|Since these articles were published, AEA Technology plc’s business, operating assets and employees were acquired on the 8 November 2012 by Ricardo plc and transferred to a new subsidiary, Ricardo-AEA Ltd. All employees were transferred to Ricardo-AEA Ltd as part of the acquisition and remain available for the execution of all projects via the new company, as are the entire capability and resources previously represented by AEA Technology plc. All individuals remained at previous locations with all offices being retained.
EEMS Accelerate, the electric vehicle consortium featuring four British designed and manufactured prototype sports cars, revealed the findings from its 12 months of road trials at an event in London yesterday (3 May, 2012) where actor, writer, TV presenter and electric vehicle (EV) enthusiast Robert Llewellyn was the key note speaker.
The consortium, led by AEA, and which comprises Delta Motorsport, Ecotricity, the Lightning Car Company and Westfield Sports Cars, is one of eight that have received part-funding from the Government’s Technology Strategy Board under their £25million Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles Demonstrator programme (ULCVD). The ULCVD trial is one of the largest trials of its type across Europe and was designed to gather real life running data and change the public perception of electric vehicles. Its findings will be used to plan future infrastructure in the UK.
Sujith Kollamthodi, Sustainable Transport Practice Manager of AEA, has an extensive track record of carrying out work for the UK Government and the European Commission on transport-related sustainability issues. Speaking at the event he commented: “AEA is delighted to be working with ecoConnect to bring the EEMS Accelerate consortium to the public’s attention as well as launching the Green Transport Business Network. Climate change, sustainability and low carbon transport are increasingly important topics but behavioural changes in business and society do not happen overnight.
“Projects such as EEMS Accelerate, part funded by the Technology Strategy Board, are extremely important for raising awareness of the exciting solutions for a greener, more sustainable future and for stimulating potential opportunities for UK businesses.”
In total, the ULCVD trial featured more than 340 cars, recording more than 195,000 individual journeys and clocking up more than 1.1 million miles. Of these, the EEMS Accelerate vehicles accounted for 14 vehicles of a more sporty nature than their currently commercially available counterparts. The prototypes were driven by over 20 different drivers with more than 2,800 individual journeys made and when compared with other electric vehicle driving/charge habits, the general patterns in recorded data showed a number of similarities.
The longest individual journey made by an EEMS Accelerate vehicle (the soon to be commercially available Lightning GT) was just over 118 miles, with the same vehicle notching up an impressive 7,450 miles worth of total running over the 12 months.
Between the consortium, several key findings were noted for future development or consideration in aiding the future adoption of EV vehicles:
Delta Motorsport worked closely with the University of Oxford to develop a powerful, high torque electric motor with highly efficient direct-drive architecture and which is now licensed under the YASA Motors brand name. The Silverstone based company also found that its trial experience has resulted in further development projects in the areas of Torque Vectoring (the control of torque to each wheel and which improves active safety and dynamic performance) and cheap, compact range extenders, both of which could have significant wider impacts on the future commercial adoption of EVs.
Ecotrocity’s technologically innovative Nemesis sports car was developed to be “wind powered”, running on sustainably sourced electricity from the Gloucester based electricity company. With one of the main aims of the EEMS Accelerate consortium being to “win hearts and minds” about electric vehicles the Nemesis has played a key role in perception changing and stimulating debates on where electricity needs to come from to make transport sustainable. Ecotricity has subsequently launched an “Electric Highway” and is installing a national network of ‘free-to-join, free-to-use’ electric charging points to aid the fast tracking of EV adoption across the country.
The Lightning Car Company used an innovative Lithium Titanate battery, the only vehicle in the consortium to do so. Having stood the rigours of the trial the company is now confident of its expectations for further development of its 10 minute fast charging technology which this battery technology enables. Recharging times are a key factor in changing the public’s perceptions of how usable EVs are.
Westfield meanwhile found that even the most staunch “petrol head” enjoyed the electric equivalent of its fun kit car model and the company is subsequently pursuing its aims to develop its light weight sports cars for track events and motor racing. In these environments range can be predicted, eliminating range anxiety whilst the concept of electric vehicles can reach even larger audiences.
Head of Transport at the Technology Strategy Board, Andrew Everett said: "This was an exciting project from the outset as it was a trailblazer for the development and eventual widespread uptake of high-end ultra low carbon vehicles in the UK. In 2009 when the programme was launched there was a broad perception that ultra low carbon vehicles could only take the form of very small city cars, and while those kinds of vehicles have their place and were trialed in our wider programme, the EEMS project blew that misconception out of the water.
“The project has shown without a doubt, that these are desirable, high performance vehicles that are going to have a real edge in the market. The project has also helped the EEMS consortium and the seven other projects involved in the Technology Strategy Board Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Programme to learn a lot about the speed at which people adapt to EVs."
Robert Llewellyn, initially known for his role as “Kryten” in the BBC comedy series “Red Dwarf”, is a prominent supporter of electric vehicles. Having himself taken part as a driver of an electric vehicle in the wider TSB Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Programme and having recently undertaken extensive research for his hit online series: “Fully Charged”; a series about electric vehicles and the Future of Energy, Llewellyn said, “that the key difference between an electric vehicle and a conventional fossil burning car is the choice of fuel source.
The one thing a driver of an internal combustion engine does not have is choice as to where that fuel comes from, they are then further burdened by the chronic inefficiencies of this essentially steam age technology and the finite nature of the fuel. The future has to be renewable and sustainable and this affects every aspect of the vehicles we are all used to.”
Hosted at the Thameside offices of leading law firm Norton Rose LLP and in conjunction with ecoConnect CIC for the launch of their Green Transport Business Network and connections hub, yesterday’s event attracted more than 150 industry professionals, potential investors, academics, media and other interested parties.
Robert Hokin, Chief Executive of ecoConnect CIC said: “ecoConnect’s mission is to create a better business environment for green industry growth. Cleantech industries are the way of the future but they often need additional support and exposure to external expertise and/or investment. The EEMS Accelerate consortium is one such group of British companies who have been participating in an exciting automotive industry trial and who are now looking to springboard to the next stages of business development.
We were delighted that we could host them at the launch of the ecoConnect Green Transport Business Network. With our focus on business connections, investment and procurement and with a community of 22,000 executives across the country this is where green industry and cleantech comes to do business.”
Find out more about AEA's work with the EEMS Accelerate project here.