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IRELAND’S FOREMOST JOURNAL FOR GREEN TRANSPORT DEVELOPMENT

Special Edition Pull-Out!

Volume 7. No 2. SUMMER 10

MITSUBISHI FUSO d n a l e CanTer eCO CO r I g n i y f i r HYBrID lect

e

Introducing the Mercedes-Benz Vito e-Cell!

Volkswagen goes racing on gas ... naturally!


www.fleet.ie

contents AUTUMN 2010 26 News Fleets adopt to EVs • EUs Greenest driver found • VW Scirocco R-Cup on CNG • Audi use electric trains for logistics • Nissan Leaf branches out! • Volvo’s intelligent hybrid bus • Beetle runs on pooh! • F1 goes Green 28 Award Announcing the contenders for the Green Commercial of the Year Award 2011 sponsored by ESB ecars 29 Interview with Dr. Karl Deppen, Project Leader, Mercedes-Benz Atego Blue Tech Hybrid 30 Launch Pad 1 Second generation Mercedes-Benz Atego Blue Tech Hybrid

SUBSCRIPTION FORM Please send me an issue of Fleet Transport magazine (plus supplements) every month for one year starting with the next available issue for the cost of €65 (Ireland), €85 (Europe) €120 US. Name: Job Title Company: Email: Address: Phone: Fax: Three ways to subscribe: 1. Cheque made payable to Fleet Transport for € 2. Please charge my debit/credit card for the amount of € Laser, Mastercard, Visa, Electron & Maestro. Card No. Expiry Date: CVV No. Signature: Date: 3. Please invoice me for € Purchase Order No. (if applicable). Send completed form to: Subscriptions, Fleet Transport Magazine, D’Alton Street, Authentic Boxed Ad:Diesel Claremorris, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Fax: +353 in 94 9373571

32 Cover Mitsubishi to generate sales in electric powered cars & trucks

P 27

35 Launch Pad 2 Renault ZE Roadshow visits Ireland 36 Report CILT Transport Seminar 38 Econovation Iveco to the fore on alternative fuel services

P 29

40 e-Fleet Vito e-Cell from Mercedes-Benz Ad

25/08/2010

20:03 Page 42 1 Interview GFM 9.10

with John Barry, Bord Gais

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FLEETMANAGEMENT | AuTumn 2010 25


NEWS 1

Fleets are ideal candidates as early adopters of electric vehicles

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trong potential exists for fleet operators to be early adopters of electric vehicles according to Cenex, the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for low carbon vehicle technologies. The research agency recently completed a 6 month study that looked at the feasibility of integrating electric vehicles into fleets and surveyed the perceptions of fleet drivers and managers towards electric vehicles. The ‘Smart Move’ trial took place in the North of England and due to the predictability and planned travel requirements of fleet car drivers

encouragement towards the use of this alternative drive technology was targeted. A key reason for the success of the trial is that, due to the returnto-base operation of fleets, the lack of public infrastructure is not seen as a barrier to EV (Electric Vehicle) adoption. While fleet managers highlighted a main barrier to EV integration as limited range, the research revealed that users are over cautious when planning journeys. Ten companies took part, integrating one to

four electric cars – Mercedes-Benz Smarts Fortino fitted with special equipment to capture information on vehicle performance and energy demands. Information recorded included positive and negative power f low across the battery terminals, battery state of charge and vehicle GPS position. The 264 drivers in the survey rated the electric ‘experience’ as good and the low-noise and environmental feel good factor rated highest with acceleration and information display marked the lowest. Overall, 88% of fleet managers said that their opinions of electric vehicles had increased after the trial.

Opel ecoFLEX Experience: Europe’s Greenest Driver Found!

VW Scirocco R-Cup: eco-conscious racing

O

T

pel's search for Europe’s Greenest Driver came to an exciting climax with Portugal’s António Gonçalves proving worthy of the title. Under the motto: “Green Driver: Wanted!” Opel initiated a two-month long ecoFLEX Experience competition to raise awareness that proper eco-conscious driving techniques – coupled with the right vehicles – can go far in reducing CO2 emissions.

he Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup plays a pioneering role among the one-make cups in motorsport. Its Bio-Natural Gas engine reduces CO2 emissions by 80 per cent, thereby making it the world’s most eco-conscious manufacturer’s race series.

Opel first whittled down a playing field of nearly 70,000 competitors to 20 contestants – one from each participating country. They met at Sturup Raceway near Malmö, Sweden for the grand finale. After two days of suspenseful action, the 25 year-old ecoFLEX Experience champion accepted a symbolic key for the grand prize, one of the very first electric Opel Ampera, which is on schedule for production next year. “I definitely wanted to win because I wanted that Ampera,” said a proud and happy Gonçalves. “That’s why my main focus was to drive as consistently as possible.” The second and third place winners also had reason to celebrate. The runner-up, Yakup Pelit from Denmark, won an Opel Astra 1.3 CDTI ecoFLEX. Number three, the Finn Keijo Tapio Leppävuori, can now show off his eco-friendly driving style in a Corsa 1.3 CDTI ecoFLEX.

A push-to-pass system, which boosts the basic power output by 50 to a maximum of 275 hp for a limited duration and number of uses, ensures gripping racing action every lap. The field of entrants in the German series is a multi-faceted one. In addition to the drivers in the Junior Cup, who are just starting their racing careers, seasoned touring car campaigners fight for race victories and champion’s titles in the Pro Cup. The Legend Cup puts five prominent guests entrants from motorsport – from Formula 1 or the DTM, for example – on the grid at each race.

Audi relying on green electricity for rail transport

A

UDI AG is setting new standards in logistics: The automaker is using trains powered by green electricity to transport its cars from Ingolstadt to the North Sea loading port of Emden, making it the first company in Germany to use green electricity in this way. This innovative logistics concept is a trailblazing step for the car industry and an important element of Audi’s strategy of ensuring that production is sustainable in all areas.

“CO2 -free rail transport is an important element of our environmental efforts and is of great interest to us,” says Ernst-Hermann Krog, 26 FLEETMANAGEMENT | Autumn

Head of Audi Brand Logistics. From 1 August, the Audi is operating its transport trains on the Ingolstadt – Emden route with electricity from renewable energy sources. This allows Audi to eliminate the emission of around 5,250 tons of CO 2 per year, more than 35 kilograms (77 lb) per car transported. The line to the North Sea loading port, the hub for overseas exports, is the brand’s most important transport route. Three trains loaded with Audi models travel this route each day and carry roughly 150,000 cars a year.


NEWS 1I

Nissan Leaf Makes European Debut in Ireland

N

issan is to become another mainstream manufacturer to introduce a fully electric passenger car to the Irish market, with deliveries of its Leaf model expected to arrive here from February of next year. The Japanese manufacturer has ambitious plans for the new car, hoping to sell one thousand examples here next year.

their experience of seeing and driving the car. Powered by a laminated lithium-ion battery that develops 80kW of power and 280 Nm of torque, the Leaf has a range of 160 km and a top speed of over 140 kmh. It can be charged fully on single phase home charging in eight hours, or to 80% charge in just twenty six minutes using quick-charging three phase power.

The Leaf made its European public debut in Ireland this month with the arrival of a preproduction left hand drive model with members of the public invited for test-drives. Peter Dynan, Product Director, Nissan Ireland, said that he was taken aback by the level of interest in the car,

Priced at €29,995 which includes the Government grant subsidy of €5,000, the Leaf comes well specified with LED headlights, satellite navigation and a parking camera.

and reported that a significant number of orders had already been placed by customers based on

Volvo’s hybrid bus can see into the future

A

hybrid bus that knows what will happen in the next two to three minutes using stored energy to the maximum developed by Volvo Technology could contribute to reducing the already low fuel consumption of hybrid buses by an additional five to ten percent.

Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport is a major EU research project consisting of some ten different sub projects, primarily focused on active safety. In addition to Volvo, participants include such companies as Volkswagen and Continental. Volvo has two specific sub projects, of which one involves buses and the environment. By reducing the already low fuel consumption of a hybrid bus, a further step is taken toward reducing the environmental impact. “The aim is to develop software that predicts the traffic situation in which the bus will be operating in the next two to three minutes,” says Project Manager, Maria Bruce at Volvo Technology. “If we know that, we can control the hybrid system so that we always recover and utilize braking

energy maximally.” One example is if the bus comes to a hill. If it knows that the road will soon go downhill, more of the energy in the battery can be used, since it will be possible to recharge the battery when the bus brakes. The challenge lies in creating the software that will analyze all stored information and control the hybrid system. “We are using such technology as GPS and map data to determine the road’s slope, curves, speed limits, traffic lights, the location of bus stops and so forth,” added Maria. “Much of this data is commercially available today but not all. So we ourselves have therefore measured out a bus route in Gothenburg for our project.”

People Power peoples’ car!

H

ailed as a breakthrough in the drive to encourage sustainable power, the first peoplepowered VW Beetle has taken to the streets. The ‘Peoples Car’ gets its power from under the street … literally … as the Bio-Bug as it’s called runs on methane gas generated during the sewage treatment process. Waste flushed down the toilet of just 70 homes in Bristol is enough to power the Bio-Bug for a year, based on an annual mileage of 10,000 miles. GENECO, a Wessex water-owned company came up with the idea and technology required. “We decided to power a vehicle on the surplus bio-gas produced at our site in Avonmouth, offering a sustainable alternative to using fossil fuels which we so heavily rely on. If you were to drive the car you wouldn’t know it was powered by bio-gas as it performs just like any conventional car. It is probably the most sustainable car around,” he added.

Formula 1 heads for ‘Greener Pastures’

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he pinnacle of World Motorsport, Formula 1 is going green - well, greener at least. FOTA (the Formula One Teams Association) has appointed Trucost, an environmental research specialist to come up with measures that will reduce carbon emissions now and in the future. To date, Trucost has been analysing the full range of activities performed by and within F1 teams and their suppliers. It has discovered that the carbon emissions caused by testing and racing of F1 cars is a small proportion of the total carbon emissions generated by Formula One as a whole.

However, working closely with the FIA (Motorsport's Governing Body), FOTA has committed to develop new F1 engines and powertrain regulations as and from 2013, designed to enhance fuel efficiency. It is estimated that before then F1 will have reduced carbon emissions by 15% compared to 2009. One method under investigation is to reduce road miles between European Grand Prix by co-ordinating the race calendar better as well as revisions to the sports current regulations. FLEETMANAGEMENT | Autumn 27


AWARD

Fleet Transport Awards – Green Commercial of the Year 2011 in association with ESB ecars

The Contenders: Category:Electric

Prize presentations to be made at the Fleet Transport Awards Gala Dinner, to be held on 4 October at Johnstown House Hotel, Enfield, County Meath.

Mercedes-Benz Vito E-Cell

Iveco EcoDaily Electric

Mercedes-Benz Atego Hybrid

Mitsubishi Fuso Canter EcoHybrid

Mercedes-Benz Econic NGT

Iveco EcoDaily CNG

Category: Hybrid (diesel/electric)

Category: Natural Gas

28 FLEETMANAGEMENT MANAGEMENT | AuTumn umn 2010


INTERVIEW

One-to-One

Dr. Karl Deppen, Project Leader MercedesBenz Atego Hybrid Blue Tech with Jarlath Sweeney editor@fleet.ie

JS. We now have the latest generation of the Atego in hybrid form. We had the experience of driving a prototype late last year and it seems to have been enhanced quite substantially through various elements of technology, and also how it looks. Can you describe what improvements have been made? KD. Well, I think with the new hybrid system on the Atego we have taken a big step forward. We now have a second generation of lithium-ion technology battery, 2kW power in 340 volt current and a second generation inverter. We have a fully integrated E-motor now, a motor supporting the diesel engine in the propulsion mode and the generator in the regeneration mode. So we get the energy from the drivetrain back into the batteries. JS. With regard to the second generation of the lithium-ion batteries, can you just explain what that is? Are they smaller, more powerful? What does the second generation mean? KD. Well for us, it especially means we have more robust energy for the truck application. We are talking about the torque of the truck. So we need to take care of the robustness of the entire system because our customers expect 100% uptime in summer and in winter. We have no control over the customer drive on the highway condition or on the gravel road, so we are inclined to take all precautions. We have a robust design that allows the customer to operate the vehicle wherever the business takes him rather than provide limitations in the operating cycle. We want daily use mode of systems and I think we’ve taken a great step forward here with this new generation. Performance wise, we have more stability, we have broader range, we can use loading and unloading the battery, so from all points of view we have made big steps forward with the performance of the vehicle.

this point. We’ve run all our mechanical testing – durability testing, testing off-road, with very promising results and we have full confidence in the mechanical side. On the battery inside on the chemical properties, everybody has experience with mobile phones, with computer laptops. Over time lithium-ion batteries are, shall we say, a little bit defective to liquidation, but we have a pretty robust design here and over time we have so far no decline in the battery performance. So we guarantee a 5 year lifetime for the battery and we have total confidence that this is by no means the end of the lifetime of the battery, but rather it is up to our customers to rate the confidence in the system and therefore we also offer a full service contract for the vehicles, so they don’t have to worry about anything. They don’t have to worry about repairs, about maintenance, about battery lifetime. We think this is a very good opportunity for the customer to explore the benefits of the new technology. JS. You’ve also improved on how you can regenerate the energy back into the system through the exhaust brake. With reference to the previous generation, you didn’t have that. KD. We felt it was important to provide various ways to recuperate energy because basically any energy we can recuperate we can use again. So any options we have on the vehicle - we can identify a couple of things – number one: we can recuperate energy when the engine is idling. We can recuperate when the vehicle is just rolling, as you approach a red traffic light. The eco-roll is basically when you de-couple the engine from the drivetrain. So the vehicle is just rolling, like a neutral and that’s the most efficient mode of operation because the vehicle is just cruising and the engine recuperates. But then if we just have the rolling situation of the vehicle without applying any gas, we can recuperate just to take care of the braking moment of the mass of the vehicle and you can increase that by pulling the exhaust brake lever. Also whenever you hit the brake with the pedal, we also initiate the recuperation, so that has been a big task for us to integrate the recuperation into the braking mode. So you won’t feel it when you hit the pedal, but the small wizard in the ECUs, they took care of it and they supplied the recuperation first and then applied the foundation brake. JS. When you were re-styling the Atego did you look at improving the aerodynamics so that you could actually improve on the rolling resistance?

JS. Is the life cycle of the battery in line with the life cycle of the vehicle?

KD. Well, we had that discussion but we had to also realise the typical duty cycle of those vehicles is more like an inner city or maybe somewhat regional operation, so usually they have lower speed and they don’t get too much benefit from any aerodynamic devices. Of course, there is the device on the roof streamlines the airflow over the body of the vehicle, but other than that we didn’t do more and we took some testing there and we didn’t much benefit from applying further aerodynamics because if you have a lot of ‘stop and go’ you don’t really utilise the benefits from it.

