Major investment speeds Arrival of new electric vans

22 January 2020

British electric van company Arrival has received €100M of investment from Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation.

The deal marks the start of a strategic partnership aimed at accelerating the adoption of commercial electric vehicles globally.

It will also see Hyundai and Kia use key Arrival technologies to help achieve their recently announced goal to develop mobility services and electrify their vehicle fleets.

Arrival’s aim is to create EVs that surpass traditional vehicles in cost, design and efficiency. Its model will see these assembled using small footprint microfactories, located in areas of demand and profitable at thousands of units.

Avinash Rugoobur, Arrival’s Chief Strategy Officer said, “We are excited to come out of stealth mode with our partnership with Hyundai Motor Group, and our complementary expertise will allow us to rapidly design, build and roll out vehicles together.

Albert Biermann, President and Head of Research and Development Division at Hyundai Motor Group, added “The eco-friendly vehicle market in Europe is expected to grow rapidly due to reinforcement of environmental regulations.

“Through the joint development of commercial electric vehicles with Arrival, we will be able to gain a competitive advantage and progressively establish our leadership in the global eco-friendly vehicle market.”

Youngcho Chi, President and Chief Innovation Officer at Hyundai Motor Group, said, “This investment is part of an open innovation strategy pursued by Hyundai and Kia. We will accelerate investment and cooperation with companies with advanced technology such as Arrival, to respond to the rapidly changing eco-friendly vehicle market.”

Decision on multi-billion dollar mail truck contracts is in the post

22 January 2020

The United States Postal Service has confirmed in a statement that it expects to award the contracts for its next generation mail trucks this summer.

A number of manufacturer teams are vying for the contracts and have already provided prototype vehicles for evaluation as part of an in-depth trial and selection process.

It is reported that the contracts could be worth as much as $6 billion (£761 million) and comprise orders for as many as 180,000 new vans.

A spokesperson for the US Postal Service told TNB, “Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs) are an important part of our continuing process to innovate and invest in our future, two core strategies for the organisation.”

Currently the USPS fleet includes around 140,000 Grumman Long Life Vehicles for its main delivery service. These were manufactured from 1987 through 1994.

FEATURE: How advances in technology are supporting infrastructure improvements

23 January 2020

Our cars, vans, trucks, buses and coaches are all becoming ever-more intelligent and connected and, as we know, the development of driverless technology is well underway.

But it’s not just inside our vehicles where technology is helping to improve safety, comfort and efficiency.

Even our infrastructure is benefiting from advances in technology and greater automation.

Just this month. Highways England added the latest ‘robot’ to its fleet – this time a specially-designed, cone-laying vehicle, that can prevent workers having to lift an average 10 tonnes of equipment per shift.

Two automated cone laying vehicles are being developed, with testing due to get under way next month at a centre in Lutterworth, Leicestershire. If these tests are successful, the machines could start to appear across the country by the end of 2020.

Cones are needed to protect road users and road workers while essential improvements or maintenance is carried out on the busy routes.

But dramatic footage released by Highways England shows how terrifying it can be for the workers who traditionally put the cones out, working in tandem from the back of a vehicle as motorway traffic thunders past just yards away.

The new robot removes the need for cones to be manually placed. This will improve safety and free up two workers to carry out other tasks.

And if testing meets Highways England criteria, namely that the machines offer a safer method for highways workers, are safe for all road users and pose no further risk to traffic, they could soon enter service nationwide.

It’s all part of Highways England’s drive to make it work maintaining the nation’s road network safer, faster and more efficient.

First came the introduction of self-driving dump trucks as part of a trial on Britain’s biggest road upgrade, the £1.5 billion A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement.

The dump trucks, which move huge amounts of earth, have the potential to work around the clock, so could help reduce the length of time roadworks are on the ground.

And by being autonomous they reduce the risk of road workers being involved in incidents on site.

This was followed by the introduction a quirky machine that uses precise positioning technology to mark out where white lines need to be painted on new or resurfaced roads.

It has already saved hundreds of hours of working time on various Highways England projects across the country, including the A14.

It also recently pre-marked eight miles of the M6 in Staffordshire in four hours. This work would usually take two engineers over a week to complete.

Savings elsewhere include saving 27 hours of working time marking three miles of hard shoulder on the M4 in Berkshire, 77 hours covering five miles of the M6 in Warwickshire, and six hours working on two miles of the M1 in Leicestershire, with further work done on the M60 smart motorway at Manchester.

