Posts Tagged ‘cars’

Transnova
1Lina Ingeborgrud

Lina IngeborgrudMarch 21, 2014

Pure electric driving pleasure: the electric car in our comfort society

The car has become an essential part of our transportation system – it gives us the flexibility and the possibility to go anywhere, anytime. Most people in Norway have a car, and almost feel as if they can´t make it through the day without it. However, the car is also a threat to our environment, responsible for 1/3 of Norway’s CO2-emissions. What impact does this have on Norwegian car users?

In January 2013, I was an intern at Transnova for three weeks, and am now writing my thesis in collaboration with them – about the electric car in our comfort society. Transnova is a governmental agency that provide grants to different projects to reduce CO2-emissions from the transportation sector. I find this very important, and in my thesis I focus on user experiences – their needs and thoughts about cars in general, and electric cars in particular. A lot of people in Norway use electric cars, and increasing their use even further has been proposed as a means of reducing emissions from private transportation. But is there a gap between the electric driving experience and the experience of comfortable transport?

Norway has the highest number of private electric cars per capita in the world. Why and how has the electric car become such a success story in Norway? First of all, there is a willingness in the political arena for supporting low-emission technologies, and the Norwegian government has given the electric car a lot of advantages compared to the petrol car. These advantages include no sales tax or duty on purchase, free parking in municipal car parks, free use of bus lanes in cities and exemption from tolls & congestion charges. These incentives will continue until at least 2017, or until there are 50,000 electric cars on the roads (there are currently approximately 23,000). What will happen to the electric car in the future? It is very important not to forget the users: what do users mean by the term ”comfort” when it comes to transportation? I wanted to find out.

My research data was gathered from 15 interviews – 8 with electric car owners (most of them had the family car Nissan Leaf) and 7 with people driving petrol cars. Most of the electric car owners had a petrol car as well, but they tried to use this only when necessary. All the electric car drivers told me their electric car felt more comfortable than their present – or earlier – petrol car. They described their electric car as a safe, environmentally friendly, economic, aesthetically pleasing and exciting technology with great driving characteristics. The petrol car drivers – on the other hand – felt guilty about the environment when they used their cars and said that this guilt diminished their enjoyment from driving.

The political incentives designed to encourage electric car usage were important in the beginning – when drivers first made the decision to go electric. However, as they became accustomed to using their electric car the relative importance of these incentives was reduced. Instead, users valued electric vehicles in terms of both the material and technical equipment, and also the rewarding feeling of being more environmentally friendly. The research found that environmental awareness and comfort were able to act in synergy to create a more pleasurable driving experience. Both electric and petrol car users valued cultural, internal and environmental values as being important in their vehicle choice. If we wish to increase the uptake of electric vehicles as much as possible, it is important that policies appeal to these values as well as the economic incentives that have been used so far.

At Technoport 2014, Transnova will participate in a Share the Problem workshop on the afternoon of Mon 28th April.

The workshop will design a conceptual “point and explain” prototype of the electric vehicle that disregards the conventional automobile as an aspirational model. Register for Technoport 2014 now to participate in the session and attend other workshops and talks from internationally renowned speakers on technology and innovation.

Image credit: Transnova

Multiple car households
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 3, 2014

Do you really need two cars?

Second in our series on sustainable driving is the growing trend of car collectives.

A recent study suggests car use across America is declining.

At the same time, membership in car-sharing schemes is on the up:

Global growth in car sharing

Global growth of car-sharing. Graphic by EMBARQ.

Car collectives provide a membership-based system of access to private vehicles, only when members need them, thus rendering the purchase of a car unnecessary. It began as an idealist notion but has rapidly evolved into a thriving global industry, albeit one with a long journey still to take.

Car sharing in Trondheim

There’s a car collective right here in Trondheim, so I headed down to their Sandgata office to meet the Director, Leif Tore Anderssen. Of most interest for me was discovering the biggest market for Trondheim Bilkollektiv isn’t those without a car, it’s actually multi-car families.

