Monday, November 02, 2009

Victorian Hybrid Buses

The Victorian Government is sponsoring a trial of two hybrid buses. As the video from the Victorian Transport Department explains, two types of hybrid bus are being trialled: the serial hybrid is more suited to slow routes with many stops, the parallel to longer routes with higher speed.

The series hybrid vehicle is for Ventura Coaches, with the wheels driven only by electric motors. It is claimed to reduce fuel use by 40%. There are 640 lithium ion batteries charged from a 2-litre diesel Volkswagen car engine. The internal combustion engine is much smaller than that normally used in a bus. As this is a full hybrid, the bus could, in theory act as a plug-in hybrid, or pure electric bus, charged from mains power. However, as Victorian electricity is primarily sourced from highly polluting brown coal, this would not have environmental benefits.

The Grendas Bus Service vehicle is a parallel hybrid (similar to a most hybrid cars), built from an Australian made Iveco bus chassis, Volgren Low Floor Route bus body and Cummins diesel Allison hybrid gearbox. This is used as a "Smart Bus" on the Springvale Road 888/889 route.

One aspect of the hybrid buses which is not clear is their fuel source. If the hybrid buses run on diesel they may have little environmental or cost advantages over conventional natural gas powered vehicles.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Mitsubishi new electric small van

Mitsubishi  i-MiEV CARGO electric vanMitsubishi Motors is showing its i-MiEV CARGO electric van at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show. This is derived from the i-MiEV electric car, which I test drove in Canberra. It will be on sale in Japan from April 2010.

The CARGO looks a very useful vehicle for small deliveries on short runs in inner city areas. It looks far more useful than the passenger i-MiEV, which offered little envrionmental benifit over the much cheaper petrol powered petrol engine Mitsubishi i small car it was based on.

i-MiEV CARGO specifications
Overall length 3395 mm
Overall width 1475 mm
Overall height 1860 mm
Wheelbase 2550 mm
Track F/R 1310 mm / 1270 mm
Occupants 2
Motor Permanent magnet synchronous
Max. output 47 kW
Max. torque 180 Nm
Max. cruising range 160 km
Drive train Rear wheel drive
Tire size Front: 145/65R15; Rear: 175/55R15
Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV Also on show will be the PX-MiEV hybrid petrol/electric "crossover" concept car. This appears to be Mitsubishi's answer to the Toyota Kluger Hybrid. Such a vehicle makes no practical sense and hopefully this one will not go into production.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Electric vehicle recharge network starting in Canberra

Company Better Place, have announced they will roll-out an electric vehicle recharging infrastructure in Canberra. The system will use leased lithium-ion battery modules which can be quickly swapped into a car at “Battery Switch Stations” as well as charge spots in homes, offices, shopping centres and other public car parks.

This assumes that electric cars will be available at an affordable price and be adaptable to use Better Place's battery module. It also assumes that there are government incentives for the use of zero pollution vehicles and there is an infrastructure to provide them with zero pollution power.

It should be noted that Australia has large reserves of low pollution LPG and natural gas and an existing infrastructure to deliver it. A combination of LPG and natural gas would deliver many of the benefits of electric cars, at a lower cost. Existing Australian made petrol and diesel vehicles can be easily converted to gas in Austrlaia using Australian technology. The need to build renewable power stations will considerably add to the cost of electric cars
Better Place Australia, the leading electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and services provider today announced that it has chosen the nation’s capital, Canberra, as the site of its first city-wide roll-out of electric vehicle infrastructure in Australia.

The decision was announced by Better Place founder and Chief Executive Officer, Shai Agassi, with Evan Thornley, head of Better Place Australia and ActewAGL Chief Executive Officer, Michael Costello, the ACT’s electricity retailer and distributor.

“Canberra is a great city to start deploying our vision of zero-emissions mobility. Canberra has a mobile population that demands a viable alternative to allow for both short commutes and longer trips” said Mr Agassi. “There’s proven demand for EVs in Australia and the people of Canberra are ready for a more sustainable future. That future is electric.”