KD. At this point we have to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Mechanically we don’t see any limitations at

JS. You mentioned there the ‘stop and go’, the new Stop/Start System is fully automatic in deference to

the previous edition which had a switch or lever. KD. Yes, we are proud of it and we’re the first ones in the segment to offer this and in combination with the hybrid. I think it’s a very good opportunity to reduce fuel consumption, to reduce emissions and also to reduce noise because if you have a red traffic light or a driver stops to ask for directions or something, the engine shuts down and you have no local emissions, no noise, so for inner city traffic, it’s a relief. JS. Whilst we were out driving every traffic light we came to was red, so we had plenty of opportunity to try out the stop/start. But what I did find is that the accelerator required a soft touch when starting off, unlike your standard ‘foot to the floor’ driving style. It’s a different style that is required for a hybrid truck. KD. Well, we are working on this and there are different, let’s say, different preferences when different people drive the vehicle. We get different responses and for some people, they’re used to stepping on the pedal and get acceleration – that can be done as well and we think there could be situations where you have to do this. For example, if you try to enter a busy road, so we always have to supply the opportunity to the driver to react accordingly to the traffic situations. On the other hand we are thinking of the correct reaction of the pedal, so maybe in the lower gears we are thinking about changing a little bit the sensitivity of the pedals so that it is easier to manoeuvre in the low speed environment. For example, some pedestrian zones where you want to creep a little slower, then you could run just on the electric drive and be easier to adjust. We are thinking about this but didn’t feel comfortable enough yet to show it to you today, because we are not fully happy with the system yet. We are working on this, we’re not perfect, but we know where to improve. JS. Just on the cosmetics side, with regard to the new colour coded grille and your enhancements inside as well, it’s more in line with the Actros family. KD. Yes, from a technical base we developed a very reliable and mature type of vehicle, as we saw this morning that the speeds and the density of inner city traffic is growing and growing. So for the driver it requires more and more concentration on the traffic, so we want to take away any distraction as possible and with the new instrument panel we are doing that with the new switches in the steering wheel to operate the radio and operate the telephone. The driver has everything integrated and therefore can be more focused on the traffic. Another important feature for us was to increase the efficiency like the instruments when you start the ignition – the automatic ignition check. So the systems are checked automatically before the driver starts to get the feedback that the vehicle is OK. That helps reduce some warning lamps during duty operation in the day, so can basically check the vehicle and off the driver goes. So it’s small steps, which we think are important to further enhance the uptime of the vehicle. And most important I think with this Hybrid, we are also able to provide the right-hand drive and to really cover fully the European Union with this unique and innovative vehicle. FLEETMANAGEMENT | AuTumn 2010 29


LAUNCH PAD 1

Mercedes-Benz Atego Hybrid – first off the blocks

Specialist component suppliers Eaton & Wabco collaborated with Mercedes-Benz in the Atego Hybrid.

D

aimler AG is continuing to make significant steps in the development of diesel-electric hybrid systems for its Mercedes-Benz trucks. Set for launch at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover is the latest generation Atego Hybrid. With this combined drive technology, savings of up to 15% in fuel consumption and CO 2 emissions compared with conventionally powered trucks can be achieved. There is also a reduction in noise pollution, a significant factor for the urban environment in which hybrid drives operate. Already the impact has been immediate as 50 said vehicles, have been purchased by 40 German fleet operators that are keen to put this cutting edge technology to everyday use. Interestingly, these vehicles

received a one-off financial incentive said to be worth €22,500 from the German Federal Ministry of Transport’s ‘Development Plan for Electrically Powered Mobility’. Production has now moved forward putting Mercedes-Benz ahead of the competition in that hybrid traction is available off the assembly line just like its diesel combustion engined counterparts. Daimler presented its first European produced hybrid at its ‘Shaping Future Transportation’ event in Stuttgart in November 2007. The following year 5 examples of these MercedesBenz Atego Hybrids, (in prototype form) went on trial with DHL Express. Despite the economic

crisis interest in the full production type has come from France, Switzerland and Austria. Various technical aspects have since been improved to perfect the balance between the vehicle and the hybrid components. Under the direction of Karl Deppen, Project Leader, New Atego/Atego Blue Tec Hybrid, the second generation Atego Hybrid has gained the same refreshed look as per the diesel model as well as the internal embellishments – see page 62 in Fleet Transport for more details. Back in September last year, we drove one of the examples from the DHL fleet around Stuttgart – see Fleet October on www.fleet.ie. In his presentation Karl Deppen outlined the significant modifications to the Atego Hybrids since then. For a start, more powerful and lighter high voltage Lithium-ion batteries are now fitted and the electric engine is fully integrated without the use of an adaptor. MercedesBenz Telligent automated transmission now features Hybrid (Eco)-Roll function. In addition the engine’s Stop/Start function is now fully automatic, before then it was manually operated. While the 12 tonne 4x2 rigid (with box bodies) diesel/electric met with Euro 5 engine emission standards, the latest one goes beyond that and achieves EEV levels – Enhanced Environmentalfriendly Vehicle compliant. Having gained European Type Approval, righthand drive and left-hand drive versions are available for the first time. Safety has been enhanced with automatic shutdown in hazardous situations. As before parallel hybrid architecture is used. In other words, the electric motor is

30 FLEETMANAGEMENT | AuTumn 2010


LAUNCH PAD 1 located behind the internal combustion engine and clutch, but in front of the transmission. This arrangement enables the engine and electric motor to power the truck individually or together. Compared with a conventional drive, additional components include the batteries powering the electric motor, a converter or voltage transformer and the hybrid control system and cooling system. As the vehicle moves off under electric power, recuperation or regeneration of the energy is achieved through the foot brake, use of the new 2 storage Exhaust Brake and also through the New Hydro-Roll system. As before, this 12 tonne GVW hybrid-drive distribution truck is based on the platform of the Atego 1222L Euro 5 4.8 litre fourcylinder EEV engine that develops 218 hp and has maximum torque output of 810 Nm @ 1200/1600 rpm. This is supplemented with a water-cooled electric motor developing a peak output of 44 kW and maximum magnet motor located between the clutch and the 6-speed automated transmission.

regenerated electric energy charge. Hybrid drive systems in trucks for the middleweight category, are becoming more market ready. Mercedes-Benz, being the first off the blocks, is avidly seeking customers that wish to make a carbon-footprint reducing statement. As with all-electric power/emission free commercial vehicles currently on sale, the high cost factor is an issue. From what we have been told a €45,000 premium is added to the Hybrid compared to the standard 12-tonne Atego 1222L. The German Federal Government did support the purchasers of the first 50 Atego Hybrids by offering a 50% grant aid on the premium. This initiative should be implemented in other Member States on a par-European basis. Public funding is ongoing in USA and Japan for alternative drive systems. We also heard that Germany is also going down this path. The eMobilitat programme, with a total fund of €500 million will support the trialling and accelerated market introduction of electrically-powered vehicles up to 2011.

Global Hybrid Centre – Japan Daimler’s experience with hybrid drives date back to 1969. It set up a ‘Global Hybrid Centre’ in association with its subsidiary Fuso Truck & Bus in Japan in August 2008. The Centre brings together all of Daimler Truck’s hybrid activities around the World and drives their speedy development and deployment. All the analysis, investigation and development of hybrid technology for its Mercedes-Benz, Fuso & Freightliner (USA) brands, happens here. ‘Local Application Centres’, then adapt and implement the strategies at local market level for the individual vehicles and their markets. Fuso Canter Eco-Hybrids, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter & Vito electric and Citaro Blue Tec Hybrid are also available in Europe.

