took the order from Trondheim’s public transport operators Nettbuss and Tide that have combined their buying power to receive 58 hybrid trambuses of type Exqui.City. Nettbus will run 44 units and Tide the remaining 14.
The bi-articulated trambuses measure 24 metres and come with a diesel-electric double-axle-drive. The first two units will be delivered in December 2018 with each operator to receive one hybrid vehicle. The remaining trambuses are scheduled to arrive between March and June 2019.
Van Hool says this is the largest order they have ever secured for their trambus, which has been available since 2011 and of which more than 250 vehicles have been ordered in 11 countries to date. Cities using the Exqui.City include Metz, Martinique, Pau and Nîmes, Barcelona, Parma, Geneva, Luxembourg, Malmö, Hamburg, Linz, Belfast, and Brussels. Van Hool produces the trambuses in its facility in Koningshooikt in Belgium.
In Trondheim, the trambuses will serve on three routes. The fleet will be maintained by the Busnor Partner WWist that signed a service contract over 10 years. Van Hool is already working with Busnor on a similar project in Bergen in Norway, where two hybrid trambuses have been in operation since 2014.
Germany’s ZF Group has stated its intent to invest 85 million euros to built an electric vehicle component factory in Pancevo, in northern Serbia. The project will be scaled up in stages from 2019 and ultimately employ up to a 1,000 people.
ZF Friedrichshafen plans to invest 40 million euros in 2019, 25 million euros in 2020 and 20 million euro in 2021, to construct a factory with a footprint of 25,000 square metres on a land plot of 10.8 hectares, the city government of Pancevo has said.
In the first phase of development, the German company plans to produce electric shafts for premium OEMs, electric motors, electronic and mechatronic gearboxes, microswitches and printed circuit boards with a growing work force.
The second stage of development is to start in 2022 when ZF will begin to build another production unit covering 25,000 square metres and increasing the number of employees to up to 1,000.
Globally, the ZF Groups can be found at 230 locations in 40 countries. The latest move is part of an overall investment strategy with a focus on electric mobility for which ZF has earmarked 2 billion euros (we reported).
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Germany’s Torqueedo has received a large order from China, where the mega manufacturing hub Suzhou struggles to clean up its act. 177 workboats powered by Torqueedo’s all-electric drive are to be deployed on the region’s many waterways to scoop up debris.
It is an unusually large order for a company of Torqueedo’s size but small when seen in the context of China. Suzhou is one of the regions that have massively expanded to become a production powerhouse for the PRC’s economy but such growth has its price: waste.
The traditional and new canals in the regions are among the most heavily polluted in China. The city of Suzhou has thus ordered 177 small workboats to clean up its waterways without creating more pollution.
The order includes 18 launches, 22 catamarans and 137 wooden boats. All were designed by the China Ship Scientific Research Center and are fit to scoop up floating trash. Zero emission propulsion is to come from Torqueedo’s electric outboard motors.
Suzhou’s efforts are just a piece of the bigger problem as the Suzhou Creek drains into the Huangpu River, which passes through Shanghai and ends near the mouth of the Yangtze. Maritime Executive quotes scientists with the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research saying that 10 rivers in Asia and Africa are responsible for 95 percent of the world’s ocean plastic pollution, including the Yangtze and four other rivers that flow through China.
However, the People’s Republic is incrasingly looking to electrify maritime transport. In Guangzhou province for example, a massive cargo ship with an energy storage capacity of 2.4 MWh has been put into operation reportedly to run on the Pearl River. The company says more may come.
Also in Europe companies have begun looking into electric ships apart from ferries. Two electric container ships will start to carry cargo between Dutch Rotterdam and Belgian Tilburg this autumn reportedly.
French battery specialist Forsee Power has announced it will make batteries in Grand Poitiers. The new factory that is set in an old diesel engine plant, is to produce up to 2,500 battery system for electric buses annually, starting this year.
The new factory at Grand Poitiers is the first step in the Forsee Power’s planned expansion. The French battery specialist wants to increase its battery production capacity tenfold by 2021 and create 300 jobs along the way.
The first 100 workers will start their jobs at the new factory this year as production is set to start in late 2018. The factory itself exists already and used to make diesel engine pistons. Once refurbished, the 15,000 m² facility will run 3 automated production lines with the capacity to manufacture 2,500 electric bus batteries per year.
The plant’s roof and car parks will be covered with photovoltaic panels to generate 1.8 MW of clean electricity to power the operation with the surplus being injected into the main grid. 10,000 m² of additional land will be held in reserve to facilitate the growth of Forsee Power in the medium run.
Grand Poitiers and the Chasseneuil-du-Poitou site in particular are close to the Futuroscope theme park and offer living opportunities in the wider region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. Forsee Power intends to use the factory as a showcase for the French group and its batteries.
Forsee Power says it has signed battery supply contracts with large European bus manufacturers, including CNHI (Iveco and Heuliez), CaetanoBus in Portugal and Wrightbus in the UK.
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Germany’s battery maker Voltabox has acquired Texas-based engineering firm Concurrent Design. The acquisition is to add development capabilities to Voltabox and to strengthen its position in the U.S. market with further buy-ins planned.
The acquisition has taken immediate effect and Voltabox will now oversee the 20 employees of Concurrent Design that are based in Austin, Texas. The Germans hope for additional expertise when it comes to developing and making safe and economic lithium-ion battery systems.
Concurrent Design employs mostly designers and software developers with know-how in manufacturing and testing automation. Says Jürgen Pampel, CEO of Voltabox AG: “Concurrent Design has successfully completed more than 1,700 projects in the fields of renewable energy, medical technology, semiconductors and electronics, among others. (…) The integration of Concurrent Design is a logical step against the background of our current and future growth.”
Voltabox says it wants to finalise further acquisitions in Germany and the USA, that are to boost the company’s three operating segments Voltapower, Voltaforce and Voltamotion.
The acquisition of Concurrent Design is to strengthen Voltabox business Voltapower. It is the first take over for the company in this field since its IPO. In the U.S. Voltabox focus is currently on the development of battery systems for underground mining. The company will therefore initially use Concurrent Design to process the large order backlog from the customer Komatsu Mining Corp.
Over in Europe and California, Voltabox could last be seen working closely together with Kiepe Electric to supply batteries for their large electric bus orders (we reported).