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UK TSB Awards £25M to Eight Low-Carbon Vehicle Demonstration Projects; Focus On Electric Vehicles

Eight new low carbon vehicle projects will receive a share of £25 million (US$41 million) of funding from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator to run ‘real-life’ trials. The project, which will put 340 vehicles on the road in trials within the next six to eighteen months, will be the biggest of its kind and is intended to accelerate the availability of low carbon cars to consumers.

The majority of the vehicles are electric, with a small number being plug-in gasoline-electric hybrids. The information gained from this project will contribute to the future plans of manufacturers and their partners to develop low carbon vehicles for the mass market.

The government investment will support the investment already made by the consortia themselves.

Low Carbon doesn’t mean low performance. Modern electric cars offer power and bucket loads of torque. Today’s announcement signals our intent to reduce our dependence on petrol- and diesel-based engines, and determine the best practical alternatives.

—Lord Drayson, Science Minister in the newly formed Department for Business Innovation & Skills

The Technology Strategy Board created the Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator competition to act as a catalyst for industry, the public sector and academia to come together to create low emission vehicles and provide solutions to powering them.

The winning consortia

CABLED. The West Midlands consortium, called CABLED—short for Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrators—is made up of 13 organizations, led by Arup, a company with experience that crosses all areas that touch this project, from vehicle design to planning, to infrastructure and energy.

The consortium will develop and demonstrate 110 road-worthy vehicles to be trialed in the two cities over 12 months, 40 of which will be smart electric vehicles.

Part funding for the project has been requested from the regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands.

Each of the six vehicle manufacturers—Jaguar/Land Rover, Mitsubishi/Colt, Mercedes Benz/Smart, Tata Motors, LTI and Microcab Industries—are contributing vehicles towards the low carbon scheme, which includes a mix of fully electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Electricity providers E.ON are delivering charging points for the trial with assistance from the city councils of Birmingham and Coventry.

Three of the Midland’s leading universities play a major role in the scheme: Coventry University on the selection of drivers; Aston University in the analysis of vehicle usage; and the University of Birmingham in the use of hydrogen fueling station – theirs is currently one of the very few of its kind in UK. A new hydrogen station is planned for Coventry University.

EVADINE. Electric Vehicle Accelerated Development in the North East is a £10.7-million North East project that will see an initial 35 passenger vehicles developed in the region, which is already home to one of Europe’s most productive car plants, Nissan, and Smith Electric Vehicles, the world-leading manufacturer of commercial electric vehicles.

The consortium consists of Nissan, Smith Electric Vehicles in partnership with LTI, AVID Vehicles, Liberty Electric Cars, Newcastle University and One North East. The project will include 15 Nissan cars, 10 Smith electric taxis, five Smith people carriers, a Smith executive minibus, two AVID saloon cars and two Liberty urban Range Rovers, alongside a network of charging points. Newcastle University’s Transport Operations Research Group will monitor and model the performance and use of the vehicles.

Ford Focus Battery Electric Vehicle. With support from Scottish and Southern Energy, a fleet of prototype Ford Focus BEVs will be used by both the energy company and evaluation drivers based in Hillingdon, Middlesex.

A consortium of Ford, Scottish and Southern Energy and Strathclyde University will provide the prototype vehicles and a charging infrastructure in and around Hillingdon during 2010. Ford of Europe is specially developing the prototype Focus BEVs to participate in the scheme and test the technology’s suitability for potential future application in Ford’s European passenger car range.

London South East Bid. Since 2007, smart has been trialing 100 smart electric cars with partner companies across the country. The resulting positive feedback has been instrumental in the decision to put the car into small series production.

Additional cars will be brought to the UK in early 2010 when smart will be carrying out an important trial with the support of the Technology Strategy Board. Individuals can apply to participate in these research trials across the London South East and West Midlands regions.

The research will include a focus on domestic recharging behavior over a 12-month period. 60 vehicles are planned for the London South East region.

London South East partner organizations include: EDF Energy; Greater London Authority; Elektromotive; Westminster City Council.