“As a self-sustaining system, the Atego Blue Tec Hybrid is not tied to any specific infrastructure for example, cables or charging stations and its application options are just as flexible as those for pure diesel vehicles,” stated Karl. He added, “Depending on the specific system, the additional weight of the Atego Blue Tec Hybrid compared to the regular Atego 1222 comes to around 350 kg.” On the streets around Mannheim-Ladenburg, the latest Atego Hybrid clearly demonstrated its newly created efficiencies and yet left some further modifications to do. As the truck drives off in electric mode, the diesel engine takes over through the progression up through the gears. Should steep inclines put the 4.8 litre diesel under pressure the electric motor kicks in to assist. Getting stopped at practically every other traffic light ensured that we got plenty of use out of the engine’s Start/Stop technology, which is becoming more the norm in commercial vehicles nowadays. When stopped via the footbrake, the diesel engine switches off – fuel consumption and noise levels are reduced to zero at this stage. But as we found with the Iveco Eurocargo Hybrid some changes to the software need to be done to boost the instant acceleration necessary from a standing position. Gentle foot control on the accelerator pedal is required as the electric engine takes on the initial propulsion. A heavy foot confuses the system and some delay results in a slower moving-off pace than desired. Karl Deppen in an interview with Fleet Management did acknowledge this ‘Achilles heel’ and said that further research and development is being centered in this direction. Compared to the DHL prototype version driven last September the refreshments made to the Atego both externally and internally were appreciated. The new seats with integrated headrests (ala Actros) are more comfortable. On the mechanical side, the newly installed two-stage Exhaust Brake not only pulled back the vehicle quicker, but also increased the Text: Jarlath Sweeney - editor@fleet.ie

Extensive pre-production tests were undertaken to ensure safe and reliable operation of the hybrid drivetrain.

The electronic control system’s best operating parameter is between 30% and 70%. FLEETMANAGEMENT | Autumn 2010 31


COVER

Mitsubishi electrify Irish motoring …

“I

n 2015, at least 25 percent of cars in Europe will be electrically driven,” stated Wolfgang Bernard (Roland Bergen Institute). Here in Ireland the Government has set a real target that by 2020, 10% of all vehicles on Irish roads will be electric powered. Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Fuso aim to become the leaders in this objective to electrify the Irish motoring fleet through its iMiEV electric car and Canter diesel/electric Eco-Hybrid light truck. Mitsubishi is considered one of the first major car brands to actually produce a fully electric or zero-emission car into the global marketplace. The iMiEV is in fact based on an existing model from the Japanese auto-manufacturer – the ‘i’ five door four-seater city car. The 660cc petrol engined ‘i’ has sold over 100,000 units since its launch in its homeland five years ago. Basically to transform the ‘i’ to iMiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) the electric motor is installed at the back and drives the rear wheels and the battery packs are incorporated into the bottom place. Mitsubishi Motors has identified Ireland as an ideal test bed for its electric products and recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Irish Government through The Minister for Communication, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan T.D., and the ESB, Trinity College Dublin’s School of Engineering which is currently conducting Ireland’s first ‘ecar’ trial project on behalf of the ESB. As part of the 2 year test period, 15 ‘branded’ iMiEVs will be used throughout Ireland to support the planning and implementation of the proposed ESB nationwide charging infrastructure. A ‘Smart Home Charging’ system has been installed in residences in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Ennis and Sligo, which will allow the cars to maximise the amount of 32 FLEETMANAGEMENT | AuTumn 2010

energy they get from renewable sources, while also facilitating the operation of the electricity system. This is a key requirement for a successful transition to carbon neutral sustainable travel and ESB has committed to installing 1,500 publicly accessible charging stations, 2,000 domestic charging points (installed free by the ESB to the first 2,000 ecar customers) and 30 fast charging units on a nationwide basis throughout Ireland by the end of next year. Mitsubishi Motors and the ESB are providing iMiEVs to a wide range of users – both residential and pilot corporate customers and are to provide the concept of electric vehicles in light of the recently announced enhanced Government incentives. The ongoing research on customer behaviour and attitudes by the team at Trinity College is crucially important in understanding how motorists will want to use their Electric Vehicles (EVs). In viewing Ireland as an ideal market for electric vehicles in Europe, Mitsubishi Motors has made the 15 iMiEVs in advance of the start of European production in October. This vehicle has been an enormous success since its introduction in Japan last year. In fact Mitsubishi Motors has planned to double production capacity for the iMiEV to 20,000 units a year by 2011. Speaking at the signing of the MOU at Dublin Castle the President and CEO said, “The iMiEV is one of the first consumer electric vehicles to be launched in Europe and is set to revolutionise the way we think about cars. It is the pinnacle of Mitsubishi Motors’ environmental technology and a symbol of our commitment to reducing our impact on the planet. We see Ireland as a very important market for electric vehicles and are delighted to be announcing this MOU with the Irish Government and ESB.” Commenting on the iMiEV testing in Ireland, Billy Riordan, Group Managing Director


COVER

of Mitsubishi Motors Ireland said, “Ireland is the perfect test environment for electric vehicles. We are traditionally a small car market, have ample renewable energy resources as well as an environmentally conscious and responsible consumer. With sufficient focus and investment, Ireland can be a world leader in the introduction of electric vehicles. With the commercial launch of the iMiEV later this year, we are hoping to lead the charge in this exciting new driving experience for Irish motorists.” The Professor of Civil Engineering, Margaret O’Mahony of Trinity College and lead academic of the Research Programme added, “We are delighted to be involved in this trial which will evaluate the potential of the role of electric vehicles in addressing key energy and environmental solutions for society.” As the first batch of Irish registered electric vehicles have hit the road proves positive that EVs are no longer in the distant future but in fact the now of motoring as provided by Mitsubishi Motors. Already iMiEV has been honoured by winning the Environment Special Grand Prize at the 25th International Automobile Festival in Paris and the Autobest Jury from an Eastern European group voted it EcoBest 2009. More accolades will follow I’m sure, particularly, after our recent test drive. We found the iMiEV is a genuine car offering surprisingly good performance and functionality. It has a top speed of 130 kp/h and a range of up to 160 km and can be charged from flat to full in around 8 hours at any standard threepin socket – 80% of within a full charge can take only 20 minutes using the fast charge system. In keeping with the eco-theme the re-charge should be undertaken overnight when the electricity generation mix consists of a larger proportion

of renewable sources such as wind. Domestic electricity customers can avail of cheaper night-time electricity by opting for the ‘night-saver’ tariff. A full charge therefore can cost as little as €2. For the first two years all ecar users (including the Nissan Leaf and Renault Fluence ZE which will become available in the market next year) will be covered for emergency roadside assistance from AA Ireland. “AA is investing in new technologies and training and has the resources in place to handle cover for electric cars nationwide,” said Conor Fanghnan, AA Ireland spokesman. In the company of Robert Montgomery, representing Mitsubishi Motors Ireland we went for a familiarisation run around Dublin in the 10-D registered iMiEV. Using the recommended Drive on the automatic type transmission initially, instant acceleration and steering feel were appreciated. Due to its compact dimensions, it was easy to zip through the congestion and squeeze into traffic lanes walled by trucks on either side. As mentioned earlier, with the iMiEV, an electric motor and an on-board re-charger replace the conventional engine in the rear, while compact lithium-ion batteries replace the fuel tank. All of which achieves a low centre of gravity, which in turn delivers excellent handling. Drive and the next mode on the transmission ‘Eco’ provide some regeneration of energy through acceleration lift-off and through braking. Although ‘Eco’ reduces torque slightly, it provides a better distance range between charges. There is another wrung – the B mode, which is recommended for use on steep descents for increased energy. As with the i car, adequate space is provided for four adults. Boot space is limited but not hindered by the batteries. Mitsubishi Motors plan to bring an electric crossover type car into Ireland next year

based on the Concept PX MiEV petrol/electric revealed earlier this year.

