Friday, 31 October 2014

European quandary: Subsidize electric cars or pay fines As falling fuel prices make electric cars even less attractive to buyers, spare a thought for the manufacturers caught between the rock of governments forcing ever tighter fuel rules, and the hard place of needing to sell more of a product nobody wants, yet.

In Europe, manufacturers will have to grit their collective teeth and subsidize the sale of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, knowing that if they fail to back the sale of these loss-makers, the penalties from the European Union (E.U.) for not meeting their average fleet fuel economy rules will be even more expensive.

The French-Japanese alliance of Renault and Nissan is arguably the worst affected car manufacturer, after pledging $5 billion to produce electric cars and batteries to meet its prediction that 10 percent of global car sales will be electric only by 2020. That estimate has proved to be wildly and embarrassingly off the mark.

According to IHS Automotive, regular hybrids and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) will prove relatively more attractive than battery only vehicles, in the medium term, although neither will be setting the sales charts alight. By 2020 regular hybrids and PHEVs will account for almost five percent of global sales compared with less than one percent for electric only vehicles.

By 2025, battery-only will have slowly expanded to 1.5 percent, while PHEVs and hybrids will stagger just past six percent, IHS Automotive says. Fuel cell vehicles, now being pushed by Toyota, will barely register at all by 2025. In 2013, both battery-only and PHEVs barely registered on global sales radar. It's clear that internal combustion engine power will dominate for years to come.

Barely perceptible

In the U.S., the market penetration of electric only vehicles in the first nine months of 2014 was a barely perceptible 0.35 percent, according to Automotive Industry Data (AID).

Latest data on electric only vehicle sales in Western Europe showed that in August sales slowed for the third month in a row to 4,045 from 4,381 the previous month and 5,350 in June, AID said. In the first eight months of 2014 sales jumped to 35,228 from 20,052 in the same period of 2013, but the growth pace was fading, according to AID, in a report entitled "Electric car sales pace, far from growing, is slowing." Electric vehicle market share in Western Europe in the first eight months was 0.44 percent compared with 0.26 percent in the same period of 2013. But these numbers are distorted by oil-rich and socialist Norway's simulated love of electric cars. Electric car sales there are boosted by government subsidies, and parking and charging concessions. Without Norway's input, the market share figures for Western Europe are a derisory 0.28 percent versus 0.22 percent. The numbers include sales of the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Tesla Model S, VW e-Up, e-Golf, and BMWi3. They also include the Chevrolet Volt/Opel Ampera, which are extended range electric vehicles.

This reversal of a trend that was never very strong anyhow is down to the unexpected fall in fuel prices, AID editor Peter Schmidt says, and it presents car manufacturers with a problem; lose money by subsidizing the sale of electric vehicles, or lose more by failing to meet the targets set by the E.U.

Tougher in 2021

The E.U. rules require an average fuel consumption equivalent to 57.4 miles per U.S. gallon by 2021. The regulations are even more stringent than the U.S. ones, which demand average fuel consumption of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Current E.U rules require 43 mpg by 2015, and most manufacturers are on course to meet that. The tougher 2021 E.U. targets though will require massive sales of electric only and PHEVs. There is talk that a little known clause in U.S. regulation calls for a review in 2017, when the standards could be diluted. U.S. manufacturers must be crossing their fingers.

AID's Schmidt said the current fall in the oil price is persuading U.S., and to a lesser extent European car buyers, to return to large pickups and SUVs, while giving small, fuel efficient cars a miss.

"The question on the minds of some skeptics now is, as various commentators have put it most topically "will $80 oil kill the electric car?" Highly unlikely. But given that these cheaper oil conditions will stay with us for a few years rather than just months (new reserves because of U.S. fracking) chances are that between now and 2020 for instance, electric car inroads — which are already progressing at snail's pace — are now unlikely to pick up added notable momentum," Schmidt said.

"What was going to happen by 2025 will now happen by 2030," he said.

The market penetration of electric vehicles maybe be receding, but the fuel economy rules remain cast in concrete.

"The car manufacturers have very little choice but to move towards a technology that will enable them to meet these rules. If they fail they will have to pay astronomical fines. Manufacturers may be forced to sell every one of their electric and plug-in cars at a loss. It's probably cheaper to subsidize these sales than pay the fines," Schmidt said.

Electric car positives

Not everybody has such a dim view of the immediate prospects for electric cars.

Ratings agency Standard & Poors, in a report on electric cars, said because of recent improvements in battery technology, these vehicles could begin to cut into gas-powered vehicle sales in the U.S. over the next five years.

