Concern over greenhouse gas emissions and their contribution to global warming has led to increasing interest in electric vehicles (EV), which could help reduce or eliminate exhaust emissions.
With this increasing consumer interest, car manufacturers around the globe are are working hard to innovate in the EV sector – something that was clearly evident last week at Las Vegas’ CES 2020 – the world’s largest electronics exhibition.
And, in a bid to go green, Scotland is already preparing for the EV revolution. The Scottish Government hopes to phase out sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032, and in summer 2019 it confirmed funding of £20.6 million to support the uptake of electric vehicles through the Switched on Towns and Cities Challenge Fund and the Local Authority Installation Programme.
On top of this, in 2018 the World Electric Vehicle Association named Dundee as Europe’s most visionary city for electric vehicles (EVs).
The city’s council has developed the UK’s largest public sector fleet of clean vehicles, with almost 40% of cars and vans being electric. In addition to this, 15% of taxis are now electric and have been able to plug-in at the UK’s first solar-powered charging hubs.
Work began on Dundee’s fourth electric vehicle charging hub in 2018, with more hubs planned at the city’s three main multi-storey car parks. Additional electric and hydrogen buses are taking to the roads, and the city’s Mobility Innovation Living Lab (The MILL) has also been working on a series of pilot projects to trial new electric vehicle technologies and services.
So with Scotland eagerly developing its EV infrastructure, what kind of vehicles might we see cruising the streets in the near future? We’ve taken a look at five of the most impressive EVs showcased at this year’s CES.
Sony’s efforts in the area of mobility – such as pursuing safety, reliability, comfort and entertainment – are being positioned as a new initiative dubbed VISION-S.
The first prototype vehicle to result from VISION-S was showcased at Sony’s CES booth. The prototype incorporates Sony’s imaging and sensing technologies, as well as on-board software regulated using Sony’s AI, telecommunication and cloud technologies, in order to continuously update and evolve its features.
A total of 33 sensors including CMOS image sensors and ToF sensors are embedded within the vehicle, in order to detect and recognise people and objects inside and outside the car, and provide highly advanced driving support. Sony’s 360 Reality Audio provides a deep and immersive audio experience through speakers built into each seat to encapsulates passengers in sound.
The front seats face a panoramic screen on which rich and diverse content can be enjoyed through an intuitive user interface. A Sony spokesperson said the company will “continue to combine its advanced technologies to deliver greater safety and reliability, while also striving to inspire new emotion through revolutionary in-car entertainment experiences”.
Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR
The Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR is said to have been inspired by the movie, Avatar.
The concept vehicle embodies the vision of Mercedes-Benz designers, engineers and trend researchers for mobility in the distant future, and attempts to show a completely new interaction between human, machine and nature.
The holistic concept of the VISION AVTR combines the design disciplines interior, exterior and UX on an unprecedented scale, according to Mercedes-Benz. The distinctive inside-out design structure combines inside and outside into an emotional whole and was inspired by several creatures from the movie, Avatar. With its stretched ‘One Bow’ design and organic design language, the VISION AVTR offers a visionary outlook on the design of the future.
Instead of a conventional steering wheel, the multifunctional control element in the centre console allows human and machine to merge. By placing the hand on the control unit, the interior comes to life and the vehicle recognises the driver by his or her heartbeat and breathing.
By simply lifting the hand, a menu selection is projected onto the palm of the hand, through which the passenger can intuitively choose between different functionalities. For example, real-time 3D graphics can be used to explore the fictional world of Pandora from different perspectives. The curved display module creates the visual connection between passengers and the outside world.
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For the first time, the VISION AVTR concept vehicle is using a revolutionary battery technology based on graphene-based organic cell chemistry that is completely free of rare earths and metals. The materials of the battery are compostable and, therefore, completely recyclable. In this way, electric mobility becomes independent of fossil resources. As a result, Mercedes-Benz underlines the high relevance of a future circular economy in the raw materials sector.
The 33 ‘bionic flaps’ on the back of the vehicle are reminiscent of scales of reptiles. They can communicate with the driver and through the driver with their outside world through naturally flowing movements in subtle gestures. Due to the possibility to drive the front and rear axles in the same or opposite direction, the VISION AVTR can move sideways by approximately 30 degrees, in contrast to conventional vehicles.
