Air-cleaning moss tyres to blockchain: best green innovations of the car industry

Car manufacturers continue to look to the horizon to deliver solutions that can integrate into future cities and energy systems. With a focus on the Geneva Motor Show, edie rounds-up the latest announcements making waves through the transport and energy sectors.

Over the past few weeks the worlds of transport and technology have overlapped. March commenced during the closing days of the 2018 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where tech-savvy businesses showcased the latest in smartphone innovations.

This week has also seen the Geneva Motor Show stir up all sorts of innovative glances to the horizon, many of which highlight the closer relationship between energy firms and automakers. edie has rounded-up some of the most notable announcements.

Daimler’s blockchain adventure

The Mobile World Congress event created the platform for Daimler, recognised for its Mercedes-Benz and Smart car brands, to launch a blockchain-based digital currency that rewards users for driving in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Data from Daimler vehicles will be transmitted via blockchain technology to be converted into “MobiCoins” which are stored in user apps on smartphones. Participants that lower fuel use, idle less and drive more safely will be able to collect more MobiCoins. The best performing participants will then be rewarded with tickets for events, including the Mercedes Cup final and the Berlin Fashion Week.

The project is currently in a testing-phase over the next three months, with 500 drivers set to follow new driving practices in order to generate MobiCoins.

The announcement from Daimler was jus the tip of the iceberg for what is turning into an exhilarating week for car fanatics. The Geneva Motor Show has also been in full swing and some of the biggest players in the automotive space jostled to act as the star attraction.

Nissan and E.ON champion vehicle-to-grid tech

Nissan, pioneer of the electric vehicle (EV), used the Geneva Motor Show for a plethora of announcements. Firstly, comes the news that the carmaker has formed a strategic partnership with energy firm E.ON to pilot commercial vehicle-to-grid services.

The two companies are already collaborating in Denmark and will now expand trials to combine renewable energy generation, battery storage solutions and vehicle-to-grid integration across European countries. The project will enable users to draw renewable electricity from grids to charge vehicles, or sell surplus energy back to the grid.

Nissan Europe’s chairman Paul Willcox said: “We’re on a mission to break down every barrier to EV ownership. This exciting partnership with E.ON is another step on that journey. Our goal is for Nissan to be recognised as the go-to automotive partner for energy services, with the ultimate ambition to provide free electricity for our EV customers.”

At last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan announced it would debut in the EV motorsport Formula E from in December 2018. As part of this year’s show, Nissan has unveiled a new battery and powertrain package for the vehicle, with more details expected to be announced later this year.

Renault’s shared mobility

Nissan is part of the world’s largest automotive alliance alongside Mitsubishi and Renault. The latter is using the show to outline its “vision of the future”, which revolves around EVs and shared mobility.

The Renault EZ-GO concept was unveiled, an autonomous EV that can be booked or ordered through apps. The shared-service vehicle can be ordered by city dwellers to transport them around “future smart cities”, according to Renault. The service can be operated by private or public organisations.

In fact, Renault has been working on a range of initiatives aimed at easing EVs into everyday life in smart cities. The Renault Energy Services subsidiary invests in projects related to smart electric grids, focusing on the development of smart charging projects, vehicle-to-grid trials and second-life battery projects.

Elsewhere, the Z.E Smart Charge app is available in the Netherlands that enables owners to map charging times to benefit from renewable energy and lower electricity consumption prices. Finally, Renault will partner with EEM Empresa de Electricitade da Madeira, SA, the company that transports, distributes and sells electricity to Madeira and Porto Santo. The partnership will focus on the integration of EVs, smart and vehicle-to-grid charging and renewable energy to boost the project’s energy independence.

Volkswagen’s EV testing ground

The sector has come a long way since Volkswagen’s (VW) ‘dieselgate’ scandal in 2015. The German carmaker continues to move away from its chequered past, and the Geneva Motor Show acted as the stage for the company’s EV portfolio masterplan.

VW has announced that it will invest more than €34bn by 2020 on electric and autonomous vehicles. The German city of Hamburg will act as a testbed of sorts for VW, with 50 e-Golf, autonomous trucks and an electric ride-sharing service set to be rolled out in the area.

The future of mobility lies first and foremost in cities and metropolitan areas,” VW’s chief executive Matthias Muller said. “That is where the most pressing problems are to be found – and where both the need and the potential for change are at their greatest.

“If we want to preserve the freedom of individual mobility, then we have to say goodbye to many things we associate with driving today. We must rethink and redefine mobility. And we will be stepping up our efforts in this regard even further.”

The Geneva Motor Show was also used to unveil the I.D VIZZION concept car, which can drive 650km on a single charge, according to the company. The vehicle will launch in the early 2020s.

Envision’s IoT-connected car

Envision is one of the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturers, so the company’s presence at the Geneva Motor Show perfectly captures the cross-sector partnerships being formed between energy and car companies.

Envision has partnered with GFG Style to launch the Sibylla prototype, an electric sedan that uses Envision’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform to integrate the car into the wider energy and infrastructure ecosystem.

The car has a 75kWh battery that can store as much electricity as an average European household consumes in a week. The car can act as an energy source, by interacting with the grid to stabilise it at times of demand. Using an IoT platform, the Sibylla can connect to renewable energy assets, and share surplus with other vehicles and buildings.

“The integration of EV charging into the electricity grid is one of the biggest challenges for the automotive industry today. Sustainable mobility can only become a reality once sufficient clean energy is integrated into the energy system to charge millions of EVs, and for that to happen the world’s transport and energy systems need to merge into one ecosystem. We joined forces with GFG Style to address this challenge,” Envision’s chief executive Lei Zhang said.

Goodyear’s air-cleaning tyres

Goodyear Tyres announced the launch of a concept tyre that can clean polluted air using recycled tyres and self-generated electricity. The Oxygene concept uses living moss that grows within a wheel’s sidewall. The moss can the absorb and circulate moisture and water from road surfaces, causing photosynthesis to occur which releases oxygen into the air.

The Oxygene tyre also harvests the energy generated during photosynthesis to power embedded electronic devices, including onboard sensors and an artificial intelligence processing unit. The tyre concept also features a non-pneumatic construction that has been 3d-printed with rubber powder from recycled tyres.

According to Goodyear Tyres, a city the size of Paris with 2.5 million travelling vehicles could create almost 3,000 tonnes of oxygen, while absorbing more than 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

Innovation centre at edie Live

From carbon-eliminating solutions to fresh ideas to drive resource efficiency, the Innovation Centre will showcase the pre-commercial solutions and ideas that could disrupt entire markets and take corporate sustainability to a new level. It will also feature some of the best innovations covered in in 2017.

If you have an innovation you’re interested in displaying, click here. To register for edie Live, click here.

Matt Mace

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