"We believe technological advances are shortening the time to when EVs could become truly competitive with gasoline-powered vehicles and begin to shake up business models in the auto industry," the report said.

The report came to these conclusions:

• Given recent advances in lithium-ion battery technology, electric vehicles are showing increasing potential to challenge the auto industry's long-standing gas powered business model.

• Zero-emission policies are also promoting demand for EVs.

• EV technology still faces hurdles such as high unit costs, limited driving range and lack of recharging stations. However we see significant advances in these areas.

• As with any new breakthrough technology, the exact timing of a broader changeover to EVs is difficult to predict.

The report didn't say if it agreed with the IHS Auto predictions, offer any firm ones of its own, or explain how auto manufacturers' balance sheets would be affected by being forced to sell an increasing number of very-expensive-to-develop vehicles at a huge loss.

Professor David Bailey of the Aston Business School agrees that electric vehicle sales continue to disappoint, partly, he says, from initial over-hyping, and Renault-Nissan is the leading mourner.

"Renault-Nissan placed more bets on EVs than any mainstream auto maker and has shifted just 4,200 Zoe's so far this year, massively below management's initial hopes. CEO Carlos Ghosn said last year that electric vehicle sales were at least four years behind targets, and he blamed this on the slow rollout of support infrastructure (charging points)," Bailey said.

Nissan-Renault mess

"This all leaves Renault in a bit of a mess on the EV front given its big investment in this area," he said.

And it's not just Renault that will be gritting its collective teeth, says AID's Schmidt.

"It's probably cheaper to underwrite the losses on every electric car because the (E.U.) fines would be significantly higher (for failing to meet targets). The manufacturers are being squeezed on two sides. On the one hand the European Union is saying do this or pay up, while on the other hand you've got electric cars that nobody wants to buy, unless you make them affordable which means losing money on very one. On balance, the latter may be the preferred route," Schmidt said.

