Sea electric IKEA electric truck

Labor EV policy good for freight: ALC

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) believes the Federal Opposition’s commitment to work with industry on the development of cleaner transport modes must include a focus on the clear enthusiasm of many in the freight logistics sector to deliver improved environmental outcomes.
“This industry has been among the most enthusiastic proponents of the potential of electric vehicles (EV) to improve our environment, whilst also providing operational and cost advantages for freight logistics businesses,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
“The policy announced by the Federal Opposition contains a number of measures that can help make that potential a reality, provided that governments work closely with industry in helping deliver the right reforms.
“ALC is particularly encouraged by Labor’s plan to boost EV charging capacity in the national road network. Overcoming ‘range anxiety’ is an essential part of delivering swifter EV uptake by freight logistics operators, and the commitment to work with COAG to promote national consistency in charging infrastructure is most welcome.
“We also welcome the aspects of the policy designed to encourage investment in EV technology, especially the commitment to allow businesses to immediately deduct 20 per cent off any new EV valued at more than $20,000, and the intention to use the Australian Investment Guarantee to incentivise the upgrade of heavy vehicles to incorporate modern technology that can help reduce emissions.
“The commitment to develop a Low Emission Transport Strategy is a responsible one, and will help ensure that all modes of transport are making a contribution to emissions reduction. Industry must be a key partner in the development of that strategy.
“ALC further notes the Opposition’s commitment to introduce vehicle emissions standards, in line with those that currently operate in the United States. This is a significant proposal – and one that must be worked though carefully with industry if it is to succeed.
“Industry is willing to play its part in delivering better environmental outcomes for the community, and ALC would look to work with any future Labor government to ensure that such standards are introduced in an equitable fashion that does not impose an unsustainable financial burden on freight logistics operators.”

The automotive supply chain is about to go electric

BMW’s Mini production line in Oxfordshire, UK. Photo courtesy of the BBC.

Jess Dando

New research from Transport Intelligence (Ti) has found that automotive supply chains will undergo a radical transformation over the next decade as the internal combustion engine is phased out in favour of alternative propulsion systems.
It is clear that electric vehicles will play an important, even defining, role in the industry’s future. This will mean that the supply chain for the entire powertrain will be transformed and the types of components, the logistics processes employed to move them, the markets of origin and destination as well as the tiered character of automotive supply chains will fundamentally change.
Key findings in the new report – Ti Future Mobility: Electric Vehicle Supply Chain Architecture – include:

  • As the dominant technology in electric vehicles, battery manufacturing processes will transform the automotive supply chain.
  • Battery or battery pack producers with high volumes will drive out lower volume manufacturers, including many vehicle manufacturers’ own in-house operations.
  • Supply chain and logistics provision will adapt to the geography of battery and electric component production locations.
  • The integration of the battery-pack and associated drive-train elements will create a distinctive ‘propulsion platform’.
  • The complex and deeply integrated tier-system of suppliers feeding in the components will change fundamentally.

While batteries are complex pieces of engineering, they are much more straightforward to insert into a vehicle than an internal combustion engine. Plugging in the electric motors to the battery is a comparatively simple process. With no welding shop, no engine plant and a higher level of outsourcing to new component suppliers, the automotive assembly facility will shrink in scale along with its logistics requirements.
“Conventional vehicle manufacturers define assembly as a core-competence but with the changing nature of operations, this may no longer be the case. It may be that, in time, automotive manufacturers’ come to focus on the design and marketing of their product, in the way that Apple does,” said Nick Bailey, Ti’s Head of Research and the report’s co-author.
The impact of the reduction in parts and the elimination of tiers of suppliers in the powertrain supply chain might be considered to be traumatic enough for the automotive supply chain. However, in addition to this, the process of the manufacturing of batteries in terms of materials, skills and existing production structures has developed outside of the main automotive powerhouse economies. Japan, South Korea and China are dominant in the sector, sourcing their raw materials from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Europe and North America have, with a few exceptions, been side-lined in the development of new technologies of batteries as well as in the manufacturing know-how.
One important discrete aspect of any EV supply chain that will make it distinct from IC supply chains is the differing nature of the interconnection of components. Whereas the relationship between components in IC vehicles is predominantly kinetic, the relationship between electric and electronic components is reliant on the movement of electrons. This means that the nature of different component’s interfaces are very different. This obviously has major supply chain implications.
“Fundamentally there is a shift in the nature of the components used, from mechanical engineering to electrical and electronic engineering,” said report co-author Thomas Cullen, senior analyst at Ti.  “The economics of both designing and producing these components is very different. This has enormous implications for how the automotive supply chain is ordered.”

