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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

US PIRG report finds reduced driving and rates of car commuting in most populous US urbanized areas

December 08, 2013

VMT per capita has declined across the US (2006 to 2011). States with shading are missing reliable data for all or part of an urbanized area, and ‘X’s denote the location of excluded urbanized areas. Source: US PIRG. Click to enlarge.

A new report by the US PIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group details reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in the US’ most populous urbanized areas, as well as greater use of public transit and biking in most cities. The average American drives 7.6% fewer miles today than when per-capita driving peaked in 2004.

The report, “Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities,” is based on the most current available government data and is, according to US PIRG, the first national study to compare transportation trends for America’s largest cities and lists results for each. Among the report’s national findings:

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SAE New Energy Vehicle Forum: China’s focus on NEVs may have profound impact on future of transportation

November 13, 2013

China has a number of critical economic and environmental imperatives driving its pursuit of vehicle electrification, said the roster of plenary speakers at the SAE 2013 New Energy Vehicle Forum held in Shanghai this week. These include the increasingly problematic pollution and haze in cities; China’s projected increased reliance on imported oil; the need for rationalized multimodal transportation systems in ever more congested and space-limited cities; the growing dominance of the China auto market; and the desire to have China become the leader in the next generation of automotive technology, vehicles and mobility systems.

The shift from fossil fuels to electricity—while held in common with other countries—will be based on the “specific situation” in China, making the best use of China’s own advantages and innovations, but also with international cooperation, said Dr. Zhixin Wu, Vice President of the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC). The details of that specific situation may result in an electric vehicle parc somewhat different than in Western countries, other speakers noted, and may indeed—given the obvious scale of the China market—herald a major transformation in transportation, including the type and role of personal vehicles, others suggested.

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Toyota showing latest fuel cell concept, hybrid minivan, other future mobility vehicles at Tokyo show

November 05, 2013

Toyota FCV Concept. Click to enlarge.

Toyota confirmed that it will display its latest fuel cell vehicle concept along with four other world premiere future mobility concepts at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. The Toyota FCV Concept is a practical concept of the fuel cell vehicle Toyota plans to launch around 2015 as a pioneer in the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles. The vehicle has a driving range of at least 500 km (311 miles) and refueling times as low as three minutes, roughly the same time as for a gasoline vehicle.

The Toyota FC Stack has a power output density of 3 kW/L, more than twice that of the current “Toyota FCHV-adv” FC Stack, and an output of at least 100 kW. In addition, the FC system is equipped with Toyota’s high-efficiency boost converter. Increasing the voltage has made it possible to reduce the size of the motor and the number of fuel cells, leading to a smaller system offering enhanced performance at reduced cost.

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Navigant Research tags Jiangsu Xinri E-Vehicle Company as leader in e-scooter market

October 15, 2013

Navigant ranks Jiangsu Xinri E-Vehicle Company as the top e-scooter company. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge.

According to a new Leaderboard report from Navigant Research, Jiangsu Xinri E-Vehicle Company is the best positioned company in the global e-scooter market in terms of strategy and execution.

Although still a nascent market in most regions of the world, electric scooters sell in significant numbers in Asia Pacific today, according to Navigant Research. Sales of e-scooters in China alone are expected to reach 9.4 million in 2013, compared to 2.6 million in all other countries combined. Sales in regions outside of Asia Pacific are estimated at 31,338 vehicles in 2013, Navigant said.

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Navigant forecasts modest growth in global e-bike market through 2020; China slowing

April 05, 2013

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that the global market for e-bicycles will grow at a modest rate of 3.1% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) from 31 million in 2013 to nearly 38 million in 2020. North America, Western Europe, and Latin America will show signs of faster growth (9.7%, 9.1%, and 14.4% CAGR, respectively), the market research firm anticipates. Western Europe is currently the second largest market (behind China) with an expected 1.0 million sales in 2013 and growth to 1.9 million by 2020.

Navigant expects the China market will reach 28.0 million e-bicycles in 2013: 92% of the total world market. The e-bicycle market in China is slowing, however, due to a weakened economy, increased consolidation of manufacturers, and supply chain issues in the lead-acid battery market, Navigant says.