Report: The future of the smart grid

The Future of the Smart Grid 2014 market research report of 79 pages to the energy and power segment of its online industry intelligence and data library. This research provides analysis of smart grid technology costs, concepts, drivers and components. It provides insights relating to the most innovative technologies and potential areas of opportunity for manufacturers. Examination of the key smart grid technologies costs is done along with identifying key trends shaping the market, as well as an evaluation of emerging trends that will drive innovation moving forward. Complete report is available at .
A smart grid overview 
The Smart grid or Intelligent grid encompasses a range of technologies that are being used to add intelligence to the electricity grid at transmission and distribution levels as well as behind the meter in business and domestic environments. Within smart grid, a set of key technologies have evolved to form the basis for smart grid deployment. The most important of these is a communications network that runs alongside the electricity delivery network and allows intelligent devices that are connected to the system to communicate with one another and exchange data. These networks can include a range of different wireless and wired technologies. Software agents that carry out intelligent tasks across the network are another important development. Meanwhile three areas of the smart grid are emerging as the most dynamic today, smart meter integration into home and business networks, distribution system management and renewable integration.
Smart meters and the end-user environment 
Smart meters are digital replacements for traditional electromechanical meters which can provide a much more sophisticated level of service including recording consumption at time stamped intervals as short as 15 minutes. In order for smart meters to be effective they must be hooked up to a communications network that allows them to pass data to a control centre. With this facility, meter reading can take place remotely, reducing utility costs significantly. Other facilities such as power quality monitoring, theft identification and outage notification can all take place remotely too. Smart meters are intelligent devices and their intelligence can be utilised as controllers for the network of electricity consuming devices beyond the meter. Simple demand management can be implemented as well as more sophisticated strategies based on the use of software agents operating within the smart meter. Agents can be used to manage and integrate local generation such as rooftop solar photovoltaic units and energy storage such as batteries. The rollout of smart grid is advancing rapidly in Europe and the USA. Elsewhere progress is slower but programmes are starting in many regions of the world.
Smart grid and the distribution network 
The introduction of distributed generation, particularly renewable and beyond the meter generation, is changing electricity distribution systems from passive deliverers of power from the transmission system to the consumer into systems that must be actively balanced. This is making the job of distribution system operators much more complex. Smart grid technologies can assist in distribution system management with a range of tools and technologies. At the same time is will provide new opportunities for distribution system operators to provide additional services. Tools for network balancing and congestion management will be critical to the operation of active distribution networks. In coming years this will extend to the management of electric vehicle charging networks and charging strategies. Meanwhile technologies such as integrated Voltage/VAR (volt-amperes reactive) control will help improve stability of distribution feeder lines and allow them to operate at the lowest voltage, increasing efficiency. Sensors and disconnectors can be used together to locate and isolate faults and new automation technologies will be able to assist in the integration of distributed and renewable generation into the distribution grid.
Smart grid and renewable integration 
The integration of renewable generation sources into all levels of the grid is becoming one of the most pressing tasks facing all system operators with renewable penetration levels set to rise to 20% or 30% in many parts of the world before the end of the decade. Smart grid technologies will play a key role. At the transmission system level, integration of weather forecasting is important and the development of near real-time markets will enable better use of renewable resources when they are available. As renewable penetration levels increase, the inertia of the grid decreases so the grid becomes more dynamic and requires faster sensor and monitoring equipment and faster means of intervention provided by smart technologies. Energy storage is vital at all levels of the system to make management of variable renewable output more effective. Meanwhile the development of the distribution grid to allow the dispatching of all forms of generation at this level, and their participation in the market, will assist with integration. Other tools such as virtual power plants and micro grids will form important building blocks too.
Smart grid costs 
The smart grid comprises a massive variety of technologies and service which, when welded together, create the entity that is now called a smart grid. The diversity of these technologies and the range of choices available means that no two smart grids will be unique, making it difficult to generalize on costs. The best that can be achieved is to cost individual projects or provide some very general average costs. In order to evaluate any smart grid project these must then be compared to the benefits that will accrue from the introduction of the smart grid and in order to quantify this, the benefits must be costed too and a benefit to cost ratio derived. This usually forms the basis for a business case. In general these analyses have shown that the smart grid benefits outweigh the costs by a significant margin. However conditions vary from region to region and in the EU some nations found the cost-benefit ratio negative for smart meters. Meanwhile the absolute costs suggest that the cost of building a smart grid will be in the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars - depending on size -- for most advanced nations.
Smart grid future outlook and opportunities 
The smart grid has evolved to meet a series of demands that are being placed on the electricity sector by such factors as renewable integration, electric vehicles, the necessary management of future distribution systems to accommodate generators as well as consumers and the need to improve service and power quality while reducing costs. These drivers will necessitate the implementation of many aspects of the smart grid over the next one to two decades. Many early deployments will revolve around smart meters because the benefits to be gained from these are usually easy to quantify. However once such deployment starts, the systems established can be exploited to introduce other smart grid services such as distribution and substation automation. Development of the widest range of smart grid services will evolve in advanced economies first. Elsewhere deployment will generally be slower, hampered partly by finance and partly by poor infrastructure. Meanwhile opportunities will be spread across a whole range of sectors including network and infrastructure, computer hardware and software, specialist sensor and smart grid hardware makers and installation and service companies.

W Europe - September BEV sales leap.

September W European electric car market - Mere blip or lasting change in underlying trends? Renault and Nissan put fizz into September’s sales

According to provisional figures compiled and published exclusively by AID every month, West Europe’s September’s electric car (BEV) registrations - energised chiefly by a combined Renault and Nissan registration spree in both France and the UK - hit the second-highest monthly level on record.

West Europe’s registrations of electric cars in September rose to 6,164 units, AID compiled figures reveal. That’s not only the second-highest monthly electric car registration total on record, but also beats last year’s same month levels by almost two-thirds.

6,164 = Western Europe's September battery electric car sales total

Unlike the familiar underlying developments seen so far this year and all of last year, when run-away electric car demand in stand-alone Norway provided a lone bright spot in the region, September’s jump in electric car registrations was due principally to striking gains in both France and the UK.

80% of new car purchases influenced by women An attitude shift is long overdue in the car industry -
Making the buying experience more women-friendly will benefit everyone

Why isn't the message getting through that women are heavily involved in the buying process?

"Hiring and promoting women is the right thing to do for society – and for our business, because women decide or influence the overwhelming majority of car purchases globally." So said Carlos Ghosn, CEO and chairman of the Renault/Nissan Alliance, last week. When Mr Ghosn says something, people normally sit up and listen. Only, that being the case, why is it taking eons for the message to trickle down to designers, dealers, engineers, brand managers and agencies?

This month's Paris motor show was yet another embarrassment of skimpily clad Eurobabes, rictus grin plastered on top of powder and lipstick as they bent over car bonnets, eyes empty, while an endless stream of over-excited foreign male journalists pawed at their iPhones to get photos (I have to say, credit where it's due; the majority of British male motoring journalists view the manufacturers' adherence to this Eighties sales technique as faintly ridiculous and mildly amusing).