Spec Check Make/Model: Mitsubishi iMiEV Length: 339 cm Width: 174.5 cm Height: 160 cm Weight: 1080 kg Engine output: 47 kW Torque: 180 Nm Top speed: 130 km/L (limited) Range: 144 km EU test cycle Charge time 100%: 7-8 hours

Mitsubishi Fuso Canter Eco-Hybrid providing Eco-power to the ESB

T

he Mitsubishi Fuso Canter, one of the most popular light-duty truck ranges (that cover from 3.5 tonnes to 7.5 tonnes) in the urban distribution and service applications also demonstrates its innovative character with a hybrid version. Already the diesel-electric 7.5 tonner is proving to be a resounding success with over 900 units in operation across the World. In addition to Japanese and Australian markets, ten Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid trucks have been undergoing test-trials by several ‘blue-chip’ companies in London’s Zero Emission region. Since the summer of 2008, these vehicles are showing on average 15% reduction in fuel consumption, not to mention the reduction in noise pollution. Text: Jarlath Sweeney - editor@fleet.ie

year. Soon, a fleet of Canter Eco-Hybrids will go into operation at the ESB.

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corporation is planning to expand its hybrid business even further with expansion into new markets this

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corporation (MFTBC) owners Daimler Trucks set up a global ‘Hybrid Centre’ at MFTBC in Japan in August 2008. The Centre brings together all of Daimler Trucks hybrid activities around the World and drives their speedy development and deployment. All the analysis, investigation and development of hybrid technology conducted by and for Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Fuso and Freight liner brands is consolidated and translated into collective strategies. And as a result a great wealth of knowledge and expertise about hybrid vehicles has been created. FLEETMANAGEMENT | Autumn 2010 33


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LAUNCH PAD II

Renault gets under the e-Fluence Fluence and Kangoo ZEs along with two new concepts the Twizy small city car and Zoe compact hatchback.

E

xciting times at Renault and the motor industry in general. The French auto manufacturer has not only jumped to Number 4 in the Irish new car sales table (mainly due to its successful Scrappage Scheme campaign) but now with the pending launch of full electric vehicles, it’s no wonder Renault Ireland is enthusiastic about the future. Recently the Renault ZE (Zero Emmisions) Roadshow visited Ireland with the prototypes of Renault’s new Fluence ZE saloon and Kangoo Express ZE van available to drive, exactly a year before going on sale here. Aware of the impact that motor vehicles can have on the environment over their complete life cycle, Renault has been working actively for many years to achieve ongoing improvements regarding the ecological footprint of a vehicle at every phase of its life (production, on-road use, recycling). As demonstrated by its Renault eco2 programme in favour of the environment, Renault believes it is essential to ensure that the most effective technologies are available to as many motorists as possible at an affordable price. “Electric vehicles represent a clean-break solution aimed at making CO 2 emissions-free mobility in use,” stated Eric Basset, Managing Director, Renault Ireland. Renault estimates that electric vehicles will account for 10 per cent of the world market by 2020. The Alliance (Nissan/Renault) is investing €4 billion in its zero emissions programme and a 2,000-strong team (1,000 at Renault and 1,000 at Nissan) is already working on electric vehicles. From 2011 Renault will in fact market four electric cars, starting with the aforementioned

Within the framework of its Zero Emissions strategy, the RenaultNissan Alliance is work i ng act ively with Governments, administrative bodies, Local Authorities, energy providers and other partners. To date, it has signed more than 60 agreements across the World aimed at preparing markets a nd est abl ish i ng the necessar y infrastructure for the mass marketing of electric vehicles from 2011. These public/ private partnerships indicate that the necessary infrastructures and charging facilities will be operational when electric vehicles come to market. This will consequently reassure prospective electric vehicle users that simple, practical solutions will be in place to enable them to charge their battery, both at home and by the roadside. Last year the ESB signed a partnership with the Renault Nissan Alliance. Mitsubishi Motors have subsequently been included in the project. All Renault’s electric vehicles are powered by the latest generation lithium-ion batteries. The battery comprises 48 power modules, positioned in two rows, side by side. Modules are similar in size to a laptop computer and each one incorporates four elementary cells. It is inside these cells that the electrochemical reactions take place, enabling the electrical current to be produced or energy to be stored.

displays the battery’s level of charge. An ‘econo-meter’ uses a new colour-coded system to tell the driver how economical his or her driving is in terms of energy consumption (light blue for ‘normal’ vehicle use, dark blue for ‘optimal’ driving and red for excessive energy consumption likely to reduce the vehicle’s range). The trip computer is adapted to the needs of electric vehicles and indicates the number of kWh remaining, average and instantaneous energy consumption and remaining range (in kilomeres). Driving an electric car can be fun, too, as the driver endeavours to accelerate as gently as possible with a view to minimizing energy consumption and maximizing range. And the accelerator is there too if needed as discovered during the test drives. There are two battery charging options on both the Fluence and Kangoo ZEs. A standard charge using a conventional plug via the household mains supply or at the workplace (between 6 and 8 hours). Fast Charge permits batteries to be charged to 80% of their capacity in 20 minutes. Those worried by crash safety and flooding need not fret as safeguards have been put in place to prevent accidents such as electrocution when working around the motor. As in the case with all types of vehicle, the insulation and waterproofing of the vehicle’s electrics have been designed to cover foreseeable driving situations in complete safety (eg. water crossings). In exceptional circumstances, such as flooding or immersion, the damage caused by water will not pose any particular risks, either for people or for the environment. Check out www.fleet.ie under Fleet Management for Fluence ZE and Kangoo ZE driver appraisals.

The four cells of each module store 8.4V each, making a combined total of 400V for the 48 modules that make up the battery. Lithium-ion batteries do not suffer from the so-called memory effect and are maintenance-free and recyclable. Range management is a key consideration when it comes to electric vehicles, and this is why Renault has made a point of maximising its energy efficiency. A specific MMI (Man Machine Interface) has been developed to keep the driver informed about the vehicle’s current state of charge and remaining range: A gauge alongside the speedometer

Text & Photos: Jarlath Sweeney - editor@fleet.ie

FLEETMANAGEMENT | AuTumn 2010 35


REPORT

Future Transport Fuel Forum – Trinity College, Dublin

Q

uite a number of topics were presented and discussed by a panel of guest speakers at the CILT’s Future Transport Fuel Forum held at Trinity College, Dublin. What transpired from the debate was that Ireland can become a pioneer in the area of providing alternative fuels or energy sources for transport but in some cases is not in a position due to the economical constraints. Keynote speaker Ciaran Cuffe T.D., Minister for Sustainable Transport, Horticulture, Planning and Heritage began by admitting a hatred towards flying by describing it as a “God awful experience”. He supports the ending of the PSO (Public Service Obligation) subsistence of the regional airports and re-direct it towards rail. A call for ‘Single EU Sky’ initiative was made, citing that better routes and loadings would benefit the environment. The use of duel-fuels and low sulphur fuels on ships as well as a total review of the Ports and services was also mentioned in his address. “Bio-fuels in their second generation would play a central role,” he said. “Ultimately, under the Government’s Smarter Travel Vision, proper planning is imperative to transport efficiency, which will improve the environment through reduced emissions and fuel costs.” On spea k i ng about t he electrification of Ireland’s car fleet, Minister Cuffe made reference to the Drumm battery trains, which provided quiet and clean electric traction at a budget price on the lines from Bray to Amien Street and Harcourt Street in Dublin in the 1930s. While further outlining the Government’s commitment to cleaner, greener transport he did promote the increase use of walking and cycling in getting around the Capital. “In Copenhagen 37% of the population cycle to work,” he emphasised. “In recent months, the Government has signed a second Memorandum Of Understanding with a major manufacturer (Mitsubishi) to promote the development of the electric vehicle industry in Ireland. This clearly demonstrates our commitment to strengthen and develop Ireland’s international position as a first-mover for this innovative sector and a pioneer in cleaner, greener transport. “We are fully committed to the roll-out of alternative transport options, and I have made this a priority issue during my term as Minister for Sustainable Transport," he added. 36 FLEETMANAGEMENT | Autumn 2010

