4 EVs changing the way we move
The phrase “electric vehicle” may conjure the image of a sleek Tesla Model 3 or a petite Nissan Leaf. However, the EV market is larger than its most successful passenger cars. The future of transport is electric — here are four vehicles (or vessels) ready to usher in the low-carbon era.
Scania electric highway
Transportation accounts for more than one-third of carbon dioxide emissions in Sweden, and nearly half of these originate with freight transport methods. This summer, the Scandinavian country decided to put a new method of truck transit to the test on a 2km stretch of motorway north of Sweden. And they call it, quite rightly, an “eHighway”.
Specially-designed Scania trucks will travel along the eHighway, made by engineering titan Siemens, using a pantograph which feeds power to the vehicle's via overhead wires. It’s not all that different to your standard tram or trolley system.
"By far the greatest part of the goods transported in Sweden goes on the road, but only a limited part of the goods can be moved to other traffic types," said Anders Berndtsson, Chief Strategist at the Swedish Transport Administration, in a statement. "That is why we must free the trucks from their dependence on fossil fuels, so that they can be used also in the future. Electric roads offer this possibility and are an excellent complement to the transport system."
The eHighway will reduce the energy consumption of the freight trucks — as well as local air pollution — by half. The trial of the technology will last two years
“Range anxiety” is the name for the fear that your electric car will run out of battery, thereby leaving you stranded. It even has its own Wikipedia page. However, French automaker Renault thinks it has come up with the solution to the problem — and its name is Zoe.
The new and improved Renault Zoe debuted just prior to this year’s Paris motor show, and it has boasts some impressive specs, not least of all the ability to travel up to 400km, or 250 miles, on a single charge. That exceeds the Tesla Model 3’s advertised range of 345km. Renault claims this is the longest range of any mainstream electric vehicle.
Naturally, the ultra-efficient Zoe comes with a marked up price tag: it’ll set you back an extra €3,500. And all that power comes with some added weight, too. The battery weighs almost double what it did in the original model, which had a range of roughly 150 miles.
“We are breaking psychological barriers with the range … 300km [186 miles, the car’s expected range in suburban environments] is a real threshold in the mind of the people,” said Eric Feunteun, Vice-President of Renault’s electric vehicle programme. “We are offering the same range as Tesla for a totally different price. I don’t consider Tesla as an issue; Tesla is a good thing because they create a good image for electric vehicles and because people like to have choices.”
Proterra Catalyst E2
Last month, Silicon Valley-based EV manufacturer Proterra debuted its Catalyst E2 vehicle, which boasts an impressive range of 194 to 350 miles on a single charge. And it’s a bus. This means that the Catalyst E2 will be able to travel almost every US mass transit route without having to stop to recharge.
Proterra has already sold over 300 of its earlier electric bus models to 35 different municipal, university and commercial transit agencies across North America. The company’s newest offering will set prospective buyers back a cool US $800,000, but the bus’s zero fuel needs and low maintenance requirements should help to soften the ‘sticker shock’.
“Proterra’s primary goal has always been to create a purpose-built, high-performance electric vehicle that can serve every single transit route in the United States. Today, with the unveiling of the Catalyst E2 Series, that goal has been achieved,” said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra in a statement.
“The question is no longer who will be an early adopter of this technology, but rather who will be the last to commit to a future of clean, efficient, and sustainable mobility.”
Siemens electric ferry
In 2015, the world’s first electric ferry set sail between the villages of Lavik and Oppedal in Norway’s Sognefjord. The vessel, called Ampere, is propelled using battery technology developed by German manufacturing giant Siemens. One lithium-ion battery is stored aboard the ferry itself, with two more fixed to the respective piers at either side of the crossing.
Ampere was the end result of a competition launched by Norway’s Ministry of Transport and Communications in 2011 to develop a clean method for ferry transport. In late September, it was announced that two additional electric ferries have been commissioned in Norway, this time to sail the E39 Anda-Lote route on the country’s west coast. The vessels will have a cargo capacity of 120 cars, 12 trailers and precisely 349 passengers. The new ferries will commence operation in 2018.
Siemens will again install an integrated electric power and automation solution aboard both of the ferries. The company’s electric propulsion solution, BlueDrive PlusC, includes lithium-ion batteries for energy storage and thruster and remote control for the propellers. The ferries will also benefit from an integrated alarm and monitoring system and an energy management system.