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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.]

BASF and Floatility partner on ultra-lightweight solar-powered electric scooter: 12kg e-floater

March 26, 2015

BASF and Floatility have partnered for the development of an ultra-lightweight and solar-powered electric scooter. Weighing less than 12 kilograms (26.5 lbs) and consisting of more than 80% composite and plastic materials from BASF, the scooter will give commuters the sensation of floating and thus has been named ‘e-floater’. The e-floater is designed to bridge the gap on the last mile between home or city center and the nearest public transport.

BASF will provide versatile plastic materials and support the project with its extensive development capabilities. Molding multiple parts to create complex shapes with plastic materials enables design freedom and the streamlined construction of the ‘e-floater’.

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Ford’s Go!Drive car sharing on-demand experiment in London entering beta phase

March 19, 2015

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Ford’s Go!Drive on-demand car sharing experiment apps allows users to register, select a vehicle and pay through a mobile app. Click to enlarge.

Ford’s Go!Drive car sharing on-demand experiment in London is entering its beta phase, which will entail ramping up the fleet from 20 to 50 units and beginning to look at different elements of customer access around car sharing, including pricing and incentives in terms of how the car sharing model and operate smoothly and efficiently, according to Alicia Agius, product innovation manager of Ford Europe.

Go!Drive was originally announced as “City Driving On-Demand” and is one of the original set of 25 Smart Mobility experiments announced by Ford CEO Mark Fields at CES in January. (Earlier post.) While there are many car-sharing services based on the reservation model, the focus of this experiment is on-demand use, as well as gaining understanding about EV preference—half of the Go!Drive fleet is Focus Electrics, the other half Ford Fiestas with EcoBoost engines. Go!Drive provides guaranteed parking and one-way rentals; there is no membership fee and the cost is 17p/min ($.26/min). The target is to have more than 2,000 Londoners in the program.

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German project exploring integration of electromobility with transport services

March 09, 2015

A project funded by the German government—“BiE – Bewertung integrierter Elektromobilität” (evaluation of integrated electromobility)—is exploring how mobility services (such as public transport services and car sharing) can be integrated better with electric vehicles and into the everyday life of users. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding BiE with €2 million (US$2.2 million) under the federal program “Electric Mobility”. BiE is part of the “Cluster Electric Mobility South-West”. The joint project is coordinated by cantamen GmbH, a provider of IT solutions for fleets and carsharing.

The BiE project focuses on concepts for the seamless cooperation of various mobility service providers as well as on the optimized planning of larger, electrically driven car sharing fleets. The paramount project goal is to design an evaluation system for the integration of electric mobility into everyday life. Based on characteristics, the project tools will make specific calculations regarding the use of electric mobility in various areas.

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Volkswagen Group invested €11.5B (US$12.9B) in R&D in 2014; ongoing focus on electromobility and digitalization of vehicles

March 02, 2015

The Volkswagen Group invested €11.5 billion in research and development last year, more than ever before and more than any other company worldwide. Speaking on the eve of the Geneva International Motor Show, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, underscored the Group’s increasingly aggressive R&D stance: “Volkswagen is an innovation think tank. We develop technologies that point the way well into the future.

According to Winterkorn, the company now employs 46,000 researchers and developers as well as more than 10,000 IT experts, all of whom are working on the mobility of the future such as alternative drive concepts or the digitalization of vehicles and factories. He went on to say that the car manufacturer is positioning itself at the forefront of automotive change with its forward-looking “Future Tracks” program. (Earlier post.)

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Ford expands Smart Mobility projects with connected e-bike study

Ford Motor Company is expanding its global Ford Smart Mobility plan (earlier post) with a new experiment to study how connected electric bicycles can work seamlessly with cars and public transport to deliver faster and easier daily commutes and help businesses operating in urban centers.

Ford detailed the new experiment called Handle on Mobility at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Ford Smart Mobility is the company’s plan to help change the way the world moves through innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data. These experiments will help test transportation ideas for better customer experiences, more flexible user-ship models and social collaboration that can reward customers.

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Siemens researching use of infrastructure radar sensor networks to support parking management

February 26, 2015

Siemens is researching the use of infrastructure sensor networks in an advanced parking management solution intended to counter the increasing parking space crisis in cities. The system, analogous to vehicle-based research underway by Ford Motor on the same problem (earlier post), will be used this spring for the first time in a pilot project in Berlin.