In response to Minister Cuffe’s remarks on the development of the electric vehicle industry in Ireland, Dr. Brian Caulfield of the School of Engineering, Trinity College Dublin warned that research undertaken by the Centre for Transport Studies showed that price remains the key determining factor for the public in considering the purchase of alternatively fuelled vehicles. Dr. Caulfield commented, “While environmental issues were found to be important, the results of his research show that cost is the most important factor when encouraging people to purchase an alternatively fuelled car.”

electric cars. “The ESB is seeking incentives and providing infrastructure in terms of charge points. All the major car manufacturers are launching or currently developing electric cars. As the ESB moves to more generation by gas and wind the overall efficiencies for electric cars will increase.” Jerry Kiersey of Green Tiger Express/Fleet Transport stated that his fleet of trucks run on 95% Rape Seed Oil. “This fuel is ideal for long distance trucking on this Irish grown fuel. Yet in Bavaria grants have led to 60,000 trucks converting to Rape Seed Oil,” he stated. Conor Faughnan of AA Ireland pointed out that Ireland is very much an ‘Oil Junkie’ being in the top 10 in the world in terms of oil consumption per capita. He is testing an electric car himself, but believes hybrids are likely to play an important role. “Drivers want confidence in supply, range and performance along with reasonable prices,” he said. Dr. Brian Caulfield of Trinity College noted that 37% of households had 2 cars and 12% had 3 or more cars. Yet the main criteria for choosing a new car remained reliability, safety and price, with CO2 emissions ranking 12th. He believes electric vehicles will be mainly second cars and biofuels will be used in public service vehicles. “More work needs to be done to determine just how green vehicles really are,” he said.

Other speakers at the event held at the Centre for Transport Studies in TCD’s School of Engineering included Patrick Callanan (Bord Gais), Paul Mulvaney (ESB ecars), Jerry Kiersey FCILT (Green Tiger Express & Fleet Transport), Conor Faulknan (AA Ireland) and Dr. Brian Caulfield (Trinity College Dublin). The debate was chaired by Irish Times Environment Editor, Frank McDonald. Patrick Callanan of Bord Gais spoke of the environmental cost savings and noise reductions achieved from using Natural Gas for vehicles. Madrid introduced Natural Gas for all its refuse trucks and reduced their fuel bill by 30% along with environmental and noise benefits. They are now planning to expand this to their bus fleet again with Iveco. Paul Mulvaney of ESB’s ecars outlined the environmental and energy advantages of

At the conclusion of the presentation the Questions and Answers session drew some interesting comments and replies. Minister Cuffe in reply to Fleet Transport’s editor Jarlath Sweeney’s on the need for substantial financial incentives for purchasers of electric or hybrid (diesel/electric) powered commercial vehicles, said “that €4 billion needs to be cut from the Government’s Budget at the end of this year means that no funding is available for projects of this nature.” The Government has set a target that by 2020, 10% of all vehicles on Irish roads will be electric. This may not be met by cars alone, particularly as all-electric/zero emission cars will not come into the marketplace until later this year. So, electric commercial vehicles, currently on sale here, will be needed to make up the required numbers. But their impact will not materialise without some form of financial subsidy to interested customers. Text: Jarlath Sweeney - editor@fleet.ie


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ECONOVATION

Iveco creates the right environmental ‘formula’

J

ust over a year ago Iveco introduced the ‘ECO’ label to its Daily range of light commercial vehicles. That initiative has proved to be the cornerstone on its approach to sustainable mobility. Investment in developing and producing ecological and energy saving products continues unabated as the Italian manufacturer aims to take the lead in this innovative area. Fleet Management’s Editor, Jarlath Sweeney was brought to the heart of Iveco’s engineering planning, research and development facility in Turin to hear the latest on its commitment towards a future sustainable mobility. An opportunity to test-drive some of its new ‘alternative’ traction vehicles was also presented on the day. As announced in the July edition of Fleet Transport, E3 is the new symbol or formula Transport that represents Iveco’s three core values on environmental issues – Energy, Efficiency and Ecology. All three come together under the company’s ‘Driving Innovation to Reality’ theme. E3 = Energy As we are all aware, Energy is essential to the requirements of all transport needs. Conservation and a greater balance of usage of energy produced from renewable sources are now necessary in order to optimise the diminishing fuel sources. Iveco fully supports the use and the diffusion of renewable fuels to satisfy future transport requirements. E3 = Efficiency Maximising efficiency means reducing waste to a minimum. Improving efficiency all round in a transport operation is essential as we go forward. Manufacturers like Iveco have improved the efficiency of drivetrains no end, which has had an immediate and direct effect on the reduction of a vehicle’s environmental impact. The efficiency of the transport operation has a direct bearing on the use of resources necessary to undertake the movement of goods and people.

IVECo Citelis Hybrid

more environmentally friendly, Iveco has a number of technological solutions available to order. Euro 5 engines that meet EEV (Enhanced Environmental-friendly Vehicles) standards are on offer throughout its range of vans, trucks and buses but its alternative traction solutions such as Electric power and Natural Gas represent Iveco’s biggest gains in all aspects of sustainability. Iveco developed its first electrically propelled Daily in 1986. Today the range extends to include vans and urban buses. EcoDaily Electric as it’s now called uses a three-phase traction motor controlled by a DC/AC inverter that provides effortless driving and range that is extended by regenerative braking. Two Zebra Z5 traction batteries are fitted to the 3.5 tonne 35S models, that has a power range from 30 kW continuous to 60 kW peak. The 5 tonne 50C version gets an extra battery so the power-on-tap stretches from 40 kW to 80 kW. Fully sealed, the batteries are housed either in the engine compartment or attached to the chassis side rails thereby not infringing on load space. On board battery charging is provided by means of a standard 3-phase 380/32A supply and requires 8 hours to fully charge the batteries. Depending on the number of batteries fitted, the distance range can extend up to 90 kms. As experienced on the test-drive around Turin, the zero-emission vehicle drives like any other with automatic transmission only that it is silent and governed to a maximum speed of 70 km/h. On the short

E3 = Ecology For Iveco, ecology means respect for the environment on which we all live, but also for the driver and fleet operator. It is also aware of its ecological role of the well-being of its employees, its partners, its customers and of course its suppliers. Respect for the environment also means ensuring sustainable manufacturing processes, from the conception of its products to the end of their life-cycle. Product wise E 3 means that Iveco will offer vehicles that associate efficiency and productivity that has an even more respect for the environment, with particular regard to fuel consumption. In relation to specific customer needs re different vehicle applications that are 38 FLEETMANAGEMENT | AuTumn 2010