Holden may be out but not down

Holden may have stopped manufacturing in Australia but the company will recruit 150 new engineers to focus on GM advanced vehicle development, including autonomous and electric vehicles.
GM Holden’s Australian engineers will play a crucial role in developing future technologies that underpin autonomous vehicles and electric powertrains for the future, the company has announced.
Holden’s Australian Design and Engineering workforce will grow to over 500, with recruitment already under way. Australian engineers will be fully integrated into GM’s global Advanced Vehicle Development team where annual expenditure on research and design is to reach over $120 million.
Speaking at Holden HQ before taking a tour of the Lang Lang Proving Ground, where local Holden and global GM vehicles have been tested for the past 60 years, GM executive vice president and president, Global Product Group and Cadillac Mark Reuss said Australian engineers would be fully integrated into global GM engineering teams to develop leading technologies to drive the future of mobility.
“GM is determined to be the first company to bring safe, autonomous vehicles to market — not within years, but in quarters. Make no mistake, we’re moving to a driverless future — a future of safer roads and zero crashes,” said Reuss. “At the same time, GM is well on its way to bringing at least 20 new all-electric models to market by 2023.
“The world-class vehicle engineering capability we have at Holden in Australia will play a significant role in GM delivering on its commitment to create a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”
Holden’s design, engineering and vehicle development workforce will increase to over 500 after the latest expansion. The 150 newest recruits to Holden Engineering will be a mixture of both experienced and graduate engineers.
GM Holden executive director engineering Brett Vivian said Australian engineers had played a critical role in vehicle development for Holden and GM globally since 1946, and this would continue with today’s announcement.
“This announcement of 150 new engineers at Holden to work on global advanced vehicle development comes on top of significant upgrades we have made to the emissions test lab and test tracks at our Lang Lang Proving Ground,” said Vivian.
“Holden’s engineering unit has a bright future undertaking important local and global work, from ensuring imported Holden vehicles can master Australia’s unique driving conditions, to developing the technologies that will power the future of mobility globally.
“With today’s announcement, we will now be spending up to $120 million annually on automotive research and development at our operations here in Australia.”
Mr Vivian said Holden was targeting ‘the best of the best’ of Australia’s established and graduate engineers to join the team.
“We want to harness the best young engineering minds in the country. This is an incredible opportunity to work on GM’s global products and to be at the forefront of industry innovation. We’re looking for forward-thinking people with a passion for creating revolutionary solutions; people who can work collaboratively and have strong communication skills. Automotive engineering experience is desired but not a pre-requisite.”
 

The Age of Hydrogen comes a step closer

Australia is a step closer to a new hydrogen production and export industry following the national science agency’s successful refuelling of two fuel cell vehicles.
CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall was one of the first to ride in the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo vehicles powered by ultra-high purity hydrogen, produced in Queensland using CSIRO’s membrane technology.
This technology will pave the way for bulk hydrogen to be transported in the form of ammonia, using existing infrastructure, and then reconverted back to hydrogen at the point of use.
It has the potential to fill the gap in the technology chain to supply fuel cell vehicles around the world with low-emissions hydrogen sourced from Australia.
The membrane separates ultra-high purity hydrogen from ammonia, while blocking all other gases.

Energy researchers in the hydrogen lab. ©John Nguyen Photography 2016.