Besides helping drivers, it also has safety benefits for roadworkers and enables them to focus on completing other essential work on each project.

Julian Lamb, construction director on the A14, where the all the robots have been used, said, “We’re always looking at innovative new ways of working, which can help road users, and make our projects more efficient while supporting improved engineering.

“With safety our top priority, the time savings the robots can provide, coupled with removing our operatives from a potentially hazardous situation, make it a great solution.”

He added, “These technologies are also supporting new jobs, with the engineers of tomorrow needing to learn new skills such as programming this autonomous equipment.”

Have your say on Low Emission Zones in Scotland’s biggest cities

22 January 2020

A second consultation on plans to introduce Low Emission Zones in Scotland’s four biggest cities has been published.

The new document sets out the Scottish Government’s vision for Scotland to have the best air quality in Europe alongside a new legally-binding target to become a net-zero society by 2045.

It also seeks views on enforcement, penalties, national exemptions and more as part of plans for LEZs in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said, “Since we first announced the ambition to deliver Low Emissions Zones in our four biggest cities by the end of 2020 – there has been considerable interest in their scope, national exemptions and what this means for communities across Scotland.

“Through the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 we have created the legal framework to create nationally consistent LEZs. We are now consulting on regulations for substantive issues such as emission standards, exemptions, the enforcement regime and the setting of penalty charges.

“To do so in a just and equitable manner, it is critical that we design these regulations in a collaborative way with the public, private and third sector – and I would encourage anyone with an interest to respond to this consultation on these very ambitious proposals for Scotland’s Low Emission Zones.”

The consultation on Scotland’s Low Emission Zones: Regulations and Guidance will be open for 10 weeks.

Antelope sprints past two million mile mark

22 January 2020

A Los Angeles bus operator and early adopter of electric buses has surpassed the two million emissions-free EV miles mark.

Antelope Valley Transit Authority, which serves communities including Palmdale, Lancaster and northern Los Angeles County, hit the milestone shortly before Christmas.

It now aims to become the first transit authority in the United States with a 100% electric bus fleet.

AVTA Chairman, Marvin Crist, said, “Thus far, approximately 512,821 gallons of diesel fuel have been saved with the new battery electric fleet. This equates to a net savings of $801,190 in fuel costs after paying for electricity.

“Even more impressive, those two million all-electric miles represent a carbon footprint reduction of more than 12 million pounds of CO2 and 29,063 pounds of particulate matter.”

AVTA’s current fleet of electric buses – now more than 50% of its total fleet of 88 vehicles – have been manufactured by BYD at its plant in Antleope Valley as part of a five-year deal.
As part of the overall project to electrify its network, the authority has also installed ground-breaking inductive

AVTA Executive Director and CEO Macy Neshati, said, “Our goal from the start was to be the first transit agency to implement electric bus technology on a broad scale, and we have met that goal.”

TfL launches search for freight innovation

22 January 2020

Transport for London and 10 partners from across the freight industry have joined forces to launch a new challenge aimed at finding innovative solutions to some of the biggest issues caused by freight and servicing in London.

FreightLab – one of three challenges launched in this year’s Mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge – will offer funding, land sites, and subject matter expertise during the pilot stage for up to six innovative ideas.

Open to all, the scheme is looking for Ideas that will help make the way goods move around London safer, cleaner and more efficient.

At least 10 partners from the public and private sectors will use their expertise to evaluate the ideas and see whether they could work on a larger scale.

These partners include: CEVA Logistics

  • DPD
  • GNEWT
  • Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
  • John Lewis Partnership
  • Plexal
  • REEF Technology
  • Royal Mail
  • Thames Water
  • UPS

Michael Hurwitz, TfL’s Director of Transport Innovation, said: ‘We want to work with the best market innovators from start-ups to corporates to help solve some of the key challenges that London faces.

Freight is essential to London’s economy, but as the number of vans and lorries on our streets continues to go up, so does pollution, congestion and road danger.

‘We believe innovative new ideas could make a real difference in reducing the impact of freight movements on the capital and this is why we’d like to encourage as many companies as possible to collaborate with us to do this.’

Applications are open to everybody and full details are available on the TfL website at http://www.tech.london/challenges/tackling-congestion. The deadline for applying is midday on 5 February.

Shutting the door on bus fare dodgers

22 January 2020

All New Routemaster buses operating in the capital will be converted to make the rear and middle doors exit only.

The move follows research which showed passengers using the doors to dodge fares was costing TfL around £3.6 million a year.

In addition, a pilot on the route 8 proved using only the front doors for passenger boarding caused no delays.

