The UK’s Transport Research Laboratory has commenced a driverless electric pod trial. (see photo above.) Over the next three weeks, roughly 100 people will ride the pod around a two-mile course in London’s North Greenwich to demonstrate how the technology could be used for “last mile” trips in urban areas. The shuttle is already in operation at London’s Heathrow Airport. It has a maximum speed of 10 mph (16 kph) and carries up to four people, including a safety operator who can operate the breaks in an emergency. It can visualize its surroundings using a mixture of cameras and lasers, and use that information to track obstacles and create a collision-free route. The purpose of the trials is to see how the public reacts to self-driving vehicles, and to examine how the technology can best be applied in built-up areas.

Consumer Reports answers all of your electric car questions.

Management consultants McKinsey & C0. reported China built 43% of all electric vehicles manufactured worldwide last year. China also manufactured 25% of the world’s fuel cells and 37% of all electric motors. To date, more than 650,000 EVs have been registered in China with 352,000 vehicles sold last year. China offers more variety in EV models than any other country. Worried about air pollution, the governments in the Asian country are offering a range of direct and indirect incentives for EV buyers.

Navigant Research has a new report which examines the global market for light electric vehicles (LEV). LEVs include electric motorcycles and scooters (e-bikes and e-scooters).  The report projects light EV sales are expected to generate $9.3 billion in revenue in 2017 and reach $23.9 billion by 2026. The e-scooter industries in Asia-Pacific and Europe are poised to expand significantly over the next 10 years as major manufacturers enter new markets and nations impose strong regulations on urban transportation. In North America, e-motorcycles are expected to have the largest potential growth due to the region’s huge motorcycle market and a demand for recreational vehicles.

As of last month there were 100,000 registered electric vehicles in France. If one adds plug-in hybrids, the French EV fleet amounts to more than 117,000 units, just behind Norway. This represents 1.4% of the entire automobile market in France. The French National Association for the Development of Electric Mobility estimates there will be more than 350,000 electric vehicles in the country by 2020. The growth of the French electric vehicle market is being driven by tax incentives. Buyers receive 6.000 euros for the acquisition of a private or utility EV up to 27% of the acquisition cost. An additional tax deduction of 10,000 euros applies if you are scrapping of an old diesel vehicle more than ten years old.

Spain registered 4,746 battery-only, extended-range electric and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles in 2016, or merely 0.004% of the 1.15 million registrations in that country. The low demand for EVs is attributed to a lack of extensive charging infrastructure, the cost of the vehicles (15% more than petrol vehicles), and the limited number of workshops to service these models.

Toyota will be testing a new 28-foot hybrid boat — “PONAM-28V” — to see how the model performs. The hybrid boat features a 3-liter internal combustion engine (ICE) alongside a 36 kW electric motor paired with an 11 kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery pack. The ICE provides 256 horsepower, while the electric motor provides 48 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will use the boat for the maintenance of piers and other port facilities at the Port of Tokyo as well as for waterfront activities at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The city of London, UK plans to charge the most polluting cars and vans a daily fee of 12.50 pounds ($16) to enter the city centre as of 2019. An Ultra Low Emission Zone in the city, in which cars must meet stringent emissions standards to enter or pay a charge, will start in April 2019. The Zone will apply to all petrol vehicles which do not meet Euro 4 emissions standards and all diesel models which do not comply with Euro 6 standards. Several cities such as Paris, Stuttgart, Athens, Brussels and Madrid are trying to crack down on polluting vehicles by proposing bans, fines and restrictions, partly in response to reports of poor air quality harming people’s health. London’s mayor is launching a consultation process to expand the zone to the whole of London from 2020 for buses, coaches and lorries with further extensions from 2021.


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