It links hydrogen production, distribution and delivery in the form of a modular unit that can be used at, or near, a refuelling station.
This means that the transportation and storage of hydrogen – currently a complex and relatively expensive process – is simplified, allowing bulk hydrogen to be transported economically and efficiently in the form of liquid ammonia.
Recent advances in solar and electrochemical technologies mean renewable hydrogen production is expected to become competitive with fossil fuel-based production, providing an opportunity to decarbonise both the energy and transport sectors while creating new export opportunities.
CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said he was excited by the prospect of a growing global market for clean hydrogen, and the potential for a national renewable hydrogen export industry, to benefit Australia.
“This is a watershed moment for energy, and we look forward to applying CSIRO innovation to enable this exciting renewably-sourced fuel and energy storage medium a smoother path to market,” Dr Marshall said.
“I’m delighted to see strong collaboration and the application of CSIRO know-how to what is a key part of the overall energy mix.”
BOC sales and marketing director Bruce Currie congratulated CSIRO on the successful refuelling of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, which proves the effectiveness of CSIRO’s membrane technology from generation, right through to point of use.
“BOC’s innovative engineering team is proud to be collaborating with CSIRO researchers on this technology breakthrough, as we focus on advancing the hydrogen economy and global transition towards clean hydrogen for mobility and energy,” Mr Currie said.
Following this successful demonstration, the technology will be increased in scale and deployed in several larger-scale demonstrations, in Australia and abroad.
The project received $1.7 million from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF), which was matched by CSIRO.
In addition to its membrane technology, CSIRO is applying its expertise to all stages of the hydrogen technology chain (including solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, grid management, water electrolysis, ammonia synthesis, direct ammonia utilisation via combustion and/or fuel cells, as well as hydrogen production).
 

Autonomous vehicles not the cure-all for congestion

We often get caught up in the excitement about autonomous vehicles, but we need to remain objective and consider what Autonomous Vehicles (AV) should mean for transport and land use planning.
Without applying this ‘critical lens’, and planning for the most appropriate application of autonomous and electric vehicle technologies, we may even risk further entrenching an over-reliance on the private vehicle to meet our mobility needs, which is completely at cross-purposes with sustainable transport planning principles.
This is the key finding of the Autonomous Vehicles Research Report by transport consultancy MRCagney.  The research, conducted in Auckland, advises on how to prepare for an autonomous future. While the report was produced in a New Zealand context, the findings are lessons for all cities.
By removing the need for a human driver, autonomous vehicles offer benefits such as:

  • Increased accessibility for people who are unable to drive themselves;
  • Reduced costs of point to point transport (taxis and other ride share) and delivery services;
  • Increased road safety and capacity; and
  • Reduced off-street parking requirements (but not short-stay on-street parking).

However, the authors caution that there is the risk of:

  • Increased road congestion from increased demand for private and personal vehicle travel;
  • Increased vehicle miles travelled across the total network (with all the associated environmental impacts) as AVs continue to travel to pick up & drop-off more passengers compared with current vehicles that park at their destination; and
  • Increased pressure on meeting infrastructure requirements due to urban sprawl with longer commutes becoming more convenient in AV, due to the freedom for passengers to do other ‘things’ whilst a ‘chauffeur’ takes care of the driving.

So, how can we best embrace the opportunities of an autonomous vehicle future, while avoiding the potential pitfalls? AV Public transit.
There are great possibilities present when autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles are used for public transit. Availing of these technologies, PT services can be provided at a significant discount, with savings passed on to passengers or reinvested to improve overall service levels.
Managing director of MRCagney Leslie Carter said: “If fare revenues and government subsidies are maintained at 2016 levels, then AV enable PT service levels to increase by approximately 80%.”
AV can, and should, be used to supplement – NOT replace – public transport (especially for last mile access), and extend personal on-demand choices to avoid increased congestion.
Mr Carter said it’s all a waste of time if cities don’t get their public transport planning right.
“Our modelling shows that without public transport, even with full adoption of autonomous vehicles, cities will be heavily congested because of already constricted corridors into cities, the limit capacity of the road networks, and growing populations,” he said.
The report predicts that it will take until 2055 for AV technology to become standard in private cars. AV capable of Levels’ 1 and 2 (semi-automation) are already available in the market place. Level 3 AV (limited self-driving automation with all safety-critical functions automated, and surrounding conditions monitored) are now emerging for application on our city streets.
It is in our best interests to act now to prepare and adapt for the benefits that AV technologies bring to the table. For example:

  • Governments must enable AV advancement via regulation and providing certainty to the market.
  • Parking infrastructure must be updated to enable AV.
  • Public transport connections with autonomous car share vehicles must be facilitated.
  • AV should be trialled in PT vehicles.
  • Road infrastructure should be upgraded to be AV compliant.
  • Connective vehicle/infrastructure/services technologies should be invested in to improve road safety and the overall travel experience for all.