Boarding using the middle and rear doors on all New Routemasters will be phased out, starting with the routes 55 and 267 on 25 January.

Customers will be advised of the changes to boarding with emails and on-board announcements. Signage will also be changed on buses. Customers with wheelchairs and pushchairs will continue to be able to board through middle doors.

TfL’s team of more than 450 revenue inspectors operate across the whole network day and night, using new technology and intelligence to identify anyone travelling without a ticket.

Fare evasion is a serious criminal offence that could lead to prosecution, a criminal record and a fine of up to £1,000. The changes being made to New Routemasters are part of a wider programme of activity designed to drive down fare evasion across the whole TfL network.

Claire Mann, TfL’s Director of Bus Operations, said: “Fare dodging is criminal and unfair, and it deprives London’s transport of the investment it needs.

“Our successful pilot on the route 8 has shown that boarding using the front door only doesn’t delay the service and reduces fare evasion, so we will change all other New Routemasters to follow suit.

“Customers with wheelchairs and pushchairs will still be able to board using the middle doors and will find it easier to access the priority space on buses as – like on other buses – they will be able to use the middle doors to board without having other customers doing so at the same time.”

Electric shuttle enters service at Dublin Airport

22 January 2020

A Volvo 7900e single deck, fully electric bus entered service, providing efficient and environmentally friendly shuttle service for passenger transfers at Dublin Airport.

Operating every 30 minutes between the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Holiday Inn Express and then out to terminals 1 and 2 at Dublin Airport, the project is the result of a three-way partnership between Volvo Bus, Crowne Plaza Hotel (part of the Tifco Hotel Group) and ESB – Ireland’s leading energy supplier.

It replaces a diesel-powered bus transfer service and comes just weeks after a similar service was introduced at Birmingham Airport.

Garret O’Neill, General Manager for the Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport & Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport, said: “As a company we are always looking to the future and adopting facilities and services that will improve our guests’ experiences and benefit our local community and environment.

“Over the past number of years, we have taken a number of significant measures to reduce the hotels’ carbon footprint. While the purchase of the new Volvo 7900e electric bus is a significant financial investment for the hotel, we believe it will deliver long term benefits for both the customer and the local environment.”

DAF introduces remote tacho system

15 January 2020

DAF Trucks is introducing a new Remote Tacho Download function to its DAF Connect fleet management platform.

The feature will allow operators to read, store and analyse the memory of driver cards and tachographs online and in real time.

This will allow them to maintain an accurate tacho administration system and to save time.

The new feature will be added as an app to the DAF Connect dashboard, giving instant access to information including driving times and rest periods.

DAF Connect Manager Marketing, Jorg Wijnands, said, “Maintaining an accurate record of driver cards and the tachograph’s memory is very labour intensive and prone to error. You can end up paying thousands of euros for each instance of inaccurate bookkeeping.”

“With our system the transport operator can also monitor its trucks and drivers constantly to ensure that they are complying with driving and rest period guidelines and to intervene where necessary. This offers a greater sense of security in terms of road safety and the risk of fines.”

Flagship express service gets major upgrade

15 January 2020

One of Europe’s most frequent express coach services – the Citylink 900 between Glasgow and Edinburgh – has been upgraded with 18 new Plaxton Panorama double decker coaches.

Delivered to Scottish Citylink and its contracted operators, the luxurious new coaches were ordered in response to a 12% uplift in passenger numbers over the past two years.

Replacing single deckers, the new Plaxton Panoramas have 79 seats with generous legroom and greater comfort levels than ever before. On-board amenities include fold-down tables, reading lights, mobile device holders and USB and wireless chargers at every seat. On the lower deck, seating is provided around two tables with integrated wireless device charging.

The 18 coaches are operated on behalf of Scottish Citylink by Stagecoach West Scotland and Park’s of Hamilton.

With more than 140 journeys directly connecting the centres of Edinburgh and Glasgow in little over an hour every day, Citylink’s 900 route is one of Europe’s most frequent express coach services. Coaches depart every 15 minutes during the day and hourly throughout the night.

Robert Andrew, Stagecoach Regional Director for Scotland, said, “The 900 service has been one of our flagship routes for over 30 years and it continues to go from strength to strength, providing a reliable, affordable and high quality service for millions of people every year travelling between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“This investment is further evidence of our belief in the future of coach travel in Scotland. Our coaches on this route cover over 2.5 million miles each year, and we are proud to be introducing these luxury high-specification coaches for our customers.”