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2010 Green Vehicle Congress – The Future of Green Cars

2010 Green Vehicle Congress – The Future of Green Cars

The most important issues surrounding today’s and tomorrow’s green cars were explored at the 2010 Green Vehicle Congress, ranging from the results of the first electric vehicle trials, to which technologies will power our cars in the future. The only media present at the event was
Green-Car-Guide.com
, and so we’ve put together this special feature which is a must-read for anyone with an interest in green cars.

The 2010 Green Vehicle Congress took place over 24 & 25 March in Newcastle and it featured some of the world’s leading industry experts who came together to share knowledge about the future of green cars. The event was sponsored by
Cenex
, BIS, UK Trade & Investment and
ONE North East
.

This feature looks at the following subjects:

Which technologies will power our cars in the future?

So what’s happening in the UK now?

The results of the first electric vehicle trials

Low carbon vehicle public procurement

Lessons from Europe – ‘integrated electric mobility’

Lessons from Europe – electric car clubs

Electric cars in London

Green Motorsport

The ultra-low carbon vehicle future is an exciting vision, and the Green Vehicle Congress was full of positive developments, however the presentation from Angus Gillespie, VP Strategy & Portfolio CO2 Strategy, Shell, was a powerful reminder about why we need to take significant action to move to low carbon technologies. So we’ll start with a summary of this presentation from Shell in order to set the scene.

Which technologies will power our cars in the future?

Shell talks about three hard truths:

1. There will be a step change in energy use, which will double in the next three decades – due to world population growth, and as developing countries transform into developed countries and demand increased mobility.

2. Supply will struggle to keep up with demand. Oil is running out – it’s dirtier and deeper, and it’s more challenging to extract.

3. Environmental stresses are increasing.

So we have a huge challenge – we need to double our energy supply, and halve our CO2 emissions. In other words we need to slash the CO2 from the energy we use to one quarter of what it is now, in order to limit the increase in world temperature to two degrees centigrade.

So how do we do this? What is the future low CO2 fuel?

Shell says that there is no one answer to this question.

It’s very hard to improve on liquid fuel, ie petrol and diesel, in terms of volumetric density, in other words, how good an energy carrier it is.

So the company sees that there will be room for all technologies – such as oil, gas, biofuels, hydrogen, hybrids and lightweighting. It believes electric vehicles will grow in market share as the technology becomes more efficient. Biofuels, after initial promise followed by image problems, will play a part, but they will have to be sustainable. Shell sees ethanol produced from sugar cane in Brazil as the way forward.

What about hydrogen? For years, many people have said that hydrogen will be the future fuel, but so far it has always remained exactly as that – a fuel that is talked about for use in the future. Shell has invested huge sums in hydrogen infrastructure in the US and Germany, yet with the exception of very limited trials, there are still no hydrogen cars on the roads. Hydrogen is also still a relatively dirty fuel at the moment until it can be produced more sustainably.

Shell sees that there will be a ‘simple mix’ of technologies to power cars by 2025, and a ‘full mix’ by 2050.

So what’s happening in the UK now?

In summary, lots of things are happening in collaboration with government in the UK today to help us move towards low carbon vehicles.

We’ve actually made more progress in lowering CO2 from our vehicles than we thought we would five years ago, and there is currently a rapid rate of change.

Looking back, we’ve had the Stern Review examining the economic implications of not taking action about climate change, the King Review looking at what we should do about low carbon transport, we’ve had the Peak Oil report focusing on our energy security, and the NAIGT (New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team) has produced a ‘road map’ for low carbon vehicle technologies for the years ahead.

Government policy has been seen as reasonably consistent, with a good amount of incentives introduced to encourage the successful introduction of new low carbon technologies. Collaboration has been important, with bodies such as OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles) and the Automotive Council set up to help lead the industry and to share best practice and research and development. The goal has been to place the UK at the global forefront of ultra low carbon vehicle development, demonstration, manufacture and use.

Trials of ultra low carbon vehicles are currently underway, and we will soon move to larger scale trials. This will be linked to the need for the infrastructure for electric vehicles to be developed, through schemes such as Plugged in Places, the first phase of which is currently underway in three locations, London, Milton Keynes and the North East.