MRCagney’s report describes a future where autonomous vehicles are introduced slowly – commencing with ride-share services and public transport trials –  before becoming more widely adopted for car share and transit. It also highlights key steps to get there. The authors acknowledge this process could take several  years due to the slow rate of vehicle turnover, the high cost of the new technology, and legislative and technological barriers.
 
 

Electric Kangoo coming to Australia

Renault Australia will begin direct sales of the Kangoo Z.E. (Zero Emissions) compact van in November 2017.
“Bringing the Renault Kangoo Z.E. to Australia has been a long-held goal for us,” said Elena Woods, senior model line manager for electric vehicles at Renault Australia.
“Our success in Europe and the strength of the Renault-Nissan Alliance will serve us well, as we launch a new generation of electric vehicles into the Australian market. The Kangoo Z.E. has been in demand for some time and we have now secured supplies.”
The Renault Kangoo Z.E. electric van has been designed designed to better meet customer requirements and environmental targets. To date, more than 25,000 examples have been sold in Europe to a wide range of users, making it the most popular battery-powered van, with 34.5% of Europe’s EV (electric vehicle) commercial market. It has been the best seller in its segment in the six years since its European launch.

Senior vice president and the global head of the Electric Vehicle Business Unit for Renault Gilles Normand said: “Renault is continually improving and refining its electric vehicles to extend operating range and make charging as simple as possible for its customers. The technological innovations built into the Kangoo Z.E. – a new high energy density battery mated to a new motor, plus a heat pump and a new charger that is twice as powerful as before – have resulted in a driving range gain of more than 50 per cent, along with a faster, simpler charging process.”
The new Kangoo Z.E.’s driving range is now 270km, as measured on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). This is equivalent to 200km in real-world summer-climate driving. This compares with 170km under the NEDC achieved with the earlier version.
This extended range is thanks to the Kangoo Z.E.’s new, high-efficiency battery, promising a 50 per cent range increase compared to the previous battery. It also comprises a new motor, which delivers greater efficiency along with a new on-board charging system delivering faster recovery.
Charging the Kangoo Z.E. is also faster and easier. Its battery can now be fully charged in as little as six hours, while a one-hour lunch break allows enough time to add a 35km top-up, helping users to optimise their working day.

Electric vehicle movement gathering strength

The automotive industry currently faces a period of massive disruption with 2022 identified as the tipping point for technological changes to take full effect. The Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTA Queensland) has announced that it fully supports the Federal Government’s announcement that it will back the adoption of electric vehicles (EV) in Australia.
On May 22, the Minister for Energy and Environment Josh Frydenberg announced a $390,000 grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) supporting the introduction of electric and hybrid vehicles in the Australian market.
In preparation for the oncoming automotive disruption, the Electric Vehicle Council’s chairman Behyad Jafari has expressed the need to address the barriers preventing the uptake of electric vehicles with a consistent and collaborative effort needed by a range of sectors. MTA Queensland says it looks forward to working closely with the Electric Vehicle Council to ensure that key policy measures, such as incentivising electric vehicle purchase and establishing a roadmap for national public charging infrastructure, remain topical.
Group CEO of MTA Queensland Dr Brett Dale said: “From a global perspective, it’s clear that electric and hybrid vehicles are the way of the future and it’s pleasing to see the Australian Government taking the correct steps to support the uptake that Australia will experience.
“With electric, hybrid and low-emission vehicles tipped as the next big thing to hit vehicle transportation in Australia, now is the right time for the Australian Government to put its support behind this technological and environmentally sound future.
“The technological disruption that the motor trades face brings enormous opportunity for innovation and offers an environmentally sustainable future through the introduction of low emission vehicles,” he said.

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