"The car industry is like the technology industry was 10 years ago when it comes to engaging women – like nervous teenagers at a school dance", observed Belinda Parmar, CEO of Lady Geek and author of The Empathy Era, when I met her in Paris. "One luxury car company told me that 10 per cent of their website traffic was women, and they had no desire to increase this for fear of diluting 'the masculinity of their brand'. The reality is that women globally are responsible for purchasing 65 per cent of all new cars and the car industry has an 'empathy deficit' which makes it less appealing to women as both customers and employees."

Actually, according to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, women are considered "influencers" on a not-insignificant 80 per cent of all new-car purchases, meaning that they either buy the vehicle outright or have veto power on a man's purchase. Such an intractable fact makes manufacturers' use of showgirls just plain weird. Earlier this year, Nissan debuted its "Ladies First" dealership, mostly managed and staffed by women. The dealership, in a Tokyo suburb, features stylish interiors, a nursing room and a spacious area where children can play and is aimed at making the shopping experience more welcoming to women and first-time buyers.

Nissan will roll out 300 "Ladies First" dealerships across Japan by next year. It is also considering expanding the programme to overseas markets and has said it will introduce it "wherever applicable". Let's ignore for a moment the wince-inducing use of "ladies" where "women" will do well, and applaud the sentiment.

Nissan's sister marque, Renault, created a product team for the Renault Captur that was consciously evenly split between men and women. Half of the team members dedicated to the crossover's engineering, design, marketing and sales were women, the highest for any Renault car. Captur went on sale last year and is now the most popular compact crossover in Europe.

There has got to be a marketing and corporate space for manufacturers to occupy, somewhere between patronising and ignoring women, who undeniably form the majority market voice. Where is that space though? The Renault-Nissan Alliance seems to think it's partly about employing more women. "I'm encouraged that Nissan and Renault are not just focusing on female customers but also the culture of the company and thinking about making an environment where women can flourish. Many companies focus on attracting female talent without changing the culture within. The result is often that female employees drop out at a higher rate than men," says Belinda Parmar.

"The Ladies First Dealership is a smart commercial move for Nissan; it's similar to the Vodafone Angel stores in India which are completely run and managed by women. This model can work but it depends on the culture and the way the stores are designed and staffed. Tone is everything. Companies should avoid the "pink it & shrink it" approach where they patronise women by making everything dumb and girly. The stereotypical approach of 'Ladies Driving Days' with spas and manicures is patronising and lazy.

"Female-friendly retail is about making experiences that everyone enjoys. When you make business more appealing to women, evidence shows that you make it more appealing to men as well. Marketing to women is not a feminist agenda, it's a commercial one."

Which leaves one question: when on earth is the industry going to change its approach, wholesale, to suit its customers?

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Tesla Model S 'Happiness Guarantee' for lease customers in US In an effort to make the Model S more affordable, Tesla announced a new deal with US bank to offer more favorable lease terms. This has lowered the lease cost of the electric sedan by as much as 25%, and this new lease now comes with a “happiness guarantee” that lets leases return the car after three months if they’re not totally satisfied.

Once again Tesla sets the bar for trying to make its customers happy, and the deal with US Bank probably means less money in Tesla’s pockets, but the lower price may have just put the Model S in some people’s price range. Now you can get into a 60 kWh Model S for just $832 ($895 is you opt for the new Dual Motor Drive all-wheel drive system) and about $6,500 down. If you end up saving $209 a month in gasoline costs (per the Tesla estimate) that brings your “effective” lease price down to just $686 a month. For an 85 kWh Model S the price is $980 a month for rear-wheel drive, and $1,044 a month for the Dual Motor Drive system, before gas savings. A new lease deal in the U.K. was also just announced by Tesla in a bid to remain competitive with traditional luxury automakers.

The initial cost of a Model S lease was about $1,021 with $5,000, so the 25% cost savings claim is all in how you define it I guess. Elon Musk loves him some funky math, and depending on how much and where you do most of your driving, it COULD all work out. But I’m not going to try and be a too much of a mathematician about it.

Additionally, customers now have a three-month window to decide just how satisfied they are with their Model S purchase, and before that 90 days is over they can return their vehicle and walk away from the rest of their lease obligation. The only catch is that customers can’t sign a new lease deal right away, unless they decide to upgrade, which customers have to then pay a “pass through fee” based on difference between the new and used vehicles. Add to that an available “infinite mile warranty” on the drive unit of the 85 kWh Model S (the 60 kWh gets a 125,000 mile/8-year battery and drive unit warranty) and you can see how Tesla is going to great lengths to make sure they have happy customers.

