New laws to extend the High Speed 2 line will be announced in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech as part of a drive on key infrastructure projects.
Legislation to encourage space rockets to be launched from UK soil and to spread the use of electric cars will also be included in the two-year programme, which will otherwise be dominated by Brexit.
A Bill that will allow the extension of the HS2 rail project from Birmingham to Manchester will be announced in the Queen’s Speech. Officials say that as well as providing quick trains to London, the development will expand capacity on commuter lines.
Phase one of HS2 London to Birmingham has been approved by Parliament but even by the most optimistic estimates will not be completed for another decade.
Ministers said they want to establish spaceports in ‘regions across the UK’, to allow satellites to be sent into space for the first time from UK soil, and to allow spacecraft to fly to the edge of the atmosphere. Satellites cannot currently be launched from the UK.
The new law will allow ministers to licence various space-related activities including rockets, ‘space planes’, and satellite operation. Other powers will make it easier for drivers of electric cars to register to use charging points. There are an estimated 100,000 electric cars and vans on Britain’s roads.
DETROIT — Autonomous vehicles with no human backup will be put to the test on publicly traveled roads as early as next year in what may be the first attempt at unassisted autonomous piloting.
Automotive electronics and parts maker Delphi and French transport company Transdev plan to use autonomous taxis and a shuttle van to carry passengers on roadways in France.
The companies on Wednesday said they plan to combine Delphi’s self-driving technology with Transdev’s knowledge of mobility operations. Transdev operates trains, buses, ferries and other transportation services in 19 countries, including the U.S.
Two on-demand Renault Zoe autonomous taxis will be deployed in Rouen, Normandy, and a shuttle van will run between a rail station and campus in the university district of Paris-Saclay. Both will start with humans on board later this year, with the intent of going fully autonomous sometime in 2018. From the start, the shuttle van won’t have a steering wheel or pedals, and humans will be inside solely to communicate with passengers, said Leriche, chief performance officer at Transdev Group.
But humans at a central dispatch center would still be able to take control of the vehicles, said Glen De Vos, Delphi Corp.’s chief technology officer.
“We’re confident that in the event they would need to intervene, they can,”
The companies also plan a similar test in North America and are scouting locations, De Vos said.
He believes they’ll go through several iterations of self-driving software and systems before the French vehicles are fully operational sometime in 2019.
Transdev plans to gradually spread the technology throughout Paris and other cities that it serves, so the autonomous vehicles will be on roads along with human drivers.
It may take a while for people to trust the vehicles enough to use them, but Leriche said acceptance may not be that hard to get. Transdev has surveyed users in autonomous shuttle tests about the service and quality, and more than 90 percent were excited about the service.
“They were not afraid of the fact that there was no driver,”
The partnership comes less than a month after U.K.-based Delphi joined with BMW, Intel and Mobileye to develop autonomous vehicles. Delphi, which has U.S. operations just outside of Detroit, makes the computing platform that brings together information from the car’s sensors, cameras and computers.
Renault has launched a smart energy system, which looks to make use of second-life EV batteries for domestic and commercial energy storage.
Partnering with Powervault, the system will undergo trials with customers who already have solar panels installed. A total of 50 units will be involved in the trial, which will involve eligible M&S Energy customers along with social housing tenants and schools in the South East.
The system stores energy generated by the solar panels for use when the demand is greatest. It also allows owners to charge from the grid at off-peak rates, for use during peak times.
Powervault will use batteries that have come to the end of their usable EV life from Renault, as the French manufacturer enters the home energy storage market like its group partner Nissan, and other plug-in manufacturers Tesla, BMW, and Mercedes Benz.
Nicolas Schottey, Program Director, EV batteries and infrastructures at Renault, said:
“Thanks to this home energy storage partnership with Powervault, Renault is adding a new element into its global strategy for second life batteries, which already covers a large number of usages from industrial to residential building and districts.
“The second life use not only gives additional life to electric vehicle batteries before they are recycled, but also allow consumers to save money. It’s a win-win-win: for EV owners, home-owners and the planet.”
OAKLAND, CA (May 31, 2017)—Everywhere in the US, driving electric is cleaner than driving a typical gasoline-powered car. That’s truer now than ever before, and the advantage electric vehicles have over comparable gasoline cars is only continuing to increase.
New analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) shows that in 70 percent of the country, driving electric produces fewer emissions than driving a traditional gasoline car that gets 50 miles to the gallon. On average, today’s electric vehicles are as clean as gasoline cars that get 73 miles to the gallon. That’s thanks in large part to significant improvements in power generation, with more regions cutting their use of coal and increasing investment in renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
“Driving electric is one of the best choices a consumer can make to reduce emissions in their own lives,”
said David Reichmuth, senior vehicles engineer at UCS.
“As the electric vehicle market has emerged over the last five years, electric vehicles are better than a 50 mpg gasoline car for 70 percent of Americans, up from 50 percent. It’s been remarkable to see the improvements.”
Over their whole life cycle—from manufacturing to driving to disposal—electric vehicles produce half the emissions of a comparable gasoline vehicle. By far the largest share of emissions comes from driving, which is where electric vehicles have a big and growing advantage.
The new analysis is based on updated numbers on power generation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which show reduced greenhouse gas emissions from power generation in most of the country over the past five years.
“The future of driving is electric,” said Reichmuth. “We need to keep working to make sure these cars are accessible to more drivers, that we have the infrastructure to charge them, and that we continue to replace old dirty sources of power with new renewable technology.”
UCS has also updated an interactive online tool that drivers can use to learn how much cleaner different models of electric vehicles are where they live, as well as a map showing how electric vehicle emissions compare across the country.
The ride-sharing platform Lyft has been quite active through partnerships in the self-driving space. It took an important $500 million from GM to work with them on the deployment of autonomous cars in their fleet. They also announced a similar deal with Alphabet’s Waymo last month.
Now they announce another partnership with a self-driving car startup, nuTonomy, in order to use their vehicles for a fleet in the US – starting in Boston.
nuTonomy already operates similar test programs in Boston and Singapore, but through this partnership with Lyft, customers will be able to experience the vehicles through the ride-sharing app:
“The collaborative R&D effort will take place in Boston, MA, where nuTonomy has been testing its self-driving electric cars since the beginning of the year. The tests are being conducted in Boston’s Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park and the adjacent Seaport and Fort Point neighborhoods. An engineer from nuTonomy rides in each of its vehicles during testing to observe system performance and assume control if needed.”
What is also interesting here is that nuTonomy has been using electric vehicles as a platform for its self-driving technology, namely the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Renault Zoe.
“Thousands” of the vehicles should end up in the new program in Boston as the two companies develop the technology.
Karl lagnemma, CEO and Co-founder of nuTonomy, commented on the announcement:
“By combining forces with Lyft in the U.S., we’ll be positioned to build the best passenger experience for self-driving cars. Both companies care immensely about solving urban transportation issues and the future of our cities, and we look forward to working with Lyft as we continue to improve our autonomous vehicle software system.”
Here’s a demonstration of nuTonomy’s latest autonomous driving system:
New figures show that 29 per cent of UK motorists are considering making the switch from a conventionally fuelled vehicle to a zero-emissions one or replacing one electric vehicle with another.
As new tax rules punish drivers of all but the lowest-polluting vehicles and cities around the country consider charging drivers of older, more polluting vehicles for using their roads there has been a rapid growth in interest in electric and other ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV).
Industry figures for the first quarter of this year show that sales of alternative fuel vehicles, including all-electric and hybrid engined cars, have risen by 29.9 per cent over the same period in 2016, and now account for a larger share of the market than ever, with 33,405 alternative fuel cars sold.
Neil Addley, managing director of NFDA Trusted Dealers which commissioned the survey, said:
“Our research has revealed that a significant number of car buyers are now seriously considering low emission vehicles for their next car, but are at a loss on where to start. On the Trusted Dealers site we have seen more green cars filtering through to the used car market, with more than 200 vehicles listed on our site.”
More charging points could be made available across South West Wales to cater for an increase in electric cars
More charging points could be made available across South West Wales to cater for an increase in the use of electric cars.
A Clean Air Roadshow organised by Swansea Council took place in Castle Square on Saturday to showcase electric and hydrogen vehicle technology.