The initial roll out will involve an investment by Better Place, which will go towards building out the infrastructure, services and systems to support the first several hundred electric vehicles in Canberra.

The investment will cover:
• safe and completely recyclable lithium-ion batteries that will power the electric vehicles and be provided as part of the service to drivers, reducing the up-front costs of purchasing an electric vehicle;
• charge spots in homes, offices, shopping centres and other car parks where drivers can plug in to keep their battery fully charged; and
• “Battery Switch Stations” where motorists can simply drive in and have a depleted battery automatically exchanged for a fresh, fully charged one.

“We aim to start construction on our charge spots and battery swap stations in 2011 and start supporting customers in 2012” said Mr Thornley. “From Canberra we will then begin to roll out across the whole country.”

Better Place will work closely with ActewAGL to plan the infrastructure deployment. “A significant influence on our decision to choose Canberra was the enthusiasm and support we have received from Michael Costello and his team at ActewAGL” said Evan Thornley, Chief Executive Officer of Better Place Australia.

ActewAGL will be responsible for sourcing and distributing the renewable energy that Better Place will use to power its electric vehicles within the ACT. “It’s important that we work together closely so that we can be sure we have the right levels of power available in the car parks and similar locations where the electric vehicles will be charging” said ActewAGL Chief Executive Officer, Michael Costello. “But this is a great opportunity for Canberra to make a huge dent on its greenhouse gas emissions, so we’re very keen
to co-operate to help make it a reality.”

For further information on Better Place’s plans for Australia please visit ...

From: Better Place Australia announces Canberra as starting point of national roll-out of electric vehicle recharge network, News Release, Better Place, 24 July 2009

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Folding Electric Bicycle

Electric bicycle foldabe 20 inch
At the Balmain Markets in Sydney on Saturday, Albert Iesho was displaying electric bicycles from Electric Velocity. One which caught my eye was a 20 inch folder. As well as sales they also arrange rentals.

All the bicycles on display used the same basic layout, with a rear hub mounted 200 Watt motor and a 36V, 8Ah Lithium battery in a slide out canister just in front of the rear wheel. The folding 20 inch bicycle used the same motor and batter as the larger units and is slightly cheaper. But lacks gears, a luggage carrier and full mudguards.

The idea with these bicycles is that you can pull the batter cartridge out and carry it inside to be recharged.

The battery and motor are most of the cost of such units. The bicycle accounts for about $500 of the cost.
Foldable Electric Bike
Cost: $1,300
Frame: Aluminium alloy
Motor: 200W brushless hub
Battery: 36V, 8Ah LiFePO4
Speed: 25 Km/hr on level road
Range: 30 Km depending on terrain
Brakes: Front U-brake & rear mini-expanding brake

L X W X H(mm): 1540 X 630 X 1070
Wheel: 20 inch spokes wheel, M-finish rim
Gear: Single Speed
Battery Life: 1000 cycles
Power Mode: Throttle or 1:1 Pedal Assist
Charging Time: 6-8 Hours for 0 to Max charging
Colour: Silver & Black or Orange & Black

From: Electric Velocity, 2009

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

GM Segway electric two-wheel vehicle

Segway P.U.M.A. Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility prototypeIt may just be a coincidence, or a sign of desperation, but news reports indicate that GM and Segway have tested a two-wheel prototype electric vehicle the P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility). This looks like it is adapted from the Segway RMP (Robotic Mobility Platform) version of the two wheel personal transporter. This platform has the Segway mechanics and electronics, but has the handlebars replaced with a flat top for carrying a load. It appears seats and a light cover have been added. Also apparent in the media photos, but not on the Segway web site, are four small wheels to stand the vehicle when the motor is off. This looks very much a "wired magazine" publicity stunt not a serious project. Such a vehicle has so many problems and is not going to secure GM's future. There are many better ways to build an electric vehicle and uses for this technology are limtied to applications such as carrying parcels.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 21, 2008

Green Car Proposal for Australia

Accoding to a news report the Universal Design Company (UniCo) is proposing to refit the disused Mitsubishi's Tonsley Park car plant in Adelaide to assemble alternative fuel "green" vehicles. The cars would initially have V6 engines capable of running on biofuel and LPG, with hybrid electric engines later.