Once the first wave of used Model S sedans make it to market, the cost of getting into this cutting-edge electric sedan should come down even further. With the newer, lower-cost lease price, is anybody ready to add a Model S to their garage?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Electric Porsche Pajun Could Be Tesla Model S Rival Porsche has been at the forefront of hybrid performance cars, and now it’s readying an all-electric rival to the Tesla Model S called the Pajun. AutoCar reports that this new electric sedan will seek to be just as fast and go just as far as the Model S while wearing that enviable Porsche badge.

The Pajun adds a fifth model to the Porsche lineup, and while it will come with conventional drivetrains designed to compete with conventional automakers, engineers are putting extra effort into an all-electric model. The Pajun will use a shortened version of the Panamera’s MSB platform, and it will also aim to be substantially lighter than the Model S, which with its new Dual Motor Drive system can weight nearly 5,000-lbs. While Porsche has thus far invested heavily into hybrid technology, including the 919 Hybrid race car, the company may finally be ready to jump into fully-electric vehicles.

Powering the Pajun will be a cutting-edge synchronous electric motor every bit as powerful as the motor(s) in the Model S, and a new battery developed in conjunction with corporate partner Audi could give it a driving range of 250 miles per charge or more. The battery could even be shared with the upcoming Audi R8 e-tron, which was almost cancelled due to a lack of range though a battery deal between Audi and LG Chem seems to have saved it. Meanwhile Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid sales have been raking in the big bucks, helping Porsche reach new sales heights.

While Porsche focuses on combating the Model S, the Audi Q8 e-tron will be an electric SUV aimed at competing with the upcoming Tesla Model X. Porsche is also planning hybrid versions of all its models, including the 911 (eventually), but it looks like Elon Musk has really riled some feathers over in Germany with his electric sedan. Rumor has it that the 2012 Panamera Sport Turismo concept (pictured above) will influence the design of the Pajun.

The electric Porsche Pajun should arrive some time in the next couple of years, possibly giving the Model S its first legitimate rival.

Using Big Data to Fight Range Anxiety in Electric Vehicles One of the biggest obstacles preventing more widespread adoption of electric vehicles is “range anxiety,” the fear of losing power and seeing your car shut down in the middle of a long-distance drive. Current technologies that estimate how much longer a battery will last still provide inaccurate measurements, because they use computer models that rely heavily on the driver’s recent behavior and don’t account for other factors.

Mo-Yuen Chow and Habiballah Rahimi-Eichi from North Carolina State University’s Advanced Diagnosis, Automation, and Control Lab think they have developed a better model. In a new paper that will be presented at the 40th Annual Conference of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society, the researchers describe new software that uses a “big data” approach to gather information from multiple sources in order to estimate electric vehicle range. The driver needs only to provide a destination address or GPS coordinates, and the software combines historical data along with “predictive” data—variables such as traffic data, highway and surface-road characteristics, and even weather—to determine how much longer a driver can go before the batteries are tapped out.

“We’re not simply feeding data acquired from the last 5 or 10 minutes of driving, the way most estimation software has,” says Rahimi-Eichi. “We’re looking at what the next 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and more, look like for the car, and predicting what the car will do.”

The software acquires data from five sources: Google Maps (for route, terrain, and traffic data), (for weather), driver history (through driving behavior measurements), vehicle manufacturers (for vehicle modeling data), and battery manufacturers (for battery modeling data).

Rahimi-Eichi points out that the software makes heavy use of data already available online. But its algorithms gather and analyze the information more effectively to improve range estimations. The system still needs to be tested in actual electric vehicles, but the researchers say that in simulations their code predicted a car’s range with 95 percent accuracy.

Past research has been aimed at alleviating range anxiety through other means, like speed management and optimized braking systems. Rahimi-Eichi says his team is now working on more extensive simulations and tests, and hopes the system could be commercialised within two years.

China: VW to launch 20 electric cars SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG said on Tuesday it would launch more than 20 models of battery-driven cars in China over the next few years.

"In the near future, Volkswagen will be offering Chinese drivers over 20 NEVs, from small cars to large-sized SUVs, from plug-in hybrids to pure electric cars," Jochem Heizmann, head of Volkswagen Group China, said.

Heizmann was speaking to reporters in Shanghai, where the German carmaker is launching a week-long campaign to promote e-mobility in China's financial hub.

Volkswagen lags global rivals including BMW, Tesla Motors Inc and Nissan Motor Co in selling pure electric cars in China.

Volkswagen has previously said it plans to introduce into China more than 15 electric or plug-in hybrid cars for Volkswagen and other brands it owns by 2018, many of which will be locally produced.

