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New solar-powered electric vehicle to lower daily travel costs
22 Mar 2017:

Most vehicles run on petrol or diesel that pollute our cities while emptying our wallets. But this could be about to change. The EU-funded PLUS-MOBY project has developed an electric urban vehicle and mobile fast food van that can be partially solar powered. Soon drivers should be able to charge their vehicle like they charge their phone and use solar power to drive up to 20 km per day.

Most people living in cities drive less than 50 km per day, using their vehicle to commute from home and work. If the PLUS-MOBY vehicles are mass-produced as planned, this daily commute could be powered by the sun for many drivers in southern EU countries, says project coordinator Marco Ottella. This will help the EU meet its targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 % by 2020 and by 80-95 % by 2050.

Drivers of the PLUS-MOBY vehicle will still need to charge it for longer trips, but they should not be deterred by this: “Unfortunately, a limited infrastructure of charging stations has been a barrier to the adoption of some electric vehicles in Europe,” explains Ottella. “But we have come up with a solution to this challenge in the PLUS-MOBY and FREE-MOBY projects.”

Introducing a new era of urban green vehicles

The PLUS-MOBY vehicle can be plugged into an electric socket at home. “Drivers will be able to charge the vehicle in the same way that they charge their mobile phones,” explains Ottella. In its standard configuration, the battery pack allows a range of 150 km at a constant speed of 80 km per hour. The solar panels extend the range by up to 20 km per day at a speed of 45 km per hour. Drivers may need to charge their vehicle en route when making longer trips, but if demand for the PLUS-MOBY vehicles is high, it is likely that petrol stations – particularly on motorways – will start to install electric charging posts.

The PLUS-MOBY project has built upon the concepts and innovations of several earlier EU-funded projects – P-MOB, WIDE-MOB and AVTR – to enhance the design, performance and safety of the light electric vehicle. Efficient solar panels on the roof, a battery and an electric motor – permanent magnet synchronous reluctance motor (PMaSyR) – power the vehicle.

Researchers have also refined the chassis and the powertrain to achieve efficient acceleration, safety and affordability. “We selected the most suitable steel for lighter components and reduced the number of components and curved elements in the chassis to simplify production,” Ottella explains. The vehicle can reach speeds of more than 90 km/hour and is stable in all weather conditions.

Safety has been another strong concern for the project, to ensure that being green does not expose drivers to too high a risk in case of accidents.

The use of advanced high strength steels allows the PLUS-MOBY project to reconcile these requirements: the PLUS-MOBY vehicle also weighs just 450 kg, making it less energy-consuming and easier to assemble. And it can be customised for different needs; a mobile restaurant version will for example be presented at the Transport Research Arena conference in Warsaw, Poland, in April 2016.)

Enabling local assembly for a more affordable vehicle

Designing a vehicle that is easy and relatively inexpensive to build was one of the project team’s key objectives. Importing vehicles increases the carbon footprint of owning a vehicle, but also drives up the price of buying one in the first place. Local production is good for the environment but also for the economy. Local manufacturing is also one of the PLUS MOBY goals.

The production of PLUS-MOBY vehicles differs from the manufacture of larger, traditional vehicles. “The simple design of the PLUS-MOBY components means that it can be produced by small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” explains Ottella. SMEs can often only afford to make relatively small investments in equipment and need to achieve low-cost production so that their manufacturing lines are financially viable. “By August 2016, we’ll be able to demonstrate the feasibility of this production line,” reports Ottella.

Within the MOBY-platform projects, Torino e-district, a consortium in Turin (Italy), is working with organisations in the UK (Coventry, the Midlands), Poland (Warsaw) and Romania (Bucharest) to replicate this PLUS-MOBY production line and supply chain. The PLUS-MOBY consortium also plans to work with SMEs in Bulgaria, Russia, Spain and elsewhere to replicate local production concepts. The production network makes use of local materials and suppliers, employs local workers and can cater for the needs of local customers.

