THE EUROPEAN UNION The European Regional Development Fund
Investing in your future The etrans project is supported by the Region of Southern Denmarkâ€™s Growth Forum, the European Fund for regional Development and the Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority
A PROJECT ON ELECTRIC CARS WITH X-FACTOR A major project at Kolding School of Design - involving local councils, businesses, researchers and designers - that aims to make electric cars a commercial success
To design an eco-structure that makes it attractive, smart and meaningful to exchange petrol guzzlers with battery driven cars and show that it is possible to use batteries as an energy buffer. When the wind blows and the sun shines millions of batteries can be charged the world over, so they are ready when there is a need for them. The technology is there, now it is up to the designers to operationalise that technology; in other words make it useful and desirable.
The main actors in this green transport revolution, the car drivers, will be involved in the design of the transport of the future. In collaboration with researchers, designers, design students and a range of private and public companies, they will help develop suggestions, for example, for town planning, battery charging technology, car interiors, roadside services, car insurance and help develop alternative possibilities for the purchase of other related and environmentally friendly products. But they will not be involved in the actual design of a new electric car. This is the only aspect of electric cars that the project will not be dealing with.
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THIS IS WHAT WEâ€™LL DO
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If 20 % of Denmark’s car pool was to become electric, it would mean a CO2 reduction in the transport sector of 1.1 million tons per annum
Knud Pedersen, Vice President of DONG Energy, whilst addressing the Danish wind power conference in 2008
A car is not just a means of transport. It also has an influence on how we consider ourselves. We use it to say who we are and to create a sense of meaning for ourselves …
Electric cars will also become an important element in the European Union’s (EU) goal to be 20 % more energy efficient by the year 2020. Electric cars are the most energy efficient solution for private road transport. The difference lies in the efficiency of a car’s engine. An electric engine has a performance of circa 90 %, whilst a conventional combustion engine has one of 20-30 % Danish Energy 2009
Electric cars don’t make much noise or let out exhaust particles. Clean electricity is produced either by windmills or by large power stations that filter out particles and pollution
etrans will ask a group of anthropologists to observe those car drivers who already drive electric cars. What makes them feel it’s worth driving these cars? At the same time a range of ordinary car drivers will be observed; fathers and mothers who use a car to transport the family, small businesses or home help. What is it that contributes to their feeling comfortable or not when driving their car? Why do they drive a particular car? They can also help us discover what transport actually means and is used for, above and beyond getting from one place to another.
Using the understanding we glean from our observations, we will initiate several design projects where we will attempt to develop solutions that can address some of the barriers our research has revealed. The question is whether our solutions work. This is of course, where we involve our users; What do you think if your car electricity bill looks like this? You told us the last time we spoke that you’d rather have a more secure car. Now we’ve designed an interface that indicates, via a red light, when an object is closer than 6 meters to the car. Can we test this out, together, in your car? Etc, etc.
In the project’s second phase we will be even more thorough in our user investigations. Our researchers will follow a select group of users over the course of several days, sit in their cars and follow in depth precisely what the joy of driving and transport does or doesn’t involve. Users will be divided into various archetypes, for example “the convinced green car driver who follows the cause regardless of the cost,” “the sceptic who says, ‘Ok, as long as there aren’t too many problems‘,” and “the determined opponent.” The aim is to understand the feelings that, contrary to all rational thinking, play a role when one talks about transport. At the same time we will also involve those who have a major influence on the design of the infrastructure surrounding an electric car: Town planners, insurance companies, the service sector (service stations), politicians and more. All those who have an intimate knowledge, understanding and attitude of mind who can help reveal the challenges involved in electric car and green transport, before it becomes an integrated part of the Danish transport sector.
Using this understanding as a departure point, another series of design projects will be initiated where, amongst other things, we will invite students from other universities to take part in a camp with the challenge of resolving a specific design task. Professional design firms will also be invited to take part in a design competition where the electric car’s infrastructure will be the theme. The emphasis of these projects is that users are to be directly involved in the design process. This second phase will, hopefully, result in a series of ideas and sketches, which when operationalised - e.g., implemented in town planning or put into production - can contribute to the transfer of a larger part of sustainable energy to the transport sector.
The final phase of the project is intended to establish a food chain from the designers’ results to concrete business plans and to town and traffic oriented change. The intention of this phase is to develop a “business accelerator” that can draw on qualified advice and risk capital in order to identify and withdraw ideas that are not sustainable enough early in the process and qualify the good ideas so they can be developed into healthy businesses. We will, as part of this process, educate companies and their employees as to how user driven innovation functions and hopefully show that it is worthwhile involving users to the extent that we do. Our hope is to create a green transport cluster of companies that in some way can become part of a green transport sector’s value chain.
THE PARTNERS Aarstiderne, APC by Schneider Electric, Cleantech Motors, DONG Energy, Falck, Fredericia Kommune, Have PR og Kommunikation, Hjem-Is, Middelfart Sparekasse, Peugeot, Sixt Biludlejning, Solar Drive, Statoil, Think, Trekantområdets Innovationsforum/Trin, VELFAC All partners will be involved in articulating and determining the design challenges and will be invited to take part in the various design projects. In many cases there will also be a need for companies to contribute with technical expertise and knowledge of users. The project as a whole will generate knowledge, not least about user driven design methods, which the involved companies can learn from. It’s expected that throughout the project new partners will become involved.
Denmark has committed itself to contribute to the EU’s goal regarding more sustainable energy. At present sustainable energy represents 21% of the Danish electricity sector. The aim is to lift this to 50 % by the year 2020
Kolding School of Design is a public institution and thus has a commitment to serve the community. This means in this instance that we will make all the project results available to the general public and any interested parties. All research results will be published on the project’s web site: www.etrans.dk. All design ideas, sketches, models and first prototypes will be exhibited on an ongoing basis. Finally we will offer open seminars, conferences and extra educational courses on user driven design with a special focus on the electric car’s value chain. Our hope is that companies and organisations who might not have previously considered working with sustainable energy or transport might see new possibilities as a result of our project. Contact: Project Manager for etrans Mette Mikkelsen, mobile +45 4111 1322 Designskolen Kolding, Aagade 10, DK-6000 Kolding