|i-MiEVs for the CABLED trials. Click to enlarge.|
The first stage of a Government-supported UK-wide project to trial electric and ultra low emission vehicles began Saturday in the West Midlands with the keys to 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) (earlier post) being handed over to independent drivers. The project, managed by the CABLED (Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Vehicle Demonstrators) consortium, is worth £15 million (US$24 million) and will trial 110 vehicles on the roads of Birmingham and Coventry.
UK-wide, 340 vehicles are being tested using funding from the Technology Strategy Board. (Earlier post.) As well as being the largest, CABLED is the first consortium to begin vehicle trials and has recently gained further public backing thanks to £2.5 million (US$4 million) funding awarded by Advantage West Midlands (one of nine Regional Development Agencies in the UK).
|i-MiEV Quick Specs|
The CABLED consortium was confirmed in June as one of eight successful teams in the £25 million Technology Strategy Board Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Demonstrator Competition. The consortium brings together the expertise of 13 West Midlands-based organizations within the engineering, automotive manufacturing, academic, public and infrastructure sectors, and is led by global engineering consultancy Arup.
Less than 1% of the vehicles registered every year in the UK are electric and most of these are currently used in London. We think that by 2020, low carbon cars will be commercially viable, and it’s important that we start to understand the public’s reaction and provide the necessary infrastructure to prepare for this.
Today’s launch is a landmark occasion for the UK automotive industry, and this project will begin to examine the points where the vehicles meet the built environment—energy generation, battery charging and driver behavior. This is an important first step on our roads to a low-carbon future.
—Neil Butcher, Arup’s project leader of the CABLED consortium
Drivers selected for the trials of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and 85 other vehicles in the Midlands trials were chosen through an application process led by Coventry University. The other five manufacturers that will roll out vehicles in 2010, include:
- smart ed (40 battery electric cars)
- Tata Indica (25 electric cars)
- Microcab (10 hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles)
- Land Rover Range_e (5 plug in hybrid vehicles)
- LTI (5 electric taxis)
All six automakers contributing vehicles are members of the CABLED consortium. 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 with Coventry University undertaking the selection process of drivers, Aston University analysing vehicle usage data and the University of Birmingham contributing access and expertise gained from its hydrogen fuelling station, which is currently one of the very few of its kind in UK. A new hydrogen station is planned for Coventry University.
The West Midlands has the largest of the UK’s regional automotive clusters, delivering 28% of output in the UK. It represents just more than 1,500 companies, employs around 115,000 people and generates an annual turnover of £13 billion (US$21 billion).