Frost & Sullivan consultant suggests European EV success will require radical lightweighting plus enabling legislation
|The 400 kg (curbweight) Aixam quadricycle, with a 400cc two-cylinder diesel, is an example of the size and weight needed in future city vehicles, Meilhan suggests. Click to enlarge.|
Significant vehicle weight reduction and an accompanying change of enabling regulations and norms is the way forward in the quest to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, according to Paris-based Frost & Sullivan Senior Consultant, Nicolas Meilhan.
The car of the future is a small city car, but not necessarily electric, Meilhan suggests. The future of electric vehicles (EVs) depends on regulations from governments and the European Union, incentivizing the consumer to buy them. Legislations for taxing weight size and engine power will help produce and sell such a car. Making parking even more expensive for regular cars will help. Other incentives for small cars, such as being allowed to drive in bus lines, as practiced in Norway, would certainly improve the business case for EVs.
Governments should consider to pass legislations increasing tax on ordinary cars based on their weight as well as make car parking more expensive—€200 [US$263] per month instead of €12 [US$16] per month for residential parking in Paris, for example. That way you might have a chance to change the car market into an electric one, or at least one that emits less CO2 and consumes less energy, whether it is electric or not.—Nicolas Meilhan
EV sales performance. According to the latest AID newsletter, electric vehicle (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) sales reached 20,558 units in Western Europe for the first 10 months of 2012. During the same period, the US registered 38,000 units sold, half of it being Chevrolet’s Volt.
Worldwide, not more than 100,000 electric vehicles are expected to be sold in 2012. While the penetration of sales in the US stands at 0.6% for 2012, it is even lower for Europe with 0.21%. European Renault, though at the forefront of producing EVs in Europe (earlier post), is one of the vehicle manufacturers with the worst performance in Europe, consultancy Frost & Sullivan notes.
Renault invested approximately $5 billion in the production of electric vehicles, which prevented them from investing in new models of conventional cars. Whether this strategy pays off and the Renault Zoé attracts much interest remains to be seen, the consultancy cautions.
The current EV market is a fleet market, a B2B market, not a B2C market. A lot of people think the EV is the perfect car for the city. But the truth is it only addresses the local pollution issue; it neither addresses the congestion problems nor the parking issue most cities face today.
If you really want to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption, especially in cities, then governments and local authorities should only allow cars with a maximum 500 kg (1,100 lbs) weight. A 500 kg gasoline car—a gasoline Twizy for example (which does not exist)—emits less CO2 in its lifecycle than a the Renault Zoé EV weighing 1400 kg [3,086 lbs].
If you compare the same Renault Zoé (EV) with a bike, the easiest means of transport in the city, then you have to put more than 140 people into the car in order to make it as energy efficient as your 10 kg bike.—Nicolas Meilhan
Weight. 50 years ago, the average weight of a French car was 758 kg (1,671 lbs), 500 kg lighter than today’s average weight of 1,266 kg (2,791 lbs); car weight has increased by as much as 10 kg (22 lbs) per year for the last 50 years. A car of approximately 500 kg of weight is as big as the iconic little 2CV, for which production was stopped 20 years ago, but which could be the car of the future in cities.
|The Ligier JS50. Click to enlarge.|
Such light vehicles consuming 2L per 100 km (118 mpg US) already exist. The Aixam or the Ligier are quadricycles with a consumption of 2.5L (94 mpg US), which do the most important thing a car should do in a city, Meilhan notes: take the driver from A to B. You can almost park two quadricycles in one car park where one 5m length BMW 7 Series would fit. And finally, it reduces congestion as it is smaller.
The 400 kg (82 lbs) curbweight Ligier IXO Urban uses a 0.5L 2-cylinder diesel engine developing 4 kW (5.4 hp) and 17.0 N·m (12.5 lb-ft) of torque, with fuel consumption of 3.57 l/100km (66 mpg US). Top speed is 45 km/h (28 mph). The new Ligier JS50, available in February 2013, offers fuel consumption of 2.5 l/100km.
The 400 kg Aixam city quadricycles weigh some 350 kg (771 lbs) unladen and feature a 0.4L 2-cylinder diesel engine that develops 4 kW (5.4 hp) and 14 N·m (10.3 lb-ft) of torque; fuel consumption is listed as 2.96 l/100 km (79 mpg US). Top speed is 45 km/h
The car of the future for cities is small and above all, light. However for major European car OEMs to focus on the production of such lightweight electric cars, the authorities have to put legislation in place to promote lightweight small vehicles.
First reduce the weight and the size of the car, then add a small battery (because for a small car, you can use a small battery), then you have the ultimate city car. The BMW’s 7 Series weighs up to 2t just to carry 70kg. This is an energetic non-sense.—Nicolas Meilhan
The Kei-car in Japan on the other hand, he sugests, is the car to look at with a 660cc engine and a maximum of 3.4m length. But the most important advantages of this vehicle are all related regulatory advantages, reduced taxes, reduced annual road taxes, reduced insurance etc, granted by the Japanese government.
If you really want to move towards such a car, you need to have a strong legislation on the weight of the car, and not only the CO2 emission. If you want to develop a successful EV, you need to minimise battery size as well, as it is heavy and expensive.
If you can ‘fuel’ your car every day at home, you do not need a big battery. 80 percent of daily drips are less than 60 km (37 miles) so there is not a single reason to put in a battery which has a larger autonomy than 60 km. Of course you need to add a small range extender to cover 20 percent of the daily trips where you drive longer distances.—Nicolas Meilhan