New trial data sparks ter­tiary EV re­search ini­tia­tive

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - NEWS -

A NEW elec­tric ve­hi­cle re­search & de­vel­op­ment project to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency of EVs has been launched, fol­low­ing the re­sults of a na­tion­wide trial.

The five month ap­praisal saw an elec­tric pow­ered camper­van driven more than 13,000km to 45 des­ti­na­tions across New Zealand – with data recorded on the cost and avail­abil­ity of charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture as well as lo­cal at­ti­tudes to­wards, and aware­ness of, EVs.

Two vis­it­ing Parisian eco-tourists drove the pro­to­type elec­tric camper­van around the coun­try to test the ve­hi­cle un­der real world con­di­tions, as well as pro­duce a doc­u­men­tary for the Euro­pean mar­ket on their sus­tain­able tourism ex­pe­ri­ence here.

Jucy co-founder and COO Dan Alpe says while the tourists were able to tra­verse most of the coun­try ef­fi­ciently, the trial re­vealed a num­ber of short­com­ings with the EV in­fra­struc­ture which need to be ad­dressed to pro­vide a more seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence for tourists.

“One of the key find­ings of the trial was that in some parts of the South Is­land there are long dis­tances in be­tween ve­hi­cle charg­ing sta­tions which our cur­rent bat­tery range can’t eas­ily tra­verse.

“For ex­am­ple, there are no camp­grounds be­tween Blen­heim and Kaik­oura, let alone any charg­ing fa­cil­i­ties and only two fast charg­ing sta­tions in the en­tire West Coast.

“This meant the tourists had to stop ev­ery 100kms to charge for five hours and, in a num­ber of cases had to knock on the door of a pri­vate house­hold to ask to charge their ve­hi­cle overnight!

“There was also a sig­nif­i­cant cost vari­a­tion in the cost to power the bat­tery each time, with one camp­ground want­ing $45 just to charge the ve­hi­cle – com­pared to a $5-$10 at most fast charg­ing sta­tions around the coun­try.

“In­ter­na­tional tourists come to New Zealand ex­pect­ing to find a coun­try which has em­braced a sus­tain­able phi­los­o­phy and it is clear that more work needs to be done for us to meet th­ese ex­pec­ta­tions.”

Alpe said the com­pany is mov­ing ahead with plans to in­tro­duce a larger fleet of elec­tric camper­vans to the New Zealand mar­ket.

“The first stage will be the ad­di­tion of an­other ten elec­tric ve­hi­cles which we ex­pect to have ready in time for the com­ing sum­mer sea­son. This new fleet of ve­hi­cles will need to go much fur­ther on a sin­gle charge to avoid tourists be­ing stranded.”

Alpe says Jucy is work­ing with aca­demics at Massey Univer­sity to pro­duce the next gen­er­a­tion of elec­tric camper­vans.

“The trial data showed us there are some key ar­eas we need to fo­cus on, in­clud­ing re­duc­ing the weight of the ve­hi­cle and in­creas­ing the ca­pac­ity of the bat­tery to al­low us to get 200 km from each charge.

“Our col­lab­o­ra­tion with in­dus­trial de­sign spe­cial­ists at Massey Univer­sity will see us com­pletely re­design the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior of our camper­vans us­ing new ma­te­ri­als which are lighter and more aero­dy­namic.

“We will also be look­ing at the in­te­gra­tion of so­lar pan­els and devel­op­ing more ad­vanced bat­tery tech­nol­ogy to find new ways to get more dis­tance from each charge - with­out trav­ellers hav­ing to com­pro­mise on fea­tures such as air con­di­tion­ing to con­serve power.

“There is also a sig­nif­i­cant ed­u­ca­tion role to be un­der­taken about elec­tric ve­hi­cles – par­tic­u­larly among camp­grounds and tourist cen­tres who need to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of EVs in fu­ture of New Zealand tourism.”

Alpe says one of the more in­ter­est­ing out­comes from the trial was the fact that cen­tres with fast charg­ing sta­tions be­come an es­sen­tial des­ti­na­tion point and tourists will of­ten want to fill in the wait time of 20-30 min­utes by shop­ping in the lo­cal area.

“As we be­gin to bet­ter un­der­stand how trav­el­ling with EVs changes the be­hav­iour and de­mo­graph­ics of this sus­tain­able tourism mar­ket, we will be­come bet­ter equipped to pro­vide the sort of ex­pe­ri­ence that will see our in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion as a green des­ti­na­tion con­tinue to grow,” he said.

Jucy has re­cently ap­plied for gov­ern­ment sup­port to fund the lo­cal re­search and de­vel­op­ment of new EV tech­nolo­gies.

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