Electric cars owned by the authority and Swansea University were on display, as well as a battery-powered one-man from the 1980s car known as the Sinclair C5, while there were also live shows from Titan the friendly robot.
Following the event Swansea Council announced it is exploring the concept of introducing more charging points in collaboration other public bodies in South West Wales.
Martin Nicholls, director of place at Swansea Council, said:
“The Clean Air Roadshow was a great success, with many thousands of visitors coming along to Castle Square from across South Wales and beyond on the day to discover electric and hydrogen vehicle technology.
“With the profile of this type of technology being raised, it’s important we explore how we can help in terms of ensuring the right infrastructure is in place to support it.
“That’s why we’re working closely alongside our local authority, university and health board partners across the region on a study that could see more electric vehicle charging points in place in future all the way from Neath Port Talbot and through the Swansea Bay City Region to Pembrokeshire.
“We support technology of this kind because it’s sustainable and helps Swansea cut its carbon footprint as we look to become a greener, more environmentally aware city.
“We already have a number of electric vehicles in our council fleet, which are used by staff in departments including recycling and corporate building and property services. These numbers are due to grow over coming months.
“This builds on the work that’s already on-going to promote and improve other forms of sustainable transport in Swansea, including cycling.”
People who have never owned an electric car don’t understand how different charging one is compared to fuelling a petrol or diesel car. Therefore I’m going to explain what charging an electric car is like so that potential owners can understand it better.
The point I want to get across is that charging an electric car is much easier and more convenient than filling a fossil-fuelled car. That’s an idea that can be difficult to grasp. Now that I’ve upgraded to electric (I’m on my second all-electric car) I could never go back, any more than I’d give up my smartphone and make do with a landline.
Most electric cars come with a charging cable (fitted with a 13 Amp plug) that can be used to charge the car; such cables can be bought separately where they are not supplied with the car. One name given to these items is ‘granny cable’ as they can also be used to charge up while visiting relatives.
Another name they are given is ‘occasional use cable’ as they are not intended to be used frequently. They will also be slow to charge the car (12 hours or more) as a standard home socket is not capable of providing as much power as the car can potentially take.
Instead most car owners will have a special charge point installed at home to charge their car. This often comes free with a new car. It is typically wired straight into the main house consumer unit. It will be capable of passing higher power than a standard socket – usually either 16 or 32 Amps – and will be designed for frequent use.
These charge points can be installed either inside a garage, or on a garage or other outside wall. Sometimes they’re just put on a post beside the driveway. They are all waterproofed and can be used in all weathers (including heavy rain). They usually come fitted with a tethered cable to match the car but sometimes just have a socket to which the owner can connect different cables, for example if the unit has to charge electric cars with different types of connector. The pros and cons of having a tethered versus untethered charge point are covered elsewhere.
Charging an Electric Car: Frequency
How often does an electric car need to be charged? This is an important question, and is key to why charging is more convenient than conventional refuelling.
The obvious answer, at least to someone used to a conventional car, would be “when it’s empty”. That’s because most people let their cars run low on fuel before refilling. There is no good reason for this; it simply reflects the fact that conventional refuelling is so inconvenient that it is to be avoided whenever possible. It takes time, and usually also involves a diversion from where you actually want to go.
With an electric car you could choose to do the same thing, relying on public charge points, and that can work if you can’t do home charging. However for the majority of electric car owners with a home charge point the easiest thing is simply to charge at home overnight every night.
Electric cars use Lithium-Ion batteries, similar to those found in mobile phones (though they have significantly more sophisticated charge management systems than phones and so last longer). Lithium-Ion likes to be kept charged unlike previous technologies (e.g. Nickel-Cadmium batteries) that you were supposed to run down before recharging. Therefore it does no harm to plug in every night and so have the car battery fully charged every morning ready to go.
Using a dedicated high power charge point allows a typical electric car to be charged in about 4 hours. It’s also fine to only partly refill it. Therefore it can be perfectly practical to drive, say 100 miles during the day for work, then go home and – those evenings when it’s useful – top it up for an hour or two and go out again for, say, another 50 miles.
Charging an Electric Car: Process
It’s very easy to charge an electric car once you have a dedicated charge point. If you are lazy, like me, then you have a tethered one with its cable permanently attached so you don’t have to unpack a cable each time. Similarly, I choose to leave mine switched on permanently for convenience.
