Leading the charge: New report maps out global EV innovations

Micro-cars, wireless-charging bus routes and electric vehicle (EV) vending machines, are just some of the ideas outlined in the EV Casebook, released by the Urban Foresight think-tank.

The report contains 50 individual case studies; identifying ideas and technologies that can help EV’s make the leap into the mainstream.

More than 150 submissions were whittled down to 50 examples, spanning 23 countries and six continents.

“The projects featured in the Casebook represent some of the most inspiring and game-changing electric mobility developments from around the world, across a wide spectrum of applications,” said Tali Trigg, a transport analyst at the International Energy Agency.

“The ideas presented here are fresh, inventive ways of thinking about EV deployment.”


Wireless Buses

In the city of Gumi in South Korea, a seven and a half mile stretch of inner-city road has been fitted with a wireless charging system to power an all-electric passenger bus.

The Online Electric Vehicle system consists of electrical cables buried under the surface of the road that create magnetic fields which are picked up by a receiver on the underbody of the bus and converted into electricity.

A key advantage of the system is that the bus requires a smaller battery, which is about one-third of the size of the battery found in a regular electric car, making OLEV buses much less expensive. After the successful operation of the first two OLEV buses, Gumi City plans to provide ten more by 2015.

Car vending machines

Hangzhou, on the south eastern coast of China, is home to the world’s first EV vending machines. These automated multi-storey garages are part of a city-wide car-sharing scheme that enables users to hire a fully charged electric vehicle at the push of a button.

Launched by Kandi Technologies in 2013, users can hire an ultra-compact EV with a range of 75 miles for around $3 per hour and drop it off at another Kandi station near their destination.
Kandi plans to build 750 of these garages in Hangzhou over the next four years, replete with some 100,000 electric vehicles.

The system reduces pollution and car parking issues, while locating the EV parking towers in densely populated areas offers interesting opportunities for smart charging strategies and management of stressed local grids.

Battery swapping

Also in Hangzhou, there are currently about 500 electric taxis criss-crossing the streets, stopping only to pick up passengers and switch batteries. The taxi fleet, which started operation in 2009, has logged 34 million kilometres so far. The daily coverage of one electric taxi is about 230km. During normal operation, a taxi’s battery will be swapped about 2-3 times per day.

The electric taxis have proved to be popular with passengers owing to the quiet, smooth ride and wide carriage. The goal over the next year is to increase the city’s fleet to 1,000 electric taxis.

Although there are concerns about standardising batteries and grid stresses; quick and convenient EV refuelling is starting to become a reality in a number of countries, particularly China.

Read the full report here

Brad Allen

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