MINI E Research Project. Funding provided by the Technology Strategy Board is supporting a 12 month field trial of 40 MINI E models. The trial will evaluate the technical and social aspects of living with an all-electric vehicle in a real world environment.

In addition to BMW Group, the consortium includes Scottish and Southern Energy, responsible for providing the infrastructure in and around Oxford and the South-East of England by installing the private and public charging points. Oxford Brookes University’s Sustainable Vehicle Engineering Centre will be responsible for undertaking scientific data analysis, as well as conducting customer surveys to capture the subjective feedback from users of the MINI E test vehicles.

The Allied Vehicles Project. The Allied Vehicles Project aims to design, test and bring to production 40 battery electric cars by October 2009, via partners Allied Vehicles, Glasgow City Council, ScottishPower, Axeon and Strathclyde University.

The vehicles will have a range of 80 to 100 miles on a full recharge and will be capable of recharging from domestic or commercial power supply. The performance of the vehicles will be tested to UN-ECE regulation 101.

This project will produce a range of passenger battery electric vehicles based on the Peugeot car range and Peugeot Expert Teepees. Converted by Allied Vehicles, a proportion of the vehicles will be equipped to transport wheelchair passengers, thus widening the range of potential users as far as possible.

The vehicles will be tested in Glasgow, where Glasgow City Council is committed to a low carbon future; the Council will nominate a variety of users of the vehicles during the test period until December 2010.

40 charging points will be located around Glasgow. During this one-year test period the vehicles will be monitored using a GPS system to record the number and length of individual journeys, the date and time and the energy usage of each journey, the time and length of charging and the ambient temperature. This data will be gathered via the internet for analysis by experts at Strathclyde University and then be made available to ScottishPower.

PHV. Toyota and EDF Energy will deploy a trial of up to 20 Toyota Plug in Hybrid Vehicles (PHV). Toyota intends to lease the vehicles to existing Toyota Prius fleet customers including a mix of public bodies and private companies. The trials will start in mid-2010, predominately within London for a period of 3 years.

The trial will assess the vehicle’s performance in urban driving conditions while also gathering information about the experience of drivers and passengers. This would include an understanding of their habits and preferences when recharging the vehicle—either at home, using a standard electrical point, or at charging points at vehicle fleet depots and elsewhere.

Based on Toyota’s full hybrid technology, the new PHV will come equipped with a new lithium-ion battery extending the vehicle’s range in electric vehicle mode allowing for zero-emissions drive.

Since September 2008, Toyota and EDF Energy have been trialing one current PHV unit in London.

EEMS Accelerate. The ‘EEMS Accelerate’ project will put 21 electric sports cars on the road for 12 months. By monitoring every aspect of their performance over a variety of drive cycles, the project results are expected to provide a boost to widespread adoption of these “aspirational” vehicles.

AEA, one of the world’s leading energy, climate change and data management consultancies, will lead the consortium. AEA will provide specialist project management, energy and environmental assessment, dissemination and market analysis expertise.

The electric vehicles will be produced by four UK automotive partners:

  • Delta Motorsport, an automotive engineering consultancy with a pedigree in vehicle development and engineering, early stage concept projects, aerodynamic consultancy and design work for Formula 1 teams;

  • Lightning Car company, a privately-owned firm with a small team of design, engineering production and marketing specialists;

  • Westfield Sports cars, one of the larger niche vehicle manufacturers in the UK, experienced in the development of lightweight vehicles for road and motorsport applications, with a development focus on hybrid and electric vehicle technology; and

  • Ecotricity cars, electric cars created by the UK’s leading green electricity company (charged via energy derived from wind turbines).

Green-Motion, Europe’s first car and van rental network focused on providing low emission vehicles will be providing fleet management and support services to the project.

The project will support a program of demonstration, testing and performance enhancement while simultaneously showcasing UK engineering and design expertise. The electric sports cars will be placed with driving enthusiasts where they will be used for commuting and leisure purposes, including closed-circuit driving.

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