Volkswagen has previously said it plans to introduce into China more than 15 electric or plug-in hybrid cars by 2018, many of which will be locally produced.

China, suffering from worsening pollution, has stepped up efforts to promote use of electric cars, having rolled out incentive policies and tougher fuel-efficiency and emission rules. Beijing has set an aggressive target of putting 5 million green vehicles on Chinese roads by 2020.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Detroit Electric SP:01 The world's fastest electric car? That's the claim of Detroit Electric about its newly fastback SP:01. 282bhp, 0-60 in 3.7 seconds.

[ConnEVted note: The Tesla Model S P85D is faster, so it's a silly false claim]

Remember the Detroit Electric SP:01? Announced in 2013, it followed a well-thumbed recipe - electrifying a Lotus Elise - and promised to be an esoteric entrant in the eco-friendly sports car class.

Well, it's back and in production form ahead of official sales in 2015. And it's a bit different to before, adopting a new fastback body which lends it bold new rear styling as well as better handling, thanks to its new rear wing and diffuser combination.

As a result, it looks helpfully different to an Elise or a Tesla Roadster, with a hint of the wonderfully hardcore original Exige about it now. Good job, given it's set to cost around £80,000, a figure quickly approaching BMW i8 money.

Under the skin, a 282bhp electric motor drives the rear wheels. With a hot hatch-like weight of 1175kg, it's enough to hustle the SP:01 to 155mph via a 3.7sec 0-60mph time.

That, in Detroit Electric's words, makes this the "world's fastest production electric sports car". It also uses a manual gear selector, which intrigues us greatly given electric cars are typically single-speed.

There is a single-speed version too, with a less powerful 201bhp version serving up a 106mph top speed and 5.3sec sprint to 60mph.

A 180-mile range from full charged is touted for both, though expect this to drop notably if you intend on exercising Detroit Electric's claims of superlative performance.

While Detroit Electric is, somewhat predictably, based in the US, the SP:01 will be built in the UK. Sales will be limited to 999 units. put it this way: The car will be somewhat similar to the Tesla Roadster no longer in production. Both are pure battery-power two-seaters based on Lotus designs. Detroit Electric's founder is former Lotus executive Albert Lam, former Group CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars of England.

Detroit Electric says its car will not be a roadster -- open car -- but rather a hatchback for better aerodynamics, longer range, higher speed.

Production is to begin late this year, and sales are to begin early next year in Asia, Europe and North America. No price has been announced.

The company was founded in 2008 and named after an electric car company that was successful in the early 1900s. It said in March 2013 that it would build as many as 2,500 sports cars a year in Michigan, but it didn't say exactly where.

Now the plan is to build all the cars in a new, dedicated Detroit Electric production facility in Leamington Spa, England, beginning late this year.

It also plans a European headquarters in Houten, Netherlands, where the company has recruited a new team to manage the brand's sales and marketing, as well as customer service in the region.

The company's h.q. remains on the 18th floor of the Fisher Building in downtown Detroit, and that site also becomes the financial center and will oversee North American activities.

The company claims that its lightweight, limited-edition SP:01 will be the world's fastest production electric sports car: top speed, 155 mph; 0-60 mph, 3.7 seconds. It hasn't given a driving range between battery recharges.

The changes since the 2013 Shanghai showing include a fastback design with smoother rooofline, a rear spoiler and heating-cooling system improvements.

The vehicle's battery packs have been clad in a protective composite casing which forms an integral part of the vehicle's structure and makes the car stiffer. It also helps protect the batteries in a crash.

Jerry Chung, design chief at Detroit Electric, said: "The final design of SP:01 incorporates signature Detroit Electric design DNA, carried over from the prototype model we revealed last year. Coupled with many motorsport visual cues, the new fastback design, bold face and sharp contours evoke the company's vision of pure electric performance."

Monday, 27 October 2014

UK: London Mayor and TfL consult on Ultra Low Emission Zone The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) would significantly reduce the number of people living in areas of poor air quality in London

The Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) today launched a public consultation on proposals to introduce the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in the capital on 7 September 2020, to significantly improve air quality and in turn the health of Londoners.

The ULEZ consultation, which runs from today until Friday 9 January 2015, is available here.

The groundbreaking proposals would require all vehicles travelling within the Congestion Charge zone to meet new emission standards and would be in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many vehicles would already meet these standards in 2020, however by introducing this requirement next year the Mayor and TfL aim to accelerate the take up of low emission vehicles and stimulate the low emission vehicle market. The ULEZ will also ensure London’s air quality improves more quickly, making the capital a more pleasant place to live and work, and encourage the use of more sustainable forms of transport. The ULEZ is projected to halve emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM10) from vehicle exhausts.