Project details

  • Project acronym: PLUS-MOBY

  • Participants: Italy (Coordinator), Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom

  • Project Reference N° 605502

  • Total cost: € 3 506 686

  • EU contribution: € 2 347 648

  • Duration: September 2013 - August 2016

Choreographing automated cars could save time, money and lives
22 Mar 2017:

If you take humans out of the driving seat, could traffic jams, accidents and high fuel bills become a thing of the past? As cars become more automated and connected, attention is turning to how to best choreograph the interaction between the tens or hundreds of automated vehicles that will one day share the same segment of Europe's road network.

It is one of the most keenly studied fields in transport – how to make sure that automated cars get to their destinations safely and efficiently. But the prospect of having a multitude of vehicles taking decisions while interacting on Europe’s roads is leading researchers to design new traffic management systems suitable for an era of connected transport.

The idea is to ensure that traffic flows as smoothly and efficiently as possible, potentially avoiding the jams and delays caused by human behaviour.

‘Travelling distances and time gaps between vehicles are crucial,’ said Professor Markos Papageorgiou, head of the Dynamic Systems & Simulation Laboratory at the Technical University of Crete, Greece. ‘It is also important to consider things such as how vehicles decide which lane to drive in.’

Prof. Papageorgiou’s TRAMAN21 project, funded by the EU’s European Research Council, is studying ways to manage the behaviour of individual vehicles, as well as highway control systems.

For example, the researchers have been looking at how adaptive cruise control (ACC) could improve traffic flows. ACC is a ‘smart’ system that speeds up and slows down a car as necessary to keep up with the one in front. Highway control systems using ACC to adjust time gaps between cars could help to reduce congestion.

‘It may be possible to have a traffic control system that looks at the traffic situation and recommends or even orders ACC cars to adopt a shorter time gap from the car in front,’ Prof. Papageorgiou said.

‘So during a peak period, or if you are near a bottleneck, the system could work out a gap that helps you avoid the congestion and gives higher flow and higher capacity at the time and place where this is needed.’

Variable speed limits

TRAMAN21, which runs to 2018, has been running tests on a highway near Melbourne, Australia, and is currently using variable speed limits to actively intervene in traffic to improve flows.

An active traffic management system of this kind could even help when only relatively few vehicles on the highway have sophisticated automation. But he believes that self-driving vehicle systems must be robust enough to be able to communicate with each other even when there are no overall traffic control systems.

‘Schools of fish and flocks of birds do not have central controls, and the individuals base their movement on the information from their own senses and the behaviour of their neighbours,’ Prof. Papageorgiou said.

‘In theory this could also work in traffic flow, but there is a lot of work to be done if this is to be perfected. Nature has had a long head-start.’

One way of managing traffic flow is platooning – a way to schedule trucks to meet up and drive in convoy on the highway. Magnus Adolfson from Swedish truckmaker Scania AB, who coordinated the EU-funded COMPANION project, says that platooning – which has already been demonstrated on Europe’s roads – can also reduce fuel costs and accidents.

The three-year project tested different combinations of distances between trucks, speeds and unexpected disruptions or stoppages.

Fuel savings

In tests with three-vehicle platoons, researchers achieved fuel savings of 5 %. And by keeping radio contact with each other, the trucks can also reduce the risk of accidents.

‘About 90 percent of road accidents are caused by driver error, and this system, particularly by taking speed out of the driver’s control, can make it safer than driving with an actual driver,’ Adolfson said.

The COMPANION project also showed the benefits of close communication between vehicles to reduce the likelihood of braking too hard and causing traffic jams further back.

‘There is enough evidence to show that using such a system can have a noticeable impact, so it would be good to get it into production as soon as possible,’ Adolfson said. The researchers have extended their collaboration to working with the Swedish authorities on possible implementation.

Rutger Beekelaar, a project manager at Dutch-based research organisation TNO, says that researchers need to demonstrate how automated cars can work safely together in order to increase their popularity.

‘Collaboration is essential to ensure vehicles can work together,’ he said. ‘We believe that in the near future, there will be more and more automation in traffic, in cars and trucks. But automated driving is not widely accepted yet.’

To tackle this, Beekelaar led a group of researchers in the EU-funded i-GAME project, which developed technology that uses wireless communication that contributes to managing and controlling automated vehicles.