In the next year we’ll see electric vehicles appearing on sale, in the form of cars such as the Nissan LEAF. Hopefully there will be an announcement that the Vauxhall Ampera, an electric family hatchback with a petrol range-extender generator, will be manufactured at Ellesmere Port.

Lightweighting, a particular passion of Gordon Murray, will be an important ‘next big thing’, as most cars have doubled in weight over the last 25 years and this trend needs to be reversed.

So the emissions of cars are actually improving reasonably well; the next challenge will be to lower the emissions of commercial vehicles.

The automotive industry agrees with Shell about there being a mix of low carbon options between now and 2050, with electric vehicles in urban areas, electric vehicles with range extenders for longer journeys, as well as cleaner internal combustion engines. Most heavy commercial vehicles doing long runs will still retain diesel engines, although electric will be used for short-run urban deliveries.

Industry experts also agree that fuel prices will continue to increase.

The results of the first electric vehicle trials

The first results from the ‘smart move’ trial, of four electric smart fortwos in the North East, are now available. This was a real world trial, looking at areas such as vehicle performance and acceptance/integration to fleets. It was carried out with public sector fleets, private sector fleets and public drives, all using questionnaires to gain feedback.

The results showed that 58% of fleet users and 88% of fleet managers felt more positive about electric vehicles after the trial. 83% of fleet users in their 20s had positive opinion shifts.

In terms of recharging, most recharging happened at work, with the public sector having better recharging facilities, and 95% of users said that vehicles had sufficient charge.

With the public test drives, 72% of drivers said they would use an electric vehicle after their test drive, compared to just 47% before. The vehicles exceeded the test drivers’ expectations on all criteria, and people in their 20s had the largest opinion shift.

Interestingly, lack of infrastructure was not seen as a problem, but range and price were seen as barriers.

55% of journeys were under 5 km and the maximum journey length was 17.8 km.

From data from journeys in January/February 2010 (when the weather was very cold), the average range achievable was 72.4 km.

81.4 g/km CO2 was the average emissions using conventional (mixed) power generation, or 0 g/km if the power came from 100% renewable sources.

Low carbon vehicle public procurement

Although the emissions of cars are reducing successfully, vans, especially large panel vans, are a different story. There has been a 41% rise in van traffic, and they are making longer journeys with higher emissions. The public sector uses 300,000 vans, and they buy 90,000 each year.

Therefore a project is currently underway to test and create demand for low carbon vehicles, especially vans, in public sector fleets. Phase 1 funding is £20m and covers 20 vans and 85 cars. The trial meets all additional costs to procure lower carbon vehicles.

The second phase, likely to start from 2011 with funding of £30m, is likely to cover minibuses, tippers, small cars/vans, and intelligent transport systems.

All councils are invited to take part, with vehicle manufacturers invited to tender, and vehicles run for approximately 3 years over which time a range of data will be gathered.

There are two classes of vans: all electric, and low carbon. The electric vehicles have targets including a minimum 50 mph speed, a range of more than 95 miles and a recharge time of less than 10 hours. Low carbon vehicles must save more than 10% CO2.

Four companies won the bid: Allied, with an electric Peugeot Tepee MPV and an electric Peugeot Boxer van; Ashwood with a diesel electric hybrid Transit; Modec, with its all-electric van; and Smith with its electric Ford Transit.

Based on the trial, savings could include £75m on fuel, and 150 million kg of CO2.

Lessons from Europe – ‘integrated electric mobility’

Portugal is developing an integrated electric mobility model, which aims to join up the country’s IT, financial and transport systems. The idea is to have an electric mobility account, with a system such as London’s Oyster card, that would work for public transport, the electric vehicle recharging system, the toll road network, and even, potentially, for carbon trading. There would be integration between multiple stakeholders.

Portugal wants to make electric vehicles part of the energy system in the country, with EVs as a decentralised ‘mega-battery’ complementary to the grid, importing/exporting small transactions from the grid to EVs and from EVs to the grid.

For people who want to drive across Europe in their electric vehicle and have their billing for recharging work wherever they go, the idea is to develop a roaming system like mobile phones. However a challenge to enable the roll out of electric vehicles across Europe is that a standard connector is needed; work on this is still an ongoing process.