IVECo Stralis CNG

run, only 10% of its energy was lost in the panel van version tested as some of the energy loss was restored through regenerative braking. Although more expensive, the more efficient and compact Lithium-ion batteries will become available in the EcoDaily in 2011. An interesting drive in the Eurocargo (diesel/ electric) Hybrid followed. While electric vehicles excel in the urban environment, where range and performance are key operational requirements, the diesel-electric hybrid drive system provides a more economical solution as it offers separate diesel or electric power or a combination of the two. Depending on the application, fuel economy savings of up to 30% can be achieved compared to conventional diesel according to Iveco’s engineers – Daimler’s projections differ somewhat with the same technology. This is accomplished in three ways – Regenerative braking, Stop/Start function and Down-sized diesel engine. On both versions of the Eurocargo hybrid 7.5/12 tonne the 4.0 litre Tector 16 valve/4 cylinder engine is used (160 & 180 hp) mated to a 6-speed Eaton automated transmission. The EcoDaily Hybrid (which is still in pre-production phase) is powered by the Fiat Powertrain Technologies 16 valve/4 cylinder 2.3 litre (120 hp) diesel fitted with the ZF AGile auto-box. Both Eurocargoes have a 340v Lithium- ion battery source to power the 44 kW electric motor while the EcoDaily gets a 32 kW motor/generator and a 12 volt super capacitor. Price premium averages 30% over


ECONOVATION diesel. Battery life is in line with vehicle lifespan. When the electric motor over-runs or the vehicle brakes, this acts as a generator and the kinetic energy of motion is converted to electrical energy to recharge the batteries. This is called regenerative braking. Stop/Start is the function that sees the diesel engine cutting out when the vehicle stops eg. traffic lights, road works etc. From the starting point once the accelerator is pressed the electric motor kicks in and depending on the vehicles road-speed and driver acceleration demand the diesel engine starts automatically. Regarding the Down-sized engine, the power required for acceleration or hill climbs can be adequately met by the diesel engine working in parallel with the electric motor.

IVECo Eco Daily Electric IVECo Eco Daily Hydro-Methane

Gentle throttle control was advised while driving the 12 tonne Eurocargo Hybrid on the outskirts of Turin. This meant that this type of alternative traction requires an adjustment of driving style, otherwise the ‘system’ keeps going in and out of electric and diesel power unnecessarily. This can lead to an uncomfortable experience for the driver until more time is spent behind the wheel. The interchange between electric and diesel power was not as smooth as similar offerings from other manufacturers. Some more software refinements are needed on this dual drivetrain. The same comment could not be made upon driving the Stralis 6x2 rigid powered by CNG – Natural Gas. Iveco’s Natural Power EcoDaily range has received awards in Ireland and the UK. And as European leaders in the production and sales of this eco-friendly alternative fuel its line-up extends from vans to trucks to buses. All of its Natural Power engines sit quite near the proposed Euro 6 engine emission standards set for implementation from 2013. Due to its combustion system, engine noise is lower than that of diesel engines of the same size. As a result these vehicles are particularly suitable for night use in urban areas. In addition, Iveco CNG engined vehicles can be adopted to use bio-methane – a renewable fuel that is becoming more available. In the advent of sustainable sourced hydrogen, Iveco has also developed a Hydro-Methane powered EcoDaily (as driven by Fleet last year) which blends a mixture of 70% Natural Gas and 30% hydrogen. The Stralis Active Day three-axle 26 tonne rigid powered by a 260 hp Cursor 8 engine surprisingly had a 9 speed manual gearbox. It is rare to see a ‘stick-shift’ nowadays on trucks, particularly if specified for the urban environment. What did impress, however, was that the performance of the vehicle seemed no different to its all-diesel powered brethren. Engine noise was quieter and low-end torque in 5th and 6th gears in the ‘higher’ box indicated how economical this drivetrain could be. With these products Iveco offers a broad selection of ecological solutions to the customer and thereby ensuring a more environmentally friendly future for road transport. Text: Jarlath Sweeney - editor@fleet.ie

Eurocargo Hybrids are currently on trial in Italy, Austria and Belgium

IVECo Eco Daily CNG FLEETMANAGEMENT | AuTumn 2010 39


e-FLEET

Mercedes-Benz Vito e-Cell

‘just Plug and Deliver’

V

ehicle manufactures have been attempting to create practical electric vehicles (EV’s) for many years and have achieved success in varying degrees. In recent years, electric passenger cars have benefited from some valuable advances, which have increased levels of interest. However, the world of commercial vehicles has presented developers with a higher mountain to scale. Transport units are readily available, it is absence of realistic propulsion methods that have caused the delay - manufactures must wait for battery technology to catch up. However, with the unveiling of the new Mercedes Benz ‘Vito e-Cell’ it is safe to say that we have moved nearer to the summit.

of 36 kW the electric motor has a peak output

avail of either off-peak energy, or energy that has

It is just like a Vito – (only better)

When discussing electric vehicles the first question usually asked is “what range has it got?” It is a reasonable question, which instantly determines what the vehicle can be used for. The maximum range of the Vito e-Cell is not record breaking, in fact it is only average at approximately 130 kms - where the e-Cell wins, is in it’s practicality. On first viewing, the e-Cell appears exactly the same as any other Long Wheelbase (LWB) Vito - that’s because it is exactly the same van. As if to prove the vehicles are identical, the e-Cell will be built on the same line as the standard Vito, at Mercedes-Benz production plant in Vitoria, northern Spain. From the outset, the Vito e-Cell will be fully available in right hand drive, but will only be manufactured in the LWB version. Aside of the power unit the Vito e-Cell has one major difference from the newly revised and popular diesel version, a change from rear to front wheel drive. This reconfiguration creates the space needed for the Lithium-ion battery pack to be located under the cargo loading space and so does reduce carrying capacity. The change to front wheel drive has saved on kerb weight by removing the need for a drive shaft and rear axle, giving the e-Cell an impressive payload of 900 kgs, which is an increase on the diesel version. It is expected, as the project develops to increase payload even more permitting another 200 kgs, to be loaded. With no weight penalty or space issues, some of the major problems with electric commercials have been resolved. The other problem is that of range, while not solved, it has been addressed. M-B’s consumer research has determined that the prospective customers for the e-Cell typically cover no more than 50 to 80 kms per day, and so the range of 130 kms is more than adequate. However, the range is also affected by climatic conditions and the topography of operation. Powered by Lithium-ion batteries with a capacity 40 FLEETMANAGEMENT | AuTumn 2010

of 70 kW, and delivers an inspiring 280 Nm of torque through the single speed transmission. As with other electric vehicles, full power is available instantly, making the e-cell very quick. At present all components are water-cooled, although when full production begins, this will be changed to air cooled, which will help to provide the previously mentioned 200 kg weight saving. A separate 12V system is available to operate the normal ancillaries required such as vehicle lighting. An additional issue arising with EV’s is the methods and costs of charging, here again M-B has done its homework. The e-Cell uses a ‘Smart Charge Communications Unit’ (SCCU) fitted as standard, to control the process and optimise costs. Charging times can be programmed from the vehicle by the driver or via a central PC to

been produced solely by ‘green’ methods, thereby permitting the claim of ‘Zero Emissions’. Recharging a partly charge unit takes approximately three to four hours, a full charge takes a maximum five to six hours if the vehicle is at base. If away from base, operators have the option to charge straight from a domestic supply - though this does take considerably longer. During normal operation, the system is also kept topped up by regenerative braking and overrun. A test route chosen by a manufacturer could make a vehicle appear to drive better than it would under normal operating conditions. In presenting its new creation, Mercedes-Benz was not only enthusiastic but also very confident about its product, and the test route for our drive


e-FLEET

mirrored a typical day’s work. The route chosen by Mercedes was just under 30 kilometres and included all manner of problems encountered with city-centre van deliveries. It also allowed us to gauge the open road and suburban performance of the e-Cell. Starting the e-Cell is straight forward; insert the key, wait two seconds for the system to power up, select drive, release the parking brake and go. From the driver’s seat despite the fact that the e-Cell looks and feels identical to the new Vito diesel, once you begin to move you instantly realise this is going to be something different. Different in the sense that the e-Cell is a completed vehicle, not just a work in progress. Even before exiting the Stuttgart plant and out onto Mercedes Strasse you sense that this electric van is going to work. The standard diesel Vito is an enjoyable van to drive, well designed, and purposeful - the e-Cell is no different except smoother, and quieter.

any involved in road traffic accidents. MercedesBenz has incorporated a system whereby the electric power is completely disconnected once the airbags have been deployed or when the system is researching. It has also provided Emergency Services with detailed working procedures for dealing with accident scenes. By the end of this year, Mercedes will deliver 50 Vito e-Cell units to customers in Berlin and 50 to customers in Stuttgart. Over the next four years these units will be expected to clock up approximately 8 million kilometres after which they will be returned to Mercedes for assessment and re-evaluation. However, production at the Vitoria plant is going ahead and by the end of 2011, a total of 2,000 units will roll off the line.