The plan envisages the first cars made by 2009, so presumably these will be assembled from imported components, using an existing design. It take several years to design a car and more to make the parts.

The plan is said to be support ed by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. But it is difficult to see how a plant making a small number of cars (30,000 per year) could be cost effectively assembled in Australia, unless some radical new technology is used. Dual fuel LPG/biofuel engines do not appear breakthrough technology.

... Under the plan, car parts and "trans-hybrid" engines would be shipped to Adelaide and assembled at Tonsley Park to produce specialised people movers and easy-access vehicles seating up to seven people. The V6 engines would initially be dual-fuelled, running on biofuel and LPG, with plans to introduce electric hybrid engines in the future. ...

Southern Suburbs Minister John Hill, who is in charge of redeveloping the site, said there was a high level of interest and "lots of exciting propositions".

"I would welcome the interest from this company," he said.

Expressions of interest for the site, being collected by Mitsubishi, close today. ...

From: Secret bid to build 'green' cars at Mitsubishi plant, LAUREN NOVAK, The Advertiser, Adelaide, March 21, 2008 12:10am

According to the news report, Universal Design Company (UniCo), was formed by Chris Burrell, who previously started UniCab Australia. An ASIC search shows that "UNIVERSAL DESIGN CO. (UNICO)" is a business name registered with the Office of Fair Trading, New South Wales (no: NSW BN98311428). There does not appear to be a web site for UniCo. The web site for UniCab <> is now "parked" by Primus Telecommunications PTY LTD.

Premier of South Australia is in India, discussing business opportunities. These mostly seem to be about mines and some about defence industry. These seem more likely ways to redeploy the workforce from the closing Mitsubishi car plant.

INDIAN INDUSTRIES searching for new avenues in mining and exploration can now look forward to setting base in South Australia. The South Australian premier, Mike Rann has asked Indian businessmen to enter into joint ventures and partnerships with companies in his province in mining and exploration. He said that huge opportunities existed for mining copper, uranium, gold, zinc and zircon in South Australia. He was speaking at an interactive meeting organised by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FICCI) in New Delhi.
Speaking at the meeting, Rann also invited the Indian entrepreneurs to have tie-ups in the defence sector, which includes shipbuilding, submarine support, systems integration, electronic warfare, surveillance, research and development. ...

From: South Australia invites India for mining, defence ties, Mineguruji, MeriNews, 14 March 2008
Also a consortium of Indian universities is to establish a campus in Adelaide. It is unlikely that many ex-car plant workers will be employed there, but this might be a better prospect for the South Australian economy, than a car plant:
The Icfai University has entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state of South Australia to set up its campus at Adelaide.

Initially, the university is planning to launch postgraduate management programmes in a leased space in Adelaide this year before setting up a full-fledged campus with other courses over a period.

The MoU was signed by the visiting South Australia premier Mike Rann and Icfai University chairman Subhash Sarnikar here on Saturday. ...

.... The students would spend a year in the Icfai campus in Adelaide and the second year at an existing university.

In the process, they get degrees or diplomas from both the universities ...

From: Icfai to set up campus in South Australia, BS Reporter, Business Standard Ltd, Hyderabad, March 17, 2008

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hybrid automatic transmission for Australian cars

German company ZF have announced a modular eight speed hybrid automatic transmission. The significance of this is that a hybrid petrol or diesel electric car can be produced by adding the transmission in place of a regular transmission. A mild hybrid can be produced by using a crankshaft starter generator (essentially a beefed up starter motor), which will provide an electric boost for the engine. Or a larger electric motor can be used to produce a true parallel hybrid (with bother or either electric and internal combustion engines powering the vehicle). ZF transmissions are used in some upmarket models of Australian made cars, so these could be upgraded to hybrid.