Lessons from Europe – electric car clubs

Green Wheels is a car club system in Amsterdam that is looking to develop a car sharing network model using electric cars. The company currently has a dense network of 600 fixed locations, with 12,000 drivers using it.

Jan Borghuis, Director of Green Wheels, believes that car ownership in the city is the wrong model for the future. He points out that in 1908 10% of us lived in urban areas, by 2008 that figure had increased to 50%, and by 2050 it’s forecast that 80% of Europeans will live in cities.

So cities are struggling, with cars capable only of a very low speed in urban areas. At the same time, public transport has a negative image, and a poor customer satisfaction rating.

Although Jan acknowledges that electric vehicles have their limitations, as 90% of all current car journeys are less than 150 km, EVs are perfect for city car clubs.

There’s also the congestion and parking issues, and a car share club provides a solution here also, as, on average 20 people use one car club car in Amsterdam.

Market research conducted in Paris shows that 10-16% of Parisians would subscribe to a car club, and this figure would rise to 54% if prices were lower.

Electric cars in London

Around 1000 Londoners die each year because of poor air quality, and this is a significant factor behind the huge push for electric cars in the capital.

London has plans for 25,000 publicly accessible electric charge points across the capital by 2015. This will be comprised of 22,500 charge points in workplace car parks, 2000 in public car parks, and 500 on the street. There will also be 60 charge points for car rental forecourts.

London’s aim is to be the electric vehicle capital of Europe, with 100,000 EVs as soon as possible. In total there will be an investment of £70 million to help this happen. A website showing the locations of all charging points is due from Transport for London this summer.

Green Motorsport

There were a number of presentations about green motorsport. The first talk reminded us that, for those who missed it, there was actually an electric TT bike race last year, the TTX GP eGrand Prix. Using the same circuit as the petrol-engined motorbikes on the Isle of Man, the electric bikes, 14 of which entered with 10 finishing, achieved an average speed of 87 mph, with a fastest lap speed of 106 mph. The event is happening this year at more locations, but not as part of the TT races.

Another green motorsport phenomenon is the Oaktec Honda hybrid rally team. Rallying one of the original Honda Insight hybrids in the Formula 1000 (1-litre) class, after initially being seen as a source of amusement by the teams rallying more conventional cars, the Insight was the class A winner in the car’s first 2006 season, and it has picked up 11 class A wins between 2006-2009. However the car still retains its low emission credentials, having managed 81.4 mpg in a fuel economy trial, and 98.9 mpg in testing.

Another highly inspirational project is that from
Greenpower
, a charity to inspire tomorrow’s engineers. Focusing mainly on 11-16 year old school children, the project involves designing, building and racing electric vehicles. The idea was to see how far the pupils could take an electric car, but this was answered by an entry that could manage 50 mph. It was felt that this was a little too fast for comfort from the health and safety perspective, so the rules were changed so that the races now last for four hours, and no charging during the race is allowed.

There are 14 Greenpower events around the UK, with 220 teams entering each year. The numbers are doubling each year and they’ve now even started working in primary schools with 9-11 year olds.

Greenpower reflects the success of Formula Student, which is a similar event for university students. This year there were 135 teams from 23 countries, over 2500 students in total.

Green motorsport is an ideal way to attract younger people to the area of green cars, showing that cars can be low emission and fun at the same time.

One North East

The Green Vehicle Congress took place in Newcastle, in the heart of the area of the Regional Development Agency One North East. One North East is a leader in low carbon vehicles, and a separate feature, coming soon, focuses on what One North East is doing in this sector.

For more information about the Green Vehicle Congress contact info@green-car-guide.com

Keywords: 2010 Green Vehicle Congress, The Future of Green Cars, Cenex, BIS, UK Trade & Investment, ONE North East, Shell, NAIGT, OLEV, Automotive Council, electric vehicle trials, low carbon vehicle public procurement, Portugal’s integrated electric mobility model, Green Wheels Car Club Amsterdam, electric cars in London, Green Motorsport, TTX GP eGrand Prix, Oaktec Honda hybrid rally team, Greenpower, Formula Student, One North East.