“People living in inner cities don’t need two cars. It’s expensive for them. Many of our members join specifically so they can sell one of their own cars”, says Anderssen.

The popularity of car sharing is growing in Trondheim. The number of available cars has increased from 10 to 50 in the last five years, located at 16 strategic locations in the city centre and suburbs. Membership in the collective now standing at a record 700.

That’s less than half of one percent of the city’s population, but this looks set to increase. The collective is targeting local businesses to join up, and talking to the owners of new residential developments about partnerships. The impressive new Grilstad Marina is a perfect example, a development of 800 brand new homes that will soon host a couple of the collective’s cars.

Interestingly, electric cars are not yet part of the car collective strategy in Trondheim.

“In the future we could have more in the collective, but for now we think until a greater percentage of our members understand how to use them and the infrastructure for charging them develops. Perhaps people could own an electric car, then use our cars for longer trips”, says Anderssen.

Because they require a critical mass of members to be economically viable, car collectives only tend to be found in urban centres. Elsewhere in Norway, schemes exist in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Tromsø.

So, over to you.

Does your family really need two cars?

Photo credit: Michael Greene

Tesla S
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 20, 2014

Can electric cars provide a more sustainable future?

Whatever the environmental concerns, it seems certain that the car is part of our future here on earth. So here on the Technoport Playground, I’ll be taking a look at innovation in the car industry, and what steps are being taken to help us achieve a safer and more sustainable future. First up, the electric car.

Right now, the best selling car is Norway is not made by Ford, Toyota, or Volvo. It’s the Tesla Model S, the world’s first premium electric sedan.

It’s so popular in Norway primarily because of a Government economic incentive package, designed to encourage 50,000 zero emission vehicles on to Norway’s roads by 2018.

The incentives include:

  • No sales tax or duty on purchase
  • Free parking in municipal car parks
  • Free use of the bus lane in cities
  • No tolls or congestion charges

Tax on buying new cars in Norway is colossal, so the first point alone is sending hoards of Norwegian drivers into Tesla showrooms.

It’s not a model that can be copied by other countries without some serious investment in infrastructure. Electric cars require electric charging stations, and Norway has one of the best developed networks outside the USA. One driver (the northernmost Tesla owner in the world!) proved it’s possible to drive all the way from Oslo to Kirkenes at an electricity cost of just NOK 400. Free charging stations are strategically placed around the country (there’s one here in Trondheim), while other for-cost stations are placed cleverly at shopping centres and even on ferries, to minimise the disruption when you need to recharge.

However, it’s not all rosy.

Despite the company’s PR stating the car performs well in winter driving conditions, some Norwegian drivers have reported problems with the charging process as the sub-zero winter temperatures have set in.

There’s also the question of how environmentally-friendly electric cars really are.

In Norway, the vast majority of the country’s electricity is generated through hydropower, but with 25,000km of coastline let alone the countless fjords, that’s easy. But for other countries that generate electricity through coal-fired power stations, electric cars will just put more pressure on an already overloaded energy grid.

One Forbes columnist went as far to claim that electric cars are an extraordinarily bad idea, arguing that they are not economically viable without substantial Government support.

So over to you.

Electric cars – part of the solution, or not?

Palo Alto
60David Nikel

David NikelNovember 19, 2013

Learning in Silicon Valley – The Norwegian 11

Eleven Norwegian startups recently completed a one-month intensive program of development at Innovation House in Palo Alto, California.

The TINC (Technology INCubator) program is designed to develop the international potential of Norwegian startups by plugging them into the Silicon Valley community. The chosen startups at various stages of development get access to accommodation and office space, the very best advisors and mentors, and a trusted environment designed for learning and networking.

It’s a terrific opportunity for all Norwegian innovators with global ambitions. Here are the 11 startups that were on the latest program:

Zwipe

Zwipe enables integration of fingerprint authentication on contactless cards. They sure made the most of their time in Palo Alto, signing a global OEM distribution deal and signing a lease on their own office in the Bay area.