In the Siemens concept, networks of stationary sensors collect information about the parking situation in cities. The information is forwarded to the drivers in order to make it easier for them to find unoccupied parking spaces. In addition, the data is transmitted to a parking management center so that cities can intelligently manage their parking spaces.

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Ford targeting smart parking as element of Smart Mobility; vehicle sensors, connectivity and big data

February 18, 2015

At CES 2015 in January, Ford CEO Mark Fields announced “Ford Smart Mobility”—a plan to use innovation to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data. (Earlier post.) Three of the initial projects announced as part of the plan address the ongoing problem of urban parking.

Although there are “dozens” of apps available that can help a driver find a parking space, said Dave McCreadie, Ford’s manager of electric vehicle infrastructure and smart grid technology and part of the cross-functional group working on the mobility projects, “the data behind the apps seems a bit thin.” Ford’s idea is to leverage the cloud, in-vehicle sensors, connectivity and advanced data analysis including probability algorithms to provide a much more comprehensive picture of available parking without incurring a cost in infrastructure build-out.

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ARCADIS Sustainable Cities Index: US cities held back by transportation, environmental factors

February 16, 2015

The largest US cities—New York, Los Angeles and Chicago—score best in economic factors but are hindered by poor transportation infrastructure, lack of green spaces and diminishing affordable housing, according to the inaugural Sustainable Cities Index by ARCADIS, a leading global natural and built asset design and consultancy firm.

Well established European cities come top of the overall rankings, with Frankfurt in first place, followed by London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Asian cities show the most divergence, with Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore in the top ten and Manila, Mumbai, Wuhan and New Delhi forming four of the bottom five cites. No North American city makes it into the top ten. Toronto is the highest ranked at 12th; Boston (15th) and Chicago (19th) are the most sustainable US cities.

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Ford enters 2 new European research collaborations for innovation in mobility and autonomous vehicles

February 04, 2015

Ford Motor Company has entered into two new research collaborations driving innovation in mobility and autonomous vehicles.

This month, the Ford European Research & Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, and the Technology and Innovation Management Institute of RWTH Aachen University will launch the Personal Mobility Experience Innovation project. Ford also this year is contributing to the UK Autodrive initiative that is researching how driverless and connected cars can be integrated into everyday life.

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Ford opens new Silicon Valley research center; focus on connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, big data

January 22, 2015

Ford has opened its new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, growing its global research team and accelerating the company’s work in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.

The new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto joins Ford’s global network of research and innovation centers, including its location in Dearborn, Michigan, which focuses on advanced electronics, human-machine interface, materials science, big data and analytics; and Aachen, Germany, which focuses on next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies and active safety systems.

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Ford announces Smart Mobility plan; 25 initial projects

January 06, 2015

At CES, Ford CEO Mark Fields announced “Ford Smart Mobility”—a plan to use innovation to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data. The initial step is the creation of 25 mobility experiments across the globe designed to help change the way the world moves.

Smart Mobility builds upon Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility (earlier post). As outlined by Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford in his keynote at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Blueprint for Mobility defines the start of Ford’s thinking on what transportation will look like in 2025 and beyond, and the technologies, business models and partnerships needed to get there.

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ARPA-E tackles multi-modal transportation with approximately $10M in funding for TRANSNET

November 11, 2014

ARPA-E is making approximately $10 million in funding available for a new program, TRANSNET (Traveler Response Architecture using Novel Signaling for Network Efficiency in Transportation), designed to optimize energy efficiency in multi-modal, urban transportation networks (e.g. personal vehicles, buses, light rail, etc.).

In 2013, the United States used more than 25% of its energy supply for the purpose of moving people and goods from one place to another, the agency noted. Even modest improvements that reduce transportation energy consumption can reduce energy imports and greenhouse gas emissions, two of ARPA-E’s primary goals.

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UC Davis, ITDP study suggests global shift to public transport, NMT and away from cars could save $100T through 2050 and cut GHGs

September 19, 2014

One of the more affordable ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions is to design cities to give people clean options for using public transportation, walking and cycling and to move away from car-centric development, according to a new report released by the University of California, Davis, and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

The study by Michael Replogle, ITDP, and Lewis M. Fulton, UC Davis, examines how major changes in urban transport investments worldwide would affect urban passenger transport emissions as well as mobility by different income groups.