This means more than 80% of central London is expected to meet the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) annual legal limits in 2020. The ULEZ would also lead to a significant reduction in the number of people living in areas of poor air quality (where levels of NO2 exceed legal limits) – by 74% in central London, 51% in inner London and 43% in outer London. NO2 is a gas which in high concentrations can cause breathing problems and increase asthma symptoms, with research suggesting that children and young people are most adversely affected as high concentrations of the gas restrict lung growth.

The number of care homes, hospitals and schools exposed to high levels of NO2 would be halved across London. These positive effects will be especially beneficial to the young, older people and those who have respiratory problems as well as residents of high pollution areas.

The introduction of a ULEZ will not, as some critics suggest, lead to a reduction in air quality or increased congestion outside of the zone. The majority of traffic entering the ULEZ will be from outside the zone – so the benefits of cleaner, greener vehicles in the form of reduced emissions will be delivered right across London so benefitting Londoners’ health.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: `Introducing the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone is an essential measure to improve London’s air quality and reduce NO2. Safeguarding Londoners’ health and well-being is a top priority for my administration. I understand that people need adequate time to switch to greener vehicles and help is at hand for those who will be hardest hit, but let’s be clear, we need to make these important changes ASAP to continue to improve Londoners’ quality of life and give everyone who lives in or visits the city the cleanest possible air to breathe.`

The ULEZ proposals would require vehicles travelling in central London to meet the following emissions standards, or pay a daily charge: ·
Cars and small vans – Euro 6 for diesel engines (registered from 1 September 2015 so 5 years old or less in 2020) and Euro 4 for petrol engines (registered from 1 January 2006 so 14 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles could still drive in the zone but they would be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50

Large vans and minibuses – Euro 6 for diesel engines (registered from 1 September 2016 so 4 years old or less in 2020) and Euro 4 for petrol engines (registered from 1 January 2007 so 13 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles would be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50

Heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches – Euro VI (registered from 1 January 2014 so 6 years old or less in 2020). Non- compliant vehicles would be required to pay a daily charge of £100; 

Motorcycles and similar vehicles – Euro 3 (registered from 1 July 2007 so 13 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles would be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50.

Route H98 Electric Bus

The Mayor and TfL consult on Ultra Low Emission Zone

As part of the ULEZ proposal, TfL is working to reduce emissions from its buses alongside taxis and private hire vehicles and to increase the number of zero emission capable vehicles.

This will create demonstrator fleets in London, boost industry sales and lead the transition towards this technology. By 2020, all double deck TfL buses operating in central London will be hybrid and all single deck buses will be zero emission (at point of use). This will require substantial investment by TfL and will mean nearly all double deck buses operating in inner London will be hybrid and many in outer London too.

From 2018, it is proposed there will be a new requirement for all taxis and new private hire vehicles presented for licensing in the capital for the first time to be zero emission capable. Private hire vehicles would also be subject to the ULEZ standards in central London just like other cars and vans (and therefore liable for the charge if they don’t meet the emissions standards).

Taxis will be the second largest contributor to NOx and the largest contributor to PM10 emissions from road transport in central London in 2020. The ULEZ proposes to reduce the London-wide age limit for non zero emission capable taxis from 15 years to 10 years.

This would substantially reduce emissions from these vehicles across London (by 45% for NOx and 71% for PM10) and help accelerate the take up of new zero emission capable taxis. In considering the impact of the reduced taxi age limit, the Mayor and TfL are proposing a specific fund to assist taxi drivers to replace their vehicles. In addition, TfL has been in regular dialogue with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to ensure their new £500m funding allocation specifically supports taxi and PHV drivers to purchase zero emission capable vehicles, as well as supporting a fund for on-street rapid charging infrastructure. In developing the ULEZ proposal, and in line with the Mayor’s aspirations, TfL also considered a ‘zero emission capable’ ULEZ standard for all other vehicles. However it was concluded that it would not be feasible or affordable to set this requirement for all vehicles for 2020. Nevertheless it is expected that such a standard would be appropriate at a later date (eg 2025) and we are seeking views on this in principle.

