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26 May 2011 09:05:01

Global benchmarking for e-mobility at last



Global benchmarking for e-mobility at last
By Dr Peter Harrop, chairman, IDTechEx

Best practice in e-mobility first occurs in very different countries and with very different vehicles. The most useful events on the subject therefore need an international speaker lineup. Indeed, they must cover much more than on-road vehicles and the rather narrow electromobility programs of governments that tend to focus on cars, with some effort on other on-road vehicles and little else.

The IDTechEx Electric Vehicles – Land, Sea, Air event series seeks to give that essential, full picture of all electric vehicles and best practice in electromobility whether it occurs with vehicles under the sea, on a lake, off-road or in the air. Developers and manufacturers of this wide variety of vehicles meet, usually for the first time, at these events. They are run by analysts IDTechEx which presents its latest ten year market forecasts. It has been preparing these for ten years already. The next such event will be Electric Vehicles – Land, Sea, Air Europe in Stuttgart Germany 28–29 June. This year, it will cover all sectors including buses, cars, two wheelers, aircraft, marine on and underwater, commercial, industrial and military EVs and mobility for the disabled.

There are lessons for on-road vehicles from the way some marine vehicles first employ multiple forms of energy harvesting and how unmanned electric aircraft have successfully used third generation lithium-ion batteries not yet seen in on-road vehicles. Many aircraft and boats use nothing but solar power – a degree of independence rarely seen on land. The trend to ac traction motors has been impeded by cost, lack of superlative performance and difficulty in making compact in-wheel versions but these limitations are rapidly being overcome but the results first seen in unusual forms of e-mobility.

At the Stuttgart event this year, there will be many speakers from the USA, UK, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and India to reveal best practice, plus others from elsewhere. Vehicles covered will include a huge variety of new hybrid and pure electric types including airport ground support equipment, unmanned and manned aircraft and electric nosewheels for large airliners so they become e-mobility when on the ground. DLR German Aerospace Center will present on this. Its reason for using a high performance DC motor will interest others making quite different forms of e-mobility.
Solar boats and aircraft and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are a focus. Generally, there is an emphasis on the future and on cross fertilisation of ideas.

In fact, Europe is a laggard in many aspects of electric vehicles including mainstream traction batteries and supercapacitors. On the other hand, Europe leads in many other e-mobility technologies now ready – or nearly ready – for prime time. That includes fuel cell and mini turbine range extenders, third generation traction batteries, printed electronics and electrics and advanced structural materials.

Egg-shaped tandem-seated cars, some new military electric vehicles, electric boats, AUVs and certain unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are seen first in Europe – all electric. Many of these will be presented and demonstrated this year plus the Tesla pure electric sports car, largely designed and sourced by Lotus in the UK. By contrast, the European aerospace giant EADS will describe how its e-mobility has started with a pure electric stunt plane that could fit into the jet intake of one of its regular airliners. Why are its electric motors not scalable and why is this an opportunity as much as a problem with e-mobility? All will be revealed.

Electromobility manufacturers are broadening their ranges to capture economy of scale, more efficiently leveraging their skills. For example, some companies now make UAVs, AUVs and land e-mobility. Another makes buses, military a non-military e-mobility and so on.

In the lithium-ion traction batteries now seen from forklifts to personal submarines, the "lithium polymer" form of electrolyte containment and lithium iron phosphate cathodes are often preferred whether that traction battery flies, swims or travels over land but the justification varies. When will that be replaced by fully solid state printed inorganic traction batteries, if ever? This is a typical question to be addressed.

European companies lead in expanding the e-mobility business by creating new sectors such as use of the on-road type of hybrid powertrain in light rail and making seagoing yachts into electric hybrids using basically the same second generation lithium-ion batteries as seen on land and in the air. For example, battery maker Valence Technology will describe how it has assisted world number one in ocean going yachts, Bénéteau of France to make its yachts hybrid electric using powertrains from ZF Marine of Germany, recharging from the propeller going backwards when under sail. Gone is the noisy diesel engine used for hotel facilities when moored. Valence has sales e-mobility successes on land and at sea.

This year, ENFICA-FC of Italy, the DLR German Aerospace Center, Intelligent Energy and others report on putting traction fuel cells in airport vehicles, motor cycles, cars, taxis and buses. Indeed, speaker Daimler AG will offer the world's first production fuel cell car through its Mercedes Benz division, which this year presents on the route to a pure electric delivery van. Meeting the need for fast charging and widespread holistic charging networks for land, sea and air vehicles will be addressed by Siemens Germany, Mitsubishi Electric of Japan, FTS UK and others.

There is a two day conference and exhibition and an awards dinner (it is not too late to apply for an award). Optional masterclasses and visits to local centers of excellence will take place on the day before and the day after the two day event.

For information on either event or to apply for a press pass, please contact Cara Harrington.


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