They demonstrated these systems in highway conditions in the 2016 Grand Cooperative Driving Challenge in Helmond, in the Netherlands, which put groups of real vehicles through their paces to demonstrate cooperation, how they safely negotiated an intersection crossing, and merged with another column of traffic.

Beekelaar says that their technology is now being used in other European research projects, but that researchers, auto manufacturers, policymakers, and road authorities still need to work together to develop protocols, systems and standardisation, along with extra efforts to address cyber security, ethics and particularly the issue of public acceptance.

Malmö and Brussels receive sustainable mobility awards
22 Mar 2017:

The European Commission announced the winners of the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award 2016 and of the 5th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning in the area of urban freight, during an award ceremony held in Brussels.

Malmö (Sweden) won the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award 2016 for its long-term focus on active transport modes such as cycling and walking. The 5th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning was attributed to Brussels (Belgium) for its successful freight strategy.

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "I'm inviting cities to come on-board and work with us, to help Europe meet its ambitious climate objectives. I would like to congratulate this year's finalists who showed that greener and smarter urban mobility is already possible. I was particularly impressed by the long-term strategies developed by Malmö to encourage active travel and by Brussels on sustainable freight. I hope they can inspire many others."

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "Our quality of life in cities means getting from A-to-B quickly, but also breathing clean air and enjoying quiet and uncongested streets. Brussels and Malmö have both shown in their own innovative ways that it is possible to make progress. I congratulate both of them."

Transport is responsible for around a quarter of all EU's greenhouse gas emissions and is a major cause of air pollution and related health problems in urban areas. Many cities are already at the forefront in the shift to low-emission mobility, and it is the Commission's aim to further support them.

Today's awards showcase some innovative solutions that can be replicated elsewhere in Europe.


Learn more about the winners: Malmö and Brussels

  • Malmö – winner of the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award 2016

Malmö, the third largest city in Sweden, receives the award for its efforts in promoting active travel and prioritising pedestrians and cyclists. Malmö has also implemented a series of permanent measures such as turning a major shopping street into a care-free zone, making its city centre safer and more attractive to local residents; and has set up a new bike-sharing system offering 500 bicycles at 50 stations.

Malmö is also successful in partnering with local businesses, proving that smart and sustainable mobility can have a positive impact on the local economy. Moreover, its strong public communication and dialogue was also appreciated by the jury.

Lisbon (Portugal) and Skopje (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) were the two other finalists for the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award 2016.


  • Brussels – winner of the 5th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning in the area of urban freight

Brussels, city-region and home to 1.18 million people, succeeded in developing a strategic plan for freight transport that is well integrated within the passenger mobility strategy. The jury appreciated its innovative approach in identifying problems, finding opportunities and selecting the most relevant measures. Brussels supports private sector initiatives for improved urban logistics, and consolidation efforts, including the use of consolidation centres, to increase efficiency and reduce the number of freight kilometres in the city. Aiming to reduce the adverse impact of freight, including congestion, emissions and noise, Brussels also makes strategic use of its involvement in national and European projects to help achieve the city's goals.

The other finalists were Budapest (Hungary) and Stockholm (Sweden).


Malmö and Brussels were selected by an independent panel of mobility and transport experts and will receive a promotional video highlighting their achievements.



The EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award aims to showcase local authorities that demonstrate significant efforts in promoting sustainable urban mobility. The 15th edition of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK took place from 16 to 22 September 2016, and a total of 2,427 towns and cities – the highest participation rate ever – organised activities in line with the campaign's annual theme: ‘Smart and sustainable mobility – an investment for Europe’ under the call-to-action ‘Smart mobility. Strong economy.

The 5th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning rewards local authorities for developing a mobility plan addressing the diverse transport needs of people and businesses and, at the same time, improving quality of life. The 5th SUMP Award focuses on urban freight and on integrating the movement of goods and services in sustainable urban mobility planning.


Charge electric cars smartly to take pressure off national grid – UK minister
22 Mar 2017:

SSE trials ‘demand-side response’ where vehicles start charging a few hours after being plugged in, when demand is lower.

Electric cars are putting increasing pressure on the UK’s power grids, making it vital they are recharged at the right time of day, a minister has said.