Michèle Dix, Managing Director of Planning at TfL, said: “Improving London’s air quality is of paramount importance as it affects the health and well-being of every Londoner. That’s why we are doing everything in our power to address emissions from road transport, with the introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone at the core of our work to improve the capital’s air. We would urge everyone who lives, works or travels in London to give us their views on the ULEZ proposal.” After the consultation closes, TfL will analyse the results of the consultation and make a recommendation to the Mayor. The Mayor will then make a decision on whether to confirm the scheme order, with or without modifications. As the licensing authority for London’s taxi and private hire vehicles, TfL will decide whether to make changes to the licensing requirement for these vehicles. Subject to confirmation of the ULEZ Scheme Order by the Mayor in spring 2015, this would effectively provide a five year notice period prior to the ULEZ coming into operation in 2020 and eight years notice for residents of the zone.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified a number of pollutants as a major public health concern. The two pollutants of principal concern in London are particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). London is now compliant with PM limit values owing to the Low Emission Zone, taxi and private hire vehicle age limits, bus retrofit schemes and the natural turnover of vehicles. However, London is not forecast to meet the legal limits for NO2 until after 2030 – alongside Birmingham and Leeds – unless targeted action is taken.
Since the Mayor was elected, the number of people living in areas exceeding NO2 limits has halved but there is a clear need to take further action. The Greater London Authority (GLA) and TfL estimate that a reduction in road transport emissions of around 70 per cent is needed for central London to meet EU legal limits for NO2 in 2020, with the ULEZ delivering around two-thirds of this. In addition to road transport, buildings and construction activity contribute significantly to London’s air pollution. Further reductions from these sources would also help bring compliance forward. 

The ULEZ proposals are projected to achieve a reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from road transport in central London of up to 51% broken down as: TfL buses (74%), taxis (45%), HGVs (48%), non-TfL buses and coaches (50%), cars (42%), vans (38%) and motorcycles (15%). It would also achieve a 64% reduction in PM10 and a 15%t reduction in CO2 from road transport in central London.

NO2 is a gas, which at high enough concentrations can cause inflammation of the airways and long-term exposure can affect lung function and respiratory systems. It can also increase asthma symptoms. NOx is primarily made up of two pollutants, nitric oxide (NO) and NO2 and refers to total vehicle emissions (both those directly emitted and those formed by chemical reactions). Vehicle emissions standards refer to total NOx emissions but EU air quality limit values refer to ambient concentrations and are set for NO2 as this is the harmful component of the emissions.

The ULEZ standards would be enforced using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras which are already used for the Congestion Charge. If the daily charge has not been paid then a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) would be issued. It is proposed that for cars, vans and motorcycles this would be set at £130 (reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days) and for HGVs, coaches and buses it would be set at £1,000 (reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days) – so in line with the Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zone respectively.

It is proposed that residents of the ULEZ will be granted a three year sunset period (until 6 September 2023) before any daily charge applies. This is to acknowledge that they are unable to avoid the zone and so may require more time (up to eight years) to change their vehicle to meet the ULEZ standards.

The proposals for a ULEZ are one of a raft of measures introduced by the Mayor and TfL to improve air quality in the capital, including:
TfL published its Transport Emissions Road Map on 10 September 2014. It looks at how to reduce emissions from transport in London and reports on what TfL has already done and what it may do in the future. It provides a range of possible new measures that the Mayor, TfL, London boroughs, the Government, EU and other parties should consider to help meet the challenge of reducing air pollutants and CO2 emissions in London;

Tightening the Low Emission Zone standards for HGVs, buses and coaches and introducing new standards for large vans and minibuses – around 150,000 vehicles needed to take action to meet these standards when they came into effect in January 2012;

Reducing emissions by retrofitting more than 1,000 of the oldest buses with special equipment to reduce their NOx emissions by up to 88% – with plans to increase this number to 1,800;

Retiring the remaining 900 oldest Euro III buses in TfL’s fleet and replacing them with super-clean Euro VI buses at a cost of £18m;

Accelerating the roll out of hybrid buses, with 1,700 to be on the road by 2016, including 600 of the iconic New Routemaster buses – equivalent to around 20% of TfL’s bus fleet;

Retiring around 6,000 of the oldest, most polluting taxis by introducing London’s first taxi age limits:

Introducing new measures to reduce emissions and clean up construction sites, including plans for tough new emissions standards for construction equipment in 2015 and 2020;

Investing almost £1 billion to improve cycling infrastructure and encourage less polluting forms of transport.

In February, research by the Medical Research Council suggested the health benefits gained from using the city’s Cycle Hire scheme outweigh the potential negative impacts from injuries and exposure to air pollution;

Using the planning system to require all new development to be “air quality neutral”;

Retrofitting hundreds of thousands of homes and public buildings with energy efficiency measures which reduce their emissions, with 400,000 already complete.