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Toyota and partners launching Cité lib by Ha:mo EV car sharing in Grenoble; ultracompact EVs complementing public transport

September 13, 2014

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Toyota i-ROAD and COMS for use in "Cité lib by Ha:mo" EV sharing trial in Grenoble, France. Click to enlarge.

The City of Grenoble, France, its metropolitan area Grenoble-Alpes Metropole, EDF and its affiliate Sodetrel, Toyota Motor Corporation and Cité lib officially launched the new “Cité lib by Ha:mo” electric vehicle car-sharing service. (Earlier post.)

Offering a new type of mobility based on ultra-compact electric vehicles, the service aims to complement Grenoble’s public transport network with a solution for short-trips—including one-way trips—that can be planned as part of overall city journeys. The vehicles and the charging stations are seamlessly connected to the IT infrastructure of Grenoble’s transport network, offering both route planning and online/mobile app reservations.

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World premiere of new smart fortwo and forfour

July 16, 2014

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The new smart fortwo: Body panels in white, tridion safety cell in lava orange (metallic). The new smart forfour: Body in white, tridion safety cell in black. Click to enlarge.

In a world premiere staged in Berlin, Daimler brand smart unveiled the new versions of its iconic smart fortwo and forfour city cars. The new smart fortwo, developed in partnership with Renault (sharing the third-generation Twingo platform) has undergone improvements in virtually all areas and is markedly more comfortable, while the smart rear engine concept is now being offered for the first time in the four-seater smart forfour as well.

Drive power is supplied by three-cylinder engines rated at 45 kW/60 hp, 52 kW/71 hp and 66 kW/90 hp, while power transmission is performed by a five-speed manual transmission or the twinamic automatic dual clutch transmission. A new version of the smart fortwo electric drive (earlier post), based on the new model, will follow.

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Ford launches innovate mobility challenge series

Ford launched its Innovate Mobility Challenge Series, inviting the developer and maker communities to come together to find innovative mobility solutions in eight different locations around the world. The worldwide challenges kicked off in Lisbon, Portugal; Los Angeles, United States; and Mumbai, India; before moving on to Delhi and the Chennai region in India; Shanghai, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; and a countrywide challenge in Argentina.

For each competition, Ford will partner with local authorities and experts to address different issues in each location. The competitions will be judged by a panel of Ford executives involved in researching mobility solutions, as well as by local experts selected for each competition.

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UR:BAN research project gives mid-term update on advanced driver assistance systems, connected vehicles

May 24, 2014

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Mid-term review in the UR:BAN research project. Click to enlarge.

Partners in Germany’s UR:BAN research consortium recently gave a mid-term status report on the three major component projects in an event at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Braunschweig, Germany. UR:BAN—User oriented assistance systems and network management—is developing advanced driver assistance and traffic management systems for cities. The focus is on the human element in all aspects of mobility and traffic.

Consortium members in the four-year project include: Opel; Audi; BMW Group; BMW Forschung und Technik; Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen; Continental; Daimler; Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft u. Organisation; GEVAS Software; Heusch/Boesefeldt; ifak Magdeburg; Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft des Saarlandes; MAN Truck & Bus; PTV Group; Robert Bosch; RWTH Aachen; Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf; Stadt Kassel; Technische Universität Braunschweig; Technische Universität Chemnitz; Technische Universität München; TomTom Development Germany; TRANSVER; Universität der Bundeswehr München; Universität Duisburg-Essen; Universität Kassel; Universität Würzburg; and Volkswagen AG. Numerous additional university and research institutes as well as small and mid-size companies are also participating in the projects as subcontractors.

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European Court of Auditors finds 2/3 of EU-funded transportation projects underutilized

April 11, 2014

A report published by the European Court of Auditors (ECA)—the official institution that audits EU finances—found that two-thirds of urban transport projects co-financed by EU structural funds are underutilized. Weaknesses in project design and inadequate mobility policy were two of the main contributory factors identified.

The EU auditors analysed the performance of 26 public urban transport projects in 11 cities in five Member States. For each project, the audit team met the relevant stakeholders involved in implementing the audited projects. The auditors also physically visited the co-financed facilities, and the operating and maintenance centres. They found that overestimation of users and the lack of coordination between modes of transport, parking policy and the absence of urban mobility plans contributed to underutilization.

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