John Hayes, transport minister, said it was important that such battery-powered cars were topped up in smart ways to avoid unduly stressing the energy system.

He said he hoped the accelerating uptake of electric cars, which registration figures show are growing faster than conventional new cars, could catalyse a wider debate on how best to manage the UK’s energy demand.

“We know the demand for electric vehicles places the national grid under pressure. It’s critically important – we are working on this. It’s particularly important that we charge smart, so we flex demand and take advantage of spare capacity,” Hayes told an audience in London.

The minister joked that a competition to design a better-looking electric car charger could see the winning entry nicknamed the “Hayes hook-up”.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, which runs local power grids in Scotland and southern England, said its electric car programmes found most owners charged their batteries immediately after returning home from work. That coincides with when energy demand is already at its highest point in the day, which has led the company to trial time-shifting the charging to miss the peak.

The utility said such “demand-side response”, where a car may not start charging until a few hours after a driver has plugged it in, when demand is lower, could alleviate much of the cost of power network upgrades required to cope with electric vehicles. However, most of the UK’s existing 10,000-plus charging points do not have such technology.

Stewart Reid, ‎head of asset management and innovation at SSEN, said realistically some network upgrades, which would ultimately be passed on to energy bills, would be required if electric cars took off in a big way.

“If this goes ballistic, if it’s like iPads went, then we’re going to have a very big investment programme: you’re going to have to invest in the network. But at least we’re going in with our eyes open,” he said.

A spokesman for the Energy Networks Association, whose members run local power grids, agreed that investment in the network would be needed. But he said: “Electricity network operators are developing a number of innovative solutions to enable people to charge their vehicles while minimising the impact on the power network.”

£23 million boost for hydrogen-powered vehicles and infrastructure
22 Mar 2017:

Funding to accelerate the take up of hydrogen vehicles and infrastructure.

A new £23 million fund to accelerate the take up of hydrogen vehicles and roll out more cutting-edge infrastructure has been announced by the government today (18 March 2017).

Hydrogen fuel providers will be able to bid for funding in partnership with organisations that produce hydrogen vehicles to help build high-tech infrastructure, including fuel stations. The funding will boost the creation of hydrogen fuel infrastructure and uptake of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

A competition will be launched this summer, and will invite proposals from public organisations, businesses and hydrogen operators. The government will provide match funding for successful bidders as part of its plans to cut carbon emissions, improve air quality and deliver economic opportunities for the UK.

Transport Minister John Hayes said:

The transition to zero emission road transport is both inevitable and desirable as it will improve air quality in many of our towns and cities. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can play a vital role alongside battery electric vehicles to help us cut harmful emissions.

We know availability of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure can be a potential obstacle to the take up of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. That’s why we’re providing support to give interested parties the confidence to continue to invest in this new emerging technology to help us achieve our ambition for almost all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2040.

Hydrogen vehicles can be quickly refuelled using a pump like a conventional petrol or diesel car, but instead use gas. They produce only water as a by-product and have a range of around 300 miles per tank, like conventional vehicles.

The government is working closely with industry on the future direction of the UK automotive sector and has allocated over £600 million for low emission vehicles over the course of this Parliament with an additional £390 million announced at last year’s Autumn Statement for ultra low emission vehicles and driverless cars.

Paul Van der Burgh, President and Managing Director of Toyota (GB), said:

Toyota believes hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can play an important role in the transition to a low carbon, low emissions society. We chose the UK as one of the first international markets for our Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car and are pleased that the government is investing in this programme to encourage the further development of refuelling infrastructure and the wider uptake of fuel cell vehicles.

We will continue to work with the government, organisations and industry partners to help the UK realise the significant potential of hydrogen as a clean and sustainable source of power.

Today’s announcement builds on the launch of the Industrial Strategy green paper published in January which outlined plans to fund new high-value economic infrastructure and reaffirmed government commitment to investing in energy innovation and to tackling the causes of climate change.

Transport Research & Innovation Portal report provides insight into EU transport security
22 Mar 2017:

A new report from the European Commission funded Transport Research & Innovation Portal (TRIP) gives fresh insight into transport security in Europe highlighting priority areas for research and policy

Transport systems have always been subject to illicit acts against passengers, freight, infrastructure and vehicles. Research into policy and the technology to safeguard infrastructure and users is therefore critical to respond to emerging risks, such as cybercrime. 