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Mayor of London proposes $1.4B cycling plan for the city; “Crossrail for the bike”

March 07, 2013

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will has outlined a vision for a £913-million (US$1.48-billion) investment in cycling infrastructure for the city.

Among other features, the plans would create a “Crossrail for the bike”—a route that will run for more than 15 miles (24 km), very substantially segregated, from the western suburbs, through the heart of London, to Canary Wharf and Barking. It would use new Dutch-style segregated cycle tracks along, among other places, the Victoria Embankment and the Westway flyover. It is believed to be the longest substantially-segregated cycle route of any city in Europe.

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Toyota, City of Grenoble, Grenoble-Alpes Métropole, Cité lib, EDF launch ultra-compact urban EV car-sharing project; i-ROAD and COMS

March 04, 2013

Concept of the Grenoble urban EV car-sharing project. Click to enlarge.

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), the city of Grenoble, the Grenoble-Alpes Métropole, car-sharing service operator Cité lib, and French energy provider Électricité de France (EDF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to begin by the end of 2014 a collaborative zero-emission ultra-compact urban electric vehicle car-sharing project in Grenoble aimed at addressing “last mile” transportation needs for those using public transportation.

TMC plans to supply nearly 70 ultra-compact electric vehicles for the 3-year project, including the COMS ultra-compact vehicle produced by Toyota Auto Body (earlier post), as well as a new vehicle based on the Toyota i-ROAD concept vehicle. (Earlier post.)

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Toyota unveils i-ROAD 3-wheeled electric personal mobility vehicle concept at Geneva

i-ROAD concept showing Active Lean in action. Click to enlarge.

Toyota unveiled the new i-ROAD three-wheeled electric personal mobility vehicle (PMV) concept at the Geneva motor show. Seating two in tandem and under cover, i-ROAD has a range of up to 30 miles (50km) on a single charge. Using “Active Lean” technology, it is safe, intuitive and enjoyable to drive, with no need for driver or passenger to wear a helmet.

The all-electric powertrain uses a lithium-ion battery to power two 2 kW motors mounted in the front wheels, giving brisk acceleration and near-silent running. Driving range is around 30 miles, after which the battery can be fully recharged from a conventional domestic power supply in three hours.

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Daimler creates subsidiary for innovative mobility services; targeting €100M revenue within next 24 months

January 21, 2013

As part of its plan to significantly expand the mobility services business operations, Daimler Financial Services AG (DFS) has created a subsidiary known as Daimler Mobility Services GmbH (DMS). Daimler’s car2go, moovel, and other mobility services have been consolidated into DMS. The new company’s headquarters are in Stuttgart.

Daimler Financial Services is responsible for the provision of mobility services within the Daimler Group. In 2011, the company assumed responsibility for managing the car2go mobility concept developed by the Group’s Business Innovation department. In addition to car2go, the moovel smartphone app is another mobility service offered by Daimler Financial Services.

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Avis Budget group to acquire car-sharing company Zipcar in cash deal for approximately $500 million

January 02, 2013

Avis Budget sees car-sharing as a rapidly growing component of the mobility industry, with Zipcar well positioned for the opportunity. Source: Avis Budget. Click to enlarge.

Rental car company Avis Budget Group, Inc. has agreed to acquire car-sharing company Zipcar for $12.25 per share in cash, a 49% premium over the closing price on 31 December 2012, representing a total transaction value of approximately $500 million. Founded in 2000, Zipcar operates the largest member-based, car sharing network in the world.

The transaction is subject to approval by Zipcar shareholders and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013. The Boards of Directors of both companies unanimously approved the transaction, and Zipcar shareholders representing approximately 32% of the outstanding common stock have agreed to vote their shares in support of the transaction.

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Study examines potential for alternatives to new car ownership models to advance EV market

December 24, 2012

A new study by the RAC Foundation and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) examines the potential for alternatives to new car ownership models to kick-start the electric vehicle market. The paper, “Car Rental 2.0”, summarizes the findings from a joint seminar held by the RAC Foundation and BVRLA earlier this year on alternatives to car ownership: car rental, traditional and one-way car clubs, and ridesharing.

The paper also explores the role of local authorities and central government in creating the necessary policy framework for car clubs and the rental market to mature.

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