There are a number of electrically powered vehicles currently available. Some are good others maybe not so good. While they all have benefits, they all appear to have some inherent issue that makes them impractical in one way or another. M-B’s Vito e-Cell seems to have addressed the needs of its target market quite comprehensively. The e-Cell can carry and deliver without sacrificing space, payload, or performance. Wrapped in the Vito’s elegant new look and with driveability superior by being smoother, quieter and arguably faster than the standard diesel edition, the simplest way to describe the new Mercedes e-Cell is that - it’s just like a Vito – only better!

Having the battery pack positioned under the floor provides the vehicle with a low centre of gravity making it very stable on the road, and with front wheel drive, the steering is accurate and responsive. Acceleration is instantaneous and the Vito effortlessly climbs to the limited top speed of 80 kp/h. Stopping the van is just as smooth as the braking is first class. The foot operated parking brake seems a little ‘old fashioned’ in this modern mode of transport, and though noisy to operate, did not detract from the experience. Some safety concerns have been raised regarding the batteries of EV’s in general, and especially for Text & Photos: Paul White - paul@fleet.ie

FLEETMANAGEMENT | AuTumn 2010 41


INTERVIEW

One-to-One John Barry Networks Managing Director, Bord Gáis Networks with Jarlath Sweeney editor@fleet.ie

the development of this market. We have seen that such support measures and incentives have certainly assisted early market growth in other European markets including Italy (e.g. €5,000 initial incentive to purchase a NGV) and Sweden (e.g. free parking for NGVs in many cities and tax benefits). We are currently engaging with all stakeholders to encourage the introduction of appropriate assistance. JS. How much cheaper will Natural Gas be in relation to petrol/diesel – percentage wise? JB. Natural Gas is cheaper than oil based products – petrol or diesel. We are currently undertaking a full assessment to fully understand the whole savings for the end user, and according to figures from NGVA Europe and GVR, CNG prices are generally 30% - 60% cheaper than diesel and petrol. JS Will the price include Excise Duty?

JS. With Fiat, Mercedes-Benz, Iveco and VW having CNG powered commercials available when do you envisage that a Natural Gas supply infrastructure will become real in Ireland? JB. The development of a CNG infrastructure is obviously one of the key areas to facilitate maximising the benefits of using Natural Gas as a transport fuel in Ireland. This has been one of the main discussion points not only here, but also in many of the developed Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) markets across Europe and in the US. However, it must be noted that Ireland is actually in an extremely strong position given that we have such a high quality natural gas pipe network already in place – one of the most modern natural gas pipelines in Europe. In addition, Ireland has extensive natural gas coverage - 2,368km of high-pressure steel Transmission pipes and over 10,782km of Distribution pipelines – accessing over 152 population centres across 19 counties throughout the country. During the past 10 years, Bord Gáis Networks has completed the Pipeline to the West, linking Dublin with Galway; the Mayo-Galway Pipeline; and the North-West Pipeline, linking Belfast with Derry City. This in fact means, when you look at the full supply chain required, that we already have approximately 90% of the CNG supply infrastructure already in place, all we need is to add the refuelling equipment. Refuelling stations can either be privately developed as part of a fleet operator’s facilities or refuelling points can be located in areas of demand. The roll-out of refuelling infrastructure takes many forms in different countries, depending on the source of gas (natural or renewable) and the penetration of NGVs in public and private fleets. JS. Will there be some financial assistance offered by Government for the extra purchase cost of CNG powered vehicles? JB. Financial assistance for the purchase of NGVs would indeed be very helpful to support 42

FLEETMANAGEMENT | AuTumn 2010

JB. The Natural Gas price will be set by individual gas shippers, as is the current normal case when an organisation purchases Natural Gas. There are a growing number of shippers supplying Natural Gas in Ireland, giving the end customer real choice and we are currently engaging with all stakeholders to help market development from a holistic approach. Currently we understand that no excise duty is applicable to CNG. The price of CNG needs to be attractive in order to invite change and new users. According to figures from NGVA Europe and GVR, CNG prices are generally 30% - 60% cheaper than diesel and petrol. JS Currently you have a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter NGT on trial – what are your findings to date? JB. Bord Gáis Networks has a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter NGT as part of our fleet and to date we are extremely happy about its performance. As one of our drivers noted: “There is no difference whatsoever about driving this (NGV) and other (diesel powered) vehicles – apart from the fact that the NGV is a lot quieter.” The Sprinter is an ‘off the production line’ vehicle and is as driver friendly and powerful as the petrol or diesel equivalents. It also refuels in the same way as traditional fuel powered vehicles i.e. drive up the van to the pump; connect the nozzle; refuel; disconnect the nozzle and drive on as normal. Due to this success, our National Fleet Manager is changing our replacement policy with a view to purchasing all NGVs for the Bord Gáis Networks fleet going forward. JS. Where do you see your main customers of CNG powered vehicles – semi-state mostly? JB. CNG is ideal for Light Duty and Heavy Duty Vehicles. In many European cities, CNG is used in Commercial fleets, logistics, transport and local

delivery companies. Some of the major success stories for CNG are in replacing traditional fuels in large, high polluting vehicles such as buses and refuse collection trucks. According to the American Public Transit Association, 27% of all new transit bus orders in 2008 were for natural gas. Also, for example, in Madrid, all the refuse collection and city cleaning trucks (650 units) are fuelled with CNG and 35% of the urban bus fleet will be replaced with CNG by the end of 2010, accounting for 700 CNG buses. Similar approaches are being followed in other cities including The Hague, Paris, Moscow, Barcelona and Rome. Bord Gáis Networks is currently in discussion with a number of parties in Ireland with a view to introducing CNG into their fleet. JS. What are the main environmental benefits of CNG powered LCVs? JB. Natural Gas is an inherently clean fuel, with less NOx, soot and Greenhouse Gas emissions than oil based fuels. The use of NGVs would significantly reduce exhaust and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. A number of international studies demonstrate that there can be up to 20% Carbon Dioxide (CO 2) savings by replacing traditional transport fuels with CNG. If biogas is used, it obviously becomes carbon neutral and this is the model being used in Sweden where 58% of the gas used in transport is a renewable source. Further air quality improvements and health benefits include significant reductions in Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), hydrocarbon soot and particulate matter (PM). According to World Health Organisation (WHO), PM affects more people than any other pollutant, so by choosing Natural Gas as transport fuel, air quality and purity levels will improve, resulting in health and environmental benefits for all. In fact, due to these benefits, European cities such as London and Moscow have exempted CNG powered vehicles from a ban on entering the central area of the city. The important thing to remember too is that this is proven and readily available technology. Recent statistics from NGVA Europe show that there are approximately 11 million NGVs worldwide.


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Fleet Management September 2010  

Fleet Managemnet Magizine for the Green Fleet Industry

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