This latest theme analysis report from TRIP provides policy makers and researchers with examples of where research in Europe is helping to improve security, reduce casualties and improve the resilience of passenger transport. It focusses on six critical areas of transport security research: threat detection and prevention; crisis management; cyber security, privacy and information and communications technology (ICT) systems; staff security training; cargo security; and passenger security.

The report also identifies important areas and research gaps to focus future efforts. This includes ensuring that developments in ICT are applied to transport security purposes and that effective security concepts are transferred across multiple transport modes. For instance, the report highlights the potential for the development of airport scanning technologies to counter threats and monitor security on board passenger trains.

Gareth Horton, TRIP lead analyst said “From relatively minor criminal damage on the premises of transport providers to major acts of piracy, hijacking and terrorism, enhancing transport security and reducing risk is a perennial objective for the EU. I hope that the new report will help researchers and policy makers learn from best practice and target the research gaps identified, enhancing the security and wellbeing of Europe and its population.”  

Research projects included in the report are drawn from the online Transport Research & Innovation Portal - a free to access, European Commission funded portal for EU professionals to share and discuss innovations in transport mobility. The report can be downloaded for free at

Join the free online transport community and share your research with academics, local authority transport departments, central transport policy makers and businesses at

ChargePoint secures $82 million to fund European expansion
21 Mar 2017:

The world’s leading operator of electric vehicle (EV) charging networks has secured $82 million towards its expansion into the European market. 

The California-based firm announced last week that it has secured an $82 million investment towards its ambitious goal to build Europe's "most comprehensive" charging network, curtesy of German automaker Daimler.

ChargePoint said its European expansion will help address a "fragmented market" characterised by "dozens of providers of EV charging hardware, software and driver networks…[that] all work differently and often require drivers to sign up for separate accounts".

The investment brings ChargePoint’s total capital raised to more than $255 million – existing investors include BMW i Ventures, Linse Capital, Rho Capital Partners, and Braemar Energy Ventures.

Chargepoint’s network has grown to more than 33,000 EV charging stations across the U.S., providing domestic, business, and public charging infrastructure.

ChargePoint doesn't operate any EV charging stations; instead it sells equipment and licenses its technology to other businesses such as hotels or malls that wish to provide charging services to their customers.

Pasquale Romano, CEO of ChargePoint, stated the latest round of funding would be used to expand rapidly into the European market.

He said in a statement: "The automobile industry is at an inflection point, with more vehicles coming onto the market offering highly advanced electric powertrains than any other time in the world's history. The significant investment by our lead investor Daimler and others not only underscores a collective commitment to e-mobility around the world, but lays the groundwork for Europe's most comprehensive charging network."

ChargePoint has also announced that Axel Harries, Head of Daimler’s new Connected, Autonomous, Sharing & Services, and Electric Drive (CASE) division, will join its board of directors as part of the new investment. 

Harries stated the new investment was in line with the company's long term strategic goals, saying: “Daimler is committed to supporting the future of e-mobility with a full ecosystem of connected, autonomous, shared and electric transit solutions”.

He went on to say: “ChargePoint is the benchmark in the EV charging space, offering world-class solutions that help to address some of the fragmentation in Europe and accelerate the market’s shift toward e-mobility."

The EV market in Europe is being to take-off as many cities begin to enforce stricter emission reduction targets, including London’s ‘Toxicity Charge' (T-Charge) for the capital's most polluting vehicles, coming into effect towards the end of 2017 and Stuttgart in Germany’s ban on diesel vehicles during periods of high-pollution beginning in 2018.

One of the Europe’s largest utility companies, Vattenfall, is converting its 3,500 car and light truck fleet to all electric vehicles (EVs) within the next five years; while Volvo has announced that its first all-electric vehicle will be launched in 2019, with battery packs up to 100 kilowatt hours (kWh) and an estimated 300 miles of range.

In addition, according to recent reports, plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) made up 37 per cent share of Norway’s car market last month.