The new 8-speed automatic transmission has a modular design that will allow it to be used in tandem with various drivelines without having to adapt the basic transmission concept. It is particularly versatile when it comes to hybrids: a mild hybrid drive can be adapted with the addition of a crankshaft starter generator or a full hybrid system can be integrated as a parallel hybrid drive – both options regardless of the available space. Alternatively, the 8-speed automatic transmission can be combined with a hydrodynamic cooled clutch or an integrated starting clutch. In terms of power take-off, it can be used with all standard ZF all-wheel systems. ...

From: Hybrid transmissions, ZF, 14.09.2007

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Driverless Electric Taxi and Parcel Van?

I have finally found something useful to do with a Segway personal transporter. Here is a half serious proposal for an university research project:

Driverless Electric Taxi and Parcel Van

A Segway personal transporter, or similar small electric vehicle, would be equipped for autonomous operation around a campus. The unit could be used a one person driver-less taxi and equipped with a lockable box for the unattended delivery of packages.

A minimum of mechanical changes would be made to the vehicle. A GPS receiver, small computer and wireless communications would be added to allow the vehicle to automatically steer a set course around the campus and into buildings. A GPS equipped smartphone might provide sufficient computing power. The vehicle could open power operated doors and use lifts. The unit could be summoned from a mobile phone or computer web page.

As the vehicle would be relatively light weight and low speed, there would be limited risk from collisions. Its two wheel format would allow access to narrow corridors. Equipped with bright lights it could be safely used at night.

This would not be the first robot based on a Segway. MIT's Cardea is designed to be able to open ordinary doors:
Cardea Segway based MIT Robot
Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology have crossed a robotic arm with the bottom half of a Segway to make a robot named Cardea that can traverse hallways and open doors.

Cardea, named after the Roman goddess of thresholds and door pivots, is the one-armed first prototype of a robot designed to have three arms and the ability to safely interact with humans at eye level. ...
From:Segway robot opens doors, By Eric Smalley and Kimberly Patch, Technology Research News, November 19/26, 2003

The Cardera is built on the Segway RMP (Robotic Mobility Platform). This is a family of specially made Segways designed carry cargo:
Segway RMP (Robotic Mobility Platform)
The Segway RMP (Robotic Mobility Platform) is a new mobile platform based on a Segway Human Transporter (HT). It is faster, cheaper, and can carry a greater payload than existing comparable robotic platforms. DARPA IPTO initiated this effort, with SSC San Diego serving as the technical agent. We provided technical oversight, coordination, and tracking of the conversion by Segway, LLC, of fifteen Segway HT I-series machines into RMPs.
From: Segway RMP, SPAWAR, USN, 29 December 2004.

However, a much simpler approach is possible. The standard model Segway has optional lights and panniers for carrying cargo. This could be equipped with a very modest computer and navigation system to allow it to travel around a defined track on a campus. The vehicle could be restricted to defined bicycle paths and particular corridors in buildings. GPS would be sufficient for outdoor navigation and could be supplemented fort indoor use. Simple sensors designed for burglar alarms could be used to detect a person or object in the path, with the vehicle simply stopping. The vehicle could operate automatic doors by simply moving slowly in sensor range. Lifts could be operated by an interface to the lift computer.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Australian Experimental Hybrid Car

CSIRO Australian Experimental Hybrid CarThe CSIRO produced an Australian Experimental Hybrid Car branded the "aXcessaustralia" (pronounced "Access Australia"). The car uses large capacitors , as well as batteries to store power:
The car features a patented drive train that makes best use of mixed storage. Super-capacitors are used to provide good acceleration and batteries are used to give the car range under electric-only operation (about 20 minutes in urban traffic). The car uses a series hybrid arrangement to give optimum packaging in a small space and an ideal weight split between front and rear.