In this case, charging is as simple as the following:
Open the charge point door on the car
Uncurl just enough of the charge cable to insert its connector into the car’s charge socket
The car will automatically start to charge when it sees the electrical connection made. It will control the charge and finish it automatically.
On my original Renault ZOE the charge point door was unlocked using a button on the key fob or a switch inside the car. The charge socket was in the nose and so required walking around to it to insert the connector. The total time taken was about 15 seconds; this would also be typical for the Nissan Leaf.
On my current BMW i3 the charge point door is always unlocked if the car is unlocked, and the charge socket is on the driver’s side. Therefore I can insert the connector after I have parked the car and as I walk out of the garage; there is literally no additional time taken to set the car for charging. The Hyundai IONIQ Electric also has the socket on the rear quarter, though on the passenger side.
People sometimes ask me how long it takes to charge my car. They probably expect to hear me say ‘4 hours’ or whatever, but actually it takes me personally no time at all, not a single minute. That’s because I don’t care how long it takes for the battery to fill up while I’m in the house (and probably asleep).
With my i3 having a range of about 120 miles, and my commute being 45 miles, it’s not even a problem if I forget to charge for a day or two. However, like with your smartphone, making charging it a daily routine is generally the best option.
One of the great things I love about a car that’s electric is no longer having to spend time fuelling it. It’s just 100% full every morning when I get in, as if by magic. I certainly don’t miss having to travel to petrol stations, often standing in the dark and rain, to hand over large amounts of money.
Now instead I fuel the car myself using renewable energy. During the week I charge it from wind (courtesy of our renewable electricity supplier) and a fill-up costs about £2.50. At the weekend I can charge it from our solar panels for free.
A new scientific analysis finds that the Earth’s oceans are rising nearly three times as rapidly as they were throughout most of the 20th century, one of the strongest indications yet that a much feared trend of not just sea level rise, but its acceleration, is now underway.
“We have a much stronger acceleration in sea level rise than formerly thought,”
said Sönke Dangendorf, a researcher with the University of Siegen in Germany who led the study along with scientists at institutions in Spain, France, Norway and the Netherlands.
Their paper, just out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, isn’t the first to find that the rate of rising seas is itself increasing — but it finds a bigger rate of increase than in past studies. The new paper concludes that before 1990, oceans were rising at about 1.1 millimeters per year, or just 0.43 inches per decade. From 1993 through 2012, though, it finds that they rose at 3.1 millimeters per year, or 1.22 inches per decade.
The cause, said Dangendorf, is that sea level rise throughout much of the 20th century was driven by the melting of land-based glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms, but sea level rise in the 21st century has now, on top of that, added in major contributions from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.
“The sea level rise is now three times as fast as before 1990,”
Studying the changing rate of sea level rise is complicated by the fact that scientists only have a precise satellite record of its rate going back to the early 1990s. Before that, the records rely on tide gauges spread around the world in various locations.
But sea level rise varies widely in different places, due to the rising and sinking of land, large-scale gravitational effects on the waters of the globe and other local factors.
Sales of green vehicles in the US and Europe are spiking.
As with any new transportation technology, it’s not as simple as building your first vehicle and expecting the whole world to change. And yet, it appears as if the world is finally cottoning on to this whole electric cars are better and cheaper to run thing.
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association has revealed that EV sales in the first quarter of 2017 are spiking. Overall, sales of so-called “Alternative Fuel Vehicles” have increased by an overall 37.6 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016.
Those figures seem to mirror Bloomberg’s research into the state of the US electric market, which has seen demand trend northward. In the same period, American sales of electric vehicles jumped 49 percent, with sales totaling 40,700.
As heartwarming as the stats are, it’s worth noting that the law of small numbers makes them sound a little more impressive than they actually are. For instance, Germany’s 117 percent rise in EV sales reflects a jump from 2,332 cars in Q1 2016 to 5,060 now.
Around a quarter of European greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, as well as it being the primary cause of air pollution in cities. So there’s something of an imperative to get on with getting everyone to make the switch, which should be helped by cheaper, newer EVs, like the Renault Zoe.