Founder and CEO Kim Kristian Humborstad said: “Innovation House … have been instrumental in helping to guide and mentor us not only on industry and technology issues, but also on regional and global issues such as regulation and legislation. All of this support and advice no doubt helped us in signing the global OEM distribution agreement – it’s made all the miles travelled worthwhile.” (read more)

TapBookAuthor

TapBookAuthor helps authors and publishers digitise and enrich their children’s books. Norwegian publisher Samlaget has used the tool to produce a series of apps for the children’s book Jakob and Neikob.

Founder and CEO Sondre Skaug Bjørnebekk was looking for connections over investment and seemed pleased with what he found, writing: “Ironically one of the most promising meetings the coming week for me will be over Skype with a Nordic publisher that I was introduced to after attending the Nordic Entrepreneur of the Year awards event in Los Altos.” (read more)

CrayoNano

Trondheim-based CrayoNano is one of the long list of startups to be born out of research at NTNU. Their mission is to develop and commercialize new hybrid semiconductor technology – a material obtained by growing semiconductor nanowires on graphene. The international potential here is obvious.

OneTraffic

OneTraffic founder and CEO André Eilertsen is a former helicopter pilot and traffic reporter, so it’s no surprise to learn his startup is focused on solving the world’s traffic problems!

The global traffic collaboration system has a dual aim – to save its users time and money, but also to help people use existing transport infrastructure more efficiently, reducing pollution too.

Databeat

Databeat count Elkjøp, Lefdal, Bunnpris and Platekompaniet among its customers, so travelled to California hoping to develop their retail-focused digital media business beyond the Norwegian border.

Kikora

Innovation within education is evolving rapidly and the 13 staff at Kikora‘s Oslo HQ are at the forefront. Their cloud-based mathematics learning tool is already used in Norwegian schools, with high-profile supporters such as former Minister of Education Trond Giske, who said: “This might lead to bigger changes in Norwegian schools than we’ve seen in decades, maybe ever.”

Explorable

Staying on the education theme, the Explorable website attempts to make scientific research easier to understand. Future plans to develop the business include research tools for scientists and tools to help students learn about scientific methods.

Vippy

Vippy offers an easy-to-use video platform to customers including NHO, PwC and Hafslund. Their smart video player solution is designed for today’s mobile-first world, automatically detecting the user’s device to ensure flawless playback.

ConceptoMed

Innovations from ConceptoMed are designed to enhance efficiency and safety during everyday work-operations in the medical workplace.

Their ConceptoShield technology is designed for the 10% of people with a phobia of blood or needles, helping medical professionals do their job safely and efficiently.

Dossier Solutions

Dossier offers technology for HR departments, such as Onboarding, designed to assist in the process of welcoming and training new employees.

AppsCo

AppsCo was one of the youngest startups in the program, only founded in April this year. They provide an all-in-one platform to create, sell and use web based applications.

Photo credit: Jorge Luis Zapico

Photo by: (CC)
11Annette Hovdal

Annette HovdalAugust 21, 2013

Another example of roadway powered electric vehicles: Online Electric Vehicle

The problem with electric cars today is the short range of driving because of the battery capacity. In addition, recharging the batteries on charging stations takes time. In a blog post published 8 July, I presented an idea developed in Sweden on roadway powered electric vehicles. In South Korea they have also been working on roadway power electric vehicles, but their idea is different.   

Researchers in South Korea have developed a vehicle, called Online Electric Vehicle, which recharges while driving. The technology is already taken into use; in the South Korean city, Gumi, two electric buses are driving a 24 kilometre route, recharging the batteries as they are driving, getting electricity of the road.

The buses are powered by two electric cables that lie under the surface of the road.  The electric cables create magnetic fields, which are converted into electricity by a receiver under the vehicle.  The technology is called “Shaped Magnetic Field in Resonance”. According to the researchers, it is not necessary that the entire road is built with cables, 5 – 15 % of the road is sufficient (nrk.no)

The core of the idea, developed in Sweden, is to place two power lines in the road.

Which solution on eco-friendly transportation do you believe the best – the Swedish power lines or the South Korean Online Electric Vehicle?

Photo by: (CC)