The seats of the VISION AVTR are refined by vegan DINAMICA leather. DINAMICA is the first and only microfiber that guarantees environmental sustainability throughout the entire production cycle. The floor is decorated with an innovative wood called Karuun. The raw material for Karuun (Rattan) grows very fast as a natural raw material and is harvested by hand in Indonesia. The material gives the interior warmth and radiates naturalness.
Fisker Inc. unveiled its Fisker Ocean all-electric luxury SUV at CES. The car, due to go into production in Q4 2021, has been described by its manufacturer as the most sustainable car in the world.
It boasts a full-length solar roof, which supports its electric power source; fully recycled carpeting made from abandoned fishing net waste that has been pulled from the oceans and aquaculture; a vegan interior consisting of 100% Polycarbonate Polyurethane surfaces and 100% reinforced Rayon backing.
Fisker also promises to utilise discarded rubber waste generated during tire manufacturing, and guarantees the lowest levels of polluting emissions and energy consumption throughout the whole production cycle.
The all-electric SUV will come standard with an extended range (target of approximately 250 to 300 miles, depending on driving conditions), enabled by an approx. 80 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
Nissan Electric Ice Cream Van
Nissan has taken the ICE (internal combustion engine) out of the ice cream van, creating an all-electric, zero-emission concept, which it showcased in Las Vegas last week.
The prototype was first unveiled back in June 2019 for ‘Clean Air Day’ in the UK. The car manufacturer had partnered with Mackie’s of Scotland, an ice cream producer powering its family-owned dairy farm by renewable wind and solar energy. The project demonstrated how a ‘Sky to Scoop’ approach can remove carbon dependence at every stage of the ice cream journey.
Most ice cream vans, particularly older models, have diesel engines that are kept running to operate the refrigeration equipment. These motors are criticised for producing harmful emissions, including black carbon, when left idling. Some UK towns and cities are now looking to ban or fine these vehicles. Nissan’s concept presents a potential solution for vendors looking to reduce their carbon footprint, and offer customers a better experience.
The prototype van is based on the e-NV200, Nissan’s 100% electric LCV (light commercial vehicle). The concept is a working demonstration of Nissan’s Electric Ecosystem, combining a zero-emission drivetrain, second-life battery storage and renewable solar energy generation.
Kalyana Sivagnanam, MD at Nissan Motor (GB), said: “Ice cream is enjoyed the world over, but consumers are increasingly mindful of the environmental impact of how we produce such treats, and the “last mile’ of how they reach us.”
While the van’s motor is driven by a 40kWh battery, the on-board ice cream equipment – including a soft-serve machine, freezer drawer and drinks fridge – are powered by the newly unveiled Nissan Energy ROAM, which went on sale in 2019. Designed for both professional and leisure applications, ROAM is a portable power pack that uses lithium-ion cells recovered from early first-generation Nissan electric vehicles (produced from 2010 onwards). This provides a sustainable second-life for Nissan EV batteries.
Jeep Wrangler, Renegade and Compass 4xe models
Jeep utilised CES 2020 to showcase three Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles – the first step in the brand’s plan to offer electrification options on all models by 2022. All Jeep electrified vehicles will carry a new “Jeep 4xe badge”.
Although the cars were on display at th eLas Vegas event, details regarding the them are limited, with Jeep promising to unveil them fully at the Geneva, New York and Beijing auto shows.
What we do know is that the Compass and Renegade hybrids will offer a 1.3-litre turbocharged engine paired with an electric motor to generate between 190 and 240 horsepower.
In all-electric mode, both models have a range of about 31 miles with an EV top speed of 81 mph. The SUVs will also have special instrumentation inside, but other details haven’t been revealed as-of-yet.
A spokesperson for Jeep said: “Jeep electric vehicles will be the most efficient and responsible Jeep vehicles ever, providing absolute and quiet open-air freedom while taking performance, 4×4 capability and driver confidence to the next level.
“With greater torque and immediate engine response, Jeep electric vehicles will offer an even more fun-to-drive experience on the road, and more capability than ever off-road.”