Category Archives: Blog

Volvo testing car-to-car messaging

Volvo is making its cars speak to one another. For the pilot scheme, the Swedish car maker has teamed up with Scandinavian traffic authorities to test their system for intelligent transportation.

The technology, which relies on wireless connection to the internet, sends a message in real-time to warn other cars about potentially hazardous road conditions.

In a practical example of vehicle-to-vehicle (v2v) connectivity, the car reacts in icy winter conditions where the roads are slippery. If the car senses a change in road friction, this message is pinged to a database at Volvo Cars, which passes the message to other Volvo vehicles.

Inside the cabin of the car, drivers are alerted to the potential hazard via a series of lights and messages on the dashboard. Using the speed of the car and the road conditions, the car can also indicate the severity of problem in hand. Drivers can then make any necessary judgement calls or take action to prevent an accident.

Volvo’s Intelligent Transport System (ITS) Project Leader, Eric Israelsson, says,

“We have 50 test cars on the roads, and next winter the fleet will grow considerably. Our aim is to make the technology available for our customers within a few years.”

The message is also sent to the existing traffic authorities, so they are better informed and can make roads safer. Israelsson continues,

“When the road administrator has access to information from a large number of cars, the data can be used to make winter road maintenance more efficient. The information could help to improve road safety further for all road users. This could also reduce the use of salt when not needed and minimise the environmental impact,”

V2V connectivity is part of a larger plan to make our cities ‘smarter’. Cars will exchange data with one another and the infrastructure around them to alleviate congestion, reduce traffic incidents and make journeys smoother. Volvo is amongst a number of car manufacturers developing a more connected driving experience.

“This is only the beginning. In the future we will have increased exchange of vital information between vehicles.”

Volvo has pledged to reduce the number of serious injuries or accidents to zero by 2020.


E-Golf Goes On Sale But Are Its E-Credentials Beaten By BlueMotion?

Volkswagen’s newly electrified Golf goes on sale this week. The five-door electric version of the multi-award-winning Golf takes all the practical features of the petrol version without the CO2 emissions. However, VW’s BlueMotion diesel engine has the upper hand in “fuel” efficiency. Or has it?

Reasonably priced

At face value, the e-Golf is one of the most reasonably priced electric vehicles on the road. Inclusive of battery ownership, prices start from £25,845, including Plug-In Government Incentive (PIGC). This is only two thousand more than its 1.6l BlueMotion cousin. When kitted out with similar specs, the 1.6l TDI 105 is £23,620. (Pretty impressive, when you consider the e-Up! starts at more than double the price of the basic petrol model!)

Surprisingly disappointing MPGe

The e-Golf sports the chassis of the Golf SE. This model can be equipped with the BlueMotion1.6l turbocharged diesel engine boasting a fuel efficiency of 74.3 and CO2 emissions of only 99g/km. The e-Golf may have no emissions, but in calculating the MPG-e – the industry’s bewitching mathematical equation to obtain some semblance of familiarity and common denomination – the e-Golf tracks just over 66MPGe.

Welcome wallet relief

Some contest MPGe figures. MPG itself is arguably outdated. So let’s talk in something we all understand. Good ol’ fashioned money. First, some stats: the 318 kilograms of lithium-ion batteries power an 85kw electric motor. Though the e-Golf has a nifty 270Nm of torque, its NEDC (official) range is only 118 miles. This means the e-Golf probably does closer to 100 miles in reality. Is this a bad thing? No, not at all. Research has shown that drivers average around 8-10 miles of driving a day. So 100 miles covers most round trips. Based on 100 miles, the e-Golf costs only £1.71*, whereas the Golf will set you back £8.32 based on February’s AA diesel prices. If an average month is 30 days and we drive around 10 miles per day, the e-Golf saves you around 79.4% in fuel each month. If you’re really savvy, you can charge away from home, which in most cases currently is free to do.

Less remarkable charging times

In terms of charging, the e-Golf isn’t particularly fast. It can be charged from a standard three-pin socket in 13 hours. British Gas is still offering free home wall-box fittings. This 3.6kw supply reduces that time to eight hours for 0-100% charge. Generously, VW’s standard UK package includes the fast charging cables (our continental neighbours have to pay extra). This means you can make use of Volkswagen’s partnership with Ecotricity and charge to 80% in just 35 minutes. Not spectacular, but if you find yourself doing significantly more miles, you’ll be charging for free and may find these required breaks useful for catching up on messages, tweets and emails mid-journey.

Other features

The e-Golf sports full LED headlights – the first VW production car to feature this energy-saving technology. As with the e-Up! VW uses ‘Eco’ and ‘Eco+’ buttons to engage a more limited motor for more frugal battery consumption. Volkswagen’s engineering proves itself unparalleled with the different levels of regenerative braking, which also conserve battery. Volkswagen has also capitalised on the recent boom in smartphone integration. Connectivity via VW’s ‘Car-Net’ app allows drivers to control charging, heating and cooling remotely. This makes the most of the car’s features while it’s on charge, saving precious battery power. The price includes a three-year subscription to Car-Net.

My take

Sure enough I’ve scratched an arbitrary 18 miles off the range for convenience’s sake. This can only mean one thing, in light of all the work Volkswagen has done to maximise the battery efficiency: my figures can be improved upon in the real world. For now, though, they give a fairly realistic picture of what you can expect to pay. Without the benefits of higher range, free charging, less servicing, no road tax, you’ll only break even at the back end of a decade. The BlueMotion technology offers a persuasive argument for staying with fuel. That said, longer breaks between filling up however are difficult to compare with the cleaner air quality and over 79% in month-to-month savings.

*based on British Gas Economy 7 overnight tariff.

Cat Dow predicts Monaco host for Formula-E

In her mind, it was a foregone conclusion – they have the desire, the interest, the money and seemed to fit perfectly with the proposed winter season – but when the initial host cities for the upcoming Formula-E series were released, Dow was stunned to see a grave omission. No Monaco.

The calendar has finally been announced for the 2014 Formula-E racing series.  Starting in September 2014, so as to avoid most of the F1 weekends, the inaugural all-electric racing has also seen a change in venue hosts.

Bangkok, Rome and Rio De Janeiro have been dropped from the first season’s calendar, in favour of Monaco, Puntra el Estra (Uruguay) and Hong Kong.

The calendar for the season looks like this:

Round 1 – Beijing, China* – 20th September 2014
Round 2 – Putrajaya, Malaysia – 18th October 2014
Round 3 – Hong Kong, China – 8th November 2014
Round 4 – Punta del Este, Uruguay – 13th December 2014
Round 5 – Buenos Aires, Argentina – 10th January 2015
Round 6 – Los Angeles, USA – 14th February 2015
Round 7 – Miami, USA – 18th April 2015
Round 8 – Monte Carlo, Monaco* – 9th May 2015
Round 9 – Berlin, Germany – 30th May 2015
Round 10- London, UK – 27th June 2015

Dow can’t bloody wait. #gogreenraceblue