From: "aXcessaustralia: the car of the not-so-distant future", CSIRO, 29 March 2006
But unlike the Toyota Prius or Honda Civic Hybrid, or even the Indian Reva electric car, the CSIRO vehicle is only experimental. It is intended to have technology from it used in vehicles of the future: you can't buy one.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hybrid Electric Tricycle Taxis in Sydney

Pedapod Hybrid Electric TricycleYou expect to see tricycle taxis (rickshaws or ) in India, but not Australia. In the financial section of Sydney I photographed a pedapod. This is a 3 wheeled recumbent bicycle (tricycle or trike) which seats three people (a driver and two passengers).

The pedapod has a conventional metal bicycle frame but with a plastic hood to provide some protection from the elements. The vehicle looks practical and seems to be able to get up the reasonably steep hills in the Sydney CBD.

These electric autorickshaws have an electric motor powered from a battery to help it go up hills and so technically is a hybrid vehicle. But as it has pedals and only a small motor it is legally a bicycle. As a result such electric tricycles sidestep the regulations on motor vehicles which have stopped the use of some battery powered cars in Australia.

The pedapods do not be available for sale, but there are other electric tricycles you can buy.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mercedes A Class Hybrid?

battery A-ClassOn a visit to Brisbane I had a test drive of Shaun Williams' battery powered Electric-Echo car. Shawn commented that the Mercedes Benz A Class car I arrived in would be a good choice for similar conversion to an electric car.

The A Class has a sandwich floor, with an empty space under the passenger cabin. According to BCC and Times car reviewer, Jeremy Clarkson, "... the A-class had been originally conceived as an electric car and the cavity had been created as somewhere to store the batteries".

There was a prototype electric a-class but using the advanced ZEBRA sodium/nickel chloride battery technology and Mercedes are now trying the same technology in the smaller Smart car and it is also used in the Indian Reva NXG Electric Car.

Mercedes Benz A Class loading a filing cabinetThe A class also makes efficient use of space. The result is a small car with a large load. This is especially important for energy efficient cars. The space in the A class is shown by these two photos, the first shows a skeptical office supplies employee wondering how a four drawer filing cabinet will fit in such a small car (the counter staff had asked if the vehicles was a four wheel drive, assuming that one was needed). Mercedes Benz A Class with filing cabinet loaded The second photo shows the cabinet in the car, with room left for three people.

Mercedes-Benz have produced a S-Class Hybrid prototype. Perhaps some of the technology will trickle down to the A-Class.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Hybrid High Speed Train to Sydney Airport?

Hitachi Hybrid Traction System
Back in March I suggested that high speed battery-electric/diesel trains could be routed from Canberra to Sydney via the exiting line to Sydney Airport. This seemed a little far fetched, but in October 2006 Hitachi announced they are modifying a UK High Speed Train (HST) with their diesel electric system developed in Japan. The XPT trains used in NSW are based on the UK HST, so it should be possible to use the Japanese hybrid technology in Australia.

Hitachi Europe Ltd. today announced the launch of technology that will create Europe's first hybrid high speed train. The technology has been proven under test in Japan to cut fuel bills by up to 20% and harmful emissions by up to 50%. The test train includes a new hybrid traction system (consisting of a battery-assisted diesel electric traction drive) which will be installed into an existing High Speed Train (HST), with the equipment fitted into the front Power Car and a modified Trailer Car. The technology has been developed and tested in Japan since 2003 and is currently in production for a Japanese customer.

Hitachi and its partners Porterbrook Leasing, Network Rail and Brush Traction are aiming to commence trial running of the modified train in April 2007 and on completion of testing the modified train will run in service on the New Measurement Train for a period of six months to prove the benefits of the technology.

Alistair Dormer, General Manager Hitachi Rail Group, commented:

"Long term sustainability is a key requirement for future transportation systems and Hitachi is delighted to be playing a part in developing this new hybrid traction system, which will in time demonstrate significant benefits in reducing the environmental impact of train travel and reducing fuel bills". ...

From: Hitachi Announces Launch Of First Energy-saving Hybrid High Speed Train In Europe, Hitatchi Europe Ltd, 12 October 2006

Labels: , , , , ,