Electric vehicle trials gain traction in UK
A raft of electric vehicle related news from the UK this week with Mitsubishi, Ford, Toyota and BMW (through its Mini brand) all getting a piece of the action. A total of approximately 340 all-electric and hybrid vehicles will begin trials on UK roads within the next 6-18 months.
The all-electric i MiEVcar is set to play a prominent role in one of the government’s recently announced Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator projects.
Twenty-five i MiEVs will go on the road from November this year as part of a major trial. The i MiEV is reported to have a top speed of 87mph, a range of over 80 miles and can carry four adults and their luggage. It recharges from flat-to-full in six hours via a 240V supply or can be topped up to 80 percent in 20-30 minutes.
Ford Motor Company has announced it will release a fleet of zero emissions prototype Ford Focus BEVs (battery electric vehicle) for trialing from 2010. Ford of Europe is specially developing the prototype Focus BEVs to test the technology's suitability for potential future application in Ford's European passenger car range.
The vehicles will use prototype technology announced by Ford at the 2009 North American Auto Show in January and are under development for introduction in North America in 2011.
Ford of Europe's involvement with the fleet of electric Focus prototypes complements the development work already undertaken to showcase the Ford Tourneo Connect BEV Concept first revealed at this year's Geneva motor show.
For Tourneo Connect BEV Concept uses a 21kWh lithium ion phosphate battery pack to drive a 50kW permanent magnet motor, while the drive torque is transmitted to the driveshafts by a single-speed transmission. This set-up targets a range of up to 100 miles and a top speed of 80mph.
Recharging via a standard mains socket, and a full battery charge is accomplished in six to eight hours.
Toyota Hybrid vehicles
Toyota has won government funding to support a trial of up to 20 Plug in Hybrid Vehicles (PHVs) on UK roads in 2010. The trial will begin in London and run for up to three years, with the intention to lease the vehicles to a mix of public bodies and private companies including the Greater London Authority group and the Government Car and Despatch Agency.
Toyota says its hybrid technology steps over the constraints historically linked with electric vehicles, extending electric driving mode almost tenfold. Testing of PHVs in London has been conducted since 2008 and Toyota says it will deploy over 500 new PHVs globally in Europe, Japan and the US – by 2010.
Not to be outdone, Mini also has received government funding for a UK trial. The BMW Group has developed the Mini E to be introduced and tested in a 12-month field trial on British roads by a mixture of private, corporate and public sector drivers. The trial is slated to begin before the end of 2009.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "I want to make London the electric vehicle capital of Europe and these trials will provide us with valuable information on what is needed to ensure they can become an everyday choice."