The first virtual Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) and Connected Automated Mobility (CAM) event this week featured a packed programme of 30 streamed sessions with 130-plus speakers.
The online event covered all aspects of low carbon and connected automated mobility, where delegates had access to a virtual tour of more than 80 exhibition stands, as well as having the opportunity to network and exchange ideas on a live chat platform.
Top of the agenda was how the UK will move from petrol and diesel technologies to low carbon power. On the day the UK government announced its decision to bring forward the phasing out of internal combustion-engine (ICE) cars and vans fuelled by petrol and diesel to 2030, the event proved particularly timely.
The first seminar for the two-day event was introduced by Lawrence Davies, Chief Advisor on the Automotive team for The Department for International Trade.
The session was an overview of the UK automotive ecosystem and Mr Davies highlighted the fact that even though the COVID-19 pandemic had brought about serious challenges, the automotive industry was still in a relatively good position.
He said, “We are delighted that this strong industry has bounced back and virtually all manufacturing plants are now up and running. We have seen good footfall in the dealerships (when they were open after first lockdown) and strength in the van market – as we have used home deliveries more – and this trend looks to be continuing.”
During the official opening of Cenex-LCV, SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, was a little more cautious with regards to new car sales saying, “The challenge to the industry of COVID has been significant. Yes, we have recovered to a certain extent… but if we look to the forecast it will be very challenging. It may be two or three years before we can see the sorts of volumes that we are used to. More positive has been the uptake in EV registrations.”
The session also featured insight from Research and Development specialist Jay Nagley who talked about the future of mobility and how industry was moving towards electrification and the development of new technologies.
Mr Nagley highlighted the development of UK company Penso’s lightweight composite body for use on Mercedes-Benz vans, commenting, “They (Penso) developed a body – that is now being used commercially in the UK – which saves an astonishing 400 kilos.”
He explained that the benefits of Penso composite body was particularly applicable for electric vans because the weight saving offsets almost all of the weight of batteries, adding, ‘The quicker we can come up with viable electric vans the better it will be for everybody.”
Later on, the seminar entitled Decarbonising Freight for Off-Road and Marine included speakers Dr Despina Yiakoumi and Dr Ben Todd.
Dr Yiakoumi, Transport Analyst for Energy Systems Catapult, talked about a project to find a cost-effective pathway to decarbonise road freight across the UK’s transport and energy system and ultimately influence future research.
Among the key findings was that enforcing stricter regulations on emissions will be the quickest transition to a zero emission HGV fleet and that EVs and catenary vehicles (that use overhead power lines) are likely to be more cost competitive compared to hydrogen powertrains. In order to make hydrogen powertrains cost competitive, technology and infrastructure costs need to be reduced, stressed Dr Yiakoumi.
Dr Todd, CEO of Arcola Energy, talked about hydrogen mobility solutions for heavy duty vehicles. He pointed out that although Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) do represent a good solution for small-scale operations, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) have benefits when fleet sizes are much bigger.
“Getting a hydrogen filling station for one or two buses isn’t cost effective but getting a hydrogen filling station for 100 buses is,” he said.
Dr Todd also pointed out that because FCEVs are lighter with more energy you can accommodate more passengers in buses, for example. He also highlighted the benefits of faster refuelling with hydrogen vehicles compared to charge times with BEVs.
Day two of the covered a range of topics including automotive electrification, future transport and energy challenges, strategies for transport infrastructure, transport for smart cities, how to achieve net zero mobility as well as future charging infrastructure.